Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"element" of surprise

Today's LLVS moment: I looked down, did a quick tally, and realized that, as usual, my entire outfit originated from Goodwill. Well, nothing actually originated there...that's the point. I commented to Baby Daddy the other day  (Him: You look nice today. Me: I got everything I'm wearing except my intimate apparel at Goodwill. Him: I'm glad your underwear hasn't been in someone else's buttcrack. Me: It's important to have standards.) that even if we were wealthy I would buy 9/10th of what I wear second-hand. (At my most flush, my shopping destination was still Salvation Army, or Sally's Boutique as my San Francisco fashion icon Denise Laws called it.) Especially if living in a wealthy community, with its couture cast-offs -- a total LLVS bonus. There's nothing like the thrill of the find, especially when the tag color on said find matches the day's 1/2-price sale; the satisfaction of not adding something new to the waste stream; the mystery of why something nearly or brand-new was discarded by its previous owner. Sometimes the answer will never be known and can be chalked up to a change of taste or a need for closet space.

Other times the reason doesn't become apparent until  the item has already been welcomed into one's wardrobe, which certainly adds an element of adventure to the thrifting experience -- like when I scored these tall leather boots in pristine condition for $20, sidestepping (literally) my commitment to not buy leather, fur or wool*, wore them all day then took them off for the first time and my stockings and porch floor were covered with brown flaky bits of the lining. A troublesome but not insurmountable feature, boot dandruff, and worth removing them outside or in reach of a dustbroom. Or when I wore a Banana Republic skirt bought still bearing the original store tags to my new corporate job and, although it had a built-in slip, it clung and bunched up between my legs like a black crepe diaper when I walked (luckily it's a desk job). Or when I detected nothing amiss about a beautiful winter-white cashmere sweater, had it cleaned, then midway through its debut day detected someone else's body odor emitting from its -- my -- pits, which is way worse than smelling your own B.O., which at least is where it belongs: on you.

My local Goodwill is so fancy that I found this recent news item hilarious! I'm still trying to figure out the "element" to whom she's referring...I'd say the primary clientele are either middle-class savvy shoppers or designers and antique dealers who cull the discount racks, then raise the prices 400% for their own nearby shops. Does she mean the elderly male employees who graciously unload donations from the trunks of Audis while the charitable sit behind the wheel with the engine running? The young woman with Down Syndrome who orders shoppers out of the store promptly at closing time like a harried mother way past bedtime, soundly flouting the ever-cheerful stereotype associated with her condition? The mellow, pleasant clerks? Whatever her concern, I am grateful to be among the thrifting riff-raff in our tony community, and to be wearing: JCrew wool trousers that are too spiffy to be called "pants" ($10), a cozy cotton turtleneck sweater with sweet decorative buttons on the collar ($7), brand-new gold matte round-toe high heels that put a little Bob Fosse in my step ($12), and a sassy, coral color wool JCrew swing coat ($25), all of which fit perfectly and haven't revealed any weird surprises in the wearing.

*if new

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Book, One Town

I love the very notion of a community reading, somewhat simultaneously, the same book, and am impressed and proud that my somewhat-stuffy little 'burb has selected Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals as its pick for what amounts to a 60,000-member book club. There's even a companion picture-book read, Our Farm, with paintings of and poems "by" the residents of Farm Sanctuary (as translated by Maya Gottfried) so the whole dang family can enter 2011 considering, discussing, and literally putting a face to the food they share. About to check my copies out...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Willful Thinking

Now that Baby Daddy and I are married, we're finally getting around to doing that other grown-up thing that grown-ups do: writing our wills. First we had the excuse that we'd just have to redo them post-nuptials and name-changes and all that stuff. Then we put it off because as awful as it is to buy life insurance (which we did after the baby was born), it's worse to imagine worst-case scenarios and one's desired outcomes, legally speaking, in said scenarios, and then to put them in writing, and with a raised seal and witnesses at that. Our material assets don't amount to much beyond some sweet vintage vinyl and a car with 125k miles; if we didn't have kids our wills would consist of a couple handwritten "pull the plug" requests. But with the joy of progeny comes the duty to not only protect and provide for them, but also to arrange for their protection and provision in the event that you...gulp...can't.

I did write a will once before, probably with a magic marker, and very likely with open circles over the i's. I was in junior high, which is nearly as painful to think about as the aforementioned topic. My parents divorced and we moved after sixth grade from a rural hippie town to the only real estate market close enough to her job that my mom could afford: a factory town that no longer had factories and was so depressed the Burger King couldn't even stay in business. I went from a progressive elementary school of 80 kids to a sprawling regional high school with low achievement-test scores and lower expectations. I was the youngest kid in my class; I turned 11 a few days before 7th grade. After a miserable transitional year during which: 1) I learned that wearing one's same (and only) pair of jeans every day will inevitably earn one the nickname "Jordass"; 2) A girl who would today be cyberbullying with the best of them cornered me in the bathroom and threatened to beat me up if I didn't date her older brother. I stopped using the bathroom. Then she started calling me at home. I stopped going to school; 3) While I was out "sick" my supposed best and only friend (Missy Williams, I'm talking to you) decided I was a social liability, what with my fashion faux pas and magnetism for mean girls, so she broke into my locker and hit the public-humiliation lottery: my diary. I don't know why I kept it at school; probably so my mother wouldn't read it and discover I was being threatened and make more trouble for me.

It contained my last will and testament. I can only surmise that the impetus for drafting this particular document  was a genuine terror of my bathroom stalker -- whose name was Melanie Perkins, while I'm naming names -- and a recognition in her presence of my mortality, for the first time in my prepubescent life. I've forgotten what it was I bequeathed to whom. My worldly goods consisted of a collection of pocket-sized Beatrix Potter books, a Morris the Cat T-shirt for which I'd diligently peeled, saved, and mailed the labels of numerous cans of cat food, and a few other childhood keepsakes; a denim-texture three-ring binder that smelled like cat pee unsuccessfully masked by Love's Baby Soft (which, come to think of it, may also have hindered my social standing); a 10-speed from Sears, and a fold-up hairdryer. Undoubtedly I left my lone possession of material or personal value -- those designer jeans I'd rallied so hard for the summer before after spotting them in a chance encounter with "television," having lived without one for several years, having not a clue what was in fashion but in hopes of fitting in -- to Missy Williams.

Once retrieving the diary (which had been reviewed and annotated by an untold number of my seventh-grade peers with an enthusiasm and creative use of language that roundly belied the school's drop-out rate. Why, with the proper materials and encouragement, these underprivileged youngsters could be the next Danielle Steeles or Dan Browns!), I destroyed it. My next journal detailed not my personal thoughts but an action plan titled "How to Get Popular," crafted over a summer spent alone in the cool, dim respite of our unfinished basement, studying Seventeen magazine and daytime dramas on our new-used TV. I don't remember what was on the list, besides a plan to select my week of outfits on Sunday night to assure no duplications. Whatever it was, I implemented it, and it pretty much worked. I was no longer bullied, at any rate, and didn't again feel the need to put a post-mortem contigency plan in writing, until now.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr