Sunday, January 23, 2011

Backslider's whine

Alas, shopping therapy was a short-lived solution.  Unfortunately, it somehow became my drug of choice.  Suddenly I had a Gap card (but I'm saving an extra 15% on this 40% off sale! I'll buy 4 pairs of jeans!) and enablers.  Sale items seemed so cheap (I know it says X-Small, but it's a sleepwear item so they run large. It'll fit.) and I never admitted that seven $6 items added up to...well, more than $6.  I always paid off my Gap card in full, but I started accumulating so much crap.  Shopping lost whatever luster it had.  A few years into college I was downtown with my then-boyfriend and we'd had a lovely evening bar-hopping and whatnot.  After dinner, though, things took a turn for the worse and he said something I took offense to and I stormed out of the hookah bar at which we were lounging with a friend, leaving my leftover Zen Zero and him to find a way home.  Several drinks in, I walked directly to the Gap and bought jeans, a thermal shirt, and another pullover shirt because it felt good.  That was when I realized I was a) not happy/still messed up b) dealing with my unhappiness in an unhealthy (not to mention expensive) way c) tired and just wanting to go to bed.  Drunk dialing?  Drunk driving?  I was a drunk shopper.  J.Crew online sales were a formidable opponent, but I dominated the website if I'd had a bad weekend.  It's so easy to see how people can get into serious credit trouble in such a short amount of time.  Thank goodness I didn't.


I have gone through one really bad breakup in my life, twice.  Same guy, broke up two different times, and it affected my outlook on everything for years.   The first time I was away and had a really amazing support system and it wasn't really a breakup but it was but it wasn't.  I did not take it well.
 The second time we were in the same place and I didn't quite have the distance to distract me, and I took it badly yet again.  The second time, however, two amazing women in my life realized that what I needed was a shopping trip.  One was my mom, the other was my best friend in that day and age, Teija.  Changing my outward appearance did wonders on my internal coping mechanism.  Mom got me a haircut, a jean jacket, blue Chuck Taylors, sparkly BC moccasins, new Gap jeans, and some spoil-Kate time.  Teija and I went shopping out of town (a mall!) and I bought a green halter dress with white polka dots and matching shoes.  I wore the hell out of the BCs and the Converse, and wore the polka dots whenever I got the chance. (I still have the dress but I'll have to dig it out of the Spring box when the time comes.)

Obviously, I haven't gotten rid of any of them.

These three pairs of shoes bring back such memories for me.  Some are painful, but those are overridden when I remember the people who were with me and how I truly saw these shoes as a means to an end. "Look everyone, I've got new shoes and I'm going to try my damnest to move on!"

Friday, January 21, 2011


I got really sick this last Christmas. Really, really, really sick. Thankfully not the embracing-the-toilet kind of sick, but it might as well have been.  For whatever reason, a virus set up camp in my throat and my body took up arms and waged the most vicious of bodily battles using the greatest virus-fighting weapon of all time: fever. Fever raged and raged in my body until there was nothing left to sweat out and my cat had decided I was as good as sitting on a floor vent. This went on for six and a half days, during which time all I could think about were things I didn't want to do (eat, sleep, think, be awake, move, drink, talk, be alone, be with other people) and for some reason I kept thinking about clothes.

Now, apparel has never been a huge part of my life. I feel like I hardly even noticed clothes until I got to junior high where there were girls who did care and Delia*s and Alloy started appearing in the mailbox. Even then I carefully considered every purchase for days and days before committing. I still have a skirt from Alloy that I wore on the first day of 8th grade 10 years ago. I didn't even know how to pronounce 'khaki,' a word I'd been coming across in books for years, until I was in 7th grade. Grade school was one big parade of huge t-shirts and leggings and boy's size flannel shirts in the winter.  I did find some good things at the popular thrift store in town (back before anything was more that $9) and on the Urban Outfitters sale rack (I swear, things from there lasted longer than they do now) and in my friend's closets, but the rotation was pretty limited and I always felt self-conscious because I couldn't afford to shop at the Buckle or Abercrombie and Fitch.

Then came high school.  I had started lifting weights as a freshman and was competing in Olympic Weightlifting by the beginning of my sophomore year.  As a result of 4 day a week workouts, I was solid.  Before this goes too far, let me explain that weightlifting is far different from bodybuilding.  I had a ton of muscle, but it wasn't anything like those people who spray tan and grunt and smile and flex.  No, my muscle was concentrated in my hips and thighs, which was helpful standing up from a front-squat in a clean, but not so great trying to fit into jeans.  On top of that (literally) my stomach and waist were as flat and skinny as any girl could ever want, so when I did find jeans that fit my butt, they were too loose in the waist. I wore whatever I could find that fit, which were usually second-hand jeans two sizes too big with a belt.  The I had to wear a shirt big enough to cover the awkward cinched waistline I was sporting and voila - frump.

Time has progressed, and now I'm 25 with a debit card, credit card, Gap card, driver's license and internet access.  In my fevered state, approaching the new year in all kinds of misery, I told myself that the only thing I cared about was getting and feeling better so I could appreciate all the things I couldn't do while an invalid.  I wanted to kiss my boyfriend without getting him sick, I wanted to go to shows and movies and museums, I wanted to antagonize my cat with the laser pointer he got for Christmas...I wanted to do things that made me truly happy and would stay with me forever.  As I came to these conclusions, my New Year's Resolution was decided. I will not shop for clothes in 2011. Here goes.