shopping

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Something happened. Something bad. It was a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t write about it right away. The terror was too fresh, too real. But now that it’s all relegated to the occasional ‘Nam-esque flashbacks and night terrors, I think I’m ready to relive it. After all, writing is a good form of therapy, right?

So, here it is.

Ready?

You guys? I … I tried …

Dammit, I can’t do this. (Yes you can. Be strong. You never know when your story might help someone else.)

Ugh, fine.

I tried on Mom jeans.

It started innocently enough. I was shopping for some new jeans — something straight, or maybe even skinny, but definitely not with a flare. Between the cruise earlier in December and the holidays, I wasn’t really wanting to shop in the Junior sections. You see, when you’re a size 10 or 12 in Regular People clothes, that equates to different kinds of numbers in the Junior section, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared to try on a size 19 or something … and not be able to button it. And so, to the Grown Up Ladies section I went.

I was optimistic, and with good reason. Macy’s and I tend to get along very, very well. I have several beautiful dresses from the Grown Up Ladies section that I got on wicked sale and couldn’t be more pleased with. And it’s a department store, for god’s sake. They should have a little of everything, right? Including hip but not Juniors-sized pants.

I saw the denim section and approached without hesitation. Hanging on the wall there were numerous styles, and they were even displayed in such a way that I could tell what was happening at the bottom. Flare, bootcut, bootcut, “slimming” bootcut, and, there they were. Straight. And not a million dollars, which was my other issue. The wash looked good, the price was right, and they appeared to be slim enough to tuck into my new boots. Into the dressing room I went.

It’s funny how you often receive NO WARNING that your life is about to change.

I pulled them on, pleased with the softness of the denim. I may have even congratulated myself a bit for navigating away from the elastic waist jeggings and trouser jeans with rhinestone-studded back pockets. Hahaha, I’m so smart, I thought.

But then it happened. I buttoned them, and my heart began to race. As I zipped them, I felt like I was in a Guy Ritchie movie, with everything slowing waaaaay down so that I could hear and see everything. I heard the laughter of a mother and daughter shopping for a Christmas dress two doors down, and a subtle grunt from another woman trying on a bandage dress that probably should have been a size larger. I could see the particles of dust falling from the fluorescent lights above me.

And then, I looked in the mirror. And there they were.

Mom jeans.

It was awful. I couldn’t look away. The waistband easily came up to my bellybutton, and the back — oh, the back! Let’s just say that I’ll never use the term “long-ass” (as in,  “Man, that is a long-ass drive!) without thinking of how my butt appeared to be the height of an encyclopedia in those jeans. *shudder*

As I unzipped and stepped out of the high-waisted catastrophe, my terror began to turn to confusion, with a touch of rage. How could this happen to me? Why weren’t they clearly marked? This isn’t right!

I speedwalked out of the dressing room, grabbing Jared by the arm and dragging him away. “Take me someplace stylish, right now,” I begged. And, as he looked into my eyes, he understood the trauma I had gone through. Well, after I explained what the innocent looking pants I’d taken into the dressing room did to me, he understood, at least. And so, arm in arm, we walked directly to Banana Republic and never looked back.

 

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Actual conversation* that took place today with the cashier in a popular big box store, the name of which might rhyme with Foam Creep-o. I mean, I’m sure the starters were still sleeping off the Black Friday crazy, but, dude.

Cashier (scanning the microwave box): Hmmm. Umm, what’s this?

Us: A, uh, a microwave.

Cashier (looking at the screen, then back at the box, then back at the screen, perplexed): Oh. So, umm, did you, like, want the warranty thing? You know?

Us: No.

Cashier: It might actually come with it already.

Us: Okaaay.

Cashier: So, do you want it? It’s, like, for two years, so if you, like, do something to it, you get a new one or something.

Us:

Cashier: But it might already come with it.

Us: So, it comes with a warranty? But you’re asking if we also want to buy a warranty?

Cashier (a little defensively): Well I thought you might know if it came with one or not.

Us: Yeah, we’re going to pass on that. Thanks.

Cashier: Do you want someone to, like, help you load that?

Us: OH GOD NO.

(And no, we didn’t opt to have them help us install it. This could prove to be problematic, but after the folks we encountered today, I think we’re better off hiring a monkey that belongs on the short monkey bus.)

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Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They’re offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for “Likes” of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the “Like” button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

I’ve been a supporter of small, locally-owned businesses since before I knew that was a thing. I didn’t do it because I was trendy, or cool, or even because I necessarily cared about supporting my community. But, my father owned a small business called Earl’s Sport Stop. It was a chocolate brown pole barn on the corner of 43 and 66 in Woodbury, Michigan. He sold boats, motors, bait, tackle, and pretty much any sort of hunting and fishing supplies you can imagine. My main contribution was the 65 cents I put in the pop machine most days. But, considering I usually got the 65 cents out of the cash register to begin with, I guess it wasn’t much of a contribution.

Still, I gained a real appreciation for what went into a small business like my dad’s store. In his case, because fishing was so weather- and holiday-dependent, I watched when he got up to open the store before dawn because the guys who worked for GM were off for Christmas and the ice was good out on Jordan Lake. I helped hand out the prizes at his annual Guys and Gals Fishing Tournament (held at the Schoolhouse Bar, where they had Pacman and Shirley Temples a’plenty). I knew when we had to cut back a little on the Christmas shopping because business was down.

Even more importantly than how it affected us, though, was the way my dad’s store affected the community. He gave jobs to kids in high school, usually when they were around a sophomore or junior. It was a huge point of pride to work for Earl, and most of his employees never forgot that. He always had chairs sitting around for “the bubbas” to come sit and bullshit with each other — our small town didn’t offer too much for the retired and unemployed guys to do, but this was a place where pretty much everyone was welcome, though they’d always get the evil eye from my mom and me when we’d come in and catch them cursing up a storm.

When my father retired and sold the store, the party made the front page of our paper. Yes, I know it was a tiny town and there wasn’t a lot of news, but still, not every small, locally-owned business makes the front page.

whimsical bookshelf

Nena Bookshelf, $889.50 at Paddiwhack.com. Come on, you know I need one.

Knowing the way my dad’s small business impacted so many people’s lives has always made me a little extra sensitive about supporting the local businesses near me. Sure, I shop at the mall and Target, but when it comes time to buy a special, unusual gift, my local go-to is a little American craft gallery called Paddiwhack. They feature eclectic and whimsical items from really amazing artists — some local — and I call it my “Tiffany & Co.” because, just like the way Tiffany’s made Holly Golightly feel, I can’t imagine anything bad happening at Paddiwhack. It just makes me feel so happy.

But really, I go out to eat far more often than I shop for artsy gifts, so the small local businesses I frequent most are the restaurants. When I’m on campus, say, for a basketball game, and I just need a quick bite to eat, there’s Burrito Bros. Taco Company. For Italian, there’s no place like Fresco (which was right around the corner from our old place, and really the only reason I miss living there). Downtown, I love Civilization, The Top, Stubbies & Steins, and Boca Fiesta. And, a little closer to home, there’s my all-time favorite, La Fiesta, and a new favorite that’s just over a mile a way, Sabore.

The thing is, people talk about supporting small, local businesses like it’s a chore, and I just don’t see it that way. At least, not the way I do it. No, I don’t drive 45 minutes away to frequent the little local grocer because there’s a beautiful Publix less than half a mile from my door. But you’ll never see me choose a chain like Chili’s over an interesting local eatery. That’s not me making a sacrifice. To me, that’s just making better memories.

Please join us in supporting Small Business Saturday by visiting the Facebook page and liking it.

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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Okay, internet, I have a major decision, and I’m just not sure what the right thing to do would be.

I had a pair of sandals. I bought them last summer at Macy’s (on sale) and I loved them. They went with just about everything, and were that perfect mix between casual and dressy that you just don’t often find. And, they didn’t make my feet scream, which doesn’t happen all that often (why do you think I generally stick to Reefs of All-Stars? For the look?).

I guess a visual would help:

gladiator-sandal-chinese-laundry

Do you understand now?

Anyway, I broke them. I actually broke the sole in half (I believe this could have occurred when I wisely decided to wear them line dancing with my mom). And I was devastated.

But! I found them again, at Heels! There are just two problems:

1. You know, they broke the first time I owned them. How long will they last this time?

2. I know I didn’t pay that much for them the first time around.

But I love them. I’ll be kinder, gentler, more considerate this time around. Maybe the broken sole was totally my fault. (Do I sound like I’m in an abusive relationship or something?)

Help! What do I do?

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Look what we caught at Gainesville’s Downtown Festival and Art Fair!

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Jared and I go to Gainesville’s art fair every year, but usually, we just look — arts are expensive, y’all! However, we’ve been going back and forth on how to decorate our back porch, and when we saw these cute little guys (from The Miranda Gallery in Clearwater, Florida — if you’re in the area, you should TOTALLY go), we were both sold. They were totally reasonable, plus, since we bought a few pieces, they gave us a bit of a deal.

Also, someone has a birthday coming up next month, and so I was able to get him a birthday gift that I like, too! It’s like presents for everyone!

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I’m currently in New York, hopefully doing something unimaginably fabulous, but more likely drinking wine in the middle of the day and staring at dinosaur bones. Which, actually sounds kind of fabulous to me, and if you disagree, well, that’s really too bad.

Anyway, before I left, I got a chance to SHOP for WORK, and then WRITE about it! God my life is hard.

My post goes live at BeautyHacks today (Monday), and four other women will have done the same thing, with posts popping up throughout the week. Check it out. You get to see me in some really unflattering jeans, if that’s any incentive …

Also, I’ve started doing a twice-weekly feature at the StyleList blog (along with my girls Cat and Kyle) on really bad celebrity fashion. It’s called StyleFoul, and I think I’m having more fun than I should get to have doing something for which I’m being paid, and … well, I hope you like it, too. I’m up every Monday and Tuesday, and you won’t believe today’s. Good god.

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For walking around the city:

For not walking very far at all:

More packing news to follow. I’m sure you can’t wait.

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Tragedy struck our home on Friday. My beloved OPI nail polish in Don’t Socratease Me died.

I never thought I would be one of those girls who just HAD to have a particular color. I have a decent skin tone, so I can wear most colors. But this, my friends, is THE color to end ALL colors. It’s the perfect mix of reddish-pinky-orange, so it looks funky but a little preppy, and girly without being too girly. It is the only thing I ever want to see on my toenails ever again, and my bottle is DONE, out, kaput, EMPTY. And it appears OPI might not make it anymore. I am judging this solely based on the fact that they don’t carry it in the Trade Secret in my local mall anymore, since that’s where I bought it the first time.

I was crying about this to my friend Cat, who also writes for StyleDash (she’s good — you should check her out), and she suggested, of all things, the INTERNET. How it didn’t occur to me to shop for discontinued nail polish online beats me. I buy jeans, shoes, anti-blister magic stuff, but in my panic I didn’t consider it. Duh.

Not only did Cat make the suggestion, but she FOUND the color for me, AND it was on sale!!! I should totally send her a thank you card, or a bottle of vodka, or something.

I bought three bottles and hope to god I don’t decide I hate it next season.

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