Monday, September 15, 2014

Looking for hope

Along with a new Grand Canyon of wealth inequality plowing across the US, there’s a growing disparity in what the media presents as reality and what is actually so. Like income inequality, this distortion’s been creeping up for some time. We don’t talk about this disparity. We don’t protest it but it’s certainly influencing us in a bad way and its playbook is full of bad form.

Many years ago I came across a speech written by my great grandfather. He worked for The St. Louis Post Dispatch along with a few other major midwestern papers. Born before the turn of the century into a line of frontier newspapermen, he faced a different world. His speech was persuasive, selling the merits of advertising. The anticipated push back? “I already have a base of customers and business is fine. Why pay to advertise?” The media has taken an evolutionary leap since my great grandfather penned his arguments and I’m not certain he would approve.

In the early days, advertising was a bit more representational of reality. How else could companies capture an audience? My great grandfather’s talk noted how a business could banner a sale or that a new product had arrived. Yes, it was that rudimentary, very similar to the reporting of news. 

Companies then related to the common condition, they didn’t dictate it. The concept of selling impossible and unattainable realities would have likely seemed unscrupulous. Least I’d like to believe. Now I fight hard to avoid the trap of feeling lesser the mother because my home is not cleaner than a bare, newly-tiled room steamed and bleach bombed 20 times over. How about feeling crummy because I wasn’t able to purchase all my furniture at once to have it mate up beautifully? We all fight the noise but when the message of failing to provide keeps pulsing, we start to wonder if there is merit in that message. Stupid, right?

Does the media want me to feel grossly deficient in my ability to provide? Yeah, they do. How else are they going to get me to purchase a new bedding ensemble because it’s nearly autumn but my present bedding is fine? They keep it up and we’ll have a new clinical disorder for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. Really. This is a bit cruel and it’s going to crash down on us all. We know that. So why allow it to continue?

Lately, I’ve upped my frequency of trips to the thrift store, not just going when I’m nearby one at the bank or grocery store as described in developing a thrift store routine. I’ve started making the thrift store a destination. I'm not exercising Psychic Shopping or Snake Eyes either. After realizing this, I have to ask myself what's changed.

The answer? I’m looking for hope. Hope does not live in a shopping mall or big box store. Hope can be found in a thrift store and I’m so grateful it's still available.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wear Black, Serve White

As the Atlas of our family, my shoulders are weary and my head’s nearly overflowing. An ear/nose plug combination might make sense because sometimes there’s dead certainty my brain’s leaking. Yet, it’s all good. I think it'll stop when our chicks fledge. Someday, I hope they’ll have respectable wingspans casting wide shadows through city canyons, over mountains and across oceans. Please, if you're a mother and know for an honest fact that mental load increases with fledglings, please don't tell me. I'm not capable of handling that news. If you've been there I've no doubt you understand and would lend a soft shoulder with a knowing stroke of my hair. I need to go see my grandmother.

Don’t think I’ve ever had so many extra servings of life choices heaped on my plate at once. It feels overwhelming. Follows is what I can publicly write about. 

I’m guiding my oldest daughter through the college/scholarship application process. [Message to the Cosmos: Please give her hefty financial aid with generous scholarships. Returns on this investment will yield high. She has serious talent, a sharp mind and one hell of a will. Trust me. I battled that will through preschool and adolescence never raising a white flag. Want to see the scars? That will? It’s hungry to thrive in design school.]   

My youngest daughter, my sweet Pi, is entering 8th grade. We must select a high school choice for the following school year by December. Denver Public Schools offers a system of choice, both blessing and curse. 

Guess the Cosmos sent me an answer to the question of a third child in that debilitating car accident ten years ago. The Cosmos does reply. Sometimes the answers have a wicked sting that can make one feel a bit stupid for asking. 

Mr. Golightly has taken up running 100-mile races in the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies, above 10,000’ altitude.

Me? I’m now 46 and a half. My body’s doing freakish things, lady things. Mother Nature, could you please do that to men? In case you have noticed, man invented Viagra. This presents a serious conflict of interest. (No. Mr. Golightly has no affiliation with the drug. He’d want me to clarify that.)

Toss in trying to start a second career in the wreck of this American economy. I hope never to work as a retail store greeter because it would not be pleasant, think demonic. Every job's a fight these days. I don't blame any specific person or party for this because we've been on bad road for decades. If Charles Dickens were still alive he'd have a wealth of material if he could stand being in America long enough to collect it. I pray to always have a place to live, not be a burden to my daughters and have a time in life when I don’t need to breathe into a paper bag when the bills arrive. Yet these are indeed first-world problems well the exception being a place to live.

Again, my head’s packed. Probably why I’ve not written in years. No space to make personal flourishes. Hope to have that space again but these days I rely solely on bread and butter when it comes to design so it’d better be artisan bread and honest, freshly-churned unsalted butter.

Factor in I could care less about the mindless trending flock. I didn’t buy jeggings, think layering is a rip off, am certain the 80’s should never come back and admit high heels are a bitch and the pain of wearing them makes me one. The purpose of a high heel is to pump up the calf muscle. Instead, jump rope for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the same results without bunions and you won’t walk like Bigfoot and be in denial about it. Want to be taller? Cork platform sandals or clogs. I cannot scream loud enough, “Leggings and camisoles are foundations! Going about in them is like running around in your bra and underwear. I don’t care if you’ve the body of an Olympian.” So my mind is packed but it’s not packed with crap and I’m not fooling myself. Least I think I’m not. Truthfully? I don’t have time for a double check.

A packed head makes it really difficult to face the start of a new chapter. A girlfriend and I were having a spirited conversation over gingered spirits discussing our subscription to uniforms. We lamented our 20's and 30's. In our 40's we’ve about four clothing combinations we rotate without thought. Wake up, brush teeth and hair, slap on number two and out the door we go. It works, only if the choices are wise. I receive compliments from strangers and need every one to help me deal with the lady things happening without my consent.

Contrast my very limited attire to our population of teen girls. It seems as though many teen girls presently prefer to shop in stores that create the mood of a hypomanic episode. Sadly there are plenty of stores that purposefully build this environment because apparently, it drives stocks. Why a company would want to create an environment similar to a serious, painful and disabling mental illness is outright shameful. Just walking into those stores makes me want to find a psychiatrist and a pharmacy pronto. Think about it, this is how our culture is setting up our children’s spending behavior. With the turn of one generation, there’s been an explosion in available and accessible choices in consumer goods and there are no filters helping those coming of age to navigate this mess.

Here’s the precious nugget: You’ll spare a load of headaches and save a lot of money if you make it a standard to wear black and serve white. Of course this can be pulled out of thrift stores to save you even more and engage in reuse practices that save in energy costs. Yup, we’re using up energy when we shop. A lot of energy. America has yet to come to terms with our fickle and changing tastes in style that send us back to stores monthly for a new fix, making more waste. One thing I can say is that it fuels American thrift. There's so much volume flowing through homes, we'd have to have quarterly yard/garage/tag sales to keep pace. So, off to the thrift store it goes, sometimes tags still dangling.

Wear something black. Black is flattering to all skin colors and it rides through all seasons. It’s eloquent. As a child I was taught black is for funerals. On my own in Chicago as young professional I discovered the value of a black ballet top, black wool turtle neck, black pencil skirt, black cigar pants, black beret for bad hair, black stockings in winter. Sweet freedom with style and I still have a few of those items. Psst! With the exception of the t-shirt, try to avoid black in cotton jersey. It can compromise the integrity of a strong, solid black. However, there are quality jerseys that will stand the test of time if washed as a delicate and line dried.

When serving, it’s white. Fine white porcelain or English ironstone will always flatter the tabletop. Make it as simple as possible. What really needs to be emphasized is the food on the plate. I’ve white Noritake porcelain, antique J & G Meakin, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Bauhaus from thrift stores. Guess what? It mates up beautifully and looks awesome for casual or guests. It just means I’ve to up my cooking standards but that’s okay. Though one time there was some confusion, my family prepared a birthday meal for me and served one of the side dishes in a 100-year-old ironstone chamber pot.

Wear black and serve white, a shopping mantra that will last a lifetime and save money and headache. Make that your foundation. Add flourishes when you've the mental space to do so. If you don't have the mental space, at least you'll still receive compliments on a sturdy framework.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blog Reclamation

It's been some time since posting. 

Life required I devote attention to areas other than the blogging world, still strange and uncharted, a place I don’t always take comfort in.

I still shop thrift and have strange thoughts and observations and still shop conventional retail and remain appalled by the products and gimmicks.

The new goal is to write one post a month while my daughter overhauls the look of this site. Blogger is more flexible now than it was in 2008. Right now, I look at this and scream, “Yikes!”

The Golightly's have done many things since the last post.

We rescued two puppies. Luna, named so because she’s just as bright as the moon, is nine pounds and roughly two years old. We suspect she's a toy poodle/Jack Russell mix. She’s been with us two years. Sometimes we’re uncertain if she’s a dog that chirps or a bird that barks so she also goes by the pet name of the Moonie Bird. (The pink moon boots in the photo came new from Goodwill. Pinky swear.)

Laika, named after the first dog in space, is often too quick to photograph. She’s rocket fast and just turned one on the 14th. I put a dab of whip cream on her nose to make her stop for just a second. The vet suspects a black lab and terrier mix.

Nora Ephron wrote, “When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” Ephron nailed it, she always did.

Original plans dictated at least three posts in the hopper before restarting but that’s not going to happen. It’ll be seat-of-the pants, like it’s always been. We’ll have more chat on reuse soon.