Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Answering Annie

One of my college roommates started a blog early this year. To my shame, I didn't see this post until just now. I know the topic has been done to death, but I thought she deserved an answer. Here's the original post, and my response follows. Beating a dead horse is still good exercise, right?

Annie says:

There are many topics that I wonder why Christians don't talk about such as homosexuality, mental illness and so on. But the topic that has been on my mind and heart lately has been food. Issues with food is a subject that many of us here in America deal with. But my issue right now I want to talk about is women's relationship with food. I know it sounds funny to say that but think about it we tend to be emotional eaters. We eat when we are happy, we eat when we are sad, when we are bored, to celebrate, when we are upset and so on. Because of my sister and because of some of my own medical issues( there are certain foods I cannot have.) Which sounds like it could be horrible but I have learned to appreciate my food more. I now savor cookies.

I don't say that to say "Look at me - I have it all together," because I still struggle with it. My big question is why do we let food control us? And why can't we talk about emotional eating as Christians? We can talk about things such as eating disorders and I am so thankful there are places like Remuda Ranch in AZ that is an Christian-based organization that helps especially women deal with their eating disorders. But in a church group of women called UFO (unfinished projects) that I go to the topic is always food. Two women there decided to have surgery to help them lose weight. I'm not commenting on my opinion of their decision to have the surgery. But all these women talk about it is food what they can have and what they can't have. And as they lose weight they expect people to constantly be commenting on how good they look. Why do we constantly want compliments about the way we look? Is it cause we as women are vain? Or eating and food is our way of control? Just because we say, "Oh you look soo good!" when you lose weight does that mean that other days, especially when you feel "fat," you don't look good? Why are our compliments so based on our appearances? Our self worth has nothing to do with how we look. So I challenge you all to think about whether food is controlling you or do you have control over food? And what would a healthy relationship with food look like in your own life? Let's start the discussion as Christians and live in the freedom that Christ has given us.

Anna responds:

Just off the top of my head, there's a few things going on here.

1. Women are constantly judged on their appearances in a way that men are not. Feminism and the sexual revolution had unintended consequences in this area. Now modern women have to be sexy all the time, always performing all the time to prove we're equal to men both in the boardroom and the bedroom. Our grandmothers never worried about this, and they had plenty of suitors--and most modern Christian women don't. Toss in the rampancy of porn addiction among men creating further unrealistic standards, and women are really painted into a corner. This is a nasty problem our (within the general Western culture) liberal mothers and grandmothers created and then handed down to us. They can decry it all they like now, but they helped screw us over back in the day. Women can have it all-yeah, right! You want that in a size 6, too?

2. Modern Western food is literally addictive. If you don't cook from scratch according to your personal dietary needs, you're probably poisoning yourself. I work full time. I do what I can to combat processed food, but I recognize after a certain point, I'm SOL (S---omething Outta Luck). The more the government gets involved in what we eat, the fatter we all get. I'm beginning to be convinced that corn subsidies are at the root of the American obesity problem. Practically everything you buy in a package is loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soy fillers, or both. Tons of people are allergic to either, or both. (I have a mild fructose intolerance) The human body can respond to allergens by storing it in fat. A lotta potential histamines = a lotta potential thunder thighs, beer guts, and triple chins. In addition, soy is naturally loaded with estrogen. Too much affects male fertility! Eating it in the occasional edamame or tofu dish is one thing; eating hidden soy in practically everything is a yikes!

Eat for your individual health. If you're self-aware, you know what foods make you feel bad, and what foods you need to pick yourself up again. See Fat Nutritionist for a healthy perspective. Michelle's fairly anti-weight loss, which I disagree with, but I like her focus on figuring out what you individually need to eat for your best health, and being unapologetic about getting it.

3. Yes, food is often a means of control in a stressful, hard-charging world. Children compensate for lack of control and stress overload by becoming super picky. Adult men turn to sports, hobbies, work, and porn to get lost in. Women tend to overeat and overspend. Overeating isn't particularly a personal fault of mine; I'm a stress shopper instead. We all have coping mechanisms that are unhealthy. Overeating is a particularly emotionally fraught habit to break because eating is not something we can just stop doing.

Addressing the vanity question: I see a lot of confusion in the world between the definitions of self worth and self esteem. Self worth is your humanity, your inalienable rights, your eternal soul before God. Self esteem is how you feel about the above.

Women who have lost a ton of weight and need constant reassurance are really asking, "Am I worth something? Do you love me the same even though I'm more attractive now? Does my personhood matter to you, or is it just my outer shell?" It's a constant minute re-calibration of insecurity. I can't claim I'm above this one.

For example, let's take the "Do these pants make me look fat?" question our menfolk always dread. We all know its a trap-there's no way they can answer truthfully and spare your feelings, and even if they give a "correct" answer, the female insecurity we all harbor will probably make us change clothes anyway. The problem is that the "fat pants" question is a red herring. The real question is, "Do you still love me even though I feel ugly today?" But we can't ask the real question, because we're always afraid that the answer might be no.

Annie, you and I both know that ultimately, we find our worth and dignity in being made in the image of God. Goodness knows that's the focus of every. single. women's. study. But God made us to relate both to Him and to other human beings. We're also fallen creatures, and as such, we put unhealthy weight on the opinions of other fallen people. We know it's wrong, and stupid, and we just can't help it!

I wish I had a magic pill, and if I did, I'd be living in ... well, probably some expensive, romantic, bohemian city. But until I make my fortune figuring out how to cure all female neuroses, the best answer I can give you is to acknowledge that yes, it's hard; yes, circumstances and people can suck - both singly and simultaneously! Yes, knowing God made you and loves you is cold comfort when your favorite flattering sweater has mysteriously shrunk, and you never put it in the dryer...When your best guy cheats on you, when your dog pees on your new rug (how do animals always know???), when your best friend doesn't have time to see you, and your parents unfairly criticize you....Okay, I'm all depressed now.

It's going to sound crazy, but acknowledging how much the world can suck is a big help. We cry out against all the wrongness because it was never meant to be this way. But as long as mankind was given free will, sin was inevitable - I truly believe that. If Adam and Eve hadn't done it; their kids would have, or somebody down the line. That's the discouraging part. But it helps to remember that we still have free will. We can choose not to keep eating when we're actually full. We can choose to trot around the block after work instead of immediately sinking into the couch for the night. We can choose to fix ourselves up nicely even when we feel like it's no use. We're not helpless. We have the freedom of personal responsibility, and we have the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Busty Woman's Fashion Primer

I've been hearing little bleats of insecurity from some of my more endowed friends and coworkers about dressing their busty figures fashionably. There's a lot of body insecurity and plain old confusion about what to wear. I can certainly relate. I matured early and have spent a lot of time in pursuit of that female Grail: not looking fat. A large chest makes it harder, but there are still plenty of things out there. With apologies to What Not to Wear, here are my tips:

1. Get fitted for a supportive bra. Unsupported breasts can visually become just another roll in your midsection-YIKES! You’ll need to get fitted about once a year. If there’s no change, congratulations, but small (and large, but we’re pretending those don’t happen) weight and hormone fluctuations can cause you to need different sizes over time. There are plenty of online guides for measuring yourself. Doing this before you go to the store is a good idea-the person measuring you may not really know what they’re doing. A good rule of thumb for getting your band size right is taking your rib measurement and rounding up or down to the nearest whole number. You’ll need about three plain bras for work and everyday life. Two should be beige/nude if you’re white or brown if you’re black. The third should probably be black. White bras show through even white t-shirts. Don’t recommend them at all. Your go-to bra should be the one closest to your skin color. The balconette cut is the most useful to the busty woman. I recommend saving the lower-cut demi for fancy occasions when cleavage is appropriate. Lace is pretty, but it always manages to lumpily show through tops. Again, save the lace and embroidery for times when your bra needs to show. *wink*

Try not to be too chagrined about your cup size. Getting the right bra size, no matter how appalling the numbers on the tag, is the best thing you can do for yourself. There is nothing more distracting to the rest of the world than you walking around looking like you had a falling out with your bra. (Pun definitely intended.) The best way to hide is…don’t hide. Stand straight, and if you don’t make a big deal out of your mountainous outcroppings, nobody else will, either. In fact, most people won’t notice. Remind yourself that people pay for what you may consider a nuisance. When my mom went gray, she was thinking about coloring her hair until her friends started asking where she got her hair done because the frosting was so pretty. Big boobs are another thing people pay for. Yours came free.

2. Make friends with the closely fitted, solid (or subtly patterned) t-shirt or sweater. It should be as snug as you can get away with based on your age and level of physical fitness. Obviously, you don’t want to look ridiculous, but you also don’t want to obscure your shape in any way. Adding fabric bulk is suicidal to your waistline if you have a large chest.

3. Re: patterns, you can scale up with physical size. If you’re a large woman, wear a big print. If you’re petite, look for something more delicate. Beware of florals. If they aren’t abstract enough, it’s practically a guarantee that you’ll have a gigantic cabbage rose blooming on your boobs.

4. Your shirt neckline should at least show your collarbones. Do not wear anything higher than that. Avoid the classic turtleneck at all costs–if you’re cold, wear a scarf. You want to make it clear that you’re accessorizing, not being swallowed body-first by a snake. A loose and floppy cowl neck is fine. Collared shirts are fine. V-necks and scoop necks are ideal. A wide boat neck or ballet neck can be okay; it depends on the overall cut of the shirt. Split necks also fall into this category. For formal occasions, off-the shoulder can be lovely. Strapless is also fine, as long as it fits well.

5. Knits-go as fine gauge as you can. Ribbing and cable knits can be dicey because a large bust can distort the lines of the knit into something that would make an epileptic seize. Chunky knits have to be approached with caution, but can work with care. If you wear a bulkier top, compensate elsewhere with skinnier pants or a slim pencil skirt.

6. Skirts- Your skirt should hit at the skinniest parts of your leg. For most people, this is immediately above or below the kneecap. The longer the skirt, the higher the heel you need to compensate, unless you’re just having an “I need comfy shoes and don’t bother me about it today,” day, or your podiatrist has banned heels. If you’re insecure about your legs, wear opaque tights or solid leggings tucked into boots. White tights are for old ladies, toddlers and nurses. Dark, solid colors or subtle patterns are great. If the weather is warming up, but it’s not quite bare leg weather, turn to nude hose (but not with boots.). If you are quite petite, stick to skirts above the knee almost exclusively.

The two best skirts for the busty lady are the A-line and the Pencil. Bonus points if the pencil skirt has a built-in high waistband. Both types of skirts are fitted in the waist and hip. A pencil skirt goes straight down from the hip and looks straight or narrow at the hemline. An A-line skirt has a slight flare at the hemline.

Also worthy of mention is the gored/fishtail/mermaid/trumpet skirt. This skirt is again fitted in the waist and hip, but has many more seams. It nips in, then flairs out dramatically to give an exaggerated feminine shape. The fishtail skirt is a variation on this, but has a longer hem in back than in front.

Very full skirts and dirndls can be worn, but carefully. They are more useful for the busty woman who is also blessed in rumpage. I personally do not prefer them because adding bulk, even to my lower half, makes me look fatter all over. Your mileage may vary. If you do wear a very full skirt, make sure your top is just shy of painted on. A waist-defining belt may also be a good idea.

7. At all costs, define your waist. You have one. But probably only you, God, and your husband if married know about it right now. Getting your boobs up where they belong will help. A belt will help more. Cincher belts and skinny belts are very trendy right now, and are appropriate for any age, shape, or fitness level. If you don’t feel like accessorizing, a severely tailored blouse or fitted top is enough. Try belts, though. They can help you get away with an unstructured top or cardigan that you just love, but may not be that flattering on its own.

8. Jewelry-Shine by your face can help draw attention upward, away from your chest. Earrings are great. Necklaces are good too, if you pay attention to their length. A good rule is that your necklace should lie within the neckline of your top, no longer. Sadly, we gifted gals can’t really pull off the super long chains that are trendy right now. You don’t want people to think of a waterfall when they see a long necklace drape smoothly down your chest, and then abruptly assume a 90 degree freefall.

I didn’t mention colors, because busty women come in all complexions. The final piece of looking your best is figuring out the best colors for your skin tone and sticking to them. Next time you shop, remember these three rules: Good Bra, Good Fit, and Good Colors. Eventually, you will assemble a wardrobe where most things match, and dressing yourself will become effortless.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cheap Riches

Savvy Chic by Anna Johnson came in the mail a few days ago after I devoured the whole thing on one of our Barnes & Nobles dates. It was definitely worth picking up, and I'd recommend it to anyone; just don't pay full price. Anna Johnson is a flamboyant, romantic spendthrift who has (mostly) mended her ways and put forth a manifesto on how to enjoy luxury without paying much, or anything for it. It was definitely a book I needed to read, since, as my mother has famously said, I have caviar taste on a hamburger budget. One could theorize that it was an inevitable backlash against years of missionary (and Dutch) thrift, but I prefer to think of my expensive yearnings as a love of beauty frequently butting up against the fact that quality and originality are rarely cheap.

With my job in jeopardy and our house undergoing an expensive, though involuntary remodel, I've never needed to reign in my spending more. Yet, I've never been more tempted. Some people are stress eaters. I'm a stress shopper. In the last six weeks, I've bought Savvy Chic, a new frying pan to match my set, Stila powder foundation, an Anthropologie sweater (a steal from eBay) and a camisole to match it, two clearance cocktail dresses and a blouse fromPepperberry, a pair of Crocs ballet flats (Too small, returned 'em), and I tried to buy some shoes at Naturalizer (had a coupon, nothing fit). I also bought six yards of Waverly outdoor fabric (30% off!)for curtain panels in my kitchen and seven tension rods on which to hang them. And that's not even counting a $385 binge at Ikea Atlanta two weeks ago that yielded a china cabinet, duvet cover, down pillows, towels, a candle and a flower pot. I'm exhausted and ashamed just looking at that inventory.

Granted, circumstances have been extenuating with the house torn up, but only five or six of the things I bought relate directly to the house. The blouse that hasn't arrived yet from England and Anthropologie sweater are meant to be worn to a job I may not have in a few weeks. Two cocktail dresses? Well, I need one that must do double duty for an August formal wedding and my company's December party...if I'm still employed. Both were on clearance and I couldn't decide. Will liked one better; my mom liked the other. I've stiffened my spine, though. When I try them on, the one that is less flattering is getting returned, along with a linen dress from Pepperberry that was too big, and I haven't returned yet because the kitchen flood happened. I wasn't out of powder foundation; it was just a great deal on an expensive item. I tell myself that I use Stila because it's the only brand I've found that exactly matches my skintone, and it would be a waste to try and discard drugstore brands when I've found something that works perfectly. That is true, but I wore drugstore brands in high school and college. Though the color matches weren't ideal, I didn't look ghoulish. No, I looked bad in high school and college for a whole host of reasons that had nothing to do with cheap makeup.

Now that I feel thoroughly broke, I need to think about things that make me feel rich.

1. Buying organic veggies at the farmer's market. Cost: $10/week if I don't buy a watermelon.
2. Richly scented soaps that come in pretty packaging. Cost: Doesn't matter to me. $3.99 at Marshall's is average, though I like to buy soaps from places we go, like Colonial WIlliamsburg. No lavender or anything powdery or sugary-sweet, please, if you're planning to give me a gift. I like crisp, clean scents, especially citrus, mint and bayberry.
3. Playing Messiah at a volume just short of "bleeds ears" and singing along. Cost: free. It reminds me of many road trips to and from college, and that magical night when I took Will (not yet my boyfriend) to a spring Messiah concert at Lookout Presbyterian. I still get shivery thinking about sitting in the back of that glorious cathedral and being borne away by the polyphony.
4. Good coffee. Good coffee is harder for me to find now that I'm allergic to caffeine. (It makes me itch horribly) A nice, rich decaf is a treasure. Cost: $5 for a medium Snickers latte at Wholly Cow, or $10-15 a pound. Ground coffee lasts a long time at my house because I only drink it on the weekends. I'd be perfectly happy to buy Folgers Gourmet Selects decaf, if only I could find it! I keep checking the grocery stores I frequent, but nobody stocks the decaf! Dunkin' decaf isn't bad, but it isn't special, either.
5. Dried mangoes from Saigon Oriental Market. Cost: $1.98/bag. They're imported from the Philipines. That satisfies my love for exotica. The fact that they're the most blissfully delicious thing ever doesn't hurt either. Sure, I eat the whole (small) bag in one sitting, but that's what makes it a treat, and it's a cheap treat at that.
6. A spotless bedroom. Cost: time and laundry. I've decorated our bedroom so that it looks like an expensive hotel room. I spent less than $300 on it, but it radiates luxury. It's extremely soothing to open the door and see a crisply made bed, scented candles and a gently running ceiling fan. As a matter of fact, that's making me sleepy, so if you'll *yawn* excuse me....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Narrowing to a Point

The past six weeks have been absolutely harrowing. First, our kitchen flooded. A dishwasher hose split and we came home to water an inch deep in some places. The day after that, I found out I might be getting laid off. Neither of those situations are resolved yet. I'm keeping a vigilant watch for gray hairs, because I'm sure all the stress has created some.

I will say that the kitchen is coming along nicely, though a big rainstorm put us behind schedule. It won't be finished for Easter, like we had originally hoped, but it should be done early next week. I've barely cooked in six weeks. I've mostly been living on peanut butter and jelly, sometimes eating it twice a day. Haven't lost any weight from it. There's no justice in this fallen world, I'm afraid.

So far, the kitchen has been painted (Valspar Belle Grove Moss) and the new cabinets are in. Mike the contractor finished the counters today. He said that it looked like an interior decorator had designed the kitchen. I was super pleased by the compliment, because I wanted to be an architect or an interior designer in high school, and spent a lot of time studying for the life path I didn't take. Most people might have chosen a cream or tan counter to go with the birch cabinets. That would have been the obvious course to take, but I think it would have ended up looking like the Gobi desert. I chose a mottled gray with blue and rust undertones. I was sweating bullets before it was installed, because I had only a tiny square of laminate sample and no cabinet to match it to when I chose the colors. It worked out, thank goodness. The vinyl flooring will be a sandy gray in a fake tile style. Unfortunately, real tile wasn't in the budget-not because of the materials-but because one guy can install linoleum, but it takes a team to do tile in a kitchen as big as mine.

The contractors took the paper shades down in the kitchen, and suddenly I'm confronted with another problem to solve. The paper shades were never meant to be permanent, and now that they're down, they're not going back up. I have 7 huge windows across the back of the house. Obviously, I don't want the thugs in the house behind us to be able to see in. Traditional blinds would be too expensive, and besides, I want something interesting. I was looking into getting a patterned bamboo or roman shade when I looked at World Market and saw exactly what I was looking for. All kinds of cute roman shades, on clearance. I mentioned it to my coworker and friend, Pretty Smile, and she found me a wonderful World Market coupon that I could print out multiple times. I rushed out and found that the one I wanted was too big for my windows, my second choice was sold out...and there was no third choice. Feeling discouraged and defeated, I got myself a Snickers latte from Wholly Cow, and barely enjoyed it I was so upset. Did I mention it poured all day? It's hard to keep upbeat when it's pouring, and one's cowardly dog shredded the bathroom door in which he was confined. Could not believe the mess. He owes us $60. Thinking of garnishing his kibble until he pays us back. Awful, awful dog!

We went home and took a nap, and upon rising I looked at the window problem with fresh eyes. Back we went to World Market to buy a different style of shade, which was also on sale. The Summerville store didn't have enough, so we drove back to West Ashley to pick up the three we lacked. In the time it took to have a nap, lose an eBay auction of an exquisite Anthropologie dress I really wanted, and return to the store, the style I wanted had sold out. I realize it's hard to find seven matching anything, anywhere, much less when it's on clearance, but I really thought events were in my favor. I can't spend much on this, because all our money is tied up in the involuntary kitchen remodel. They were cute. They were the right price. I had a coupon. I was so sure it was in the bag. GRRRR! So now I have to return four jute shades and figure out what I'm going to do instead. I could sew curtains, but at my current state of busy-ness, that's about as appealing as getting a cavity filled. I wish I could just buy shades, but I really can't pay more than $15 each. I do have the beginnings of an idea, though. My windows are 31 inches wide. There's no reason why I couldn't buy a runner like this, cut it in half, sew it together, and make a pocket at the top for a tension rod. So back to World Market I go tomorrow, to return the shades and see what my schemey little brain can come up with.

It's taking all my ingenuity to keep on top of everything that's going on. I have a distinct sensation that my world is narrowing to a point, and I'm being driven toward the narrow end, like icing in a cake decorator's bag. Hopefully, like the icing, something beautiful and useful will come of all of this. In the meantime, it's awfully frightening and uncomfortable.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Greedy Scheming

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately instead of writing my own. Mostly design and fashion blogs, like academichic and designsponge. Throw in a little House Beautiful and some Etsy browsing. The result is a manic desire to remake my home with quirky things I can’t afford, and to cut up half my wardrobe and re-sew it. All at the same time. Needless to say, my mind hasn’t been on my work too much lately.

Going to the Celadon Outlet at the old Navy Yard with my friend, Pretty Smile, did NOT help my greed and scheming. The outlet is for scratch and dent furniture and overstocks, and I saw at least a dozen things I would love to decorate a hypothetical hipster bungalow with an outdoor kitchen and mossy bricks. I do not own a hipster bungalow with an outdoor kitchen. Any mossy bricks I possess are by sheer
accident, and I live in fear that someone, probably me, will slip on them the next time it sleets, which is a pretty rare occasion in Charleston, SC. Yes, I know, I’m talented that way. Thank you, Mother, for passing down your inimitable physical grace. *Ahem.* Moving on…

My house is a 1965…ranch? It was a long, narrow brick house, until somebody added a mother in law suite onto the right side of it. In the 2000s, it was updated by a flipper, who had the wisdom to leave the original six inch baseboards and crown moldings, but who did a lousy job installing his own carpet and linoleum. He also did not replace the original, cracked windows or improve the insulation. This condition led to the purchase of some very expensive flannel sheets from Dillard’s that are cloud-soft, blissfully warm, and also pill like no other. *grumblesnort!*

When we moved in, we had only bought a few things as we needed them. Most of the rest of our furniture was hand-me-down from Will’s aunt or parents. From Will’s aunt, we received a heavy cherry veneer bedroom set. The worn out bed slats eventually dumped us on the floor at 3 am, and I didn’t like the cockatoo-chewed, neo-Victorian headboard well enough to keep it, so we dragged it to the curb
before we left Miami. However, we kept the nightstand, and pair of approximately 300-lb dressers. I’m exaggerating the weight, but wow, they’re heavy. Solid wood is usually worth hanging onto even if it’s not my style, says I.

We replaced the matching bed with a modern sleigh bed from Overstock.com. It wasn’t long before that dumped us on the floor as well. All it took was my 200-ish pound husband sitting down hard on his side of the bed, and that was the end of that slat. Finally gave up and bought a metal bed frame to attach the headboard to. Unfortunately, the footboard took a beating when the slat cracked, so I’m going to try to glue it back together with some heavy duty wood glue. If that doesn’t work, well, the bed looks just fine with no footboard, and we both like to hang our toes over the end. Tall peoples’ prerogative. Alas, rubberwood is a huge rip-off.

Nature apparently abhors a vacuum-why is that, anyway? Is Nature really a giant cosmic shelter mutt? I ventured that question to a dog fancier at work, and he pointed out that God spelled backward IS doG. I’m not prepared to go that far, theologically. John Calvin and my minister father might both have issues with that, and I don’t want to end up like my college roommate who was a Bible major. She had recurring nightmares of John Calvin and the Greek verb luw chasing her. Hi, Annie! How ya sleeping lately?

Anyway, MY nature abhors an empty corner I could be decorating. Once we fix the broken footboard, that will free up the floor space of the corner to the right of the nightstand on my side of the bed. Got that? The wall to the right of the nightstand is occupied by a Chinese ink painting scroll that was a wedding gift. I had been toying with the idea of getting a cushy chair, footstool, and tiny bookcase to put in that corner. Because I totally don’t read on the couch all the time. My books are starting to take over, and I want to move the more embarrassing titles off the top of the piano. No, I don’t read romance novels. Haven’t read one since college, when it was beyond hilarious in my clique of virginal, horny girls, to give romance novels as birthday presents and read the steamy parts aloud in a deadpan voice. I just have a suspicion that having more than a certain number of Mercedes Lackey novels will make people think I’m frivolous. The reality is that nobody notices, and I’m secretly afraid that being female inherently makes me frivolous, but that’s between me, God, and my imaginary counselor.

So I need to get the fairy tales off the piano and move to the forefront titles like “Druids,” The English Country Gentleman and the Age of Chivalry”, “Selected Works of Chretien des Troyes,” and “The Complete Annotated Works of Shakespeare,” All of which I have read, thank you very much. And I think Titus Andronicus is a sad example of what artists will do for money. Much Ado about Nothing is still my
favorite, so maybe I am lowbrow. I never got into Sudoku, either. I will now embrace my plebeian status. Will it hug me back?

The problems with that fantasy of a bedroom reading nook are that 1. It’ll clutter the room with too much furniture. 2. I’ll never use it. 3. It’ll just end up covered in clothes that aren’t quite dirty and need one more wearing before washing, thereby increasing clutter even more, and 4. If I can ever manage to get knocked up, I’ll need that corner for a crib while Beers Jr. is a newborn. *Encouraging news on the
fertility front: the doctor said that since I’d been on the pill so long after marriage, I am really only one year out from detoxing, not two. Doesn’t change the amount of time that’s passed, but it makes me feel better. Hopefully my thyroid problems will fall in line soon.*

After all that digression, I know what the real problem is. I either have too many books or too few bookcases. And I don’t like one of the bookcases. We got it free, and it’s just a plain, wood-grained particle board DIY-er. It’s not particularly sturdy and it’s certainly not attractive. I have shoved it up in the corner behind the French doors in my living room where I don’t have to look at it.

Here’s where the temptation comes in. I saw two stunning bookcases at Celadon. They’re distressed cream, made out of some plasticky stuff, but they look like antique wrought iron garden gates. My pragmatic hindbrain is reminding me that not only are they not sturdy, which I profess to require, they are also something like $400. Each. That’s the sale price. Whiiiiiiine. It’s like the Anthropologie catalog. I don’t even like half their stuff, and it’s all stratospherically expensive, and who can afford that anyway, but I STILL WANT TO BE THAT GIRL! I want to be that girl who has fragile, expensive bookcases that look like antique garden gates. With exotic knick-knacks and rare plants, and only about a dozen actual books on them. Sadly, the last time I saw great design intersect practical living was in the Not So Big House books by architect Sarah Susanka. I can’t afford those bookcases, and I sure can’t afford to hire an architect. I’m also pretty sure THAT GIRL is a hypochondriac control freak who hasn’t spoken to her mother in six months. She also has a friend with benefits named Stefan. I don’t like her.

What is a lot more manageable is getting a large bookcase from Good Wood or craigslist and painting it to my specs, maybe painting the back and shelves a fun color. Maybe wallpapering them. I could do that. It wouldn’t break the bank. And it would fit in better with my non-hipster, non-bungalow d├ęcor. It is also true that upgrading bookcases is hardly an emergency on the priority list. In fact, replacing and adding kitchen lighting would be a much better return on investment, since my huge kitchen is sun-drenched during the day, and grim and dim at night.

I can also go though my books. Yes, I’m feeling faint at the idea, but I’m hanging in there. I’m wondering if, at almost five years out of college, I need to keep every single book I referenced in my undergrad thesis? Some of them are unbelievably boring, and hardcovers take up a lot of space. Probably time to revisit those. But will I still be respected for my mental acuity if I get rid of half my research books on druids and medieval poetry and keep the Mercedes Lackey? Eek!

Another thing I can do to satisfy my design craving is go back to the Celadon outlet and NOT buy the bookcases. When I went, I saw a pale chair with a hybrid Gothic/Moorish arch on the back. It was under $100. The exact price escapes me, but I think it was $75, which isn’t at all bad for a dining chair. If they have two of those, I can buy them to expand our dining room seating from four to six. We frequently host hours-long card games, so having more chairs would be a boon. We usually just drag in the piano bench, and I get nervous every time some hulking guy plumps down on it. Furthermore, if my mother in law lets me have her white Danish-style chairs when I get their big black table after they move, the two Gothic chairs would make excellent captain’s chairs at the head and foot of the table. If she doesn’t, the two Gothic chairs would still make excellent captain’s chairs; I’ll just be pitching a raving, lunatic fit while I shop for four more chairs. I should probably sell advance tickets. That tantrum promises to be entertaining.

Naturally, I’ll go back to Celadon, cash in hand, and there won’t be two of the Gothic chair, and I’ll talk myself out of just buying one, or there will be two, but I won’t have any peace about buying them. “Peace” is always how my mom described having a mental or emotional check on doing something that’s probably a bad idea, or the timing is wrong. She ascribes that feeling to the Holy Spirit. I’ve felt that many times when I was all revved up to buy or do something and I just couldn’t and
couldn’t explain why. Sometimes it was an upset stomach providing the jerk on the reins. Sometimes it was certainly the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the sour stomach and the Holy Spirit feel pretty much the same. But I didn’t do or buy what it was I wanted to do or buy, and not doing it has always proven to be a good decision.

**Update** I did go back to Celadon, cash in hand. And there was only one of the Gothic chairs and I didn't buy it. Instead, I went to Next to New in Mt. Pleasant and bought a scrolly mahogany table that had been painted celery green. It wasn't a bargain. In fact, it was [Price Redacted], but I loved it, and I'm using it as a nightstand.

I won’t die if I don’t do any of the above. In fact, just writing it all down and puzzling it out takes a lot of the urgent sting out of it. I’m also pretty easily distracted by pretty things. In a day or two, I’ll have another “great” idea that will feel like I can’t breathe if I don’t do it RIGHT NOW. I’ll live through that
too. What’s more important than how trendy and tasteful our home is, is how our guests feel in it.

Nobody’s ever complained of feeling unwelcome, so I can quit obsessing any time now. Maybe I’ll quit obsessing tomorrow. After my next big idea.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shabby Apple

My Shabby Apple Cider Dress arrived today. Thoughts: The color is beautiful and the lines are flattering. I really like the sassy purple zipper. The Cider Dress is marked as "Fits Generously" and it definitely does. My measurements are 45/35/43. I ordered an XL, which fit in the bust and shoulders, but is quite wide in the waist and hips, so I'll be taking it in on the sides. I'd venture to guess it had about an extra four inches in the hips. That's good news for certain friends of mine with *ahem* assets. I am 5'9.5 and the hem came to the bottom of my knee cap. The scooped neckline is a little higher than I expected, but that's hardly a problem since my collarbone still shows. Material is a stretch cotton. Now you know, girls.