Archive for March, 2010


New Shoes

I’ve been playing around with Polyvore for a while—even before I read this article in The New Yorker—but this (admittedly weakfish) offering is my first foray into “set” making. I creatively titled this little creation “New Shoes” because I just won these shoes on Ebay. And I’m excited, because I’ve been kind of sad FOR YEARS that they sold out before I had the chance to get them on the now-extinct J. Crew super sales—back in the glorious days when the 15% educator discount could be added onto the 20% final sale discount—which is how I previously acquired bright yellow patent leather flats, silver, green, and yellow patent Mary Janes*, and a pair of lamentably uncomfortable orange patent heels that reside in the drawer of my desk at school, to be worn only for short (and clumsy) walks within the building. J. Crew flats and the Mary Janes have proven to be quite wearable so, even in the wake of a mass-shoe cleansing in which I took a bag of pinchy, blistery, rubby, and otherwise nasty pairs of shoes to Goodwill, I felt comfortable investing $30 in these.

Although lots of people probably use Polyvore to plan purchases, I’ve been using it instead to “shop my closet.” Sometimes I surf through sets that contain items that I already own, like this skirt or these boots, but actually making the sets is kind of an odd experience. First of all, you have to re-shop all of the things you already own, either by returning to the websites where you bought them or by searching through items that have already been imported into Polyvore. Admittedly, this is kind of easy for me. Polyvore is pretty heavy on the J. Crew. “Clipping” is a far more laborious process than buying things in the first place but, once you get to the set building, it’s almost as satisfying. . .or frustrating.

It turns out that I can’t figure out how to virtually wear some of the same things that stump me in real life. So my sets end up looking like how I look all of the time anyway. Pink t-shirts, pearl earrings, weird J Crew shoes and necklaces, cardigans, and the exact same pair of pants in every case. I was hoping that I could make some sets to plan my packing for the next two weeks, but basically I’ve discovered what I already knew—that I should probably just bring the pink t-shirts and pearls.

There are some kind of funny foibles inherent in a Polyvore set. You now know, of course, that I did not pay $110 for these shoes at jcrew.com. I didn’t buy any of these items from any of these places, nor did I pay any of these prices. The earrings are an utter fabrication—my pearl studs were a gift, years ago, from my dad to my mom, and they aren’t Tiffany. I don’t know why those subtle differences are interesting to me—perhaps I’d like to think that I’m more of an individual than the linkability of my wardrobe seems to indicate—but then again, I’m interested in these kinds of things. (Get it? Things. ha. ha. )

*Emma Pilsbury did wear these on Glee. I also like to keep things really, really clean.

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good morning

I am a fruit bat.

This week, I went through three cantaloupes, one honeydew, and two boxes of strawberries.

Also pictured: my new favorite breakfast. Quick-cooking Irish steel-cut oatmeal cooked in the microwave with Trader Joe’s organic raisins, topped with cinnamon, maple syrup, and walnut pieces. The green Anthropologie bowl was a gift from Ricky. There’s a frog at the bottom. I love it. When we’re both here, we fight over it.

It snowed last night. I have lots and lots of cleaning to do around the house today.

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little things

Little things tend to haunt me—that $2 box of nails that I’ve been meaning to return to Home Depot forever but is still in the trunk of my car, the un-sortable jumble of spatulas and knives that inhabits my kitchen drawers, the scratch on the hatchback of my new car that nobody can see but me. These things—and so many like them—sometimes really do keep me up at night. And this, I know, is not good.

But the other side of my obsession over the small stuff (which, against all advice, I do tend to “sweat”) is that really little things also tend to make me really happy. Today, for instance, I unexpectedly found happiness in the Target parking lot. Maybe other people—the kind of people who can sleep no matter what is going on in the corners of their closets and at the bottom of their dresser drawers—aren’t struck by moments of complete happiness in the same way that I sometimes am. But when it happens, I stop and take note:

sunny day

errands under control

iced coffee

hot cross bun from the Target bakery (mediocre in all the right ways–sweet, soft, and rich with icing)

car door open to the surprisingly open vista of grass beyond the parking lot

. . .and the last Liberty of London for Target teapot in town in my possession.  And a few more brightly printed things (just for good measure). It was a good day.

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On Friday, Ricky and I randomly decided to go to Chicago for the weekend. It turned out that many drunk people wearing green plastic hats also made this decision: alack, alas. But it was wonderful to do some city-wandering again (how I miss my flanerie), even though it rained and rained all day long on Saturday. We visited the Magnificent Mile, cast an obliging glance down at the freshly-dyed river, ate waffles while watching show-off ice skaters in Millennium Park, tried to contain our horror at how many specimens of now-extinct species inhabit the glass cases at the Field museum, and saw an unexpectedly wonderful play at a little theater. The lobby of the theater was cluttered with an inviting jumble of thrift-store furniture and served tea and pastries—and the play was innovative and entertaining despite its rather heavy-handed deployment of a central character named “Hope.”

Mostly it felt good to get out and to get away—which is odd, really, since I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. But I always do miss busy streets, trains, tall buildings and the kind of spaces where you can walk for hours and still be very much somewhere, in the middle of things (as opposed to the middle of a field). I even kind of miss the gross warm air that seeps up at you from sidewalk grates. Despite my fits of longing and nostalgia for a Boston that was perhaps never really like the Boston that I remember now, I’m very happy with Madison. It’s an easy place to be a student and to live a rather calm and outdoorsy kind of life. I used to only like to walk in cities. Now I also like to walk by lakes. But I guess that there is something in me that still misses all that hurry and crush. Time again, perhaps, to read my favorite bit of Woolf. And to plan a trip to London.

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My tiny farmers’ market plants have (almost) made it through the winter—and gained a few companions, too.

Is it wrong that I’m already missing winter and the sparse pleasures of a snowy landscape? Winter isn’t over yet, really—I know better than to believe fully in this gray and muddy thaw—but, while trawling through my photo library in hopes of discovering something unpublished that I could use to break my blogging silence, I found this little bit of green and white and found myself suddenly longing for the kind of light that only happens in a very snowy place.

That was a very long sentence. A very long way of saying (I summarize now in a fragment) that I love winter. I couldn’t live without it. And it’s funny that the thing I really love about winter is the light—because there is, for so long, so little light. But what light there is can be so stunningly bright—and perhaps that’s why I love it so.

Then again, I’m very, very good at having a very, very selective memory…and perhaps that’s what we have to do to survive, particularly when we live in Wisconsin.

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