Category Archives: Philosophy

Some Thoughts About Clothes

When I was a senior in high school my show chorus director told us that he wanted to go in a different direction for our big concert. “No black and white,” he said.  “I want you to dress like you live in SoHo and got dressed in the dark, without a mirror.” I grinned.  I immediately knew what I was going to wear.   When I later asked him if he had been thinking of my personal aesthetic, Mr. Morisette admitted that he had been going for that “cool” look.  When I told my fellow alto about the admission I was laughing, but she was frustrated. “If he had just said ‘dress like Patsy’ I would have known what he meant!” she complained.  I’m not sure she knew what SoHo was. (For the record I’m pretty sure I wore some sort of mix of patterns to that concert.  I know I wore my favorite shirt at the time, a tank top I’d bought in boston that looked like it was covered in ginormous sprinkles.) My fashion sense is the second biggest thing I get asked about on a regular basis.  The biggest is my cooking, which I’ve already written about somewhat on this blog.  But I’ve avoided writing about fashion.  I’m not sure why.  Partly because it sort of feels like bragging, like talking about myself too much.  Partly because it feels so personal. I didn’t always love clothes.  In fact, I used to hate them.  I felt it was my job as a modern woman (see: 13 year old) to eschew all the artifacts of femininity: skirts, dresses, makeup, clothes with shape.  If I wear makeup, I thought, it’s because I don’t like my own face enough.  Paying attention to current fashion trends meant I wasn’t paying attention to more important things.  I was a serious adult.  (Maybe I was 14 at this point.)  I cared about serious things. But I didn’t like myself.  My too-big, shapeless shirts, my lots and lots of black (I was clearly lying to myself about not paying attention to clothes), the sweats picked out due to their “practicality”…they all were a big, flashing neon sign that said STAY AWAY.  Only not as pretty.  Not putting makeup on my face didn’t mean I liked it.  Throwing clothes on my body without caring if they fit didn’t mean I was proud of myself.  I just told myself that was what it meant. I blame a lot of my interest in fashion on my time living in Germany, but really I think that living in Germany happened to happen at the same time that I started growing up.  And I grew up in a place with a lot of amazing food and a lot of amazing clothes.  That certainly had an effect.  But mostly I realized that I didn’t like hating myself anymore, and even more I didn’t like hating other people.  You see, I didn’t just believe that me putting on makeup meant I hated my face.  I believed that of everyone who put on makeup, who picked out nice clothes, who cared how they looked.  I labeled a huge amount of people as vacuous, self-centered and stupid all without knowing them.  Literally based on their appearance alone.  That made it pretty difficult to make friends, and it made it difficult to be happy.  When you are going around judging everyone for their use of mascara you have little self left to appreciate what’s good.  You’re just kind of a miserable person whose eyes hurt from being narrowed at the world all the time.  

Clothes–and, slowly, makeup–have become a creative outlet for me.  When I’ve been too burnt out and busy from college to write or create, I could always put together a kick-ass outfit.  When I’m too sick to leave the house I can swipe on some wild lipstick.  I learned that the amount of confidence it takes to go to high school dressed entirely in taupe, or in a shirt covered in what look like sprinkles, makes a person a lot more fun to be around.  It’s not something that happens all at once.  But I feel like I can actually say that it has made me a more creative and even a better person.

Ask anyone who’s gone clothes shopping with me: I’m both the worst and the best shopping date.  The worst because if I actually want to shop for myself I will comb endlessly though all the racks, try everything on, hedge and hem and haw and eventually–after hours of this–leave with maybe two or three pieces.  The best because I push the poor sucker along with me into trying on things they’d never consider, encourage them to think about themselves in new contexts and endlessly find new things that they will like in the racks.  The worst because I almost never say that no, it isn’t worth buying, especially at that price.

Say “Ha”

I don’t think of myself as a particularly funny person.  I have always enjoyed making people laugh but that has just been a side effect of my love of telling stories.  Laughter is like any other reaction that informs a storyteller that the listener is engaged.  I enjoy laughter for the same reason I enjoyed receiving rejection letters back when I was submitting my writing for publication–it meant my work was received, and considered, and an opinion had been formed.  I guess I just like being heard.

Sickness as a greater idea is in no way humorous.  It is a moustache-twisting, fairy tale thief of energy, time, money and peace.  (Now that I think about this, that image is kind of funny.)  There is no sane person who will sit down and argue that you should laugh about illness.  If someone tries I highly recommend the punch-them-in-the-face method of argument.  It is quick, efficient and only barely exceeds the amount of time and energy worth spending on such a person.

I do think, however, that being sick as a day-to-day experience can be side-splitting.  This is a very foreign idea to those who have not spend a great deal of time around the sick, but it was something I was familiar with long before this past year.  I’ve had bedridden friends manage to set rabbits loose on recovery centers and draw mustaches on nurses’ framed portraits.  And I have my own experiences.

I want to tell you three stories of silly sickness.  It might not be funny to you at all.  This might be because I’m just not telling it right, or else because it just isn’t very funny.  But to me this is part of the being sick experience and it’s very funny to me.

The Stubborn Wedding:

Two years ago we were invited to a spectacular wedding.  One thing about me you have to know is that I positively adore weddings: I love the schmalz, the tears, the music, the food, the dancing, and on and on.  I love picking out gifts and cards for them.  I love stressing over what to wear.  I love cooing over the dresses and the centerpieces.  I just am a sucker for weddings, and this one was tops.  It was in a gorgeous manor with great food and spectacular views, lovely personality and great stories.  We were put up in the nicest bed and breakfast I have ever seen.  The weather was perfect.  Only one thing was wrong: I was desperately ill.  At the time I was dealing with the fallout from having MRSA, the main thing of which was having absolutely no immune system.  I had a 102 degree fever and white spots on my burning throat.

And darn it if I did not go to–and enjoy–every part of that wedding.  Swaying slightly, I chatted with newfound family members at the rehearsal dinner bonfire and cried at the ceremony.  I laughed at the speeches and argued with cousins.  I even danced!  And after it all I went back to the bed and breakfast and shook violently from fever in the very fancy jacuzzi.

(This might seem more crazy than funny, but to me it is hilarious.  I also feel that I must add I was not contagious at all–merely very ill.)

The Half-Klingon:

This is the story of the aforementioned MRSA.  I had some weird blisters on my nose and a slight fever the day of a church retreat and so managed to get into the doctor before heading down.  He thought it was probably shingles but wasn’t sure and so gave some antibiotics and antivirals just in case.  As you’ve probably noticed I tend to be a stubborn fool and so insisted on going to the retreat despite the goings on, over my more sensible husband’s objections.  I was feeling ill and feverish by the evening but thought the meds would probably help and felt proud of myself for going to bed early.

Unfortunately I woke up at 6am with my face so swollen my eyes would barely open and my forehead very red and spongy.  Somewhere in this world is photographic proof that for a weekend in 2013 I looked like a half-Klingon without the need of any prosthetics.  Had my fever been lower and my condition been less contagious (at the emergency room they pumped me full of steroids and gave me the sort of meds generally reserved for warding off malaria) I would have fit in at any convention anywhere, given my war cry was up to snuff.

The Ball Game:

And now a story from the relative present.  A few months ago we were visiting my in-laws for the weekend, largely to free my husband up from having to do everything while I just lay there and watched.  (Basically how things go nowaday.)  This turned out to not go as planned when I had a terrible weak spell and found myself utterly unable to make it up the stairs to the bedroom on my own, collapsing halfway up.

Now Tucker, my in-laws’ labradoodle, and I have a very special relationship.  Since he was a puppy he has wiggled with joy whenever he sees me and to this day gets extra zoomies when I’m around.  So when he zoomed up the stairs, squeezing past my collapsed self, then running back down to me I assumed that he was trying to help.  We all–my husband who had run to assist me, my in-laws who were not far behind–smiled and laughed at his puppy-ish attempts at aid.

But we laughed a lot harder when he ran back up to the top, grabbed a ball and dropped it down the steps to my captive form.  He wasn’t trying to help at all–he was trying to play.
Matt picked me up and carried me the rest of the way up the stairs and into bed, and poor Tucker had to wait until another, better time for catch-and-throw.

On Getting More Christmas

So I have a confession to make:

I do not have a television.

Okay, so it’s not a confession if everyone already knows.  And I’m not too secretive about the fact that I do not own a TV.  I don’t want one.  I had one once and gave it away within a few months.  The only times I ever miss it are when I want to pull out my PS2 to play Kingdom Hearts, and even then I feel foolish for not just going out and buying the right cables to hook my game system up to Matt’s giant flat screen monitor.  For some reason I’ve never gotten around to doing that.

But all the same, I hate saying those words.  “Oh, we don’t have a television.”  It seems impossible to say any variation of the sentence without sounding smarmy, proud, judgmental.  And I’m really not!  I don’t own a television because I can’t afford cable, and I see no point in having it gather dust in the closet.  I still consume plenty of media.  Thanks to Netflix, Hulu and our local library I am currently following three shows as they air (How I Met Your Mother, Agents of SHIELD and Almost Human) and three more that are all finished airing (The X-Files, Breaking Bad and Leverage).  I listen to NPR pretty much every time we’re in the car, or the kitchen, or relaxing in the evening.  I watch a lot of movies when I have the time.  I consume media, and I really enjoy it.  I also really miss the Food Network.  If we could afford cable I would probably get it just for that.

And that darn Food Network, which refuses for some reason to even allow its shows to stream on Netflix, is what brings me to gravitate towards a television whenever I am in a hotel.  I used to fall asleep with the TV on in college a lot and I have fond nostalgic feelings toward it.  In November I was staying at a hotel three out of four weekends.  Guess what I did a lot of?

Continue reading On Getting More Christmas

The Creativity of the Every Day

For more information about artist’s dates and the book The Artist’s Way check out this post.

So I didn’t go on an artist’s date this past week.  I know, I know.  I had one planned!  I was going to make a giant pillow fort and watch a movie in it.  Or make a batch of doughnuts on the stove to learn how to keep hot oil at a steady temperature.  Or take out a book with absolutely no literary merit and fall into it for a couple of hours.  Or go through multiple painting books to pick out wall colors for the house.

See?  I had plans.

But of course I ended up taking extra hours at work.  And I went to a life group on spiritual practices Tuesday night.  And I had a work party to plan and prep for.  And the apartment needed cleaning.  (Full disclosure: I didn’t actually clean the apartment.  I just thought about doing it.)  Anyway, the point is that it’s not my fault I never got to it.  It’s the universes fault.

Ha.  Hahaha.

Continue reading The Creativity of the Every Day

Perspective

Two weeks ago, I set up an entire posting schedule for this blog.  It was going to be twice a week, and half a dozen topics were already written or outlined.  It was going to be easy.  A busy week later, and you can see my neglect, so the first post I saw queued this afternoon when I logged in was a “A Tale of Two Rings.”  Make fun of my literary illusions at your peril.

It is the little details that attract your attention after the fact: the lower left corner of the screen window frame that is busted, and the slight curve of the screen;  The glad assurance that you planned ahead, and kept a little extra cash around;  The happiness that your incipient bank-collapse paranoia a year ago led you to open a second account at a local bank.

The details do nothing to erase the memory of writing another narrative this morning, a new kind, a police report.  Before you panic, last night someone broke into our apartment and stole a handful of items from one room.  At least three other houses nearby experienced the same treatment.

I’m pretty ambivalent about my possessions and have been working on reducing what I own.  Patsy can tell you that most physical objects aren’t important to me.  The loss of the wallet didn’t bother me – I hope someone needs the $12 or so that was in it.  My cards will all be cancelled, but heck, they can always e-mail me — they have a few of my business cards.  A wallet was just a carrier, a container, a bulge in my pocket.  Patsy doesn’t feel quite the same way about her purse, but that also contained her passport, which is a pain to replace.

It was the loss of the precious little secrets that I had left work early to pick up from Williams Goldsmiths in Topsham.  They were the one thing we had planned on forever, the one place where we didn’t compromise, the one piece of real extravagance in our wedding.

Whoever broke into our apartment walked away with our wedding bands.
We’d only worn them long enough to try them on and to know they fit perfectly.

The best way I have to reconcile this is that whoever broke into our apartment must have really needed the cash to feed their family.  The bands will feed them this month.  Is this exactly true?  Probably not, but it is the world that I prefer until the police recover our rings and tell me differently.

As Patsy said as we were standing outside the apartment, waiting for the police to do their work, “First World Problems”.  Despite the loss I am blessed to be marrying Patsy, blessed to be safe, and blessed that I have so many loving people around me.  I don’t know what we’ll be doing about rings, but at this point, what matters is that I’m still getting married to the love of my life, Patricia Frey.

A Registry

When you get married, it is expected that you’ll be moving in together, and needing a laundry list of new things to set up your household.  You get the toasters, the silverware set, the china, and it all goes into immediate use.  That is the purpose of a registry.

For us though, we’re blessed.  Right before I started living on my own, my grandmother passed away, and with her characteristic generosity and good timing to furnish my entire apartment, from mixing bowls to the wonderful hand-me-down Kitchen-Aid Mixer.  In terms of material possessions, we’re all set.

Despite this, people kept sitting us down to ask about a registry.  What do you what?  What do you need?  My answer, while terribly romantic was less than helpful, since few stores let you list “the love of Patricia Frey” as an item.

After about the sixth person, we finally sat down over Afternoon Tea and developed up with a list.  These are a list of things we want, a dream list, but as long as we have each other, are happy.  We’re just glad that you’re coming, but those looking for the registry can find it here.

Since we’re doing the registry in a slightly irregular way, Jan Davis (my mom) is curating the registry.  If you get something off of it, or want further inspiration, e-mail her at revjlwd@gmail.com.