Mary Janes

first gradeWe were still living in California, so I couldn’t have been older than 7.  It was Easter and my mother had sewn me the most beautiful dress.  It was peach and satin and roses.  It begged for twirling and preening.  I had brand new, unscuffed patent leather mary janes to wear with it.

Oh my.  I was beautiful that Easter Sunday in my new dress and new shoes and curled hair.

Then Monday morning arrived.  I’d been given permission to wear that glorious dress to school.  I dressed.  Petticoat, dress, shoes.  I left the gloves off.  Mom said, “No.”  No mary janes.  I had to wear the ugly, the soooooooooooo ugly corrective shoes with that beauteous dress.

I was shocked.  Incredulous.  Abashed.  Pale and wan.

And, yet.  The dress was better than nothing.

I spent the whole day at school staring at the juxtaposition of the ugly shoes with the beautiful dress.  I couldn’t make the two mesh.  Complete discord.

To this day, I have to have the right shoe for the outfit.  I blame my mother.

If the only thing you can blame your mother for is your shoe fetish, you’ve had a good life.

It’s good to be me.

In praise of the perfect purse.

marshallpurse (2)The beginning of the school year through about February is the time of year I try to get a little more organized. The craze peaks with the New Year, generally. Year after year, January and February provoke me to look for ways to streamline and minimalize my life. While the grand plans of these two months seldom materialize in their entirety, I do make baby steps of progress.

This year I’m peaking early. At least I hope I’m peaking – I can’t sustain this frenzy for too much longer.

Often on this list of improvements is the acquisition of the Perfect Purse. Year after year, I try to downsize. As is my predilection, I take it too far. Even I should realize that I can’t go from a laptop briefbag to a clutch large enough for my driver’s license and a single Tic Tac.

comparison (2)I’ve been carrying HUGE purses since junior high. It started because it was fashionable. Some of the women amongst us will remember that time between girlhood and adulthood when we had to work to find stuff to put in our purses. We were too young for makeup, driver’s licenses and keys. Mace wasn’t invented yet. And we didn’t have cell phones, laptops, ipods, water bottles, or complicated calendar-agenda thingies. We didn’t have checkbooks, bills, tax receipts, legal pads or unpaid parking tickets.

What we had was a wallet bursting with classmate photos, a note from the cute boy in the second row, 45 cents for lunch, the sacred hair brush, the emergency dime, and a dusty sanitary napkin in the event the gym teacher wasn’t lying and we could expect the full bloom of womanhood any second.

By 9th grade, we did have the makeup and menstrual products, but that still wasn’t enough to get enough weight into the bottom of a tapestry carpetbag that was all the rage of the stylin’ and profilin’. Without sufficient weight, the thing looked stupid. So I tossed in a couple of books, some magazines, a transistor radio, spare batteries, another hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of clothes, my school books, and poster paints.

makeup (3)As time went on, the truly useless stuff got evicted (poster paints) and true necessities (mousse, butane curling iron, Sony Walkman, leg warmers) got thrown in. Those things were evicted and replaced with diapers, pacifiers, thermometers, Tylenol, etc.

By the time I was 30, carrying a suitcase for a purse was so entrenched I didn’t think anything of it. I carried everything I might conceivably need with me at all times. (Until the TSA waged war on American airline passengers, I carried a corkscrew.)

Periodically, I think I might be able to rattle around town without quite so much and downsize to a small purse.

Trekking up and down the hill in the snow usually provokes the small purse thing. (Thank you, very much, I will not have to climb the hill this year due to the acquisition of the Subaru. Unless there is a big honking blizzard in which case, I will dance up the hill because BIG snow is fun.)

Last time, I thought I was being more realistic in the downsizing thing. I downsized to a fetching little Liz Claiborne number in a hot red with sizzling silver links. It looked big enough to hold more than a driver’s license and a Tic Tac.

It kind of worked. Everything fit, more or less except I had to take out everything to get to the one thing I wanted.

That got old.

keys I also had to downsize the key ring(s) for there even to be a prayer. I carry two rings of keys. One ring holds the car key, the house key, the post office key, the car remote, and the office key I use most. The second ring holds the other 7 office keys, keys I’ve had so long I don’t know what they are, and a huge circa 2005 4 gig flash drive I use to carry software between offices.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that what works for me best is the open pit purse – a purse with no dividers , just a gaping maw like the carpetbag of old. They’re very hard to find.  Very.  This past summer I purchased a most-fetching white gaping maw hobo bag.  Well, it was kind of a gaping maw, but the designer insisted on dividing the maw.  It was better than most – far better.  I was in purse heaven. I vowed to no longer flirt with a little purse.

gaping maw (2)When it came time to get out winter’s black purse, all the dividers and pockets and thises and thats made me crazy. I couldn’t find anything and kept having to dump it all out on a floor somewhere to find that one essential thing I needed.

So, the other day I was at Marshall’s when, no kidding, this purse leaped off a hook into my basket where it bounced off the side with some English spin and into my loving arms like a well-sunk 8-ball. I am in purse heaven. It’s huge, has the requisite SINGLE gaping maw, and was made by a bunch of Italians with a sense of how leather is supposed to perform. It cost more than I usually spend, but it is quite possibly the perfect purse. Some of you will scoff, saying there is no perfect purse. You may be right. You are probably right. But right now I think it’s perfect and that’s enough for today.

So what’s in your purse?

Returning to the world with grace and style.

Oh sure, I suppose it could be colder and the morning commute worse, etc. etc., but I might have handled it with more grace if draped in fur knowing TrueLove SuperStud was watching.

I left my office for vacation on Dec. 21st. Today was my first day back. After nearly two weeks off, I could still use some more time. That I stayed up last night until nearly 2 a.m. fighting with the damn sewing machine didn’t help me transition this morning.

He was an (externally) gorgeous man.

I used to think it a sign of a great vacation to return to work more tired than when I left. Sometimes, I still feel that way. The truth is, this time, I am not more tired. Two weeks off did me (and my abode) a world of good, but like hitting the snooze alarm and muttering, “Ten more minutes, “ I wanted a couple more days.

And I certainly didn’t want 16F and a dusting snow that turned to ice on the windshield.

While “on vacation,” I kept the house a balmy 72F, sometimes a tropical 75F, round-the-clock. Aberrant behavior, you betcha. I loathe paying Appalachian Power one cent more than I have too. But, hey! I was on vacation.

After the indignities of the day (filling the gas tank, finding myself too large to button the stylish down coat that matched my stylish high-heeled boots which also felt too small, and walking into small, but muchly unwelcome problems at the office), I returned to a home holding, per the thermostat, at 55F. The thermostat’s been cranking since then and it may achieve a room temp of 70 or so before I crawl into bed, but since my last act on the way up the stairs will be turn it down to 58F or so, tomorrow morning will be unpleasant.

Eventually, I’ll acclimate to this, my normal winter regime. And, really, I shouldn’t complain. Unlike last year, winter pretty much arrived when it was supposed to. Theoretically, it could all be over but the shouting in 10-12 weeks. But the truth is, I left the house today wearing stylish boots and returned home wearing my office slipper booties because they were warmer and more comfortable. I also parked at a meter instead of in the lot I pay to park in. The meter was a half-block closer to the door.

I’m going to need a few more days to handle Old Man Winter with grace and style.

Well, yeah, it's not this bad.

Still, the cold is paralyzing me. I’ve been so productive around the house the past few weeks and I’ve loved catching up on projects, starting some new ones, planning some others and enjoying the improvements. The last thing I need is to spend the next 12 weeks burrowed on the couch shivering my my-time away.