A friend who was laid off at the same time called today. First he asked how I was holding up, then said he'd had a thought. I thought his thought would relate to job hunting, or Ramen noodle recipes, or recycling old lunches or how we could sneak into corporate break rooms and raid them for food for our children, but he said he thought I should get a doctor's note to shop as therapy. Brilliant.
I couldn't agree more. What kind of doctor is going to give me the note? Shrink? Physician? Chiropractor? They would probably agree that regardless of some random commitment I made to the blogosphere, that job loss constitutes a reason for SOME type of retail therapy. In the past I would have used any excuse to shop. Bummed- I need a new t-shirt. Call from the cops at midnight to pick up my teenage son- gosh a new pair of jeans sounds just like the "ticket". Stubbed toe- shoes. Broken nail- handbag! And on, and on, and on.
But as much as I'd like to get behind the concept, I'm pretty stubborn and since it has been 59!! days since I've shopped, I'm not about to break down like a weakling and have to start over because of something as minor as LOSING MY JOB.
I'm kidding there, because it really is quiet jolting. This is only the second time in my life I've been terminated, unfortunately they both happened within two years of each other. It stinks a foul stench. Am I losing my edge, picking the wrong companies, short sighted, blind? Ah, rhetorical questions with no answer. I hate those.
It continues to be so weird to be unemployed. I'm as hard working as they come and all this free time is aggravating. The sun is shining and my basement is a wreck, having been destroyed by too much time on my hands.
Note: The sun has gone down, the basement is worse, but I painted a wall and the beautiful blue cornflower color is making me happy.
I'm feeling a bit better today, that's what happens when life sucks, eventually the sun comes out and things look up. At least for people like me. It will take maybe days or weeks, but things will sort themselves out, they always do.
So last night, instead of thinking about unemployment I started musing more on our Vegas trip and I remembered a thought I had at the Charleston Street mall. I kept wondering if the fact that I was sick was part of my UN-enthusiasm for shopping or if I'd really lost my edge for shopping gluttony. There were sales everywhere, and as I said last week in my post, people were nuts. But is it a good deal if you don't need it? Is crazy shopping an epidemic, like the swine flu?
I swear I felt a herd mentality in that outdoor mall. Kind of like when you eat too fast and swallow things whole, but these people were swallowing shopping whole.
DON'T BE LEFT OUT LIKE AN IDIOT, GET ON BOARD AND SHOP, SHOP, SHOP.
Shouldn't there be more thoughtful consideration to life, instead of rushing though it like herded cattle?
At 4:00pm yesterday I was laid off from my job. Jolting. I don't have words to describe how that felt although I should know. In 2007:
I got divorced.
My dad died.
I got laid off.
It was a rough year. So really this one thing doesn't quite compare. Plus I could see the writing on the wall and had already gone out and started networking.
But, as I pulled out of the parking garage and down the street, I started crying, which is so uncharacteristic. In the normal course of things, I'm fairly stoic and despise weak and floppy women. That's my best word for them, floppy. Because life is hard and nasty and rough. And part of being in it is bucking up and just getting through. But I cried, and I hated myself for it. Mostly it was the loss of something that had started out so promising. Something similar to what I felt at the end of both (sigh) of my marriages. You push and pull and give and try and yet, it isn't enough. You fail. In that failure we often find the future and some hope, but on that 30 minute ride home I cried my eyes out and wept in sadness for the loss. I considered coming home and getting raging drunk, passing out and taking a break. But life goes on and I had a dance recital to attend, so I fixed my make-up and put on a happy face.
This morning I feel better, but keep wondering if it is the change, the uncertainty, the sadness or the mixture of rage that is making me sick to my stomach. Maybe a little of each? One thing I am happy about is that now this experiment might be important as opposed to a whim, it might be how I buy Ramen noodles for the next couple of months.
I'm not whining (I hate whiners), because I'm very lucky. Probably within a few weeks I'll have another job. But in that time it will be fun to do a bunch of auctions, clean out the cobwebs and go to town downsizing my life- even if it is more of a forced exercise. I tend to look on the bright side of things (yes,I'm annoyingly happy and cheerful), and I am looking forward to spending more time with my kids and decompressing, even if I'm forced to eat Ramen noodles in lieu of my beloved sushi.
Our trip to Vegas continues to provide me with a wealth of thought provoking topics. When I went through our pictures, I found these two:
I especially like how my daughter (Emily) pretends not to look at them in the first picture, then mocks them in the next one. She was raised right. But really, look at these guys. They are commiserating in the middle of a walkway and holding a zillion bags while their wives are off buying more bounty and blowing their kids college funds.
This just isn't a sight we've seen in a while. And I'm wondering how that conversation went.
"honey, I want to go shopping at a gigantic mall in Las Vegas and spend thousands of dollars"
Saturday was our last day in Vegas, so we went to the pool and then- surprise— shopping!!
We hit an outlet mall on Charleston Street. Turns out we should have spent the entire time there because they had the best deals, plus every single person in the world was shopping there. It was crowded and when I yelled "WE'RE IN A RECESSION PEOPLE, WHY ARE YOU SPENDING MONEY??" at the top of my lungs, no one blinked an eye, they just kept handing over their credit cards.
When we went into the Coach store, I had an actual coronary. It was packed, and not with window shoppers. Here is a picture of the check out line-
And another picture of the crowd in the store…
They threw me out of the store for taking pictures, but were very nice about it.
Where did all these people come from? Are they pretending not to shop at home and going loco when they hit Vegas, returning home to hide packages from friends and neighbors? According to the popular media, no one is shopping and the economy as we know it has shriveled up and died. Did someone suddenly discover a wealth of recently printed cash or did I miss the latest stimulus check sent to my house? Whatever it was, these folks were out in buying force. Part of it might have been these signs scattered throughout every store:
Some of the sales went up to 90% off. Whatever it was, it was working because I've never seen anything like it. A Frenzy. Crazed. Wild. Out of Control. Are we working our way out of the recession? I'm not helping because I'm on my 48th DAY WITHOUT SHOPPING. Feels kind of good, kind of bad. Perhaps what a sadomasochist feels like when using nipple clamps, but I'm only guessing.
We kicked the day off with a trip to the pool. Heaven.
Then to Caesars Palace and The Forum Shops. Talk about excess. This place is the originator of all things over the top. Crazy stores, and crazy people.
Look at this women's accessory, which at first glance looks like a toy guitar. But IT IS A BIG ASS FROZEN DRINK slung over her shoulder. Huh? If I drank that much at a mall I'd probably buy a Dolce and Gabanna non-returnable dress on sale that looked like a marshmallow on crack and cost 4 grand.
I wanted to follow her around all afternoon and see if she ended up face down in one of the lovely pools they have in the atrium with that creepy moving Caesar shouting and pointing at her stupidity. But my daughter wouldn't let me.
She's a much nicer person than I am.
One thing I noticed on this trip is that the clerks in the higher end stores are much nicer than they were even a couple of months ago. Last time I was here I visited the Stuart Weitzman store in the Forum Shops. The clerks kept up a fascinating conversation about botox and ignored me while I wandered the store. I don't look like a bum, although admittedly I do let myself go a bit while on vacation, but this is one of my favorite shoe brands and I can afford and own several pair, so they made me mad. But on our trip last week it was as though all the clerks had been sent to How To Create Joy In The Shopping Experience or You Better Damn Well Be Nice To The Customer school. They were polite. They were nice. They were helpful and smiley. It was weird.
In search of the prom dress we went into the Dolce and Gabanna store and Emily found two dresses. She asked if she could try them on and I hissed "no, they don't want you trying on the 6 thousand dollar dress if you aren't going to buy it. And this sweet man with a alluring British accent said, "oh, I don't care, let her try them on." Which is how she ended up happy and feeling like a princess in a dress that yes, cost $4,995.00.
My daughter and I arrived in Vegas at 9:30am and went straight to our hotel. After quickly checking in we strolled down to Fashion Show Mall. If you haven't been there it is an enormous collection of stores- among which are many of my favorites. We don't have a Zara in my town, and last year I found an amazing maxi dress there, so I was looking forward to going- but mixed with some trepidation.
Then a miracle happened. Because I'm carefully considering each purchase instead of launching headlong into buying, buying, buying, buying, buying…most things just don't intrigue me anymore. The careful consideration seems to have made my my purchase trigger finger much less triggery. Is that a word?
And something funky weird is happening. I'm shopping and shopping and shopping and I'm really not finding that much I really want to buy. The world is ending. It is strange and unfamiliar territory and I may have dropped straight into The Twilight Zone.
My birthday is coming up so in a month so I know I'll have an opportunity to get something and that is keeping me on the hunt, but this disaffection with shopping is scaring me. However my daughter seems to be doing fine.
The count for today:
1 prom dress
1 pair jeans
2 summer dresses
1 very cool black tshirt
Earrings and a necklace
The real hell was that we spent 8 HOURS STRAIGHT SHOPPING. Something that in the past I would have enjoyed with wonder and glee. The saving grace was the 8 hours I spent with my beautiful girl all to myself.
Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up from the nightmare with a renewed sense of commitment to acquisition. If not, someone better call a medic, because I'm sick and might not recover.
Tomorrow I'm going to Vegas for an abrieviated spring break with my youngest daughter. She is my shopaholic child and someone I traditionally shop with when I'm blue. She asked to go to Vegas and buy her prom dress and the working mommy guilt kicked into overdrive and I said yes. What I didn't realize at the time was how hard it might be for me, and we haven't even gotten there yet.
I should be packing right now, but instead I'm wondering where to start. Traditionally I would just throw whatever I felt like into the suitcase, knowing full well it would be fine to forget something, I'd just go out and BUY IT when I got wherever I was going. In fact, forgetting something freed up some measure of guilt fover shopping.
"Whoops, I forgot a long sleeve tee to wear with these shorts, I'd better run right down to H&M and get one."
The logic works. But not in these new times. Now I have to spend the better part of tonight trying to figure out what goes with what, or I'll be walking around Vegas looking like a dork with blue shorts and a chartreuse shirt.
Bulk pick-up was on Monday. I still giggle thinking about the scavengers. It was raining this year so they weren't in full force and missed some good scrounging. But what it did do is incite a riot in my brain about how much STUFF we all have and how much STUFF we throw away.
Look at this picture of my neighbors bulk pick up load. If I'm not mistaken, he's taken half the crap out of his house and put it on the curb! Seriously, how can one family afford to throw away all that stuff? I drove by a couple of times and the pile just kept growing…
I hate to judge, but what is all that? When I blow the picture up I can see a cooler (won't they need that for summer?), some storage bins (they won't need that, they are throwing everything away), blankets (it will be summer soon) and a variety of other household objects. I'm certain this pile was heavily scavenged because it isn't your typical leaf and broken furniture stash. It looked like the husband said, "well, it is spring, let's throw it all out and start over". Or they are getting divorced and this is all her stuff.
This is why I'm doing this major rant. We all have too much stuff. So much so that we can put half our house out to go to the dump and not even blink an eye. It is crazy and I'm on a mission to at least take care of my own house first, then maybe point out the insanity of collecting and hording and shopping and gathering and what is it about us that makes it so important to have it all?
Sometimes life is just odd and funny. Sometimes it is downright weird.
This experiment started in conjunction with a shopping extravaganzaat a Nordstrom store opening, just a random event. How weird is it that my 40 days and nights without shopping falls on Easter?? Without any intention, and for the first time in my life, I just spent an entire season of Lent depriving myself of something important, OK truth be told, life sustaining and necessary- shopping. The Catholics are probably going to say it doesn't count since it wasn't intentional.
To be honest, I didn't quite really know what Lent was until I just looked it up in Wikipedia. According to the smart people who write these things (I am paraphrasing here, no plagiarizing intended), Lent is a Christian tradition with the purpose of preparing believers to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Most people associate Lent with self-denial, or giving things up. It is typically 40 days long, representing the time Jesus spent in the wilderness.
I am really freaking out that my own self-denial of shopping for Lent falls on Easter and wondering if there is some divine intervention at work here. As a self proclaimed disbeliever of organized religion, this development has me wondering, hmmmm.
Check out the fascinating correlation of bible events to the number 40- you can read all about them in the Wikipedia when you are learning about Lent.