I am a woman with two problems …

Darcysfirstworldproblems

This spring has been a busy time for crafting first impressions and I have had to overcome a significant hurdle to my ability to do so with elegance, expediency and efficiency.

First, I was transferred to a new office at the beginning of May. In my last office I set a high bar. As testament to my success one particularly astute colleague took to referring to me as an elegant bag lady. Amazing how some people just get me right away.

Being keenly aware of how important is to maintain my fashionista momentum, I spent the long weekend before my first day going through the closet and pulling together outfits.

  • Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace
  • Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings
  • Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings…

Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings

It was a fabulous way to spend a spring afternoon. I got 8 unique and fashionable outfits put together – then I had to stop.

Second, Alberta called an election. To show solidarity with my political party of choice I laboured to put together a string of stunning orange outfits. I had a lot to work with because, well, because I just have a lot of clothes to work with:

  • 6 orange dresses
  • 5 five orange tops and summer sweaters
  • 4 orange cardigans
  • 3 pairs of orange shoes
  • 2 orange skirts
  • and 1 orange scarf

orange wave

I started putting them together with accessories in affiliated colours. I didn’t even get past the dresses before I had to halt political panolpoly progress.

Why stop you ask? I was enjoying myself. I was getting organized. I was expressing my feelings and using my creative skills. Why stop? Because I had no place to hang my outfits. I literally RAN OUT OF ROOM to pull myself together. It was terribly sad.

This is a recurring theme in my life. Just when I hit my stride and feel able to express myself as a creative human being, the limits and parameters imposed on me by chance and circumstance appear. My closet was clearly designed by a person who envisioned nothing more than hanging 6 of the same white permanent press shirts and 6 pairs of pants in shades of charcoal.

Currently my clothes are packed together in a closets with no air, no freedom to move on the rod and no where to meet their true match. Every morning I face the daunting task of pulling together an outfit in a rush and sans caffeine.

But SOON this will be no more! Last night I went online and ordered a beautiful armoire for my bedroom.

armoire

I hope when it arrives all my fashionable problems with be over.

 

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Fifty shades of beige

Just over a week ago it was 15 degrees above zero, sunny, and I could see my crocuses growing up through the soil. I was so happy. I wore a skirt with bare legs and some pretty MaryJanes. I put on a light jacket with my gauzy butterfly scarf and took a comfortable lunch time stroll through the downtown streets.

Then it snowed again.

springtime in alaska

Just a few days ago it was 18 degrees above zero, sunny, and I could see my tulips poking noses through the soil. I was so happy.  I wore a skirt with bare legs and some pretty mules. I put on a light sweater with a fuchsia scarf and took a comfortable lunch time stroll through the downtown streets.

Then it snowed again.

This is killing me.

I am so done with winter clothes. I have no idea what to wear anymore. Every morning I stand frozen in apathetic inertia staring into my closet.

I am starting to actually habour awful, hateful thoughts about trousers that only a few brief months ago I was enamoured of. Just the suggestion that I re-open the drawer with my woolen tights sends me into a raging fit.

It has to stop. I have to feel pretty again. I need to feel pretty again.

The key to pretty is my legs.

I need light tights.

Between you and me, I am getting older. … No, really. … I am not a girl anymore. I need to dress with elegance and not with the quirkiness of youth.

In my desperation to emulate the bare leg look I crave – that spring-has-sprung natural calf that my husband anticipates with such glee each year – I went shopping for a pair of nude tights. Not panty hose, they don’t offer quite enough warmth. Tights.

Do you think I can find a pair of tights that match my skin tone? I have wandered through every store I could find and have identified 50 shades of beige.

50 more shades of beige

Should I be bound by a predilection for unnatural hues and youthful patterns that the fashion industry sells? What about what I want? I am the demographic with disposable income. What if I just want to buy simple, uncoloured slightly insulating legwear? Is that old fashioned? To want my leg to just look like a leg?

kitty tights

I don’t want to be squeezed or reshaped.

spanx

I don’t want to shimmer. I don’t want straps or fishnets. I don’t want plaid, or poetry. I don’t need my legs to make a profound statement on the state of the economy or to act as a signal of my voting intention.

I want durable weight, ivory/peach tinted body hugging but not body altering tights that demurely whisper “Look at my face”.

I am on the verge of despair. I may have to call in sick until the weather improves.

Never again, a gain

My darling gave up cigarettes and took on pringles last year.

To begin with you should know that he is not the average man. Firstly, he is a darling. That much is indisputable. He is intelligent. Stoic. Handy. Loyal. Affectionate. Reliable. Even tempered. Handsome. Tall. Broad shouldered. Considerably above average.

And now, thanks to cheetos and winter inactivity, he is also has an above average waist measurement.

I mean this with all respect. From inactivity alone I too put on 3 or 4 pounds and am finding my dresses slightly more form fitting than I like. But because I am a woman I have been conditioned all my life to avoid snacking in order to preserve my figure. My husband was not indoctrinated with any such waist preservation strategy.

So I, his loyal wife and ally, voluntarily opted to spent a Sunday afternoon shopping with him for new pants.

haberdashery

I don’t even know how many pairs of jeans we looked at. It blurred. In a desperate bid to locate the correct waist size I sorted through more piles of clothes than I did during my entire last shopping trip to New York.

mens-pants-51

I was never quite sure what to say when he grew more despondent and my flattery became more transparent.

I was tired, he was grumpy.

The whole experience involved the level of frustration and despair usually reserved for bathing suit shopping forays, with the same root issue. There isn’t enough fabric where the damned fabric is really needed.

bathing suit shame

We finally found a pair and immediately fled the mall. As earnest in our need to escape as if we had just robbed the bank, we squealed out of the parking lot and hit the freeway home.

Sigh.

I am not suited to companion shopping. I am a solitary hunter. I want to be supportive, I do. But when I shop for myself it is incidental to my life. Or, more accurately, a constant component of my life. I have never HAD to shop because I always AM shopping. In fact it has been suggested that I could stop – silly really, why stop when I am so good at it? I now realize it was the freedom that made it fun.

My enthusiasm is limited to personal shopping.

 

I fear that if I am called upon again to join a shopping expedition that my favourite pastime – the casual potential shopping foray – could lose all its joy. Nothing kills pleasure so much as when the freedom to discover becomes a mandated need to locate.

And so, it becomes the age old dilemma of womankind; to support her family or to seek her own fulfillment.

I cannot risk of losing sight of my true passion in life.

 

Previously palatable

What to eat, not what not to eat. That was my quest.

Last Thursday the love of my life and I found ourselves childless due to a confluence of fortuitous circumstances.

My usual week night routine involves feats of dexterity rarely seen outside the circus ring. I juggle to accommodate and cajole to tame a motley crew of spurious and furious likes, dislikes, aversions and nutritional requirements for 5 people.

I take it with practiced grace now. When we first merged our households I was less adept and dinners were occasionally traumatic and sporadically dangerous.

During one ride home five weeks after I started cooking for everyone I was asked what I was planning for supper. I sobbed the rest of the way home.

There was, in the first six months, one tragic day when we all stood hungrily in front of the pantry considering our options. I offered to quickly prepare a tasty spaghetti arrabiatta, which was rebuffed with a slam of the pantry door and the gruff assertion that no meal was possible without meat. I assume they all had cold sliced meat sandwiches for dinner that night because I didn’t cook.

julia_child_at_kuht

Last fall I found a recipe and attempted moose stew. I do learn the hard way sometimes. First of all, the raw meat was frightfully bleedy. Secondly cooking wild meat smells like grocery store meat times 100. The fumes alone caused a dysphoric agitation that took me three days to shake.

burned dinner

Oh, and there was the potato pie incident. Four large potatoes, a container of cottage cheese, fried onion, garlic and peppers, another cup of grated cheese with two eggs to bind it. The middle boy shoved it away and refused to even taste it, hastily declaring it frittata-non-grata. That incident sent me up to my bedroom for the night.

youll eat it and like it

Anyway, back to my story. All the boys were out and I decided that was the perfect opportunity for a date night dining adventure. So we made our freedom count. We went out for dinner. Randomly, without a reservation or ANYTHING.

We wandered downtown and passed several cafes. Then I spotted a restaurant I had eaten in few months prior when a friend and I were famished from a long day shopping. There I had savoured my food. It was so tasty. It filled me up and set me right for the rest of the day. Just recalling the meal made me salivate.

I suggested this restaurant to my love.

It was a complete let-down. I mean, the food was good enough. It was freshly prepared. The presentation was certainly spot on. The service was excellent.

But it wasn’t as thrilling as I had remembered…suddenly I knew why. Hunger is the best seasoning. This time I wasn’t famished, I was just bored.

Opportunity wasted.

It really sucks that food tastes better when you are hungry, but when you are well fed eating is only a mediocre experience.

Intimate instances, for instance (a tale of two toilets)

**TMI Warning**

I love my home. I have a beautiful library, five fireplaces and rooms with french doors. The house is in a wonderful neighbourhood close to my city’s beautiful river valley and cycling distance to restaurants and cafes and shopping. The comfort is real.

I also love my husband. We share the ups and downs of daily life. I laugh in front of him, I cry in front of him. We have a bond and a lifestyle that keeps outside issues from coming between us. Our joy is is real.

kiss kiss(Aren’t we cute?)

I feel a little bad picking at my bliss, but I have a serious problem.

There are intimate instances during which I do not feel it is necessary to keep the proverbial (or actual) beautiful french doors open between my love and me. For instance, any time that I need to use a toilet.

I have the world’s worst en suite bathroom. It makes me want to wail and tear out my hair. What epic idiot renovated this elegant traditional home with the confused theory that modern marital bliss was compatible with uncloseted toilets? It boggles the mind. One wonders if the architect was some alien being, unfamiliar with the uncommunality of the common commode.

When we first moved in I felt the pressure to be flexible, so in the middle of the night I would stumble quietly into the darkness, groping the walls on my way to the bathroom, and stealthily perch on the uncloseted toilet around the corner. It seemed like a workable situation for a while. Then the inevitable happened.

My husband, who will sleep soundly through the trumpets and clashing swords of the apocalypse, had a bladder full at MY usual hour. We have reached the point in our marriage where our bladders are synchronized, which may sound sweet – the world is full of serendipitists who find all togetherness tales endearing – but it created a situation fraught with peril.

You see, I had already rounded the corner in the darkness and was sitting in cognito on the un-private privy.

When my darling rounded the dark corner I saw his outline against the moonlit window and hissed “I am on the toilet!” He recoiled in alarm, swung his arms – nearly sending all my lotions and pill bottles crashing off my sink counter – and, spinning on his heels, lunged back to bed.

Had he taken his final two steps he most certainly would have emptied his bladder on the spot I, and the toilet, currently occupied. I narrowly averted being peed on.

Consequently, my new midnight routine involves a flight of stairs because I simply cannot risk a repeat of watercloset-gate.

threat level

I want a door on my toilet.

I need a door on my toilet.

I need privacy to pee, and one of these early mornings I am going to fall down the stairs and break my neck trying to discreetly make my way down to the main floor bathroom to take care of what I should be able to take care of in my en suite.

God grant me the flexibility to accept the things I cannot change,

the willpower to change the things I can,

and the budget for a private toilet.

Coffeeshop down

In the interest of reducing our carbon footprint and sleeping in for 15 minutes more every morning, hubby and I have switched up our morning commute. Now rather than being driven to my office we drive to his office – which is on the train line and a 10 minutes train ride from my office.

When we came up with the plan it made perfect sense. After all, the drive to his office is 15 minutes, the drive to my office is 40.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

First of all, the train platform is not heated because apparently the city is run by people who hibernate and are therefore blissfully unaware of winter. I am having increasing difficultly balancing fashion with warmth.

GTV ARCHIVE

There is a point those two things become mutually exclusive. That point hovers around -25 degrees Celsius.

Second, the train is like a sardine can. There is  no way I can hold a coffee, my purse, my lunch, my shoe bag and still hold on so I don’t fall on the lurching train.

Sardine train

So this means I don’t get my morning americano enroute to his office/my transit. That is really making it hard to smile as I arrive at work, but I am being a trooper and enduring my coworkers even while in my non-caffeinated stupor.

I thought that I could manage until 10 by drinking a bit of office coffee, at which point I would simply take a two block saunter to Starbucks. But WTH office coffee? W-T-H? It’s bum coffee. It offends me. It is worse than the caffeine headache.

Plus then we had that series of -37C with windchill days. There was no way I was going outside and Starbucks does not deliver (I asked). So I had a terrible choice. Bum coffee all day, or tea.

I chose tea. It may be caffeinated but tea is a poor substitute for coffee, and the only way to make it better is to be stoic. I have gained much insight into the British disposition. Cultural idiosyncrasies explained.

stiff upper lip

Well, today the weather broke. It is a balmy two degrees above zero morning and I wrapped up and skipped off to Starbucks. I joyfully got my americano. It sounds like a happy ending. Right? Nope. In my absence they had become lackadaisical about stocking and had let the whole store run out of my preferred raw sugar.

So close, yet so far 😦

no coffee face

 

In private, public transportation

My holiday respite from my crowded commute is over. It officially ended Monday afternoon.

You see, I take the train to meet my beloved and he then drives me home.

I get on the train at the 4th stop going south (there are more stops going north, but I try not to pay attention to anything north of our downtown core because it is too plebeian).

  1. The first stop serves federal and civic government employees.
  2. The second is used by passengers who work in the tall business office towers and exclusive shopping boutiques.
  3. The third stop is close to a college and business school and used by students.
  4. By the time the train reaches my stop, the fourth stop, I and a multitude of provincial government employees are on this platform waiting to embark:

grandin stn

I am willing to stand for my ride south, but I still need personal space during the journey. I have even been known to wait 6 minutes for a second train because I did not think I would have adequate personal space on the first train. The problem is, not everyone seems to share my need for personal boundaries.

After my stop the train crosses the river then stops on the far bank at the university.

LRT bridge

Clearly youth is more comfortable with direct physical contact than we, the middle aged.

On the Monday question I got on the first train, having decided I had adequate space. Then at the univeristy 20 more students than common sense and physical space should have allowed for decided to squeeze on.

I was wedged up next to some amazonian proto-intellectual, my head under her chin.

As god as my witness, it took every ounce of my will to not scream and flail about in protest.

I stood suffering for 15 minutes as her breath parted my hair and proceeded down my exposed neck and into my blouse. It was horrific. I prefer to save that level of intimacy for my husband, in private.

Husband Zone

 

 

 

 

Budget troubles

To counter rumours that I have become an irredeemable princess, I have been looking into way of being more mindful of my finances.

For instance, just this past Tuesday hubby and I had a conversation about spending during which, when pressured to make a guess, my husband estimated that I spend $1000 a month on clothing.

I found that a bit shocking. I couldn’t counter that number because I really never keep track, but I was still taken aback.

Upon further and later thought however, I began to wonder if that was a number he was comfortable with. And if it was a number he was comfortable with, and if I could manage a quick and dirty forensic audit of my clothing related purchases, and if it turned out that I did not spend $1000 per month – was that amount retroactive?

Why, only just last last month I let an Akris Punto dress, discounted at 40%, slip away from me because I was not sure how my husband would feel about  the $945 price tag.

akris 1

Did I miss my chance? Did I unwittingly limit my own horizons and sabotage my own dreams? So many women are self saboteurs after all; we don’t insist on as much as we deserve from the world around us.

You can be sure that henceforth I will not self limit. When I see what I want I will take out my credit card and make my dreams a reality.

 

I feel more empowered already.

Poetic Princess license

The spider count is now three. Three spiders in my house. I can’t sleep knowing they’re about.

It started with the bathtub spider. He’s dead, but he probably had friends.

bathrub spider

 

There was the spider on the stairs. He got away when I flicked on the lights.

House-Spider

 

Then there was the spider on the hallway wall. This one was brave, he stared me down. He’s the reason I didn’t do laundry last week.

hallway spider

I think we need to go away for a week and hire an exterminator to come in and purge the house. My husband seems to think I am over reacting and exaggerating the potential risks associated of a ‘few’ common house spiders.  I think I am painting an accurate picture of our current household situation, but he thinks I am taking poetic license with my risk assessment.

So I thought I would compromise. I suggested we get a panic button in the bathroom so the next time an eight legged assassin emerges from my bathwater I can sound the alarm. Then my husband, who thinks I am exaggerating the risks, can run upstairs and rid me of the beastly thing.

My husband agreed, with one caveat. That I don’t use the alarm when I just want a cup of tea while I bathe.

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Hmmmmm

 

Well, I can’t honestly promise that so I guess I just have learn to live with the arachnid invasion.

 

 

 

 

All my fashionable dreams torn asunder

I am so sad. It pains me to even think of my weekend now. I’ll have to wear black to The Barber of Seville, in mourning.

Oscar de la Renta, designer par excellence, has passed away at 82.

Now what will I wear if I ever have tea with the queen?

03

 

Or if I ever win an Academy Award?

06

Or am invited to the university president’s dinner party?

04

Or the OPERA, what will I wear to the opera now?

02

 

😦