Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where Did You Get That?

I don't feel like blogging about anything of importance today.

I don't want to talk about politics.

I don't want to talk about the stress of buying a house from a family member (which is considerable).

I don't even want to talk about the few wedding decisions we have actually managed to make lately.

I'm a little stressed out, a lot tired, and fighting off varying levels of anxiety day by day.

So.  Where does that leave us?

Well, last week I talked a lot about selfies, and self-confidence, and how I haven't repeated an outfit in now-nearly three months.

And that leads nicely into a question that I get a lot: where do I get my clothes?


The answer is, really, all over the place.  I have an unhealthy love of ModCloth, first of all.  But I also shop a lot at Target.  And pick up the occasional piece at WalMart.  I sometimes order a few things online.  I frequent vintage stores, estate sales, yard sales, and have plenty of clothes that I've owned since college (and even high school).  People give me clothing.  I have, at this point, a quite literal clothing horde that I've accumulated over the years.

Clockwise from top:
button-up shirt from college, sweater from Target, vintage store dress, ModCloth dress, mini-dress someone gave me.
However, the vast majority of my clothing comes from one place: Goodwill. (Thrift stores in general.)  Mark likes to tell me that I have a $10,000 dollar wardrobe for less than 1/3 the price, and he's probably right.

I love Goodwill.  I love the possibilities.  I love the fact that you might walk away with nothing, or with a whole new wardrobe for sixty bucks.  I love that I got a brand new $70 skirt there this past weekend for $3.50.  $3.50!  I love the fact that there are so many buried treasures just waiting to be found hiding between hangers of 80s dresses (which, admittedly, could be a treasure to someone who is not me).  I love how freaking cheap it is.  I love the fact that it always turns into a weird internal rationalization and debate about what is and is not "worth it."  I love that I turned down a pair of green heels this weekend because they were $8.

(Like, whoa.  Let's have some self-control there, missy.  $8 heels?  Not on my watch.  ... these $6 ones are cool, though.)

Goodwill is so very worth the effort, I believe.  True, you have to be ready to spend time flipping your way through hundreds of hangers.  And you have to be willing to try practically everything on (or at least 6 items at a time).

Note: it helps to have a significant other who sits outside the changing room and gives you the thumbs up nearly every time you open the door.

It also helps to know what you're ideally looking for.  By this point, I know what I like.  I know what generally looks good on me.  I'm also drawn to certain colors, patterns, fabrics, and styles, so it's easy to quickly recognize something I'd potentially like as I'm skimming through the aisles.  Polka dots?  Absolutely.  Bright orange?  No.  Pink Ladies jacket?  Hell yes.  90s floral? ... Not on your life.

There's never any harm in trying something on.  (Well, unless it's too small.  We've all been there.  No one wants to be the girl struggling alone in a dressing room to get out of a dress she had no business trying on in the first place.)  Sizing aside, Goodwill is the absolute perfect place to take a risk.  Nowhere else do you have the sheer variety of styles to experiment with.  Why not take advantage of it?  No one has to ever know that you tried on that bright green mini-skirt, unless of course it looks amazing on you.

For example: I would not normally have tried this dress on.  No regrets!
So yes.  I obviously enjoy and support Goodwill, since they're definitely not paying me for this blog post (though they probably should).

And to answer a frequent follow-up question: yes, I would love to go shopping with you.  You just can't let me buy anything.

... unless I really love it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

Before he left, my ex said that I was vain.

And, considering the fact that I've taken at least one selfie every day for over two months now, I can't easily argue that he was wrong.

(He also said that I was selfish, which is pretty rich coming from the guy who insisted that I essentially buy back the car from him, even though we'd bought it entirely with my money, but hey.  Divorce sucks, even if it's worth it.)

But the fact that I willingly take and post selfies, and that I honestly like (and sometimes love) how I look in said selfies is such a long shot from where I used to be.

Growing up, I was incredibly unhappy with the way I looked.  I was this awkward, gangly thing with a crooked back, a big nose, pale skin, small boobs, and (to quote my mother) "dishwater blond hair."  All around me, it seemed, were these gorgeous specimens of post-pubescence, girls who were (quite literally) blossoming into women, girls who wore more than a training bra, girls who had boyfriends and were popular and blonde and perfect.

And then there was me.  Awkward and nerdy and desperate for the right kind of attention (or, perhaps, the wrong kind of attention, as the case may be).  It is, honestly, painful to remember how desperate I was, so desperate and clueless that I actually one time wrote out a list of ways I could be more popular.  This list included things like "be the first to answer all the teacher's questions right," so you can clearly see how successful I was bound to be in my quest for popularity.

I put Sun-in in my hair.  I stuffed Kleenex in my bras.  I stared in vain at my nose, wondered how in the world I could hide such a horrendously prominent thing on my face.  I thought that if I somehow I got a tan that I would look more like one of those girls, instead of being this pale and unpopular ghost with a schnoz.

It probably goes without saying that I didn't really date much.  I had a brief relationship my freshman year of high school (which I regretted as soon as it began), and a very-slightly-less-brief relationship in college.  I also had a not-relationship-relationship with my current fiance', wherein we would see movies when I was home from college and make out afterwards but never actually "date."

Of course I had many, many crushes, starting with being "in love" with my pastor when I was in the third grade and going from there (more often than not with someone at least vaguely close to my own age), but very few actually reciprocated in the way I longed for.  This goes a long way to explaining why I married the first long-term boyfriend I had when I couldn't think of a reason to break up with him.  For most of my life I could barely get a guy to so much as look at me.  And now someone actually wanted to be with me?  And marry me?  God only knows that might never happen again.  It wasn't like I had them knocking down the doors.

Self-esteem, or the lack thereof, is a bitch.  Because I was still that awkward, gangly girl that I used to be, even though I was dying my hair occasionally and had finally started to grow into my nose.  I was still desperate for attention and love, though now it was most definitely the wrong kind of attention.

Let's fast-forward a few years, shall we?  I started dressing vintage, started taking pole dance classes, and basically found my own self-esteem amongst the wreckage of my life.  You know the story by now, if you know me at all or have been reading this blog.

Am I still awkward?  Hell yes!  I might be less gangly than I used to be, due to a love of tacos and cupcakes, but under my red hair I'm still the same dishwater-blonde nerd with a big nose, pale skin, and (not-quite-as) small boobs.  I'm still not blonde and tan and perfect.  I'm not anything resembling perfect, and God knows I never will be.

But none of that means I can't be totally into myself and the way I look.  I wish more people were, honestly.

So yeah.  I take a lot of selfies now.

So what?

I'm thrilled to be in a place where I love myself, where I can have fun with what I wear and how I look, and where I can inspire my friends and acquaintances to send me their own selfies and to express themselves in ways they might not normally.

Maybe taking so many selfies is vain.  And maybe it is completely insane that I haven't repeated an outfit in two and a half months.

But I'd rather be this girl than the one I used to be.

I wish someone would have told me, all those years ago, that I was beautiful the way I was (all elbows and knees and nose), that I shouldn't try to fit in, and that I shouldn't settle.  I wish someone would have told me to worry less about being popular and more about being myself.

But I guess I got there.


So yeah.  I take a lot of selfies now.

And I'm not about to stop.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Tale of Two Credit Cards

The truly amazing thing about my ex-husband is that, even more than two years later, he can continue to fuck up my life in new and remarkable ways.

Many of you know that Mark and I are attempting to buy his grandma's house.  To that end, we applied for a home loan and had our credit reports run by the mortgage company.  Honestly? I wasn't worried.  I had (I thought) no debt outside what I owe my parents.  I had (I thought) no credit cards attached to my name.  (All this was in accordance with the divorce papers, wherein, for the sake of getting rid of my ex, I agreed to pay half of 10 grand in debt that I didn't even know some of the origin of, on cards that were opened before we married.)  I've paid all my bills on time for over two years now.  I have a steady job with a consistent and decent income.  What could go wrong?


Never, ever, ask that question.

What could go wrong was ten years ago I married someone I shouldn't have.  I married someone who could not be trusted with money and yet insisted that he be in charge of paying all the bills (in spite of my repeated requests to take over some of the bill-paying when my phone would be turned off from months upon months of the bill not being paid, or when I would get calls from credit card companies looking for past-due payment).  I married someone who (as I discovered) actively hid credit card bills from me, all the while insisting that I exist off an "allowance" of $160 a month.  Moreover, I married someone who literally stopped paying his bills after he left St. Louis.

Really, that should be completely beside the point.  I could care less what he did after he finally got the hell out or how he ruins his own life.  I got several debt collection letters in his name and gladly forwarded them on to his mother's address.  Whatever.

What's pissing me off is that my name was still apparently attached to two credit cards as an authorized user (one of which I have literally no knowledge or record of), which were eventually closed and written off as bad debt.

And therefore my credit score is down.  Significantly.

Needless to say, I was upset.

... Upset may not be a strong enough word.  Frustrated, maybe?  Angry?  Pissed off, perhaps?

Now, I may be biased, but I believe my anger (and that is, I have decided, the best word for it) is pretty justified.  I paid off "my half" of the credit card bills, after all.  I've been responsible and self-sufficient and managed to keep my life together in the middle of a divorce and losing my job.  And what do I get for it?

Bad credit, that's what I get.

I get a reminder, in the middle of a meeting with our loan agent, of what my life used to be like.  I get that old familiar feeling of anxiety tightening in my chest.  I get insomnia and bad dreams and, insult upon injury, I lose my appetite.  I get to dread the possibility that I will actually have to talk to my ex and convince him to call a credit card company to get my name off these damn cards.

I realize, of course I realize, that this could all have been avoided if I just hadn't gotten married 10 years ago.  Or if I had insisted on being an equal partner, like I should have.  Or if I hadn't been so pathetically naive.  Or if.  Or if.  Or if.  I could (and have) lose sleep over or ifs.


Long story short, after digging through fascinatingly horrifying old bills and paperwork last night, I called the credit card companies this morning and got my name taken off the cards.  It was... surprisingly painless?  I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, but in the meantime I'm just hoping it really was that easy.

So?  There's that.  And even if getting cards deleted off my credit report isn't the best thing ever, it has to be better than having my name attached to two bad debts.

And now I can move on with the process of buying a house, moving, and getting married.  And I can be unendingly grateful that that life is no longer mine, that I have a fiance' who leaves chocolate in my lunchbag when I'm stressed instead of notes about how we don't have enough money to pay rent, who puts up with my moods instead of telling me I'm a bitch, and who doesn't think it's beneath him to actually do chores or cook or clean.

Am I laying it on a little too thick?  That's just because I really need to keep him around.  After all, he has a better credit score than I do.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

And (Another) Happy New Year

So... it's been a while, eh?

What can I say?  It was December.

Not only are there two holidays obnoxiously and uncaringly crowding their way into the end of the month, but I work for a company that took part in 54 events just in December.  I also didn't get a big enough head start on Christmas gifts, so I ended up making at least 7 different handmade gifts in the span of a month.

Just a few things I made.
I made 33 dozen Christmas cookies, a pie, and a tart.  And?  I had my own Christmas parties to go to.

All this is to say... I have reasons why I didn't blog.  Maybe not the best of reasons, but reasons nonetheless.


It's a new year (with the same old me), and I suppose it's time to climb back on the horse.


The year is already off to a bit of a rough start (literally).  I slashed open my own tire on New Year's Day by somehow hitting an incredibly jagged edge to a curb.  It wasn't fair.  The only reason I was pulling over was so I could type an address into my phone safely instead of while I was driving.  See where that got me?

Then last night, my dog tried to eat several of my new pins.  This is after he ate a whole packet of ham and the Reese's trees I got in my stocking the week before.  An attempt was also made on a box of chocolates, but I retrieved it from the dragon's horde inside his crate.  He is, remarkably, not buried in the back yard yet.  But it may only be a matter of time.

Jumping back to Christmas itself.  I was in an astonishingly bad mood for most of the week of Christmas.  I was stressed and frustrated, people were being stupid, Mark was working ridiculous hours, and I had lost whatever Christmas spirit I usually manage to find by the week before Christmas.  All the spirit I had left went into a week's worth of Christmas outfits, with strong showings by what I started referring to as my "officially pin of Christmas," a candy cane pin that came free from La Vidriola when I ordered that amazing Christmas tree/car necklace in the second picture on the top.

But Christmas?  Christmas itself was very good.  I spent Christmas Eve devouring ribs and hanging out with Casey and her family.  I got up early on Christmas and drove to Mark's parents house for what was probably one of the most special Christmas mornings I've had in a while.  We opened presents with the two of us, Kaylee, Mark's parents, and Mark's sister (and her husband and daughter).  I've never had such a big Christmas morning, or seen so many presents all in one place.  There was a stocking for me.  There were presents for me.  And Kaylee was so, so excited about every single thing she got, including the Snoopy scarf I made for her.  I'm not going to lie; that made me so very thrilled.

Later, Mark and I went to my parents and had Christmas dinner with the usual suspects there.  We had a pleasant time occupying our traditional place as the oldest people at the kids' table, giving my parents their gifts, and eating far too many desserts before heading home for an early night and a day off together the next day.

Honestly, I'm not sure I'm recovered from the holidays yet.  I'm definitely not back on my usual schedule, the apartment is still a disaster zone, and I'm a few weeks behind on putting away laundry.  In other words? Holidays as usual.

I have the best of intentions for 2017.  I always do.  So I'm trying to ignore the very little bit of bad that's already happened and count my blessings.

2016 was, in many ways, a rough year.  It started out with my furnace, dryer, and car all breaking down in the same week.  But, I also traveled to Mexico with friends, got a raise at my job, and got engaged to my best friend/love of my life.  I had wonderful holidays, lots of parties and dinners with friends, a better relationship with my parents, weekend trips, and more happiness than I ever thought I would have. 

Evidence of a very good 2016.
I could complain, but why bother?  There's so much good to focus on instead.