Confessions: The Chair in the Bedroom

Honestly, I can deal with messy, I said. But not dirty. I abhor dirty. My last serious boyfriend, he was dirty. I always thought his dresser was grey, until one night, when he was sleeping, I took a Swiffer to it. to get rid of a few strands of dust that had been driving me craaaazy. Turns out the dresser was brown. The grey was dust! Took 4 Swiffer sheets to restore it to the original color…

I didn’t know why I felt the need to tell him all this, but once I started I just couldn’t put it back in, so of course, I kept going…

He’d have me over to cook dinner and the sink was piled high with old dishes. He’d leave the condoms on the floor by the bed for a few days, so that I wasn’t sure if they were from us or from someone on the side. Yea, I didn’t jibe with that. Yuuccck-o. But a little mess, now, that’s OK. My desk, if you saw it, you would knooooow I’m a creative type. Totally belies all the spreedsheets I make to organize my life and office. I go on clean-up sprees almost weekly – you know, attack some tiny corner of my life – but I have this chair…

There are moments in your life, decisions you make or things you say when you’re grateful you had too much to drink, because you can always blame the alcohol for whatever you said/did. I didn’t have that excuse.

So this chair, it’s piled high with clothes. It could probably be a pretty comfortable chair, if I could only find the seat. I’ve never sat on it. But my closet has. The clothes on this chair, they’re not my good clothes. So, like, that makes it okay. My good clothes go on a hanger or in a drawer at some point before I go to bed at night. These clothes on the chair are mostly lounge clothes. And they’re on the chair because I don’t wear them – they’re out of season. So yea, I say I don’t date messy guys because I guess, I’m messy and I can only imagine what kind of chaos would ensue if I ended up living with someone who had a chair or desk like mine.

I took a sip of my iced tea and finally shut up. That was a long-winded answer to a simple question: how do you feel about a guy with a messy apartment. I tried to make my eyes all big and doe-like, but much like “cute,” I’ve never done naïve convincingly. He laughed and proceeded to tell me about his collections of pop-culture memorabilia that had yet to make their way to a shelf or drawer.

I used to have a chair like that in my bedroom, too. He confessed.

Oh? Yea?

I got tired of seeing the mess every morning when I woke up. So I got rid of it.

That’s what I need to do. Just get rid of the “easy way out!” I thought he had just uncluttered my life with one swoop. My hero!

I moved the chair into my hallway. With the clothes still on it. They’re at least 3 seasons old by now…

GargantuanPavilionComposedofHundredsofChairs

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Learning to Walk in Shorts

The great advantage kids have growing up in the age of digital cameras is that the odds are low that one day they will stumble on a collection of printed photos labeled “Quebec Summer: FAT PHASE.”

It's photos like this I mostly wish were never taken of my awkward tween years.
It’s photos like this I mostly wish were never taken of my awkward tween years.

Remember when you’d take your roll of film to the local drugstore and you would automatically get duplicates? So, not only did you have one set of photos you’d rather burn, you’d have 2… that’s 4 double chins.  And while there was no social media circulation, you had the distinct non-advantage of having tangible proof that once upon a time you were the size of a blimp.

I stumbled upon the “Quebec Summer: FAT PHASE” envelope in the midst of some appliance-melt-down-induced cleaning. The photos, along with others from my more youthful summers, were striking reminders that when you grow up the chubby, knock-kneed girl, you grow up with an awkward relationship with shorts.

When your thighs touch, there’s almost no short length that doesn’t ride up when you walk. Instead of neatly aligned horizontal hemlines, the bottoms of your trunks form a wobbly V. It’s not only unattractive, it’s uncomfortable. Walking in bunched-up shorts is like walking with a golf ball wedged between your legs. So you learn to adapt.

First, you try the “Cowboy Walk.” The idea is to look like you just got off a horse after finishing a cattle drive. You point your feet away from each other and widen your stride, attempting to keep your legs as far from each other as you can.

It’s equal parts swagger and waddle. It’s also highly inefficient.

Next, you try the “Shake-it-Out.”

 

When you realize this is about as effective as the Cowboy Walk in ridding yourself of the ride up, you give into the walk, stop and pull down. It’s painfully obvious, but it gets the job done.

If you’re hell-bent on wearing shorts, these adaptations are better than the alternative, which is obsessing over something you can’t really change — the gap between your upper legs. Or, you can do the far more sensible thing and forego the shorts all together. Skirts are classier anyway.

 

 

I Don’t Own a Suit, or What in God’s Name am I Going to Wear to My Interview?

Going to the Opera? Come on, challenge me! There's a dress for that.

For only the second time in my life, I don’t know what to wear. What to don on a first date? No problem — got a top that hugs (and plunges) in all the right places. Gallery opening? Come on! Challenge me. Opera? There’s a dress for that. Job interview? Umm… (cue Jeopardy countdown music).

I probably should have asked for a suit for Christmas.

Every morning at 6:30AM, my mother would get ready for work. Hot rollers, St. John’s suits, and Farragamo pumps. I hated the St. John’s suits. Woolly, itchy, boxy garments that I associated with the things that took my mother away from me. Suits made you overweight. Suits made you come home at midnight and travel on weekends. Suits made you late to the talent show. I swore I’d never ever, ever own a suit.

20 years later, and I’ve stuck to the promise I made to myself. No suits. Plenty of dress pants, a cadre of jackets, but none designed to be worn together.

Is the Kate Spade dress with the color-blocking trim too much whimsy for a corporate marketing gig?

Which brings me to my dilemma. I have several interviews scheduled over the next two weeks and Nina Garcia says a “chic, modern take on the classic suit” is the way to go for  interviews. Eeeeek! I’ve never been at a loss when it comes to getting dressed, but given what my wardrobe surely lacks, what in god’s name am I wearing to meet prospective bosses?

The jobs I’ve gotten callbacks for are in a variety of fields — the art world, the corporate world, the non-profit sector — and the question I have to ask myself as I prepare for each meeting is: what version of “me” do I want to present?

Obviously, the goal of each outfit is to come off as professional, but is there more room for whimsy in an art job than in a corporate marketing job? Or would a marketing firm prefer someone with a bit of flair? Is the Kate Spade knit dress with the Mickey Mouse-esque buttons and red accents appropriate for an interview with a PR company? Should I stick to pants and a jacket? Can I wear pants without a jacket? How high a heel is too high? It’s winter still — do I wear the understated wine-colored coat or the show-stopping Diane Von Furstenberg green-gray-black mottled cashmere coat? Do I bring a handbag or a brief case? Which handbag — are navy and silver sequins too much?

My mother voted I wear the outfit on the left to my interview. Fashionista Nina Garcia, the one on the right. I chose a hybrid.

In some ways, I’ve shot myself in my farragamo-clad foot by making deciding what to wear to an interview more nerve-wracking than the interview itself. I know what I’ve done in the workforce, I know my education, I know my career goals, but gosh darn it, I don’t know if “individual,” “fashionable,” and “professional” can coexist in one outfit.

If you walked into my bedroom right now, you’d think they had just finished filming “Twister” in there. After an hour of trying-on and re-trying on, I finally settled on an ensemble. Since I have three interviews left this week and can’t get to the stores before the weekend, I just have to believe individual, fashionable and professional exist in the form of brown high-waist pants (a la Katherine Hepburn) and a tweed motorcycle jacket.

The pants and jacket only narrowly defeated the magenta bra and black tuxedo pants my mother suggested I wear when she saw me standing at the top of the stairs in a panic.

“That looks good. Why don’t you just go with that.”

“Mom, I’m not auditioning to be one of Madonna’s back-up dancers.”

I’m not entirely convinced she was joking, but if by next week none of these interviews have turned into offers, magenta bra and black tuxedo pants it is.