Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Non-Wedding Dress

Mom wouldn't have it any other way: I am to wear a new dress at our wedding reception.

It's a reception without a wedding, though.  At least, without a wedding anyone else is going to see.  It's really just a party to celebrate an elopement that will happen...sometime soon...and no way am I going to wear something old and tired to said party.

Well, I'm not arguing!  I am thrilled and delighted that Mom is making me go shopping.  She's been saying for weeks now that she wanted to find something for me to wear, and I in turn have been looking online, avoiding carbs, and doing pilates like crazy in anticipation of a day of trying on lovely dresses.

Come on, don't roll your eyes!  I'm not doing that much shopping anymore, and I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every part of the trying-on!

And wow, I did.  Mom and Sarah were just awesome throughout the whole thing!  We stopped first at Anthro on Westheimer and struck gold.

The little vintage-style number I've been looking at online was even better in real life!  I was sad to see only a 10 and a 4 on the rack, but Sarah grabbed up the littler one and announced, "Shannon, you're squeezing into the 4, don't even touch that 10!"

And squeeze we did.  It took a good 3 people to get me into it, but we did zip that sucker up.  Only to have the attendant tell us there was a 6 in the back.  That one allowed breathing, and I modeled:

We proceeded to have a celebratory drink at PF Changs, where we decided that Fortune was with us, then proceeded to the Galleria.

There I met an old friend.  Who fit perhaps just a little better this time (what can I say, I haven't seen even a crouton for weeks now).

All in all, it was a fabulous day.  I'm so excited to have a lovely little dress from Anthro hanging in my closet now.  All the other clothes look on with respect.  And Mom and Sarah were just so sweet all day long, telling me I looked awesome when even if I popped out of the dressing room with a one-shouldered atrocity (thank you, Nordstrom!)

And they laughed with me when I finally discovered what was wrong with that little beaded thing at French Connection.  I had really thought it might be a contender, something that could oust the cute Anthro dress.  But I couldn't get it on!  It wouldn't pull up past my, well, sizable thighs, but there was all this extra material!  I struggle, squeezed, held my breath...nothing.  Mom and Sarah kept asking for me outside the dressing room.

Frustrated, I pulled it off and stepped out so we could examine it.

Turns out you can't put both your legs in one leg hole of a romper.  Perhaps wine made us less intelligent shoppers :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happiness Is...

I read an article last weekend about stuff.  Really, it was about stuff--what you can buy, and how much happiness it will give.  It mentioned something called "hedonic adaptation," the way humans get used to new things in order to maintain a level of comfort in their lives.

Because of this hedonic adaptation, the thrill we get from the things we buy wears off over time.  So we buy more stuff to get that thrill.  

I think all that stuff traps us, even beyond the debt.  No, I'm not saying we should all reduce down to just 100 possessions.  But what if we just started spending our money with long-term satisfaction in mind?  Would we be happier? 

I think the article is correct in saying there's not much instruction out there for how to really spend your money well.  How do we get the most satisfaction out of spending?  I don't think we really make purchases with our eyes wide open; am I really going to be happy pulling that sweater out of all my other dirty clothes and taking it to the cleaners?  Will I be happy going to pick it up, running my debit card to pay for it, checking it to ensure they cleaned it properly?

If I go into debt to have something now, what kind of happiness will it bring me?  Will I ever grumble about that monthly payment?  Am I ever going to regret that monthly payment?

Will I be happy maintaining it when it breaks?  Can I acknowledge that it will run down, run out, or be used up at some point?

I think it's okay to make purchase decisions with these considerations in mind.  I think most of us don't want our lives to be ruled by taking care of our stuff.  We want some leisure, some time with loved ones.  And I think we have some experience in the satisfaction of maintaining the stuff that we never regret buying.  I still enjoy having the oil changed on my Yaris, I still occasionally feel very content at the ability to have arrived at point B from point A without a breakdown or hang-up.

Isn't that a good feeling--to continue to feel really good about spending your money on something?  How often do we really get that feeling?  

I think the article hit it right on the head--that people really can count on lasting satisfaction from spending money on experiences.  Happiness really is doing something, and doing it with folks you love.  It's not just Teotihuacan, or the Alambra, or Pilot Mountain, or the Bellagio.  

Yeah, those were all really cool, but seeing them with family and friends was what made each experience.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What You Get for $11

I sold my clothes at Buffalo Exchange yesterday.

They gave me $11.03 for it all. The leather pants, the Club Monaco belt, the Calvin Klein dress, the orange Aldo pumps...and all the rest of it. Funny, isn't it?

Hilarious, actually. I didn't really care. I didn't even stay to watch the girl go through the box, which I've learned can be embarrassing (who wants to see someone hold up your favorite shirt, then toss it over their shoulder to the pile for GoodWill?)

But it wasn't really about avoiding embarrassment. I would have been happy to stand there and watch, taking whatever fashion judgement that girl with purple hair and an excess of sequins chose to throw at me.

Is this growth? Maturity, set in after 7.5 months of retail abstinence?

Maybe. Anyway, I went across the street instead to see Kelly, who was at the Grace Heart & Company, working her monthly Saturday.

Folks were setting up all down the street for the White Linen Night in the Heights, some fun local festival that involved the production of a lot of music and kettlecorn (at least at that point in the afternoon).

I went inside to see Kelly, purveyor of the little box of paper goods that had really brought me down there in the first place--the wedding party invites. And wow, they are awesome. That girl did a ridiculously good job. (And my sister, too!) The final product is just perfect.

I know, this is a lot of back story for a trip to Buffalo. But I'm not stopping. There will be a purpose.

Kelly's mom was just leaving the shop as I was arriving, and it was just...great to see her. Beautiful, healthy, and energetic, she threw me a huge smile, squealed over my engagement ring, and struck a bit of a pose when I complimented her new haircut. She looked better than I'd ever seen her.

Then Kelly showed me a little corner of the shop displaying some particularly fun antique beer paraphernalia. Everything was clearly very lovingly displayed...old Coors signs and bottle openers and beer taps that had for years been hidden away in dusty boxes, all now out in the open for people to admire and buy.

I complimented her work, telling her how cool it was to see everything displayed so well. She just smiled and quietly said, "Yeah, it would have made him really happy."

Then we just gabbed for a few minutes in the back of the shop, watching couples, old ladies, and young kids wander the shop. A few people stopped to look at some of the beer steins, and it was back to work for Kelly and out the door for me.

The street was beginning to fill, the music getting louder, and the light getting really cool as it does in Houston when there's a distant summer thunderstorm at 5pm. I didn't stay for the party, and it didn't matter. I was going home lighter, having unloaded that big box of clothes that I don't think I'll ever miss.

I got to bring home a smaller box anyway, full of the result of a lot of hard work by some very talented people in my life.

And that hour in the antique store was almost like something scripted, maybe even poetic: a backdrop to highlight the kinds of changes, both tragic and beautiful, that can happen in life. Illness, death, acceptance, healing...there's so much to endure and experience. Life really does just keep moving forward. And I had the opportunity to really appreciate it yesterday while giggling with a good buddy in the back of an antique shop in The Heights.

So guess what, Buffalo Exchange? You could have had those clothes for nothing. I got more than what I came for.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Buried Treasure

So I came across a new pair of jeans. Well, new to me. They've been hiding in the closet of the spare room ever since we moved to Spring--oh my gosh, almost 3 years ago!

There was a little more Shannon back then, so these jeans did not fit at all when I got them (I believe another gift from Aunt Maggie). But for some reason I wanted to keep them, so they were shoved into the back of the closet.

Why do we do this? Is it a hopeful thing? We dream of one day fitting into something, so we keep it? How much clothing do we keep in our closets that we don't actually wear?

Anyway, I came across them in my recent cleaning binge, and they did fit. Quite nicely. In fact, they were a bit loose, super comfy, and didn't drag on the ground around my ankle at all (perfect for a job where I find myself walking over mud and gravel half the time).

Coupled with another gift of Kelly's, the shirt I altered at the last minute with a pair of scissors.

I think I had some secret inspiration from my friend, Meg, whose blog I recently stumbled across again. This post was just so sweet! Total serendipity.

Anyway, the ruffles on the front of this tank were huge; they made me look like a busty peacock. So I just took the scissors to them and really trimmed them down before I walked out the door...and I think it was an improvement!

Monday, August 2, 2010



Ya, basta.

I've had enough of willpower and lessons and The High Road. At least for today.

That little moment of seduction yesterday? When I thought about exchanging my clothes at Buffalo for some new (to me) fashion?

And then I got all mature and decided to donate it...well scrap that. All of that. I'm taking it to Buffalo and selling it. And taking that money with us on our honeymoon to Buenos Aires.

Right now I'm just a little weary, a little cranky, and in no mood to search for the meaning behind donating a pair of leather pants that I had altered and wore while running through sub-freezing sprinklers.

I don't really feel like ascertaining the meaning behind giving away 4 lovely cocktail dresses of various shades of awesomeness.

I want to stamp my foot and behave childishly. Perhaps lessons can't be learned everyday. I'm saving Aesop for tomorrow and selling my stuff for cold, hard cash.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


This post is embarrassing.

And not because of the above article of clothing, with which I became reacquainted while finally really cleaning out my closet today.

Because as you can see in the photo below, taken with my sister in the tiny building otherwise known as the Gibraltar International Airport, I am not ashamed to be seen in this shirt.

No, my embarrassment comes from the fact that the clothing purge I should have performed months ago only just now happened today. Sure, I got rid of a shirt or something back in February. But not until today, August 1st, did I work up the guts to really get rid of clothes I don't need.

I used to do this about every 3 months or so. I loved the feeling of just...unloading things that I felt were bogging me down. It was liberating to donate items that I simply hadn't worn in 6 months. Slimming down the items in my closet, organizing what was left, only keeping the things that truly looked awesome and felt great to wear--it's a nice feeling. Freeing.

And I haven't been able to do it for months now. Check that--I haven't chosen to do it. I've been a littly weenie, worrying that maybe I would still have an opportunity to wear those ridiculous, albeit awesome, orange Aldo heels.

But now it's time to quit being a baby, because suddenly I find myself in the midst of plans to elope and buy a house. Brendon and I have fallen in love with a tiny, old house in Austin, and we're trying to make it ours.

So no more behaving like a total child and clinging to my old duds like I might actually need three pairs of cobalt blue shoes. Jeez, I felt enough like a kid asking the realtor what "escrow" was. If we're going to be making these big moves, then I need to take control of things inside our house now. And that began today with our closet.

First, a few items I just couldn't part with:

1. The shirt my sister made for me. I must keep it for if/when I find myself living outside of Texas again. It gives me strength.

2. The belt that commemorates my 21st birthday, celebrated in Chile and probably still my favorite birthday of all time...when I first really felt happy about living out of the country, when I was just ridiculously pampered by a group of really cool folks from around the world who became dear friends. Anyway, among other awesome things that day, they bought me this belt.

3. The "Love Sex Fun" shirt, bought in Barcelona alongside my sister, whose corresponding piece of crazy clothing read, "Shake It, Please." I just don't think I'm ever going to part with that.

Which brings me to the state of our closet before the great purging began (see below).

I must admit that, for a moment there, standing ankle-deep in discarded clothes and fabulous (yet frivolous) shoes, I saw a clear and shining loophole through The Rules:

Buffalo Exchange.

Holy cow, I could exchange my clothes for store credit there! Eee!

But then the mature, demure, I'm-going-to-get-hitched-soon-and-buy-a-freaking-house Shannon stepped back in and remembered that this was about purging, not getting new stuff.

Because I like my closet a lot better when it looks like this:

All it went, into a box, ready to be given away (not manipulated into new stuff, dang it). Yes, I even finally parted with my crazy bunch of blue shoes. And the awesome orange ones.

And really, it just feels better. I can see all the clothes I own now, and it feels freeing like it always did before. Maybe it's because I'm well into the second half of this thing now. Maybe it's because the next purchase in my life is the priciest one I'll ever make.

Whatever the root of it, it feels good to have been able to do it!