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Non-Magical Wardrobes

When I was a kid, I often wished for a wardrobe that opened into a magical world on the other side, like the one in Narnia. Of course I barely had a closet back then…just a small square of plywood covered in veneer that wasn’t even close to being big enough to store my teenage clothes stock (no matter, because the only clothes actually in the closet were the ones I didn’t wear anyways – the rest pretty much lived on the floor, as they tend to with the younger set).

Now, of course, I have a closet large enough to hold my very pared down wardrobe…and after a lot of years of wearing the same basic clothes, I am excruciatingly bored with mine. I hate to shop, and I’m not overly fond of spending money on clothing either. So I tend to do the “find something I like, buy one in every color, wear them for 20 years” thing. Yes, I have pieces in my closet that I’ve had since college, and I still wear them regularly. Clothes were made better back then…but they are quite faded and dated – even the classic styles I favor.

Alas, I’ve finally grown tired of wearing nearly the same thing day in and day out to work. I wish my closet was magical, automatically switching out clothes here and there to keep my wardrobe mostly classic, but updated with enough new things to keep it interesting. I really don’t want to spend hours going through clothing racks or even web sites trying to find stuff to wear. I’d rather be doing other things (*anything else*), but at the same time – I really do need new clothes.

Enter Stitch Fix, which is an online personal shopper service that I just signed up with earlier this month. You fill out a profile questionnaire, and tell them your preferences, etc, and they pick out 5 items of clothing and send it to you at the interval you pick (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, whatever). Then you try on what they send, keep/pay for what you want, and send the rest back (postage paid envelope included).

I was a bit worried about the first one, but when it got here, even though the item price was more than I’d normally pay, I only sent two things back, and only one because I didn’t like it (the other was just not a good fit/cut for me). It took me 10 minutes to fill out the profile and all of about 30 minutes to try everything on, package up what I didn’t want and pay for what I was keeping.

Now *that* is shopping. I didn’t have to pick any of it out, my personal “stylist” did a great job sending stuff I liked, and it just made the whole “new clothes” thing much easier. I loved it. I’m going to get a box once a month for awhile until I’ve pretty well turned my wardrobe over, and then scale back to every other month, or once a quarter just to keep things fresh. I tell you what – this is a serious time-saver for me. Love it!

Of course I still need some new shoes (ordered a couple pairs of flats last week, and I need one to two more pair), and a new belt, but I’ll get there eventually. I’m actually still wearing wool socks to work in the 90 degree heat which is really hot when I go home, but during the day it’s actually okay. Because…air conditioning always seems to be set at sub-zero at the office. Socks & long sleeves are a must even in summer, at least for me.

In other news, I wore a bright yellow “Assemble the Minions” shirt (covered in Minions, of course) to my family reunion this past weekend. A fashion nightmare any way you want to cut it (cheap, quick-drying theme-park shirt…also very cool), but I now have the distinction of being the only person in pictures wearing non-conservative clothing. Considering reunions don’t happen often, I say if nothing else, one should be distinctive – especially when you tone it down all week for work. Can’t be all filtered and buttoned up all the time, eh? My geek fuel t-shirts are especially helpful with that evenings & weekends.

Now I need to clean all of those older clothes out of my closet…. *sigh*

Of Halloween, Wardrobes & Everyday Masks

I love fall-back weekend. I love standard time, and early darkness, and the early end to all that extra activity that daylight stimulates. Don’t get me wrong – the light has it’s place, and I need it too, but I’m extraordinarily fond of nighttime and the darkness.

A good vampire, I’d make. Probably.

In any case, Happy Belated Halloween to all of you. I left work a couple hours early on Friday and helped Hubby put some decor in the yard, and then Saturday we spent all morning watching it rain on and off, and all afternoon finishing up the yard decor, rain be damned. By 5:30pm, we’d consumed half of our jack-o-lantern pizza and were ready for kiddos. It was kind of disappointing, because we only got 47, all told, and we have a *ton* of candy leftover that will have to go to workplaces or the bar on Weds night – it’s not staying here!

Sunday after the normal grocery shopping and donut consumption rituals, we cleaned up the yard and pulled everything back inside, which only took a couple of hours. Of course the workout room is unusable at the moment, but we’ll spend our workout time tonight cleaning it up and putting everything away. We really need to sort through all of it and give what we’ll never use again away, but I don’t want to spend that much time on it just now. Priorities, you know.

No, I didn’t dress up. I never do…there’s always way too much to do to get the yard ready, and not enough time to costume myself. Story of my life, really – clothes are kind of a pain in the butt, so I tend to stick with a few basic styles and wear those over and over. It’s boring, but it’s easy, and when you love mornings as much as I do (*ahem*), you don’t want to be making a whole lot of decisions before breakfast.

But like I said, it’s boring. So Friday night, just after payday and before I paid bills (living dangerously!), I went shopping online. You have to understand – shopping for clothes in any way, shape or form, is really my least favorite activity. So I have to force myself, even online (t-shirts are exempt. It’s embarrassing how fast I’ll click “buy now” on a fun or funny t-shirt). Several hours later, I hit the confirm order button on four new (all different) light sweaters (so wearable in 3 seasons), a new pair of ankle boots suitable for winter, and a new pair of slippers (mine have been dead and gone for nearly a year – I really needed a new pair).

Clothes really shouldn’t cost so much, dang it. But the majority of my current wardrobe is nearly a decade old. It’s all classic, so it doesn’t go out of style, but a lot of it’s faded and looking pretty worn, so I need to make a concentrated effort to turn most of it over a piece or two at a time. Thank God for online shopping. If I had to actually go to the store, it wouldn’t happen at all.

Of course with the costuming and my own wardrobe “issues”, it kind of made me think about masks and costumes and presenting different parts of our personality as dominant depending on who we’re with and what context we’re currently in. My wardrobes for work and “everyday” life rarely cross…aside from Fridays when dress is generally more casual (though I’m still careful about what shirts I wear – no t-shirts with quippy-yet-mildly insulting quotes on the front, of course). I was thinking that my own rather reserved “work mask” was just that…something for work, but in thinking about it further, it’s really not. It’s more of my “other people” mask, whether they’re at work or not, and no matter what clothing I happen to be wearing at the time. Truth is, it takes a long time before I trust people enough to open up past that “cool & reserved” persona, and that’s true everywhere, not just with people I work with/around.

The realization was kind of a relief, honestly. I am who I am, no matter where I am. And that’s how it should be.


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On Social Oddities, Boxing & New Books…

*cautiously looks around, keeping a close eye on the shadows*

My last few Mondays haven’t been exactly stellar, so I’m approaching this one with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism (much like a normal Tuesday). But my weekend was good – very productive, and I’ve got my schedule and workload(s) back under control, which should help me deal effectively with anything that comes up (or goes down, which actually happens more often in my world, sadly).

In any case, something odd that I noticed about last Monday was the high percentage of red shirts being worn. We’re talking several of my co-workers, my husband, and more than a few people I saw randomly walking on the streets. Why did I even notice? Because I’d nearly reached for a red shirt myself (a color I rarely wear), and then decided against it because red is an aggressive, active color, and I didn’t want that sort of “vibe” around me for a Monday. I wore blue (calming, trustworthy), but I think I ended up dealing with the fallout of “red” by default, given how many other people in my immediate circle were wearing it that day.

It does make me wonder what was in the air, so to speak, to make everyone reach for a red shirt that morning (including myself)… *cue alien invasion music*

This weekend, of course, the big “thing” was a boxing match on Saturday night. I’m not a boxing fan…it makes me physically ill to watch two people beating each other to a pulp for nothing other than…money? Fame? Whatever. And yes, I’ve been informed that there wasn’t much actual boxing during Saturday’s match, which is a bit ironic, I think.

I can normally at least appreciate the intricacies of pretty much anything if I understand the underlying logic to it, even if it involves physical violence/danger, and even if I don’t necessarily enjoy whatever “it” happens to be. An old-fashioned duel for honor, for instance…still seems like overkill to me depending on the circumstances, but I get the underlying motivation, so I’m okay with it. Most serial killers, I get (I probably shouldn’t admit that). But I admit to being completely perplexed by boxing. I want to understand, and I do understand how a lot of people get into it, I just don’t get why people keep doing it, considering how high the percentage of giving or receiving a life-altering injury is. It…makes no logical sense. And yes, I know that makes me sound like Spock.

I always was partial to Spock, even as a little kid. Which is no surprise to anyone who knows me, I’m sure.

What else? Oh right! BeauTEAful Summer, the collected edition of three romantic suspense shorts I wrote last year is finally available (sort of a buy two/get the third free deal), and one of my alter-egos has a new book out today as well. My other alter-ego has a new audiobook out, so something for everyone – I’ll be setting up contests for free copies here and there this week…

And now, to bed (it’s 12:30am as I write this). I skimped on sleep every night last week, and paid dearly for it. Not going to make the same mistake twice (at least not two weeks in a row)!


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On Birthdays, Cold Temps & Hole-y T-Shirts…

I have one sister – younger than me by two years and ten months (she still gets mad when I round it up to three years). She’s one of those strange women who doesn’t like other people knowing her age (I really don’t think I’ll ever understand that), but I’ll be 40 this coming January, and her birthday is this coming Saturday. It’s not my fault if y’all know how to do math…

My dad’s birthday is also this week – and while I suppose I could make you do that math on that too, he won’t mind my telling you that he’ll be 63 on Tuesday – Veteran’s Day.

What does this mean for me (besides two slightly older family members)? An early Chinese dinner on Tuesday (it’s a federal holiday, so I’m off work), and chicken enchiladas at noon on Saturday.

Tuesday, of course, is supposed to be pretty cold (it’s snowing as I write this on Sunday night), with a forecast high of 9 and a low of 2. I was kind of happy I didn’t have to go to work, and when I subtly mentioned to my mom it was supposed to be that cold, I was not-so-subtly reminded that she still had to go to work that day (paybacks – she’s a middle school librarian, and I’m constantly reminding her that I have to work when she’s off on spring break or Christmas break or summer break or whatever). The implication being, of course, that I should buck up and get my butt off my cozy couch and out to Dad’s birthday dinner regardless of the weather. And I will, obviously.

If we could actually use the weather as an excuse not to do stuff up here, nothing would get done for at least a few months of every year. Still, can’t blame a girl for trying.

HolyShirts

In other, sad news, several of my beloved t-shirts are starting to fall apart. Literally. Like, there are holes in them. I mean, it shouldn’t surprise me, considering I’ve had many of them since…um…actually, I think the one I’m wearing now I got in high school. Or college. My parents brought it back for me after a trip to Glacier National Park (pictured above). It’s incredibly comfy as only t-shirts that have been well broken-in are. *sigh* But it also has holes in the armpits and a few in other places as well – the sleeve, for one, and another near the hem.

A sadder one is my Super Novelist NaNo shirt from 2004 (10 yrs ago! – also pictured), which is getting holes around the front “superman” style logo, as well as other holes here and there. Dang it. I may cut out the logo portion of that one to keep. I really love that shirt…

In any case, I bought a dog rope toy at a craft fair this summer that is basically just a braid of old cotton knit material. And my aging t-shirts are…old cotton knit material. There are ways you can cut old t-shirts so they make one continuous strip of fabric, that can then be used to do whatever with….such as braiding into dog pulls, or crocheting into rugs and bags and such. Methinks maybe it’s time to retire some of these old shirts and give them a new life as something else…

But not until I get caught up with my NaNo novel. I’m way, way behind, and my plans to write Sunday didn’t ever really pan out, so…here’s hoping Tuesday will be my lucky day for lots of words.


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Monday Musings: On Looks, Perception, & Non-Verbal Communication…

Work Mode/Casual Mode

Work Mode/Casual Mode

I took a “selfie” this weekend…more to show off my new hat than anything else, because it’s a cool hat (in my opinion), and a rare occurrence to get a new one. And once I’d taken it, I decided to replace my current profile pic on my personal Facebook profile with it. For awhile, anyway.

Naturally, this got me thinking (as most things do). Because there’s so much more to taking a “selfie” than just point & shoot, and more yet involved in setting a profile picture. If that’s not the case for you…welcome to my over-analyze-everything brain. Yes, it’s always like this. No, I can’t turn it off.

Smile? Normal expression? Coy? Serious? Straight on? Sideways look? Tongue sticking out? 

Good grief. The whole thing makes me roll my own eyes, for cryin’ out loud. Just get over yourself, woman, and snap a damn pic. So I did.

The thing is, I’m comfortable being around people with make-up or no make-up, hair done or hat on, t-shirt & jeans or work clothes & heels. But people definitely react to me differently depending on whether I’m in work mode or casual. Part of it is who I am – when I’m in work mode with hair, makeup & the whole bit, I’ve got stricter filters (well, usually), and I’m even more reserved than normal. This serves me well for situations where productivity and working well with others is key.

When I’m in casual mode, it normally means a hat, no makeup, jeans or shorts & a t-shirt, looser personal filters and a more relaxed, easy-going vibe (as much as I ever give, anyways). This also serves me well when I’m interacting with people who are more comfortable around a more casual persona. It would not work so well at work – while it would be fine with my colleagues (I work in tech, so it’s a casual bunch), it wouldn’t keep me in the proper mindset for keeping things professional with customers & the other people in the building I work with.  A casual appearance invites people to be casual, a professional one establishes a professional boundary from the start. It’s an instinctual thing – most of the time, we don’t even realize we do it, but all of us react that way to some extent or another.

Note that when I look in the mirror on casual/work days (or even at the above photos – I took the work mode one this morning before work, just for you), the difference I see in my own appearance is subtle. The reactions I get from people used to seeing me one way or the other, but not both, are far more dramatic than I’m usually expecting, because I just don’t see a huge difference, personally. Isn’t it weird how perception works?

When I went to the comic book store the other week in “half-casual/half-work” (Friday) mode (jeans, but hair/makeup done), the poor comic store guy seemed uncomfortable, but he’s used to casual me, and my “work look” puts a wall up that doesn’t need to be there with him. He didn’t even remember my name, when he normally remembers exactly who I am. I actually felt bad for flustering him, but it’s pretty rare I have time to stop in and get my comics when I’m in work mode, so not something that will happen often. When I stopped in this weekend in normal casual mode, he called me by name right away and was his normal, helpful self.

The first time my dog’s vet saw me in work mode, he didn’t even recognize me at first. But even though he’s always a very nice, helpful, respectful guy, he was more professional with me that day than he normally is when I’m in casual mode. In that case, it was a good thing. No, it doesn’t mean I’m going to put makeup on every time I take the dogs in. I’m far too lazy for that. Just an interesting observation.

And it doesn’t make him a bad guy for reacting differently either – it’s a hard-wired, subconscious reaction, not something any of us have control over.

It’s not limited to men, either. Even the ladies who ring my groceries up at the grocery store have commented they didn’t recognize me at first when I stop in after work for something quick, because I shop on Sunday mornings, so ultra-casual mode there. A couple of them couldn’t figure out what was different until I told them (hair/makeup/clothes) – they just knew that something was definitely different. And yes, they treat me differently, to my detriment, much like the comic book store. When I’m casual, they’ll chit-chat with me while checking my order out, just being friendly. They’re much more reserved when I’m in work mode…that invisible professional boundary again. Again, a subconscious reaction on their part – I’m sure they didn’t realize they were doing it, it’s just the result of a change in perception.

What’s all this have to do with my FB profile pic? Everything, really. I normally keep my pics in “work mode” territory, because you never know who will be looking you up, and work mode doubles as “protective” mode in a bunch of relative strangers. It’s the reserved side of me with stricter filters & tighter boundaries, which I exercise more than people probably realize online, and even just seeing my own pic reminds me that I’m in “work mode” online. So to post a casual mode pic…yeah, that required some serious thought. Not because I’m self-conscious about how I look one way or the other (critically, I mean – I look like what I look like), but because it instantly removes some of those “walls” that keep people at a distance, and that’s not something to be taken lightly. I’m still not sure how long I’ll leave it like that, honestly, considering the wide swath of people I’m in contact with as well as people who might just peek at my profile here and there, even if they don’t outright friend me.

I think it’s a very powerful communication tool to take note of how people perceive us, and when it suits our purpose, to adjust accordingly. I know there’s a lot of pressure to “don’t pay attention to others” and “look how you want”, and overall, that’s a good message. But at the same time, paying attention and presenting yourself in such a way as to take advantage of a key tool in non-verbal communication just gives you more power in any social situation. And for someone like me who already sort of flounders socially, it’s good to have that confidence and control.


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Talkin’ Books: June 25, 2014

Books Finished:
N/A

Kindle Books In Progress:
Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
The Eye of God by James Rollins

Comic Books:
Harley Quinn #7

A quiet reading week this week, but a good one, nonetheless.

I just finished the latest Harley Quinn comic book, and she really cracks me up. And when she and Poison Ivy get together, watch out! They finally figured out who put the hit out on her this issue, and it was definitely a twist, though I think it could have gone another direction. In any case it was a fun, violent little read, and I have to say, Harley’s love of the macabre just makes her that much more special. Can’t wait for the next one!

I got back into The Eye of God this weekend, but not for long enough, really. With that novel, it would be great to have a good solid chunk of a couple hours to just read and read. Maybe this weekend, if I’m good and get all my writing done early? Tempting. Definitely tempting. There’s just…so much going on, in so many directions, but it’s fascinating, so far. so much history and setting in his books…

Dare to Love isn’t quite what I’d expected, honestly – it’s more, and far deeper in terms of character back-story and ensuing issues than the average romance novel. I’m enjoying it, but it’s also kind of a thinker, and I’m constantly waiting for what comes next. Sign of a good writer, right there…

And that’s about all the reading I did last week. Next week I’m determined to catch up on my Batman Eternal comics, and I’ll be adding some non-fiction to the list as well, having ordered what amounts to a crash-course in writing craft and technique. Should be interesting at the very least.

Until then, happy reading! Read any good books lately?

Monday Musings: On Transitional Clothes, Seasonal Quandaries & Modesty…

ClosetJune2014

I’ve been in a rather introspective mood for the past little while, so this week, a break from weighty subjects. Instead, let’s talk about clothes for a bit, shall we?

I’ve mentioned before that I hate to shop. That picture up there is indeed my own closet, and unlike people who swap clothes out for the different seasons, I don’t. It’s all there (sweaters on the top shelf – you can see the arm of one hanging down, all homey-like). Everything fits, because I simply don’t have that many clothes (I think my husband actually has more clothes than I do). I think the only thing I’m really missing from my capsule-based wardrobe is the proverbial little black dress. I’ll get around to it one of these days. Maybe. I’m not all that fond of dresses/skirts (or anything that requires me to be “lady-like”, really, though they can be useful in certain situations, I suppose).

Even now, I’m down to one pair of black socks for work, and I fully plan on seeing if I can order a few pair from Amazon just to avoid having to go to the store (on account of I’ve known I need socks for weeks now, and still haven’t made it to the store). I need a new belt too.

Actually, now that I think about it, I could use some more long-sleeved t-shirts as well. Transitional wear. This year’s been a really odd one for weather, and while I have warm weather clothes and cold weather clothes, I don’t have much in the way of rainy, dreary-day clothing…because normally, days like that are few and far between here. I’ve been freezing this spring though due to more rainy days than normal and summer-style air-conditioning at work. Not fun! And I’m not really a cardigan sort of person, though I am knitting a shrug that should be done sometime in the next year…but it’s not neutral enough colors for work (it would clash with a lot of my work shirts – need something black or cream for work-neutral, I suppose).

In any case, summer always brings about a rather serious quandary for me during the week…and it’s not really weather related, but more light vs. modesty driven. See, in the winter, it’s dark when I get home, and the chances that anyone will stop by are extremely low. I normally change out of my work clothes into the proverbial “something more comfortable”, and unless I actually have somewhere I have to go (which is pretty rare…I prefer not to leave the house after work during the week whenever possible though it does happen), in the winter that means sweats or yoga pants and a t-shirt. The evil bra comes off soon after I walk in the door, and stays off until the next morning. Bras aren’t good for letting lymph fluid flow freely…it’s both healthier and more comfortable (as long as one isn’t doing jumping jacks or something) to spend as little time bound up as possible. If I’m working out, I’ll put on a sports bra, but only for the workout. Nice thing about winter, too, is that clothes are heavier. I have no issue answering the door in a sweatshirt and no bra, of course.

But summer…summer is evil. It’s light out after work. There’s yard work to be done. People that might stop by, or neighbors who might want to chat. The most annoying thing about all this is that I can’t just jettison my bra after work. I’m not hugely well-endowed, but well enough, and it would be a distraction to answer the door or talk to the neighbors without one (esp. given that in summer I’m prone to more light/white colors…which are even more problematic). And having gained and lost weight, I hate to admit it, but sagging is an issue, and I’m vain enough to care.  Then of course there’s the support issue…yard work requires some sort of…restraint in the bust area. It’s just a fact.

In any case, in the summer when I come home, I generally swap my work clothes for shorts or jeans and a t-shirt, and a lighter, looser bra than the one I wear for work on account of the people-who-might-stop-by, and yard work potential. Honestly? It’s annoying. I don’t like it. But even if I just let the weeds grow wild, there’s still a better chance that someone will randomly stop by in the summer when it’s light out than in the winter. Inhospitable sod that I am, I really wish everyone would just call before they stop. That would give me time to go begrudgingly put on a bra before I have to be sociable.

Ladies, am I the only one who hates the whole bra thing, but can’t quite bring myself to go without in the company of anyone not my husband? Am I just too modest? Or just in the wrong era, perhaps? Where are the 70’s when you need ’em, anyways?

I think one of my heroines needs to deal with this in a book. Or maybe one of alter-ego Trinity’s books. Because she can go places I…can’t. 😉

And with that…here’s your earworm for the week. I know. You’re welcome.


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