gratitude-a-thon day 119: you have a voice: bye bye Abercrombie

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I was always suspect of this store when my daughter made me take her there. I felt like I was shopping for a line of clothes that shrunk in the dryer. But wearing that logo on your chest when you’re 12 was pretty much a mandatory. Until now (I hope.)

In case you have not heard, which would be pretty hard, since it’s practically being screamed from every mountain top, as it should be, the pathetic and gross CEO of the sad and disgusting clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch is really a class A, Number One PIG. And while there have been loads of press on this totally awful human being, I am partial to Ellen’s send-up of Mike Jeffries, a man who does not want to find himself stuck in an elevator with me (or any other woman, and especially not my 15 year old daughter–actually that would be a very good thing for him. A few minutes with Ally and she just might straighten out his thinking).

Mr. Jeffries, who’s very name pains me to write, except that it is a good one for you to know, so you can wish for him every red light (or worse) for the rest of time, says that his strategy for A&F is simple. They don’t want fat people to wear their clothing. They do not carry over a size 10.  (H&M carries up to size 16, and American Eagle goes one size larger with a variety of clothing in size 18 by the way.) So, if you’re going to take your daughter shopping at A&F, don’t let her eat breakfast (or anything else), because we are talking about clothes for the tooth fairy.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely….”

Oh Mr. Jeffries, here are a few questions for you to ponder, as you try and create a brand that relies on the “cool” kids. Have you heard about how hard it is to be a teenager these days? There is the pressure of social media, epic numbers of divorce, bullying, and depression to deal with daily. Are you aware of the number of eating disorders that occur in our teenage population? Do you know what it’s like to be excluded and unable to wear the cool clothes, and to try to, because you think the only way you can fit it in, is if you fit into a pair of shorts  that only a genetically minute or a pre-pubescent girl can wear? Do you understand that your retail strategy is part of the problem, THE BIGGER PROBLEM of teenage self-esteem?  DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE WITH HITLER?

“We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Woweee. This dude is perhaps inhuman, perhaps just stupid? I am not the first to say it, but DON’T GO NEAR AN ABERCROMBIE & FITCH. Don’t let your girls or boys buy their teeny tiny clothing. Picket this store. Don’t stand for it. Don’t sit for it either. And above all, DON’T BUY IT.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 118: paint

I have had some green chairs from Pottery Barn for a long time. How long? Maybe like 15 years or something. Anyway, I used to use a lot of green and what you find when you use a lot of one color, is that it is a sure way to begin a life-long hatred for said color. And so it is with my green chairs. Now I also use a lot of white. Impractical, silly for a family with a dog, or a teenager, but there it is. And I never get sick of it. So, throw out my previous statement, because I’m fairly certain I will be a “white” girl forever and ever, and if I manage to get to heaven, the traditional heaven, I’ll be in a good place–decorated in white clouds. Lovely taste they have up there. Anwyay, yesterday I decided to do a little down and dirty painting of the green chairs.

I should also mention that my idea of the “perfect” white chair is one that is old, with chipped paint and a story to tell. I have a couple, but the problem with these guys is that they break (hopefully, nobody is actually sitting in them when they do this–.so far, so good). I had wanted to get to the mecca of white chairs and everything else that is old and cool and just waiting to be bargained for–Brimfiled, the largest flear market in the world–last week, but with my sturdy to do list spanning 10,000 miles, I couldn’t drive the hour and half to scavenge for white chairs  at the over 6,000 dealers just waiting to unload their wares. Oh the agony…..

So, instead, I went to the hardware store, got myself some Benjamin Moore white paint, bought the suggested primer, which I knew I would not use, threw down a tarp in the backyard and proceeded to basically paint myself white (the chair managed to get a little white on it, too). I am not fastidious. My A.D.D. takes over when I’m doing something like this, and I get a little impulsive. So, I took the primer out of the bag and let it watch me paint right on the chair. I know I was supposed to use it for the best coverage, but I didn’t. Here’s where the chipped paint white chair love comes in–I don’t care if something looks perfect. I am all about the imperfect. So, for me, even though you can see the brush strokes and some green peeking through on the chair, that would drive somebody else to have a small stroke, I love it. It’s basically what I was going for!

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The “before.” Buh-bye GREEN.
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The imperfect , but WHITE “after!”

So, for today, my gratitude goes to….da, da, da, DAAAAAAA– paint. Transformative, awesome, change-your-whole-mood-in-a-minute paint. If only everything was so easy to change.

gratitude-a-thon day 117: life today, as it is

 

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Doesn’t it sort of seem like we’re watching The Disaster Channel? I feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket. In the past month alone, we’ve had the Boston Marathon bombing, the Texas fertilizer disaster and the Oklahoma tornado. While we watch on our televisions, and read on our computers, and newspapers (does anybody read the newspaper anymore, except my husband?), can we really take in such total devastation?  I see the horror, try hard to conjure up the experience, but can you really know what losing your home, or you town, or you leg, would really be like unless you do?

And yet, these experiences devastate me, and get into the cracks of my soul like a noxious gas. They warn of life as you know it being taken away in a New York minute. They tell the story of everyday’s  fragility in words and pictures, using someone else’s world as illustration. They scream out at you, like the guy with the sign that says, “The End is Near.”

And so instead of the fear that cripples, when these things happen, I am trying to go the way of the gratitude. Your house, which needs painting and new steps and a bathroom renovation is perfect. Your thighs, dimpled with the dreaded cellulite get you from place to place one foot in front of the other. Your face, getting wrinkled and the subject of your worry, forget it, it’s all good, the proof of a life fully lived. The perspective these disasters can pull out of us is the only good thing I can see. Life, unpredictable, is ours to squander or celebrate. The mundane is the gold. Do we only realize it when it’s taken from us. That’s too late. Today I will read about the people of Oklahoma and send my donation to wherever it will help, and then I will  hug my life a little harder, notice all the flowers on my walk, and sing hallelujah for the piles of clothes in the middle of my kid’s rooms.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 116: 60 Minutes

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One of the feature stories on 60 minutes last night was that of Shin Dong-hyuk. I’ll never forget it.

Although there are a million knock-offs and wannabes, 60 Minutes is still the best magazine show alive. I’ll admit I don’t clear my calendar like I once did, to make sure that I catch it, but I watched it last night and it’s still just as smart and fresh as it always was.

I used to watch this show every Sunday night. Having studied journalism, I’m always interested in how a reporter chooses to put a story together. Do you start in the middle? Do you bury the lead, but focus on it at the conclusion? Do you go traditional and begin at, well the beginning? 60 Minutes has always had the knack for choosing interesting topics and covering them in a way that allows you to learn, while all at the same time, sort of challenging you, in a provocative way. My parents always watched this show. But my enduring memory of it is that during football season, it was always delayed and that was really upsetting to me. When I would nag my avid football watching father to tell me how much time was left in the game, he would tell me there was just two minutes. Of course, he didn’t tell me that the two minutes left could and would likely be more like 20 minutes with all the stupid time outs, so I would sit and wait, wondering if my internal clock was off, or my dad was fucking with me. This is one of the possible roots to my intense dislike of football. When I was young, we had only one tv and on Sundays, it was all football, all the time. I remember the game back in 1968, when the Oakland Raiders defeated the New York Jets. My dad was a Jets fan and they were winning with one minute to go, when CBS ended their coverage of the game to air the film Heidi. The Jets hadn’t won, but I had! It was totally awesome. My dad totally flipped when he found out the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the last 60 seconds of the game.

Anyway, there are still great reporters on 60 minutes, but not like Harry Reasoner, Mike Wallace and Morley Safer. I can still conjure up each of their voices perfectly. They were a familiar and soothing part of my childhood.

Last night there was an intensely sad story about a North Korean political prison called Camp 14. By all accounts it’s like a concentration camp for those who have committed political crimes. The person accused of the crime isn’t just sent there, their whole family is whisked away to this horrible place where the treatment is inhumane, the days are filled with hard labor, and there is little to eat. The interview was with a boy named Shin Dong-hyuk who was actually born in Camp 14, but escaped at 23. He didn’t know anything about the bigger world. When asked if he knew about America or whether the world was round or flat, he said, he was unaware of either. He believed the camp was what life was. When Anderson Cooper asked him if he knew what love was in the first 23 years of his life, he answered he still didn’t know what it was. He was told what to do every moment of the day and he was hungry for the entire 23 years he was imprisoned. He talks a lot about this hunger and that it was the focus of him wanting to escape when he met a new prisoner who had lived in the outside world. This is when he began to think of a finding a way to leave. What drove him to find a way out? His dream of eating chicken and pork, of no longer being hungry. While this sounds somewhat comical, delivered by a boy void of any emotion, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. If you need some gratitude today, you should watch this story. It rocked my core.

And that’s what 60 Minutes has always done. Moved me, informed me, challenged me. I’m grateful for anything that does that.

gratitude-a-thon day 115: a day with the family

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Sometimes, I’m just grateful for a really good day with the family. This was last Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum’s Lilac Day. We took a really nice walk through all the different kinds of lilacs, one of my favorite flowers. I had breakfast in bed, got incredible letters from my kids, a necklace that looks like one of  the flowers on my blog, and a gorgeous bouquet of real flowers. Mmmmmm, it’s good to be mom.

gratitude-a-thon day 113: the internet treasure hunt

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I found a cool bracelet yesterday at a store in Wellesly (here’s some of the brand’s other jewelry).  But that was just the beginning of my little treasure hunt.

Yesterday I had a new business meeting and I arrived a little bit early. I spied a clothing store I’d never been to in the neighborhood and decided to use my spare time giving it a shop. Score. It was really fantastic, with lots of the kinds of clothes I love and that I hadn’t seen before. What a find. I didn’t have much time, but I did find an amazing bracelet and not only bought it but put it right on and wore it to my meeting!

When I got home, I had a bunch of stuff to do, but instead I do what I do a lot when I buy something I love. I get my computer out and google the brand and find everything they make. This is a real treasure hunt. I often like brands that seem to be a little on the obtuse side and that require spectacular google skills to conquer. And this is one of those unfortunate cases. This brand has clothing on the internet, but no jewelry, so I have my work cut out for me.

My FBI shopping skills are really put to the test when it comes to my poor feet. I have really difficult tootsies, and it is practically a full time job to be able to find shoes that do not make me look like a grieving old Italian woman in the back of a funeral (they always wear those sad orthopedic shoes). So when I find a pair that works, and is cute, I do a serious manhunt for other styles. Seems I often find odd brands, made in some faraway place that sent one pair to the States and  that I happened to buy. A couple of years ago, I was on a reconnaissance mission for a Japanese brand that practically lasted a year. I know, I should really get a life, right?

Anyway, the thing I’m grateful for here, is that when I  google a brand I  fall for, I find stores  that carry the brand, and–the really good part–that carry other brands that are also great, and just like that, I have a whole new world of cool stuff to choose from. The shopper in me is happy, and the girl who likes stuff that’s a little different is satisfied. Win, win. All except for my wallet, of course.