Monday, February 28, 2011

I know what I'm going to buy next

I'd love to come over and watch Friends, but I've got tickets to Pearl Jam

You'd never guess this from my performance on the slopes, but I actually lived in a ski town for  a couple years during my early twenties. But if you need want to take a trip back in time to... oh, the mid-nineties, you just need to take a look at my snowboarding get-up.

Before Super G and the entire Olympic women's snowboarding team was even born, I was an O.G.: Original Gromm-ette. I had the super baggy pants, the oversized jacket, with the waterproof butt-flap (really don't know how else to explain that awkward long part in the back).

Then along came my colicky first child. Then my second child. My snowboard and boots were sold to a friend during a garage cleaning session, but I kept the outfit. Why? They still fit, and our family often goes to Tahoe over the holidays, and I need to wear something.

In the last few years, we have been venturing on the hill again, taking our boys sledding and skiing. We spent this past weekend up to our knees in fresh powder that never turned to Sierra cement. Only, I felt like the Michelin Man, bogged down with extranneous fabric and pants that make that awful swooshing sound as I walked.

But I am proud of myself for keeping this snowboarding ensemble. The pants were purchased for around $50 at a ski store in Idaho, and the jacket was under $100 from the Columbia outlet. And I have worn them for FIFTEEN YEARS. I'd say I got my money's worth!

So, come January 1, 2012, I'm going to buy myself some new snow clothes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

That's it! I'm going to the mall...

A friend of mine says that when she and the dear husband have an argument, her final blow is, "That's it! I'm going to [insert name of upscale boutique]!"

Do you have a "safe place"? You know, when you need a break from the kids after being cooped up in the house all day... work is stressing you out... or you just have an hour to fill before an appointment or school pickup?

If you're like me, you head to — The Mall. Okay, maybe Target. Borders (RIP). Costco.

That happened to me. All in one week.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My closet runneth over

This weekend, I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work with a group of women from my church. Our service was to go to a local women and children's shelter and host a Valentine's brunch and party for the residents. My particular job was to take portraits of the women and their daughters for them to put into special picture frames they decorated as part of the event.

As I walked in, laden with camera equipment and wearing my heart socks (yes, I decided to keep them), I felt so conspicuous. It reminded me of an instance many years ago, when a journalism classmate of mine went to report on a soup kitchen. This particular classmate was a returning student, an "older" woman in her mid-thirties from a very wealthy background. She came to class with perfectly coiffed hair and a diamond ring the size of gumball. The day she was supposed to go to the soup kitchen, she "dressed down" — in perfectly pressed white jeans and a polo shirt. I felt like a less-posh version of that journalism classmate, as I stood in the hallway of that homeless shelter.

It turned out to be harder than expected to take photos of the shelter residents. While one or two volunteered as soon as I had my camera ready, most shied away, or said their hair was a mess, they didn't have any makeup on, or they didn't want their pictures posted on the Internet. I tried to at least get some portraits of the children, since these families may not have many to remember this stage in their lives. Sometimes, the mothers would follow when they had an opportunity to have a picture taken with their girls.

For the most part, these subjects did not smile for the camera, nor did I force them. I wanted to capture the reality of this moment in time: their suffering, their toughness, and their inner beauty. To respect the privacy and safety of the women, I won't be posting any of their pictures, but they were some of the most memorable — and beautiful — I have ever taken.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One dollar dilemma

It's been a bad week. In my last post, I explained how someone stole my iPhone. However, the shock of it didn't really sink in for a couple of days. After investigating the options for replacing the phone, I started to realize that it was a much bigger inconvenience than I first realized. This, after spending several days cancelling all my credit cards and changing passwords to my email accounts and mobile apps. By Monday, I started to feel really bummed out, depressed even, discouraged with people in general. Yet I had to go to Target — we were out of laundry detergent and tooth paste!

In I walked through those sliding glass doors, to find pink hearts and sparkly shamrocks all over the place at what my husband calls the "Dollar Trap". Immediately, I gravitated toward these pink and red heart socks, and somehow, they slipped into my shopping cart.

Okay, after my instictive grab to throw them in the basket, I realized: I'm not supposed to be buying clothes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another Trip to the Mall

I made a trip to my local mall today. It was a necessity, as I lost my iPhone (Yes, the one I just got a month ago. "This is going to be, like, your third iPhone!" my eight year old commented.) and needed to check on the price for a replacement.

So, deflated by the news that it would cost hundreds of dollars to replace my phone, in effect getting me nothing more than what I had at this time yesterday afternoon, I moped around the shopping center. There was still an hour before I needed to be at school to help out in my son's class.

It's been almost a month since I've been at this mall, and even in that short time, I noticed that my friends Kenneth (Cole) and Max (Studio) had moved out. Feeling depressed — how stupid could I be to leave my phone sitting on a bench, even for a few minutes? — I was tempted to get a little pick-me-up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Missing Out on Chinese New Year

This week, most of Asia — and many other people around the world — will be welcoming in The Year of the Rabbit.  Traditionally, Chinese New Year is celebrated with lots of food, parades and firecrackers, money envelopes, and red clothing. Preferably, new red clothing.

Not that I grew up participating in this tradition of new clothes each New Year. During my Midwestern 1970's childhood, we really didn't do much to celebrate Lunar New Year, except for a few red and gold paper symbols being taped on the kitchen cabinets, and perhaps driving into Chicago for a Taiwanese community banquet. Which is not to say that shopping is not deeply engrained in my heritage.

Some of my clearest memories from early childhood involve going to Sears or JC Penney for back-to-school shopping. Garanimals — with their animal hang tags showing you which striped turtlenecks match which corduroy pants —if I was lucky.