Category Archives: shopping

I think I’m going with the pale lilac toenails

So far so good with summer camp, though Mabel objects to having to stay quiet for rest time after lunch, and I didn’t send any money with Dash on his field trip so he was subjected to the huge injustice of not being able to buy anything in the gift shop at the Baltimore aquarium yesterday. As for me, I’m having a lovely time.

Yesterday I went to the mall and spent more than an hour shopping, unhurriedly and in a focused manner, alone. I don’t think I’ve done that since I had children, and it was excellent. First I bought a bra from the proper place to buy bras, so that everything else I tried on would look better. Then I found exactly the trousers I was looking for in the first place I looked for them, and on sale too. (Making up for the bra. When you breastfeed for seven years, your double-Ds turn into something more like double-Fs, and there are no cheap bras.)

I bought some posh moisturizer and had some good lunch and tried on some dresses that were almost but not quite what I wanted. I resisted the Nordstrom lady’s hard sell on the blue dress (which was really cute but would clash with my shoes and need alterations and was a little dressier than I wanted) and at the last minute found the perfect thing in Macy’s, on clearance, no alterations needed, just dressy enough, and works with the shoes I already have. Score.

Yes, a lot of this shopping is inspired by the upcoming blogging conference. No, you don’t have to go and buy new things or take up an exercise regime to go to a conference. But I like motivators, and inspiration, and finding excuses to do things I might not otherwise do.

Let me put it like this:

How would I like people to look at a blogging conference?

a) Fat
b) Thin
c) Friendly

How do I think people should dress at a blogging conference?

a) Preppy
b) Sloppy
c) In something comfortable that makes you feel like your (best) self

Option c) all the way. That’s all.

Personally, however, I do have a few other requirements: not being too hot or too cold, not feeling like I have to stand up straight and suck my gut in all the time, not worrying about sweat stains if I’ve been shuttling between conference venues in Chicago summer heat, and not clashing with my orange bag. And, vitally, wearing shoes I can walk in. All of the above will help me feel like myself and meet new people with a genuine smile.

I’m not going to pretend that BlogHer isn’t a big deal for me. It is. I’ve never left my children overnight before, I’ve been out of the professional workplace for seven years, and I’m only just starting to call myself a blogger out loud. Sometimes. So while dressing for a fairly casual conference and hopping on a plane without emergency diapers and goldfish crackers might be a regular occurence for many attendees there, for me it’s a giant leap out of my everyday life and back (or forwards) into another.

As far as I know, there’s only going to be one other person there who I’ve actually met (though she knows several others). Quite a few of the bloggers I love to read regularly, and who I know have gone in the past, don’t seem to be going this year. I’m fairly interested in some of the sessions and of course I want to see the keynote speakers and the Voices of the Year presentations, but mostly I’m going for the Experience. I want to meet people who are dorks like me.

Are you going to be there? Leave me a comment, and maybe we could try to meet up.

Consumer index

I panicked at Target this morning.

So many of Target’s success stories probably start out that way. And by success stories I mean times they parted people from way more of their money than they went in intending to be parted from.

So I went in to get a pack of crayons for Dash (yes, we have eleventy million crayons in the house, but he needed a new pack for school, and taking some brand-new practically unused crayons out of our big box and putting them into a smaller box would not do, in spite of the fact that he and his sister scorn everything but markers at home but I digress) and maybe a couple of other school supplies his teacher said they were running short on (scissors; how do kids run out of scissors? What are they doing with them? Using them to cut up other pairs of scissors?) and some toothpaste because he won’t use the new “clean squeeze” tube I just got because it’s too minty, damnit, even though he likes mint, and then I thought maybe some new bathtub foam letters for Mabel to keep the grand universal scales of “you bought something for one child” level…

… and then I got to the Star Wars section of the toys and suddenly worried that Target would stop promoting Star Wars all of a sudden, because maybe something else is the next big thing and now that Disney has Star Wars (even though with JJ Abrams at the helm everyone knows that it’s going to be absolutely the thing to see, but maybe the 6-year-old set aren’t so well up on JJ Abrams’s oeuvre, not having watched all of Alias, probably) perhaps the cool kids won’t want lightsabers by April so I bought the damn Darth Maul red double-blade lightsaber that Dash has been begging for since some time last summer.

(I got into big, huge, trouble with him one night a few weeks ago when he suddenly remembered that he had thought he might get one for Christmas and then he didn’t, and I was the worst, cruelest mother on the planet (and probably also on Alderaan and Tatooine) for not giving him a double-blade for Christmas when I had promised I would (note: I hadn’t) and I should go out the very next morning and get him a double-blade to make up for it and when I wouldn’t agree that this was clearly the correct way for me to atone for my sins, he threw a long, long hissy that still gets revisited from time to time when he remembers to be very upset about the whole incident.)

So there, fine, now he’s getting his double-blade for his birthday (at the end of April; never say I don’t plan ahead), because you can’t just go out and buy people big presents when it’s not Christmas or birthday or the culmination of some long-worked-for sticker-chart extravaganza.

(In related news, Mabel is plotting how she can get another baby sooner than her November birthday. She asked me the other day if we could do another star chart for her using the toilet, since that worked so well the last time. I pointed out that she knew how to do that now, so no, that wouldn’t work. I wonder how I can leverage this desire of hers into some sort of necessary behaviour?)

But despite having the entire cave of wonders at my child-free-browsing disposal, I still didn’t manage to find anything nice or unexpected or quirky or even predictable to give my beloved husband on the occassion of tomorrow’s Annoying Hallmark Holiday. Looks like he’s getting two delightful children. Again.

Hey, this year they’re potty trained. It gets better.

Ode to shoe

Ah, Zappos, how I love thee. And also hate thee, for you try so hard and so well to part me from my money.

Zappos, in case you live under a rock or on the tragically Zappos-less rock of Ireland, is an Internet mail-order shoe-selling company. They sell other things too now, but shoes are their main stock-in-trade. If you say Zappos, I think shoes, and so do many, many other women who have fallen into their supple, shiny, suede-trimmed trap.

It’s not that they’re bad. It’s just that they’re very very good.

So you go to the site and you look at lots of pretty pictures of shoes. You can see the shoes from every angle, you can zoom in to examine the stitching detail or the pattern on the sole, you can even watch a video where someone wears the shoe and then holds it and bends it to show how delightfully flexible it is. You can read reviews by other people who were delighted with these shoes, or disappointed by them in some specific way, and thus you can make an educated guess as to which shoes are best for you. They have all those odd sizes that are so hard to find in stores, like wides and narrows. You can sort them out by size or style or colour or brand or season – or emotion they inspire, probably.

But here’s the best bit. Shipping is free, and return shipping is free. So you can order as many pairs as take your fancy, safe in the knowledge that if they’re not quite right once you have them in your own hands, and on your own feet, you can send them back and not be a penny out of pocket.

Oh, those canny Zappos people, they are so clever. Because once you have the shoes not just in your hands and on your feet – as you might at the mall or on the high street – but in your very own house where you can try them on with all thicknesses of socks, with trousers and jeans and skirts and everything you own, the temptation to just let the nice people in the computer keep your money while you keep these shoes that are so nearly right, but maybe just not exactly what you had been initially envisaging, that temptation is great. These shoes that you might not even have picked off the display in the store, because you could see immediately that the shade was wrong, or the leather was oddly wrinkly, or you were actually looking for sandals, not boots – now you can see that really there could be a place in your collection for these shoes too. Maybe you’d be crazy to send them back.

Also, of course, sending them back requires action. You have to package them up again, and your children have already run off to pop the bubble wrap. You have to seal the box, and you can’t find the packing tape. You have to print out a return label, and the printer is all the way downstairs in the basement and sometimes the wireless connection doesn’t work so you have to go down there and manually turn it on. And then you have to drive to the post office or the UPS store and bring it inside. (I’ve heard you can just give it to your mail carrier too, but I don’t ever trust my mail carrier to actually take things as well as deliver them. That sort of thing would never work in Ireland.) Sure, you don’t have to pay anything, but all that activity, when you could just let them keep your few paltry dollars (eighty, whatever, were these on sale, I don’t remember) and have these shoes in your collection for the day when you do own the perfect pants/skirt/suspenderbeltwhatIdon’tjudge . . . well, you see how it goes.

Right now, as you might have guessed, I have two pairs of shoes upstairs, all nicely re-packed in their boxes with the fiddly plastic mouldy things and the tissue paper and the inner bags all perfectly replaced. One pair was gorgeous, the perfect colour, but not comfortable enough. The other pair was blissfully comfy but the wrong colour. I’m trying very hard to either just let it go and send them back or find some good reason why I need the brown ones so that I can keep them.

Oh, Zappos. I just can’t quit you.

Weekend edition

I have a confession. I hate weekends.

At least, I’m really bad at them. I suppose it’s a leftover inclination from all those years when weekend meant something different, and less taxing, than Monday to Friday. But now all it means is that we have no particular schedule and are required to either have some of that holy grail – quality family time – or else feel guilty for failing.

I am also hampered by my extreme lack of ambition, outing-wise. The museums downtown are great, but we’ve seen the child-friendly ones quite a lot now, and they don’t change the dinosaurs all that often. I’d like to go to the art galleries, but the children don’t enjoy those much. A nice walk in the great outdoors would be excellent for our mental and physical health, but dragging our offspring to walk somewhere and look at scenic nature is doomed from the get-go. You can try to bribe them with hot chocolate afterwards, but they’d much rather have the drink right now and skip the nature, thank you.

Today we even considered pushing the boat out and going to see a film.

Us: Hey, guys, how about we … [thrill of anticipation]… go to see a movie this afternoon?
Them: Nooooooo.
Us, grasping at straws: There’d be popcorn.
Them: Nah.

They’d much rather sit at home watching tried and trusted episodes of Curious George on PBS than see something new and exciting and potentially scary on the big, noisy screen that you can’t get away from.

It almost makes me yearn for the old days, when they were little. Okay, so you had to pack the entire contents of your house and fridge before you could get out the door, and someone always had a huge up-the-back-of-the-onesie blowout just as you strapped them into the car, but the decision-making was up to you. If you said “Right, we’re going to have a lovely walk and see a waterfall!”, they’d be pretty much powerless against your bundling them into their coats and carseats and stroller and Ergo and just going there. Apart from the poop and the requisite tantrum, I suppose.

But nowadays, everyone’s buy-in is essential just to get people out of pyjamas, never mind wearing shoes and socks and coats and sitting voluntarily in the car.

Honestly, sometimes I almost want to have another, just so that I can get someone doing what I want instead of what they want. (Don’t worry. I know that’s just an illusion.)

So today, despite everyone being already dressed by 9am (thanks to the remaining snow, that needed to be played in before it dissipated entirely), despite our having a conversation about what we should do today quite early on, despite discussing museums and cinemas and walks in the park, we ended up getting into the car at 3pm and going to that most exotic of destinations, Target.

Not just our regular Target; a slightly more distant, newer one. We bought one thing we needed and a few things we decided we probably needed, weathered tantrums about Christmas presents never received as we perused the toy department for someone else’s birthday present (never a good move), spent $3 per child on a “small, inexpensive” treat, and finally sat down in Starbucks for our reward for getting out of the house: latte, latte, vanilla milk, smoothie, and one slice of lemon cake split four ways.

And now we have to figure out something to do tomorrow. I’d like to curl up with a good book, but that sort of weekend is both behind and, I hope, ahead of me yet.


Now is the time on Sprockets when we blog…

That is, the children are wending their way to sleep and I am off duty, so I’d better come up with the goods. Whatever they might be.

Earlier I tried to tempt Dash to do his homework, or at least think about his homework. I called out to him from the kitchen as I figured out something to make plain pasta and chicken a little more grown-up for me and B. “I’m not on the menu,” he replied.

I had to laugh. I’m not sure I’m ready for such a smart-arse kid, but it beats yelling, I suppose.


I don’t usually go in for reverse shopping, (as I believe Marian Keyes called it, though maybe she’s not the only one), but this morning I got a great sense of satisfaction and freedom out of returning two items I’d bought and regretted.

The first were the red jeans I got at the start of the month. I tried and tried, I really did. I got things to go with them, which I still like and will wear with other things. I readjusted my sensibilities and recalibrated my whatsits and learned to love my hips even when they weren’t balanced by big wedges of fabric flapping comfortingly round my ankles (and soaking up the rain from the ground at every wintery opportunity). I thought I could make them work. I was sure the answer lay in the footwear.

Last week I got a lead on a pair of boots. On Sunday, I bought them. They were on sale, and I had a coupon, and they looked exactly like the boots I needed to go with the jeans. They were even comfortable, which is quite a miracle where my feet are concerned. It was meant to be. I was delighted.

Then I came home and put on the jeans and the boots. (No, I hadn’t worn the jeans to go shopping. What sort of sensible person do you take me for? For one thing, I couldn’t because I didn’t have the right boots to… oh, yeah.) And I was underwhelmed. In fact, I was pretty sure that this wasn’t even just not a great look, this was a downright undesireable look. I looked kind of, well, I have to say, skanky. And not in a good way. Not in a sexy way. Just in a “She shouldn’t have worn that” way.

So I came to the conclusion that if you have to try so hard to make something look right, it’s not going to. The jeans were an unflattering fit to begin with, but just because they were less unflattering than some others I have tried, and because I loved the colour, and they were a good price, I made an impulse buy. Usually, my MO is to spot something I like, mull it over, decide I wanted it after all, go back and find it’s left the shop, and spend the next three months searching in vain for something similar. When you find something that’s right, you should buy it, but I obviously misinterpreted “right” in this case.

So this morning I brought back the jeans and the boots. (Amazingly, I was able to locate the receipt for the jeans.) The nice ladies gave me my money back and I continued on my way with a feeling of freedom and lightness heretofore known only in tampon ads.

The world is my oyster! I can start again! I have fifty-two dollars (woohoo!) back in my wallet and some other poor mug can buy those jeans, and those boots, and I wish them the best with them. They’ll probably know better than to try to wear them together.

So I still don’t know what I’m wearing for Christmas, but I think I’ll be looking more like me in whatever it turns out to be.

Basters and boobies

I just wrote a big rant about homework and intransigent six-year-olds, but I think we’ll leave that for another day. Maybe I just needed to write it.


The morning before Thanksgiving, I found myself in the unhappy position of having to do the shopping with two children. It was my own fault, as on Monday when I should have done it I frittered away my time instead with more enjoyable pursuits; also, I hadn’t yet planned enough to know what I needed.

But it wasn’t so bad. They’re at their best first thing in the morning, and we actually got out of the house by 9.30, which still counts as first thing in my book. They got a bagel each to keep them quiet, and things progressed without too many not-on-list items being added to the trolley.

As we processed down the rice-and-beans aisle (also peanut butters, honey, and juice boxes), Dash came running after me:

“Mummy, Mummy, look! Look! Can I get one of these? I’ve always wanted one of my very own to play with. Pleeeeease, Mummy?”

I looked to see what he was brandishing. It was a turkey baster.

On balance, I think I got away lightly with a pack of chocolate-milk straws and a bag of chips.


It was colder this afternoon than it had been in the morning, and though I did get Mabel to wear her coat, she didn’t have her gloves as we waited for Dash to get out of school. I was holding her (my side of the bargain that got her to put the coat on), and she was putting her hands inside my top to warm them up. Then her hands went a little further down … down… I had to let out a shriek-laugh as I pushed her hand away.

 “I just wanted to find the…”

I stopped her before she could remember the word “nipple” – or anything like it – but I’m pretty sure the other mom I was chatting to knew exactly what had happened. It’s possible that most of the school heard the squawk and knew she’d hit the spot. Letting your four-year-old get to second base with you in public is just never appropriate. (You probably knew that already.)

I don’t think we’re having a turkey on Thursday

I spend a few days thinking about jeans and shoes and suddenly it’s Thanksgiving week and there’s no food in the house.

Ah well. Food comes and goes, you know, but boots are good for at least two years, I’d say. I have a pair of boots upstairs that I bought in 1999, actually. I wore them at least once last year. (I’d wear them more often if I had any call for 2.5-inch heels on a regular basis. But somehow I never feel that first-grade pickup is the right time. Or daylight, for that matter.)

The reason I’m suddenly getting all twitchy about how untrendy I am is, of course, that we’ll be going home to Dublin for three weeks at Christmas, and while not exactly the fashion capital of the western world, the stakes are a tiny bit higher than they are here. The season that’s in it gives rise to opportunities to dress up, for one thing, and people there do tend to dress up a bit more. I just want to look like I’m not totally submersed by my soccermom lifestyle, that’s all.

[And then I thought: submersed isn’t a word, you idiot. It’s submerged, or immersed. But I looked it up and it is a word and it means just what I meant it to, so that’s nice.]

And when you only see people once a year, or there’s the chance you’ll be meeting up with people you haven’t seen for ten years, or meeting people you’ve only interacted with on the Internet, not to mention the fact that the tiny statistical probability of bumping into an ex-boyfriend is raised by at least 75% if I’m walking down Grafton Street rather than to first-grade pickup, you want to look at least reasonably not awful.

[Yes, I know I just changed from second person to first and back again in the same paragraph-long sentence. I did it on purpose. So I did.]

Anyway. Back to food. It is slowly dawning on me – these things take time to percolate through, as my friend Thrift Store Mama was just talking about today – that my fruit and vegetable intake is not really up to recommended standards. I always thought, if I thought anything about it, that I wasn’t great on fruits but my vegetables made up for it. It’s true that I do like vegetables, but it’s also true that breakfast and lunch are often quite vegetable-free meals for me. Breakfast is basically a free pass: I see it as an opportunity for guilt-free carbing. Lunch would have a vegetable if a vegetable happened along, but all too often it’s some riff on a ham and cheese sandwich, with maybe a crescent or two of apple that Mabel didn’t eat. So that leaves dinner, when I probably get in two servings of vegetables easily enough, but that’s still three away from even the most basic daily requirement.

This train of thought began when I read Jamie at Light and Momentary mention that she was aiming for nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Nine? How could anyone eat that much food, I wondered. Well, hey, apparently that’s my recommended daily intake. And here I was thinking I was failing at just five, when in fact I’m failing miserably at nine instead.

Oh well, I thought, I’ll just eat nine servings a day and I’ll be slender and full of energy in no time. And yet, thinking did not make it so. I think I had one and a half extra servings yesterday, and one today, and they all involved baby carrots and hummus, which are quite nice but not nine servings nice. (Also, I don’t think I’m meant to eat eight servings of carrots every day. I’d turn orange.)

The difficulty is that vegetables, and fruit for that matter, just don’t have that fluffy or crunchy or dough-like baked consistency that goes as well with a nice cup of tea as, say, muffins do. Or cookies. Or a piece of cake or a scone or a brownie. Nobody sits down for a cuppa and some broccoli florets. Or coffee and a carrot. (Stick of celery? Brr.) Even a quarter cup of raisins just don’t cut it with a hot beverage, unless they’re liberally surrounded by oatmeal and sugar and baked into some sort of, let’s say, cookie-type vehicle.

So far I’m batting about 50/50 on whether I think “Now I’ll have a cup of tea and something chocolate” or “Now I’ll eat a healthy snack,” but even if I add one serving a day for this week, it’s a start.

I think this is one for the “Best intentions” tag, don’t you? I probably need to start a “Went awry” tag too.


I am a child of the 80s, no doubt about it. I was 12 in 1985, so my most impressionable, most peer-influenced, most painfully needing-to-conform years were right then.

It took me a long time to recover. I was still wearing tapered-leg jeans in the early 90s, when all my friends were moving towards the straight leg. (I remember – here’s a thing to amaze my children with – the first time I saw a fleece jacket. It was strangely bobbly and brightly coloured and I wasn’t sure it was nice. Little did I knew what a ubiquitous piece of wardrobe it was poised to become. But I digress.)

Anyway, time passed and I embraced the boot-leg with all the passion of one whose thighs are not more slender – or even as slender – as her calves. Even though Ireland, with its persistent rain and perma-puddles is the worst place to have yards of denim flapping round the soles of your shoes, I left my jeans legs outside my boots, soaking up the moisture and passing it, by osmosis, halfway up to my knees every time I left the house. This is how we must suffer for our art, we fashionistas. With wet socks as soon as you take off your shoes.

Now I think of it, I also remember clearly that moment when taper moved to boot-cut. It was 1988 and we had a Spanish exchange student in the class. She wore her jeans outside her boots. We were flabbergasted by her audacity and certain that she was wrong, but in hindsight, the Spanish are always more to the forefront of the cutting fashion edge than those of us on the waterlogged fringes of the continent.

It also takes longer for global trends to get to the US. I think they start in Japan, actually, because in Sydney in 2007 I was already seeing flat slouchy pixie boots with skinny legs, and thinking they looked horrible. Now, a mere five years later, the look has reached the shores of America. (Okay, maybe it got here sooner. But it’s only now that I’m getting inured to it.)

Which is really my point: what a long time it takes to come around to the idea of wearing something again. I know the shillouette this time is subtly different from that of the 80s: skinnies are not the same as tapered legs, and shoulder pads are not yet mandatory – but when the legs inside the jeans are more tapered than drainpipe-shaped, it sort of ends up looking the same. After so long liking the idea that my legs looked the same width at the bottom as at the top, it’s hard to see myself getting narrower all the way to the floor and not zone in on my hips as an overly-wide widest point.

Last winter I bought a pair of not-too-skinny skinny jeans, and wore them a few times, with boots. Last week, I apparently lost the run of myself entirely and bought a pair of red quite-skinny skinny jeans. Now I’m obsessively trying to figure out what shoes to wear with them, because I’m not convinced the boots are the best thing after all. And what tops, and what coats, and generally everything. It has occasioned a lot of Google image searches and Pinterest wanderings and Zappos trawling and I may not find the perfect accompaniments until next year.

But that’s fine, because then when I put on last-year’s jeans, by comparison they looked much more like something I could cope with, being just a teensy bit wider and also dark denim instead of tomato red. My eye is adjusting to the new shape, slowly and reluctantly.

It’s a fine line, trying not to look as if you spent the last ten years under a rock but also acknowledging that you’re no longer 25 and even when you were 25 you didn’t have legs that were four feet long and shaped like drinking straws. I just need the perfect pair of shoes to convey all that.

The week that was

So in spite of the fact that last week I had two children in school every day, any frittering away of time on my own I might have done was purely symbolic.

  • Monday was Labor Day, of course, so that didn’t count.
  • On Tuesday, Dash went to school and so did Mabel, but then I spent most of the morning sorting out paperwork in the nursery school’s office, as part of my board committment this year. (Last year I was in charge of housekeeping, which as you can imagine was not really my forte, but gave me a foot in the door. This year I have sidestepped into “Membership”, which means I get to do filing and pester people about submitting their forms in a timely fashion. Next year I aim to rise to the exalted heights of Secretary, when I will be allowed to take minutes.)
  • On Wednesday, I was co-oping in Mabel’s classroom.
  • On Thursday, I had to do some more paperwork.
  • On Friday, I finished up the paperwork by double-checking exactly who was still delinquent with which forms and signatures, and ran away to the optician’s to get the nose-pads replaced on my glasses.

Yes, it was just that exciting.

I also dropped into Old Navy while waiting for the optician’s to open and picked up a pair of chinos, but that’s neither here nor there.

My point is that I’ve barely begun to live, freedom-wise. Today I went go to Safeway and hung out a load of laundry, and that pretty much took up all the two and a half hours I had before it was time to go and get child #1 again. When I thought I was going to fit in freelancing I don’t know.

Innately stylish

I was sitting with a friend at the playground one day as our new Italian neighbour approached.
“I wish I was European and therefore naturally stylish,” she sighed.
“I’m European,” I reminded her, as we sat there in our shlumpy t-shirts and capris. “Doesn’t seem to be working on me.”
Ten minutes later she looked down at my shoes.
“I see what your problem is. There’s a Toy Story band-aid holding your sandal together.”

That’s probably it.


When it’s right, you just know. Love, schmove; I’m talking about bras here.

Yesterday, I took Mabel to get her pre-school (pre pre-school, I suppose) haircut in the fancy place at the mall where she can watch a cartoon while they snip. She was very good and enjoyed seeing Jerry and Tweetie Pie beat up Tom in many and various ways, and afterwards she got a small fries and chocolate milk at McDonald’s downstairs. And then I decided it was a good day to buy a bra.

Because really, my bras are in a desperate state. If you’re looking for descriptions of floaty lace and luxurious fabrics and dainty embroidered detailing, you should probably go elsewhere at this point: six years of breastfeeding have left my boobs feeling most at home in something with good support and wide shoulder straps, preferably with full coverage and in a nice beige tone that doesn’t show under whatever I’m wearing. Not sexy, is what I’m saying, but looking much better than the old one when the shlumpy t-shirt goes back on. Comfortable and practical are the watchwords these days.

Anyway, while Mabel ran riot in the Nordstrom dressing rooms, sliding under the dividers from one locked room-ette to the next (we were the only customers at the time, I promise), the lovely assistant brought in one bra after another, starting with the fancy, skin-baring sort that looked beautiful but didn’t fit, and finally ending with the one that felt like a big supportive hug as soon as it went over my shoulders. It’s beige, it’s smooth, it’s boring, and I’m in love.

Mabel liked it too. Every now and then she’d appear back in my changing room like a miniature, noisy, whirling dervish to pat my boobs admiringly and tell me what she thought. She liked the shiny padded blue one the best, but in general she liked smooth more than bumpy. A few more years, and she can choose her own, I suppose.


Today I had to go to Baltimore so they could take my biometric data and assimilate it, or whatever it is they do. I thought they might catalog my freckles and measure my earlobes. In the end, they just wanted my fingerprints and a deeply unflattering photo – not even so much as a retinal scan, even though they get that every time I come into the country. Though not for much longer, I suppose, if I can pass the civics test. It appears that I will soon be a citizen. If it happens really quickly, maybe I’ll be able to vote in the election – that would be a decent reason, at least. Otherwise, I’m still trying not to think about it in any deep and meaningful way. It’s only as symbolic as you make it, I suppose.

As with any occassion when I leave the house and go out in public without children, I felt that I should look something approaching respectable. Beyond changing my sandals for ones without a band-aid accessory, that wasn’t really possible though, since it was 89 degrees outside and I was too busy looking up directions and finding some leftovers for lunch in the fridge. They’re lucky I put on lipstick for the unflattering photo. Anyway, it didn’t seem to matter. Apparently they’ll let any old riff-raff into the country.

Or maybe I was just looking suitably assimilated.