Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of the year shopping

Every year I manage to forget about buying a new datebook until there's only a few unwanted leftovers laying about. I thought that this year I'd be fine, since it isn't 2010 yet, but no, the sales have already started, and today's pickings were slim. I thought I found a nice, small weekly planner, but discovered it is hard to write in because the spiral binding is too big. I'll manage. Maybe I'll stop noticing this after a few weeks, or a few months at most. Maybe I won't, but hey, the way I've been experiencing the passage of time lately, it'll soon be time for a new 2011 planner. Next year, perhaps, I'll buy one in November. Not likely, but I can dream. Maybe I should put that in the date book (written poorly).

This year's selection of post-holiday discount perfume was non-existent. There was nothing at TJ Maxx. I don't mean there was nothing I'd like to buy - there was nothing on sale. Usually, there are piles of beaten up perfume boxes. It's possible that they were already sold, but last year there was lots of it still hanging about right through February (I do remember). I shouldn't whine, actually, for the goods they had displayed, even at a deeper discount, held no interest for me. They were the same scents they had last year: Sarah Jessica Parker's Covet, Juicy Couture, whatever else I had so little interest in that I can't remember. I do rather like Covet, but I snagged at bottle for five bucks last year.

You'll probably be surprised to discover that I do enjoy shopping, up to a point. I enjoy finding a good bargain. I truly enjoy buying new bedding. Nothing is nicer than new white sheets. This year I purchased some amazing 450 count cotton sateen sheets at a local discount store and they are heavenly. They were also less expensive than buying yardage, so I bought a few colored flat sheets to sew into summer bathrobes.

I had originally titled this entry "the disappointments of shopping", but I realized that was dead wrong. No big deal that today I met with no fantastic finds and the dregs of yearly planners. And why is it that one can't find plain cotton turtlenecks in the dead of winter? Is it already time for summer clothing? I feel like I'm beginning to sound like Andy Rooney, so I should consider shooting myself.

No one bought me a gun for Christmas, so don't worry.

I grew up shopping a lot with my mother. She adored bargain hunting. When I was young, I did not. She and I would argue about the relative merits of buying a pile of acrylic sweaters versus one high-quality wool one. My love of wool was something she didn't understand. She also preferred quantity over quantity any day of the week. When she passed away, I discovered she had over 50 pairs of white sneakers in her closet. The number was much higher than 50, but since my memory is failing me, I don't want to claim knowledge of the magic number. It was a bit of a shock. I can't for the life of me imagine her motivations. An Imelda Marcos variety of shoes I can understand, sure, but a closet-full of white sneakers is a mystery that will never be solved (unless some reader has the same compulsion and can explain it).

This post has been derailed by my sudden ambivalence about claiming to find shopping a disappointment. Sometimes it surely can be fun. Of course, there's the fact that money is a problem, my dislike of dressing rooms, long lines, crowds, the "weather" in the stores, and the fact that I always become outrageously tired, no matter how short a time I spend shopping. I like little shops, but they're expensive. Here in Maine, I had loved the small Goodwill stores, but now even they've become huge stand-alone buildings with overly bright lights.

Still, a good bargain is a pleasure, as is a comfortable pair of shoes, clean crisp sheets, fresh towels, and a new bottle of perfume. Shame me all you want - I am a materialist. There are far worse out there than I, so I will not apologize (my no-apology 2010 resolution is already in effect). There it is.

What was the best bargain of the past year? Believe it or not, some really fine Jasmine Green tea at 99 cents for 50 bags, all in a nice round tin. There was also a Fossil chain-link watch that I snapped up for three bucks. Every time I wear that watch, I feel as if I stole it.

Photo note: I googled "Middle Neck Road, Great Neck" for a photograph of where I shopped when I was growing up. This is not an older photo, judging from the cars. Yet, here are two of the many shoe shops that were in Great Neck. This town was crazy for shoes. So was I, and I spent many hours drawing pictures of them as a child, including making dioramas of imaginary shoe stores. Someone should have told me that this was a legitimate job to have as an adult instead of judging my odd interest as somewhat quirky and cute. Alas, more fodder for the remorse of adulthood. Not really. Well, maybe.

Addendum: It occurs to me that a disturbing amount of blog entries in the last year have been about disappointing purchases. The Ikea mattress debacle garnered the most comments for one entry (and I wish folks would cease and desist!) My quick note that a bra designer may have been a sadist caused a flurry of e-mails, a new bra, and an invitation for a private fitting.

By the way, I had made an early resolution at the beginning of this month to stop wearing a bra, or at least one with underwires. After a lifetime of pain, I quit. I've started wearing boy's compression undershirts after tossing a few old sports bras in the trash. Today, I did get a new sports bra that seems promising, but I wonder if next week I'll be kvetching about it. Wonder of wonders! I've just realized I'm real kvetch. Is this something that will change in 2010? I come from a long line of New Yawk kvetchers; I've got complaining in my genetic code, so, nah, I doubt it.

And darn, I should have burnt those bras. It would have been fun, and just so retro. But considering what they're made of, I bet they'd stink.

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