Sign of the times?

Monday, January 16, 2012

From Taschen's "All-American Ads of the 20s."

According to the latest numbers from the Wall Street Journal, inflation is easing and the economy is slowly ticking up. Isn't that nice to know?

Though I understand men and women with more financial know-how than me are the ones making these calls, I'm not so quick to agree. I've found the single biggest indicator of inflation and the country's over-all economic well being is the price of cotton undies at Victoria's Secret.

You see, I've been purchasing these panties regularly since the mid-to-late 1990s. They're comfy, classy, rarely bunch up or ride down, and perhaps most importantly of all, prettier than most other all-cotton underthings. They're also affordable: I'm pretty sure the cost for five of these adorable undies was a mere $19.95 for at least a decade. That changed in about 2008, when the economy really started to tank -- they shot up to five for $22.50, as I recall. This is also when I lost my job and my life turned topsy-turvy.

I think it's a sign.

I visited my nearest Vickie's  today to peruse the remaining goods left in the Semi-Annual Sale, which sadly, ends tonight in stores. While I wasn't drawn to anything in the bins, I did find some new patterns in my beloved cotton boyshorts, so of course I grabbed a few. The price for five pairs of my favorite undies today? A whopping $26.50, up nearly 25 percent in just a few years.

According to inflation data from the Consumer Price Index, the cost of these undies only should have risen a few dollars to $22.08 -- less that 10 percent -- during this time. While one could easily argue the price increase has more to do with rising material costs than actual inflation, I'm not completely sure. I mean, hyperinflation grossly interferes with the normal workings of the economy. Not only will it limit our ability to supply goods or support free market, hyperinflation can lead to the abandonment of the use of the country's currency and social revolt!

I'm worried, you guys. In fact, as soon as the ground unfreezes from this harsh Missouri winter, I'll be burying my life savings in a mason jar in the back yard. Unless I spend it all on over-priced underthings first, of course.

You're fired!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Santa brought me a Kindle Fire this year and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. It's actually a neat little gadget and I've become rather fond of my device's web browser and tablet-like capabilities. I mean, why would I want to play Words With Friends on my dinky iPhone now that I have this fancy Kindle Fire? And the fact that the pre-loaded Pulse.Me app lets me peruse my favorite news blogs AND the fluff in my Google reader makes me giddy.

I've only downloaded a handful of books to my new toy, but so far they've all been a treat to read. Apparently, there's a decent demand for self-published Kindle Singles and other short stories in the marketplace and freelancers like me have been able to make an extra buck or two this way. In fact, I've collected a number of self-published Kindle Singles on the subject! This is pretty exciting news to me -- perhaps I'll finally be able to realize my dream of producing my own cookbook (titles in my head right now include "Cooking With Booze by Laura" and "A Fat Girl's Guide to Staying That Way") or maybe I'll be able to compile a list of cheap wines that don't give me headaches for profit. The possibilities are endless! I'll let you know how that venture works out, provided I -- oh, you know -- find time to write a book.

My favorite Kindle book so far -- hands down -- is a delightful book of tips and tricks originally published in 1938, called "Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm." Despite being chock-full of old-timey advice about avoiding body odor (very un-charming!!) and how to buy hats, some of the advice offered by authors Helen Valentine and Alice Thompson is simply sage. Here are some gems:

* "If being on a diet makes you jumpy and irritable, it probably isn't worth your effort. Everyone prefers a few extra pounds to a shrewish disposition."

* The rule for choosing a hairstyle is simple: "Does it look like it would be pleasant to touch?"

* "The only bad manners are those which are unkind or which contribute to another person's discomfort."

Additionally, the {very charming} authors spend several chapters warning the reader to shy away from conversations involving complaints, what they ate at breakfast, how much sleep they lost, needless tangents and lists of pointless encyclopedic facts. Why? Because they are boring. What a wonderful thing to keep in mind in today's world of pointless, inane rambling blogs (much like this one!) and over-indulgent Twitter feeds. 

The idea of being a refined young lady certainly appeals to me in many ways and perhaps, in my own way, this antiquated-yet-modern approach to charm is a way to express and celebrate femininity and define one interpretation of gender. 

From now on, I am a charming, refined young lady.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

I've never been officially diagnosed, but I'm fairly certain I have a raging case of Adult ADHD. And by "a raging case," I mean I likely have the attention span of a spastic 4-year-old after consuming a pint of Red Bull and three dozen chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Case in point No. 1: On a recent trip to to my sweet Sunshine State home, I decided I needed a cup of coffee while waiting for an early-morning parade celebrating some silly BCS Bowl in fancy-schmancy Winter Park. I started walking down Park Avenue, dodging shiny new BMWs and late-model Volvos, in search of a Starbucks or a similar-yet-less-corporate watering hole. Instead of getting coffee,  found myself browsing the clearance table at an over-priced boutique, in which I found the leopard-print headband below and an equally ridiculous sparkly, chunky bracelet I couldn't live without.

I made my way back to my party and their camp in the park, only to realize I'd forgotten to get my much-needed caffeine boost. Once again, I headed out down Park Avenue. This time, I found a darling (read: expensive) French-themed cafe, saw they had almond-filled croissants, ordered two, paid for them, and THEN ordered my latte. Oof.

Case in point No. 2: I spent about five hours this afternoon writing a 700-word piece on college accreditation. Or, more likely, I spent three hours on the article and two hours poking around the Internet. In fact, I managed to spend about a quarter of the money I will earn for writing the article before I even finished it! This dress and this cardigan will be arriving on my doorstep in three to five business days. Also, I kind of want this purse, but I kind of hate fake leather at the same time. Oh, and then I caught up on several days' worth of snarky GOMI posts. I had some snacks and painted my toenails, too. WHEEE!

Case in point No. 3: I spent approximately 15 minutes today looking for my keys before I realized they were in my jacket pocket. Sadly, this is not a single occurrence...

Case in point No. 4: My dresser drawers/closets/desk/appointment book/Google calendar/e-mail inbox/check register/medicine cabinet/fridge/laundry room/life are so disorganized I really have no clue which way is up when looking at any of them. Also, I really feel absolutely swamped when I think about trying to make sense of them. And I really like the color pink.  Do you like dogs? My parent's poodle Milo is such a crazy little beastie. I don't know what I'll make for dinner tomorrow night. Or tonight, for that matter. Ugh, I really need to get on the treadmill. Have you downloaded any good albums lately? Aren't you sick of hearing Adele on the radio? I CAN'T TURN OFF MY BRAIN...

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sir Francis Drake

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Even I've called Missouri home, sour, home for more than a year now, there's still a lot about the area and my city left unexplored. 

Case in point: La Fiesta, a Mexican supermarket just a few blocks from my house.

I don't know a white girl from Indiana wound up with such a taste for Tex-Mex cuisine, but I swear, it's one of my favorite comfort foods. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are few problems that can't be solved over a plate of chiles relleno or a huge bowl of pozole. I mean, I think chorizo and queso could probably bring world peace. But I digress...

So, anyway, I recently discovered this darling little Mexican supermarket just a few blocks from my house. The inside was cramped, but a spicy sweetness lingered in the air. I browsed each aisle, examining goods with Spanish-language labels trying to figure out what I needed to purchase to meet the $10 minimum purchase required to use my debit card.  A jar of salsa, two avocados, one lime and a liter of marinade for pollo later, I was only two-thirds there.

Then it found me: A refrigerated case humming in the back of the store, casting a glowing white light against the wall from its fluorescent bulbs. Each shelf was stocked with glass bottles, filled with caramel liquid and adorned with a red vinyl label.


You see, one of the things I both love and hate about Coca-Cola’s impact on American culture is the sameness. Andy Warhol put it best:

“A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the president knows it, the bum knows it and you know it.”

Obviously Andy never tried Mexican Coke. Though the company asserts that its flagship beverage, despite being made with different sweeteners by different bottling partners all around the world, always tastes the same, I thoroughly disagree.  Mexican Coke, made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup, isn’t as harsh. It tastes fresher, maybe because it comes in a glass bottle instead of plastic. Maybe it’s in my head. Who knows?

All I’m certain of is this: If you offer me a Coke from a fountain or can, I will politely decline. If the beverage is Hecho En Mexico, well, yes please. Don’t mind if I do.

I ain't mad at cha.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I've gotten in the habit of e-mailing customer service departments little notes of appreciation when I've had positive experiences with a company or store.

You know, for karma and stuff.

I started it here and I've since kept it up. I sent Warby Parker a nice little note about how much I admire their business model after a super easy experience ordering awesome glasses online; I e-mailed Domino's about their revised and vastly improved chicken; and most recently, I shot a message out to the folks at Francesca's Collections.

aren't I sweet?

Almost every time I sent an e-mail of praise,  my messages were met with a sweet response, thanking me for my kind words and business, except for Franny's. You see, I sent this message eight days ago and have yet to get a response. No "you're welcome." No "thanks for the note." Nothing. I'm not expecting much, just an acknowledgement that I did something I didn't have to because I was happy the company did an above-average job providing me with a service.

I honestly don't know why I'm so offended by the non-response. Usually I wouldn't care. I mean, it hasn't changed by shopping habits -- I've since ordered another two more dresses and a handful of Christmas gifts from this boutique.

So, anyway Franny, I ain't mad at cha. I just wish you'd write back.
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