One Woman's Attempt At A Simpler Life

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When I was working in the corporate world, I had two very distinct selections of clothing:  “work” clothes, and “weekend” clothes.

If you opened my closet, you would have been easily able to identify which items belonged in which category.  Work clothes consisted of lots of dry-clean-only type of stuff from Gap, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom in shades of black/brown/gray/cream– things like slacks, pencil skirts, suits, button down blouses, blazers, nice dresses, nylons, and lots and lots of high heeled boots and pumps.  Weekend clothes were comfy and colorful things like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, socks, flats, and sneakers.  Having two totally different styles of clothing for the work and non-work parts of my life were part of the reason  why my closets and dressers were so jammed full of stuff–the other part being due to my unfortunate shopaholic tendencies.

I recently got an email from a clothing store advertising a sale on “weekend wear”, and it occurred to me that I no longer have a wardrobe that distinguishes between the two styles – pretty much most of my daily wardrobe is weekend wear, with a few slightly more dressed up options.  As a full time actor, there are some mornings when I have to get up, dress presentably, put on makeup, fix my hair, and either go to auditions, a recording studio, meetings, rehearsals, or other events that put me out in public.  But there are more mornings where I get up, put on workout clothes, walk Stella, eat breakfast, work out, answer email, and then start working from home on recording/auditioning/reading scripts/memorizing lines and before I know it Ron is almost due home from the office and I’ve yet to shower or officially get dressed or even stop to eat lunch.  I may talk to a lot of people via phone or email during the day, but no one actually SEES me, so I don’t spend much time worrying about what I look like or how I’m dressed, especially if I’m on a deadline.

This means that things like my slippers get a ton of wear.  I used to have (unsurprisingly) about four pairs of slippers, but in one of my early decluttering sessions after I started this blog, I got rid of all but my one favorite pair.  They aren’t particularly expensive or fancy, but I really like the style and how comfortable they are.  I’ve had them for easily 10 years, and have worn them a LOT (I am one of those people whose hands and feet are often cold – just ask Ron, who has to endure me getting into bed at night and putting my icy fingers and toes against his perpetually heat-radiating body to warm up).  Last year, while we were still in debt-pay down mode, I was sitting on the couch with my feet propped up facing Ron, and I saw him stare at the soles of my slippers and then gently say, “Uhhh…honey, I know money is tight, but I’m sure we could figure out a way to get you a new pair of slippers.”

I knew why he was saying it.  From the top, my slippers looked totally normal:

slipper top

But from the bottom, they were definitely looking a bit worse for wear:

slipper bottom

And you have to see the side view too, to really appreciate how gross loved they were:

slipper side

The thing was, I knew I could have afforded a new pair – Fred Meyer, Kmart, or even a Walgreens sell slippers very inexpensively, and often offer coupons as well.  But since my mission has been to buy fewer, better things, and because slippers are something I knew I would wear really often, I wanted them to be a high quality pair that I LOVED.

Which made the process of finding a new pair become way too important and painstaking.  It took me MONTHS.  Well, to be fair, some of those months were in the summer, when it’s way too hot for slippers, but I cannot tell you how many online and in person searches I did to find a good replacement.  I scoured countless websites, read hundreds of reviews, stalked various shoe departments, and still couldn’t find anything I felt was right – or more accurately, “perfect”.  I was even wiling to shell out a lot of money for them – I saw some really similar but ridiculously expensive ones by Ugg, for nearly $90, and was seriously considering them, until I noticed that most of the reviews said the sizing was consistently either too big or too small if you’re a half size, like me.

And then, I finally had to remind myself that no matter how much I loved my new pair, or how much money I spent on them, much like my old pair, the new pair would wear out someday, and I’d have to buy new ones.  And while I was wasting all this stupid time fretting over finding something “perfect”, I was spending every day of my present life walking around with holes in my soles.

A day after I had this thought, I happened to be walking past J. Crew, and they were in the midst a huge sale.  In multiple baskets on the display tables were pretty pastel piles of cozy slippers.  Next to the baskets were signs that said, “Additional 40% off.”  And in the lavender color that I liked the most, they had exactly one pair left in my size.  So I bought them – for a very reasonable $27.

I LOVE my new slippers.  They are cozy, pretty, and sooooo comfortable:

new slipper top

And even better, they have non-slip rubber soles, with no holes in them:

new slipper side

And even better than THAT, I have them right NOW, and I am wearing them every day.  (And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did throw the old ones away).

In the end, of course, we’re just talking about a silly pair of slippers.  But the experience was a good reminder for me that if seeking perfection becomes your entire focus, you’re a) probably never going to achieve it, and b) you will spend way too much time during that process living with circumstances or things you really need to release.

What about you?  Is there an area in your life where you are seeking the perfect something, to the point where you’re living without something you could really use right now?  Share in the comments if you feel so inclined!

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So remember my friend Lucy, who was wondering if she should apply to the Comedy Studies program at Second City in Chicago?  And I was all, “Girl, DO IT!”?

Well, she DID IT!  She applied, and she got in.  She leaves for Chicago in the fall.  When she called to tell me, I was overwhelmed with joy at the happiness and excitement I heard in her voice as we talked about it.  To feel like that about your life is the goal of being here, isn’t it?  I can’t wait to hear how it goes – and I told her to feel free to call me if she ever needed to be talked off the ledge on a bad day, because well, it’s inevitable that there will probably be a day or two where the shiny wears off and she’ll wonder if it was worth it.  I firmly believe that it will be.  She is following her passion – and that is ALWAYS worth it.

I’m very proud of you, Lucy – I wish I’d had even half your guts when I was twenty one.  Buy some cozy sweaters and prepare to have a great adventure.  You will be magnificent.  This calls for a celebration!

And speaking of celebrations (how’s that for a segue?) NEWSFLASH: if you have not tried Birthday Cake Oreos, get thee to a supermarket.  I consider them very lagom-friendly, because once you eat one, you will say, “This is all I need.  For the rest of my life, ever.  I need nothing other than this.  This.  Makes. Life.  Just.  Right.”

I’ve only had the chocolate ones, which taste like a piece of chocolate birthday cake, but they make Golden ones too, that I’m assuming would taste like vanilla birthday cake.  I can’t tell you about the golden ones though, because I can’t find any.  Which REALLLLLY pisses me off, because I am obsessed with wanting to try them.  I went to five (yes, FIVE) stores to look for them.  Out of the five, only one store had a shelf marker for them, and the shelf was empty.  All the other stores didn’t even carry them.    I came home seething with contempt for Nabisco and all the store buyers who had stupid Oreo flavors on the shelves like craptastic Neopolitan Oreos or stupid mint Oreos or five hundred different kinds of boring Double Stuff Oreos but not one damn package of GOLDEN BIRTHDAY CAKE OREOS.  Jerks. The same thing happened to me and Lori this past fall when we went on a nationwide hunt for Candy Corn Oreos, and no one, and I do mean NO ONE had them.  Lori even had family members in Los Angeles and New York looking for them.  IT MAKES ME SO MAD. FOR THE AMOUNT OF EFFORT I’VE PUT INTO TRYING TO FIND SPECIALTY OREOS AND ALWAYS COMING UP EMPTY HANDED, NABISCO SHOULD SEND ME GAS MONEY AND FREE COOKIES!  RAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!

But I did find the chocolate ones and they really are delicious, so even if that’s all you can find, you should try those.  Buy a package in honor of Lucy’s success.  Or your own success.  Or the fact that it’s Monday night.  Do I really need to give you a reason?  No, I don’t.  Just buy some.

You’re welcome.

oreo

A cookie party in your cakehole


Last week was weirdly busy – I say “weirdly”, because I didn’t have any jobs last week, but I had enough appointments and volunteer projects that I still somehow had a hard time getting everything done.  I would look at the clock, thinking it was maybe 11 a.m., and would be shocked to see it was closer to 3:30.  I think I ate lunch maybe twice last week, because by the time I noticed how late it was, it was too close to dinner to squeeze it in.

It got me thinking about when I worked in offices, and how hungry I was all the time.  I would start watching the clock for lunch starting around 10 a.m., while I was eating a midmorning snack –  I always had candy, nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars stashed in my desk drawer.  By noon, I was noticeably irritable and faint with hunger.  I’d scarf down whatever I bought or brought for lunch that day, and then by 3pm I’d eat another snack.   As I drove to rehearsal at 5pm I’d snack again in the car, since dinner was often not until 10pm or later.  And none of this is counting the multiple trips I’d make during the day to the candy bowl at the front desk, or to the office break room if someone had brought in treats – always shaving off only a small sliver of cake, or breaking off a small piece of a cookie or donut, but going back so many times that I’d consume more than if I’d just taken a decent sized portion the first time around.

That’s actually a lot of regular and small meals.  And yet, I was STARVING.  My stomach would growl loudly in meetings.  If I was in a meeting that ran over into my lunch hour, my listening would totally shut down and I would fix a hateful glare at whoever was droning on about useless crap while I was clearly dying of malnutrition in an ergonomic chair.  My eyes would glaze over while I stared blankly at dull powerpoint presentations and daydreamed about food, even if I had just eaten.  I actually remember being in the middle of some “important” meeting in a conference room once, and I must have had a really concerned expression on my face because my friend Aubrey leaned over and whispered, “What are you thinking about?” And before my rational mind could come up with a good lie I admitted, “I’m trying to remember my recipe for veggie burritos.”

I was nervous when I started working freelance that I would sit home and eat like a maniac all day.  Look at the damage I could do in an office where I was mostly limited to what I brought to eat that day – what would happen if I were left unsupervised in a fully stocked kitchen with a limitless lunch hour?

The weird thing is, I’m not as hungry as I used to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love food with a passion, but it doesn’t occupy my brain as obsessively as it used to.  I started thinking about some of the reasons why this is the case:

  1. I don’t get up as early as I did when I was working full time.  Getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. will definitely make you ready to eat by 10 a.m., especially if you skip breakfast.  (However, even when I DID eat breakfast, at my desk, at 8:30 a.m., I was still ravenous two hours later, so…go figure.)
  2. I have the luxury of eating much slower than I did when I was trying to get to work on time, or back from my lunch hour on time.  I remember standing in my kitchen one morning, late for work, trying to eat a banana as fast as I could while watching the clock, and then bursting into despondent tears because I couldn’t chew it as fast as I needed to, but  I also couldn’t swallow the chunks without choking.  In many ways, it was a very representative snapshot of my life at that point.  Sad.
  3. Sometimes my inherent laziness will win over hunger – if there is no readily available option for lunch or a snack, I’ll open a few cupboards and stare intensely at the contents as though I can will them into combining to create something good.  Then, when nothing happens, I’ll wander back to my desk and think, “Ron will be home in a few hours to cook for me.”

But I think the main reason my hunger pains have subsided is this:  I’m not chronically bored anymore.  I like what I do, and even though there are tedious parts to my job, for the most part I find it all very interesting and entertaining.  No one brings me spreadsheets full of numbers that might as well be hieroglyphics and expects me to make sense of them.  I don’t have a staff, so there are no mind-numbing staff meeting to attend.  In fact, it is very rare that I have to attend meetings at all anymore, and when I do, it’s usually a one on one conversation with someone I like about a project we’re working on, or a group of people sitting around talking passionately about theatre, and there is not a powerpoint in sight.  If someone is droning on, I can always count on a stage manager to look at his or her watch and say, “Okay, that’s enough, we’re moving on.”

It seems like I spent so much of my professional life feeling so hungry, and yet never being able to fill the void.  I wish I’d figured out earlier that it had nothing to do with food.

Image

Eating out of the office candy jar – but this time onstage, in one of my favorite plays – Adam Bock’s “The Receptionist”.
Photo credit: Win Goodbody



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