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:
But from the bottom, they were definitely looking a bit worse for wear:
And you have to see the side view too, to really appreciate how
gross loved they were:
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:
And even better, they have non-slip rubber soles, with no holes in them:
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!
Ron and I celebrated eight years of marriage on August 7th. I can’t believe it’s been that long – it’s a little shocking. We still haven’t even ordered our wedding album. No, I am not kidding. I think I will make that my goal for August of next year. We’ll get our pictures in just under the ten year mark.
Because we’re working so hard on getting out of debt, we talked about our anniversary a month or so ago and decided to forgo giving each other gifts this year. We thought maybe we’d pick a mid-priced restaurant for dinner or even just get a cake and have some champagne and celebrate very low-key. I actually was not disappointed – the thought of being debt free is so exciting to me, everything else kind of pales in comparison.
But as I might have mentioned, Ron travels a lot for work. A LOT. I think I saw him for maybe 7 whole days in the month of July. Which means he racks up some serious frequent flier miles and hotel points and rental car points and all sorts of other points and upgrade type stuff. We both love to travel, and when we do, we have some pretty great vacations – vacations we could never, in a million years, afford without all his points and perks and free upgrades. We typically take just one nice vacation a year, every year in December, either right before or right after Christmas, depending on my show schedule, and we have a great time planning it and looking forward to it all year.
But again, due to our debt-free plan, we were thinking we would probably not get a vacation this year either. That made us both sad – we look forward to it so much, and it’s the one time in the year I see Ron truly and completely relax. And this year has been a doozy of stress so far, so I know for Ron, the thought of no release from all that was a bummer. But he too agreed that being out of debt was more important, and once we are debt-free, then we can afford to take a nice vacation without feeling guilty.
But as our anniversary drew near, Ron took a look at his points and miles, and realized that while a two week December vacation may not be in the cards, we COULD take a two day trip somewhere close by, for virtually no money at all. We live in Portland, so our nearest “fun city” options are places like Seattle, San Francisco, L. A., or possibly San Diego.
And then of course, there’s Las Vegas.
We had actually gone to Vegas on our third anniversary, and were pretty grossed out by it. We did a lot of typical “Vegas-y” things, like gambling, laying by the pool, drinking those horrible slushy alcoholic drinks out of those massive plastic sippy cups, walking in the throngs of people up and down the strip, going to a Cirque show, visiting all the famous casinos and posh shops, and on a whim around 11pm on our last night, we renewed our vows at the Little White Wedding Chapel, followed by a limo ride back to our hotel with a manically chatty Elvis impersonator.
The day we left, we weren’t scheduled to fly out till around 9pm that night, and I woke up super sick and vomiting (either from the slushy drink, heat exhaustion, or a flu bug, I’m not sure which). We had to check out of the hotel around 1pm, so I spent the 7-8 hours prior to leaving for the airport puking in public bathrooms, searching for a place free of the pinging of slot machines where I could lie down (there wasn’t anywhere), and wandering zombie-like from the intense heat of outdoors into the over-airconditioned indoors, which made me feel even worse.
Needless to say, it made me hesitant to go back. But Ron has been to Vegas multiple times for work in the past five years, and at this point he has a lot more connections and know-how about the city than he did the first time we went. We realized that we could fly there for free, stay there for free, get comps to a couple shows, and essentially only end up having to pay for a rental car, and we even had a coupon for that.
So we decided to go. But this time, we were going to try to do much less. We were going to aim for a more “lagom” trip, if you will. We picked a hotel that had a great pool, since we planned to spend the majority of our time just lounging by it and relaxing, and we didn’t order any overpriced drinks while we were there. We decided to forgo gambling altogether (we did put a total of $4 in slot machines, but I don’t feel bad about that – I frequently spend more than that just to park my car downtown in Portland). As soon as we arrived, we drove to a Food 4 Less and bought items for breakfast, some soda, snacks, and an inexpensive bottle of wine for our room (total spent: about $15). When we went out for lunch, we kept it cheap and good (In-N-Out Burger). I did browse a total of two shops and even tried things on but didn’t buy anything (a FIRST for me on a vacation).
And you know what? We had a really great time. I left feeling a lot friendlier towards Vegas than I did the last time. It probably didn’t hurt that we got upgraded to an INSANELY great suite at The Cosmopolitan:
We actually spent a decent amount of time hanging out in our room and basking in the languid Vegas heat on our balcony, which had this view during the day:
And this view at night:
Vegas is pretty great from that vantage point.
This has been a pretty dreary year for Ron and I so far – financially, personally, and professionally, the blows, disappointments, sadness, and bad luck have just seemed to keep coming. Everything in our lives has been about picking ourselves back up after getting knocked down and then continuing to trudge through. But weirdly, it has made me feel closer to him than ever before. I guess that’s the consummate definition of a true partner – almost anyone does well in the easy, happy times, but it’s particularly special to look over in the crappiest times and see that person holding your hand and weathering it all with you. It’s one one of the few gambles I feel I’ve won this year.
Happy Anniversary Ron – I love you!
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.