Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh Clearance Rack, How You Deceived Me

I have come to the conclusion that the Clearance Rack is a cleverly disguised ploy and you actually end up paying way more money that you initially intended under the guise you are saving a BOATLOAD of money.

Normally, I would never kibosh the Clearance Rack. I hold it near and dear to my heart. It has been an old trusted friend. Once aiding me in getting the latest and greatest nearer the end of the season, or before the new and improved higher priced products make their way onto the more prominent spots on those silvery racks.

I have paid $1.97 in my shop-savvy heyday for a pair of pants. Cherished a pair of $90 leather boots I scored for a measly $15. For myself, I can justify it. I am able to hold onto things I buy so frugally. I can hang them listlessly in my closet or fold them gingerly in drawers until they come back into style. I can know they are there, like an old and trusty friend and know they will still fit me and be there when I need them.

However, I have recently been duped by my thrifty counterpart. While school shopping for my son. Those trusted sales I long for seem at first a novel idea, until you gather your wares and head over to cash out, thinking you've scored the ultimate score, and then.....Cha-CHING! You are racked up an absurd amount of money for clothes the child will likely outgrow before Thanksgiving.

Original pricing on kids clothing is preposterous. Perhaps I could justify it were they able to linger at certain sizes longer than they do in actuality, but they outgrow everything!

They play outside and the knees of their jeans grow threadbare and worn, or tear all-together. The soles of their shoes whittled down to nothing from incessant running or walking in goofy manners ad nausea. Shirts stained by sloppy eating or sliding around the year in the grass.

You are to dish out top dollar for brand names, thinking you will essentially get what you pay for. Thinking they are of better quality because the lovely people who sit in lofty offices and mass-market those names to you through addictive print and TV ad campaigns TELL you they are better.

I see no sense to it for kids. An adult, maybe. But kid’s clothes are 3rds smaller than those of an average grown-up. My son is soon-to-be 6 years old (EEP!) and I feel financially raped when having to buy him clothes.

I get the need to send kids back to school in the latest duds. Clean and fresh and ready for a new year, a new adventure for the school to teach them. But seriously, amid the fervor of Back-to-School ad campaigns that start, oh the very second they finish the previous year; it's all a ploy to get you to spend boatloads of cash.

Entice you with coupons and shopping frequent flyer miles. Buy X-Y-Z dollars worth and get a discount....NEXT time you shop. A treacherous trick to lure you back yet again into the loving arms of the Retail Jungle.

I thought I was doing well for Dylan. I waltzed into JC Penny, with one of those precarious promises of money saving splendor. Lured in with the expectation I would get $10 off a purchase of $25....OR MORE.

Oh it's that "Or more" that gets you. On a roll, thumbing through those red-tagged items marked down great percentages. You look at the original price....then the mark-down and think "SCORE!" I can handle these prices!

Your arms now grow weary as you grab item after item, thinking all the while "I have a coupon!" Not bothering to subject your already over-whelmed psyche to the menial task of adding things roughly in your head. NO, you don't need math skills to know the bottom line...YOU have a coupon!

So under the guise you are only intending to purchase NO MORE than a certain dollar amount you have in your head, you hide under the protection of that elusive $10 off coupon tucked gingerly in your wallet. You feel invisible to those regular prices. Impervious to the impending damage on your finances that a few measly child’s clothes could possibly render.

Smiling you wander over to the cashier, ready to astound yourself with your savvy savings. So confident you don't even look at the signature pad beside you, adding up the multitudinous masses of material. Each scan, a temporary moment of triumph, thinking you are saving yourself a bundle.

You silently guffaw in retrospect of the ninja-like skills you used in clamoring through those racks in search of the ultimate bargain.

Anticipation grows as you long to see that miniscule dollar amount you just KNOW you are going to see when the young girl clicks total.


How did your mindset of $50-$60 dollars in all your saving glory get close to $200??

You start to weed out after the fact what he may not ACTUALLY need, what may not be as swell a deal after all. Even after those removals, you are still more than double what you thought you were spending.

It seems a form of highway robbery. These are KIDS clothes after all.

And this is JUST the beginning! In two weeks is his birthday, in another couple months, Christmas. Those size 6/7 outfits he just fits into now, will soon have him looking like a homeless child from wear-n-tear, from one too many washes, and from the inevitable growth spurts kids seem to go through when you least expect them. Your once aesthetically pleasing cleaned up little man now looking like a cast off of Oliver Twist.

Oh Clearance Rack, how you deceived me. For shame.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jigsawed and Raw

Ever feel like your life was a puzzle?

That certain things were designed to fit just so in order for the whole picture to be clear and apparent?

Sure a couple pieces may be able to have been forced into place over the years, seemingly forced to fit for a while, until other pieces fill those voids and you notice the picture completely off. Those phony fixes, temporary glitches on the way to the bigger picture.

It's not one of those child-like puzzles, with large and easy to maneuver parts that seem to just slide into their appropriate shapes without much thought or effort, no. More like a million part jigsaw configured of a design that may not make much sense when you first get started.

But slowly and completely nonsensically certain things come together. They click and that proverbial light bulb goes off in your head, your heart, and your gut. You know that that piece is JUST the right one. All those attempts at trying to fit something else in that place were futile.

It's an ongoing game of trial and error really. You pick up a piece, thinking it will just lock right in where you are attempting to put it, hopeful even maybe a little. Moreover you're just anxious, impatient.

You want to hurriedly rush through throwing pieces together in hopes you will get to see that finished product. In all its glory, the picture of your life. You want to see ahead of time how it looks, how it turns out, how it will look when it's completed. It’ s oddly not designed to work that way.

It's a difficult task. There are parts of that picture you may wish to forget, others you wish took up a much larger area. Pieces that made no sense when you first placed them where you thought they belonged, but they perhaps linked you far more easily to the next piece.

But more and more, as days pass and time goes on, the pieces that fit are a perfect blend of your life. The good, the bad, the ugly; the entirety of where you are now and a map-like course of how you got there. All of it cautiously put together in such a way that the final outcome will be something unique, something perhaps even beautiful.

As time goes on, you have become more adept at finding the pieces that fit together correctly. More an expert to what makes sense and you’re better at weeding out the ones that don't belong. Sure you sometimes get frustrated and try to force a piece you think should go where you want it, you are eager to get to the finished product. You want it all to make sense.

Some parts weren't so easily placed. You learn to appreciate the ones you stumbled upon that after so much effort and frustration just suddenly click. You celebrate your silent Hallelujah. When it all starts to come together you can't help but rejoice. At the end of the effort you feel happy. Finally.

And your puzzle, like a Rorschach ink blot, may look different to someone else. They may look at it and see something completely off of what you do, but it makes no matter. Its how it fits in your own life, how you define your own happiness.

Each fragment built out of the recycled remains of loss and sadness, out of triumphs and failures, love and friendship, family and successes. You're own form of residual compost, a custom blend made to nurture the very nature of all you do.

So now as the pieces start to fit together in such a way that I can perhaps visualize the outcome, try to avoid those less appealing pieces I know in my heart don't fit. Be more cautious and know that the pieces I do choose make sense.

I am filled with relief looking at what I have that fit so far. Those pieces that were meant to last and that make sense. The strong frame for the picture I will be working on until I take my last breathe. Looking back at the efforts made before of attempting to work with parts that didn’t go together right. Impatiently trying to force them in, eager to get it right, and not always able to do so.

It’s a far greater feeling to know that I am able to recognize the pieces I need in my life. The ones that fit with ease, and make the part of the puzzle I am in now feel complete.

Piece by piece I will finish. I will see it through until my puzzle shows the rest of the world the picture I worked so hard to create. Made out of tears and of laughter, of good times, bad times. Show the wear on the edges of those attempts I made to make things work, show the seamless edges of those I was able to recognize as a perfect fit right away.

Jigsawed and raw, it is mine and mine alone, and it’s all starting to make sense.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Idioms. Idiotic as some may seem, old fashioned, or just plain nonsensical really, I tend to use them every day.

Some you know and likely use yourself. Some more obscure. Some possibly made up or twisted somewhere along my knobby and slightly uprooted family tree I suppose. I remember hearing them as a kid, uttered by my mother. Butchered by my father.

Some of those phrases you never think you'd ever say yourself as an adult, until the occasion arises and BOOM! out it comes, spewing from your lips like a literary volcano before you even have a chance to think about what you're saying.

You think nothing of it, until looked upon quizzically by those around you. They look at you as if to say "What the EFF did you just say?!" Wondering if you suddenly morphed your vocabulary back into 1925 or 1956. Not modern hip sayings like "Foshizzle" or "GTL" but things like "deaf as a haddock" or blatantly pointing out "Pot, kettle, black".

Funny how some things just stick with you and you don't realize it. Traditions that form not only in forms of holidays spent with family every year or in the ways you rear you children, but in the very way you speak, or think.

An impression molded on you, like Silly-Putty on newspaper. Sometimes only leaving the faintest mark, other times far more indelible imprint.

Odd how some words and phrases just become a part of who you are. Associated with different parts of the country or types of people. Being a Boston native, the word "Wicked" as an adjective is a no brainer. Comes as naturally to a sentence as the very breathe I take every day.

You expect to hear "Y'all" in the South. You discern certain ethnicity's saying "axe" instead of "ask". Assume Canadians to say "Eh" after everything, as if constantly posing a question. It could be construed as pigeonholing, typecasting even, but moreover it's an unequivocal truth to regionality. A bizarre happening really.

Much like being born in certain area's your dialect or accent may differ, the words and phrases you use are just as much a part of where you come from, they make you who you are. Show your grasp for just what you pick up around you.

Those common quips and phrases, often obscured through decades of transcription, like the Telephone Game I once played in Girl Scouts as a child. Starting out one way, and at the end of the line, sounding entirely different, words twisted or replaced. Made your own by impressionism. What you think it means or is, how you feel it should be implied.

The past few days it's been raining. "Cats and Dogs" some might say. "Buckets" may be heard from the lips of others. Whatever occasions may rise, whether weather or every day minute occurrences. We all say them, use them, think them.

We just don't THINK them.

It's who we are really. Intelligent or idiotic. Over and over again. Like verbal pleasure, whether we mean it or not. It's good to hear, better to partake in. Socially acceptable and oddly comforting.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Umbrella's and Lysol

Waiting. Anticipation. That calm before the storm. Uncertainty at best. Is it good news? Bad? Are you waiting out the inevitable change for the better, the worse?

I have been gainfully unemployed since the end of April, (as long as we are not counting the 4 week temp stint where I was entirely miserable, but I digress). For all intensive purposes, the end of April saw the end of my job. A job I loved.

Since then, I have worked with varying staffing agencies, online job sites, and numerous word of mouth referrals to try to find work. At this point ANY work.

I have interviewed for a couple, and was found over-qualified for one. Other offers I had to turn down due to distance or wage. Some offer insultingly low wages. Insulting in the way that they start at half of what I was making prior.

Not for nothing, but I can't financially regress myself 15 years to make half of what I need to make in order to support myself as well as my son. Ain't gonna happen.

So currently I sit, (literally) in yet another office awaiting my 3rd interview for a position. Hoping that the 3rd time is the charm on this one.

Is it my dream job? Well of course not. Getting paid to write these little nuggets would of course be living the dream. Becoming a world-reknowned author of sorts would make my life fantastic, but I of course am a realist.

The job pays well, is close to home. No more commuting on gridlocked highways into Boston to get the paycheck I need to function.

The people seem nice, it's a franchise of a big National company, and I would be Office Manager. I would get to go out on the road maybe 1 day a week to break up the monotony of day to day office droning. I would get to start up a Newsletter to send out to clients. Seems perfect.

Moreover I just can't wait to once again join the land of the Paycheck People. Soley relying on unemployment sucks, quite frankly. It's far less than I made when working, and honestly I have become far too laxidaisical.

Sure, at the beginning of the summer it was great. I got to spend time with Dylan and do things. Beach, amusement parks and various outings. Summer things. But as the days went on, and the funds dipped lower, so did my energy level.

I feel so useless when I don't work. Like I am not setting a good example for anything. I procrastinate even the simplest task, for no real reason. I need to snap out of it. Re-regiment myself back into a normal routine.

As much as I sometimes crave spontaneity, I also thrive on stability and structure, in a weird and unconventional way.

Those iconic images of getting up, going to work, coming home, cleaning house, dinner's ready Dear, watching TV and going to bed together type of blissfully mundane existences blended with the occasional night on the town. Sounds idyllic.

But it all starts with a need for income. A basic stability. A focus. A strong desire to better my situation, for myself, for my son.

I have seemingly reclused myself as of late. Sheltering myself from most of my friends, aside from the occasional obligatory outings, I have cast myself away. Tried to lay on the outskirts of my own life, like an onlooker really.

Trying to gain perspective. To view myself perhaps as others may have. Or even view others around me who knows. Either way I have come to a few comclusions and figured out certain things needed changing.

First and foremost, I need to make myself happy. I need to be employed and feeling like a useful contributer to society. I need to take care of myself, and my son. Everything else is able to fall into place after that. So I'm told.

And it's a process. It's a long road they say, the road to happiness. But I hope to be on it. I don't expect things to be perfect 100% all of the time, nothing ever is. I just want it to all be ok.

My centricity is the focus on my future, on moving things forward the way I know they should be. Knocking down the barriers that may have stonewalled me from getting there in the first place. Getting out of my own way.

I want to know in my heart that when that proverbial shit eventually hits the fan again someday, that I have a steady team waiting by my side unwaivering, holding umbrella's and yeilding Lysol.

Next time, I plan to be ready.
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