Black dresses, fancy aprons, humanity, shame: Announcing the Uniforms of September

Everyone! The Uniforms of September Street Team players have shared their choices, and I’m pleased to announce their public commitment to wearing these things, and (mostly) only these things, September 1-30.

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Also, I’d like to fill in a gap I think was left in the article which inspired this project (“Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing To Work Every Day by Matilda Kahl for Harper’s Bazaar). The gap is the question of what to do with the 90 seconds or so gained when a person’s wardrobe choices have been severely narrowed.

Maybe it’s more than 90 seconds, maybe add a few more for when you check yourself out in the mirror and go “wait, this isn’t working” and change into something else. Maybe that happens every fourth day or so? So, total, that’s probably about nine minutes per week of brand-new free time. The assumption might be that we’re supposed to use the extra time to get to work faster. If so, I don’t think the exercise would add much value to our lives.

I propose instead that we blow that newfound nine minutes on something great. Something new. Something we’ve been craving, and it’s clear that we are people who crave or we wouldn’t voluntarily sign on for a 30-day wardrobe challenge.

I didn’t warn the Street Team about this, so in addition to announcing their uniforms, I’ll go ahead and suggest what they might do with their luxurious new pocket of time.

We will start with Rachael, who is an excellent example of how this whole deal is different than the kind of uniform you wore for high school tennis or whatever. Because it’s basically just a narrowing-down of whatever you like best or have the most of or both:

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Variety, but with a theme. Choice and theme are the things.

Rachael is superextremely well-rounded, what with running marathons and biking marathons and publishing and teaching and getting a Ph.D. She does all this is because it’s how she was raised. Woman has a work ethic. You grow up reading books and weeding baby graves, this is how it plays out. I suggest Rachael use her newfound nine minutes per week to do absolutely nothing of substance. Watch recommended cartoons. “Recommended” like you can go so far as YouTube but don’t search for anything, just let the Internet feed you whatever. Empty silly candy, Rachael. You and your work ethic can work it off later.

Here’s Greg:

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Greg’s got a bunch of jewelry thanks to frequent world travel. It is way too ridiculous for work. So guess what? Now it’s his uniform! This is now exactly and only what Greg is wearing to work. It’s his travel stories told without anyone having to fake-seem interested in his photos. Yay Greg! Yay uniform!

In addition to his bigdeal day job at MSU, Greg is an artist, and his giant multimedia portraits of people he’s encountered during all that travel are stunning. I would personally like to show them at the Arts Center of Saint Peter just as soon as he’s ready, which means as soon as he’s produced about 40 of the things. Therefore, for Greg’s nine minutes per week I would like him to daydream about the next piece. No, daydream about the opening reception, which will be spectacular. Hell, Greg, your wardrobe plan is so clean and simple, just take an extra-extra ten seconds per day and dream about both.

Here is Juana:

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Juana goes around like she’s an artist but in my experience she seems to operate from a level of strategy and efficiency not usually associated with the artsy. To wit, she has a clause:

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On one hand I’d like Juana to keep working at the Arts Center, but on the other, I can see where she’d make a good supreme court opinion-writer which I guess would mean she’d first need to become a judge. So for her nine minutes per week I suggest Juana think about how to get law school into the mix along with the grad degree she’s doing at the moment, plus running the Arts Center’s clay studio plus getting her daughters to Taekwondo. No actually it’s ok to suggest one more thing because Juana already thinks about hyperbolic space for fun.

And here is Michelle:

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This I love. It’s uniform-upon-uniform, functional-upon-classy/dressy, the dirtiest of things upon the one thing we all know should not cannot get dirty: The white blouse. THE white blouse. What Michelle has here is a juxtaposition of different kinds of elegance, both of which play with boy vs. girl, clean vs. dirty, white collar vs. clay collar (that’s my new fashion term for professional potters — you are welcome, potters!). It’s just all-around really good.

Michelle has been through a whole lot of loss due to a tornado, and then recently, more loss due to a house fire. She’s been through those big things and more. You know what I suggest Michelle do with her 90-or-so-seconds per day? I suggest she save it until the uniform has been donned, and everything feels really good, and then she should walk up to a mirror and say: DAMN I look polished and complete. Because she does, and she’s learned how to get there from scratch a few times over. I would say her new nine minutes per week would be well-used on self-back-patting.

Also I love what Danielle is doing:

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I don’t know Danielle very well but she strikes me as a creative who could go for miles and miles in many different directions. She’s done a hardcore job here of limiting her choices, so that probably gets her way more than nine new minutes per week. But then add laundry time, because we are talking about a single t-shirt and I don’t know if she has multiples, but then again laundry time is also good thinking time. God, Danielle, I don’t know if this means you have an extra hour per week, or just the nine minutes, or what. I do know that your purist interpretation of “uniform” entitles you to the most varied possible use of any new time it provides. So my suggestion is that you balance the admirably severe limitation of A-line-denim-skirt plus Campbell’s-Soup-t-shirt with as much free-falling creative chaos as you can handle.

Here’s mine:

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The leather strips are cut from discarded pieces that were the overage from luxury bags and stuff like that. Some of them are scarred and most of the cuts are jagged. They are fantastic.

So is all the copper I keep buying from local artists. Do you have any idea how easy it is to justify buying from local artists when it’s basically your job to encourage people to buy from local artists? Not to mention when the stuff looks like this:

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Check out how the copper is all pocked and lovely. Check out how it looks so completely at home and happy to be on a hand that’s slowly turning into the hand of a much older relative whose veins are popping out. You can see why the leather and the copper are the main things of my uniform.

You can also see why I need to spend my new nine minutes per week with this:

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I found it on my bookshelf recently, a gift from a friend a while back, and at the time of the gift I was like mmmm hmmm that seems like an interesting read (but I didn’t read it). Since then I’ve taken to writing about personal style as if it’s the most important thing in the world. Probably a good counterweight to that would be an exploration of something far away from vanity, which is what Martha Nussbaum‘s got going on here.

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I’m excited about this. Excited to read this stuff in the morning, and then think about it while I wear my fancy September getup to do stuff like, say, empty the Arts Center’s dehumidifier. Quick-clean a toilet after a kids’ group blew through the galleries. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, might make a nice photo gallery. Oh my God.

So this is the game, Rachael and Greg and Juana and Michelle and Danielle and the rest of the self-appointed Uniforms of September Street Team (it’s only September 1) (you can still play). You look so great already. Really. I’m excited to hear how it goes, how you liked what you wore, and what you thought about instead of what to wear.

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Happy wearing! Happy September! Do keep me posted. And, read more about my life-changing new crush on copper in the November issue of Mankato Magazine.

An open letter to men upon the dawn of spring/summer wardrobe season

This post originally appeared as a column in Mankato Magazine (May 2015). I’m sharing again in hopes of saving our nation from the “barrage of constant eye trauma” currently being suffered in Japan. The whole horrible story is here. You can read it after you read mine.

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Dear Men,

Happy spring! I imagine you’re changing over your closet. Me too. And not a moment too soon. I mean if I have to look down and see my woolen leg warmers sticking out of dirty boots with YakTracks one more day, I just don’t even know.

I am guessing you feel the same. Sick of wool, sick of fleece, sick of scratchy bulk. I feel you, men, and at the same time I’m writing to stop you from the bad decisions that can happen when you’re in that last-straw state of mind. I am writing to caution you against one decision in particular.

It’s a choice you’ve been making for a few years now. I assume it’s a choice. I assume no loving partner would impose this on you. In fact, your partner might be so loving that they can’t figure out how to say what it is I’m writing to say, despite watching you leave the house every “casual Friday” for the past few summers dressed this way. It’s hard for them because you don’t seem embarrassed. You seem proud. Bold. Sassy. Daring the world to stuff you back inside your heavy winter garb.

I am writing to help you both. Ready? I’ll just say it. Stop wearing those slinky ribbed short-sleeved mock turtleneck shirts to work and I mean now.

As exciting as it feels to slip on something so light and soft, something you lucked out and found on sale, cheaper than golf shirts for sure, boom, your summer business-casual wardrobe completely figured out for the next however many years (I’m assuming there was a sale, or else why would you have so very many of them), it’s that very feeling that should be a red flag. A red flag that says, this is too silky and too excitingly priced to be shirt. It’s not outerwear. It is, my man friend, a camisole with floppy sleeves and a weak neck.

True to its actual nature as an undergarment, the slinky tee tends to show us more than necessary. A white cotton undershirt as your foundational piece might smooth things out, as might a pair of stick-on daisy-shaped adhesives sold in most fabric stores near the lingerie straps and clasps. Alas, you don’t believe in undershirts or adhesive daisies. Not that we’ve seen. So we are left to see, you know, you.

Please understand that this cease-and-desist order isn’t about wanting you to comply with a certain trend or template. It’s not about reducing you to an ornament or my own personal preferred scenery. Quite the contrary. This is about respect and wanting you to feel relevant and vital on the summer style scene.

And your shiny tee, my friend, while it shows certain parts of you, is not you. It’s flimsy and faux and kind of collapsing into itself. And you are not that. You are a man who goes to work on Fridays in the summer which, in itself, is fresh and sporting and strong. You deserve visuals that say so. You deserve a crisp hang, which flatters more than a damp cling. You deserve “tailored” versus “topography.”

So, go chambray. Go linen! Go button-down or regular collar, tucked-in or flat-bottomed hanging loose outside the belt. Go short-sleeved or long-sleeves-rolled-up at the right moment at the right meeting. You know the one. For sure, regardless, go with an undershirt.

For starters, go back into your rearranged closet. Bag up the offenders and drop them at MRCI or Salvation Army. And then go forth to the office every Friday this summer in an actual old-school cotton-poly crisp and structured safe-for-work shirt.

Respectfully,

Ann

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Thanks, Mankato Magazine, for indulging this and other urgent whims. Thanks, too, for nobody on staff having one of those shirts, when I asked around so I could get a photo for column. You are a classy bunch of cats.

In which birthday girl defines “classy macabre.” A guest post.

Seriously, last week I was in some out-of-town parking lot and a woman comes up and goes, “Are you Amy?” My sister Amy lives a billion miles away. I haven’t lived in the same state as her, haven’t been asked by a teacher “are you Amy’s sister,” for decades. So, when it happens now, I take it as a sign to yield to the truth that she’s the best writer with the most dramatic birthdays and more hair than me and WHATEVERWHATEVER. Here is a guest post. By Ann’s sister Amy.

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Amy. By Natalya.

Everything I’ve ever submitted for publication, that’s been accepted, anyway, has related in some way to death. Religion and death, childbirth and death, dreams and their (metaphorical) death; you name a variation of a macabre punch, and likely, I’ve written it already. Even the time I was featured in a fashion blog, it ended up, inevitably, being about my death.

It wasn’t a choice. It’s more like an undeniable consequence of my father’s unexpected premature exit. It’s like being a vegan, or remembering that you’re allergic to latex, or finding an outfit that accommodates an insulin pump; day after day after day, it’s just there, like breathing. Part of maybe every fourth thought.

“When I die,” blah blah blah.

“I hate to spend the money on something that only lasts one summer, but I’ll be happy we did things like this when I’m dying.”

“Wow, WFMT plays the best songs. It reminds me of that song I want for my funeral. What was the name of it again? I totally need to look that up. I don’t want someone to just come along and plug in `Amazing Grace. ‘ What? Are we out of parmesan cheese again? How did that happen?”

It’s like that.

Many years ago, I sang up north at St. Gertrude on Easter morning, with the composer serving as accompanist. The choir was stacked with paid cantors from all over the city, all of us strangers until Jim started rehearsing his song. It’s the kind of rhythm, chord progression, and choral harmony mix that makes you instantly feel like lifelong friends with everyone who has their pitch, which of course in a paid choir, is everyone. It was such an uplifting experience that I took it back to my own conductor and said, “hey, you know, instead of one lone tenor and some tympanis in the balcony, we should really sing on Easter morning. And we should sing, specifically, this.”

He said no. That’s when it hit me: besides being macabre, I’m exclusive. I’m the kind of person who will only sing in a church choir so upscale that the conductor, as much as he loves me, won’t stoop to indulge in a Sandi Patty song, even as a prelude, even for my last Easter above ground. I’m like….classy macabre.

Miller Analogy: What my sister Ann is to fashion, I am to death.

The last time I saw my father was on Thanksgiving night. I had a really, really bad cold, the kind that seems like it must technically be some kind of dangerous pneumonia. I almost didn’t go home for dinner. I lived in Chicago, way up north in east Rogers Park, so it was somewhat of a commute on Thanksgiving morning to my far south suburban home. Normally I was up for a series of long train rides, but I could barely walk. In the end, something compelled me to drag myself out into the cold dark isolated morning and get to the only Metra scheduled before noon that day. We always put up the Christmas tree after dinner. My job was the lights. I basically just laid on the couch watching everyone work. “I’ll make it up to you next year,” I promised my dad as he strung every last light himself. I meant it.

Maybe he would have offered to drive me home even if I hadn’t been sick. It was my first Thanksgiving living on my own, so there’s no precedent. When we got to my apartment complex, he seemed to almost leap out of the driver’s side so he could get to my door and let me out. For the first time, our ride to somewhere I lived didn’t include carrying at least 15 loads of my things packed in backpacks, laundry baskets, and milk crates. I wasn’t moving in or out of college; I was home, and my home wasn’t his. Maybe that sudden realization was what the next few minutes were about.

We were directly under the streetlight at 1459 W. Morse. If you go there today, you can see how it almost makes a spotlight on the sidewalk. A theater lighting crew couldn’t have set it up better. A few panes down the sidewalk, someone once etched “Long Live God” into the wet concrete. “Make sure you bundle up. Chicago winters are cold. That’s why they call it the Windy City, you know. Well, that and the politics. I know you can take care of yourself, but I still worry.” Then he hugged me, for a long time. When it seemed like we were done, he pulled me closer for one last embrace. We both said I love you, heartfelt, not fake. He got into the car, drove away, and exactly one week later, the Thursday night after Thanksgiving, almost to the same hour that we said goodbye, he died.

Were I writing a narrative, the way it actually happened is so immaculate that my editor would insist that I cut or change most of the details to make it more believable. For a sudden death, we had basically a perfect ending.

Classy.

I had a good friend in college, a non-traditional student (31 years old! The epitome of wisdom!) who rode a motorcycle and had worked as a professional photographer before deciding to pursue a degree in ministry. Many years after graduation, we met up at a restaurant and the first thing he said was: “Wow, you even smell the same.” I did. He remembered all kinds of details from the one time he’d visited my childhood home, had collected the best stories from every road trip (we were in a touring company together), and, as he’d been working some freelance hours as an airport limo driver, gave me tips on the little known routes. From that day on, I was hard core side streets. He’d been at my father’s funeral; he’d also been to the funerals of both his parents. We could talk like most people our age couldn’t, yet. Those few hours deposited me on fluffy clouds for weeks afterward. I was only in my mid-twenties, so an encounter with a friend that I hadn’t seen for years, picking right back up as if we’d never spent a day apart, was mostly still the stuff of clichés in which older people spoke. It was a threshold moment; I had one of *those* friends.

People mocked him a little bit for being so cautious. They called him “Mr. Safety.” That’s how I knew, when I heard he’d been in a motorcycle accident, that it couldn’t have been his fault. It turned out that the chance of a piece of flying gravel hitting one’s artery at the exact angle and torque to cause death before the ambulance could get there was something like zero.

My college roommate died shortly after her wedding, right as they planned to start a family. My graduate school professor, who I mentally cursed for giving me a B and scrawling a less-than-supportive note across the top, didn’t make it through the subsequent semester. A good work friend died in the hospital, about seven days after surgery. The best boss I ever had didn’t die, but almost did, didn’t wake up for almost a year after surgery in another hospital, was sent home to die, but survived, albeit with brain damage. A child, due on Christmas day, made it only a handful of weeks, exactly to Good Friday. Classy, and consistently heartbreaking. That’s less than half my actual stories. You can’t make a career out of writing the same random catastrophe over and over, even if it’s true. As Joanne Greenberg once told me, “At a certain point, you have to leave out some of the tragic details, so your reader doesn’t throw your book across the room.”

Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of going through my things pretty regularly and carefully, conscious of not wanting whoever has to come in and clean up after me when I drop dead to have excessive work. I’m not sure, if my father was still alive, that my files would be quite so carefully labeled, so my kids could find things like their social security cards or birth certificates if I suddenly wasn’t there. It seems especially important as December approaches, as I either outlive my father – or don’t. It also seems increasingly irrelevant. My grandmother on my mother’s side just turned 94. My father’s grandmother lived to be 101, 52 years past 49. Were I her, I wouldn’t even be at the midpoint of my life yet.

Were I my father, I’d have exactly five months left.

When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer a few months after my father’s death, he contemplated out loud what it was like to face a terminal diagnosis, with time and enough energy for awhile to clean up after oneself, plan the funeral, have a few final adventures and a chance to say many goodbyes. Referencing my father’s sudden unexpected fall to the floor, he mused, “that’s the way to go.”

Maybe I will disagree someday, but for now, I think he was wrong. The chance to live life conscious of its impending end, whether it’s a few months or 52 more years, is all we have, really. David Nicholls, in One Day (which you really should read, perhaps right now), writes: “He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.”

I always assumed that when I got to the last age my father had ever been, the hardest thing would be not knowing whether I’d make it past the day he died. Now, I think that’s probably absurd. Even someone with my bizarre track record of sudden hyper-poetic tragedies wouldn’t have the luxury of knowing, to the day, when fate would strike. Maybe people who follow the assortment of law-of-attraction philosophies are onto something. Perhaps the way to go is to live like 101 is the new 49. I don’t expect to be followed by paparazzi any time soon, but I want to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a classy photograph.

And to that end, I need to go shopping.

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OMG Amy. You are so old and hooray for that. Happy birthday.

One thing a person could do instead of spring cleaning is document the dirt

First of all, wax. I don’t know how to get wax out of fur.

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Fan.

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More wax. Waxed.

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Dining room.

back window

Goblets.

silver nap

Pop music as pornography.

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Paintings by Noah Wieder. Light fixture with cobweb.

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Cords.

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Star from Launa. Lucky tiger from Mimi.

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These are the worst ant traps. I bought them tonight. They were THE most expensive ones, something about a one-way entrance. Well. I moved the paper towel to get better light for the photo, and do you know what, like four of them escaped.

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Detail from Coexist by Beau Layman. He might be tired of me posting about this piece.

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Corner under the shelf with the radio and the car keys. Baseboard is an easy thing, right, I know that, I am just not buying into that whole belief system right now.

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Carbon monoxide detector + nightlight.

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Candle man.

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By the front door. I don’t know. Could go to Architectural Antiques, I realize that, and find a replacement. I realize that.

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Coexist. Mobile of banana leaves. And then a Brad Widness, an Eric Watercotte. When the summer comes I like this porch area a whole lot. It’s not clean but it’s great.

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Aloe from Jake after he killed my catnip.

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Reading Woman by Lynn Pask. Loved.

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Chicken. Also loved.

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Frink, outlet, balls.

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Steam heat.

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Balls from Anne. Clouded glass.

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Stained glass by David Hanel. Makeout couple by Greenmarket Square craftsman.

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Please move these. Please move these before it’s boot season again.

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April is the pearlest month day LAST: The epiphany, the legacy, the end

So back to Unworn Pearl Sister.

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Wearing the pearls, thanks to Mr. Helpful.

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Losing her mind accordingly.

What did she do? What did she do?!?!?

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Damn right she went to Save Mor. So ready. Just stoked. Stoked like you get with an epiphany. Told her husband (who was SO EXCITED to be hearing more about the pearls) that she’d figured it out, thank you so much for helping because now she had the ANSWER, and the answer was to trade for something better. Break up with the pearls for good and for real by walking into Save Mor and declaring, with bold and mature ladyconfidence, “hello, I have some pearls I would like to trade, not sell but TRADE, for the first thing that catches my eye. My wise and seasoned eye.”

Right? What fun. What peace. What an ending to the Pearlest Month!

But then.

You’re not even going to believe this because I didn’t: Save Mor wouldn’t take them, for trade or cash, because guess what. GUESS WHAT.  “There’s just no market for pearls.”

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Well no kidding, there’s no market for pearls. See also: April is the pearlest month days one through twenty-nine.

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[Editor’s note: This is kind of nitpicky but the sign does say “ANY.” Whatever. It’s fine.]

So now what. Because the month is over, the epiphany has been had and the solution is clearly to get rid of unworn pearls and anything else that makes you lose your mind in any way. But the village pearl-buyer said no. So, now what?!?!

Fortunately for everyone, I have a son who is of courtship age and who happened to be at home when I returned from total defeat at Save-Mor.

hey jake

Lucky lucky lucky lucky kid.

So I’m like, hey, how bout you take these on as a breakup charm?

hey jake got some pearls for you

Like, in case you’re ever in a situation where you like someone a lot but you just know this isn’t IT and you gotta end it. With grace and with dignity.

Perhaps, on such a night, on a hillside under a waxing (or waning) moon, you shall gift these pearls and speak the magic words “do you wanna listen to Aja or The Royal Scam” whilst you light a Marlboro Red.

And next thing you know, couple waxing/waning moons later, it’s over. You are free.

And so is she. She is free to keep the pearls and pass them down thusly with lessons about boys and cars and gifts. And what it means to get it right despite what you thought “right” should look like, back on the hillside. And how to summon the glorious feeling of glamour and summer and potential and a really tight and luscious horn section, upon any occasion, untethered to pearls. Pearls aside. Pearls very much aside.

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The! End! Thank you so much, friends and guest writers and Pearlest Month Street Team. Thank you for helping me not-hate April. XOXO.

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Back where we started. No pearls. But all’s cool.

Next up in small stories about transgression and fashion: I’ll be live-tweeting from Raw Fusion 15 on behalf of Mankato Magazine. Follow me over on @ARosenquistFee to get the goods.

April is the pearlest month day twenty-nine: PAUSE THE FOLKTALE, woman with no pearls got something to say

One fierce final guest post. Please welcome Stephanie Thull.

I must be the exception. Not only do I not own a real strand of pearls – proud owner of a down-to-your knees strand of fakes granted after the departure of my mother’s mother, per my request of all her odd, impartial jewelry that I proudly wear when the outfit presents itself – but no, real pearls are not a part of my life. I want them to be, but really, any eligible milestone that would incur the passing down, or gifting of pearls to my behest, has passed.

30 & pearless

30 & pearless but making the most of it.

Not that I’m complaining, quite the opposite. Instead – Furs.

Yep.

I own furs…gifted and second-hand of course, but, and perhaps this will become some sort of spin-off, but does that really make any difference should you decide to wear the fur in public? Most likely not. I don’t even eat meat.

fakes & furs

fakes & furs

After my father’s mother passed away, my aunts decided to give me the coordinating fur stole and muffler that were the possession of my great grandmother. Positively mink, but not the head and feet kind. Just the basic, Gordon Furs of St. Paul stole and muff, soft, brown and completely useless…

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the quilt is not completely useless, and was the last one Marie made – a way better gift

And furs, like pearls, are complicated articles of fashion. Seriously, find me an occasion where wearing this is appropriate.

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the cape. a glorious find from the thread shed III in sauk centre, mn…$25. i couldn’t not buy it.

Okay, maybe here:

it works great if you're going as a beaver – or mink, i guess.

it works great if you’re going as a beaver – or mink, i guess.

But that is it.

As for the muff & stole…you guessed it, wrapped up stashed away in my closet (I am not even sure if properly stored, I suppose I should ask a furrier).

Much like many a lady’s pearls – neatly stored in their velvet boxes – waiting for the right time, my furs await the fateful winter day they get rustled out from their hiding spot and used as nature intended.

I assume it would be to a funeral.

I assume it would be to a funeral.

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You know that impossibly cool stuff at the St. Peter Food Co-Op & Deli besides the food? The scarves, the finger puppets, the rubber things that turn a faucet into a drinking fountain? That’s Stephanie. She’s the one who acquires and displays that stuff. She’s also the person who acquires and displays the goods in the Arts Center’s gallery shop. So basically if you’re interested in buying or selling or consigning cool goods in southern Minnesota, basically, I hope you own some fur.

Tomorrow: Foiled plans, stubborn legacies, and the end of me talking about my pearls.

April is the pearlest month day twenty-eight: Unworn Pearl Sister had it worse

SO. MUCH. WORSE.

First, she got panicky, as if she’d forgotten something really important. Not a specific thing like when you forget your keys, but in general, bigger. Something meta. Like, she felt as if there was something she was supposed to have remembered to do with her life, but by now she’d lost interest, but that was beside the point because the agenda had been set. Set around her NECK. And as a result, she just about couldn’t breathe, and she felt strongly that she needed some Valium. (This is not in modern times; this is a folktale set in the pre-Betty Friedan epoch). She needed a Valium so bad. Just to deal.

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Seconds later, she went from panicky to stark raving hellcat.

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Like a hormonal imbalance, of sorts, but extreme. Not the weepy kettle-corn-jumbo-bag-eat-eat-eat variety of imbalance. More like: Everything is wrong. I have no control. How did I end up here. How did I let this happen. Get these things off me. Except, oh god, oh GOD, it was what I said I wanted. I asked for this, I hoped for this. And now these pearls and their baggage are making me not-breathe. WHAT. NOW.

That’s the kind of imbalance I’m talking about.

I mean, what did you THINK was going to happen when you wrapped your neck in a set of expectations you’d dreamed up at age, like, eighteen? And now you’re extremely not-eighteen? But you figure you should still want to wear those pearls you keep in a box in the dresser drawer? Do you think you should still want to even possess them?

Of course, you couldn’t have forecasted that, back then. You couldn’t. All you knew, back then, was that here was this boy. Sweet. Smokes. Drives a red Nova, introduces you to the fine fine music of Steely Dan. Gives you pearls on a hillside near the football field on graduation night. [To clarify: It’s your graduation night and he is a waiter (he is older) putting himself through community college (OLDER).] So, this is a thought-through thing. A budgeted-for thing. This is an investment and it means something big, at eighteen.

But that’s not now. Really not. Now the pearls are just a placeholder for a place you’re not going, and if you keep wearing them, I mean if Unworn Pearls Sister insists on wearing them, all she’s gonna feel is like there’s something left undone. A thing just hanging out there, something she’s not doing right, despite that everything else feels pretty good. It’s all fine except those goddamn pearls, you know? So.

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She has a choice to make. And I promise you, she makes it. Coming up.

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Tomorrow: We pause the origin myth for one more guest post. A rebuttal of sorts.