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

So back to Unworn Pearl Sister.


Wearing the pearls, thanks to Mr. Helpful.


Losing her mind accordingly.

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


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.”


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


[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.



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

pointing up up up

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.


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…

quilt & furs

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.

sunlit cape

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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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

April is the pearlest month day twenty-seven: Sister with the unworn pearls

At the same time, the very same time as Velvet Choker Sister was dealing with her husband and the nagging and the scissors, Unworn Pearl Sister was dealing with almost exactly the same thing. Can you believe it. How they ended up with such same husbands is unknown. Possibly because they were in the small kind of village that’s always the case with with folktales and myths, and they married same-sized brothers who had arrived one day (from a neighboring village) wearing matching pants and carrying a white rose for one sister and a red rose for the other. Something like that. Or, possibly, the matching husbands were an accidental result of the sisters working through some kind of issue that comes from being raised with labels, like “the choker one” and “the pearl one.” Point being, while Velvet Choker Sister was doing her best to sidestep tragedy, Unworn Pearl Sister’s husband was also at the same time constantly going, “why don’t you wear your pearls?”

She tried to explain. She explained as best she could.


But guess what. Guess what Mr. Helpful decided to do.


And you know what happened next. You know. It was worse than literal head-loss, and I mean SO much worse.



Tomorrow: Worse.

April is the pearlest month day twenty-six: Sister with the black velvet choker

FACT. Revealed: This is a sisterhood story. The sisterhood of 1) the lady with the black velvet choker, and 2) the lady with the unworn pearls.


The velvet choker sister, you already know of her. You know that story. Right? She wore it all the time. Her suitor-and-then-husband was like, why do you wear that thing ALL the time? Can you ever take it off, ever??? She was like, no, I can’t. You’ll be sorry if I do. SO I WON’T. For years, they had this same conversation.


It drove him crazy. Not in a fun way.


So obviously one night he tried, like he reached between her neck and the choker while she was sleeping, just really subtle, and he realized it was a CONTINUOUS BAND. No clasp. A full and seamless circle. Husband took a scissors and he did this.


BAM. Velvet down. Choker to the floor.


And you know what happened next. You know. You remember, right, from stories at sleepovers? From your big sister telling you this horrible thing right before she made you summon Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror? You know that her head fell off. It fell OFF.


Husband freaks. Who wouldn’t. Like she didn’t tell him, though.


She told him. She tried to tell him.


Pause. We pause here so you can process this. For a more complete version of the story of the lady with the velvet choker, like if your older sister didn’t do as good a job as she should have of initiating you, you can read it here, on the delightful horror blog Dreadful Dreary.


Tomorrow: The other sister. Unworn Pearl Lady. The unworn pearl sister speaks OUT.

April is the pearlest month day twenty-five: Name tags vs. heartbreak AND AN ANNOUNCEMENT

You feel how old this is getting, right? Same damn indecisive bitter whinywhiny thing day after day. “I have pearls! But I can’t weeeearrrrr my pearrrls.” Please. Poor us. This is exactly what I meant about the month of April. It’s 70 degrees, then it’s snowing. It’s springy damp, and then it’s icy damp. It’s sandals and legwarmers. April feels like never ever ever getting it right.

For example, Exhibit A, last night. Getting it right! It’s because of the name tags. Nothing says “grownup” and “accomplished” and “heckyeah I’m wearing (whatever)” better than preprinted name tags on business-semi-formalwear. Attire: Business. Attire: Semi-formal. Attire: Business but festive yet formal but not too TOO formal. That kind of thing.

2015-04-24 19.32.12

MSU Distinguished Alumni Awards. With Maria Baxter, who graduates next month, for the third time. Maria! Your friends and fans are proud. Congratulations. And your ‘do is spectacular.

And then, Exhibit B, baggage. Shadows. Spoken or unspoken unwearableness, or at least a creepy feel to the wearing. It was maybe once right, but now it’s, like, I don’t know. It’s just not. As in Exhibit B, below, just in from Day Twenty’s guest writer Terri Ryburn:

My daughter, Amy, read the blog and realized that I had given her the pearl ring many years ago. (I should have asked her if she still had it but I gave it to her and she could have sold it or given it away by now.) She has sent a picture of it. Her comment: “Now that I know it’s a heartbreak ring, I’ll never look at it the same way.”

pearl ring

Oh GOD, mom, you gave me a heartbreak ring.

Right?! This is how it goes. Pearls do this. And the month of April is coming to a close and I know you’re thinking WHY HASN’T SHE FIGURED THIS OUT and I’m pleased to announce that it’s better than that. Thanks to the Pearlest Month street team, and to my guest posters, and to my husband who I don’t even know why but he’s indulged me in hella more pearl talk than a person really counts on in a given month or lifetime,

scott says

“I don’t remember this as part of our vows.”

I’ve done better than figure out how to wear them. I’ve figured out why we’re not supposed to, i.e., what it means when pearls eek you out and why it’s imperative to leave them in the box. This is not my opinion. It’s an origin myth. Or more like a folktale. The origin folktale of the unwearableness of pearls, in four parts. You can’t wait.


 Tomorrow: Part one. 

April is the pearlest month day twenty-four: The fashion future is in good hands

And now! A woman wise enough to heed fashion guidance from a pearl-loving cowboy-boot-wearing five-year-old. Please welcome Sara Gilbert Frederick.

gala sara with lucy

Lucy, Sara. MSU’s Purple and Gold Gala.

So, full disclosure: The only time I’ve actually worn a real strand of pearls was as the “something borrowed” on my wedding day. I do have a pearl necklace that belonged to my grandmother, but the clasp is broken and I’ve never worn it. Of course, I probably wouldn’t know how to anyway.

The extent of my fashion sense can be best explained with this story: One morning a few years ago, I came downstairs dressed for work in a black skirt, a pink top, and a pair of black boots. I was feeling pretty proud of myself, because usually the top would have been black, too. But when my daughter saw me, she grimaced. “Really, mom?” she said. “Those boots?”

I went right back upstairs and changed.

The point is that I took fashion advice from a five-year-old. And in all honestly, I still seek her counsel most days before I leave the house—and usually, the critique she gives is right on. So when it came to thinking about this whole how-to-wear-pearls thing, you know who I went to first: Lucy.

A little bit about Lucy: Her first word was “shoe.” She started trying on my heels as soon as she could walk. And she has a drawer full of pearls in the jewelry box on top of her dresser—all gifts from her Grammie, who will keep giving them to her until she has enough to string up for a necklace.

Somehow, Lucy already instinctively knows how to wear those pearls. She already knows when she’ll wear them—and actually, she’s hoping one of her cousins will get married soon, because that would be exactly the right occasion. She even knows what she’ll wear them with.

“Well, a dress of course,” she told me. “But probably not one with long sleeves.”

I asked Lucy, who has grown up without a very pearly role model, what she thought about people who wear pearls.

“I think they are fancy,” she said.

Is that a look she might like?

She shrugs. She’s actually in a sweatpants stage right now, although she wears the look with as much panache as is possible when there are words written across your butt. Her accessories du jour are elastic hairbands around her wrist and a braided pink bracelet that she wears everywhere.

“Maybe. But I just want to look like me.”


Editor’s note: Yes. Yup. Very confident in our fashion future. Very, very.


Sara Frederick is Editrix of TODAY at Minnesota State, the magazine for alumni and friends of Minnesota State University, Mankato. Also, full disclosure, I would kill a small mammal with my hands if I could have Sara’s massive and naturally curly hair. Oh what. Please you guys. Only six days left in the Pearlest Month. Time to get real.