Saturday, March 13, 2010

Swap Meet Me In St. Louis Vuitton

Today I went to a clothing swap, and let me tell you, there's nothing quite like seeing your duds lying bedraggled on the ground to make you feel cheap. Not that the clothes were horrible or anything: I snagged a nice pair of Club Monaco jeans and a hilarious Garfield sweater that will be worn to death despite the fact that it's a size too small. But the little hillock of clothing lying in the middle of the living room? Sigh. Kind of a bummer, to be honest.

The whole clothing swap vibe is a little declasse. I tried on a running hoodie that would have been nice, except for the mold down one sleeve. Picking through a pile of clothes on the ground is just sort of humiliating. On the other hand, I love free clothes, and it was such a nice excuse to ditch the ill-fitting and out-of-season clothes that were clogging up my closet and draining my mood every time I tried them on.

Seriously: the clothing swap is the best thing ever, if you're looking for an excuse to dispose of the jeans you've been keeping since high school. Unless you are magic, you have gained some weight since you were sixteen. Oh, I'm not suggesting we're all ballooning up like those pillowesque characters in Wall-E. It's probably not more than a few pounds - a size, probably. I blame beer and its corresponding calories (delicious beer...oh, I can't stay mad at you!). But hanging onto those jeans, whether it's for aspiration, guilt, or some complicated blend of both, is no good for the soul. The only downside to slipping them into the swap pile? Watching your fellow swappers pull those Special Since High School Jeans on and have them be baggy. Annoying? Yes. Fact of life? Also yes.

I scored some jeans that are too big for me, since I love pants that are flexible and lend themselves to clambering. Skintight nonsense has never appealed. I also grabbed the aforementioned Garfield sweater, which delights me to no end. Did I mention there were also cupcakes? Absolutely, which does no-one any favours in terms of trying to slip back into the high school pants, but cupcakes belong in their own special category of Feeling Good, one that corresponds not at all with the category of Feeling Good that skinny jeans inspire. Plus, cupcakes help relieve the bummer feelings associated with going clothes shopping from the floor. I wish there were other food/experience overlaps: like, if pho was a proven way of combating job-interview stress, or grilled cheese sandwiches helped a sister out on bad hair days. That would be amazing, no?

So, long story short: skinny jean feelings and swap-related feelings of ick? And did I mention it was pouring horrible, mean, pissy mid-March rain all day? Not awesome. Cupcakes, Garfield sweater and a leaner closet, plus a post-swap trip to the Shopper's Drug Mart to buy Diet Coke and fancy juice? Very awesome. So: balance it out. Like everything, always.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Are What You Eat

There are few chores in life that I take as much pleasure in as grocery shopping. Scrubbing down the kitchen? Nah. Getting my hands dirty in the bathroom? No way. Even vacuuming, with its loud noises and immediate gratification, isn't really on my radar. Spring cleaning at my house is me, halfheartedly waving a broom at the cobwebs that have accumulated on my ceilings, and dusting. I'm not a neat freak.

But grocery shopping really gets my blood moving, chore-wise. First of all, it gets me out of the house: I'm not choking on chemical cleaners or room sprays or what have you. In the winter, this can be kind of a drag for a non-driver like myself, but in the spring months, it's a lovely treat to hop on my bicycle and breeze over to the Loblaws. Grocery shopping on my bike is one of the top-tier instances of feeling like A True Cyclist. I'm not at the trailer-hauling level that some folks are, but a girl can dream.

Once I'm actually at the store, and have wrestled my bike into the (never adequate) bike parking, I'm free to wander, exploring the possibilities. I can generally gauge how optimistic I'm feeling based on the kind of food I pick up: tomatoes and brie are a staple, bananas are a solid maybe - hey, even if they go bad, I can always magic them into delicious banana bread - and mangoes are like a shot at the wild blue yonder. I eat, like, one mango a year. do I buy one mango a year? I buy...more than that. And they rot.

Grocery shopping let people try on new personalities without having to invest in, say, a condo on the waterfront. Am I the type of person who eats goat yogurt and organic salsa? Let's find out! And it won't cost as much as either tickets to a monster truck rally or a spa visit.

I know that kind of argument can be specious. I've called bullshit on defining yourself through what you consume, but food is so fundamental to survival, and there's such a range or ways you can eat. Some folks are very much of a soymilk and manuka honey mindset, while others are completely content to graze on Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew. Most of us fall somewhere in the happy medium, scarfing down both free-range eggs and Twizzlers. I know you're supposed to shop the periphery, leaving the centre aisles - the ones that contain delicious things like tacos - out of your cart. But in the words of Mandy Patinkin, fuck that bullshit, they can blow me. Tacos, butter chicken sauce, rice cakes and tins of tuna all live in the centre aisles. And they are good.

In grocery shopping, the stakes are so low: you hate something? Just don't buy it again. It's not like you have to sit your veal chops down and tell them "It's not you, it's me." Some days, you feel fancy, like a quinoa and walnut salad would be the perfect accompaniment to your Perrier. And others...well, let's just say I've had several evenings with Wine Gums and my couch, and they were very nice. After all, we are what we eat. Sometimes we eat crap, and sometimes we eat fancy.

Eat hearty, my pretties!