This morning as I walked Freja the wind stung my eyes and face, making it difficult to breathe. And I remembered that last year, on St. Patrick’s Day, there was no snow left on the ground.
There was nothing to do to raise my spirits but go thrifting, so I headed over to Arc’s Value Village in Richfield. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the world of thrifting goes to Arc, not that we have any idea who each other are. Oh, sure, sometimes you’ll see the signs. Today, for example, there were quite a few just-passed-middle-aged men scoping out the women’s jewelry. These are guys who sell stuff on eBay for a living. And when I tried to muscle my way in to see the goods, I sure got an earful from two guys talkin’ shop.
Gruff Guy: Things aren’t what they used to be. I started this, what, 15 years ago? Oh, the pickings were good.
Guy With Strange Hair: Yeah, I’ve been in it for 8 but I’ve seen a steady decline. There’s no more good stuff.
Gruff Guy: It’s the economy! Everyone is selling stuff now to make money! They’re ruining it! They need to go back to work.
[Let me interject what I’m thinking here. Number one, I’m trying to imagine all the thrifting riches from 15 years ago when people looked down on it. Number two, I’m getting kind of annoyed because it’s not that easy for people to just “go back to work,” and, in a capitalist system, competition is part of the downer, boys.]
Guy With Strange Hair: I used to go to the Goodwill over on (mumble mumble) and I had so much stuff in my cart that I wanted that I could barely afford it all.
Gruff Guy: Everyone’s looking for my stuff. Old women are looking for my stuff. I can’t find golf clubs now to save my life. Old people. Young people. Short people. Tall people.
Guy With Strange Hair: The only way to sell something now is if you have the only one of it available in the country at that time. I had that last year…
Gruff Guy: You had that? With what?
Guy With Strange Hair: That leather jacket I had. I had the only one available and I sold it for $800…
Gruff Guy: So the only way to make money is to… it’s through scarcity.
Guy With Strange Hair: Yeah, that’s about it.
Wow, what a bleak picture. Meanwhile, I was able to find a cone of glass handblown in Mexico that I paired with a 70-cent glass plate to make my own bell jar for a bird nest that I found last fall. And a 99-cent t-shirt that says “I Heart Roma.” That’s Rome for all you plebeians out there. And some other stuff too… I never get out of there without a bag full. And a few of the items I bought because, well, let’s just say that Gruff Guy and Guy With Strange Hair planted a seed…
I do have to say this though about the special “vintage” sections at thrift stores. I know what the stores are trying to do – they’re sorting it out for us so we don’t have to (and often times marking it up higher than their other clothing). But they fail miserably. I always find more vintage in the regular clothing and in the vintage clothing I find stuff that is not vintage at all but was made to look that way or vintage stuff with stains.
Stains… why? Why do they put that stuff out? If it’s old it seems questionable that the stain will come all the way out. After 20 years of lying somewhere with red wine or tobacco juice, a tuxedo shirt probably won’t come clean.Â Equally disheartening is when you push some clothes aside on a rack and the waft of Mildred’s Virginia Slims comes wafting out. I know, if I were hardcore I wouldn’t care, I’d get it cleaned. Maybe I would for the right thing but it’s always some depressing size-18 smock with butterflies on it.
Equally depressing? Trying on a jacket or coat and finding a balled-up Kleenex in the pocket, probably from 1987.
About a month ago I did something I’ve never done before in all my thrifting days and bought some thrifted shoes. I have this thing where I just don’t look at shoes, swimming suits, bras, underwear, socks, you know. But before I tried these shoes on I smelled them. I put my nose right in there and took a big whiff. I had to! But I smelled nothing. They are also in very good shape, which leads me to believe they were not worn all that much. Possibly because their former owner didn’t have enough confidence, in the end, to pull them off:
I sharpened up this photo just to show off the detail of the embroidered flies. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.
There are flies all over them, actually:
These are now my “driving shoes.” Which would be cooler if I drove a tiny convertible something and also had a scarf wrapped around my head.
What else have I been up to? Well, besides learning HTML (zzzzzzzzzz) we discovered a restaurant called Gangchen (yes, their website could use some work) in Minneapolis (18th & Nicollet) where the food is outstanding and they have 2-4-1 bottled beer from 4-7 and again from 10-2 (also when they have “live DJs). I had Vietnamese Coconut Curry with Shrimp(s) and it was outstanding. They also have a nice tiny bar and then another lounge room with a light-up sign over it that says “The Harlem Room.” This sign goes with nothing else in the place and it is outstanding. I want to go back there just because of that sign.
In other food news, organic carrots from Whole Foods really are better than run-of-the-mill carrots. I’m talking about the ones they have loose in the produce section that you can bag up yourself. They are sweet and delicious and not bitter at all. Just in case you’re on the hunt for carrots.
Reading: A book called Rework that I highly recommend to anyone who has a desire to be self-employed in this day and age and hates the bullshit everyone spouts about being an entrepreneur. Also read The False Friend by Myla Goldberg, which started out with an interesting premise and then ended in disappointment for me, i.e. the story wasn’t carried to a satisfying conclusion for me.
Watching: Took a break from Dallas to rewatch Mad Men Season 2. This is some of the best television out there. My favorite season so far.
Doing: I joined the masses and tried a Zumba workout. OK, it was super fun. Just dance around for an hour and you’re done. It’s not even that hard to follow the moves and this is coming from someone so uncoordinated she did not make the pompon squad in 9th grade and then stopped trying due to shame. Check out the Zumba Minnesota site for more info. Big Zumba dance part on March 18th at the Center For Performing Arts in South Minneapolis.
Wearing: Besides my fly shoes? Well, there is one thing I’m happy about – Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Carnation (pink). It is like wearing spring on your lips. I have other Revlon Colorburst lipsticks and I’m never disappointed.
Stay warm for one more day.