Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Blog at Wanderlust and Lipstick!

Poor thrippie has been neglected for weeks now. I can offer a host of excuses, including the juggernaut of the semester. But the best one is a new project. I'll be putting most of my blogging energy into WanderChic, a new blog at Wanderlust and Lipstick. I should have a new post up each week, and I'll be tag-teaming with my dear friend Erin Tolman.
I'll have updates here from time to time. For now, check out the new venture, and let me know what you think! If you're down with FB, you can also "like" us there.

Friday, September 2, 2011

New article in Geez Magazine

The latest issue of Geez Magazine includes an article I wrote about Off-Ramp Theatre in Spokane. The magazine is cool (and Canadian!).
Check it out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Brides of Others

Two friends of mine are getting married at the end of next month and their caterer just went out of business. Yikes! I thought maybe I should pick up my wedding dress from the store because you just never know.
Who could abandon such a beautiful
bride in produce?
Reader, you may have noticed that the only picture in this post is a stolen flickr shot of some stranger’s bride bear left among the melons at Albertson’s. I’m not a highly superstitious person, though if I have the option not to walk under a ladder, I’ll take it. Just in case I do wind up wearing this gown someday, I’ll keep it a surprise. I will say that if the dress were a Netflix movie I would describe it as retro, feel-good, and independent.
Well, "independent" except that when I got the dress home and decided to try it on for an audience of cats, I couldn’t zip the bodice myself. I remembered that bridesmaids perform more than merely ornamental or folkloric functions (wasn’t that how bridesmaids got their jobs? To confuse the evil spirits as to which woman was the bride? Though how evil spirits could confuse irredeemable satiny Pepto Bismol confections with the white dress that's clearly the star, I’m not sure.) I held up my dress as best I could and smiled at the cats and at the mirror. In an alternate universe, I’m getting married in this dress on Saturday. (In both universes, my shoulders look pretty good. I’ve been working out).
While I was trying my dress on, the right side of my face was still numb from a filling that morning. Of course, if I read in a short story that a character waited until she was partially anaesthetized to pick up a wedding dress she no longer needs, I might be tempted to roll my eyes. Dulling the pain! I'd snark at the book. How clever! As it was, I had Vaseline clumped on my lips, and I was hoping my speech could be understood.
My new dentist, Dr. Crump, sometimes refers to himself in third person as “Crump” (as in “remember, Crump said to brush those back teeth with extra care.”) I sat through hours of sordid dental and orthodontic work when I was a kid.  I don’t remember liking it (except for aesthetic moments like choosing the color of my retainers: tie-dye with extra glitter!). But I don’t remember feeling as panicked as I did during this most recent visit. Crump is very kind. He asked me several times, “You’re feeling no sensation?”
My tooth looked borderline OK on the xray, so much so that Crump debated whether to go for the filling now or just keep the tooth under observation. Once he removed my old, leaking sealant, though, he said the decay just “mushroomed” and was close to the nerve. He switched to a slower drill that he described as “more discriminating.” I'm sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Easy Mark? Moi?

This fancy little boot is coming to the office
with me. Solid gold! (OK, it's a hollow
ornament, but really as fabulous as that long
ago TV show).
Esteemed readers, this kickin' glitter mini-boot is many things I can't resist: 1. It’s in the shape of footwear. 2. It’s sparkly. 3. It’s tiny.  4. I wasn’t looking for it. Rather, it found me in a little shop on Hamilton a few days ago.
Other dangers: I had just finished a run, so endorphins were involved. Also: I had actual cash money on hand (I feel more confident when I set out for a run if I have a slurpee fund on my person.) 
I had just run to Donut Parade, my first visit to this fine establishment. My running partner and I scarfed down homemade maple bars. The place closes up by noon on Saturdays, 1 p.m. on weekdays, so there’s none of this dawdling till the afternoon. You get your treats in the morning, or you pout and go to Safeway.
According to the menu, there were maple bacon bars for sale, but one of the friendly servers told us that we’d have to be there by 9am if we wanted those. (We arrived by 10:45, which is not late in my book, but I fear I keep a different kind of book than most people in this town). 
Running partner and I were sweaty from the summer morning heat. We sat at the counter. I swiveled my bar stool. Donut Parade was first described to me by a pastor friend as a “salt of the earth” kind of place. Tacked up on the paneled walls are pictures of donuts colored by kids and handwritten signs, including one with a call ahead number. (Could it be? I could sleep in AND have my maple bacon bar? Noted for next time!) The place has a clean but bedraggled bathroom you have to cross through the pantry to reach. This is the Pacific Northwest, so there's also an espresso machine.
I sipped my americano and tongued the creamy maple patina off my pliant donut in a way I hoped was not against the wholesome spirit of the place. Competitive swimming was on TV angled from the wall. One of the best ideas ever: Eating fresh donuts while watching other people exercise.
So in a post-donut stupor, I found myself faced with this gold Christmas ornament that could be rigged for an unconventional gift tag. Clearly, I needed it. I couldn’t fit this treasure in the small, zippered pocket of my Camelback, so I carried home my new booty (sorry!) in a black plastic bag as if it were a wad of dog poop.
I maintain a little menagerie in my office window, mostly of the cat and matryoshka inspired objects, but little gold boot will fit right in. I wonder if there’s a pseudo-Catholic part of me that can’t get her fill of relics. In my office, I have a couple of ceramic busts on my desk and a styrofoam model head and glitter skull on my file cabinet. This sparkle boot is just another disembodied part. 
I’m having an iPhoto crisis at the moment (Genuis bar, hold a place for me!), but I’ve got some shaky photos of relics from my recent trip to Europe, including the fingerbone of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. I'm struck by the idea that just a fraction of a holy body still has miraculous power (it's that holy!). 
This also makes me think of the story of Jesus healing people with his clothes (this blog can't take two steps without running into Jesus these days. And how does that make me feel?)
If you have your Bibles handy, turn to Matthew 14 and follow along. In the Matthew version, Jesus has just fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish and then, in the very same chapter, walked on water. There's plenty of action/adventure in this chapter already, but then we get another episode that's quieter and moves me with its simplicity. I'll cut and paste from the KJV (It's the Bible of my youth, and I still prefer its sound): 34. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Of Birds & Men

Check out the lapel on Sears JR Bazaar shirt from
Area 58 on Monroe.

The guy behind me in the big, black truck flipped the bird.
I was meekly merging onto the Maple Street Bridge. I know it's fuel-efficient to speed up and join the flow. 
But unlike Interstate on-ramps, which offer you a little teaser lane from which to find your way way, this ramp ends in a yield sign. There’s not room for error and the traffic was, well, not bumper to bumper, but heavy. I was lame. I stopped and waited for a hole.
So, when Big, Black Pickup marshaled the rhetorical power of his middle finger, my strongest desire was to flip one right back. Experience has taught me to hesitate (for example, the person who honks at you while you’re running and nearly causes you to shart yourself could well be someone from work or who knows your grandmother. The honker may think they're being friendly, even funny). 
I also considered an alternate reading: this chap with the pickup was flipping off traffic in general, not me in particular. F*&^ you, Maple Street bridge! Up yours, enchanting summer sunshine!
And then I remembered that there’s nothing special about returning anger with anger. Permit me a little Jesus talk (this summer I've been revising essays about my evangelical upbringing, after all). The New Testament upends that eye-for-an-eye, bird-for-a-bird cycle. What’s the point of church or prayer or scripture if it doesn’t increase one's capacity for love or peace? 
Reader, I didn’t flip the bird. I entered traffic as soon as I could, and then hauled ass so that guy couldn’t catch up with me (to flee temptation, of course).
In spite of this stray bird incident, I had a fantastic summer evening. I was crossing the bridge, after all, to meet my friend Janine for a nine-mile run around Bowl & Pitcher, an especially scenic part of Riverside State Park. I’m usually a pavement girl, but I’m learning to love trails. You have to negotiate rocks but not much traffic, save the occasional biker or runner. We were only two or three yards from the Spokane River, in the shade and that sun-warmed pine needle smell I associate with campgrounds (did I mention it's a campground?). We also passed an artillery range across the river. I asked Janine if she was nervous, and she said no way, so I trusted that and kept running.

Without a proper segue, allow me to say that I like the vision of my new shirt from Area 58 on Monroe. And that store: what a treat! It lives up to its marquee promise to showcase “the old and the odd.” It was like walking around in a roadside museum where you were allowed to rifle through the stuff.
The print on the shirt makes me hum “Shiny Happy People.” (For readers 30 or older, you may also think, like I did, of Hands Across America).
I’ve mostly purged my wardrobe of polyester and wide lapels. Retro for me now means more MadMen aspirations. Pencil or pleated skirts, things that affirm I have a waistline. If this sounds vain, well, yes, my vanity is bottomless (let's address this another time, eh?) 
Suffice it to say that I shuffled through high school and college draped in gigantic jeans, baggy blouses, and flannel shirts (many borrowed from my dad). I bought a purple cotton muumuu at a consignment store because I loved its bright flower embroidery. I had no compunction about wearing birks or clogs with dresses. Most of my shirts had hoods. I was no stranger to the poncho. (Be gentle. This was the 90s. Notice there are no pictures in this section). 
This new-to-me Sears shirt from Area 58 doesn’t identify its fabric. It must be synthetic, but it’s light (not like those thick floral hippie shirts I wore that were as breathable as a good patio tablecloth). It’s cut well, to avoid that curse of shorter shirts: The Box. 
And, it has a moral.
Next time I’m tempted to return an unfriendly gesture, I’ll think of this pattern. Let the circle, or the stripe, be unbroken! You, the insecure man in the giant truck, we are all part of the same family. Come, clasp hands! 
Notice (that photo feels really far away now) that the shirt repeats a figure wearing a killer headdress and a blue jumpsuit with shoulder pads. Nothing says peace quite like that. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting My Kicks

Who do I think I am, standing on my roof in new-to-me boots?
The West is the best (for boots). 
After five years in Utah and almost a year in eastern Washington, I’ve been stamped by the American West in a new way. 
I’ve extolled the vibe and selection of Spokane’s Fringe & Fray in earlier posts, and when I stopped in last week, tall boots stopped me in my tracks.
One of the advantages of buying local, they say, is a personal connection with the maker or seller. And it’s true! Grace, the store's proprietor, knows I have a soft spot for stripes and dots. She knows I need big shoes. I tried on two pairs of boots (men’s boots, but a close enough fit) in versatile black leather with fun stitching. 
This was coming full circle. I'd tried on some boots at Fringe & Fray earlier this summer. Thus my bootlust was born.
I became a different person, stalking Sierra Trading Post’s web site. My lust was so bad I considered backsliding on my rule: I have to love, not just like, the clothes, and they have to love me back. There I was, wobbling around in some weary caramel so-so looking boots at Value Village, surfing on someone else’s serious pronation, on the verge of taking them home. I tiptoed around in a polka dot size 9 ½ pair of boots at Nordstrom rack, fooling no one but myself that my feet would be fine once these elf-size kicks were broken in. This was serious. 
Imagine my delight last week when the taller black boots fit great, as though they'd been waiting for me. Grace cautioned that this might be my gateway pair of boots. I'm willing to chance it.
While I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I browsed many sundresses and sandals, but I couldn’t buy them. I was traveling light and also the season to wear that stuff here in Spokane is short. I can’t justify many tank tops. I can, however, make ample room for coats, woolens, and boots.  
I wore my new boots with a pinstripe Banana Republic cotton skirt to church on Sunday and felt my toughness go up by several points. Come fall, those freshmen had better check themselves.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New essay in Tampa Review

I'm delighted to have an essay afloat in Tampa Review issue #41:
A few summers ago my intrepid Peace Corps friend Elaine traveled with me to Romania to gawk at the Bukovina monasteries. Confusion, pine trees, false cognates, and a measure of insight were experienced.