Clean Closet

19 July 2001

I am happy to say that I was wrong yesterday: the Chestnut Tree did not go under due to monetary concerns. It's still gone, but I received three (conflicting) reports on why. The gist of it is that it was an interpersonal problem between owners. So the "little ingrates" are not ungrateful after all. Yay! Sorry, non-little-ingrates!

Of course, in my day, the grass was bluer, the sky was greener, and there were still trees around the Shakespeare pit. But that's not their fault, either.

My mother also claims that she never "made" me drink an entire Sprite in my life. I would like this claim to be known. Perhaps it was my aunt Kathy. I clearly remember, however, being instructed to, "Just drink it, Marissa! Come on, hurry up!" while standing outside the convenient mart on 108th Street just off Center, in the parking lot, to the right of the store, wearing a red T-shirt. It hurt my nose and I poured the last little bit on the parking stop thing and was told that it would draw ants. (As someone who currently lives in California, I scoff at Midwestern claims of drawing ants! Two or three ants, perhaps!) And Kari had recently learned the health risks of smoking and treated us all to a lecture about what, precisely, lung cancer does to your lungs, but that was in the car on the way there, until Kath instructed her that, in fact, nobody in the car was at high risk for lung cancer, and perhaps she ought to give it a rest. "Cracklin' Rosie" was on the tape player at that point. (That last bit had to be specified by song, since Neil Diamond was always on Kathy's tape player. And hence I know all the words to "Solitary Man" and all of the rest of them, to this very day.)

However, I do wish it to be known that my mother says she never made me drink a Sprite. And that if she can provide an alternate explanation to the events listed herein, I will put it in the next journal entry.

People always talk about being careful of what you say in front of your children in terms of what they will pick up and repeat at the playground the next day. They never mention that it's really hard to get into an argument with a grown-up kid with photorecall. Unless, of course, you're someone who has photorecall yourself. Which my mother does. This could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Last night I cleaned out my closets for our church's patio sale. This is a two step process. The okay step is "have I worn this recently?" The depressing step is "if I had to get a day job, would I wear this to said day job?" And so while I put a really faded green T-shirt in the pile to go, there's a flowered pink skirt that's going to stay, just in case I need it. Then I end up thinking about the dreaded day job. Which I don't want. Which I am determined not to get. Which would require me to wear clothes that demonstrate my respect for a situation for which I don't have much respect. Which pays a regular paycheck. But no. No day job. Day job for me now is failure. Once you've quit, going back is a much bigger deal, I think. But I've gotten two "bites" this morning on stuff I sent out earlier in the week. We'll be fine. We'll pay the rent and the bills and be fine. Still, it can't hurt to have a few conservative business sorts of things....

This is much less painful than cleaning out my grandpa's closet. Grandpa doesn't like to get rid of things that are "perfectly good," and for awhile, Grandma had to enlist the whole family to help clean out Grandpa's closet. Mother and Daddy and I would sit on the bed and give thumbs up or thumbs down, and the dog would provide comfort when Grandpa got upset. "What's wrong with that shirt?" Grandpa would ask plaintively. "Well, the lapels are wider than my waist, for one thing," I would say, "and I have no recollection of the guy who was president last time it was in style." Keep in mind that I have a good, clear memory of the Reagan administration. It wasn't that he had any intentions of wearing the shirt again, although he would have. And it's not that he couldn't afford new shirts. He already had new shirts. It's that he didn't want to throw out something that was perfectly good. (This was the logic he used to keep the electric frying pan with its wiring burnt out: almost good, maybe he could fix it.) When we reminded him that we weren't throwing the stuff out, we were giving it to people who needed it, he was a little better. But not that much.

Scott and I have had discussions about closet cleaning more than once, because our parents, once again, are just about alike. (Scott is to his dad as I am to my mom, in many respects. The thing that amuses us is that my mom and his dad seem to find each other hysterically funny. They run into each other at the grocery store and stand in the aisle laughing and laughing. Like us, but older.) (I wish I could run into Scott at the grocery store. This continent thing is entirely overrated.) They both believe in something called "a classic," about which Scott and I are skeptical. "A classic," according to our parents, is a piece of clothing that's always fashionable.

I claim that either details change enough so that the specific garment in question will still be dated, or it was never fashionable to begin with. Most of my clothes (especially my winter clothes) are not what I would call fashionable. Nobody is going to look at me wearing my plain jeans and clogs and a black sweater and say, "She is definitely a fashionista." Those items were never in fashion, and won't really be out of fashion, either. They just are clothes, and they work just fine as such.

Do you know how you can tell that the person who wrote an article was not a Midwesterner? "Fashionista." Nobody in the Midwest says, "fashionista." Ever ever ever. My friend Mandy was trying to be one, and she didn't say that word. I wouldn't, either, actually, except to demonstrate that it's a strange and un-Midwestern word. Some of you people might claim that that's because there's nobody in the Midwest who's that cutting edge in fashion. I was about to get defensive about it when I realized that it's perfectly true: maybe a dozen people in Omaha have anything Prada. Good for them. No way should clothes and accessories be that expensive anyway.

It's a different world. One of my friends from the East said, in reference to a woman's shoulders, "Well, I wouldn't say, 'oh, she must have rowed crew all through college,' but...." and I lost what he said after that for a minute, because I was still trying to decipher the first part. Road crew? No, that couldn't be right. Rode what? When I figured it out, I started laughing. Because I would have said, of the same type of physique, "Well, I wouldn't say, 'oh, she must have played hockey....'"

It's so interesting to live in a foreign country. Even if it is one's own.

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