surviving in a rapidly revolving world

I’ve never been one to discard and buy all new clothes every year, although I’ve heard of a few women who do. I usually pick up a few random things over the year–usually from those clearance tables that shout too big a bargain to pass up! That served my fashion needs up to now.

Recently, however, when I unpacked my fall/winter things and began wearing them due to a recent cold snap, I noticed they didn’t fit as well as they once did. I only lost around 15 pounds during the “c” treatment, and now that I’m six months past that ordeal I’ve gained most of it back, yet my thighs and hips seem smaller but my waist about the same. What happened? Does a body change shape after chemotherapy? Or could there be other explanations?

Like maybe my clothes were always too baggy, but I didn’t notice and nobody bothered to pointed it out. Or–and this has a certain ring of truth to me–some of my things dated from my Ohio days (nearly 20 years ago) and were simply out of date, and even those more recent Tennessee and Las Vegas (10-15 year) purchases, mostly of the classic–not trendy–look I favor, were looking pretty tired. The shoulder seams hung an inch to two inches too low, and most of the blouses and tops weren’t fitted. They looked more like a man’s shirt despite their feminine colors. While they looked fine with blue jeans, I was tired of the old lady trying to look like a teenager feeling I have wearing them. Good or bad, too much me-focusing or whatever it was, suddenly I was feeling dowdy and old. Time for a change, so I went shopping.

One of the first things I noticed was that you CANNOT find a label anywhere that says Made in the USA! Nothing really is made here anymore. And nothing is cheap in spite of ill-paid foreign labor. So exactly WHO, I wonder, is getting all that money when I know the worker is the lowest on the chain? The last purchase I made–when I bought that hat–was $7.99 for an summer tunic that I won’t be able to wear until next summer.

This time, though, before I went shopping I made a pact with myself that I would NOT shop based on the lowest marked price. My new shopping motto was Don’t buy it unless it sings to you! I know I don’t have to explain to you ladies what that means. When you find something you like that really sings to you, what it is, you know it. If you decide to buy it, those are the purchases that you’re not sorry about a few weeks later. And if it doesn’t quite fit, no matter has good a buy it is, I would PUT IT BACK! No more altering stuff at home later, hoping I could make it fit properly. Unfortunately, I’ve been ignoring that voice far too long.

It wasn’t quite as simple as I thought it would be, as some of those things singing to me the loudest were outshouted by their price tags. By making a list (in my head) of things I needed, and by shopping stores with sales, plus a couple of Outlet stores thrown in for good measure, I finally managed to pull it off. Today, my wardrobe sings, well–if not operatic, at least equal to American Idol standards–and I only had to make only minor adjustments with the sewing machine to a couple of items. For less than $200, I have two reasonably dressy pairs of slacks, three blouses, and a pullover cowl sweater I can wear over my turtleneck knit stock–all properly fitting–and all capable of carrying a pretty good tune.

On another note, it’s not often that I give much thought to ageist remarks people say in public. For one thing, I figure their intentions are good even if their manners aren’t, and also, one day–years down the line even if I’m not around–they’ll probably remember some of the things they’re thoughtlessly saying to the older generation today, because they’ll be on the other end of that same treatment by the generations following them. That’s how it’s always been, that’s how it’ll always be. That’s when they’ll understand. And maybe they’ll be sorry, or maybe they won’t, but they’ll know all the same.

That’s all the revenge I can claim for the young woman at the Kiosk in the Mall who offered me a sample of the hair product. She loved my hair she said, it was such a sassy style. (For a woman your age I heard between the lines.) She really wanted me to have this serum that she thought would be so good for it. I took it, thanked her and started walking away. Of course she called me back, and though I knew what was coming, I stopped. Why I’ll never know. She wanted to show me how to use the serum to style my hair. She squeezed out a half a drop made from green tea and dead sea minerals and kept going on and on about my stylish hairdo. I don’t know why, but I told her that while I did not choose the style, it being the aftereffects of chemotherapy, I was getting used to it. Actually it is many different lengths all over my head now–three inches at the top, much less on the sides and back, and long enough in places that it lies flat here and there, and generally in need of shaping, and I have an appointment soon. Meanwhile, I may be old, but I know when I’m having a bad hair day.

She jumped in with a you have cancer (!) exclamation. There was her perfect sales pitch, and she grabbed it. Even though I assured her that I no longer have cancer, that I am now in remission, she was so moved by all I’d been through, she wanted to give me a huge break. For everyone else, the serum was sold for $75. For me, because her heart was so full from my story, she would throw in a 7 ounce bottle of her amazing mineral and green tea shampoo and conditioner in addition to a bottle of serum which would last for years, all for $29. All my life I was brought up to try and never make anyone feel bad or embarrassed, so my answer was Gosh, you certainly are tempting me with your offer, but I just can’t do it right now. And I have an appointment that I’m late for, and then I walked away–leaving the sample behind.

So that’s how my week went. More good came of it than bad. Life should always be so good for us all. In the meantime, I’m still trying to hold on in a rapidly revolving and ever-changing world.

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14 thoughts on “surviving in a rapidly revolving world

  1. I think you are doing very well. The problem is not yours but that of the ‘serum lady’! I wait with baited breath for photos of the new look Alice!

  2. This is great stuff dear you. It isn’t just the chemo, you are a fully new you. Styles from the past twenty years are different shapes than the longer, tighter, and newer fabrics in use now. Even today’s cotton is mixed with lycra to stretch around those awkward bulges making them into muffin bulges. LOL Bravo for just creating a new you in-spite of the new prices.

    Serum lady. I had skin-sand-man the other day at the mall. He insisted rubbing his abrasive stuff on my ruined skin, and the smell of it drove both G and I off to JCPenny’s washroom post haste. See, you did better than we did. You escaped with a wonderful story to tell on your blog and it took days for that perfume to wear off us. Hugs…..

    • I just have to keep resisting the urge to throw on my bluejeans and an over sized sweater because it only takes five minutes to do that! While I could get away with that when I was 16, not so at 68. Someday I’ll pass along my little experiment with store clerks reactions to the way I’m dressed story. Nothing will surprise you. Btw, I only use those little perfume soaked strips that come attached to magazines which I rub against my wrist. That stuff wears off reasonably fast and doesn’t overpower myself and everyone around me.

  3. Alice, I am so proud of you. You are one stylin’ babe! And you are treating yourself with the same respect that you show others. Now you need a pair of jeans that fit well and show off your best assets, so to speak. Another motto to follow: If they’re not 14K gold, these earrings can’t be sold (to me).

    • No way Ho Say, ML! I’ve been really working on my hair-do now that my new earrings will show. Gold or nothing, thanks to you! I did order a pair of bluejeans from LL Bean that asset me pretty well, but would you believe I had to fine tune the waist!? This time the waist of the size 10 was too big, the difference being in the cut just like you said. I’m just wowing everybody with my new look! Even the doctor and nurses at Huntsman during my 3-month checkup this morning. Results? A-OK! Now go to India they told me.

  4. There are too many things to respond to here Alice as I’m using T’s computer (mine has died – sign of the times?). So to respond to the highlights – clothes (I just took 20 something pairs of high heels that I WILL never wear to charity), I don’t know why but everything I own shows too much of my cleavage, and don’t ask me about my jeans because I’ve had no chemo to claim why my waistline has expanded; second, I read that the New York Times would not print the word cancer back in the day (can you imagine?); third, hair – I pay an inordinate amount of money to have good hair which means for business trips I get it blow dried because I don’t know how to style my own hair after half a century – how lame can I be?; and finally, because it’s Sunday night and the Saints lost and my computer is broke and I’m having panic attacks about the fact that my career of 16 years is coming to a close and I need to figure out the next 15 years of supporting my family – clothes nor hair make the woman – in the end I only accept input from real people, and your clerk sounds like she exists on that other planet (where unreal people dwell).

    • So much to say! Sorry about your computer. Your career is coming to a close? Damn big business, outsourcing, this country not producing anything, us not putting value of things like art and literature. Yikes! Yes, that and things going on in this country are things that we should and I do really worry about–not that worry ever does any good. I’m having a hard time catching up with my reading. I see I need to stop by Dangermond and see what’s been going on! It wasn’t quite two years ago when Obama won the election and I felt sure things in the world were bound to get better. Now I’m not sure, not that I don’t think he’s trying. It’s just all too complicated and concentrating on clothes and hair is a way of evading issues and hoping somebody fixes things, I guess. You must remember how things sometimes seem darkest just before the storm that clears things up. Don’t panic, hold on to the things that really matter in your life, and I don’t have to tell you what they are, and you will be better!

  5. I keep a bag from the Vietnam vets and each pair of baggy pants goes in as I find them. I would love to tell you I only buy things that sing to me, but I’d probably be half naked if I stuck to that.

    Those people in the mall are horrible. They are trained not to think so I don’t really suppose they will ever realize what they’ve done or that anyone else is doing it to them. I usually don’t pay attention to those ageist remarks, but the dr. who called me “young lady” really got to me. He was both sexist and ageist and was an old man himself. But then, I’m sure he never looks at himself.

    • Maybe the doctor thought you were the “young” lady–compared to him. 😆 No, I don’t really think that; that’s how he was brought up–sexist as well as ageist! I now have a big bag of things to donate since I was relentless and threw things in there I loved but really don’t fit me very well anymore. Why I hold on to things like clothes and gifts from years gone by I’ll never really understand. That would require a very long and analytical post someday. I’d like to do it, but I’m really lazy about posting these days. As for those mall kiosk clerks, they must think we lose our brains and wit as our grey hair comes in.

  6. You’ve done so well. I hate shopping for clothes and cling to my items – my boyfriend ends up begging me to throw things away. I like the idea of my wardrobe singing to me. Maybe it really is time for a clear out.

    The sales person is unbelievable, I can’t believe she kept going on!

  7. You are an example to us. I’ll give it three more months (or until my next visit to the US) and then I buy clothes that fit me and not the me two kids ago. That’s because clothes in the US are so ridiculously cheap compared to those in Germany!

  8. You inspired me. I not only cleaned out my closet, but I got rid of two bags of clothes to the Cancer Society. I also got rid of collections. Ah, reality….will I ever use it? No…out it goes. I still wear levis and T shirts, they just fit in a far more stylish manner. I kept my old sweats. I wear those to the pool. But now…thanks to you, my closet has order too.

    • Omigosh! Hard to believe that I, the one always so prone to cowering on the sidelines, actually inspired somebody! Hope you don’t wonder a couple weeks later … whatever happened to …. that was my favorite! I didn’t throw out my sweatshirts and pants either. We have snowy stay-at-home days those will always be good for, but I’ve already put some of my new things to good use. Makes me want to put on lipstick and blusher and earrings, too. And my things fit better too! Love hearing from you.

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