Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On Having Clothes

So I'm in the middle of the seasonal clothing migration, summer to storage, winter into closet, and I'm trying to purge as I go. Not that this is the best time to try, since most of the stuff I have doesn't fit for the nonce and it's very difficult to answer the question "will I wear this in the next year or so?" since I don't honestly know what I'll look like in a year. Size-wise, anyway. And the acid test "did I wear this over the past year?" didn't work because the weather was so unseasonally rainy this year, I couldn't wear a lot of my fluffy summer clothes. Yeah, that's it.

I think I have too many clothes (I can hear you all laughing hysterically). I do give away large bags of clothing to Women in Need (local charity thrift store) 3 or 4 times a year but the stuff keeps multiplying. I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with my haunting ValueVillage (local second-hand bargain store) and single-handedly keeping discount malls in business.

When I was on retreat, I took three pairs of pants and three tops and wore them all three times. Considering I was sedentary the whole time, it was feasible. It was also very freeing to not stand in front of the closet each morning and try to put an ensemble together. Although it is a creative act in many ways, it is also stressful on the days when things refuse to match, and who needs more stress? Mind you by the end of the retreat I was heartily sick of those pieces of clothing - but only because they needed washing. Could I do that as a routine? Probably would start feeling too poor (old skeleton in my closet).

Anyway, the thought is, how much clothing is too much? My friend R. has frugal tastes and an equally and admirably frugal closet, which we keep trying to remedy at Birthdays and Christmas, but she seems quite happy with a small (in my mind) amount of clothing. Another friend who shall remain initial-less to protect her identity, has four full closets of clothing, which seems extreme. I only have three, which I'm sure is WAY better. snort. At least only two of them contain routinely wearable clothes, the others are off-season and special occasion (overcoats and evening gowns and such).

What to do? I could just slash-and-burn, and ruthlessly donate everything I didn't wear this summer. (shriek!) I think I am with clothes the way other people are with food. I use them for emotional comfort and creativity, and a sense of security. Am I making too much of it? Has everyone else in our benighted society already fought and vanquished the clothing demon? Gauging by the number of clothing stores, I'd say not. And I think most people don't feel they have too much clothing. Do they?

I knew a woman once who would buy clothes and they would hang in her closet with the tags still on for MONTHS, sometimes she never wore them and then just threw them out (until I yelled at her about all the women in need). That was a bit odd, probably verging on compulsive purchasing (there's undoubtedly a well-entrenched neurosis there - shopaholic type stuff). I've done some of that in the past, but I inevitably feel dragged-out and blue if I buy too much. I can sense the bag-lady hovering over my shoulder. Don't tempt fate! You could be me if you squander your money!

Anyway. I've culled two large garbage-size bags of clothes and put the rest away. I guess my clothes are here to stay, unless I find a substitute source of security, creativity, and comfort. All in all, I'd rather my vice be clothing than food, which seems much the worse demon to struggle with.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Reality Ain't what it used to be

I'm feeling quite zoned out these days. I got back from a 8-day Buddhist silent retreat last week and have just not integrated back into my old self. The retreat itself was heaven - no wonder people hang out in nunneries and monkeries (very amusing innovation from an anonymous friend - which really means I can't remember who said it). Someone else told me when to get up, when to eat, when to meditate, when I had free time, and when to sleep. No decisions required except whether to go for a walk or just sit around soaking in the sun during free time. Although it sounds regimented, it was also liberating.

And the SILENCE. sigh. What bliss. I didn't have to acknowledge anyone, I didn't worry about what I looked like (cause no one was looking at me either), and I was completely, absolutely alone, but not really. Investigating reality with seventy people all who may not even exist. Who's to say I didn't just create them in my own head? and of course Buddhism says in an absolute sense (as opposed to relative, subjective) I DO make them all up. I had no way of testing whether those people were there or not. Some of them made comments or asked questions of the lamas, but then so can hallucinations. Fascinating. And even the time-tested reality validation approach of triangulation couldn't be engaged since I couldn't talk to anyone to ask whether that guy in the green shirt really is there or is he not (he didn't say a word all week) I felt like Russell Crowe in a Beautiful Mind. I might have had several imaginary companions and will never know it.

In any event it all has me wondering about blog-world too. Are any blogs really REAL? Probably tons of them aren't real, in the sense that they are mental projections of people who are undoubtedly deluded (aren't we all?) I know I've seen some sites that make me go ewwww, quick, next blog (S, I never did read that site on the fundamentalist christian-"recovering-from-lesbianism" due to aforesaid response when I saw her site). And my site probably makes other people say ewww too. So where does it leave us all? Just dancing the dance of a make-believe world. Could drive me to existential angst, which was the pronouncement of one of the lamas who I DID actually speak with AND touch so hopefully she really exists. I thought I did all that stuff when I was seventeen and stalked dorm hallways muttering "who is John Galt?"

Upshot of the whole thing is that after weeping for two days at the thought of having to return home (yep, believe it!) I girded up my loins, and decided if life is basically a meaningless illusion, then I may as well have fun, and carry on my eccentric ways. After all, I may just be a figment of your imagination.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Dating Dilemmas

I was at a very interesting soiree the other night (as though they happen at any other time of day) - in which the topic of interest was dating. A friend had decided to write a book on it so off we went to share our opinions and experiences - and of course, eat and drink wine. Lots of wine. A few interesting themes emerged which, me being me, I have to rant about.

1. The willingness of women to completely give up their lives for the (many times infinitesmally small) chance that a MAN will call/ will want to go out/ will think of them and telepathically communicate/ will mention their names in a conversation while watching girlie movies with their buddies - okay I made that last one up. But it's almost true, the way they go on about it - not as a positive thing, but as complaints about what the guy didn't do (repeat above list with "didn't" instead of "will"). I mean, what is it all ABOUT?? Would we do that for our girlfriends? NO! Then why do it for guys? I know the answer (of course) - though it remained unsaid all evening, the silent elephant in the room - women are afraid of being alone. Now let me hasten to add that these particular women are all gutsy, professional, beautiful, highly educated and wouldn't take guff from any OTHER woman or man, unless that man happened to be of romantic interest. Something is just not right there. Or to lounge out of my rigid stance a little, let me say women don't WANT to be alone, regardless of whether they're afraid.

2. Where are the men?! Everyone was perplexed at how there didn't seem to be any "good" men out there. In this case, good means: can form complete sentences, is coomfortable with words of more than one syllable, has a healthy lifestyle and no criminal record, has a job and is funny (someone else said that, not me) They also mentioned that the aforesaid male must have fully functioning ...appendages (children may read this, after all - and if I use the "p" word the IT security guys will start to read this blog). Anyway, the list was longer than that but you get the gist. We weren't thinking of the hunka-hunka fabulously rich SNAG, just normal, nice guys.
We concluded they were all married.

3. How soon to have sex? This one was all over the place. The magic 3rd date myth was summarily exploded, to be replaced by: never on the first date unless you don't really care whether you ever see them again. After that, it's pretty much a free-for-all. Some women thought men valued them more if they "held out" longer (everyone hooted them down - who wants to know that kind of guy?) but most agreed it was just more comfortable to get to know them a bit first.

Anyway, my thoughts through the whole thing were: I can't stand dating. I have only done "real" dates a few times - where you don't really know the person - and felt like I was on display. I kept expecting the guy to check my teeth and hooves to see if I was healthy. Hands off the withers! My long term relationships have been with men who I already knew as friends. So I don't think I've really reached any conclusions about the whole thing. Human relationships are messy at the best of times, and it's useless to try to cross the swamp without encountering a few alligators along the way. Or was it frogs? and what do swamps have to do with it?