Mina and I then went to the book store for an hour, then to the arts & crafts store to stock up for a major project we planned on doing later in the afternoon. We then lunched at our favorite health food spot where Mina can demolish an entire whole wheat black bean and cheese burrito like a champ. We did our grocery shopping and then came home to take the Sisters Pug to the park.
When it came time for our art projects, we laid out newspapers and set up paints. We both knew what we wanted to do, and we started in on our individual projects without bothering each other. She didn't ask me what I was making and I didn't ask her why she needed to put on black lipstick to paint. Mina painted a pair of large wooden lips. And then she made an abstract placard to hang from her door. My art project is a bit, hmm, revealing? For me to explain means I have to reveal an embarrassing side of myself. A side that exists very minimally still. I won't say I'm completely rid of the characteristic, but it embarrasses me.
When the semiconductor industry took off, I made more money than I had ever seen. More money than anyone I knew had ever made. And because I had no concept of financial wisdom, I voraciously spent. Many call it a broker mentality to spend all that you earn, some call it ghetto mentality, but when you've never been able to blow money before, you blow it like a complete idiot. I did, at least. I spend it like I couldn't believe it was in my hands and I thought I had best spend it before I woke up. I followed a cookie-cutter path of obtaining what I thought someone with money is supposed to have mainly in the way of clothes and accessories. I couldn't believe how well made expensive clothes were; they fit and hung beautifully. I bought expensive make up that I felt made a difference. I bought Chanel sunglasses and Gucci shoes. Not a lot, but one pair of each and I snuggled them and cooed and petted them. I felt I had arrived, finally. After receiving a Christmas bonus in 1999, I decided to buy something that I had programmed myself to covet, a Louis Vitton tote. I was so nervous to have spent that much money on one item that I was fanatically protective of it. I vowed to keep the straps the pure beige color. I did my best to wear it like I had always had such luxurious things.
Then the semiconductor market dropped like a stone from the top of a building. The cushy checks evaporated and the down market bred tension and backstabbing. It all went from euphoric to foul. It all became a grind again. And the things that I had bought with labels and sky-high price tags sickened me. I was embarrassed to have been such a fool. I wasn't smart enough to sock away sufficient savings because I was blinded by fancy things. As we downsized our life, the Louis Vitton went to the back of the closet because it only reminded me that I had gotten caught up in such materialist bullshit. When I looked at the bag, I felt that maybe I didn't deserve to make a lot of money because I would only squander it. I am only beginning to feel differently.
Two weeks ago, I spilled soy creamer all up in my purse. I have been trying to buy all vegan stuff including clothes and accessories, which is more difficult than eating vegan, and I hadn't yet found a vegan purse that I liked. I was toting all my stuff in a huge canvas bag I received free with a magazine subscription, which was fine, but the bag was like a black hole. I'd spend ten minutes looking for my keys that were floating . . .around . . in . . .here . . .somewhere.
I decided to pull out the Louis V. because I needed a good purse and because part of my new mentality is to not waste anything. I also want to make peace with my mistakes. I wore the Louis V. a couple days ago, and still I was embarrassed. Not just because it reminds me of wastefulness, but because it's just not my style anymore (I'm not convinced it ever was.) So, yesterday I decided that my art project would be to make the Louis V. more Me. As I set my stray paints before me to deface a very expensive hand bag, my husband raised his eyebrows. Then, because he knows me so well, he said, "Fuck it. Have at it." He said, "Knowing you, people will want to know where to get one." I doubt that, but here's my Louis V., Madness style:
I just want to note that I still love fancy things. I'm not trying to front. I love a well-made piece. I love great jeans. But I finally realized that I only love funky unique items and not the expensive trendy crap. My embarrassment mainly came from feeling like I was a slave to designer items that I thought I should own just because I finally had a little money. My trepidation lingers when I think of how wasteful I was with my money instead of helpful.