May 25, 2008

New York Consumption

I just returned from a conference trip in NYC. I submitted to the conference, mostly for the chance to go to New York on my department's dime. Once I submit receipts and the appropriate paperwork, my department will pay for the plane ticket, a meals and incidentals per diem, and my metrocard. If I had lodging I would be partially reimbursed for that also, but rather than use up my travel funds on hotels, I stayed with some lovely friends who happen to have a guest bedroom. Chris (my domestic partner) came with me since I said I'd split the cost of his ticket with him and pay for half of what we spend on food that isn't reimbursed. We ate exceedingly well so the per diem will not cover the costs of food.

Chris and I try at every turn to live very well on what is essentially a shoestring budget. In actuality, it isn't a shoestring for two single adults, but it would be if we had a family to support. When I began dating Chris, I wasn't comfortable spending money on nicer quality. I viewed material things as relatively disposable. So I bought poor quality stuff and donated them (when they were in donate-able condition) or threw things away when they fell apart. That's not how Chris rolls and it has influenced me quite a bit, at times to a fault.

I haven't updated in a while with purchases. One would think a new york trip would break the bank. I was planning on doing some shopping but found nothing (other than food, a few arty tokens from the Murakami exhibit, and two cheap pashminas) to buy. But I did make a few recent purchases.

I bought the Orla Kiely boots from bluefly and they came today. They're going back tomorrow because I am not in love with their height and can't fit them over pants because of my ham calves. Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy merged website shopping carts so I was able to use my BR giftcards on this gap ruffle cardigan on sale:

I also got a pair of navy tights for $3. And shipping was free!
My black Balenciaga Day arrived:
And I also impulse bought this Gris Fonce city from the marketplace in the purse forum:

It was a great price but I already sold it to another person in tpf. And I already regret selling it deeply. I hope I can find a city in steel or gris fonce again in the future because they are the perfect grays. And I am giving up hope on finding a Marc by Marc Jacobs Hillier hobo in Mouse Gray.

One of the perks of being an active member in a few fashion-focused communities is that occasionally, the most generous of lovely people send you nice things! I was ROAK'd (random act of kindness'd) this Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress (vintage from the 90s, I believe).

I am wearing it with my Chie Mihara pumps that I decided to keep since I sold the one bbag and got a fellowship. I should have kept the bbag. :( Maybe the buyer will not want to keep it.

I got these black Melissa "Lorenzo" flats from Pavement in Lawrenceville when I shopped with Chris's mom on Mother's Day after we walked briskly for the cure at the Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure.

So I consumed plenty of new things that I didn't need to buy anything in nyc.

When we came back from the trip, I also bought tons of gardening things for the yard. I am slowly working on it when I have time during daylight hours.

May 10, 2008

Consuming and Mother's Day Consumption

For a while I lusted over the naplak patch Miu Miu flats (aka "ice creams on a few of the fashion boards I frequent, referencing their color patterns that mimic Neapolitan ice cream colors). I never bought them because I never found them for a good price but slowly various knock offs have tempted me. I found the most realistic looking version on's new e-shop. Because I had a birthday coupon, free ship code, and a reward certificate I figured I could try them.

Except they are the least comfortable ever. Too big, also. I have another pair of flats by the brand (Penny Loves Kenny) that are triple strap mary janes (pseudo Chloés) and those are fine. These HURT. So back they go. Thankfully I can return in-store. I only hope I can get the reward certificate reimbursed to me somehow.

I wrote earlier about over-consuming because of various sales. And although I had every intention of returning the Tory Burch Pink Patent Reva Flats, I decided to keep them as a present to myself for taking on this extra work.

I got my spring evaluations back and they were glowing! So I feel even more entitled to them. But one of the perils of studying ideology is that I recognize my entitlement's connection with the rhetoric of retail therapy and emotional buying. The lure of justifying purchases by arguing they're rewards that I "deserve" becomes a fiscally dangerous slippery slope of retail risk. And on top of that, eventually, it seems logical to internalize the notion that "you are what you buy," and therefore, your emotional expression to others occurs through what you give them as gifts. Although I can say with certainty that I do not judge others in this manner, I agonize over finding the perfect presents for loved ones.

This Mother's Day I intend to celebrate three moms and at least two aunts. I began worrying about what to buy these ladies the day after my birthday. I bought my mom a pair of black pearl earrings that were meant to match the black Tahitian pearl necklace I bought her last year. But when they arrived in the mail, they weren't the right color and just weren't worth it. So back they go. Instead I got her this Coach wallet to match the signature print bag I got her for Christmas.
I promise that she'll protest that I spent too much. After all, she only asked for a hanging basket (and I got her a beautiful one). But I wanted to get her something more because she has always gone above and beyond in gift giving to me. I know she'd be just as pleased with a thoughtfully composed letter in a pretty card (which she'll get, of course) or a framed photo (which I've done for various holidays). But I found a good deal on this and think she will really like it.

Chris (my s.o.) and I carefully picked gifts for his mom and stepmom. And I know none will measure their worth by the gifts they receive, but I still fear that on some level my love will not be expressed adequately through these gifts. It's an absurd notion to expect such a thing of gifts. But when you allot too much power to things in your own consumer life, it begins to sound logical.

May 09, 2008

Working to Consume, Economic Stimulation, and More Deals

Meet my new (pre-loved) 2006 Black Balenciaga Day with regular hardware. I don't have it yet but the bag (tucked safely in her dustbag) is en route to me from Saudi Arabia. I promise to explain below.

The last few weeks have been hectic as I strove to wrap up the three courses I taught this Spring and prepared to begin two more next week. But the money from this extra work, plus economic stimulation, PLUS another successful bag sale (wherein, I made back what I paid last year plus a chunk extra because the color was rare, and the bag was in great condition!) means that my impending trip to NYC for a conference (and the usual shopping) will not break the bank! It also means that the bulk of my spring indulgence debts are going to be eliminated and my usual end-of-summer-economic-slump (from not getting paid between the end of June and the end of September) will be a non-issue if all goes according to my planned budget!

But in practicality, taking on extra work to enable further consumption is not without its pitfalls. While I will only be teaching these two courses over 6 weeks, I accepted assignments that occur on two different campuses, through two different universities on the same two days each week. One class starts at 9am and the other ends at 9:15 pm. That will be taxing, physically because I try to remain energetic and engaging in lectures and discussions. Although I have taught them both before, condensed summer sessions will require that I retool my lectures and exercises, not to mention the syllabi schedules. All of this equates to hours I could have otherwise spent working on my research project and/or spending time with loved ones.

I'll still be working less hours per week than if I had an office job, but if I include the hours I should spend writing/editing/reading then it quickly becomes more than full time. And if I consumed less material goods, the extra teaching assignments wouldn't be necessary. The extra hours I'd have would translate to polished manuscripts able to be submitted for review or even publication. All of this gives me immense guilt and internal conflict over my consumer behaviors and career status as an unpublished phd candidate.

The silver lining is that because the classes I opted to teach meet Mondays and Wednesdays, I will have Memorial Day off! AND due to my conference trip, I also have to cancel one Wednesday. Despite working 17% less than the course assignments specify, I will still be paid the same amount.

But enough exploration of how I acquire funds to facilitate my material indulgences. On to the consume or consumed stuff!

On ebay, I found the matching pillow shams for the new summer-weight quilt.

They were less money than some of the others listed but still more than they would have been at gabriel brothers (where the quilt was purchased). I feared never tracking them down and it bugging me forever, so I jumped on them.

I also found cheap, fancy, NWT Wacoal bras to upgrade my intimates and systematically eliminate the poor-quality, ill-fitting Victoria's Secret bras I amassed over the years due to semi-annual sale goggles. Many of the Wacoal styles are not the sexiest looking bras. I was able to find some lacy, attractive ones, but the "Keep It Classic" is my favorite, technologically speaking.

I bought the others from Saks, for more money, but I rationalize that I was paying for a level of service. The price I paid included lots of attention to detail, personal assistance, and the assurance of being fitted by a woman who knows boobs and bras. Now that I know what works, I can find them without running the financial risk of trial and error e-shopping.

Finally, (as indicated at the start of this post) I took a major leap this week. I am still sort of embarrassed and excited to admit it. But as a member of The Purse Forum's marketplace, I occasionally have access to exciting deals on authentic, pre-loved handbags. And after scoring the extra teaching gig, I decided to bite.

This will be the second bag I own that I regard to be way out of my socio-economic league (the other is a Chloe I got on major discount in January of 2007). It will be my first Balenciaga. I hope I get it in time for my New York trip because I think the Day will be the perfect carry on, carry all bag. And the comforting thing about buying such a ridiculous bag is I know the brand's ability to retain value on authentic items. Although I got a deal due to a variety of circumstances, I could easily re-sell and make back what I paid (plus more, if I really needed it).

May 06, 2008


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