Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hoochie Mama?

It's hard to believe that I'll be 35 tomorrow.  When I was a kid—and even in my early twenties—35 sounded ridiculously "grown up," and 40 seemed positively ancient.  Yet here I am, feeling perfectly fine about the milestone.

I probably wouldn't be making much of a fuss about it at all, except that we're going on a cruise in a couple of weeks and my birthday is a convenient justification to go out and shop for some new clothes  (hey, I'll shamelessly take any excuse I can get). 

I haven't been out shopping for myself in positively ages, so I decided to do it right.  I found a babysitter and reserved an entire morning to go out to a local strip mall, my primary mission being to find beachy, sexy clothes to wear on our upcoming vacation. 

When I arrived at the shopping center, I was disappointed to find that I'd been "out of the game" for so long that most of the stores weren't there any more.  But I spotted one trendy shop still in business, so I headed that direction and told myself the trip would still be a great success.

As I neared the store, I caught a glimpse of the displays and stopped in my tracks.  The establishment had turned to the Dark Side—it had become a "hoochie shop."

Unidentifiable hip-hop music pulsed from within the store, where headless mannequins modeled scraps of fabric that didn't seem to serve any particular purpose.  Sequined bras and transparent lace leotards hung proudly in the windows, and neon posters shouted in capital letters that the clothes were "ALWAYS ON SALE!!  $19.99 OR LESS!! (some more)." 

I warily crossed the threshold (I had come too far to turn back now) and was instantly sized up by an employee.  She looked me up and down, scowled at my frumpy yoga pants and ratty tee shirt stained with unidentifiable child goo, rolled her eyes dismissively and walked off in search of someone who might actually buy something. 

I couldn't decide whether I should be offended or glad. 

I probably would have just turned around and left then, but a little devil appeared on my shoulder, urging me to look around.  After all, it reasoned, there might be something worthwhile hidden in the back.  I acquiesced and ventured deeper into the store.

Upon passing a rack of clingy dresses with giant cutouts in the sides, a little angel appeared on my other shoulder and shouted, "I just don't understand what kids are wearing these days!" 

I was immediately shocked that this thought had popped into my head—when had I become such a stick-in-the mud?  I told the angel to shut up and stop making me feel old, and the devil on the other shoulder gave me a high-five and asserted that I was damn sexy and could pull off any of the outfits in the store.

Well, except perhaps this one...even the little devil said "WTF?" when it saw this.

 This just seems like a waste of a perfectly good security tag.

I gaped at the fluorescent orange "dress" for a couple of minutes—as if staring at it would miraculously cause it to make sense—then I shook my head, walked away, and ran smack into a display of bedazzled bras. 
 Is it just me, or does this bra seem to already have nipples on it? 
(poorly placed, too)

Once again, a little battle raged inside my brain.  The angel was reacting with disbelief.  What a ridiculous piece of clothing!  What would you even do with one of those? it demanded.

The devil immediately fired back, reassuring me that I could definitely wear one of those if I was in the right environment (although the devil neglected to say what that environment might be).

The internal debate was making my head spin, and it was unclear which side was winning.

Hoping things would improve, I continued deeper into the store.  When I rounded a corner and came upon garments that I thought were tube tops but were actually skirts, the angel angrily yelled, Where's the rest of that skirt?

The devil kicked it and and accused me of turning into my mother.

I was getting a headache and finally decided it was time to leave, so I lifted my chin, threw my shoulders back, and proudly marched out the door.  I thought I caught a glimpse of an employee laughing at me as I left, but then the little devil told me that I was being stupid and ordered me to get my head out of my ass.

Back in the parking lot, I was unsure of what to do next.  I didn't have a lot of time left, so after some consideration, I decided to hit my "standby store"— Ross Dress for Less.  It's my default for finding shoes and dresses on the cheap.

I wandered in and immediately felt my stress evaporate.  No one was glaring at me or sizing me up; in fact, I'm pretty sure they're trained to ignore you in that store unless you're urinating on the bedding or shooting meth in the toy department. 

I zeroed in on a rack of summery dresses, picked up several—along with some cute denim shorts and a few breezy tops—and headed for the fitting rooms.

Now, in my humble opinion, whoever designed the dismal lighting in fitting rooms should be shot.  I don't know how women can be expected to buy anything when our bodies look like lumpy masses of tapioca pudding in front of those giant mirrors.

I usually prepare myself for this when I go out shopping—so as not to be horrified when I finally disrobe—but it had been quite a while since I had really shopped for myself, and the disturbing effect when I tried on the dresses caught me off guard.

Every lump was magnified; every roll was brought into sharp relief.  Thighs that would probably look fine in normal lighting appeared to be coated in cottage cheese under those horrible fluorescents.  I found myself discarding one garment after another in frustration.

It didn't help that the devil on my shoulder was hurling insults at me, blaming me for letting my body get this way and insisting that I do something about it, pronto.  The angel was disturbingly silent.   

I sadly brought the garments back out of the fitting room and handed the entire lot to the attendant.  I didn't have time to try anything else on, but I didn't want the trip to be a total failure, so I decided to swing by the shoe department on my way out to see if anything appealed to me.  After all, at least my feet weren't too disgusting.

As I crossed the store, I spotted this highly airbrushed ass staring at me from a box in the health and beauty section.

I went over to take a closer look.

On the front of the package, shiny letters announced that the cream inside would smooth skin and banish cellulite.  I was intrigued...after the close-up view of my cottage-cheese thighs in the fitting room, I was just about desperate enough to try anything.  I picked up the box and turned it over in my hands. 

The instructions stated that the cream should be applied liberally to all areas that need slimming.  It went on to suggest some areas, just in case you were legally blind or couldn't think of any yourself.  I did the mental math and realized that, for best results, I would probably have to fill a bathtub with the cream and soak in it every day for a month.

That seemed rather impractical. 

In fact, I doubted that the discount cream would do anything at all, but the devil on my shoulder was jumping up and down excitedly and shouting that I should buy it, so I set my jaw and purposefully marched to the checkout with my bottle of miracle cellulite cream in hand.  The angel hung her head in shame as I paid the six dollars and ninety-seven cents for the product.

As the cashier bagged up my purchase, it occurred to me that I had hit a new low; not only had I failed to find anything flattering for my cruise; I had actually bought myself discount cellulite cream for my birthday...and I'd been excited about it.

The angel shook her head at me as I did the walk of shame back to my mom-mobile.  I strolled past the hoochie shop on the way, and suddenly it seemed like a good idea to remember the place...just in case I truly hit bottom and decide to try my luck in a brothel during the midlife crisis I plan to have when I hit 40.

Perhaps I should have just gone to the spa.



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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Memories & the Eiffel "Cow"er

As we wrapped up our trip to Paris, I found myself longing for some souvenir of my crazy adventure.  I had been fantasizing about finding a quaint little boutique where I could buy some ridiculously expensive French hand lotion made out of rare water lilies that only bloom on the sixth full moon of the year...when it rains.  I figured Paris would be the perfect place to find such a rarity, and I kept my eyes peeled for cute little shops.

Unfortunately, said quaint shops were not to be found.  Instead, we were repeatedly confronted with junky tourist stores that were asking sixty dollars for tacky bedazzled hoodies that were made in China and emblazoned with the words "I heart Paris."  When we wandered out of touristy areas in search of more authentic shops, we were harassed by scary-looking wandering salesman who were hawking plastic keychains featuring miniature, neon-colored replicas of the Eiffel Tower (only four for a dollar)!

I had hoped we'd fare better at the more "official" gift shops, but when we went in we were surprised to see they sold crap like this abomination, which I've dubbed "The Eiffel Cow-er."

Seriously?  WTF is this?!

Sorry, Paris—in the category of "Places with Great Souvenirs," you officially get a "fail" in my book.

Even on the Champs-Elysées, a place supposedly known for its great shopping, we encountered either high-priced brand-name stores like Hermès, or copycat crap stores that were the Parisian equivalent of boardwalk shops.  It was very disappointing. 

But all was not lost.  When I got home and began looking at our beautiful photos, I realized I had the best souvenir ever—gorgeous pictures of our trip that I can cherish forever.

(And to think...this picture of us at the Louvre won't even go rancid after a year like rare hand lotion!)

Now, I'm pretty good at taking lots of pictures; unfortunately, what I'm terrible at is actually remembering to do something with them.  (Pay attention...I'm about to do a Misadventures in Motherhood "first!")   

Drumroll please...

This is why I'm excited to be sharing my experience with the My Memories software with you!  (Yep.  I just endorsed a product. Go figure.)  See, the nice folks over at My Memories contacted me back of last year (I'm a procrastinator) to ask if I'd be willing to do a review and giveaway of their software.  I usually turn down things like this because, well, I write a humor blog, and it's difficult to make a product review funny.

But in this case I made an exception.  You see, I am a complete nincompoop when it comes to scrapbooking.  Oh, I got quite excited about the fad when it first became all the rage, and I ran out and purchased all the scrapbooking paraphernalia I could get my hands on.  I started about five different scrapbooks, but I always got distracted and never managed to finish any of them.

At some point I realized that I just don't have the discipline to sit there and cut out frames and embellishments and all that stuff.  Consequently, I am now the proud owner of several cleverly-themed but poorly executed scrapbooks containing two pages each, as well as a giant rubber tote of unused and picked-through scrap crap.

So when My Memories asked me if I'd like to review their digital scrapbooking software, I thought...what the heck?  Perhaps this will solve all my scrapbooking dilemmas!  So I decided to take it for a test-drive and see if it could spruce up my Paris pictures a bit.

Now, if you've been living under a rock and have somehow missed all of the reviews of the My Memories Suite that are floating around on the web already, I'll start by confirming what everyone else is saying: the software is AMAZING.  And it's not just because you can whip out a lovely-looking, suitable-for-framing collage in five minutes's also because it takes all the guesswork out of the equation.  

For those of us who are a bit obsessive and feel compelled to compare fifty different triangle-patterned background papers to find the one that perfectly coordinates with that sparkly embellishment we paid $7.50 for, we can sit back and relax because they've done all the work for us.  All we need to do is drag and drop our pics into the pre-designed layouts.  (Of course, we are still free to go batshit crazy if we want and scroll through the gazillions of backgrounds and decorations to design our own layouts, too.  The options are virtually endless—it's an OCD wonderland, people!) 

And, you can save $10.00 on this amazing software right now by using the code below!  Feel free to share the code with friends and family, and spread the fun!  (By the way, with the discount code, you can get this amazing software for less than $30!  And you get a coupon code for $10 in free scrap downloads when you purchase, so really, this is an AMAZING deal). 

Copy & Paste code: STMMMS44062

And now for the pièce de résistance.  Here is where I get to show off my mad digital scrapbooking skills (I'm kidding...I don't have mad skills; the program makes it easy.)  Please enjoy my scrapbook from Paris!  Here you'll get to see all the gorgeous pics that I didn't include in my previous entries because I was too busy posting embarrassing pictures of myself in front of a space-age toilet!

So clicky clicky the pic below and enjoy!  Then scroll down and leave me a comment!  (To all the fabulous email subscribers...depending on your email program, you may need to visit the actual blog to view the album).  Enjoy!

Whew!  I'm happy to say that I'm finally done posting about Paris!  Now I can go back to the regularly scheduled fare of making fun of my husband and enumerating the reasons why I suspect my children might actually be small mutant baboons.

Thanks for looking!  Please leave me a comment...I'd love to hear from you!

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