Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

I love Century 21, an area discount department store.  It has great deals, and I often find hidden treasures, like a 40-pack of velvet space-saving hangers or a stainless steel bar that purports to remove the smell of onion and garlic from your hands.

But I hate shopping there!  Chris swears by the 8 a.m. trip, but I’ve never been able to make it that early to verify his claim that it is empty and peaceful.  Any other time of the day I’ve gone, it’s packed and an absolute madhouse.  And most of the costumers, from what I can tell, are foreign tourists.  It must be in the guidebooks: Everything’s cheap at Century 21!  Come and get it! Todo es barato en Century 21!  Ven a cogerlo!

The other day I stopped by after work to pick up a care package for Chris (a new shirt, undershirts, underwear and socks for when he sleeps over so he doesn’t have to plan ahead and bring clothes for work the next day).  It was about 6 p.m., and the place was typically crowded.  It’s kind of like being in the first rush at a rummage sale, or a somewhat subdued version of the wedding-dress warehouse sales I’ve heard about.  Everyone’s pulling things off shelves and racks, trying to get the best deal before anyone else gets it first.

I was looking for my own deal on undershirts, and I saw the following crazy scene play out:

Foreign man (opening pack of undershirts and laying them flat on top of the rack): Speaks to wife in foreign language.

Century 21 Saleswoman: Sir, you can’t open those.

Foreign man (continues opening package and removing shirts): Yes I can.

Saleswoman: No, sir, you can’t open those.

Foreign man: Yes I can, because I need to see what size they are.

Saleswoman: But sir, it’s store policy.  You can’t open those.

Foreign man: I’ve worked in fashion. I can open them.

I think the saleswoman gave up at that point, as would I have.  But what gall!  And plus, it says what size the shirts are on the package.  If you don’t know what size Jockey undershirt will fit you, maybe you shouldn’t be buying undershirts in a foreign country, no matter how good a deal they are.

Here’s another exchange that irked me even more.  Backstory: I had my care package assembled when I noticed that Clinique was having a bonus.  Always a sucker for free stuff, and also a sucker for the fact that the line in the men’s department was several people long and there was no line at the Clinique counter, I approached the saleswoman there.

Me: If I buy something here, can I pay for the rest of my things?

Saleswoman: Depends on how many items you have.

Me: Just a few.  Can I pay for them here?

Saleswoman: Well, it depends on whether there are other people who need to be helped when I’m done helping you.

Me: Wait.  So I can pay for them or not? I don’t want to wait in two lines.

Saleswoman: You can, but only if there’s no one else waiting.

We went back and forth for a bit.  I wanted a guarantee that I wouldn’t buy a Clinique bonus I didn’t really need and then still have to wait in another line, but she wouldn’t give it to me.  So I walked away, and she yelled after me, “There’s no one here!” and I said, “If you don’t want to help me, I’ll go somehwere else.”

I guess that makes me seem like more of the bitch in that situation, but I swear, her tone was totally rude.  I was having nothing of it!

I proceeded to get on line in the men’s department, which took about 30 minutes.  In retrospect, I’m pretty sure the Clinique woman would’ve let me pay for my stuff there, and I actually could use some new mascara.


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Well, I’ve gone and done it.  After years of hemming and hawing — Can I afford it? Will I use it? Will it be close enough to the real thing? — I am now the owner of a digital piano.

It was a weekend full of exciting things: all-you-can-eat Indian food; a solution to the Panther’s tendency to run from one end of the apartment to the other at breakneck speeds and launch himself onto the windowsill in the middle of the night (we feed him just before we go to sleep now, and he stays quiet till morning); our first Zipcar rental; a wonderful appetizer that combined goat cheese, pear and puff pasty (how could you go wrong?); and my piano.

Here is a picture from Amazon:

Isn’t it beautiful? It came with a storage bench, head phones and a book of 50 classical pieces for me to tinkle around on while I wait for my mom to ship my favorite books (a Bach, a Brahms, a Chopin and Les Miserables).

The songs are all in its memory, and I’m finding that extremely helpful as I wade through Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2, which I’m surprised I never played because it’s just my style. (I did play Opus 9 No. 1, which is one of the few things I can still play if I have the music in front of me.)  I can have the piano play the left hand while I play the right, which is good, because I’m not used to measuring out trills and runs without my teacher’s or a professional recording’s help.

I’ve realized two things:

  1. I’ve lost a lot of my technique.  My arch is collapsed, my fingers are slow and clumsy, and I find myself straining to do simple things I used to be able to pull off without a second thought.  On a related note, I can’t read notes above and below the staff nearly as quickly as I should be able to, and it took me a while to remember which marking indicated which ornament.
  2. If I plan to play at all, even casually, my nails are going to have to go.  Hopefully this will help with No. 1, too.  It’s hard to maintain a proper arch when you can’t play on the tips of your fingers.  I used to be so disappointed that I couldn’t keep my nails long — I did negotiate with my teacher to keep one pinky nail until I realized how creepy it looked — but I’ve been wearing them long for 10 years now, and I don’t really mind the idea of giving them up.

Here is a recording of Rachmaninov playing Opus 9 No. 2. God, it’s more beautiful than my piano!

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I just made the trek to a gourmet market to procure nine lemons and a big bottle of grade B maple syrup. You’d think that not eating for a few days would save me money, but that syrup is pricey!  This bottle put me back about $27.

For those of you intrested in jumping on the Master Cleanse bandwagon, the magic recipe is:

During the Day

  • 10 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • 10 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • mixed with as much water as you need


  • 2 tablespoons syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • less water (chug it!)
  • 1 cup senna laxative tea

The true Cleanse also involves a daily salt-water flush, which I tried last time I did this thing, but it made me feel so ill, and I really don’t see the benefits of flushing my system in such a drastic way when I’m already not eating and drinking laxative tea (which is delicious and has a relatively mild effect several hours later).

As with my previous Cleanse, Day 2 is pretty easy.  I’m not registering hunger as hunger but rather a dull tingling sort of feeling.  As a result, I’m drinking much less of my syrup and lemon juice than I did yesterday.  Cravings are mild, as demonstrated by my easy resistance to the otherwise oh-so-tempting fettucine with pesto cream sauce in the buffet at the market.

Tomorrow, if it’s anything like my first Cleanse, will be very difficult.  Our plan is to have soup tomorrow night, but we might decide to extend this for another day if we feel up to the challenge.  Chris is on soup duty since I have to tutor tomorrow night, and as mild as my cravings might be, I’m looking very forward to coming home tomorrow to the scent of pureed cauliflower and red pepper bubbling on the stove!

Also, in a side note, last night’s “Bachelor” finale was terribly anticlimactic.  History repeats itself, I guess, and Jason turns out to be as big of a douche to Melissa as DeAnna was to him.  Though I hesitate to place too much blame on him, since I finally wised up last night to the fact that Melissa was way too young and way too Dallas Cheerleady to be The One.

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Chris surprised me this weekend by accepting my invitation to take him shopping!  I think he just got tired of my asking him, but still.  This was a big step.

We spent the whole day in Manhattan, first at Filene’s and DSW, then at lunch with Nate, then at H&M and Banana Republic, then back to Filene’s.

The tally:


  • 3 pairs jeans
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 2 pairs shoes
  • 1 jacket


  • 3 T-shirts
  • 2 blouses
  • 1 sweater

I was impressed both with Chris’s stamina and willingness to try on new things and my moderation.  I haven’t been shopping in two months, and for me to come home with only six things (all great bargains) is pretty unprecedented.  It’s amazing how addictive not spending money is!

I can’t wait for next weekend, when I get to show Chris’s mom how well I’ve dressed him.

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