GAP Factory Outlet:


I love this shirt, and I loved my hair this day.

Readers, as you all know, I have not been living my best life lately, mainly because my disposable income has shrunk like never before. I’m not homeless or broke or drowning in unpaid bills, but I can’t treat myself with my usual ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The past month of medical visits has drained me. Lunch and breakfast after a co-pay and a coffee and gas and pharmacy fees really adds up quickly. Oh well. It’s a good thing I have savings (and insurance!) and earn money back on my Discover card! So, I haven’t been buying myself the little presents that make me feel alive. I need retail therapy something fierce; it’s a real thing, reader, and I make sure that it has never become a problem. So, I’ve been treating myself to vitamins at GNC and flat whites at Starbucks instead of gorgeous little things. And it’s been rotten. Now that I am not driving to Des Moines every day to get filled up with steroids, I have my old routine back. This is a long introduction to say that I discovered a GAP factory outlet store in Ames, and I think my life is so much better for it. I have long favored that shop for all of my fashion purchases. They make such nice shirts. H&M makes gorgeous things, too, but the quality is horrific and the nearest shop is four hours away. This GAP is a short jaunt from my house and everything is discounted! I bought myself three really lovely shirts for a little over what the price of one would be at the regular shop. I was living in a dream. It was a total wonderland. I’m going back a few times over the next month before I leave for Paris and Brighton and Berlin and Turin and Luxor…oh I will be the belle of every ball I attend. I need more pants and socks and maybe even a completely white ensemble for my jaunts through the Sahara. Won’t I look resplendent on a camel, clad in all white, a turban wound round my hair, and the lapis lazuli sky framing it all? I shiver at the thought!

Prepackaged Guacamole:


I know that in the past I’ve gone on extensively — nay, exhaustingly — on my shocking transformation into a lover of avocados. I didn’t think I would ever be that person, and yet here we are. Avocados are amazing. Everything tastes better with an avocado on top. I don’t get it. They don’t even taste like much of anything. Perhaps my body craves some mineral or nutrient that comes from that weird, ugly, oily fruit? That would make sense. My brain is probably convincing my tongue that it appreciates tasteless mush. Can brains do that? Is that why cats lick plastic bags endlessly? I should do some kind of experiment. Maybe my love of avocado is similar to a pregnant woman’s cravings for things she never dreamed of desiring before? I’m rambling now. So, now that I adore avocados, I love guacamole. This is a further offense to my former palate, but life is so strange. On my most recent “treat-yo-self” splurge, I came across prepackaged guacamole in the refrigerator section of Walmart. I thought it would be mediocre. I thought it might actually taste of garbage, but I was intrigued, and I bought it. I ate all four servings in about five minutes. I’m completely converted to readymade guacamole and I fully intend to stock up on the stuff on my next trip to town. I want it at all times. I want it now at two o’clock in the morning. I want it for breakfast and lunch and a snack and then dinner and then a midnight snack. I want to eat nothing but guacamole like the world’s most basic bitch. That is just who I am now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Blissful Arrival of Summer Break:


I never thought that I would work at a school for as long as I have. I’ve lost track of the years, since I spent several years as a substitute without a contract. I believe next year is my fifth one at the middle school. That does not seem real. I thought I’d be here for awhile and then open a bakery or sell a book or something. That never happened, and oddly, I’m okay with that. I don’t mind the job, I have marvelous benefits, I enjoy my coworkers, and I get the summer off. That is wonderful. We don’t get paid over the summer like we once did in halcyon days, but we get more each paycheck. You have to set some money aside, and then you’re fine. I did that, so I am more than ready to go. Tomorrow is the last day of work with kids. I am coming in one more day next week just to do some tidying, but when the students are gone, summer begins. I have never been more ready in my life. This hasn’t been the greatest time of my life, after all. I have been overworked being a full time student two semesters, doing my job, keeping my house and lawn in order, pursuing my interests, and trying to maintain a social life. It was endless. Then, on top of that I developed that weird illness that ate up all the rest of my free time and little remaining sanity. Now that summer is starting, I think I will finally have an opportunity to recuperate. I’ve been listing, reader. It’s time for a solid rest and recuperation. I think it’ll do me a world of good. I will be in Iowa for a month, and I want to get my upstairs in order so that I can be at peace with a design project that has been haunting me for ages. Then, in July, I’m off for Europe and Africa. It will be a delight. I’ll be gone for a month and a half of blissful summer, looking resplendent along the quays of the Marais, looking dashing on top of camel, looking adventurous in a tomb, looking elegant in London. It’s going to be a dream. I’m so glad summer is here. I’m living for me!

Portable Battery:


I used to have a portable battery pack when I had one of those old Android phones that lasted two hours before dying. It worked really well and would recharge the phone several times. But then tragedy struck one day in Chicago when I was walking down Michigan Avenue. I pulled my phone out, the charger came out, and then, in front of the Burberry shop where I had been covetously staring at trench coats, the charger fell to the sidewalk and never worked again. I was cast adrift. I was lost, reader. I was going to get another one, but then I finally got an iPhone and had no need for it. My life was changed by that little phone, I cannot emphasize that enough. After that, I bought the absurdly large iPhone 6+ and would never go back. It is perfection. The battery lasts forever, and I could probably make it two days without recharging. But to get to the point — I decided that if I’m going to be wandering around Paris all day with a data plan, I will probably need to recharge my phone. Then, I got to thinking about the weeks I am spending in Egypt, and the lengthy trips I’m going on, so I decided it was time to buy another portable battery. I spent an evening researching all of them available, which is something I really enjoy, and finally decided on this one. The price was beyond right, the battery capacity was marvelous, and the construction seemed fine. I’m intensely pleased. I have no real need for it right now, but I tried it out, and it worked fabulously. I recommend you all get one in case of emergency. They are cheap and work phenomenally. Besides, if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself stranded in the middle of the Sahara with desperate need of a selfie with a camel. You need battery life for that, reader.


Lackluster Sketching Ability:


I am not a bad artist, but I would never consider myself good. Whenever I draw or paint, it takes effort. The end result is never atrocious, but it’s not something I consider a masterpiece. It’s like running. I can do it. And I can do it fairly well, but it’s not fun or effortless for me. I want to be one of those people who can sit at a café for a couple hours with a coffee and then come home with a Moleskine notebook filled to bursting with ink drawings of the street and people around me. Maybe a dash of watercolor, too. I have recently found myself following people who can sketch on Instagram because they make me envious. One is an actual artist…so it makes sense that he can sketch, but to see his casual little drawings makes me want to punch myself in the face. Another is a university student of Egyptology in Germany, and she creates the most beautiful little drawings from the objects she studies in museums. I want to be their friend. I want to be able to draw as well as them. I want to meet up with them in some park and sketch. This will never happen. I suppose it could if I were to practice. Maybe that is what I will do for the week I spend in Turin this summer. I have no plans at all there. I just love that city so much and planned on wandering around, munching on focaccia bread, and plotting a story to tell on those charming streets. In addition to that, I suppose I could easily sit in any number of lovely little spaces and work on drawing. I’ll probably grow increasingly frustrated, but after a spell, maybe the Italian architecture will come to life under my hands? I’ll never know unless I try. Yes, I like the idea of this. I shall return from my month and a half abroad with a notebook full of beautiful drawings of Italy. Or I’ll do the usual and just take pictures. It has always been a little dream of mine to sketch away the day like European travelers of yore, and why not make it come true? I just wish I didn’t have to practice. Oh how dreadful that sounds!

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