A Homeric Journey (for a Rebecca Minkoff black leather wristlet)

If there’s one thing I learned at the Muse and the Marketplace writer’s conference in Boston last weekend, it’s that every story is, in its essence, The Odyssey (yes, the Homer one you read in high school), and has to be about a journey in which the protagonist (in the case of the following story, that would be me) yearns for something, sets out to find it, and ends up in a different place from where she started.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 8.47.51 AMThat’s why it was completely fitting that I should, during a break from the weekend’s workshops on how to write books and sell them (if you missed the conference the answer  is not easily), continue on my quest for a black wristlet. I guess quests need to be completed even when the need for the object has passed. I had actually needed a wristlet (for the uninitiated, that’s a small purse with a strap that you carry on your wrist as opposed to on your shoulder or in your hand as you would a clutch, which I just have to say I personally can’t abide, since clutches often preclude you from holding a glass of wine) the week before, for a wedding. When it hit five hours before the wedding and I had gone to six different stores and still hadn’t found one I liked (in my price range; I saw plenty that were like $200), I settled for a rather junky but cute-enough cross-body bag on sale at Aldo. Buying it broke my rule about holding out for what you really want (in handbags as in life), but what could I do? Sometimes you have to settle (in life, as well as in handbags), so you can move on to the next challenge.

Still, the need for a wristlet stayed with me, even after the wedding.

So when I left the conference, needing to clear my head after a day of workshops on the not-easy business of writing and the even-less easy business of selling your writing, I headed straight to Nordstrom Rack on Boylston Street in Boston. And there it was, a black wristlet made of the softest soft leather. It was Rebecca Minkoff, no less, a brand that I can only consider contemplating thinking about actually affording when it’s on sale. Which it was. So I bought it. I don’t need the bag right now, and in fact, don’t even know when I’ll use it, but somehow this handbag odyssey just had to be finished. I returned to the writers conference with the Rebecca Minkoff wristlet, and a fuller understanding of the need for the protagonist to embark on, and complete, a journey.

Part Purse, Part Jewelry, Part…. Weapon?

At some point in our lives, we’ve all had to make an appearance at some fancy event where there was someone that for whatever reason we wanted to punch. We haven’t acted on this because we are not violent people, and also because in prison you don’t get days off to go to Nordstrom, which makes doing time very unappealing.

A purse that doubles as a piece of jewelry that doubles as a weapon.

However, this handbag I saw the other night while browsing in Loehmann’s may make the temptation hard to resist. See, I found this evening bag that was designed to be carried not by a strap or handles, but by a knuckleduster. That’s right, the clasp was made of one of those rings with multiple loops that slips over three or four fingers at once and binds them together.

Now, I love rings, but the knuckleduster is not a trend I much care for. I’ve seen some more delicate designs that look interesting in the display case, but the idea of wearing something that limits my dexterity makes me anxious.

However, if you like that style of jewelry, this handbag is definitely for you. It’s perfect if you’re at a cocktail party and you want to hold your glass of wine with one hand and, um, punch someone with the other. Or you could just put the weapon bag down and use that hand to grab yourself another drink. You’ll feel much better.

What I Bought–I Mean Did–on My Summer Vacation

Now I’ll give the long-awaited answer to the question: What did I end up buying on vacation?

The answer is: Wait for it…


Yes. I’m just as shocked as you are.

See: There were a couple things I contemplated, but I found myself mired in an existential discussion with my Really Irritating Internal Voice (RIIV), about whether I actually wanted to have these things, or whether I just wanted to buy them. This is, of course, a broad and, may I say, extremely tiring question. I mean, I certainly didn’t want to buy something just to buy something. On the other hand, some of my most-worn items are ones I bought on vacation or at some other time when I just felt like buying something for the pleasure of buying something.

Anyway. First, I almost bought a ring. It had a simple, gold-plated base and a round piece of red/pink sea glass. It was not at all expensive and Mom was like “just get the effing ring,” though she said it more politely because she’s a mom. But it was only the second day of vacation. What if I found something I liked more?

Over the next day or so I did think about the ring, and planned to go back for it, but I got too busy doing such vacation-y things as lying down, reading, drinking wine, eating, and lying down again.

Gone fishing - Herringbones Design Shop

The shop where I almost bought (yet another) bag. I may call and ask them to send it to me. Will I like it as much now that vacation is over?

In a different store, on the last day, I found a super-cute fabric/knit tote bag, with all my fave colors (black, maroon, olive, grey), and lots of little pockets inside. It was a great end-of-summer bag, and everyone knows you can never have too many bags. But again, doubt raised its ugly head. Did I want THIS bag? Or did I just want to go home from vacation with a souvenir?

I decided to ignore my RIIV and “just buy the effing ring.” But, when I returned to the first store (stay with me here, I know it’s getting confusing) the ring had been sold. Suddenly, I really, really wanted it. “And you’re sure you don’t have one in back, right? What about online? The Portland store?” The saleswoman was fairly unsympathetic, conveying a kind of “you snooze, you lose” attitude which seemed fair enough, since the day before, when I had been about to go back to the store, I had actually fallen asleep.

However, now that I’m home I find myself thinking about that bag. I’m even considering calling the store, giving them my credit card, and asking them to send it to me. The problem is, will I like it as much, now that vacation is over?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want & You May Not Want It Anyway

I am not a fan of stealing other writers’ ideas—especially because I think I should be the only one generating all the good ideas.

However, The Sartorialist recently wrote about that thing that sometimes happens, where you fantasize about owning a certain piece of clothing; then, once you buy it, it sits in your closet unworn.

Reading the 600-plus comments on The Sartorialist post, many of them quite touching, I was surprised at how common this experience is.

Blame it on Your Brain

I began mentally perusing not only my current closet, but the ghosts of closets past. I thought back on the grey and pink Lululemon gym bag with the polka-dotted lining and all the little pockets that I just had to have, then ran out and bought as soon as I received a small raise.  I use it every once in awhile but not as much as I thought I would, and it still looks new.

I thought back to my strapless, black lace Betsey Johnson dress. I wore it once but always felt a little too exposed in it. I would try it on every once in awhile just for fun. Then one time I found I could no longer zip it up all the way. I know I should consign it but I keep thinking I’ll suddenly lose my perpetual  ice cream craving or develop a tapeworm and suddenly be able to fit into it again, and feel great in it.

A quick, albeit clumsy Google search with the phrase “psychology behind not wanting something once you have it” yielded this article in Psychology Today, which says (and I’m summarizing it very simplistically) that one part of the brain controls the experience of “liking” something, and a totally different part of the brain controls the feeling of “wanting” something, so you can want something you don’t ultimately end up liking.


At least I don’t feel so bad about that Betsey Johnson dress anymore; I mean, it’s not taking up too much room in my closet, and I still want it. Maybe soon I’ll even like it.

Jones of the Week

So, it’s still in the planning stages, but I’m thinking what this blog needs is a weekly feature in which I write in excrutiating detail about the frivolous items that I’m currently, well, jonesing for.

These are usually things like necklaces or purses that I really really really want, and really really really don’t need.

The jones usually starts when I see the object of my desire in a store but decide it’s overpriced. Then, comes the tortured internal dialogue. Here’s an example:

ME: I love love love this Amrita Singh powder pink necklace. It would look soooooo cute with a black sweater and jeans.

INTERNAL VOICE:  Seriously? Do you REALLY need another necklace?

ME: Well, no, i don’t need it. But I LOVE it. I already know where I’d wear it.’

(REALLY IRRITATING) INTERNAL VOICE:  Don’t you know the economy is failing? What if you get laid off? Can you eat that necklace?  Continue reading