The Author Goes Shopping
Two things. First, the wardrobe. I’m a jeans and sweater type. Nothing stylish. Cotton. Wool. Plain colors. I do like colors. Knee socks in the winter. I like colorful socks. Since I’ve been a stay-at-home for most of my life, this was the all-around-go-to-basic wardrobe best suited for all my activities.
Now, I make author presentations. With very young audiences I need something I can move around in gracefully while not ripping out hems and seams, or worse. With my middle grade audiences I want to be appropriate and look my age without giving away what that actually is. High school audiences know I’m older than their grandparents, so I like to surprise them. Nice boots, maybe. Meeting with adults in business, I want to look professional. But here’s the problem. I hate to shop. There are very few things I hate more than clothes shopping. Actually, the only things that come to mind are roller coasters and falling trees.
I cleaned the bathrooms every day last week ....
So I went shopping. I’m still recovering. Have you discovered cigarette pants? These are what we used to wear under ski bibs. Now they are classy outer wear. I told the gal I wasn’t interested in cigarette pants and asked where to find corncob pipe pants. She didn’t get it. She also couldn’t translate the word “slacks” into her fashion vernacular of jeans, sweats, yoga or cigarette. I used to shop LL Bean so I never had to go through the rigors of department stores. I also shopped there because their labels said cotton and made in the U.S. Their labels don’t say that anymore. I tried to buy U.S. but I came home with pants from Bangladesh and Mexico, a pullover from China, and turtlenecks from Vietnam. That alone distressed me too much to eat lunch, which is normally the best thing about a shopping day.
The second thing that changed for this author is shape. No, I’m not joking, this is the truth. I weigh the same as I did in college, probably high school. But my body shape has become a stranger to me. I used to walk quickly to a rack, hold something up, take it home and wear it. Now, the whole size thing is a trauma unto itself. Chico’s lady says I wear zero. Then they explain they have a totally different measure than the rest of the industry. So I’m a zero, if I’m in their store. They’re so special. I could still wear my old clothes if I could invert them, wear them upside down. (I’m visualizing a fun picture book, can you tell?) Really, now I have skinny arms and fat legs. Now, I have narrow shoulders and wide hips. That slight downward slide has changed everything. It happened because I’m an author. I used to do heavy gardening. Now I sit and write. I used to go to exercise class. Now I go to conferences (where chocolate lurks on every table). I used to run agility with my dogs. Now I toss the tennis ball to Buddy across the room from my chair. I used to compete in Canine Freestyle, dancing with my dogs, practicing for hours. Buddy lies under my feet as I sit at the computer for hours doing work all related to being an author, while my body softens and succumbs to gravity that lurks in the seat of my office chair.
So clearly, being an author has changed my life. I have new clothes. When I went to the book festival last weekend, I wore some bright new author stuff. I can’t wear orange anymore, though. I look like a traffic cone.