Friday, March 29, 2013

the days are long, but the years are short

So you'll never experience such an onslaught of advice and commiseration as you will when you become a parent. It's like being inducted into a secret cabal that I never knew existed. I can't go anywhere now without being stopped by someone--usually an older woman whose children are past the childhood stage--who offers some piece of well-worn advice and then wistfully talks about when their kids were that age. The most common bit of wisdom? "They grow up so fast." It's nothing new or earthshattering, but it contains the poignancy of being witness to something both so mundane and so awe-inspiring.

I particularly like the slightly expanded version of this: The days are long, but the years are short. And now that M is definitely a toddler, not a baby, I can confirm that it's true. She has grown and changed so quickly. Even as I tumble into bed exhausted at the end of every day, ready for it to be over, I can't believe that those infant days are done.

I've been following a new blog that features the portraits of a group of kids, taken by their photographer parents, week by week. It's inspired me to try that, too. I already find myself grabbing my camera every day to try to document some funny occurrence, and I'm hoping that by formalizing it I can overcome my problem with constancy. This photo is of M several weeks ago, playing with my lenscap in the morning.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On perfection

I have come to realize I'm not a minimalist, not by a long shot. I like the coziness of woolen layers, and I'm an inveterate thrifter. But the past few months have made me a minimalist of sorts, by necessity. (I know I restate this idea in some form every few posts, but I feel weirdly apologetic about it.)

With a partner in graduate school and a constantly growing toddler, there's not much in the budget for clothing. But the thought of turning to mass-produced cheap clothing to fill in any gaps isn't appealing either. And as much as I subscribe to the idea that a well-made item is worth it, and as appealing the idea is of having an entire closet of clothes that may have cost a lot initially but have withstood the vagaries of time and trend, I find it hard to justify when my budget must account for so many other things and my style is in so much flux, post-baby. Both of these factors have prompted me to make use of an unlikely resource, the "community closet" that's open to all residents of the county I live in. It's a way of recirculating goods in the community. I've donated bags of stuff that I felt good about getting rid of, and I've found the bulk of Maizie's winter clothes from there.

It's altered my perspective on consumption. For one, it seriously curtailed my pursuit of the "perfect" version of something. Other than perhaps classic items (like a peacoat), I'm starting to think that perfection doesn't exist. Even classic items have details that may end up dating them, like the rise of the pants or the length of the collar. I've tried to find the be-all-end-all versions of things, but all that that's done for me is fuel the pursuit of More Things. It's quite possible that I just lack discipline or a clear sense of style, but the idea of perfection was for me a fantasy that didn't bring me much closer to a conscientiously edited closet.

My recent foray into buying a suit for my partner has highlighted how difficult it is for anything to be really perfect. Here is an article of clothing purported to be durable and classic, but it seems to take only 10 or so years before it becomes dated. In the thrift stores where I initially searched,  I saw racks and racks of suits with cuts too baggy and long to pass as modern. Or perhaps it was the placement of the buttons or the width of the lapel that gave the suit's age away. Whatever it was, it's clear that even supposedly enduring clothes can end up in the dustbin.

Rather than seeking perfection, I've come to really like the idea of choosing from the "best available." Good enough, just what I need, and I don't need anything more. It's like relying on the largesse of the world to bring around the right thing at the right time.

Anyway, I suppose a shift in my sartorial perspective and personal interests accounts for why this blog will see a change in future posts. I started the blog because the idea of the French Method really appealed to me, and it still does. I think it's an intelligent solution to the problem of overconsumption and under-satisfaction, and it's just fun to meditate on one's purchases this way. But lately I've found myself wanting to post about vintage clothes, thrifting trips, motherhood, photography, wild foods, and and random things from my life. I expect I still will write about style now and again, but I want to make the blog a little more relevant to my life. I know these new topics won't appeal to everyone, but I think it will make the blog feel more true to me. Thank you, sincerely, for reading thus far.