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Everyone on my block has beautiful front gardens, well-kept lawns, tasteful seasonal decorations and fences that actually stand up. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about any of these things, even though they are, indeed, lovely to look at. Regardless of not caring, I am starting to feel some self-imposed pressure to keep up with the Joneses. It is creeping into my already packed mental list of “shoulds.” Do I have to start rooting out my dandelions?
Grass is always greener, but not in this case
If you own a house, you are a very lucky person! And by lucky, I mean broke and constantly plugging leaks or calling handy-people about expensive, unexpected repairs. No need to add decorating the exterior of the house to the list. It is hard enough to do basic upkeep, let alone going above and beyond. And if you have kids, a full-time job, a family of origin and a partnership of any kind, fuggedaboudit. If gardening relaxes you, if mowing the lawn is a meditation, if lining up lights loosens you up, by all means, have a field day. But “shoulds” fast become shackles. Keep the “shoulds” for things like wearing seat belts, bringing dinner to a sick neighbor, getting kids to bed on time or finding five minutes for yourself. Think of weeds as nature’s way of demanding respect for native plants.
Opinion needed to help settle a friendly debate between my sister and me. In any given year, is it better to buy a few well-made – which often means pricey – pieces of clothing that you love, or go for the cheap stuff and buy more of it?
Stingy but fashion starved
My basic strategy almost always errs on the side of saving money (because I’m cheap) but often ends up doing just the opposite (because I’m a little dim). Like, for instance, buying eight pairs of jeans at a thrift store that don’t fit. However, many thrift stores now have dressing rooms which take all the guesswork out of second-hand shopping. It’s a bit of a pity, but far more economical. For the environment’s sake, always best to buy used.
However, a splurge now and then is also lovely. I have always envied people who buy just a few nice things and get the most out of them. They always look so chic and well put together. My problem, because I always look like I did when I was 14 (shlubby), is that, to be honest, I’m a little scared of nice clothes. When I get something really nice, I’m too worried about getting it wrinkled or dirty to wear it. Completely ridiculous, I know. But I’m also famous for taking terrible care of my clothes, so maybe just prescient? Enough about me. I say, do what floats your boat, provided you can afford it, and try to recycle clothes whenever you can by having a great big swap when you get sick of yours. Swaps are super fun and everyone comes away with a little somethin’ somethin’, by which I mean, article of clothing, glass of wine, or better yet, brownies!
My good friend has taken up jewelry making. She is having a lot of fun with it and is very proud of her work. The problem is, I think her pieces are butt ugly. She’s given me several pieces, and whenever we get together she wants to know why I’m not wearing them. What should I do?
Between a rock and a hard place
This dilemma reminds me of an old joke in which a mother gives her son two ties for his birthday. The next time they see each other, he wears one of them. When his mother sees this she says, “what’s the matter, you didn’t like the other one?” You are, indeed, between a rock and a hard place.
However, I’m wondering if there are any pieces in your friends’ collection of work that you do like, in which case you can ask her if you can trade the gift in for another piece of her work. If, however, you hate them all, you have two choices. The next time your friend asks, you can say something like “I love the pieces you gave me and the workmanship is amazing! While they’re not quite my style, I treasure that I have something that you created.” I would hope that her ego is not so fragile that she can’t see that not everyone will love her work. Any good friend (and good artist) should get that. A generous gift giver understands that you don’t hit the ball out of the park every time and that the words return and exchange are also beautiful. I mean a thoughtful chef would never serve beef tenderloin to a vegetarian, right?
If you fear that your honesty will only put you in the doghouse, then you either have to swallow hard and wear a piece when you see them next, or keep coming up with lame excuses which may placate the jeweler but will do nothing for the integrity of your relationship. Nevertheless, I get that these are the pretzels we sometimes twist ourselves into in order to keep the peace. In the meantime, I gotta go, I have shopping to do…. I’m off to the Mexican Shop!
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Monday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at email@example.com.