Restrooms located at the end of long, scary, smelly, hallway. Proceed at your own risk.

I don’t shop very often. Probably because I find it a terrible chore. This becomes quite evident when a relatively routine shopping trip becomes a philosophical contemplation of life. It’s the whole doing-something new-and-broadening-your-horizons thing. Who knew you could get that from shopping.

Anyway, I went shopping. It was time for a new bathing suit. Actually, make that new bathing suit separates. Yes, the clothing industry has figured out how to make even more money off these squares of fabric: separate the tops from bottoms, charging individually and creating countless potentially matching combo’s. Clever, delightful, and maddening all at once.

Thoughts from the day:

Why do they always put mall bathrooms at the end of long, scary, smelly, hallways? Seriously, walking around my ghetto neighborhood at night is not supposed to feel safer than taking a potty break at our materialistic headquarters. On my way to the ladies’ room I passed a teenager being apprehended for shoplifting. I think. I sincerely hope the guy with the pony-tail was a security guard.

Feeling the need to provide someone with a running commentary of my shopping trip, I texted my dear friend Gazzo, asking about the whole bathroom at the end of long, scary, smelly, hallway thing. He astutely replied that it is done to scare customers shit-less. BuDumCrash.

Sometimes I wonder what tourists do when they come to the Midwest, especially foreigners. Not that I don’t love the Midwest, and not that there isn’t plenty to do, it just doesn’t necessarily seem like an international destinatition. I am pleased to announce: I figured it out. They go shopping at TJ Maxx.

It makes sense. TJ Maxx captures some of the key elements of the American Dream, which is obviously what tourists come here to experience. Make a life for yourself. Announce to the world that you have made that life by wearing brand name clothes. If you haven’t made that life, wear discounted brand name clothes and fake it. Then get a TJ Maxx credit card and keep faking it. Until you make it. Or break it. Your bank account that is. Or the life. I suppose, however, since we’re talking about the American Dream here, they’re one in the same.

[It should be noted thatTJ Maxx is not the primary activity for all foreign tourists. I made this discovery a few weeks ago when Grand Rapids was bustling with Asian Suits in town to celebrate Amway’s 50th birthday. Walking around downtown videotaping and photographing *everything* was clearly a much more attractive use of tourism free time than shopping the TJ Maxx clearance racks. ]

Trends annoy me. To a certain extent. I mean, I’m not going to be all elitist and say how terrible they are and how I’m so above them and disregard the fact that imitation is the best form of flattery, BUT, they get under my skin. I like to have a certain element about myself that is so, just, alissa jean. I’d say “unique” but that’s so cliche… I like to follow fashion and styles somewhat, but more as a general guide or source of idea, never as a hard rule. Rules, specifically in the case of style, although one can continue the thought further, are limiting. [this is why What Not to Wear is a terrible show] Let’s say I need a new skirt. Even better, let’s say I need a new bathing suit. Excuse me, bathing suit separates. Given the limited amount of time and money I am willing to spend to meet this need, I find myself limited to the basic trends of the season. IE, a bunch of stuff that all, basically, looks the same. And the killer is that if I do manage to find something a little different, other people are going find it eventually too, which will then take away any actual sense of different at all.

Take, for example, my bright blue, plastic sunglasses. I was, by no means, the first to wear shades like this. I was, however, one of the first in my circle of people. That made them cool. To me. Now, they are cool to other people too, and, instantly, less cool to me. *sigh* The challenges of life are such.

But I digress. Sunglasses shopping was a while ago. I was shopping for bathing suit separates. I did not find what I wanted at TJ Maxx, or the next few stores I stopped at. I did find, however, that TJ Maxx is onto something with their dressing rooms.

Step into a TJ Maxx dressing room and you are instantly cast in the most flattering light possible. You’re tanner, skinnier, and damn that outfit looks good; you should buy it. Seriously, the folks of TJ Maxx are onto something here. The key to making a sale is convincing the purchaser of how good they look in the clothes. Strategic lighting and mirror set up can make a world of difference. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t make a sale on my because, no matter how good I looked in that dressing room, the suits just weren’t what I was looking for.

Finding what I was looking for proved to be quite challenging. Probably because I had such an idea of what I was looking for, exactly. I didn’t just want a suit; I wanted a Suit for Alissa Jean. Knowing what you want makes finding something that just sort of works not enough. You want what you want and not anything less. [Until you realize that you need something, because something is better than nothing, especially when it comes to swimming in public locations…]

Gazzo (to whom I was continuing to provide a text message play-by-play of my shopping trip, poor soul) took this as an opportunity to remind me that happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have. or something like that. He didn’t actually say the whole quote, he just made a reference to it which I immediately brushed off with a “as if you need to tell me that”. because, obviously, I know the quote so well… I got the general idea at least.

Regardless, I want to get what I want.
The circular irony of it all is quite beautiful, really.

Okay, so maybe these thoughts weren’t quite on the level of philosophy. They were however, the thoughts of my shopping trip. Take them for what they are.

much love!

PS – I did, eventually find some suitable bathing suit separates.

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