Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My (Partial) Consumer Identity History

Written for Lisa Jarnot's Late Hominid Poetics Workshop
It begins with dolls, many many dolls, although it’s tricky at that age to separate things that somehow appeared in my life versus things that I wanted to purchase, or rather wanted adults to purchase for me. I think Mandy Doll just appeared, and I loved her very much very early on, so early that I don’t really remember loving her. A Dutch doll with freckled porcelain cheeks and little wooden clompen – was she handmade? custom made? it’s possible; Hispanic Barbie; a reproduction of a vintage teddy bear from Bloomingdale’s; soft German dolls from a boutique in Leesburg run by a woman named Maria; Japanese Barbie and Rika-chan dolls from Sogo in downtown Chiba, one particularly beautiful one with soft brown crimped hair and a sunflower appliqué on her cold-shoulder dress; handmade Barbie dresses at craft fairs. Ballet slippers, an orange leotard, pink tights, and a pink ballet bag to keep them all in. Many Laura Ashley dresses, including a red sailor dress, which I wore once on a PE day, which was a mistake. I also wore it to help man the student government doughnut table at the polls on Mondale-Reagan election day, powdered doughnut sugar sprinkled down the front. Many of these dolls and most of these dresses still live at my parents’ house and will probably have to be painfully discarded when my parents are too old to live there alone.
The Riverside Shakespeare, which I hid under my bed so my father couldn’t read it; a walking talking doll; antique Thornton Burgess books; Winnie-the-Pooh board game; a silver ring with an engraved K, which I managed to hold on to until college; many Nancy Drews; Guess jeans like Bonnie Schreiber’s, sparkly hair ties like Bonnie Schreiber’s; slouchy socks like Bonnie Schreiber’s; SP Teri ice skates; Coty lipstick and powder; Doc Marten oxfords; contact lenses; Clinique products; Skid Row poster. Green babydoll dress printed with clocks and gloves from Koala Blue; long black jumper from Koala blue; brocade pajama shorts from Koala Blue. I still own all of these garments. A Geo Metro, my first car, and then a Toyota Corolla so bottom-of-the line that there was just a hole where a tape deck might have been, but which seemed like the height of luxury to my car-poor family; Nike Spirit sneakers; Capezio jazz oxfords; red wool prom dress from Bebe, which used to only sell fine Italian dresses and separates in wool gabardine and so on; black linen graduation dress from Banana Republic. I still own both of these dresses; I wore the graduation dress regularly back when I had a normal job, but the prom dress is spoilt by a faint oil stain. My father still reads the Riverside Shakespeare and drives the Corolla; my mother still doesn’t drive. The Thornton Burgess books are in a box in my parents’ house.
Vintage locket with photos of Paris and vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress at the flea market that used to happen in the parking lots in Chelsea on Sundays; long underwear; vintage wool sailor pants at Starstruck on Greenwich Avenue, which is still there; vintage Indian batik wrap skirt at the fair on the steps in front of Low Library; Apple desktop computer that I barely remember and possibly barely used; Camel Lights; Apple laptop that had something wrong with it very quickly; Sansha pointe shoes; Capezio ballet slippers and character shoes and  jazz sneakers; Sun Studio t-shirt at Sun Studio; red snakeskin Ferragamo sandals at the Goodwill in Chelsea; Rick Steves convertible carry-on backpack; my college education. I still own the locket, dress, pants, skirt, t-shirt, and sandals; my parents have my diploma; my mother threw away or donated all of my dance shoes along with the bag that they were in, which was baby blue with a red rooster, and which I bought in the West Village.
Another apple laptop that had something wrong with it very quickly; a single bed from Gothic Cabinet Craft; clothes that I imagined to be appropriate for work; cocaine; a double bed from Ikea; a flatware set and a pot and a pan from the Martha Stewart Everyday Collection from Kmart; a Dell laptop that was ok for a few years until it got a virus, and then I wiped it and installed Ubuntu, which was indifferent; dog Joe from Waggytail Rescue; maternity clothes; 3 unusual brown bottoms from very good designers – Daryl K tulip skirt, APC trouser shorts, Lagerfeld asymmetrically ruched skirt – all deeply discounted, I assume because no one else found them fit to wear. The flatware is still our only flatware; I just used the pot to pop corn this morning; my husband used the pan to make enchiladas on Sunday. The brown bottoms are staples in my wardrobe, and are very good for travelling, and I live in dread of their eventual disintegration.
Blackberry Storm not-particularly-smartphone, which was stolen from me in the Labor & Delivery waiting room at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt while I was attending a birth; Android something-or-other; and then finally an iPhone, and then a few more iPhones due to upgrades, smashed screens, and toilet swims.
Dozens of prefold diapers; wool baby coverall; Didymos woven wrap with peacock pattern; baby legwarmers; Plan Toys solid drum; daycare; iPad; knee-high shearling clog boots from No. 6 store; ankle clog boots from No. 6 store; acupuncture; digestive enzymes; fermented cod liver oil; broth; midcalf clog boots with Pendleton blanket insets from No. 6 store; plane tickets to Arizona for Christmas – now two adults, two children, one dog – the purchase of which creates immense stress every year; raw milk; Study NY cold-shoulder high-low hem organic cotton shirtdress that my husband bought me for my 35th birthday; another Rick Steves convertible carry-on backpack; Riedell ice skates for me and my children; Brooklyn Children’s Museum membership; New York Hall of Science membership; American Museum of Natural History membership; Myrtle Beach family vacation; Hip Hop 4 Kids classes at the Ailey Extension; Chess and Lego Robotics and Songwriting classes at the Resource and Opportunity Center for Homeschoolers; blonde hair; Pancho & Lefty tank from Bona Drag; chaste berry tree and black cohosh supplements; Samantha Pleet limited-edition Illuminated Passion dress that my husband bought me for Christmas, which, despite not being at all revealing, somehow made everyone at the bar where my friend Tiffany works want to talk to me and dance with me last Friday night until I got too drunk to cope and had to go home. I still own the majority of these things.

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