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Friday, October 19, 2018

Nuanced Tips for Success

My hairstylist, let’s call her Donna because that’s what I called her last time*, just yesterday said, “Age gracefully.”
“Ok”, I said. “And how do you do that?”
And she said, “Don’t look in the mirror.”
And I said, “Man, just when I can finally afford some decent clothes you tell me I’m not allowed to look in the mirror?”

So we can see where things are headed with me: graceless aging.

On the way back from Donna’s, I stopped to pick up a couple of things I had altered. Since I’m not exactly standard size—and really, who is?—I often need legs and arms shortened. On clothes, I hasten to clarify. I’m not a criminal. In this case, I needed the torso shortened on a sleeveless blouse. This was a wrap blouse, which was finally ready, after a couple of weeks and one vain effort to pick it up the other day. N, the alterationist, is kind of busy these days. She has to hack her way to the front of her shop through a stand of wedding and bridesmaid dresses like she’s hacking her way through Spanish moss and vines in the Dismal Swamp.

Anyway, I took home my altered items only to discover that N had not only made the correct alteration on the armholes of the blouse, but had also made an additional alteration. She had sewed shut the slit in the side that allows the sash to wrap around the waist. Well, early blog readers might recall an altercation I had with a different tailor over a pair of improperly hemmed pants.

But I have since learned a few things, Readers. Namely, to inspect my altered items soon after picking them up, rather than after throwing away the receipt. Also, that life is really so much more than an accidentally sewed-up seam slit. Really, how big a deal is it? I mean, considering everything else that I’m not writing about on my blog.

Nary a seam slit.

So, I gave N a call. N of course said the slit was right there, in the seam. And I, holding the receiver to my ear, took another look at the garment. I ran my hands over every inch of it. I pushed my glasses up my nose to double-check. No seam slit. So I said, and I am giving myself credit where due, “N, I see where there was a slit, and I see that it has been sewn up by mistake, so I will have to bring it back to you so you can fix it.” And she said she would be there Saturday, and so did I.

Then the phone call ended. No gaskets blown. This is the thing for which I give myself credit: no blown gaskets. I mean, really, is it necessary? And would it be helpful in getting the proper seam slit in my blouse?

So, I don’t know, maybe some of my aging might be graceful, after all.

This reminds me of when I was bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. Her life was all wedding plans and roses, and I was in therapy, loveless, and dissatisfied with my life. After every time I went with my friend to do something wedding-related, I bought myself a present. I was going broke, which I complained about to my therapist, since my job situation was part of my problem. To my great surprise, she did not make me feel like a spendthrift fool drowning my sorrows in retail therapy; she simply suggested that I buy myself less expensive presents. Instead of a new Benetton sweater—this wedding was a looooonnnnnng time ago—maybe a book or a lipstick.

I am not getting political here, but I am suggesting that my therapist once suggested to me that a little self-care in times of stress is not a bad thing. I say she suggested it, since she did not outright state this maxim. The psychotherapeutic relationship is not built on offering specific advice. You don’t pay for advice. You pay for nuance. Just remember that. Nuance is much more expensive than advice, by the way. However, studies show that we can tolerate and even incorporate nuance more easily than advice.

So, what have I suggested to you in this silly post? At least two, if not three pieces of advice. All free, let me add. What do you think they are?