Grammy: Trendsetter

My great-aunt, whom we all call Grammy, is a pretty phenomenal woman. She knows everything about most good things, and is happy to share that knowledge. She’d be the one I would call if I wanted to know what a strange bird was, or how to blanch something, or how to save a favorite quilt, or what my great-great-great grandfather was like, or how to play cribbage, or why exactly Pebble Mine is so controversial, or if I just wanted to feel loved.

A giant, trendy, Grammy-endorsed boot?

She is widely considered to be an authority on many things, both by my extended family and by her community. However, she is not often called on for her fashion expertise. You see, Grammy is a very active, naturally-beautiful, practical woman in her eighties, who values comfort and utility and long-lasting materials over trends. She is usually seen wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, probably one with birds on it, and Birkenstocks with white socks. Her glasses, which she swings behind her back when she gives you one of her incredible hugs, hang on her chest by what I remember as a turquoise foam cord. Not really a fashion trendsetter, even in a Macklemore Thriftshop kind of way.

This fall, however, I saw her wearing boots that were so comfortable, durable, and practical, and all around awesome that I decided to copy her and get myself a pair. When I went to order them, they were backordered, and I waited painful weeks of cold rain without my exciting new fashion splurge. You see, they were L.L. Bean boots, which have been around forever, but are suddenly trendy. Trendy with young people.

At first, it really amused me that Grammy’s fashion was hip with the youth, but then I got to thinking about what else young people wear and the truth is they wear a lot of sweatpants and t-shirts of things that they like. Of course, their shirts have things like Notorious B.I.G. on them instead of Seabirds of Alaska, but let’s not quibble.

Also, how awesome is it that comfortable, practical, durable, made in the US women’s footwear is cool? It gives me hope that Youth of Today might grow up to be as awesome as my Grammy.


Swimsuit Season

You guys, I bought a swimsuit without having a panic attack. Sure, I did it through the mail, but I’ve tried to buy swimsuits through the mail before and nearly died of shame in the privacy of my own bathroom. The first time I bought a bikini — in a Southern California boutique while my boyfriend at the time did laps around the block in his van because if he turned it off it probably wouldn’t start again — I really did panic. In general, I like buying clothes and I like my body, but that day in the dressing room I remember hyperventilating and wishing I could melt into the floor.

It’s no secret that swimsuit shopping freaks a lot of people out. Things that feel perfectly great to wear underwater on a hot day are much less flattering in the hard light of a dressing room. Or a bathroom, for that matter. Also, it’s actually really hard to find a bikini that’s comfortable when you have breasts. They make most of them halter tops, which keeps them from looking like bras, but means that all of your breast-weight ends up hanging from a thin string tied around your neck, like when you go blueberry picking and they give you those tin cans to pick into. Having full can boobs myself, I think this is no fun. I’ve gone so far as to make my own swimsuit, which worked ok, but wore out eventually.

Anyway, this spring I wanted a new swimsuit. I wanted a great swimsuit. I wanted to buy summer and sunshine and sexiness and the feeling of diving into cold water and I wanted it to not hurt my neck or fall off or feel frumpy or unflatteringly revealing or cost a million dollars. See why this whole swimsuit-buying thing is so hard?

But this time around, the experience was so different. Partly, I wasn’t twenty-two in a string-bikini boutique in SoCal. And partly, I had Nate. He really should be some kind of volunteer swimsuit consultant. It would be a serious kind of community service. I showed him a LOT of swimsuits. He considered them patiently. He vetoed some and liked others, but his vetos were things like “that one makes it look like you’re trying to cover up something you don’t need to cover up.” See why I like to have this guy around?

In the end, I found a good suit. It isn’t quite summer-in-two-pieces, but what is? Summer, after all, isn’t something you can buy.


SUNSHINE! Or, Another Incredible Statistic

Guys, it was sunny today.  And yesterday. And the day before.  We won’t talk about Friday, when it tricked us into not wearing our coats to the park and then POURED rain on me and ten unsuspecting children until we had to huddle under the overhang by the nasty public restrooms.  But we were talking about sunshine.  It really has been sunny for three days, and that crazy big moon has been out at night, and I’ve been happy.  I don’t think it’s actually possible for me to be sad when it is sunny in Seattle.

Instead, I’ve been in a state of semi-heat stroke.  Like yesterday, I hallucinated a large white dog in the doorway of the coffee shop.  We’re talking about a labradoodle that was only there in my peripheral vision.  Dude, I know.  But I swear, it’s because of the sun. My skin, which is my biggest sense organ, was scrambling like crazy to integrate all that direct solar energy, so no surprise if some sensory signals were scrambled.  And did I mention the heat?  Seventies, guys, for real.  I can’t tell you how much water I was drinking.

Last time it was really sunny, a few weeks ago, I was in American Apparel on Broadway buying leggings.  Say what you will about American Apparel, they know their leggings. They aren’t see-through, or anything, so if I was fifteen I could wear them with some weird short sweater or something, or being thirty I can wear them to yoga since I happen to like my own butt.  The point is, you want hipster clothes, go to hipster stores.  Anyhow.  So there I was in American Apparel buying leggings, and the salespeople are all wearing their American Apparel Salespeople outfits and talking in their hip young-person accent, which I really hope I do not have, and I have a wicked V shaped sunburn on my chest and back, and we’re talking of course about the weather.  The guy at the cash register says the sun made him fall asleep on the bus and be late to work.  Then he tells me a startling statistic.  

“Did you know,” he says, “I hear coffee in Seattle is apparently so strong that people can get their Vitamin D from it.”

So there you go: the Seattle secret.  And if anyone an expert on the benefits of coffee, it’s that sleepy hipster.