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June 16, 2011 / Danielle


Y’all may have noticed that, purging aside? I haven’t been writing a ton on the experience of not-shopping at the moment.

I do have some thoughts I’ve been stewing on about the evolution of one’s personal style without purchasing anything new (and those will arrive whenever I have two seconds to string them together properly) Other than that, however? I’ve honestly not been terribly aware of my shopping ban.

There are things I’m noticing my closet actually needs, sure; I’ve been reaching pretty frequently for a red cardigan, my last pair of black yoga pants gave up the fight, and I’m still not sure how I made it this far without some sort of casual army-green-or-demin jacket. But other than those three pieces? (Which, trust me, I’ll happily explore in greater depth – I’m already making choices on the specifics of each piece, more than 200 days out from being able to buy’em.) I’m just not finding not-shopping such an issue right now.

I’m pretty happy to chalk this up to The Big Move; having a scant seven-six weeks left in my beloved city, there’s so much on my plate that I’m just lacking the free time to browse and daydream as I used to. (Yes, I quit my day job, but I added thrice-weekly Pilates, a bunch of play-readings, and Packing Up My Whole Apartment While Simultaneously Finding A New One to the list as well.) I think it also helps that my lifestyle has undergone a change; not only am I not sitting at the computer eight hours a day, searching the internet and finding temptation, but I’m now wearing a lot of the casual clothes I couldn’t pull off before. (Finding a whole new look in one’s t-shirt drawer? Delightful.)

All that said, though? I’d like to think that the change does just have something to do with me breaking my old habits.

I’ve touched briefly, before, on the notion that for me? Fashion was a way to hide from theatre. Or, rather, from being disappointed by my artistic career. It was easy to express myself creativity while feeling enormously in control; that’s essentially absent from being an actor. (Meisner class taught me nothing if not that being in the moment? Almost always means feeling like you’re balancing on the knife edge and sometimes falling over. And dudes, that’s just doing the work – saying nothing of the frustration and difficulty of walking into a room, creating (and replicating, often) the two most important moments of that character’s life, and then having to shrug it off without even taking a moment to say “whew! That was intense! Ok, back to normal things!) (And then? Being dismissed from contention because you’re two inches too tall to play opposite the guy they’ve already cast.)

I love what I do, and I don’t mean to bitch; I’m so happy to be getting the amazing opportunity to do it full time for the next two years, and to come out the other side with more tools in my arsenal. But I’m realizing that for me? Fashion was a safe and controllable way to express myself when disappointment in my acting life was beating me up.

All I had to do was the find the money, and that dress/those shoes/that adorable headband? Was mine. It was that simple. No one could tell me no. It wasn’t subject to the whims of the head honchos (and just what kind of a look they want in someone who’s teaching their employees how to talk about the new Verizon phones*) . Fashion, and new things, were equal-opportunity, a level playing field. No one needed me to bare my soul or work on that oh-so-tricky process of tricking my imagination into believing something strange to me. All I had to do was swipe my card.

One of my goals in this project, beyond saving money/breaking my bad habit, was to see what would happen if I redirected all this covetous energy. I hoped it could sustain me by turning into creativity; that I’d be able to use it to mix-and-remix rather than buy-and-buy-again. So far, that’s worked well enough (despite the tough days.) I’m happy to discover, though, that it’s also been leading me back to the creative world I love. That I now know that one meaning of those urges, for me, is a thirst to express myself, and to feel creatively valuable. Just like trying to learn that craving cookies almost always means I need more rest/more leisure/to take better care of myself, I’m discovering that wanting to buy stuff is about control and expression, and occasionally comfort.

I honestly believe that it’s no accident that I began this project and my life began to change.

In any case – it’s been 150 days – and while I’d happily snatch up any of the pieces I’ve filed into a mental wishlist (there’s a long-sleeved T from anthro that is killllling me from several months back)? I’m not sure where I would begin, were I to start shopping now.

Now, we know this tends to be cyclical, so; no doubt I will be back in a week bitching to all of you about how desperate I am for such-and-such, and how it’s painful to keep up this shopping Iron Curtain. But being distracted from it, and returned to my first-and-foremost love?

It ain’t so bad.

*actual audition, no lie.


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