Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Practically Channeling Alanis Morrisette Here

I've been thinking for a few days about last year's Thanksgiving post (it's really too depressing to even link to). Revisiting that post, and where I was right at that moment, I sincerely felt what I wrote. My grandmother had just past away, and I was dealing with a lot of intense stuff regarding the ex and marriage ending and all that. I knew that I had so much to be grateful for, but it was really hard to summon the gratitude, or to feel especially good about my blessings.

And in thinking about last year, what's most obvious is how different this year is. I knew then I wouldn't be in the same place this year. I knew the things I was feeling at that time would ease and retreat. I knew things would be better this year.

And they are and I am grateful.

But I didn't realize that the difference would be so great. I figured I'd be a bit better, but not so much so. "Course there was no way of accounting for anything that's happened in the last year, not the focus I put into getting past things and recovering and taking concrete steps to making my life what I want it to be; and certainly not in the way things have developed for me, romantically speaking.

Looking at life right now - a child who is wonderful and handling everything so well, my own freak-outs aside; my family and friends all o.k., surviving through these hard times; my ability to better my situation by studying for a Masters degree, and to work at least part-time to make ends meet; and the wonderful, wonderful man whose presence in my life means more than I could properly articulate - it's easy, so very easy, to feel excited about this holiday season and to feel warm and good and all kinds of gooey things.

At the same time, I'm feeling gratitude for the darkness I went through. This feeling is not new to me. When I go through something stressful or painful, I usually end up feeling thankful that I survived the experience, that I learned something, that I grew, that I allowed myself to really feel and work through such tough emotions.

But what feels different this time around is that I'm grateful for the tough emotions themselves. I'm grateful for the sleepless nights, the silence, the feeling like I wanted the earth to swallow me up. I am grateful for the entire experience, because however awful it was, it brought me here. And *here* is a good place.

This year, the gratitude is very present in my heart. I hope the same is true for you. Here's to a lovely holiday season for us all.

Posted by Tere @ 11/26/2009   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 23, 2009

Now These Things, I Like

I'm kicking off the week o'gratitude with a random list of things I really like. Just because.

1. Caftans. I'm actually a bit horrified by them and worry about looking like a Miami Beach retiree, but the truth is, they're soooo comfortable and appealing to me. And I can easily convince myself that I look adorable in a hippie-dippie kind of way, and that's all I need to throw one on and go about my business. I own just one but have my eye on a couple more, and I'm still not ready to wear it in front of Boyfriend (I need to wait till he's hopelessly, no-looking-back in love with me before attempting it). But man, I really, really like my caftan!

2. My custom-made pillow. I've talked about this awesome pillow before, but people, you have no idea how much I love it. I mean, it was made for me. The makers took into account all my concerns and desires and delivered to my door this wonderful creation that I now can't live without.

3. Books about useless information. Take, for example, The Amazing Book of Useless Information. This book is right up my alley. If it's a book that contains random trivia, on just about any topic, I want it. I can't resist any book that promises me any amount of information, and the wider-spanning that info, the more I love the book.

4. Bacon. But this is no secret. I don't "like" bacon, I need it to survive. In fact, I ate it every single day of my pregnancy, and it was the nonstop desire for it (and cream cheese, too), that tipped me off that something might be up. I can't even describe how much I love bacon. However, back when we were just friends, Boyfriend got me this awesome shirt for my birthday:


Truer words have never been printed on a t-shirt.

5. Cults. I'm endlessly fascinated by cults and have spent a great deal of time researching and studying them. Chalk that up to something I know a ton of useless (or not!) info about.

6. Catalogs that sell a whole bunch of weird shit. Like Taylor Gifts or Carol Wright Gifts or Fingerhut (which, btw, what an awful name for a company). Talk about one-stop shopping for an infinite amount of crap you didn't know you needed! I always see a bunch of odd little things that seem handy and useful. I don't buy them, and right now less than ever, but one day... I surely will.

7. Word Search books. Love 'em. I can spend hours on them.

8. Uno. I have fond memories of playing with my sister; it's just such a fun game. Boyfriend and I have recently played a number of times, and damnit if he doesn't bring out the competitive crazy in me. I suppose I should be fair and say that he's beat me most times, but F that. I've gotten some good wins in. And there are many more to be had. I love me a good ass-whoopin'.

9. Orange Fanta. For the life of me, I can't understand why lately I'm loving this. But I am. It's bizarre, because I've never cared for fruit sodas, nor do I even really drink much soda. But yeah. I had some cans leftover from a party, and I've been guzzling them down like they're the last ones on earth. The can has the audacity to claim it has "100% natural flavors," which amuses me.

10. Getting great seats for a concert. Indigo Girls are coming in February, and guess who got center orchestra, 3rd row? BAM! I'm one happy woman!!

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Posted by Tere @ 11/23/2009   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 20, 2009

Four or Forty Reasons I'm Stressed

The truth is, people, that I've been hating how I sit to write and all that comes out is the sad, depressing shit in my head. See how I just cursed there? That's how upset I am. Having a child (or rather, a child who was saying, "G-d damnit!" every time I said it) has pretty much cured me of my awful sailor mouth, enough so that when I'm not with him and the f-bomb pops out of my mouth, it feels strange. Which is weird, because honestly, I used to curse A LOT.

Anyway, it's all well and good that this space allows me the luxury of navel-gazing into all the deeper stuff that I don't keep top of mind on a daily basis, but really. It's taxing to get to that place where all that stuff is accessible, because real life has me very busy, with 30,000 things to do, and they're probably too boring to write about, but hey, it's my blog and I get to bore whomever I want to! Whoo!

I'm currently under very deep stress about school, seeing as how I've got 2 final exams, a long-ass paper, and a tedious project to complete, all before Dec. 5, and in-between, I'll be traveling. The traveling, though, will be awesome, as I'll be with Boyfriend. But still, I'm stressed. I've had SO much reading to do these last weeks and it's been tricky to keep up. I continue to feel really frustrated over how disjointed this whole experience feels.

On top of that, I've got like all these things to keep in mind and take care of: the trip next week with Boyfriend (let's hope his dad and the rest of his family like me, yes?), Christmas, a holiday party I'm throwing for my cousins, my BFF's wedding (of which I'm the maid of honor and which is totally going to rock), and - I... I don't know. Listing just this has exhausted me.

Meanwhile, I've been grappling with having to face a really dark thing about myself: I'm addicted to catalogs and it's extremely hard to resist ordering all kinds of things. Really. Every day, a new catalog, full of clothes, shoes, toys, kitchen gadgets, etc. And every day, I mark like 500 things I want, knowing I can't order any of it, and then I spend a few days negotiating with myself about it. It's sick. I'm sick. So far, I haven't ordered a thing, but who knows what catalog will come next that makes me crack? Pray for me.

Oh, and I've been agonizing over new checks I need to order. First of all, yes, I still use checks. I use them for three things: to pay my rent, to pay Max's school, and to pay my car. You would think that I could pay my car online, wouldn't you? But to do so, I get charged an extra $5, which is so inconvenient and archaic and bullshit that it insults me. Anyway, I'm down to my last book and need new ones. I've had - for years - these great DC Comics ones that include Wonder Woman (because in case you didn't know, I'm a crazy WW fan). Turns out they've been discontinued, and I'm left to choose from a bunch of poor choices. I've been trying to decide what to get for two weeks now. Who the hell takes two weeks to pick checks? This is now completely absurd.

Meanwhile, amongst all these very important things that are crowding my brain, I've had to deal with some stuff (as evidenced by some of my writing here lately) related to the ex, and what it all brings to mind is actually something that I think might surprise you: I really wish I could joke about all this. I wish I was in a situation where I could be funny about all this and not have to worry about it being misinterpreted. I already have to deal with his cadre of informants that read this blog and purportedly report everything to him, and the way they or he misconstrue everything; and I already have to deal with him being all kinds of accusatory and paranoid and mean to/with me whenever the drama and chaos in his personal life gets out of hand (which seems to be a lot lately). And yet, I just want to crack some jokes about it all. There was a time when I thought - if his feelings have changed and this relationship is not what he wants, what I really want is for a close friendship to remain. I used to think that you couldn't possibly spend so many years with someone and not come out of it with some kind of closeness and kinship. When it became really clear that that wasn't going to happen, I began to feel what I normally feel about most things in my life: humor makes it all more bearable.

And for a long time now, what I've really wanted is to make jokes about this. Because honestly, I can see some humor (however dark) in all this. When the intense darkness and pain and sadness had eased, what remained was my usual desire to cope with life by being (trying to be) funny. And oh, I know: the way I write here about him, you might not guess that. But things come out here a certain way because I usually write when the damage is flaring and/or I'm really frustrated at whatever nonsense is going on, and what gets published is the best that I can do at expressing what I feel while trying to not be a total bitch about it. I might fail at that, which is unfortunate. Because really, in an ideal world, we'd be friendly and full of humor. I swear, sometimes I want to slap myself over how far off the mark I've been in my thoughts about what all this would be like. Silly Tere. But well. So far I've been too busy trying to dodge random, unprovoked shitstorms to want to take on the consequences my sense of humor might carry.

Whew. That's my mind, in 30 different places over the course of five minutes. I write as I write many times, with the hope that in vocalizing the things that stress me out, I will be free of them. And yet, within the last few minutes alone, my son has yelled out at me from the bedroom that he loves me and misses me (and he probably does, but he's also stalling to not have to go to sleep), and Boyfriend has sent me some incredibly sweet text messages. And so I can't help but think, stress and all, I'm one lucky woman.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/20/2009   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Love

There was something about the way everything happened that made me think I'd be a fool to ever allow anyone in my life in any significant way again. I'm not sure what it was: the marriage-goes-KABLAM experience itself, all that preceded it, how much I'd loved my ex-husband, or the fact that I had a small son to protect and focus on. But I felt that, deeply and clearly. I felt that I couldn't go through something so devastating, to have failed so spectacularly, then just start up with someone new as if none of that had happened. I thought the scars would be too many, the baggage too heavy.

I thought, too, about my son, and the fear that no man would ever have room in his heart for him (and less than that, I will not accept), or would even want to take him/me on, and how that alone closed that option to me.

More than anything, though, I thought about love. And what I thought was, that's not something I deserve. You don't fail in this way, you don't put a child in the middle of this mess, and then think you get some happiness when the dust settles. I wasn't on some martyr trip; I just didn't think I had the right to it. Why should I get to have anything beautiful and good when the thing I thought I was fighting so hard for was the very thing I killed?

Also, the truth was that my stomach churned at the mere thought of having real feelings for anyone again. I could date, I could screw, I could find endless distractions - but I could not love. Didn't want to. Didn't want the headache, the stress, the heartache. No one would ever be worth the pain again, because for me, love has always been synonymous with suffering. I'd seen what effort and giving and honesty had gotten me: nothing. Or rather, my heart handed to me on a platter and my life, and my son's life, ripped apart.

Yeah, love? Not worth it. I knew I had the capacity to love, and that based on the kind of person I am, that I would not become cynical towards love or close myself to those kinds of feelings. I just did not think I could really allow it into my life, and that even if I did, I would never know anything except what I'd always known, and that kind of love - it just hurt too much to be desirable anymore.

I've spent countless nights ruminating about love. In the wake of my marriage's implosion, I wondered, predictably so, if my (ex)husband had ever really loved me, and found too many examples that showed that his love, if that's what it was, was too shallow and limited to ever be what I considered real (or perhaps a better way to say it, to have been of substance). I will never know the answer to that, and in a way, the answer doesn't even matter. I thought about the love I felt, and the way that love changed and grew over the years. It seemed to me that I could trace its evolution, from its very selfish roots to the place it was when that love no longer mattered, and it seemed like I could point to the specific things that allowed it to deepen and grow stronger. I thought about how, ultimately, regardless of what I felt, all that counted was I had not made as good and hard an effort to show those feelings and to take care of what I had as I thought I had. I thought, too, about my son, and the love - the intense, giant, overwhelming love - that had come to define my life. It was my son, in fact, who finally brought me to a place where I did not fear love, where I understood what real love was and how it can forever change a person and make them feel and do things they never thought they could.

Of course, I thought about friends and family, and the varied ways in which our relationships and love for each other had grown and endured, and how this particularly difficult period was showing me a new depth to those relationships. I thought about my future, about what it was I could realistically hope for myself. I understood during those long, sad nights that I would never again dream. I would never go past a certain line, the one where you hope for the best and stay open but also remain firmly realistic. I think I was able to understand what I felt, what I believed, and find a certain peace with those.

What did I believe, then? I believed in my own very real capacity to love, profoundly, and in my ability to express that love. I believed that I could be fearless, and, if it came into my life, that I could walk into new love with my arms open and my heart eager. I believed that I could be good to and for someone, and that I was not doomed to relive what I'd already known, or repeat my own mistakes. I believed that love, no matter who it comes from and how it's shared, cannot be taken advantage of, in any way. I believed that while there is indeed an element to love that is unknown and unpredictable and that we can't necessarily control what we feel and whom we feel it for, love in the end is a choice. It is a choice that requires courage and practicality and faith and trust and openness and compassion and gratitude, but it is a choice nonetheless.

I don't know if anything about my beliefs is right or realistic or what. It's just what I feel, and these are things I keep coming back to, so there has to be something solid there.

And I think now about how everything has changed for me. I think about the things we never account for because they just don't seem within our realm of possibility. I think about how unexpected and shocking it was to fall for a friend, and am in awe at how sweet and tender it has been. I am filled with wonder, with a sharp awareness of its fragility. I think about his fearlessness, and the strength I find in it. I think about the small ways in which love grows and keep hoping that I have it in me to nurture and cherish it. I think about the choices before me.

And I know what I will choose.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/19/2009   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hold, Please

I can't continue with the moroseness I've been carrying around lately. Not just because it's unhealthy, but also because I'm about to get on a plane, and my possibly imminent death is kinda front and center right now.

I have a fun-as-hell weekend ahead of me: my BFF's bachlorette party in Atlantic City (my house is being guarded, so don't get any ideas!). I know I'm going to have a blast, but right now, as usual, it's the flying that's got me fa-reaked out.

It'll be o.k. It'll be o.k. It'll be o.k.

Right?

Meanwhile, I think I might want to share my adventure in AC as I'm experiencing and might experiment through Twitter. If you're so inclined, follow along here.

And finally, the most important part: if anything should happen, please make sure my son knows he was my everything.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/13/2009   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Things I Tell Myself that May or May or May Not Be True

UGH. I've been trying to write for a few hours, but I find that I'm just going on and on, veering off into these tangents that are only marginally related to what I really want to say, and I'm really just very frustrated and tired and unable to just say what I want to say.

I had to delete what I had, figuring that starting over was better than the mess I had going on.

The thing is this: I feel all this pain over the back-and-forth that is my son's life. Far beyond my own pain, it's him that I worry about. I see how sometimes he's anxious and unsettled, and how he acts out because of it. And while 95% of the time he is happy and well-adjusted, it still hurts. I don't want him to feel confused, or like he has to choose between his mom or dad, which is what I sense sometimes. However routine this has become, however civil his parents are in his presence, he's still just four years old and trying to figure it all out. And as he gets older, the questions are becoming more complex, with answers that I can't fully explain and he can't fully grasp.

And yet, the alternative to this was worse. One of the things that hits me quite hard is feeling like this boy of mine never stood a chance. Even if he had never had to know "mommy's house" and "daddy's house" and the back-and-forth, he still would have had it rough. Had his dad and I stayed together, then he would have grown up in a perpetually tense home, with a mom who was always pissy, and a dad who was always in a sour mood, and a mom and dad who couldn't go too long without a fight. It was because of this, when his father made it clear that he was not in a place where he could really work on the marriage, and when he said enough for me to understand his true feelings, that I chose to end my marriage. I did not want the alternative for my son. I didn't want him to feel tense and uncomfortable in his own house, to be fearful, to a know a mother who was only ever frustrated and short and snappy and just pretty damn awful all around.

So this - these two homes, this back-and-forth - this is actually better. My son now gets to enjoy a mom who still might yell, but who is so much funner and more patient and relaxed, and less stressed (waaaaay less stressed) and overwhelmed. He has a home with me that is peaceful and simple, and where he seems completely comfortable.

But I think that lately, these feelings are coming up and affecting me because my life seems ever more normal, and pretty routine and overall content - and these things all clash with the back-and-forth, with the part of my life that will forever be fractured, and it feels so painful and unfair that it kills me. I don't actually disagree with the back-and-forth; I fully support his dad's right to be with him as much as I'm with him. It's really more about the effects of the back-and-forth, the way he's here and then he's not, and my constant wondering of what that must feel like for him; if, because he's been doing it since he was two-and-a-half, this is his own kind of normal, or if it's confusing or sad or frustrating. Is he in limbo? Does he feel like he belongs anywhere, like any place is "home"?

And then I tell myself all these things that seem really rational, that support my general feeling that he is o.k. and this is o.k. and in the long-run he will not be all messed up and having awful relationships and spending half his life on the therapist's couch. But the more I tell myself these things, the more I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not just lying to myself. I'm completely convinced that the alternative would have been worse; but what about the rest of it? I tell myself that even under these circumstances, I can give him a true sense of home and belonging; I tell myself that as long as his dad and I cooperate on the important things, he will be o.k.; I tell myself that he is surrounded by people who love him and who shower him with affection; that it could all be so much worse, in so many ways; I tell myself that I'm a stable person who thinks things over really well, who examines things from all angles, and that these qualities help me make good decisions for him and myself and us; that I've come far in healing and dealing with a lot of personal stuff, and this makes me able to keep a lot of my own emotional, deep issues in perspective when it comes to making decisions for and about him; I tell myself that this is life, it just is, and that the attitude I take on about it will serve as an example to him, so I better choose wisely.

I'm scared of the fact that emotionally, I feel much calmer and more optimistic and healthier than I ever have, and that I won't be able to reconcile that with this other part, the part where my son has to pay some kind of price for all this. I can't describe how much it sucks to realize (and to repeatedly confirm whenever things with his father get problematic) that this was the right decision, and yet the right decision has made a victim out of my son. And yet, even without this decision, my son would have been a victim anyway.

Ay. F me. I'm exhausted.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/11/2009   | | | links to this post

Saturday, November 07, 2009

This is Not the Kind of Mother I Wanted to Be

Every other week, my son is mine. I have him with me, for a good chunk of days, until he goes to his father, and then every other week, I am without him. Without the boy who is my everything, he who is meant to be with me all the time, every single day, and not just every other week.

This is not the kind of mother I wanted to be. This is not how it was supposed to be for me, for him.

Before his father moved out and he was still all mine all the time, but after it was clear that the life I knew was ending, I cried every single night over what lay ahead. I missed him even as he lay right there next to me. I cried for all the nights that lay ahead that he would not be with me, for his confusion, for the way his father and I robbed him of having a normal life.

And I would rage. I would rage at the man who still lay in bed with me, wanting to tear him apart for giving up, for not looking back, for his indifference, for the nonchalant way he was dismantling our life.

But before I faced that first night alone without my son, before I became someone who was fractured, I resolved to not let myself sink into these feelings. I made myself stop crying and forbade myself to obsess on his absence and be consumed by the sadness and anger and guilt. I understood that we would never move forward, never know anything close to normal, if I did any of that. Cliche as it is, for his sake, I would have to be strong and normal.

And so, I have been. I don't cry. I don't think more than necessary about how I imagined motherhood would be, how his life would be. I don't wallow in the knowledge that I will never be able to mother this child as I was meant to, and as he needs. I don't allow myself to even think about the giant hole in my soul because he is not here all the time. I try instead to just offer him as much normalcy and stability as I can. I fight the constant desire to hold him and squeeze him within an inch of his life, to tell him how much I miss him, for fear that it will bring added anxiety. I am instead firm mommy and mean mommy and mommy who doesn't tolerate tantrums and who counts to three and who nags. He knows nothing of my grief, and I refuse to let him sense any sadness in me, because he will pick up on it and worry.

At night now, I just read to him and lie with him for a few minutes before leaving the room and continuing on with my night. I am fractured and I accept it and normally do a good job of handling it.

But then there are nights like tonight. Nights when he seems more vulnerable than usual, quieter, sadder. Nights when he's falling asleep pressed against my chest, his fingers trailing my cheek, my neck, my clavicle, while he repeatedly coos, "sweet, beautiful mommy." Nights when I cave, when the tears just pour out and drench the pillow, and all the feelings, the feelings that I normally push down well enough, rise up and devour me.

I go from being fractured to being broken.

This is not the kind of mother I wanted to be.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/07/2009   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 06, 2009

Things I Don't Like

The record needs to show that I seriously dislike the following things:

1. Hearts. Oh, how I dislike hearts! Anything with hearts on it (especially jewelry - gah!!), I want nothing to do with it. Keep it away from me. I won't wear clothing with hearts, or have any decorative knick knack with hearts, etc. I know at some point Max will be forced to make something heart-related for me at school, and that'll be o.k. I'll love that just because it's him, and really, a paper heart is kinda cute. Actually, a heart on a paper is about all I can stand. Otherwise, no - just, no.

2. Teddy bears. They're useless.

3. Snobby Hipsters. I'd love to be as cool as the next person; really, I'd love to be hip to all the latest trends, the in-the-know news, the "it" pop cultural things and the newest wave of cool, witty terms; I'd love to be even snarkier than I already am. But honestly? It's exhausting. I've got too much going on to stay on top of all that. And when you're on top of all that, and you're a jerk to those of us who aren't, I really just want to smack you. Because it doesn't make you cooler or hipper or snarkier. It just exposes you for the insecure tool you really are.

4. Stud earrings. I don't find them attractive. I'll wear them if they're the absolute best choice for the outfit, but thankfully, that's rarely the case.

5. Runny egg whites. I'm not one to easily get grossed out, but runny egg whites freak me the hell out. They're so gross I literally get nauseous. Gross. So, so gross.

6. Pearls. I'm just not a pearl person.

7. Figurines. I recently noticed that the only real decorative items in my house are pictures and candle holders. I have a couple of figurine-type things that have some kind of sentimental value (like a big seahorse! yeah!), but I have nothing like Precious Moments, or LLadrĂ³, or themed pieces like angels or cows or anything like that (oh wait, there's the mermaids, but that's a different thing altogether). I think that while figurines work well in other homes, they just don't in mine. They'd make me feel crowded.

8. Twitter. Oh, Twitter. My love/hate relationship with you continues. I've shared my feelings about Twitter before. Generally speaking, it's useless. I'm just not a fan (even though I've enjoyed the tweets from some things I follow and find useful, like NPR and NYTimesFood).

However, my attitude's changed a little. You see, I work from home now, and I spend the entire time in front of the computer. Being alone, at the computer, I find that I miss being around people, and that my mind races with random thought after random thought; I can barely keep up. It's too much to post here, because even though I like sharing silly little thoughts from time to time, it would just be too disorderly to do so. And since I've long felt that Twitter is a wasteland of random thoughts, well now, I've found my people and can spew away without actually bugging anyone I know and care about (and those friends who are regulars on Twitter clearly aren't annoyed by it or else they wouldn't be doing the same thing).

I joined Twitter way back in 2007 and have always kept my tweets private (mainly due to stalker-type issues). In dabbling with it now (and lord knows how long this will last anyway), I've decided to open up my tweets to the public, and will probably keep it that way until it gets too creepy for my comfort level, should that even happen.

You're a love as it is for reading this blog of mine, and I in no way expect anyone reading this to give a hoot about my tweets. But in case it means that much to you, here it is, then, my Twitter feed.

Next up: a list of things I do like.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/06/2009   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Boot Plan

I was all prepared to declare something miraculous: I don't need boots this year! I have every style and color that I need!

And then.

I remembered that I don't have gray boots. And I want those. Gray suede, to be exact. I found this great pair, for a crazy $35 - perfect color, perfect style. But I wasted too much time agonizing over them, wondering if it was appropriate to get them, wondering it it would be too irresponsible, blah, blah, blah. And of course, they sold out.

So no pretty gray suede boots for me.

Yet. I won't be making that mistake again.

p.s. Speaking of things I want, I've been updating my wishlist lately, after having abandoned it for months. Looky here, all fresh and updated for you. Or me, really.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/03/2009   | | | links to this post