What’s Nordstrom up to these days?

Don’t get me wrong. I like shopping at Nordstrom and The Rack as much as the next woman who’s looking to fill that hole in her soul with a new pair of jeans, cute little booties, and a cashmere sweater. I’m in.

But there’s apparently a segment of Nordstrom buyers who have lost their GD minds. My husband says his family is afflicted with the curse of the “Coffin Compromise” – that’s when you pay far too much money for something that’s really a piece of crap.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, Exhibit A – I’ve been mauled by a puma

These are called “chewed-hem” jeans. In Nordstrom’s own words, which are intended to promote these jeans for sale:

The distressing on these slouchy nonstretch jeans suggests something with large teeth has mauled the hems.

How is this a selling point for any piece of clothing?? Wear these jeans and you’ll look like you’ve been attacked by a wild animal! Is that the fashion statement most gals want to make? I spent $540 on these jeans, just had my hair and nails done, and I look like I’ve been attacked by a puma!

There’s a shorts version too, that is also “off-kilter”:

Again, in Nordstrom’s own words:

A deconstructed, asymmetrical front delivers a cool off-kilter vibe to fiercely slashed and shredded nonstretch-denim shorts.

I looked up “off-kilter” in the dictionary. It means “somewhat ill; not completely well”. Which you would be, if a puma just attacked you and your shorts. And you paid $531 for them and they don’t even button up straight. (Aside: Why are the shorts the same price as the jeans – shouldn’t shorts for obvious reasons be cheaper that full-length jeans?)

Are real women actually buying these jeans??

Exhibit B – “We meant to do this”

This “off-kilter” thing seems to be a trend now:

According to Nordstrom, it’s a “new slant” (guffaw) on skinny jeans, with an asymmetrical front closure. Or a factory error that’s been turned into a marketing opportunity. Only $414.

Speaking of factory errors:

In Nordstrom’s words, this denim jacket has more “off-kilter styling” with a “misaligned placket” and “mussed wing collar”. Isn’t this code for, we really screwed up, but now we’re saying “I totally meant to do that“, and now it’s $1400?

Exhibit C – Make up your mind

If choosing the colour of your jeans in the morning is the hardest decision you have to make all day, you need to get a job like mine.

These are “bicolour” jeans. Black jeans are great. White jeans are cool. Pick a team. Make a decision.

I initially looked at these jeans and thought, OK, kinda cute, pretty normal, but why $2K?

And then I realized – they are “pieced together” jeans:

I mean, are they horrifically awful? I wouldn’t say so. No animal has gnawed them, so that’s a plus. But I’m not digging them. Pick a team: blue or black.

And then there’s this multi-colour atrocity:

These are panelled wide-leg jeans that give you “an artsy reconstructed look”.

No, they are clown jeans.

Exhibit D – “I’ve got too much money and bad taste to boot”

  

Tulle & denim mermaid skirt. Also off-kilter, as you will see. Only $2175.

I am speechless. There are no adjectives.

And along the same lines – by the same designer – and only $3600, this denim jacquard tulle dress:

And somehow the back works two different ways (trying to figure this out):

 

Not only is it ugly as hell, but it’s unflattering. The top is about as stylish as a hospital gown. The bottom is a schizophrenic hot mess.

Nordstrom Actually Has Pretty Denim!

On the bright side, to show that I’m fair-minded, Nordstrom’s denim offerings include some pieces that I can totally get behind. I couldn’t possibly wear them, but I get why someone who’s sane and stylish would:

Super cute Ralph Lauren denim dress. $560.

Ditto this zebra-print Calvin Klein A-line. My law partner MJ would rock this. She’s sane, stylish, and super conservative. She would never pay $1400 for a dress (nor would I), but this would look great on her.

I had a jean skirt very like this in undergrad and wore the hell out of it. $440. I wish the model was wearing cute booties with the skirt – and a cashmere sweater:

Sold!

I actually wore an “outfit” to work

And it received so many unduly positive comments that I’m worried I look like a horrible slob 99% of the time. (I do wear jeans pretty much every day …)

Vince Camuto “faux-fur” cardigan. I thought I looked like a 1970s pimp (i.e., I could hang around with Huggy Bear on Starsky & Hutch and we’d blend).

Franca said it was more Prince circa Raspberry Beret. I’ll take that. But then it really should have been purple.

Hey – if Vince Camuto sold that cardigan in purple, I’d totally buy it.

I have to say I do like these Calvin Klein black & white stretch pants.

And a bold print b&w top:

Doesn’t seem particularly remarkable. I guess I need to up my game.

The brilliance of Crystal Pite’s Revisor

I saw Revisor last night with Holly. It’s the latest dance from choreographer Crystal Pite, with story by Jonathon Young. A Kidd Pivot production.

And it blew me away.

I’ve been a fan of Pite since seeing her award-winning Emergence at the National Ballet of Canada years ago (and I’ve seen it every year since when it’s on offer at NBC). It’s a ballet about insects in a hive and what is means to be part of a community. And it’s beyond fabulous. And … tattoos.

Revisor is an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 play, The Inspector General – a farce, a comedy, about the absolute corruption, oppression, greed, and tyranny within an unidentified “Complex” in the interior of Russia.

Revisor took me a while to get into. The first part of the performance is effectively a retelling or imitation of the play, with recorded dialogue and Russian costumes (and dance, yes). It tells the story of the people who operate the Complex and their purpose – holding prisoners, torturing dissidents, rounding up the masses. And their ultimate purpose is looking out for their own asses when they get word from a “trusted source” that an inspector from the “Centre” is coming to check them out.

After about 20 minutes of watching this story play out, I started to wonder what I had signed up for. A Russian farce about corruption and tyranny wasn’t really what got me out of the house on a Saturday evening (both Holly and I being homebodies on the weekends).

But then Revisor transformed (revised), brilliantly, into a dance performance showcasing the inner machinations of the creator who is adapting the Russian play for a modern audience. The female narrator, representing the creator (both Jonathan as writer and Crystal as choreographer and director, I assume), identifies the key figures in the story and its plot points and translates them into dance movements that drive the heart of the narrative, that reach into the heart of the characters’ motivations.

It reminded me of something very prosaic, but it’s the best analogy I have – the “reveal codes” function in WordPerfect. WordPerfect is a long-gone  word processing program people my age used in the olden days; your document is displayed on screen, but with a command, you could “reveal codes” to see the coding behind your document’s formatting. That’s what Revisor did, it revealed the thought process behind transforming a 19th century Russian farce into a 21st century modern dance. It strips away the costumes, the dialogue, and the farce of the first part of the performance and lays bare the creativity and inspiration behind the dance. It stops being an imitation and becomes a very personal, beautiful, and affecting dance performance that, I think, is also an indictment of our modern world.

At one point towards the end of the “reveal codes” piece, the dancer who plays the character of the “subject” (the Revisor mistaken for the Inspector) is left alone on stage. Having learned about the atrocities at the Complex, her (yes, it’s turns out the Revisor is and always was a she, another revision) movements convey her pain. A moment very reminiscent of Heart of Darkness (the horror, the horror, said Kurtz).

The female narrator says repeatedly, as the subject moves about the stage in pain and confusion, the subject is moved. Meaning, the subject is physically moving, the subject is being moved and directed by the creator, the subject is emotionally moved by discovering these atrocities. And the subject is also the creator, moved by the original play and how it resonates in current times. You cannot watch Revisor without believing that it’s inspired by the venal corruption of Trump, his greed, and his debasement of democracy and all things decent.**

And it’s so clever. “Revisor” has so many meanings. First, it’s the Russian character from the original play – the “subject” who shows up at the Complex from the Centre and is mistaken for the titular Inspector. Actually, he’s not an Inspector at all; he’s a revisor – he’s there to change a comma in the Centre’s charter.

And then the creators fundamentally revise the play in the second part to create the “reveal codes” stripped down version of the story.

In the middle of the “reveal codes” piece, the creator also starts pausing – rethinking and editing her own creation – with the narrator chanting that she wants to make one “simple revision”. Again, it’s all about the process of creativity, honing and fine-tuning as one expects a great choreographer like Pite does again and again. The artistic process of determining, in a final piece of art, what stays and what goes.

I haven’t even touched upon the dance, the movements, the fluidity – and sometimes the scary spasmodic jerkiness. I realize I don’t even have a vocabulary to describe it – it’s transfixing. Jermaine Spivey was a wonder as the Postmaster Weiland, a bureaucrat who has seen and read too much and is literally being torn apart with the knowledge of everything that’s going on and not being addressed on the surface.

Last night was the last performance, I’m afraid. If it was on again tonight, I’d be trying to get rush tickets to experience it all over.

**As an endnote, if you really want to get scared about how bad it could get under Trump’s autocratic regime, read Graeme’s blog on how Trump is literally contemplating starting a civil war:

https://theneedlefish.com/2019/03/14/say-whos-up-for-a-good-ole-down-home-civil-war/

And the rug hooking continues

I spent this Saturday afternoon starting to finish my nine (!) rug hooking projects that I’ve completed since last summer. So happy my sister-in-law Anne introduced me to rug hooking and Deanne Fitzpatrick’s studio in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Since then … hours of calm creating these rugs. And a few hours of frustration. The Wave (picture below) was a real challenge for me.

Graeme keeps asking … what are they for? They aren’t for anything. They are for me. What are you going to do with them? Who knows. Anne says some of them can be used as coasters for my coffee.

But the next thing I need to do with them is finish them. They need to be steam-ironed, cut to size, with edges crisply folded. Then the backings get sewn up nice and neat.

Turns out I really like 3/4 of that finishing process – and I got all rugs 3/4 done. But the sewing is not my forte, I’m afraid. I can sew, it’s the “nice and neat” part I struggle with. Looks like I had a seizure when I sewed up Mr. Sheep below. It’s a bit scary, but who looks at the back anyways? Right? I’m hopeful, but not at all convinced, I’ll get better as I work my way through the other 8 rugs.

Pictures below:

Fun compare/contrast – here’s a picture of Anne’s Wave, from the same kit (granted colours do vary). But she really made it her own. I love it. Plus, her stitches are beyond perfect and I’m jealous.

Anne has since finished it:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt04MiaDm5b/

Anne’s rug hooking is at a level I don’t even aspire to. Perfect stitching. She creates her own patterns! Come on.

Graeme says I’m horribly envious, but I like to think that I am unburdened by the strive for perfectionism that afflicts Anne (aka content to be crappy!)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvHMUPNBbEe/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvHM6HNhpdE/

Next time, take the pill

Turns out I had to have an MRI this week. My first. It’s for something that will turn out to be pretty inconsequential, so I’m not too fussed. But I was fussed about the MRI – based on what I had heard anecdotally, the experience was going to trigger all of my neurotic buttons.

A few years back, a colleague described to me her MRI experience, in some detail. Arguably too much detail. She was undergoing fertility treatments. By the time she’d finished telling her story (she wasn’t keen on it at all), I could tell my blood pressure had shot off the charts. I was crawling under my skin just hearing about it. Being told not to move, being encased in a tight metal tube, the obligatory itchy nose you can do nothing about, the (incorrect) perception of suffocation. Check check check. All of my triggers.

I don’t like to be told not to move, and I don’t like a tight space with no room to move. I think this dates back to my brother picking on me as a kid – he used to hold my arms over my head, and it freaked me out big time (bigly, as Trump would say). Sometimes squeezing into the cramped middle seat of an airplane can trigger me. Even sitting still for a haircut can sometimes make me itchy all over, muscles spasming in protest. Being squished into the corner of an overcrowded subway car definitely gets me going, and I have to focus, and breathe, and realize that I can get out at the next stop if I have to.

I was packed on a sardined subway car back in January 1999 – during Toronto’s big “we called the army in” snow storm that we were forever mocked about. And the subway car just stopped. Ice on the tracks or something had to be dealt with. Probably stopped dead for 8 minutes, no personal space, people on all sides of me, breathing other people’s air, cocooned in layers of wool, sweat running down my back, nowhere to go. I nearly lost my mind. I can actually start hyperventilating just thinking about it.

So when the MRI presented itself, I was concerned. Went through the checklist with my doctor’s nurse – do you have a pacemaker, any metal shards in your eyes, diabetes – no, no, no.

Are you claustrophobic? YES!

No worries, dear, the doctor will prescribe you an anti-anxiety medication to take before the test. Someone will have to pick you up afterwards, it makes you a bit loopy.

Fine.

I received no instructions on just when to take the pill. The instructions from the hospital’s MRI clinic said to bring the medication with me, and to show up early.  So I figured they’d tell me when to take it.

I showed up super early. I asked when I should take it. The admitting clerk said she’d tell me. And then she didn’t.

I’m looking at the signs all over the waiting room saying outpatients, like me, may be bumped for inpatients, since the hospital is a stroke and trauma centre and they need the MRI for emergencies. Hardly anyone in the waiting room. Let’s hope this goes smoothly, let’s just get it over with.

Just as I was thinking, better take the pill now, there’s my name being called. Pavlovian, I spring up, leave my purse (and pill bottle) with hubs, and off I went.

After I got gowned, as the technician started to tell me about the injections I’d get (contrast, etc.), I realized, WAIT, I need to go get my anti-anxiety pill. And the technician scoffed. You won’t need that. You’re getting a pelvic MRI – I’ll send you in feet first, he said. Your head will be sticking out the back, you’ll be fine. It’ll be better this way, he said.

Hmmmm.

So, how long does this thing last anyway?

THIRTY-FIVE TO FORTY MINUTES.

Waaaaa? That’s about twice as long as the worst case scenario I allowed myself to contemplate.

OK, I better go get my pill.

We’re ready to take you now. You won’t need it. How do you even know you’re claustrophic? You’ve never even had an MRI. You can even sleep through it, we put headphones on to cancel out the noise. What do you do for a living? You’re a lawyer? Think about a file, it’ll be fine.

So, steamrolled more than persuaded, and trusting that if this guy saw people melt down 12 times a day, he’d be telling me to take the pill, off I went into the MRI room.

Lie down on the table, feet first. OK. Another guy (not my “you’ll be fine” technician) presses the button to move the platform into the MRI. My legs go in, my torso goes in, my shoulders go in, and about 80% of my head goes in. And I freak out.

WAAAAAIT. I thought my head was going to be outside. Nope, this is how it is.

I need my pill.

Too late, it takes 20 minutes to kick in (someone finally tells me).

Positioning dude takes the pillow from under my head so that my face isn’t right up against the top of the machine, and that gives me a bit of breathing room. If I look straight up and back, I can see outside the MRI to the flourescents on the ceiling. I’m not completely entombed. I’ve got a call button in my hand just in case, although the unspoken message is you’re not encouraged to use it.

I like to think I can handle shit, and I also want to get this over with and not screw with the queue (even though, I’m in the machine at least 1/2 hour early). Let’s just get this the fuck over with.

So it goes. They run the imaging tests in 3-4 minute bursts. They tell you when each one is starting, ask you if you are OK after each one. Each burst has a different rhythm – it’s like you’re in a dance club, and sometimes it’s heavy metal, and sometimes it’s more punk, and sometimes it’s disco. One sounds like that song from the Flat Eric video. I’m thinking about my very musical brother-in-law, who’s probably had a dozen MRIs. He may actually enjoy this. I’ll have to ask him.

I imagine I can feel the magnet pulling on my cells, tickling my insides. The magnets are so strong in some bursts that the platform under me vibrates.

Complicating matters is no water 5 hours before the test. I am a fish. I drink water all day long, I use lip balm about 80 million times a day. I don’t like dry lips, dry mouth, dry throat. I’m having trouble swallowing, as you do when you’re dry, when you’re stressed. Makes you feel like you are suffocating, can’t breathe.

I’m breathing super heavy at first. Panicked, trying to calm myself down.

Is it better to close my eyes, will that help me relax? Close my eyes, just dark.

Definitely not. With my eyes closed, my focus goes entirely to my dry throat, my difficulty breathing. Is my chin itchy, are my eyes watering, will tears start to fall and I can’t flick them away? Am I breathing so heavily that the test will be ruined (DON’T MOVE).

Much better with eyes open, other things to focus on – the machine, the label on the machine, the ceiling.

I try to think about how to organize a deck I have to do, presenting my recommendations on a governance review. Bang bang bang, go the magnets. Yeah, this is not the place to organize complex material, and rest assured, I didn’t bill for it.

What is comes down to is this: all you have in those 35-40 minutes are your thoughts, and who wants to go there?

There were probably 7-8 bursts of the 3-4 minute intervals, and then I got pulled out – yay!! For the MRI contrast dye to be injected. Then only 2 more, I was assured. But with the last burst, I’d get an instruction to breathe in, breathe out, and then hold my breath until the machine told me to breathe again. OK, how long do I not breathe?

TWENTY-FOUR SECONDS.

That’s probably a challenge when I’m zen. I’m not zen.

The whole thing took a fucking eternity.

Once it’s over, and they’re taking me out, “it’ll be fine” asks how it was. Not my favourite thing, I underplay. But see, you didn’t need the pill. As he helps me sit up and stand, he says, you’re shaking. Yup.

Maybe this dude at a downtown TO hospital sees way too much drug abuse. Overdose. Undoubtedly in fact. Fentanyl, opioids, I get it. Maybe he’s anti-medication because he’s done the math and concluded, it’s not worth it. It’s better without it.

Lorazepam, now that I google it, can be addictive. Intended for short-term use only.

Like for a 40-minute test that triggers all my buttons and, quite frankly, freaked me out.

Next time, I’ll take the pill.

“The One I Love”

Hubby’s blog has a great feature. He calls it “Songs of the Day”, in which he does a little essay on a song he particularly loves and why.

I don’t think he’s done David Gray’s “The One I Love”. I adore it. I can’t do the music justice, like hubby could, but the lyrics get me right in the pumper every single time I listen to the song.

Scene: The singer/narrator is dying. He’s in the middle of battle, bullets flying everywhere, and he’s hit, leaking life faster than he’s leaking blood. The setting is jarringly beautiful – it’s a perfect summer’s night, not a wind that breathes. Bullets whispering gently amongst the new green leaves.

As he’s dying, he’s thinking of his love. And announcing to anyone, the repo man (presumably coming to claim his soul) and the stars above, that she’s the one he loves.

What’s special about the song is that is starts slowly, a lament from a wounded soldier. But it becomes happier, bouncier and more up-tempo as he approaches death. He becomes happier the closer he gets to death. Why would that be?

The final stanza is the answer. He’s in the afterlife. It’s not a fiery hell, it’s not Elysium. It’s more perfect and mundane than that: it’s the little hotel on the water that the love birds frequented – dinner and dancing. He reaches out his hand, she takes it, and they step out onto the old dance floor. Where he spends eternity with her, twisting and shouting and doing the Turtle Dove.

Not a bad vision of heaven. Yee hee, he croons as the song ends. He’s won the lottery, dancing with her in his arms forever, as ocean waves crash nearby.

But Hubby does it better. One example of many many:

https://theneedlefish.com/2018/06/14/song-of-the-day-the-dream-academy-please-please-please-let-me-get-what-i-want/

 

Nordstrom: The horror

Another instalment of Horrible & Expensive Jeans, courtesy of Nordstrom.

My friend Janet was on Twitter about these jeans a couple weeks ago. In addition to being droopy & unsightly (and apparently pre-worn & dirty), they are Cdn$756. I think even Giselle Bundchen would look unattractive in them.

 

So I thought I’d peruse the Nordstrom site and see what other horrors are on offer:

These are called jeans with “side panels”. They retail at Cdn$1200. And come with a free trip to the Emergency Department (at least in Canada, where emergency health care is free). I think they would really work with the camel-toed shoes from yesterday.

“Snow imitation pearl-embellished”. For only Cdn$1500. They are supposed to look like you were caught in a snow storm. Or in a paint ball game that uses sticky pom-poms and pearls.

“Oversized pocket jeans” – with handy pockets on the calves. Because that’s how I like to carry my keys around – as close to my ankles as possible. Bargain priced at Cdn$1300.

And I’m debating which is more awful:  the “hem flare” jeans or  the “frill flare” jeans. I think the see-through hem flare wins. (Although the frill flare is more expensive.) I also think they really don’t work with sneakers. I also don’t understand what Ms Frill Flare is wearing on her feet. It looks like a turquoise bathroom brush duct-taped onto her foot.

But to redeem Nordstrom a teeny bit, I think these jeans would be pretty amazing on the right (very tall skinny) person:

Although they are Cdn$900+, which is about $800 – $850 more than I pay for my jeans @ Reitmans or The Gap.