Fashionista Flashback: Normal American Girl Edition

Happy Independence Day!

Later today, I’ll be going to a Twins vs. Yankees game, enjoying a dinner of pizza and beer, and watching fireworks. What could be more American than that, you ask?

How about…THIS?

Sugar Beet days

It’s possible that you would like some context.

I am from a small town in southwestern Minnesota, and like all small towns in southwestern Minnesota, mine celebrates its heritage every summer. We have a parade, a street dance, flea markets and games. We used to have a Junior Miss pageant that was exactly like the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous, minus the murdering, but sadly no longer.

In DDG, the theme of the pageant always incorporates America (“Amer-I CAN! Proud to be an American! Buy American!”). In my hometown, the theme of the entire celebration incorporates our town’s key crop: the Sugar Beet.

Look, anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it, including a week of celebrating beets, okay?

The pageant was always my favorite part as a kid.  But my second favorite part was the kiddie parade.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: all the kids in town are woken up early, dressed in costumes made by their aunts or mothers, and encouraged to walk down Main Street carrying signs incorporating puns on the word beet. Then they turn around and walk back up Main Street because it’s only about a block long. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes and is a general confusion of cuteness and tantrums.

Pictured above: the “prize winners” of the Sugar Beet Days kiddie parade in about 1989. My brother and I are on the far right, dressed as Polyester Captain America and a Precious Moments figurine. No, actually, according to our sign, which we must have ditched at the end of the street, we were “Uncle Sam and the Pioneer Spirit.”

It actually just occurred to me this morning that the Pioneer Spirit might not be a real character. Google seems to think the Pioneer Spirit is a bunch of buffaloes, not a four-year-old in an over-sized bonnet and what appear to be tap shoes.  My mom made it up just to give me a reason to walk down the street with my brother.  Again – anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Anyway, I think we came in second that year, between Mr. and Mrs. Sugar Beet (who still haunt my dreams) and the three little pigs (who were the other kids who showed up).

The kiddie parade still goes on when there are enough kids to participate. The Uncle Sam costume (made by my aunt) actually made its third appearance a few years ago on another generation of my family and once again took home a prize.

What I’m trying to say is that my hometown is weird in the way that all small American towns are weird. Nothing ever really changes, and that’s comforting. I biked every street within that one-square mile. I swam in that town pool a thousand times, then walked to the Malt Shoppe or the pharmacy to spend my twenty-five cents on candy. I didn’t worry about politics, or war, or whether or not I’d be allowed back in to school in the fall because I was a girl. And of course my school would still be there, and no one would stop me from going to church every week, and there would always be food in the fridge and I’d always be safe and happy and free.

Anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Happy birthday, America. You are weird and flawed and my home. Thank you for my happy childhood.

Well, mostly happy childhood. I think I was pretty over the parade scene by this point.

I will end you

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Asthmatic Jedi For Life

In January, I got a cough. This week, I got a diagnosis: asthma.

Asthma makes me think of two things. First, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Remember that scene? Or any part of that movie? I do, because I was too young to be watching it, and my mind will forever associate “asthma” with “psychotic nannies.”

Second, and more prominently, I think of awkward, nerdy children with huge glasses, usually portrayed on TV by the likes of Martin Starr and Josh Saviano.  And then I think, “wait, that was me as a child. That’s sort of me now. Of course I have asthma.”

Sweet Yellow Cardigan

Tell me that kid doesn’t have an inhaler.

But I didn’t have asthma in junior high or high school or college. The nerds let me hang with them anyway, presumably because of the glasses. And the braces. And the love of sci fi and hatred for physical activity and the inability to talk to boys and…who are we kidding. Asthma or not, I was the queen of the nerds.

My doctor actually suggested asthma about a month ago, after my fourth visit to her and second request for codeine.  She referred me to a specialist, who was finally able to see me this week and confirm the diagnosis – kind of. “I really want to say you have asthma, but let’s do some tests first,” he said. “Because once I give you this diagnosis you will have it for life.”

Yeah, well. I also have poor vision for life. I’m left handed for life. I’m a bit freckly for life but especially in the summer. I get why the specialist was cautious, but I also get that it’ll be okay. Still, I agreed to do the test.

“Have you had any coffee, pop, or chocolate today?” he asked. “We can’t do the test if so.”

I’d had all three within the last hour.  We scheduled the test for first thing Monday morning.

So this is how I came to wake up an hour and a half early to drive across the cities in rush hour traffic on zero caffeine and zero allergy meds. This is also how I came to be in the worst mood of my life. I am not the type who can wake up with boundless energy, spend a long time in a car, not eat chocolate, and then happily interact with strangers. Only golden retrievers and my friend Mike do that. No, I’ve purposely plotted my life so I can sleep until the latest possible moment before “commuting” to work by walking half a block, stopping at one of two coffee shops on the way, and sitting at my desk and avoiding human interaction for at least an hour.

So, unshowered and wearing what I’d found at the top of the laundry pile (pink dress and oversized hoodie), the crabbiest, coughiest, but least coffee’d version of myself checked in for her methacholine challenge. Or at least she was supposed to. What I actually said was, “I’m here for a midi-chlorian test.

It was unintentional. Nerd for life.

The premise of the methacholine challenge is to test for asthma by inducing asthma, because it only works in people who already are susceptible to asthma (or something). This strikes me as a little insane. Do we test for other things like this? “We think you have a broken leg, but we can’t be sure until we smash your knee cap with a hammer to make sure your leg is susceptible to breaking.”

Anyway.

I spent an hour slowly finding it harder and harder to breathe, which counts as a “positive” test. Then I was given a huge, fast dose of meds to bring me back to “normal.” And because I’d been complaining (imagine that!), I was brought a black coffee to sip while I waited for everything to take effect. And like every time I mix coffee and medicine, I wound up shaking and talking nonsense and basically tweaking out.

And then I was declared “normal.”

“I should go back to work,” I thought as I walked out. “Or to a movie! Or maybe a quick car nap. Or a shoe store. Or maybe I’ll take a nap in my car in front of a shoe store. COMIC BOOKS! I want a sandwich. Or an Icee! I’m going to have an Icee for lunch! Where are my keys? Did I park in this lot? I need to download Return of the Mack right now. Where’s my car? How do I get home? Wow, I feel amazing! I love having asthma!”

Needless to say, I crashed pretty quickly. I almost couldn’t finish my Icee.  And to think, my Adventures With Asthma are only just beginning. Please feel free to buy me this shirt as I make this adjustment.

Then I can finally be cool, like this guy.

Fashionista Flashback: The Ninth Day of Christmas Edition

Uh, hello. Have you seen eight other ladies dressed exactly like me, maybe dancing around a pear tree? I got distracted by some lords a-leaping.

Rachel as a dancer

My friend Ben calls this my “Palestinian Ambassador of Dance” look.

This Christmas, laugh, be merry, give thanks for all that is good in your life, and make sure your jaunty cap coordinates with your sash.

And dance.

Something Spooky 5, Or: Just a Little Hocus Pocus

(Again, parts one, two, three, and four)

Day 21: Spooky-Scary Music

I spent a bunch of time in the car on this day, so instead of searching for another episode of “This American Life” I went with a Halloween Pandora station. I kept waiting for this to play, but unfortunately it did not.

Day 22: It’s just a little Hocus Pocus

Real talk – what Halloween movie is better than “Hocus Pocus?” No movie. It’s the best. I’m not the first person to note this.

Jump to my favorite part at the :30 mark:

Seriously the best.

Day 23: Treat Yo Self!

First, I bought all the candy.

All the candy

All of it.

Then, thanks to a deep love of Donna and Tom from Parks and Recreation (and an idea I saw online), I propped these signs up in my candy bowls.

Treat Yo Self to Candy

Treat Yo Self to cavities

Then I tried not to eat all of the candy. I’m not going to say if I succeeded or not, but I will say it’s probably a good thing I’m walk/run/jogging the annual Step Out to Stop Diabetes 5k on October 27th.

Day 24: Halloween party/Clothes Swap

Whenever my closet gets overly full or I decide I need to spruce up my wardrobe, I throw a “clothes swap party.” This basically involves inviting a bunch of girls to come over and bring anything they want to donate to Goodwill to me instead. Then there’s a free-for-all of trying on, commenting on, and swapping clothes. Some people go home happy to have cleared space in their closets, some people go home happy to have added more to their wardrobes, and I stay home with a kitchen table that looks like this.

Clothes burying table

The leftovers will eventually go to Goodwill, but for now my apartment looks like it was hit by a clothing tornado. I cannot be bothered to care because LOOK AT THESE SHOES I HAVE NOW.

sparkly shoes

Oooh…a Sparkly! You’re wearing a Sparkly!

It was also Halloween themed party in the sense that my apartment looks like a creepy yet well-read witch lives in it (not far off). Several of my friends are already afraid of my apartment because I might have a ghost (I named him Dennis, because of course I did), so it really added to the ambiance when the light in my hallway started doing this just in time for my guests:

OooooOOOOOOoooooh! More ghost hunting coming up. If I see anything I’ll try to remember to turn the camera the right way first.

Fashionista Flashback: The Girl in the Yellow Dress

Because the Red Balloon Bookshop was kind enough to put my blog On Reading on their Facebook page, and because I’ve been thinking of my meeting with Barbara Cooney anyway, I dug this photo up:

Rachel and Barbara Cooney

The date on the back is May 7, 1992, so just over twenty years ago. I remember being pulled out of school, and wearing that yellow dress (my favorite) for the full 2-hour car ride to the Cities. I took all of my personal books by Barbara Cooney as well as a bunch owned by the school for her to autograph, which she did. I still can’t believe she wrote to me more than once.

Every little girl should get to meet one of her heroines, and every heroine should have the chance to make a little girl’s day.

Fashionista Flashback: Rocking a Lot of Polka Dots Edition

We’ve been experiencing some fabulous weather here in Minnesota for a few weeks (changing our state motto from “How about this weather we’re having, then?” to “Dontcha just love this weather we’re having, then?”).  My neighborhood is covered with sidewalk chalk, and I love it.

I was an avid chalker back in the day.  My best friend and I once spent an afternoon covering each of the bricks of my front steps with different, unique bits of art (or solid blocks of color depending how bored we got with the process).

The artist and her work

Behold! Co-artist cropped out since not everyone likes their childhood business published on the internet, and I do have tens of blog followers.

A lot of my outfits in this era matched in the most literal way, and this was a favorite.  There are enough polka dots on that thing that it’s practically a magic eye illusion. I could probably induce seizures by doing a cartwheel.

The point is: my childhood was awesome.

Zombie Fashionista!

Last weekend, my friends and I did terrible things to the Disney genre at the annual Zombie Pub Crawl.

Zombie Disney Princesses

Sorry for ruining your childhoods just now.

Even though I was Minnie Mouse and not Snow White, it made me dig through the RachelArchives for this:

Rachel as snow white

1990. Sweet, innocent, adorable Snow White. What happened.

This was my third year in a row at the ZPC.  In 2009, Sabrina and I decided to answer the question: “What if Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana were two different people? And also, zombies?” I was Miley, and you could tell because I was wearing a sticker that said “Secret Pop Star.”

ZPC Year One

No explanation for the Margaret McPoyle eyebrows

Last year, Sabrina and I did the Zombie bridesmaids thing.  At the :36-mark in this video, I walk directly at the camera for a hot second:

No McPoyle brows that year! (I actually had no eyebrows.  We overcompensated.)

You don’t have to believe me, but I was actually the DZD (Designated Zombie Driver) both those years.  I wasn’t this year but that’s not the point.  The point is that whether I’m Miley Cyrus or Minnie Mouse, as long as I’m all gored up and with my good friends, I’m having fun.

Uh….apparently at the expense of the Disney channel.

Fashionista Flashback: “Summarizing My Entire Being” Edition

Little kids are my fashion icons.  They wear whatever they want and they know they look good in it.  How can they not when the outfit involves tiaras/tutus/Superman pajamas/all of the above!  Little kids think, Yes, this multicolored swimsuit with the ruffled skirt would look just fab paired with my bright red roller skates!

rachelonskates

This is a look that doesn’t care what you think.  From the Zooey bangs to the yellow laces to the how-are-you-not-falling-over pose, this chick knows what’s up.

The day I manage to achieve this level of confidence again is the day I win.

skating away

Don't worry, world. I got this.

 

Fashionista Flashback: Firestarter Edition

So, speaking of my childhood adventures in pyromania, when I look at this picture…

Rachel the Firestarter

Eeek.

This is all I see:

Firestarter Poster

Nothing scarier than Drew Barrymore

The back of the picture of me and my bro says “First day of Sunday School, September 1988.  Notice the high level of enthusiasm.” Good one, ma!  But why did you dress us up like we’re Amish?  And is that a 3-piece tan corduroy suit K is wearing? I think it is!  This would be adorable if it wasn’t so “Children of the Corn.”

Rachel on fire

Seriously, though, I would consider running.

Fashionista/Best Things

I had initially planned to do a “Fashionista Flashback” every Friday, but didn’t last week because a) I found something more important to write about and b) I can’t even honor arbitrary deadlines I make up for myself.  So let me preface this Best Things of the Week post with this:

Sweet Yellow Cardigan

As Michael K would say, this is The Look.

Fact: I did not wear jeans until about age 12.  So pants like this happened a lot.  I’m not really sure about the tiny old man cardigan, though.  Another fact: the back of this picture says “first day of 2nd grade,” so you know I picked out this outfit ahead of time.

Best Things of the Week!

1. A great day for America

Rae, Ma, and A

As my mom (Miss America in the picture above) said, America is a better place today now that we’ve officially got my sister-in-law.

2. My high tech lifestyle continues

On Thursday, my phone learned a new trick:

cell phone down

Man down.

I tend to wear things out well beyond the point of sense, but after two days this was too much for even me.  Upside: I got a new phone! Downside: still not a smartphone!  It turns out I like being cheap more than I like being cool.

3.  All these things also happened.

Friday: birthday pub crawl (Billy’s and The Onion…we didn’t crawl very far)
Saturday: bachelorette party (The Shout House, with at least 20 other bachelorette parties)
Sunday: Uptown Art Fair and sushi (Sushi Tango)

Weekends like this make me happy I live in the Cities.