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Second Hand Thoughts





I am now a middle-aged mother of two young boys, living on a suburban street in southwest Florida. I drive a Toyota SUV, which has been thrown up in so many times, I gag at the thought of it. I work as a fitness instructor, a Weight Watchers leader, and a presently under-employed freelance writer. I've had worse jobs. But Nature abhorrs a vacuum. I am now a blogger.

And I'm having second thoughts.

Oh, not about blogging. I've been thinking about that for a while since magazine work sort of dried up and I'm looking for a new literary agent and have eaten everything in the house.

Just second thoughts. You know: first impressions, second thoughts, third and fourth chances.

My mother was an antique dealer. Or a picker. Or a collector. Or just a hoarder, maybe. She used to go to garage sales, thrift stores and auctions and buy antiques for her antique store. Then, she went to garage sales, thrift stores and auctions to buy stuff that went to her friends' antique stores. Then, she just went to garage sales, thrift stores and auctions to buy stuff that never went anywhere at all. It piled up in great stacks of oriental carpets and paintings, and piles of antique linens and lace; it piled into barrels of teddy bears and creepy dolls and clown figurines; dollhouses, doorknobs, and dhurries. She had a houseful of antique chairs, miniature sofas, vinyl massage chairs, but there was never a place to sit down. She had canopy beds, artist crafted four-poster beds, antique cannonball beds, girly iron beds, and never anywhere to sleep.

I'm sure I'll wax nostalgic about all that later.

My point, if I ever had one, is that I knew I had to be very, very careful and vigilant about thrift stores. I didn't particularly like them. Didn't like the universal smell of thriftstore stuff: B.O. and mildew and cheap fabric sizing. I thought I'd rather live in an empty room than go to a garage sale for a chair. Which, actually is what happened: me, a series of crummy apartments where I couldn't afford the rent, and one crappy, motheaten oriental carpet that my mother begrudgingly parted with so I wouldn't have to sleep on the floor.

I started going to thrift stores while I was working as a theater designer in Chicago: The Brown Elephant in the gay ghetto on the north side in Wrigleyville. Good clothes, excellent furniture, an easy shop, for a girl with my upbringing and education. And then, one afternoon, I ran across this veritable trove of the most awesome shoes: dozens and dozens of trashy platforms, maribou mules, silver ballroom shoes, conservative suede pumps, spectators, peep-toe starlet slingbacks, a rainbow of dyed bridesmaid's shoes, strappy sandals, thigh high boots. All in size 13 women's. Row after row of acrylic heeled wedges, gold gladiators, patent leather stilettos. It took me a moment to process the woman with the size 13 feet. But of course: A drag queen's royal hoard.

But why had they come here? Who had brought them? Where were the outfits that went with them???

Now, according to the newspaper writer friend of mine wrote about thriftstore chic decorating, I am the Dumpster Diva. I've been down a few of those, too, mind you, but I told her if she referred to me in the article that way, I wouldn't give her the great Michael Kors skirt I found in her size at the Domestic Violence thriftstore. The thing with thriftstores is a good eye and constant vigilance.

I am, I suppose,
Artemis--the Huntress

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