Tag Archives: Shopping

The Central Market in Phnom Penh, after a storm.

 

Rand always tells me he envies my palate, which cracks me up because it’s such an unlikely compliment. But it comes up time and again, whenever I identify a spice in a dish that he’s unable to, or I catch a whiff of a bakery blocks before he does. Others who’ve noticed it have commented as well, and I usually smile and tap the side of my ever-so-prominent nose and say, “It’s not just for show.”

Goodness, it really isn’t. Sometimes it feels like a superpower. I am the amazing girl WHO CAN SMELL EVERYTHING (note: superpower has very limited application. The X-Men aren’t calling, unless they need help determining whether or not the milk has gone bad).

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Inside the Schrannenhalle Marketplace in Munich’s Old Town.

 

As an American, it’s often weird going to Europe, because their consumer culture isn’t anywhere near what we have at home. There are shops, sure, but there isn’t the same onslaught of … stuff.

In the U.S., we understand that you haven’t really had a proper vacation until you’ve purchased at least three shot glasses, four shirts, one bottle opener, and a teddy bear all emblazoned with the name of the place you visited. If you don’t have those things, how will anyone know you went there three summers ago?

They won’t. And that’s just tragic.

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One of the things I love about any friendship is when you create shared memories together. It pushes you from the realm of merely “people who get along” into the world of “people who have been through some shit together.” It opens up the door to inside jokes and stories that begin with, “Remember that one time …”

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It’s funny how quickly the bizarre becomes normal.

How things that are strange and weird become familiar and every day. So that after a while, we forget that they’re even all that strange, until someone else points it out to us.

When we first moved back to Seattle from Florida, nearly 20 years ago (good heavens, the years. They are slippery little suckers, are they not?) my mother and I were faced with an odd problem. Our home felt far too empty. My brother had gone off to college, so it was just the two of us, living in far more square footage than we’d ever known.

We dealt with the problem in the usual way: we bought a mannequin.

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View of Astoria from The Hotel Elliott.

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I’m such a sucker for old things.

Whether it be grey-haired octogenarians or day-old pastries, I find myself smitten. Sure, they’re sometimes a bit crustier than you’d like them to be, and you can’t help but think of what they were like when fresh, but they’re still fun to nibble on. AND THAT GOES DOUBLE FOR THE PASTRIES!

(Rereads previous three sentences. Sighs heavily.)

Back to my original sentiment: I like old stuff.

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I love playing the part of the Ugly American.

The way I figure it, if people are going to judge and hate me without knowing me, the least I can do is have a little fun at their expense. The best part is the look on their faces when they realize I’ve been messing with them.

“Wait, wait, wait … you voted for Obama? Then why did you say America needs to blast all non-Aryan people off the planet? Oh, god … were you being facetious the whole time?”

Deeeelightful, I tell you. And so, in that spirit, let me tell you why the shops at Covent Garden are totally like the Pike Place Market, and how they obviously copied the idea from us here in the States.

Now, those of you who like to toss around facts when attempting to prove a point will note that Covent Garden was around a few centuries before the Pike Place Market, to which I will cleverly respond, “U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!” And to that display of awesomeness, there is no response.

I wandered through the market on a rainy Friday morning, trying to kill time until the London Transport Museum opened (which, ruthlessly, was not until 11am. In my jet-lagged state, I had been up FOR 7 HOURS by then). It was pouring, despite the forecast predicting only intermittent showers. Seriously, we in Seattle invented that.

Also, notice the colors on the British flag. They totally got those from us, I bet.

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They are four-inch-tall, rhinestone-studded confections. And they were probably a mistake.

They are also taupe.

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And yet, I regret nothing.

I found them in a boutique near Piazza Navona, as the rain fell on our last morning in Rome. I saw them in the window, and stopped abruptly. The way romantic leads do in Hollywood movies. I stopped, I stared. The rain fell.

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In my constant search for comfortable travel shoes, I am amazed by the number of heinously ugly options out there. If these shoes were horses, they would be shot, immediately.

I once thought that I was immune to such ugliness. When searching for comfortable shoes online, there were so many options, I’d simply skip over the unappealing ones and straight to the cute. My brain has its own filter for this sort of thing. And yet, there are times when a shoe is so unsightly, it will not be ignored. It screams to be noticed. “LOOK AT ME!”, it shouts. “I WAS DESIGNED BY DRUNK KINDERGARTNERS!”

Some of these shoes are impractical. Others are baffling.

All of them are very, very ugly.

Here are the top twelve worst pairs I’ve encountered while digging through the bowels of Zappos. Enjoy.

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1. Arcopedico N42

Seriously? N42 is what you are going to call the shoe? Sweet Jesus. Put in a little effort. Give it a name. May I suggest “The Bertha”?

Also, they appear to melting.

Ugh. These look like what the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man would wear when he wants to get laid.

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