We have a wonderful place on the island called GIRO. It’s also known as “the recycle centre” or “the depot.” Basically, anything you ever want, from the most common household object to the obscurest piece of bike gear will eventually show up at GIRO. Islanders pride themselves on both dumping stuff off there, and finding steal deals.
There is a saying amongst islanders that whatever you need will show up at GIRO if you’re patient. All you have to do is say aloud, “I’m waiting for X to show up at GIRO.” and eventually, it will appear there.
Part of GIRO is set up for household recyclables – bottles, cans, cardboard, scrap metal, etc. And then there’s an indoor thrift store type area where you can find dishes, books, toys, magazines, luggage, etc. Outside, under cover is all the big stuff – furniture, sinks, lighting fixtures, plumbing, exercise equipment, bikes, etc. And then, up some rickety stairs, you will find the clothing depot.
As for pricing, think of the cheapest thrift store you’ve ever been in and then halve it. The whole success of GIRO is the fluidity of things moving through it. For example, whenever we have a party, we go to GIRO, spend four dollars on plates, glasses, bowls, and mugs. After the party, I run them through the dishwasher, box them up, and take them back to GIRO. This is a common practice here on an island where many of us are trying to keep our impact on the environment low and don’t want to use paper plates and cups.
It’s only open Wednesdays and Saturdays and we have friends that hit it two or three times a day when it’s open, looking for things “they can’t live without.” The island fosters two kinds of people who use GIRO. The Buyers and the Dropper-Offers. In our family, we have one of each. As my husband is searching the aisles for bargains, I’m over at the table dropping off all the things I’ve discovered I really don’t need (many of them past GIRO purchases by my husband).
Newcomers know they are truly residents when they can have this conversation.
Old Timer – Wow! What a beautiful coat [couch, backpack, bike, etc.]!
Newcomer – GIRO! Two bucks!
This is my two dollar coat that gave me my status – a lovely, never-worn, very high-end, Irish wool jacket.
I once found a book at a library book sale by an author I knew and when I emailed to tell her that I’d scored it, she sent me back this reply: Never tell an author you bought their book used. They don’t want to know that because it means someone gave it away.
Personally, that wouldn’t bother me at all. The day I see Restoring Harmony at GIRO, I will simply smile to myself. Why? Because clearly, someone has said aloud, “I’m waiting for Restoring Harmony to show up at GIRO.” and the GIRO Gods are just doing their job.
Once upon a time I used to love shopping. …Actually, let me amend that. Once upon a time I shopped with no budget-limits, zero time-restraints, no annoying husband texting me to request his dinner, and no 7 year-old offspring ransacking my purse for gum while I unsuccessfully try to squeeze myself into size 4 jeans. Just THINKING about shopping gives me hives now.
So what is my favorite way to shop now?? ALONE would be my first option of course, but that rarely happens. Sooo I’ve resorted to doing the next best thing: OBSESSIVE ONLINE SHOPPING!!!
I seriously can’t get enough, and the rush I get whenever the doorman delivers a brown shipping box to my door is absolutely addicting. You should see my husband’s face when I breeze by him with a stack of packages. I should really get a picture and share…if I can describe it, his facial expression is a mix between shock, horror, and utter panic. Then he gets REALLY upset because my purchases keep ending up in his closet due the limited space in our 2-bedroom apartment.
There are many addictions I have happily abandoned (like my love-affair with Ramen Noodles after I gained 30 pounds overnight) but online shopping is the last thing I have which truly brings a few rays of sunshine into my very stressful life. I actually have to run now, I’ve been outbid on an ebay item, gotta pay for some books in my Amazon cart, and I just spotted some very fashionable Spring flats on Zappos. Geez, I wonder if my neighbor has any available storage space! Hmmmm….
I’m a fan of local shopping. Where I live, there’s plenty of opportunities to local-shop. The Collingswood Farmers Market, for example, happens every Saturday morning from May through November, a couple hundred feet from my apartment, in the commuter train parking lot. There you can buy fresh fruits and veggies from Jersey farmers, homemade honey, truly free-range eggs, just squeezed peach nectar, flowers, croissants …. The people-watching is fantastic, the dog-watching even better!
Here in Collingswood, Second Saturday is basically a monthly town-wide sidewalk sale. Shop owners open their doors, musicians play instruments, photographers sell photographs, beaders sell jewelry, massage therapists offer chair massages. Best of all, strangers say “hi” to you and smile.
April’s Second Saturday was a few weeks ago. Matt and I strolled up the street to introduce ourselves to a friend’s sister, Rin, who sells absolutely beautiful crocheted items. Afterward I bought a kiln-fired glass pendant from the wonderful artist Katherine Cheetham.
Then Matt and I hung out in Cheese Etc and Gourmet Gifts, the shop directly below our apartment. We tasted cheeses, met a few other Collingswood residents, and learned about the recent gift basket Cheese Etc made for Carrie Underwood when she performed a show in Trenton. As we were chatting, a photographer wandered in. He took some shots for South Jersey magazine‘s upcoming feature on the area’s best towns. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Collingswood will be included.
Is your town known for any events? What kind of shopping can’t you resist?
P.S. One of Cheese Etc’s most delicious specialty cheeses is called Drunken Goat. It’s a hard goat cheese that has been soaked in red wine for several months. I love to shop for Drunken Goat!
It was my first night alone in nearly three years.
I kissed my husband and three kids goodbye, hopped aboard a train, and worked on the edits for my second book (newsbreak: it’s titled SKIPPING A BEAT) as we rushed along the tracks, heading toward Philly. Then I took a cab to my hotel, the gorgeous Palomar, and congratulated myself on finding a bargain room on the Internet.
Now it was time to pull out the big guns. It was time to shop.
I had big plans for the night ahead. I was holding a ticket for the Rock Bottom Remainders Concert, and couldn’t wait to see the band which is composed of authors Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, and Scott Turow. They’d all be on stage, supported by back-up singer and Philly’s hometown girl, Jennifer Weiner. And I desperately needed a new outfit!
I hadn’t shopped in … months? Years? It certainly felt like it. Being a writer means I don’t need dress-up clothes, and my usual weekend activities – soccer games and birthday parties – tend to be less than black-tie affairs. So with my credit card in hand, I strolled along Rittenhouse Square, searching for the perfect outfit, something hip and vaguely rock-star-ish. But I couldn’t find it.
I shrugged and bought a sandwich at Cosi and headed back to my hotel room to take a long bubble bath and read the trashy magazine I’d picked up at the train station. I’d just have to wear the old outfit I’d tossed in my bag, one I’d already gotten plenty of use out of. No big deal.
A few hours later, I was in the front row of the crowd, screaming for Amy Tan as she sang, “These Boots Are Made for Walking” (she can sing, by the way! And clearly channeling her inner rock star, she wore fishnet stockings, a black leather dress, and huge white-blonde wig). Then someone announced that people could bid on a chance to get up onstage and sing back-up. I thought about the fact that the money would go to support the Free Library in Philadelphia, a terrific cause. I thought about the fact that Jennifer Weiner, who has been incredibly supportive of my book, is on the board of the library, and had bought tickets for me and a bunch of other people to attend the show (hell, she even bought our drinks that night, like she hasn’t done enough!) And then I thought about the outfit I didn’t buy.
Instead of buying a rock star outfit, how about buying a chance to be a rock star for a few minutes? I wondered.
I gave my credit card to a library staffer and told her the amount I could bid, and moments later, I was ushered backstage, where Scott Turow was trying on a giant rainbow-colored wig and struggling to learn how to pronounce my name. And then my friend Lindsay Maines (who also bid to sing) and I were onstage, facing the cheering crowd. Jen Weiner handed me a cheap plastic kazoo (just about the only instrument I can play) and the band launched into “Wild Thing.”
Man, it was intoxicating! I sang, did a few back-up moves, and threw my kazoo to the crowd (people actually tried to grab it, which was the funniest thing I saw all night). Then the song ended too soon, so I grabbed a Tasteykake from the stash provided for the band, and headed back to the crowd to cheer for the finale song (“Gloria.”)
What a night. And the memories, unlike a new outfit will last forever.
(P.S. That’s me in the middle of the stage, in a black top and colorful skirt. I’m playing the kazoo. Jen Weiner is to the far left as you look at the picture – her face is blocked by a light- and you can see Amy Tan’s fishnet stockings to the right of the picture. I believe she’s being held in a head-lock by Scott Turow.)
This week’s theme is “shopping.” That’s something I’m doing a lot of right now, because for all of the month of June I’ll be traveling all over the States promoting my book (see this post for the schedule). I’ll be seeing lots of old friends which is WONDERFUL. It’s also daunting.
I’m diligently whitening my teeth, and in a few weeks I’m having my hair professionally colored, a treat I haven’t indulged in since I first got pregnant TEN YEARS AGO.
I’m very happy with the timing of my release, book-wise; summer sells a lot of books, and it isn’t as competitive as fall. BUT I look a lot nicer in fall clothes! A cranberry-colored, fitted coat; black tights; bright sweaters. Aw, I look so pretty! But you know what looks terrible on me? Short sleeves. Loose dresses. Bare legs. Yes, summer clothes. June clothes. *sigh*
My darling mother, when I told her about a book luncheon I’d be attending at a country club, oohed and aahed and then said “Oh.” [concerned pause.] “You’re going to need new clothes.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom! (Of course, she’s right.)
So I’ve bought a couple of light but businessy-looking blazers that I figure I can get away with wearing, even if it’s hot–I may be uncomfortable, but I can claim it’s my “professional look.” I have a pair of sandals I bought at Target last year, that I think will be comfortable because I bought them a size too big. (Yeah, I know feet spread with pregnancy and with age, but no other piece of footwear on the planet calls me a size 11–what gives, Target?)
I feel lucky that Marks and Spencer decided to go “all sizes” two years ago. No more plus-size ghetto! I hate the argument that offering larger sizes will contribute to obesity by normalizing it. That’s crap. If you care about people’s health, and want to promote weight loss, shame is NOT EFFECTIVE. Shame makes a person want to hide away. If you (and by “you” I mean corporations and designers who refuse to deal with larger sizes) really care about other people’s health, and want larger people to become more active and stronger and educated about healthy choices, confidence and self-love will make that a lot more likely than shame.
I once regularly worked out at a nice gym in Silicon Valley. There were lots of body shapes; very comfortable. I wanted some new exercise clothes so I popped into the shop there. I mentioned my disappointment that a brand I liked only went up to some-size-smaller-than-me. The clerk said, “Oh, they make that size. We just don’t carry it. It would be embarrassing for people to buy it.”
Yes, she said that to my face. But it wasn’t just amazingly oblivious, it made no sense. Surely it’s more embarrassing to be forced to wear ill-fitting clothing? And, stupid-corporate-decision-maker-who-vetoed-XL-clothes: if you really cared about the “obesity epidemic” then surely MAKING AND SELLING CUTE, INSPIRING EXERCISE CLOTHES FOR FAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE TOP PRIORITY.
So, thank you Marks and Spencer, for dressing me. You have my loyalty.
Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to keep things wrinkle-free in the suitcases, especially with all the packing and unpacking. I’m thinking I should look up 1-hour dry cleaners at key points and schedule in the time to get things spiffed up along the way.
I’m not at all nervous about my launch party here in Cambridge; I’ll just look like me the way everyone knows me. But catching up with so many old friends, who knew me YEARS ago…well, I admit I feel intimidated. I’ve had a blast in the intervening years, but I’ve aged and widened and, well, here I am.
I haven’t been to a school reunion, but I think the pre-party jitters must feel a lot like this. Any advice or pep-talks for meeting up with old friends?
Deb Maria is back on the book signing trail across Long Island getting ready to bounce into Bohemia. Catch Maria and The KJOY Crew at the Borders in Bohemia on Saturday, May 8th from 2-4pm. Enjoy “101 Ways to Torture Your Husband“ book reading, discussion, and signing. Hope to see you there!
Meanwhile, Deb Joelle and Deb Emily (as well as the rest of the world) are eagerly anticipating the release of her debut novels “Restoring Harmony” and “The Whole World.” Deb Joelle is up first the week of May 10th. Deb Emily will follow on May 24th. Best of luck to these extremely talented writers on their book release journey!
Kristy Kiernan‘s first novel, Catching Genius, was published in 2007 by Berkley Books and went on to become a word-of-mouth hit with reading groups. Her second novel, Matters of Faith, was an IndieNext Notable Selection and won a bronze medal in the Florida Book Awards. Between Friends was published April 6th, and is available everywhere now.
Kristy lives with her husband in southwest Florida and still spends as much time as she can reading on the beach and daydreaming about the story she’ll write next.
Please welcome Founding Deb Kristy Kiernan to the Ball!
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Wow — The Debutante Ball! I feel like one of those Disney Princesses (Princessi?) who gets all dressed up and starts spinning around with a goofy smile on her face. Of course if I actually tried that I would smack into walls and spent a week explaining to people that I really wasn’t an abused wife. Disney Princessi are clearly a much more coordinated bunch than I.
But I digress. (Come on, admit it…you’ve missed me!)
But — I have to just gush for a minute about how thrilled I am that not only is The Debutante Ball still going strong, it’s thriving, it’s better than ever. It has evolved while maintaining the original intent of bringing brilliant debut authors together to share their experiences as they dip their tender little toes into the roiling, shark-infested waters of the publishing world.
I don’t think I’ve ever envisioned anything that came together as beautifully in real life as I imagined it in my mind, and I am so absurdly proud. Congratulations to you all.
Now, back to the topic (I always had a problem staying on topic, didn’t I?): Reviews.
And because we all love our great reviews, I’ll chat about the not-so-great ones.
Now that my third book has come out (Between Friends, available everywhere!), I’ve come to a place of peace about rotten reviews, a Zen garden of joy and love if you will, a cool green place where all of God’s creatures come together in harmony and there is free cotton candy 24 hours a day. (The good kind, too, not the stuff in the bags.)
The name of this Utopia?
It’s the Glade of People Are Idiots.
I got there after wandering for a couple of years through the First One-Star Review Pit of Despair, the Dark Alley of the Second One-Star, the Avenue of Broken Dreams of Smacking a Reviewer, the Pretend It Doesn’t Make You Want To Scream Pavilion, the Stiff Upper Lip Reflecting Pool, the Everyone is Entitled To Their Opinion Arena, and the Maniacal Laughter Pool Hall.
I managed to find my way here the way I often end up helping myself … by helping someone else first. In this case, a good friend had a book come out, a pretty big book that made a lot of bestseller lists. But she was devastated by a rash of bad reviews that had been posted at the usual places — Amazon, GoodReads, Library Thing — and she genuinely couldn’t understand how people could be so, well, mean in their bad reviews.
And it does seem that many people who write bad reviews don’t just say they didn’t care for the book, they seem really quite angry about it, as if the author purposely wrote it and forced them to read it simply to infuriate them.
I was trying to come up with a way to make her feel better, and the best I could do on such short notice was to tell her to calm down, and think of the last book that blew her away. The last book that made her (as Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins did to me) lie down on the floor with it clutched to her chest and wonder why she was even trying to be a writer when this was out there.
Her answer was dreamy and wistful … Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
I made her go to Life of Pi’s Amazon page, and pull up only the one-star reviews and read them out loud to me. We alternated laughing with gasping in astonishment at some of the 120 one-star reviews of the book, and she slowly calmed down, and then, at last, the light broke through and a choir of angels sang.
“Oh,” she said, “people are idiots.”
Welcome to the Glade.