Raw denim

I don't want to do posts that recount my days point by point, listing my accomplishments unless I'm doing it in some sort of splediforously absurd, creative or well-written manner. It feels too much like shouting into the void, and hoping someone shouts back saying, What you're doing matters.

Scratch that, it doesn't just feel like that, it is that (until the blog is read by a bunch of strangers. Right? Logic is a strange beast).

Dilemma: But even if it's pointless, I still want to shout.

I already started this post trying to validate it's existence by framing it as a war story, or at least a lesson in strategy, wherein I battled the dastardly forces arrayed against me. General Glumness and his army of sad faces had allied with Viscount Blaah and his hussars who were poking me with various sharp sticks. It was as good as it sounds, and yet right now you're reading something else. Odd.

We'll try this. I'll cut the pretense and just provide a list of what I did with a bit of exposition, writing more where the mood strikes.

Experiment COMMENCE!

Went to the Whodunit? Mystery art sale: a whole bunch of equally sized graphic art in various media gets put up around a room, with no names visible and people buy what they want at $75 a pop!

I bought number 57.
And number 705.
Obviously for very different reasons. Still need to get them framed and on a wall.

Afterwards, instead of the planned full on vintage shopping I just went to the Sally Anne, bought the first atlases in a while (nothing special) and a blazer, before biking to the first Border Patrol reading series event: one Canadian and one American author read their written words. It was nice. Pasha Malla's story, Dancing with my father (if memory serves), was great. Touching and evocative. Adam Levin (doesn't have a website) read excerpts from his novel, The Instructions. It was only okay. It seemed amusing, but wasn't doing it for me.

More excitingly I met Lida, an Iranian translator (literary and court). We had a nice chat and subsequently she sent me one of her translations for perusal. I like editing, probably for a similar reason Lida said she enjoys translating; it removes the looming violence of a blank page.

So that was Saturday. Welded to the couch that night. Sour about something most likely.

The next day I kept pushing the fake it 'til you make it strategy against the General and the Viscount. This time I made it to the vintage shops, and after a far longer time than expected, I successfully bought a shirt and tie at Badlands Vintage and a cardigan (I've been hunting one for a while) at the mysterious Penny Arcade.
Nice, huh? Talk about an outfit! I suppose I could put a body in the clothes for a picture, but it seems too much lake vanity and work. Pile is the new fashion.

And that sweater only cost me $4 000!
How the poor clerk rang in the 3 and 9 I don't know, but Visa was unimpressed. They were equally unimpressed with the actual $44 price we tried to ring in afterwards. So they called me. End result, after some button pushing and a brief chat I got the sweater for $20 because the lady felt bad about the whole incident. I found it amusing more than a bother but who am I to turn down a spur of the moment 1/2 off sale?

And then I even made it to meditation with Daydream. I recommend it whole heartedly. Silent meditation, some chanting and singing of ohms, and a brief walking meditation session all left me feeling fantastic. Followed by dumplings and two hours of writing? Well yikes! I also think meditation was responsible for leaving me lying awake in bed until 3, however. Just too pleased with the world.

And that's a weekend. There was also a book sale I went to on Monday at Knox College. I bought the biggest/heaviest atlas I've ever purchased there, and observed the vagaries of the book trade. To be a book dealer I need to be a man (check), have a few cardboard boxes (check), and be able to mumble Those are taken at people leering in my boxes as I rummage through more piles of books (seems doable).

But this post needs some thoughtful content, and...wait, what's the title? What could that possibly mean?

Well I'll tell you...creatively.

The store is new. Searching for its address online turns up a computer shop. The shelves at the front, the only ones I notice, are rough wood and layered with jeans. Grey, black and dark blue denim. A Japanese brand, something I've never heard of, is too expensive. Underneath it are jeans unmarked, only a blank leather patch on the waist. They are more my price range, but I'm not buying today regardless.

I select assorted of cuts and colours and move toward the change room, a heavy curtain that is untied and pulled around the circumference of its rope when needed. Removing my shoes and pants the gaps in the curtain become more apparent although being seen isn't a concern. Regret is. Fresh socks and underwear still lie, dismissed, on the floor at home, victims of their own preciousness. Wearing fresh seemed wrong that morning when I was only going out for a walk.

These jeans are heavy. The denim is thick and stiff, not hanging on my legs so much as undulating over them in a series of dunes. It scratches coming up and has little give beyond what the seams are set at. Unmarked jeans do not have one percent spandex.

The helpful woman outside the curtain peppers me with questions about the fit, how I'm doing and whether I need any sizes they might have in the back. She never says it, but I feel she wants me to open the curtain, so I do. They fit well apparently, told so quickly I assume she's selling. They fit exactly like a snug 32, with no room for error.

Those look great, she says. I think that's the size.
What about the hems? I ask. They are bunched around my ankles. Can I take them to a tailor?
She suggests putting on shoes. It will look better with shoes on, she assures me.

I ask for a 33 and return to my den to compare cuts, fits and sizes. I like mirrors. I turn and look over my shoulder repeatedly. Mostly right shoulder. Pulling on and taking off is no small task given the immalleability and fit. A moment of distress for my thighs as I pull the waist across them seems a small price for fashion. It will only happen twice a day, I tell my thighs. If that.

Outside a conversation has begun. A couple - possibly early thirties, but they carry themselves with mid to late wealth and dilemmas - come in to say hi to a man who'd been standing outside his curtain. The men are friends, but haven't seen each other in a while. The couple has been married since the last hello, a small ceremony followed by a bigger party. The solo man is also married.

The discussion is:

Solo talks about teaching, but does not have a job right now. He is qualified for high school history, and holds a Master's degree that lets him teach the same in college.

Couple man is excited to be working from home again soon. The commute to a east end studio has become a drag. He thinks he might be just as far ahead to live outside the city, in a small town or nearby city, and commute in. The prices for large Victorians in Hamilton relative to Toronto is mind-boggling.

Solo agrees. He's from Toronto, but has no connection to the city. He lived in Montreal for 10 years. He and wife have discussed smaller possibilities as well.

Their excitement for small town life amuses me. Not that they are misguided or wrong in their desires, but they simply don't know.

The discussion is abstract: laced with romance, tightly knit communities and a small, local bakery known for its delicious muffins on Tuesday.

The discussion is real: underlaid by marriage, careers, money and the ability to carry a mortgage.

The problems all 4 of us share are the same, just at different points along an axis. But one has to assume they're wearing fresh socks. Also wearing: thick-rimmed glasses, dark blue denim, checked shirts and a cool cap that covers a bald pate.

How are those? I have the curtain open to show her again.
Okay. A lot more room in the waist. I lift my shirt and pull the pants out to show her the room and my underwear band.
Are you a person who puts their jeans in the dryer? she asks.
Yes, I say.
Maybe you do need a 33 waist, she says, continuing the fold the shirt in her hands. Whatever I have on is the right pair.

I quickly change back to myself. I'm not mentally equipped to buy today, I assure her. But how much will they shrink? So I have a better idea when I come back.

It's now she informs me about some subtleties of raw denim; its sturdiness, need to be worn for three months before an initial wash to break it in, and the risk of shrinkage. She emphasizes the 100% cotton part of raw denim.

Doesn't washing break the denim in faster? She doesn't answer because it's a week later and I'm writing a blog post.
When you wear it in the denim adapts to your body, how it's shaped, it's temperature fluctuations. How you move and live in your skin, she says.
I nod.

If she's disappointed to not make a sale she doesn't show it. Still folding shirts, she is helpful but distracted to the end. I'm leaving. It doesn't matter.

I bought the cardigan on my way home, from Penny Arcade on Dundas, and meditated afterwards. Walking there I went through the new Dufferin underpass again. It's lights are bright.

Have I mentioned I like infrastructure?

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