Posted by: chptr37 | 04/08/2009

Pg. 7: Still Texas? Hell, yes.


Sidewalk message from Austin.


  • Miles Today: 275
  • Miles Total: 3169
  • From/To: Austin, Texas to Beaumont, Texas
  • Slept: Dead to the world.
  • Soundtrack: Early morning Austin blues and the whip of the wind in my hair.
  • Best Thing: My $12 dress.
  • Worst Thing: Construction on Route 10 around Houston. It was scary and crowded and went on forever.
  • Quote of the Day: A tie between “Yeah, Austin is the coffee capital of the world” (from a barista; I didn’t tell him I come from the Pacific NW) and “That guy was hot!” (said by a woman walking out of a restaurant, to her two male friends, in a voice loud enough that everyone sitting outside turned to see the guy in question).


I’m not much of a consumer. I don’t like to shop in the traditional sense. Unless I need something, it feels like a waste of time. And I definitely hate to shop for clothes–malls bother me, with their odd lights and their buy-buy-buy mentality. Add to that the fact that most clothes aren’t made for women. Or they’re not made for women shaped like me. I don’t like to try stuff on in those tiny little dressing rooms where you can’t breathe and you can’t see yourself anyway. My final gripe against shopping is that I’m one of those green tree-hugger types, in a general sense. I think we consume too much, and use too much, and while I am just as hypocritical as the rest (I am, after all, driving across the country at the moment, using copious amounts of gas to do so, just as an example), I also believe in paring down where I can.

Combine all of the reasons above and you’ll understand why thrift shops are my favorite places in the world to shop. Great bargains. Clothes that someone has already worn in. Re-using something so that it doesn’t add more waste to the world.

My first thrift shop experience happened when I was a young teen. I had a very rich friend–I’m not sure how we became friends even, because she didn’t go to my school–and one day she decided we were going to go shopping at “Mary’s.” It was some big hush-hush place, according to her, and I pictured some high-end boutique (not that I knew either of those words then), filled with clothes I couldn’t afford to touch, much less buy. Instead, she took me to the basement of the salvation army. Mary’s Place. Used clothes. A thrift store. Bargain basement. “I love shopping here,” she said in a whisper, “But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.” And it was then that I understood: Used clothes were subversive, a no-no, not allowed. Which, of course, made me want them all the more.

Austin might be the music haven of Texas, but it’s also the used-clothes capital, it seems. Walking along the streets, there are salvation armies, used clothing stores, retro stores, used cowboy boot stores, recycled clothing places, antique stores, old record stores, costume stores… You want to buy it used, I’m sure it’s out there.  img_0357

Today, while roaming around the Austin streets, I found an old-school style Salvation Army (which, by the way, we don’t have out West. Only Goodwills. Or at least none that I know of), and spent less than 10 minutes shifting through the racks. I came away with $20 dollars worth of clothing: A pair of jeans, a button-up shirt in chocolate brown, and my favorite, a red and brown dress that’s both stretchy and comfortable (-points left, to the picture of herself wearing said dress in front of her hotel-room mirror). It’s the perfect travel dress too–takes up no space in my suitcase, is long enough to pass in foreign countries, and can be easily worn with something on top of it if I’m in a place where I need to cover my arms. It’s rare that a ‘thing’ makes me feel good–except, of course, for things like my Mac and my iPod, because I’m a technology geek. But this dress makes me feel good. I’m reusing it, I paid next to nothing for it, and I’m comfortable in it.

It’s a cliche, but I find it to be true: the older I get, the more comfort seems important. I don’t mean ‘comfort’ in the definition of “to make physically comfortable,” or even “to console” but in the way of the old, obsolete meaning: to support or encourage. I’ve learned to keep those people in my life who comfort me in that sense, and to get rid of those who don’t. When I was purging my closets and drawers and chests at the old place, I did the same thing with my clothes and my objects. As I go travel the road, I find myself continuing this process. Things and people and thoughts that don’t support or encourage me in some sense are being dropped out the open window, flying off to the wind, landing in someone else’s life. I hope they’re finding their way to someone else who can use them better than I could, someone that fits into them and who can wear them with joy and ease.

I’m gone from Austin now, on my way to New Orleans tomorrow. And I’m taking with me all the things and thoughts and people who comfort me. Who sustain and nurish. Who support and encourage. And especially those who are well-used and cheap… you know who you are. I promise to wear you well.

Far and fast, s.


One day before the full moon, over Beaumont, Texas.


“’But then,’ thought Alice, ‘shall I never get any older than I am now? That’ll be a comfort, one way—never to be an old woman—but then—always to have lessons to learn!’” ~ Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll


  1. Sweetie – that dress looks fabulou on you – what a find!!

    I think thrifts stores (and rummage sales, second hand book stores, etc. etc.) are a bit like treasure hunts – you know “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” – or in this case a woman’s ;p

    And I hear you on comfort – and purging. When I moved over a year ago, I dropped off a ton of clothing and items at a local salvation army and I’m still going through stuff today.

    I have way too much crap

  2. Hmm well this little blurb seems good and all, but you forgot to mention one little detail about the dress… That you looks awesome in it!

    While I don’t think I’ve been well worn, I certainly hope that people look to me (yourself included) as someone who could always be used to help in any situation. In regards of cheap I think I’ve heard that phrase used interchangeably with my name in a few occasions. One example I can give was a party where after having consumed a few beverages a random party go-er exclaimed “Wow, he’s really enjoying himself! How many has he had? Only five? Ooh I like cheap entertainment!”

    Enjoy your time in Texas while you are still there Shanna, I hope you get well rested and that you get to drink in the fresh warm air and sunshine (unless of course it’s raining)

  3. That dress looks great on you. I need to check out to see if there are any decent consignment shops where I am.

    Austin sounds interesting. If I had to live in Texas, that is where I would go. Anyplace known for live music, interesting food and shopping sounds like somewhere I would want to be. Good advice about about letting people drop from you life that do not support you-wish I had learned this when I was young.

    Look forward to your post from New Orleans. Have fun while there but not too much fun if you know what I mean– its a full moon weekend…

    Sorry if I have double posted computer is wonky this month.

  4. Annie: Thank ya! Yep, it’s been a long time since I’ve shopped at all, but I’m rediscovering my love of other people’s junk on this trip. It’s great.

    Shawn: That made me laugh. Well-worn? Not yet. A cheap date. Now that one I believe!

    Stacy: Yep, Austin is your place. The full moon was fantastic in New Orleans too. I behaved. Mostly.

  5. Full Pink Moon! The Grass Moon! Spring! Live large baby!

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