Monday, August 23, 2010

It's all in the way you say it

I'm not boycotting China anymore. Shocked?

See, ever since we got married one year and eight months ago, we've been using a cheap pair of dressers pilfered from Drew's parents' house, that in actuality belonged to his older sister, if you want to be precise. They were tacky, highly inefficient, and ugly. But being newlyweds with no extra money, we didn't complain. Those worn dressers housed our clothes (even if those drawers were the most shallow things I'd ever seen...), provided somewhere for the lamp to sit, and they worked.

About a year ago, Mom gave us two dressers that she didn't need anymore. It turns out this furniture had originally belonged to my grandparents - it was the first bedroom furniture they bought after immigrating to America. Not only was I giving a new lease on life to a pair of dressers that sorely needed it (envision a coat of slick ivory shellac decorated with cumbersome, gold tinted hardware shaped as scrolls and shells and you've got a great picture of how these dressers used to look...), but I would be preserving a piece of my family's history. I loved it.

Apartments don't allow for large DYI projects. Enter: Drew's dad's wood working shop. We dropped the dressers off and found a weekend here or there to come work on them. It took about four Saturdays just to sand all the paint off. Staining came next. After that, it was time for the hardware.

I'm a huge arts & crafts nut (for those of you who aren't familiar with the term, I refer you to m-w.com: "a movement in European and American design during the late 19th and early 20th centuries promoting hand craftsmanship over industrial mass production"). I was determined to buy awesome hardware in the arts & crafts style, which meant Lowes was out for two reasons.

1. Their hardware is made in China
2. They don't have a large selection of arts & crafts hardware anyway

Thank you for bearing with me. Now we get to the good part! I decided we should go local for our hardware, which led me to Asheville Hardware. They had moved from their very chic, very desirable location on Biltmore Avenue to a rather shady street a few blocks away. I figure the economy hit them hard, just like everyone else. We walk in and inquire about hardware. The guy behind the counter hands us an enormous book, smiles, and says if it doesn't have what we're looking for, he's got a few more. Lovely. We start searching. Unfortunately, the book doesn't have a single price listed. I give the guy the item numbers and he starts to look things up.

"Err," I begin, Could you tell me where these are made?"

He looks at me curiously.

"See, we made a New Year's resolution to boycott China," I begin. The guy and his buddy both turn to look at me. Drew leans against the counter, watching me sink myself. "Yeah," I continue, "So I need to know where these are made."

I wish I had blogged about this incident ASAP. Because in seven months of boycotting, I had never received such a reaction. The guy began to make fun of me. Nicely, of course, but he was still making fun of me. This was Asheville, for crying out loud, home of organic, hippie, liberals who are supposed to SUPPORT my resolution, not make fun of it! He had a couple of very interesting remarks which I would love to share with you...if I remembered them. But in my defense, this conversation DID take place about a month and a half ago.

As we walked out of the store and down the street towards the car, I voiced my frustrations (making sure we were out of earshot first). Drew told me that not once during the past months has he said the word "boycott."

"Huh," I asked, dazed. "What wrong with saying boycott?"

"It sounds like you're a crazy person," he explained kindly. "I usually explain to folks that we made a New Year's resolution to try and not buy stuff made in China. They understand and quickly help me find out where an item is made. But if I said the word 'boycott'...well, it's a much more aggressive word. I don't like it," he said simply.

Judging by how my conversation with those guys went, I'd have to agree with him. Honestly, I've had a hard time talking about my resolution with people because of the word "boycott." Not only does it leave a strong, metallic taste in my mouth, but I honestly think it comes across as snobbish word. "I'm better and smarter than you," says the word "boycott." Americans may sometimes gripe about how everything seems to be made in China, but how many of them actually contemplate a boycott? I don't want to alienate some stranger, or make her feel belittled, or even incite anger by throwing "boycott" around. I just want to not buy Chinese products and share my resolution and reasons with folks along the way.

So...no more boycott. From now on, I'm telling people that I'm not buying stuff from China this year. End of story. ;)

PS Pictures of my very awesome dressers to come!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Natalie Rose

These are pictures from a photo shoot I did a few weeks ago with my friend Laura's daughter, Natalie. The project was time sensitive - Natalie was interested, but only for a little while!

The bear belonged to Natalie's brother Blaise, who died a few years ago.

This girl loves horses!

Almost ready to call it quits...

P.S. Next time you're shopping for bottled garlic, check the label. You may be surprised to find that it was shipped over from China.

Seven down, five more to go!

It feels like forever and two days since I posted anything. I certainly didn't set any record-breaking numbers for "amount of posts written in July," but I figure that's what August is for - a fresh clean month in which to write 30+ posts. :p Drew and I are now into Month Eight of the embargo...and boy, is that hard for me to believe. It's been eight months since I bought something from China.

I was at a book convention this past weekend and Friday and Saturday were effortless. I bought food. I ate my food. I filled the van with gas. I paid for the hotel room. No China anything in sight.

But wouldn't ya know it, my nemesis, the mall, reared its tempting head on Sunday. Honestly, I'm realizing I should stay away from that place altogether. It was the same old story...I'm running into Dillards to check out a sale on purses. Finding nothing, I take a right which leads me right past the lingerie department and all these sale bins chock full of underwear that are marked "$1.99 and up" (side note: don't you hate how it's "and up?" Why can't the sign simply read "$1.99?"). The brand I was eying a few weeks ago has now gone down in price by about $4. And it's STILL made in China (trust me, I picked up about five different pairs, hoping that just one might be made somewhere else. No luck). The nerve.

I need a dress for my cousin's wedding, so Katrina and I will be hitting the stores on Wednesday. If I don't land the jackpot at any of the downtown boutiques, I may just find myself back at Dillards, scouring the racks for a dress. But this time I'm staying far far away from the lingerie department.