Dress Quest in Djibouti

There’s a dress I want, but every time I step into the women’s shop, surrounded by women, a man from the street dives toward me to help me with the purchase. He will then receive a commission from the shopkeeper and it aggravates me because I only receive this treatment because I am white.

I bought two dresses, from two different shops today, with a unwanted helper, but paid 2500 Dj Francs. That’s about $13.50. It’s also what I paid for my dinner last night at the sit-down restaurant of high quality.
  
The dress I want comes with the headscarf and my first helper wanted me to pay 5,000 Djiboutian Francs. 

I returned later, hadn’t even expressed interest in the dress when a different man swooped in upon me while a woman insisted on trying to sell us incense.

Today M and I started out early and wove through the side streets and alleys of the market to sneak into my shop from behind.

We did it. Walked up to the counter and asked for my dress. An older Djiboutian woman in a mountain of colorful textiles leaned over and pinched the fabric as I held it. She nodded her approval.

And so I bought it. For 1800 Dj Fr. About $10. With the scarf. And to think I paid 2500 yesterday. 

  

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG

En route: Packing for Djibouti

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I already called my banks. I emptied my wallet.

I selected my travel outfit: a white camisole with gauzy white tuxedo style shirt (long sleeved), fake leather cropped black jacket (washable), lightweight black pants, silk scarf and Velcro “Mary Jane” style sneakers.

I will begin in this outfit Thursday a.m. when my family drives to the suburbs of Baltimore to have breakfast with my college roommate. We need to be in DC by noon to head to Dulles for my afternoon flight to Paris.

My traveling companion and I arrive at CDG in Paris at about 6 a.m. Friday, which will be midnight our time. Our plane to Djibouti leaves in the middle of the night Paris time so it’s possible I will wear this outfit for more than 48 hours.

So what’s in the current draft of my suitcase?

Carry on
Change purse
Business cards
Wallet
Notebook
Pen
Feminine supplies
Two pairs underwear
Socks
Boxer shorts
Camisole
Passport
Vaccination record
Paris map
Ibuprofen
Sunblock
Chapstick
Baby powder
Soap
Hand sanitizer
Alcohol wipes
Meal bars
Chargers
Laptop
Disposable toothbrush
Deoderant
Long skirt

Suitcase
Shampoo
Liquid soap
More listerine
Barrettes
Toothbrush
More meal bars
More hand sanitizer
Boxer shorts
Underpants (many of which I will toss when dirty)
Socks
Sandals
Ankle length skirt
Khakis with lots of pockets
Three t-shirts
Bra
5 relatively lightweight long sleeve shirts
Plastic bags
Dryer sheets
Wipes
Cooling wipes
Ethiopian scarf
Messenger bag
Pens

Press Release: Fashion manufacturer expands (1998)

This was one of my first freelance PR clients. This event had a very specific purpose. This fashion manufacturer was expanding at a time when everyone else in the industry was outsourcing to Mexico or other locations. They were expanding, and they had purchased an old mill where the owner had a bad reputation. The client feared they would not be able to attract employees, so they hosted an Open House.

I publicized the event and attended the open house to talk with media personnel. The TV crews showed up as we were breaking down the event. We put the displays back together, lined the mannequins up and had a trusty employee who had stayed to help clean up give a demonstration. The manager’s family had to stand in for the guests, since the well-attended event had ended.

It yielded a really nice pair of television news stories on our local channel.

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