A new review on Crash Palace Productions and… car shopping?

Recently (which in my universe means more than a week ago and somehow I didn’t notice), Billy Crash published the latest in our mother-daughter movie reviews on the horror web site, Crash Palace Productions. Please have a look:

http://crashpalaceproductions.com/2018/10/21/boys-in-the-trees/

I have survived life as a marching band mom one more season, somehow navigated various minefields at work and now find myself car shopping.

During the summer, my beloved Altima and I had what I consider a premature end. My husband bought a car he has wanted for quite some time, a Nissan Juke. He is smitten with it, but I am not.

He recently received a promotion. I am working more and also working more erratic hours. This, when combined with a teenaged daughter, means we may soon become a two car household.

Since I have a car, I am in no rush and I am frugal. I am comparing leasing vs. buying and new vs. used.

And it’s exhausting.

I spent my day off today at two Kia dealerships. And drove various used cars, too.

Savannah, we are here!

Day 4

We arrived in Savannah about 4 pm last night and checked into The Inn at Mulberry Grove. The prettiest motel I’ve ever seen.

For less than $50/night, I finally got a decent cup of coffee.

But I digress…

Last night we went downtown and ended up getting New York pizza got dinner at Vinnie Van GoGos. Wonderful artsy pun. I had a local blonde beer: Tybee Isle Blonde.

And then we visited the River Street area and bought sundresses and met a man who made palm roses.

Indochic— Target’s New Home Line celebrates colonization or as they call it, “French-Vietnamese fusion.”

My husband and I started brainstorming our weekly household needs and while he worked on meal planning and a grocery list, I opened the Target app on my phone to see if they had any amazing deals on things we needed. We all know a trip to Target is dangerous and needs to be carefully and cautiously plotted.

Otherwise, the money can disappear.

I immediately found myself drawn to this luscious teal blue chair.

I mean, I seriously see this chair as part of the renovations to our master bedroom here.

But then I read the description: “Indochic: Think French-Vietnamese fusion, full of elegant shapes and sophisticated jewel tones.”

Now, this is my version of when people cry sexism when parents put little girls in clothes that focus on cuteness or certain traits our society sees as feminine. Like the t-shirts that say “I’m too pretty to do homework” or something like that.

“Indochic” is the exploitation and the ignorant perpetuation of the stereotypes that allowed colonialism and the “civilizing mission” to destroy cultures. If you understand my outrage… Well, may the sun shine upon you. We are kindred spirits. If not, let me see if I can calm down and rationally explain the root of my indignation.

First, let me start with the term “Indochic.” It’s a play off of the term “Indochina,” a strongly European word describing the region between India and China. The term became prevalently used in the 19th century and eventually referred strictly to the French colony of what is now Vietnam.

The French called its colony in the region “Indochine” so already Target has managed to make a playful pun, and a French pun at that by combining the French term “chic” with the prefix “Indo.” It’s Indo-great! Indo-cool!

Now, let me rant about the idea of “French-Vietnamese fusion.” The mix of French and Asian style occurred when the French colonized this region. I am no expert on French colonization in Asia, so I can’t address this in depth. But let me offer a few ideas.

Any fusion between the French and the Vietnamese was not voluntary. So should we celebrate it?

Is a pun like “Indochic” okay because the reference dates to the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth century? Is it a forgotten pain? Can it be compared to referring as certain styles as “urban” as opposed to African-American? Would people feel differently about this type of style if the ad featured an Asian woman and a French man?

What I also find interesting about the concept of Indochic, French-Vietnamese fusion connects to my interest in miscegenation. The French developed strict plans for breeding between the civilized French man and the indigenous woman. In French Indochina, French men in the colony were encouraged to make local women their concubines specifically to purify and civilize by producing children with Frenchness.

But remember, the women in these unions would come from poverty by French standards and would be servants or laundresses to their colonial master before they caught his eye. Young native women and older French men, the women unable to say no because of the power exchange.

In colonialism, native cultures lose their land and their resources to the more powerful nation. Their men lose the chance to earn their own living. People who had independent lives become dependent on a foreign system. Tradesmen become servants. Women become housekeepers and sex objects. Native traditions and languages bend, twist and often break or are forced broken by the more powerful, dominant presence.

So when we advertise a sophisticated, elegant French-Vietnamese fusion and give it a cutesy name, we are perpetuating the idea that the cultures on the peninsula between India and China did not have anything to contribute to the world before the French came along and subjugated them.

It’s not Indochic. It’s not cool. It’s contemporary Orientalism.

If anything it’s Asian-influenced French design. Influenced. Because fusion implies an intentional attempt to blend two strong styles.

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. 

  

Sunday in Djibouti

Our endeavors in Djibouti have yielded success and also exposed us to some small changes in the city. The prevalence of metal detectors everywhere, a swipe with a wand to get into the grocery store or even the coffee shop.

Right now it’s Sunday afternoon and I am updating my social media and eating my Fauchon candies from the plane. 

So we returned from the Nougaprix last night and headed to Le Santal, a restaurant here that features Chinese and Indian cuisine and has a pizzeria. 

  
We discovered it during our last stay. I had lamb vindaloo and two varieties of naan. I paid for dinner since I stopped at the ATM and accidentally withdrew twice what I meant to. M and I took the long way to the restaurant and the long way home to increase our steps and people watch. Because we’re white and stand out, every woman on the street changing money asks us if we have dollars to exchange.

We had our traditional difficult night last night— when the jet lag catches up with us and we end up chit-chatting for a couple hours in the middle of the night. I finally passed out at 5 a.m. local time (9 p.m. at home) and didn’t wake until 9 a.m. I woke a tad distraught because I wanted to wake at 7 a.m. 

  
  
Breakfast goes until 10 a.m., but there was no coffee. Might be because we overslept, might be that the espresso machine is broken. Hard to tell. I did notice a sticker on the window — K’naan, Dusty Foot Philosopher. K’naan hails from Somalia. I have three of his recordings. 

  
After breakfast, we did some errands to flush out our travel plans (Lac Abbé? Whale sharks?) It’s Sunday morning, so the streets are crazy and alive with everyone starting their work week.

  
We went to Bunna House for coffee. Crowded this morning and staffed by women making coffee and men in black Bunna House polo shirts doing the cleaning and serving. Logo knocks off Starbucks, serves Ethiopian coffee.

Then I started my quest for an African-style dress. We went to the bus station/market and found one dress with scarf/shawl. M didn’t like the price so we walked. We hope to go back and haggle later. We found other dresses and I bought one for myself and something for my daughter.

  
After dress shopping complete, we went for juice. The juice bar was our favorite part of the city. It has changed. No more outdoor patio with begging children and street cats. Plus the menu has either been reduced or they are out of fruit. I used to get ginger or cantaloupe. Today the options were lemon, orange, pineapple or mango. I enjoyed the mango but it wasn’t the same.

  

We returned to the hotel to find that the housekeeper had laid our freshly laundered towels on our bed with the ceiling fan on high to dry them.

Back to School shopping

My daughter enters the fifth grade tomorrow. In her district, this involves moving to a new school and riding the bus with the big kids. I have never really taken her back-to-school shopping. Instead, I quietly purchase the necessities and her grandmother buys her an outfit or two and that’s the end of it.

Not this year.

She’s older so I thought I’d make back-to-school shopping a lesson in how to handle money. We started by taking $200 out of her savings account. I had already purchased the sneakers, jeans, new coat, backpack and school supplies required. We also had cleaned her drawers, sorting everything by size and removing the items that were too small, soon to be too small or just not her style any more. Those will be passed on to another child.

At the bank, she filled out her own withdrawal slip and we headed to the counter where the teller asked her how she preferred her money. She left with an envelope of mixed bills. We kept the receipt so she could keep that inside the envelope and track her purchases. I took a “mommy” envelope for the times where she would need me to pay with my credit card.

She made a list of items she wanted. With our list in hand (and eventually forgotten in her wallet) we went to the thrift store. The thrift store I frequent is a little… shady. I told my daughter not to bother trying anything on, that we’d buy it, wash it, and then try it. If it didn’t fit, we’d donate it away. We arrived during 65% hour.

We found a pair of Ralph Lauren corduroys, skinny style, with snaps at the ankles. We found two tank tops with the built-in shelf bras. We found a camouflage tank top and a polka dot long sleeve shirt. By far, her favorite discovery was the black cropped sweatshirt, zipper down with a hood, covered with Muppet style fuzz. Total spent: $8

Next, we headed to Target. Since I work at Target, we have my employee discount plus an additional 5% off if we use my RedCard. Hence, the Mommy envelope. And this particular sales week had $5 off a $20 Target brand underwear purchase. We bought two bras, ten pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks, and a pair of buckle laden black ankle boots. Total spent: $50.

After Target, we went to the mall. I have a Gap visa which I opened one year when I wanted to buy the child a coat. The extra percentage off made the deal sweeter. This summer, the financial company offered 10X reward points on purchases outside the Gap. So, when typically it requires $1,000 in purchases for a $10 Gap gift card, this promotion meant you received a $10 gift card with only $100 in purchases. I “earned” $50 in gift cards for making the Gap card my primary card for the summer (which I pay off in full every time the bill arrives).

My daughter found a cropped sweater, a cropped red zipper down sweatshirt and a sweatshirt dress with pocket in the front. She paid $9. I put it on my Gap card and she gave me the cash for the Mommy envelope.

Now a Mommy-daughter shopping trip is never complete without lunch. Child wanted wings. She loves chicken wings on the bone. Her first thought was Buffalo Wild Wings. But after consideration, she decided on the pub near our house. I’m sure Shruty’s Pub appreciates that she chose to support the local, family-owned business.

Our final stop was The Crossings Premium Outlets. I explained to dear daughter that her money wouldn’t go nearly as far here. Her first stop was Charlotte Russe. She bought two shirts for $23. Then we visited Forever 21. She found a leopard print skirt, a nice blouse, and an umbrella for $38.

“Mommy,” she said, “this place really does eat your money.”

She had grown tired at this point. But she really wanted shoes. Women’s shoes. We went to one outlet and it was athletic shoes which didn’t interest her. We had several shoes stores lined up in front of us: Merrill, Easy Spirit and Bass among them. But those are all sensible shoes. The one at the end of the row interested me most and I knew it would appeal to her too. Nine West. We entered and I think my daughter found nirvana.

Now, my daughter is ten. She wanted some heels. She can’t wear heels to school, and she’s spending her own money, so I don’t want to tell her what to buy. I allowed her to pick out one pair of ridiculous sparkly strappy shoes. She wanted two. One pair was platform. She didn’t keep those. She decided on a beaded pink pair and a pair of leopard pumps. She spent $45.

The depletion of her envelope made her visibly sad. She opted to stop shopping and bring home the remaining few dollars.

I asked if she understood why we shopped in the order we did.

“What would have happened if we came here first?” I asked.

“I would have spent all my money,” she said.

IMG_1136.jpg