Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meeting bestselling author Sophie Kinsella

Confessions of a Shopaholic- Fact or Fiction?

I just got home from the West coast about 2Am last night. At 8:30 am, EST, I was in my corporate cubicle, plucking away at my keyboard like a little corporate hamster, still, at least mentally, on Pacific Time. But even though I  was beyond  exhaustion, I somehow managed to drag myself out after work to enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with a friend  and meet my favorite author Sophie Kinsella, writer of the famous chick-lit  Shopaholic series .
After four grueling years of Graduate school, I took a year off to recalibrate my life before I began to look for a job. When I began interviewing with prospective employers, they asked me how I had spent my time post-graduation.  I should have said that I trekked across Nepal or translated War and Peace into Urdu.  But I am a bad liar. So I was honest and admitted that I spent my summer traveling the North-eastern United States and reading “The Shopaholic Trilogy.” Needless to say, it took me a while before I landed a job.
Call it chick-lit, call it mind candy, but after four years of  reading  sociological theory, interning with the infirm and under-served, and talking  countless people off the ledge,  I  craved lightness and humor; something that would turn my charred brain into marshmallow fluff.
And along came Becky Bloomwood, the book’s modern- day Lucille Ball-like protagonist who finds herself in all sorts of preposterous predicaments, that makes the reader laugh out loud. Anyone who cannot say no to a darling dress, a stupendous sale or even a turn-of -the century tureen will love sharing Becky’s adventures of dodging her creditors and seeking a partner who will love her in spite of her credit score.
The fact that the fictional character’s antics ring a bell a bit too close to home, may be what endeared me to Becky in the first place.  Becky is a financial journalist, yet has a spending addiction.  I spent five years as an addiction counselor, yet cannot seem to stop spending myself.  I, like Becky, have gone to extremes to buy that perfect “necessary” item of clothing, whether it is borrowing money, rolling spare change or scotch-taping back together that credit card I put through the paper-shredder.  Dissimilarly, however, I did not marry one of the richest men in my city or find a more lucrative career as a TV talk-show host. Nor am I able to accept loans from my millionaire best-friend (mainly because I don’t have a millionaire best friend).  And when I close the book’s cover, my credit problems are not finished. I know fact from fiction. But life gets rough, life gets tough and we all need some escapism. Kinsella’s books provide just that. No wonder her latest addition to the series; Mini-Shopaholic is number one on the UK hardcover best seller list.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Shop or not to Shop?

So a few weeks ago I confide in a close friend about my problem. I learn that her partner eradicated  a massive amount of credit card debt in a relatively short amount of time. So I seek his help to find out about this magic bullet that will solve all my problems. His solution is simple and consists of two parts. First, you need a budget. Budget? "What's a budget?" I ask. Budget is an ugly word. It sounds like an icky bug. My budget is as follows: if you have money to buy something, buy it. If you don't, don't buy it. Or better yet, put it on plastic. If money comes out of the ATM you are good. If not, well, then you are screwed. "I'll think about it" I told him.
The budget idea was a walk in the park, compared to what comes next.  And what came next is precisely what galvanized me to write a silly blog in the first place. Part Two of the master plan?
"You can't buy anything new for a year or two."
Moi, not buy anything for a year? Or two? Surely , he was joking. I had to clarify.
"You mean I can't go shopping at Bloomingdales?"
"Nicole, you can't shop anywhere."
" What about Outlets? Like Woodberry Commons?"
" Nope".
 "What  about sample sale shopping sites- like Rue LaLa or Gilt.. or ...real sample sales?"
" No Way "
 "What about Target..or Kohls? "
The answer was like a death knell.  
" If you want to get out of debt you can't buy ANYTHING non-essential. " he instructed. 
If it worked for him ,maybe it would work for me.
 So hence I began the challenge where  a NYC girl -Carrie Bradshaw -wannabe  can't  always get what she wants, let  alone some of the stuff she needs. Then again , how does one define essential?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why write a blog?

I am not a blogger. I don't write blogs, I don't read blogs. I don't follow blogs.  So why did I decided to write a blog detailing my decsion to stop shopping?  Was it the stacks of shoe boxes piled 6 feet high like a cardboard  leaning tower of Pisa about to topple on my head? Or maybe it was clothes in my overstocked closet oozing out  into my living space like some 1950's cult horror film. The real resaon I  decided to write a blog is that in spite of having a closet of beautiful things and looking fabulous  a great deal of the time, I can't pay my  bills .And  likeso  many New Yorkers, residing in one of the world's most expensive cities , I live above my means. It never really bothered me, until my evil creditors due to some banking industry crisis, jacked up my 0% APR's to 15, 18, 21%. And suddenly,despite being fortunate to have maintained employment in a down economy, my bills became harder and harder to pay. Just pay your bills, you say? Well, not so simple. Because I LOVE to shop. I can't stop. It's a form a relaxation, entertainment, stress-reduction and socilaization.  Bloomingdales. Saks and Lord and Taylor  email me  everyday.  They send me free glossy magazines and coupons in the mail. And I think they may even be  following ME on twitter. This blog won't be gloom and doom. I think shopping addiction is a very common yet  minimized affliction. Why? Because unlike drugs, alcohol, gambling , or even sex (poor Tiger), shopping is socially acceptable. Friends admire our cars, jewelry and clothes. We  are supporting our failing economy. And we make the retailers happy.  There are very few supports for us finacially floundering fashionistas. So here I am. to share my laughs , tears and links to all that I want, but probably shouldn't have. I hope you follow along!