This will come as a shock to my mom, my exes and many of my friends, but I actually pride myself on being a fairly low-maintenance woman. I know on some level that this isn’t really the case, obviously, because I have a wide variety of quirks and phobias and anxiety issues that make me a huge pain in the ass overall, but I justify my “low-maintenance” characterization by the following: I insist on ordering “a large coffee” from Starbucks instead of a “venti nonfat latte” or whatever, I prefer cheap beer to sugary cocktails, my makeup routine consists only of SPF 15 moisturizer and cherry Chapstick, I have only one purse, I’m not a picky eater, and I hate to shop.


And up until this past week, I would’ve told you that I really didn’t like clothes that much either. (In fact, I did tell you that.) I wear jeans or something else casual to work on most days – because most days I spend at my desk, just me and my red pen and a stack of other people’s copy – and no matter what I wear, I cover it up with a Snuggie immediately because my office is as cold as Alaska. On the rare days when I have a meeting or luncheon with someone respectable, I do like to look a little more like a professional woman and less like a rumpled undergraduate.


And on a fairly regular basis, I realize I have some upcoming event for which I need to dress nicely, and I convince myself that I have nothing to wear. Then I check my bank balance and realize that I have the budget of a rumpled undergraduate, so then I buy something from Target or Forever 21 or … well, no, those are really the only two places I buy clothes. And then I wear it once, and then I have another event coming up, and I convince myself I have nothing to wear and so on.


Because I tend to live out of laundry baskets and never get around to hanging clothes up properly, I really didn’t think I had that many clothes. But I moved over Memorial Day weekend, and in a rare burst of self-improvement, I decided to get my wardrobe organized, once and for all. After an entire afternoon spent folding and hanging – and running out once for more hangers and a clothes rack – I am forced to admit that I have a lot of clothes. I have a lot of clothes. My dresser is full. My closet and half of Ruby’s closet are full. I have a trunk and a huge plastic bin of clothes that I’m keeping for purely sentimental reasons. And then there are Ruby’s clothes. I gave six boxes full of clothes to the charity drive at Ruby’s day care and sent 30 pounds of baby clothes to my best friend in Chicago, and even still, I have too many clothes. I’ve gradually been weeding through them; acknowledging that I will never again fit into a lot of my pants is both depressing and liberating, and going through Ruby’s baby clothes is pure bittersweet.


I’m trying to embrace my new identity as someone who has a lot of clothes, but it’s still really hard for me to accept that I’m not just a low-maintenance tomboy. For years I’ve been convinced that I was Kristy Thomas, only to find out that I’m a less creative Claudia Kishi or a less sophisticated Stacey McGill. (Apologies to – and Wikipedia links for – those of you who were not avid readers of The Babysitters Club.)


Ultimately, having the ability to re-examine your self-perceptions is probably a better trait than being low-maintenance – and my clothes will all be crumpled back into laundry baskets by the end of July anyway.