Wardrobe by Sam–aka “What the Hell is Laura Up To Now?”

Focus is a big issue for me. I often don’t do it so well. When I was finally diagnosed with ADHD last year, I felt a huge sense of relief because I no longer felt like a moral reprobate for the fact that I can hardly sit still for a 1/2 hour t.v. show, a church sermon, an intense conversation, or, worse, an afternoon’s writing. My prioritizing app is permanently disabled. But when I do focus, it’s with an intensity that delights and amazes me. And, strangely enough, after being on medication (Adderall)for nine months, I find that I can keep myself together reasonably well without medication–well enough to get some work done, anyway.

In the end, I’ve discovered that I’ve neglected an important part of myself over the years: I’m actually an all-or-nothing kind of girl at heart. Sure, there are those days when I start out at eight to empty the dishwasher and around three o’clock I fall over the open dishwasher door and realize that, in between emptying the top rack and the bottom, I’ve half-bathed the dog, gotten half-dressed, cleaned a closet by dumping everything out of it, gone to the grocery store only to forget what I went for, forgotten to pick up the kids, decided to become a ping-pong champion and bought a $200 paddle set online, spent two hours on twitter, forgot to eat lunch, and accidentally left the living room t.v. remote beside my husband’s razor in the bathroom–and feel like a complete and total loser because of it all. (Sound familiar?) But what I prize, what I treasure, what I can’t live without is the thrill of throwing myself into one–and only one–thing completely, and with utter abandon.

Folks will complain about living under restrictions. One thing? One focus? One goal? But I’ve found there’s a brilliant kind of freedom in a life lived with limits–arbitrary or otherwise.

That’s how I quit smoking. I can’t have a cigarette ever again. Not even a puff. That’s why I’m a serial monogamist. There’s so much to marriage, so much possibility within the confines of a single, defined relationship. That’s why, if I decide to plant a garden, I can’t just put in a few flowers here and there. I have to follow whatever wacky vision I have and spend every available moment getting it just how I want it. That’s why I don’t write many short stories–they’re too short! They don’t satisfy my craving for long-term application of random rules.

Ah, randomness. Or novelty, as I’ve come to call it. “Novelty” sounds so much more fun, so much less frightening. Or how about spontaneity? That sounds good to me, too.

That’s the other side of my personality. During the periods when I’m not completely obsessed, I drift. But not in an unpleasant way. Far from it! I remember that, yes, I have friends and I’ve been missing them. I fuss over my bemused family. I take walks and hikes. I travel. I watch t.v. I remember that I can swing a golf club in the backyard. I leave a trail of laundry and gardening implements strewn behind me.

But when those two parts of me intersect, that’s something new.

Which brings me to my point. Something new.

I’m nearly finished writing Familiar Tales of Uncommon Horror, Book One: The Devil’s Oven. (can you guess which tale The Devil’s Oven represents? I’ve mentioned it before). I like to have projects that kind of leap-frog one another. This time I’ve decided to make myself the next project.

No, I’m not talking plastic surgery, or a radical diet. Or a new religion. I’m talking about something far more elemental and important….My wardrobe!

Sounds trivial, doesn’t it? I have had, on occasion, certain people criticize me for being a less-than-serious person. Despite our culture’s apparent love of the bon mot and the pithy snark, we are oddly obsessed with maintaining various poses of seriousness. It’s as though everyone imagines that they’re just waiting for their star turn at the Algonquin’s fabled Round Table. Oh, please.

I have what is probably a pathological attachment to my clothes. I’ll go into greater detail as my project unfolds, but, suffice it to say, it’s time to cut the proverbial cord and see what happens.

So, I’ve boxed up my designer duds–pants, sweaters, skirts, shorts, jewelry, belts, scarves, shoes, and even, yes, lingerie and makeup. I’ll live without my precious facade for one year. (I love these one-year experiments, thought Julie Powell’s cookbook project was brilliant as soon as I reviewed her book years ago.) But I won’t be living in a nudist colony or anything like that (that would not be pretty!). I’ll be shopping exclusively at Wal-Mart stores and Wal-Mart.com. (Occasionally including Sam’s Club.)

I’ll be blogging about the experience several times a week, if not every day. You’ll find my completely arbitrary rules there, too. What’s it called? Wardrobe by Sam: Can a Self-Confessed Clothing Snob Find a Year’s Worth of Fashion Happiness at the World’s Biggest Discount Store? A mouthful, I know. I think Wardrobe by Sam is quite enough, but I always was one for the grand gesture.

Please come by. Critique my ensembles. Poke fun at me. Question my motives. Cheer me on. Make suggestions. I love an adventure, but adventures are much more fun when they’re shared!

9 thoughts on “Wardrobe by Sam–aka “What the Hell is Laura Up To Now?””

  1. AnswerGirl says:

    Wow. I’m simultaneously impressed and appalled, and I can’t wait to see what you do with this.

    Are you really going to give that beautiful dress away? It hurts me just to think about that . . .

  2. Valerie H says:

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

  3. branda says:

    This is like the reverse of “What Not to Wear”. When you say you’re boxing up your wardrobe you don’t mean for disposal, right? It’s just taking a wee vacation to a far closet or the basement… or a storage unit, right?? Because if not I’ll happily accept cast-offs!!!

    (My mom is a compulsive Walmart addict. Most of her clothes and shoes come from the discount overlord. So I have to warn you, take extra care with laundering your new duds. All that cheap fabric tends to fade, bleed, shrink, and stretch in crazy ways! You want to be able to wear that $6.95 dress more than once!!!)

  4. Am very intrigued. Good luck.

  5. Clair–No! I will not be giving away that dress. It’s one of my treasures. While I’m weeding out my regular clothes for donation, I’m keeping the ones I know I’ll want to wear again in a year.

    Hi, Valerie–I’m glad you’re here! I adore your FB profile pic. What a pretty pair you two are.

    Branda–I have a whole post prepared on the laundry thing. I can tell it’s going to be a lot of work!

    Hey, Danielle! xo

  6. Hey beautiful,

    What a totally cool idea! I too love the one year thing and can’t wait to see what you come up with. One of my favorite shirts is a Pebbles and Bamm Bamm tank top that says I’m With The Drummer from Wal-Mart so I can see this working. I love clothes ever so much so I’m going to be very interested in what conclusions you come up with by this time next year.

  7. Joe says:


    Thanks for talking a bit about what it’s like to have ADHD. For others, it gives them hope and reassurance to hear someone like yourself share your experience.

  8. Really related to the day that ended with the dishwasher still open. Didn’t know that happened to anyone else. Thanks for making me feel less alone in my (undiagnosed) ADD. xo

  9. Sweet Michelle–The conclusions are coming faster and faster. Didn’t realize I was so obsessed. I need to get back to your blog to see if you model Pebbles & Bamm Bamm!

    Joe–I like to think of it as differently-brained. Just one way people function. But there’s no reason to be shy about it. And the consequences are–at least around me–kind of funny. 🙂

    Patry–I’m proud to say that I stayed on task enough to empty the dishwasher first thing this morning.

    I think every mom is naturally a little ADD, don’t you?!

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