Challenge Update: Week 36

A week of Zebras, Queries and Legos

Challenge Rule 1: Buy No Clothes/Don’t Covet

I bought no clothes this week.

However: I saw a woman wearing a zebra print wrap dress. And do you know what happened? I questioned my every life decision.

I saw that dress and I instantly regretted my whole “oh, let’s see what happens if you go into a store after six months of no shopping,” and “ooooh! a zebra dress!?” escapade from two months ago.

I coveted. Wait: I didn’t just covet. I began actively scheming.

Oh, wait but that’s not all. I was waiting outside my boys’ new school when a woman in a different non-wrap zebra dress with the most amazing sleeves walked up all classy and beautiful to pick up her children. I nearly died. THE UNIVERSE IS TAUNTING ME! TWO ZEBRA DRESSES IN ONE WEEK!

I felt like Cruella DeVil. I had thoughts of showing up at the zoo with a Virginia Slims menthol in an ivory cigarette holder and my naturally tending-towards-Cruella-ish hair and whisper shouting, “It must be done today!” outside the zebra enclosure.

Thank goodness I had absolutely zero free minutes this week, or I would have hunted down a zebra. Somehow. Somewhere.

Note to self: it is perhaps not wise to broadcast your Cruella-ish intentions on the internet. What I really want is a zebra dress. That’s all I want. Just one cute little zebra dress.

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

As unthinkable as it seemed, I found a skirt in my closet which appeared nowhere in my inventory. It’s a nice skirt, one I don’t wear very often, because, obviously, it’s not zebra. That I had gone the full year it took to (at least I thought!) complete my inventory, and an additional eight months before noticing means that I still truly have too many clothes in my closet. (And not enough zebra.)

I added the skirt to my inventory and wore it happily.

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

In an effort to squeeze the last possible wears out of my summer dresses, and continue that “below 1€ per wear” challenge I started in June, I have been relying on my old stand-bys. My green linen wrap-dress, which became a skirt and a top out of necessity, has now hit the 1€ per wear mark. Yay! Only my yellow lace dress and my Team Nigeria dress remain!

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

Mise en Place for everyone! I have been trying to get my little boys on the Mise en Place train. They have various degrees of willingness day by day. I offer it. That’s the best I can do.

When we don’t do it, there is always a struggle to get dressed in the morning. The thing is, for them, said “struggle” is a way to assert some control over their day. It usually goes like this:

“Hey, love, do you want to wear your Paw Patrol tee-shirt or your Dino Farmer tee-shirt?” I ask.
“I don’t want to wear a tee-shirt!” he singsongs.
“I understand, my dear,” I say as calmly as possible. “A polo, then?”
“No polo!” he whines.
“Then why don’t you go pick your tee-shirt?” I offer.
“YOU PICK!” he shouts. I pick out a tee-shirt.
“NOT THAT ONE!” Little boy rolls on the ground in tears.


I know that this has nothing to do with tee-shirts, but about his need to control his little pre-schoolers’ destiny. But honestly, I don’t enjoy conflict first thing in the morning. I need at least a second cup of coffee before I am ready for conflict.

Mise en Place, were he willing, would and does solve this dilemma. But the evening does not always find him willing.

Challenge Rule 5: Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary:

This week I altered the sleeves on a dress. I am pleased with the results.


So, apparently, 8 months into my Buy No Clothes in 2021 Challenge I am still capable of heart-rending covetous thoughts. The only good change is that I don’t have a closetful of 8 months-worth of barely worn covetous desires. (Although I really wouldn’t mind a cute little zebra dress hanging in my closet.)

In other news…

With the scalawags back in school, I now had no excuses to put off querying agents to represent my novels. It is a little overwhelming, trying to pigeonhole my writing genre.

When it comes to the question of “Where in the bookstore would this book be found?” I have floundered a bit for quite some time. But finally this week, I settled. I believe it would be found near the Time Traveler’s Wife, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Red Tent, if those three books existed in a high fantasy world like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

I started putting together agent query dossiers this week. Each agent and each agency has slightly different requirements, and I am nothing if not a perfectionist about making sure the dossier is perfect before I send it. My goal is to query six agents in the month of September.

In podcast news: I met with my friend and former colleague Jonathan (who lent his voice to the intro for my podcast.) Media is his life’s work and naysaying is his love language, so I trusted him to be brutally honest with me about my production timeline and help me devise my launch strategy.

Circa 2013, when Jonathan and I were very young and very silly. Notice the zebra motif on my scarf.

Likewise, I met with Éric, filmmaker, sound artist and utterly patient human being, who gave me a lightning 90-minute overview of a software he swears is better than the one I doggie-paddled my way through to get the first podcast episode finished. Let me quote his irritatingly optimistic encouragements:

“Sound editing is like Legos.”

Éric, irritating optimist
Éric, charming young filmmaker who clearly has never played with Legos


“Sound editing is nothing like Legos.”

Me, mother of two small children

There is much more to tell in the “Other News” category, but I will tell it tomorrow as I resume my Philosopher Princess exploration of the virtue of Peace.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

4 thoughts on “Challenge Update: Week 36

    1. “Mise en Place” is the term used in the restaurant industry for getting out all the necessary ingredients and pots and pans and mixing bowls and utensils for a recipe before getting started. It’s one of the critical parts of my year-long “Buy No Clothes” challenge. I wrote a whole series about it (with some help from my sister and my step-mother). Here’s a link to the first article in the series:

      Liked by 1 person

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