The Duchess of DSW

This weekend I was home in NJ to celebrate Mother’s Day. No trip home to NJ is complete without a family visit to DSW. I love shoes, my mom loves shoes, and my dad loves shoes. And we all love a good bargain (who doesn’t?). Needless to say, we have a lot of shoes. It’s like all of us inherited the Imelda Marcos gene. Actually, shoe loving might be a cultural thing. I haven’t met a Filipino who doesn’t feel passionately about shoes.

But shoe shopping at DSW is better than any other store. Why?  Because we are DSW VIPs. Yes, we have bought so many shoes at DSW that they have basically knighted us and welcome us with roses when we enter. Actually, it’s more like this at the check-out counter:
DSW employee: Oh hello Mr. Rice Ball, nice to see you again!
Dad: Hi Jessica, how are you? Yes, nice to see you too. 
Jessica (now she has a name): Still one of our top customers!  We would like to invite you to our new store opening in Manhattan. You should be receiving the invitation in the mail shortly. 
I am not lying or exaggerating. We were really invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony at the 34th Street store opening. Unfortunately we couldn’t go since it was a weekday during work hours. Jessica also sends us hand-written Christmas cards. 
How did we get to this coveted VIP status?  If I tell you, then I’ll have to kill you. But here’s a hint: volume. Back to my mantra – the more you buy, the more you save.  The biggest perk of being a DSW VIP (besides the red carpet events) is the savings. Every time I go home, there is a DSW coupon waiting for me. This past weekend it was $50 off, and at DSW $50 goes a long way. 
I have plenty of friends who don’t understand my love affair with DSW. They say, “Oh, I never find anything there.”  Well then, you are doing it wrong. Since I won’t tell you our family secret to DSW royalty, I’ll share my DSW plan of attack.
1.  Wear sensible shoes. Ballet flats or flip flops are my preference. 
2.  Enter DSW. Give a friendly nod to the security guard who is showering you with rose petals.
3.  Head straight to the clearance racks. Do not stop in the main aisles. Do not bother to pick up a shopping bag, they will be in the back and/or a store employee will offer you one when they see you trying to balance 3 boxes of shoes in one hand. 
4.  Find your size in the clearance racks and put your eyes to work. I use a left to right, up to down grid method. I try not to let my eyes wander from the method to ensure complete processing of all clearance shoes in my size. 
5.  When you find a shoe that speaks to you, identify the color of its tag, which denotes how much % off from the marked price you will get. This is the best part. If you have a middle school aged child, the clearance racks at DSW are a great place to get them practicing on their math skills. I plan on doing this with my child, rapid fire style. 

“The tag is blue and it’s marked at $79.99 — how much will the final price be??”
“Too slow!  Try again!”

6.  If, by the grace of God, you find a shoe with a yellow tag, hold onto it!  It doesn’t even matter what they look like. There is a very good chance these shoes will only cost you $8. (Yellow tags are 80% off)
7.  If you find a pair of shoes that you are on the fence about, grab them and move on. You can make your final decision later. 
8.  Once you have exhausted all the clearance racks, then and only then, can you emerge into the normal aisles. Before you do, assess your clearance finds and do a second sweep if you feel compelled to. Once you leave the clearance racks, no deal in DSW will ever be as sweet 
9.  At the check-out counter, present Jessica with your coupon. If you don’t have one, give her your phone number so she can look up your membership number. This is important because this is how you get the points. Points lead to coupons. Coupons lead to shoes. Shoes lead to points. See how this works?
10.  Compare your receipt with family and friends and show off how much money you have saved. 
By the end of a successful trip, I usually leave DSW sweaty with excitement, 3 new pairs of shoes, and a receipt evidencing no less than $150 in savings. Cha-ching!

The old farty couple

I have spent 42.86% of my life as Mr. S’s girlfriend. Don’t try to back into the math — it’s a long time. And as most seasoned relationships go, we spend most of our nights cozied up at home rather than out and about. What that really means is, we spend most of our nights sprawled out on the couch arguing over who is taking up more space.

“Get back on your side of the cushion!”

“Stop touching me with your feet!”

“Ok, get off, you’re making me hot.”

Don’t worry. I assure you the romance is still alive.

Our normal routine generally consists of ordering in dinner, watching what’s in the DVR, and farting. Really. I always assume that most serious couples are comfortable with each other’s gas, but lately, I feel like Mr. S and I have taken it to a whole new level.

In the beginning it was the courtesy, “I’m going to fart.”

Then it became, “I farted.” Followed by the sometimes obvious response, “I know.” Less courteous, but still ok.

Now it’s more like, “I farted. It felt hot” or, “I farted. Save yourself!!” or, “I farted. HAHAHAHA!!”

Do I think this is weirder than it really is? Is it the truest testament to our love for one another or does it just prove we are both equally disgusting? Oh well, at least we have each other…and Thai take out, episodes of “The Voice” in the DVR and… o_O


Welcome to the urban rice ball, my first foray into the wonderful world of blogging.  I’m very excited about this — more so for recording all the abnormal events of my very normal life.  I’m not sure I expect anyone to really read this (other than those that I threaten with “Read it, or else…ROAR”).  First thing’s first — an explanation of the blog name:

urban – I live in NYC.  I also like zippers…they seem innately urban to me.
rice ball – I am Filipino, we love rice in all its forms (ball, pyramid, cube, just plain grains, etc.)

Also for a short period of time Mr. S called me “my little rice ball” as a term of endearment.  As most terms of endearment go, it lost its luster and/or is used only in times of desperation.

I just told Mr. S my clever blog name and he said “Sounds like a food blog.”  Crap.  Well that was not my intention.  I do love food, so while it may have a co-starring role on this blog, it will definitely be part of an ensemble cast, not the diva star of the show.

What else is typical first blog fodder besides my geographic location and race?  … … …  Huh, this could be harder than I thought.  How about one of those “25 things you don’t know about me” lists (a la Us Weekly) to break the ice.

  1. I’m allergic to dogs  This is problematic because I really like them and want one really badly.  I scour frequently for my future pup.  Last month I fell in love with Tommy the Brown Pitbull, but he was recently adopted (still bittersweet for me).  During my searches, I always forget that I am allergic to dogs. 
  2. I only like big dogs.  Small dogs just don’t do it for me.  I’d rather have no dog than a small dog.  When I am on, I always pretend I live in a 2,000 square foot loft penthouse apartment.  I rarely pretend that I am not allergic because I forget that I am allergic. 
  3. I really live in a”2-room studio.”  This is a NYC real estate/Craigslist marketing ploy.  We (Mr. S and I) live in a studio, period (definitely < 500 sq. ft).  Granted, it has a sort of archway delineating the bedroom area from the living room area, but no actual door separating the two “rooms”.  Despite this, I love our studio.  Except for it’s “No Pets” policy.  Bah humbug.
  4. By day, I am an accountant.  BO-RING.
  5. By night, I am a zumba freak, or
  6. By night, I am a artiste (oil paints are the current medium of choice), or
  7. By night, I am a couch potato
  8. This goes without saying — I love living in NYC.  Sometimes when I’m walking down the street I think “I can’t believe I really live here it’s so amazing and fun and exciting and perfect and alkdjfaoeijafskdlf!!.”  When people say, “NYC’s fun, but I can never see myself living here,” I re-evaluate our current/future friendship.  
  9. I get high off of bargain shopping. I despise buying full price.  Loehmann’s is my mecca.  
  10. I truly believe in “the more you buy, the more you save.”  Case in point — during a trip to SYMS (rest in peace), I found a coat that retailed for $1,000; SYMS price $400.  If I buy the coat, I save $600, but if I do not buy the coat I only save $400.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.
  11. I like ramen, all kinds of ramen — cheap, expensive, and anything in between.  Exception: for cheap ramen, I only like beef flavor.  The color of chicken flavor is too radioactive for my liking.  

How about let’s stop at 11 and just say we really did 25?  New Girl is on and I have to watch it.