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Maybe buying the Kitchen Aid isn't giving up the dream. Maybe it's accepting that dream might end up looking like something different from what you thought it would when you were a little girl. And I don't mean you're alone-but-fulfilled-how-wonderful. I mean you're with somebody, and you two are totally in love. But insteady of opening up a Kitchen Aid, you two are unwrapping a Waterford vase or a stainless steel blender or a silver picture frame with your wedding date engraved on it. Then again, maybe that baby/toddler/kid of yours will have ruined the Kitchen Aid. Maybe you'll need another.

Not concerning romance, but on the "my parents erred on the side of NEVER splurging on me" low-self-esteem-issue front, I had a hang-up about Ballerina Barbie for a long time. Other girls my age had Barbie collections -- Barbie in every career and fashion iteration -- and I had only two Barbies: Beach Barbie (probably modestly priced, since she only came with a swimsuit), and Glamour Barbie (who was admittedly fabulous, with a boa and everything). My mother thriftily cut me off from Barbies after that. In my twenties, while reading a self-help book, I realized that Ballerina Barbie represented for me a feeling of "wow, my parents love me enough to buy something totally frivolous and pretty and a little bit expensive, just like white girls have, for no other reason than because it would make me happy." And then, in a very new-agey but astonishingly effective exercise, I carefully and vividly imagined a father-figure (someone who was not my actual dad -- that's a whole other story) who took a gradeschooler Melinda to the toy store and bought her the prettiest Ballerina Barbie on the shelf, for no reason other than that he thought she was an awesome kid and loved her to distraction and wanted to cheer her up. And the feeling I got from this visualization (which was a wonderful feeling of being cherished and effortlessly given a beautiful sparkly treat because I was intrinsically worth its sparkly loveliness) was, strangely, a feeling I am still able to call up when I think about that particular little visualization. I highly recommend this exercise of feeling the good feeling you want to feel, and then getting into the habit of feeling that good feeling. It's easy enough to make ourselves feel a crappy feeling -- it's surprisingly not that much more work to make ourselves feel a good feeling.

I love these comments-- and they remind that there have been lots of objects with happy associations in my life, too! Like the stereo my mom and step-dad got me for Christmas when I was about eleven. It gave me exactly the feeling you're describing, Melinda-- my parents love me enough to get me this frivolous thing. And it was even better because the box was too big to wrap, so it was in a giant black garbage bag with an enormous red bow. Coming down the stairs to that Christmas morning was so great...

(And let me be clear, to all of my friends who are reading this: Please do not try to be kind and buy me a KitchenAid mixer. If you do, first I will cry, then I will return it. But you’re sweet to think of it.)


Hi--just found your blog through The Happiness Project, and am really enjoying browsing through it. And for what it's worth, I have a similar hang-up about KitchenAid mixers, even though I'm married and I have a kid. Because we've moved, on average, every 2-3 years since I've been married (and I mean moved: we're now on our third country) for my husband's work, and we haven't gotten around to buying a house yet (and I'm older than you!). Which I knew would happen when we got married, which is why I didn't register for one. Because to me, that thing comes with when you settle down in your own house--the place where you are going to stay for good (whatever that means). And I haven't found ours yet. Sometimes I think I never will. So I'm still using a hand mixer.

I'm SO GLAD you got your assistant to order the mixer. I hope you will post a picture of the mixer.
I am firmly of the view that us single gals do need to study these 'things' we have, be they mixers, houses, a deluxe bedroom suite etc, look at them from all angles, weigh them up, then go ahead and buy/do/see them. I think there's something very liberating about this step. And I'm no fortune teller, and no fairy godmother, but I just wonder whether doing/buying/seeing the 'thing' sets something free. Certainly in us, but maybe in a way that allows movement in our lives...

I'm loving your blog and I only just started reading. Got here via Happiness Project (yay Gretchen).

Looking forward to following your journey.

what a insightful blog this is to read!

Yup, been there. My ex even refrained from buying me one as a Christmas gift because he knew I wanted to get it for (what I thought would be) our wedding.

6 months after my heart was thoroughly obliterated by said ex, I said to hell with it all. Bought myself a gorgeous piece of high end luggage. Took my best girlfriend on a week long vacation. And when my birthday rolled around, I bought the KitchenAid. It's lovely, and brings me so much joy. To me it doesn't represent giving up on love, but choosing first and foremost to love myself and be happy.

Meghan-- Brilliant. I hope the vacation was fantastic, and I'm so glad you're enjoying your mixer. Must admit, mine is still in the box in the trunk of my car. Baby steps. But I figure if I'm moving soon, might as well keep it in the original packaging. But I am definitely looking forward to the day when I unpack it put it in its own very special spot on my new kitchen counter...

Jenny-- You're so right, I think it does set us free. It's so easy to get caught up in the myths we create about things. Better to just make our way.

Nancy-- What IS it about the KitchenAid mixer? They're SO emblematic. It sounds like you have a very practical reason for not getting one yet-- as I said in my response to Meghan, mine is still in the trunk of my car for precisely the reason yours is still waiting in the store-- I'm moving soon, so I don't want to unpack it until I have the right space for it. I hope we both find the space for our mixers very soon!

For me, it was a guitar. As a young woman, I often daydreamed of having a boyfriend who would play the guitar. At a certain point in my twenties, I decided that rather than wait around for a man to play for me, I ought to learn to play the guitar myself.

I bought a guitar, but never did learn to play it. Instead, I met a wonderful man (with no musical ability) and that guitar has been played by some of our children and many of their friends.

There is still time for me to learn, if I choose. We shall see...

J-- I STILL dream of a man who plays the guitar. Like you, I finally got one of my own, and I did learn to play it a little... but I think it's one of those things that would be more fun with someone else. Someday... maybe?

When I registered as a bride for the Kitchen Aid mixer, I didn't get it as a wedding present. Someone bought me a MixMaster mixer instead. I ended up buying my own Kitchen Aid mixer after the MixMaster beaters kept bending.

Exactly how many people do you know that would fork out that kind of money for a wedding gift? Buy the mixer, and shift the fantasy to an expresso machine and All Clad pots and pans. Baking will become so much more fun.

got the same mixer for my wife last oct., and she is finally brave enough to use it. great bread, but a lot more work than whipping up a cake

Most of the crap in my garage is stuff i got for free, and never use. because how can you throw something away that was such a good deal?

Might there be garage envy? i realized last week that the most successful - wealthy/employed/smugly happy- people i know have the emptiest garages. how is that? have these people no room for nostalgia in their lives?
i just realized this may be a women-only forum(?), so i'll bow out here. great reading your thoughts, sarah!

I was already married when I went out and bought myself a Kitchen-Aid mixer for Valentine's Day. I have to say it is the best Valentine's present I ever received, even if from myself!
The most wonderful things sprang from that white mixer, as my children (sorry, I already had those too, but I was in my 30's by then)peered over the edge of the stainless bowl.
It now lives in my daughter's college apt. where her non-cooking friends peer over the bowl and marvel at her talents. I now have the French blue. It's not the same.
But have you seen the new red one with the glass bowl, hmmm....

I had been married for 20+ years when I bought my KitchenAid Mixer. After depositing my inheritance cheque in my bank account, my first stop before going home was Sears where I bought the KitchenAid mixer. The Sears people had thoughtfully placed models of the mixer at the front of their housewares section near the door of their store I always used to come through, so that I would be reminded they had them in glorious colours I could choose from when the timing was right. Every single time I use the mixer, I make sure that I say to myself "Thank you Auntie Ethel for this mixer". Silly maybe, but it always brightens me up to think of this wonderful woman in this way.

Thanks for writing about these feelings. Except in my case the symbolic object was the silverware I used every single day. What I had was hand-me-down mismatched silverware with a cheap ugly design. Sure I got it for free from a friend of my mother's, plus when I moved into my mother's house after she passed away, I inherited her plain, decades old stainless silverware. It was never going to wear out so it was hard to rationalize spending money on new stuff. And buying it myself did seem to symbolize that marriage was not in the cards. Despite this, I admit to feeling a kind of jubilation and even defiance on the day that I broke down and bought two sets of timeless, very simple but elegant heavy duty silverware on sale at Macys (with my boyfriend at the time, in tow!). I was finally admitting that having a registry was just never going to happen, and even if I got married tomorrow at age 54, is it appropriate to be asking for silverware and mixers from your friends? I am single, but I still give great dinner parties! (I kept a few symbolic forks and knives from the old sets to bring on picnics and remind me that I deserve beautiful things, even being single).

For me it was my house... I bought an apartment before and that was ok as a single woman.. but buying a house by myself? What if something broke? What if I couldn't pay the mortgage? I'm a freelancer.. What if?... That was my Kitchen Mixer. I been here 5 years, I have a great electrician, plumber, handy man and I'm able to pay it every month... Now my Mixer is.. How soon can I pay it off?

get that mixer out and mix it up.....you are going to love it.....i love mine....i waited forever for it and when i finally got it....geeze hardly a week goes by that i don't use it...and what the heck it's not that hard to pack and move....you should all get it if you can afford it......i LOVE kitchen aid......

You really should just go out and buy one. My wife has been a heavy baker for over 30 years. I bought her a pro series last year and it is her most prized possession. She never thought she needed such a fancy mixer - but after using it - the simplicity and ease it brings to her baking - she would rather give me up....

Growing up on another country I never understand such a hang up on this Mixer or other similar registry favorite items until I read this post. I finally realize how lucky I am that my husband bought one for me beginning of this year from William Sonoma too (ok, it was after-Christmas sale). Living a hecky life I haven't even taken it out of the box to try it. Shame on me. I know I need to go make some cookie even if I am not a good baker who rarely bakes and see the smile on my husband's face. Or just hear the yum-yum he does when he eats them. Make that one of my Happy Project task.

i love the look of it!

I graduated from college in 1976, we were in a recession. I had a bachlors in Fine Arts, with no expectation of job that was in my field or well paying. I got the well paying job, and after a month or so in my position, I walked to the local department store and bought a KitchenAid mixer, the orginal, white, and it was 123.00 and my apartment rent was 125.00! I hauled the box back to the office and put it under my desk. People teased me and my retort was that a nice pair of leather boots may last me a few years, but I will have this mixer forever! I was of course, single, age 22 and I didn't marry until I was 26. I am now 56, and I still use it. A few years ago I bought a colbalt blue, with the raise up lever.. I divorced after 27 years marriage, and I kept them both! Buy what you want and need... men or marriages may come and go, but a Kitchenaid lasts a lifetime!

This remind me of my new washing machine. I went through the manual and trying to figure out how to get it work. I understood your cursing of your mixer just like I cursed my washing machine.

I just read this to my husband and it made me cry...

Growing up in australia it was not about 'kitchen aid' mixers, but 'kenwood chef' mixers....(same style of thing- just an english brand...) I always wanted one. My mum and both my grandma's had one and I knew that one day I would get married and get a kenwood chef (not register for it as I didnt think anyone could afford to buy it for me- just get one as a 'wife'....) ...
In my 30's I had all but given up on finding a husband so had happily resigned myself to the knowledge that I would never buy one as a 'wife', but would get my nans mixer when she is no longer with us.
It is the only thing of hers that I want.
She asked me years ago 'what I wanted' when she was gone, and thats what I said... "No money, no jewellery, nothing- but your Kenwood Chef" (she has even put it in her will for me!)
It is not the fact that she was given it in 1955 and it is still in PERFECT working order with every single extra attachment that could be bought to go with it.....
Its not the fact that it cost my grandfather more than a months wages at the time, and it took him 6 months to pay it off- so was a symbol that despite their problems he really loved her...
Its the fact that for my entire life it has been sitting on her bench covered with an ugly 70's cover and when i think of my nan and her kitchen, I think of her mixer...

I did end up getting married, and moved to america to be with my husband...
I did end up getting a "kitchen aid professional' from my husband for christmas last year- and it proudly sits on my bench.... (though it took me a while to be brave enough to use it!)

But one day, hopefully in the VERY distant future, my nan will no longer be with us, and my kitchen aid will come down from its pride of place on the counter, to be replaced with a 60+ year old kenwood chef, covered in an ugly 70's cover... because to me, that will always be a reminder of my beautiful grandma and how much i love her.

Know this is quite a long time after you got your KitchenAid, but what I hope you have learned is not so much about the ownership of this symbol, but the broader implication of using it - sharing the goodies you can make with it! If "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach", then this multiplies the opportunities of luring those potential men! Okay, I know that's an old saw, but the real value in getting over the need for this item to be on a registry list is the joy it can bring to your life by sharing the fruits of your labor with it. It's not a piece of art, it's a tool. (Yes, I agree they are lovely, and mine is cobalt blue which "goes" with my kitchen.) My husband and I bought it together, and my children (now grown) love using it - want one each. I will gift them with one when they graduate and settle down to their own homes (rental or not) and hope they think of me with love when they use it. Find your joy in using this, rather than as a symbol.

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    What is Starfish Envy??

    • L.A. 2009. I’m stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway, listening to Isabella Rosselini on NPR. Isabella, for some reason, mentions that starfish are one of those rare species that can reproduce asexually, and I realize that if I could do that, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a boyfriend/husband. I wouldn’t have to internet date! I wouldn't have to figure out if I want to/can/should have a baby/adopt a baby/child on my own. I wouldn't have to stress about things like FSH levels, or weigh my feelings on in vitro versus adoption. I would just have a baby. Thus began my starfish envy.
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