Closet Memoirs #3: Public Speaking and Plastic Purses


I left my comfy theatre-kid high school feeling a little lost as my (very young), freshly dumped, 17-year-old-self headed off to my 2nd choice school with my 2nd choice major after a long, dramatic debate of Musical Theatre not being a “practical one”. It was time to begin a new chapter in my life. 

*Enter Fashion Major me*

Since I failed my AP English test my senior year of high school (I really should have read those books), I found myself right back on the same track with the rest of the freshman going through the standard English courses. Jumping right into my first trimester of school, I was slotted to take the class that was everyone’s biggest fear: Public Speaking. Not only was this the most feared class of most college students but a big fear for most people. I learned that at the time Public Speaking was the number one fear of most Americans, following was spiders and death; and coming from a girl who is definitely not a fan of spiders (or death) this whole requirement didn’t seem so bad after all.

“Number one fear?!” I thought. Maybe those theatre kid days would pay off. Talking in front of a bunch people with no director to yell at you and no smeared lines written on your hands? That didn’t seem so bad.

From afar, Public Speaking seemed like acting to me. You essentially are putting on a show for your audience to convey a story, topic, or to convince someone of something- just like acting. I soon realized Public Speaking was no different than memorizing lines or a monologue. In fact, I thought it was easier! You had way more freedom to improvise. It was way more authentic. You were acting… as yourself! Plus, as the girl who never stops chatting, this was a great discovery. Those “Talkative in class” comments on my middle school report cards were finally being put to good use.

Since most of us angsty freshman dragged our feet, skipped class and flaked out on presentations- I accidentally came to be a pretty good student in the class. Giving a presentation was WAY easier to me than taking a test or sitting and taking notes for hours on end with drooling students nodding off during a lecture. It is way more powerful and engaging to actually get up and do something. Plus you learned a great deal about your classmates. I am still in touch with some of those people to this day!

This course soon came to be my favorite part of the week (and of college in general). My professor took notice too which made us get along quite well. I cared about her class and in turn, she gave me great respect and freedom.

I was truly a bit sad when it came to a close but took full advantage of taking as many courses as I could with my new favorite teacher; both requirements and electives included. I learned a lot and felt the most inspired in that classroom. From News Writing to Film; I got to compose articles, interview, present, watch, review and dissect movies. I was loving it.

Another thing we had in common besides a love for film, writing, and Audrey Hepburn was fashion, particularly vintage things! My professor was always impeccably dressed and fabulously accessorized and I didn’t exactly show up to class in sweatpants either. We had the same appreciation for several different things. I admired it a great deal! I even featured her in a campus fashion article. It’s safe to say after 3 years of knowing each other and countless classes together, we were going to stay in touch! Thank God for Facebook right?

A couple weeks ago while doing the ever-so-trendy, Marie Kondo cleaning cleanse, I received a message from her. During her cleaning purge she came across this vintage purse that had been sitting away for years. It turns out that decades ago she knew a Providence antique dealer who found the gem. She said it perfectly complemented a New Year’s Eve dress she was wearing that season. I can only imagine how fabulous she looked.

She wrote, “I held on to it for years, long after the relationship had ended, because I just couldn’t part with it… I resurrected it and immediately thought that you, Via, should have it. I too have always loved vintage clothes and wore a lot of it in my youth. I knew instinctively that you would not only treasure this purse, but you would wear it in style.”

*Cue heart melting*  I was too excited!

Before I knew it, the little purse was on its way to me from Rhode Island to New York. I could not wait to have it! After returning from a work trip last week, the golden purse was waiting for me all packaged up with the perfect card to match. I have never seen anything quite like it. The uniquely structured, barrel-shaped Lucite bag was really something special. It had gold flecks melded into it and these stunning shiny gold plates at the end that looked like very fashionable versions of fancy Italian cookies. It is the perfect “carry on” for a night out on the town. This has to be one of my favorite hand-me-downs I have ever received.

Welcome to the wardrobe! Thank you, Professor!


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