Monday, February 27, 2012

The 2012 Oscars

As if getting to go to the Oscars isn’t enough this year's attendees (at least the important ones) have the opportunity to be interviewed by Tim Gunn, the god of fashion. IF I were an attendee I would have been beating the hell out of my publicist and acting the diva by demanding that I get to speak with him. I wouldn’t even care about going inside. It’s all about Tim.

Fantasy aside here’s the brutal truth: I didn’t watch the Academy Awards because even I, with my love of all things fashion and movies, am not willing to give up 3 hours of my life when I only care about 30 minutes of it. Instead I recorded it, fast forwarded through anything with the words technical/animated/foreign or documentary and all musical numbers and only watched presenters and categories I like. I was rewarded for this egregious lack of respect by our DVR cutting off the last 30 minutes so I don’t know who won best actor or movie.

Here’s my recap.


For the men I went with worst and best. I know we all age but if women can wear Spanx so can men. There is no excuse for Nolte’s look, although he did get his beard trimmed which counts for something. Still, if you know you are straining the buttons of your shirt KEEP. YOUR. JACKET. BUTTONED. Simple physics.

Hanks, on the other hand, looks better than he has since he did Castaway. This tux is cut to perfection and makes him look dapper. The pocket square is exactly right for the occasion- simple white. For men, it doesn’t get any better than this.


Couples. I’ll make this quick- Brad and George look great, although both need to get their pants properly hemmed as they shouldn’t puddle over your shoes. It’s their partners I have a problem with. All right, that’s not accurate either as I have no idea who Clooney’s partner is except that’s likely to have been a cocktail waitress at some point in her recent past. Now we’re down to the truth…

It’s no secret I am not a Jolie fan. There is something about her I don’t like. I’m pretty certain she has no sense of humor. She also doesn’t help things when she shows up wearing Mother’s velvet drapes and channeling Mae West. She did this dreadful skirt hiked up leg akimbo look at every opportunity, including when she was onstage presenting. Why?! And as for the blood red lipstick? We get it, you’re Elvira. Channeling Mae West.


Cameron Diaz can sometimes miss on the red carpet by trying a bit too hard to hold onto her hot body status. This year she went with Gucci and it works. Beautifully fitted and plain on the top but with chiffon and gold details on the bottom. Lovely.
Michelle Williams- loved the coral color of this Vuitton dress even if it clashes horribly with the red carpet. The style is all right, not an out and out favorite and the back is so dreadful I’m not showing it but overall she looked good.


Jessica Chastain pulled off this heavy Alexander McQueen dress even with boring hair and make-up. The gold embroidery is fabulous.
Tina Fey has got simple and classic nailed. This navy Caroline Herrera is wonderful and I like the peplum detail.

I’m going to give credit to the Bridesmaids girls because they have real not Hollywood figures and I feel like both Rudolph and McCarthy pulled it off. Rudolph freely admitted that she was spanxed from head to toe but I liked her form fitting Johanna Johnson especially the aubergine color and beaded details at the sleeve, waist and back. As for McCarthy, I like the softness of the look both in the color and in the styling. She’s big and she’s all right with that. The flow of this gown works on her.


Near misses: Emma Stone comes so close in this dress and I like her styling but the bow is simply too much. A hot floppy mess.
What can I say about Meryl? I ADORE her and I respect her desire to go her own way and not get ‘styled’ as so many celebrities do these days but the bohemian, slightly-messy look doesn’t work. She played Anna Wintour for God’s sake so she must know less is more but she still went with that belt. The draped on the top is not great either. Having said all that, she won, she’s funny and brilliant, and her skin is amazing.


Loved all the following bits: (from the top) Amazing intimidating diamond cuff by Anna Hu worn by Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman’s classic diamond necklace and drop earrings.
All about the back (which makes me so much happier than when it’s all about the boobs)- Maya Rudolph and Sandra Bullock. One is beaded and detailed the other an elegant scoop with beaded waist. Tina Fey working the updo and cat eye to perfection. Understated hair and make-up with a burst of color at the ear.

Did you watch? What did you love? Hate?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Getting Under Your Skin (Not Really)

Call me skeptical but I never believed in the “sonic” revolution. Why do the bristles of my toothbrush need to spin at the speed of light? Is it going to give me Sofia Vergara’s smile? Probably not. I was equally unimpressed when my dentist raved about them because, really? Aren’t you getting a cut of the proceeds? Then I saw the Philips Sonicare toothbrush at CostCo and while my interest in oral hygiene doesn’t go much beyond ‘brush-rinse-spit-floss’ if it ends in $$.99 AND I have a coupon I will buy it. Now I’m evangelical about this thing but as someone who stands by their misconceptions to the bitter end I thought ‘OK, fine, this is good for teeth, but skin?’ nope, just a scam to sell pricey face scrubbers. Hello, people, it’s called a Buf-Puf and some extra effort. 



Again, I have been proven wrong. My SIL gave me the Clarisonic Mia face cleanser and after the first time I used it I checked the bottom of the sink because I was certain there was a pound of groddy dead skin there. There wasn’t but my skin has never felt so clean and soft. You could get that with a Buf-Puf but not without a certain loss of blood from the abrasions plus it’s a Petri dish for bacteria.

My final reason for this endorsement (which is absolutely without pay- unless you’re reading, Clarisonic folks) is that once you reach a certain age what you gain in wisdom is lost in skin cell turnover. Using your hands or a washcloth doesn’t cut it. You need to remove the dead skin both for the health of your skin and to prime it for whatever anti-aging skin products you’re then going to slather on. Enough said.

On the lighter side of skincare I want to mention a group of products that has come to me via my other SIL (seriously, there are no other SILs like my SILs when it comes to generosity and gift-giving). I’m a huge fan of buying local whether it’s food, accessories, books, you name it. Sue feels the same way about Cleveland, OH and so far she has sent me some gorgeous jewelry and now various products from this yummy skincare line called Beecology. It’s all natural and paraben-free (which is important if you’re a woman), is environmentally conscious of the plight of the bee (again, if you don’t know you ought to read about colony collapse disorder, because how do you think crops/flowers/trees pollinate?), locally owned and manufactured.


If NONE of that matters to you (philistine) then here’s all you need to know: smells great and does exactly what it says it will with a minimum of fuss and ingredients. Their soaps come in such delicious scents as lemongrass hemp and honey/lavender and their olive oil/shea butter hand/body cream moisturizes without leaving you sticky or slippery. Their lip balm is on my chap stick addiction roster (thanks to this gift from Sue, who is an enabler). If all that isn’t enough they also donate 10% of their profits to a charity of your choice. My only teensy issue there is that one of their choices is Komen and I’m finished with them. I simply don’t believe in using organizations that promote their personal agendas via the organization. Not right. Thankfully, there are numerous other choices I do support.

That covers my seminar on how to keep your skin smooth, soft, and chemical free. Check back on Monday when I’ll head back into the land of superficial and discuss who wore what at the Oscars. Thankfully, they don’t get to judge me.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Books I Love: When She Woke



I’ve convinced myself that if I like a book enough I should be able to write a substantive review. Something over 300 words and using a lot of fancy adjectives and terms I crib from the New York Review of Books. But sometimes? Sometimes I’m too lazy. Kind of like when you’ve been married for a decade and you know you really ought to get waxed every week but decide he’s lucky you shave under your arms every day.

Laziness aside some books are so beautifully written in one way or another (i.e. The Dovekeepers) that a real review is necessary. Others are great in a certain way but not in others, making going on about them too much an anticlimactic reading experience. Make sense? It will have to because I’ve got nothing else except this brief shout out to a book I just finished and want you to read. Caveat: I don’t want you to read this book if any of the following apply: you don’t think a woman has the right to make choices regarding her own body, you take the Bible literally, and you think everything in America is hunky dory. If that’s the case, you’ll try and send this off to your Congressman with post-its on every page asking “why aren’t you doing this?”

When She Woke is a new take on The Scarlet Letter in an America that may never come or is only years away, depending on how optimistic you are. Hannah got pregnant by her married lover and was caught after having an abortion (this is on page 7 so don’t get all agitated that I’m spoiling things for you). Thanks to technology and new laws this is murder and she is condemned to be Chromed- a process that turns her (in the case of murder) red. Through and through, can’t hide it red.

This premise alone gives me pause because on the one hand it solves the problem of overcrowding in prisons. You don’t have to lock people up because they can’t hide their crime plus they’re at a very low risk of recidivism if only because they stand out so clearly in the population. So, maybe that’s a very interesting idea. Until, as the story progresses, you realize there are implications beyond the resolution of prison crowding and rehabilitation.

Author Hillary Jordan doesn’t stop there with the Scarlet Letter parallels. Hannah refuses to divulge the father’s name and it’s a doozie (of course).  Ultimately, Jordan tackles a number of issues both societal and moral but does it at a pace that keeps you reading. My only complaint comes in the last 80 pages when she briefly introduces a plot twist I find to be unnecessary and a bit of overkill. Almost as if she was on a writing tear and thought ‘I’m going for it’. It doesn’t add anything to the story.

That aside, this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of dystopian fiction. It will offend people of a certain mindset but my feelings about those people is that their mind is already closed so who cares? They’re always offended. For the rest of you, it’s a really good read.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Now I'm Just Pandering- To Myself

JMP/Gulko/Dessalles/Abaca

Seriously, if I had known that this photo existed I would never have bothered posting some paltry flower photos to make up for my weekend diatribe.

This is the holy grail of things you want to look at and I don’t even like babies. But a baby this cute, pudgy, sweet, smiley, and attired in simple (but no doubt insanely expensive) baby clothes- looking like a baby girl not a Barbie doll, well, that is too much for even this hardened heart. The fact that she is being held by her father, David Beckham, is almost too much. At this point I get rhapsodic.

This is how a gentleman should look. That suit is without a doubt Savile Row bespoke, possibly Huntsman and impeccable, as is everything else he’s wearing. The perfectly shot cuff? Gold cufflinks, plain gold wedding band? Sublime. The only nod to his I-don’t-take-it-all-too seriously style is the stubble. Like I care.

All right, it’s getting a bit obvious I didn’t throw this up here for my readers. This photo makes me happy on a number of levels. Hot guy, well dressed, sweet baby (child as fashion accessory- now that works for me)- what more do you need? Thanks for once again making my day, Beckham. Oh right, she has a name. You're a lucky little lady, Harper.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Nice

Because even I’m not cynical enough to try and buy you off with pictures of kittens (would that work?) I’m going for the next best thing: flowers. I was a little jagged in my last post and while I’m still fairly bent at the universe I want to make nice with you.

Here we are in mid-February and while many parts of the country are still grappling with snow Portland is rushing headlong into spring. OK, maybe not headlong because we had sleet yesterday but the flowers and trees are doing their best to recloak Portland in color (because really brown looks so much better as an accent against pink/blue/green). This gem is on my walk and I spend so much time standing there with my face buried in its branches that I’m probably under police surveillance at this point.

Lilacs?I'm not sure. They smell as swet but I've never seen pink lilacs before and it's so early.





Bunches and bunches

Even more to come- how lovely


What’s happening in your neck of the woods? Any sign of spring yet?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fasten Your Seatbelts

In the last year I’ve done so much new age spiritual reading and meditating that I ought to be levitating at this point. I’ve reconnected with nature, learned the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, and spent hours trying to become a Spirit Junkie. I’ve opened myself to love, light, and miracles. I’ve let go of fear, anger, and attachment. I’ve accepted my life as it is while focusing my attention on my intentions. I didn’t do all this in a shallow way, I believed it. It made sense to me. Or as we like to say at the ashram: it resonated with me.

How then to explain where I am now? AA parlance is probably best. I’ve fallen off the wagon. More precisely, I’ve fallen off the wagon, ripped its wheels off and set the entire thing on fire. All that’s left is a smoldering pile of ash that perfectly matches my mind.

Before I go any further let me put your mind at ease. We’ve not been foreclosed on, I’m not having an MS attack, no one I love has died, I haven’t lost all my savings.

What has happened is that for the first time in a long time I wanted something. I thought I was following the rules of all the new philosophies I’d studied because I was very open and flexible about this desire. I wanted to go to Italy this spring. An elderly relative died last year and left my brothers and me a nice little bit of money. Nothing life changing but a true gift- they had lived a long and happy life and this amount would allow me to let go of my self imposed frugality etc. and for once do something really amazing. That plus the over 300,000 award miles J accrued over a decade of traveling to 3 weeks out of the month to every little shithole town in America. As for the timing- if I don’t have a job by this time next year I can’t vouch for my sanity. That’s how this would happen.

Apparently, I’m the only person in the entire world who didn’t know that you cannot plan a trip using award miles without booking said flights ONE YEAR in advance. The simpering pseudo-nice Southern woman at Delta just kept saying, “You cahn’t possibly think y’all can travel to Europe during Spring Break. Do y’all know how many Americans have money and go to Europe for Spring Break?” When I said, no I didn’t know because everyone I knew was unemployed or worried about losing their job she merely said, “Well, every flight we have to India, Asia, Africa, and Europe is booked for the next 9 months.” She continued in this vein while pretending to look up flights for me, tsk-tsking the entire time until finally announcing, “Well, I’ve done my best but this could take hours so you’ll just need to see if you can find the flights to get you to the east coast then call us back.” Ahhh, Delta, bastion of customer service. No wonder everyone hates your MFing asses.

So, here I am. I have filled my gullet with compromise and acceptance since my father died followed by my being laid off by a company that relocated me to a city with heinous unemployment rates and very little industry because they HAD to have me here to do my job. I’ve accepted that the odds of working in my field again are slim after 14 months of unemployment and at my age. Then I accepted that even working anywhere in the corporate world with these circumstances is highly unlikely. And still I present a relatively serene upbeat face to friends, family, email pals, and blog buddies alike.

Until now. I’m angry and worse I feel broken. I feel lied to- as if I followed the rules but still can’t win the game, not even once. It’s a goddamn vacation- NOT the lottery (which I did not win when it was at $320 million but I was OK with that). Is it really about being a stoic and simply putting in your time until you die? Don’t wish for anything and don’t believe things could be better, only that they could get worse? Is wanting really a bad thing?
 
F*&^ I’m angry. I miss angry Alanis. Of course, she’s a Buddhist now so I’d have to go all Fight Club on her ass. I'm out until I regain my composure or burst a blood vessel.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Burak Uyan


Burak Uyan. Where am I going with this? How about right to the most amazing shoes I’ve ever seen. I’d love to say that I’m calling this one right out of the gate but while Uyan is still an emerging designer he’s been in Italian Vogue and Cameron Diaz has worn his shoes. Besides, what are the odds that a 50 year old former librarian who never leaves the house is going to be the one who discovers a major talent in the fashion world? Yeah, none.

Enough about me. He’s 32, German but designs out of Paris (because really who’s designing in Germany? They’re too busy trying to hold the EU together).
 
Enough about him. Just start scrolling and look at some of the most gorgeously crafted shoes I’ve ever seen. These are not shoes that will cause you pain and make you hobble after 5 minutes. The softness of the leather and the fine tight stitching can be seen in the photos. These shoes will caress, bewitch, and enchant. I am so in love that I haven’t even bothered to find out the prices because it will make me cry. I would have sex with a really old rich dude for these shoes. There, I said it.

Hello Spring- flirty, fun, feminine. For all those garden parties. Hot damn, I just remembered I have a blazer in thsi exact shade of fuschia. Add skinny white linen pants and I'm good to go.


WEAR. WITH. EVERYTHING.


Love the color combo, great for night-time with jeans or a short skirt. Look at the craftsmanship- this will never cut or bind. Drool.


He makes flats?! He doesn't hate women! Coral- one of my favorite colors for spring/summer. Need these.


A shoe that's functional and yet architectural? And dare I say it- comfortable with a midheight heel. Honestly, I'm hyperventilating at this point.



Images from Style.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stepping into Spring

Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world

- Marilyn Monroe


To any of my readers caught in climes that are still in the grip of winter, I apologize. It feels a little early to start celebrating spring but the fashion gods are currently out and about on the runways in NYC so, lemming that I am, I have to follow suit. At least give me credit or not filling your eyes with Fall 2012 fashions which is what’s strutting about in NYC. Instead, I’m simply stepping into Spring, carefully testing the fashion waters with footwear. I’ll give you a day or two to adjust but will then inundate you with trends, likes/dislikes and the collections. You’ve been warned.

There was a time when designers didn’t bother with shoes (or most any accessory for that matter). They were the purview of their own select sect: the holy trinity of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, and Christian Louboutin. Three names that are on my bucket list. Now everyone has jumped into the fray which means there are a lot more choices out there which is always good. Not that anything I’m showing today is remotely affordable to the hoi polloi (of whom I’m chapter president) but it will likely be knocked off by all sorts of manufacturers and wind up on shoe shelves in stores everywhere.

Here then are my top picks for Spring 2012 shoes.

In case you haven’t figured out I’m not a fan of edgy/Goth/grunge fashion. I like PRETTY. End of story. And in the day (before I started having balance issues) I rocked a stiletto like no one’s business. You climb to the top of a two story tall ladder in a pair of heels without breaking anything (including the shoe) and we’ll talk. Thankfully, although hooker platforms and heels are still out there, there were plenty of more refined options this spring.


 Manolo Blahnik fabric pump, J. Crew, Marc Jacobs (LOVE this fabric and design), Christian Dior

When I’m not lunching or hanging out at the club even I want comfort. Still, it’s no excuse for sloppy or ugly (this from the woman who wears a boys’ undershirt and sweatpants 90% of the time. DO. AS. I SAY. NOT. AS. I. DO).


 Alexander McQueen (skull embroidery- awesome!), Uggs (I’m not generally a fan of lines who are so ubiquitous that Walmarts if knocking them off but these clogs are cute), Nicholas Kirkwood (best colors ever), Michael Kors (a bit more chunky than I usually like but he’s working the whole leopard thing so I’ll go with it)



The elements made an appearance in Spring accessories. I’m not loving it in shoes because, quite honestly, these look a bit painful but I’m only here to inform. Wear at your own risk.

 Burberry Prorsum, Tory Burch, Coach  

If this is too tame or pedestrian for you head over to the Tweed Librarian to see shoes as art. Magnifico!

all images from Style.com and Elle.com



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Books I Love: The Dovekeepers


I’ve read enough Alice Hoffman to believe that she is one of the world’s best writers about women. Her plots may be fantastical but even as her female characters behave in magical and mystical ways their deepest mystery lies in their female essence.

Imagine then, taking a subject as masculine and obscure as the  decimation of the Jews at the siege of Masada- the destruction, in 72 C.E., of the final Jewish settlement in Judea (now Israel) by the Romans. Jewish rebels, wildly outnumbered by Roman legions, taking over what was once the greatest palace of Herod on a mountaintop deemed to be impregnable. There is only one account of the siege and it is written, not surprisingly, by a Roman and a man, Josephus. To take this subject and time and look at it solely from the perspective of four women is no small feat. The fact that Hoffman can bring it to life so powerfully is even more astonishing.

At a time when women were considered the weaker sex, to the point of being so unclean that they could not touch men or their weapons, Hoffman creates four women who are stronger, wiser and more ferocious in their desire to save their loved ones than any male they encounter. In some cases it is their very invisibility within their culture that allows them to accomplish what it is said they cannot. Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah come to Masada from points and lives as far away as Alexandria but once there their destinies become as finely interwoven as the fabrics they produce for prayer shawls.

Before you shy away- this is not a feminist manifesto. Hoffman is too fine a writer to reduce characters to a stereotype or present them only partially drawn. Each character in The Dovekeepers is fully fleshed, male or female, in all their strength and weakness. In the same way, Hoffman has always had the ability to translate flights of fancy into wonderfully readable fiction but this book goes well beyond that. Her imagination still gives life to her characters but the details of their lives are the result of five years of extensive research. This combination of facts with Hoffman’s use of language, soft for flowers, cold and cutting for steel, pulls aside the curtain and allows the reader to step into another world.  

"They say the truest beauty is in the harshest land and that God can be found there by those with open eyes. But my eyes were closed against the shifting winds that can blind a person in an instant. Breathing itself was a miracle when the storms came whirling across the earth. The voice that arises out of the silence is something no one can imagine until it is heard. It roars when it speaks, it lies to you and convinces you, it steals from you and leaves you without a single word of comfort. Comfort cannot exist in such a place."

This is prose that not only moves a story but lingers, nuanced and layered. You cannot skim a book like this nor would you want to. In fact, if you’re a skimmer- one of those readers in search of snappy dialogue and little thought- stay far away from The Dovekeepers. If you read to be swept away, to be completely immersed in another time and place (even already knowing the outcome) then this book is like the fabled manna from Heaven. Read slowly, savor each sentence. Give yourself over to these women and their stories.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goodbye for Now- a Little Love Letter

Last night was a bittersweet one. J and I went out to dinner with our friends Mark and Michael. I have known Mark for over 25 years. Knowing that he and Michael lived in Portland made it seem that much more fortuitous that we land here.

Mark and I met in Atlanta where we both worked for a department store called Rich’s. I was an assistant buyer in Young Men’s Bottoms (no joke that’s what it’s called) and he was a department manager in Young Men’s. I don’t even remember how our first date came about but we ended meeting at a pizza restaurant called Camille’s. The pizza  I remember as well as the fact that by the end of the night I felt compelled to show Mark the contents of the trunk of my car to see if he wanted a TV I no longer needed. I also offered him what was a bridesmaid’s dress I had hung onto for far too long. Basically, it was love at first sight.

What followed were months of hours long phone calls daily, crashing any social event we could find that served booze, dancing and more dancing. Months turned into years and we were so close that for a time we thought we might be romantically involved- until we kind of realized Mark was gay. People, this was the early eighties and we were very young so it’s not as weird as it sounds. The fact that we never had a physical relationship only made it seem more romantic. He loved me for me not for sex! Looking back that is kind of fucked up but hey, I was naïve and I did love him so much.

I won’t go through the entire timeline of our friendship but I moved to NYC and onward from there so we came in and out of phone contact with each other over the years but no real visits. The quantity of contact didn’t matter it was always quality. Reconnecting in Portland felt like fate and the closing of a precious circle.

Now Mark is moving to Dallas. As someone who views Texas as one step above hell this is hard for me to understand but friendship is not always about understanding- it’s about acceptance. I accept he’s leaving and that he’s very happy about the new job he’s moving into.

Despite all the technology that allows us to stay in touch my missing him will be fierce. This blog would not likely exist if it weren’t for Mark’s nagging belief in my ability to write. He simply would not let go and in fact I’m still falling short because he’s sure I’ve got a novel in me. Basically, he is one of those people who believe in you more than you do and that is a fine and rare thing.
 

I love you, ma petit chou, and I always will. I wish you all the best and will miss you lots. It’s not likely we’ll meet in Texas but maybe we can find a nice spa between here and there.

Your always adoring,
 

FiFi


 Young, foolish and fabuous

Older, wiser but still BFFs

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Portland Adventure- Oregon College of Art & Craft

Monday I struck out on my first Portland adventure in quite awhile. A friend mentioned working as a librarian at the Oregon College of Art & Craft and as we used to live near there I decided to go by and visit the campus as well as have lunch at their student run café.

We’ve been in the midst of what I call Utah weather- blazing sunshine which is welcome but high winds, which are not. They make walking around as unpleasant as walking in driving rain- with the exception of lip gloss issues which are substantially worse. Suffice it to say I had as much lip gloss in my hair after 30 minutes as I did on my mouth. Yuck.

This is a small charming campus that’s been cobbled together by repurposing old homes and melding into the neighborhood as opposed to tearing everything down and rebuilding. There are only a couple new buildings and they’re lovely- a sleek modern contrast to the houses but not overpowering; walking around still feels as if you’re in an old European village.

Thesis studios


Photography studios and classrooms


Cube design final projects. Don't ask me anymore about it- I don't know.


The admissions building- how cute is that? I'd feel like a fairy tail character registering for classes.

The entire premise of this college is quintessentially Oregon-y. A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Craft? Degree programs in ceramics? Fibers? Wood? Book Arts? Who does that? Apparently plenty of people as the school continues to grow. I’m intrigued by it but my practical nature is also stymied. What do you do with such a degree? How can you possibly earn a living making books?


Maybe not practical but I feel shivery just looking at it. What a wonderful thing to do.


After wandering for a bit I settled in at the library which is always nirvana. I haven’t been in an academic library in decades so it was lovely to be surrounded by such a specific collection on so many subjects I enjoy- photography, fabric, design, architecture and, of course, books. Books on books- how grand! I looked at one on preservation for tips on keeping my first editions clean and another on book bindings from England at the time of Henry the VIII. Then I spied something so fabulous it might have been a mirage- an entire book about tiaras. Hello?? I’m a wannabe princess so there went another half hour pouring over the beautiful jewels of both the English throne and the Russian Romanovs.


Books about books- on of my favorite sections of any library. That's why I snuck the photo.


The library building- small and unassuming but full of such great thoughts.



All this study made me hungry so I headed to the café. It’s small and functional, much like a cafeteria, except for the food. I ordered an Indian red bean and rice dish with pickled vegetables, and lemon raitha. It came with both crisp bread and a side salad with French bread. A substantial meal for $9.00. More importantly, it was delicious. The flavors kept unfolding in my mouth from the hearty texture of the beans to the sweet/sour of pickled zucchini to the final zing of a bit of lemon in the yogurt. Hearty, filling, and wonderful.

Simple food prepared with local ingredients, care, and kindness. As good as it gets.


As I ate I perused the spring continuing education catalog. In my last post about vocation et al I was fairly clear that I was not a fan of dreamy thinking about what I’d “love todo” and that while my attention is so focused on staying enrolled in a healthcare program and earning a salary thinking about that sort of thing leads me nowhere. Odd then that my interest was piqued in so many directions by one small brochure. Jewelry making with reclaimed metals? Weaving? Stone setting? Book making? If I remove the work aspect of it from these they all sound like things I would really love to learn. School for the joy of it? Maybe that’s the only way I would go back.

I’m not sure I’ll sign up for anything right because spending hundreds of dollars on learning something for pure enjoyment feels far too frivolous but I’m awfully glad to have found this and to feel that aspect of my spirit awakened; that childlike excitement of what-if. It could happen, right?

I know some of you do pursue things not tied to your professional lives. If not, is there anything out that intrigues you? As grand as learning to fly or sail or even something smaller like knitting? A hobby perhaps.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl- Madonna

I did not watch the game. I don’t care about football. The only thing that bothers me about the entire event is that no-one let me know that Beckham had an underwear ad premiering. Are we not friends, people? How could you think I wouldn’t need to know about that? The only reason I’m not de-friending the lot of you is because I’m sure I can find it on youtube (did you think I was going to wait? Dear God, is he talking? I don't know and I don't care. He is a miracle of hotness. Must stop looking).

What was I talking about? Oh right: Madonna. As I mentioned I watched none of the Super Bowl so this is not a review of her act. This is simply a review of the fact that SHE. IS. 53. YEARS. OLD.



I don’t care if she drinks the blood of virgins, puppies, kittens, or newborn infants or some cocktail thereof. I don’t care if she dates minors. I don’t even care if there is not a single natural ingredient left in her skin because if she’s hijacked the plastic surgery train she’s done a better job of it than the majority of her peers.

Look at this. I’m 3 years younger than her and I could no more wear something like this and, more importantly, bend my knees like this than I could fit into my high school jeans. To even attempt it- you don't need that visual.



There’s no message here. I’ve always liked Madonna if only for the fact that she has never strayed from her vision of herself and that’s a huge deal for a woman- any woman. Like her, hate her, she doesn’t care. I’m only here to point out that SHE. IS. 53. YEARS. OLD. Bitches.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hello. My Name Is Catherine and I'm A...

Chapstick-aholic. Oh, I’ve heard the urban myth that most lip balm varietals contain an ingredient that makes your lips drier so you need to use more and more of the product but if I’m going to ignore the almost irrefutable evidence of Bigfoot that my husband keeps presenting then why would I believe that nonsense?

It all began when my mother refused to let me wear make-up until I turned 13. At that point I could wear a lip product. NOT lipstick or anything with color but what amounted to a gloss. My love affair with Bonne Bell Lip Smackers began. Looking back they were crack in a tube for pre-teen girls. Nothing but sugar, artificial flavorings and colorings, some of which can’t even be tested on monkeys anymore. We LOVED it and yes, I thought it constituted a food group. 



Once I outgrew Bonne Bell I went through a phase where only lipstick would do and the only lip emollient I used was Vaseline every night before bed- which sounds completely groddy but is (I’m almost certain) the main reason I don’t have any of those feathery lines around my mouth. I did that up until I started thinking about using ‘petroleum’ products on my face. At that point I waved goodbye and blithely hopped onto the Chapstick wagon train which brings us up to date.

The sad proof of my addiction is below. Oh, wait, let me rationalize for one more minute. I LIVED IN UTAH for 10 years!! A land so parched that your nose bleeds without warning and your skin starts to crack the minute you exit the shower. I didn’t mean to become an addict but you had to use lip balms every minute or well, you’d die. Seriously.

Now I’m in a milder climate with a normal level of moisture in the air but the damage is done. And maybe they’re just gateway lip balms but I no longer use anything that has parabens in it. I do my best to stick with only the highest grade of crack lip care.

My name is Catherine and I’m a chapstick-aholic.


A. 100% natural roller ball orange lip balm. This stays in my room for when I'm reading.
B. The best and original- cherry chapstick. This lives in my purse because it has the lightest hint of red so if you're out and don't want to reapply lipstck this will keep you from looking washed out
C. My latest, given to me by my very cool sister-in-law. All natural mango/green tea chapstick. This guys stays in the living room.
D. Chapstick #2- the car is her home so that I don't have to reach into my purse while driving. Safety first, people.
E. Another paraben free basic chapstick. I found this unopened in my dad's desk drawer when I was cleaning stuff up after he died. It's in my nightstand now. Stupid but it reminds me of him.


Sometimes you're going out during the day but not wearing any make-up. There comes a point in life where a nude lips makes you look haggard so just a bit of color is nice. The Bigelow is a soft pink (and VERY minty) and the Burt's Bees is peachy. These are glossy so wear with care because your hair will get stuck if the wind is blowing.

I told my sister-in-law I wanted nice chapsticks for Christmas because I'm too cheap to buy them so she sent me this entire tin of Beecology's Buzz Balm. I'm pretty sure that, knowing my problem, this makes her an enabler.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries- Testing










Amongst my other job hunting tools I’ve been reading a lot of books about careers, job hunting, networking…all as fascinating as you might expect. In that reading I’ve run across something I find so startling I thought I’d see how others react.

Many of these books begin with the straightforward question: what would you like to do? Or better yet questions like these:
 

  1. If you had one year left to live how would you spend that year? Drunk and maxing out stolen credit cards
  2. What is holding you back from the life you really want? George Clooney doesn’t date women his own age.
  3. If you inherited $10 million dollars what would you do with the rest of your life and what would you do with the money? Huh?


It has seldom been said about me that I have no imagination. I can take the proverbial ball and run it into the ground with scenarios AND mix metaphors at the same time (I’m that clever). Hell, I can’t drive past a wooded area without thinking ‘is there a body buried out there? Because it would be an easy place to bury a body’. I’m ALWAYS imagining something but these kinds of questions leave me stumped (smart ass answers aside).

OK, with $10 million dollars I’d do a lot of the standard trip-around- the-world, donate-to-charity, pay-off-the-mortgage kind of things but after that? What? I mean I wouldn’t blow through all of it that way even if we step back into reality and factor in the bite Uncle Sam would take.

Obviously, the gist of these questions is to ferret out what you’d really like to be doing with your life but, you know what? For me that’s bullshit. There’s a big difference between being employed and daydreaming and being out of work. Out of work removes any fantasy aspects to the rest of your life. At this stage here’s all I want for the rest of my professional life (which is getting shorter every minute): a job in my field that pays enough to meet my needs with health benefits without having to relocate. Despite my lifelong fascination with power tools and heavy equipment I think it’s a bit late to become a welder and the husband has stated categorically that he won’t move east of the Rockies. I don’t think I’m asking a lot but based on my situation I’m shooting for the moon.

If I am able to ignore reality what I’ve learned (and not from these books) is that I may not have a dream vocation. For a long time I’d thought it was to be writer but I’ve had over a year and not written anything other than this blog and book reviews (neither of which pay). I don’t have the next great American novel inside me- and that’s all right.

Back to the premise ( how stupid job searching books are). Passion, doing what you love is a wonderful thing and there are those who have made careers out of it but is it realistic for the rest of us? I don’t know any entrepreneurs who aren’t working a daytime job or living with their parents.
 

How about you? Do you harbor a dream you’d like to fulfill? Could you answer the above questions with no hesitation? Or are you pursuing your dreams while holding down a job? Share please!
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