Quote of Inspiration
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Morning (for Bobby Wade)
Each morning, still dark
An hour before wakefulness
You come, tiny feet
Padding up the stairs quickly first
Then slowly, you crawl
Into my bed, your back to my chest.
You scoot, settle in
And you say to me in the softest voice
Good morning, it’s time.
I lean over, kiss the wiry strands of your hair
And beg, not yet.
Turning to me with a decided grunt you kiss me
So gently, on the cheek
That my heart cracks open like a coconut shell
Making room to love you more.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I see you when you
Think I’m not looking, when I’m
Scrubbing dishes, standing at the
Window, your arms and legs a hundred
miles a minute through the grass
Of the backyard, your hair
In a stream of gold behind your neck, your feet
Carrying you from one end of the earth to
I see you when you
Are alone, dancing to jazz standards in
A ballet leotard, pink with glittered straps
Across the carpet of your room
Elbows slightly bent, toes pointed
You learned in class, head and chin
Tilted up, you leap across the carpet
Taking flight, during a supposed
I see you when you
think I’m too busy, between
moments of direction
Do this, don’t do that, are you
Listening to me? Between morning oatmeal,
Lunchtime questions (how do dogs pick things up?)
And evening books, when you are eager to know
If Alice makes it back up that
I see a girl with eyes that wonder
Everything, stopping to see that a bird does
In fact have a red breast. I see a
Girl tenderly touching a blade of grass, just one
To see if it’s soft or coarse or nothing
At all. I see you, Maggie, from all angles,
All sides, right and left, up and down
Every corner of your soft heart and curious
I see you. It is everything else that is
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tonight, at 6:30 PM, I have my first personal Pilates session.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I'll let you know how it turns out.........hopefully well and we'll all be eating it with Aunt Andrea's famous berries after dinner!
Friday, April 8, 2011
So, I was looking for something along the semi-formal lines. I hit the dress department of Nordstrom and within minutes, my excitement diminished and I thought: really? People buy this crap? And let me say, it was real crap. Cheap fabric. Awful cuts. Dodgy buttons. Way too much in the way of sequins, and the dresses were mostly really short. Like, inches above the knee short. Who wears those?
I felt suddenly very old, like when my grandmother bemoans the state of anything modern: clothing, manners, vocabulary. Then, just when I was about to give up, I saw the designer clothing section. It's small in Sacramento, but I stopped and looked and thought: maybe, just maybe, there is something to it.
Here's the thing: I've always considered designer clothes to be a rip-off, a testament to vanity and an indication that our society has become wealthy enough to be bored enough to shell out thousands of dollars for clothes that, frankly, I don't think look any better than J Crew.
But, given the offerings I'd been subjected to view, I shrugged and thought I had nothing to lose. I'd try a dress on, see that it wasn't such a much and head home. I took three dresses into the dressing room (and let me tell you that the saleswomen in designer dresses is a different breed than her dodgy-low-end counterpart). I took an Armani, a St. John and a Dolce and Gabana. The D&G was a corset-style dress, which I thought was slightly trashy but was willing to try on simply to say I'd done it. So, I started with that. I slipped into it and the girl helped me button it up the back. And then she brought me a pair of Christian Louboutin heels (the perfect size - how did she know?). I slipped into the shoes and turned around to the mirror. WOW. WOW...............wow.
The dress fit perfectly. It was tight in the right spots and not so snug in the other spots, and just when you thought a corset dress might be slightly tawdry, it hit just below the knee, which made it seem....almost.....possibly....ladylike? I walked out of the dressing room and into the main dressing area, where they have the three-way mirrors. A woman came out of another dressing room, and she stopped right there and stood there with her mouth open and looked at me and said: you have to buy that dress.
This caused a few other doors to open, and all these women came out in various states of bra/panties/jeans half pulled up, and they all agreed. I had to buy the dress. The dress....was.....amazing.
I felt like a million bucks. Really. I went back inside and tried on the Armani. The quality of a designer dress, I realized, is undeniable. No loose strings. No dodgy length. The fabrics simply slide over your skin like silk, not clinging but fitting (I realized then and there that there is a difference). The Armani was lovey, but it was ever-so-slightly boxy for my frame, and while I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it.
Then, I tried on the St. John's. It was simple. Black knit, tank top, knee-length. I slipped it over my head and it fell to my knees in one simple swoop and along the way it decided to hit every curve I might want to accentuate and bypass any curves I may want to hide. It felt like pajamas. It fit....perfectly. I slipped into the Louboutins and walked out of the dressing room. This was the dress. It was THE dress. It was perfectly cut, made of soft, supple fabric, it didn't but fit like a glove, and it was knee-length, which is perfect for me. It could be paired with a cardigan, a suit jacket, a wide belt. It could be paired with pearls, a wide bangle, a broach. It was subtle enough to go with anything and special enough to make a statement.
It was also $700. I know. To be fair, the other two dresses were both almost $1,000. So, really, it was a bargain, right?
I thought about it. I called Ray. He laughed but said to buy it if I loved it that much. I hung up and thought about it some more. I bought the dress.
Then, I went downstairs and walked into the designer shoe section and bought a pair of Prada heels.
I tried on two pair: Prada and Cole Haan. On my feet, side by side, you can't tell the difference. They're both black, patent-leather, slight platform. They look identical, in fact. But oh Lordy....the feel. It's like the dress. The cut of the shoes.....the Prada.....is amazing. You know when you wear heels and there is that gap between your ankle and the back of the shoe? And it looks like your stumbling around in your mother's heels?
Ya, doesn't exist in Prada heels. The shoes feel like they were made, then and there, by a pair of Italian shoe elves who know my feet like they know the back of their tiny little elf hands.
So, I found not only the perfect, timeless little black dress, but I found the perfect, timeless black heels to go with it.
And the irony of it all: we ended up not going to the dinner after all!
But the dress is there, in my closet, and I sometimes walk around my room in shoes (you don't stumble and teeter around in Prada) and feel like a million bucks. So, you know, it's worth it.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I love this poem, perhaps because I'm always in the process of either settling in or thinking of leaving. I wonder what I'll do when, one day, my husband leaves the Army and I'm able (and/or forced) to choose one place to call home. I have no idea where it will be, and I wonder if I'll start to feel that urge to move again once I've settled there for a few years.....
Anyway, this poem seems to speak to me right now, as we try again to settle into a new place, with all of the inherent excitement and struggle that comes along with a move.
where we are (Gerald Locklin)
i envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawaii and switzerland.
there is always the anticipation
of the change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have
always loved both the freshness of
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope.
My favorite line in the poem: "....the chance that what is wrong is the result of where you are."
Friday, March 18, 2011
When you get your first-time wax with European Wax Center, you get a complimentary wax - lip, brows or underarms. I was there for my legs, of course, but since I got a free hair removal thrown in, I chose underarms. Fifteen minutes later (who knew you needed an appointment?), I was told to strip down to my underwear.
I only needed my legs waxed, after all, and my armpits. What on earth did she need to have full-access for? The waxer (I'm sure there is a professional name for this, but I didn't think to ask), just smiled and looked at my yoga pants with a hint of resignation.
The worst part of having oneself waxed, by far, is standing there in a freezing-cold waxing room, with a woman (thank God it was a woman) you've never met, who is at least ten years your junior, in a nude-colored maternity thong and the evidence that you have never waxed before, anywhere.
Okay, well, that's her job, right? And I have to say she was a gem about it all. Very sweet and non-judgemental and efficient. So, we got down to it.
European Wax Center uses their own wax, which is very thick and kind of blue and requires no fabric strips at all....just the wax, which is applied with a large tongue depressor (and a bit of flourish). It then hardens and is ripped off one's body in a fell-swoop.
It HURTS. I mean, it hurts. It's as if you can feel every little tiny hair being ripped from its home, and each little homeless hair is screaming and clinging and begging not to go. I like to think they're all like little tree-hugging environmentalists chained to their favorite Redwood, facing down a large bulldozer with brave determination.
Okay. It hurts. I ended up only doing half a leg, because let me just tell you that it doesn't take just one little waxing. No. When you've never waxed at all, you must have several layers of wax applied and ripped off your leg to get each and every last hair, and it only hurts less each time because you become sort of numb to it. My legs were bright red. She kept applying more. She tried to distract me with the art of conversation (I think I've about got her signed up for a stint with the Peace Corps), but there is no getting away from the pain of this experience.
The legs were done. Sigh. Each leg was waxed about five or six times, certain areas more than others, stubborn hairs dealt with appropriately. Then my legs were rubbed down with some sort of soothing lotion (which was offered to me for purchase later), and my hair-removal-friend prepared for my underarms. You can imagine my fear and trepidation. I knew, now, what I was getting into, and I also knew my underarms had to be more painful than my legs.
I was right. It hurts more, if you can imagine, albeit in a different way. It's hard to describe. It's as if the different hairs have different personalities and respond uniquely to torture.
I had to have my underarms waxed 7 times each to remove all the hair. By the end I was sweating. I was holding my breath. It was like the moment just before a pap smear, when you try to be all calm and nonchalant but inside you're thinking: hell. not again. i've already had two kids for pete's sake.
I was done. The hair-removal woman was very excited. I tried to be very excited too, because this was my first waxing experience, and I was assured I'd love it, become addicted and be waiting with heady anticipation for my next appointment. But it was hard to imagine any such feelings with legs as red as lobster tails and pits to match.
The disappointment set in when I got home, took off my pants, showered and applied lotion. I had....stubble? Could it be? Yes. There was stubble. I had a friend feel my legs (I know), and she was also surprised. An avid waxer, she assured me there should be no stubble. "Baby soft," she said, and we both shook our heads. Hmmmm......
I was pretty sure I could get a softer, closer result with a plain old-fashioned razor. And truth-be-told, even the hair-removal expert at the Wax Center admitted she did her own legs with a razor at home. Still....I'd paid my money.
That night, I got out of the bath and was drying off when I felt my leg throbbing. I mean, it actually hurt. I looked down and was shocked to see swelling, redness and a blue streak between my calf muscle and ankle. I looked closer. I saw a large vein bulging and throbbing at the surface of my skin, and the entire area was red and hot.
As some of you may remember, I have a thing about the veins in the backs of my legs, and I realized with horror that the waxing had actually pulled a vein to the surface of my skin, and I had a slight panic attack with the idea that it may never go back. I may have a large, bulging vein there for....ever.
Beyond the cosmetic, what if I'd done something terrible to that poor vein and then it shut down the flow of blood to my feet and I started getting some kind of awful, poorly-circulated blue foot and I had to start wearing support hose and orthopedic shoes?
I swore then-and-there to never wax again. Ever. Not only had I possibly damaged my body, but I'd done it at great pain and expense (okay, $40) all so I could have stubble.
I was done. I swore it off. I admonished myself for another small, petty beauty treatment that highlighted my vanity. I shook my head, literally, and made myself a solemn vow: I'd never again do anything to my body that I couldn't do in the comfort of my own home.
And then.....just when I'd settled it all in my mind and felt noble (much like my tree hugging friends), I happened to raise my arms above my head and was shocked....amazed.....overjoyed?
I had NO ARMPIT HAIR AT ALL.....nothing. No hint of a 5-o'clock shadow. No stubble. No dodgy razor burn. No bumps. No red spots. Nothing but smooth skin.
They were the underarms of the Hollywood elite. I was Halle Berry, SJP, Nicole Kidman......I was shamelessly smooth.
I spent the next two weeks in awe of my armpits. They remained smooth and baby soft for weeks. Not hours. Not days (please). But weeks. And when the hair grew back in, it wasn't all short, prickly and dark. It was soft, dewy baby hair. Even if there was hair there, it wasn't offensive and unseemly. It was....lovely.
And just like that, I became addicted to waxing. The 411 on waxing? No legs (ever) again. I'll likely never muster the courage to get my bikini line waxed, and Lord help me if I ever consider the full down-under, which involves (I've been told) getting up on all fours, buck-naked. No. No, no.
But my underarms? Oh.....yes. Yes, yes, yes. I will be back...for my underarms.
Some things are worth the pain.
Friday, March 11, 2011
This morning's quote I love, however. And I think it's a helpful reminder for me, particularly when it feels my life isn't quite my own, what with the Army and the moving and the fact that my husband brings in all the cash.
How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.
With that, I'm signing off and heading south....taking the kids to Disneyland. This is going to be fun-fun. I can't wait.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Not so for me.
I began my search at Nordstrom, and that was a little disappointing in and of itself. If I had lived in a larger, more glamorous city, I would have begun my search at Neiman's, Saks or (if I were in Paris, for example) a small, independent perfumerie with a little women in an Hermes scarf who could take one look at me, sum up my personality as intelligent chic and come wafting out of the back of her shop with the perfect blend of delicate florals, a hint of spice and a touch of something none of us can really put our finger on.
I started at Nordstrom, with my daughter sullenly in tow, and I just said this: I want to find my signature scent. I like floral perfumes that are light and classic. I don't like musky scents that are heavy....you know, like 'Opium' from the 80s.
The salesgirl gave me a dozen samples. Chloe. Prada Orange and Prada Iris. Several Chanel (I really, really, really wanted my signature scent to be Chanel). Gucci. Hermes. Versace.
The salesgirl gave my daughter a sample of a Coach perfume, which was very sweet. I mean, I wouldn't wear Coach but little M. was in heaven.
Okay. I took them all home in a little silver bag and put them on my bathroom counter and began plucking them out each morning (my eyes closed) and spraying them at my neck and wrists and then spending the day sniffing on and off to tell if one or the other took my breath away and screamed: I.Am.Yours.
I liked them all. Some were heavier than others. Prada were especially clean and crisp. I never wore one and then felt, later in the day, that it was awful or gave me a headache....I never wanted to take a hot shower and be done with any of them. And yet, none of them grabbed me, made me want to throw down $100 for a tiny bottle and call it my own.
One afternoon my daughter wanted me to share her perfume sample, which I'd all but forgotten about. I indulged her and sprayed some Coach 'Poppy' on my wrist, doing a mental eye roll because let's face it: I'm not a Coach 'Poppy' kind of girl. I'm a Chanel kind of girl. I'm a Prada kind of girl.
I didn't think a thing about it until I sat down to watch 'The Good Wife' that night (I so want to say that I sat down to read a copy of The New Yorker instead), and I was sitting there and I realized that I was smelling my wrist, over and over again, and I couldn't stop. It was lovely. The smell was lovely and I didn't want to stop smelling it. I remembered then that I'd sprayed on the Coach that afternoon, and I sat there watching 'The Good Wife' with my wrist all but glued to my nose.
I went back to the Prada, Gucci and Chanel for two more months. I tried very hard to love them. My husband returned to the States, and I tried very hard for him to love them so that maybe I would love them even more. Finally, I went to Nordstrom and asked for my own sample of Coach 'Poppy.' I put it on one afternoon before car shopping. I forgot about it, of course, and as I was shopping for a new car, I kept thinking: wow, this dealer has great smelling cars.
Of course, it was me.
And so it is that I have found my signature scent: Coach 'Poppy'
When I wear it, it smells like me....only better. (Should I be in marketing?)
I love the way it mixes with my skin and my own natural scent. I love smelling my clothes after I've worn it. I just love it.
I realize some stuff about me that maybe was lurking in the back of my head (as all realizations usually do) about who I am, how I view myself and how I want other people to view me. I know that sort of thing shouldn't really be illuminated via a perfume, but for me that's how it happened.
I have to ask myself why I want a signature scent to begin with, and when I do ask that question I realize that I want OTHER people to view me a certain way: classic, timeless, established. When I think of women for whom these adjectives are used (Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Michelle Obama),I want to be like these women, and maybe a part of me feels that if I set all the exterior conditions, I will be.
So I try to buy cashmere, wear neutrals, keep my heels a decent height and remember to polish my nails and trim my cuticles and forgo the red. I wear my hair in a classic style, try to limit the make-up and carry a buff-colored leather handbag that I'm sure will last a lifetime. And even if I am not aware of it every minute of every day, I am, in my own way, trying to create a certain kind of person in myself.
That woman does not wear Coach 'Poppy' - which is only a degree or two separated from Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson.
Except, I do. I wear Coach 'Poppy.' I love it. I can't take my wrist away from my nose.
So, when the move is final and we are settled, I'm going to head to the mall and plunk down my $100 for a bottle of perfume that maybe doesn't fit into the idea of who I want to be but that fits in perfectly with who I already am.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The good news is that even with all these changes and big events, I've managed to tackle a handful of figs. I know! A handful.
Here is a list of what I've experienced over the past two months:
1. I found my signature scent. I can't wait to blog about it.
2. I tried absinthe.
3. I bought the perfect, classic, timeless dress (and heels to go with it).
4. I visited Grandpa Bob.
5. I visited Napa.
6. I had my legs waxed.
7. I visited Yosemite.
WOW. I just made the list and now I realize how much I've done and I'm feeling that I kind of rock!
I learned a lot from each one. Some lessons were poignant and some were less-so. All of them were an experience, and I'll try to write about each one over the next few weeks. I'm also plugging away at 'Good Poems' and loving it. I read a few poems to my husband each night before we fall asleep, and it's a really lovely little way to end our nights. He lies in bed with his eyes closed, his hands clasped at his chest, above the sheets, a little corpse-like but quiet. He doesn't admit to liking it much, the poetry, but he chuckles now and then so I think he's getting something out of it. It's like trying to listen to self-improvement tapes while you sleep I guess.
For those of you who remain faithful and check in, even braving O'Keeffe's slightly dodgy photo....thank you. Really.
Monday, January 3, 2011
To that end, I've been reading more Good Poems. Here is another that struck me:
What I Learned From My Mother
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewing even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
That is it,the poem. I included it on this blog because of my strong reaction to it. I was in a bath, actually, when I read it, and I had the stongest urge to actually rip it out of the book. I hated it. Really hated it. I thought maybe it was because I have a sinus infection and maybe it was because I was tired and had read several poems already. I have realized that I can only read five or six at a time before I start skimming and before it gets tedious or overwhelming. So, with that in mind, I read the poem again the next day and the day after that. I really dislike this poem.
I hate that she used the word 'maroon' to describe the grape. It's a purple grape. And I don't like the use of the word 'sexual' in relation to the seeds. Grape seeds aren't sexual, particularly when preparing them during a time of mourning. I don't know. The whole thing sounded very self-involved to me (says the woman writing a blog about her own self-induced project to live a more meaningful life).
End of story: I just downright hated this poem. I don't dislike it. I don't shrug and think, that't not for me. I've done that with several of the poems in this collection.
No, I actually feel disturbed by this poem and want to, as I've said, tear it from the book.
Isn't it funny? Our reactions......