Friday, September 13, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: The Original Post

Hi all-this was the original post, published in August 2011,  that inspired the Friday fashion series. I've procrastinated as long as I can and have to buckle down and do actual work tonight, so no new post is in the queue for this Friday.  I hope you like this one.  Happy Friday to you.  I'll be back. Like it or not. 

Hi World,

You look great!  Have you lost weight?

You may be wondering what fashion must haves you should be stocking up on for fall.  Well, I've taken some time to peruse the latest fashion mags, and have put together this short synopsis which I'm sure you will find clears things up a bit.

My dears, for fall, straight legs are in.  Unless you like flares, because they are also in.  And bootleg?  So hot right now.  Oooh, and don't forget to stock up on boyfriend jeans for weekend tailgate parties.

Wear your straight legs with cute ballerina flats.  Or heels.  Or sandals. Or boots:  Short boots, riding boots, cowboy boots, slouchy boots, thigh-high boots, motorcycle boots or cement boots.  Whatever.

Long skirts?  In!  Wear them pleated or pencil skirted.  But you know what is also in?  Metallic minis, yes! But an A-line skirt is flattering on everyone and remember, for fall the buzz word is menswear.

The silhouette for this year is fitted and classic.  Unless you prefer asymmetrical and boxy, because guess what?  That's so hot right now!  And fitted and slutty is always in style.  And the peter pan collar?  So In!

Colors are bold and jewel toned.  Unless they are pastel or neutral.  We forget.  Oh, speaking of which, don't forget to wear earthy tones, so in right now.  And, AND, sweet prints are IT this year.

Shoes:  We still like a nude heel, it so elongates the leg.  Also, don't forget to add a punch of color or two because strong jewel tones are in.  Kitten heels are still all the rage for fall.  Of course, a killer heel never hurts either-try a stacked heel peep toe.  But you know, take it down a notch this fall because flat pointy shoes are where it is at.  Oh, and get yourself a pair of moccasins for fall, extra fringe, please.

Handbags:  We like totes this year.  And clutches.  and backpacks.  And really tiny purses that only fit your lipstick and a $20 bill because this year it is all about minimalism.  But also it is about sustainability-the girl who has everything she needs definitely wins.  Who has a rose lipstick, a chapstick and a NYC Red lipstick?  You?  You win!  Oh, but you are carrying it all in a faded red 1990 LL Bean knapsack.  With your initials embroidered on the side.  Oh that is sad.  Wait a minute...that's not sad!  OMG that is so fresh.  So different.  LL Bean vintage, OMG!

Accessories:  Ladies, dainty is in.  Unless you like big, bold and ethnic because that is a classic that will never go out of style.  Diamonds and pearls are oh so timeless but so are leather cords and Native American accents.  Multiple bracelets recycled from used rubber tires?  Oh you go, Earth Child.  That's so fresh. But then again, we like our silver, gold and gems, am I right girls?  So pile them on anyway you can get them. Let your lights shine, girlies.  Oh, and that reminds me of the Irish.  Have I mentioned...

Sweaters:  Thick and chunky, friends.  Think Irish fisherman.  Over a long flowing chiffon skirt. Ethereal is supposed to be out, but when you pair it with a a trendy cable, presto, it is in again. So hot.  You know what is also nice? The boyfriend sweaater in a nice cashmere, yes, over a tailored white button down.  But really, forget about sweaters for a minute and get yourself a varsity jacket because that's so trendy this fall.  Outerwear this fall is classic and timeless but also youthful with a playful element.

Fabric:  Ummmm.  What do you like?  Because we like, like, everthing....we like tweed, silk, wool, cotton, polyester....really...we like everything.  What do you like?  Huh?  Huh?

Pair your fall look with bold makeup moves, like cat eyes, bright red lips, and a noticeable blush. But don't overdo it. Remember, demure is the key word when it comes to fall makeup. A nude lip, a barely there blush, and you are on your way. Don't forget your Bonne Bell Watermelon Lip Smacker for that sweet retro feel.

Our style icons this fall are Audrey Hepburn and Brigette Bardot.

And Farrah Fawcett.  And all three of the Kardashian sisters.

And Mia Farrow.

So let's recap, shall we?

The look for fall  is classic and feminine, bold and masculine, demure and over the top.  It's a mix of 20th century chic and 70's country sweetheart.  It's disco meets square dance with a pinch of dirty dancing just to spice things up.  It's chocolate milk in a martini glass. stirred, not shaken.  It is 20th century Ice Queen meets 1950's pin up girl.

Still confused?  You totally get it!  Yes, fashion is a two faced bitch, friends, so my advice is wear whatever the hell you want, just wear it like you mean it.  Somewhere out there, every Glamour don't is being paraded as a "do".

Except the exposed thong look.  I think that trend is well and truly over.  I know.  I'm sad too.

Happy shopping, World

Chicken out

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vi Chronicles: How to Raise a Thief

Hi World,

My  mother, Violet, had two sisters and seven kids. I was the youngest of my mother's kids, and the youngest cousin.

On the day I learned to steal, the three sisters, Vi (my mother), Tee and Lula,  found themselves a pick-up truck and a willing teen-age driver.  They packed a cooler with ice, coffee brandy and kool-aid, and hit the road.  I'm sure there was another cooler full of sandwiches, but the coffee brandy cooler is the one that sticks in my mind because I was sitting on it, and every time a sister would hand her travel cup through the back window, I would have to move so that one of the older kids could  whip up a White Russian, or a Vodka and 7, if the sisters were dieting..

The sisters were squished in the front, and the assorted kids piled into the bed of the truck, with the aforementioned coolers.  For obvious reasons, this is now illegal, but back then it was an acceptable way to pass a lazy summer day, and keep a lot of kids occupied.  My memory of that day is distilled to one long,  flat stretch of road. The driver hit the gas, and we  flew down that road, the  wind whipping our hair into our eyes and dust flying everywhere, as we laughed at each other, raising our hands into the air to feel the wind fly through our fingers. Except for me.  I did not participate in the finger waving because I was hanging on for dear life, trying to calculate my trajectory should we hit a bump the wrong way.  I'm not called Chicken for no reason.

We came upon a corn field, and I guess the sisters decided corn was as good a dinner as anything, so the driver swerved to the gravel.  The kids all piled out and into the fields, like well-trained soldiers.  We grabbed as much  corn as we could carry and ran back to the truck.  The whole operation took about five minutes.  Then we squealed back out, onto the blacktop, and headed for home, where the ill-gotten gains were husked, cooked, and gleefully consumed, under the watchful eye of Aunt Dot.  Aunt Dot was the Aunt of the Sisters.  She made the biggest chocolate chip cookies in the history of the universe, and she accused everyone of stealing and cheating at cards.  Aunt Dot was a sore loser at cards but we didn't hold it against her.  When you live in the company of a giant cookie architect, you forgive a few things.  Plus, given the corn thievery, it's possible that her paranoia was justified.

I'm  not sure why the sisters thought stealing corn was acceptable behavior. Maybe they assumed that the farmer wouldn't have planted his corn so close to the road if he didn't count on a certain percentage of his harvest being heisted.  Or, maybe, they thought the farmer should have built a fence if he didn't want to share.  More likely, after the White Russians (or Vodka and 7 if the Sisters were dieting), they thought it was funny.

For me, at an impressionable almost-eight years, corn was a gateway vegetable. I assumed  everyone's garden was up for grabs.  I wandered the neighborhood vegetable patches, helping myself to radishes, rhubarb, cucumbers and whatever else looked edible in its raw state.  I began hanging out with the wrong crowd, and moved on to night raids.  On crisp fall evenings, when we were supposedly having a sleepover, we infiltrated the neighboring apple orchard.  Then we went home, made popcorn, and got out the Ouija board.  We stayed up 'til well past midnight, chomping apples, throwing popcorn, and talking about kissing. Just a normal Saturday night in the life of a seasoned produce thief.

This behavior continued until I was about 12 and determined, for myself, that stealing is wrong.  The attack dogs in Lucarelli's Orchard may have played a part in my sudden streak of conscience.  Not that I ever actually  saw an attack dog in Lucarelli's Orchard, but that didn't matter.  We knew they were there.

Hello World, I'm Chicken!  I'm a recovering produce thief.  (Welcome Chicken).

These days, I buy my vegetables at the farmers market.   Or Whole Foods.  Basically, I'll  shop wherever there are no rumors of attack dogs.

Chicken out
Corn begging to be stolen


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Weird Science: Are You Smarter Than Me?

Most likely you are.

This entire post is really about me, however, and not about you.  Sometimes Toby Keith and I just want to talk about ourselves.  Even though we think you are super cute.  Right, Toby? Toby?...

I sit in meetings and watch entire conversations fly over my head.  I nonchalantly flip pages and underline things, scrambling to figure out what the heck we are talking about, whilst maintaining my poker face.

Unfortunately, the elevator of my brain does not stop on the floor of your meeting. The things I am underlining are being underlined to keep me from doodling all over the page. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is slogging  through beach sand in  army  boots, only  to arrive at the same point everyone else agreed on five minutes ago. When I finally get there, I disagree with the consensus, but my disagreement is intuition-based and reminiscent of research I did several days ago, but can't remember now, and anyway, it's too late. I already nodded my head in an affirmative way, back when I didn't know what we were talking about.

Even if I do catch up, I am unlikely to speak because the rationale, so crystal clear in my mind, has little chance of escaping my mouth intact.   If I try, you will be treated to a lifetime supply of ...."ummm...because...well, what I mean is".  I'll probably throw in some unproven theories and false percentages, just to fill any conversation gaps, because I am nothing if not imaginative, and unlucky in Math.

When I picture my brain trying to keep up with all the other brains, I picture it as a scene from Love Lucy.

In the episode. Lucy and Ethel get jobs in a candy plant.  This is not Willy Wonka's candy plant. If they had gotten jobs in Willy's plant, they would have excelled, been promoted to Oompah Overseers, and eventually nudged out poor, malnourished Charlie, and his ancient Grandpa, to take over the reins.  Lucy and Ethel are employed in a less-magical environment, where the chocolates are coming faster and faster, it seems, down the assembly line, and they can't keep up with their work. Rather than ask for help, they stuff the excess chocolate in their mouths and down their bras.

Picture my brain. Now picture my brain with Lucy's face.

During these meetings,  which I find myself in more often than I'd like, I question how I got myself  dressed and out the door that morning.  It seems apparent that someone should have walked me across the street with a morning snack, the rock I found for show and tell, and my nap blankie

The funny thing is, despite all evidence to the contrary, I think I'm smarter than average.  Not smarter than you, or most of the people I know, but smarter than the average of all the people I don't know who aren't reading this blog post.

As far as I can tell, most people believe that they are smarter than average. The irony of average intelligence is that no one wants to be average, and none of us is even considering that we (or our children, for that matter) might be below average.

I looked  around to see if  I could find any new developments on the science of intelligence; something which proves that people who can't follow along in meetings, even when guided by state of the art Prezi presentations, are smarter than average.  Sadly, there are no such studies.  To date.

I did find a couple of interesting articles that you might enjoy.   Basically, I think they prove what we learned in Kindergarten.  We are all  smart in different ways. Say, would you like to see my rock?  It's a beauty.

This is why most of us think we are smarter than average
Huff Post explores the theory that we are all getting dumber:
Business Insider offers 20 ways to tell if you are smarter than average
Drunk, eccentric, left-handed chocolate lover?  You're my kind of smart!
Here's one for elephant lovers. Elephants are also smarter-than-average

People who love Chocolate?  Smarter than Average.  "Studies prove"

Ok, Smarty Pants.  I'm outta here.

Chicken out

PS I won't be around for a few days.  A work deadline is looming.  In the meantime, I may post a couple of old posts just to keep the old blog in shape.  Have a great week.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Rite of Passage

"Ok, littleb, are you ready?  We'll do it together.  3...2...1...and go!"

We each pop a piece of gum into our mouth.  

We'd just been to CVS to pick up a few supplies, and littleb's  attention was drawn to the gum, as it has been the last few times we've been to a store.  Usually, I steer him away from the gum, and towards the chocolate, his first true love, but today I call his bluff.  He surprises me by following through with the purchase.

Afterwards, in the car, we talk about the ritual of gum chewing.  Gum must never be swallowed, because it will stick to the sides of your intestines and stay there like spackle.  Where are the intestines?  What is spackle?  

I remind him that when he was five and I gave him gum, he swallowed it.  Immediately. Even after we had the conversation about not swallowing the gum.  But that was an accident.  An automatic  response to chewing something.  He is almost seven now.  It's time for another go.  We both agree that this time, we will not swallow the gum.

Ok, littleb, are you ready?  We'll do it together.  3..2...1...and go!

We each pop a piece of gum into our mouth.  

We smile at each other.  We are both chewing  and smiling. 

I turn toward the front and shift the car into drive.  I check the rear view mirror before pulling out, and there is littleb, waving his arms.  I put the car back in park, and hand him a piece of paper.  He spits his gum onto the paper.

"What's the matter, littleb?  Didn't you like the flavor?"

"I did.  It was good.  I was just done chewing it."

"Oh.  Wasn't there any flavor left?"

"There was still flavor."

"Well, you know you can chew it until the flavor is gone, right?"

"Oh.  Can I have another piece?"

He pops in another piece and I put the car in gear.  We drive down the street, bobbing our heads to the song on the radio,  chewing our gum.  The September sun streams in.  We smile at each other in the rear view mirror. He turns to look out the window, smiling to himself.

I watch him, my handsome little boy, who is old enough to chew gum.   I am going to miss these days.  

Chicken out

Almost 7