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Showing posts from 2010

War Paint

If it weren't for my stash of stiffly ironed shirts, for a while there, I wouldn't have been able to stand up.

I have been in a place that feels not unlike a dark, black wet paper sack--a very thick paper sack--Tyvek or strapping tape--the kind of stuff you can't rip or tear with your teeth--I was in one of those. And it started to scare the hell out of me.

I had no idea how to fight my way out of it.

Ideas are my stock in trade. And I was completely out of 'em. Good ones, anyway. And that's a scary thought. Oh, I had a few, very bad ideas. I was practically infested with those. I felt like a tightly crushed container of toxic waste--black and greasy and twisted and heavy and the bad ideas were making their little wormy ways through the little black banana peel that was serving as my heart.

Nope. I couldn't fight my way out a wet paper sack. And every day seemed like a fight. So, I turned to clothes as my armor.

I dressed carefully every day. Deliberately--l…

A Sign of Things to Come

I have found myself making raspberries as part of my vocabulary.

     The other day, in the Goodwill, I had a sudden prophetic vision of me--the tangle-haired old woman with a Goodwill shopping cart full of crap--making big, fat, farting noises with my tongue at every butt ugly holiday sweater I saw, including those on actual people.  

     Occasionally, like the clothes in my closet, I have to do a certain amount of inventory and culling of personal habits--like going to the thrift stores every day, or chewing my thumb cuticles into bloody hamburger--after I get senile that won't matter to me so much, but right now, I've got to be at least a teeny bit vigilant, lest I stop showering or start muttering to myself in grimy subways or start putting children into stews and so on.
     I know how it started: people asked me how the writing was going, like they do, and the only answer that fit at the time, because it was just too dismal to verbalize, was to take my thumb and arc it…

How to have a Happy Hour that's Out of This World!!

CMake checks payable to: Dept. 2 SH, Cocktail Hour Enterprises, St. Louis, MO 63132!

"When Happy Hour talk turns to Astrology, this guide's brief summary wll spark your conversation...and help you know what enthusiasts are talking about. In fact, it will help you have the greatest Happy Hour Party ever!!"

This fabulous kit, and its helpful companion guide, made in Florence, Kentucky, is just a wealth of information! (It is always helpful to know what your guests are talking about! It comes with numerous nuggets of wisdom, such as: "Did you know that every person is said to be born under a "sign of the Zodiac?" the Zodiac is a kind of cosmic calendar..." Ah, the good old days when all this was just pure gibberish to most of us!)

 I mean, who wouldn't want to have a swingin' party with these funsters? My folks used to have groovy "happenings" in the '60's and '70's, too, but I don't remember any clear-complexioned and…

The Carrot, the Stick, and the Damn Buttons 
This dress is far too small... I'll take it: Women waste millions on clothes they'll never slim into as they shed wrong kind of poundsBy Daily Mail Reporter

Read more:
  "I don't know if I can sell these," my friend said, walking the white carpet from her second huge walk-in closet and into her first walk-in closet. She was teetering on a pair of truly gorgeous Jimmy Choo snakeskin heels. I wouldn't have been able to sell them either.
   Then again, after the second ankle surgery, her orthopedic surgeon had warned her that if she wanted to avoid further ankle surgeries, she'd ease up on the six inch stilettos. The surgery had been a couple months ago. T…

The Wrist and the Watch

So, what is going on with the wristwatch? I know more and more people are relying on cellular technology to automatically synchronize their mobile phones to Greenwich Mean Time, which is all very well. It might be likened to a return to previous centuries' pocket watch--without the elegant watch chain. Or the little charming tics of winding it when you're nervous, or swinging the watch chain around one finger while waiting on a date. Or the possibility of bequeathing it to one's heirs. ("Gee, dad, did your dad leave you his old cell phone?" "That's right, son, a real iPhone GS3. I dropped this phone in the toilet when I was just six years old--and some day, this dead piece of corrupted, corroded electronics in a bag of rice will be yours. With my grand-dad's old vacuum tube television with the tinfoil on the rabbit ears.")
I personally can't wear a wristwatch. Maybe it's some sort of electromagnetic disturbance in my forcefield, or I hav…

The Fall of the Wristwatch

I have heard that the wristwatch is on its way out. I'm not sure if this is a trend that bears watching (ha ha) or not--wristwatches imply that you have places to be--and care whether you're there or not on time. And I've trained myself not to care by placing myself in a little bubble where I realize that when I make appointments with other people, I must have nothing particularly pressing to do. Ever. Time is a liquid and arbitrary thing.
     (As a compulsively prompt person, I have gained the impression that promptness is rather passe, even a little gauche. Maybe it's telling that both of those terms are French...
     Anyway! If everyone else is late, then maybe I'm actually running two events behind. I can't help it, though:I arrive everywhere five minutes early, no matter what I do, even though I never have a working timepiece. Even if I mosey around the block for hours, or do the NY Times crossword puzzle at a nearby chain cafe, or sit in my car an…

Back in Fat.

Okay--I'm fat again.

There. I've said it.

Yes, it's been creeping up on me for about 6 years. Starting with a gig writing travel articles during which which I indulged in vast and lengthy complimentary dinners of shrimp and rice and pralines and cream and oyster sandwiches and gained two pounds, which kicked me out of the "at-goal Lifetime" program of Weight Watchers and landed me on the "paid lifetime" program of Weight Watchers, which eventually led me to get a job with Weight Watchers, under the delusion that the fate of my employment rested with getting my weight down, which ultimately led to another 6 pounds out of corporate spite (I'm a Weight Watchers' leader and a fitness instructor--how could I possibly be considered fat??). Why, I still fit in my skinny jeans! I've just moved up a bra size, which got me a lot of free drinks. Nothin' wrong with that?!

Except that, with my genetic legacy, it's: tiny little butt; big ol' gut.…

Mad Hatters

Some elements of surprise during my costume design class: that my students had a good time and that they came up with some very interesting surprises.

I tell my students that I don't particularly like children in general, so if they're going to act like children, I'm not the teacher for them. This sounds rather harsh, even to me. But I suspect that young women of this age don't want to be treated like children, so this actually works out well for all of us. Whew! In return, they're willing to indulge my requests to draw their faces without looking at their paper; to abandon an idea that seems like a little old lady going to lunch with the Red Hat Society would think "was real cute."

Now. As for design: All found objects and hats from the thriftstore. Hot glue. Wire. A bag of balloons. Fabric remnants. Newspaper. Needle and thread. Duct tape. An old rabbit fur coat that I found in someone's garbage. Umbrellas. A crochet hook. A pot of lemonade. Fancy coo…

The Rake's Progress. Or: How the Purge Goes

Several cubic feet of things chucked chock-a-block into boxes and into the back of my car. An old dog bed--which probably should be just thrown out--and camisole tops and shorts that are years too young for me, which probably also should be thrown out. I pitched some old ceramic top bottles that I was saving for heaven knows what--I think I thought we were going to marinate our own vinegars or some such crafty thing. Duplicate shoes. Ugly toys. And there are so many ugly toys for boys. I worry that the boys will have no toys after I throw out the ugly and annoying ones. You try to throw out your kids' art work and try to explain it to them when they find it in the garbage! How did that get in there???

I gauge my progress on my satisfaction of how I feel at the cubic footage I've freed up. I do a little mathematical equation using our monthly mortgage, our home's square footage, solving for how much per month we've been paying out to store stacks of Yoga Journal magazine…


I've been looking at those shows about hoarding. Ha. Child's play. I coulda been the host of THAT show. They never make enemies with their own mothers, trying to explain that one really should dispose of boxes of books and doll clothes that had been shat in by raccoons. I'm sure I don't why the raccoons shit in their own nests. Perhaps it should be a lesson to all of us of what NOT to do.

So, I've got my mom's house in the back of my mind. Always. But as summer closes in and the A/C hums and drones, and the jungle creeps closer, I start to get a bit batty. And I'm thinking of raccoons. I feel a big purge coming on.

Empty boxes crying out to fulfill my fantasies of simplicity. I see the stuff huddling in corners, in stacks, and cluttering up my shelves tremble in fear. They are right to do so.

Show Up, Shut Up, Wear Beige

Instructions to mothers of the groom.

The reason why groomsmen all wear the same suit to a wedding--so if the groom doesn't show up, everyone can just take a step to the left. The people on that side of the church are just props, baby.

Your role, as mother of the groom, is to provide a groom. And maybe a brother for a spare. The extent of your input is limited to saying how lovely everything is.

The bride's strapless ballgown in the church? Why, it's lovely, of course. The mother of the bride's equally revealing gown to show off her boob job? Lovely. The new wife of the bride's father who describes herself as a "cougar" (in the latter part of her nine lives) (meow!)? Nope! Nope! She's so lovely. The "blending" ceremony in which all the members of the bridal party dance around and fill a vase with pink and blue vials of sand to symbolize the "blending" of two souls into one purple-ish vase of sand...or something? Lovely, lovely, lovely…


I love skirts. I loved this skirt. I still love this skirt.

I bought it for Derby one year. I was going to be sitting in the Jockey Club and thought it would was cute and punchy and would work if the weather was warm or cold: high-heeled sandals and a white blouse if warm and white wool tights, a white cashmere turtleneck and black Gucci boots if it was cold. But I've never figured out Louisville fashion don't's. My cousin shook her head sadly when I showed it to her. You just don't wear black to Derby. And you NEVER wear wool tights and boots. It could be 30 degrees and snowing and that's just too darn bad: it's little spring sandals or spring shoes; seersucker and floaty florals and little tailored polkadot whatnot. So, I wore a little halter dress and red sandals and the outrageous hat and fit in. But it was pretty cold that Derby. So the lack of support I didn't get from the halter dress didn't matter.

The skirt made its own events. I wore it to an op…
Is style something a woman is born with or can she develop it over time? Or do styles catch up with a woman if she holds the line?

Oh, honey, forget that mullet haircut idea--you remember how you justified it: "practical in the front, party in the back"--that was never a good idea in any era. And, heaven forbid, if it comes around again, it will still be bad. On the other hand, the beehive, in all its outrageous permutations, from Marie Antoinette to Cindy Wilson from the B-52's and Ab-Fab's Patsy keeps coming around looking just as baroque and brash as ever. So you keep on teasing and hanging with the Aquanet, girl!

I know. I am an unlikely fashionista. I look more like the hefty Midwestern farm girl I aspire to be than the nervy, bulimic, shopaholic fag hag that I have been now and again. Maybe wearing all the too-tight, decade-old hand-me-downs from my sisters made me fashion self-conscious while giving me a first-hand lesson in vintage: scratchy wool underwear from…

The Lost Designer of the 80's

Claude Barthelemy seems to have been one of those if-you-needed-to-ask-you-didn't-need-to-know designers. In the '80's, he was listed as a young, hot couturier alongside go-the-distance blue chips like Karl Lagerfeld and Lanvin with his oversized sweaters, minis, leggings and fur-trimmed stoles. Exclusive stores carried his soft-edged jackets to shoppers in the know.

And then what happened? His pleated skirts, intarsia sweaters, and naughty, zippered wool catsuits still fetch high prices in vintage world and any dealer with his elegantly simple, Gallic tag on her racks raises a flutter in second-hand seekers. He designed for Barbie, for heaven's sake! But the designer himself, who seems to have cut a meteoric swath across the runways and then...?

So what's the story with this wasp-waisted pleated skirt? I wondered what else this woman could have dropped off on her Goodwill drive-by--a Chanel original? A couture Pucci? Surely someone this linked in wouldn't just h…

Go for the Pulitzer

Naples, Florida: the epicenter of all things Lilly.
All those breezy prints and sporty, shift dresses may have been designed for socialite, seasonal bluebloods in Palm Beach, but it's the practical wives of nuts-and-bolts Midwestern industrialists and Captains of Yeast, Sausage and Baking Soda empires and Generals of Mills who truly rally beneath the bright-colored banner--after all, those saturated, citrus hues and quirky textile designs wear like iron and endure season after season, doncha know.
I suspect the owners of my found Lillys had to die before she parted with her collection, her sons prying that hardly-worn-yet wrap skirt out of her cold, dead fingers. She almost certainly came back to haunt them because they buried her in the lavender suit. She specifically told them she wanted to sleep for eternity in the super comfy, new blue print silk.

A Happening

She just couldn't believe how the fondue turned out. And the matching orange shag carpeting was perfectly raked until that Maxine Murphy staggered into the suspended copper firepit and spilled her Martini and Rossi all over the place.

Used Violins, New Harps

My older son is about to graduate to a concert harp. We're going to return his old Troubador harp to his old teacher go look for a new harp. His new teacher wants to come along and help him find the right new harp. Harps have a strange tendency to be rather picky about who plays them.

My younger son has graduated to a half-size violin. We're selling his smaller violins, which we bought new and have gotten him a very nice used violin that has a mellow, reassuring sound. This old violin has been making music before my son was even born. It sounds like it knows what it's doing.

In the meantime, I'm wrestling with shopping for a new anything. I had to play piano and oboe as a kid because we had those sitting around the house. I didn't think that instruments were anything you went out and actually bought at a store. I just thought you picked up whatever was lying around and then were forced to learn to play it. We had guitars and complicated-looking mandolins and battered…
Boy clothes. Please mommy! Can I have this? Please? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!

If boys like it, they will wear it. Out. It will turn into a rag and is no good for anything. Even dust. Occasionally, you will see boy clothes at the Goodwill. Occasionally you will get them in a sack as a hand-me-down. Do not bother with these items. They are dust and upon contact with the dust, unto dust they shall return.

There are some things, however, that one shall seek in boys' clothes: nice sweaters, dress clothes, dress shoes. For these are avoided by boys, worn only for a few moments before they are stripped away and hidden in the airless space between the mattress and the box spring.

These are the nice sweaters of boys who live in Florida. One was once worn during Thanksgiving in Seattle and once in an unusual Sunday cold snap. The other was begrudgingly worn thrice. This year's unusual, extended freeze, they were too small.…

Cruel Shoes

Cinderfella's slippers. These are not women's shoes. They're too small for me, but I just couldn't pass em up. They looked like they've been danced in a carpeted cage or around a block a few times--London's Trade in Clerkenwell or Orange in Vauxhall.

But those British and their shoes--these may be cheap looking, but they aren't cheaply made. The inside is supple kid leather and the little bitty straps are like dainty horse bridle buckles. So, how did these nasty little things get across the Atlantic?

He packed em up to do a little partying in South Beach, and never went home. American food, barefoot beach walking and the salt air caused fallen arches and splayed feet. Finding the man who fits the slipper will be impossible. Let's do that.

Genie Box--the secret word of the day!

There was a time when I tried to settle into Florida life: I looked for things that bespoke a life of travel to exotic places and bizarre climes. This box was one of those kind of things. I love little boxes with cunning little latches--little hiding places for Borrowers and Indians, love tokens, illicit things. This one always gives me the impression of the place where one would consult a genie. I opened it saying "Mekalekkahi-Mekahidy-ho!"