You going out like that?

This is a completely superficial and judgmental piece.  That said, let’s roll on with my rant on fashion!

I am no fashionista, believe me (my weekend uniform is ripped jeans and boots), but I feel like I pay attention to what I wear, because I like to look nice (even if it’s just me who thinks I do), and I feel like I succeed most of the time, even if it’s casual most of the time.  I was thinking about different eras in history, and what we wore then, and did a little research about how we dress now. (Warning: some of these images are graphic, and all of them are appalling).  I mean no disrespect to anyone in these photos, but I can’t believe that these good people woke up in the morning (although I think two out of three just kept going from the night before – still applies), put on these outfits, looked in the mirror and said, “I look good!” (Red undies outside the leggings, really?)

Watching “La Dolce Vita” a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by how beautiful the women all were in the film; part of their attractiveness (at least to me, anyway) was that they didn’t try too hard with what they wore.  Their clothes were simple, and perfect (and the men didn’t look too bad then, either; Marcello, you devil, you) :

I will tell you that I’m a happy mallrat from way back; if you know me at all, you know that I’m the person for whom malls were designed. Recently,  these three have taken up the main floor of the Sears at my go-to mall with their apparel:

It’s all right there; every time I walk through Sears on my way to the rest of the mall, I have to walk around the clothes, hanging in big clumps like jewel-toned moss in the center of the floor, corsets and garters, right next to the mom jeans and the seersucker blouses.  And the abundance of animal prints – I love animal prints, and I think they look great in small doses, or else we run the risk of looking like Kimmy up there, less sexy kitten and more Halloween costume (that’s a Halloween costume, right?). I think that the amount of animal print that one wears should be in proportion to how close it is to midnight, and how near one is to L.A. Proximity is everything.

There are a couple of little rules that I’m working on following (for myself, but you may get something out of them), because not only is getting older not for sissies, but trying to dress nicely as one gets older is also not for sissies:

If you were old enough to remember wearing a trend once before (leggings, super-short skirts, for example), don’t wear it again. Very few women can get away with this; VERY few.

Don’t shop in the juniors section, unless you are one.  Trying to dress younger if you aren’t is like wearing a neon sign with your age on it.  (This is a tough one; I really don’t try to dress younger, but I do dress somewhat like I’ve always dressed, so I guess you could say that I dress younger, since I’ve gotten older…eh, who knows? I eat like a twelve-year-old, it should only follow that I dress like one.)

Cover it up.  Seriously, if you must wear the leggings that are now back in fashion, wear a shirt that covers your butt. (I know I’ve slipped into mom mode, don’t care.) Even if leggings are BLACK, that doesn’t mean no one can see through them.

If the clothes don’t fit, don’t buy them – simple, but you would be amazed at the numbers of women (including myself, although I’m really working on doing better with this one) who ignore that guideline and buy clothes that are either too tight or too loose.  In the ’70s, we used to lie down to put on our jeans – let’s not go through that anymore, ‘kay? Pinky swear…

Spandex? Just say no, unless you’re going to the gym. (I can’t even start on what I see at the gym, so I’ll give it a rest – for now.)

To review:

Let’s skip the spandex, buy clothes that fit, and save the leopard print onesie for the club; I’ll conclude my rant with these, my final words to you for today – if you must wear leggings, the red panties go underneath. Words to live by —-

Body and mind, heart and soul

Sometimes (and those of you who know me will bear this out), I can be a ding-a ling. Tonight I am a revelatory ding-a-ling; allow me to elaborate.

Last night I took my LBD (little black dog, in case you weren’t aware) to the vet, because his little eye was was kind of squishy looking, and I wanted to make sure that he didn’t have an allergic reaction to something.  Fortunately, the hospital wasn’t crowded, and while I was waiting, a couple came in with their cat – the woman was interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First, she had long, straight hair that was dyed pink – may I say here that I love when anyone does anything with their hair that is different from the usual, and this was a very pretty pink.  Second, she didn’t have what you would call a perfect body – she was big, and had some areas that could have been more toned.

After thinking these two thoughts, I had a third one – the first two things didn’t matter. Her boyfriend (husband, significant other) was with her, and comforting her, and her body didn’t enter into how he was treating her, because he was there for her when she needed him.

Now I know that I have long-standing issues with my physical appearance; I like very few photos of myself, and for a long time, I wouldn’t let anyone photograph me without covering up the bottom half of my face.  (More issues, and I’m not going to get into it, because then you will know what bothers me, and you will look for what bothers me, and….let’s just keep it a mystery.)

So what I’m getting to here is that I’m working on taking another little step away from the self-loathing that I seem to wallow in so often, and liking myself a little more, the way that I see other women do so well. It’s hard to erase decades of treating myself worse than my worst enemy, but maybe now that I’m a woman of a certain age –  yes, 50, all right? Happy now? (I’m told that I’m allowed to be cranky after 50; I prefer to wear the cranky pants only on special occasions, or else nobody listens), I will give myself a break.  Just thinking today about living without being self-critical and nit-picky made me feel lighter, like the kid in “Up” with the balloons.  A little lightness sounds good right now —-

On another note, today marks the fifteenth year that I have been without my friend and sister-in-law, Naomi Toma Thorpe. I first met Naomi when I was 13, and she was 17, and friends with my brother at Jordan High.  She and I became close friends, and then she became my sister-in-law in 1980. Naomi was a beautiful, funny, brilliant, silly, strong woman who matched my brother in intellect and talent.  She was my confidante and my touchstone, and I treasure every single second that I was fortunate enough to have known her. Here’s to you, my friend; I’m getting along without you, but it’s harder without you….

Every picture tells a story

I’m up to my eyelids in old photographs this morning.  Had to take a little break to write a bit – Mom passed away last Wednesday, and I’m in the middle of preparing for the viewing and service later this week.  I feel like I’ve been in the middle of  a combat zone, and now the war’s over, and I’m home.  I don’t feel better that she’s gone, except in that I’m glad that she’s no longer in pain.  Last night I went to her house to pick up her photo albums, and I went into every room, remembering.  My mother was a true fighter, and it still hasn’t registered with me that she isn’t here anymore. So I’m  going through the house, and finding that which will help me remember her.

One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up was to look through my mother’s photo albums; there is something special about an old photo album that just doesn’t compare to looking at photos online.  I think we sacrifice something with relying on computers for everything; in going through old photo albums, there’s a tactile sense of discovery –  touching the book, and seeing a group of yellowed,  grainy black-and-white photos on a page, with some rips from where they might have been transferred from an even older photo album.  My issue with doing everything on a computer (even though I LOVE computers, and wouldn’t want to be without one) is that everything becomes sterile and static;  not having photos yellow and fall apart, or not being able to smell the mustiness of a library book takes away from the experience for me.  I keep being told that everything will be digital in five years; while technology is  wonderful, I don’t think it should replace everything. I propose a peaceful co-existence of virtual and actual; thoughts?

Here’s more of my mother; to be able to share pictures of her here is comforting to me. Peace.

Food and self-loathing in Lakewood

I’m on the downward slope of five days off, watching the ’90s “Beverly Hills 90210” on the Soap channel.  Even with Direct TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Roku at my fingertips, what do I watch the most? Re-runs of Brenda and Dylan, yes that is correct!  Also, re-runs of “Cheers”, “Roseanne”, and “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (the American version).  I’m a TV baby, growing up on cartoons and shows like “Batman”, “Gilligan’s Island”, and “I Love Lucy”, of course.  I did a lot of TV watching, and you know what goes with watching TV, don’t you? Snacks, bites, noshes, nibbles…growing up, I also ate my way through season after season of TV, all the way through school, including college and beyond.  I’ve just recently been able to maintain a 26-pound weight loss for the last year and a half, which is a record for me.

Like many other people that I know, I’m a weight loss expert, mainly because I’ve been losing and gaining weight since I was 14 years old, when my mother gave me an article about losing weight from a magazine.  I would gain and lose the same thirty pounds over and over again; I am a four-time Weight Watcher (fourth time was the charm for me), two-time Jenny Craig drop out, and also did time at the Diet Center, which is no longer in business.  When I first went to find out about Jenny Craig, I was told that the program was $700.00 (!).  I went back when the price came down, then again a few years later.

My first diet at 14 was 800 calories daily, and consisted of four bowls of Rice Krispies with two teaspoons of raisins, and a splash of milk; while on this diet, one day I could barely make it to the kitchen.  I was thin, though – then I got fat again.  (Special K has recently marketed a similar type of diet after the holidays, and right before summer; man, I was so ahead of my time!)  These days, I have tamed my food demons, with consistent exercise and eternal vigilance.  I work out three or four times a week, for about 45 minutes or so, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter.  I try not to go longer than two days without a workout, and I aim for variety when I can, although I am sort of smitten with Billy Blanks and Tae-Bo. I love food, and I work out so that I can enjoy food – right now, I eat pretty much whatever I want within limits.

I lost weight, and have kept it off, because I think I look better; vanity is a big part of it, not gonna lie to you. More importantly, I’m finally (Finally! Only took thirty or forty years) learning to be more positive about how I look, and to like myself.  You may feel as if you are too self-critical, but please, move aside for the Queen of Self-Loathing; there is no one who can wallow in it the way that I do. I read a great bit of advice once – never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t accept if someone else said it to you. As cliche as it sounds, I’m aware that who I am is more important and leaves a longer-lasting impression than what I look like. I remember once seeing a really handsome guy throw a major fit at a cash register, and I have to say that the attractiveness was just drained out of him by his horrible personality.

So when gravity takes its toll (who am I kidding? It’s already begun, aaargh!), I’m going to try to keep my sense of humor about it (one morning I spent time wrinkling my nose in the mirror, trying to figure out how a set of little wrinkles that I never noticed before just showed up on the sides of my nose.  This little exercise in desperation only made them more pronounced, I’m sure), and not forget to maintain my inside as well as my outside.

So grab a bowl of popcorn and meet me on the couch; “I Love Lucy” just started, and we can work out later, promise!

Fifty – an owner’s manual (updated edition)

Let me start by saying that when I was 29, and again when I was 39, I thought a lot about turning 30, and 40.  Then when both of those numbers became real, I remember being kind of relieved.  I find myself here again, pondering what it’s going to be like once I turn 50, and when I do in six months, I’ll probably just forget all about it. But for now…my 50th is coming up in January 2011, and even though I’m not there yet, it’s like buying a 2011 car that comes out in 2010; I’m kicking the tires, and taking fifty out for a test drive before making the purchase.

All of the usual sayings apply  – I don’t feel (close to) fifty, it’s just a number, and one more of my own…  everything is getting harder.  I feel like I’m walking a line between working on my health and my mind in order to stay young, and celebrating my years and whatever wisdom I might have acquired in my time here, including figuring out what “acting my age” means. Here’s the part I’m not overjoyed about – I am the same person I’ve always been, but one little click, and suddenly I feel as if I’m going to be defined by a number again.  I almost feel the same as I did at 14, when I was constantly being told that I was too young to do this or that, only now it’s “You’re not 22 anymore.” Now I understand why some people my age and a bit older start to act out; mid-life crises aren’t physiological, just brought on by well-meaning people, whose mission is to remind you of your age, as if turning 50 somehow robs you of all memory and intelligence.

In my mind, none of us who have come up on the five-oh (or are on the way to it) look it.  Along the lines of looking young, my take on surgery is this – if you do it, and it makes you happy, that’s wonderful.  I had my nose fixed after a car accident when I was 20; I didn’t know it at the time, but it was fractured. It’s still not perfect, but it’s better than it was. I always say that my brother got the cute nose, and if you knew him or have seen pictures, you know it’s true. There are other areas of my personal landscape that I would like to, um, redevelop, but eh, whatever.  I just want to look as good as I can for the age that I am, without resorting to surgery (or any more surgery, I guess I should say).

I grew up extremely self-conscious and introverted, and have only recently been able to overcome my shyness.  It still shows up at weird times, though – one of the good things about getting older is that I care less about what people think about me (with a few important exceptions), so I’ve been able to relax more and be myself, or whichever self might appear on any given day.  Having said that, I still worry too much about some of the things I say, and sometimes I would like to grab the words out of the air and stuff them back into my face, but that doesn’t happen too often.  I am also learning when to keep my mouth shut, which is as important as knowing when to speak.

So fifty is on its way, and yeah, there are some things that I would have done differently.  But what good is it to talk about that?  This is where I am now, for better or worse.  I don’t make wishes for anything, because wishing is a waste of time.  I can only proceed from here, and enjoy the good parts, of which there are many.  Happy 50th to all of my friends whose odometers clicked in the last year, and to those who are getting ready to click; if we lived through being teenagers in the ’70s, we can all do 50 (and beyond) standing on our heads.

One Moment, Please

I’ve been thinking about life-changing events recently. As many of you know, my mother has recently been through some life changes of her own, which resulted in a stroke, and in her losing the use of her right arm and leg.  My life now has changed as well, in that I am taking care of her in much the same way that she took care of me, when I was a baby and couldn’t take care of myself.  When I am at the hospital with her, my main concerns are that she is eating, that she is clean, and that she is not in pain.  I am now also responsible for her finances; my mother has been good with money her entire life, so I don’t have a lot to take care of , which is a blessing.  My mother’s present condition is a  development that has caused me to narrow my daily focus, and at the same time, to make me think about all aspects of  my own life, and about the events that have changed me.

I like to think that each decade in my life has had a distinct beginning and an end, and that each time I hit the numbers that end in zero, I should be a little smarter than I was during the previous decade.  But that’s not how it works, is it? Learning goes backwards and forwards, and sometimes the biggest thing I keep learning over and over is that I don’t know anything.   I will say this, though; I have had things happen around those endings (and beginnings) of decades that have rung my bell, to be sure.  One example would be losing my father and brother within eight months of each other, around the time I turned 40, then losing my uncle and niece shortly after.  I can only compare that time to being hit again and again, and then when I was still on my knees, being hit again.  It took a long time for me to get back on my feet; I am still learning about what I was going through then, because when it was happening, I was so numb that I didn’t know what  I was feeling, or even how to begin to express emotion.

Fast forward to the present – I just found out last night that someone who I knew in high school, and was friends with on and off for years afterward, had passed away. As I scrolled down the list of people on my high school website who were on the page “In Loving Memory,” I somehow knew that his name would be there, even though I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in twenty years.  And there it was….and it was awful.  What was worse was that there was no other information, just that he was gone.  The last time I had seen him, he didn’t look good, but I thought it was just due to him being a night owl (he was a drummer in a band; his drum set was in the living room of the house, and he told me once  that if he didn’t make it by 30, he was giving up music).  Today was not a good day, and I am sure that finding out about David last night had a lot to do with how my day went.

Grief is a tricky emotion; it comes and goes when you least expect it, and sometimes it masquerades as rage, fear, or anxiety.  I am grieving for my friend today; in doing so, I think I might just be a little bit smarter than I was ten years ago, when I thought that I had to be strong and take care of business, and my grief could wait. Grief might wait, but it will also eat you up from the inside out.  So I grieve, and think about absent friends and family, and go see my mother in the hospital every day, and try to make her day a little bit better – decades are made up of  moments, and this one, right here and now,  is all I have, and even though it hasn’t been a great day, I get to be here at the end of it, and that makes it a good ending, indeed.