Friday, May 22, 2015

     How do you feel about fashion? Do you care what you wear? Do you share what you wear? Do you dress for yourself? your spouse or SO? your female friends? men? Men, do you dress for women? for other men? for yourself? If clothes send a message about you, what message do you want that to be? What part of your clothing specifically targets who you are? Do you spend a large percentage of your budget on clothes? Do you only buy things on sale or at resale shops? Do you dress in a certain color most of the time? Do you dress age-appropriately?

     I will bet you never thought about some of these questions, and maybe you still don’t. If that is the case, you may read on to see how a woman of a certain age sees your outer layer, or you can bail right now. (I still get credit for your hit though:)

     I dress how I choose. I wear some trendy fashions, and I wear clothes that I believe flatter my figure. As I eat well, work out regularly (although not for very long), and take great pride in my physical appearance, clothes are important to me and how they make me look is a value.  I know people who wear whatever is trendy regardless of how it looks on them. I know people who wear clothes that hide them rather than flatter their bodies. I know people who dress like their daughters and others who dress like their grand-mothers. It’s all personal taste, and despite the gurus of fashion who dictate what’s right and wrong, cool or crude, I say “`a chacun son goût.” (To each his/her own).

     There are certain styles that are more age specific than others; i.e. bikini swimwear, extra high platform heals, long full skirts, bare midriff tops, low cut see-through blouses, gladiator sandals, etc. It is obvious who should and should not wear any or all of these, but if you are lucky enough to have the skin of a 20-year-old or the body of a 24-year-old, then I say go for it.

     I find it fascinating that French models have recently been faced with a stunning development. There is a movement to fine models who aren’t of a “healthy” weight. Some models may even be banned from work if they are too thin. (Eat your heart out, Twiggy). There are movements in the U.S. that are encouraging “plus-size women” to model underwear. For those of us brought up in the Twiggy generation, that’s hard to comprehend. In the Baroque era, it was fashionable to have a little round tummy and a “full” healthy appearance. I don’t know if Modigliani’s long skinny figures ruined it all for today’s “normal” lady, but the flat tummy is in, and if you don’t have a six-pack, then you’re just not cool. The trends have gone in both directions. Who is to say which is right? I suppose we should err on the side of “healthy,” whatever that means. 

      If a girl was a beauty when I was in high school, that meant she was thin, well-endowed and had curves (34-24-34 was the goal). A tape measure was always in the bathroom drawer across from the scale. Her clothes were always stylish, conservative and neat. Her hair was smooth and shiny, and her complexion was flawless.With all that going for her, clothes were just the icing on the cake. 

     As a teacher for 40 years, I saw clothing trends change drastically. My own daughters wore the “big” shirt look. We didn’t even know if they had figures under all that cotton. When I looked out into my classes, I saw lots of sweatshirts, blouses that hung outside slacks, and tennis shoes, sometimes tied, sometimes not. When I was handed some of their senior pictures, I asked them who the person was. 

     I never dressed for comfort. That word was and still is not in my clothing vocabulary. I must admit, however, that as the years have passed, even though I dress every day in skirts, blouses and high heels, when I get home, I run for my snuggie sometimes in the middle of the day. If I could wear my stilettos with my snuggie, I would start a new trend:)

                                                                           Fifi's snuggie in photo

Thursday, May 21, 2015

THURSDAY:                       What’s Trending on the “Hills”

     As our street has the word “Hills” in it, I thought I’d take the liberty of speaking from them. The “Hills” is a very nice street with a beautiful home perched on a berm overlooking the 15th hole of a very green and well-manicured golf course. Unfortunately, we spent all our money on the house and had none left to join the golf club. We do play tennis there, however, and that is fun some days--more for Mr. Wonderful than for yours truly who has anxiety attacks when trying to execute a good backhand. That’s another story.

    Trending on the “Hills” today are thoughts of making the “final move.” That sounds ominous, and it can be depending on one’s perspective. The thrill of pulling up stakes and starting all over again in a new town where you know absolutely no one can be daunting or thrilling.To us, it’s both right now, but by the time our house sells, the city to which we would like to relocate will probably be closed for business. 

     Selling one’s house is neither thrilling nor fun--it’s a royal pain! People don’t come, and then they come and never come back. They say wonderful things and mean things, and you never see them, so you can’t even get revenge. The realtor just keeps telling us to lower, lower, lower the price. Soon, we will be giving it away, one biffy at a time. There is always the “right buyer” for every home, we’re told. Well, Mr. “Right” needs to step up to the plate. We ain’t gettin’ any younger here. I was thinking of offering a blue light special--one day only best price over half a mill, but the realtor didn’t think that was a good idea or amusing. So here we sit on the “Hills” sipping our Sauvignon Blanc over the bunker enjoying the sun streaming through the trees onto our lovely patio. Wait a minute. Why are we moving again? Was I in on this discussion?

     Trending today also is the birthday prep for Mr. Wonderful. I can’t count as high as he is old, so just take my word for it, the guy’s gettin’ up there. He can still read, write and pat, so I know he’s still got it goin’ on. What do you buy an old guy who has everything, has been everywhere and drives his dream car? Poor baby? Maybe it’s time to start taking things away instead of giving him more. I told him I’d pay for his birthday dinner, and he pouted for an hour. Wtf. It’s an expensive restaurant, and I had to give up my Edy’s Caramel Delight for three months to save for it. I get no respect. I asked him if he’d like a new tennis racket. He tried 17 different ones and decided he liked his 1974 model best. (Whew! Dodged that bullet).
     Trending finally is getting packed for an upcoming trip to see the grandchildren. As there are four little girls who think their grandpa is a ladder and their grandmother the rich fairy godmother from the south, we are packing accordingly. Old shirts and slacks for him, and the piggy bank for yours truly. Somehow they think change is worth more than paper, so I’ve got this one nailed. I just have to figure out how to lift $400 worth of nickels.

     


     

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Laughter effects has been tracking its readers’ interests over the past year. Certain categories seem to attract more than others, so it has decided to label each day by subject. The following topics will be addressed according to the day:

Monday:  Money
Tuesday: Travel

Wednesday: Wishing
Thursday: Trending on the “Hills”
Friday:  Fashion French
Saturday: Sex
Sunday:  Sermons Redux

As we are easing into Wednesday, my wishes are relatively simple:

-I wish that the squirrel trying to scratch its way through our roof would get bitten by the giant June bug who is hiding under my bed.
-I wish that the people listing their homes $75,000 under ours would realize they’re giving Mr. Wonderful hives.
-I wish someone would come up with a magic formula to erase Crepe.
-I wish that the Fairy Godmaid would show up to clean the house.
-I wish someone would remove Mr. W’s sinuses.
-I wish people would drive over 36 mph on Market Street.
-I wish my bust size would surpass my shoe width.
-I wish someone would pay my bills forward.
-I wish someone would do my push ups for me.
-I wish a tabby kitten would show up in my foyer.

-I wish we had a wine geyser in the backyard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

     Years ago, I had a good friend with whom I would enjoy lunch out occasionally. She was a very attractive mother-of-three married to a good friend of ours. We socialized frequently always enjoying each others’ company.

     One day, while we were having lunch, she said to me, “I can’t go to lunch with you anymore. As a matter of fact, I can’t see you anymore.” I gasped, putting down my speared lettuce and said, “What? What do you mean?” She said, “I can’t be around you. You intimidate me and make me feel inferior. You are always accomplishing so much, and you’re so ambitious and successful, I just can’t continue this friendship.” I was so dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to say at first, but then I said, “You are successful too. You are a long-distance runner, an accomplished dancer, a wonderful cook, a super mom of three beautiful children. You are just as accomplished as I am.” That didn’t appease her, and our friendship ended.

     Needless to say, I was stunned and very hurt. The irony was that I had always felt inferior and needy, and I accomplished things to make up for my lack of self-esteem. The very things I did to win respect and admiration were losing me friends. I told my then husband who was also shocked, but his empathy skills were less than comforting, so I muddled through my disappointment.


     Years later, after I was divorced and dating a man with whom I was mistakenly infatuated, I ran into this former friend and her husband. They were dancing together at a local upscale restaurant where my “mistake” and I were enjoying the one date we had outside of Denny’s and Big Boy. He was all dressed up in a sport coat that night, and I was wearing my sexiest mini-dress and stilettos. When I saw my former friend and her husband across the dance floor, I waved, and we danced over their way. I introduced everyone, and hugged them both hello. “Mistake” decided on the spot to change partners, so I had a brief dance with my friend’s husband. He was very attractive, although not my type, and I always liked him. We hadn’t danced more than a couple of minutes when he hugged me close and said, “I’ve always loved you, you know.” I thought he must have had too much to drink, as they were celebrating their 25th anniversary. I kidded him saying, “I love you, too, handsome.” And then it dawned on me. This was the reason I could no longer be her friend. It wasn’t me; it was him. Nothing I ever did intimidated her except flirt harmlessly with her husband. Hmm. Guess “harmless” was not the word she would have used. There is always an explanation.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

    














     People are very strange. I am learning why Europeans sit in cafés and people watch hour after hour. Of course, with each glass of wine, people become stranger.

     Today, I awoke in a grizzly mood. I must have had a very bad dream because yesterday was a great day, and nothing happened between bedtime and waking this morning other than my dreams. So some nasty thing must have transpired during REM sleep to send me into major irritation at 6:30 a.m. 

     We went for a nice hike in the woods, and I began to feel better. After expending minimal energy to burn 158 calories, we headed for the fat food restaurant on the Intracoastal. Justifying the deep fried fish and chips by my Pacer readout, I delved into my pile of salty chips and crunchy cod. As we were finishing our meal, an attractive woman approached our table with her thick husband and died-to-match eight-year old son. He shook my hand with a Bernie Sanders grip, looked me right in the eye and said, “It is a pleasure to meet you.” The woman said, “You two look like you are really enjoying this beautiful day.” The aisle where she and her family were standing was about two feet wide, and the wait staff needed to get by, but she stood there trying to engage us in conversation. She wanted to know where we lived and told us that she lived in the same town we did, but that she and her family had stayed overnight in this small fishing town and were boating in their 8-foot fishing vessel. Mr. Wonderful and I looked at each other trying to figure out what she was selling. She kept talking, and her husband was getting visibly impatient, so when the waiter needed to get by with a huge tray of food, she shook our hands and told us it was a real pleasure to meet us. As we left the restaurant, we noticed she was engaging another couple while her husband and son were donning their life jackets for the trip back to the condo. Mr. Wonderful was sure they were religious zealots fattening us up for the kill but were interrupted by a shrimp and grits dish. 

     We went to a concert this afternoon. The program was all Bach, and although the music was pleasant, the two of us agreed that the old guy used way too many notes. He was right up there with Mozart with his eighth note quota. Our soprano neighbor looked great on stage though, and we thought she was the best of the 100 voices. 

     We then went to dinner at our favorite sunset spot on the water. We sat down at a table in front of a thick couple who we had watched eat their dinner, have the waiter put the rest into a take-home container and then proceed to spend another hour eating out of the container. That was in between suck facing in front of 200 people. If they had been young, it would have been disgusting, but they were pushing 50, and he sucked half her cheeks in with her plump lips. yuck.


     People are so weird. We agreed that we are happy that we’re not people.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

     I often wonder how ministers come up with new sermons week after week. How many lessons can one teach in different attention-getting ways to lead people down the “right path?” It’s not like the gazillion verbs I could teach in my French classes when I could act them out, make poems out of them, turn them into drum riffs.

      There are only so many rules and lessons in the Bible. Many people can only relate to them if the preacher makes them relevant to their lives. The same may be said of blogs. How many topics can I address that will engage my audience (whom I don’t know)? One would think that the older we are and the more experiences we have, the easier it would be to come up with a thought-provoking essay, a humorous story with a point or an inspirational message guaranteed to make people stop and think. Au contraire, the older the blogger, the more difficult it can be to relate. The easiest topics, therefore, are those that are universal, age non-specific like love, courage and dust.

     This morning, I choose boredom. If you tell me you’ve never been bored, you’re lying. Everyone on the planet has been bored at one time or another whether it’s twelve seconds or twelve years. My definition of bored is:  whenever I am not engaged doing something I enjoy. When I admit, and this is rare, that I am bored, I always feel shame associated with it. My father told me that any person who is bored knowing all the things there are to learn in this world should be punished. Well, what about people who aren’t in the mood to learn? What about people who have trouble learning? I love to learn, but I learn from morning till night, and sometimes I need a nap to turn off my learning mechanism. 

     When I was a single parent, working four jobs in my 40s, I was still bored. I have so much energy and ambition that when I am or was not being productive, I am/was bored. Maybe boredom is different for the creative soul than for others. Maybe when I am not creating, I am bored. If you are a creative person, you understand. You get how stimulating it is to create something out of nothing, be it a knitted bootie or a hit tune. Creative people thrive on new ideas, fresh perspective, innovative concepts, inside out ideas. We are constantly vigilant no matter where we are or what we’re doing. I write ideas on my I-phone “notes” page which is in my hand more hours than I want to admit.

     Coming to terms with the label I have put on boredom has evolved over the years. When I retired, boredom stared me in the face as I tried to find creative, meaningful, purpose-driven activities to fill my days. I constantly ask friends and acquaintances what they do all day. When I listen to their lists, I think to myself, “nope, not me.” That doesn’t mean that I label their activities as less important or less productive than mine; it just means that they hold no interest for me. I’m sure most of my friends aren’t into preparing one-woman shows or writing speeches. That’s what makes the world go round. What I have discovered, however, is that the bouts of boredom I experience frequently are really signals I need to heed. They are saying, “Time out. Rest, relax, nap, meditate, stare into space, read a comic strip, pick grass.” They are not shame starters; they are idea igniters. They are time-outs from my thoughts, pauses in my practice, breaks from my brainstorming, whole notes in my song. As the renowned meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “When you pay close attention to boredom, it becomes unbelievable interesting.” There you have it.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

     Do you have friends who want you to succeed? That sounds like a dumb question, doesn’t it. But if you are really honest, you might spot someone on your friends list who is there more often when you are down than when you are up. I’ve had friends like this in the past. When I’m feeling low, they are by my side, comforting, offering whatever I need. When I am on top of the world, they are nowhere to be found. Hmm. Is this friendship? What about me? Do I do that? I sure hope not, but I’m sure I have been absent at times when I should have been there patting a friend on the back or handing her a bouquet of flowers.


     


     A couple of days ago, I performed a concert in front of over 100 people. In the audience, there were a couple of friends who attended for the first time and cheered me on. There were also a couple of friends who were there for the third time. One of the friends handed me a bouquet of flowers at the end of my performance. These are
genuine friends, and they have taught me a valuable lesson. Their presence said, “We believe in you, and we are here to celebrate the success we know you will be.” What a beautiful gift. I will remember their kindness always, and I will pay it forward. Thank you, my friends.