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Damsel in Distress

“If you really like men but would like to seem a little softer and less self-sufficient, go on a “helpless campaign.”  Let a man push open every door…have difficulty with your packages. He’ll help carry.” Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl.

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I got a badge for looting!

Self-sufficiency is kind of something that I do.  I was a member of Girl Scout Troop 23 when I was a kid, and we were a rough-and-tumble, no nonsense kind of troop.  Once, we met with another troop who’s idea of camping was throwing down sleeping bags in their troop master’s living room and making s’mores in the microwave.  We all had a good laugh, because for us, outhouses were considered fancy-camping.  We used a “dripilator”–a gallon milk jug filled with water and plugged with a stick–to wash our hands.  Mrs. C had one-pot goulash down to such a science she could do it with her eyes closed over an open campfire.  We were pretty badass little girls.  

But the other day, I had a helpless attack, and luckily, I had a good man around to rush to my rescue.

I spent the weekend in the city with my BFF/writing partner Matthew; we went to Greg Sestero’s book launch for The Disaster Artist and saw Steely Dan play Gaucho at the Beacon.  Both were awesome.  But when it came time for me to catch my train back upstate, he dropped me off at the curb (there was no parking) about two blocks too early.  I hurried along, arms aching from hauling my heavy vintage suitcase, and no one could tell me how the heck I was supposed to get to Penn Station.  I was going to miss my train.

I could have bucked up and figured it out on my own, but something inside me just couldn’t.  I started to cry.  I was tired and sore and frustrated.  I called Matthew sobbing, begging him to come back and get me.

And he did.

I found my way to the ticket line a full ten minutes after my train left and as I stood there, trying not to faint and he appeared like magic.  He’d parked the car in an overpriced lot and come running when I called.  That’s the mark of a friend.  He hugged me until I could breathe a little slower and helped me get a new ticket and sat with me until my heart rate came down.  

The strange thing was, I was floored by his generosity.  These days we have such an independent spirit, even so much as allowing our leaders to deny other people food, shelter and a healthy life because of the “I worked for mine, why should you get yours free?” mentality.  This, “you packed the suitcase, you carry it” is a pretty ugly little space to occupy.  I didn’t expect him to come back and was even prepared to be angry at him for not being at my beck and call.  What an awful way to think of a friend!

It’s no sin to ask for help.  No one likes a wilting flower, but even Tina Fey says that if you are mad enough to cry, turn on the waterworks.  Show your vulnerability, and people will respond.  And in turn, you will help out when you see someone in need.  It’s pretty easy, but it takes practice.  So go out there and give it a try, on both sides.  Help and be helped.  It’s nice when you get used to it.

(But getting a rolling suitcase probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)

 

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Silence is Golden (or at least the cost of my sanity)

“Talking all the time about anything is unsexy.  Sphinxes and Mona Lisas knew what they were doing!” Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl

I ran into a friend the other day–okay, I use the term “friend” loosely, we’re friendly by convenience even though I think she’s a lunatic and she thinks I’m a heretic and possibly a *slut*.  Point is, we were trapped in a small room together, and she started telling me this long story about being at a dinner party and this girl was getting drunk and it was weird and she was getting sooooo drunk and it was soooo weird watching someone get sooooo drunk….you get the point.  And that’s the short version.  The entire five minutes we were together she drove this thrilling story home.  Good to see you too, dear.  (She didn’t ask about my weekend, naturally).

Now for instance, my friend Pete can tell the same story every time I see him and it’s entertaining every time.  He managed to make a story about missing the bus absolutely riveting.  It’s a talent, and one that can be cultivated.  

I’ve started being a little more reserved in how I speak, and in doing so, I’ve begun to notice how often people a) talk about nothing and b) reveal too much.   I don’t plan on zipping my lips anytime soon (I do love to chat!) but try taking notice of when you talk and what you say.  Do you need to tell the cashier about your ear infection?  Does your boss really need to know exactly what you did over the weekend?

Save your gossip for your girlfriends.  Save your best stories for parties.  And when in doubt….zip it.

 

 

Sick-Day Glam

“The idea is to possess a single perfect ensemble for each of the different occasions in your life, rather than wide choice of clothes to suit every mood.” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

During this project, I have learned what works (feeding people) and what doesn’t work (wearing curlers to bed)  But today, I have reached a new level of glam…not with hair dye, not with jewelry…

Sick DayWith a sick day.

Having paired down my wardrobe and not bought on a whim, as HGB suggested, I now mostly own clothes I routinely wear.  It makes picking out an outfit for work, a day off or a dressy occasion that much easier, and it means that everything I have pairs well with lots of other pieces in my wardrobe.

I realized I had achieved this state of fashion zen when I was standing at the bus stop, feeling miserable.  I have a terrible cold coming on; sore throat, stuffy head, aches, fatigue and general unhappiness.  I had thrown together the most comfortable outfit that I could while still being work-appropriate, and was standing at the bus stop, drinking my tea and trying to to outright die.

As I approached my bus, I heard a girl say, “That’s what I want to look like–she’s got a great style, right there.”  She was pointing at me.  Me, in my sick-day cardigan and hat from Lady Heisenburg of Albuquerque, Doc Martens and leggings.  I had an enviable style because I don’t have erroneous clothes lying around.  I don’t keep unflattering garments or clothes that don’t fit and feel right. Just because you feel like garbage doesn’t mean you have to look it.

This weekend, find your sick day outfit.  Leggings and a fitted tee-shirt, a sweater dress, something comfy enough to lie around in but nice enough so that when you have to run to the store for Theraflu, people don’t assume you’re homeless and using it to make meth.  Here’s a hint: Sweatpants are never, ever flattering. Ban them from your closet.

Record of the Month Club

“Don’t have two many records.  If a man gets tired enough, he’ll bring over some new platters” Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl

1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–go cook a radish, HGB.  You can NEVER have too many records.  I have a whole crate full of actual real vinyl, and I love all of it–that’s not even touching on my mountains of CDs and oodles of MP3s.

2) That being said, most of the music I love the most has been at the recommendation of men.  My mom introduced me to Jethro Tull and Blondie, and my sister Shaun got me into The Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but it was my dad who introduced me to Cyndi Lauper, Steely Dan, The Vapors, Talking Heads and, of course, Warren Zevon.  Ian introduced me to Tom Waits, Matthew gave me Duran Duran, JaR and Michael McDonald.  Thor got me into Justin Townes Earle, and in exchange, I got him into the Replacements.  

Why goodness, just the other day I was talking to Mr. W about music, and he recommended Richard Thompson’s “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me.”  We had just been talking about The Magnetic Fields “All My Little Words,” (which I told him made me think of him and which he found very flattering) and he pulled out that recommendation, just out of the blue.  I responded with Tenpole Tudor’s “What You Doing in Bombay” just to remind him that, yes, I am cool.

 

Music is a means of intimacy.  In this age of MP3s, we don’t often make mix CDs anymore (or goodness, tapes!) but the art of doing so, of buying someone a record that was so dear to you, was a way of baring your soul.  You took the risk that they would laugh at your choices, that it would reflect badly or that it just might not land.  It can be a way to say “I love you” when the words won’t.  I distrust people who think of music as just something to dance to or have on in the background.

So let a man bring you some new music.  Have him tell you why he likes it, a memory associated with it.  You might be surprised at what he has to offer.  Or you might be horrified because he’s seen Nickleback in concert 15 times and in that case, aren’t you glad you dumped him sooner?

Dye, Dye My Darling

“They just want to know where they can get that color.  Even the dyes are simple enough to do at home” Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl.

Oh yes, dying your hair is very, very easy.  You combine the components into a mixture that smells like cat pee and rotten fruit, slather it on your hair, watch an episode of 30 Rock and then rinse out.  Microwave popcorn is harder than dying your hair.

It’s very easy.  It just doesn’t work.  Maybe if you’re some delicate fair-haired blonde, sure.  But not for a staunch brunette like me.  The first one all but vanished before I could even get pictures up.  So I tried it again with a brighter red, and, well, that didn’t go so well either.

For starters, Red #2 ran down my forehead into the shape of an upside-down cross. The mark of Satan should have been my first clue that this wasn’t going to turn out well.  

The second clue should have been the Shield-esq crime scene left behind by the red dye.  Seriously, the end result of the season five finale, “Postpartum,” was cleaner than my bathtub during the rinse, and that ended with a dead body.  

And yes, my hair has a pretty red sheen in the right light, like, in my bathroom and nowhere else.  If anything, it made my hair a little darker.  It doesn’t even show up in photographs, which is why I haven’t posted any.  

HGB is always talking about how you can be cheap cheap cheap.  Like a little chick, she is, cheep cheep cheep.  If you want real haircolor results, just pay the $50 and get it done by a professional.  Or buy a wig.  If money is tight, learn to be happy with the color you have.  I’m not a wealthy woman.  I’m very DIY, but there are some things that are better left to people who have lots of training to know what they’re doing.  Hair color, in my case, might just be one of them.  After all, I buy my meat from the grocery store instead of butchering my own farm animals and I buy my sweaters instead of knitting them myself. 

So I tried, and I failed miserably.  I can live with that.  That’s what this blog is about.  And HGB, well, she knows where she can stick all that money she’s saved.

 

 

So As it Turns Out…

I took Arlene Dahl’s hair quiz again, and it turns out, I’m actually a redhead! Impulsive, vibrant, affectionate and proud–yes, that sounds about right!

This isn’t my first redhead rodeo.  In college, I went as Jessica Rabbit for Halloween, and I loved the spray-in dye so much that I went right to a salon and had it done permanently!  Apparently it was a hit, because Catch confessed a few years later that he to stare at a “beautiful redhead” across the dining hall, but never had the guts to approach me (until I was a brunette, that is!).

It’s been awhile since I dyed my hair and I’ve only ever had one bad experience with it, when I dyed it Bettie Page black and looked like a hipster idiot.  It took two weeks of cheap shampooing to strip out the color enough to dye over it, and I never tried THAT again!

But the grays I inherited from my dad have started showing up again, so I bought some “true red” and dyed my hair the other night (while skipping out on the first part of the Burn Notice series finale, since I am very sore at Michael Weston).  It gave me nice highlights, not as red-red as I had hoped, but even in that first night, I felt a little more daring, a little sexier….

Dare me to go redder?  Or maybe even . . . . blonde?

(Pictures didn’t show up well–will post some tomorrow)