Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Makeup? No Way!

I came across this blog post the other day about going makeup free for a week and had to take a hard look at myself and my habits.

It's not like I look like a cast member of the "Jersey Shore," but I do wear makeup pretty much, oh all right, every day. I even out my skin tone with a light touch of foundation, use my favorite blush by Tarte, curl my eyelashes, use a couple of swipes of mascara, and apply some lipstick and gloss. If I'm going out at night, it gets a little more elaborate with maybe a smokey eye. It's something I don't even think about, it's just part of my lifestyle like flossing and blow drying my hair. What can I say? I enjoy being a girl.

I understand the idea behind going makeup free - embracing your natural beauty and not conforming to societal preconceived ideas of what a woman should look like... I get it. I have some friends who wear no makeup, and some who wear more than me. I have always thought the ultimate goal of feminism should be to allow each of us to be who we are. And for me that means a moderate amount of makeup, quite often some heels and clothes I feel great in.

I don't believe these things minimize who I am any more than they define me. I am smart, ambitious, funny and caring. I just happen to believe looking good and being taken seriously aren't mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Am My Own Geek Squad


We had some pretty impressive thunderstorms early this morning here on Cape Cod, along with some much needed soaking rains. Because it was so dark I slept in, well for me I slept in - 7:30 isn't exactly the crack of noon.

Tuesday is my Skype day with my daughter in Korea so I got myself into the shower, fed my meowing cats and sat down to sign on and wait to talk with Emma. Only one problem, no Internet connection. I rebooted, I plugged and unplugged my Linksys and modem under my desk, still no connection. At this point I picked up my phone - just as I thought, no dial tone. A curious situation because I'd just been watching Matt Lauer.

After making it through the maze of voicemail at Comcast I finally got Chuck. Chuck I realized thought I had mad tech skills because he was instructing me to do things in my creepy basement with the main modem that I didn't have a clue how to do. And, did I mention my basement seems creepy and I don't like my basement, or any basement?

Since my land line wasn't working and I was on my cell, I immediately lost my lifeline, Chuck, as I descended into the bowels of my home. I was equipped with the requested paperclip and flashlight and could not figure out what the hell he'd told me to do. I sill don't get how in 2010 a paperclip counts as a high-tech tool.

I called my friend Mary Lou who's much more tech-savvy than me. I'm betting a tree stump is more tech savvy than me. She told me what to look for and with the clock ticking on my Skype date I once again went into the cobwebby cellar. I unplugged and replugged, and stuck the end of a paperclip in a tiny hole. And then I ran the hell up the stairs.

I picked up my phone - a dial tone! I had done it! I ran up, signed on to Skype, and proceeded to check my e-mail. At the top of the inbox, an e-mail from Emma. "Sorry, can't Skype today, how about Thursday?"

Well, the morning wasn't a total waste, now I know how to fix a modem with a paperclip. Call me anytime, I am now officially Geek Girl.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Eat Pray Love" - Take From the Menu What You Like and Leave the Rest

All right, I will confess I did not make it through the book version of "Eat Pray Love." I wasn't crazy about Elizabeth Gilbert's voice, and found her a bit cool and unfriendly.

That said, I do believe in the message and overall goal of being true to yourself and seeking happiness.

Yes, the character of Liz Gilbert (and the real life one) was suffering from first world problems. She wasn't being abused, wasn't hungry or in danger, but she felt unsatisfied with her life. I daresay most of us have felt that way at one point or another. Hell, I feel it on a regular basis.

I don't happen to believe that looking for ways to be happier or more complete in your life makes you spoiled, selfish or in any other way defective. I think it makes you alive, clever and aware.

Many reviews have been, well, harsh to say the least, implying it is self-indulgent and who is this woman to complain about her life anyway?

In our rush to judge we seem to believe that unless you're in danger of losing life or limb who are you to complain? I believe we are put here to be happy. Not every minute of course, but to overall have a happy life. And I believe you need to do what you need to do (save destroying others' lives) to make that happen.

Most of us can't or won't take a year to travel, eat, meditate and reflect, but we can, in our own small, personal ways find our own path to happiness.

And what that ends up looking like is completely up to you.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just Because I'm Not 25, Don't Label Me!

There was an article in the New York Times today about the trials of being a "formerly," a new word for a woman who was once hot, but because age has ravaged her so, apparently, can no longer be labeled as such.

I have sat by while my contemporaries have been called MILFs and cougars, well, I haven't always been silent, but I have let it float by. But today when I read about yet another new label, I thought enough already!
There is a tendency in most of us to want to label which I get. But I've reached a saturation point with how single women are regarded, and I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!
Just because you are no longer twenty-something doesn't mean you aren't beautiful or sexy. I actually like to think that older women are more comfortable in their own skin ergo, are sexier and better partners.
I am not the same woman I was at 25, thank God! I have clarity, a perspective and confidence I didn't have back then. My butt may not be what it used to be, and my stomach, having expanded to grow two big-headed boys doesn't lie quite as flat, but I think I'm still pretty damn good.
I am not formerly anything. I am presently happy, confident, attractive and yes, at times, sexy. I never want to look back and think those were the good old days, these are the best days, and I intend to completely enjoy them, stretch marks and all.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Let's Keep Cape Cod Reality TV Free

I live on Cape Cod - hence the name, "Candy on the Cape." After the success of "The Jersey Shore," TV executives decided they wanted to keep this cash cow going and come up with a new twist, this is where the seed of, "Wicked Summah" was planted.

I'm a writer who writes about pop culture and entertainment often. I love movies, watch TV and am not some puritanical New Englander. But, I am against this show. I feel it sinks to the lowest common denominator and encourages debauched, classless behavior.

Cape Cod is where my own 20 and 30 something children grew up. Yes of course during the summer lots of folks come here to party, but we're a lot more than that. How about we celebrate the great and inspiring things going on here - the folks doing things to help others and make this a better place to live?

If like me you want to keep the Cape reality TV free, take a second and sign this petition.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Appeal and Amusement of Small Town Living

"Gilmore Girls" is probably my all-time favorite TV show, and the town of Stars Hollow has always reminded me of where I live.

I live in a very small Cape Cod town. How small is small? Well, we have one traffic light, and it only flashes, it doesn't change. We have a general store that hosts a coffee hour for older gentlemen at the crack of dawn every morning. We have a hardware store, some small markets, (you have to go to another town for a Stop and Shop or Shaw's)a plethora or antique stores, a post office and some banks.

And we have a lot of characters.

Last night I started my evening at a business networking/social event and met some amazing people, like a woman from Champ Homes, an organization that helps homeless people get into secure housing. She was completely inspiring. I had fun talking to some other people, but had planned to sneak out early to go to a local open mic night run by a friend of mine, folk singer, David Roth. I'd planned to go alone, but my friend Diane, an amazing yoga teacher, jumped up and said she'd love to go. So off we went.

As with any open mic night you never know what you're going to get. When we walked in a man was sitting in front of the mic with a guitar and telling the story of a breakup that then led into a very sad song about how once his girlfriend and her Milk Bone eating dog were gone how much he missed her.

After him a group of kids sang a song they'd written with David in a song writing workshop with him about the gift of having a home. Total choking up moment for sure.

Next up was a woman who sang a song she wrote for Chrissie Hynde about how in her mind Chrissie is a lesbian only sleeping with women like Joan Jett. It was actually a pretty catchy tune.

It was jarring however to go from the electric guitar musings of rock and roll lesbianism to an older gentleman and his concertina singing about John Barleycorn. At this point Diane and I began to lose it. Seated in the back of the room we tried to discretely hide our escalating silliness, but it was a challenge. I'd pulled out my ever-present reporters notebook from my bag (I didn't want to forget a moment of this evening) and we began writing notes back and forth like we were in middle school.

"This is a perfect example of the whacked patriarchy that could make a woman lose it for Chrissie Hynde" she wrote about the Barleycorn man.

Or after one particularly not-so-great ditty when she wrote to me, "Can I just say, holy shit?"

The icing on the cake however had to be a semi-pornographic poem one man got up to read about clams. Yes, clams. It was actually pretty clever and by the end I was feeling kind of... hot. And craving melted butter.

As we sat there, trying to be good audience members, a very warm, non-clam related feeling came over me. As I looked around I thought only in a tiny town in New England could you have a evening like this. An evening that registered somewhere between a Dali painting and a sitcom.

In my town we may not have a movie theater, an art museum or even a Starbucks, but hey, we've got folks who write about clams, Chrissie Hynde and even if they can't sing a note are brave enough to get up and give it their all.

I'll be sure to be there the next time, sitting in back and trying to be good, but no matter how amusing some of it is, I love that I live in a place where people can be themselves, no matter how odd that may be.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sometimes a breakdown = a breakthrough

Relationships. Not a huge word, but huge subject.

You could write a book about it. Wait, lots of people have, and we don't seem to any smarter about them, well, I'm sure not.

In theory it doesn't seem like it should be as hard as we make it. Boy meets girl, they have a spark, they like each other, hopefully it grows to more, and everyone lives happily ever after. Ends up, that really is a fairy tale.There's a lot of false starts, broken hearts, misunderstandings and fights along the way.

In this week alone we've watched Kate Winslet split from Sam Mendes and ever more surprisingly, had to watch the public humiliation of Sandra Bullock dealing with the alleged infidelity of her husband, Jesse James. Why is it so hard to love and be loved?

I've spent a lot of time on a lot of couches trying to figure this out. Therapists couches, folks, get your minds out of the gutter. And after reading book after book, every woman's magazine on the planet, interviewing experts and waging my own unsuccessful experiments, I'm no closer to the answer.

I've been reading the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and happened this week to be reading about love. And I came up with a theory of my own.

In the book she describes a week where she is just nice to her husband all the time. She doesn't question him when he wants to go the the gym when she's really looking for some help with the kids, packs his lunch, does errands for him and is just an all around super nice partner. Sounds great, right?

I believe that you treat people how you wish to be treated. So, I'm nice. I try to be thoughtful, caring, considerate and undemanding. I cut people a pretty wide berth. I have worked hard to learn to respond and not react, I take responsibility for myself and try to not blame others for whatever my lot seems to be.

But there's a downside to this I've discovered. By being so nice all the time and seeing the other person's point of view, being patient and understanding, it's easy to forget your own needs. When that little voice pops up in my head telling me I don't like something, I tend to rationalize it away and find a way to on the surface be okay, but underneath it all, not so much.

I've been told I'm sweet, (which I believe is the female equivalent of being a "nice guy" and we all know how well that usually turns out) and I'm thinking maybe being sweet isn't always such a good thing. There's a reason why books like "Why Men Love Bitches" become best sellers.

In the span of less than three years I lost both of my parents, and almost lost my oldest son, twice to drug overdoses. These events profoundly changed me. What used to seem important isn't anymore - if someone is late, hey, I'm glad they are alive and well. Small, irritating things really don't seem important.

But what I've found is that in trying to be so Zen-like about the things that really do bother and hurt me, I kind of lost myself. And here I was thinking, rather ironically, I'd really found myself, and the perfect way to be in a relationship. The thing was though, I still had the same needs I always did - to be appreciated, heard, respected, valued and loved, but I was so busy putting others' needs ahead of my own I kind of forgot to ask for that. Perhaps after having lost so much I've erred on the side of wanting to please, lest I lose more.

So my new theory is that yes, you can be nice, be kind and loving, and do all the things you truly love to do for others, but you have to be just as nice to yourself and ask for what you need too. That's a stretch for us nice girls, we're not always very good at that, but I do truly think that's the answer.

It's not rocket science, but who knows, it's simple enough that it might just work.