onsdag, oktober 29, 2008

Another Go...

The events of the week of my 50th birthday caused one friend to express, "With you, life is in the details." Another asked, "How are you still alive?" and all of this has lead me to start blogging again. But not here. Over here.

I've lost two years of solid personal material since I started writing for magazines, which means I've let the best stuff slip by. No more.

tisdag, september 16, 2008

You Dress Your Age; I'll Dress Your Handicap

Today I put a clean soup plate away in the microwave instead of the shelf. Lex and I looked at each other. The end is near.

An article out of Orlando, Florida tells us to be more covered up as we age. Don't go short or bare or tight after 35. It's unseemly, tacky, trashy, sad. What was sad were the outfits they demonstrated as our acceptable alternative. We are now limited to an up to the chin, three-quarter sleeve, below the knee skirt, and a clunky shoe.

As if.

"Tried and true" dressing tips for women of "a certain age:" "Find comfy but stylish shoes." Here's a writing tip. Never use the word "comfy" in the same sentence with "stylish." It sounds wrongly connected, like "the goofy IRS auditor." Or "learn to drape a big scarf," like over our heads, I guess Ms. Jean Patterson means. "Use a full length mirror." Actually, everyone who cares about how they look, regardless of age, should have one.

I have a better tip. Take your partner with you shopping. Buy something that he or she likes. If your big chested, get a great bra; if you are big-ended, find a jacket that comes down below your glutes. Don't rely on the salespeople at the store to be honest with you, unless you have an ongoing relationship or they are willing on your first meet to tell you that something doesn't work. And buy anything you want, even if it is trendy or a little bit trashy. The trick is more in how you fold it into the mix.

fredag, september 12, 2008

The College Essay

We are down to five schools, with a pretty typical chance spread, I think. One dream school that Lex says is beyond her reach, one great school to which she will apply non-binding early admission, another that would put her in a great place and great school but not the best for her intended major, and two safety schools that I can afford.

We began working on the essay last night. Her first stab two weeks before was back to, "Now I am going to tell you everything I know about penguins" out of nerves. She hasn't written without saying anything in years. So I suggested my favorite technique, an interrogation about a critical and relevant experience. Suggested is an understatement. Insisted is the better word, and I'm constantly amazed she doesn't stab me in the back with the barbecue fork one night.

But there is a reason I'm such a pain in the ass. Sometimes it works. From "I don't remember any of it, Mom" we got five pages of reconstruction (along with two hundred, "Why do you keep asking me the same question over and over; I don't remember"), and some insight into her perspective that at the end made us sit back in our chairs and stare at each other from across the table. "Who knew?" I said. "I never thought of it that way, before. That's so neat," she said. It was like the college choice version of Law & Order, only no one would watch.

Way cool. From here I'll work backwards and forwards.

tisdag, september 09, 2008

Notes from the Stacks and Racks

I have been working for weeks on a fashion shoot at the new Burchfield Penney Art Center, a building that has gotten so much ill-directed dissing because of it's block concrete, oversized appearance. But the building looks so hot to me - and I'm not wrong about architecture, albeit unstudied, that I have to figure out why it seems so right. The finished product on the fashion piece gave me goosebumps, that's how good it was, and now all I want to do is defend the outside of the building. (The inside is not part of the dispute.) In the meantime, if I've had a spare second to post, it's been over at my magazine's blog, Spreeblog, but I so desperately need a place to put things I need to remember for later articles. I have a two foot stack of back reading material and an entire Sunday Times at my side, and Fashion Week to get to.

And then there is my day job and a bunch of family photo requests.

And I want to fix the house up, to prep it to keep the outside out and the inside in. I mean, me doing insulation and foundation grouting and varmit protection - so much goofball DIY, so much need, and I can't get to it.

And the kids say the most damning, funny stuff every day and I'm not getting it down - killer stuff that completely crucifies me, and I'm not recording it. And I reconnected with my childhood girlfriend thanks to the internet, and I need to get back to her.

I miss my quiet dark nights. I need a system.

Anyway, the rest is just notes for me.

1. "A Face Not Even a Plastic Surgeon Could Love" by Camille Sweeney, NY times 9/4/08, on how plastic surgeons must learn to spot a difficult patient (Scarface the Surgery Junkie, Litigious Louis, the Bad Mouth, The Wannabee, Greta X. Pectations, The Whiner) and turn them away. "Many times the motivating factor of someone wanting a change in their appearance has more to do with an emotional issue than the actual physical issue ... they may want to get a marriage proposal, save a marriage or hold on to a job, and no amount of surgery no matter how well done can guarantee that's going to happen," says Dr. Donn Chatham.

Now that doctors have pushed the lawyers around, are they going after those bad, bad patients? There is enough bad plastics results out there to justify sites like Make Me Heal and Real Self. Plastics is practiced for financial gain by enough doctors who don't have the requisite artistic eye, vascular surgery skills, or bedside manner, to make skilled plastics docs to cringe. Heal thyself, Doc, and control the trade performance, Docs, before blaming poor performance on the Wide World of Whacko Women who keep you in Beemers.

2. "I don't want to listen to what's selling," Miuccia Prada, 2007.

3. "It was the one thing that got me out of bed in the morning," said New York artist Slater Bradley. "I could take pride in walking out the door. It was the clothes that held me up when I had nothing else to."

4. "Whenever the economy gets tough, fashion responds by playing it safe," says Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ. Well, maybe the buyers do. See grunge.

söndag, augusti 24, 2008

Notes from the Stacks and Racks

Eight year old Edit to seventeen year old sister, McAllister, as we drove by Buffalo's museum of modern art: I'm going to get married in the flower garden of the Albright.
McAllister: May I be your bridesmaid?
Edit: Sure!
McAllister: What about Mom?
Edit: I don't think she'll be alive by then.

Joel Stein, Time: "[Obama] is black which is not the old Jews' favorite minority. If [Obama] were an old Asian guy who knew Krav Maga, he'd take Pompano in a landslide."

Saddleback and Rick Warren. Because if you cannot trust the super-egoed evangelical pastor of a megachurch, who can you trust?

"They scream, the sing, they fall down, the take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit....It is only the British people - not the Germans or the French." Greek Island Malia's mayor, Konstantinos Lagoudakis, as quoted in August 24, 2008 NY Times. Well, the cross-dressing was the giveaway. A better way to comment on this quote might have been:

"They scream, the sing, they fall down, the take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit."
"Who are the British on vacation, Alex."

A new pair of boots at Firebrand really bought me. This morning I spotted a pair of Chloe Beattle boots that flashed me right back to them. Sans buckle and cut way above the ankle, they aren't identical by any means. But trendsetting in their own way. It's the kind of boot you buy and spend the next four months telling people where.

torsdag, augusti 07, 2008

Hard Landing, Run for Cover

More confining than an Albanian blood feud.

More confusing than androgen insensitivity.

I hate July. It's as demanding, claustrophobic, and bank-busting as December.

Tomorrow is another college trip. I'm sure my daughter has spent the day bleaching her hair a lighter shade of white and getting a new push up bra for the event.

God, it feels so good to be back home.

lördag, juli 12, 2008

Notes and Poor Moms' Month

The Miss Lacy chair is so typically Stark. Great to look at, but horrendous to actually use as a seating implement.

I look at the stunning Miss Lacy and think, "Ow, ow ... ow, ow, ow."

In deciding whether to read King Lear or a collection of Disney Cliff Notes as a bedtime read, I decided it was time for my daughter to hear my lecture on why Disney is not such positive material on strong maternal figures. We laughed as we played, "Find the Missing Mom" and at some point my daughter looked at me with devilish, confessional eyes and said, "You know, sometimes when we play house, nobody wants to be the mom." No wonder. It's a great, best job, but from the outside it must have the allure of fish cleaning.

I spend so much time looking at materials on home furnishings that my house looks like a paper mill exploded inside. I study home decor but can't seem to live it.

Why do people get married?

Country is coming back, but somehow it is different: :refined and thinned out, as if stone wear is mixed with porcelain, and put all the floral patterns on a diet. I suspect that this is a result of going green. I'm seeing straw and natural fiber mats, which is harder to mix up with stainless steel and laminate.

Is vintage glamour just another name for steampunk, or are we moving past it, heading straight for baroque-tech. Okay, you come up with the new movement's name. Image from Cole & Son.

Boy, confess to one person that Paul Smith is a name unknown, and if he suddenly isn't on every other style sheet, in all shops. Recognizing Smith is mostly in the stripe. He uses vibrant colors in his thin, generally vertical line creations. But mod works as a descriptor too.

Inspired by all the back of the bra showing in the Sex and the City movie, I picked up a Miss Sixty dress that has done all the work for me. The bra is sewn right into the dress and visible. The label is Beebe trashy, only more avant-garde, to the extent trashy can be avant-garde. Anyway, I performed the usual test, and the dress passed in record time. In my closet, worn once, then *poof* gone. My eldest grabbed it. Afterwards the middle child said to her, "Don't take Mom's clothes. She doesn't have much."

Gandia Blasco makes living and sleeping and having sex on the beach look like an actual option. If I could choose a different life for a month, it would be a Gandia Blasco life. I can't capture an image that does the product line justice. Check out the site.

So you always have enough to spend on yourself, keep children's furniture costs to a minimum with conversions. The Oeuf collecection may look a little like School of Jailhouse Rock, but - or for that reason - I like it. Available at Room.

fredag, juni 06, 2008

Mutiny if we don't get to shop. And I did. $300 dollars worth of books, goddamn it. A history book about the islands from a non-white perspective. And a photo book. And a flag. And tee shirts and you name it. We had been denied the opportunity to shop and now I was buying up whatever we could find. Snow globes were a hard one in this part of the worlds. We hit Port Elizabeth.

Taking Notes

Design Art. Art Furniture. Decorative Art. One of kind furniture pieces that try to meld two worlds and always seem to fail at both. "It's not really good looking art, and as a table, there's not much top space ...."

I need to find some that does work. Later. Researc Design Miami/Basel, Studio Job, Robber Baron, Maarten Baas, Studio Makkink & Bey, Peter Saville, Toolsgalerie.

tisdag, juni 03, 2008

Sex and the Family Guy, Season 17

"You're like Carrie," my daughter Lex would say.

"That's nice, honey. Who's Carrie?"

Lex will grow up to be a comedy writer. She wants to be a doctor she says, a plastic surgeon, even, sucking up to me. But I am afraid I can sense that she is born to suffer a different life. It's not based on intuition or some other ether excuse, no. When she was five and six, when she was fearless and full of herself, she would say things that would stop adults on the spot. They would turn and look at her and start to belly laugh. Ten years later she was hooked on Family Guy. I didn't even know what it was, and I would walk in and say, "Hey, that little guy is a creep. Why is his head like that. And are people hearing what he is saying or is he using baby speak and it is translated for us for the humor value? This is annoying. That baby is annoying. Why are you watching this?"

"Shhhhh," she would respond.

Two years later, I get it. I don't want to get it, but I do. It's out there and sideways thinking and free association comedy, I don't hate Stewie. As much.

So she knows comedy. She has a gift. And when she is done with this teenage stuff, when she can write about me without the fear of instant and proximate reprisal, she will be set for life.

None of this was my point.

My point was that she watched two series when she switched to a new school and hated everything and mostly me: Family Guy and Sex and the City. And I let her. We have a rule in the house. Sex? Okay. Violence? No. Violent Sex? No. Animated crudeness and nudeness? Whatever. I can't keep up. In fact, the only thing she would ask for for a holiday gift would be a season box set of one or the other. No music. No clothes. It was all very sad.

But I wasn't following any of these programs, so when she would make remarks like the Carrie one above, it meant nothing to me. Now that I know who Carrie Bradshaw is, I think back and ask, "Why?" No, "How?" I ask, "How can I remind you of Carrie." She has great clothes, a fabulous career, and racehorse pony legs. She'll drop hundreds on a pair of shoes. I have three pair with worn out heels, and if I even think of spending more than $79.99 on a new pair, I start to hyperventilate.

Maybe she thinks I'm Carrie because I sit in front of the computer too much. Or complain.

But anyway, one cold winter weekend, as she rested completely withdrawn and wrapped to the max in my king size duvet, she said, "Come and watch with me. You'll like it." And because I sensed that finally a bigger thaw was appearing on the horizon, I did. That's how I know about Sex and the City series and that I'm nothing like Carrie (but Lex doesn't need to get filled in on that detail).

"C'mon mom," Lex texted, two years later. "We're seeing the movie tonight." Lex already had seen the movie, but was excited at the prospect of seeing it with me. "You're gonna love it. I cried. Oh, and if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. No bad mouthing. No criticism. You will love it."

I've reviewed the movie here. I want to show it to Lex, but maybe it's best to think fondly of our time in the movie theater together, while I ate popcorn and bit my tongue, and she texted her friend.