Archive for the ‘Vanity’ Category

After a VERY frustrating month and a half of trying to lose any, any at all, of the weight I gained from eating my feelings all autumn (and, simultaneously, a month and a half of reminding myself that weight has nothing to do with my self-worth and that maybe I am just This Size and should embrace it and worrying that I am setting a bad example for Carla by “dieting” and churning with ALL of the Fraughtness that comes with wanting to be a certain size in our society today and facing a truly insurmountable resistance to buying myself new jeans), I have persuaded my husband to try the Keto plan with me. This is literally Day Three, so please understand that I may give it up any second now and never speak of it again. (I mean, no carbs I can sort-of live with… but NO SAUCES? No BEANS? And the limit on Healthful Vegetables – like, I typically have to restrict myself to two cups of LETTUCE!!!!! to stay within my carb allotment – has me in a panic.) (I understand that I am CHOOSING this, by the way.) (I don’t really plan to speak of keto/diet stuff, that often, but it may shift the tenor of my weekly dinner plan posts and/or the tenor of my general complaining, so I am warning you about it now.)

Anyway, meal planning is newly challenging because I am trying to emphasize fat and protein over carbohydrates. Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Dinners for the Week of February 24-March 1 (WHAT. HOW IS IT MARCH ALREADY SLOW DOWN TIME OMG)

Note: There were some absolutely beautiful tuna steaks on sale at Costco this weekend, so I snapped them up. We will not be eating the sautéed red pepper portion of this meal; instead I will be sautéing some green beans. This is because I already have the green beans and I don’t want to waste them, not because of some red-pepper-related bias.

Note: I fully realize that the Internet has been swooning over this recipe for eons. I have read about it with suspicion for many years and NOW is finally the time to try it out.



Note: I haven’t figured out what I will pair with this yet. Maybe some avocado?


  • Leftovers of some sort or possibly eggs


  • OUT

Note: My birthday is this week, so we will be going out to celebrate. I am already feeling grouchy about not being able to eat all the things I want to eat — solely because of completely voluntary and self-imposed restrictions! — but I think we have found a restaurant that serves some nice fish options. And the whole point of doing Keto is to reset my eating habits, so a little limitation on the all-out scarf-fest I would otherwise be doing on my birthday is probably not a bad thing.


What’s on your menu this week?

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I did not think of it quickly enough to add to Friday’s post, but I am IN LOVE with this workout video:

Shape: Best-Ever Hollywood Workout


Shape best ever Hollywood

Photo from amazon.com. Every time I put this in my DVD player – EVERY TIME – I think about Paul Hollywood, of Great British Baking Show fame. I think I might prefer a Paul Hollywood exercise video. Especially if it involved cake.

I really hate going to the gym. Likewise, I hate exercise classes of any type. If I’m going to exercise, I’m going to do it in my own home where no one can hear me huffing and grunting or see how inflexible I am.

It took me… nearly 40 years to figure to this out, but my library has a lot of exercise videos that you can just… CHECK OUT! For FREE! So for the past six months or so, I have been adding two or three of them to my pile of books every time I go to the library. Some of them, as you may imagine, are terrible. Others are so good I plan on buying them.

The Shape: Best-Ever Hollywood Workout is my current favorite. It has lots of benefits:

  1. The “star” or “host” or “exercise guru” or whatever you want to call him is Gunnar Peterson, and he is not annoying at all. Some of the stars of these videos make me want to turn off the video. They can be too peppy or too aggressive. Jillian Michaels, for instance, is constantly reminding you that you have to WORK to see results. Don’t just sit there and eat ice cream while she’s working out. You have to DO THE EXERCISES. You want your abs to look like this backup exerciser right here? Well, you have to WORK to get them. Rock hard abs aren’t FREE. Sigh. It’s true and a good reminder and all that but it annoys the crap out of me. I’m DOING THE VIDEO, all right? Lay off me! Gunnar Peterson doesn’t really do any reminders like that. He basically says, “Do this exercise” and then he does some counting down to the last rep and then he moves on to the next exercise. Once in a while he’ll say, “Great job” or “Don’t let your arms gets sloppy” or something along those lines. That’s it.
  2. It has OPTIONS. There are two 20-minute workouts for the whole body and two 10-minute “targeted” workouts (one for your arms, one for your buns and thighs). I like to have options. It gets boring to do the same thing over and over, and so this allows me to rotate things.
  3. It’s FAST. You can do a whole workout in 20 minutes! Or 10 minutes, if you want to! And even in 20 minutes, I get my heart rate up and my muscles are noticeably sore the next day. I feel like it’s a worthwhile 20 minutes. And if you have 30 minutes, you can do one of the 20-minute workouts and then one of the 10-minute ones.
  4. It doesn’t really require special equipment. You can use hand weights, if you want. But usually one of the two backup exercisers isn’t using weights at all. You can use a yoga mat, if you want. Depends on how hard your floor is. But that’s really it. No exercise bands or balls or whatever else the kids are using these days.
  5. The exercises go by really quickly. If I’m doing a plank, I get to the point where I don’t think I can hold it much longer and it’s over. I’ve tried (vaguely, lazily) to count how many repetitions of each exercise you do, and it’s not many. Maybe 10, tops? It’s doable, is what I’m saying. So if there’s something you hate, you can get through it pretty quickly.
  6. It’s fairly low impact. I have bad knees, so I steer clear of anything high impact. One of the workouts has a small section of jumps, but it’s very fast and hasn’t bothered my knees at all. And you can skip it if you aren’t interested.
  7. There’s an option for “customizing” your workout – i.e., you go to a menu of all four workouts, and you can select which ones you want to do. And then they will play automatically. I feel like this should be #20 on the list, because it’s not really that great. I mean, it prevents you from having to press a couple of buttons on your remote, that’s all. But it’s a nice idea, I guess. I still end up fast forwarding through the cool-down of the first session and the warm-up of the second session. There’s only so much warming-up and cooling-down I can handle.


  1. This is a DVD, from 2010, which is nearly a DECADE ago. So if you don’t have a DVD player or a PlayStation that can play it, you are out of luck.
  2. Somehow, even though it’s a DVD, it’s still $14.98, which seems like a lot for a piece of near-defunct technology. I am still going to buy it, though. But maybe you could get it used, or check it out from your library. Or, for all I know, it exists in the ether in some digital form that you can access for free.

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Well, the world seems about ready to spin off its axis entirely and every time I even so much as glance at the news I start hyperventilating, so let’s talk about MORE FRIVOLOUS STUFF.

At some point last spring, I decided I wanted to Mix It Up a little bit with my hair. For me, a person who avoids change at all costs, this meant asking my hair stylist to add a little red to my normal brown hair dye.

I think I was picturing something like Anna Kendrick’s hair… Dark, but with a reddish tinge…

(Photos, clockwise from Anna, from myhaircolors.net, pinterest.com, and ouchpress.com)

I liked the result okay. But it wasn’t anything like ANY of the above photos. It felt so BROWN. More like… Young Rory Gilmore. Or… Jennifer Garner without highlights. But… Less shiny.

(Photos, left to right, from worldhairextensions.com and allwomenstalk.com)

So I went back to her a few months later and told her that I wanted to change things up AGAIN.

“What was wrong with the last color?” she wanted to know. She was non-accusatory, not hurt in the least; she just wanted to know what the issue was so she could help avoid similar issues.

“It was just too… brown,” was all I could come up with. But she nodded like I’d been extremely explicit and detailed with my criticism and presented me a few alternatives.

She did so by putting together a little board of hair samples. A literal curl of hair in four different colors that I could choose from. The far left was my hair color of last fall. The far right was Really Red. The two center options were somewhere in the middle.

But here’s the kicker. She recommended one of the options. I can’t remember which, all I can remember is that she compared it to Hair of Last Fall and said something like, “This will go much better with your skin tone than what we used to do.”

I trust her and so we went with the option she’d recommended.

You see where this is going, no?

I do not like my current hair color. It’s fine. It’s not bad or anything. It’s closer, I guess, to Anna Kendrick Brownish Red. But it’s lighter than I like my hair to be, and it’s still too brown, and it’s different enough from my natural hair color (mouse brown interlaced with grey) that you can REALLY see the difference now that it’s growing out.

When my husband – who, bless his heart, doesn’t notice these things – not only agreed with my assessment that it was very clear my hair was in need of a color-update, but also said he’d noticed without my pointing it out, I made a hair appointment immediately.

But now I am fretting. I mean, it’s MILD fretting. Nothing on the level of School Stress or What If Writing a Book Is a Huge Waste of Everyone’s Time Worry. But I like to wring every last bit of anxiety out of every possible situation so here we go.

What I really want is to go back to my hair stylist and say, “Let’s go back to how it was last fall.”

Simple enough… Except that she has already expressed a preference for NOW vs. THEN.

It’s like when your friend breaks up with that kind of boring dude she’s been with for five years, and when she finally does it, you can’t help but say, “Oh, I’m so glad you aren’t with him anymore! He really wasn’t bringing out your inner sparkle!” And then a few months later she decides to get back together with him.

Only I’M the one who is getting back together with the dull boyfriend, you know? And my hair stylist is the one who has to reunite us.

I would almost rather find a NEW hair stylist. But it’s so hard to find a good one, and I really do like her, and she does do a good job, and I really like the way she cuts my hair. Plus, my husband goes to her, too. So if I quit, it seems like he would have to quit, too, just for the sake of awkwardness and I’m too tired to worry about any of this.

My husband helpfully discussed this with me (although I doubt he will engage in deeper or additional conversations on the topic) and agreed that a) my former darker hair color worked just fine with my skin tone and b) it was totally reasonable for me to have a different opinion from my hair stylist and c) I could very reasonably ask her to change the color back and all would be well.

But YOU understand my fretting, don’t you?

What if she does it, but clenches her teeth the whole time, so certain is she in the life-altering mistake I am making?

What if she does it, and then it turns out she is RIGHT and my skin tone is Totally Wrong for dark brown and I HATE IT?

What if I can’t think of any other disastrous outcomes?

In any event, I want to go from Reddish Brown to Dark, Glossy, Gorgeous Brown and completely avoid Just Plain Brown at all costs.

Maybe what I do is pretend that I am NOT going back to my old hair color… and ask for a NEW hair color?

Something like one of these?

(Photos, left to right, from pinterest.com, hairboutique.com, hairstyles123.com, and pinterest.com)


I could totally go in and say, “I want my hair to be a bit darker for fall. Let’s change it to Katie Holmes brown please.” And then see what happens.

Perhaps I will even bring her this photo as an example!

Hair dark brown 1

What do you think?

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Hi. I am going to do that thing where I’m going to pick up an old topic midstream as though you possibly remember/care about the original conversation but still expect you to listen politely and make interested mouth noises as I jabber on and you fight the glaze. Ready?

My husband really appreciated knowing that the majority seems to agree with him about food temperature. (Although he did mention that I made it sound like he was happy eating room temperature food. He clarified that he just doesn’t like it BOILING, but that he still likes it hot. I maintain that No Longer Boiling means it IS room temperature. But we’ll just have to agree to disagree.)

Anyway, today I’d like to talk about something much more frivolous important.

My hair.

Remember ages ago when I asked you for advice on how to execute the perfect updo?

Well. I LOVED your advice. You were super helpful. Thank you.

The number one suggestion was to have someone do my hair for me, which was genius. But unfortunately not realistic, considering that a) we were in a tiny town in the Catskills or Poconos or one of those other “mountain” resorty type areas on the East Coast and I didn’t know any salons and I also didn’t have a lot of time to GO to a salon, considering I spent my morning trekking through rain with a passel of dear college friends to find the Cider House Rules house (which turned out to be closed) and then playing Trivial Pursuit with them which rightfully trumps hair styling needs and b) I am cheap and didn’t really WANT to spend money on a hair stylist for someone else’s wedding.

The number two suggestion was to get some practice. I had tried the sock bun in the past to no avail, and so I set my shoulders and set out to master that mo fo.

Alas. My hair is sock bun resistant.

But I did not stop in my quest for the perfect updo! I took some MORE advice and looked on YouTube. Internet, I was DETERMINED.  Many readers suggested specific hair products I could try, so I bought many hair products. I bought hairspray, for the first time since I swore it off in high school. I bought a “teasing brush.” I bought some bobby pins.

Internet. I am officially Hair Challenged. I watched YouTube videos, I looked at step-by-step photographic instructions, I stopped wrapping my wet hair in a towel post-shower (which – how do you DO that? [And when I say “do” I mean “stop doing” and when I say “that” I mean “towel turbaning your hair.”] I end up dripping all over the bathroom and then imagining that I’ll slip in the water and crack my head on the tile and die and at my funeral people will say, “Why didn’t she just wrap her hair in a towel? Another senseless death caused by vanity.” And cluck their tongues in judgmental pity at how preventable it all was. It’s most unpleasant.).  Nothing worked in practice, but I am an optimist. So I loaded up all of my new hair products and took them ALL with me to the wedding.

We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast with a bunch of our college friends. Somehow, my husband and I ended up with the disability room, which had convenient hand rails in the bathroom (although it ALSO had your typical deep tub, which required the shower-er to step up and over the side of said tub to access the shower. Which seems… not particularly doable, from the standpoint of a person who may be wheelchair bound.) and a sink that was low and deep, so that a person in a wheelchair could wheel right up under the sink and still be able to reach the faucets.  What I’m saying is, the mirror was about three feet away when you stood at the sink, which is kind of far when you’re aiming for detail work.

But after about 30 minutes of wrestling with my hair, and some inspiring teamwork between the teasing brush and the hairspray, and some very confusing attempts to do whatever one does with a bobby pin, I came out victorious: I had a lovely smooth ponytail.

Oh – and I also went for the Side Bang look, so that I could have some lovely tendrils framing my face.

You know where this is going, right?

In every picture I have of that day, all the curly frizzies I tried so valiantly to avoid are standing at attention and my Side Bang and Accompanying Tendrils look limp and wilted, as though they’d seen the tight ponytail coming, tried to make a break for it, and collapsed, exhausted by their efforts.

It’s not a pretty look, is what I’m saying.

So then Shalini of Reading and Chickens fame (and Office Crush fame – READ IT) posted a hilarious chronicle of her hair over the years.  And I got to thinking about my own personal Hair History. And maybe my repeated hair failures aren’t because of me, but my hair.

Maybe my hair is just destined for mediocrity.

I can’t share with you any photos, because, you know, anonymous blog. (“Anonymous” – aka, Hi mom! Hi colleagues of my husband! Hi dear friend from college! Hi blog people to whom I have revealed my true identity!)

But I CAN share some poorly-rendered Paint “artwork” and some shame.

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

For much of my young childhood, I sported a mullet.

There, I said it.

(See? I promised shame and THERE IT IS.)

I have hair that desperately wants to be curly, but gets a little bored with TRYING to be curly – it’s quite an effort as I understand it – so it kind of gives up somewhere on the road to curly and ends up being wavy/frizzy. Frizzavy, really. So that some parts of it are stick straight while other parts have noticeable waves.

So I would have this very round Bowl of Bangs that would sit on top of my head like a close-fitting hair helmet… and then I’d have some long straggles of frizzavy hair at the back.

Like so:

Internet, in the interest of full disclosure, this drawing looks INFINITELY better than the real thing did.

But I didn’t KNOW, you know? I look at photos of myself from back then – first grade, second grade, all the grades – and this cheery little innocent face complete with freckles and crooked teeth grins out at me, clearly feeling happy and adorable, because she doesn’t KNOW there’s a frizzavy hair helmet with a straggly hair train happening just inches above her clueless smile.

I was in tumbling as a kid and we always had to wear these hideous aerodynamic spandex ensembles. One of them was a bright, fire-engine red bodysuit with inexplicable white fringe on the ankles. I had to put my hair back during the tumbling, lest I cartwheel into a shower of straggly locks, get tangled up, and break an arm. We always took professional photos of our tumbling ensembles, and in the photo of this particular season, I look like a skinny, shiny red boy. That’s how assertive the Hair Helmet was. It looked like its own independent hair style.

My husband, on looking at the photo: “Wow, I didn’t know you ever had your hair that short.”

Me: “I didn’t…”

Let’s amp up the Shame Factor a little bit by moving on to Fourth Grade.

It starts, actually, in THIRD grade when my former nanny (shut up) got married and asked me to be a flower girl.

It was pretty much the highlight of my young life, to get to wear a pretty flowered dress and walk down the aisle behind my white-clad former nanny.

And even better? My former nanny’s mother surprised me by giving me a home perm!


This was the late eighties, after all, and perms were ALL the rage for some god forsaken reason.  I mean, really. Doesn’t an all-powerful deity have to say, “Aight, I’m out. Peace bishes.” and then go on a decades-long rager for something like that to happen? PERMS WERE NOT COOL.

But… they were.

So I was delighted to be getting a perm. My best friend at the time had a perm, and she looked amazing, so clearly I needed to jump right on that bandwagon.

I’m sure I felt beautiful during the wedding. I can’t really remember – memory doesn’t work that way for me. It only works in snippets and flashes. So I remember the fabric of the dress. I remember the excitement of getting the perm.

And, of course, I remember walking into my third grade classroom the following Monday, feeling like Hot Stuff and I remember walking right into Chubby C. who LAUGHED AT ME, right in my face, and wouldn’t/couldn’t STOP laughing and pointing at the Horrendous Home Perm, and I remember feeling the happy pretty feeling drain out of me as the hot, hot shame and humiliation poured in on top of it.

I vaguely remember crying to my parents about how I could never ever ever go back to school EVER and I have even vaguer memories of them being calm and understanding but pep-talky about how you just had to deal with things and really, much of the rest of third grade is a blur, but I do think I got over it.

But! I still had that perm. And in Fourth Grade, I begged my mother to let me get a REAL perm, at the salon. I had this undeniable inner certainty that a head full of tight, professionally-crafted ringlet curls would be all I needed to erase the events of the Horrible Wedding Perm.

Fourth Grade, incidentally, was the year when full-on awkwardness set in.  It turns out that I needed glasses, and oh yeah, I needed braces too. Whoopee!

For some reason, to compound the awkwardness, I chose to wear teal octangular glasses. And, in some sort of crazy scam from the orthodontist (no really, kids, tooth armor is COOL!), I decided my mouth full of metal would look BETTER if I wore brightly-colored rubber bands around my braces.

But I didn’t let the glasses and braces deter me! I got that ringlet perm, Internet. I sat in the J C Penney salon at the mall and let a kindly woman douse my head in rotten eggs and then I sat under a hair dryer for about forty hours and leafed through books of models with asymmetrical hairstyles and dead eyes while my mom went shopping. And then I walked out of that J C Penney feeling very grown up, what with my glasses and my head full of bouncy curls.

To keep the frizzavy at bay, even with the perm, I had to shellac my head with copious amount of hair gel. White Rain hair gel, if I’m not mistaken.

I still remember the outfit I wore for that year’s class photo: a teal turtleneck with a matching teal skirt that sported some black polka dots. I have no doubt that I also wore black (or matching teal, for that matter) stirrup pants under the skirt, and probably topped the whole thing off with Keds. Stylish through and through, that’s me!

It wasn’t my finest hair moment, but at least no one laughed at me. Well, not to my face. (Chubby C., by the way, grew up to be a very kind person. I actually thought he was a nice guy. But I will never forget that he laughed in my face in third grade.)

Middle school ushered in a whole new era of hair styling. (It also ushered in an era of contact lenses, which changed my life. Goodbye, teal octagonal glasses! Smell ya later!) (Seriously. We said things like that. Without irony.)

I remember clearly what I did EVERY MORNING before school: I would wash my hair (I’m pretty sure I used Thermasilk almost exclusively in middle school. Thermasilk and Exclamation perfume.), then painstakingly part my hair to the left, then blowdry the front (Why only the front, sixth grade me? Did you not know that the back of your hair would dry into a smushed bedhead bedraggle?), then pinch an inch-wide portion of the left side of my hair and curl it into a single long curl-tube, and then spray half a hair spray can’s worth of hair spray onto the portion closest to my forehead so that the crest of the arch stood up about two inches above my head, allowing the curl tube to “cascade” down the side of my face.

Let me reiterate: I did this EVERY MORNING. For all of middle school. (Although at one point, I stopped the curling in favor of a plain old hair arch.)

Those were also the years of Wrangler jeans and No Fear t-shirts and boy craziness, Internet. We’d have a school dance – with Bryan Adams and Meatloaf blaring from the cafeteria loud speakers – and I would tuck a crisp black No Fear t-shirt in to my stone-washed jeans and apply liberal amounts of Tribe perfume and I was SHOCKED that the boys weren’t lining up! (It’s because the cool girls wore babydoll dresses and yellow Doc Marten boots, and I wasn’t cool enough [or brave enough – I did HAVE the one babydoll dress, in a blue plaid, and some faux Doc Marten boots, but I couldn’t bring myself to WEAR them to school] to wear the cool clothes and get the cool boys.)

Okay, I am veering away into a whole other Topic of Awful: Tweenage Clothing/Perfume/Music of the Late 80s and Early 90s.

High school began a trend that continues to this day: straight hair, blow-dried, in the most boring style possible.

I had decently long hair in middle school. And to begin my high school career, I decided the best move was to cut it all off.  I chopped my hair to my chin for the first and last time.

Because my hair is my hair and because my styling skills are so non-existent, my cute, stylish, chin-length cut quickly became a puffy hair triangle. And I could do nothing but wait for it grow out.

And wear colored contact lenses. (My parents were so kind and so indulgent of my weird whims!)

In college, I started coloring my hair. This was partly because everyone else in the universe seemed to be getting highlights, and partly because I was ALREADY going grey.

It started gently, with a few highlights in my plain brown hair.

But then one day, I was sitting under the hair dryer in a salon and the hair stylist came over to peek under the foil and said, clear as day, “Uh oh.”

Turns out, she’d taken my hair to a whole new level of highlight.

That was when I became an accidental blonde.

Listen, blondes are awesome, and I have always admired those with lovely golden locks. But it is not a color that suits ME.

And yet… I was blonde for many years. I was blonde when I met my husband, in fact, and only went back to being a brunette the summer before we got married.

Okay, that’s a lie. Between being blonde and being brunette, I went back to my natural hair color out of poorness. A graduate student does not really have the resources to pay for highlights. So I let my blonde hair grow out, back into the dull brown of its destiny, and only resumed the highlighting once I had a job.

THEN I took a bold leap (for me) and decided to go Way Dark. You know, a darker, chocolatey-er brown than my normal You’d Find This Color on a Mouse, and Not One of Those Fancy Science Experiment or Pet Store Mice, No, a Boring Brown House Mouse brown.

And I have remained that way ever since. Dark hair. Subtle layers. Subtle side bang.

It’s not the most gorgeous hair, I’ll admit it. Some days I have fantasies of cutting it all off or getting Zooey Deschanel bangs or becoming a redhead.

But those fantasies are short-lived, because when I think about actually following through, well, I get visions of Ol’ Triangle Head and the sound of Chubby C.’s laugh reverberates through my brain and I end up sticking with my plain brown hair.


Okay, Internet. I have gone WAY too long about my hair. Please share some Historical Hair Shame with me. You know, if you have any.

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Yes, I took a long and unexpected blog break for no actual reason – I just didn’t blog. And then it got so there was PRESSURE to blog and to say something awesome and also I was tired and watched American Idol during my blogging time and plus I didn’t want to post AGAIN about silverfish even though they are STILL IN MY LIFE GAH so let’s talk about something very critically important.

Obviously, I’m talking about ponytails.

Some Very Important Background Info: My hair doesn’t do so great in a ponytail situation.

I probably wear a ponytail, oh, 99.27% of the time. But it doesn’t look GOOD, is what I’m saying.

Firstly, I have a high forehead and no bangs. Well, I have some layery things around the sides of my face, but those don’t count. Especially when I’m more than two weeks out from a haircut, which is approximately 44 weeks of the year.

This is one of those times when being anonymous kind of works against me. I wish I could just SHOW YOU what my hair looks like in a ponytail.

But don’t worry – I have created Paint Drawings, which are the next best thing I’m sure you’ll agree.

So here, in image 1, you can see the way I look with my hair pulled back.

This is a highly accurate rendering.

Actually, it’s not THAT accurate. I’m not trying to mislead you here, Internet. I’m just not so good with the Paint portrait-making.

You know how Tyra Banks claims she has a “fivehead” instead of a forehead (har har har)?

Well, I have that. Only to the next level.

Okay, that’s slightly more accurate.

But my primary ponytail problem is not the enormous expanse of eyebrow horizon.

The problem is with the hair itself.

The thing is, my hair will NOT stay smooth.

Like so.

Seriously. It REFUSES to stay smooth. I have tried all manner of products.

And really, it is TERRIBLE.

If you were a very generous person perhaps with severe cataracts, you might say the curly frizz that rings my head resembles a halo.

I would say it looks more like a nest of raffia created by birds who are high on painkillers and also have cataracts.

But believe it or not, I suffer from additional Ponytail Problems.

For instance, a normal person might have a perfectly smooth, shiny ponytail.

Not me.

I ALWAYS end up with lumps.

(The girls I went to middle school with called them “dinosaurs” for some perplexing reason. But I never asked about it because my go-to hair style is down and – on special occasions – brushed so I couldn’t really make USE of that knowledge. Plus, let’s be honest, I was afraid of facing that patented You Are an Idiot and Majorly Uncool middle school girl stare.)

PLUS I have some rebellious teenagery type hairs that REFUSE to stay in a ponytail, and then languish on my neck with great defiance. (Can you languish defiantly? Well, my hair can.)

So I wind up looking like this:

And that’s withOUT the frizzy curlies, Internet. My half-assed Paint self looks despondent enough already.

(By the way, I don’t think my Real Life Self looks quite so much like Bert of Bert-and-Ernie fame. Just wanted you to know, in case we meet and you are shocked by how different I look in person.)

So now you know what I’m dealing with.

But… so what?

I will tell you what so, Internet.

I am going to a wedding in a few weeks. The dress I am wearing has a halter neckline and the halter part is ruffly and it REQUIRES an updo. (I know it sounds a little weird, but it is a KILLER dress.)

The ponytail – be-curlified and bumpimous as it is – is the only updo I am capable of doing myself.

Rather, I should say “capable” of doing myself, as it should be crystal clear that I am not particularly blessed in the ponytail skills department.

Anyway, this is where you come in.

You MUST have some help to offer, mustn’t you, Internet? Some easy-to-follow steps for creating a smooth and bump-free ponytail? The perfect product for slicking down those errant frizz-curls?


Apropos of nothing, as I write this, no fewer than THREE rabbits are chasing each other willy nilly all over my back yard. They are seriously fast, too, which I guess I should have anticipated from that old “tortoise and the hare” fable.

I’m glad (read: not glad) that my back yard seems to be some sort of rabbit safe haven, but seeing a brown blur with a fuzzy white tail rocket past my window every two minutes is very distracting.

I sincerely hope that this isn’t a prelude to MORE RABBITS.

There you go, Internet. Ponytail challenged AND delusional.

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Hello Internet!

Thank you SO MUCH for jumping in and helping me before the baby shower. I took ALL of your baby shower advice and the shower was smooth and (dare I say?) even fun. I credit the fun to you, for giving me the confidence that I was Doing It Right. Well, and a little credit should go to a) my book club, who all showed up, so I didn’t have to stand in a corner and b) to the mom-to-be’s sister, who planned the shower and made sure it was speedy and painless.

As I am sure you are dying to know, the book I ordered for the shower (to take, as instructed, in lieu of a card) was The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown of Goodnight Moon fame. I have such fond memories of this book from when I was a kid. It’s about a bunny who tells his mother that he wants to run away from home and become various things (a tree, a cloud, a fish – I can’t remember exactly, but things that aren’t really realistic for a bunny.) (A bunny who can talk and has an imagination. So, huh, I guess realism isn’t really a goal here.). The mother assures him throughout that no matter where he goes or what he does, she’ll be there to watch over and care for him. It’s a little stalkerish – but very sweet. The illustrations are fun, too, at least when you’re a kid and not quite as adept at spotting the bunny dressed in fish garb.

Anyway, I wrote a nice inscription in the book… Well, I thought it was nice. It was about how I hoped the mom-to-be and her little bunny enjoyed reading the book as much as my mom and I did when I was a kid. That sounds really corny, typing it out here, but what can I say? I AM A CORNY PERSON.

Side note: I ordered the book from Barnes & Noble – along with The Gift of Fear – over a week ago. We have a Barnes & Noble membership, which means we get free two-day shipping. And yet, I have NOT received my books yet. Worse, when I canceled my order of The Runaway Bunny – since I needed it for a specific date – I got an email saying I couldn’t cancel the book because it was too late. And yet, NO BOOK. STILL. What the eff, Barnes & Noble?

I did reserve a copy of the book at my local Barnes & Noble (listen, I support local booksellers as much as anyone, but there aren’t any within an easy driving distance, and B&N is on my way to the grocery store so LAY OFF) (hmmm… guilt, much?) and picked it up there. I decided at the last minute to get the board book rather than the paperback. I know you care very deeply about all these details.

Per your overwhelming opinion, I did NOT get another present. I DID print out a photo of the present and put it in a card and attached it with (Christmas) ribbon to the book.  This worked out well, because the minute I walked in the door, the mom-to-be hugged me and thanked me for the present I’d sent, which she’d already received. (Confidential to Barnes & Noble: You have a lot to learn from Restoration Hardware Babies when it comes to ACCURATE and QUICK shipping.)

The mom-to-be, by the way, is one of those tall slim women whose shape doesn’t change at ALL when she’s pregnant. It simply looks like she has a basketball (or whatever ball is the size of a pregnant belly – I certainly don’t know; I’m not a ball size expert) (hmmm… that sounded unexpectedly dirty) beneath her non-maternity shirt.

The shower was really nice. We only had to play one game – which was Guess the Wrapped Up Baby Items – while the mom-to-be speedily opened gifts. (I scored 7 out of 10, Internet, and I only cheated on one question.) (Seriously though: who knew that babies need both HAIRBRUSHES and NAIL FILES?)

Oh! I wore the grey dress with belt and boots, and it seemed to fit right in with what others were wearing. There was wine – I had a glass with lunch – and cider and coffee and lots of food.

We did have to write on little cards a piece of advice for the mom-to-be, which was a little nerve-wracking. I have no advice. So what I ended up writing was that she was going to be a great mother, no matter what.  I think it came out sounding both a little depressing – like, you are going to feel like motherhood sucks – and a little aggressive – “you better remember you’ll be a good mom OR ELSE” – but what do you expect? I know nothing about babies/motherhood/advice.

Turns out in the end that everyone else made the cards out to both parents. Which sort of makes sense, if you think about it. But I have only met the father once, and only briefly, so he really didn’t enter my mind.

Internet, I miss you, and I wish I could devote more time to posting and reading YOUR blog. But work is busy busy busy and I have a work-related Christmas party this Friday, so I’m preoccupied with working and trying to make the agonizing decision to either wear an old dress or buy a new one. Of course, I’m leaning toward buying a new one since new dresses are fun. But old dresses are cheaper and take less time.

I will also admit – with deep shame and embarrassment – that I have yet to buy a SINGLE Christmas present. So I need to get on that.

In the meantime, I wish you a lovely Wednesday and I hope you’ll say hello and tell me whether you would wear a) the same dress you wore to this very Christmas party last year, hoping that no one will  notice or b) a dress that may or may not give you armpit fat.

If you choose b, please tell me the best way to disguise armpit fat. “Arriving at the party sufficiently late that all the other party goers will be to drunk to notice” is unfortunately not an option.

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1. Let’s say that you enjoy walking outside. And that your apartment complex has a lovely ovular walking path that is conveniently one mile long. Let’s also say that seemingly every time you go for a walk, a specific spandex-clad girl is also walking. But she is walking in the opposite direction. So you pass her twice per mile.

What do you do every time you see her? Smile? Say hello? Pretend she is invisible? Start walking in the opposite direction?


2. If your apartment complex offers some really great amenities… Like a gym with TVs in all the cardio machines… And free WiFi… And a pool…

Do you complain if one (or multiple) of those things stops working? Is that being greedy? Or do you figure that part of your rent is paying for those things, so it’d be best if they were in working order?


3. If you enjoy working out in the gym of your afore-mentioned amenity-packed apartment complex… And the gym windows are always open in the summer… And there is no way to CLOSE those windows… And the apartment complex staff members enjoy smoking outside those windows, in such a fashion that the smoke wafts into the gym and into your rapidly-filling lungs… Seemingly no matter WHAT TIME you make it to the gym…

What would you do?


4a. Let’s say your husband were about to (hopefully) match into a fellowship program that would determine where you would live for three years… Let’s also say that the earliest he can find out where (if) he matched is noon, via the Internet… And that you will be at home, working, at noon while he will be in the hospital, also working, at noon…

Would you require want him to wait to check his match status online until such time as he could call you simultaneously?


4b. What if you were going to be out of town, with work colleagues whom you do not want to cry in front of (should he match at your bottom choice or not match at all), and didn’t get done with work until 6:00?

Would you require want him to wait to check his match status online until such time as you are able to get away from your coworkers and call him on the phone?


5. Is there such a thing as too many pairs of nude shoes? (And by “nude” I mean “neutral-colored,” not “shoes that you where whilst naked.”)


6. Let’s say you got wind of a great sale at Ann Taylor Loft and saw a shirt that you liked. That was only $15. Which you feel is a Real Deal even though you likely don’t actually know what a Real Deal is. How many of the same shirt – in different colors, of course – is it reasonable for one person to own?


7. If you bought a cute mesh-style hooded sweater from AnnTaylor during the afore-mentioned sale, even though it wasn’t on sale, just to make sure you were able to get free shipping…  And you could recall seeing folks of the Carrie Bradshaw and Kim Kardashian variety in similar shirts, wearing only a (clearly-visible) dark bra under the mesh…

What would you wear under the mesh sweater?


8. If your gym did NOT have a specific no-cellphone policy, would you nonetheless be annoyed by people who not only talk on their cellphones whilst treadmilling but do it at a volume loud enough to pierce through the sounds of your own labored breathing and Judge Judy in your headphones?


9. Let’s say that you open the freezer to get some ice. And you spot the box of Skinny Cow cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches sitting right next to the ice tray. And you forego any other sweet treats so that you can both eat a Skinny Cow cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwich AND still stay within that days’ self-imposed caloric boundaries. And you think about the creamy ice cream sandwiched gently between two chocolatey cookies ALL DAY. And then you go to retrieve your sandwich from the box and find that the box is empty…

What would be the appropriate response to the spouse who left the empty box in the freezer?


10. Let’s say you got invited to a wedding. In Dallas! In September! Let’s say the wedding is an early afternoon wedding on a Sunday… and that the reception is a “brunch” that goes until 5:30.

What would you wear? (Links welcome.)


All right, Internet. I would like any and all answers you have to these questions. And if you have any hypotheticals that need answering, have at it in the comments.

Work your magic!

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