I Blame the Lilacs

It’s not my fault I did no housework this week- it’s the lilacs’.

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Yeah, OK, it’s MY fault I bought the house with the giant lilac bush that smells like heaven and it’s MY fault I placed my desk under the window that looks out over the giant lilac bush and MY fault that I opened the window. But it’s the lilacs’ fault that they magically opened in the warm spring sunshine causing me. . .

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to forget about writing and doing the laundry and cooking and shopping and instead. . .

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run outside and smell them.

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And because I was already outside, I got further distracted and took about fifty pictures of the planet sized flowering quince covered in bumblebees and hummingbirds. This caused me to be late picking up one of my sons from school.

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Afterwards, I walked around the yard like I’d just had lilac-infused alcohol. I was a lilac zombie with a camera and took this picture. . .

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and this one.

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And I went on a bike ride and all I saw was purple

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I’ve been outside all week. The wind is blowing the writing off my desk. The laundry is touching the ceiling.

It’s a relief that I have to shut the window. . .the forecast is calling for rain.

 

 

 

 

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Pretend Paris

Paris Welcomes You! 

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and just after we were married I proposed a trip to Europe. Greg proposed that we begin having children. We were twenty-four years old. I was ready for a traveling adventure. Greg was ready for adventure of another kind. “I don’t want to be an old dad.” (Remember, I said we were TWENTY-FOUR.) He also said, “Europe will still be there when the kids are grown.” It was hard to argue.  Today, our three sons are 22, 17, & 17. One has moved out and the other two will graduate high school next year. And lo and behold, Europe is still there. But with an old farmhouse wanting our attention, twins with college plans, and all three needing our resources, Europe will have to wait.

Friday afternoon Greg and I drove across the Connecticut border and the road sign that I pretended said, Paris Welcomes You!  actually read, Massachusetts Welcomes You! 

Greg surprised me for my birthday with an overnight stay in Boston- a city that could never be confused with Paris- or could it?

It rains in Boston, just like I’ve heard it does in Paris.

Boston has shrubbery shaped like gumdrops, just like Paris.

And Boston has bakeries.

You can sit at the window inside Tatte and watch people wrangling umbrellas while you sip a cup of Earl Grey. The owner designed her cafe to make if feel as if you were being hugged. I can think of nothing better than to be hugged by a cinnamon bun.

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How much for the entire platter, s’il vous plait?

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So, Paris has Jardin du Luxembourg. Boston has the Common.

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Does it get foggy in Paris?

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I know for damn sure that Paris doesn’t have our friend Sean, head chef of the Revere Hotel’s restaurant the Rebel’s Guild, who brought us plate after plate of deliciousness. (My present to you: order the Skillet Cornbread with Maple Butter.) My cocktail was the Midnight Ride. Thank you very much.

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They had kings in Paris, but we had a king-sized bed in Boston. Also, champagne.

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French women are skinny, but our Boston hotel had a skinny mirror. I’m really going to miss it.

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Saturday morning was beautiful, not a raindrop in sight. Perfect for walking. . .and walking. . .and walking. We walked all the way to the MFA.

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The Louvre doesn’t have Mark Rothko. (Or this dude with his Tatte bag, who kind of looks like he needs a hug.)

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Before Greg and I left the MFA, I headed to the bookshop and performed one of my new magic rituals. With my manuscript, Blueprint for Daylight, currently being pitched to publishers by my agent, I find the non-fiction section and create a space where it will-one-day-if-I-pray-to-the-publishing-gods be found. Weird? I am certainly weird. But if it works, you saw it here first, all you aspiring writers. Then I take a picture and sit with my phone for way too long drawing a book spine with my finger and typing the title.

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The only beer I like is a Corona Light on a 100 degree day after working all afternoon in the garden. But after walking seven miles we needed a pick-me up. And Greg says Corona isn’t beer. Whatever, Guinness Man.

This Blood Orange Wheat radler was SO GOOD.

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Do French women take pictures of their feet when the nail polish on their toes is chipped? Probably not. But after our trip to Boston, where I walked in the rain, drank champagne, enjoyed pastries, art, and came home with books-it felt like the best birthday getaway, no plane ticket necessary.

Europe will still be there after we save enough to finish remodeling our farmhouse and the twins graduate college. . . but until then, I’ve got Boston.

New Year’s Eve: New Year, Still Me

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” -Anthony G. Oettinger, Linguist

In less than nine hours it will be 2018. In the spirit of Type A procrastinators everywhere (yes, it’s a thing), I wonder:

Do I have enough time to achieve all my 2017 resolutions?

In my head spins the refrain to the John Lennon Christmas classic, Happy Xmas (War is Over), reminding me that I haven’t done most of what I thought I would: and what have you doneanother year over . . . My palms are sweaty, my right eyelid twitches. It’s been a busy year. I’ve done a lot. But those resolutions I write every year as the ball is about to drop, balancing a re-filled glass of wine between my fingers, are calling me from the deep part of my subconscious where they went before Happy New Year! was shouted with streamers.

Time to take stock. Written on hastily ripped graph paper in orange crayon at 11:55 PM December 31, 2016:

2017 Definitely Will Happen Resolutions

1. Weigh 125 lbs.

Unless I have a limb removed,* this is impossible.

Solution: Might as well enjoy that Lindt gold-wrapped chocolate ball staring at me on my desk.

2. Have book published. 

Despite best efforts, this is not something in my control. My much edited and rewritten memoir manuscript is presently in the actual hands of a literary agent and in the metaphorical hands of the Memoir Goddess who I christen: Mary Karr. (Can you think of a better name? Mary Karr has penned three brilliant chronological memoirs which are evidence that it can be done. Well.)

Solution: Accept that I have given this my best effort and will either have a book deal in 2018, or need to find an agent willing to take a chance on my work. Buy new notebook and begin writing second memoir.

3. Organize papers, including the mountain in the closet, sitting on top of the filing cabinet. 

I am a paper-person. I write long-hand. I still write checks. I write letters, insert them into envelopes, and affix stamps. I use a spiral-bound calendar made out of paper. I do not trust digital calendars, I trust trees. I live in a papery world and I like it. But is saving every utility bill and mortgage statement necessary when that part of life is online, and, we can safely assume, not a fad?

Solution: Plug in the shredder, feed it every paid invoice, and burn the ribboned heap in the fireplace in a symbolic gesture to simplicity. (Make sure not to shred entire family’s Social Security cards, which I know are in that pile. Also, make sure the flue is open.)

4. Catch up on reading. Stop reading multiple books at once.

My mother has a fantastic list of every book she’s read since the 1980s but more importantly, she finishes every book she begins. I aspire to this sort of organization. I have a leaning tower of books in several areas of my house: the nightstand (obviously), the kitchen counter, the living room book table (I don’t drink coffee), and sometimes piles appear on the staircase and the washing machine. I seem unable, however, to stay engaged with some books. Mid-read I will often reach for a book of poetry or a literary journal. This happens most with books people give me.

Solution: Forget it. I can never catch up or say no to a book someone gives me. And my life’s goal of being surrounded by books twenty-four hours a day cannot possibly happen in one year. I need another fifty. Also, I have absolutely no idea how many books I have read. Possibly one thousand. Which means there are at least one thousand books in my house I have not read. YAY!

5. Blog more frequently. Once a month, MINIMUM.

Solution: There’s always next year.

* Not a large limb, mind you- maybe my left arm to the elbow, or my right leg, up to the kneecap.

Fear & Type A in Bucolia

Horse

That’s me. The me in my fantasy horseback riding lesson: like fearlessness and a hat with a feather would levitate me and a one ton animal off into space.

The happiness I courted was specific: to conquer a fear I’d been carrying around my entire life. But I didn’t just want to conquer it, I wanted to excel.

When I was a teenager, I attempted to conquer my fear of horses by riding.  Instead, I got as far as sitting on a horse for thirty seconds. He never even moved. That’s all I could handle. A week later, he threw his owner, who had been riding him for years. That settled it in my mind: some fears weren’t worth a crushed vertabrae.

And yet.

I’ve spent the last twenty-nine years admiring horses from the comfort of my car. Daily, I drive alongside rolling pastures that dot the Land-of-Bucolia where I live, watching horses graze and toss their tails. The horses seem small and manageable from a distance.

I’ve felt this way before. Several years ago I was riding a wave of successful newness: I’d moved and opened a business so why not try a triathlon? I ran, I rode my bike, and I did the breaststroke in open water while wearing unnecessary goggles and hair protection. Why? Because I never put my face in the water. I’m a quadruple Type A who needs to be in control all the time. And I couldn’t control what lived in the lake.

What if a giant barracuda swam toward my face? What if the Loch Ness monster grabbed my ankles and pulled me under? It didn’t matter that barracuda live in the ocean or that the Loch Ness is lake folklore of Scotland and I was swimming in dime-sized lakes in Connecticut.

Reason didn’t factor into the fear. But, when I mentioned to my friend Jane, an avid horsewoman, that I wanted to try horseback riding again, she said she had been intimidated at the beginning, too and now she loved it.

I wanted so badly to love it.

So last month I called a local stable, arranged for a $45 private lesson, and on the appointed day pulled on my boots. I drove confidently to the stable and instead of driving by, pulled my car down its rutted gravel road. I parked and strode purposefully to the barn, used my whole body to slide the heavy door open and then- I couldn’t move. There were horses everywhere. Being brushed, being washed, winying from their bays. They were huge with massive heads and I imagined a set of horse teeth taking a hunk out of my leg if I attempted to climb onto its back. I defaulted to my safety plan: talk my way out of the lesson, stay in control.

Newly purposeful, I walked carefully around horses to a woman with kind eyes. “Oh, Becky? She’s back through the ring.” I kept going, walking past jumping apparatus and sets of climb-on-the-back-of-horses stairs, to a tiny girl-sized woman.

“Oh, hi! There you are, let’s get Guennie. She’s super gentle and has been doing lessons for years.” I walked with her. This is the moment, this is when I’m going to say, Um- no thanks. I love my vertebrae. But I just follow to the tack room. What is wrong with me- say something!

The next thing I know, I’m wearing a helmet and carrying a saddle. Becky leads Guennie to the indoor paddock and I follow. Oddly, I’m patting Guennie on her mane. Now I’m babbling about the puppy I’ve been training, and now I am sitting on Guennie and don’t remember how I did it. Holy shit.

I’m not even afraid. I am comfortable. I do what Becky says and steer Guennie in circles around the paddock. I learn to stop her and when Becky asks me to stand up in the stirrups and let go of the reins, spreading my arms wide- I do it, and I’m pretty sure I yelp. I sit down and somehow I’m cantoring and then I’m learning to post: up, down, up, down, one, two, one, two. It’s all going great until I start wondering what I would do if the horse bolts, or if I pulled the bit too tight, or what if. . .

“Hey,” Becky says, holding the reins and looking me in the eye, “The people who have the hardest time horseback riding are the Type A ones.”

I laugh out loud. And then I stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong and I just enjoy myself. When the lesson’s over, I help brush Guennie and Becky says, “People think that with horseback riding, you’re 80% in control. That’s wrong. The horse is 80% in control and if you’re lucky, you get 20%.”

Standing in a barn with mud up to my ankles, leading Guennie back to her stall, it hits me that maybe I don’t have to be in control all of the time. Maybe that was my real lesson.

And I drive home, into the sunset.

 

 

 

 

Organizing Strategies for the Manic

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It’s that time again.

You know it.

That special time of the year when you want to change everything: get a new job, a new haircut, move, and learn to speak decent french.

I don’t even speak indecent french. Although…there was that time I had some minor surgery on my leg and because I had three Valium, apparently spoke coherent, slightly indecent high school french to the surgeon.

After the surgery he said:

“Vous etes bizarre. Me aimer, je ai opere si bien sur votre jambe.”

Which I took for: “You’re stunning. I love operating on your leg.”

Luckily for all my doctors, my house tends to be where I put most of the manic energy. The desire to rearrange rooms and re-paint can lead to unfortunate hours spent on Pinterest when I should be reading Virginia Woolf’s diary for my graduate degree.

Which has lead to my current state of manic affairs: I am a neat freak and recently discovered that to get down and dirty with this writing thing I need a place to make a mess. I don’t like messes. They’re messy. They make me uneasy. They make me walk to the kitchen, eat chocolate chips from the baking jar, and with my mouth full vamp in the mirror as I pull my short blonde hair straight up in an attempt to look like Andy Warhol, but end up looking like David Bowie. You see my problem.

Also, my house is small. There are few options. My first one is a fantasy: Take over the lovely shed in the backyard. This is no problem for the delusional. My husband rolled his eyes at my suggestion, “Where would we put all the stuff?”

I then suggested a dumpster. Because, really- I need a lot of room to spread out. I’ve got notebooks, ten packs of index cards (fancy plot devices), and I need a big ass desk and lamp.

While I’m in there, might as well add a daybed, a rug, some roman shades on the two windows and maybe an electric kettle. If there is any room, an extra chair for a little french woman to come teach me the proper way to say: “No, I am not cooking dinner, this memoir will not write itself.”

Or, something like that.

Dear Santa,

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Dear Santa,

It’s been a while, I know. As thirty-five years have gone by since my last letter, you might think I had forgotten you. But I didn’t forget, I just got busy.

I was busy growing up. Somewhere between 1979 and 1990 I began to believe that you were just for children. That you were mostly mall laps, a fuzzy red and white outfit and a pom-pom hat on a float in a parade. I came to believe that as an adult, I had other uses for you. Instead of writing you letters and telling you I had been good, I brought you with me and my young children. You went with us on errands in the car, to the beach, the grocery store and to church. When I said, “Spencer, don’t hit Parker!” “Trevor, come here, I need to spray on this sunscreen,” or “Let Spencer push the cart this time,” and “All of you, sit still and look at the pictures in this Bible!” I said that last one in a whisper that sounded like a yell. I finished all of those sentences with “…or Santa won’t come.”  I used you, boldly, and at my discretion.

I stopped believing in the real you I think, because I thought I didn’t have to. Their father and I did everything. We earned the money to pay for the gifts, stayed up late at night putting together Bouncy Ball houses, lacrosse nets, and Optimus Prime Transformers. We baked and ate the cookies, sipped the milk (“you” left a note one year saying you were lactose intolerant and asked for Lactaid). One year “you” even went on the roof with a bunch of jingle bells from Michael’s craft store. You thumped and stomped on our old shingles so much I was afraid you would land in the attic. Trevor’s eyes were unblinking as he ran to me from his room. He had the thrill of his 5- year old life. He believed. No magical chubby guy fell down the chimney to help us.

And yet, belief is a powerful thing. Like faith, it’s gotten me through a lot. I realize I had to choose to believe that I could possibly raise three sons coming from a family of women, survive an illness that has killed millions and three of my grandparents, and become the woman I wanted to be.  I believed, even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.

Yes, this is my Christmas wish list, but the things on it aren’t for me. They are things I want to give to my children. Trevor is in college and the twins are headed to high school soon. I don’t want them to stop believing in you. Because one day in the near future, they will leave their father and I and go out into the world, and it will happen: the inevitable disbelieving. To prepare them, I want to believe that I could pop this letter in the mail and have it land on your desk just as you were reaching for another envelope to open. You could read it and tell right away if I was naughty or nice and send me what I asked for.

My children are not boys anymore. They are nearly men. in their stockings this year will be a beard brush for one, cell phone cases for two others and under the tree, fewer gifts because what they want is expensive. No more Tinker Toys, Legos or Flash Gordon action figures. One of the 14-year olds asked for a leather coat.

If only all of us parents could write you letters and ask for the gifts our children already have, the ones within. If you could, this year- would you look down on all the parents of the world and see how hard we work for our children, how we want them to realize that everything they want is already inside them? That they, not Target hold the secret to their happiness?  Instead of Ipad’s, let our children unwrap their inner fire?

While we sleep on Christmas Eve, can you put Kindness in their stockings, Gratitude under the tree, Humility in the water they brush their teeth with, and as a special favor to me as the mother of sons, sew Chivalry onto the labels of their pajama pants?

I want to show my nearly grown boys that they should believe in magic, expect the fantastic, and that goodness can appear anywhere at anytime and not ask for anything in return. Please give them the ability to see the good in others not as something separate, but as an example of our commonality.

I know I want a lot, and I might not get it all.

But Santa, if anyone can make it happen, it’s you.

You did, after all, help me raise them.

 

Cannonball Run

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I hope my dress stays up.

I hide in the wings, about to go onstage and face 200 people.

Read stuff I wrote. Will they like it?

Breathe.

I am past hungry. To fit into the bright red, floor length, strapless gown, I have eaten mostly lettuce and handfuls of cherry tomatoes for a week. I would have eaten carrots, but I was afraid I would turn orange.

Does my skin have a Lycopene tinge?

I fantasize about chocolate.

I am squeezed, shoulder to shoulder with a partially plastered brick wall to my right and taught drapery cords on my left. Loose electrical wires are against the brick wall. They sway slightly with the movement of the dancers and performers backstage.

I have a vision of myself touching a crackling cord and being launched, cannonball-style out onto the stage before my cue.  Upon closer inspection I am relieved to see that the wire ends are wrapped with electrical tape.

Breathe more.

The hanger ribbons are sticking out the top of my dress. Quick! I hide them from view, sliding my right and left hands into my bodice.

Pull up the dress…again.

I wish I had a breath mint.

No one should know that I smell like tomatoes.

The stage, softly illuminated before, is now in blackout.

My cue.

Walk out, stand alone.

To a Spotlight. A Microphone.

The audience, I can see only their legs.

Row after row of legs.

Words. I wrote about words. About writing words. The weight of words.

Somehow the words come out of my mouth.

Beat Poet inspired, but me: Highbrow, Lowbrow.

I am calm.

How can I be calm? Don’t I remember how afraid of public speaking I used to be? How the memory of reading my third grade book report in Miss Bomba’s class still gives me chills?

There is a split. The girl I was is standing next to to the woman I am now.

I see her, that other person. That other me. She’s wearing knee highs and culottes.

She watches me on the stage. Giving myself to people.

She lets me.

By the second night of a three performance run, I am enjoying myself. We are enjoying ourselves. We look out to the audience, a lot. When the audience looks back, are they seeing the scared girl or the confident woman?

I barely register the applause. It’s the giving I was after, not the thanking.

Later, the scared me and the confident me share handfuls of chocolate chips. They’re her favorite.

Besides, I’m all out of vegetables.

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This is How it Feels

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It’s November, which means I’ve done it, I am doing it: surviving my first Autumn with my oldest son away at college.

I know you are thinking: What’s the big deal? And you know, I am completely aware that it shouldn’t be.

It should be a celebration: we have an extra bed in the house, a lot more food and no one playing Xbox at 1 am. But it makes me think of all the other things I know.

Like, how it felt to get pregnant right after a miscarriage and a few months later hear the doctor can say “Wow, this kid’s got a big head, are you doing your Kegels?” And practice them at stop lights.

How it felt to discover I was having a boy, coming from a family of women.

How I began seeing myself as a wise, pregnant-aware sage, preparing for the inevitable, knowing that my boy was going to grow up, get married and spend holidays with his wife’s relatives. Because that’s how it always works in my family.

How blissful it felt to have my 9 month old- 3 year old, 5 year old-son reach out to be held, lay his head on my shoulder and fall asleep playing with my hair.

How hard it was to hear my 15 year old son say: “Just stay in the car, I’ll come find you- DON’T come onto the field,” as he bolted for lacrosse practice. How I sat there in the car searching for tissues in the glove box and finding only maps from the pre-GPS dark ages, and a three year old Wet-Nap.

I know how shock resonates. How it began with his 16th birthday, walking out of his bedroom each morning in a cloud of Axe Body Spray, noticeably taller. I know about ordering sneakers from the Nike factory in China because no store stocks a size 14. How it felt to realize I was living in a household of not boys, but MEN and was totally inept.

To whom will I pass down my Julia Child impersonation? My liquid eyeliner application skills?

I know how it felt to send my husband into the boy’s bedroom to give him the REAL TALK, not the pseudo-talk I gave him when he was 6, the one that when I was finished espousing bee pollination, he immediately asked to watch Scooby-Doo.

How it felt, this time- when my husband came out of our teenage boy’s bedroom an hour later relating: “Well, I told him everything.” And I’d said, “What do you mean?” Only to hear, “Well, the whole deal- you know, everything sex related like oral and anal…”

I know how it feels to realize nothing will be the same, life is careening out of control, that there is no more Thomas the Train, no more Lion King no more snuggling with Goodnight Moon that culminated in a primal scream from my uterus, vibrating my Fallopian tubes:

“WHAT??! Are you crazy?”

And hear: “You told me to tell him everything..”

Followed immediately by my husband pouring himself a glass of whiskey.

I know how it felt to have my 16 year old avoid my eyes for a month because he thought his mother was a sexual deviant, and not just the woman in the mini van crying into a dried up Wet-Nap.

I know how it was to be home alone with my seventeen year old son on a Sunday afternoon, and have him announce that he was making me dinner. How we ate while watching PBS and he didn’t complain, but laughed during Doc Martin.  How touching and quietly tragic it was for me to be handed a Warm Brownie in a Mug that he’d learned in Foods class. How eating cold ice cream and hot brownie mirrored my emotions.

I know how it was to watch the boy I reminded every day to be punctual, responsible, kind, and disciplined, walk across a stage and receive his high school diploma on a blue skied, high UV alert, June day- just a few months ago. How it felt to know he was so happy to be leaving us soon.

I know how it felt, relaxing into my Adirondack chair in the backyard after the graduation party, everyone gone- but the experience not finished. Chinese paper lanterns swinging on the dogwoods behind me, finally having a piece of cake, because it was supposed to be a celebration and felt more like someone died.

Then, how it felt to deliver our boy to college. Ready to learn, to party, to grow, to become. How unready his father and I were.

How it felt for a couple weeks, things quiet at home, until my cell phone became very busy. Text messages, not daily- no, but very often and sometimes with 11pm phone calls, catching up and ending with something unexpected.

“I love you, Mom.”

Yes, this is how it feels.

 

 

Confessions of a Makeup Addict

“I came out of the womb waving a red lipstick.” -Rose McGowan

I love make-up. I love everything about it. I love the product names from my youth: Airspun, Moisture Whip, Kissing Potion. The packaging: crisp boxes gift wrapped in cellophane, the little molded clear plastic caps protecting new lipsticks and most of all, the promises.

I’ve been known to wander the aisles of my drugstore with no particular purpose and leave with $78.53 in new promises. I just say no to the plastic bag from the cashier and slip my new foundationeyelinerlipglossbronzer into my purse and mentally, my wish has been granted and I am already transformed.

I can trace the groundwork for the attraction. My parents moved my sister and me to Virginia where knowing no one, I decided I could turn myself into a new, better, OLDER looking version of myself. So, there I was in 1983, 14 years old and sitting in the front seat of the school bus, directly behind the driver. While all the cool kids sat in the back, smoking pot, I used the twenty minute drive to slip a hand into my LeSportSac and pull out the magic: Maybelline Great Lash mascara. I used the mirror over the bus driver’s head to sweep my lashes. Appraising myself, I would smile with achievement. I looked older. Since all the windows were closed, I was also a little high. When weeks later, on two separate incidents- grown men flashed me, I was shocked. But secretly impressed. Wow, this stuff really works!

It seemed to me that makeup was connected to power and I soon got another example to prove it.

My mom became a Mary Kay consultant. Makeup, which had been taboo for me, was suddenly OK. No more stabbing myself in the eye when the bus hit a pothole. I was shocked and thrilled to discover that I was not just sanctioned to wear make up, but also recruited.  My mother practiced her sales pitch on my little sister and I. Our living room was being visited by the UPS man (for whom I would prepare by spraying myself with Babe perfume) and weekly would deposit carton after carton containing pale pink boxes of things I had never heard of: foundation, toner and my all time favorite: palettes of eye shadow. The eye shadow required mixing with a few drops of water and had to be applied to foundation laden eyelids with a little brush. The brush was a work of art. When you twisted the stem, the brush disappeared inside.

I was hooked.

I convinced my mom to pay me $30 per UPS delivery to open all the boxes, apply her gold embossed label and stack them on the matching pale pink shelving unit in her closet. I went with her on “complimentary facial” parties. I set up the little personal mirrors on the hostess’s dining room table and helped demonstrate to the guests the “upward sweeping motion of application.” I slathered on more face cream than Joan Crawford. It was glamorous. But more than that, I saw women sigh with satisfaction as they welcomed their newly transformed selves. I imagined my parents, sister and I driving around in a pink Cadillac, the sign of a truly successful Mary Kay Image Consultant.

While make-up didn’t get my family a pink Cadillac, it did get me a lot of other things: dates, jobs, an exciting interview with Barbizon Modeling in New Haven (I was pretty enough to pay for classes, not pretty enough to get signed) into college, married and a ten year career as an entrepreneur. Of course lipstick and blush didn’t GET me those things. I got them. Make up gave me the confidence to do it.

It seems that lately, as a woman over 40, I have noticed all kinds of little signs that I need to change, yet again. This time perhaps, from a heavy make-up user to one on probation. Last week my photo was taken in a group. Beforehand, in front of the mirror I thought I looked pretty good: short funky hair, a gorgeous print blouse, aquamarine stilletos and the cherry on top: red lipstick. When I saw the photo I thought, Who’s the old lady, squinting into the sun with neon lips? OH. NO. That’s ME.

It was a startling revelation. How do I go for less is more and retain the confidence, the transformation from the girl, no- woman without a face, to the NEW ME? Someone who is still taking chances, in fact has just recently thrown it all on the line, closing a successful business to go in a new direction, to be a Successful Writer of all things? Don’t I need new lipstick for that?!

In retaliation, I went naked. No mascara, no powder, no eyeliner. It was only one day, but it had results. I realized I looked OK with a little lip gloss and a good night’s sleep.

But I LOVE color. I need it to breathe. My face may have new lines where foundation likes to gather, but SOMEWHERE on my personal landscape I had to find the possibility of transformation, a sign to myself that I will be successful and someday make some money.

So, today I took stock of my body and ended with my feet. I appraised them resting on the coffee table. They looked positively pre-pubescent! I drove quickly (SPF 60 lavishly applied) to the drug store. I found just what I was looking for in nail polish: a deep gloss burgundy.

The name? Rich as Rubies.

It cost $3.99

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