Hello, Gorge-ous.

I am totally gorging on Fall.

Which is probably why I’ve gained three pounds. (I don’t actually believe it. I’m suing the scale for accuracy. Tomorrow it will tell me something completely different. It lies. And confuses the cat when she steps on it. And sometimes inexplicably switches from pounds to kilograms. But mostly it lies.)

I will admit: Fall is my favorite season not least because of the comfort food it brings. Apple cake, mac & cheese, pots of soup, Crock Pot creations, potatoes (damn you, potatoes – I wish I knew how to quit you), and various hearty types of fare have come out of my kitchen in recent weeks. I am ardently, if breezily, badgering a coworker for her incredibly rich lasagna recipe, having realized that the one I grew up with is disappointingly inauthentic and blah. (My grandmother was 100% German, for cripe’s sake. Her parents came off the boat in 1914 and her mother never left the house after that. Who told her she knew how to make lasagna?) The trouble is, I love to cook, and I cook for the week on my days off, but then even if I only make two entrees, I wind up with too much food because it’s just little ol’ me around here. And sometimes I don’t eat what I made because I have dinner with Jack or Ali on a night off, or I’m not in the mood to eat what I made and I have to get out of the basement where I work, so I go down the street to fetch something instead. Plus, one cannot make individual servings of tomato basil bisque, or beef stew, or casserole. I share what I cook sometimes, but then the trouble with that is that the recipients share back, sending me home with meatloaf or pasta.

And then there are the yummies from other establishments, like pumpkin spice lattes and hot cocoa from Starbucks. They’re usually way too sweet for me and I hate drinking my fat intake (I’d rather save the fat for chewing), so the lattes are skim and I skip the whip every time, but the hot cocoa cannot be compromised.

Do not. Compromise. The cocoa.

And then… there is the bounty of Thanksgiving. This is a bounty I’ve missed out on for years because I’ve had to work. But this year, I’ve just learned, I will be off on Thanksgiving. And the heavens opened, and a chorus of chubby little cherubim with dark meat turkey legs in one dimpled hand and bowls of homemade stuffing in the other dimpled hand sang “hallelujah” around the gobs of grub in their cheeks.

"I wonder if we'll have broccoli in butter sauce." -"Yeah, or green bean casserole. I love that stuff."

(Then, out of nowhere, my father swooped in and gave them searing looks for singing with their mouths full. He would have done it for singing at the table, too, but cherubim don’t have to sit at a table to eat. So instead they got looks for not sitting at the table to eat. Even though they have wings and they float on clouds and the tables would fall through the clouds, so that’s totally unfair, Dad.)

Point is, this is the time of year when I fantasize about stuffing. I could go into some warm and glowy homespun story about the tradition of stuffing-making in our family; the recipe and the way everyone contributes, but I’ll save that for a time closer to when we’re actually making it. This year, my father’s older brother and sister-in-law are hosting Thanksgiving, so I won’t be contributing, but Christmas will be at my parents’ house right after they move back from Florida to commence retirement (yes, they are moving out of Florida when they retire) and it will be on like Donkey Kong.

I have Christmas off for the first time in years, too. Cue seraphim covered in cookie crumbs.

"Behold! The kingdom of the Lord is at hand! Not that hand, THIS hand. Put some of those butter cookies in it. They're... uh, they're for the baby Jesus. Yeah."

I’m indulging in other signature Fall experiences, as well; cuddling up in my big fleece robe or under a blanket on my huggy couch, watching some scary show or a feel-good movie, or reading a book. Grinning like a sappy fool at pictures of Twin Nephs in the pumpkin patch. Breathing deep the scent of burning fireplaces in crisp evening air, or of comfort-scented candles. Pulling the covers up over my head and sleeping a little longer. Sipping big red wines instead of chilled white ones. And staring at clear blue skies with changing leaves below them, trying to gauge exactly when the colors at the nature trail will peak on a similarly crystal-skied day before losing their leaves in a single rainstorm, and whether it will coincide with my days off so I can go take pictures like I hope to do every year, but never can because I always miss the prime conditions.

Maybe I’ll actually walk a good chunk of the trail while I’m playing photographer. I’ve got at least two holidays full of stuffing to prepare for.

All Skate! Now Reverse!

It has become clear to me that when someone turns 30, there is absolutely nothing you can do for them other than throw them a 70s Disco Funky Roller Skating Party.

We did this for Sister 2 on Saturday.

Sister 2 is graceful, chic and reserved. She is also a complete awkward, nerdy nutball. I’ve known this since she developed a personality, but her friends have a real grasp on it. She also loves parties and loves to celebrate her birthday. The semi-surprise skating party was not my idea; I was just along for the roll. BIL (brother-in-law) 2 and their friends planned the event. Sort of flawlessly. Aside from the fact that someone may or may not have had to go to the ER afterward.

Sister 2 wore this, but rainbow cooky, and no wig. (image from doodysfancydress.co.uk

As the ’70s Disco Funky Roller Skating Party name may suggest, there were outfits. I’ll hit the highlights. First of all, every woman there sported blue-green eyeshadow. Some of it was sparkly. Sister 2’s outfits had been purchased for her by her friends: for pre-game, a lame’ funkadelic rainbow tie-dyed halter-topped bell-bottomed skin-tight unitard, false eyelashes and platform shoes. She’s 5’8 1/2″ barefoot, so in this get-up, she looked like an Amazon woman. A brick house. Plus she’s got long blonde hair, which was curled back at the ends. For skating, she changed into Olivia Newton-John circa 1982 (a chancy dodge of the ’70s vibe), in those glittery stockings that are impossible to put on or take off, super-short, satiny, hot pink shorts, a white shirt covered with a hot pink off-the-shoulder 3/4 sleeve top, and (the ’70s prequel to the legwarmer) tube socks with hot pink stripes around the calves.

BIL 1 looked like Chester the Molester in a semi-see-through button-down rolled sleeve shirt with breast pockets and the top four buttons undone to show off his rather copious chest hair, plus red polyester pants, a diagonally striped belt and a pair of driving mocs. Plus a pair of gold-rimmed sunglasses, some slicked back hair, and some fine shaving work that pared his full beard down to mutton chops and a mustache. When we got to the skating rink, I was a little surprised that there was no photo of him posted on the door with a big, block-lettered message warning everyone not to let him in because it was dangerous for him to be around children. Before he left the house, he told Twin Nephs that if anybody who looked like him ever tried to talk to them, they should run away.

I wore something like this, but striped. (image from auctionnight2008.org)

I myself had nothing disco-y on hand. Instead, I opted for JC Penney’s catalog circa 1979: higher-waisted, dark, flare-legged jeans, a very striped almost butterfly collared button-down shirt with the sleeves folded back, tightly tucked in and finished with a skinny red belt. I was going to do the Farrah Fawcett thing to my hair, but I couldn’t bear to go quite that far with the look knowing I’d have to get gas and stop at toll booths, so my hair hung flatly from its center part.

We pre-gamed briefly at a local watering hole and then swept into the skating rink where we descended on the poor retiree at the skate rental desk with reckless fervor.

This is probably the part where I should mention I have not been on roller skates in at least 20 years.

First order of business after lacing up my skates (which were oddly wet in spots – I chose to believe the rental desk guy had just thoroughly disinfected them with anti-fungal spray) was to relieve my bladder, straining from a road trip twice as long as it should have been due to traffic, and compounded by a beer. Skating on carpet is trickier than I remembered. I struggled to figure it out. Do I skate? Do I walk? Capable of neither, I sort of half-assed it with a combination of the two, punctuating my moves with occasional arm-wheelies for balance retention.

When I got to the bathroom, I was confronted with a tile floor. Huh. This could be a scene. And me without my LifeAlert. I stutter-skatewalked to a stall, bursting for relief, and slowly rolled in.

And then I couldn’t turn around.

I stood there, facing the toilet. Strategizing.


Okay, so…


I slowly worked myself around in tiny little controlled baby steps so that I was facing the stall door. Thinking I was home free, I got myself situated and began to assume the position. My bladder contracted excitedly.

I don’t know about you, but public bathrooms always make my mother’s voice ring in my head, so I squat instead of sitting. I crouched.

And rooolllled into the stall door. Thunk.


Muttering under my breath, jeans around my knees, growing increasingly sure that I would kill myself on the skating rink, I pushed myself back toward the toilet. Sorry, Mom. I have to sit. That proved a bit harder than I anticipated, because the toilet was set for the children who frequent these kinds of establishments and not grown women who are at least 5’10” in these skates. But I managed not to bust my ass or my face.

Finally comfortable again, I made my way back out as everyone was laced up and venturing onto the rink’s wood floor. With a little trepidation, I clopped out and made my initial effort. I think I went about three feet in the first minute. I couldn’t seem to recall how to coordinate my movements to propel myself forward.

Skating, turns out, is not like riding a bike.

Eventually I remembered how to use my hip muscles to get going, and I sang along to the far-out tunes that were blasting from the DJ’s corner. But the muscles I worked much more than I had as a grade school skater were the ones in my arms. The flapping was frequent. I haven’t seen the video yet, but since there were no fewer than six cameras there, I’m sure it’ll turn up, and I’m sure I will look like a Grade A Freak Show. Ass out, knees bent, then the sudden and uncontrollable switch to the ass-in, shoulders back position, followed by the ever-so-graceful Arm Flail, orange-wheeled feet slapping the floor fruitlessly in search of purchase, sometimes punctuated by the verbal “Ooah! Whoa! Oof! Ah!”

Yes, it is a seductive dance.

It took maybe 20 minutes for me to find something I could loosely call my groove thing. The rink was a little rougher than I remember them being in my day, and I couldn’t really steer. Turning the corners became a hodge-podge effort, positionally, as I couldn’t quite get secure enough to do that thing where you cross one foot over the other. But though I was struggling a bit, I certainly wasn’t the only one. BIL 2 and his friends, who used to be actual skaters as teenagers and have played a fair amount of roller and ice hockey, were pretty self-assured, but the girls were all awkward all these years past junior high skating parties. And one friend, who’s not even from the US, had never been on skates before in his life. He inched his way around the rink, staring at his feet, tight white jeans and chest-baring shirt flashing under the blacklights.

Brave, secure man.

Just when we had gotten our mojo together in a somewhat controllable way, it was time to see how low we could go. Limbo! No, not bending backward. You’re guaranteed to crack your head open that way. You have to squat.

Squatting would prove to be my Achilles Heel throughout the day.

I managed to make it through four rounds of limbo before my knees – and my jeans – would no longer let me get low enough. I rolled under the bar and my weight shifted. Next thing I knew I was on my ass. Out of the game. Hysterically laughing. Good thing I had already peed.

Next up: Elimination. All skate until the music stops. Then, get to a corner. The DJ decides randomly which corner will be eliminated. I worked up a good bit of speed and then the music cut out, and I remembered I had absolutely no idea how to stop. “Aaaaahhhhh I’m gonna die!” I yelled as I hurtled toward a cinderblock wall.

That’s how you stop.

One of Sister & BIL 2’s friends used to actually work at a skating rink, and he is serious about his games and his rules. He’s a big guy and he spoke with a great deal of authority. But in polyester pants and a wild print shirt, a medallion glinting in his chest hair, it was hard to respect him. He laid down the orders for game #3: Roller Relay Races. The boys gave themselves over to chivalry and didn’t totally wipe up the floor with us. Then it was on to game #4. Form teams of 5. The first four people crouch in a straight line like leap-froggers. The fifth person stands at the back and it’s their job to push the crouched line down the rink, around a bowling pin and back.

The first problem with this game, obviously, is going to be the sustained crouching. It wasn’t long before Roller Ruler was met with protests from near the floor: “Um, can you hurry it up with the rules, dude? I’m dying here. My knees…”

Sister 1 groaned in front of me as I clutched her waist. “Can Apolo Anton Ohno sub in for

Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down-down. (image from fanpop.com)

me?” I asked.

“Don’t make me laugh, I’ll wet myself!” she warned.

Roller Ruler sounded off. “Ready? GO!”

Emphatic urging and shouting erupted from each line, along with grunting and laughing. Sister 2 pushed from behind me in a fit of competitive energy. “Let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go!” she cried, brow furrowed. But all of three feet from the starting line, my right leg went away. Just… drifted off errantly. And I was once again on my keester.

Sister 2 looked back at me, torn. “Go!” I yelled, motioning over my head for the team to go on without me.

“I gotta leave you behind!” she yelled.

“Go!” I urged. “Save yourselves!”

Unofficial game #5, by the way, was the Getting Up Game. As in: get up off the floor, you pathetic, inflexible creature. Oh, many of us played. I think BIL 2 had the most spectacular wipeout, actually, because he went down hard and fast at the center of the rink, THWACK!, hefty gold chains rattling around his neck and hitting him in the face.

Game #6 involved hula hoops and holding hands in a chain like Red Rover. The mission: pass your own body completely through the hula hoop, and then pass it on to the next person in the chain, without letting go of their hand. The hoop had to make it all the way to the end of the human chain and back. My team won. Woot!

But the game that did us in for good was game #7: Over/Under. We formed two lines, single file, facing forward. The object was to stand still and pass a ball backward, and then forward. The first person had to pass the ball over her head to the second person, who had to go under her legs to the third person, who went over his head, etc. But on the return pass, one of the girls on the other team lost her footing and went down hard. She tripped up a second girl, who came down awkwardly on her own hand, and that triggered the fall of a third girl, who landed on top of the second girl. Everybody laughed and laughed and laughed, and one of the guys skated around the pile in a circle, taking video, “Aaaahaha, this is gonna be so great on YouTube!”… until we realized the second girl was crying.

“Uh, free skate,” Roller Ruler directed us awkwardly so we would stop staring at her. I felt bad for her, though I have to say I was relieved not to be the one who wound up sitting on the sidelines with ice on her wrist, debating a trip to the hospital. I did that at a skating party in fourth grade. Hairline fracture. Didn’t dig it.

There was a debacle when one of the hula hoops came apart on the rink and scattered 5,327 little black plastic beads all over the place. I nearly took a header skating through them, but I thought I had just hit some sort of weird patch of floor. And then someone who came after me actually did take a header. Next it was eight people in outlandish outfits, on hands and knees picking up these little beads. The loser teenaged rink employee (and you knew there had to be one) came out with a sad little broom and dustpan while we worked on gathering all the marbles. It wasn’t until we were almost done that he left the floor and came back with a giant push broom.

Douche. You think it’s funny to watch people twice your age crawl around in wigs and ill-fitting poly-blend, picking up tiny plastic bits they can’t even see in the roller rink darkness? One of us has already split his pants. When I get up off this floor I’m gonna kick your ass.

I had a Slurpee for the first time since my senior year of high school, and Sister 2 had a Ring Pop, which she licked blissfully while batting her fake eyelashes and swishing by in her satiny shorts and sparkly stockings. And when two hours were up, we took a group photo on the rink, rolled off the floor and reclaimed our grown-up shoes. Plans were made for doses of ibuprofen before bed. We all headed back to Sister & BIL 2’s house for a cookout. I’m sure the neighbors didn’t wonder at all why the cast of “Welcome Back, Kotter” had appeared in the yard. When I got back in the car for the road trip home, I rubbed off the blue-green eyeshadow. Getting out of the car in front of my building, I had hints of the soreness to come.

I can’t say for sure, since we had a blast, but at this point it’s probably wise to hang up my roller skates for good.

Buh-bye now. (image from gigharborb365.wordpress.com)

Kind of a bummer, man.

Fine. I Shopped.

I’m not into disposable things. Disposable income, disposable razors, disposable food containers, disposable clothing… not me. But I realized yesterday that since half my wardrobe is five years old, some of it should be disposed of. So I shopped til I dropped lots of money.

I hate shopping. I really don’t do it much. Which, frankly, was why I needed to do it yesterday. It was my day off, and there were sales. Deals to be had. On clothes that I needed. Because I actually regularly wear pants that are ten years old.

Not even kidding.

I guess you could say I have classic taste. Most of the stuff I buy tends to be relatively timeless. Who wants to go back and shop again because the clothes they bought last year are woefully out of style now? If I find a pair of pants that I like, that fit properly, that go with everything for work, that are machine washable and don’t give away blatantly what year they were made, I will wear them every week until they fall apart.

This is partly because nobody makes clothes for women with curves. Skinny girls? Yes. Heavy girls? Yes. Women who have hips bigger than 35″ and thighs bigger than 20″ and some junk in the trunk? Nope. And I’m not saying they’re substantially bigger measurements, but they look pretty different. So if I find a skirt or a dress or a pair of pants or, God help me, jeans that fit, I’m wearing those babies into the ground.

It’s also because I can’t justify spending $75 on a pair of pants, and then doing it again the next year.

What on earth could possibly make a pair of pants worth $75? They’re pants. They’re not woven of flaxen gold.

The other thing I hate about going shopping for clothes is that I have to try everything on. I’m not one of those people who can just breeze through and buy stuff, take it home and figure out what to do with it from there. I have to find a room with terrible lighting and subtly fun house mirrors that somehow make me look worse unclothed, but make the clothes I’m trying on look better on me than they will at home. I have to do it. Because the only thing I hate more than shopping is returning stuff.

First stop in the mall: the department store to get a gift card for Sister 2’s birthday. She had spotted a watch there that she liked. I browsed the clothes there only briefly, because for some reason I always forget that I don’t like any clothes in department stores unless they’re $125. I remember as a kid, the department stores were where my mother always took us. Jeans, shirts, sweaters, pants… we got them all there, at Penney’s or Sears, and tried them all on while carefully avoiding the straight pins that littered the floors of the fitting rooms. Mom could find ways to buy us all clothes and not spend more than $150.

Things must be different in the children’s department.

Fortunately, I know which stores sell the kinds of clothes I like and are most likely to fit me. The exception to this rule is Express. I used to love Express. (Not their pants or skirts – because you can’t have hips to wear those – but their shirts and sweaters.) Then its buyers decided to trend the store toward trollop streetwalkers in their early 20s.

No can do. Apparently some people can show up to work in spangly metallic strappy tank tops and super-tight pants. But they probably work on the corner.

I headed into New York & Company. Far and away, this place’s clothes fit me the best. They also over-size them in a delightful twist to that old “Field of Dreams”philosophy that morphs to “If you make me think I’m a size 6, I will shop.”

Now I had to battle the demons of my classic taste. Everything is ruffles in this place these days. Did you know that? Ruffles are big.

I don’t do Ruffles. Unless we’re talking about the potato chips.

But I decided to get out of my comfort zone. I had actually seen one item online that I really liked, and found it easily (which never happens). It fit and it didn’t look retarded. I could wear it with the ten-year-old pants. Score.

You may have guessed... this is not me. But it is the top I bought. (image from nyandcompany.com)

I wound up with three tops that have some variation on a ruffle. They’re all tank tops (why do people think most women wear tank tops in the fall?) that will be worn with a cardigan. And they’re all a variation of purple, because purple and blue were the only colors in the store that weren’t white or black.

I found a black cardigan that would work with the tanks. This took a little searching. The first one I tried was cut off at the ribcage, which makes my hips pop out like they’re Serena Williams’ butt. Suddenly it’s all anybody can see. So that was a no. Then I found a really cute wrap that I liked a lot, but there were ruffles that fell at – you guessed it – the hip. And I would have needed to belt it with one of those skinny belts. Which also makes my hips more noticeable.

I think most clothing designers are hipist. It’s like a whole different kind of culturally insensitive bias.

Happily, I managed to find a cardigan that was longer and still fit properly and would look good over the tank tops. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I will be wearing that cardigan a lot. 

I also found a pair of khakis that I can wear on casual days at work, or at home. Major bonus. And I bought a casual skirt. Normally I stay away from those; there are pockets at the hips and that’s usually a really bad idea on me. I obsessively rule out hip pockets as I screech hangers across rods in stores. But in the fitting room, the skirt looked decent. I hemmed and hawed a bit, walked out of the fitting room to the triple-mirror to see what it had to say, sort of hoped that another woman would walk by and give me an honest assessment (this apparently only happens at Sears and Penney’s), and ultimately decided it was definitely fine here but would probably be dreadful when I put it on at home. It went in the Yes Pile.

I haven’t worked up the courage yet to put it on post-purchase. When I took it out of the bag at my place, it looked huge. I had to put it down and drink some wine.

Next up: two pencil skirts and a pair of dress pants. These are the items that make me love this store. Not all their styles fit, but I usually know which ones will.


First of all, who invented knit pencil skirts? They’re so clingy. In all the wrong places. No Pile.

Then there was the other pencil skirt, which would have been perfect if the designers hadn’t decided to put a raised panel seam right where the rise of the hip happens. I suppose women who don’t have hips might look for something that would help them look a little fuller.

I hate those women.

No Pile.

The dress pants. I had such hope for the dress pants, but they were all wrong. Fit in the waist, fine in the butt, but too much fabric in the front and all kinds of wrong in the saddlebags.

No Pile.

Sad. This is the store whose clothes are supposed to fit my bottom half the best. Despair began to creep in as I looked with trepidation at the jeans I’d pulled from a shelf. Ominous music played in my head.

Jeans are like my best frienemy. There are some jeans I love. Not many. The ones I love, I own forever. There are other jeans – most of them – that are flat-out horrible on me. Gaping at the waist – always gaping at the waist if they fit in the hips. Indescribably problematic in the thigh/saddlebag area. Sagging at the crotch so that I look like Dick VanDyke in the “Jolly Holiday” scene of Mary Poppins.

tallgirlrunning.blogspot.com/"Mary Poppins"

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Something quite atrocious.

The reason I’d grabbed these jeans was because the sign said they were contoured so they wouldn’t gape at the back of the waist.

Well, that’s exciting.

And the sign did not lie. They do not gape at the back of the waist. No one can see my underwear when I sit down in them. They have a higher waist than I’d like, so we’ll see what I think of them when I put them on at home.

After assessing the damage at NY&Co., I hauled my purchases out of the store in a big bag and set off. I thought I was finished for the day, since I had been shopping for an hour and a half, and that’s pretty much my limit. I stopped by Bath & Body Works to stock up on my signature scent and stood in line at the cashier behind a woman who kept saying she just can’t tolerate odd numbers in her checkbook and was therefore making the store clerk ring up $3.53 of her purchase in cash, and $16.50 on the debit card. This transaction took several minutes because it was confusing the store clerk, and the register. And me. Because why don’t you just put $20 on the card and pay her three cents in cash, lady? Or learn math. I’m standing here.

She was really nice about it, but Nice only goes so far in excusing Stupid.

Leaving there, I walked by The Limited. This is a store I used to love until all of a sudden their clothes got super-expensive without getting any nicer. They have good clothes, but not $75-for-pants good. But the sign out front caught my eye because they were having a huge sale.

Wouldn’t hurt to look.

Happily, their colors ranged beyond blue and purple, and they had a classic, tailored white long-sleeved shirt (which I have to get every year or two because mine always wind up yellowed under the arms) that did not have ruffles, ruching, ribbing or anything else on it that would make it look like an alien was trying to emerge from my bosom under a sweater. And it was 40% off. Sweet.

The salesperson who accosted me immediately upon my arrival handed me a fun peel-and-save coupon that told me I would get 40% off another top. So then I had to find one. And I came upon a red and black dressy tank top that would work well with the ten-year-old pants and the destined-to-be-ubiquitous cardigan.


They had a pencil skirt that I loved, that fit. OMG.

And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I also found a pair of pants. A pair of pants, I tell you, that fit right in all the places where they usually fit wrong, and were only $30. 

Jesus wanted me to have them. It’s the only explanation I can think of.

And I saved 30% on the purchase by opening a credit card. The sales girl said I had to put some of the purchase on it now, but it could be a small amount and I could just close the account next week if I wanted.


With a smouldering debit card and arms sore from carrying heavy loads of clothes, I went out to the car. Three and a half hours of shopping had me aching for a cold drink and a massage.  I could only have the former. My shopping wasn’t done yet.

But the next trip was to the grocery store. And that’s my favorite kind of shopping.





If You’ve Got It, When Should You Stop Flaunting It?

What do we think of belly button rings?

I’m not asking because I’m thinking about getting one. I ask because I already have one, and I’m wondering how long that’s going to be acceptable.

I’m 34. I’ve had the ring since I was 26. It went like this: Sister 1, who is two and a half years younger than me, was standing in the upstairs bathroom at my parents’ house on Easter Sunday. I came up the steps and saw her there in front of the mirror, curling her hair, with her shirt riding up and a shiny new piercing exposed. My mouth gaped open and I pointed at it, wide-eyed. She nodded at me excitedly.

“I want one too!” I mouthed, pointing at myself emphatically.

“Okay, I’ll take you to where I got mine!” she mouthed, and then gave me a thumbs-up.

“Where?” I asked with an exaggerated questiony face.

“Warrior!” she lipped at me.

The whole exchange was silent because, despite the fact that we had both been out of the house for a while and she was now married, we did not want to alert our parents to the fact that there were belly buttons belonging to their daughters being pierced.

Mother’s Day happened to be a couple weeks later, so there we were, back at the house for a visit. My sister and I ventured out, secretly, to the place where she had her belly button pierced, so I could get mine done, too.

We arrived at the place and I saw that it declared its name via a sign with a tongue hanging out of a mouth. There was a spike driven through the tongue.

Okay, then.

The place was scary to walk into, but it was clean, and we were the only people there. Us, and the tattooed, pierced guy who worked there and had just opened the shop. Apparently he was early and we didn’t really know that the place wasn’t open yet, since it was 2pm. The guy asked us what we wanted and I told him I was there to get my belly button pierced.

Almost wordlessly, he shuffled over to me, pulled up my shirt, stuck a finger in my navel and grabbed the skin at the top of it.

Oh my!

Um… I sort of liked that!

I did not know that about myself!

“Okay,” he said. “You have a pretty hot stomach.”

Those were two separate thoughts. I think he did the finger thing to make sure I had the right amount of skin for this kind of accessory, but apparently the statement was borne of additional cursory observation.

“Sorry,” he said as he slowly prepped the stuff he needed. “I’m still hung over, and we’re not really open.”

My sister and I exchanged looks. And yet I still got in the chair.

You’re not going to believe this, but I actually watched him do his thing. Needles never bother me, so why wouldn’t I watch him drive a small nail through the skin at the top of my navel and then push a ring through it, bending it into submission with pliers and then closing it?

It looks like this. But this isn't me. (image from leeladesigns.com)

It didn’t even hurt, actually. Though the thought occurs to me now, eight years later, that perhaps the alcohol he swabbed on also contained a numbing agent. Like when a mohel performs a bris.

We went back to my parents’ house and celebrated Mother’s Day with no one the wiser about my newly acquired secret hardware.

Which was crooked.

Because the Hungover Piercing Guy didn’t stick the piercing tool through the skin in a straight line.

For a while, I tried to sort of “train” the ring to be straight. I seriously used to thread dental floss through it and tape it or band-aid onto my stomach so that the ring would line up right. I hoped it would heal up in such a way that everything would be fine.


It’s really not that noticeable if I’m standing up. It’s more noticeable if I lay down, because then it sort of flops over to one side a little bit.

Oh, I should mention that I still have the same little silver ring with which Hungover Piercing Guy pierced my belly button. That’s for two reasons:

  • A) I sort of think that blingy dangly belly rings look silly on a grown-ass woman… and
  •  2) I am terrified of taking out the original ring. My sister says her husband had to use pliers to get hers apart far enough to take it out.

And I think it would be awkward to ask him to do that for me.

(I have also discovered a benefit of having the ring that I think would not be as beneficial if it were just a post or a silly blingy dangly thing, but we’re not going to discuss that here. It would be gauche.)

I should note that, while the moment of the piercing was not painful, the following several weeks hurt like hell. These were still the days of higher-waisted pants… none of the low-rise stuff we wear now (which is much kinder to the navel piercing). A couple weeks after I had it done, I was once again visiting my parents. I got there late at night, parked on the street and got my bag out of the trunk. I was trying to be quiet because it was so late, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Lifting the bag out by its shoulder strap, I didn’t think through the physics. The bag swung backward and hit me right in the belly.

Which seemed to catch fire.

I turned into that guy in the Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” Silent… but dying. For a really long time.

Eight years later, it’s still crooked, but whatever – most people either don’t notice because they’re not, like, at eye level with it, or they don’t mind because the very few people who have been at eye-level with it were not assessing its placement in any deliberative way, know what I’m sayin’? But now, though my stomach is still in pretty good shape and the ring isn’t getting lost in any flab or anything, I’m wondering how old is too old for this particular adornment.

I guess the reason I got the piercing also figures in. People who know me personally never would have thought I would do such a thing. In fact, a lot of people are shocked – shocked, I tell you – if they find out I have it. As I grew into myself more in my 20s, I started being less “afraid” of the “crazier” sides of myself. I was less “disciplined.” That doesn’t mean I was bad, by any means. It means I lightened up. Mellowed out.

Took the stick out of my ass.

And I wanted to replace it with a small symbol of my lesser-known, more emboldened side. Something that people would only see if they were an intimate acquaintance.

Or a random stranger on a beach.

Or at a pool.

Or on a cruise ship.

Pretty much anywhere I might wear a bathing suit.

Getting my belly button pierced was kind of liberating. I didn’t have to ask permission and I didn’t need to seek validation for it. It was just for me. When my mother saw it at the beach a couple of months later, she sighed, gave me a dirty look and said, “I’m glad you have your own health insurance.”

Now you know where I got the Ass Stick. I was 26, for crying out loud. I wasn’t a kid. But she hated the ring and thought I was going to die of some sort of belly button infection. She also thought it was overly (and overtly) sexual and therefore probably thought I was going to hell’s first circle for getting it.

No, I did not get my navel pierced as a way to rebel against my uber-conservative mother.

Well, maybe a little bit, but not really.

Over the years, I’ve gotten compliments from some who have seen it. My parents’ friend once saw my sister’s at the beach and commented to my dad (thoughtlessly) that he reeaaally liked those things.

“I mean in general. Just, you know, generally,” he said when my father shot him a look.

Yes, it produces a reaction from certain members of the population, and frankly, I like causing a stir. (Not that it happens that often.)

No, mostly it really is for me. It reminds me of the side that’s wilder, less uptight, more game for adventure. I wouldn’t necessarily lose that side of me because I let the piercing close up, but maybe I would have to lose a little of her in order to make that decision.

So… how old is too old to walk around with this thing?

A Farewell To Arms

I was standing in the bathroom the other day, doing my hair, and when I turned around to look at the back with the handheld mirror, I noticed that the arm that was down at my side was suddenly a lot chunkier in the area just above my elbow. I say “a lot”… I really can’t tell you what it looked like before this. Just… not like this.

Then, on another day, I caught sight of the other elbow in the mirror and thought, “Why does my elbow look swollen?” Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn’t swollen at all. It was surrounded by a soft cushion of blub.

I’m sorry, what?

No. No no. I will not have this problem this early in life. Preferably I will not have it ever, but definitely not now.

I’ve never had the slimmest arms in the family – sisters 2 and 3 do. But I used to have pretty rockin’ arms. The weight lifting I used to do at the gym had them toned and relatively, sort of average level sexy looking. Then I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that if I didn’t want to be in nine kinds of pain from the bad disc in my neck, I couldn’t lift weights anymore.

And now I’ve got this situation going on.

I was thinking about this today while I was standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover half of the 10″ pizza I got for dinner last night (and the remains of the sizeable salad I didn’t finish – so that makes it okay). I’ve never been super-lean. I’ve also never really been clinically overweight. At my heaviest, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, and that was in college, because I dated Ben and Jerry and Colonel Sanders more than any other guy. I lost the college weight my junior year when I joined a gym and I’ve never put it back on (thank God), though maybe a couple pounds here and there have shown up. And then I get rid of those.

I know, I sound obnoxious to anybody who has had a real struggle with weight. But don’t get me wrong. I come from a family of overweight people. Only one person is obese, but the rest could definitely stand to lose 30 pounds. And it happens not at my age, but in about 10 years. I’m aware of the problem. And just because I’m not overweight doesn’t mean I don’t have body image issues. I have a butt, and I have hips. I’m a very healthy weight for my height, but it doesn’t matter; for about 15 years I was unquestionably a size 10 and sometimes a 12. Now I’m an 8, and I feel pretty good and generally fairly confident, and I don’t want to go back.

My most reliable indicator of weight gain has always been my stomach. I am fortunate that I don’t carry much extra around my middle; what extra I have is all in the trunk. But if my stomach started to get a little gutty, I knew I had to pay attention and knock off whatever stupid eating I’d been doing recently. Then, when I turned 30, I was terrified of what my metabolism would do. But in a bizarro twist, it actually got better. (I know. Please don’t throw things or cancel your subscription. I was shocked. I totally expected it to go completely straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.) But I think the real kicker was that I was singing all the time in rehearsals and concerts – two nights a week for rehearsals and then some runs of concerts that were a week long, every night. So I would eat something like a PB&J on wheat, or even just a few handfuls of trail mix, at around 6:30 before I left work, and then I would go sing and never eat for the rest of the night. That, combined with going to the gym most days (alright, some days) and eating about every four hours during the day made the difference. I lost a few pounds.

Lately, though, I have paid zero attention to my metabolism. It’s fine if I don’t eat late (now I don’t get home from work until 11 or midnight). But for some reason, I’ve started noshing at night.

And I haven’t been to the gym in a Time Period That Shall Not Be Named. To say it’s been since at least the fifth Harry Potter book release is probably fair.

And apparently, it’s going straight to my arms. It’s been sort of hiding somewhere and then, like, Tuesday it decided to show up.


You suck. (image from losearmfatinfo.com, which I'm pretty sure is a scam site)



I have been thinking for a while that I should go back to working out. I really have no excuse not to. I can’t do upper body weights anymore. Lat pulls, seated rows, deltoid lifts and pectoral fly – the “I must! I must! I must increase my bust!” motion – have all been ruled out by the ortho; I can do bicep curls and triceps extensions if I keep my shoulders down and level, but even that can cause problems. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still do cardio, lower body weights and abs.

Truthfully, my excuse for not going anymore was that there was never any parking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I hate working out. Over the last ten years or so, I have come to know many marathon runners and regular workers-out. Three of the men I’ve dated have run multiple marathons and triathalons – one is a repeat Ironman. I don’t understand them. I used to be a regular worker-out, but I never liked it. These people love it.

What is wrong with them?

And why were they dating me? Shouldn’t they be with other exercise freaks?

Every time I went to the gym, I had to gut out the workout. I hate sweating, I hate being out of breath and I hate feeling like an under-achiever. I always had to cover the cardio machine displays with my towel so I wouldn’t look at the clock every 47 seconds thinking, “Am I done yet? Am I done? How ’bout now? Am I done yet?” while sweat dripped off my elbows and rolled down my back into the waistband of my clothes. I can’t listen to music while I do cardio because I find myself timing the workout according to song lengths. “Okay, that was three songs, so like ten minutes.” And then I’d look and find that those songs were apparently shorter than I thought, and I’d be all, “UGH!”

As soon as I’d walk into the place, the stench of body odor would smack me in the face and I’d want to turn back.  The women in the locker room were astonishingly free with their bodies, treating me to a precise knowledge of who colored their hair and who didn’t. So when I’d drive all the way there and then find that there was nowhere to park, well, forget it. I’d huff and mentally cross my arms and stomp my foot and say, “Well then I’m not going!”

And the supposed “endorphin high” apparently never happened to me, even after ten years of decently regular exercise. As soon as I was done working out, I wanted to A) eat, and 2) take a nap.

In short, I am an uninspiring model of fitness.

But I was in much, much better shape than I am now, and that’s another reason I dread going back. I’ll be on a treadmill or a crosstrainer for like three minutes and think I’m going to die and soil my pants and vomit. Since I joined a gym at the age of 20, I have never been away for this long. It’s going to be like starting all over again.


Maybe I can just walk around with my arms over my head all the time. That still looks good.


Confessions Of A Lip Gloss Junkie

My name is thesinglecell. And I am addicted to lip gloss.

(This is the part where you say “hello, thesinglecell.”)

(I’m waiting.)


I don’t really know when it started. I wore lip gloss even in high school (gloss, because it had far less color than lipstick and therefore did not appear to be “makeup” to the disciplinarians who ran my Catholic school). But I don’t know when it developed into an addiction. I don’t remember constantly reapplying it between classes, though it’s possible that I did. But now… it’s out of control. It’s gotten to the point where I take it out of my purse when I get to work and put it on my desk so I can grab it quickly and easily.

Sign of addiction #3: Need for easy access

I don’t really buy a lot of lip gloss. I mean, I’m not one of those people who’s constantly looking to score. I just have to have some with me at all times. On the exceedingly rare occasions when I’ve forgotten to move a tube from the purse I’d been using to the purse I’d chosen that day, the travesty was recorded in such places as my Facebook page. “Forgot lip gloss today. Oh, the humanity!” And don’t try to give me any of that ChapStick crap. That’s useless to a hardcore junkie like me.

My glosses are seasonal. There are lighter colors for spring and summer, and richer colors for fall and winter. But never too much color. I have very full lips and I don’t need them all duded up in a bold finish. You’d see them coming a mile away, set 2/3 of the way down my very pale face. You’d be frightened. I would look like the Rolling Stones logo, but on a white background instead of black.

Me with red lips. (image from famouslogos.com)

But I always have to have a hint of color, because my lips are almost the exact same natural shade as the rest of my face. They’re not even pink, really. They’re more of a beige with a hint of some kind of neutral blush. With my pale complexion and brown eyes, if I open my mouth in the absence of gloss, it just looks like there’s a hole in my face, surrounded by a puffy border.

When we were kids, my sisters used to make fun of my lips. They’d use their fingers to pull their top lips up so that the inside was exposed. They’d fold their top lips up to their noses and walk around claiming to be me.

They’re just jealous. They don’t have sultry lips. They barely have any lips.

Theirs are pink, though, and without the absolute need for color.

I reapply the gloss a lot because it tends to disappear. I don’t lick my lips, so I don’t understand where the gloss goes. I drink a lot of water, usually from a bottle, and it’s clear from the cap and the nozzle at the top that much of my lip color winds up deposited on recyclable plastic.

Sign of addiction #27: Track marks.

That’s the only place I see it going. Even if I rub my lips together a lot, I can’t imagine that I’m rubbing it off. Shouldn’t it sort of just be smushing itself around, redistributing the shiny, tinted wealth?

It’s a mystery.

I realize that there are some people who see me reapplying my gloss and think I’m vain. At least I can do it without a mirror. They think I’m vain when I check for skin shine in the mirror of my compact and then powder my face, too. It’s not vanity that does this. It’s self-consciousness. I have less than fantastic skin, and when I was younger, it was flat-out horrible. I used to refer to it as Mexico: a mountainous region. My skin has oil slicks that could power a small town and pores that could serve as lakes. My teenaged years left me constantly aware of exactly where every spot, blotch and blemish is on any given day. I do a pretty good job of concealing the flaws in the initial makeup application, but still… you never know when something’s going to wear off and the angst of Age 13 will return.

That doesn’t really explain the lip gloss obsession, though.

There are worse addictions to have.

Oh, and the worst thing is when my favorite gloss is discontinued. This sends me into a quiet seething fury. Why do cosmetic companies do that, anyway? Why discontinue what is really a perfectly lovely and totally utilitarian shade? It’s not like some Tangerine Tango hue that only hookers buy. But about once every two years, my loyalties are betrayed by people at whatever cosmetic company I’m favoring, who decide, “Nah, we’re not going to make that anymore.” And I have to go hunting for a new shade, and usually, a different brand. This could take hours.

Most recently, Rimmel apparently discontinued its Vinyl Gloss line. I had found an unprecidented two shades from the same brand that I adored, Cosmic and Snog (yes, Brits: Snog. You have to love that)… and it lasted much longer than other brands I’d used. And then all of a sudden… POOF! Gone. Disappeared from the face of the earth. I’m still hanging on desperately to the last, 99% empty tube of it. I loved it so.


But I loved how long the stuff lasted, so I switched to Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Cream Lip Gloss with Collagen and Vitamins A, C & E, plus SPF 15. Which is a ridiculous amount of crap to put in a lip gloss. People. Color. Shine. That’s it. I sure as hell don’t need collagen. (I am lucky like that, I acknowledge.) But I don’t like it as much as the Vinyl Gloss. It’s a shade called Mauve Renew. It’s the closest I could find to the Snog, but I think it’s a bit too subtle. At least one gay guy friend agrees. Alas… I have found no solution. I’m stuck with it until the seasons change.

There are some injustices in the world that just cannot be measured.

The Ugly Truth

Beauty pageants.

Why do we still have these things, again?

No, really. I don’t understand. What is this for?

Oh, right. Mindlessly judging young women based on their attractiveness and barely camouflaged sex appeal. In a contest.

Yes, yes, I know, there are questions they have to answer. Allegedly, these are questions one cannot get wrong. They’re sort of opiniony, bleeding-heartish, “I wanna save the world!” questions. Yet somehow, people like that poor girl on Miss Teen USA a few years ago can still muck it all up with their “Maps and like such as” stuff.

And I don’t blame her. I don’t. She was 17 and sparkly and shiny and she had super-white teeth and pretty hair and that was really all she was supposed to have to do. I don’t know the poor girl, but I’m sure she’s not really that dumb… she just got caught in the lights and she was only 17, so she hadn’t quite figured out how to save the world yet. Maps. Everyone needs maps. That should help.

These events use the idea of national spokeswomanhood for some cause or another, and maybe some cash for a scholarship, as so much blemish concealer to try to hide the fact that they’re really just about the base social studies lesson of trying to determine, from year to year, which state has the prettiest young women on the whole. Then this particular pageant sends that girl on to see if she’s as pretty as the women from other countries.

Really, though, they barely talk about anything but the prettiness contest. It’s actually rather brazen.

I did a little research. (Very little. It’s hard to bring oneself to google “Miss USA” while hating everything it stands for.) Miss USA is the pageant that catapults its winner to the Miss Universe pageant. (Nevermind how stunningly Earthist that pageant is. Not unlike the World Series involving only American and a couple token Canadian teams.) Miss USA’s “history” page says the Miss Universe pageant started from a “local bathing beauty competition” spearheaded by a swimwear designer.

How inspirational.

It says the Miss Universe contest has “evolved into a powerful, year-round, international organization that advances and supports opportunities for these young women” who are “savvy, goal-oriented and aware.”

It doesn’t say what they’re aware of.

Then it asks you to click on the past titleholders to see where they are now. So I did. I thought maybe they’d have some women who have made successful careers in business, finance, movies, whatever.

I have never heard of any of these women in my life. Including the years they won.

Nevermind that there are no links for these women. There are photos of them dating back to 1952, with their names… but no links to see “where they are now!”

The website, like the event itself, is a bunch of flash and glitter. And that’s all.

Now don’t get me wrong. The women who win these preposterous contests do travel the world and do some charity work. I don’t know how dirty they get, but they do some stuff. And that’s great.

Now show me what they do after they’re done being a beauty queen for a year.

Isn’t that what we should celebrate?

But that’s not how it works. We spend an evening (and I’m playing fast and loose with the word “we”) sitting in front of a television, judging these women on who’s pretty, who’s prettier, and who’s prettier still. Do we like her hair? What about her hips? Oh, she’s got nice legs. The one on the right might be better. Wow… honey, where’d you get those teeth? Ease up on the mascara! Those boobs cannot possibly be real.

The Question and Answer portion of the evening usually boils down to “She’s an idiot” and “That wasn’t an awful answer…”

I know a few women who have been in pageants here and there. Mostly small events, though I worked with a former Miss Massachusetts. Nice woman. I’d tell you her name, but you wouldn’t know her. She’s very nice, and was fine at her job. She wasn’t an idiot; she wasn’t an empty head. I’m not saying they all are. I’m saying the pageants they participate in are full of empty promises. Bright lights in big cities and some money for school, maybe. Maybe a chance to take a year off, travel, see Haiti and Africa, work with AIDS-infected orphans and do some real good (if it’s not just a photo op). I’m sure those experiences are formative for those women. I’m sure they make impressions.

Just not on us.

Isn’t the pageant industry just a way to put pretty women on a stage and see who falls? Who falters? Who flubs? Aren’t the “opportunities” afforded to these women based completely on how they look?

Aren’t we supposed to be getting past that by now?

1952. That’s when this nonsense started. From a bathing suit competition in California.

Haven’t we evolved since then?

What about the girls all over the country who really need opportunities? Who have poise but aren’t pretty? Who are pretty but not privileged? Do we realize how many pageants, how many entry fees, how many ball gowns and hairdos these girls need to go through, how many contests they have to win, to get to the national stage, where the “real opportunities” happen?

What a joke.

The money that’s spent on the tiaras and the production and the TV time and the staff for the event, for the facade of a website… There’s so much good that money could do.

So many opportunities it could create for so many women.

But instead, it’s all funneled for one woman, who’s judged to be the best-looking one on the stage.

Who we never hear of again.

They don’t need to do huge things when they’re done being the queen. But I’d like to see the celebration start after the tiara comes off. When they go to work. Become mothers. Become better, smarter, more real. Celebrate them on a national stage then.

Because that’s when women are really beautiful.

Featured image from lasvegassun.com

Things I’ve Learned On the Beach


Vacations are not breaks from learning. The powers of observation can be amazing educational tools. I’ve learned more about bathing suits than I ever thought possible. Notice, I’m not saying it’s good. Below, a list of lessons. Yes, they’re kind of critical. But clearly, somebody has to say it.

1. European men still think Speedos are the way to go.

I really don’t understand this. It’s like they stubbornly refuse to wear any bathing attire other than a Speedo. And apparently, the more brightly-colored or wildly patterned, the better. I’m amazed I didn’t see anything with feathers strut by. Why do these guys not understand how incredibly UNflattering these things are, even when you’re 26 and gorgeous? Are they really comfortable? How is it possible that they’re comfortable? If you want to be seen, wear one. If you want to be seen and not make people look away, stick to trunks.

1A. The only thing worse than a guy in a Speedo is an old guy in a stretched-out Speedo.

I don’t think I need to explain this. But it did remind me of an episode at a different beach a few years ago. This guy wearing some sort of natural-colored fishnet “cover-up” decided to make camp right next to us. He had long, curly bleached blond hair and a leathery tan. He wore, I kid you not, a stretched-out gold lame’ Speedo. And…

…wait for it…

a fanny pack.

It was like Sammy Hagar went on a bender, forgot where he was, and decided to catch some rays.

Exactly like this, but with a belly and a tan. Wait. It might have actually been Sammy Hagar. (Image from the uber-classy sucksorrocks.com)

After he was finished with his visit, he climbed on a bicycle and rode off.

I’ll let you fully process that image.

Okay then.

2. There is seriously  no end of middle-aged, potbellied men who believe it’s perfectly acceptable to show at least two inches of butt crack while walking around the beach.

These men are usually with their wives. I don’t understand how they’re permitted to get away with this. They’ve got their shorts slung so low, everyone else is subject to their posterior crests. And it’s not cute. In fact, it’s usually furry. And not kitten furry or puppy furry or baby bunny rabbit furry.

3. There is also no end of women of all ages who wear ill-advised bathing suits.

I suppose I should applaud these women and girls for having a healthy enough body image to flaunt the flab, the cellulite, the jiggly bits. In a way, I think it’s great that they’re comfortable with their bodies. But people, I’m not that old and I’m a healthy weight, and I still keep my cellulite covered. It’s just polite. I know that my flaws lie in my proverbial trunk, and I’m not going to show you what they are. It’s so much sexier if you don’t let it all hang out. What is it about the current times that make people thing it’s better to show everything right from jump? Am I my grandmother? Are there kids on my lawn? I don’t think so.

4. There are also plenty of girls and women who don’t feel the need to keep their legs closed while they’re lying about on the beach. One of them was facing me directly. And when I say her legs were not closed, I mean if her doctor were around, she’d be totally ready for a quick pelvic. She was from some other country, but I’m  not having that as an excuse. Knees together, love. Where is your mother?

But, turns out…

5. There are parents who seemingly don’t care what their daughters look like on the beach.

Now. I have plenty of therapy-necessitating issues borne of my mother ‘s criticisms. But never, not ever, did I wear a bikini, untie the top strap that goes around your neck, tie it behind my back instead, and then slouch over to play cards. Legs akimbo, and fabric I mean barely covering nipples. She could have been wearing pasties, for all the good this bikini top was doing while she had the top strap tied around her back. And her parents were right there. Right there! How does that happen? I wasn’t even allowed to wear a bikini for as long as I lived in my parents’ house. I swear, I didn’t own one until I was 22. But here’s this lovely 17-year-old girl with a sweet face and she’s all exposed. In front of her father. I wanted to roll up my magazine and smack him in the head with it.

I don’t get it.

6. Trying too hard automatically negates attractiveness.

This is one of those things you don’t learn until you’re older, and God, do I wish I knew it ten years ago. The people I see trying too hard are younger, and it breaks my heart. They’re teetering on four-inch heels and wearing short skirts that they keep having to pull down as they walk. Their hair is all Done, but it’s humid and it’s breezy, so they’re getting frustrated with it. It’s hard work to be beautiful. But at their age, it’s harder to just let yourself be beautiful, and that’s sad, because it’s so much easier to look lovely naturally when you’re 22. I just want to stop these girls on the street and tell them to relax. Don’t make it so much harder than it is. I say this in all seriousness and heartfelt sincerity: there is more beauty in grace than there will ever be in glamour. If you’re not comfortable, you’re less beautiful. Let it go, and it will come to you. You’ll be irresistible. All the great ones knew it: Hepburn, Kelly, Bacall. There are famous, beautiful women right now who know it: Halle Berry, Diane Lane, Ashley Judd come to mind. Confidence and grace. They’re what make you beautiful. They’re what make men stare. Hairspray and spandex are for rookies.