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Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's your Shoe Flavor?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a fashion trade show with my mother who will soon be opening a boutique. As we oohed and awed over the pretty trends, Mom sighed. "Oh, how I wish I could still wear stilettos." My eyebrow arched. Not really a sentiment I share. But apparently her comrades feel the same way. On a recent shopping trip, she and her pals tried on a few precipitous heels. And loved how sexy it all made them look. But they knew better than to purchase. Their arches paid their dues and can't be asked to go higher than an inch. Maybe an inch and a half. "Whoa!" I thought. "My mom musta been glamorous." As for me? Not so much. 

I belong to the ugly shoe generation. Sneakers, Doc Martens, chunky shoes, grungy boots, flats galore. (We Gen Xers have even been known to make the fashion faux pax of wearing flats with tailored suits! Yikes...) I admit that the only time I purchased a pair of three inch heels, I only wore them once. It was ridiculous. Not sexy. Thank God I had Doug to hold on to the entire evening because I realized quickly that my ankles were en route to a spraining.

I dress up every day for work. And I have to really talk myself into wearing those "one pair of shoes" that have the two inch heels when necessary. All other pairs are approximately 1 1/2 inches. They' look good enough. Come to think of it. Not sure if Mom has ever mentioned how adorable my shoes are. And I'm positive she notices...since I have lunch with her nearly every day.

Awesome? Yes?
Yesterday, Alex and I had a super fun day of shopping. I thought about my mother and her pretty shoes. I actually tried on a pair of fancy ones. But I put them right back after feeling like I most certainly was going to fall from great heights. Instead, I bought a pair of sensible, chunky black pumps at a normal altitude. And a great price. The only style that might've been better would've been a smart pair of penny loafers. As for my daughter? She found herself some awfully cute shoes with a heel that shouldn't trip her up or cause her to formulate hammer toes. I'll let you decide what sort of shoe generation she'll find herself in...perhaps a nice blend of a glam and practical?  Methinks, she and Grandma would have some fun shoe shopping...but who doesn't have fun shoe shopping? Really. No matter what your flavor.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nice or Famous?

Imagine this.
You got your big shot. Finally! A chance to realize your dream and reach stardom! (I'll let you fill in the blank as to how your newly-risen status comes about: acting gig, celebrity chef, opening act for Coldplay. Don't get too caught up about the talent. This exercise is just pretend.) But en route to your "chance of a lifetime," you come across an accident in which a person is in need of help. And wouldn't you know it. You're the only one around. But it will definitely cost you your chance–of a lifetime. Do you sacrifice the opportunity for fame in the name of benevolence? Or do you assume someone else can help? After all, this might be your only chance.

Obviously, most people aren't posed with this type of moral dilemma: fame or kindness. However, last week I read about a survey in which teenagers ranked fame as their value of choice...beating out the more humble value of benevolence. (And apparently this is a trend that has taken quite a shift in the past fifteen years.) Now, I didn't get caught up in analyzing the validity of the study, but it did get me thinking.

It does seem that we do, as a society, place a lot of emphasis on celebrity status. Getting famous. Upload a video to YouTube and voila. Reality TV. Everyone gets a bit of attention on Facebook. And really, you need no talent. Look at me. I get to write a blog and press publish post...see?

I'm trying to get a book published for Middle Grade/Young Adults. I won't go into the details of the plot–just in case you see in Barnes and Nobles someday–but its message involves the power of compassion. And even though I've had a few nibbles from agents, and some nice comments about my writing, the theme must be too...quiet. You see, my protagonist learns an unforgettable lesson about kindness. And somewhere during the plot, being popular becomes...forgotten. Hallelujah.

When I posed the fame versus kindness question to my kids, they merely shrugged, "You can be kind and be famous." True. But fame seems scary. Almost disease-like. This past week we watched (whether you wanted to or not) coverage of Whitney Houston. Is fame something we really want for our children? While celebrities are beautiful and have shiny things, their lives never appear fulfilling. So, why should anyone want that? For material wealth? For social acceptance? Or to feel good about themselves?

In my extremely researched opinion, I think we need to teach our children that acting kind to others is the best thing a person can do. Better than becoming famous. Really. Helping an elderly man cross the street will bring more satisfaction than elevating oneself to stardom status with a bathroom one can play baseball in. Maybe we can start by showing acts of kindness ourselves. And who knows. We all might just might stumble into a whole lot more happiness.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


The other night at Alex's vocal concert I readied my iPhone to video a performance of my daughter. Looking for a way to entertain himself, my son offered himself up to the task. I rejected the idea. After all, he is just a kid. But ahoy, he was quick to repudiate.

"Mom, really? I think I know more about your iPhone than you do. It's my generation."

Touché. I handed over the device. And as we Gen Xers say, he did a nice job of "taping" it.

It's no easy task to admit when your kids begin to outsmart you in certain areas of your life. I used to feel somewhat tech savvy. (I am blogging from my smart phone on the blogger app.) But put me in front of the TV with a remote in attempt to retrieve a Netflix movie or to DVR an event, I will tell you it's a sure way to see my kids actually annoyed by me. As if I'm a toddler! Although...a baby might have a better handle on these new-fangled remotes.

I know I'm not a complete Luddite. I tweet. Facebook. Blog. But I when I can't figure something techy out? I turn to my kids. My mother told me of a writer's observation between Christmases of now and those of past:

-"Daddy? Can you put this together for me?"

-"Son? How do I operate this?"

Gheesh. When I was young, my parents did a great job of making me realize how much I didn't know. (They still do.) Now my kids are doing it. Guess I'm kinda sandwiched between a bunch of smarty pants.

However. There is one thing that I've got on them. Grammar. I can still catch my offspring using a wrong verb tense or an inapplicable word choice. And I think they really appreciate my English lectures. I can tell by their blank expression. And how quickly they change the subject.

Gotta go. Handcramping on this tiny keyboard.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Reviews?

Feel like reading any books? Here's a few book reviews on Read.Write.Share.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Left to Tell by Immaculee by Illibagiza

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Anyone else have suggestions??? Apparently it's Charles Dickens 200th Anniversary. Maybe it's time to break out a few classics?  Good reading.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our Dance in the Southwest

My husband delighted me at Christmas time by giving me a trip! He had cleverly packaged a box like a bread maker. For obvious reasons, I had mentally prepared myself to love it, dough and all.  As it turned out my joyful reaction (as the box was a decoy and I was led on a treasure hunt throughout the house to find a travel itinerary to San Diego) was quite sincere. And now we are home already. But the Christmas gift was divine, quite living up to expectations. And as my hubby will tell you...I always have high expectations. Highlights/reflections:
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  •  San Diego weather certainly is an instigator for spring fever. It's almost cruel, really, for us Midwesterners. Although, I was a bit disturbed to find out that the temps soared in Iowa while we are gone. Perhaps I'm not so benevolent after all...I wanted our family to tell us how utterly frigid it was.
  • The charming Gaslamp District, where we rendezvoused, was not want of art museums, shops, and eateries. My hubby sure knows what I love. Of course, it was sort of a Catch-22, because "eatery" was the only spot that appealed to Doug. Luckily, our marriage understand the meaning of compromise. And four days tested our limits of compromise. ("I'd like to visit one more museum Doug"..."Ugh. How about some Ghiradelli chocolate instead?")
  • What kind of parents go to Sea World sans kids? We do. Oh, the whales and sea creatures we saw! And yet we admit it. We felt...orphaned buzzing about, pointing out wonders to each other, not our offspring. Every time we'd see a shark, the same comment slipped from our mouth. "That would certainly scare the shit out of Cole." We'd smile and chuckle. "It sure would."
  • And, yes we did it. We upgraded to a convertible. I remember when I was young, seeing old people in convertibles and thinking, "What's the use?" Yeah, well, we're those old people now. And I'm not really sure what's the use. Except to tell our kids about it. And that we can afford to RENT one. Maybe when we retire we'll be able to afford to own one. Maybe. 
  • The best meal? Jim Croce's Jazz Restaurant! Even with the nice beggar who I stopped by while we dined al fresco. (I still think we should've given him the rest of our calamari.) The first place we stopped was a bar called Funky Garcia's. It had fish tacos! And San Diego has the best fish tacos right? Right! Well, they were funky alright. Actually, Doug had delicious shrimp tacos there. Mine were just real fishy. But the beer was awesome. And our waitress was sweet. The best part of the Gaslamp eateries? Eating outside without competing with bugs. Only, the nice beggars might want to have a bite of your dish.
My hubby and I both agreed that beyond the luxurious hotel bed mattress the best part of this trip was remembering how much we love and miss our kids.  Everywhere we went was an experience we wanted to share with them. And we will. Until they're bored to tears. And want to send us away again.