Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hanging Up the Lampshade

I've realized that some social activities just aren't as much fun as they used to be. Here are formerly favorite pastimes that have faded or fizzled in my forties.

A juicy gossip session with my girlfriends used to be the highest form of entertainment. I'd get a vicious thrill digging into acquaintances' messy romances, wanton sex lives, and career blunders. I still like to dish a bit, but now I'm more likely to sympathize with other's mishaps than delight in them. It's not only that I'm a softie. It's just that I've learned that whatever goes around tends to come around, and I'd rather people take it easy on me when I'm the one in the hot seat.

In my twenties, a good Saturday night lasted so late it meant stepping over the Sunday Tribune on the way in the door.  No matter how many  games of quarter bounce I lost or tequila shots I threw back, as long as I slept in until noon I felt perfectly fine. These days, two martinis put me under the table and if I'm not in bed by midnight I'm wrecked 'til Tuesday. It's not fair really, I enjoyed those years as a party girl. But my body has told me it's time to retire the shot glass.

Fine Dining
Until recently, going to an expensive restaurant for a gourmet meal was my ideal way to socialize with friends. Now, I've lost the taste for it.  It's just too much - too much food, too much money, too much sitting around, too stuffy. It's more fun to grab a casual light bite, then move on to shoot a game of pool or catch a show.

While my appetite for gossip, drinking games and seven course meals is on the wane, this girl still wants to have fun. Luckily there are plenty of pursuits that have actually gotten better with age. I'll tell you about them in my next posting!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sophia Loren's Secret to Staying Young

I love what this beautiful and brainy woman, now 74, has to stay about staying young. She also eats a lot of pasta.
"There is a fountain of youth:  it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.  When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."  Sophia Loren

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Women’s Works (of Art)

I've discovered three inspiring female artists. Click on the highlighted links below to learn more about them.

I met painter Hollis Jeffcoat through my mother, Jane, who lives on Sanibel Island and is also an artist. My mom has been Hollis's student for years and was thrilled to take me to the lovely island gallery exhibiting her mentor's work. Hollis grew up in Southwest Florida, but has travelled extensively over her 35 year career, studying and working in New York, Montreal and France. Her work is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While she has mainly worked in oil, Hollis's most recent pieces, such as Woods III (pictured at left), are vivid pastels. You can see more of her paintings at I'm enamored with her "Traveler" series.

I drive a lot of swimming and soccer carpools and there's one song on the car radio I can't get enough of:  "Where I Stood" by singer-songwriter Missy Higgins. Just 25 years old, Missy has been a successful recording artist in her native Australia for years, but she only hit the American airwaves recently,  after "Where I Stood" was featured on Grey's Anatomy. Give this moving song a listen at the  Missy Higgins MySpace page.

This summer, I took my creative daughter, Emma, to the American Craft Expo in Evanston, which features some of the best artisans in the country. We were just there to nose around until I discovered Dona Look, the female half of the jewelry design team Loeber+Look. Her jewelry is so cool - a great combination of delicacy and funk. I promptly bought a sterling silver "Dot" necklace ($160) and pair of "Ring" earrings ($70.) It may seem a bit expensive, but every time I wear the necklace I get compliments, which makes me feel like a million bucks. You can shop the collection at the Loeber+Look website.

Do you know any inspiring women artists? Post them here!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Few Good Things About January

Check out my continuing attempts to video blog. I still need to figure out how to edit! This clip runs just over a minute.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Confessions of a Prude

While I like to think I'm open minded and adventurous, there are a few current fashions I admit I'm too prudish to follow. I don't know if it's my age or I'm just uptight, but here are a few hot trends that leave me cold.

1.  Tattoos 
Tatts have gone mainstream, but I don't see their appeal. From only a few feet away the details of the designs are lost and they simply look like bruises or smudges. But aesthetics aside, tattoos don't stand the test of time. A woman's values and beliefs change as she matures; that inky deep-tissue artwork is forever. The chick with the Tinkerbell tattoo at right might not find the same deep meaning in magic wands and pixie dust ten years from now. 

2. Thongs 
I abhor pantylines as much as the next gal, but must I walk around with a perpetual wedgie to prevent them? There isn't any other place for that little string to go but right up my... okay, too much information, but it hurts. While thongs are sexy and eliminate pantylines, they leave the butt cheeks exposed to dimple and wobble at will. My favorite undies are Victoria's Secret seamless hiphuggers, which may be granny pants by today's standards, but I need the coverage  - and the comfort.

3. Over-processed hair "down there."  
Bikini waxing has become de rigueur, but many fashionistas are taking the grooming of their nether regions to further extremes.  One popular style is the Brazilian, where every single hair is ripped from the tender area, leaving it completely bare. The problem with this treatment is that the hair inevitably grows back, but it has to be at least 1/4 inch long before waxing can be repeated. So, after the first couple weeks aren't you left in a razor-stubbley state? I'm not sure this is an improvement.

Many frisky females who opt to keep some hair are jazzing it up. One current trend is to color the hair down under.  Betty Beauty has designed a number of special shades for the area - their best seller is hot pink. Call me a stick in the mud, but there's only one guy who has viewing rights to my hoo-ha and he could care less what color it is. He'd be happy if I'd just throw on a thong once in a while.

I'd like to hear what other women think about the above trends because maybe I'm missing out on something big. Post your comments here by clicking on the comments link below. You can post anonymously.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Squirrel Theory Dictates: OK to Plump Up

Some years ago, as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I developed an important scientific theory based on my study of squirrels. Ann Arbor has a huge population of fox squirrels, which are larger and spend more time on the ground than other types of squirrels, so they were easy to observe.

Here are the basic tenants of my theory. The fact that I was a business major and had absolutely no scientific training does not make my theory any less irrefutable. I took a predicate logic class, so I know what I'm doing here, okay? 

Marjie's Incontrovertible Squirrel Theory
  1. Squirrels are cute.
  2. Chubby squirrels are very cute.
  3. Squirrels get chubby for the winter.
  4. I get chubby for the winter.
  5. It is winter.
  6. Therefore, I am very cute.
It's only mid-January, but it has already been a long, hard winter here in Chicago. The only way for me to feel warm is to have a full belly.  I can't get enough lasagna, creamy soup or hot chocolate. As for exercise, I haven't moved from the fire since Thanksgiving. But I'm not worried about the extra pounds I've packed on. Based on my squirrel theory, I know I'm cuter than ever.

There is now a Squirrel Club at the University of Michigan. You can check out their website (and pictures of some very chubby squirrels) at:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who's on Your "Freebie List"?

I'm sitting here in my flannel pjs with an awful cold and some sort of pus dripping out of my right eye. Given my contagious condition and less-than-attractive appearance, my real life chances of getting any action today are slim to none, so it's a good time to let my fantasies take over.

Remember that Friends episode when Chandler introduces the "freebie list" - a list of five celebrities that your partner agrees to let you sleep with without getting mad? Here's my list of hot hunks that can hypothetically have me anytime they want (as long as they don't object to a little pink-eye.)
  1.  Gerard Butler (right)- Oh my god, did you see him in 300? Oh my god, did you see him in P.S. I Love You? Yeah, the guy is ripped, but I'm all about his sweet smile, serious glower and sexy Scottish accent. Oh my god, am I gushing?
  2. Daniel Craig - He's a cool Brit with an attitude, but I know I'm the one who can melt his icy heart.  James Bond, I'll provide a quantum of solace to you, honey. Just bring a tube of Vicks Vaporub over here and we'll have a great time.
  3. Jon Bon Jovi - This rocker is 46, and he keeps getting hotter every year. He used to have that wide-eyed, wild hair 80s thing going on, but I much prefer his current pared down, chiseled look. Jon, you definitely don't give love a bad name.
  4.  Jon Stewart - Not so sure how great the Daily Show host would be in the sack, but I know he would tickle my funny bone. I love witty men. Plus, he's cute in a naughty little boy way.
  5. I'm torn.  A few years back, Viggo Mortenson, who played the heroic Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, would definitely have made my list. I wish I hadn't seen his naked fight scene in Eastern Promises - I didn't need to know about his skinny legs. I'm going to have to go with Javier Bardem, because he was so darn seductive in Vicki Christina Barcelona. He had three beautiful women pining over him at once and it was totally believable.

Because the freebie list is a two-way street, I asked my husband, Liam, which celebrities he would put on his own list.  He could only come up with three:   Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner and Natalie Imbruglia. I'm trying to figure out what those choices mean - does he like blonds or does he like big lips? 

Before I contemplate dying my hair or getting collagen injections, I'm going to try to cure this cold with a cup of tea and a big dose of vitamin C. But Gerard, Daniel, Jon, Jon and Javier, if you're ever in Chicago, feel free to look me up. That goes for you too Viggo.

Who's on your freebie list? Post it here!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This Year, Reduce Your Resolutions

I'm lowering my standards for New Year's resolutions. Year after year I set ambitious goals like getting in shape, organizing my finances, writing a book. But those projects take so looong - by March 1st I've completely lost interest. For 2009, I'm going for some fast fixes. I'm taking on things that can be achieved quickly, say in the time it takes me to write this entry.

My first resolution is to improve my vocabulary, and there's no time like the present. I'm putting my faineant (do-nothing, idle) ways behind me. I've found that has a panoply  (splendid or impressive array) of new words to explore and I will not be pusillanimous (cowardly) in using them.  Hey, three new words in a single paragraph? Improved vocab - check.

My second resolution is to clean out my office. Give me a minute here. Okay, I tossed my 2008 calendar in the recycling bin and deleted 846 old emails. Office organization accomplished, what next?

My third resolution is to appreciate my husband more. He just walked by so I grabbed his ass and whispered a vague promise into his ear about "later."  He looks very happy now.

I'm on a roll with this resolution thing. I don't want to be temerarious (reckless/rash), but I'm gonna keep going.  Now I'm drinking a glass of water to fulfill my resolution of  being better hydrated, while doing my kegel exercises because who doesn't want better kegels?

With that flurry of activity, I think I've accomplished enough for one year.  Happy 2009 to you all; my resolutions have surceased (come to an end.)