Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My generation of women demonstrated against the Vietnam War, burned our bras, and founded the Women’s Lib movement. Along the way, some of us discovered drugs and free love. My friends and I wore bell bottoms, competed for corporate jobs, and had nannies.

Our daughters watched. They watched their Mommies pack lunches, wear pearls and pantyhose, write business plans, and worship Steven Covey. They also watched us cook meals, schlep them around to soccer games, and bake cookies. Our daughters were much more observant than we thought they were. They learned from us.

Our daughters learned how to multi task. Some of them became techno geniuses and helped invent the gadgets that have made multi tasking so manageable. Others used their burgeoning awareness of opportunities for women to become highly paid professionals in careers that were not yet open to their mothers’ generation.

This group of talented girls, now into their twenties and thirties, makes achievement look like a walk in the park. They have careers. They run marathons. They cook like Ina Garten. They look like Cameron Diaz, and they entertain like Martha Stewart.

I have observed my two daughters become women that I could never imaging being. One speaks Spanish fluently, teaches high school, and mentors inner city children, while keeping horses and showing them regularly all over the country. My other daughter is a talent agent, a wine consultant, and a professional hostess who schedules wine tastings and dinner parties several times a week

I have been in awe of both of my girls since they were teens. They do things right now that I still have on my bucket list. They are confident, bold, and a little sassy! They lead their lives instead of following life, a job, or a man around.

Now they are approaching parenthood. I know my girls won’t be the Mom I was. They will be efficient, involved, inspiring, and yet nurturing. They will tire themselves out and sell themselves short, just as we did raising them. But just as our generation learned from our Mothers, this group of enterprising young women has done the same. Unlike us, they won’t put off adventure in favor of parenthood. They won’t worry about starting families in their thirties or beyond. They won’t work for others—they will create their own enterprises. Our daughters will be their own bosses. Call the shots.

My girls don’t think I am watching them. But I do. And what I see them doing each day enthralls and amazes me. This generation of young women is ASTOUNDING.

Their Mothers and Grandmothers take all the credit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My two dearest friends are very strong women. One is small in stature but has a huge and menacing presence. The other is of normal size, but has a mean right hook and a standup routine that would make Seinfeld laugh. I am nothing like these women and sometimes wonder if they speculate which planet I come from. We are like night and day. You see, they raised five sons between them, and I mothered two girls.

Mothers who raise sons have to have testosterone shields. They face horrors in their homes that I can only TRY to imagine. My small friend has had to deal with male frustration that resulted in holes punched through walls. The comedian noted once that “boys are unable to be in the same room without making repeated physical contact.”

Mothers of girls can go about their parenting without worrying whether the house will be burned down while they are at the grocery. Girls can eat lunch without getting it on the walls. Girls usually don’t swear like troopers, at least at the dinner table. My daughters grew up with manners and inside voices.

As I understand it, boys are simple beings. They usually don’t suffer mood swings or harbor grudges. When mad, they punch the object of their fury and then go on to eat three sandwiches washed down with a gallon of milk. Girls, on the other hand, have angst up to their eyeballs. They have poetry in their souls and send endless notes to one another in class about it. Girls are either dreamy or depressed, with nothing in between.

Keeping boys clean is a full time job, I hear. In our house, the showers were rarely unoccupied. While we did't have to spend wads of money on sporting equipment, I can attest to the fact that depilatories and feminine products aren’t cheap. Our budget had columns for things like “Food,” “Insurance,” “Mortgage,” and then one special category for “Mascara.”

Boys are eating machines. They burn millions of calories even while sleeping. Girls, on the other hand, are obsessed with their appearance. While my girlfriends were making pans of lasagna, freezing dozens of cupcakes for future reference, and stoking the fires with pizza and pancakes, at our house, I was trying to figure out how to make low fat entrees using yogurt. We ate a lot of salad, and everything was sugar free.

Socially, boys are, to put it bluntly, retarded. But girls take relationships with others to a level of sophistication that requires the patience of saints and the counseling skills of Freud. My friends told me that the biggest emotional scenes with their boys involved whose turn it was to take out the trash. In our house, there were nightly dramas involving love, envy, power, isolation, and pimples.

Despite it all, I have taken pride in the orderly, serene and feminine household I maintained during my girls’ childhoods. They acquired culture, great manners, the ability to shop for bargains, and a real appreciation for music and books. My girls grew up in a home that was peaceful, tidy, and quiet. Both of my girlfriends think this is hilarious, because more than likely,


Saturday, April 17, 2010


I hate perfectionists. They take way too long to do things. They waste precious time refining things. They do WAY too much research. They are finicky, fussy, and fastidious. Striving for perfection takes a lot of energy, and we all know that in this day and age, energy conservation is of the essence! Do you admire perfection? Well, STOP IT! Calm down, and set your sights just a bit lower. You will heave a sigh of relief, most likely extend your life span, and significantly reduce headaches and lower back pain. Here are some things you might want to consider:

Quit all that cooking from scratch! The microwave and freezer were invented a long time ago! Research has shown that nine out of ten family members PREFER Stouffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese to the stuff made from a recipe! Do you feel guilty about using cake mix and instant pudding? Get over it! Those products were developed by researchers who used focus groups to determine that these foods taste GOOD ENOUGH.

And really, “a house so clean that you could eat off the floor” is JUST AN EXPRESSION. No one in their right minds would ever want to eat off a floor! So why clean it so much? A light film of dust is not even really noticeable. Dusty furniture and floors have never been proven to be a health hazard. As long as you can walk in your house without having to wash your feet afterwards, your house is CLEAN ENOUGH.

All the women in fashion magazines don’t really look that good in real life. The airbrush was invented to erase any pore, pimple, or pooch on those women. And we all know that they aren’t allowed to eat anything. So aspiring to THAT level of perfection is pointless. With a little lip gloss, some mascara, and good foundation garments, you look PRETTY ENOUGH.

Workouts and low cholesterol diets won’t prevent everything. We all have to go sometime. It is a good idea to walk on the treadmill instead of using it as a towel bar, and cardio vascular fitness is nothing to sniff at. But in actuality, if you can get around without a cane, walk your dog in the park, lift a bag of groceries, go up the stairs, and sleep at night, then you are HEALTHY ENOUGH.

Love stories on television and in the movies are purely for entertainment. Real couples have fights, get bored, find each other annoying, and have second thoughts. And this is just during the honeymoon! If you manage to stay married to one person for longer that a few years without murdering him/her, and if you still manage to have a few laughs, hold hands, and share private jokes, you are HAPPY ENOUGH.

Wake up and smell the coffee! And for Pete’s sake, you DON’T HAVE TO GRIND IT YOURSELF!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I am most certainly not a famous writer. But a writer I am, and as a result of a year of blogging, I have begun to get a few questions about writers and writing that I do feel qualified to answer. Just this week, someone asked me how on earth I came to write a blog in the first place.

So here goes: advice to writers from a writer who is not famous, not published, not represented by a literary agent, and probably not destined for greatness. But in the “you can learn something from just about anybody” school of life, here are my writing tips for aspiring authors:

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. I know my husband better than anybody else. I can finish his sentences for him, and often do. I have spent forty years plumbing the depths of his wondrous mind, and I have discovered a writer’s gold mine there. I could no more write a treatise on the economy than win a Nobel prize, but I have found enough fodder in my husband to fuel blogs aplenty.

KEEP IT SHORT. The best writers get an idea, and then say it. Period. A few great ones can throw in adjectives and adverbs that make their writing sing, but the rest of us hang ourselves by adding too many modifiers. It truly is the thought that counts, not how uniquely you can say it.

MAKE IT COHESIVE. Get one good idea. Build a piece around IT. Too many ideas expressed in one place are confusing, confounding, and just plain muddy. Outlines are the greatest things since sliced bread! Figuring out what you want to say before you write makes writing flow. Or, as my small daughter said once, “I didn’t like that story. It didn’t have a skeleton.”

GET GRAMMAR. Man, oh man, if I had a dollar for every punctuation error, misplaced modifier, or misused apostrophe I see, I would have my own butler. Good writers are understandable. Grammar is what makes the written word understandable. James Joyce and a few others could ignore it, but I think that grammar is a writer’s best friend!

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. If it is a beautiful day out there, you can be sure that there are hundreds of would-be writers writing about the breeze, the rays hitting the daffodils, or the beauty of their children as they tumble in the park. On beautiful days, I see all the dog poop in the yard, my husband coming at me with a power washer, and an opportunity to acquire four new pairs of Capri pants. Don’t write about the obvious.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. All good writers write a lot. I pride myself on a grocery list well done. It doesn’t matter whether it is a note to the teacher, a letter to the editor, or an email to a friend. If you are going to write something, do it as well as you can. Then do it over. Writers write. It doesn’t matter, really, what you write, as long as you are practicing.

EXPERIENCE MAKES THE WRITER. The layers of one’s life are what make a person interesting. Are you an adventurer? You are fortunate; you will have a lot to draw on as a writer. Are you housebound? No excuse; it didn’t stop Emily Dickinson. Are you just a kid? Well that is a whole world you can explore. I do feel that I have found my voice just recently as an older woman, but for me, life got in the way of my writing. Don’t let that happen to you.

LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN FROM OTHER PEOPLE. My husband is a man of a million questions. If you have a story, he will drag it out of you. Over the years, he has become friends with waitresses, plumbers, every neighbor in a five mile radius, and much to my chagrin, the people in the rows in front of and behind us at every movie we have attended. But what he uncovers are human truths. And those truths are worth writing about.

My fifteen minutes of fame may never come, or I might just get five minutes. But I am a writer. I love words. I make myself laugh. I just keep on typing. And my advice to all of you out there who want to be writers? Write something. Wait. Revise it. Wait. Revise it once again. Think about your life.

Then repeat the process.

Monday, April 5, 2010


My daughters will attest to the fact that a fashionista I am NOT. However, I feel qualified to comment on fashion trends, anyway. I read Vogue in the doctor’s waiting room, and I look at all of those People magazines when I am at the hair salon. I occasionally see an episode of “American Idol.” Here is what I, and probably many other women with good sense, wonder:

WHAT ON EARTH IS JIMMY CHOO THINKING? Those Chinese people who bound the feet of their women must have been Jimmy’s ancestors! Hobbling around in foot bindings can’t have been too much more agonizing than tottering along in five inch platform heels! I know, with short skirts, heels make legs look longer. But are long legs worth risking one’s neck for? For that matter, even DANSKOS are dangerous!

While I am on the subject, I feel that purse designers must also have a nasty streak. Handbags are no longer a small accessory for conveniently stashing a lipstick, a few dollars and a tampon. Do young women now really need enough room in their purses for a change of clothes, lunch, a dictionary, and a small dog?

WHY ARE TATOOS SO POPULAR? I just can’t understand this trend. Personally, I get tired of looking at the same pictures on my walls, and I like to switch things around once in awhile. I can’t imagine having to look at the same old butterfly on my hip year in and year out. And let’s face it—that lyric from your favorite song? In twenty years, you will look at your arm and wonder what those words MEAN.

Gladiators are apparently much admired by fashion designers. Straps that wind from ankle to knee are featured in every fashion spread I see. The girls in the photos look fine, but how does the average female keep those straps from sagging down around the ankles? And the dominatrix look is in again with all the spikes, studs, leather and flagellant appendages. It makes young girls look like Pit Bulls, in my humble opinion.

Who decides what becomes stylish, anyway? Is it Anna Wintour? How do these people make the decisions that will so affect our lives? I imagine all the fashionistas and style mavens at a meeting:

“What do you think about making shoes out of metal?”

“Better idea! Let’s start lining everything with sheepswool!”

“Ok, and here’s a great idea: let’s invent a teeny, tiny jacket that is completely useless and call it a SHRUG!”

“And let’s start putting the bras and underpants ON TOP OF THE CLOTHING!”

I am a wise woman. I have lived through mini skirts, bell bottoms, the ORIGINAL platform heels, Go-Go boots, ironing my hair, and the braless look. But here’s a note to today’s fashion designers:

If it could cause torn ligaments, hypothermia, indecent exposure, or puncture wounds, it isn’t fashion now, is it? Let’s be honest, IT’S SADISM!

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