The lipstick lowdown

If we’re going to talk about makeup for the next three weeks (and — squeal — we are), I feel like the most logical place to start is with lipstick. In my opinion, there is no other cosmetic that can so immediately give you a perky pickup and not require a lot of skill to apply. It can make you feel fancy. It can make you feel stylish. It can make you feel elegant and light and fun.

Unlike with contour or highlight, this is an area where I actually know my stuff. This because I am a red lipstick girl through and through.

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Exploring the makeup purge

In an effort to live a more uncluttered life, and possibly put off writing this column, I have just gone through my makeup drawer. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m feeling particularly decisive or particularly ruthless today, but I am about to throw out about three makeup bags’ worth of creams, sticks, pencils, glosses, shadows and mystery balms promising to accomplish incredible things.

I don’t consider myself a makeup addict in any way (most days, it’s just me and my sunblock), but I have to admit that this stuff has added up over the years in a shocking way.

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Just a trim, please

A funny thing happened on my way to growing my hair out. About halfway through, I realized I was already where I wanted to be.

As a recap, waaaaaaaaaaay back in February, against the advice of my hair stylist, I decided to cut my hair super-short in an effort to look more sophisticated and European. About 12 hours after the chop, I badly regretted my decision, a regret that deepened when I was called “sir” during a purchase of a panini in Detroit’s airport.

Operation Grow Hard began in full force.

The plan was to primarily stay in the house for the next 10 months until my hair could grow its way back into a short bob. I figured the plan was fairly secure, since:

  1. I don’t have to go to the bank anymore as my bank has a check-depositing app (praise!).
  2. I wouldn’t need to get gas because I wouldn’t be driving anywhere.
  3. We have an Amazon Prime membership and can’t you, theoretically, get everything delivered by Amazon?

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To butter, my love

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.” ― Dodie Smith

My dearest Butter,

That I am only just writing my first love letter to you is a source of excruciating pain and embarrassment to me. How, alas, could I have been so remiss in expressing my fathomless dedication to you before now? Why, indeed, did my judgment lapse so?

I can only proceed by first submitting my sincerest of apologies. In truth, you’re always on my mind, always in my heart. In fact, I long for you, my dearest, dearest spread, and I renounce, irrefutably and absent of compunction, all weak imitations of your yellowy greatness. I’ll even state for the record: Earth Balance is a ditz; margarine is a harlot. Who, I ask, can’t believe she’s not butter? No one, I tell you, no one at all.

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The joy of cartoons

For about seven years now, a door in our kitchen has been slowly getting coated with New Yorker cartoons. It is possibly my favorite work of art in our house, in part because William, Gabrielle and I have each contributed to it. Sometimes we clip out a cartoon every few weeks, sometimes a few months go by, but now, the door is nearly entirely covered with scotch tape and clippings.

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It’s that peaceful, easy feeling

This past weekend, we were at a cocktail bar with friends when my husband winced.

“This is the second ZZ Top song they’ve played in the past 10 minutes,” he muttered.

“Not a fan?” our friend Mark asked.

“Oh sure, I was a fan — 40 years ago,” William said. “I’d like to be a fan of something new. But ZZ Top follows me everywhere I go.”

This was not the first time I’d heard this complaint. And I actually can see the merit in the argument. Scan the radio and it’s not going to take you long before you hear Billy Idol belting, Heart crooning, or Jethro Tull tulling. Like it or hate it, classic rock is alive and well in 2019.

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A letter to my love

A long, long time ago, I can still remember seeing that silver sports car sitting in the parking lot.

I had just gotten out of Politics of Poetry, a three-hour, monster class that finished at 8 p.m. It wasn’t a happy time in my life, as graduate school spawned record-high self-doubt in my brain, but I do remember feeling relief that the class was over for the week.

As I walked, I noticed it was suddenly spring, with cherry trees blooming and the evening silver with the dregs of daylight. I reached American University’s gravel parking lot at the edge of campus and then made my way to my trusty Ford Escort, for which I still have so much fondness. I opened the door to my car, sat inside it, looked out the front windshield. And that’s when I saw the silver sports car sitting directly in front of me.

It contained the man who would become my husband.

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The reading practice

For the past few years, I’ve been on a reading quest to try to fill the many gaps that exist in my relationship with literature. It has resulted in a useful experiment, one that has taught me a lot about reading, writing and how to accept my limitations.

It started when Gabrielle had to read The Scarlet Letter in, I think, grade 11. Because the Canadian literary curriculum includes a lot of books written by Canadians, this book had never been assigned and I’d never taken it upon myself to read it on my own. But with Gabrielle wading through the rather dense book (especially that intro), I figured I’d give it a go.

Of course, Gabrielle finished the book in about a week. I, on the other hand, took about two months.

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The dragons in the garden

I could kiss whoever it was who decided snapdragons should be called snapdragons, couldn’t you? Talk about a sweet and spicy bite of language, right? So poetic and, yet, so accurate. I mean, even with my limited exposure to Game of Thrones, I can easily see that they look like they have a dragon’s head.

How could they possibly have that shape? Must be a good bit of magic, I suppose.

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The value of a summer job

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a very bright woman who used to work in admissions at Centre College. Part of her job was reading admissions essays from applicants to assess if they would be a good fit for the incoming class. She told me the best essay she ever read was about a kid cleaning out the frozen yogurt machine at his summer job.

A day later, I came across a very interesting statistic from Pew Research Center. Their researchers had found that just 35 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds had summer jobs in 2017. Compare that to 58 percent in 1978.

At once, I thought of all of the great personal statements that would never be written because teens were spending their summers bingeing on Netflix instead of clocking into work. And then it made me think of how sweet a summer job really can be.

I got my first job at age 15 after Dr. Gene Kaprowy marched his daughter into Medicine Rock Café and asked to speak to the manager. The request produced a leggy blonde named Loralyn, who asked if she could help him.

“This is my daughter,” my dad said. “You should hire her. She’s a hard worker.”

Mortified, I stood there like a deer in headlights, only able to process that my dad was suddenly, inexplicably speaking in short, declarative sentences.

“Give her your resume,” he said to me.

I shakily handed over a nearly-blank piece of paper, the contents of which were my GPA and the phone numbers of a few moms for whom I had babysat.

Loralyn looked down at the paper, appearing to inspect it carefully. Then she looked at me and squinted.

“Can you hustle?” she said.

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