makeovers at the beauty counter of happiness

September 29, 2013

why i read it: because it's a tiny book (not teeny tiny like the last one, but the size that's also often found in the cashwrap line). because i'm on that sentiment quest.

what i liked: my grandfather sold movie magazines in his stationery store. he let me read them for free if didn't get them dirty.

reading about lana turner's life was a lot more interesting than reading about pocahontas in school (p. 41).

when i ask olivia how's school, she says, "fine."

she's much more specific when we go shopping. she'll try on a pair of jeans, make a face in the mirror, and say, "gross. they stick out. the pockets suck. nobody wears this kind."

"you know," i often will say, "when i was your age, i thought i looked awful in everything. but when i look back now..."

before i finish the sentence, olivia gets that glazed look in her eyes she always gets whenever i start a sentence with, "when i was your age."

she must have learned that from my mother (p. 45).

dear olivia,

you probably won't understand much about this letter, but since i'm never going to send it to you, that's all right.

i just got off the phone with your mother. i can tell from her voice that she's mad at me.

it always amazes me how little influence i have on making her happy, and how much influence i have on making her unhappy.

i was watching a television program this morning and a famous psychologist was telling everybody that happiness is a state of mind. i haven't a clue as to how to drive to that state.

but whenever i'm sad, i think of you--and then i smile. maybe that psychologist knew something after all (p. 50).

the summer i was thirteen, eileen ford, the manager of the ford model agency, had a radio program on saturdays at one o'clock on which she'd reveal the beauty secrets of famous models.

listeners could write her letters about their beauty problems, and she'd pick some to answer on the air. she wouldn't use the person's name if she read their letter. i wrote her a letter.

one saturday, i was eating a can of franco-american spaghetti and listening to her program when she read a letter about someone with all my beauty problems: bitten nails, shiny nose, stringy hair, flat-chested, big feet, bony knees, buck teeth, near-sighted, and shy.

i got so nervous, i ran out of the kitchen. a minute later, i went back to listen. by then, she was reading somebody else's problems.

i always wondered if my life would have turned out differently if i'd heard her advice (p. 54).

i've always checked out other women. i do it on movie lines, at shoprite, in mcdonald's. i think to myself:

that's the wrong hairstyle for her.
doesn't that woman have a full-length mirror at home?
oh, blondie, you need your roots done.
those shoes have seen too many rainy days.
dangling rhinestone earrings don't go with sneakers.
nobody will take you seriously with those nails.
hey, missy, it's time to call jenny craig.
no one looks good in that color .

it's all i can do to stop myself from walking over to a total stranger and saying, "honey, lose the horizontal stripes" (p. 82). [that color? she means burnt orange, yall... i'm just saying]

"you see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw" (diane arbus--p. 83)

once i dreamed i was in a fancy mall. it was probably the short hills mall in new jersey. the stores were all boutiques selling designer body parts.

i charged a pair of manolo blanik feet, a chanel chin, and a perfectly matched set of boobs designed by vera wang exclusively for me. on my way out, i picked up a versace midriff on sale. for the first time in my life, i was finally perfect. 

when i got home, my husband took one look at the bill and returned me (p. 92).

no one really cares how you look when your get older anyway, as long as you close your mouth when you chew and don't drool.

but every few years somebody does research and once again discovers that beautiful people have an advantage in life, taller people get better jobs, thinner people are more successful.

even though i know better, i still fuss with eyeliners, blow dryers, and diets, hoping i'll become become better looking, taller, thinner, and happier.

who lives without contradictions? but who wants to live without hope? (p. 105).

what sucked: for all the things i liked, and it looks like the number was a lot, the book overall was just kind of blah.

having said all that: the first third of it sucked a whole lot more than the last third.

the wit and wisdom of mark twain

why i wanted to read it: because it's a teeny tiny book. one of those little gift books you see on the spinner racks while standing in line to make a purchase. because i'm on a quest for good sentiment.

what i liked: a southerner talks like music (from life on the mississippi).

shut the door. not that it lets in the cold, but that it lets out the cozyness (from notebook).

training is everything. the peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education (from pudd'nhead wilson's calendar).

"classic." a book which people praise and don't read (from pudd'nhead wilson's new calendar).

you can find in a text whatever you bring if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. you may not see your ears, but they are there (from "a fable").

thunder is good. thunder is impressive. but it is lightning that does the work (from a letter to an unidentified person [1908]). 

we should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it--and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. she will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again--and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore (from pudd'nhead wilson's new calendar).

against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand (from the mysterious stranger).

what sucked: nothing really. for little bitty gift books, i kind of liked this one. and that says quite a bit, because usually, i think they're pretty stupid.

having said all that: it's not a bad one to give, if you can find it (it's been in my mother's shoebox of sentiments for i don't know how long). but here's the isbn if you want to try to locate it: 0-89471-984-x.

random quarter

September 27, 2013

one. every time i tell myself eating ice cream isn't that big of a deal, that i'll just have a little, a teeny tiny bowl (as in three soup spoonfuls of blue bell's mint chocolate chip paired with two soup spoonfuls of their rocky mountain road), i am reminded of the fact that while my tummy loves the stuff, my noggin does not. how, you ask? well, three spoonfuls in, i sort of choke on the stuff, and then i get this hellish pain in my head (not because i've eaten too much of it too quickly... not brain freeze. it's more like a brain rebellion), and then i sneeze. and it's not a little bitty sneeze. it's one of those sneezes that doubles you over and you feel like your face is going to explode. i really shouldn't touch the stuff. but it's blue bell, goddamnit. and i'm a texan, goshdangit. i'm SUPPOSED to eat this stuff. it's like a dietary staple.

two. the home renovation project that was supposed to take three weeks (i'm guessing one for the carpentry, one for the painting and one for the carpet installation and finishing touches) has taken at least twice that long. at least. i want to say it began the first week of august. we're in the last week of september. and while i am not in love with the majority of the choices for this particular room (which was originally my older brother's--and i am aware that perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for the new decor is because we're jacking with a room that i'd rather not change too much, even though it stopped being his room a very long time ago), i am doing my damnedest to focus on what i do like: more room, a bigger window, a bigger refrigerator for my canned, carbonated, caffeinated beverages and, very soon (within the next few days, supposedly) there will be a fifty inch television to keep me company up here. it's just the chair my parents have chosen for the desk is NOT, i repeat NOT comfortable. too much cushion in the center so you don't really sink into it or whatever, and the arms are ridiculously low. also the office walls are GRAY, and i am so not a fan of gray.

three. which somehow made me think of sally fields in steel magnolias: it's repulsive! it's got gray icing! i can't even begin to think how you make gray icing.

four. i was not thrilled with either of the season premiers for the ncis shows tuesday night. VERY, VERY disappointing, cbs. whiskey tango foxtrot, indeed. all summer i've been jonesing for september to roll around for three reasons: a cooler climate, aggie football and tony/ziva and kensi/deeks (more kensi and deeks, though, than tony and ziva. i like tony better than deeks. but i like kensi with deeks better than i like tony with ziva. mostly because on the night each of the boys were to kiss the girls, deeks planted one on kensi's mouth and tony did the STUPID, PANSY smooch on the forehead. LAME.)

five. i was also not so thrilled with the first night of the blind auditions on the voice. the second one was better. i loved holly henry. she made me cry. her performance was perfect. but really, i kind of liked that she's shy and secretive. reminded me a little bit of me.

six. i've been going on design appointments with our specialist. it's been fun, doing this. and i really like learning new things and helping her out with her work.

seven. my mom bought me a green and navy gingham blazer the other day. from the men's department. at steinmart. we were hunting for things for the office, and on our way out, we passed a four-way that had them on display. and i liked the check and the lining inside (navy and brown stripe). and so we got me one. and it, paired with a white v-necked t-shirt, boot cut jeans and my three-inch heeled tobacco leather boots, with my hair in a tail and my face painted and my great uncle's wooden heart hanging around my neck... i'm quite comfortable in a get-up like that. i was quite comfortable in a get-up like that in my early twenties, too. and i can't, for the life of me, figure out what possessed me to give away the navy and brown men's suit jackets i'd bought way back then. cause i sure as shit wish i had them now.

eight. not that they'd fit me. i weigh about fifty pounds more now. so i guess it doesn't matter that i didn't hang on to'm.

nine. those people i told you about, the ones for whom i care so dearly, their stories are still being written. and i am, so far, not liking the way things are going so much. so if yall have been praying, please continue to do so.

ten. i finally, FINALLY got to see depeche mode. i have loved that band (though not as much in the past decade as i did in my youth and early twenties) for decades. and i am so glad i got to see them live. they sounded awesome.

eleven. i am using my mother's computer at the moment. (mine needs to be charged, and i've been having trouble lately with iphoto, which is kind of irritating me). it's much quieter up here than it is in the rest of the house. sometimes i relish that. sometimes, it's too quiet. maybe because i've just acquainted myself with yet another one of those chapters in one of those stories i wish i didn't have to read but must. maybe it's the emptiness of the room. i don't know. i don't want to be downstairs right now. i don't want to watch blue bloods. so NOT the tom selleck fan. anyway. i've been thinking, i wish i had some music up here. and then i remembered... i put itunes on my mother's computer a very long time ago. duh.

twelve. i got my hair cut a couple of weeks ago. it needed it. BADLY. but i'm having to adjust to the length again. my stylist cut about six inches off. probably two more than i'd intended. it'll grow. it will grow. but oh, so slowly.

thirteen. i wish i could consider all the possibilities before opening my mouth or veering off on some tear.

fourteen. i also wish i had greatness within me. or at least a good bit of goodness. nothing phenomenal. something more like eleanor. or hazel, who, according to augustus, walks softly. the world is definitely a better place for her having lived. i want to know it's a better place for my having done so.

fifteen. i was shopping in hobby lobby today, hunting for more things for the office. and i found a sign that said do what you love. the thing is, i don't know that i LOVE anything anymore. certain people, yes. absolutely. certain people, like the wonder twins, are necessities in my life, and two seconds with them heal my heart so much better than anything else could possibly do. aggie football, blue bell, dr. pepper, coca cola, depeche mode... that stuff, sure. but i don't feel compelled to do anything with myself. never have, really. my life's been a story of just get through this day. do just enough. i wish i knew how to light a fire in me.

sixteen. one of the things my father often says to us is you're a gentleman (or in my case, lady) and a scholar. and today, while scouting hobby lobby's merch, i found a thin, metal decorative wall plate in maroon, white, gold and black that said gentleman and scholar. i got it to go over his desk. (also, i had no idea this came from the catcher and the rye. i had never heard anyone say this but my dad. according to my mother, a lot of people say this. a lot of your people, i said. not a lot of my people. still, i feel a little silly now, because i'd exclaimed to a hobby lobby clerk how i'd never heard anyone say that but him. as in ranted for like five minutes about how cool it was that they had that plaque. crazy, right here.) (also, oddly enough, if you search that phrase and pair it with hobby lobby, the image results include bart simpson, sherlock holmes and watson, paul mccartney, gollum and a picture of my name handwritten, among other things. go figure.)

seventeen. my mom sent me to buy sirloin to make pepper steak for dinner. i had to ask other shoppers to help me.

eighteen. i've been really bad about commenting on others' blogs lately. or replying to comments yall leave here. but i am reading. and i am appreciating what you write. i can't promise i'll do better about acknowledging your words, but i do want yall to know that i AM reading them. and i am grateful.

nineteen. i feel really, really old. not in my brain. but in my body. so far, forty sucks ass. i've never had a face that needed cosmetics. my skin, probably because of all those years of swimming and the absence of cosmetics, hasn't had the blemishes that demand i cover them up. but i put on make-up for one of those design appointments a few weeks ago, and my coworkers said that i looked much younger for having made the effort. SWELL. so now i feel like i HAVE to bother with this crap. and i'd really rather not.

twenty. there are WAY TOO MANY people living in this town. i'm tempted to move to the country.

twenty-one. i've been having crazy dreams lately. like one of my younger brother's friends died. or like the grandson of one of my mother's friends did because i hadn't been his designated driver. and even if i take benadryl, i'm waking up six hours after i've crashed, which sucks. i want to conk out. i want good rest. i wish i could dream more. not the kind you do in your sleep. but the kind you do in your day. the kind that helps you move through it. the kind that helps you be you.

twenty-two. i want to find books as enjoyable as eleanor and park, the fault in our stars, the language of flowers, right before your eyes and the time traveler's wife. and i'm kind of irritated that i can't.

twenty-three. i don't know how many more rq posts i've got in me.

twenty-four. those people who drink gallons of water in a day... how DO you do that?

twenty-five. zinnias! for minn.

how to write an essay

September 22, 2013

you should treat an essay like a mathematical equation and less like a blank canvas upon which you've to heap five hundred empty words.

it's simple, really.

you need approximately twenty-five sentences. the length of those sentences, of course, will vary based on what it is needing to be said. and this number is assuming you don't have to include quotations.

twenty-five sentences divided into five paragraphs supporting a sharp, succinct thesis statement.

for example, you are assigned the subject of cinematic villains.

the best villain in film is darth vader because he craves adventure and excitement instead of peace and stability, he is mastered by his emotions rather than being the master of them, and he is an intimidating and ruthless leader.

thesis statement (the best villain in film is darth vader) with three reasons (craves adventure and excitement, mastered by his emotions and poor leadership skills) supporting it.

five paragraphs: introduction, topic a, topic b, topic c and conclusion.

INTRODUCTION. five sentences. you start broad. the only place for bullshit is in your introduction and conclusion. ONE: for decades the cinematic industry has entertained us with tales of blah blah blah. TWO: in film we have seen the exploits and evil of psychopaths like dr. hannibal lecter and the joker. THREE: we've also seen the likes of criminal masterminds and mobsters and blah blah blah such as this dude and that dude. FOUR: but none have been so memorable as the sith lord imagined by george lucas in the star wars saga. FIVE: the best villain in film is darth vader because he blah blah blah.

TOPIC A: one reason why darth vader is so awful is because he seeks to please himself through grand adventures and thrilling escapades.

and then you give three solid examples to support this. you've got six films of horrible decision making from which to choose: he's a child who boasts about how awesome he is at constructing things (his droids, his podracer); instead of listening to obi-wan and qui-gon jinn he goes and marries queen amidala; he has delusions of grandeur which the emperor encourages...

one sentence for each of those examples. and you don't need to quote anything (unless your professor/teacher insists that you do so, in which case they make this website called the internet movie database, which'll have a shit ton of quotes stored for you). if the prof says you have to have quotes, then you should use at least one for each example.

TOPIC B: his penchant for seeking to fulfill his own desires is one way his emotions so often control his actions. he also does... (find three other ways his emotions get the better of him... like when he kills obi-wan or slaughters a village upon learning of his mother's death).

TOPIC C: he taunts those who should revere him with his power and prowess rather than leading them. if an officer or a stormtrooper does not do as he's told, vader simply holds up a thumb and forefinger and chokes that man to death. blah blah blah.

CONCLUSION: regurgitation of thesis statement. four more sentences of bullshit going from the specific to the general.

and you're done.

the only font you use is times new roman. ten or twelve point (preferably twelve, unless the prof says otherwise). single-side it. double-space it. left-align it. the tab key is not your friend; if you want an indentation for the first line, there's a way to format your paragraphs so that it automatically does this. be verbs (AM, IS, ARE, WAS, WERE, BE, BEING, BEEN), adverbs (those things that end in -LY) and prepositional phrases are not your friends, either. they are WEAK words and do not belong in an essay. use them sparingly. do not rely solely on spellcheck for editing. and, most important, your professor is not stupid; don't try to outsmart him. you can't.

the statistical probability of love at first sight

September 8, 2013

why i wanted to read it: the title. and that after the title and dedication pages, there's a quote from charles dickens' our mutual friend: and o there are days in this life worth life and worth death. and the majority of it takes place in london. so... a quote from my favorite book and a setting in my favorite city. this is the book i'd intended to read a while back but couldn't find it.

what i liked: and so, with nothing more to be done, hadley finally makes her way out through the sliding doors and into the gray london haze, feeling satisfied at least that the sun didn't have the audacity to show up this morning.

i liked the characters. i liked the conflicts the author gave them. and there were a handful of instances where i considered marking a page that had a sentence worth mentioning but ended up deciding against it at the time that i wish i had marked.

i'd meant to go back and find them. i'd every intention of doing this. but you know what they say about intentions...

and now my library book's overdue, so that's all you get.

what sucked: sometimes the author takes way too long to tell a story. she drags out the inconsequential shit and practically skims over or skirts around the good stuff.

having said all that: i liked it much better than the last book i read by ms. smith. but it's nothing stellar.