Friday, March 30, 2012

A Personal Blog Post

I'm not hooking this up to FB.  Even if a friend stumbles across this, it might not make sense, because I'm not going to tell the whole story. Still, I just had to write it down.

One of my major character flaws is my difficulty in handling disappointment.  I tend to get way too upset if I don't get what I want, or what I was expecting, or if plans are canceled or simply don't go my way.

I know it's wrong.  I am trying to work on that.  Most of the time if I am disappointed and angry or sad about it, I try not to talk about it too much - even to my husband.  I know most of the time I'm probably being unreasonable.  While "talking it out" can sometimes help one deal with negative feelings, there are times when not talking about it can help me not dwell on the issue at hand.

Well, in this one particular case, I feel I have every right to be disappointed.  When it first happened, I really really did try to be mature about it.  I tried not to talk about it.  I did my best to tell myself I should just accept it.

But you know what?  This time things should have gone my way.  It was the right thing to do to put the game in my favor.  I deserved what should have come to me.  At the very least, I think I deserved it more than...

Well, never mind.  I'm going to stop here.  I said what I needed to say.  What's been done can't be undone.  Chances are I'll never be given the chance for this to go in my favor.  I need to move on. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Style 101 - Just a Little Edgy

Saturday night I went to see Mike Doughty at City Winery.  It's a really fun venue and when you're going downtown like that, it feels like you can get away with being a little outrageous.

I fell in love with these boots at the 9 West Outlet this winter.  I love the combination of high heels, granny boots, and fleecy hiking boots.  I found they presented a unique problem though.  How can I wear them in a way that showcases all of their unique qualities?  I wore them with a pair of ordinary, straight-leg Levis and found that no matter how low I cuffed the boots, the fleece wouldn't show.  I tried wearing them with skinny jeans and not cuffing them at all and tucking the jeans into the top of them.  These boots weren't really meant to contain pant legs.  The jeans bagged out unflatteringly over the top of them. 

I tried cuffing my jeans over them as well as wearing them with skirt.  Nothing looked quite right.  I had to settle for skinny jeans sitting over the top of them. 

On to the makeup.  I have a rather unusual eye makeup look that goes in for impossible contrasts.  I learned this almost by accident.  One evening I was working in the city and had learned that certain branches of The Body Shop were doing free makeovers.  Never one to miss an opportunity for new makeup ideas, I decided I was in need of some toiletries and should go by there and check it out.  When I sat in the chair I told the makeup artist I was always interested in trying new looks.  What could he offer me?

I saw him grab an eyeshadow in a shade of shocking purpley-pink.  I wondered if perhaps I shouldn't have been so keen on a totally new look.  I relaxed once he began blending it.  The color became much softer as he worked it over my eyelids. 

Then it grew even more radical.  He grabbed a black eyeliner and then a black mascara.  I can't think of a time I had ever used black against pink - dark purple maybe, but never bright pink.  He never bothered to put anything on my cheeks and then tried a few sheer lip colors on me until I found one I liked (as always, the raspberry that is my staple). 

It was a pretty easy look to create at home.  I had a Body Shop eyeshadow in a sparkly lavender-pink that I had been neglecting (I had aquired it as a freebie).  It was the kind of color I rocked in high school, but until the day of that makeover never considered wearing again.  I worked it in well and then topped it off with black eyeliner and mascara.  I used the barest minimum of cheek color.  I used a blush called Lovely by Bare Minerals.

When I want to go super-dramatic I use cake eyeliner.  If you go this route, make sure you have good eye makeup remover.  The stuff does not come off easily.  Even after some attentive removal, I do tend to wake up in the morning with smudgy raccoon eyes.  I think it looks sort of cool actually.

Not bad for a night out.  The concert was pretty awesome too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is It Time to Return to Fairy Tales?

Before you think that the title of this post means that I, or people I know, or the reader, or the entire world, should retreat to a fantasy life, I want to make it clear I'm talking about actually fairy tales that one reads.  I'm talking about stories of enchantments and dark places and the darkest realms of imagination.

I was reading this piece in Slate recently about how parents are avoiding reading fairy tales to their children.  Fairy tales seem to fall into two categories.  The first is category is the stories in their original form.  These are the stories that the Brothers Grimm and their contemporaries originally intended.  These stories are dark and full of death, enchantment, uncertainty, and even sex.  The second category is made up of the versions of those stories we tell our children.  These are the ones that make it into picture books and Disney movies.

As adults, once we read the original versions of many of today's beloved fairy tales, we find ourselves cricital and contemptuous of their modern-day counterparts.  The stories are far more interesting to adult tastes when they're not sugar-coated.  In the old stories parents are often cruel, even murderous, or at the very least, fathers involve their daughters in dirty dealings behind the daughters' backs.   The fairy realm isn't filled with benevolent spirits, but with mischievous sprites who may demand a high price if you are successful in eliciting their help.  Murder, torture, and dismemberment are common (even in romantic Cinderella the stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit the slipper and then the prince has birds peck their eyes out).  Sexuality is open and uncut, and often punished.

It makes sense to sugarcoat these stories for children.  Parents don't want their children to be too frightened, or to accept that such grim scenarios are somehow socially acceptable.  It would be like allowing your children to watch hardcore horror movies.  Some children can take it, but many can't.  What moral lessons can a fairy tale teach?  Can we pull some intrinsic character values from the story that will help our children such as cunning, strength in adversity, or the rewards of kindness to others?

Today's watered-down versions of many classic fairy tales, whether they come from Disney or some other children's book publisher, try to teach kids good character values.  There are lessons to be learned in the world of the fantastic.

Do Disney movies and their interpretations of old stories with their beautiful princesses, teach good character traits to young girls?  I believe that is a very interesting debate.  When Beauty and the Beast came out I can recall three friends, all of whom would not be afraid to use the term "feminst: to describe themselves, having very different opionions on the lessons the movie taught.  Two of them were adamant that the movie sent a very negative message to young girls.  Belle was the classic abused woman.  She stayed with the mean and terrifying Beast who turned kind, and eventually even turned handsome, due to Belle's patience and kindness.  What kind of lesson is this for young girls?  Yet my other friend saw a character who was intelligent, independent, and feisty, who knew what she wanted and didn't want, and knew how to demand it.  The character of the Beast was quite different from the original story.  The Beast was always unfailingly kind to Beauty, but was always spurned because of his looks.

I agree that Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderalla of Disney's golden age were less than perfect role models.  They tended to be passive and dependent on their looks to save them from adversity. They had little control over their fates and tended to accept their lot in life.  Was any of this different from how the original fairy tales saw things?  Fairy tales were born in an era when women were not exactly respected in society.

What about more modern characters like Mulan, who was a warrior, or Rapunzel, who was willing to take risks and satisfy her wanderlust and escape her prison?  Once again I'll mention that Belle was well-read and self-determined.  Pocahantas taught important environmental lessons.  None of these women are perfect role models, but many of them had something to teach young girls.

This does beg the question as to why fairy tales should teach anyone anything.  That's not what they were meant to do.  They were scary stories told around the campfire.  They weren't so much about teaching moral lessons than they were about passing on cultural values and perspectives.  They weren't meant for children, although children were as likely to hear them as adults.

Why don't adults read fairy tales now if that's the case?  Why do adults turn their backs on the rich tapestry of traditional folk tales and leave the watered-down versions to the children?  Why don't we go back and read some of this stuff?

I'm trying to understand it.  Is it because as rational, mature, 21st century, adults we don't believe in enchantments or fairies.  Is it because fairy tales are now so heavily associated with children that we wouldn't want to admit that we read their literature?  But adults do read fantasy and they read children's book.  Fairy tales might be ignored, but adults will read Harry Potter stories, which is really nothing but a formulaic, watered-down version of everything already said in most fairy tales.   Think of the obsession some fantasy enthusiasts have for Lord of the Rings.  I have often heard it said that Star Wars is just a  fairy tale set in space. 

I don't know how long today's popular stories will endure, but I really hope the old tales won't die out.  I think it's not a bad idea to revisit some of the stories that were too scary to read in their original form.  The kids might thank us when they're read to read them.

If happy, upbeat, positive, fun fairy tales are your thing, I strongly recommend you check out my good cyberpal The Blond Duck