makeup-tools

“To be yourself is all that you can do, yeah

to be yourself is all that you can do”

-Audioslave, Be Yourself

Take off all your makeup. Right now. Seriously, stop reading, get out your makeup remover (that you surely have with you at this very moment) and remove all of your makeup. What… you don’t want to? Why? You got a problem with natural? Are you insecure with how you look? C’mon, it’s 2014, you’re an adult. Surely you possess enough self-confidence to be able to forgo these products marketed to women by large, greedy corporations. Surely you don’t buy into the pressure from media and society to conform to beauty standards? What’s that? You don’t want to bare it all?

Coward.

That is me being sarcastic. What, you may ask, has me posing a paragraph full of smart ass questions? It’s the makeup free trend that appears to be taking hold. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m twisted and vain. Maybe I’m too insecure. But the whole thing kinda rubs me the wrong way. It’s not that I have a problem with makeup free, I have a problem with it becoming a campaign, a movement. I know that some of the efforts to go make-up free, like the Dove Beauty campaign, have goals of empowering women. I’m all for that. “Yay!” for empowerment. But it’s starting to evolve into something that feels more like pressure. Everyone’s doing it. Like, everyone. Teens, moms, young singles, celebs, news anchors. They’re posting it on social media with #nomakeupselfie. It’s the cool thing to do. And if you’re really confident, if you’re really secure in yourself, you’ll do it too… right?

Yeah, not me. I won’t be posting any barefaced pics on the interwebs. I love the natural look. I think it’s beautiful. But that “natural” look is harder to achieve than a Guns N Roses reunion. There are makeup lines marketed as “The Natural Look”, there are tutorials on YouTube on how to achieve that glowy dewy skin one has after having sex or working out.

66fa99a3c4ebfcb535fd596982099839
That’s all there is to it…

I like makeup. I don’t wear a ton of it, but what I do wear I’ve grown real attached to. I need concealer. Without it my eyes look like that creepy dude from Lord of the Rings.

Gollum-Smeagol-smeagol-gollum-14076781-960-403
You’ll never be able to un-see this…

And I like to wear eye makeup, I’m addicted to mascara. This is not to say that I won’t leave the house without makeup. I do carpool line, run to the store, etc,  without makeup. Hell, I was even interviewed on the local news sans makeup as I was leaving the grocery store. But I’m not making a statement with my pale, jaundiced looking face. I’m doing it out of convenience or laziness- it depends on the day. I don’t really want to think that anything I do with my clothes, my hair or my makeup is in any way making any kind of statement. I want to do what feels comfortable to me, what fits my mood.

There has been a rash of women taking off their makeup live on tv or in front of live audiences. There’s a whole thing called Makeup Free Monday. In February the cast of the Today Show went on air without makeup. After one segment, the entire cast put all their makeup back on. Local news anchors have been taking their makeup off. Last week Mika Brzezinski took her makeup off on stage during the Women In The World Conference. She said that makeup shouldn’t own you as she spent 20 minutes wiping off her carefully applied makeup.

Not awkward at all
Not awkward at all

I’m not disagreeing with the ideas or the intentions behind these “acts”. I definitely don’t think makeup should “own” anyone. I’m just not sure where this message is taking us, where it’s landing and what it’s supposed to do. Seeing the pictures and watching these makeup free stunts on t.v., they just illustrate how uncomfortable this act is. Anyone under the spotlights is going to feel vulnerable without makeup on. Watching the bare-faced on-air personalities squirm uncomfortably is supposed to convey a positive message. But it seems to demonstrate a level of self consciousness that makes me want to look away. It certainly doesn’t have me reaching for my makeup remover and camera.

And the selfies. I’ve got nothing against selfies. Sexy selfies, makeup free selfies, go for it. Do what makes you feel good, do what you want to do. Flaunt your awesomeness all over social media. But let’s not start pressuring women to post makeup free selfies. Let’s not pressure women to do anything. Beyonce posted a beautiful makeup free selfie. Gwyneth, Cameron, Bethany Frankel. All makeup free on Twitter and Instagram. That’s totally cool. But when campaigns are started to show how “brave” women are to go makeup free, isn’t that somewhat contradictory? If makeup shouldn’t be that important, can we all agree that going makeup free doesn’t count as brave? Going makeup free should be a choice, like which shoes to wear today. Not an act of bravery or freedom or an act of anything.

Some people apparently feel “owned” by their makeup, feel true anxiety about going makeup free. If that’s the case, then maybe this is something that could empower them. But I know a lot of women. And every single one of them goes without makeup from time to time. At the gym, at the playground. I know some women who never wear makeup. I know some women who wear it more often than not. But I think I can safely say that I have seen every single one of my friends and neighbors without makeup on a fairly regular basis. I think this is the norm. Let’s not create an issue where there is none. We don’t all have to do a Kardashian smokey eye to leave the house, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your makeup, with liking the way eyeliner accentuates your eyes or lipsticks make your lips stand out. If it makes you feel good DO IT.

I’m not against raising money for good causes, starting conversations about empowerment. Those are all noble things. I just have a problem with pressuring women to do something. I mean, if we’re really going to break free of all the shackles of beauty that society imposes, why stop at going makeup free? We could stop shaving. Our legs, our armpits, everywhere.  Let’s all stop washing our hair. And let’s throw away those tweezers. Lets bring back the Frida Kahlo look. Let’s stop plucking errant chin hairs. No more waxing our lips. I mean, c’mon ladies, let’s be brave here. Not wearing makeup? Pffftt… that’s no biggie. But when I see Beyonce sporting some hairy pits on her yacht or Diane Sawyer joining the No Poo movement or Gwyneth Paltrow stroking her ‘stache on Instagram, then I’ll sit up and take notice.

(photo: thedailymustache.com)
(photo: thedailymustache.com)

Head in Hands

 “Pick up my guitar and play,

Just like yesterday,

Then I’ll get on my knees and pray

We don’t get fooled again.”

-The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again

April Fool’s Day is a holiday I can get behind. There’s no pressure to get the perfect romantic card and chocolates or flowers (ahem, Valentine’s Day). There’s no expectation of gifts and candy for the kids (I’m looking at you Christmas and Easter). There’s no need to go out and buy green shirts that my kids will wear once (St. Patrick’s Day is for drinking beer, right? Why are the kids even involved?). There’s no Pinterest frenzy of crafts, creations, recipes and hoopla to make you feel inept and inadequate (Pretty much every holiday other than April Fools Day. Seriously- enough, Pinterest.). No, April Fools Day is low-key. It’s all about creativity and having fun at other’s expense. It’s perfect.

I love April Fool’s Day. My personal experience with this holiday goes back to when I was a sweet, naive 12 year old innocent child. I had finished up my homework and was watching the local evening news. The news reporter was interviewing a farmer who was concerned that his crops were suffering from an excessively rainy winter. The farmer was distraught. He was worried about how he was going to feed his family. He and the reporter walked through his fields, through rows of trees. He plucked something off of one of the branches, put it in his mouth and spit it onto the ground, grimacing. The camera zoomed in on the trees, bearing what looks like white fruit. The reporter said there may actually be a marshmallow shortage in the fall because of the damaged crops.

I stared at the t.v. dumbfounded. Huh? Marshmallows? I slowly made my way into my Mom’s room. “Mom? Do marshmallows grow on trees?”. She looked at me with one eyebrow raised. “I mean, I always thought they were made, like in a candy factory. But the news just said that the marshmallow trees are damaged from all the rain.” My mom started laughing. When she saw the genuinely confused look on my face she tried to compose herself. With amusement in her eyes she explained that it was an April Fool’s joke. I was indignant. You’re supposed to be able to trust the news! Why would they play a joke on their viewers! That’s just not right, don’t they have more important things to do?

Thus began a long-running joke in my family. I was teased relentlessly for being so gullible. This story was told to every friend I brought home. Family friends, neighbors, anyone who would listen was regaled with the story of my flaky air-headedness. Any opportunity to bring it up and give me a hard time was not missed. It has been roughly 29 years since that perplexing and vexing April. And still, the joke lives on. Just a few months ago, on my birthday, my nephew had a small tree branch with marshmallows taped to it that he proudly presented to me. They will never tire of this joke. My kids have now taken up the cause to make Mom feel stupid and will gladly carry on the tradition as well.

And there’s more. When I was older, I apparently felt the need to break up with boyfriends on April Fool’s Day. I’m not sure why. I never was aware that I did this. But I broke up with my high school boyfriend and two different college boyfriends on this day. Each time, the guy thought I was pulling a prank on him. Ooops. My family also took to warning guys about this. They told my husband when they first met him that if he made it past April 1st, then he was o.k.

So, me and April Fool’s Day, we have a history. I feel connected to this holiday and it’s spirit of absurdity. I have always wanted to pull off the perfect April Fool’s hoax. I have ideas, I think about it months ahead of time. But every year, the day sneaks up on me. I tell myself next year will be the year. I’ll plan ahead. It will be awesome. If I can execute the perfect deception, the most clever trick, then maybe I’ll have some peace. If I can leave people befuddled and shocked, them maybe I can finally shed the stigma of that long ago spring day of mischief.

And one final note to my family, my friends, my husband. All of those people who have relished the teasing and the taunting for all these years. I’m not alone. I am not the first person to be duped by a news show. In April 1, 1957 the BBC aired a segment on a false spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. This prank resulted in hundreds of inquiries as to how people could grow their own spaghetti trees.

spag1

First, let’s make a few rules. News stations, news reporters, you are not allowed to take part in the shenanigans. Your job is to fixate on one issue to the exclusion of all other news or to drum up partisan political scandals. You stick to your hyper vigilant obsessive reporting and leave the funny stuff to the funny guys. It’s already hard enough to believe what’s being reported without your throwing in silly little pranks.

Second, as for the spaghetti trees… Maybe it’s just me, but marshmallows growing on trees seems much more plausible than spaghetti trees. Those silly Brits.  Imagine, thinking spaghetti grows on trees! Ha!

And third, I just checked and Pinterest is in fact trying to ruin April Fools Day. Dear Pinterest, Just. Stop.

 

 

“You can’t always get what you want,

But if you try sometimes, You just might find,

You get what you need.”

-The Rolling Stones, You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Parents hear it all the time, “That’s so unfair!” If you’re like me you respond with something like “Yeah, yeah kid. Life’s not fair. Get over it.” It’s the circle of life, the cycle of parenting (or any other round shaped metaphor). We said it to our parents, our kids say it to us and one day their kids will be saying it to them. The reason for this is because life isn’t fair. There was no guarantee upon birth that your life would be even-keeled and full of justice. No one made any of us promises of an entire lifetime of things going our way. And that’s a good thing. There are times when it sucks. There are times when it is tragic and beyond comprehension. I’m not talking about the unfair tragedies in life. I’m talking about your every day, run of the mill inequities.

Some of these things are good for us to experience. Often there’s some kind of lesson to be learned from life’s unfairness. Following are some things that most of us experienced at some point in our youth. And we probably whined and threw a fit about them. But really? Many times these things serve to teach us a lesson. We just may not realize it until 20 years later.

1. Bad teachers: Now, I’m not talking about teachers that are predators. Obviously that is beyond the category of unfair. I’m talking about mean teachers. They are miserable. They don’t really seem to like kids. They don’t really seem to like teaching. Maybe they have a personality disorder. They are rude, they make snide comments about you. Maybe they single you out in front of the class. As long as they are not crossing the line into verbal abuse, get over it. I’m talking about older grades here. Once a kid is hitting the pre-teen/teen years they should be able to deal with a teacher who’s a little rough around the edges. There are a lot of great teachers out there, but every once in a while you’re going to get a teacher that’s just an ass. Guess what? One day you’ll have a college professor who’s an ass. One day you’ll have a boss who’s an ass. Assholes exist in all walks of life and all professions, so you may as well learn how to deal with them at a young age.

Sorry kids, they ain't all Morgan Freeman
Sorry kids, they can’t all be Morgan Freeman

2. Not making the team. Yes, this will feel a little harsh too. You had your heart set on wearing the cute volleyball uniform and you had even experimented with different hair styles that would both be flattering and keep the hair out of your face as you spiked the ball over the net. Except you can’t even figure out how to serve the ball and you tend to run into the net when trying to assist. So, you don’t make the team, but you learned a valuable lesson. Playing sports is hard work. It takes dedication and practice. And just because you and your best friend had already picked out your Maverick and Iceman nicknames doesn’t mean you were fully prepared for tryouts. Come back next year, tiger, and show ’em what you’re made of.

That’s right Ice… Man. I’m dangerous.

3. Not getting the “stuff” other kids get. Some kids get all the coolest newest stuff. The cool toys, the cool clothes, the cool shoes. And for every kid that gets these hot ticket items, there’s at least a few who don’t. Who bug their parents for said item. Who compare the parents of said spoiled child to you. Well guess what kid, I am not and never will be that parent that runs out and gets you the latest and greatest just because every one else has it. You may get it eventually, on an appropriate gift giving occasion. But chances are I’ll find a bargain version of that big ticket item and it will be almost as good as the one your friend has. But getting everything you want, when you want it, just sets you up to be sorely disappointed when real life doesn’t work out that way. Or it sets you up to be an entitled asshole. Either way, learning to delay gratification at a young age definitely serves most kids better and sets them up for reasonable expectations as adults.

Brooke was all like, "Nothing gets between me and my Calvins…"
Brooke was all, “Nothing gets between me and my Calvins…”

And I was like:

Mom Jeans

4. Not getting invited to every social event. This can sting a little. Sometimes you may be left out. You may get your feelings hurt if a group of friends is doing something without you. This one takes some savvy analyzing to deal with properly. Are your friends excluding you in a hurtful way? Or is it based in practicality (there’s only so many kids that can attend a sleep over before it turns into Animal House and John Belushi is sleeping on the floor in your living room.)

 “Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! ”
“Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! ”

You see kids, you won’t get invited to everything when you’re an adult. You may have to miss out on a neighbor’s cook-out or maybe you won’t be on the invite list for your coworker’s Christmas party. Maybe they only had so much food to serve. Maybe they forgot to invite you. It’s fine, really. It’s not a big deal. Because you worked through these types of issues when you were younger and learned to not take it personally. You didn’t really want to go anyways. You don’t really like hanging out with those people that much. I mean, they are kind of annoying and obnoxious with all their socializing and stuff…   O.K. -maybe you’re still not over this one.

5. That long awkward phase. There’s no positive spin on this one. It’s rough. The worst part is you know you’re totally awkward. You’re hair is full of cowlicks and a bad perm. Your teeth are too big for your face.

Almost this bad
That awkward moment when you realize the Awkward Brian meme is eerily similar to your school picture…

You’re clumsy. You drop your tray in the cafeteria in front of everyone. You stutter and stammer. You try to sound cool but it just doesn’t work. You try to be funny but no one laughs. This is a tough time. There’s nothing you can do but wait out this phase. It will pass eventually. You will grow into your teeth, you will learn to laugh at yourself when you do trip and fall (because that will never change). Eventually you will look back at these years and cringe and try to burn all the pictures and evidence so that your future husband doesn’t have to carry the mental picture around in his head of your “Greg Brady Phase”. You will wonder why your older sister never went through this phase and why all of your friends seemed to grow out of it much sooner. You may carry the scars with you forever and still picture yourself as the dorky 13 year old even when you have your own 13 year old to parent.

But, hey, that phase was good for you, right? You learned something from it, I’m sure. Right? Oh, @*$#  it! There was no bright side to this! This sucked! There’s no lesson to learn here, no sunshine to be blown up the arse about this one. This one has no reason. I see no need for kids to go through this “feeling uncomfortable in your own skin” kind of stage. This is a chapter in life that could be completely left out and we’d all be better off for it. It’s even worse when some people seem to breeze through these years unscathed- gleaming teeth, shiny hair that is always perfectly styled, graceful and confident and popular. While some of us feel like this:

tumblr_lrc00cd3511r33g4qo1_500

 

It’s just. Not. Fair.

“Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune,

Something to make us all happy.

Do anything, take us out of this gloom,

Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy”

-Traffic, Mr. Fantasy

I hope I never get too old to go see live music. It’s one of my favorite things to do. The things I’ve endured to see good music… There’s the usual, like insane traffic jams and long bathroom lines. There was sleeping in a puddle of muddy water at Woodstock (’94) because our tent collapsed during the rain. There was a very scary (and not smart.. I shudder to think…) drive to a motel from a Grateful Dead show after the cops kicked everyone out of the parking lot. There was almost getting into a fight with drunk assholes at a Rolling Stones concert because my friend wanted to stand up and dance (if you’re sitting down at a Stones concert, just go home). There are some that I don’t want to put into print because my friends may kill me.

As I’ve gotten older my concert experiences aren’t filled with crazy stories. That’s what maturity buys you I guess. It’s no longer about the party, it’s mostly about the music.  But sometimes even the most mature and responsible (snort) concert goer can get caught up in the moment and reverts to the drunken 20 year old of their youth.

Last fall my husband (Joe) and I had tickets to Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta. Both of us lived in Atlanta for a few years and that’s where we met and fell in love. The city holds a special place in our hearts and we love any excuse to go back and visit. And I couldn’t wait for this concert. I tend to get just a tiny bit obnoxious with excitement when I’m really amped up about seeing a good band. For this festival, there were multiple bands I was really excited about. The Neighbourhood was playing early in the day. Reignwolf, was a new musician we were looking forward to. Weezer was playing later in the day. Queens of the Stone Age were playing that night. But really, The Arctic Monkeys is who I was geeking out over. Their new album “AM” had just come out weeks earlier and I was addicted to it. Since there were two main stages I studied the schedule and planned out where we needed to be to see all the critical bands. And I am not a planner. Joe and I tend to wing it when we travel. Also, I’m kind of a slacker with organizing and planning. But because I was so excited and didn’t want to miss any of the bands I had it all planned out and even made notes on my IPhone (since I’m also a tiny bit forgetful).

Upon arriving at the hotel, we make our way over to the bar to have a little something to warm us up before heading out in to the chilly damp weather. After sufficiently warming up, we set out for the park where the festival was being held. As we approach we see long lines at all the entrances. But, because it was our anniversary weekend we had splurged on VIP tickets. This meant we had a separate entrance with a significantly shorter line.  VIP also gets you access to free crappy food and cheap beer and wine but most importantly nice port a potties with significantly shorter lines. We arrive just in time to see The Neighbourhood. Perfect. My planning was paying off. After their set was done, we trek across the park to the other stage to see Reignwolf. By this time it was pouring, but that just made his performance even more bad-ass.  By the end of Reignwolf we are completely soaked. My jeans are drenched, my cheap combat boots are water-logged. We decide to go back to the hotel to change into dry clothes. We had plenty of time to make it back without missing any crucial music. We head out of the park on the opposite side from where we had entered.

IMG_4003
Like, seriously raining

We happily slosh along reliving the show we just saw and laughing and enjoying our buzz (I might have indulged in some cheap wine in the VIP section) and our kid free day in Atlanta. We are enjoying ourselves so much that we aren’t really paying attention to where we are going. But as we’re walking I become increasingly aware of a nice little blister forming on my heel. Turns out, cheap combat boots aren’t the best choice for a rainy festival. I suck it up and don’t say anything. But the pain does make me acutely aware of how long we have been walking and our aimless meandering that was at first fun and relaxing is now becoming annoying. I casually mention my concern about our general sense of direction to Joe. I don’t want to ruin his good time and be a kill-joy, but I have a few concerns. One, my heel is throbbing. Two, we had been walking for a long time, like maybe 45 minutes. Three, if we get lost we might miss Arctic Monkeys and if that happens it ain’t gonna be pretty. And four, we seem pretty well lost. It was about then that my husband sees the top of our hotel. Through the distance. In the opposite direction of which we had been heading for at least an hour now. I try to contain my panic. What if we don’t make it back in time for the concert? Oh shit, my foot hurts. Where the hell is everybody? Like, no people or cars. Nothing. And there’s a huge concert going on nearby. We have wandered into a black hole of no man’s land and we can’t even catch a cab to make it back to civilization. I forgo all pretense of being cool and calm and accuse my husband of getting us lost. He lived in Atlanta much longer than I did, didn’t he know his way around? How could he get us so lost? It doesn’t make sense… What is wrong with him?

Damn you, cheap boots!
Damn you, cheap boots!

As I’m questioning the man I love and his god-awful sense of direction, we somehow end up in a dead end parking lot. I’m not even sure if that’s a thing, but we were on a street that ended in parking lots and buildings on all sides. I stop and start to break down. I don’t actually cry, but I do let the voices in my head speak….  I don’t know what happened next, but I think Joe decided it was time to get his woman back to the concert. I’m not sure if it was the pain that was now shooting up my leg from this abscess that had formed on my heel or if it was delirium from walking in the pouring rain for so long, but all I remember is coming to and seeing the crowd. We are back in civilization. There are lots of people. Angry, disgruntled people. In huge lines. Shit. It was then that we realized that we were going to have to wait in line to get back into the festival.

I check my phone and realize that we are dangerously close to the start of The Arctic Monkeys show. My gimp leg is forgotten as I grab my husband’s hand and we speed walk/jog over to the VIP entrance. The line is long but it isn’t ridiculously long. We basically listen to most of Weezer’s set from the line. It’s not all bad. There are some spontaneous sing alongs happening so that is cool. “If you want to destroy my sweater, hold the string as I walk away…” We make it back to our cheap wine and stake our spot right as The Arctic Monkeys take the stage. I check my phone. We had been walking for three hours. I am now shivering uncontrollably and essentially balancing on one foot to take the pressure off the blister. I don’t care. I am so relieved that we made it back in time to see them. The show is amazing. After the Monkey’s set we decide to head back to the hotel and take hot showers and change before the other bands we want to see were scheduled to play.

The Arctic Monkeys made it all better
The Arctic Monkeys made it all better

After standing in a hot shower for about 30 minutes I confess to my husband that I don’t want to go back to the concert. My foot was hurting so bad that I don’t think I can walk that far again. He is relieved and agrees to dinner and a drink at the hotel. I am totally bummed about missing Queens of the Stone Age, but I am old enough to know my limits. We declare the day a success and toast to our “adventure”. It really was a fun day, I even enjoyed getting lost with my husband. If there hadn’t been the bastard blister (which took no less than 4 weeks and a Hydrocolloid patch to heal), I would have enjoyed the adventure a little more. But all in all it was a great day.

I learned a few things from this experience. We may be getting older… maybe the younger me would have toughed it out to see all the bands. We may be too old to crowd surf (never did that) or too old to rip off my bra and fling it at the stage (Ha! Do you know how much bras cost?) But too old to go to a concert? Nah. Even if they have to wheel me in and prop me up, I’ll always go see a good show. Too old to go to a festival? Not as long as we can afford to pony up for VIP tickets. Too old to mix bourbon and cheap wine and take a three hour hike in the rain? Maybe….

Oh- and also, planning is highly overrated.

“The sun’s getting cold, it’s snowin’, looks like early winter for us…”

-Gwen Stefani, Early Winter

I know, you’re sick of hearing about the “Arctic Blast” that has affected almost every part of the country this week.  But what I think everyone who doesn’t live in the South needs to know is,  it’s way worse for us.  Today is beautiful.  Carolina blue skies… sunny.  But it’s really cold.  Like 8 degrees cold.  Yeah.  Feelin’ pretty sorry for us aren’t you?

I walked outside to take this picture.  In the cold.
I walked outside to take this picture. In the cold.

But here’s the thing.  We live in the South.  We don’t like cold.  We like it just cold enough to put on a cute cozy sweater and some fashionable boots and sit around a fire pit making s’mores.  About 50 degrees would be perfect for such a scenario.  Anything colder than that just isn’t acceptable.

Most of the people in my part of the South are actually transplants from up north.  My husband left upstate New York for college.  His college requirements?  Some place with palm trees.  (He ended up at U.G.A., close enough).  Some of the transplants left for the lower taxes, the job opportunities…  but really, most of them left the frigid dreary north for the beautiful southern weather.  Today, they are feeling like they’ve been duped.

I know there’s a lot of people laughing at us Southerners right now.  They think we’re wimpy, we don’t have the grit and fortitude of our heartier neighbors north of the Mason Dixon line…   but our panic and confusion during a cold snap has nothing to do with toughness.  It has more to do with expectations.  When you live in the South, you don’t have cold-weather gear.  My son has worn shorts and a hoodie to school every day this year.  I don’t think I could find a matching pair of gloves if I tried.  We don’t own scarves unless they are meant to accessorize an outfit.  Snow boots?  Ha!  First, they aren’t cheap.  Second, they aren’t easy to find down here.  Third, why would I spend money on something my kids may wear once every other year?

We’ve had a few snow days over the last few years.  Usually a snow day means my neighbors and I calling each other to see what gear we have left over from previous years.  We all trade and piece together boots or snow pants that our kids have outgrown.  Usually this means that one of my kids has real boots and the others make do with plastic bags tied around their tennis shoes.  Then, my husband tries to make a make-shift sled.  This never works and my kids just end up sharing sleds with all the neighbor kids.  Two Christmases ago I finally purchased two “snow discs” for my kids to use for sledding.  They have not been used yet.  If I went out and bought boots for all three kids, you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t snow until all of my kids have outgrown them….

Some of the schools in our area were on a two hour delay today.  Not a drop of moisture in the air.  The reason for the delay?  Because it’s too freakin’ cold!  A lot of the kids waiting at the bus stop at 6:45 am don’t own real winter jackets.  No one in my family has anything with the words “North” or “Face” on it.  The jackets we do have probably don’t even classify as coats.  They are meant for chilly weather, not ridiculously cold weather.  We live in a part of the country where we make day trips to the mountains to go snow tubing so our kids can experience the snow.  We occasionally get a big ice storm or a decent snow storm.  But then we will have a few years of mild winter weather.  It’s nice.  We like it that way.

So we may not have a foot of snow or power outages like our northern friends (seriously, I hope everyone is staying safe and warm), but we are freezing down here.  We are piling on layers of light weight sweaters and dashing from our cars in to the store to buy more bourbon -I mean hot chocolate- to keep us warm.  We will get through it.  We will complain and whine but we will survive.  The good news is that this Saturday it’s supposed to be a comfortable and much more reasonable 57 degrees.  We can go back to our normal way of life.   So, make fun of us now.  Laugh at our thin blood and frozen un-protected hands.  But in a few days, we’ll be back to riding our bikes, playing outside, enjoying this beautiful southern winter.  In a few days we’ll think about the cold weather we just endured and consider investing in real coats.   In a few days we’ll look back on the few days of cold weather and laugh at ourselves.

Bet a southerner made this meme….
Bet a southerner made this meme….

“Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you”

-The Police, Every Breath You Take

To Elf or not to Elf…  That is the question.  I have to confess, I’ve been a bit of a scrooge when it comes to this Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.  My two older kids were a little too old to buy in to it when it first caught on.  They still asked me to buy it, but I scoffed.  I told them they didn’t want a creepy dude in little felt pajamas watching them all the time.  Dolls with that wide eyed perpetual smile are scary.  And he’s never looking you in the eyes…  he’s hiding something.

345486273_1383514475
Elf
maxresdefault
His not so distant cousin

I also think that Christmas involves enough work for me.  Why would I add one more thing to my to-do list at the busiest time of the year?  So the kids can have a little more “magic” at Christmas time?  Please!  This time of year is crammed full of kid-centric shows, songs, parties, decorations, candy, gifts….  it’s already overkill, over stimulation, over the top.  My stance has been firm on this.  I have bucked the peer pressure of the other moms I know who strategize cute little shenanigans for their elves.  I’ve withstood the torrent of questions from my kids when their friends are around, Mom!  Why can’t we have an elf who throws Cheerios around the kitchen like Suzie?  Because, that’s your little sister’s job sweetie.  I’ve refused to join the Pinterest explosion of adorable and creative Elf on the Shelf ideas.  Some of them are worthy of some kind of crafting award.  But geez, the work in dreaming up these ideas and then executing them?  I would be a huge disappointment to my kids every morning if I tried to pull this off.  My kids have already had to learn that the Tooth Fairy is very busy and sometimes the tooth will have to stay under the pillow for a few nights before she shows up.  My creative juices would go more towards making up reasons that the elf didn’t move during the night.

Then, my friend sent me this picture:

:photo-26

I laughed so hard I almost dropped my phone.  She let her teen age daughter take over the elf shenanigans for her little sister.  In case you have taken a year long pop culture sabbatical, this was the reference for this particular elfin fun:

miley-cyrus-wrecking-ball
Please don’t make me say her name. You know who this is…

I started thinking that maybe I had missed an opportunity for some fun at the expense of my kids’ innocence.  By this I mean my four year old’s innocence.  My two older kids have already been corrupted.  But I could enlist their help.  I could let them scheme together on this whole “elf” thing and it would be a good bonding experience for them.  And it would totally be entertaining for my husband and I to see what they come up with.  Anyone who knows me knows I love inappropriate humor.  It’s one of the reasons I married my husband.  It’s why Louis C.K.’s “Of course…..  but maybe….”   routine is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.  So I could totally get on board with Elf on the Shelf gone bad.

There is so much you could do with inappropriate elf….

Amateur pornagrapher elf
Amateur pornagrapher elf
Step 1: Cut a hole in the box
Step 1: Cut a hole in the box
Surprise!
Surprise!
It puts the lotion on...
It puts the lotion on…

These are awesome.  I love it.  This could be fun…..

But, after thoroughly considering the options I have decided that this little sociopath will not be taking up residence in my house.  He’s still creepy.  My four year old is freaked out over the idea of Santa coming in to our home on Christmas Eve and the Tooth Fairy sneaking in to her bedroom when she looses her first tooth.  I think a whole month of this little stalker watching her would traumatize her.  Also, I don’t really want to know what kind of stuff my older kids would come up with when given free reign with a posable doll…  They’re good kids, but when I mentioned it to my daughter, she did the evil villain grin that indicated the she already was conjuring up some unsavory ideas.

2005-Spamalot-Tim-Curry-bw-sm

Better to live in blissful ignorance just a little while longer as to the depths of my kids’ burgeoning depravity….  So, enjoy your elfin magic all you innovative and productive moms and dads out there.  I do not begrudge you your elf antics.  I applaud your cleverness, your tenacity, your commitment to your kids’ fun, but I especially applaud your sick sense of humor.

breakup

“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same old plot, Staring at empty pages, Flowing along the ages”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

I’m breaking up with you. This isn’t easy for me. You’ve been a part of my life for so many years, most of my adult life. But the thing is- you’ve changed. You’re not who you used to be. You used to be cool. Smart. You used to have good taste in music. I don’t know why you changed, but it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to cancel my subscription.

I’m breaking up with you, Rolling Stone. I have been trying to make it work. I’ve been looking the other way, living in denial for a while now. I can’t do it any more. The disappointment runs too deep, I’ve lost too much respect. It didn’t have to turn out like this. I always loved you. Growing up I used to dream about my words gracing your pages. You were all about rock, you were  journalism. You were  political, you were edgy.  You were nearly perfect. Then things started to change. The turning point was in ’99.  I told my self that it was just a one time thing.  A little slip. Brittney Spears on the cover? The same place that had been inhabited by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Stones? This is the company she’s sharing? It seemed like sacrilege to me, but I tried to just focus on the articles, the music reviews. It was just one mistake.

But it wasn’t just once.

Remember Jimi Hendrix coaxing flames out of his guitar? Remember a naked John curled up next to Yoko? Remember David Bowie with the tinted sunglasses and cigarette dangling form his lips? Remember Janis with feathers in her hair? Nirvana all cleaned up in suits and ties? Fleetwood Mac sprawled out on a mattress? The fact that I could literally go on for pages is the very reason I’m so disappointed right now. Those covers were iconic, they were art. Now, we see covers like Taylor Lautner, Snooki,  Zac Effron, Jessica Simpson, Justin Bieber. What happened to your judgement on talent?  I am thinking you got seduced by revenues, you must have heard that teens were the money making demographic. So you sold your soul for some market share. You’re making a fool of yourself. And you’re making fools of all of us who have supported you all these years. I shouldn’t have to be embarrassed to read you in public.

Last month, I opened my mailbox to see Miley Cyrus leering at me. With her tongue sticking out. Really? I’m not jumping into the Miley hate-circus. I really could care less about her ass and what it did or didn’t do on MTV, or about her tongue. But could you have been more predictable? That was the most disturbing part of that cover. How much thought went in to that? You could have done a Miley Cyrus cover that was interesting, unexpected. Or you could have left her off completely and put someone more talented on the cover. It was a shameless attempt to be provocative but it was just boring and lame.

But it’s not just the covers. If it was just the covers I could probably get past that. I’m not all about looks. It’s what’s on the inside that matters. That is why the final betrayal cuts so deep. What sent me over the edge was the recent album reviews. Miley’s album got 3.5 stars. Wanna know who else got 3.5 stars recently?  Sleigh Bells, Justin Timberlake, Kings Of Leon, Sheryl Crow, Haim, Cage the Elephant- what???, Pearl Jam – no, you’re joking, right?, Arctic Monkeys – WHAT???  Knife in the heart….  I’m sorry, but there is no excuse for this kind of crazy. I don’t know if you’ve been sniffing too much ink over there, but I have no patience or tolerance for this kind of goofiness. I mean, the new Arctic Monkeys album is by far the best new album of the year…  Maybe Miley slipped you some Molly or maybe her new Rolling Stone tattoo has you smitten in some weird, juvenile “I’ve got a crush on the bad boy that sits in the back of the school bus, then a few years later you look at him in pity when he drops out of 10th grade” kind of way. All I know is you will one day look back at that review and cringe. You will try to hide it, you’ll hope everyone else forgets it. But I won’t. I won’t ever be able to trust your reviews any more. I won’t eagerly log on to Spotify to check out the new band you’re raving about. I won’t waste my time any more.

What makes all this so hard is I still think you’re smart. And being smart is probably the sexiest thing there is. And you still make me laugh. Being funny is also the sexiest thing there is. You still have great band interviews. You have thought provoking articles about politics and current events.  And you had your recent annual Hot List…  you can be so funny some times:  “Hot put two bullets in it:  MTV”, “Hot pretty fly for a white guy:  the new Pope”, “Hot Color Me Badd:  Robin Thicke”, “Hot stick to novels, buddy:  Jonathan Franzan”, “Hot it didn’t take:  Chris Christie’s Lap-Band”… you know I love inappropriate humor!  It’s the best kind!  I mean, maybe you still have some redeeming qualities… Maybe we can make this work.  Maybe… if you can ditch the teeny boppers and get back to the artists and the real rebels.

There’s still time to turn things around. If you get back to who you used to be, stop going for the cheap, easy thrills. Remember who really loves you. People like my Uncle Woody who’s saved every copy of you since you began. The “Beilebers” and “Twi-hards” are not going to be there for you in ten years. Those kids have the attention span of a gnat and will remember you as a brief fling from their youth. Those of us who’ve been here for you all these years, we may be a little older now, we may not be young and hip any more, but we are the ones that will actually appreciate you. We’ll read all the articles. Even the long confusing Matt Taibbi articles about the financial crisis. We won’t just skip to the celebrity interviews. So if you want someone who really appreciates everything about you, you’ll come back to us, you’ll remind us of how good you can be when you stay true to your roots.

And here’s the thing, if you do this, you will still be attractive to the younger demographic. Those that actually have good taste in music. They’ll start appreciating you too. Maybe when they hit the college years, they’ll realize how great you are and they’ll start buying you. My teen age son already appreciates you. He sometimes grabs you and reads you before I get a chance to. But sometimes, he laughs at you. He laughed at the Miley cover. He rolled his eyes at the Justin Bieber cover. He’s the kind of young kid that could become a loyal subscriber. But not if you keep going down the path you’re on right now.

So, please think about that before you put another no-talent, here-today-gone-today celebrity on your cover. Think about my uncle and his collection. Think about the years he has saved every single issue, 46 years worth. Think about the young kids that need to learn about good music and good journalism. Think about why you started this thing to begin with. Remember the guy you put on your first cover? He was a pretty good song writer. His lyrics are timeless and relevant even today. One song comes to mind, a song he wrote with his buddy Paul, called “Get Back”. “Get back to where you once belonged”….