There’s a method to my turtleneck.

I love turtlenecks.  Who doesn’t?  They’re warm, they’re (freaking) stylish, and they make my chest look about four feet below my chin, which creates the illusion of Sagging (Sagging being a vast improvement over Nothing.)  Some people love autumn because of the brilliant colors and falling leaves but to me, autumn means only one thing:  it’s Turtleneck Time.  Fads come and fads go, but through the years turtlenecks have stood immoveable as the classic fashion statement for women over forty.  I just love me a good a turtleneck.  And though I wear them less than I used to (Target carries few of them–go figure) my real passion for the TNs began back in my college days, when long walks to campus through the winter snow necessitated a fashionable top that doubled as ski wear.  It was during those tender years that I first developed a big thing for turtlenecks.  Big.

My husband always hated my turtlenecks.  We began dating in January when I wore them all the time, and he never said a word.  When we went out together and I was all turtlenecked-up, I just assumed that he found me as stunning as usual.  It wasn’t until after we were married that this narrative unwound.  One cold winter I day I was pulling on my favorite turtleneck:  bright red with a mock neck, meaning (for the turtleneck illiterate) that the neck came to my chin and stopped, rather than folding back over on itself in the standard manner of turtlenecks.  (And as an aside:  mock turtlenecks are a stroke of genius.  You get the sexy look of a turtleneck without the extra throat insulation, thus allowing you to sport the psuedo-sweater nearly every month of the year.  I’ve been known to don mock turtlenecks as late as May; you’d be surpised how well they go with denim capris.)

At any rate.  On this bright winter morning, I was just stretching the red mockey over my flyaway hair when my husband walked into our bedroom and announced, in a most ungentlemanly manner, that he hated my turtlenecks.  Always had.

What?  What do you mean?  Why would you hate turtlenecks?”

“Because, Jen…they’re dorky.”

“They are not dorky!”

“Yes, they are.”

“They’re cozy and cute–everybody wears them!”

“Nobody wears them.”

“Um, excuse me, look around…every girl I know has a turtleneck.”

“Oh really?  Name one.”  I flipped frantically through my mind for the name of a female friend–or acquaintance, even–to support my theory.  I couldn’t think of one.  Wow–was I the only girl on campus wearing turtlenecks?  I sighed.  Once again:  so ahead of my time.

“Look, Jen.  They’re totally seventies.”

“Nu-uh!  Turtlenecks are a classic, like polos or blazers.  Rich people in New York wear them with tall leather boots!  You are just so insecure and trendy, you have no sense of timeless fashion.”

“Rich people in New York may wear them, but you’re a poor person in Provo.  You can’t pull it off.  I love you honey, but please lose the turtlenecks.  For me?”

He said this last bit with such hopeful sincerity, I had no choice but to go purchase two more turtlenecks the very next day:  violet and salmon colored.  (I was already well-stocked with white, black, and a variety of earth tones.)  I’d show him.

See, what my tragically narrow-minded husband doesn’t understand is that there are many reasons–besides sheer style–for my wearing of The Turtleneck:

1.  They’re warm, and I’m always cold.  Wearing a turtleneck is like having a built-in scarf wrapped tightly around your neck at all times–even when you’ve stepped inside where it’s eighty degrees with the heat on.  You can sit by the fire through the evening, sweating profusely and enjoying the sensation of two strong hands squeezing the life out of your esophagus.  I think this is why turtlenecks have withstood generations of changing fashion; you can’t box that kind of comfort into a single decade.

2.  When  I’m swathed in a turtleneck, the waddle disappears.  You remember the waddle from our Alli Macbeal days?  It’s the the saggy portion of the neck between throat and chin.  Think of a turtleneck as a girdle for your waddle.  Enough said.

3.  Okay, truthsies:  Whenever I get nervous or excited, big red splotches break out all over my neck and collarbone.  It’s kinduvreally embarrassing.  Imagine how I feel when waxing poetic about Gerard Butler.  I’ll have warmed myself up by pointing out his delightfully crooked teeth and yummy Irish accent.  Then I’ll just be getting to the part about how he can play a badboy and a tortured opera composer, only to have my formerly captivated listener interrupt me mid-sentence, staring at my neck and asking,  “Um, are you okay?”  I’ll then glance down at the garish welts on my skin and have no choice but to deliver my wildly clever rebuttal:  “Oh.  I’m hot.”  (Works every time.  No awkwardness ever.)  After scores of humiliating first dates and job interviews wherein my feigned aloofness was betrayed by my crimson neck, the perfect solution finally presented itself to me:  wear a turtleneck!  To everything, everywhere.  Because you never know when you’ll need coverage.

4.  Two words:  Diane Keaton.  Ever heard of her?  She stars in super annoying movies and is notorious for her horrible fashion sense.  But she’s also rich and famous and I think she maybe lives in New York and wears tall leather boots and here’s the deal:  if a perpetual turtleneck is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

5.  Life is short.  And the span of your smooth and youthful neck, even shorter.  So to all you thirtysomethings rounding the bend into middle age, I say what the heck–wear a turtleneck!  (I foresee a bumper sticker here.  Maybe a special kind that only adheres to the tailgate of a minivan.)






Why I Can’t Do My Hair.

I can’t seem to do my hair these days.

I don’t mean physically.  As far as I can tell,  I still maintain the dexterity to wrap my fingers around a blow dryer and click the heat setting.  (Does anyone ever use the cool setting?  Why is it there?  They say the cool setting is better for our hair, but when you have to be at a high-powered PTA meeting in fifteen minutes and you need to bring your A-game because today they’ll be handing out the Carnival Committee assignments, the last thing you need is to spend twenty-five minutes freezing in your bathrobe, not getting your hair dry with a blast of frigid air rushing down your dripping neck.)  At any rate.

Yes, physically, I am capable of washing, drying, and styling my hair.  But lately, I just can’t seem to invest myself emotionally in the process.  As with all major problems in my life, I’ve spent a great deal of time pondering the complexities of this issue.  I’ve come up with a few reasons why Doing My Hair just Cannot Be:

1.  As a dedicated wife, mother, and struggling human being, I am allotted only so much energy per day.  This amount varies depending on the intake of my favorite source of energy:  calories.  Personally, I think of calories as my best friends.  They’ve brought me such happiness over the years and have stuck with me–really stuck with me–through thick and thin.  They were my First Faithfuls before I had Faithfuls.  Thus, I see each of my physical exertions as merely forcing a departure from these loyal loves.  And when you only consume 3,000 calories per day (like I do) why would you spend  75 of them washing, combing and curling your hair?  Those 75 calories could be so much better spent yelling at my kids or imitating Joe Biden (when I’m on fire, I can do both at the same time.)  My moral compass will not allow me to waste good caloric energy to satisfy my own vanity.  I’m just too humble, friends.

2.  Though I know I have many of you believing that I’m living The Glamorous Life over here in Eastern Washington, the hard truth is that my daily endeavors play out within the parameters of Wal-Mart, Target, and the Regional Scout Office.  You tell me if any of these locations warrant a dollop of of Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Plus, followed by a hefty dose of Kenra Super Hold Volume Finishing Spray.  This stuff’s not cheap.  I figure each time I volumize and finishing-spray-ize my coiff, it’s running me a good buck-fifty.  Have you ever been to the Regional Scout Office?  You think I’m gonna pay to look good there?  They should pay me for showing up.  I mean, really.

3.  I turned thirty-nine this summer and in so doing became, for all intents and purposes, no longer attractive.  To anybody, at all, ever again.  No amount of Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Plus is gonna change that.

Regardless of the above reasons for Why I Can’t Do My Hair, there are certain occasions wherein I cannot escape the responsibility.  These include church and, let’s see…church.  Yes, church.  Which only means that every Sunday, I am forced to eat extra calories (see #1.)  I’ve resigned myself to it.  And I’ve resigned myself to Doing My Hair for church with as much panache as can be expected.  In fact, were you to survey the members of my ward I’m pretty sure the overwhelming consensus would be that I look smokin’ hot most Sundays.  And since I see more than two people I know on those days, I feel justified in the dollop and spray required to get that way.  The real problem comes during the week when I anticipate an outing beyond Wal-Mart and the Scout Office, like maybe helping in Ethan’s classroom or even–oh happy thought!–Costco.  On such days, I dollop and spritz and shine, I comb and crunch and coiff, I even use the three-way mirror we have in our Big Fancy Bathroom.  On such days, goshdarnit, I Do My Hair.  And on such days, what always seems to happen?  I get stood up.  By my friends.  By my mom.  By the Yummy Meats Salesboy.  By my empty checkbook which, upon being consulted, informs me that Costco and I will not meet that day.  (But if I scrounge up enough loose change, I can get there for the hot dog and soda, which is the real reason I go anyway, and the real reason you do, too.  Don’t fake immunity to the the Kirkland kitchen, faithfuls.)

I generally don’t waste things (except words and water, but that’s another post) so you can imagine the indignity I feel after spending an insane amount of calories and money on an insanely awesome hair day only to spend that awesome hair day cleaning the lint guard in my dryer and driving my kids around.  (No offense to my kids, but no one can really see my hair through the cracked windshield of my champagne minivan.)  Too often on these Non-Church Do My Hair Days, I end up all dressed up with no place to go.  And it cuts deep.

However, now that I’m a fully-fledged adult (see #3) I’ve decided to stop sulking at the injustice of it all and determine my own fate.  So here is my plan:  On days that I actually Do My Hair, I will now be texting/tweeting/facebooking/blogging/calling/emailing and megaphoning all within the sound of my famously loud voice and making my hair status known to my vast network of faithfuls across the world (i.e., ward.)  Those who receive such news are encouraged to stop whatever nonsense they are engaged in at present–like paying bills or nursing a baby–and flock immediately to my front door, where I will be waiting in all my splendor.  Admirers are to remain on the second and third porch steps, as I will require the full facilities of the upper level to rotate clockwise in thirty-second intervals, allowing said admirers an Imax-like view of the glorious bounce and shine.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.  Hair like this doesn’t come cheap.  (see #1.)



My sister wife is

Petite.  Stylish.  Modern.  She is quiet but smart, discreet but confident, simple but sophisticated.  She is a smooth operator.

My husband takes her everywhere he goes.  He is frantic when he can’t find her.  He loves that she doesn’t need him to talk or spend money.  In fact, all she does is dote on his every move and text romantic sentiments like “Get movin’!” or “Step it up!

She is his first thought upon waking and his last thought before sleeping.  He thinks of nothing but how he can maximize his time with her.

My sister wife is young and hip and sexy.

And she is stealing my husband from me.


I’d call this Derrick’s Latest Phase, but he’s been involved with her for over three months–approximately three times the duration of his Standard Phases.

I am worried, my faithfuls.  Very worried.

I know that as First Wife I have certain rights.  I just don’t know what they are.

I do know that, instead of counting my husband’s steps throughout the day, I usually count his missteps.  (It’s my job to improve him.)

Instead of telling him how many calories he’s burned, I usually tell him how many calories he’s consumed.  (Too many.  Always too many.)

Instead of clocking how many miles he’s walked, I usually clock how late he’s getting home from work.  (Too late.  Always too late.)

And instead of quiet and smart, I am loud and slow. Instead of discreet and confident, I am brazen and neurotic. Simple and sophisticated?  Hmm.  More like a hot mess who’s also, in a cruel twist of fate, kinduva hick.

 I am not a smooth operator.

And I’m beginning to see why he prefers her over me.  She’ll never roll her eyes at him, complain about the dog, or turn forty.

But all things considered, it could be worse.

At least she’s not busty.

Then again, neither am I.