Five things I love about my new set of falsies.

Last Friday afternoon, on an uncharacteristic but exhilarating whim, I decided to get me some eyelash extensions.  I’m still not sure how it happened, but it may have had something to do with the half-price coupon in my gmail and an alarming pre-makeup glance in the mirror.

I know what you’re thinking:    eyelash extensions are merely the latest expensive, desperate toss into the fountain of youth by the increasingly vain modern woman.  And you’re right; I know you’re right.  But I don’t care.  I got ’em, I love ’em, and I pity da fool who tries to stop me from gettin’ ’em again.  Here’s five reasons why:

1.  I get to go to the spa—like, all the time.  

If you want to keep the peepers, you gotta pay the piper, and that means monthly visits to the salon for upkeep.  Some women would look at this as a drawback, but I say it’s the black on the lash.  Last Friday I went into a clean, light, soft-smelling room and lay on a clean, light, soft-smelling bed.  Then a cool pair of hands gently applied the gems while I dreamed of the hapless men I must needs reject once my new lashes were in place.  Yes, sir, as a matter of fact, I AM married…three kids—I know, no one can believe it—oh gosh, these silly eyelashes?  They DO get me into trouble from time to time… This scenario somehow concludes with my adoring husband handing me a dozen roses as I walk up a stage to accept an award for Best Actress.  (For what role, I’m not sure.  I just know I win.)  Such is how I spent, and will continue to spend, My Time At The Spa.  I say no price is too high.

 2.  I never have to wear mascara again.

Or eyeliner, for that matter.  Not that I wore tons before, but because of my light eyes and lashes, I did need a little to look not dead-ish.  But now I have the drama of a diva with the maintenance of a granola girl.  (Has anyone said “granola girl” since 1992?  Let’s bring it back.)  It’s a delicious little paradox, really; I’m wearing no makeup, so I look au natural, except for these big fake eyelashes, which don’t look so aw natch-oo-roll, thus throwing me more into the ’80s diva category.  But my “lashes” aren’t covered with any mascara, so I’m technically makeupless, which makes me a granola girl again.  But they’re also made out of mink (no kidding!), which turns me back into a diva.  Of course, the mink is a “natural” product (granola girl) but it’s also an animal product (diva–not to mention a glaring invitation for PETA to hunt me down.  Have you seen what they do to women like me?)  And ’round and ’round I go, swapping identities quicker than the flash of a fake lash.  It’s really kind of fun, being both of these gals; who knows which one of us will show up at the church potluck?  I like to keep my admirers guessing.

3.  No more gunk under my eyes

Besides raising my kids and writing this blog, I’ve spent the better part of the last five years wiping away smeared makeup from under my eyes.  No matter how expensive the mascara, how waterproof the mascara, how long I’d blow-dried the mascara (cool setting, eyes half closed, can you spell pa-the-tic), I would constantly find smudges of the nasty tar settled somewhere between my fine lines and my crow’s feet.  I’d wipe in the morning, the gunk would be back by noon.  I’d wipe at noon, it’d be back by three.  I’d wipe at three…you get it.  So instead of just looking old and tired, I would, thanks to my mascara, look old, tired, and hungover.  But now that I’m wearing mink (see: diva), my wipey-swipey days are behind me.  Now when I check myself out in the rearview mirror, I see nothing under my eyes but acres of shiny peach concealer.  It’s awesome.

4.  I wake up every morning looking like Brigitte Bardot.

Or Tammy Faye Bakker—but tomayto, tomahto.  Whoever I’m channeling, I only have to roll out of bed and look out, Kennewick—it’s game ON.

5.  They make me look younger.

She said so!  She said so!  The lady at the spa said so!  I, for one, believe her (why would she lie?), but I’ll let you draw your own conclusion from the creepy picture below.  I blink, you decide.




Okay.  So maybe the new lashes don’t make me look young, but you gotta admit:  they do make me look wide awake.  Or plainly terrified.  (But at least not hungover.)


The Goldfinch

Finishing a great book—even a sad book—fills me with a kind of geeky exhilaration that I can only compare with finally being invited to sit at the Cool Table in the seventh grade cafeteria.  (Okay, so maybe it only happened in my dreams.  But the feeling was all too real.)  I know a book’s good when I forget that I’m reading it and find myself just hanging with my brave new friends in the brave new world that the author has invented.  So it was with this little number:


Now before I wax too poetic about the tragedy and triumph of this novel, let me disclaim:  this book is not for everyone.  It pulls the reader into a world of wealth and art that eventually spirals into a world of crime and drugs, with all the despair—and language—that follows.  I like to fancy myself a reader with high but realistic standards; I do not cringe at a little language or reference in an otherwise thoughtful book, but I do cringe at an excessive or gratuitous use of the same.  This book made me a cringe a little.  But I couldn’t stop reading it.  (I tried.  But I couldn’t.)

And though the language was, at times, excessive, I never found it gratuitous; it brought the story to light in a believable (though somewhat disturbing) technicolor.  The language was not titillating; more like heartbreaking.  But still, it could be deemed offensive, and thus a deal breaker, for many readers—a position I respect, as I often take it myself.  (Except when I don’t.)

However.  When we consider our “standards” for literature, I hope we consider standards of originality and craftsmanship, voice and detail, and careful, honest dialogue.  I hope we do not choose our books solely by an isolated standard of “clean” or “not clean,” wherein the cheapest rhetoric can past muster while the truest often fails.

But why do I go on?  I’m sure you know what you like and don’t like.  As for me, I liked this book.  A lot.

The Goldfinch taught me about paintings and antiques and museums and estate sales and art dealers and drug dealers.  It took me to the monied world of the New York elite and the desperate world of Las Vegas gambling addicts.  It introduced me to Park Avenue philanthropists and Ukranian hit men, to the quest for beauty and the shock of violence, to good intentions gone disastrously wrong and bad intentions gone absurdly good.  It took me from a mother’s love to a father’s hate to a friend’s loyalty (or was it betrayal?) to a boy who comes of age through unthinkable adversity that, thanks to the seamless writing, we experience right along with him.  (From a safe remove, of course.  Which is how I like to experience adversity.)

So that, I would say, is my definition of a good book:  one that brings me to people who are totally different, but really kind of the same, as me.

And aren’t they all?

Everything will work out.

If I could go back and tell my twenty-year old self just one thing, it would be this:  everything will work out.

That was the signature statement of one of my favorite church leaders, and I wish I’d understood it better as a young adult.  Everything will work out.  Believing that would have saved me so much heartache.  (Not to mention breakouts.)

I would tell myself to make a decision and then move forward with it, believing that the best is yet to come—because it is.  I would tell myself to do more and worry less.  I would tell myself that The Big Happy Ending comes slowly, slowly, oh-so-slowly…but it does come.  In bits and pieces, here and there, the long way around and through the back door.  It looks less like the End and more like the Middle and it sneaks up, rather than announcing itself, to you.  But you gotta stop folding the towels and filing the bills long enough to notice.

If I could go back, I would tell myself to trust myself.  I would tell myself to stop listening to what everyone else is doing or bragging about doing or pretending to be doing or thinks that I should be doing.  I would tell myself that what works out for them—even people I like, people I am like—is, quite certainly, not at all what will work out for me.

road line

I would tell myself this at age twenty.  I would tell myself this at age 40.  I would tell myself this today, because it’s so simple and so hopeful that it’s still hard to believe:  everything will work out.

I think (I know) this means something different for each one of us.  I’m beginning to see what it means for me.

What does it mean for you?