Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mascara!!! (I never thought I'd say that word with exclamation points)

This week, for my 72nd birthday, my granddaughter Lizzie (who is 24) gave me some Clinique makeup: a lipstick, lip liner, and black mascara. I'm an admitted collector of lipsticks, and was happy to try the lip liner, although the product was new to me. But my heart sank a bit at the mascara.

I'd never worn black mascara in my life, and hadn't worn any mascara in decades. Back in my 20's, I wore brown/black mascara. I knew most women bought black, but I thought black would look bad on me. I had no desire to channel my inner clown (if I had one).

By the time I turned 30, I'd given up mascara altogether, along with lipstick and all the rest. I admire women who can balance motherhood with the ability to look put together (some of them do it every day!), but I was not one of them. As a mom to young children, I was into arts & crafts and music and books and occasional homeschooling, and that's what I looked like. I didn't mind it then, and I don't mind it now. But somewhere in the middle of grandmotherhood I realized I'd reached the age where I looked better (a lot better) with makeup than without.

I've written about makeup here before, as recently as last October. But one item that was conspicuously absent from my reviews was mascara. I used eyebrow mascara sometimes, but never anything on my lashes. I could see that it looked good on other women, so I tried a few times. But it felt heavy and goopy on my lashes, and always made me want to rub my eyes. Not a good idea.

When I read that Lady Gaga never wears mascara either (serious validation!), I relaxed into my makeup routine. This takes place only when I go out in public, mind you, but I do enjoy it. My face is my canvas, and I get to play with light and shadow, and some subtle color.

So there I was on my birthday, reaching into a small gift bag and coming up with black mascara. I unscrewed the cap and said admiring things about the brush, trying not to imagine the product hanging little lead weights on my lashes. Plus black mascara looks so . . . black. But I adore my granddaughter (and I know Clinique cost her a chunk of money), so I knew I had to give this unfamiliar product my best shot.

Fast-forward only four days, and I love it! I apply it lightly and am unaware of it--until I look in the mirror and start batting my eyelashes (sparse though they are) at myself. I actually look forward to applying it. This is what I wrote to my granddaughter tonight.

I have to tell you I'm totally into my new mascara. I woke up this morning and figured out what I was doing today, and when I remembered a chiropractor appointment and date for tea with Christine, my first thought was, Oh, good--I get to wear my mascara! It's funny, I know, but it's true!

I ended up rescheduling the chiro because I had to go to a memorial service. At the church I encountered several people I haven't seen in years, and they told me, separately, that I never change; I don't age at all. (I think they would all benefit from cataract surgery.) Then a young man introduced himself and said he remembered me from when I was a newspaper reporter. He said, "Around 1999 to the early 2000's." I said, "Right--I started working for the paper in 1999, and left in 2002, but I'm surprised you remember me, because you must have been very young." He replied, "In 1999 I was 11. But I remember you--you haven't changed." How funny is that?!? I felt like telling all these people, "It's the mascara."

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Autobiography in 36 Lines

I swear I remember posting this here--but none of my searches brought it up. So here it is (again?):

Autobiography in 36 Lines

I was born nine months after a Greenwich Village
party--spaghetti sauced with red wine and dried
fruit, Chianti served in painted glasses. My parents
went home early to begin my journey. My mother

made art in those days, and in all her days to follow.
When I was seven, the curse of her illness threatened
to smother me. But I believed she couldn't die.
Two years later, I kissed her goodbye. My father

and I rode in a car without a radio, singing 40s jazz
for our own entertainment, as our own musicians.
By sixteen, I sang with the radio and 45s, and spoke
into a clunky black telephone with a dial. My friends

pored over Photoplay magazines with me, smoked
with me, and professed our (technical) virginity.
I abandoned the piano for the guitar and folk music.
By twenty-one I sang wherever I could. My boyfriend,

heavily educated, stiffly objected, so I quit singing 
and married him. He gave me Tiffany jewelry, trips
to Bermuda; then a little cottage in the country,
a farmhouse, a sewing machine. The dogs and cats

seemed to stay the same age always, as did we for years.
Our children entered school, and I settled to enjoy
what I thought would be the status quo for....decades?
Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Mother, father, three kids

forever. Seeds in the ground every spring, peas to shell
on the porch in summer, school bus in the fall. Winters
never dreaded because we never felt so much as a chill.
We read books by the woodstove. We felt safe. We were

for a time. Frost, when it comes early, unexpectedly,
hits hard. My husband went first, though his strong
body lingered years. Photos, framed around my house,
tell a story: Two of the children grow older; one does not.

I have struggled with clutter, sold off art, battled dust
and fruit flies, evicted dead mice, and rescued spiders.
I have laughed till I cried and cried till I screamed.
I have lost. I have won. And everything in between.