Lately, my inbox has become a game of whack-a-mole.
No sooner do I delete, say, a dozen messages — not a single one announcing that a distant relative has bequeathed me a sprawling, all-expenses-paid estate in the Cotswolds — than another two dozen appear.
And spam filters never seem to catch the nasty varmints. ARRGGHHH.
In what passes for a social life these days, my most frequent interactions outside of conversations with my husband reside in the beauty world, aka mani/pedis, haircuts, brow shaping, etc.
I’m not sure if men have comparable experiences, but the intimacy of beauty rituals with people we see regularly invites a certain amount of sharing. Mostly, we discuss benign frustrations, updates, and recommendations (will our home renovation EVER be finished; when can we visit with our kids who don’t live nearby; someone’s annoying neighbor or relative; where can we find the best sushi, etc.) but sometimes I overhear a startling story.
This week, the woman getting her nails done next to me told the manicurist a peculiarly personal and grisly tale. She was in the salon with her four-year-old niece and mentioned that she is unlikely to have children herself, as she is a widow approaching her 38th birthday. She went on to recount the following: her husband’s ashes are in an urn in her home and apparently the contents also include a necklace. It seems the lid somehow became loose and the niece has recently been using it as a storage container, removing some of the ashes to make space to add her own treasures.
I couldn’t help wondering what body parts have been replaced with a four-year-old’s special possessions. And maybe it’s me, but this seemed beyond the pale of what one discusses with one’s manicurist!
Although I’ve been an avid reader all my life — and exchanged book recommendations with friends for years — I was never in a book club until today.
Of course, “thanks” to Covid, it wasn’t what I’ve always imagined: a cozy gathering in someone’s living room, drinking wine, snacking, and veering off-topic.
Well, that last part kind of happened.
This was a Zoom gathering of a dozen women including many who knew each other and a couple of newbies. What I soon realized is that a book club provides permission to gossip shamelessly and unreservedly about people we’ve never met: “I can’t believe he said that!” “I can’t believe she DID that!” “What on earth were they thinking?” “His parents never really understood him.” “She was just trapped.” “How could he have been so callous?”
And, of course, we all wondered what the future holds and whether there will be a sequel.
We were excited: Our first live performance since COVID hit! Even the thought of wearing masks throughout the evening was bearable, although the prospect of a musical featuring 80’s pop music was far less appealing to my husband than to me. C’mon– big hair, Bananarama, what’s not to like?!
So off we went on Friday afternoon for the hour drive to Eugene, OR for “An Officer and a Gentleman“, planning for a 5 pm arrival in time for a 6 pm dinner reservation and 8 pm curtain.
We get halfway down the highway when a text message pops up that the performance is canceled. No reason given. We pull over so I can call the hotel and plead with them not to charge the full night’s fee since this is the only reason we are coming to town. They are very nice and say I can reschedule for a different day. OK.
Then I get a new message: They are adding a Sunday performance just for those of us Friday ticket-holders. No need to change anything; the tix will be good. Yay! I call my new best friend Emily at hotel reservations and rebook for Sunday. OK again.
We get home, put the overnight bag in the closet, and look forward to tonight. Ha. Wait.
Yesterday, I get another message: the ENTIRE weekend run has been canceled due to COVID. Someone (or many someones) are sick so there will be no performances at all. They’ll “let us know” if they can reschedule. My gut feeling is that, even if they do, the production is doomed to a run of bad luck to match those 80’s mullets and big shoulders.
Our hotel is now scheduled for a January performance of something called “Waitress“. Wish me luck.
Happy weekend, everyone! I’m so delinquent in posting but here are some quick style observations from our recent trip to Paris and Bordeaux.
Almost everyone wears scarves, all nonchalantly slung about the neck
Patterned tights, no opaques
Ankle boots are popular, especially worn with short skirts (if you’re young, that is)
The Right Bank of Paris seemed to be mobbed with frenzied shoppers. Is this due to being sprung from the pandemic jail and finally being able to travel? Many post-pandemic events requiring new wardrobes? A lack of interest in museums, restaurants or architecture?
Black, black and more black. Except for head-to-toe camel. Or grey.
For that casual, old-money look, a battered Kelly looks far more chic than the brand new version
Big Birkins still look like suitcases
Lots of hats, e.g. cloches, but not berets.
Jewelry: The look is several delicate chains layered together. Women of every age wear multiple rings — especially on the second and fourth fingers. No big diamonds or other flashy pieces — the French prefer understatement
As some of you may know, I am a sucker for almost anything Hermès. Though I was dismayed by the crazy mob of shoppers at the Rue Faubourg flagship: Nearly every woman was sporting either a Birkin or a Kelly and it seemed to be the necessary accessory to get anyone to pay attention to you. Although the sales assistants have explained that production of the most in-demand styles is down due to Covid so that “nothing” is available, I did spot one woman purchasing both a Constance and a Kelly, with a stack of boxes suggesting that she was just getting started.
I did buy a lipstick.
Luckily, there is the secondary market. And if you already have more than enough bags and baubles, the following item is available online at Ann’s Fabulous Finds for a very reasonable $5,500. Surely this will be snapped up ASAP!
Yes, a designer hard hat.
Meanwhile, the flagship Chanel still boasts the original staircase, which is worth a visit even if you’re not shopping.
For my stepdaughter’s upcoming bachelorette weekend, attendees have been asked to offer a piece of marriage advice. Below are some observations to ponder, serious and otherwise.
“A wedding may require a team of professionals; a marriage only requires two amateurs.”
“It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~Rita Rudner
“In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar. They still are.”
“Marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.” ~Benjamin Franklin”
“Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them.” ~Ogden Nash
“The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.” ~Anne Bancroft
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”
On a less-snarky note, the following is a good checklist for how to get along in any long-term partnership. Condensed here, so click for the full article.
Remember Your Commitment Life is busy and unpredictable. You both signed up to ride together during whatever comes your way. A foundation of love and caring helps you get through the tough times.
Assume the Best of One Another Unless you’re married to a total rotter, your partner probably means the best. Even if they piss you off — and they will — their intentions were likely pure. So, as a general rule, assume you both have each other’s best interests in mind. (Unless proven otherwise.)
Don’t Ever Stop Trying Make the commitment to keep being generous, showing appreciation, and saying thank you more than you probably are. Being taken for granted is never sexy.
Stop Stonewalling This is the act of shutting down during an argument. The person stonewalling stops responding and maintains a calm exterior, which tells their partner that they don’t care at all about what they’re saying. What to do instead? Ask for a break. Then return to the discussion — sooner rather than later — when you’re ready.
Communicate Respectfully Argue and attack the issues at hand without getting defensive, digging up the past and throwing it in the other’s face, dismissing a partner’s experience, or any other caustic habit.
Always Be Flexible Life’s full of surprises, not always pleasant ones. A couple’s ability to ‘go with the flow’ – especially when it’s dramatically different from what they expected – gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and get to know each other in ways they might never have known before.
Curiosity Saves Couples Your partner will likely change over time, so being open to the ways in which he or she changes can allow you to identify the ways you’ve changed as well. Shared curiosity — learning a new skill, hobby, traveling, etc. — creates new opportunities to bond.
Be Willing to Grow and Learn Everyone screws up, says dumb things, gets stuff wrong. It’s all about how people react that defines a relationship. Being willing to admit mistakes, and apologize sincerely, is an important key in creating a deeper bond with your partner.
Stop Invalidating This type of belittling can be incredibly destructive to a relationship, implying that what they’re doing or saying means they must be either crazy, stupid, or some combination of the two. It can happen in a quick, almost casual manner (“That’s ridiculous”), or it can be passive-aggressive, telling a partner how they should react before you even speak (“Don’t freak out, but I have to tell you something…”). Marriages thrive on mutual trust, respect, and security. Without this, the relationship will eventually corrode.
Prioritize Sex and Date Nights When you’re busy, this means putting it on a schedule and sticking to it. Like other self-care activities (e.g., going to the gym) if you don’t block time out in your schedule, it’s not going to happen. Especially if you have young kids.
Get on the Same Page Whether it’s how and what involvement the in-laws will have, how many activities the kids should participate in, or even when/if to have children, having the same priorities builds trust and reduces stress.
Learn How to Move On From Arguments Disagreement is unavoidable in any marriage — as are spats, snipes, and all-out fights. “It’s important to talk about what happened afterward and own your part,” says one marriage and family therapist.
Laugh it Up If you can laugh together, you can survive anything.
Always Be Validating Having your partner listen, appreciate, and understand you speaks to a basic need for connection. It’s okay to disagree, as long as you respect each other.
Stop Obsessing Over Who Wins When couples respect each other, they can accept not being right in favor of maintaining a healthy balance. Successful couples choose their battles, knowing that closeness can sometimes be more satisfying than being right.
Make Time for Self-Care Don’t just take care of your spouse; look after yourself. That means exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, and making regular doctor and dentist appointments. Investing in yourself and your own well-being shows your partner that you want to be at your best for them.
Pay Attention to the Little Things For couples who have mutual respect, small gestures are second-nature. A simple love note, a slightly longer hug or kiss goodbye can make your partner feel validated and appreciated.
Give One Another Space It’s important to be supportive and engaged with your spouse. But you also can’t hover over them and try and solve all their problems for them. Have enough faith in each other to know when to step back and let them handle something on their own.