She-Voyeurism

1910sbathingsuits-4see you, you big sexy hunk of man-steak. I see you.

I’m watching you as you second guess yourself. I see your carefully chosen clothes, double checking your coif in the glass as you walk by. I see how you wrap your copy of Men’s Health and Maxim up with the Globe and the Times. You buy them for the work-out advice. Riiiiight.

You’re not so different from us gals after all are you, you big, strong, sexy, know-how-to-bring-home-the-bacon-man-and-take-care-of-your-strong-sexy-bring-home-the-bacon-woman? 

Besides the sweeter linguistic icing in women’s magazines, your what’s-going-on-with-those-women-and-how-do-I-catch-one questions are asked and answered in these magazines. I see you on the other side of the magazine rack as I am, scanning women’s magazines which profess to have the recipe for peace in the battle of the sexes. I see you.

In the September edition of Men’s Health, they feature a 36 step plan, “36 Ways to Get That Girl!”.  Next to the title, there is a discrete topless photo of va-va-va-voom Brazilian Cintia Dicker. This would imply that should you (you wonderfully manly man’s man)  follow this simple 36 step plan, you too would be able to snag a topless beauty.  Women’s magazines aren’t that different. They usually dish up the same advice with a side of steamy prime-man-rib.

I’m going to dissect a few of the 36 points;

Number 13“Don’t sit on anything while you’re naked”….do you guys really need to be told this?  Gross. Butt sweat anywhere is not a welcome guest.

Number 15“At a restaurant, give me the seat with the view”….Yes, we choose first. Your job is to pull out the chair, make sure we’re comfortable, and order really scrumptious wine.  If you get this right, you may have the opportunity to prove you know better than to need the advice  in Number 13.  I don’t care if you’ve been together for eight thousand years – plan and take your gal on dates.

Number 18“If you have something beautiful delivered to my office I will sext you”…meh…sexting is not as good as the real lovin’ that will take place when you get home.

Number 19“Give the perfect hug”…women need hugs like lungs need air…great advice to hug freely, generously and at length.

Number 31“If you notice that my boots need re-heeling, that my closet door squeaks, or that my watch needs a new battery, take care of it – without being asked”….this tip makes the magazine worth your dime fellas.  Another piece of advice – lift and move heavy stuff without being asked. Useless men around the house become disposable in the bedroom. Be useful = be deliciously sexy.

Number 32“Write a song for me”….mmmm, not so much. Write me a sincere note. Write me a letter. Buy a great card that tells me how wonderful I am and surprise me. Unless you’re Lionel Ritchie, skip the song writing and singing.

Number 35“Would you move into a new house without exploring every room? My body is that house, you don’t know me unless you’ve kissed every inch of me”….Amen. Hallelujah…get your pucker up boys….

 Men’s magazines are proof  ladies. Men do really want to make us happy. They just don’t have a clue how do it. I won’t go as far as one article in a recent publication that compares training a man to training a dog. I will advise to be gentle, breathe deeply, and continue with the frequent and free therapy of girl talk.

I see you. When you’re not looking, I see you looking over your shoulder, and wondering if I do see you. Don’t you worry boys. We’re watching.

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Ode On The Single Life

I found this piece of writing from a few years ago. I can still relate – how about you?

Ode to the Single Life

Oh late nights of nachos and beer in bed
Day old underwear, and hair not combed on your head
Weave gently this melancholy from one day to the next
Play the sad songs too loud. Repetition. Repetition.

What scent does this late mid-week night bring
leaving the dark theatre; popcorn, sweat, stale seats?
Week old champagne in a tumbler still bubbles.
Without this time, so much time, long minutes of night
who would discover these things? Who would care about famous indiscretions?

Tight skirts or pressed shirts, tossed – wine or beer soaked
to the floor, virgin to the touch of anyone but the wearer.
The shirt, The pants, The outfit that makes you sparkle
Stares you in the eye in the morning. Too much money. Too much effort.
Waking ashamed of your rendezvous with fashion that matters not

Who are you coupledom? What GPS guides us there?
Forever wandering, mass consumers of individual satisfaction,
just one drink, one purchase, one book or coffee away
from fulfilled enlightenment; That magic spark that will illuminate this journey

Dreaming of forever, locked into domestic bliss
The dank beer shirts and wine stains give way to order
tea towels, tidy linen closets and matching drapes.
Nachos and beer sulk in the guest room
The bedroom – the “master suite” matures into
a haven of other things besides sensuality and passion;
Snoring, flatulence, vapour rub , laughter and tears

Oh single life! So fleeting. So agonizingly rich
this experience of self in the gaseous state.
No form or order. Just being – curious, free and all alone.
What is this love? This seeking and rescue of the other
locked away in that fairy tale turret.
While I’m here. Wash me in your Smirnoff, polish me with Segura
And promise you will remain beautiful and fleeting.

Rocking the Sleep Lab

I’m coming to you this morning straight off a 10 hour visit to the sleep lab and my morning run.

Of  course this would be the only morning ever that there was a hot guy using the circuit equipment on the path by lake where I run.You see, as luck would have it, today I didn’t wear my cute pink and white ball cap to hide my sexy bed head.  Because of my soiree a la sleep lab, I skipped the hat in favour of a headband so I didn’t get that sticky uber-icky gel that was left in my hair on my cute little cap. I also have a burned patch of skin by my left eye,which should heal up in time for my child’s wedding. My child is 12.

Regardless of thinking that OHIP approval for sleep tests was approved over one too many bourbons and a greasy padded handshake in a dark hotel lounge, I conceeded to going at my doctor’s third request.  I was so prepared for my sleep test. I was going to rock the sleep lab. I was going to prove that this was all bunk. I had been up since 8am, peeled, chopped and preserved almost 150lbs of tomatoes.  I ate a healthy dinner of fish and green beans.  My timing was fabulous. I rolled into the parking lot just five minutes before last beddy-bye call with my own orthopaedic pillow, cool jammies and my bed time cup of tea (thank you to the Tim Horton’s that I found on my way to the lab). Hey, parking spot #108. Eight is my lucky number. “Hmm. A good omen.This is going to be a great night”, I thought to myself.

You see, when I’m anxious I can’t fall asleep. I can’t stay asleep, and my mind whirrs with what if’s; what’s my bank balance, did I lock the door, does the cat have water, did I close the bird-cage, did I lock the car…..My goal was to keep tonight pretty low-key. I had worked all day to physically tire myself out, and it was time to trick my girl-brain into being calm, in the moment, and relaxed.

A lovely attendant met me at the door and escorted me to my room. Bed 5. Warm, granny like wallpapered walls and beige bedding were waiting for me. I filled out a two page form, and then settled in with my much beloved Globe and Mail. Relaxing in my jammies, I peeled the lid thingy back off of the top of my tea and took a big sip. Coffee?! COFFEE?! Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. Oh ebony elixir of  boundless energy, tonight was not your night to appear in my boudoir. Tonight I needed to soothe myself to sleep with tea.

Rocking the Sleep Lab; Take Two – I settled in with my much beloved Globe and Mail. As always, I started with the Style Section and then moved on to Arts, and Travel. I pulled the footstool over. Wait, that wasn’t a footstool. It was a step used for short(er) people to get up onto the examination bed. Waaaait a minute here. Upon closer inspection, this was an examination room that moonlights as a sleep room. Ew! What kind of germs are in here? Ick.

I padded to the kitchen in my slippers, hoping there would be some tea and a man from the cover of a romance novel in there. There was tea. Good enough. I’ll take that. As I waited for the kettle to boil, I read the signs on the fridge. “Do Not Use – For Office Use Only”, “How to Properly Pack Vaccines”, “Narcolepsy Hotline”, what? My mind flashed back to the intern I knew who claimed he had narcolepsy after repeatedly falling asleep while working.

Narcolepsy? Holy mackerel, the people in here could have real sleep issues. I think I’m ok, and kind of humouring my family physician by doing this, but what if I was in here with a bunch of sleepwalkers, sleepsexomaniacs and people with night terrors? Crap. None of these fancy shmancy doors locked. Maybe I’d better ask for earplugs. Hell, maybe I’d better take some of the jelly-lube looking stuff off the carts in the hallway just in case Mr. Wonderful Sleep Sex Offender wanders in during the night. This might be slightly more entertaining than I had anticipated.

 Uneasy about sleeping in an unlocked room with other people’s germs and potential weirdos roaming the halls, I decided to go to the washroom and get ready for bed. My girl brain was anything but mellow.

As I brushed my teeth I heard my Romeo in the next bathroom clearing the phlegm from his throat and blowing his nose like a war cry.  I guess tonight wasn’t going to be my magical-unexpectedly-meeting-the-man-of-my-dreams-night. Not unless I liked short fat men with mucus. Here’s a tip fellas;when you’re in a public space keep the phlegm clearing and nose honking on the down-low. Not that my fuzzy pink slippers and surgical green jammies were going to drive any man to the edge of desire.

Walking back to my room through the dimly lit hallway, I passed a few stainless steel carts with wires and tape and all kinds of goopy gels and lotions set out.  That’s when it dawned on me that I forgot to tell them I’m allergic to surgical adhesives (This morning the left side of my face looks like I fell on the stove because of that lovely, oh-so-gentle-adhesive). My little lab lady wired me up. A series of alcohol wipes, exfoliating the area where the electrode attached, drying the area, and attaching an electrode with some goop and a large piece of tape. 18 in total. 

They’re so smart. They dude you up with the wires, and let you carry on reading or whatever you’re doing, and say they’ll be back in half an hour “to put you to bed”. Heck, I haven’t been put to bed since I was a kid. This was kinda nice being looked after so thoughtfully.

Half an hour later she came back with more wires and straps. Don’t get kinky on me here, it was nothing  that exciting. Two breathing things that cut off your breathing (one at the chest, and one at the waist), and a lovely tube with nasal canulas to measure your intake of air. How the hell can they get an accurate reading of  intake of O2 when your nasal passages are jammed with plastic? After making me thoroughly uncomfortable, I was “put to bed”, and oh yes ma’am, one other thing, let me tie this heart rate monitor to your finger.

Besides the wires and tape all over my body and in my hair, I was coping with wearing underwear and pants. That alone can keep me up all night. Fabulous. I was so relaxed it’s just impossible to describe. What with all of these wires and things to strangle yourself with during the night, how could a person not sleep well in this environment? This had to be epitome of evidence-based research and testing. There are a lot of bank accounts getting morbidly obese from this.

True to form, about two hours after going to bed, I woke up. I had to get up, but first I had to ring the bell and wait to be unplugged. I now knew what it would feel like when I was too old to get out of bed myself. I’ll definitely need diapers.

This morning, I awoke to a gentle voice saying, “Good morning ma’am, are you awake?”.

Who knows what will come of this.  Definitely a sell job on some sleep contraption, but maybe I can hope for a little more? Maybe a better sleep, and more energy throughout the day? Maybe a more bubbly and energetic me? Maybe it will all boil down to embracing the miserable bitch that I can be, and finding a man who can not only tolerate it, but think it’s charming? Maybe.

What Happens When You Lose Your Voice

Hey, it’s great to see you. You’re lookin’ good! Come over here and give me a big hug. Oh, Mmmmm.  I’ve really missed you. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch, but somehow, somewhere, the techno-Gods decided to punish me with the loss of my home Computadora (as I so fondly refer to her).

I’ve been bubbling over all week, waiting to tell you about silly wedding stuff that baffles my simple yet still girly mind. I almost went mad thinking about how I would share with you the lightening bolt insight I had after reading this month’s edition of Men’s Health and Self magazines.Let’s just say I don’t think that men should watch “The Notebook”. I’m sure  at least one testicle evaporates while watching the second half of the movie.

 Boy oh boy I’ve missed you. I’ve missed your comments and feedback and insight.

It won’t be long now, and I’ll be sharing my oh-so-clever-and-cute thoughts with you again. There are more dating no-no’s and yes-pleases to come for both my hot, virile, sexy man-readers and my witty and gorgeous female readers.

Sheesh! This being silent is killing me. I miss you. I really do. Pray for a full recovery today of Ms. Computadora.

Mwah! Big kisses until next time….

Fall Fashion Mags: Money Can’t Buy Dreams but It Sure Can Buy Inspiration

“It hurts to be beautiful”, I’ll never forget my mother saying this as I looked up at her through the ammonia haze of my first perm when I was five years old. I believe that’s when I started to really question her ability to parent. 

Alas, this is not a blog about parenting, it’s about what women wear. What we covet in dress shops and shoe stores, and the sisterhood that this desire for beauty creates.

First of all, let me start with disclosing my muse for this piece; marie claire‘s September fashion edition. Despite the all too common ribbing given to Sarah Jessica Parker‘s equine features, I adore her. Her fashion sense that is – I don’t personally know her. Sarah Jessica Parker is on the cover of the magazine in a fabulous little dress that makes you want to take her home, and make a shopping list! Her Sex in the City character Carrie ,gives voice to the inner chick in all of us, and the clothes! Ah, the clothes – wouldn’t it be nice to go through all of our girl moments in fabulous clothes?!

But then, if you’re like me, conservative, a little bubbly here and there where you shouldn’t be, you think, “Oh, I couldn’t wear that!”.  

So, last night, hopped up on Lindt truffles and tea, I snuggled in with my copy of marie claire, and began ogling what’s what in fall fashion. I’m a great reader of the fine print; where to buy,how much it costs, what some more reasonable or easier to find substitutions might be. 

One simple, yet beautiful outfit in a section dedicated to Michael Kors cost a mere $2860.00, and that’s without bra, panties or, most importantly, shoes! In my case, add a few extra bucks or some Spanx. The model wore a simple black bodysuit, skirt, clutch and earrings.

The Anglo Files, filled with pages of stripes, checks, (p)leather and random other 80’s poo-ha made me thankful I pulled through the decade without severe emotional trauma related to my neon-pink, floral stirrup pants.

Ironically, following the “Big Girl in a Skinny World” column, and a few buffer cosmetic pages, there is the “What I Love About Me” section. Features like, “my superlong legs”, “my eyes”, my “dainty hands”, dripped from the lips of the 19-26 year old sample. Hell, when I was 19-26 I loved all of the above about myself. Now I’m just happy my super long legs carry me around, my eyes are healthy, and I haven’t lost a finger somewhere along the way.

Fat chicks must also be broke chicks, because it was in the “Big Girl in a Skinny World” column that I found the one and only dress I could afford, and will likely buy. It’s the $98 Studio M dress at Macy’s. It’s black lace over what looks like some nude material. Perfect for a nice lunch out with the girls, or that elusive date that must be hiding out with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus somewhere. 

I indulged in my fashion fantasies as I turned each page, laughing at the memory of some of my great, and not so great buys. I looked at the super-thin models, the memory of myself, two lesbians and the mother of the bride sitting on a hotel room bed with our dresses up and our Spanx showing in an effort to cool off after an afternoon on Parliament Hill getting photos taken popped into my head. Wait – one of us was wearing pants. Anyway….What we don’t do to look and feel like pretty women.

Often we ask, “Who wears this stuff anyways?”. We may not wear it, but designers and fashion magazine editors are selling dreams. We all need dreams, even if it’s a $98 dress from Macy’s. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that boots feature in the next month’s edition! Who doesn’t love a pair of sexy boots?)

I read it all, even the perfume reviews. I love perfume. Vera Wang , Prada and Givenchy tempt this season with yummy scents, but my must have is Elie Saab’s new fragrance  that, “…leaves the room like the train of a dress”. I’m sure that will fit.

Keep dreaming, and keep smiling ladies, because regardless of what we wear, our attitude does leave the room like the train of a dress, and we all have a little bit of fabulous in us, regardless of what we’re wearing.

FU and WTF

– Coarse Language Advisory

If you can’t handle the f-bomb, read no further. Skip this blog entry entirely, although, I think you might find it intellectually stimulating. Or something like that.

Today was a fuck you day. You know the kind. The days when you just want to tell the world to fuck off, get a life, quit being so fucking politically correct and get out there and do your damn job kind of day.

The fuck you’s are not unlike the blues, just more angry and aggressive. I actually prefer the fuck you’s to the blues. I’ve only been blue a few times, and it’s a pathetically hopeless place to be. Fuck you is a much more powerful vantage point.

As most mornings go for me, my body and mind are in shock until I’ve had a shower, cup of tea, cup of coffee and read the headlines (in that order specifically).  Today I woke up late to the message of the death of a friend. I skipped the shower (don’t freak out, I had one last night) and skipped the tea at home.  Monday was shaping up to be super-fucking fantastic.  

After a little toothscapade (losing my temporary crown on the way to work), I  came into the office  in time to be invited to a pre-meeting before the meeting. WTF?

Life in my home girldom has not been pretty or happy lately. Just the girldom part. I’m healthy and happy with every other area of my life besides the bitter ending of an atrociously fucked-up relationship that just won’t quit.  I’m healthy, my little family of one is healthy, my cat hasn’t barfed on the carpet in over a week, and the bird did not die of paint fumes last week. Funny how one crap aspect of life can affect so much. Funny how our brains can let one crap aspect make it an F-you and WTF kind of day.

So since I was at work, I tried to focus on work. Yep, try is the key word here. On my way in this morning, my temporary crown, number two in a series of dental beautifying, fell out of my mouth. It now rests in three pieces in the console of my car. For 6.5 hours of the day I kept refocusing on my to-do lists, email, and follow-up, all the while hoping my anti-inflammatory would kick in, and hoping that the dental discomfort might keep me from eating and maybe, just maybe help me drop a couple of pounds.  For 1.0 hours of the day I went shopping and picked up a great painting for over the buffet.

For a fraction of the 6.5 hours of the day, I had the pleasure of entertaining another colleague, who is upbeat, positive, and cheerful much like myself. Well, upbeat, positive and cheerful when I’m not having a fuck you, WTF kind of day.That fraction of the day turned the rest of the afternoon around for me. WTF indeed.

It’s all mindfulness as my Sifu would say. It’s all in my head. It took a quick two-minute visit from this colleague friend to reframe, refocus, and reclaim the vast landscape of my own thoughts.

Friendship comes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s cultivated and nurtured over a long period of time. Sometimes friendship is simply smiling at another human being. Healthy relationships, long-lived, or momentary, are  blessings. When we are weened on abusive relationships, and try cutting our teeth on healthy ones in adulthood, some days are just fuck you, WTF days.

I am a witness to the fact that friendly faces, open hearts and good intentions aren’t that hard to find. Isn’t that what we’re here for? To be friends I mean. To learn and grow with one another until….well, until whatever comes after this lifetime.

It’s really easy to have a fuck you, WTF kind of day. As it turns out, it’s even easier to be the kind of friend to turn it around for someone. Just a smile. A laugh. A reminder of how wonderful you are.

Because you are wonderful.

You do know that right ladies?

NO?

WTF?!

Please Talk Dirty Politics and Don’t Shave Your Wiggly Bits

Never invade your lover’s bathroom privacy. Even if your lover has been your lover for a kazillion years. If  you only take one piece of advice from me ladies, treat this little nugget of wisdom as sacrosanct.

Ok, so that’s not exactly the wisdom that one courtesan might pass on to another, but it’s a great piece of advice.

Which brings me back to the things that make us better lovers. Lovers? Yes. Lovers.  I think we all should be lucky to remember, in our old age, a lover (or few) who was truly that. Now, there’s one caveat here ladies, I am single. Recently single even from my brief forray into monogamy which I hope to forray into again soon. In the mean time though…..

What is it that makes a woman attractive to a man? I’m wise enough now to know it’s not just fabulous breasts and great legs, although that does help. There is something more to attraction than beauty though. What about wisdom, wit and a wacky sense of humour?

Think about it gals. We’ve all been attracted to the hunky guy with the great  pecs and incredible eyes, but when he opens his mouth it’s like when they turn the lights on at the end of the night in a club. You think, “What the hell is going on?!”

We’re all coy, men and women alike, trying to time our enthusiasm as we guage the interest of the other. But where do we learn this? Who taught courtesans in the art of courtly love? Other women. But who taught the other women? Men.

I believe that we learn how not to be undesirable from the very men that we wish to be desirable to. For instance when a guy is a jerk about something, we know not to be bitches about the same thing. My previous honey must have  dated boars prior to winning the jackpot of love when he snagged me.  Somewhere in his amateur manbrain he thought that since we had made it to that magic finish line of initial romance, he could start belching and passing gas freely. Quickly he learned one of my very favourite rules of dating (and I will call it dating until I’ve walked down the aisle and stood at the altar); “If I didn’t marry it or give birth to it, I don’t want to smell it or clean up after it.” I have solemnly vowed to  gift the same courtesy. Truth be told, when it comes to men,I never want to smell it or clean up after it, unless the smell is designer, and the cleaning up involved getting our naked bits sweaty together.

Another general guideline is that I don’t want to have any type of five o’clock shadow scratch me. ANY type, if you know what I mean. What happened to gentle manscaping? I do not want to rub snuggly bits that have been shaved. Besides, I just find that creepy. Razor blades and testicles go together like cheese and lobster. Ick.

Speaking of hair, it’s generally nice not to know where the other might find plucking and tweezing necessary. I understand that men may have difficulty with ear hair since it’s hard to see your ear in the mirror.  I also understand that understanding this means that I’m getting older.

My father used to sneak me into the bathroom to pluck his ear hair. Despite giggling so hard I shook and regularly cut the inside of his ear, he kept up his grooming. I have great respect that after 25 years of marriage, he still wanted to look good for my mother.   We all have our own little black holes of plucking ladies, and as lady estrogen moves into her retirement, we tend to find more. This is why god made candlelight and increasingly poor nearsightedness – so we can remain ardent lovers into our old age.

So we’re all a little hair challenged.  What gets us up close and personal with that hair? Besides being naturally sexy and desirable, there’s a little je ne c’est quoi about someone who is intelligent. The key is to have that very sexylicious balance between blue-collar and black tie. Do you know how to use a hammer and screwdriver? Do you know the history of foreign aid to  Israel? Any man who can give a “yes” answer to both and expound on the “yes” gets my vote. And you know what? His pecs look all the better for it!

I have a feeling, just a niggly little feeling somewhere deep down in my teeny tiny heart that men might feel the same way. Some how, I think that my breasts get more voluptuous and my smooth legs more sexy when a man finds me somewhat interesting.  Although, there is something to be said in my case for showing more skin and talking  just a little bit less.

What Your Mind Does On Your Day Off

How do you quiet your mind?

Today I slowed down. I didn’t run, I didn’t paddle, I didn’t go to work, I didn’t have anyone to take care of and I didn’t do any of the hundreds of things on my to-do list.

What do we do when we don’t do anything? What, more specifically do we do when we don’t do anything alone?

We’re stuck in our own heads. We think.

Our minds, if we observe, bounce from one thing to the next. A wandering mind is a symptom of our increasingly fragmented, five second attention span, media bombarded life.  As my Buddhist master might say, it’s a wonderful time to be mindful.

Mindful Hindful. I gabbed for a few minutes on the phone and texted. I cruised Facebook and checked my email. I loaded new music into my iThingy for my running session in the morning. I fed the cat. I read the paper. I checked my phone for messages. I watered my garden, and when all of that was finished, and there were no more new messages, I felt lonely. I panicked a bit. I wondered what to do next.

Being mindful, or being mindful of being mindful (which makes me more than a few steps away from becoming a bodhisattva) is a precarious state of mind to be in. You see, it’s just on the edge separating a calm, peaceful mind, and an anxious mind.

Restlessness. Lonliness. Anxiety. Isn’t that what most of what we do arms us against?

A quiet mind during our nine to five days is a skill achieved by few. A quiet mind during a day of solitude….

I’m working on it…

Fashion Magazines Will Save the World – Or – Don’t Believe Everything Your Mother Says

My mother forced me to wear a fuchsia pink full body jumpsuit to my grade nine hazing day, effectively launching her plan to keep me a chaste, untouched virgin until my arranged marriage husband would make appropriate love to me through the crocheted hole of new linen sheets on our wedding night. Little did she know that senior high school boys in 1988 had x-ray vision and didn’t even notice the fuchsia pink jumpsuit.

My mother also thought that reading women’s magazines was the intellectual equivalent of 1920’s Paris salons.  Actually, I retract that. I don’t think she would know about Parisian salons.

Politics, religion, philosophy, history, literature; these were not the domain of women in the little century old home where I was raised. Eyeshadow, hairstyles and how to keep your man via the household menu were the topics in which I was tutored. However, I was a curious, stubborn and contradictory child.

I was more intrigued by the evening news than I was by Phil Donahue or the afternoon soap operas.  I followed politics, and often, to my immaculately turned out mother’s chagrin, often left the house without make-up (gasp!). Even at a young age, I was very matter of fact, which must have been a nightmare for my 1950’s housewife style mother.  Youth does not fair well in the land of grey, only in black and white/right and wrong.

Mother bought most of the women’s magazines that came out every month, and by the age of 13, I was buying and reading Cosmopolitan as a habit.  We always had magazines in the house, articles about make-up, clothing and hairstyles often dog-eared, circled, or torn out and folded up inside Mom’s gargantuan purse. A broken nail was a five alarm emergency which would send her out the door and to the aesthetician immediately.

One could argue that it’s the finer things that women appreciate, the beautiful aesthetic that we maintain and honor in the world that grounds our homes and families. I can’t argue with that. If we could all go home to a peaceful and comfortable retreat, the world, indeed, would be a better place.  We all know that’s not the case for most people. Even if affluence is present, presence may not be present.

So, I moved beyond the smut of home and fashion and the promise of  no-effort, no-fail weight loss miracles on the cover of  weekly rag mags. I educated myself by reading the newspaper, or several from various politically charged landscapes scattered around the globe. I continue to question what’s reported on, and more importantly, what is not.

Am I a better person for it? Does simply being in-the-know make me a better person than my mother?

What do I do with my knowledge, my questions, my human instinct for justice? How does it come into my seasonally decorated home? These are the things that my mother never taught me.

I remember her advice as I moved out on my own, ” Always buy magazines, and you’ll never be out of style. Be careful who you make friends with – never trust another woman around your man.”  She also told me I was fat, ugly, and getting a university degree was a selfish waste of time. Great advice.

Despite ditching mom’s advice, I must admit that I still have a magazine addiction. My grade 11 English teacher Ms. Madeleine Horton eyeballed my Cosmopolitan one day, and said, “Kemina, you’re far too intelligent to read that. Try Vanity Fair.” She was sure to ask about the articles every month. 

I have been very fortunate in this lifetime to know several older women who have tutored me in intellect and the presence that I mentioned earlier. I have been blessed to engage in conversations with older, more experienced women about real life issues. I’ve been given advice about relationships that my mother would have never thought of. Beyond losing weight and looking too good to be true, I was not nurtured in the value of maintaining my own ideas, personal ethic and independent thought. All pretty flipping sexy qualities don’t you think?

I still love some of the more girly periodicals, and buy two or three every month. I even love my mother because as a woman, I have to respect that she did the best she could with the resources she had.

It was my relationship with my “other mothers” that lead to my appreciation of magazines like The Economist, The New Yorker, The Walrus and Mother Jones.  Fashion magazines are to me what sports are for most men; a safe way to connect and bond.

I’m not a guerilla warfare style human rights activist, but I do stay up to date, and engage my peers in conversation about things that matter. As I mature, I hope that some day, somewhere,  young women say, “You know, I learned a lot from that Kemina woman.”

One final maternal thought to leave you with. When I was six years old (1980ish), my mother loaded me in the car, and drove me to her friend’s house who was a very kind, chain-smoking hairdresser. She was going to transform her long, blonde haired kindergarten aged daughter (moi) into the clone of little Orphan Annie. As I sat through two hours of bungee cord curlers pulling my hair, and perm chemicals stinging my eyes, my mom didn’t ask if I was ok as she chatted in the haze of the smoke-filled room. She looked at my tearing eyes and said very matter-of-factly, “Kemina, it hurts to be beautiful.” I think I remember some kind of evil laugh after that, but  passed out from the fumes. Anyway, my point is that I think it is more accurate to say, “It hurts to think you are not beautiful.”

Confidence is beautiful. Staying informed and educating yourself is beautiful. Mentoring and encouraging other women is our nature, not a danger. This, not fastion magazines will save the world.

Be kind. Be smart. Be informed. Be Fabulous, and remember that you are beautiful-always.