Shopping. Ouch.


I am not a great shopper. I get a little lost in the stores and sort of wander around aimlessly, rubbing things that are soft and darting from pretty color to pretty color like a dazed hummingbird. My closet reflects this inability to acquire what I believe is called a “cohesive wardrobe” (I learned that term from watching Project Runway). It’s a motley assortment of shirts handed down from my girls, skirts from resale shops, and  black, brown, and silver pairs of shoes (one set is for when it’s cold, one for when it’s hot). I did manage a small shopping trip in September, during which I splurged on a pair of autumnal orange cords. I absolutely adore them. I bought two outfits that day, all at JCP, because that store is comfy for me. The outfits are hung on four-way racks, so you know exactly what top is supposed to go with what bottom. It’s kind of like Garanimals for working moms.

I also experience tremendous guilt when I buy clothes. That’s why almost nothing in my closet is new. I just feel like one of my kids must need something more, or I should make an extra payment on a debt, or send some money to a starving child in Africa. My family has started confiscating the receipts after a shopping trip so that I cannot return everything the next day when regret takes over. I looked at a pair of exquisite cashmere hand beaded gloves this afternoon at a new store called Soft Surroundings. They were so beautiful I almost wept. Then I saw the price tag- $120!!! I dabbed my eyes and put them away. That’s a payment to my neurosurgeon or ten months of support for my local NPR station right there.

Today, I ventured into Forever 21, where Libby was looking for a dress for her college auditions next week. Having been told by her super awesome voice teacher that a study in L.A. found that teal and turquoise were top colors to audition in, we had our eyes open for garments in these hues. While she was in the dressing room, a deep turquoise lace overlay dress called my name. I showed it to Libby- she loved it so much she bought it without even trying it on! Success! Imagine my surprise- I had picked out something my 18 year old loved! No eye rolling, no sweet little pats on my dowdy old head (which, by the way, has not had a haircut in 13 months. Hence the ever present low pony and plastic headband)!

So, here are my new thoughts on shopping:


1. Drink at least two glasses of wine first. This will shut the hyper-critical second-guesser in my head right on up. I’ll be whipping out my debit card in no time, buying highly impractical heels and fluttery skirts! Of course, this is the strategy that led to the acquisition of a tattoo in the East Village last summer, so a little caution should probably be exercised.


2. Take a daughter with me. My girls are fantastic at putting outfits together, and they can keep me from the yoga pants-tunic ensembles that have become my go-to. In fact, when I do get compliments on my clothes, it’s always something one of my girls bought for me! However, I must be sure not to buy a corn hat.


3. Stop being distracted by costume ideas when shopping. Some of you will totally get this. I would always rather buy for one of my costumes that buy for mundane work clothes! I had to make a conscious effort today to walk away from the pretty headbands that would go so perfectly with my fairy costume. I don’t want to buy an every day purse, I want a beaded bag to go with my red dupioni silk bustle dress. I want earrings with skulls and crossbones for Rosie. I just have to have the raspberry tights, suede kitten heeled pumps and crystal encrusted shoe baubles to go with my French courtesan costume (see above)!


4. Have fun. I really need to embrace this philosophy in pretty much everything. I need to lighten up! My girls tell me that clothing can be a way to express one’s creativity, mood, and personality. I used to know that! I have a friend, Melody, who is a theatre teacher, like me. But she wears feathers in her hair, bright colors, and lots of sparkles. Mel wore a feathered hat to the Tommy Tunes awards last April that was like an avant garde work of art on top of her head. She is fearless and so much fun!It’s time to let my inner Melody out to play. I need to find my inner drama queen. Maybe even my inner drag queen.

Image Yep, it’s time to brave the mall, change my inner monologue(I am NOT fat), and start discovering a new fashion sense before I become a victim of the dreaded red hat lady syndrome! Know of any good sales, gals?

Beware the poodle!


I hate my hair. I know, I should be grateful I still have it, and I am. Nevertheless, I would like to change it. My Grandmother Puckett had really beautiful hair, red with a white streak (we’re of Scots descent- red hair, blue eyes, striking cheekbones. My cousin Garyn is the one that got all that, drat her.) Grandmother wore her hair long, down her back until she lost it to chemotherapy in her seventies. When I was in college I used to sit on the daybed in my grandmother’s bedroom and watch my Aunt Molly brush Grandmother’s hair and put it up for her. I remember she always looked more vulnerable with her hair down.

But it’s not my grandmother’s red hair I want. It’s my Libby’s.

If you’ve seen Libby’s hair, you know what I am talking about. It’s a thick and heavy mass of golden ringlets, a solid mass of perfect corkscrew curls. I like to look underneath all of it and find the wee curls and wrap them around my finger, pull them out, and let them go. They bounce like springs.

Libby loves her hair, but that was not always the case. When she was little, it took an act of God to get her to sit still for me to brush it, and she would not even consider letting me put it in a pony tail so that it would get less tangled. When she was about five, she wanted it cut into a bob. I refused, so one night on the way to “Hello, Dolly” rehearsal, she gave herself that bob with scissors in the back of the mini van. When we got to rehearsal, I opened the van door to discover piles of curls and a very unrepentant daughter. She got her hair bobbed the following day at a salon.

I have been threatening to cut my hair into a pixie. My girls veto this. What I really want to do, though, is get a perm. I want a salon perm from a pro who can give me Libby’s perfect corkscrews. I can just see it: I wash my hair, mousse it, dry it a touch with a diffuser, add some cute feathers like my friend Mel, and walk my sassy self all over town. I work those curls in the school hallway. I work those curls in my fairy costume. I work those curls in private for Trav.

The last perm I got was in 1990. I splurged for a salon perm, though still in college, but I didn’t leave enough time in the appointment to let it process. Trav and I had an Amway meeting with Dr. Hinds (some of you will get that reference) and no way could I be late. Much to the stylist’s dismay, I had to have him pull out the rods about halfway through. The stylist was nearly in tears and made me promise not to reveal his identity (no lie). I looked awful. The pictures of me from this time are a mess. I have thrown all photos away except for the ones with Hilary.

But I have faith in modern technology. If we can build a space station, if we can carry around digital devices that connect us to each other instantly, if we can have hybrid cars, by the goddess, I can have curls.

I found just the right look on Google images last night. It’s perfect. It’s the haircut that would absolutely change my life. Isn’t it funny how we ladies get that in our heads? The right hair, dress, or shoes will grant immediate contentment. But I find that the buzz from the new ‘do or outfit lasts just one evening. Then I still crave true intimacy and the adoration of someone who could not care less what my hair looks like. That’s when I look at my husband and know that he’s seen me through every imaginable hairstyle, the good, the bad, and the ugly (for the record, he likes it super short). He will lovingly watch as it turns gray. He will love me if I am ever bald. He will love me no matter what.

And that’s the best beauty tip I have, to see myself through his eyes and know that nothing else matters.

Does anyone have the name of a great hair stylist who specializes in perms?

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