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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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Backstage Pass


For the loan of a spare hair iron, my friend, the immensely talented and fierce MIssy Lipps let me tag along behind the scenes of the Box Turtle Fall Fashion Show on Saturday night. The show has become a big event for our little town (helped by the addition of Project Runway finalist Korto Momolu to the program), with an actual runway and real models, yo. I had a blast following the girls with my little point-and-click, pretending to be a photographer. I worried they might find me a nuisance, but since I only come up to their waists, I don't think they noticed me.

It must be said that a large part of the appeal of Missy's presentation is in the amazing women she chooses to represent her style. They all happen to be stunning, but they are also wicked smart, funny and talented. My friend Emily, for example.

Here are some of my favorite snapshots from the night. Missy's clothes are available through the Box Turtle*.

*Hers are the smokey lavender dresses (with the exception of one fabulous black number, worn by raven-shooter and film/video producer Eva Fleischauer. There are a few shots of some of the other designer's creations that caught my magpie eye. If anyone can shout out the names, so I can give credit where credit is due, I'd be grateful.


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Friday, September 25, 2009

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Couple things

First thing:

I'll be on a "Best Blogging Practices" panel tomorrow with Max Brantley of The Arkansas Times at the Blogging Academy presented by the Society of Professional Journalists at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Max is a seasoned, old-school print journalist, David Kinkade who writes about the burning political, social and economic issues of our time.

And I blog about my bangs.

It will either be very interesting or incredibly awkward. Either way, well worth seeing. Come down.

Second thing: There's a nice giveaway on Noteworthy, my review blog, this week. You can win a shiny new wedding ring. Mate not included.

Third thing: I forgot. But here's a dancing baby.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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I've been working on a few chapters about what it was like to be a little girl growing up in the Free to Be, You and Me seventies. You wouldn't know it, to walk into the girl's section of a toy store today, but back then, froufrou was considered by some to be a hazardous substance. My consciousness-raised mom was one of the "some," and consequently, girly-girl stuff was rationed in our house the way Froot Loops and soda pop were: empty treats to be indulged in sparingly. (At least, that's how I remember it. Stay tuned for my mom's follow-up to my memoir, "The Way We Really Were." )

When I could get my hands on that kind of thing, I was obsessed with it. Of all the so-called feminine past times, I was fascinated in particular by hair and makeup. My mother had (and still has) beautiful wavy hair and flawless skin. Her entire beauty regimen consisted of lipstick and a tan. There was no vanity drawer full of paints and potions for me to play dress up with, and I wasn't allowed to own so much as a tube of lipgloss before I was fourteen. My dad's youngest sister always had stacks of Glamour lying around, and I snuck off with them the way boys might sneak off with copies of their father's Playboy ( I did that too--saving that one for the book).

I used to be riveted by the Merle Norman makeover ads, with their dramatic before and after pictures. In the before, the model was always dejected looking, as if she'd been told to contemplate the eternal nature of suffering for the camera. In the opposite photo, presto, she was made over, rapturous. As an adult, those spreads just annoy me. I think the expressions in both photos should be natural. It's just hair and makeup, after all (thank you, Mom, for that).

But maybe they're not always a set-up. I broke down and saw my hair stylist for my semi-annual visit last week, and instead of my usual trim, I got crazy and went for bangs and color.


Photo 10


Photo 16

Can you tell how it made me feel on the inside?

I know, it's just hair and makeup. Believe me, this morning, pre-coffee and shower, I was right back at "before." But we've been talking about those little things we let go that go such a long way in terms of energy and outlook, and I guess this is one of mine. I've been very moved by your confidences, and I'm hoping that the act of sharing them will turn out to be a down payment on every one of those dreams.

P.S. I'm turning 40 on November 23, did I tell you? I've been making myself (and Patrick) crazy trying to decide how to celebrate, but I know one thing for sure: I've got a date with Leonard Cohen. Anything in the next sixty years after that is icing.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

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Central Dispatch

Having passed along your generous gifts of books to kids who need them, and having reunited Willow with her family, it seems I've been given an third helping of magic fairy dust to spread around this month. My friends and colleagues at Good Housekeeping magazine are casting a holiday makeover television special, and are looking for someone in the New York city area who could use a day of pampering at a top-notch salon. The makeover candidate must live in New York, and be able to spend a day filming during the week of October 12. I'm sure one of my readers knows that someone or is that someone. Won't you send some photos and a few words about yourself or your nominee to ghtv4(at)hearst(dot)com?

Synchronistically, I've been incubating this little daydream that I could start a scholarship fund for the kinds of things that are so hard for women to justify when money is tight: a hair appointment, a massage, a morning of childcare, a new outfit, a good book, a weekly counseling session, a yoga class, a date night. The kinds of things that affirm that life is meant to be more than just survival, that embolden us to expect more. But I couldn't get past the problem of not being in a position to write the checks.

None of your concern, says the universe. Here, pass this on.

Dream aloud with me. What's a "non-essential" that would really make a difference to you? What keeps getting bumped to the bottom of the list?
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Im in ur yard poopin ur grass


UPDATE: Owner and corgi reunited. So long, Willow, it's been good to know you!

Local readers, can you help us reunite this dog with its people before we die of cute? Female corgi, docked tail, white chest and partially white neck. Email kyranp in care of


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Friday, September 11, 2009

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Going on Eleven


This morning I talked to my son about September 11. I didn't plan to. I was dropping him at school, and turned on the radio in time to catch a poignant Story Corps piece on the radio by a man who lost two sons, ages 36 and 34, in the attacks.

"It's the anniversary of September eleventh," I said. "You were two years old." His nearest brother was an infant. They are the same number of years apart as the two brothers who died. I wonder if they were as close as my guys, so entwined that I don't know if one could live without the other.

"How did you know about it?"

"Your father called me. He asked me if I had the tv on. You were watching a kids' show, and he told me that two planes had crashed into the towers, and I thought, oh, it's a terrible accident. But then I realized that two planes couldn't be an accident, that something really bad had happened."

He doesn't remember a world where such an event was literally unthinkable. What I remember most vividly about that day is that gaping moment of dissonance, of trying to comprehend something beyond imagination. There was the world before the phone rang. And then there was the world after.

We pulled up to the school entrance, and he sprang out. The newborn whose length barely spanned the distance of his father's forearm comes up to my ears now. His feet are bigger than mine. At every age and stage of my children, I think, oh, I'm going to miss this so much when it passes. But every year just brings something more and better. His mind is catching up to me. I don't have to pre-chew so much of our conversation for him anymore. The other day, we just fell into a discussion about the Great Depression. Not all of our mother-son talks are so dark, but he's old enough to understand that bad times come and go, and that people persevere.

We were watching the second-to-last Harry Potter movie a few months ago, which is plenty dark. During the climactic confrontation between good and evil, he was so completely identified with Harry, he was unconsciously whispering the spells and waving his wrist as if he held a wand. I think certain stories capture the imagination of a generation, not just because they are good stories, but because they are coded instruction for living in that time. Harry Potter may be one of those.

"You're a great wizard, Harry," Hermione says to him in one of the early books.

"You're a great boy," I told my son when the movie was over. He flashed me a goofy, ten-year-old grin. I felt that familiar pang. Oh, I'll miss that so much.

"You're going to be a very great man," I said, softly and seriously.

He crossed his eyes and his tongue flopped out.

And I'm in no great hurry to meet him.


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Friday, September 04, 2009

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Blogging for Books

My boys with a Newfoundland cousin.

Though it shames me to confess it, most developmental milestones are only really exciting the first time. Most childhood "firsts"—the first step, the first word, the first morsel— lose some of the wow factor as they are repeated by younger siblings. I remember exactly the first time my eldest son sat up, vaguely, the first time for my middle child, and I'll just have to make something up to tell the third. It's awful, but it's just the way it is.

But the moment when my kids start seeing alphabet letters as more than a jumble of shapes, the minute they crack the code and the jumble becomes a sound, a word, an idea— that is thrilling to witness every single time.

Patrick and I seldom feel more parental pride and joy than when our boys are flopped over the sofa, lost in books. I deeply believe that a love of reading is the best thing children can have going for them after love and health, and it is often the saving grace of people who lack both. Literacy helps you survive. A love of reading helps you live.

I think it's a great cause for the first Little Rock twestival, a social media get-together to benefit Reach Out and Read Arkansas. If you are in the area, I hope you'll attend, and bring a book to donate for a child in need. If you can't make it, but would like to send some of these books with me, it would make me very, very proud.


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