Sunday, March 30, 2008

Whistling Away

Me and my mom, on the fridge

I've had the good fortune in my lifetime to have made friends with more than a few strong willed, strong headed, and strong shouldered women; women that aren't afraid to laugh out loud at a good, old-fashioned dirty joke, cry with you when you're grieving beyond words, who can manage to change a tire in a pinch, converse about everything from Basra to Blahnik, Barack to bikini waxing, all while looking smoking hot in a saucy black cocktail dress, while juggling a glass of champagne in one hand, and a New York City dirty water hot dog in the other.

I suppose I gravitate towards strong women because I was raised by one; my mom, Barbara, is a powerhouse, and she taught me to stand up for myself, to be a strong, smart, and sassy woman, too. I remember when I was around seven or eight years old, I came home from elementary school one day at lunchtime, bawling my eyes out. I'm fuzzy as to what the fuss what all about; I had been bullied by someone, or perhaps pushed, or something frightfully "real-life" that happens to us all eventually, startling us out of our innocence. Well, my mom listened to me whimper on for a few minutes, then she sat me down in the living room, took out the record (yes, an actual record) from The King and I, plopped it on the record player, placed the needle on song number 2, and played I Whistle A Happy Tune for me on full volume. We listened to the song together, and afterwards she told me that whenever I felt afraid, I should play that song in my head, and it would give me courage. And, it's funny, because my mother was right; I went back to school that day, head held high, without fear. And, the next day, too, and the day after that. What I didn't realize then (because of course at seven years old one simply doesn't have the vocabulary or life experience to articulate such things) was that my mother was teaching me one of the secret tools a strong woman needs to navigate her way through life; a great poker face. A face that despite the nonsense that the universe sometimes throws your way, never once glistens with even the slightest trace of sweat, or quivers under the scrutiny of the starkest, most fluorescent bulb; that"What Me Worry?" face that shows the world that you can't be frazzled, or flummoxed, or flustered quite that easily.

But if you do happen to get frazzled, or flummoxed on occasion, that's fine. Because when you surround yourself with good, strong headed, and strong-shouldered women in life, they'll always be there to hug you, to listen to you, and to remind you to keep whistling away.

I Whistle A Happy Tune

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I'm afraid.

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows
I'm afraid.

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well!

I whistle a happy tune
And ev'ry single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I'm not afraid.

Make believe you're brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Many Rivers To Cross

Some of you might remember that back in December I wrote a posting in the wee hours of the morning about my impending 44th birthday (4 months to 44). In that weblog, I waxed nostalgic about my younger years (I know, I know; waxing nostalgic on lost youth is the classic yackety, yack, blah, blah, blather of a middle-ager; what can I say?!), and made a commitment to myself, my friends, my family, and my readers, that despite the fact that I'm at the dreaded "halfway mark", that I would do my best to keep some of that youthful rock and roll spirit alive, and kicking. Well, today--with just 33 days left until the BIG 44--I went under the needle. Now, living in the greater metropolitan area of New York, one would naturally assume that the needle I went under was filled with Restylane, or Botox, and was carefully, with jet fighter accuracy, injected into my crows feet and smile lines. But, honestly, I've always liked crows feet and smile lines, as they show to the world that you actually have things in your life to laugh and smile about, so instead I chose to go under a needle filled with ink. And, in that ink was a message that I hope to contemplate, and meditate on for the next 44 years of my life; Many Rivers to Cross.

Yes, it goes without saying that I've been around the proverbial block enough times to know that getting another tattoo inked onto my flesh is not suddenly going to give me the energy I need to stay up past midnight without taking a two hour nap, and guzzling a Starbucks Iced Coffee, and, I sincerely doubt that my wrinkles, and gray hairs are going to magically disappear anytime soon. No, we can't turn back the ever-ticking hands of time. But we can be mindful of time marching forward, and for me, today, as I count down the days to 44, I had marked onto my back a gentle reminder that I still have a long list of things I want to accomplish in my lifetime, and many rivers I still need to find my way across.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Orange Crush

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen me zipping around town in my flame-colored Wrangler, toting my tangerine-colored purse, wearing my Pantone 1505-colored sneakers, or walking out of my hair salon with Ginger Grant colored tresses, that I've got a serious crush on the color orange. I have no idea how and when this little fetish of mine started, as I actually remember as a child hating the color; perhaps it was the hair color, which led to matching sunglasses, which naturally led to a matching purse, and then...why not a car to match, too? And, a bike! And, sneakers! And, a website! And, a bedroom! Well, it goes on, and on, and on, where it's gotten to the point where people I barely know email me links to things that are orange, and on sale. And, just the other day someone told me that whenever they see something--anything--orange, I pop into their head. Like I am the color orange. I have to admit--despite the fact that it's a branding dream come true--it's a bit strange to no longer be associated by name, or face, but simply by color.

Lately I've been thinking that it might be interesting to shake things up and embrace a new color, to keep people on their toes, and not be so pigmentally-predictable; perhaps lemon yellow, or fire engine red, or grass green, for a change. Of course, the hair would be an issue (and the wardrobe, and the car, and, well, just about everything). Perhaps I will swish this idea around in my head over the weekend, comfy in my orange track suit, feet toasty in my orange slippers, while sipping the perfect cocktail for someone with a bad case of Orange Crush: a blood orange margarita, of course.

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
Blood orange slice (for garnish-optional)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail or margarita glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March, the Curmudgeon

Curmudgeonly March, as if to say, "not so fast with that cute, yellow, JCrew mini skirt, and don't even think about picking up a new pair of strappy sandals just yet", let loose on us yesterday with a 60mph powerhouse of a Nor'easter that dumped three inches of rain upon our area, and wreaked havoc on power lines, roadways, airports, and more than a few tri-state area basements, I'm sure.

I've never been a big fan of March. Sure, it's easy to get excited when the calendar flips to the third month of the year, as logically that means spring is not far behind. But March is a crabby SOB, and a real party pooper, to boot; it maliciously allows you to think that winter is over, and you'd better get to the nail salon pronto for a pedicure if you're going to start showing your toes again, and then, BAM!, the next thing you know, you're being slapped in the face by 30-degree, 60 mile an hour winds, and digging through your closet for long underwear, and Gortex. Wicked, spiteful March.

Of course we get the last laugh, and it started at two o'clock this wind-whipped morning, when daylight savings started. On the road to spring, this is but a small signpost on a craggy and crooked byway, but it's a sign nonetheless. Those three inches of rain that were unceremoniously dumped upon us yesterday? That deluge will quench the thirst of sleepy tulip bulbs tucked beneath the soil. And, that bonus hour of daylight we just scored? Well, that little bit of of extra sunlight will offer them the warmth that they need to unfurl, and reach up towards the sky. With a little luck--and a rising thermometer--they will soon peek their bright, sunny, JCrew mini skirt-colored heads out of the earth, and send irascible old March packing to 2009. And, with it, my wool sweaters, thick winter coat, and heavy boots.

It's time for yellow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring is in the O2

Despite the fact that my past two weeks have been rather unpleasant, having picked up some scourge in Puerto Rico that wages daily sorties on my poor, exhausted digestive system (which explains a barren Spice and Life in February; who can be enthusiastic in the kitchen when food suddenly becomes the enemy?), it's not escaped my otherwise intestinally-focused attention, that spring is in the air. Yes, the sun has been peeking out earlier in the morning, and hanging around later in the afternoon, and, much to the delight of my two tympanic membranes, I've been hearing the sound of our resident songbirds belting out their sing-songy ballads once again. The farm where I shop for produce is filled with buckets of tulips, and daffodils, and pussy willows, and cherry blossoms; a vision of hope in a month known for being somewhat cranky, to say the least. Yesterday, I stopped by JCrew at the mall, and I thought my head might pop off with delight; madras bags, great summery tee shirts, sweet little skirts, and everywhere my eyes fell, splashes of bright, happy colors. I glanced at myself in the mirror, dressed in black and grey, wool and boots, and wanted to strip out of my winter clothes right there in the middle of the store, and walk out wearing sunflower yellow, and grass green, then head to the nearest nail salon to get my toenails painted the color of fresh-cut lilacs. Instead, since there is still snow on the ground, and most likely (as this is New York after all) more to come before spring officially arrives in 19 days, I headed to the farm to pick up an armload of flowers, my logic being of course, that if I can't look like spring until the 21st, then at least everywhere I turn, I will be reminded that it's just a few short weeks away.

Suzanne Brown