less about the dress

Today one of my friends posted this on Facebook:  “I’m thinking about doing a capsule wardrobe. Anybody tried it?”

It turns out a capsule wardrobe is basically a small wardrobe, where everything coordinates.

The kind you have when you have no money. Like mine, today.

Back in the day when I focused on dolling up (me in the middle).
Back in the day when I focused on dolling up (me in the middle).

I’ve never been one of those women who has clothes in her closet with the tags still on them, but there was a time when I had a closet packed full of clothes, some of which I rarely wore. Today, the only things that come under that category are my two dresses, because I don’t have many occasions that warrant wearing them.

Plus, since pantyhose are no longer acceptable, it’s a three-day routine to get my white-washed legs to a decent point. (Or I wear black pantyhose. Looking forward to the day when I’m too old to care about such things, but I’m not there yet.)

Time changes things. When I was in my twenties, I worked part-time at a department store in addition to my full-time job, in part because I wanted extra money to spend on clothes. My older co-workers would shake their heads at how much I spent, but I told them, “I’m never going to care as much about what I wear as I do now.”

Turns out, I was right. I still care about what I wear, but it doesn’t do the same for me now that it did then.

I no longer want to be tied down to an hour of prep work before being presentable. I’ve learned how to look good day-to-day with less.

I do care enough about my appearance that I was flattered when a transgender woman from my congregation told me I was an example for her as she was learning how to dress as a woman. It’s an odd compliment, perhaps, for some, but when it comes right down to it, as good as it gets.

I also care enough to do everything in my power to keep from looking “mature.” Like I said, time changes things. Some of my best features twenty years ago are betraying me today.

So capsule this: as long as what I’m wearing today makes me look my best, I (almost) don’t care if it’s the only outfit I’ve got. Makes sleepy morning decisions a lot easier.

if only I could curse and fly and eat pumpkin pie

Disney had a few things right, For example, Dumbo. His experience rings true. I’m quite certain if you get drunk and learn to fly, you will in fact become popular, and probably won’t be bullied anymore.

How did they get away with that? A different time, I guess.

movie ticket angled smWait, that movie was released in 1941, the height of strict standards in film known as the Motion Picture Production Code. You’d think sending that message to children would be borderline, at best, and the Code didn’t tolerate a lot of borderline at that point.

I guess drunk cartoon characters weren’t taboo. Or perhaps because Dumbo didn’t intend to drink champagne, the message is different.

Warner Bros. cartoon characters used to sing, “no more cursing, rehearsing our parts” at the beginning of each show. Now it’s “no more nursing, rehearsing our parts.” Nursing, of course, as in nursing something along — a pretty outdated expression, but nothing else rhymes.

They were cursing from 1944 to 1964. Well, not on camera, and saying you would curse met code standards for adults, so I guess no one seriously questioned it for kids. And frankly, that change irritates me. Unless Bugs Bunny actually cursed, big deal. Of all the battles to pick, petitioning for new wording there seems useless, and the difference sounds weird to boot.

(Bugs was a bit of a wise-ass, and Elmer Fudd was a grouch, so it’s easy to imagine them swearing, but that would leave me disillusioned.)

raw vegetables in wicker basket isolated on white

Standards are a funny thing. I have a friend who’s a vegetarian, and endlessly wears us out preaching about the horrors related to eating meat, particularly what it does to your body over a lifetime. Still, she has no problem ordering dessert, as long as it’s “vegetable based” (her words). Like carrot cake. Seriously.

No doubt we’re all guilty of something similar, something we probably don’t recognize anymore than my friend sees that her choice to eat carrot cake but not beef isn’t logical to most. I tried hard to think of my own such inconsistency, but couldn’t come up with anything. Well, given my logic that we’re blind to our own conflicting behavior, that makes sense

Ooooh. Was calling Bugs a wise-ass inconsistent with the sentences immediately preceding that comment?

Okay, let my friend eat cake, and I’ll eat my words.


 

Image credits: (top) © Elena Baryshkina – DollarPhotoClub.com; (bottom) © monticellllo – DollarPhotoClub.com

in honor of you whose name was mine

My great-grandmother was Jewish. Loosely (and I realize it doesn’t quite work this way) that makes me 1/8 Jewish,

which is important to me primarily for one reason: it would have been enough to put me in Auschwitz had I been born a generation earlier, had my forebears emigrated a generation or two later.

For in addition to that scant Jewish heritage, I come from good Polish stock. I could have been there, and not-too-distant family members no doubt were.

I plan to visit Auschwitz, hopefully sooner than later, and before I go, I needed to confirm this information with an expert. I found several, including a rabbi well-versed in the topic.

After telling me I did indeed have correct information, he went on to say that immediately surrounding that camp of horrors, shockingly, to me, was an ordinary neighborhood. Imagine, little girls played with dolls, men drank beer and neighbors gossiped, a mere few feet away. Steps away.

We’ve all heard the stories; there’s nothing I can say here to bring it home. It haunts me, this stripping of dignity, logic and humanity. Turning the unimaginable into the routine.

I can’t distance myself from this simply because I’ve learned of it as history rather than current events. It is too close in time for that. The buildings stand, survivors walk this earth.

For some the generations between my one Jewish ancestor and the distance in space & time from the home of my heritage (I am, after all, fully American) would seem too great for an emotional connection to the victims of the Holocaust.

But little doubt someone who perhaps looked like me, because she was a cousin of some sort, spent her last days in an agonistic, surreal yet all too real world of shame and torture.

Or perhaps she survived and was living in this country while I grew up as children should grow up, for no matter what pain I suffered as a child, it is surmountable. I can lead a full life without whatever hell they carry with them every step of their lives.

I’m writing this now in anticipation of my visit to Auschwitz, as a prologue of sorts to my thoughts then. I have little frame of reference to imagine what I’ll find or sense, but I hope to record all of it, in honor of you whose name, perhaps, was mine.


Image credit: Crow © Lasha Kilasonia; Hourglass © kuzmafoto; Candles © Ekaterina Garyuk; Book © Vladimir Prusakov; Background © Pampalini. All: DollarPhotoClub.com.

light of time

my best gifts given, part one

In fourth grade our student teacher, Miss Trillman, got married mid-semester.

As a wedding gift from the class, our regular teacher gave us each a 3×5 index card and instructed us to print our favorite recipe on it. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was our favorite. As I recall, every one of my fellow classmates gave Miss T the most complex recipe their mom was able to prepare. The cards were carefully printed, and no doubt just as carefully chosen, by their mothers. I took the idea to heart and instead got my mom to calculate the ingredients for my absolute favorite meal of all time, bologna & cheeses.

These aren’t simply bologna & cheese sandwiches, sliced and placed on bread. They are made from polish sausage, cheddar cheese, onions, ketchup and probably one or two other things I don’t remember, all put through the meat grinder and turned into a gooey delight. When Mom suggested B&Cs for dinner, the whole family went shopping with her, just to make sure she didn’t forget any of the ingredients. Each of us had one thing we picked out and brought back to the shopping cart, making the trip a quick one. Heaven forbid Mom should have too much other shopping to do. Our patience was limited.

Once blended, the mixture was then spread on lightly toasted bread (both sides) and broiled until it bubbled a little and the edges and part of the top turn just a little black. It takes a little practice to know just exactly how thick to spread it — too thin and it’s dry, too thick and it’s, well, too thick. But this is the best sandwich ever for kids and adults alike. It takes ordinary ingredients and turns them into something with a sharp taste, better than spaghetti or hamburgers.

If you’re a ten-year-old girl and have just an average appetite, you eat two. If you’re ravenous, you eat three and maybe regret it a little, because it’s too much in the end. The best part is, no matter how hungry the rest of my family was, the recipe made enough for plenty of leftovers, and bologna & cheese holds up well for a couple of days. So two more days of great lunches to look forward to, and you’re still not tired of them.

Miss Trillman, who became Mrs. Peck (distant relative to the actor Gregory Peck), told the class my recipe was her & her husband’s favorite. They all protested because their recipes were fancier and therefore, better, but she told them mine was best because it was perfect everyday food and besides, her husband was a big man with a big appetite and these sandwiches easily filled him up. Another bonus, he liked preparing them, and after a long day with 30 fourth-graders, she didn’t always feel like cooking. We groaned at that comment, but frankly, I’d never doubted my choice would win out over the others.

Image Credit: © Graphic Stock