Category Archives: photographs

Focus 52: "Feminine"

Bottom row, second from the right…your Princess, age 12.

From the time I was a little girl, I always embraced being female.  I loved everything about being a girl.  I loved dresses, playing with my hair, decorating my room in various shades of pinks and purples.  I devoured perfume and make up…any of the hand me downs that my mother would be getting rid of in favor of newer items.  I would hoard it, keep it all in a big, pink plastic box with the “Barbie” logo emblazoned on it. 

I was not one of those girls who tried to be “boyish” so the boys would like me.  My nails were always polished.  I always had pretty shoes on, in lieu of sneakers.  My hair was always “done”.  And, for my efforts, I was made fun of, taunted and harassed by some of the boys on my block.  They called me “dumb girl”.

Two things I knew for sure.  I knew I was a girl in every sense of the word.  Second, I didn’t fall remotely into the realm of “dumb.”

Apparently, my father was a John Travolta/Chuck Norris hybrid.

On graduation day from sixth grade, 1978, I opted to wear a full length white lace gown.  I was in awe of the blue and pink satin ribbons running around the garment tiers.  I loved the gauzy material.  I loved the way it hung off the shoulder, like a grown up woman’s dress!  It looked like the “disco” dresses I saw the ladies on the Saturday Night Fever commercial wearing.  I wanted to look like that.  I wanted something grown up, classy and above all, trendy.  When my mother took me shopping for this dress at Lord and Taylor in the city, I was simply beside myself.  I knew I had found my home.  This beautiful, amazing arena they called a “mall” was an amazing play on all my senses.  I could smell new leather.  There were dresses trimmed with sparkle, glitter, rhinestones that shone in my eyes.  Fur coats, for as far as the eye could see, beckoning me to come closer and stroke them.  I remember putting the sleeve of a satin jacket up to my cheek and caressing my face against it.  Fashion, my mother told me.  This is all called “fashion”…and I was enthralled. 

The 80’s requisite glamor shot: Eat your heart out, Joan Collins.

Along came the 1980’s and with that, my love and passion for all things girly evolved.  The hair was big.  The jewelry was ornate bordering on ostentatious.  Deep rich jewel tones, bright neons, mini skirts and huge hair.  I had it all.  I devoured Glamor, Vogue and Vanity Fair as if they were religion, my bibles.  The heels were sky high stiletto’s with ankle socks and opaque stockings.  I rocked them all.  Animal prints were every where making the malls of Long Island look more like a hunting ground for wild game.  My love for all things girly thrived in this era.  I had a killer body and wasn’t afraid to show it off in hip hugging outfits.  I was easily distracted by all the shiny things Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Sach’s had to offer.  Even though I was a lover of punk rock and everything rock and roll, my style stayed firmly feminine.  I never traveled with less than six tubes of lipstick and gloss in my Louis Vuitton purses.  I indulged in the latest trends, sometimes spending the entirety of my pay checks on whatever Vogue said I was supposed to be sporting.  Despite being a Jewish woman, and much to my mother’s dismay, I draped myself in crucifixes because Madonna said so.  So it was written, so shall it be done.  It was also during this era that I discovered that being feminine didn’t just embody fashion, but ones own personality.  I took my cues from the likes of Joan Collins, Deborah Harry and Madonna.  Strong, opinionated women who made being a bitch look like an art.  Sexy, determined and daring…this would now be the framework for which I would base my own sense of style.  I started reading about art, poetry, literature, music…because for me, being feminine not only meant slipping on a skirt and stiletto’s, but being incredibly well-read, well spoken and above all, a take no prisoners persona.  This was also the era of the “Supermodel” and I immediately embraced Janice Dickinson as my style icon.  She was brash, bawdy and always impeccable…and therefore, so was I.

Separated at birth?

The 1990’s walked in and with it came the downfall of the glamor goddess and in with the grunge era.  It was a hard adjustment for me.  I was rarely seen out of a skirt or power suit and now, the pages of my bible were suggesting that I put on…JEANS?  And not just any jeans…but…*cringes* acid washed jeans?  Colored denim??  It went against all my fashion sensibilities.  Women were wearing…flannel shirts?  Plaid?  SNEAKERS?  Doc Martens?  Someone even went so far as to bring back spandex pants in capri cuts?  And Dear God, I hold wholly responsible for this disaster, the cast of 90210, who made “rompers” stylish.  Rompers are nothing more than onesies for big people.  Can we please let this trend die in peace?  Ponchos.  Uggs.  Cut off jean shorts.  The “California” look.  Well, fuck that, said this diehard New York glamor goddess.  I was not going to give in on this one.  I was NOT straightening my hair.  In desperation, I turned to Peggy Bundy who maintained her high hair and leopard prints from the 80’s (though, she did totally sell out on the spandex capri’s).  I kept my flaming red locks with the bangs, bouffed up high and proud. I was not selling out to the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.  (Though, admittedly, in a dark room…alone…I would listen to the music).  Sure, I made concessions.  The chunky shoes.  They weren’t too terrible.  The harem pants (aka MC Hammer Pants), well, they had their place in the clubs and with a cute sparkly halter top and heels, they didn’t look too awful.  Same with stirrup pants.  Paired with a long blouse and a thick belt and some high heels, not too horrible. And while part of who I was as a woman meant sometimes braving the trends that didn’t necessarily please me…I stuck up a long, well manicured middle finger to overalls.  Even if I was a farm girl somewhere on the amber waves of grain filled plains of Kansas, you could NOT stick me into a pair of overalls.  Basically, the 90’s were a fashionista’s nightmare and one I would like to forget.

He said the sun was in his eyes, but I suspect the lack of smile was more “what the hell did I just do?”

Ah.  The entrance of the 2000’s.  The new millennium and of course, the beginning of new trends.  One of the best trends to appear was the low rider jean look.  Yes, because this lovely trend was the beginning of new lingo like “whale tails” and “tramp stamps”.  For those not in the know, a “whale tail” was the v-shaped piece of material that you would see sticking out of a girls ass from the thong she was wearing while paired with low-rider jeans.  And, just when you think it can’t get any less classy, enter the “tramp stamp”, the need for every twenty something (who are now thirty somethings and undoubtedly full of regret) to get a tattoo just over the crack of her ass.  Most men referred to it as “the target”.  I’ll let you people figure out that one.  Some things are just self-explanatory.  I finally allowed my hair to drop down a few notches and wore it long, freer and above all…flatter.  The flat iron became both my best friend and nemesis.  My huge can of Aqua-Net now gathered dust in the back of my bathroom cabinet.  What the 2000’s did bring back was the wonderful dark wash flare jeans of the 70’s and the biker chic look.  The jeans had a taste of the 70’s as well, with their leather tie ups replacing zippers.  The bottoms were not neatly hemmed, but rather, fringed…also reminiscent of 70’s fashion.  Lacy, gauzy blouses, much like the ones I adored and coveted as a 12 year old were now back in style. Black boots with jeans, pointed toe…either full calf or ankle came into style and I adored the look.  Above is a photo of my wedding day.  I chose “biker chic” meets “scared to death husband” for my look.  The make up was lighter, more natural.  A basic “sun-kissed look” that we had not seen since the 70’s.  No more glitterati.  No more huge, chunky jewelry.  Bohemian chic was back and I for one, was thrilled to see its resurgence.  Once again, my faith restored in fashion humanity, I re-subscribed to Vanity Fair and Glamor (though, secretly, I never gave up on Vogue.  They swore the 80’s would come back and while I still wait in breathless anticipation, I trust in them.)   This was also the beginning of my not cutting my hair for the next 10 years.  Trims, sure, but no hair cuts.  I would not subject myself to the chunky layers, the bobs, the streaks, the highlights.  Besides, there was one trend that I had been sporting for years.  It was the one a chunky little guidette made popular on “Jersey Shore.”

Long Island girls did the “pouf” long before Snooki got her first tan.

(Please note the Louis Vuitton overnight bag on the bed of the tacky little hotel we were in.  You can take the girl out of the classy, but you can’t take the classy out of the girl).   Which now brings us to today.  Today, where I am still a slave to all things girly.  I still adore pink.  I love purple.  I love glitter and unicorns and Barbie dolls and playing dress up.  Only now, I wear what I like.  I wear what looks good on me.  If it happens to be trendy, great.  If not, that’s okay too.  I have a shoe collection that rivals most department stores and, if I hang onto everything long enough, always see a second coming of whatever shoe is now “in”.  I dress to make ME happy and not according to the guidelines of a magazine.  (Okay, again…MAYBE Vogue has a little influence, but come on now.  I’m a girl, for God’s sake.)  I buy what I like which, according to my husband, appears to be just about everything judging from our bank statement.  But, what I can say is that although I am now a 44 year old grandmother of two, I won’t go out like that.  I will not get the pre-requisite 50 year old woman hairdo.  I will NOT wear polyester.  I will never buy a matching necklace and earring set.  I will never give in to the lure of open toed shoes with pantyhose.  (WHY, Ladies…WHY???)  Most of all, I will live and die in my high heels.  Blister me. Cripple me.  Give me arthritis.  I care not.   But what I did do…just two weeks ago, was to cut my trademark long locks.  Six inches.  Gone. 

Funky, fresh and fun. I am totally diggin’ the look.

So what was the point of this little jaunt through fashion history?  None, really.  I always find it interesting to see how a woman’s look evolves through the years.  Like, Madonna…then and now.  She’s grown up.  So have I.  But, what remains the same is that strong sense of femininity.  Feminine doesn’t necessarily mean girly.  It doesn’t mean you have to play “damsel in distress” to your “superior” male counterparts.  No, feminine is simply the act of embracing the fact that you are a girl.  A lovely, beautiful, interesting creature that eludes men’s perceptions, confounds them and makes them desire you all the more.  It is a mystery.  It is being strong in body and mind, while having a certain grace at the same time.  It is the ability to rule the world with the gentle touch of a hand.  It is knowing that tears don’t mean you’re weak.  It is the aura that allows you to cry at a dog food commercial and then, go outside and build your children a tree house.  It is the very embodiment of being, divinely female.  An exceptional woman.  A slave to your emotions and then, a master of your domain. While some women see being “feminine” as a weakness, I see it as a strength.  Men have always had their abilities.  The feminine mystique is ours.  It is a trait as unique and elusive as the women who represent it.

Coco Chanel, one of my style icons, once said  “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.


I think she’d be pretty impressed with the woman I have become. 

Focus 52: "April Showers"

Do you have any idea what I went through to get this photograph for you?

I braved “bee hell” to get this picture. I am NO photographer by any means.  Not by a long shot.  But I was trying to get something that included my two favorite colors, and unfortunately, my two favorite colors were smack in the middle of Bumble Bee Haven (aka: The Reason CP Does Not Go Outside).  I am deathly allergic to bees.  I’m not talking about a little swelling, a little itching, a little “ouch.”  I am talking “rush this fat chick the emergency room STAT” kind of allergic.  My throat swells.  I get hives down my throat.  My breathing and my heart rate slows and then, into anaphylactic shock I go. 

The last time I was stung by a bee, I had to have a trach tube inserted into my throat. I was about 7 years old, scarcely remember the incident, but have the tiniest little scar at the base of my neck where a paramedic or doctor sliced open my throat and inserted a tube that saved my life by allowing me to breathe.  Mind you, this is not the rantings of the drama queen you have come to know and love.  This is some true, die hard shit, People.

So, while Anderson Cooper is braving the desert sands of Afghanistan or climbing through the rubble of Haiti to save some random parrot from harm, I am braving the deep tundra of bee hell to appease the owner/operator of the Focus 52 Project to get you the deep, dark lowdown of the flower situation in the month of April here in Central Florida.

I truly deserve a medal for this endeavor, but will accept your love, appreciation and gratitude in lieu of same.

I also accept Paypal.

Is She Out Of Her Mind Edit:  So, I get my flower picture because naturally, April Showers…bring May Flowers, right?  Obvious choice for a photo, no?  I go over to TwoScoopz just to find out that the next Focus 52 project is…yes, you guessed it.  May Flowers.  Well, I’ll tell you what.  Kiss my May Flower ass, Sister.  I am not venturing into the gaping, bee infested maw of gardening HELL to get another flower picture for you.  You’ll have to settle for THIS May Flower:

There you go.  My work here is done. 

Focus 52: "Frame"

Frame.

I had a bunch of ideas for this word of the week but nothing really came to fruition.  With midterms going on, I was sort of pressed for time.  The way I wanted to use “frame” wasn’t in the cards…but then, my husband, my biggest source of inspiration said “Why not a door frame?”

And I thought, why not, indeed?

So, welcome to the front door of my home.  If you had any clue or have been reading my blog for some time, you would know why this particular door frame means so much to me and my family.  A year ago, we were being thrown out of our original home due to foreclosure.  Nothing we did, mind you, just victims of circumstance.

You can read the story surrounding it here at “This Old House”, a post I made a year ago. 

This picture, taken one night when we first moved into our new home, means a lot to me.  It was the symbol of a new beginning.  This front door has seen the entry of my grandchildren.  It has been the gateway to many parties, a lot of laughs and of course, a few tears.  But, this new home has also been the source of safety…a place where I now know I will never be asked to leave ever again.  I will never have to come home to see chains on the front door.  I will never have a process server come up to me and say “Sorry, Ma’am, but this house is being seized by the bank.”  I will never have to call my husband in California ever again and say, “baby, they lost the house on us.  We’re homeless as of next week.  What are we going to do?”

It will never, ever, happen again.

So, while this might not be the home where my first granddaughter came home to, or learned to walk in.  While this may not be the house that my husband and I dreamed of buying once upon a time, it is better than what we had, because it is safe.  It’s in a fantastic neighborhood, surrounded by a cop, an ex-marine and a private detective.  It has a much bigger backyard where my grandbabies can run around in.  It is a stones throw from my sons school bus stop.  It is beautiful, spacious with vaulted ceilings and a large, bright and welcoming kitchen.  There is a step down living room with cherry wood floors with an amazing warmth to it.  The bedrooms are large and expansive.  There are windows everywhere, not like our past home which was dark and dreary.  But most of all, it is inviting.  It envelopes all who pass through it like a secure hug.  Surely, it is not the house itself that make a home, but rather, the love contained within.  But this home that we have made fits us like a glove.

Coming home one night, I noticed how it glowed, like a beacon in the dark…welcoming us in and assuring us that we will never go back to where we were a year ago ever again.  It is where new memories are being made, where happiness and love abound and where all who enter through that front door frame are friends.  People I trust.  People I love.  People who embrace me and whom I embrace in return.

It is our home.  And, should you ever be in the neighborhood, it is your home as well.

Drop in.  Any time.  The door is wide open.

Focus 52: "Cold"

This weeks prompt has had me so frustrated.  Cold.  How on earth do I do “Cold” when I live in Florida and the temperature is a balmy 73 degrees?  Florida has been the hold out in the United States as the ONLY state that did not cooperate during “Snowmageddon 2011”.  Every single other state in the union had snow on the ground except Florida.  Not even a hint of frost in the weeks since the holidays.  Nothing.

So, I search my house for the usual suspects.  My refrigerator?  That’s cold.  Perhaps some sort of artsy photo of my fridge which looks more from the exterior like a photo album? It’s covered in photographs of my kids, my niece and nephews.  My grandkids.  My children.  My husband and myself.  Bleah. Not feeling that idea at all.  A photo of my thermostat set at 68 degrees with the air conditioning on “high” because it is so warm in my house?  My photo cannot convey the feeling of cold like that.  What can I shoot that would convey a feeling of cold?

I go to the bathroom in my barefoot.  It’s freezing on the tile floor.  My legs get goose bumps! Oh, a pic of goosebumpy skin for “cold”!  Alas, by the time I grab my camera, the goosebumps dissipate.  My moment of “cold” is gone.  It IS cold in my house though.  My nipples are rock hard glass cutters right now.  My boobs straining against the fabric of my t-shirt would relay the look of “cold”…but hey, Jan is running a family show on the Focus 52 project, so perhaps a set of high beams pointing south is not the way to go. (However, the photo can be sent to whoever has an interest in seeing it.  Simply fill out an email with “erect nips” in the subject line.  For a meager fee of $9.95, I will forward the photo to you.  I accept PayPal.  I will also be happy to supply you with a receipt for your tax returns.  The desire to look at 44 year old erect nipples would clearly be a charitable gesture and probably would earn you a deduction on your return.  Offer not valid in Canada.  Sorry, Jan. LOL) 

I turn on YouTube for some musical inspiration and listen to one of my favorite songs, “Cold” by Annie Lennox.  Didn’t really inspire much of anything except my desire to listen to the rest of the album, Diva, which is arguably one of the best albums of the 1990’s…or like, ever.  She’s an amazing songstress with the vocal prowess of a thousand lovebirds all cooing in perfect harmony.  However, there is nothing “cold” about this moment and so, my idea of musical inspiration falls flat.  I sit here, staring at the screen…empty as the thoughts in my head.  All roads are leading me no where.  I turn to Google Images and pop “cold” into search bar and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”.  I get this.  Sure. Leave it to me to find the ONE site on the entire internet that has the word “cold” in it…but is under construction.  Seriously?  Billions of sites with the word “cold” in it and I manage to find the one site that is as barren as a woman’s womb post hysterectomy.  Great.  So, I do it again, only this time…I hit “Images”.  It suggests: Are you looking for “cold sores”?  Um, no.  No, Google, I am not and if I were…I most assuredly would have found them during my stint as a single woman back in the 80’s because, well…it was the 80’s.  Think “free love” during the 60’s…only with neon colors, shoulder pads and replace the pot with cocaine.  I politely decline the offer of cold sores and hit Images again…with just plain, old fashioned, herpe-less “cold” in the search bar.  I am presented with this picture:

which is awesome and all because A) it’s true and B) it takes you to the artists site who drew the above picture which is the infamous Natalie Dee of Toothpaste for Dinner.  And, in what can only be described as Six Degrees of Separation/Kevin Bacon style…Natalie Dee is the artist who drew the little princess that adorns my header, sidebar and all the comments I leave for you people.  The irony is just too much to wrap my head around.

The internet is a strange and wonderful little paradise of coincidences and extraordinary occurrences, is it not?

It is at this point that I give up.  I will have to just take the stupid refrigerator picture that I thought of earlier and just be done with it.  Nothing else is coming into my head at this point.  I’m tired, it’s 6:45 in the morning and it is friggin’ freezing in this house.  I leave my office, shutting the light off behind me.  I have to wake up my son for school in about 20 minutes so to go lay down in my bed right now would be the equivalent of foreplay without orgasm.  It would feel good for about a minute but then, I would have to leave before sleep comes and frankly, that’s just a damn tease.  As I am walking down the hall, I circle back and decide to just check in on my sleeping son.  And…there it was.  My picture!  The moment!

I run back into my office and grab my camera to take a shot of this:

My baby boy. All bundled up in his comforter, pulled up to his neck…because he is, wait for it…wait for it…

COLD.

Is it genius? No.  A masterpiece? Not by a long shot.  But, what it IS is real.  A precious, non-pretentious, non-staged moment in time that gave me a heart warming picture to share with all of you.  When our babies become teenagers, it is rare that we have a moment of peace with them.  It’s always something, somewhere, somehow.  They are too busy to slow down to talk to you…or, when they want to finally say something, of course it is always at the same moment that now, YOU are too busy to slow down to talk to them.  But, when they are sleeping, time stops.  You are transported to a time when you held the cards, you had the power, you called all the shots.  You fed them, you bathed them, you dressed them and then, that wonderful moment where you laid them down to sleep for the night.  How peaceful they looked.  How quiet and sweet when their big teenage gaping maw is not blathering on and on in your ear, on the phone, in front of the television or with the stereo playing way too loud…despite the fact they have headphones on.

Right now, at this moment…he is my little boy.  And he is cold.

I put another blanket over him.  Tousle his moppy brown curls, now tiger striped with peroxide orange streaks from his latest teenage whimsical decision to bleach his hair and plant a kiss on the top of his head.  In 5 more minutes, I will be waking him up for school.  He will be a moody, agitated, annoyed teenager again and I will be the screeching banshee standing over him caterwauling “YOU’RE GONNA MISS THE BUS…GET UP!!!”

But shhhh…because right now, he’s still my little angel baby…all wrapped up, snuggled and content.  And suddenly, this really cold house feels warm again…right along with my heart.