Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Little Dapper Goes A Long Way...


  A Little Dapper Goes A Long Way

I read the New York Times style section faithfully, not because I'm a slave to fashion but because I want to see what the basic trends are for each season so that I can adapt them to my own tastes (and budget!). I am also a fan of traditional styles in clothing--for men AND women-- so for the next few seasons I should be totally in my element.

However, the fall fashion spread above scared me a bit. I love seeing men dressed in dapper "club wear", but this collage seemed to show several good looks gone WAY wrong. When I saw the "green guy", I thought of a recent discussion on Mad Mommy Chronicles ( Blue Hair and Tall Black Socks ). There are some nicely dressed men in the midst of the chaos, but they get lost in the big picture. If people are actually referring to this spread to plan their fall wardrobes, I certainly hope they use a bit of common sense!


  Carly Patterson to the Rescue

As I have watched 16-year-old Olympic Gold Medalist Carly Patterson make the media rounds, I have been so impressed with her wholesome, girl-next-door manners and appearance. She is bright, thoughtful, charming...and CLOTHED! Even on David Letterman, there was no cleavage, no belly button ring and nothing showing above the knee! SHOCKING!

Just wondering aloud here: Is it too much to hope for her to become the new pop icon for millions of girls who have been sinking under the tutelage of other recent pop princesses? I say out with the Old and in with the New!

Carly Patterson on Late Night with David Letterman


  Life Is Too Short! Dealing with Toxic People

I have very little space in my life for Toxic People. I avoid them as much as possible, and I don't set myself up for misery by attempting to befriend them. Toxic's rarely change for the better, and I don't have the emotionally energy available to deal with them. I don't feel that it is my responsibility to try to reform them, or to be the butt of their jokes, or to stand and smile while they harass me. LIFE IS JUST TOO SHORT!

However, every few months I find myself in the situation of either being "the good wife" and tolerating the company of my husband's toxic friend OR feeling like the bad wife and refusing to meet with my husband's group of friends (the rest of whom I really enjoy). Not only does Mr. Toxic get under my skin, he is rude to our children. Though one of our sons in particular dreads our dinners with Mr. Toxic (all of the kids are expected to come), he is a real trooper when we are all together and is heartbreakingly charming with the man. Yet, Mr. Toxic is still mean to him! My husband doesn't appreciate the way Mr. Toxic has acted the last few meetings, either, but he feels like we should just ride it out for the good of the group.

I've had enough. I have tried. But it's not OK to make my kids suffer in order to keep these bi-monthly group gatherings together. I feel obligated to sit at the kid's table and walk on eggshells the entire time to make sure that our boys don't provoke Mr. Toxic's ire. The other adults are sympathetic to my situation, as they know that I don't tolerate people like Mr. Toxic well. They appreciate my "efforts" in making sure that everyone else gets together and has a great time--like I am the sacrificial lamb--but they are just too nice to "cause a rift" by saying anything to Mr. Toxic.

My husband says that I should call HIS friend and tell him how I feel. I feel that if my husband wants the rest of his family to join him at future group events with Mr. Toxic that my husband should call and explain to his friend of over 20 years that he expects all of the members of his family to be treated with respect.

I am really good at managing my OWN toxic people, but how do you handle your husband's? Have any of you been in this situation before?


  Overworked and Underpaid or Having Fun?

My husband says that I never turn down an invitation or an "opportunity to serve". That's not true, of course. It's just that I get quite a few "invites" to be involved in various causes and even if I accept only 10%, that ends up being a lot. For instance, I never finished posting to my blog on Sunday and posted nothing yesterday because I was busy keeping up with family and community obligations and never got back online after my quick visit before church Sunday morning.

I don't think I would be happy if I weren't busy. Most nights, I get 7-8 hours of sleep, though admittedly there are those nights when my head never hits the pillow. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but I think that all mothers feel that way occasionally. People often ask me how I do what I do and still stay somewhat sane. I don't feel like I have all of the answers, and I don't think that what works for me would work for everyone else, since each person has different priorities. However, for me, the answer is in building up "chits".

I find that if I spend a minimum of an hour a day with each of my children, an hour on my book, an hour on myhome business, an hour at the gym, and an hour on basic housekeeping, I can keep up with virtually every other time-consuming "emergency" that hits. If I need to give several hours to one child's school project, I can do that. If I need to spend a few hours on a volunteer project, I can do that since the basics will be covered. Sometimes, I need to devote 10-12 hours in one day to my business or my book and neglect other things. But if I have spent those 6 hours a day on calmer days keeping up with the "basics", I only feel a LITTLE guilty about neglecting other areas of my life for the day.

So, which is it? Are those who are juggling families, jobs, social and community commitments and home commitments just emotional train-wrecks waiting to happen or doing what makes them happy and what seems most natural? I tend to think the latter. What do you think?

Sunday, August 29, 2004


  Vineyard Vines: Tie Trends Transcend Politics

In the continued push toward fashion reminiscent of the 80's, the NYT Style Section features a story about men's ties that will illicit a deja' vu moment for anyone over the age of 30. Vineyard Vines ties featuring whales, sailboats, golfclubs and other Preppy fashion statements are back in a huge way. In political circles, they are the must-have accessory for men. The story lists dozens of top political insiders who are wearing little else (in the way of TIES, anyway...). And several groups are commissioning VV to make ties sporting their club and group logos.

In addition to their regular line-up of special commissions emblazoned with university logos and mascots, they have designed Elephant and Donkey ties for the campaign season. So if your guy is an armchair politico and you're looking for the right gift for a birthday or anniversary, you might want to do what political wives are doing and check out
Vineyard Vines.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


  Tips for Making "Making Friends" Fun

Yesterday, there were a couple of posts on blogs I visit about how hard it can be to make friends as an adult. Check Yes or No on Mad Mommy Chronicles and Wanna Share My Crayons from Java Diva are two examples. An excerpt from Check Yes or No reads:

"When we are all together at our weekly jaunts to the Mexican Restaurant,it rarely fails that at some point in the evening the "remember when" stories start.I don't remember when, because I'm new."

Having moved A LOT in my lifetime, I have a few tips on how to meet women, get to know them, orchestrate your own "memorable moments" and figure out who might really be your kind of friend. You can adapt them to your own situation and environment, but here are a few of my favorites:

1) Throw a "Porch Party" for different groups of women to celebrate milestone birthdays, event wrap-ups, etc. I choose a group of women I want to know better, invite EVERYONE in the group, and sometimes invite them to bring friends. We sit on our porch and have salad, a refreshing drink, and dessert. I don't really have to scrub the house because we spend most of the time on the porch. The kids play in the yard and we all have a chance to REALLY talk. Nobody else in the neighborhood does these parties, so people talk about them all the time! Plus it is VERY low-maintenance fun.

2) Arrange three or four "Girl's Night Out" events a year and invite all of the mothers in your child's school class. I call the $1 movie theater to see what's playing, write a note on the computer in a cute font, copy 3-4 to a page and run out enough for every mother (and the teacher). Then, I cut them apart, take them to my child's school and put them in each child's "take home folder". I always schedule it for the 9:00pm movie so that at least the young kids are in bed and women feel better about leaving Daddy in charge (this is an issue for many women!). Women will get there early and stay late just so they can talk without children pulling on their legs. And at the price, it's a guilt-free pleasure for just about everyone. If there are single mothers in your group, you might ask an older child to babysit for the mother that night.

3) Plan a McDonald's PlayPlace playdate for the entire class. We have done this several times with great success. The kids play and the mothers sit and talk. Plan the playdate for either an early or late lunch so that there will be enough tables for everyone (we meet either at 11:00 am or 1:30 pm since lots of people eat a late breakfast on Saturday).

4) Volunteer for a local charity group. This is how I have met some of my favorite girlfriends. Not only is volunteering good for the group and your community, but like-minded women whom you might not have gotten to know otherwise will be involved and ready to get to know you.

There are numerous others, but these are my favorite "memory building" gatherings. Sometimes you can do something simple that nobody else has ever thought of, and the importance of it in other people's minds can become extraordinary...especially if you include "everyone".

Friday, August 27, 2004


  My Favorite Back-to-School Fashions

It's always a quandary to try to figure out what will be fashionable for school that you would actually let your child wear! I wait to go back-to-school clothes shopping until I have had a few days to compare and contrast what "I" like with what the other kids at school are wearing. Having had a few days to check out the scene at the bus stop, here are some of my favorites:
(If it's in red, it's a link)

Girl's Back to School
My #1 Favorite Look for girls: Hannah (almost 10) in a white ruffle shirt , pleated khaki skirt (not too long, but not too short), vintage jean jacket, white socks and black mary janes--all from the Gap. Without the jacket, the look would have been too "sweet", but with the jacket, it was a showstopper and indicative of the hip twist on traditional that will be so popular this fall.
The Crowd Favorite: Elizabeth in a Pink ruffle-hemmed Marilyn Top from Knitworks (JC Penney) worn with a white denim skirt and pink satin sneakers from Old Navy. The hot pink shoes worked with the bubble-gum pink top because Elizabeth wore a headband, necklace and backpack that all brought in the hot pink from the shoes. The girls loved the sequin-centered flower on the top and the satin shoes. One kindergartner said, "They're like princess shoes, only she can run in them".

My #1 Favorite Look for Boys: OK, let's face it...boy's clothing just isn't as much "fun" as girl's. But my favorite look for back to school this season is virtually identical to what I have liked for 25 years-- polo shirts with khaki shorts and white sneakers (I saw several kids in the Nike Fleet Center high-top, though Reebok, Adidas and others were also well represented). Boys are moving away from black sneakers and baggy "ghetto" jeans. Most of the sharpest-dressed boys were wearing fashions from The Gap, Old Navy, Polo, and Land's End. The new stain and wrinkle resistant khaki pants from Gap and Old Navy are practical and big hits with moms, though jeans still seem to be the favorite choice for long pants.

Just for fun, I asked my friends with girls if they had any favorite picks for colder weather. These were a few standouts:

Way Funky Pink Velour fur-trimmed jacket--This jacket is so funky and SOOO much fun. Plus, at Overstock.com, the price is right.
Steve Madden Boots --It's hard to resist Steve Madden, and his boots for girls are all the rage for cold weather. Check out the Pom Pom Boots and the Floral Boots, two local favorites for ski season.
For the Preschool Baby: Gap ruffle trimmed velour jacket with matching pants.

And if you're still looking for the perfect picks, check out this NYT Back To School Fashion story.


  Having Friends Makes You Younger!

Real Age Tip of the Day

Having a happy social life may be as important to your health as not smoking.

People in a study who not only made good physical health decisions, but also worked on maintaining a satisfying social life, were more likely to be completely healthy compared to people who only followed physical health guidelines. Keep your social network strong by picking up the phone this weekend and calling an old friend.

RealAge Benefit: Taking care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge up to 16 years younger.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


  Stop or Start the Political Mudflow--Take Your Pick Here

At a party the other night, I was talking to several men (including my husband) and the conversation, of course, was destined to turn to Presidential politics.

One guy (a Repub.) said to me, "So, I guess you've got a Kerry bumper sticker on your car."
Me: Actually, no.
Him: So, you don't like bumper stickers? Or you don't like Kerry?
Me: I don't like bumper stickers and I do like Kerry. I don't necessarily share his politics, but I like him just fine.
Him: So, you ARE a Democrat? Or are you a Republican?
Me: I'm Disenfranchised.
Him: (Prolonged silence).
Second Guy: Wow! That's a conversation killer! There is NOTHING that you can say to that.
(And on to another subject...)

These days, that's just the way I like it. I'm tired of the gutter politics that have enveloped my beloved political world. However, I firmly believe in everyone's right to their own opinion and, evidently, I'm not alone. Here is a link ( Don't Talk While I'm Interrupting ) to a cheeky article on the News and Record website by Ed Cone.

Cone prefaces the "list" by saying:

I'm offering up this guide to modern political speech. It's a bipartisan,
multimedia template that works for any point of view on the partisan spectrum, in any venue. Forget talking points -- these are shouting points.

I think all of us can relate to the talking points according to Cone.

PS: The Moderate Voice (where I got tuned into the Cone story above) has a plethora of new links to stories of interest to those of all political persuasions.


  Teaching While Incompetent

As the daughter of a school teacher and a college professor, I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession as well as most of the teachers I or my children have had in school. This is why I feel so much concern when I run across the occasional teacher who gives the teaching profession a black eye.

Last night, as I was contemplating how to handle the situation of a teacher who should have been replaced 13 years ago when the first incompetency suit was filed against her, I was reminded of the case of a man who killed a family when he drove while intoxicated. He had 22, previous DUI arrests, 13 in the state where he worked. Yet every day he was handed the keys to drive a gov't vehicle. His employer was aware that the driver drank on the job, yet "in order to do his job, he had to be able to drive". So off he went, six-packs in hand, to drive the highways drunk. When he hit and killed the family of seven, everyone was incredulous! "How could this have happened? It was so obvious there was a problem!"

We have a teacher in our school who is allowed to be reckless with the educations and emotional states of our children. She's Teaching While Incompetent--and her incompetence is legendary in local education circles. She has spent most of the last 13 years on "probation". There have been lawsuits and disciplinary actions that went all the way to the State School board on several occasions. Her classroom has been condemned by the fire department, she has manhandled several children, she leaves the children unsupervised for as long as two hours, she calls the children "stupid" and "idiot", she is emotionally abusive, she drives children on field trips while taking high doses of "pain medication". And as if those weren't sufficient grounds to at least warrant her removal, she doesn't even teach the class! There is no space in the classroom for desks or tables for the children because of all of the junk that the teacher refuses to get rid of, so the children have to sit on the floor. Therefore, they do NO paperwork at school and NO homework. The teacher teaches none of the curriculum. The room is always in utter chaos. The parents are so resigned to their fate, that they gather at the first of each year to assign groups of parents to take turns teaching the various sections of the curriculum. She teaches none except computer.

For the last five years, when the parents have had their annual October uprising and threatened her with a lawsuit, she begged "a medical condition that forced her to stay home", and a full-time substitute was brought in to teach from January-June. She is in the classroom NOT TEACHING from September-Mid December, sends the children into emotional turmoil, then leaves the parents and subtitute to pick up the pieces--AND SHE GETS PAID HER FULL SALARY! She plans to do this for 8-10 more years. Who can blame her.

Like the drunk driver, she is allowed to stay in her position because she falls through the cracks. Once she leaves the classroom each year, the parents and school are so preoccupied with fixing the damage that they don't have time to file the lawsuits anymore. And then, once THEIR kids are out of that grade, they don't have a dog in that race anymore. The cycle begins again each fall with a brand new group of parents who are left to start from scratch when the notorious teacher everyone dreads shows up for her four-month reign of terror so that she can get paid for sitting on her rear for eight more months.

Year after year, she is handed the keys to the classroom to sabottage the children (many of whom have ended up in therapy as a result of the misery she inflicts), and we wait for her classroom to catch fire, or for a child to suffer a permanent disabilty from being shoved into a wall or from being held off her feet and shaken violently (both of these have happened in the last three years--however, the kids were "only bruised"), or a child becomes so emotionally unstable as a result of taunting and teasing by the teacher or other students that they bring a weapon to school and harm someone.

In this country, we have all kinds of laws to keep drunk drivers off the road and abusive teachers out of the classroom. We hire and elect people to take care of all of the administrative details of enforcing those laws. And you would expect that they would take care of a blatant abuse of our laws without our having to recycle the issues, year after year. Unfortunately, it takes an act of God to get through the beaurocracy to enforce either until there is a tragedy like at Columbine. Then we sit around and ask, "How in the WORLD could THIS have happened? It was so obvious that there was a problem!" Yes. And your point is...?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


  Real Age Tip of the Day

A Smile Fizzler

Fizzy diet sodas that are better for your waistline may still hurt your teeth.The acid in fizzy drinks, even diet varieties, may contribute to enamel erosion that can weaken teeth, according to research. Enamel is the hard, outer layer that protects teeth. Rinse or chew sugar-free gum after you drink soda to neutralize acid and minimize damage to your pearly whites.

RealAge Benefit: Flossing and brushing your teeth daily can make your RealAge as much as 6.4 years younger.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


  First Day of School Today--NOT!

One of a Tall Poppy's greatest strengths is that she has the ability to laugh at herself at times when others with less spine might be tempted to hide under a rock. Well, the next few days will test my spine, for sure. You see, I don't know how this happened, but today I sent my children to school ON THE BUS for their first day of school, only the first day of school isn't until TOMORROW!!!

I have had this date on our calendar for months. We have scheduled our social plans around today being the first day of school. We had the parent's Back-To-School meeting at the school last night. I even double checked with my second-grader's teacher: "The only thing my son needs to bring to school tomorrow is his backpack, right?" She replied, "Yes".

My fourth grader got up so excited to ride the bus to school today for the first time in his life. We had breakfast, put on the clothes, took the "first day of school" pictures--the whole nine yards. I took the boys to the new bus stop and we waited for the bus. I thought it was odd that there were no other children at the bus stop, but since we have never had a bus before and since there are several stops in our neighborhood, I figured the other children were using a different stop. Sure enough, at 7:28, the bus came by, picked up my children, and off they went to school.

We have two different parties tonight that I have to make food for, so I went off to the store to pick up the fixings. I came home, put things in the fridge, came upstairs and started checking e-mail.

Suddenly, I hear little boy footsteps coming up the stairs! TWO little boys! How could this be? They were laughing so hard as my second grader told me the tale:

They got on the bus and eventually ended up at another (year-round) school. The bus driver asked them why they weren't getting off the bus, and my boys explained that they went to a different school! The sweet bus driver took them to their school where it was confirmed by the first grade teacher (who, of course will make sure that everyone knows what I did by lunchtime)--no school today. So rather than calling me and saying, "What are you thinking? Come get your kids!", the bus driver brought them all the way back home in the school bus and dropped them off on our doorstep!

Hubby and I have been trying to double check the start date for the last week, but the school system schedule has been "down". Today, sure enough, it gives the start date for our school as tomorrow! Aaarrgghh!!! Would anyone want to be ME today?

This is NOT how I wanted to start off the school year!

Monday, August 23, 2004


  Take The Bloginality Personality Test...

Okay, as the child of a child psychologist, I grew up with a lot of psychobabble. I also think that I am pretty self-aware. Therefore, I can't say that I was blown away by the results of this personality test (Bloginality). However, it is fascinating to answer FOUR QUESTIONS and read a dozen pages of explanations and descriptions of your personality type.

The descriptions tell you what types of work you are best suited to (all of my previous and current jobs were on the list), and tells you what you are like personally and professionally, which I found to be mostly accurate--including the less appealing parts! I find the less appealing parts of my personality helpful to read about because not only does it make me more aware of my weaknesses (which in theory should make it easier to compensate for them) but it gives you a pretty great excuse for some of your shortcomings that might drive your mate insane ("But honey, my personality type just IS NOT wired to clean house! Seriously. See, it says right here...")

So click one of the Bloginality links in this post (the red ones) and find out a little bit more about who YOU are!


  The Guy Friend: Filling Gaps or Leaving Gaping Holes?

Last week, I came across this Washington Post article entitled "Boy Friend: Between Those Two Words, A Guy Can Get Crushed" (click to read article). It was almost too painful to read. It's about how devastating male/female platonic relationships can be to a man's psyche. I have always attributed my having made it through my teenage years and young adulthood relatively unscathed to two factors: My close relationships with my parents and having close, platonic relationships with "guy friends".

When I was doing research for my book, I interviewed dozens of successful women from all walks of life to determine what sorts of experiences and behaviors might have influenced their lives for the better. Without fail, each savvy woman I interviewed credited loyal guy friends among those whose influence kept them out of trouble. Not only did their guy friends provide "safe" male companionship (odd concept, I know), but these women felt that getting to know and understand men without the romantic entanglements of a dating relationship helped them in their careers in male-dominated environments and helped them know how to deal more effectively on the homefront with husbands and boyfriends.

So here are my questions...
*Should men and women not form close, platonic friendships with one another?
*Or is this idea of men being too fragile just bunk?
*And if a "crush" is truly behind most male/female friendships, then how's a girl/woman to know the truth if the guy never tells her?

I think that men AND women who have had close opposite-sex friends are stronger than they would have been without them. I wouldn't have wanted to give up my guy friends for all the world, and I doubt that they would trade me back, either. Yet, I also wouldn't want to have hurt my guy friends all of those years when we were just "hanging out".

My best friend of more than 20 years just got engaged last week. It frightens me to think that our little world of love, respect and friendship might be coming to an end. Our friendship has survived college, careers, moves all over the country, and even my marriage (I made it clear to my then-fiance', now husband of 11 years that my best guy friend was part of the package). The day the WTC fell, my guy friend was the first person I called. And when the hurricane struck near his home last week, I was on pins and needles for two days until I got through to him.

Yet, two years ago when I asked him why he thought we had become friends in the first place, I was shocked to hear that he "had wanted it to be more". After 18+ years and NUMEROUS missed opportunities to have crossed that threshold, that was news to me! He had never led me to believe that he wanted anything more than just a good ol' guy to hang around with who just HAPPENED to be a girl.

So, should I be asking forgiveness from all of the guys I have befriended for enjoying the "male bonding time" I had with them? Should I regret having been there as a friend for them when they needed a "girl's opinion", or a "low-maintenance date" to a formal or business event? Or should I, as I have for 30 years, count my blessings every day that I had the loyal companionship of fabulous guy friends who taught this girlie-girl to shimmy down the column and sneak out of the house in 11th grade; never failed to remember to pick up a few Mtn. Dew's for me when they got the keg (I have never liked the look of beer); always made sure that someone in their fraternity invited me to their parties, even when I had a boyfriend at a different house; took me skiing "with the guys", knowing that I would never leave the bunny slopes; and made me dozens of "party tapes" to listen to on my roadtrips back home to see them after I left them for life in DC?

I love my girlfriends, don't get me wrong. But they would agree with me that lives without our guy friends would have been less full, less enlightened and a whole lot less interesting.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


  NYT: Making Sure Hollywood's Nouveau Riche Stay Riche

If you have ever been the "rich kin", the "rich friend" or simply suffer from (not so latent) guilt over your success or good fortune in life, click on the title link above or here ( New York Times story) to read a somewhat therapeutic tale. It introduces a new HBO show called "Entourage" that deals with the pitfalls of youthful success and excess from a Hollywood business manager's point of view.

It's good to occasionally remind yourself that it isn't your "fault" that you were more successful than your (insert appropriate individuals here: Parents, siblings, friends, business associates, 2nd cousins twice removed), and you don't have to go broke paying people off in exchange for their "loyalty". If you often get invited to dinner by friends who are then happy to "let" you pay the bill, or if you suffer from an overwhelming need to toss gifts and cash at people around you so that they won't think you're stingy, this article (and maybe this show) is for you.


  Meet the Etiquette Expert in Florida, Baton Rouge, Dallas and New York City

Just received this notice from the Protocol School of Palm Beach and wanted to pass it along in case you are in the areas listed and would be interested in attending these seminars. I am in no way affiliated with the PSPB, I just know how that practicing proper etiquette is often undervalued, and yet can be THE deciding factor in how far one moves up the ladder--corporate or social. So in the interest of giving you every opportunity to put your best foot forward, here are some upcoming events you might want to add to your schedule:

Meet the Etiquette Expert
August 25, 2004: Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Wellington, FL Contact Dennis Chapman at 561-792-6525 for more informationWellington Golf & Country Club - This seminar is open to the public.
September 1-3, 2004: Baton Rouge, LA
September 26, 2004: Dallas, TX
September 30, 2004: New York, NY

For more information on the seminars or for answers to other questions regarding the PSPB, contact:

Jacqueline Whitmore
The Protocol School of Palm Beach
Post Office Box 3073
Palm Beach, Florida 33480 U.S.A
Voice: (561) 586-9026 Facsimile: (561) 586-6689

Saturday, August 21, 2004


  Tall Poppy Syndrome and John Kerry

It has long seemed to me that Kerry's greatest enemy in the "war medal" controversy was not the group of former veterans who are now balking at his record. Instead, it is clear that his greatest enemy is his own success. Who would be putting up such a stink if he hadn't won the Iowa Caucus? Now, thanks to an in-depth investigation by the Washington Post (click here or the title link above to read the complete story) in which every one who was on the river the day Kerry "earned" his third Purple heart was interviewed, my suspicions have been confirmed:

Many Swift boat veterans opposed to Kerry acknowledge that their disgust with him was fueled by his involvement in the antiwar movement. When they returned from Vietnam, they say, they were dogged by accusations of atrocities. While Kerry went on to make a prominent political career, they got jobs as teachers, accountants, surveyors and oil field workers. When he ran for president, partly on the strength of his war record, their resentment exploded.

Many people have a hard time "giving the devil his due" when they feel that they never got their own. The fact that Kerry was in Vietnam at all at a time when priveleged guys of his ilk were skipping out left and right (including our president and VP) speaks far more of his character than this ongoing non-sense about his record there.

Kerry's record in Vietnam doesn't sway me in his direction, nor does his Senate voting record. But I have to say that I have a soft place in my heart for Tall Poppies who get chopped on and strangled simply because they dare to succeed. Been there and done that (on a much smaller scale)... and it's not fun. If anything will make this Southern moderate-conservative voter swing toward a liberal East Coast Senator with whom I feel little other connection, empathy for his predicament as a victim of Weeds and Short Poppies would do it.

Can we not move past this debacle and on to more important topics of national interest? Or is this the only thing we are going to hear about until the election? And if so, could someone PLEASE explain to me what it has to do with education, health care, taxes or any of the other issues that we are supposed to care about this election season? I understand the supposed "leadership" connection, but since most of his Vietnam co-horts support his leadership on the river that day and since the President was MIA in my home state at the time, can't we trade Kerry's day on the River for Bush's day on the WTC rubble and call a truce?

At this point, I may be casting a write-in vote for President. All "candidates" presented to me here will be up for consideration. Any takers?


  How The Media Works -- from The Moderate Voice

I feel that there are ten traits that successful, happy women embrace that keep them dynamic and at the top of their game. One of those traits is that they are "Broadminded". They don't consider themselves knowledgeable if all of their knowledge comes from a single source or point of view. They seek out various perspectives on issues so that they can intelligently and coherently comment on difficult issues with people from wide ranging perspectives. If you want to be a good conversationalist, you have to be credible and well-informed from all angles, not just the angle that you like the best. People won't tell you when they believe you're naive and uniformed, but believe me, they're thinking it.

This morning, one of my favorite political pundits "The Moderate Voice" posted a great "mini-expose'" on "How The Media Works" (click this title or the post title above to read the story). As a student of journalism in high school and college, I was taught very concrete rules of balance and impartiality that have been tossed in the trash bin by many in the 21st century media.

It's worth reading, no matter what your political leanings, in order to understand how certain stories wind up taking on lives of their own, while other stories are relegated to second string.

In addition to providing links to dozens of sites of every political persuasion, The Moderate Voice provides TRULY fair and balanced perspective on issues of importance, as well as covering the occasional amusing story that might not have been picked up by the mainstream media.

Women who stay ahead of the pack get their news from many sources and then make decisions on where they stand on particular issues, rather than blindly repeating what they just heard from their favorite partisan talking head. The Moderate Voice makes it easy to make those comparisons with a simple click of the mouse.


  Eeewwww! You're barking Up The Wrong Site...

Yesterday, I got a sweet e-mail from a new bride in Texas thanking me for posting the "wedding kiss picture" on my business site. She and her new husband had run off a copy of it, given it to their photographer, and they took a similar portrait of their own on their wedding day. They were so pleased with the results that she wanted to thank me for the idea.

I wrote her back and told her I was thrilled that all had worked out with the portrait and asked her how she had come upon my picture. She wrote back and said that she had searched the internet looking for "wedding kiss" and my business site popped up.

I was perplexed. How would she have found this random picture on my business site? It has no caption. There is no reference to it anywhere. It's just the header of my bridal registry.

So last night I went to my business site to peruse the stats and see what people are looking for when they find me on a search engine. I provide fine linens embroidered with monograms and US Seals to embassies, members of Congress, etc. I also take 12 commissions a year to make elegant heirloom clothing for children to wear for special occasions. So the most common searches were predictable: girls dresses, baby dress, French heirloom clothing, fine monogrammed linens, etc.

However, I was surprised to find that 32 people had clicked on my site after searching for "wedding kiss". Huh? How would that random picture show up on a search engine? The words "wedding kiss" never appear on the page. The answer? I had named the portrait "wedding kiss"when I uploaded it from my computer. If you put the mouse over the picture, "wedding kiss.jpg" does appear. Hmmm...search engines are strange.

So I decided to check the other search definitions people use to find my site. I found it peculiar and slightly unsettling that six people searched for the name of my 9-year-old son, which I could have just written off as coincidence had four people not also searched for my 7-year-old who has an uncommon family name. Having had stalkers following us around in the past (mostly women who felt it was their destiny to marry my husband), that revelation made my skin crawl.

What was even stranger, though, were the really sick things people search for and click on my business site hoping to find. Why do search engines put MY SITE up in response to these queries? The "Eeeewwww" factor is ENORMOUS! I wrote down 40 disgusting search definitions, but will only share a few here:

Little girls with pretty feet (a recurring theme that included French and Latina feet, as well)

boys in dresses (another theme--for the record there are no boys in dresses on my site)

boys in pretty pink dresses (still, no luck here)

hot moms and daughters (none of those either...I only sew for children)

girlie boy gallery (Thanks Arnold! I mean, Governor....)

good girls who are shams (Huh?)

Where can I find the cute girls? (This guy needs help that Ask Mr. Jeeves can't provide)

Where to party with hot girls (How about "cute girls"? You and guy above should hook up)

mean girls dress up (Sorry...I only let nice girls dress up on my site)

Look under skirt (GROW UP!)

Wedding dresses for boys (Out of luck TOTALLY on that one)

Hot boys at the Embassy (Obviously, one of those parties that we didn't get invited to)

Elegant monogram tattoos (Aaahhh, now THAT's a classy idea)

Scary, huh?

Friday, August 20, 2004


  Note to President Bush from an Undecided Voter (ME!)...

Dear Mr. President,

I understand that integrity and good sportsmanship are out of style in politics these days. I also understand that we, the electorate, often forfeit our right to complain about the nastiness since we frequently reward the worst "Bad Boy" with the political prize.

However I, one of those 10% of undecided voters to whom ad and campaign messages are supposedly aimed, find it WAY past annoying that I am hearing nothing out of the Bush camp regarding real ideas about how you plan to dig our country out of the nightmare that has been the last four years in America. I am sure you are probably trying to tell us, it's just that the War Record junk is drowning you out. Conservative pundits keep assuring us that you have a plan. But evidently, they are also unsure about the specifics since all they are talking about is non-sense about John Kerry's war medals--and it's getting more ridiculous by the day.

I voted for you in 2000 despite reservations I had regarding your readiness for the position, since I was more sure that I was not ready to deal with Al Gore and the wild-cards who were calling his political shots. I loved and respected your dad. More importantly, though, I know the important role that staff plays in a presidency and I was certain that if you started veering off-course, Colin Powell and other reasonable Republicans would be there to reel you back in. Little did I know that Powell and his ilk would be marginalized by hot-heads like Karl Rove (who scares most of us half to death) and you would follow the most radical members of your party down a road that the majority of Americans find unsettling, at best.

However, since John Kerry's ultra-liberal voting record (NOT his war medals and NOT his supposed "flip-flops") make those of us who are undecided uncomfortable, GOOD NEWS: You're still in the running! BAD NEWS: You are freaking us out with the constant harping regarding the much-substantiated record of a WAR HERO!!!!

Here's what we know:

John Kerry--War Hero who won 3 Purple Hearts.
John Edwards--Too young to go to war

George W. Bush--Rich boy waiver for a questionable stint in the Texas National Guard
Dick Cheney--Five draft deferments because, in his words, he "had other interests"
John Ashcroft--SEVEN draft deferments, all granted AFTER he graduated from college

MY CONCERNS? The gross hypocrisy of your arguments (since most of you bailed on combat duty) and the relevance of your comments with regard to the Presidency. If I were you, I would be harping on my own strengths and my own ideas and shout out my message for strengthening America rather than looking like a hypocrite bent on justifying your own inadequacies by tearing down other's greatest strengths.

We undecided's aren't swayed TOWARD you by partisans like Fox News, Sean Hannity, the ultimate hedonist hypocrite Rush Limbaugh, and others. We also are SO unimpressed with Rove and others whom we feel are selling you short since, if you have the brightest ideas for leading our country, you don't need to compromise your soul in the pursuit of political favor. WE want to hear YOUR ideas...and we want to know HOW you plan to bring them to fruition.

Wow us, Mr. President, with a message of Hope rather than Hate. Inspire us with a show of Leadership rather than a litany of seemingly libelous messages. Rid yourself of those "consultants" who are sailing you down the wrong river. And, above all, get out of the gutter, brush off, and move on. Be a Tall Poppy rather than a Weed. Choose to use your power for good and make the rest of us feel good about following your lead. If you don't turn your message around, you won't have to worry about your legacy--others will have sealed it for you.

Pink Poppy
An Undecided Voter

P.S.: Even IF Kerry's wounds were sustained in friendly fire, is that supposed to make him less a hero? Many of us who have lost family members as a result of friendly fire in combat do NOT take too kindly to the suggestion (by those who have never faced combat at all) that "Friendly-Fire" wounds lessen the greatness of the sacrifice. Our war dead had the guts to go and carry out their duty. And you?


  US Gymnast Carly Patterson Wins Gold

Sixteen-year-old Carly Patterson, who seems to epitomize the girl-next-door cliche', is the first US gymnast to win gold in the Olympic Individual All-Around competition since Mary Lou Retton. Makes you proud to be an American, I'll tell ya'!

US Gymnast Carly Patterson


  Real Age Tip of the Day

Too much stress at work could jeopardize your musculoskeletal health.Research suggests that musculoskeletal ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome may not be due strictly to repetitive motions. Mental stress may be a factor, too. Stress can cause muscles to tense up and contribute to upper body ailments.

Soothe your stress by taking multiple stretching and deep-breathing breaks.

RealAge Benefit: Taking care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge up to 16 years younger.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


  Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair

The September issue of Vanity Fair has a fab article on Reese Witherspoon that reaffirmed so many of the beliefs I hold about women, success and happiness. A few of my favorite quotes:

By Leslie Bennets, the contributing editor:

"While other twentysomething performers generate tabloid headlines with their late-night carousing, stints in rehab, and messy love lives, Witherspoon is a decorous and resolutely private young mother who leads a home-centered life, believes in monogrammed napkins, and always sends Thank-You notes."

"Following in the family tradition, Witherspoon's children have been well-schooled in the importance of saying "Yes Ma'am" and "No, sir" and never sassing their elders.

By Reese Witherspoon:

"There's something about overt sexuality...Like it's scatological or something!"

"It's great that you're the sexy one today, but what are you going to do when you're not the sexy one? I study other people's careers, and I spend a lot of time thinking, What would Tom Hanks do? I'm just trying to stick around and make sure I have a career when I don't seem like the new young sexy thing."

"I want to take the ingenues aside and say, 'Value yourself! It's okay if you have opinions!' "

"There's no winning. You're never going to win the thin race. You're never going to win the pretty race. You're never going to win the smart race. You're never going to win the funny race. I just want to be the best version of myself I can be."

"Etiquette is not dead in certain places. I had to get a little bit away from it to appreciate it."


  Vanity Fair Article on Lilly Pulitzer

Okay, I hadn't planned for today to be "All Lilly-All Day", however, one thing led to another and I came across this fascinating article on Lilly that appeared in Vanity Fair. It talks about her childhood attending school at Chapin and Miss Porter's, her adult life, how she began her business, etc.

Click here to read the Lilly Pulitzer story. Then click here for Lilly Pulitzer's Main Website to check out her fall collection-- the perfect mix of professional and casual wear.


  Lilly Pulitzer's New Fall Skirts

The September issue of Vanity Fair gives a sneak preview of Lilly Pulitzer's new fall line. The skirts below are corduroy...and look at the great colors! No excuses for wearing black all winter this year.

Lilli Pulitzer Fall Skirts


  Pulitzer Scarf Raises Money for Susan G. Komen Foundation

This great new Lilly Pulitzer scarf is being sold for only $35 as a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. You can click on the link above to get the details on finding the scarf locally or purchasing online. 85% of all proceeds go directly to SGKF to fight breast cancer through Awareness and Education. So grab this awesome new scarf and support a fabulous cause at the same time. Click here to learn more about the Susan G. Komen Foundation

Jennifer Connelly is Tied to the Cure.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


  Take the Eti-Quiz from the Protocol School of Palm Beach

Think you're an etiquette whiz? Or maybe you could use a crash manners course? Click on the title link above to take The Eti-Quiz from the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Whether you are a business professional, a professional Mom or a full-time student, it never hurts to brush up on your P's and Q's.


  Real Age Tip of the Day

Crunch Time...

High-fiber breakfast cereals may be better for you than you think. High-fiber foods not only help regulate digestion, but they also help keep insulin levels in check. In a study, men who ate high-fiber cereal experienced lower peak insulin levels than men who consumed low-fiber cereal. Insulin control is an important part of type 2 diabetes prevention.

RealAge Benefit: Eating a high-fiber diet can make your RealAge up to 3.5 years younger.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


  Tall Poppy Dilemma: The Fashion Sabbatical

Last night, hubby and I had dinner with friends of ours who are running for political office. Or rather, the husband is running...the wife only FEELS like she is. Anyway, I wore a bright pink, green, raspberry and white denim jacket with little beads sprinkled on it and a raspberry skirt. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. Politician arrive, Mr. Politician commented that his wife was going to be jealous that I got to wear what he called my "Southern Country Club wear". He joked that he had asked his wife to go on a "Fashion Sabbatical" until after the election so that she would blend in better with other women on the campaign trail.

In the south, we have a term for women like Mrs. PW--we call them "fancy". In other words, Mrs. PW is very stylish, very attractive and very wealthy--three strikes against a Tall Poppy who is trying to fit in with women in a state that prides itself on being "understated". If Mrs. PW wears jeans and a t-shirt, she's still fancy. But I knew exactly the "look" they were going for... and why.

Months earlier, Mrs. PW and I discussed the fact that we had different wardrobes for different places. At home, Tall Poppies dress down so that others don't accuse them of "making spectacles of themselves". But when they leave town, they feel free to wear their nicest clothes, jewelry and anything else they want to toss on. At home, there is a sense that they are "showing off" if they dress the way they want to. However, once they're outside their daily circle, they feel like they're out of the spotlight and free to be themselves.

Tonight, I was talking to another Tall Poppy friend and laughing about last night's "fashion sabbatical" conversation. My friend said, "You know, it shouldn't be that way, but it is. I'm always conscious of which jewelry I wear with which group of women, which clothes I wear to church. Today, I even caught myself contemplating whether it was a good idea to wear my Cole-Haan's to meet a few women from the PTA for lunch! I decided NOT to."

All types of Tall Poppies declare sabbaticals of some type, depending on what it is about them that others find most intimidating. After all, one of the main things that separates Tall Poppies from Weeds is Tall Poppy's desire to make others comfortable and at ease. My friends who are absolutely brilliant find themselves "backing off" in conversations where they know they could debate others around them into a hole. A wealthy friend of mine explained, "Some people wonder who those looney women are who travel with their jewelry and why they would risk having it stolen from the hotel. I can tell you that, in my case, I never feel comfortable wearing my jewelry unless I'm out-of-town where nobody will begrudge my wearing it!"

Tall Poppies who love looking great but don't want to intimidate the "home team" find Fashion Sabbaticals to be the prudent course to take when Short Poppies and Weeds are around. The good news: Fashion Freedom makes vacations all the sweeter!



My blog suddenly seems to be written in a different font, missing borders, and lilting in a significant way to the left. Everyone who knows me knows that I prefer the center. These changes seem to have coincided with the addition of the new Blog Search at the top. I would be grateful to anyone who has any thoughts on how I might correct this situation. Thanks!


  Thanks, Mr. President ...but He'd Rather Not

I have always thought that it was important to get out and about. You want people to remember you exist. You ought to be there when others invite you to "their" soiree, so that when you need their warm body at your event, they will return the favor. For SAHM and WAHM, adult mental stimulation is vital. But yesterday, I was once again reminded that I am either totally off kilter or my husband and I are the epitome of the "Venus and Mars" cliche.

Yesterday, my husband calls me in my office and says, "Your mail's here". I give it the quick once over, tell him "Thanks", and turn around to head out the door. Then hubby says, "Oh, and we got this, too".

I turn back around and he hands me a very large envelope bearing a gold Presidential Seal. I open the envelope and find an invitation to a gathering that will attract the who's who of politics, most likely every living US President, etc., etc.

So I say, "And? Are we going?" To which hubby casually replies, "I doubt it. We would have to get a babysitter for the boys, two plane tickets, hotel room, rental car....by the time we're done, we'd be in over $1000...probably more." (Did I mention that my husband is a tax attorney? He thinks of these things....)

I regain my composure over having completely misread that going to this event would be a no-brainer and I respond, "Yes, but don't you think it would be good to re-establish some contacts that have gone dormant since we left DC? I'd like to go so I can touch base with folks regarding the book, not to mention that many of the people who'll be there are my clients. Besides, this is a kind of important event, don't ya' think."

Hubby looks at me quizzically and replies, "Yeah, but we can watch it on TV and call the people we want to talk to on the phone for a whole lot less than what it would cost to go there personally".

There it was...the most distinct difference between my husband and me. I can think of 100 reasons why being there in person would more than pay for the cost of the trip. Both of us have business and political interests that are enhanced by refreshing the personal relationships we have with the people who would attend the event. So many people to talk and bond with all together in one very small geographic area for two or three days. How could we say "No"?

Then, there is my husband. Not a fan of parties, glad-handing or schmoozing. Thinks that most anything worth doing can be accomplished via e-mail. Given the choice between a night out on the town and a night working on his computer will almost always choose the latter. And, most of all, needs to see a compelling cost/benefit analysis for any expenditure over $1. (Okay, it's not THAT bad, but almost.)

So, is it a "man" thing? Or is it a "my man" thing? Is it that I am off-base to think that there are intangible benefits to attending an event that can never be calculated, but are significant nonetheless? Could I cleverly couch a sales-pitch for the event in such a way that he might eventually believe that it was HIS idea to go all along? As with other (still-unresolved) sticky wickets I have pondered over the last week, I'll watch women's gymnastics tonight, hoping for a moment of clarity.


  About My Links...

Yesterday, I had an inquiry from a reader in South Africa who wondered about my rather disparate group of links that I have blogrolled to in my sidebar. In reply to her e-mail, I wrote:

I have written a book that deals with women in American culture. Therefore, I am always interested in reading the thoughts and opinions of teens and women from varying regions and backgrounds so that I have a broad base of knowledge on which I can base my opinions.

* I scan teen blogs from time to time to catch trends and perspectives from those who are younger than me (my current fave: the very witty 14-year-old Pink Phenomenon).

* I scan women's blogs to get a feel for what they are thinking about, reading, doing, etc., so I can keep track with what's important to women in various regions of the country.

* I check in with moderate political websites because I, like half of all Americans, don't believe that either "side" has all of the answers. I think that we do ourselves an injustice if we consider ourselves to be well-informed, while choosing to get all of our news and perspective from a single, partisan point of view.

* I link to a few gossipy blogs because I know that much of the information one needs in order not to stick one's foot in one's mouth will never be found in the mainstream media.

In a nutshell, I look for balance, humor and optimism; nothing too dark, and nothing too crass--the best of mainstream America from disparate points of view.

Monday, August 16, 2004


  Suited for Change

The link above will take you to the website of a fabulous organization in DC, Suited for Change. I love to see people and organizations who embrace the Tall Poppy message that beauty is more than skin deep, and success and happiness should go hand in hand. Not only do they give women in need make-overs and professional business attire to wear for job interviews; but through their professional development seminars, they help women learn what it takes to retain their jobs and continue to advance in their careers.

Kudo's to Suited for Change for responding to the needs of so many women in the DC area who are learning that it isn't just a business suit and new hairstyle that prepare a woman for success. It really is what's inside that matters most.

Below is the WP story about the "Pink for Prada" party held last Wednesday to benefit Suited for Change.

In the Pink for Prada

Once in a while, cotton candy is the perfect accessory. More than 100 women celebrated Prada's new perfume by wearing pink -- lots and lots of pink -- at Wednesday's benefit for Suited for Change, which gives professional clothing to low-income women. "I dug out all the pink I owned," said the organization's executive director, Mary-Frances Wain, sporting a pink necklace, top and shoes.

But wait -- there was more! The launch party at Neiman Marcus at Mazza Gallerie featured Pommery Pop pink champagne, pink drinks, cotton candy as well as crab cakes and tacos (thankfully not pink) from Palette restaurant. Lucky drawing winners nabbed (what else?) a pink Prada purse, a pink bottle of eau de parfum, and Prada's new very hip and very expensive handbag charms.

Guests included Suited for Change board members Kathleen Matthews and Debbie Dingell, and Neiman Marcus honchos Martha Slagle and Patti Cumming, who were all tickled . . . pink.


  Student Chic: Trading Grunge for Cable Knit

Great news for mothers everywhere...Grunge is over! Good news also for prospective employers who have complained that the leap from Grunge to Business attire was more than most new employees could fathom. The link above will take you to the story in today's NYT about the hot looks for back-to-school. Music to a mother's ears....

NYT Article

Sunday, August 15, 2004


  You Heard It Here Fir...er...Second!

Well, the story I tripped upon yesterday regarding notorious Capitol Hill blogger Jessica Cutler did, indeed, show up in today's issue of The Washington Post. 'Nuff said about that.

Now, I have to wonder...who is this rather weedy "Married Mean Girl" who copied the Post story word for word onto her site a full day before it was printed in the SUNDAY EDITION? And, most importantly, why would a woman write a blog like hers, detailing her exploits with numerous men, none of whom are her husband? Yes, her husband is mentioned in virtually every post, it's simply that there are no exploits with HIM.

What would she have to gain by tapping out her sad story online? She seems to live in DC since I recognize the names of many of her "hangouts". DC isn't a city that rewards loose lips, generally. It's also a town that has seen and heard just about everything. You have to be really cutting edge (as Ms. Cutler was) to get attention for an affair, or two, or more. DC has now had it's run with a blogging sex pistol. So what is MMG aiming to achieve?

If she's looking for a book deal, eh...I don't think so. Between Cutler and the girls at SATC, she's so "yesterday". So what WOULD make a married woman want to write an explicit expose' of her extra-marital exploits for everyone in the world to read? Testing the waters for a work of fiction? In desperate need of counseling? Desperate SOS?

And how DID she get her hands on a Sunday edition feature story the day before it ran? Is it all a big hoax that everybody knows about but me? Should I call DC tomorrow and figure out what kind of scam I just stumbled into here? I know that there are many women out there writing blogs like this, but this one just seems odd--even by blogging "standards". Hmmm...so many points to ponder. I'll try to work it all out while watching Women's Gymnastics. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject.


  How To Mingle With The Best Of Them

Here's a great story that I just ran across in the WP. Those of you who have read my book will recognize some similar themes here. See, it really is true!

How To Mingle With the Best of 'Em
Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page M03

In a town like D.C., connections are everything. Skillful mingling is do or die, whether you're networking for your job, trolling for love or in the market for interesting new friends. But if you're not a natural-born schmoozer, giving in to wallflower tendencies isn't your only option. By following these simple guidelines, you can walk into a room filled with strangers, have a great time chatting them up and leave with new numbers on your cell phone.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS FIRST. You want to convey that you're both confident and approachable before you speak a word. When you enter a room, casually scan the crowd and smile warmly at anyone who makes eye contact. Avoid nervous fidgeting or compulsively sipping your drink. Instead, move as if you've got all the time in the world, and there's nowhere you'd rather be.

BREAK THE ICE. As you walk through the party, exchange smiles and friendly hellos with anyone who meets your eye. Chat briefly with the people you already know and then prepare to get your mingle on. Start by approaching a small group of people near you who've left some physical space for newcomers. If they're in the middle of an animated conversation, walk up and just listen for a while. Slowly start to add relevant comments of your own until you become an equal participant in the conversation.

TALKING POINTS. To strike up a new conversation, offer someone a genuine compliment, comment on your surroundings or ask people questions about themselves. Start with general things, like how they know the host. No matter whom you're talking to, try to find some common ground and show interest in what they're saying by really listening. When someone new approaches, move over to make room; never stand in front of the person, and be sure to introduce yourself during a natural break in the conversation. As much as possible, keep your back toward the wall and face other partygoers.

WORK THE ROOM. Hanging with the same friends all night is no way to meet new people, not to mention bad party manners. Throughout the night, make it a point to instigate conversations with as many strangers as possible. Never sit in the same seat twice, and spend a while with several different groups. If there are particular people you'd like to talk to, make your way toward them slowly and during a shift in their conversation. When you're ready to move on, offer a simple "It was so nice seeing you again," and then move away to the buffet table, the restroom or another room of the party.

CLOSE THE DEAL. If you hit it off with someone you'd like to see again, take steps to see if that can happen -- before the night is over. At the end of your conversation or on your way out, express how much you enjoyed talking, and be clear about your intentions, whether they're professional, romantic or friendly. And no matter what, an amiable "It was really nice meeting you" will always leave a good impression.

From This article by Angela Watrous


  A Few Of Today's Style, Fashion and Culture Headlines

Here are a few headlines in the NYT and WP that I found interesting. You do have to sign up to be able to get these links, but it is worth it. I don't get any spam from them.

When Old Is New

Old Style Glamour Makes A Comeback This is actually a link in today's online edition from July 20th, but I added it here because it came out before I started the blog.

No Pain, No Gain

More later...

Saturday, August 14, 2004


  The Hill's Sex Diarist--from The Washington Post

Okay, here is the "hard news" story from May about the woman I talked about in my previous post...for those of you who need to check, recheck and check again.

The Capitol Hill Sex Diarist Strikes Again


  Misguided Senate Staffer...Savvy business woman...Does Indiscretion Pay?

Misguided or Brilliant? From the Washington Post

Drawn to the Title of a woman's blog called "Confessions of a Married Mean Girl" (fertile ground for research for my book, I thought?), I happened upon a story that, according to the details on the blog, will appear in TOMORROW's Washington Post.

ANYWAY, the title link above will take you to a story about a Senate Staffer who was fired after she "anonymously" authored a blog recording the details of her dalliances with some rather powerful men (by Washington standards, anyway).

The young woman now has a Playboy photo shoot and a six-figure book deal! NOT a good message to be sending to young women who are looking to get ahead on the Hill...or anywhere else for that matter! Having been a young woman in DC who was, for lack of a better term, "hit on" by some of DC's most powerful--including a former Speaker of the House and several Members of Congress (most of whom were married)--I can honestly say that I have never once regretted not having succombed to those advances. Instead, I always believed that if you wanted to be taken seriously and survive young adulthood with your confidence intact, sex should not be considered a mode of transportation. So, I kept my body off the bargaining table. Good decision.

Curiously, a certain President of the United States whom I knew and was photographed with on numerous occasions while I was single never ONCE made any advances toward me. But I digress.... Yes, I did eventually marry a single, never married Member of Congress--but he is the only Member of Congress I ever even kissed, much less anything else! And we were friends for months before we ever exchanged a peck.

My point is that many young women these days have an unfortunate lack of regard for their safety, health, careers, reputations and futures. It's one thing to be friendly with men, it is yet another to DATE them (which, by the way, is TOTALLY different from "hooking up"), and it is yet another thing to be in a relationship--a true relationship. However, the lines between one-night-stands, dates, relationships and commitments seem outrageously blurred these days!

Today it seems that sex is first base! But why? If a woman is looking for a relationship OR career advancement, the easiest way to screw things up (no pun intended...seriously!) is to go for a romp...or two...or ten with the people who make those decisions.

Some will scream, "Yeah, but times have CHANGED!" I beg to differ...I dare say the men I know who are engaging in such activity still want the exact same things they wanted 10 years ago--women to fool around with and women to settle down with--two TOTALLY SEPARATE GROUPS. Professional men who are playing the field still want women to fool around with and women who will do their jobs well and make them look good--once again, two totally separate groups. Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing dearth of the latter in both categories. It really is STILL true that the good girls win, but unfortunately that message has gotten lost on many girls who are bombarded with media messages that tell them the opposite. So sad.

I am no old fogey...I was single in the early to mid '90's in the not-so-distant era when a President, two Speakers of the House and numerous members of Congress and Senators saw their careers careen into the gutter as a result of their indiscretions. I also had friends who were used by powerful and not-so-powerful men until they were "old news" and then were left with nothing but sullied reputations, degraded self-images, and trash cans filled with tear-stained tissues. I had plenty of opportunities to jump on the "Free Love" bandwagon, but it just didn't look like much fun to me. Besides:

1) I cared too much about MY reputation, life and career.
2) My parents taught me better.
3) I have always thought that sex (of any kind!) was a dessert, and not an appetizer.

Why do young women these days feel that sex is their ticket to success? I can assure them, it isn't their ticket to anything, except in the rare instance that they can parlay a dalliance into 15-seconds of fame and a Playboy photoshoot. To the contrary, women lose their power when they give in to sex without any assurances of a return phone call, much less any commitment. And worse, they single-handedly bind themselves into a box that they can rarely extricate themselves from.

Having close guy friends most of my life saved me from finding my way into that Black Hole because I knew from my friendships with them how women were devalued once they gave in to No-Strings-Attached Sex. I also knew from my girl friends who were quick to give in to a moment of temporary insanity how badly those situations ended.

It breaks my heart to see so many "good girls" feel that they have to give up their bodies and reputations in order to get what they want. In the end, the stories don't ever end with any version of "happily ever after" and the hurt that is left is the most painful and degrading of all.

Friday, August 13, 2004


  NYT: Perfect for Work; Fit For A Queen

Okay, all you Anglophiles, here's one for you. This link will take you to a rather in-depth NYT article regarding a new exhibition of Queen Elizabeth's "work clothes". This exhibition comes on the heels of what the royal's considered a surprisingly rousing response to last year's exhibition of Queen Elizabeth's Hat and Purse collection.

I find it surprising that they would be surprised that over 200,000 people would flock to see the queen's hats and purses. Her working suits...well, (yawn...), not so sure I would be in the throngs for that. But the HATS AND PURSES? You betcha'! I'm now mourning the fact that I was a day late and a few thousand dollars short on THAT one.


  NY Times: Less Bling, More Elegance

GOOD NEWS for many of us who have felt that elegance never went out of style...

The New York Times publishes in it's August 8th edition that even the youngest set is catching the wave toward more classic styles. Click on this link to read the NYT story.


  Farewell To Julia Child

I was sad to learn of the passing of an exceptional Tall Poppy--Julia Child. The title link above takes you to a story that chronicles her life. Julia Child was known to be a gentle spirit who seemed totally lacking pretention and yet did what she wanted the way she wanted to do it whether others thought it was the "right" way or not...and millions loved her for it. Now THAT'S a diplomat!

Julia was also a late-bloomer who didn't discover her talent in the kitchen until her 30's and was in her 50's when she first found professional culinary success. You also gotta' love a woman who can bunk all of the "rules" and fads regarding so-called "healthy" eating AND live to be 91!

Thursday, August 12, 2004


  Stick-Figures, Faith and Friends

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession -- singing, acting, writing, whatever -- requires avid faith in yourself. You must be able to sustain yourself against staggering blows and unfair reversals. When I think back to those first couple of years in Rome, those endless rejections, without a glimmer of encouragement from anyone, all those failed screen tests, and yet I never let my desire slide away from me, my belief in myself and what I felt I could achieve."

--Sophia Loren

Last night, I was sifting through stacks of my children's school work from last year--deciding what to keep and what to toss. I came across a notebook belonging to my seven-year-old that was supposedly his "journal" from first grade. Page after page, every drawing was virtually identical--a stick figure with the arms and legs out to the side, a round circle for a head, a smiling face drawn on, and a little tuft of hair on the top and sides of the head. I remembered him showing it to me proudly at Christmas time:

"See Mommy, this is me doing a wheelie on my bike! ... And this is me on a skateboard... This is me doing a trick on a skateboard...This is me saying, "I love you, Mommy!...."

And on, and on, it went--with him showing me the same picture page after page, each one supposedly representative of something totally different from the previous identical drawing.

Finally, we reached the end of the book and my son asked, "Could you tell what a good skateboarder I would be if you would let me have a skateboard?" This coming from a seven-year-old who watches the X-Games like other children watch cartoons...a child with no sense of his own mortality...a child who will practice endlessly until he perfects his latest stunt on his bike. So I said, "Well, drawing yourself skateboarding and actually riding on a skateboard are two different things! And besides, I didn't even see a helmet on your head or pads on your elbows and knees."

Totally frustrated by my lack of attention to the "finer details" of his drawing, my son flipped to a page that supposedly showed him completely decked out in all of his gear and said, "SEE? It's all right there...you just have to WANT to see it. I WANT to see it, so I DO! Do YOU want to see it, or not? 'Cause if you can't see it, that means that you just want me to be too little to ride. All of my friends who want me to ride the skateboard see it. They told me that it looks like I'm going to be really good...and THAT'S how I know that I will be! THEY see it, I see it, and I want you to see it. Can't you see how good I will be?"

And, then, in that instance, I could see it. As scary a sight as it was, I could see it. I could see how much he believed in himself. And as if he weren't tenacious enough on his own, his friends had rallied and convinced him that they could see it, too.

So I replied, "Yes, I can TOTALLY see it! You're going to be spectacular! You never give up, you believe in yourself, your friends believe in you...you are going to be awesome! You are also going to be OLDER when you get a skateboard, but once you get it, I know that you will be INCREDIBLE!"

In that instance, his eyes lit up and he went running out to show his Daddy his book, which he proclaimed was now "full of pictures of me doing tricks on my skateboard". My son was content knowing that I believed in him, whether he was going to get the skateboard for Christmas (which he didn't) or not.

So this morning, as I refocused my mind on working toward the publication of my book, I took three tacks from my drawer and hung three items on the side of the bookshelf beside me:

* The Sophia Loren quote above that reminds me why I keep moving forward with my book
* A stick-figure, pencil-drawn by a six-year old, on a slightly ripped piece of notebook paper
* A picture of me with a few of my friends who have always rallied and "seen" my book in print, too.

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