Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, and I did what I have done every year I've been in Halifax on November 11.  I got up early (for a day off work), got dressed, made sure that my poppy was on my coat, and headed off to the Grand Parade Square downtown.  It was gratifying to see so very many people heading in the same direction as I was going - they move differently on Remembrance Day than on ordinary days.  There is a different purpose to the walk, and you can see it.  You can almost feel it in the air.

There have been many veterans in my family - some are (or were) veterans of war, while others have lives that involved military service.  Both my parents, now deceased, were veterans of WW II, so Remembrance Day was taken pretty seriously in our house.  When we were children, it was a cool thing in many ways, because our parents marched with other Legionnaires and past service members in the parade that went from our local Legion club to the Cenotaph.  We didn't think so much then about what it was we were experiencing, and yet, we knew that it was about remembrance.

Today, as I stood there, weeping my way through "Abide With Me," wondering why more people weren't singing, I realised that this month will be the 20th anniversary of my father's death.  That means that if he were still alive, he would've been 92 years old at this Remembrance Day service.  He would've been one of the oldest surviving veterans - their numbers get smaller and smaller every year.  My mother, had she not died in 2003, would have been 88 years old.  There are people at my synagogue who are about the ages of my parents.  We tend to revere them - they've generally been through more, experienced more, than we are ever likely to know.  And I realised today that while I do respect them, of course, what I feel for them is more like the love I can no longer share with my own parents.  These are who my parents might have been, after all.

November is a tough month.  My daughter and I have said - only half-jokingly - for years now that we ought to just skip November.  It is a month of so very much remembrance that hearts feel bruised when it finally draws to a close, just in time to take a breath and recognise that holidays are about again, and for me and my siblings to remember (as if we could forget) that we have no parents with whom to share the holidays.  November is a month of remembrance, and hurried phone calls, and death, and funerals.  But I know that even if I could skip it, I really wouldn't. 

I have so much more to remember now - not just veterans of earlier wars, but veterans of current wars.  Not just my parents, but friends' parents who have died.  Friends and family who are currently serving in the military, whether they are in combat theatre or not, are much on my mind, and I pray that we'll never have to find out the hard way what war really feels like.  I remember and pray for the safety of the almost-adult and adult children of my friends who have chosen military service.

Remembering is somewhat a sacred obligation to me.  I could no more skip Remembrance Day than I could pluck out my own eyes.  I remember because I love and have loved, and because there are still soldiers and sailors and air force personnel who are injured or who die on foreign soil, working to promote the democratic ideals that I take for granted.

There have been people around - peace activists, I imagine - giving away white poppies as a counter to the red ones sold on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion.  Their feeling is that red poppies glorify war, and I will never understand this.  If they believe that, then they've missed the point altogether.  I'm sharing Halifax editorial cartoonist Mike De Adder's contribution to Remembrance Day 2010, because I believe he's got it just about right.

And today, just like every Remembrance Day in my life, I have marked the day with prayer and silence.  And at the going down of the sun, I have remembered.

Seymour & Jesse Skinner, home for a visit from the war... Jesse was my wonderful father.

Michael De Adder - November 10, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Candace & Bronwyn at Thanksgiving Dinner

Bronwyn (still in her hospital 'negligee') checking out what's left of her car...

Me with the gorgeous girl who's been filling my heart since before she was even born...
Every year since she was small enough to offer a thought, my daughter and I have shared a Thanksgiving tradition of actually giving thanks, out loud, before we pick up fork and knife to get into the turkey sitting on the table.  This year, Bronwyn and I shared Thanksgiving with her lovely partner, Candace; with our friends Maggie & David and their sweet baby Leah (to whom I am surrogate Auntie Bobbi, thank you very much!); and Maggie & David's friend Murray.

Bronwyn asked me quietly before dinner whether we were going to do 'that thing,' which I understood immediately in Mummy/daughter shorthand to mean that she wanted to go 'round the table and hear what people were grateful for in their lives.  I was tickled that even as a young adult, this was not too hokey a thing to do, and I was eager to say YES.   Unsurprisingly, we all have things for which we are grateful, and a few of them are right here...

I am grateful that we were all around that table this Thanksgiving.  Because we might not have been.  Bronwyn and Candace were in a pretty serious car accident 2 weeks earlier - the car was totalled, and Candace had to have surgery to have steel plates put in her arm to repair a compound fracture.  Bronwyn was battered and bruised and had plenty of cuts from broken glass, but physically, that was the worst of it.  I cannot imagine a world in which my beautiful girl is not dancing around somewhere, doing Bronwyn-type things, and loving people, as she does.  I cannot imagine a time when I might see her smiling face only in a photo, or to remember the sound of her voice, her burbling laugh, rather than hearing them. 

I am grateful that the two beautiful Berners, Wylie and Ben, were not in the car, as they usually are.  On that day, the girls had decided not to take the dogs with them - 200 pounds of frightened dog flying around a car that was going head over heels into the woods could only have spelled disaster.

Bronwyn and Candace, too, expressed their own gratefulness for just being present, and being ok.  And for the family and "framily" (Bronwyn's word for "friends who are like family") who were there to help take care of them in those first few days after the accident.

We are all grateful for so many things - for family, friends, babies, loving hands that prepared the food we ate, and the hands that cleaned up after the meal.  And every day of her life, I have been grateful to be Bronwyn's mother.  But on this particular Thanksgiving, more than any other one in my life, I am grateful for the mere existence of my beautiful daughter, who fills my heart with a constant joy that is sometimes quite giddy and breathless.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation...

The air in Halifax feels very autumnal lately, particularly the last couple of days.  Days are quite warm, but it's clear that summer is drawing to a close, which makes me kind of sad.  Most of my summer has been taken up with Israel, which was entirely marvellous... I don't think there was really anything I didn't like there, and I'm finding it kind of hard to be back here.

I went to Israel at the beginning of July and first spent a couple of days in Haifa with my friends Mirjam and Avraham... they are utterly lovely people who treat me like family and take very good care of me when I'm with them.  I'd taken all kinds of pictures while I was there, including a LOT of Megiddo, but I'm afraid that I've deleted them permanently.  DUH.  I blame it on the new card reader that I bought when I went to Jerusalem... while I was trying to upload pics from the camera, I'm pretty sure that I deleted the Megiddo pics instead of saving them... unless, of course, I saved them somewhere ELSE and simply have not found them.  I'll continue to be hopeful until I've exhausted all possibilities.

I had almost a week on my own in Jerusalem before classes began at the Conservative Yeshiva, and spent lots of time sightseeing and exploring.  Hardly took a bus the whole time I was in Jerusalem (once, I think), and walked so much that I'm sure I must be 5 cm shorter now than I was when I arrived!

I davened Rosh Chodesh with Nashot HaKotel (Women of the Wall), at the Kotel in the Old City.  That was such an interesting experience that it deserves a spot of its own here, which I will do later.  And I marched in the Pride Parade on 29 July, which is also deserving of its own separate recounting.  And I studied Hebrew (faaaaaaaar from fluent...), and Torah.  I had some truly superior teachers and count myself blessed to have been able to spend this time there.

This time was different from other visits, because this time, I lived in an apartment, with one of the loveliest roomies ever.  Sam is a lawyer from Syracuse, NY, and we didn't know each other at all before we got there.  I hope we're going to be friends for a long, long time, because he's terrific.  It was fun after classes were over, often wandering Jerusalem with him, and discovering things together.  Did plenty of tourist stuff... the tunnel tour under the Western Wall, the Tower of David Light Show... Jerusalem International Film Festival... a concert by the Diwan Project... it was all just brilliant.

I didn't update the blog the whole time I was away, and probably should have ... now it will be a retrospective!  But when I get it done, it will have photos as well...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vicissitudes of Age

I’ve joked often with my friends that they just don’t make high school boys the way they did when I was in high school. Back then, high school boys looked like boys – they were mostly kind of thin, gangly, occasionally spotty, and there’s no way that they could’ve walked into a bar without being tossed right back out. Today, though, if you walk past any high school football team at practice, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a team that was at least semi-pro. These boys are big! And where the heck do all those chiselled jaws come from? I mean, are they ordered before conception?!

Even my friends’ sons don’t look the way I expected them to look – sure, for the most part, they are in their late teens or early 20s, but they don’t look anything like the boys I remember from high school or university. So we remark on it, blame it (only half-jokingly) on hormones in chicken, and move on.

But the other day (by which I could well mean a couple of weeks ago – my grasp of time is sometimes quite fluid), I was on a bus heading downtown. The bus was crowded, and so I was standing near the rear exit door, contentedly listening to my iPod. Near Dalhousie University, 4 young men got on the bus and moved towards the rear, where they wound up standing near me.

Here’s what I noticed – they were all very attractive. No spotty skin here, but lovely complexions. Nice haircuts. Clear, bright eyes. They were all close to 6 feet tall, if not taller. They were all very nicely built (although it’s winter, it wasn’t a very cold day, and they weren’t seriously bundled up – I don’t have x-ray vision!) – one might have been a football player, another a soccer player, but they were all fit. And they smelled marvellous – how to explain this without having my friends lock up their sons?? They smelled clean, of nice soap… and someone was wearing one of my favourite men’s colognes. I felt myself smiling inside as I listened to their conversation – nothing important, just talking about what they were going to do that day, and generally having fun. I remembered being that age, and having those conversations. My whole life was ahead of me, and there were a million decisions that were finally mine alone to make – and not all of them were big decisions.

Here’s the other thing I noticed. In the couple of moments it took me to notice all this about this small group of young men, I also noticed that they did not notice me – I don’t mean that I think they should’ve been checking me out (erk!), but rather, that I wasn’t even on their radar. I was invisible! When the heck did I become invisible? I think it must’ve been around the time I turned 40. For the most part, young men do not notice women of my age (and what the heck is this – ‘women of my age?!’ Sheesh.) – and lately, those who have noticed have been full-on hitting on me (I think they want their Mrs. Robinson moment, although many of them wouldn’t get the cultural reference).

And the last thing I noticed as they exited the bus is that if they had noticed me, it would’ve been along the lines of … being reminded of an aunt… or their mother. Oh, dear. I won’t really be cute again to adorable young men for another 30 years or so, when I have become a truly old lady!

Someone once said that getting old is not for sissies, and indeed it is not! I’ve long since accepted much of this whole aging process, sometimes with great bemusement. I can live with the wrinkles around my eyes (crows’ feet, my ass!) – but perhaps that’s because they’re generally obscured by the temples of my glasses!

I’ve accepted that my pores aren’t what they used to be, and like everything else, are not as tight and smooth as they once were.

My grey hair has never bothered me – in fact, I think it’s kind of a pretty, shiny grey, and if I knew that my whole head of hair would go that colour, I think I’d be ok with it. As it is now, though, I get a bit of grey at the temples, and it’s sometimes noticeable where my hair is parted. Just enough grey, in fact, for people to wonder why I don’t do something to touch it up! (A sidebar: I have been dyeing my hair for a very long time, since my daughter was 2, in fact. It has been many shades of red, a couple of shades of blonde, and it’s now brunette, which I quite like. I have never dyed my hair to cover grey, but only because I’m easily bored, and it’s cheaper than a vacation!) But what’s with the thinning hair?? It’s not enough that it’s gonna go grey whether I like it or not (thank goodness I don’t care!), but thinning hair? Really? I noticed this in a picture that a friend took of me, and as I first glanced at it, I thought, what’s that white in my hair?? And it was my scalp!! I could see my head through my hair! (OK, this is probably a shrug-inducer for men, many of whom deal with the whole thinning hair thing long before most women, but still. My hair was thin enough before, thanks very much!) And I thought that perhaps it’s because I’ve put waaaaaay too much hair colour in my hair, but when I mentioned in a whisper to a friend, she said, “I know just what you mean!!” Oh, thank God. I am not alone. This happens to other women as well. It doesn’t make it OK, or anything like that, but at least I’m not alone!

I look at my hands sometimes, and I see the hands of an older woman, particularly when I look at my hand next to my daughter’s 21-year-old hands The skin on her hands is tight and smooth, while mine is… not. That surprised me, and I don’t much like it, but I can live with it.

But then there’s my chin. I know, I know, this is vanity unfettered, but this is my blog, and I can wax poetic (or rant) about whatever the heck I want. And the subject today is my chin. What’s with this … loose skin I’m seeing there?? That is an old lady chin! I’m not ready for that! I used to think I wasn’t vain enough for plastic surgery – don’t have perky breasts? So what?! They have served me well, done what I needed them to do, fed babies, been objects of desire for lovers, so if they don’t stand up like an 18-year-old’s, I am ok with that. (I’ve watched enough of Nip/Tuck to know that plastic surgery doesn’t always go the way one expects, after all…) I’ve never had any desire to shoot botulism into my forehead, nor to sand away the wrinkles around my eyes, nor even the lines I’ve noticed on she sides of my mouth – they are brackets to my smile, and I’m ok with that.

But I’m not ok with this whole chin thing. I could see having plastic surgery for this, honestly! And how vain is that?? I’ve already established that I’m getting older, and I’m ok with it, truly! It’s inevitable anyhow, even for a goddess such as myself. And I am still the youngest of all my siblings. But I’m having issues with the chin thing.

I can’t imagine ever being one of those people ‘of a certain age’ who dresses in a manner more appropriate for someone 30 years her junior (30 years… sob!), but insofar as I wish to look in the mirror and still recognise myself, I’m gonna invest in more moisturiser! I wonder if women get hair implants…

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Megillah Esther... Happy Purim

So, the feast of Purim is very nearly upon us. My kitchen is redolent with the scents of hamentaschen... chocolate, with a chocolate ganache; and a saffron pastry with apricot/walnut/honey filling. Nothing too traditional about either one of them, except perhaps for their shape... hamentaschen... Haman's ears, it's said, or more politely, Haman's pockets.

Who was Haman? He was an advisor to King Achashvairosh, and one in a very long line of people who wanted Jews out of his way, preferably permanently, which meant preferably dead. His plan was to destroy all the Jews in the empire, ostensibly because one Jew, Mordecai, had refused to pay homage to him.

The way the story goes - very briefly - is that Mordecai knew what Haman was up to and schemed to get his niece, Esther, our heroine, into a position of power (as Queen to King Achashvairosh), and to have her whisper into Achashvairosh's ear of Haman's wickedness. It all worked out pretty well, actually, at least insofar as this time, it wasn't the Jews who wound up on the chopping block, so to speak.

So Jews celebrate that on yet another occasion when someone wanted us dead, we wound up ok. Hamentaschen are just to remind us of Haman - it's as if even with the sweetness of the treat, we must still remember the bitterness of the events that brought us to this celebration. Paradoxical, really.

But that's not why we're here!

At Purim, many Jews dress up in costume (think, "Hallowe'en, but Jewishly!"). We make a LOT of noise (every time Haman's name is said when Megillah Esther is read, the congregation makes enough noise to drown out the name). We eat excellent treats (hamentaschen, which are usually sweet, may also be made savoury, and are quite tasty either way). In fact, we're even commanded to drink on this occasion! So much that we would not be able to tell Haman (boo, hiss!) from Mordecai (hurray!), or Esther (HURRAY!). Many children dress as Mordecai, many dress as Esther. Not too many dress as Haman.

And that's not why we're here, either! But I'm getting to it.

So - we talk about how Esther used her position as Queen to whisper secrets into the King's ear that led to Haman's downfall (which was a good thing, really), but we don't talk often about how she got the job. The King was already married when Esther came along, you see, to Queen Vashti. It was Achashvairosh's idea that he should show off his Queen in all her beauty... ALL her beauty. Wearing nothing at all but her royal crown. The Queen, as befitting any woman with a shred of dignity, took exception to this, and she refused to do as the King wished. Oh, the horror! The Queen had been disobedient to her King... in front of all his advisors, she had shown him up. And what might THAT lead to? Well, of course, other willful and headstrong women who thought that they, too, could do as they wished!

King Achashvairosh did what any king in his position would do - he dispossessed Queen Vashti of her crown and declared that she could nevermore come to him, that she was in fact, no longer Queen. We don't know exactly what happened to Vashti after her dispossession - did she die? Was she just pensioned off to a minor palace elsewhere in Persia? Was she beheaded? Who knows?! What we do know is that when she refused to allow her husband to treat her like a whore and parade her naked in front of his advisors as a demonstration of his kingly power, she was gone. Just like that... poof!

And THIS is why we're here. I can understand that Esther gets heroine status, because without Esther's lips whispering at the King's ear, there might not be too many Jews left on the planet today. And I can understand that Mordecai's a good guy, because it was his foreknowledge of Haman's plan that Esther brought to the King.

But why is it that we don't teach our daughters (and sons!) about Vashti? Why don't we teach them how brave she was, how principled, to stand up AGAINST her husband's demand that she present herself naked before him and his ... work colleagues?! Why are our daughters not dressing up as Vashti, strong and proud, unwilling to let even her husband treat her shabbily, unwilling to be chattel?

Here's to Vashti! Now I've got to do some research.... what might a Persian Queen have worn in the palace? There are just a few days before the reading of Megillah Esther, and I have an idea of a costume I might like to wear this year...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lights... Camera... Action!!

Sometimes I’m too busy (or too idle) to write down movie thoughts, but that’s rarely because the film I’ve seen hasn’t moved me in some way… And here are a few that have provoked some kind of reaction recently.

Crazy Heart is Jeff Bridges’ latest film, for which he’s been nominated for an Oscar. The pundits suggest that this time (his fourth nomination), he might win it. I wondered if we might be looking at a 21st-century version of A Star is Born, Kris Kristofferson’s epic film with Barbara Streisand, which I saw when it was released in 1976 and I was much more clueless… Still, what I remember is that when Kristofferson’s character fell in that film, he kept right on falling.

Jeff Bridges hasn’t just revisited Kristofferson’s earlier film, though. Neither did the filmmakers stay with the ending that author Thomas Cobb gave his 20-something-year-old book, but that’s ok, too. What worked in this film? Well, Bridges did. He’s a fine actor, and believable in the part of country music performer Bad Blake, a man who used to be on top of the world, we’re told, but is now skidding unstoppably downhill. He’s likeable, even when you wonder if he’s going to fall flat on his face (figuratively speaking, primarily, though the literal sense would also apply).

The way the character is drawn, we know that he must be lonely – he’s on the road a lot, and not with a tour bus and an accompanying band, but on his own. When he gets to a venue, he meets the pick-up band who will be playing with him. While on the one hand, we know that this is his job, and he just goes on the way we all do some times, plodding forward because even when you don’t feel like it, there are still jobs to be done, on the other hand, it’s clear that he still loves the music. It’s not the adulation of fans (although that does give him the ‘benefit’ of the occasional one-night stand), but rather, the baring of his soul that’s important. It seems that through much of his life, through his 4 marriages, and his non-existent relationship with his now-adult son, he hasn’t been able to say what he needed to say. Through his music, he can.

Maggie Gyllenhall plays the much-younger reporter who, of course, becomes the love interest in the story. I went into this with a bit of eye-rolling, wondering why on earth it is that we keep seeing films in which the much older lead male attracts the eye of the much younger lead female. “Give me a break,” I thought. This isn’t like that, though. Yes, Gyllenhall’s Jean is much younger; yes, she’s a little damaged in her own right; yes, she’s vulnerable and a bit fragile. But don’t kid yourself. She’s also mighty strong.

Is it her crazy heart, or Bad Blake’s, that gives us the title? Who knows? They both have hearts in which their capacity for love is great and yet somehow unrealized. Gyllenhall turns in a performance in which she truly is luminous - I generally hate that description of an actress, because it’s generally undeserved. Here, though, it’s a fact. We watch her falling in love with the Bridges character, all the while understanding that we’re sharing a wry joke with her – “Can you believe I’m letting this happen?” She says exponentially more with her eyes than many actresses can say with everything they’ve got.

Colin Farrell also does a turn here, as country music superstar Tommy Sweet, and while he’s not bad, his performance is minor. He doesn’t have much screen time, and he downplays his presence. But this film belongs, by turns, to Bridges and Gyllenhall. Everyone else is window dressing. It’s an excellent film, and well worth the admission and the time. Go see it.

Next up, A Single Man, Colin Firth’s latest, and it’s a stunner. Firth plays George Falconer, a university professor in the United States of the 1960s, a man that society used to call a “confirmed bachelor,” when people really meant that the person of whom they spoke was gay.

It’s not a spoiler to say that Firth’s long-time partner, Jim, dies – quite early in the film, in fact. Jim's death isn't what the story is about, but rather George's life. The death is unquestionably a tragedy of unspoken proportions – Falconer receives a telephone from Jim’s cousin who explained apologetically that ‘the family didn’t want me to call, but I thought it was right.’ So – wait… what? The couple had been together for 17 years, and the family didn’t want him notified of Jim’s death?! Well, yes, because that’s the way it was.

Falconer thanks the cousin and says that he should get off the phone to arrange a plane ticket for the funeral. More apologies from the cousin – a ticket won’t be necessary, because the funeral is ‘just for family.’ Just for family. What casual cruelty to someone who’s just experienced the most profound loss of his life.

Julianne Moore, who may well have been called luminous in this role (I’d disagree – she seems miscast to me as another British expatriate living in the US), plays Falconer’s friend Charley. The pair had what we might call a hookup a number of years earlier, and it’s possible that she still carries a torch for him. I haven’t much to say about her role, or even her character, because honestly, her performance grated here. And I really do like Julianne Moore! Just not in this film.

Back to the film – the filmmakers decided to move back and forth, to show us how George met Jim, how they came to stay together. They build for us the image of this peaceful, uncomplicated, mutually fulfilling life that somehow blossomed in a world which was hostile to it and afraid of it. (Hm… it strikes me that not much has changed for same-sex couples in the last 40 years.)

I won’t spill the ending here; suffice it to say that it was most unexpected. This movie brought me to tears, a couple of times, and I recommend it very highly to anybody. A Single Man is, as my daughter would say, a keeper. As soon as it’s available on DVD, I’ll purchase it and watch it again (tissues at hand).

And if I were the Oscar jury, I’d give the award to Colin Firth, with thanks.

Stay tuned for Part II…

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A note on beauty...

I've been having a conversation with a friend - a male friend, in case it's relevant - about the nature of beauty. He feels that women have been sold a bill of goods about the whole beauty myth - that we have accepted that it's ok to have feminine beauty defined by the cosmetics and fashion industries. On the surface, I understand why he would think that, because it's certainly true that if we look at newsstands, the image of beauty, even on fitness magazines, seems to insist that beautiful women are also those who wear makeup. It also demands that we wear stylishly-designed clothes, artfully created to mask the figure flaws that we might not know we had if we didn't read those very same magazines.

Now, I'd never suggest that no women buy into this, because I know better. I have known women all my life who allow themselves to be measured by someone else's standards of what is beautiful, what is feminine, what is, in fact, acceptable - to men and to the world at large. The challenge - and I've had a tough time articulating this to my friend - is that not all women who wear makeup, not all women who walk in high heels, or who wear clothes one might define as 'fashionable' are, in fact, slaves to the fashion and beauty industry.

There are women who have cosmetics in a drawer, hair products in a bathroom cabinet, high heels waiting ready by the front door (or under our desks at the office!), and clothes for each season (or each mood...) hanging in a closet. Sometimes, these women - and in the interest of full disclosure, I count myself as one of them - look at the so-called beauty industry and nod and wink. We know what the industry is up to - it's not about trying to help us be better in some way that we cannot define for ourselves, but rather, about making money.

Why do I wear makeup? Well, in the shortest possible explanation of all, I suppose it's because I'm vain! I wear eyeglasses, and because I believe my mother's assertion that I have beautiful blue eyes, like to see those eyes, which I feel are lost behind the glasses. So I wear makeup to draw attention to my eyes. Very simple. And I wear bright red lipstick almost all the time, because I like the shape of my mouth, and I like it even more when it's got lipstick on it. I don't wear makeup for men, or because I think I'm not good enough without it. I wear makeup because I like it, it's as simple as that! I wear makeup because it pleases me.

That's the explanation for clothes and shoes as well. I wear what pleases me. I choose colours and styles that look well on me. And yes, I love wearing high heels. I suspect that as I grow older, my heels will get smaller, and that's ok - but for now, I wear them and love them. Does that mean that I don't wear jeans and tshirts? Certainly not - but I wear jeans and tshirts that please me, not somebody else. Sometimes, I even wear red high heels with blue jeans.

Does this mark me as a shallow and insecure woman? I doubt that anybody who knows me would find that assertion supportible. I'm confident, happy, secure in my ability to provide for myself and live an authentic life, even with the artifice afforded me by makeup.

I'm a feminist and have raised my daughter with feminist ideals. I contribute to my community in as many ways as I can - I do volunteer work, I lend expertise where I have it, I am politically engaged, I'm well-read and articulate, and I contribute as generously as I can to charitable causes that are important to me.

To my knowledge, my female friends are, without exception, feminists. And most of them wear makeup and heels as well! (Granted, it's entirely possible that I wear both more often than many of my friends do, but that's as much a statement of my current place in existence - I'm not raising a small child anymore, so I have more time to play with stuff that's socially valueless but that amuses me. And I'm ok with that!)

I invite comments on the subject from friends, both male and female... you who know me, tell me what you think... have I bought into a feminine beauty myth? Or am I, as I insist, merely exprssing myself in a way that pleases me, Cosmo and Elizabeth Arden be damned?