Archive | October, 2010

Not. taken. seriously. But it’s OK

23 Oct

I needed new eye cream today and spotted a great “gift with purchase” from Estee Lauder in the Nordstrom catalog that arrived this week. An $80 value with purchase of $29.50 or more. What a deal!

Estee Lauder makeup

October 2010 Estee Lauder gift with purchase items

Still feeling not-so-great in the morning, I opted for a trip downtown instead of heading to yoga. New makeup would help me kick that cold, eh? I also wanted to check out a great Bliss moisturizer I’d recently sampled, Best of skintentions. Bliss is rivaling Opi for cute and clever product names.

Two Nordstrom ladies were already helping others, or ringing up a sale. So an attentive guy from across the aisle, displaying that great Nordstrom customer service, came over to help me. He mostly knew what  he was talking about and, in fact, explained that the lotion I’d previously been using as an eye cream is not meant for the eyes. But it worked so well!  Oh, well.

The Estee lady came over and didn’t seem pleased that guy-from-across-the-way was providing an assist. She backed him up on the eye cream that’s not an eye cream and provided a suggestion on what I should buy today.  She didn’t seem very interested in me and didn’t make an attempt to see if I needed anything else. I could have had two more gifts if I’d made a purchase of $55 or more, you know, according to the little flier.

Estee Lauder eye shadow set

A fabulous Estee Lauder eye shadow quad as part of the gift with purchase

I’ve had that same kind of treatment before at the Estee Lauder counter, and have decided it’s because I look too young to be an Estee lady. I grew up, after all, remembering my mom using Estee Lauder.  And that about makes my day, the young reminder, on top of the fabulous gift with purchase.

Vows, Modern Love & the NYT

17 Oct

I love the Sunday New York Times. I used to feel guilty when I couldn’t read most of the paper and I’d have to dump a massive pile of unread newsprint in the recycling. It’s that Catholic guilt thing again. But then I decided if I was able to read at least one article each week, it would be enough.   I set myself free and continue to enjoy such well-written pieces that amaze me, educate me and make me happy.  Pretty basic, I know … but it means a lot.

Case in point – Sept. 19 SundayStyles section. It had been lingering on my coffee table. Yesterday, I put my recycling project into gear and I’m glad this section didn’t make the cut. The Amy Ryan profile caught my eye at first and I thought it would be good bedtime reading. I then reconnected with Vows, the somewhat elitist weekly column that features a wedding. The Sept. 19 article profiled Ariana Rockefeller (yes, of the Rockefellers) and new husband Matthew Bucklin. Like other Vows features, the Rockefeller-Bucklin story relays a fairytale-like, sweet romance. Love lost, and found again. Missed connections. Long distance trials and tribulations. Love found later in life. You get the picture.

Vows used to be among the first, if not the first section I turned to when I opened the paper. It varies nowadays, and I’m not sure if that is because I’ve grown more cynical in the whole finding-true-love story, still angry at the last guy who broke my heart or if the stories perhaps depressed me because I’m still single. I do still believe in love, for what it’s worth, and perhaps the reconnection with Vows can help me remember that.

That whole “being single” thing brings me to Modern Love, a fabulous column where I hope, one day, my writing will appear.Modern Love essay collection I recently submitted my third essay to editor Daniel Jones and have been rejected twice. It almost still feels like victory to be able to submit a piece.

In that same Sept. 19 issue, there’s a great essay by Seattle-based writer Kathy Harding. I must find her and congratulate her on this beautifully-penned piece, “Diving deep to reach the surface.” Penguins, a chance meeting with a guy at a party … and then, it happens. Sigh. Another good reason and reminder to read the Sunday New York Times. And I haven’t even unwrapped the packaging on today’s issue.

I know, he’s got cancer … and I used to be a fan

11 Oct

“Christopher is on ‘Meet the Press,'” was a phrase I traded back and forth excitedly with my friend, Karen, when we lived in Washington, D.C.  Christopher, as in Hitchens.

Christopher Hitchens

by Christian Oth

We were both huge fans. He was a columnist for The Nation, and was frequently on the Sunday morning political news shows. I thought he was the smartest. political. writer. ever. He was not only insightful but he also had great little quips and slightly mean descriptions of famous politicians and the generally famous. See … the mean girl in me was emerging even then.

Christopher was once on a panel at one of the smaller Smithsonian buildings off the mall. He was talking about the Queen/ monarchy in the U.K., and he’s British. He was not a fan of the monarchy. Karen and I bought tickets and I was shocked to see a relatively small crowd.  We were both enthralled and introduced ourselves to C.H. after the talk. We approached him, said hello and probably started fawning over his work. He asked us to come outside with him, since he wanted to have a smoke.

After we parted ways, I began kicking myself … why hadn’t I told him that I was a writer, and asked him for some advice?  Gosh, darn it.

Thinking like a reporter, I thought I would try to track him down. I knew he lived in the Kalorama neighborhood, near the Hinckley Hilton and back in the day when we actually used to use phone books, he was listed. Success!  I crafted my message, called and left something along these lines on his answering machine (again, back in the day):  Hi, my name is Mary Guiden. I hope this isn’t too random or strange, but I met you after your talk the other night at the Smithsonian and I forgot to share that I am also a writer. I wanted to see if you might be available to meet and talk about my writing, and perhaps give me some advice.

He called back within a day or two, and actually apologized for any delay in returning my call.  Seriously?  🙂  He said he wasn’t sure when I called, and he chuckled after saying that I should be quite assured that my call wasn’t too random. He meeting up the next day, or quite soon, because of his schedule and upcoming travel. I still have the cassette/recording of that message because it amused me and also amazed me. A voicemail message from my then-idol, seriously?

I met him the next day after work. We’d planned to meet at a local pub he frequented on Connecticut Ave., but then ended up meeting at his condo. (I know, it sounds potentially creepy, but it was totally innocent.)  I brought a gift, a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin, since I had read somewhere about his drink of choice. I brought a few articles I’d written (incl. one that ran in The Nation) and he read them. His place was somewhat stark, with loads of books all over the place.

When I shared a story about the fact that I’d worked at Planned Parenthood, he chuckled that my mom had suggested I not share that information with my grandmother (a staunch Catholic woman who late in life went to church twice a day). I remember he called her “my gran.”

C.H. offered to put me in touch w/ some writer pals at publications like the Washington Monthly. The advice he offered about my writing, quite honestly, underscored that I was doing all of the right things. But it felt incredibly nice to get that validation from him and to meet a writing idol.  That doesn’t always happen in life. C.H. never did follow up with me about the writer friends, but that’s OK.  Meeting him was more important than additional introductions in the D.C. literary world.

During the Clinton White House years, Hitch went from a liberal contrarian to a raving GOP backer. I was quite sad. There may be some hidden back story that is eventually shared. I was shocked when he testified before Congress about the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal and seemingly turned on his former friend, Sidney Blumenthal.

We all change our views and opinions as we get older but the Hitch switch never did make any sense to me at all.  It was more than a flip-flop and after recently seeing the movie Ghost Writer, it makes me wonder what really happened in D.C. during the Clinton years.  I do love a good conspiracy theory, after all.