Shoe Bliss

Buster-Brown-Comic It’s a stereotype that women love shoes, and like so many stereotypes, there’s a kernel of truth in there somewhere. It isn’t just Imelda Marcos. We’ve all seen those episodes of House Hunters, where she either has a room dedicated to shoes. Or she need a room in which to put her collection of shoes. There’s usually a  smiling, indulgent-looking man in the mix somewhere. When a box of shoes arrives in the mail for me at my house my husband gets that look too. “More shoes?” They’re not Manolo Blahniks. No Jimmy Choos in my closet. I have a tendency to twist my ankle when walking, even in bare feet. I don’t have any clothes that go with that sort of shoe. I sure don’t have the body to wear them naked anymore. But if you love Christian Louboutin, if that’s your shoe groove, all the more power to you. They’re works of art, those shoes. So beautiful. Just not on my feet. Yes, I am the girl of the sensible shoes. I started out in Buster Browns. Once when I was 13, I traded a family heirloom for a second-hand pair of red platform shoes, like something out of  Aladdin Sane. (Weirdly, the other shoes I remember from the closet of my early adolescence  were Earth shoes, blue Adidas court shoes and riding boots.) Mostly my shoes are solid. Save one pair of kitten heels for grown-up occasions, I could sprint after a dog in every pair of shoes I own. il_570xN.331660452 Physical therapists like my shoes. Now, don’t go away thinking my shoes are boring. In my closet, at one time or another, you could find flocked floral black and white Dr. Martens. Pale-pink leather lace-up paddock boots. Black Mary Janes with purple flowers. Yellow clogs with ladybugs. Cobalt blue Beatle boots. At least six pairs of Dr. Marten’s combat boots– and I still want the ones with the Union Jack toe. Not a fan of running shoes, (or running) though I did get a pair of Merrells the last time I went on a fitness thing. I loved them. They were black, modern, sleek, almost elegant. They were designed for “natural running.” They nearly ruined my feet and left me with a year-long misery of plantar fasciitis. Right now as I sit at my desk in my jammies, my feet are toasty and warm in Stegmann boiled wool clogs. Sexy? Ooo-whee, let me tell you. One afternoon I went into a shoe store in Santa Cruz with my friend, Christy. Christy is not just my wonderful friend, she’s my astral twin, my sister from another mother. We walked into this shoe store and our mouths dropped. We clutched each other’s arms. “Look at those shoes!” she whispered. It was a whole store full of our favorite sort of shoe: fun, sensible, playful, comfortable, zany shoes. Cute shoes you could wear running after a dog. Thank God they weren’t having a sale. The right shoe makes you feel like anything is possible. You can slay dragons, talk people off ledges, catch the thief, land the contract, get the guy, get the girl, grab the brass ring. (And this is true whether the right shoe is a five-inch stiletto or a Bass Weejun.) The wrong shoe is as bad as the wrong foot. Best not to even start. I get a new pair of shoes and I fall in love. I hate to wear anything else. I wear those shoes until the seams are falling apart. (Like that last pair of crimson red Naots. God those were great shoes.) Then I’m heartbroken and I have to go shoe shopping again. But shoe shopping for me is a bit complicated– they just don’t have my shoes at Payless or Shoebilee, or Shoe Carnival. My shoes make themselves the object of a quest. And when they arrive, finally, at last, generally through the mail, all is bliss at our house for awhile. This is my perfect shoe. I really appreciate a good black Mary Jane (named after Buster Brown’s sister, did you know that?) and I’ve had lots and I hope I have many more pairs of comfortable, sturdy, sensible black Mary Janes in my life ahead. Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 12.04.41 AM But a red Mary Jane. That is something else altogether. Hans Christian Andersen’s grim tale notwithstanding, that is the shoe that speaks to me. I never had red Mary Janes as a child. My mother was sensible and bought me the brown ones. I’m making up for that now.

Oh I used to be disgusted And now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me ’bout their side of the bargain, That’s when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won’t get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

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Scenic Route 53


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“A great alternative way to reach Grants from Gallup is via Scenic Route 53, which runs parallel to, and south of, I-40. It takes a full day to really experience this out-of-this-world landscape of lava tubes and red arches, volcanic craters and ice caves, as well as unique historical attractions and traditional New Mexican towns.”  

-Lonely Planet

On Friday, I turned 53. I’m not particularly bothered by it. I happened to be online around 1 a.m. and commented that I’d been 53 for 53 minutes, to which my mother (the next day) said “Not exactly.” Which is true, I wasn’t born until 6:40 in the evening. My father had gone home to make a sandwich.

And it was one time zone over, so I guess I wasn’t truly 53 years old until twenty minutes of eight on Friday. But that’s not what this is about. I could be turning 39 or 57 or 10.

This is about expectations.

Like everybody, I’ve had good birthdays and crappy ones. I’ve had full-blown week-long celebrations and birthdays that passed with little notice. Oh wait, that last part’s not true.  I’ve never had a birthday that passed without notice.

But lately I’ve started to realize that the enjoyment I found in a celebration had direct correlation to what I expected from it– but not having any expectations is not only not realistic, it’s not the answer.  The answer is this: make your own fun.

One of the very best things about my birthday is that the weather, which has been a socked-in-solid deep freeze for the last several weeks began to thaw. I know it isn’t spring, this is still January. But it was forty something, and the air felt soft. I went out into the world wearing a velvet coat.

It starts with a swim at the Y, a brand new luxury for me. The day before my husband went with me to sign up for a membership and bought a parking pass for good measure. Then we went out to buy shoes.

“Shoes?” you query. “Who needs shoes to swim in a pool?” Well, that’s true. I don’t need shoes to swim in a pool. But I might need them to sneak a little walking or racquetball or some other exercise disguised as fun. This is a very delicate arrangement, I don’t want to frighten my good intentions.  These are the shoes, they’re far more gaudy than any pair of shoes I’ve ever bought in my life, my footwear exists in the spectrum from Doc Martens to sensible Mary Janes.

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After swimming, it was off to the kind of meeting that makes you wish you were having a root canal instead. For two hours. Lord help me. Save us from people who refuse to be reassured and offer nothing in the way of solution or support.

And I didn’t even get paid for those two hours lost forever from my life, on my birthday no less– it was all part of a volunteer gig. On the other hand I was the youngest person in the room. That gives me faith that 53 is not all that old, and that there are still plenty of years ahead for me to make trouble.

After the meeting, a late lunch with a friend. The white tablecloth restaurant where we hoped to go had closed for lunch, so we ended up at Panera, but that was alright, I had a favorite salad and it was delicious. My friend gave me this wonderful birthday card, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Inside it says “You’re just a few clicks past thirty.”

 

bostonbdayI would have lingered longer but I had to go pick up my son.

At home, there were birthday cards– one, from my father’s widow, had a generous check enclosed. There was an odd shaped package from my mother, which turned out to be a tall object resembling an umbrella stand.  We don’t think it truly is an umbrella stand, but it has found a place in the hallway and I like it.

Earlier, on our way to the closed restaurant, I passed by the windows of a shop I had only seen from the car. I’d always thought it was a high end gift shop– you know, home of the $40 paperweight. But walking by the window I saw on a shelf a figure of a dog, but I hadn’t had time to check it out before going home. So, it’s my birthday, right, I’ll indulge myself a little.

Back to the shop, and it is chock full of interesting stuff, shiny baubles and costume jewelry and beautiful French wrapping paper. The dog figure is only ten dollars, but it looks like the head of a mastiff on the body of a hound, so I pass on that, but pause over a number of bracelets, inspect some marked down Christmas ornaments and buy some French wrapping paper. It’s a place I’ll go back to, I’m only sorry it took me so long to go in the first time.

From there to the weird hum of the Goodwill outlet, where I found a blue plaid wool blanket, a poster from a Grand Funk Railroad tour, a first edition of LeRoy Neiman’s Art and Lifestyle, an interesting Melmac tray and a Magnajector. This is a Magnajector.

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From Goodwill to the grocery store, and flush with the unexpected birthday check, I splurge on steaks for us. And a ganache-covered torte to serve as birthday cake.

Birthday dinner, then was sublime. More relaxed than any restaurant and you could go back for seconds. No candles on the torte and no singing (that may have been a misstep) but the cake was awesome.

It was nearly midnight before I sat down to check the computer. There were emails. A couple of texts. Some Facebook messages . . . and more than 150 posts wishing me a happy birthday. Some of them so perfect as to be gifts all in themselves.

Like this one.

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And this one from my friend, Terri, quoting Byron.

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And this one from my pal Mark, noting my return to the water.

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What gift could be better than messages like those from friends like that?

And then I found out all kinds of interesting things about the number 53.

  • It’s the number of an incredible scenic highway in New Mexico.
  • 53 is a prime number.
  • It’s the code for direct-dial calls to Cuba, a place I desperately want to visit.
  • 53 is the racing number for Herbie the Love Bug.
  • The Daily Mail says that 53 is when middle age begins.
  • At 53, Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Ninth Symphony
  • Sidney Sheldon began writing his first novel at 53.
  • Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole at age 53, and that’s how old Walter Hunt was when he invented the safety pin.
  • 53-year-old playwright Vaclav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia.
  • Sue Monk Kidd published her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, at– yep, 53.
  • The atomic number of Iodine is 53. In it’s gaseous state, it’s violet, like the cardigan I’m wearing in the photo above, taken on my 53rd birthday. It is present in ocean water, as I too, would so like to be. But the Egyptian-inspired pool at the Y will have to be a close second.
  • The character of the Grinch (who stole Christmas) is 53.

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As is Dewey Largo, who in the episode of The Simpsons that I just happened to watch on the night of my 53rd birthday, sings “My country ’tis of thee, my job is misery. Life disappointed me, I’m 53 . . . .”

(I think I aged better than Mr. Largo.)

 

Here’s what I know: you are responsible for your own happiness. I had a wonderful happy birthday, because I decided that I would have a wonderful happy birthday. Many, many people, friends and family alike, helped make it even happier. But from the time I got up in the morning I decided to celebrate the day like the present it was.

Today I am still eating birthday cake. Lucky girl.

Writing for Lent

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I’m not Catholic. I almost wrote that I am “not particularly religious,” when I realized how that statement somehow lacks a basic truth.  There have been times that I’ve believed in God, and times that I have not.  It’s not so much that I doubt, it’s that I have simply come to the conclusion that I don’t know, and I am open to whatever the answer turns out to be.  (Except for hellfire and damnation. Even when I did go to church, I went to the Lutheran church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America does not do hellfire and damnation. I understand that even the Pope in Rome is starting to let go of such ideas.) This little essay, then, is not about religion; though it may settle for awhile in a pew, contemplating ritual.

Today is Ash Wednesday. Yesterday, in the throes of Shrove Tuesday, different friends mused about what they would give up for Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Quite a few of them chose chocolate, and that is apparently quite a popular thing to give up for Lent. It used to be that many people gave up eating meat. Some people give up television, or beer, or Facebook. I thought about giving up argument.  This would be a tough one for me. I have a natural tendency to teach; and a very shallow tolerance for ignorance.

But then I did a little research and I discovered something about Lent that I never knew before. (Remember, I didn’t grow up in the church.) The notion of Lent is not just one of penitence, but also one of contributing to the greater good. The whole point of giving up chocolate, or meat, or beer is not just one of self-denial, but is also supposed to  enable you to give those things (or the money you’ve saved from not buying them) to someone in greater need.  Perhaps the question then, for all of us, ought to be not “What are you giving up for Lent?” but “What are you giving for Lent?” In an essay, by the Scottish Vicar Rev. Canon Gordon Reid, he suggests that instead of giving up something for Lent, one can take on something extra, and it too should serve the greater good.

Like the little drummer boy, I have no gold to give. Or meat. Or chocolate for that matter. I have only my song, the drumbeat of my fingers across the keys, the tales of my people, the thoughts in my head and those in my heart. So I am Writing for Lent.

And apparently there is a tradition for writing for Lent. People write daily devotions, they write prayers, they keep special Lenten journals. There is a long-standing custom for people to write letters to those for whom they wanted to mend a difference, often a letter a day to the same person. (Frankly, I can see how that last one might go badly awry.) In each of these instances, the church recommends reflection and repentance. But borrowing a leaf from the Reverend Canon, it seems that my own reflection and repentance is less of a gift to the world than love in all of its myriad forms.

In that spirit, I am going to write a different short essay every day for 40 days, and while I am writing I will try to keep in mind that these are supposed to be for the benefit of others. That is, itself, the greater test. Because certainly there is a selfish component to this as well: I have a much larger project that is overflowing the “in” box, and I have had a very difficult time getting down to it. Sometimes just getting back in the habit of writing every day every day every day can help you find your way to that which truly requires your full attention and best efforts. God only knows I’ve had plenty of excuses for my indolence.

I don’t imagine that I will be able to fulfill the true mission of this every single day. There will be days when I write about things that benefit no one, or perhaps I will write something because I am angry and upset. I am human, and like all the rest of us, I sometimes have feet of clay. But I will try, and in that effort is my humble gift.

The Tea Cup List

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For years, in the quiet hours before New Year’s festivities, I dutifully crafted a list of resolutions, usually on the flyleaf of a brand new journal.  They ran the gamut from good thinking  (“Be comfortable in your own skin”) to the painful (“Find a good man”) to the absurd (“Publish that book of poems.”) Almost without exception they became instead a list of failures, mocking me each time I opened the journal. Good God, who needs that to start the new year? Or any time. Eventually I gave up making resolutions (and became comfortable in my own skin and found a good man) — for that matter I gave up keeping journals: much time is wasted contemplating one’s own belly button.

When I turned 50, it seemed like the right time to make a bucket list, so I did. It’s a good list and it’s holding up well. But a Bucket List is like a Lifetime Achievement award, a road map for the things you’d like to eventually accomplish. Some of them are less practical for the short term.

Last week while making quiche I thought, “this year I’m going to teach myself to make a pie crust that is both dependable and delicious.” This thought was soon followed by another: what else would I like to accomplish in the coming year? The usual self-castigating cast of characters danced their way across my consciousness. “Lose weight!” they sang. “Write every day!” they crooned. “Get your thank you notes sent promptly!” rang out the chorus.  No, no, no. Those are all worthwhile and virtuous. But I want something else. Something fun.

Like a bucket list, but smaller and more immediate. And thus, dear friends, we have it. The Tea Cup List. (And many thanks to my dear friend, Fran Menley, for supplying the name of my wonderful new list for the New Year.)  I hasten to add here that I’m not posting this because I think that you are all so fascinated with what I’d like to do in the year to come, but because I think some of you might want to borrow this idea to make your own happy plans for the new year.

Larkin’s Tea Cup List for 2014

1. Gild the living room ceiling.

I bought the paint for this nearly two years ago. The previous owners of the house painted every surface of the living room a kind of golden ochre, in flat paint. The color works, but the texture is wrong.

2. Throw away all my old tired undies.

You know the ones. A little hole here or there, a stretched out elastic, that pair that was never comfortable. I can either buy new or go without. 

3.  Spend more time with friends.

Facebook alone is not good enough, especially when you compare it to a great meal together or time spent on a treasure hunt. For Trisch, who wrote to say “Come see me in L.A.” and Pam, who wants to share lobster rolls again on PEI, I’m intending to include you in this. Distances may be long, but the will is there. 

4. Go riding once in awhile.

I miss horses. I don’t want to own one again, but I’d love to be  seeing the world through the ears of a horse. 

5. Buy a kitchen torch and use it.

This is actually related to something on my Official Bucket List, which was to make a Baked Alaska, or just eat one. In any case, having a torch is useful. 

6. Take Ransom to the beach.

My Chesapeake Bay Retriever will be 11 in June. He needs another trip to the beach.  We live in Ohio, so the beach is something to be pondered;  though Lake Erie is not that far. There’s always  his ancestral homeland, the Chesapeake Bay. Perhaps I can combine it with Number 7. 

7.  Go to Kitty Hawk.

I’m writing a book about Orville Wright, and I live in the Omphalos of Aviation history. But I have to go to Kitty Hawk all the same. I wish I could take the train there, as he and Wilbur did, but alas, those days are gone. I can however . . . 

8. Take the train to the Library of Congress

The train goes from Cincinnati to Washington for less money than it costs to drive. I figure if I get a room at a hostel and don’t take a car, I can walk to the Library to do the research and I won’t be so tempted to waste time goofing off.  Which brings me to 9…

9. Write Five Days a Week

I am a writer, goddammit. It is my job to write.  This may seem to be one of the Mean Fairies of Resolution, but sometimes just defining how you’re going to do something is an enormous boon to doing it. Plus which, I get two days off. 

10.  Renew my passport, and go.

It makes me uncomfortable, almost itchy, that my passport has expired. Time to get a new one– let’s see, passport number five. Canada is not that far away. 

11.  Find a place to swim.

The old YMCA downtown has a wonderful pool, done up in 1920s Egyptian-inspired tile. Time to join. I bet my friend Martha will go with me. 

12. Re-tile the fireplace in the living room.

Speaking of tile. Our house was built in 1913, as Dayton was recovering from a godawful flood. (And yes, it’s built in the flood plain; which strikes me as a wonderful faith and foolishness combined). Over the years it’s been both well-tended and utterly neglected. The previous owners bought it for a dollar from the city. They did a lot of wonderful work in terms of restoration, but some things were a miss– like the dusty pink bathroom tile they used on the fireplace surround. It’s designed to have tile, just not that tile. 

13. Kiss more.

This is a philosophical position. I don’t have to be quite so prickly. 

14. Explore more.

There are so many things left to discover ’round these parts that it still feels like we just moved here. It’s been nearly six years.  Long past time to make time to see flea markets, abandoned watercraft, draft horse farms, haunted places, coonhound gatherings, caverns, dives, and museums of the obscure. I want to go to Henry’s and eat pie. 

15 .  Learn to make a pie crust that is dependable and delicious.

Object Lesson

Or: Why Did Beyonce Want to Dress Like That?

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One of the first things that a friend of mine posted about Beyonce’s half-time extravaganza was that it was “not as skanky as Madonna’s.”  I admit, I didn’t see Madonna’s contribution to Super Bowl history, but it’s a little hard to see how it could be more “skanky” unless she actually took off her clothes and surely even I would have heard about that. Maybe it was the make-up. Beyonce was sporting that sort of “fresh-faced”-Clearasil-wholesome look from the neck up, totally at odds with what was going on below her chin.

After the Super Bowl was over, nearly 10,000 people– most of them women– commented on the Facebook page “Binders Full of Women” (named in honor of that comment by you-know-who) about Beyonce’s performance and there was a definite divide. Love her or hate her, why was she dressed like that?  Or maybe “undressed like that” is more accurate. Some women defended the singer’s choice of wardrobe. Others were horrified. I’ll say this for the costume– wearing that no one would notice if she was lip-syncing or not. The founder of “Binders Full of Women” finally came out and stamped her foot saying that “Slut Shaming” was not permitted there.

Oh, okay.

Well, for starters, I don’t like referring to women as sluts, or skanks or whores or hoes or whathaveyou based on what they’re wearing. (Yes, I did famously say to my 13-year-old stepdaughter who came home wearing a skirt that didn’t quite cover her pudenda, high heels and bright red lipstick that “If you dress like a whore, people will treat you like a whore.”  But that was after the gentle heartfelt talk on the same subject the day before and she was a child and it is our job to instruct our children so they don’t grow up to dress like Beyonce.) Seriously, though– grown-up, successful, strong women can wear anything they damn well please.

So why would she choose that warm leatherette and lace ensemble that someone described as a “wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen”?  Is her singing not enough? Is she not comfortable enough in her own beautiful skin to dress a little  less, er -provocatively?  Honey, I’ve been in strip clubs, and that’s how those women dress, at least at the beginning of their sets. Is this a condemnation of American men that they can’t be entertained by anything short of a stripper? 

Funny thing is that so much sex is used to sell commodities in America that I was not particularly scandalized by the half-time show. The camera work and pyrotechnics reminded me of nothing so much as a Pepsi commercial, which can’t be coincidental. I probably wouldn’t have even thought much about her mixed message. She was not presenting herself as a powerful and strong and accomplished woman, but as a sex object. I’m not sure that would have even registered if not for Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys.Unknown

Before the Super Bowl, Jennifer Hudson joined a chorus of children from Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing “America the Beautiful,” an experience she described as “emotional” and “overwhelming.” Even the players lined up on the sidelines wept. But at no time did we think we might get a glimpse of something naughty. Jennifer looked like someone you could take home for Sunday lunch after church. Not dowdy by any stretch, but appropriate for what she was asked to do.

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ersAlicia Keys was on hand to perform the National Anthem. There has no suggestion that any lip-syncing was involved, as Alicia Keys delivered a quiet and elongated rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  Hell, that brought football players to tears too. Seated at her piano, she would have been at home in any concert hall any place in the world. Those two women clearly didn’t feel that they needed to dress “sexy” (as Bey puts it) in order to entertain the millions tuned in for the Big Game. I guess their performances were validation enough.

Perhaps Beyonce herself said it best in a Tumblr message after the game: “What a proud day for African-American women. Kelly, Michelle, Alicia, J. Hud, you are all beautiful, talented and showed so much class!” [emphasis added]

So I get it that the suggestive clothing is part of Beyonce’s persona, it’s her schtick, but what message does that send to those little girls everywhere who idolize her?  That a good voice, a pretty face and a modicum of talent are not enough– that you have to sell “it” every minute of the day if you want to be worth $350 million dollars? There’s been some righteous criticism that Beyonce does not do enough to send a message of empowerment to her fans. Now that she’s a mother with a daughter, maybe she ought to take a long hard look at exactly what it is that she’s selling.

You Are Beautiful

We have a figure of the Travelocity gnome in the downstairs bathroom. When someone passes by in just the right manner, a motion detector plays a phrase, which makes it seem like the gnome is talking to you. My husband sets it off more than anyone. This morning when I was brushing my hair, the little gnome said “Your hair looks lovely. You’ve lost weight. Yes, that top does go with those pants.”  I couldn’t help, I beamed. It might have chosen another phrase at random, like “I’m feeling rather sexy” or “Shake hands? Just kidding.” There is something wonderful about being told that your hair looks lovely.

This made me think of “You are beautiful,” a grass-roots project to spread the message that, well, you are beautiful. For a decade now, they’ve spread the message through hundreds of thousands of stickers (available by writing them at You Are Beautiful, P.O. Box 220175, Chicago, IL 60622) and by spotlighting the work of artists around the world who are getting out the message of positive self-realization. It’s the very embodiment of a simple act of kindness. We so often see only the flaws in ourselves, things often invisible to others. We delay living our lives until we are thinner. We neglect the beauty that is within each one of us. You Are Beautiful. It’s an important message. Maybe if we see it enough, we’ll begin to believe it.

Target today 70. Steps 6736

Breakfast: two pecan pancakes, half cup of cottage cheese.  Lunch: tomato garden vegetable soup, two vegetable medallions, an ounce of smoked salmon, half an ounce of vegetable pate, quarter cup of shrimp salad. Dinner: three eggs, yogurt with granola. 

 

A Glimpse in the Mirror

It’s not that I’m afraid of mirrors. There are some in the house. There’s even a full-length mirror in my son’s room, though you’d have to move a hell of a lot of stuff out of the way to get a look. But I find that I avoid them, because what I see in them frightens me. This is not eisoptrophobia, the clinical anxiety of mirrors, which seems to find its roots in the supernatural. (A brief perusal on the topic finds one afflicted young woman after another commenting that when she looks in the mirror, something else is looking back. Not to make light of it, I’m sure it’s a crippling problem, but this made me think of the response that puppies have when they first see themselves in a mirror.)

Over the years I’ve made a lot of self-portraits in mirrors, or reflective sheets of glass (like a plate-glass window) or even my reflection on the surface of smooth water. If I have time to compose, I can look. I can even study. But God forbid I catch a glimpse of myself in a department store mirror, or in some other similarly unguarded moment. It’s horrifying. Who is that woman? Today I experienced a riff on that with the new phone, which has a dandy gadget on it so that you can take pictures of yourself, and see what you look like while you do so. Mary, Mother of God, help me. Do I really look like that?

Okay, so it was late in the afternoon on a humid Ohio August day. My hair, graying at the roots and temples and hairline, was frizzy. It was shoved off my face by readers perched on top of my head. Whatever little makeup I slapped on this morning was long gone and my eyes looked small and plain and raw. What happened to the contours of my face– those once smooth plains are wrinkled and puckered , my face sags and droops and seems “lumpy” somehow. Who is that? It can’t be me.

The full length version isn’t much better. Despite my efforts over the last months and the moderate success I’ve enjoyed, I look and I think “How can I look that bad?” Because when I compose myself in front of a mirror, I don’t. My brain edits out the bad parts. I cock my head this way and then that way and I think “Okay, not too bad for 50.”  But when I catch a glimpse of  it in the mirror it’s more like “not too bad for seventy.”

I’m two pounds away from my 30-pound-prize: it’s a mirror, from IKEA. I’d like to say something profound about making peace with our fears, or coming to terms with one’s self– but you and I both know it’s not like that. This big mirror will be like the others in the house– safe enough. It’s those lurking outside that I worry about.

Today’s target 72.  Steps 2595

Breakfast: yogurt with granola. Lunch: fish sandwich, two cups watermelon, Dinner: 4 ounces ground beef pattie, half an avocado, two hard-boiled eggs, ear of corn, six ounces of raspberries