November Means Make-Up


Every November I buy make-up. Which is weird, because I don’t wear make-up. But the skies go grey and the ‘day goes dismal’ (Hello, Joni Mitchell!) and out comes my credit card and down goes my bank balance and up goes the number of small tubes and tubs on my dresser.

Here is a picture of the packaging from my latest purchase.

My youngest child has modified it to make it look more ‘fashion’ and will probably use it to hold cicada shells and gum wrappers. Because she is a child and children understand things better than most people.

I was drawn to this particular brand because of its promise to make me ‘more myself’ instead of covering up my essential me-ness. What does that even mean? I dunno, but it worked. I paid my money; I received some boxes of magic in the mail. (Ok, I do know. It means it will make me look like a me who has had a good night’s sleep and drunk a lot of green smoothies. It will make me look like a me who doesn’t use salt and vinegar chips and Netflix as stress relief instead of yoga. It will make me look like a me who has time to plump and preen, and cares about how moisturizers really work.)

Here is another way to distract from dark under eye circles:

The other day a colleague took me to task for using the phrase ‘lived reality’. Because: redundant. Because: of course reality is lived, right? I dunno. The real me who lives in my head is not always the real me who lives in the mirror.

I am 47 years old. I have lost a parent suddenly, birthed two children and two books (all without meds; ill-advised), survived a spectacular nervous breakdown, taught for over a decade in the public school system, lived with the same wonderful, infuriating (y’know, human) partner for over fifteen years, and been privy to many joys and satisfactions, both deep and fleeting.

It would be strange if that shit didn’t show up on my face.

Here is a picture of me, sans-make-up, post-marking-binge, at my desk at work doing what my daughter assures me is a very poor ‘visage de canard’.

So what’s up with me and make-up? Well, friends, the pressure is real. We are supposed to look flawless, young, light-skinned, rich, desirable. Whatevs. Note that one of my lovely teenaged students recently told me she wanted a nose job, because her nose is ‘too Arab’. Even though I am middle-aged, I am also white and waspy-featured, so the pressure for me is much, much less real than it is for a lot of other people. Also, the crappy YouTube videos are legion (except for this one; this one’s so NOT crappy). And it is November in Toronto, you dig? So I am vulnerable to marketing (go away corporate internet spies; I’m wise to your game) and I am too poor for plastic surgery. Besides, I am a feminist and all that.

So/but, for a few months of the year, on the days I have the time and the inclination, I do wear make-up. I don’t really notice it so much once I have it on, and if it persists, I’m usually too lazy to take it off, but I love the putting on part.

I have never been one for affirmations — no positive messaging while I get all Narcissus on my face. And I love fairy tales, but they’re not life instruction manuals. I think humans in general are pretty fucking beautiful; therefore, absolutely no ‘fairest of them all’ queries while mirror-gazing.

But, the feeling of it, finger tips to skin, spreading sweet-smelling stuff that promises an ideal essence de moi, tinted, scented lip balm, mascara wand (!) coaxing eyelashes into existence…

Here I am. Here I am. How do you do?





Duck face game officially UPPED.



The 49th Shelf: Reading My Way Through Motherhood

I’ve written a post about Canadian books that have bolstered or challenged me as a mother.  It’s up now at 49th Shelf.  Go take a peek, but be warned, there are a lot of cool things to look at 0ver there — it won’t be a quick visit!  An excerpt:

Breastfeeding Blues

Two poems about breastfeeding, from two fantastic collections have been touchstones of sorts for me during those first beautiful – and, let’s face it, often marathon and mind-numbingly boring – breastfeeding sessions.

Book Cover A Fortress of Chairs

A Fortress of Chairs : Elisabeth Harvor’s poems are notable for their moody sense of the physical; I love how she finds sensuality in the everyday and explores the female body in a way that is both wanton and careful. The poem ‘Madame Abundance’ is a gorgeous, unsettling, sleepy meditation on what it means to nourish a baby – and how closely this action hews to the baby’s beginnings.

Book Cover Joy is So Exhausting

Joy is so Exhausting: This collection was a revelation to me. It’s a book whose tongue is out waggling at the world when not firmly planted in cheek. I adore its intelligent play and the way it worships words and excavates essential truths through mischievous humour. But in the context of this list, it is the prose poem ‘Nursery’ that shines. Structured around the back-and-forthing of a feed, and addressed to the narrator’s baby, the poem is an unpretentious meditation on what it means to be so essential, so connected, so literally and figuratively drained that your story becomes inextricably twined (and twinned) with your baby’s rhythms. And it’s funny!

Here’s a taste (81): Right: I’m no athlete but I could pitch for the La Leche League. Left: All soft skin similes would have nowhere to go but right back to you. Right: Imprint of my sweatshirt zipper across your chin, Frankenstein’s baby. Left: You thrash around in your sleep until one leg flaps flat and the other is packed with knees.

Read the rest here.