A Diamond in the Rough

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Sally Jewell enjoying the great outdoors

You may remember hearing about Sally Jewell, the former REI head who was confirmed last month as Secretary of the Interior.  This certainly seems like a wise choice for those of us who cherish the environment. I particularly bonded with her take on various subjects as noted in an interview in today’s New York Times.  Specifically…

*I generally read for learning and inspiration and not so much for recreation.

* I have a very hard time sitting still watching a movie or watching TV. I prefer getting out into nature. And you have a relationship with people that is different when you connect in a natural setting…There will be more meetings at Interior that are outside instead of inside, if I have anything to do with it.

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Me, brother-in-law Bill and sister-in-law Jane hiking in Yorkshire, England last summer

PS–It’s volunteer madness time right now so posting is sporadic at best. Just didn’t want you who are pining for my prose to think I had abandoned the Good Ship Golden Oldy. Hope to be sailing on those frothy seas soon.

Hate that Gray? No!

Twofer — Loving Care gets hubby into the act in 1963. He’s that fellow lower left with the bags under his eyes and the rewarding caption: “Makes your husband feel younger too…just to look at you!” Where was “Mad Men’s” Peggy Olson when we needed her pointed pen!!

Did you get the news flash? Researchers from the UK and Germany report that people’s hair goes gray because of massive oxidative stress caused by a build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out. Now here’s the thing, these scientific types say that this massive build up of hydrogen peroxide can be reversed with a UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS. I won’t bore you with the details cause I don’t understand them, never having excelled in the lab.

What's to hate?

What’s to hate?

The question is will this so-called cure (when and if it makes it to the marketplace) send those who have been wedded to their colorists for years fleeing? Who knows.

I stopped “streaking/high-lighting” my hair 7 or 8 years ago. Enough already with the chemicals, the $$$ outlay. To rest my case: In 1958, Marilyn Monroe’s hair was “falling out from overbleaching and overperming,” comes the news from Kenneth Battelle’s obituary which ran in today’s New York Times. During the Loving Care Era, Kenneth, as this Count of Coiffeurs was known, had the A++ list of clients including Jacqueline Kennedy. He fixed Marilyn’s tresses, the obit reveals,  by “restoring their soft luster.” I guess with softer chemicals? But I digress.

I see gray as another kind of lightening up. It can’t come in fast enough for me. The reddish-brown thing works for my brother, 69, also practically gray-less. But on me it’s just dullsville.

My gray matter -- that lock to the left and inching up around the ears

My gray matter — that lock to the left and inching up around the ears

I gravitate to the hair care aisle in the drugstore looking for some potion (chemical-free!) not to color the gray, wash it away, but to enhance it. Heads shake when I reveal my mission, eye brows arch in surprise with a look that says what a misguided soul.

Seeing Gray Light–Marie Antoinette at 13 wearing the coif of the day

For some, staying gray means letting go of one more chore: that visit to the colorist. Others like the “authoritative” message it conveys or the realness of it. I cringe when I see hair color that shouts sham, pale unnatural shades or those lifeless coal black helmets.

Earlier this year, the photographer Vicki Topaz, in her mid-sixties, had an exhibit of her work featuring portraits of graying women. “Silver: a State of Mind” was viewable at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA. “These are women who have fun,”  Topaz told The New York Times. “They’re confident and at ease with being who they are.” Works for me.

Looking Good in Gray — Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”

Postscript…So, we’re sitting at dinner the other night and Jack says, “Are you streaking your hair again?” After I picked myself off the floor, I said no. “Yes, you are,” he says not convinced that I was being my truthful self. “I can see the blonde.” My gray was passing for blonde! Yes! Of course, this coming from a man who never knows I’ve been to the hairdresser. “Looks the same to me,” is the refrain post every visit to the coif cutter. Go figure.

Every Step you take…

Nuptial Day October 1988 -- John Gordon, Zachary, Jack, the bride and Stephanie

Nuptial Day October 1988 — John Gordon, Zachary, Jack, the bride and Stephanie

Divorced with children. Now there’s a dating category  fraught with complications. One thinks ahead to the possible next step in the relationship hierarchy: married with stepchildren.

Oh, the gothic tales you’d hear from friends dating/living with fellows with children. “They’re so mean, rude, manipulative,” they’d moan about these off-spring. They were the kind that put you in the me or them mode…not a good place to be with Mr. Right – potential or hooked.

And one, thankfully, that I have never found myself in, going on 25 years as a stepmother. The trio I inherited – Stephanie, John Gordon and Zachary – was welcoming from day one. Sure, it’s had its dicey moments – that middle, kind of no women’s land you navigate during graduations, weddings. And now, what do the littlest ones call this quasi grandparent? That would be me: Granny Goof, Gigi or GG.

So on this Mother’s Day – er Stepmother’s Day – I’d like to praise all my stepchildren & their spouses & their children! Many choice memories over the last QUARTER OF A CENTURY – yikes!, but here are some that standout with current photos of this golden gang.

Ever curious Zachary who once told me he would read the Yellow Pages just cause – well – you never know what you might learn. Summer '030042Talk about a snooze-producing endeavor, but I loved that. Not as much though as the email he sent me in June of 2008 thanking me for “my support” during the two years a teenage Zach lived with Jack and me in Ashland, OR.

P1030679The first phone call with Stephanie. Now I would have come close to killing my father with this caper. Jack and I are chatting one day – he in his store in Boulder, me in my office in New York. Stephanie walks in to his store and he says, “Here, speak to Pamela.” There’s a fun assignment, make nice with the girlfriend over the phone. But not a grumpy tone in her voice which I would so have been guilty of in her place. She was her bubbly, friendly, warm self. She was Stephanie.

Back to Oregon. John Gordon was visiting  and there was some near disaster in the kitchen which COLO '10, J's 70th 024became quite smoke filled – like the oven was going to blow up or something. First thing I know is that John Gordon rushes over to me and whisks me out of harm’s way.

I’m one lucky gal.

E Gatz!!!

“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

“The Great Gatsby,” Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy  film in 3-D arrives at a theater near you today, trailing enough PR and big-name tie-ins to fill  “that colossal affair” known as Gatsby’s mansion. Some critics have called it vulgar, but The New York Times is more charitable, labeling it “an eminently enjoyable movie,” that with its fantastical scenes mirrors Gatsby’s inauthentic character. I wouldn’t miss it.

We heard from the grumped-up booksellers, those purists who had no intention of peddling the “God-awful” newest edition of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, cloaked in  graphic black and gold  with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby front & center surrounded by assorted characters.

The newest edition of "The Great Gatsby" to tie-in with the film

The newest edition of “The Great Gatsby” to tie-in with the film

In 1925, when it was reviewed in The New York Times, Edwin Clark called the novel, “a curious book, a mystical, glamourous story of today.” And glamour is in no short supply in Gatsby’s  latest  star turn on the screen and off.

We could “experience the Gatsby Collection” at Brooks Brothers.  Many of the men’s costumes in the film were inspired by images and products from Brooks’s archives. And why not? Catherine Martin, the film’s costume designer, has noted that BB is mentioned in the novel and that Fitzgerald was even a customer of the men’s emporium.

A pink stripe linen jacket and matching trousers, $996, at Brooks Brothers

 The Savoy Headpiece at Tiffany & Co.

The Savoy Headpiece at Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co gave us “Jazz Age Glitter.”  The Savoy Headpiece, left, can be yours for $200,000.

Vogue splashed Carey Mulligan, the film’s Daisy Buchanan, on its cover this month and devoted 10 more pages inside to “The Greatest Gatsby.”

Carey Mulligan in "Vogue"

Carey Mulligan in “Vogue”

Women’s Wear Daily paraded the results of a shrewd collaboration between Catherine Martin and Miuccia Prada who got together to dress the Gatsby party gals.

These flappers are in frenzied form on the dance floor of Gatsby’s ballroom, jettisoned on by Jay-Z’s hip-hop infused soundtrack.

And what an appropriate  musical choice: Luhrmann has said that Jay (previously known as Shawn Carter) bonded with the novel’s Jay, who before cavorting on Long Island’s Gold Coast went by James Gatz.

 Gatsby's party girls beautifully rendered in "WWD" by the great fashion illustrator Steven Stipelman

Gatsby’s party girls beautifully rendered in “WWD” by the great fashion illustrator Steven Stipelman

As I soaked in all these things “Gatsby” 2013, I revisited the last “Gatsby” film. Made almost 40 years ago, it starred Robert Redford whom I had a hard time imagining as  Gatsby when I interviewed him for W two years before the film’s cameras began to roll.

"The Great Gatsby" then and now...Robert Redford as Gatsby in the 1974 film; being interviewed about the film two years earlier in his westernized Fifth Ave. apartment, complete with Kachina (Indian) dolls and sage bush; Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 version

“The Great Gatsby” then and now…Robert Redford as Gatsby in the 1974 film; being interviewed about the film two years earlier in his westernized Fifth Ave. apartment, complete with Kachina (Indian) dolls and sage bush; Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 version

One still wonders how enthused he was about the part. In his recent documentary, “All the President’s Men Revisted,” which looks back on that classic film about Watergate, Redford reminds us that the Watergate hearings were playing in real time while the actor was filming “Gatsby.” “I watched the hearings to keep from going mad,” he says.

About Daisy, the part which would be played by Mia Farrow, Redford noted how elusive a character she was  in the novel. “It’s hard to find Daisy. Not any one part of her is best. She has a quality to drive you mad.”

Will Mulligan drive film audiences wild as a believable  obsession that leads to Gatsby’s tragic demise? In the novel, we read how alone Gatsby was in death with a funeral practically as sparsely attended as Fitzgerald’s where even the pallbearers  needed to be hired. Now that’s tragic.

“A little before three the Lutheran minister arrived from Flushing, and I began to look involuntarily out the windows for other cars,” Nick Carraway tells us. “So did Gatsby’s father. And as the time passed and the servants came in and stood waiting in the hall, his eyes began to blink anxiously, and he spoke of the rain in a worried, uncertain way. The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn’t any use. Nobody came.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald's tombstone in Rockville, MD engraved with the final line of the novel

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tombstone in Rockville, MD engraved with the final line of the novel

Come together, right now…

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman share a moment in "All the President's Men" - note the typewriter

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman share a moment in “All the President’s Men” – note the typewriter

I knew it! It was just a matter of time before those glassy-eyed, 24/7 internet trollers and “solopreneurs” working from home would  emerge from their solitary caves seeking company. So now we have a host of co-working places such as NeueHouse on East 25th St. in New York. NeueHouse claims to be “a complete rethinking of the ideal working environment for today’s creators” who

The Upper Livingroom at NeueHouse which describes itself as a "private membership work collective"

The Upper Livingroom at NeueHouse which describes itself as a “private membership work collective”

presumably are tired of  sitting around home in their P.J.’s or are just lonely. Many workers, The New York Times reported when alerting us to this trend, say “they need a hive to be happy and productive.” Duh!

Whenever I grouse about the lack of Continuing Ed opportunities on the Island, I get this chorus of: “Take an online course.” What, no interaction in the flesh from the other “students?”  No scholarly community? Just whom am I going to bond with in a virtual classroom, my computer screen?

Full disclosure: When I arrived at Fairchild Publication’s Women’s Wear Daily   in New York in the last century and was faced with a sea of ugly metal desks, ringing telephones (Remember those?) and booming voices,  I panicked.

How does one work here, I asked myself. Long a lover of the libraryesque quiet work place, this scene was my worst nightmare. But with survival skills in high gear, I got over fearing the ruckus and found, as time passed, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Looks like they didn't have AC either -- A community of reporters in the late Thirties

Looks like they didn’t have AC either — A community of reporters in the late Thirties

That became painfully clear when I went the corporate route, exchanging the hustle and bustle of 7 E. 12th St for solitary confinement, high up in the General Motors building on Fifth Ave., home to Clinique, one of the many Estee Lauder brands.

On a clear day, you could see New Jersey across the Hudson from my very own office in the public relations department. Forget the view! Let’s talk about the electric typewriter, push-button phone, AC and a SECRETARY — all novelties. But, gee, it was quiet. So, when the call came asking me to return to the Fairchild fold (with the perk of a cut in salary), I couldn’t head downtown fast enough. I was going home.

Guess you had to get dressed up at "Women's Wear Daily," friends would say. Not really.

Guess you had to get dressed up at “Women’s Wear Daily,” friends would say. Not really.

Take Note

Never Leave Home Without Them...My Moleskine Cahiers, repositories for  blog posting thoughts. A Diana Vreeland quote, from the "Eye has to Travel," is scrawled across an index card during a cahier-missig moment!

Never Leave Home Without Them…My Moleskine Cahiers, repositories for blog posting thoughts. A Diana Vreeland quote, from the “Eye has to Travel,” is scrawled across an index card during a cahier-missing moment!

I always pounce on the Wall Street Journal’s “Weekend Edition” to zero in on its  “Off Duty” and “Review” sections, gems for the culturally curious. This weekend did not disappoint for there was the novelist and essayist Paul Theroux penning the “Word Craft” column, specifically opining on why he spends “nearly all of my traveling life with a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.”

Oh happy day, another note-taker and one of literary fame. Leave the computer (and a host of other electronic devices he lists) at home, Theroux urges: “No electronics…just ink and paper.” And love this: “A notebook takes on a friendly character, the patina of its daily use, its doodles and coffee stains. It becomes an indispensable artifact of the trip, glowing with revelation.”

And speaking of trips, “The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari,” Theroux’s latest odyssey, hits bookstores Tuesday.

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Theroux may be the ultimate traveling man, as evidenced by his writings. Maybe it’s the Cancerian in me, but I’m a nester and always feel just a little bit off when I’m not writing in that room of my own, surrounded by my stuff  – photos, file folders, chotskies and books galore.

Some of my stuff in the room of my own

Some of my stuff in A Room of My Own