Tag Archive: chick lit


And just because you’re old and celibate doesn’t give you the right to act however yod
want, lady. I’m of un certain age and celibate (not by choice, of course) and still manage to get along in polite society^

I guess you could call Trixie ( dog) my third best friend because no matter what I do, what I say, or the kind of day I’ve had, she loves me unconditionally.

People who have been married have a sort of telepathy and now we were communicating without saying too much.

I chewed and thought about his question. Was it time to move on? I didn’t know. I did know that I missed Crawford terribly and hoped I would hear  from him. I wished I was more twenty-first century and could pick up the phone and call him myself, but I always hesitated; I don’t know why.

The thing that saved me was the fact that I was bilingual, having been raised in a French-speaking household, and I could sometimes figure things out without killing too many brain cells.

What I remember about Peter was that he was always trying to get me to ride in his Trans Am and that I always declined. Even then, when I should have been throwing caution to the wind and living the life of a carefree coed, my common sense ruled. I had been right about him all along but it still didn’t explain to me why this seemingly bright, attractive woman had ended up with him.

It would take about forty-five minutes to get to Boscobel, and factoring in picnic time, I figured we should leave my house a little before five. I told   her that I would buy dinner and prepare it.”Of course you will. If you leave it up to me, we’ll be eating stale Wheat Thins and drinking flat Diet Coke.” She hung up without saying good-bye.that’s her trademark. No beginnings and no endings.

I tried to think about something sad, willing tears to my eyes. The best I could conjure up was the feeling I get when I watch the first Rocky .Between his love for mousy Adrian and his inability to form a complete, cohesive thought, I was a sucker for his plight. I thought about Rocky in his boxing shorts and my eyes welled up. Thinking about Sylvester Stallone’s post-Rocky career probably would have produced more genuine sadness and tears but that didn’t occur to me at the time. It wasn’t exactly an award-winning performance but the doorman looked at me with something approaching sympathy.

Nothing says sexy like someone who reads obtuse Irish writers
“‘Love loves to love love. And this person loves that other person because everybody loves somebody but God loves everybody,'” he said, a faint  blush appearing on his cheeks as it may have occurred to him that quoting Joyce was either a show-offy move or one that would give me the wrong impression of our first date .Neither possibility crossed my mind. “I’m impressed,” I said, and it was the truth. Not only did he quote correctly, but it was a quote from well into the text.

She nodded and took a long sip from her water glass. “I’m all right with everything.” She smiled, a little sad, but resigned to the truth: her parents were better off apart. And as divorced, or almost-divorced, families went, theirs was pretty functional. Neither parent used Meaghan or her sister to their own gain, they saw their father as much as they possibly could given his crazy work schedule, and their parents seemed to genuinely like each other, ever if they didn’t love each other anymore. There were no financial issues to speak of; their father took very good care of them and made sure they wanted foT
nothing. There was no ill will or resentment in the air when their parents spoke. As she tried to tell Erin, it could be much, much worse. She gave her father a punch in the arm. “And frankly, Dad, you need a woman. You’re getting awfully cranky.

Our school has an unwritten motto: “Keep your alumnae close and your rich alumnae closer.

I was also upset that I seemed to be falling apart. I had always thought of myself as a relatively strong person: I had weathered the deaths of both my
parents before I was thirty, endured a marriage to a man who humiliated me with his actions at least once a year, put myself through graduate school while  working full-time, and gotten a doctorate in the shortest amount of time possible. Now, I was involved in something totally out of my realm of experience and the thought of it made me sick and more than a little crazed.The weather was beautiful: bright, sunny, and clear, and in direct contrast to my mood: dark, cloudy, and complicated. I was furious at Max for leaving  me on Broadway, and I was mad at myself for allowing her to convince me to do something I knew wasn’t right.Kathy’s death also weighed heavily on my  mind. Parents sent their children to our school thinking they would be safe: a Catholic institution, a long tradition of graduating strong, independent women  (and a few men), and a peaceful setting all contributed to a feeling of safety and well-being.

We spent an hour or so stocking up on cosmetics and hair accessories at Sephora, the large cosmetics retailer on the bottom floor. Max’s hair was only a few inches long, but she bought some jeweled barrettes and some kind of turban that she said was essential to making home facials successful. We wandered around the bath aisle, finally picking up some kind of shower gel that promised, “serenity, sensuality, and a feeling of well-being.” Whatever. I[
smelled like coconut. I also picked a lipstick called Jennifer, which was a muted peachy brown and not nearly dramatic enough for Max who stuck heO
tongue out in disgust when I showed it to her.

The waiter arrived and we placed our order: me, the usual, and Max, a medium cheddar burger with fries and a chocolate shake. She looked at me and said, “I didn’t have breakfast,” as a way of explaining her large order. She’s one of those people who eats to excess and remains a size four; if I hadn’t witnessed her hedonism over the last twenty years, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. But she ate and drank to excess five out of seven nights never exercised, and still looked amazing.

I wasn’t feeling so lighthearted. I looked around the restaurant, feeling vulnerable, exposed, and a bit sad. Max was like Teflon–everything slid off her\
She didn’t seem affected by anything and found humor in almost everything. And right now, she wasn’t even sensitive enough to shut her trap and notice
that I was scared.

I guess she wasn’t as dense as I thought. She had been right there with me, all the time.

“Are you always this controlling?” I asked.”Are you always this stubborn?” He drove to my house and pulled up in front.

I could become a beer drinker in my new life as a single thirtysomething. I imagined myself at singles’ parties, hoisting beers, a big grin on my face, telling  jokes and meeting lots of other single people. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. As long as I had beer and a few single friends, I could live the life of a single woman.

She popped the trunk from inside the car and got out to retrieve her packages and her computer. Based on years of experience, I knew that we would be having a fashion show later when she modeled all of her new purchases.

‘And then did you go to Cambridge?’ asked Stanislas, looking up at Daisy. ‘I spent a summer there once. It is quite a beautiful place.’
‘Oh, no!’ Daisy shook her head, laughing.
‘So you went to Oxford? That is also good, I think.’
‘No! Nothing like that! I went to university in Bangor. I wanted to do media studies, though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I thought it sounded cool. But actually I got bored with it, so one day I was in Harvey Nichols – a really great department store in London – and I just got a job there, which was excellent fun for a while. And then there was this girl I knew who was going for a job in fashion PR and then she was like, “Oh, I’m suddenly going to Thailand to travel,” so she went to Thailand and I went to the interview instead. Voilà.’
Everyone looked astonished at this, except round-faced fifteen-year-old Amélie, who looked dazzled.
‘You English!’ Agathe said, looking at Daisy with a brilliant smile. ‘You are so eccentric!’
There was a short silence.
‘I suppose,’ Clothaire said from behind his copy of Le Monde Diplomatique, ‘this proves that the British really are an empirical people. Nothing has changed since the eighteenth century.’

‘But Clothaire is very romantic, isn’t he?’
Octave raised his eyebrows. ‘Clothaire, romantic? Not really. Completely tyrannique, in fact.’
Daisy was beginning to see Isabelle’s relationship with Clothaire in a different light. ‘So you think that he doesn’t appreciate Isabelle?’
‘Well, he appreciates some things. He likes to have a pretty girlfriend. She dresses with elegance and she is a good cook. And she is very intelligent, so when they get married and have dinners, she will be a good hostess.’
Daisy was shocked. ‘That sounds dreadful! Why is she with him?’
‘Good question. Clothaire is quite an interesting guy, but he is so pompous. I think Isabelle is too good for him. But women are strange sometimes.’ Octave smiled at Daisy. ‘You never know what they are thinking.’

Paris Fashion Week was in full swing and she was meeting Anouk to go to a couple of shows. Afterwards they were having tea at Ladurée, where, if they were in luck, they might catch a glimpse of fashion royalty – Mario Testino, perhaps, or Anna Wintour – sitting incongruously in the midst of soignées Parisiennes and their poodles. It was quite a place for fashion moments even out of show season. Daisy had once seen an old lady dressed entirely in shocking pink, hat and gloves included, order a plate of tiny magenta-coloured raspberry and cherry macaroons and feed them discreetly to her basset – who sat quietly beneath the table wearing a small pink coat.
Daisy did not believe in dressing down for the shows: it had to be designer battledress, and preferably by someone only the cognoscenti would be able to identify. She settled on a black high-necked, slim-hipped and belted coat dress by Savage from two seasons ago, worn with long black boots. It was a sample that had never actually gone into production, a unique piece embroidered with intricate braids of stiff black horsehair. Oh yes, it looked good. It did sort of say ‘kiss the whip, slave’ but then again that look always went down well in the fashion world. Daisy cocked her head to one side: perhaps she looked a touch too strict? She needed a frivolous touch – her flashing heart-shaped brooch, of course!

Savage, Chrissie had explained, wanted to steer clear of ‘the tent’, the marquee erected outside the Natural History Museum in Kensington, where London Fashion Week set up temporary home twice a year. That was too soulless and corporate for her, apparently. What she wanted instead was to show in a space that ‘felt like home’. Savage must be somewhat spéciale, Isabelle thought while surveying the enormous low-lit warehouse littered with mysterious remnants of defunct machinery and smelling vaguely of dust and chemicals.
She turned to Jules. ‘It is a bit sinister, this place.’
‘Never let it be said of Savage that she doesn’t like things edgy.’
‘It seems a little bizarre to invite people here for this. Isn’t Whitechapel where there was … you know … Jack the Ripper?’
‘Oh yes, absolutely. You can practically feel his presence at your elbow, can’t you? It really gives you gooseflesh.’ Jules looked around appreciatively. ‘This is more of a Silence of the Lambs sort of setting, though.’

‘Actually, I long to know about the origins of the band. How did you guys meet? Tell all.’
‘Whitby,’ Karloff said enigmatically.
‘I don’t understand,’ Isabelle said in confusion.
Jules turned towards her. ‘Whitby in Yorkshire is where Dracula’s boat landed in England.’
Isabelle stared at her blankly.
‘In the book, darling, the novel by Bram Stoker,’ Chrissie said between sips of tea.
Jules and Karloff nodded vigorously.
‘So Whitby is a place of pilgrimage,’ Chrissie pursued, warming to his theme. ‘Like a gothic Ibiza. Everyone wears black. Everyone is pale, dark and interesting. The sky is leaden. There is a graveyard with higgledy-piggledy tombstones. It’s freezing cold. A great time is had by all.

So far, her Sparkle blogs had flowed out in a frenzy of excitement. This one was much harder going. She stared listlessly out of the window of Isabelle’s study and wrapped her fluffy pink dressing gown more closely around her. For the first time since moving to Paris she felt very chilly. Perhaps the notes she’d made at the shows would provide some inspiration. She turned the pages of her pad and typed in whatever seemed vaguely relevant:
Patent everything – shiny shiny shiny.
Nude tights in/bare legs out.
Soft pale grey is new black?
The new black, really? Whatever. It was hard to care at the moment. Daisy paused and looked out of the window. Outside the sky was just that newly fashionable shade of grey. It looked like it was going to rain in a minute. She turned another page and typed in:
Vintage returns with contemporary, slouchy edge.
Airport chic – French pleats and turquoise mascara.
Seven-inch heels on pain of social death – five at a push.
Key look of the season: think Sophia Loren meets Hello Kitty.
Dullsville, all of it. What else? Oh yes:
Best party: launch of Ça pue, non? Revolutionary new perfume that smells like petrol. Brilliant party food – experimental canapés, some delicious, others disgusting, laid on giant Perpex table like snakes and ladders board.

‘Do not take it too personally. There have been so many others. The thing about French men is that they are very proud of being misogynists. They are always talking about la misogynie this, la misogynie that. They find it hilarious.’

fragrant always.’
‘Good for you,’ Tom Quince said, nodding. He looked at Clothaire. ‘Not a florist, by the way, a gardener.’
Clothaire snorted.
Tom Quince ate a mouthful of soup, then said, ‘Though, as a matter of fact, I did consider becoming a florist. But what I enjoy most is making gardens.’
‘It’s very powerful stuff you’re harnessing, very healing,’ his neighbour Belladonna said, looking at him through her eyelashes. ‘You must have a really deep connection with telluric forces.’
‘Like me, Bella is a pagan,’ said Jules, his other neighbour. ‘Unlike me, she likes nothing better than dancing naked in the moonlight. I prefer to wear a toga. It’s more dignified.’
‘I like to commune fully with the earth mother,’ said Belladonna, curling a lock of her black hair around her forefinger. ‘I’m a white witch, you see.’
Clothaire banged on the table and frightened Raven, who bounded down to the floor with an indignant miaow.
‘No, but you are joking with this! You went to a good university. You are an intelligent guy, yes or no? You should do something more interesting.’
Tom Quince calmly shifted his gaze from Belladonna to Clothaire. ‘No doubt you’re right.’
‘Have you quite finished?’ asked Jules, who had come to stand behind Clothaire. ‘I thought so. I’ll take this if you don’t mind.’ She whisked away his half-empty bowl and placed it on top of a perilously high pile of crockery that she then carried across to the sink.

The bus started and, right on cue, tears began to roll down her cheeks. Daisy found these days that almost any movement – reaching up, sitting down, running, breathing in, breathing out – triggered the tiresome crying. Public transport was the worst, obviously, what with all the stops and starts. She had become that dreadful stock character of urban life – Tragic Crying Girl. It didn’t matter that people gave her strange looks. She didn’t care because she couldn’t help it. Perhaps one day the tiresome crying would stop, she thought, looking out of the window at the depressing parade of garish fast-food restaurants and cheap clothes shops on the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

Very Useful Rules for Living Stolen from Olivia Joules

1

Never Panic. Stop, breathe, think.

2

No one is thinking about you, They’re thinking about themselves, just like you.

3

Never change a haircut or colour before an important event.

4

Nothing is either as bad or as good as it seems.

5

Do as you would be done by, eg, thou shalt not kill.

6

It is better to buy one expensive thing that you really like (and can afford) than several cheap ones that you only quite like.

7

Hardly anything matters. If you get upset, ask yourself: “Does it really matter?”

8

The key to success lies in how you pick yourself up from failure.

9

Be kind and honest.

10

Only buy clothes that make you feel like doing a small dance.

11

Trust your instincts, not your overactive imagination.

12

When overwhelmed by disaster, check if it’s really a disaster by doing the following: a) think “Oh f*** it”; b) attmpt to turn it into an amusing anecdote. If none of the above works, then maybe it is a disaster, so turn to items one (1) and five (5).

13

Don’t expect the work  to be safe or life to be fair.

14

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

15

Don’t regret anything. Remember there wasn’t anything else that could have happened who you were and the state of the world at that moment. The only thing you can change is the present, so learn from the past.

16

If you start regretting something and start thinking, “I should have done…”, always add: “But then I might have been run over by a runaway lorry. Or crushed by a falling grand piano.”

lluvving vespas…………

I put the pen down and looked up via Veneto, the street that the restaurant faced. It was a wide, stately avenue flanked with regal appartamenti decorated with stone balconies and potted plants. It ended at the Piazza Barberini. A hotel sat at one side of the piazza. Its unimaginative brick front looked more like an American hotel, but surrounding it were stuccoed buildings painted brick-orange, their windows and shutters thrown open. Taxis and scooters and the tiniest of cars zipped around the circular piazza. And not just any scooters. Vespas! Rome wasn’t just the capital city of Italy, it was the capital city of Vespa country. They skirted the fountain and shot up via Veneto. I itched to get my fingers on the handgrips of one of them.

I kept thinking about the summer I’d spent in Rome years ago. It was during that time that my friendship with Maggie solidified into sisterhood. Maggie and I immersed ourselves in Roma, in our fellow students, our professors, the tenets of international and comparative law, and it was as if a happy bubble had sprung up around us. Of course, there were the usual traveler’s woes—blisters adorning our feet, having to wash your underwear in a dorm sink—but I loved every bit.
But if the architecture and the setting were somewhat unremarkable, the feel of the place—the energy—wasn’t. Rome is a seen-it-all kind of place. No matter how much the Italians delight in things—food and wine and sex, to name a few—the fact remains that their cultural DNA includes a world weariness of it all. And yet the American students who studied at Loyola were visiting Italy, and sometimes Europe, for the first time. They were wide-eyed, eager to see, to learn, to live. And so the campus with its otherwise sleepy appearance hummed with that energy. It vibrated at a low level but with a certain light that colored everything a pretty ochre, that made the place soothing and yet made it sing.

I kept studying the book, hoping I could divine the gallery Elena had mentioned, the one where she was working and which she said was close to her heart. The problem was, I didn’t know Elena very well. I didn’t know what moved her heart. Come to think of it, I wasn’t sure what moved my own heart these dayWhen I was last in Rome, if a reasonably attractive woman stopped on the street to consult a map or much less ate alone at a restaurant, as I was doing, it would invite a torrent of male attention. The men would literally surround you—touching you, shouting come-ons in a desperate mix of Italian and English. It became one of Italy’s few liabilities.
Maggie very much wanted a family. It was the husband part of that proposition that was causing her trouble.

Only one other person was in the salon when I entered, a man lying on his back on one of the four gray chaises in the middle of the room. I sat on another chaise, then feeling a little cautious, I lay back, too. The fresco, called Divine Providence, depicted historic figures frolicking across a luminous, heavenly blue sky. I thought about my father, who always resided in a similar place in my mind—in a beautiful, warmly lit other-universe where he floated about, with no worries, but always able to see Charlie and me, always watching us.

“As you can see, most of the works here are not from famous artists,” she said. “But that wasn’t the point of the Palazzo Colonna. These were amassed to give a collective impression of beauty. The intention is that one doesn’t need to be an art historian to appreciate this place. You don’t need to study each little brush stroke, every inch of gold.” She waved her arm and spun around, and in that moment I could see her as a young girl, joyous and inquisitive and free of any sadness. “I think it is important what this place teaches,” she said. “I am not a historian, but I learn from the palazzo every day. It teaches you to look at the whole. Not one individual masterpiece.”

“Exactly,” she said, clearly pleased. “That is why I love Rome, too, and that is what keeps me here.” She pointed to the cannonball and smiled. “The flaws are many when you look. Mistakes have been made. And yet the overall effect is one of true beauty, a beauty that transcends any mistakes.”
I looked in her eyes. “Do you believe the same about people?” I asked. “That they can be flawed and make mistakes and still have a transcendent beauty?”
She nodded. “Yes, a beauty inside them, not just out.”

“He was curious like you,” Aunt Elena said.
“That sounds more like my brother, Charlie.”
Elena gave me the slow grand shrug Italians have mastered. “Maybe. Christopher wanted to know everything.” She held up a finger. “Correction. He wanted to understand everything. There is a difference.” She looked at me for a sign of comprehension.
I nodded slowly, thinking about what she’d said. “There is a difference between knowing something or memorizing it, and truly understanding it.”
“Yes, that’s right. And true understanding requires a much deeper curiosity, a willingness to seek for motivations and appreciate subtleties. But that kind of curiosity can be dangerous.”
“Why?”

“Because you begin to think that maybe the world isn’t so black and white, maybe people aren’t, either. You don’t realize that some people truly are black. Just black.”

Heartbreak is a curable condition. And remember that your ex is only your ex because he’s wrong for you otherwise you’d still be together, right? But it’s not easy getting over someone, ‘ I went on, thinking of Ed with a vicious stab. ‘So you need a strategy to help you recover. Now were there things about him you didn’t like?’ ‘Oh yeah!’ she exclaimed. ‘Loads!’ ‘Good. Then make a list of them, and when you’ve done it, ring your friends and read it to them, then ask them if you’ve left anything out. Get them to add their own negative comments, and ask your family as well. Then ask your next-door neighbours—on both sides—plus the people in the corner shop, then post the list up in a prominent place. Secondly, get off your bum! Get down to the gym, like I did, and take up kick-boxing or Tae-Bo. Kick the shit out of your instructor, Fran— believe me it’ll lift your mood. Because it’s only when you’re feeling happy and confident again, that the right man will come along. ‘

True, Henry had never really lit my fire. He was the human equivalent of a lava lamp—very attractive but not that bright.

‘Thanks. That’d be nice. So where do you do your… star-watching?’ I asked as he got down twoglasses.’The best place is Norfolk—I used to go there with my grandparents. You can do it in London, but you have to choose your spot carefully because the sky-glow’s so bad. ‘ ‘The sky-glow?’ ‘The light pollution. That awful tangerine glare. I’m involved with the Campaign for Dark Skies, ‘ he went on as he poured out my beer. ‘We ask local councils to install star-friendly street lighting which throws the light down, where it’s needed, not up. It’s tragic that people living in cities don’t get to see the night sky—they miss so much. I mean just look up, ‘ he said suddenly. He switched off the light, plunging us into darkness, and I peered up through the conservatory roof. Through the glass I could see five, no… eight stars twinkling dimly against the inky night and a sliver of silvery moon. ‘City folk miss so much, ‘ he repeated as I craned my neck. ‘How often do they see the Milky Way and the Pleiades, Orion’s belt, or the Plough? You don’t even need a telescope to be an amateur astronomer. You can see so much just with your eyes. ‘

‘She felt I was letting her down. She’s a solicitor at Prenderville White in the city, ‘ he explained. ‘She’s very driven and successful, and she expected me to be the same. She wanted me to put everything into my accountancy career to match her success, but I couldn’t. I did all the exams but by then I’d become far more interested in astronomy than in spreadsheets. So I left Price Waterhouse and took an undemanding book-keeping job so that I’d have more time to write my book. Fi said I was being self-indulgent and that I should knuckle down to my career. She kept on and on and on about it, but I couldn’t bring myself to go back. So five months ago she said she wanted out. ‘ Poor bloke. There were tears in his eyes.

Everyone thinks I’m so brave, ‘ she sobbed, her face red and twisted with grief. ‘Brave Bev. Battling Bev. But I’m not like that inside. I’m not like that at all. Don’t tell anyone this, ‘ she confided with a teary gasp, ‘but I get so upset sometimes. ‘ ‘Do you?’ I said. ‘Yes, ‘ she murmured with a sniff. ‘I do. But I can’t help it because I know I’ll never—uh-uh—walk, or run again: I’ve got to sit down for the rest of my life. And I tell people that I’ve— uh-uh—got over it—but the truth is I haven’t and I never will!’ I thought again of the suppressed sobbing I’d heard through the wall and of the hockey sticks she’d burned on the fire. ‘And all these paintings of these lovely—uh-uh—women with their— uh-uh—lovely, perfect, strong legs… ‘ Bev I know you’ll be… ‘—my throat ached: I find crying catching—’I know you’ll be fine. ‘ Her sobs subsided, and she looked up and wiped her eyes. ‘Yes, ‘ she croaked. ‘Maybe I will. I’m sorry, ‘ she said, ‘I know things could be worse. The way I hit the ground I’m lucky not to be a tetraplegic, or dead. Perhaps I should go to the ball as a still life, ‘ she added with a bleak smile. ‘I mean, there is still life. ‘

I have agony aunted myself to the conclusion that although I behaved very badly I can’t put the clock back so I might as well try and forget. In any case I’m very good at not thinking about unpleasant things. I shut them away in my mind. I neatly compartmentalise them and lock the door: a skill which I learned as a child. So I’m not going to dwell on my humiliation: it’s over: what’s done is done. In any case some good things have come out of that evening and so, despite everything, I’m still very glad that I went.

There was a card from Pyschic Cynthia with my astrological chart for the coming year. Thanks to ‘generous Jupiter’ I could look forward to ‘stunning changes ahead. ‘ I don’t want any more stunning changes, I thought, I’ve had more than enough this year. I’d moved house twice and my marriage had failed. I needed only a death to complete the hat trick of traumatic life events.

I think it was the twins’ sense of completeness which drew me to them—the way they belonged together, like two walnut halves. Whereas I didn’t know who I truly belonged to, or who I was related to, or even who I looked like. Nor did I know whether my real mum had ever had any other children, and if they looked like me. But Bella and Bea were this perfect little unit—Yin and Yang, Bill and Ben, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Like Tweeldedum and Tweedledee they argued a lot, but the weird thing was they’d do it holding hands. They’d been coupled from conception, and I’d imagine them kicking and kissing in the womb. And although their mum would dress them in non-identical clothes every day, they’d always change into the same thing. They did absolutely everything together. If one of them wanted to go to the loo, for example, the other would wait outside; and their mum couldn’t even offer them a piece of cake without them going into a little huddle to confer. Sometimes I’d watch them doing a jigsaw puzzle, and it was as if they were almost a single organism, heads touching, four hands moving in perfect synchronicity. And I found it deeply touching that they were so totally self-contained, yet wanted to make space in their lives for me. I was mesmerised by their mutuality and I deeply envied it—the power of two. They’re thirty-seven now, and very attractive, but they’ve never had much luck with men.

‘We can’t find anyone, ‘ Bella sighed as we sat in the kitchen. ‘It always goes wrong. ‘

‘Men don’t see us as individuals, ‘ said Bea.

‘Hardly surprising, ‘ I said. ‘You look alike, sound alike, talk alike, walk alike, you live together and when the phone goes at home you answer ‘”Twins!”‘ ‘We only do that for a joke, ‘ said Bea. ‘In any case there are huge differences. ‘

‘Like what?’

‘Well, Bella’s quieter than I am. ‘

‘That’s true, ‘ said Bella feelingly.

‘And we went to different universities, and until now we’ve had different careers. ‘ Bella was a financial journalist and Bea worked for the V and A. ‘Plus Bella’s hair is short and mine’s shoulder length; her face is a tiny bit narrower than mine, she’s left-handed and I’m right-handed, and we have different views on most things. ‘

‘Too right. ‘

‘We’re not one person in two bodies, ‘ Bella pointed out vehemently, ‘but men treat us as if we were.

And the stupid questions we get! I’m sick of men asking us whether we’re telepathic, or feel each other’s pain or if we ever swapped places at school. ‘

‘Or they meanly flirt with both of us, ‘ said Bella crossly, ‘to try and cause a rift. ‘

And there’s the rub.

The twins may complain about their single status but I have long since known the truth; that although they both say they want a serious relationship, the reality is that they don’t; because they’re very comfortable and compatible and companionable as they are, and they know that a man would break that up…

After a nasty break-up it’s a good idea to put a few postcodes between yourself and your ex. The further the better in fact. There’s nothing quite like it for distracting you from the fact that you’ve just been given the push. Dumped in Devon? Then why not move to Dumfries? Given the big E in Enfield? Then uproot to Edinburgh. You’ll be too busy focusing on the newness of your environment to give a damn about Him . Not that I am thinking about Him. He’s history. My campaign to exorcise Him is going well. It’s already eight weeks since we split and I can barely even remember Ed Wright’s name. I’ve done what I advised that girl Kelly to do—I’ve neatly excised him, like a tumour; I haven’t even sent him my new address. So I think it’s all going to be plain sailing from here.

Having my marital rows re-enacted at top volume by a bird had shaken me to my core, so I did what I always do when I’m feeling upset—I got out the ironing board. And as the iron sped back and forth, snorting a twin plume of steam, my heart rate began to subside. I find there’s nothing more therapeutic than a nice pile of pressing when I’ve had a nasty shock. I iron everything, I really don’t mind—tea-towels, knickers, socks. I even tried to iron my J Cloths once, but they melted. I’ve never really minded ironing—something my friends find decidedly weird. But then my mum was incredibly house-proud—’a tidy home means a tidy mind!’ she’d say—so I guess I get it from her.

. I suddenly felt that I’d been born to be an agony aunt: at last I’d found my true niche. It was like a revelation to me—a Damascene flash—as though I’d heard a voice. ‘Rose! Rose!’ it boomed. ‘This is Thy God. Thou Shalt Dispense ADVICE!’

I’ve been screwed up anddiscarded. You might find that weird, but after what’s happened to me I see rejection in everything.So to keep negative thoughts at bay I started doing the crossword, as usual tackling the anagrams first. The skill with these is not in rearranging the letters—that’s easy—but in spotting them: you have to know the code. ‘Messy’ for example, usually indicates an anagram, as do ‘disorder’, and ‘disarray. ‘Mixed up’ is a good anagram clue as well; as is ‘confused’ and also ‘upset’.Doing anagrams makes me feel oddly happy: I often anagrammatise words in my head, just for fun. Perhaps because I was an only child I’ve always been able to amuse myself. I particularly enjoy it when I can make both ends of the anagram work. ‘Angered’ and ‘Enraged’ for example; ‘slanderous’ and ‘done as slur’; ‘discover’ and ‘divorces’ is a good one, as is ‘tantrums’ and ‘must rant’. ‘Marital’, rather appropriately, turns to ‘martial’; ‘male’ very neatly becomes ‘lame’, and ‘masculine’—I like this—becomes ‘calumnies’, and ‘Rose’, well, that’s obvious. ‘Sore’.

Looking back, the only thing that gives me any solace is the knowledge that I retained my dignity. It’s only in my dreams that I throw things at him, and swear, and rage and hit. In real life I was as cool as a frozen penguin, which might surprise people who know me well. I’m supposed to be ‘difficult’ you see— a bit ‘complicated’. A rather ‘thorny’ Rose—ho ho ho! And of course my red hair is a guaranteed sign of a crazy streak and a wicked tongue. So the fact that I didn’t erupt like Mount Etna in this moment of crisis would almost certainly confound my friends. But I felt oddly detached from what was going on. I was numb.

Serena, let me tell you, inhabits Cliche City: she could win the Palmed’Or for her platitudes. She’s one of these people who are perennially perky; in fact she’s so chirpy I suspect she’s insane. Especially as she invariably has some dreadful domestic crisis going on. She’s late thirties and mousy with three kids and a dull husband called Rob (anagram, ‘Bor’).

My practised eye had already identified from the writing the likely dilemmas within. Here were the large, childish loops of repression, and the backwards slope of the chronically depressed. There the green-inked scorings of schizophrenia and the cramped hand of the introvert. While Serena logged and dated each letter for reference, I sorted out my huge index file. In this I keep all the information sheets which I send out with my replies.

At parties people often ask me what other qualities are required. Curiosity for starters—I’ve got that in spades. I’ve always loved sitting on trains, staring dreamily out of the window into the backs of people’s houses, and wondering about their lives. You have to be compassionate too—but not wet—your reply should have a strong spine. There’s no point just offering sympathy, or even worse, pity, like that dreadful Citronella Pratt. What the reader needs is practical advice. So that means having information at the ready: information and kindness—that’s what it’s about. Having said which I’m not a ‘cuddly’, ‘mumsy’ agony aunt—if need be I’ll take a tough tone. But the truth is that my readers invariably know what to do, I simply help them find the answer by themselves.

‘Of course it is, ‘ he guffawed, ‘that’s exactly what it is: other people’s problems give us all a lovely warm glow. ‘ I suppressed the urge to club him to death with Secrets of Anger Control.

‘Goodbye, Ed, ‘ I said firmly. ‘I am ex-iting from you; I am ex-pelling you; I am ex-cising you. You are ex-traneous, ‘ I added firmly. ‘You are ex-cess. I am making an ex-ample of you, because I do not want you any more. I do not want you any more.

I enclose my Confidence leaflet and the number for your local community college,and I wish you really good luck. I felt so sorry for him that, on the spur of the moment I added: PS. If you feel you’d like to, do let me know how you get on. But as I sealed the envelope I realised that this was unlikely, and that’s the weird thing about what I do. Every month over a thousand total strangers tell me about their problems and their intimate affairs. I give them the very best advice I can, but I rarely, if ever, hear back. My replies go out into the void like meteorites hurtling through space. Did what I write help them, I sometimes wonder? Are things going better for them now?

3 – ellen byerrum –

All Stella had learned from reading Lacey’s columns was that if you wore clothes to express who you really were inside, you were in fashion and all was forgiven. Stella liked to broadcast her inner vixen through her clothes. Lacey realized that the “dress-to-express” side of her message resonated with Stella’s rebellious little inner vixen, but the other side of the message, the “dress-to-respect” side, wasn’t what Stella wanted to hear.

They’re big-time flippant.” “At least organized sports help keep dangerous felons off the
streets during games.” “That’s true. Most of the dangerous felons are in the game.

Writing about fashion is just a drain on humanity in these times of dire emergency. Clothes should be functional and protect us against the elements. And against deadly solar radiation from the hole in the ozone layer created by Western civilization’s short-sighted reliance on fossil fuels. That’s all.”

Felicity politely offered a gingerbread man to Lacey. It looked delicious. Alas, Lacey had to be thin to enter France; it was a matter of French law. So she resisted.

A corsetiere knows all your secrets,” Magda had often said to Lacey with a wink. “The secrets you keep and the secrets you give away, all the secrets you hide beneath your clothes.

A corsetiere knows all your secrets,” Magda had often said to

Lacey with a wink. “The secrets you keep and the secrets you give away, all the secrets you hide beneath your clothes.

. Her

short curly brown hair, shot through with gray, perpetually resisted

all her attempts at taming it and was now sticking straight up.

Oddly, Magda looked at peace, the jumble of jewels and all.

Magda was probably between sixty and seventy, but looked

older. It isn’t the years, it’s the mileage, Lacey thought. Magda’s

upturned cat eyes had always sparkled with a bit of humor, as they did even now.

The heaviness of death settled on her shoulders, leaving her with a melancholy that bore into her bones. She knew she would cry later, in private.

FASHION BITES
I
Bored With Dress for Success?
Try for Adventuress Instead
You dressed for success, but where has it gotten you? Your
own cubicle next to someone dressed just like you in a cubicle
just like yours? You’ve got the same safe suit, the same knock-
off bag, the same pair of pumps you both snagged at Filene’s
Basement at the same sale. You call that success?
The working world is not exactly the fantasy we dreamed
of in college, is it? Once upon a time we thought life would
be an adventure, exciting, stimulating, fulfilling. Don’t forget
fulfilling. Possibly even fun. Well, it can be, if you approach
it the right way. As an adventure.
But perhaps you feel invisible. Your clothes are fading
away and taking you with them. No one can see you, you’re
so well hidden in your dress-for-success camouflage. Your
shoes match the carpet, your skirt blends into the chair, your
blouse copies the curtains. Where’s the real you concealed
behind the corporate camo? Unless your secret ambition is to
star in a remake of The Invisible Woman, you and your
wardrobe need a shot of pure adrenaline.
Need a little adventure? My advice: Dress like an adven-
turess. An adventuress knows that the right clothes can
change your attitude faster than your attitude can change
your clothes. To find the adventure in life, sometimes all you
need to do is dress for adventure and let it find you. Let’s look
at three basics in every adventuress’s rolling suitcase.
•  A trench coat, of course. Well-worn and rakishly scruffy
or brand-new, it should fit perfectly, whether you’re built
like Ingrid Bergman or Sydney Greenstreet. These days
it even comes in daring postmodern pinks and blues
78  Ellen Byerrum
and greens, not just the traditional World War I khaki.
Long or short, the trench coat is dashing, versatile, and
ready for a trip to the office or around the world. Even
to Casablanca. (“For the waters,” of course.)
•  Sunglasses. Every adventure calls for a sleek pair of
sunglasses. They protect your eyes and keep your se-
crets. No secrets to keep? They’ll even keep that secret,
too. Slip on your shades and voilà! A woman of mys-
tery. Think Thelma and Louise or Kathleen Turner on the
beach in Body Heat. Just try to stay out of trouble this
time.
•  A scarf. A sophisticated adventuress needs a bright
and colorful scarf, and she actually knows how to tie it
cleverly. (Or she fakes it.) Not only does it liven up that
same old suit, it blows in the wind as you speed away
in your convertible up the hills of Monte Carlo like
Grace Kelly with that handsome jewel thief Cary Grant
at your side. Don’t have a Cary Grant type handy? Let
your beautiful scarf fly; he may find you.
Adventure is, of course, whatever you want it to be. Liv-
ing your life on your own terms and with your own style can
be the biggest adventure of all. Just imagine looking the way
you’ve always dreamed you’d look when you open the door
to that big moment and say, “Come on in, I’m ready.” And
imagine a confident, self-possessed woman striding down
the street to meet that big moment, so intriguing that heads
turn as she passes by. Who is that adventurous woman? It’s
you!

And you will not leave me alone until you get your way. Like all Americans. Americans must always get their way. Why? Because they are Americans!” Lacey decided to simply stand there like an American who was about to get her way.

Lacey and Brooke followed, ducking on their way down out of the pale Normandy November sunlight.

The restaurant that Vic had chosen, La Something or Other on  the Boulevard du Montparnasse—Lacey missed the name in the  excitement—was very ooh la la in that dazzling French art deco way, from the huge glass dome over the dining room to its tall painted pillars, their murals painted by artists like Chagall in the Twenties, Vic said, in exchange for drinks. Mosaic tiles covered the floor in intricate patterns. The aroma of fresh bread filled the air. After that amazing afternoon with Vic and a nap in his arms, it
seemed to her like a dream, as if they had walked into a French movie set where Cary Grant was about to romance Audrey Hepburn over an elegant dinner.

You don’t want to miss anything, do you? Especially if we have to meet those two at two thirty at Père-Lachaise.”

”

Attitude, mon cher, attitude.” Lacey wrote a few more notes on her theme that the Frenchwoman had the style war won over the American woman in only one key attribute: attitude. They believe they look great, and this gives them the confidence to look their best, so everyone else believes it too.

Lacey sat on a bench in the darkened circular hall of the Cluny Museum. She was reveling in the exquisite artistry of the brilliant unknown weavers who had created these six vibrant tapestries.

Autobiography of a Yogi.- one of the many books given by Thatha , my beloved grandpa  – read this book if you want to know the real india – yes they exist the yogis – the ones transcending beyond life and death ; joys and miseries , the ONES.

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The razor’s edge by somerset maugham — love this book , my compass / inspo for spiritual exploration – reading razor’s edge always makes me happy …………….feel light………some new insight everytime i read it  – the courage of the protagonist to discard all that is superficial , in search of the truth…………….it is neither self-indulgent nor a mark of laziness to pursue the soul……..nor is it a reason to feel one is an advanced being – the simple reason is that people are different – – driven   by an unknown passion in life and one can only be satisfied if she or he (yes she or he…..why always he or she ) is free enough to pursue it , it is not laziness or failure to do so . and i particularly like the last line which is non-judgemental – Maugham ends his narrative by suggesting that all the characters got what they wanted in the end: “Elliott social eminence;  Isabel an assured position; … Sophie death;  and Larry happiness.” . author is not propounding a philosophy – we all are struggling through various stages of spiritual evolution and need to cultivate compassion with each other . Pleasantly surprised when i came to know that maugham was inspired by our very own sri ramana maharishi

 

far from the madding crowd : The one word that comes to my mind while reading hardy…….. is his “rich ” use of language…….that makes reading  almost like luxury…………and  a self- indulgent pleasure- I felt the way he writes is like ” poetry in prose ” , i mean , especially the way he describes nature and natures (of individuals) so subtly yet so effectively .

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Totally mesmerised when you read it the first time – especially when one is young -( you roam around with a  self-important attitude thinking you are the embodiment of roark- high brow- don’t care -attitude and oh so very antisocial thinking it’s the new  cool – realising after many years –  after u get over ur obsession of rand and roark) ….. but don’t agree with the author trying to to propound this philosophy as a way of life…… an individual even though he is antisocial, is nurtured , supported by and bound to his family in a very deep way ; and so i opine that you can’t only follow the work philosophy in isolation…….also applies to atlas shrugged. the bhavadgita is a much superior alternative. but then again , can’t really undermine the importance of this masterpiece ………….,  roark still towers above others – in his solitude and few , but true friends……………especially   in contemporary  culture  …..aptly representative of objectivst+ minimalistic attittude……………..towards life -with minimalism all the rage now ??  roark – anti-social/ anti-social networking then ????…………………the argument inside my head continues but putting an end to this unending monologue………………..NOW.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

the book has sooooooooo many characters , but is never confusing to the reader , and well written.

Crime and Punishment , Fyodor Dostoyevsky-  it’s been quite sometime since i read it……..deals with the the theme of repentence and starting over.

Les miserables – one of the first recommended by Thatha

PnP , persuasion -Austen – the original chicklit author – well ,  all romances till date are just well-disguised austen spoofs  (Ehle’s the best elizabeth ……hands down )

Jane Eyre– Charlotte Brontë

Wuthering Heights –  bronte haunting  and intense…………read only an abridged version.

the professor– bronte ….      amazing  how   the bronte sisters’  works are sooooo different from each other……

silas marner – George Eliot

few sheldons and the prodigal daughter by archer

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own this exact paperback of mocking bird -loved her style of writing – narration , describes the world through a child’s eyes perfectly , explaining integrity and equality through the simple yet strong atticus finch……..played to perfection by gregory peck.  love the film too – peck  …….amazing as usual – one of the few films which does justice to the book

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used to own it, lost it .one of the most well written characters……….can’t say whether it is due to the author’s style of writing , but the characters seem so real and alive,  u  feel u know them ……

  • The Mother by Maxim Gorky – communist , marxism – but still a worthwhile read – human relations – Pavel and his   mother
  • J.Krishnamurti: A Biography [Pupul Jayakar] – read- reread only a few chaps in med school but which helped me a lot
  • bridges of madison county
  • far from the madding crowd -from dad –  OAK !!!!!!!!!
  • memoirs of a geisha
  • conquest of happiness – russell
  • all the books in this blog………..have  blogged and will blog  excerpts from –  https://excerptsandm.wordpress.com/category/e-from-fiction/
  • most of  agatha christie and  sherlock holmes and a few chicklits , mary higgins clark etc. – some chicklits – by weiner , jane green ………..etc……….- really witty – about the single woman in contemporary times – while others are so dumb and cliched ..i have to read a christie as rebound to get the crap out of my head
  • Roots –  suggested by shekhar mama !
  • alchemist -Paulo coelho  , burden – a different christie

and……….many i can’t recollect as of now……..

E from jennifer weiner

“I’ve learned a lot this year,” I began. I took a deep quavering breath. Don’t cry, I
told myself. “I learned that things don’t always turn out the way you planned, or
the way you think they should. And I’ve learned that there are things that go
wrong that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were
before. I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and I’ve learned that
you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you
have people who love you.”
When I was five I learned to read. Books were a miracle to me — white pages,
black ink, and new worlds and different friends in each one. To this day, I relish
the feeling of cracking a binding for the first time, the anticipation of where I’ll go
and whom I’ll meet inside.When I was eight I learned to ride a bike. And this, too, opened my eyes to a new world that I could explore on my own — the brook that burbled through a vacant lot two streets over, the ice-cream store that sold homemade cones for a dollar,
the orchard that bordered a golf course and that smelled tangy, like cider, from
the apples that rolled to the ground in the fall.
When I was twelve I learned that I was fat.Men don’t like fat women.
And even though this would turn out not to be absolutely true — there would be
men who would love me, and there would be people who’d respect me — I
carried his words into my adulthood like a prophecy, viewing the world through
the prism of my body, and my father’s prediction.
I learned how to diet — and, of course, how to cheat on diets. I learned how to
feel miserable and ashamed, how to cringe away from mirrors and men’s
glances, how to tense myself for the insults that I always thought were coming:
the Girl Scout troop leader who’d offer me carrot sticks while the other girls got
milk and cookies; the well-meaning teacher who’d ask if I’d thought about
aerobics. I learned a dozen tricks for making myself invisible — how to keep a
towel wrapped around my midsection at the beach (but never swim), how to fade
to the back row of any group photograph (and never smile), how to dress in
shades of gray, black, and brown, how to avoid seeing my own reflection in
windows or in mirrors, how to think of myself exclusively as a body — more than
that, as a body that had fallen short of the mark, that had become something
horrifying, unlovely, unlovable.
There were a thousand words that could have described me — smart, funny,
kind, generous. But the word I picked — the word that I believed the world had
picked for me — was fat.
When I was twenty-two I went out into the world in a suit of invisible armor, fully
expecting to be shot at, but determined that I wouldn’t get shot down. I got a
wonderful job, and eventually fell in love with a man I thought would love me for
the rest of my life. He didn’t. And then — by accident — I got pregnant. And when
my daughter was born almost two months too soon I learned that there are worse
things than not liking your thighs or your butt. There are more terryifing things
than trying on bathing suits in front of three-way department-store mirrors. There
is the fear of watching your child struggling for breath, in the center of a glass crib
where you can’t touch her. There is the terror of imagining a future where she
won’t be healthy or strong.
And, ultimately, I learned, there is comfort. Comfort in reaching out to the people who love you, comfort in asking for help, and in realizing, finally, that I am valued,treasured, loved, even if I am never going to be smaller than a size sixteen, even if my story doesn’t have the Hollywood-perfect happy ending where I lose sixty pounds and Prince Charming decides that he loves me after all.
The truth is this — I’m all right the way I am. I was all right, all along. I will never be thin, but I will be happy. I will love myself, and my body, for what it can do —because it is strong enough to lift, to walk, to ride a bicycle up a hill, to embrace the people I love and hold them fully, and to nurture a new life. I will love myself because I am sturdy. Because I did not — will not — break.
I will savor the taste of my food and I will savor my life, and if Prince Charming never shows up — or, worse yet, if he drives by, casts a cool and appraising glance at me, and tells me I’ve got a beautiful face and have I ever considered Optifast? — I will make my peace with that.
And most importantly, I will love my daughter whether she’s big or little. I will tell her that she’s beautiful. I will teach her to swim and read and ride a bike. And I will tell her that whether she’s a size eight or a size eighteen, that she can be happy, and strong, and secure that she will find friends, and success, and even love. I will whisper it in her ear when she’s sleeping. I will say, Our lives — your life — will be extraordinary.
You can’t make grownups do what they don’t want to do.
Things happen, and you can’t make them un-happen.You don’t get do-overs, you can’t roll back the clock, and the only thing you can change, and the only thing it does any good to worry about, is how you let them affect you.”
The downside of parents like that, I used to think, was that it killed your ambition.“Slow down,” he’d tell me, when I’d slip out of bed early to work on a short story, or go into work on a Saturday to send out query letters to magazine editors in New York. “You need to enjoy life more,
Cannie.”
I thought sometimes that he liked to imagine himself as one of the lead
characters in an early Springsteen song — some furious, passionate nineteenyear-
old romantic, raging against the world at large and his father in particular,
looking for one girl to save him. The trouble was, Bruce’s parents had given him
nothing to rebel against — no numbing factory job, no stern, judgmental
patriarch, certainly no poverty. And a Springsteen song lasted only three minutes,
including chorus and theme and thundering guitar-charged climax, and never
took into account the dirty dishes, the unwashed laundry and unmade bed, the
thousand tiny acts of consideration and goodwill that actually maintaining a
relationship called for. My Bruce preferred to drift through life, lingering over the
Sunday paper, smoking high-quality dope, dreaming of bigger papers and better
assignments without doing much to get them.
I think every person who is single should have a dog. I think the government should step in and intervene: If you’re not married or coupled up, whether you’ve been dumped or divorced or widowed or whatever, they should require you to
proceed immediately to the pound nearest you and select an animal companion.Dogs give your days a rhythm and a purpose. You can’t sleep ridiculously late, or stay out all day and all night, when there’s a dog depending on you.
When you’re on a battleground, you don’t have the  luxury of time to dwell on the various historical factors and sociopolitical  influences that caused the war. You just keep your head down and try to survive  it, to shove the pages back in the book, close the covers and pretend that  nothing’s broken, nothing’s wrong.
Writing let me escape. It let me escape Princeton, where everyone was chic and stylish and, in the case of the guy down the hall, the future ruler of some minor Middle Eastern principality. It let me escape the insistent tug of my family, and its ongoing misery. Writing was like slipping into the ocean, a place where I could move easily, where I could be graceful, and playful, and invisible and visible all at once — a byline, not a body. Sitting in front of the computer, with the screen blank and the cursor blinking, was the best escape I knew.
Tanya has the people skills of plant life. It’s like a special kind of tone deafness, only instead of not hearing the music, she’s deaf to nuances, to subtleties, to euphemisms, small talk, and white lies. Ask her how she’s doing,and you’ll get a full and lengthy explication of her latest work/health crisis,complete with an invitation to look at her latest surgical scar. Tell her that you liked whatever she cooked (and Lord knows you’ll be lying), and she’ll regale you with endless recipes, each with a story behind it (“My mother cooked this for me,I remember, the night after she came home from the hospital”).
At the same time, she’s also incredibly thin-skinned, prone to public crying fits,
and temper tantrums that conclude with her either locking herself in my exbedroom , if we’re home, or stomping away from wherever we are, if we’re out.