Best of Boston, Girl Talk, Pop Culture

The Basement

It’s Thanksgiving night and the holiday is winding down.  At least for me, that is.  But in a few hours, some of you, armed with a travel mug full of coffee, will be headed out to the malls for Black Friday.  This shopping frenzy makes me nostalgic for “The Basement” so here is a re-post from February 2016.

Let’s meet at The Basement on Saturday.

Wanna go down to The Basement after work?

These phrases were on the lips of Bostonian women of all ages.  That’s what we called it.  The Basement.

I am, of course, referring to Filene’s Basement, located on two floors beneath the art deco flagship Filene’s department store and cornerstone of Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

The Basement folklore was plentiful.  The Running of the Brides, so named for its resemblance to Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, turned ordinarily polite young women into fierce competitors the moment The Basement doors opened, as they fought over designer bridal gowns offered at a fraction of their original prices.  And men would actually stand in line waiting for The Basement to open on the mornings of the semi-annual men’s suit sale.  But the outrageous bargains were only part of it.    A trip to The Basement could cheer you up on a rainy day.  It was as loud, as crowded, and as chaotic as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  The Basement was pure joy.

The three-dollar Christian Dior bras I pulled from the depths of the lingerie bins were mine for the taking.  And the shoes!  I thought nothing of squeezing into incredibly cheap Ferragamos and Via Spigas that were only a-half size too small.  There were no dressing rooms in The Basement so I’d angle for a spot near a mirror then strip down to the Danskin leotard I’d worn under my clothes.  Some women were so intent on getting a bargain that they tried on their finds right over their clothes.  Others, caring nothing about modesty, were on full display in their bras and slips as they tried on a pile of potential purchases.  It was divine pandemonium.

In 2007, Filene’s Basement closed its doors for good and shopping has never been quite the same.  I’ll always miss the tradition and the spectacle that was The Basement.red poppy

 

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Inked

The following is a re-post from October 2016.

When I was a kid, it seemed like the only people with tattoos were guys who’d been in the military or who rode motorcycles.  Getting tattooed is painful and it proved these guys were strong, tough, cool.  In other words – badass.

Once in a great while, I’d see a woman with a tattoo but it was usually a dainty little red rose on her ankle or shoulder.  Still, I never considered doing it myself.  For one thing, I didn’t feel strongly enough about anything to have it branded into my skin.  Then there was the pain factor.   And a badass?  Definitely not me.

But getting tattooed has become so commonplace that it hardly seems the act of courage or rebellion it once was.  These days, it’s more about artistic expression and individualism. That being said, getting tattooed remains a painful endeavor and, you have to be gutsy to let that needle go at your skin.

Full disclosure here: I got inked.

Like far too many women, first I was cut.  Next, pumped full of poison.  Then came the tatts, and finally they nuked me.  I guess that makes me a badass after all.

You see, my tatts are radiation markers.  I am a breast cancer survivor with four small permanent black dots on my chest.  But I’m also a hockey enthusiast, a devoted Boston Bruins fan, so I choose to think of my tatts as small hockey pucks.  Four little pucks in honor of the greatest hockey player that ever was: Number Four – Bobby Orr!

It’s October.  Hockey season started last week and my Bruins are back on the ice.  It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Have you scheduled your mammogram?

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Best of Boston, Girl Talk, Mothers and Daughers

The Staycation Vacation

The following is a re-post from July 2016.

Here in Boston, tourists abound.  I regularly see them taking pictures in the Public Garden, walking the Freedom Trail, milling around Faneuil Hall.  Beyond the city limits, they visit historic Plymouth and Salem, scatter all along Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.  Sometimes I see them struggling along our cobblestone streets with their luggage, but mostly they look as if they’re having a good time.

At the risk of sounding like “Trip Advisor,” Boston’s a great vacation destination with its rich architecture, abundant historical sites and museums – not to mention great seafood.  In fact, not long ago when friends visited for the weekend, we went on a harbor cruise and took a tour of Fenway Park.  And of course, we ate delish Italian cuisine in the North End.

My vacation is coming up and, this time around, I won’t be getting out of Dodge, but I’ll surely dodge the usual travel hassles, lost luggage, and second-rate hotels.  I also won’t end up more exhausted than when I started, and I won’t spend a fortune doing it.  Call me crazy, but I’m taking a staycation.  I’ll sleep decadently late, go to the Museum of Fine Arts, meet a friend for lunch, stroll through the Copley Square Farmer’s Market, get pampered at my favorite Newbury Street day spa, and spend the day at Singing Sand Beach.

No matter where you live, a staycation could be the ideal way to spend your leisure time.  I’ll bet there are some places you’ve been meaning to go – a day trip, perhaps – or a show you want to see.  Maybe go hiking or biking, or try that restaurant you’ve heard so much about but haven’t gotten the chance to try.

Remember, like Dorothy once said, “There’s no place like home…”

Staycation 2018 was my first staycation in my new home.  It was not so much about sightseeing as it was about luxuriating.  I’ve not only had a glorious week, but my best friend came to Boston and spent it with me.  Instead of the Charles River, we had a view of the glistening Mystic River.  We drank sweet tea while lounging on lawn chairs in my backyard and nibbled on French pastries in a neighborhood cafe.  Our spa day featured a mani-and pedi- and a botanical face mask.  And we shopped until we dropped.  She left this morning, and I already miss her.  Who’s this best friend?  She’s my mother, of course.red poppy

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Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Finger Paint


What’s the one beauty product you couldn’t live without, even if you were stranded on a desert island?  BB cream?  Lash extensions?  Lip balm?  For me – no contest – it’s nail polish.  I can’t get enough of the stuff.  I’d drink it if it weren’t toxic.

When I was a teenager, the lady who lived next-door shared my love of nail polish.  She stored hers in the little egg holders on the inside of her refrigerator door because, she explained, the cold temperature helped prolong the shelf life of the polish.  By the time I was grown and had a place of my own, refrigerator doors no longer came equipped with egg holders, so I bought a Lucite organizer for my nail polish and have kept it refrigerated ever since.

My fascination with nail polish goes way beyond painting it on my fingers and toes.  When I’m on the subway, in line at the store, or at a social event, I always notice the nail polish other women are wearing.  At a recent family gathering, the lady in red had a clean and classic French manicure, and the child of the ‘60’s painted her nails midnight blue to match her cocktail dress.  My basic black ensemble needed a pop of color so I went with a vivid fuchsia.

In a January 2016 blog post, entitled “Man Buns” I went on a rant about the onslaught of guys wearing their hair up in little ballet dancer buns and hypothesized about what might come next that could be even more cringeworthy.  Jokingly, I suggested men wearing nail polish.  But this is no joke.  And as alarming as it may be, it has come to pass.

A few days ago, a millennial wearing the grad student uniform: baseball cap, graphic tee, khaki shorts, and sneakers stepped onto the train.  After he sat down next to me, he reached into his messenger bag for a book.  That’s when I noticed his finger nails were neatly painted a garnet red metallic that I’m pretty sure was OPI’s “I’m Not Really A Waitress.”  I was aghast.

I’ll give them their messenger bags.  And their ridiculous man buns.  But my beloved nail polish?  I have no words…

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Girl Talk, Pop Culture

The Perfect Little Black Dress

Some women are forever searching for the perfect little black dress.  When they finally find it, their joy is so profound that a national holiday should be proclaimed.  Me?  I believe just as there’s more than one Mr. Right, there’s more than one perfect little black dress out there.

My first perfect LBD came in my mid-twenties courtesy of a talented seamstress – my mother.  Sewn from a Vogue pattern, it was truly a custom fitted garment.  The simple jersey shift that hit just above my knee, with a boat neck and three-quarter sleeves was anything but simple because, when I turned around, the dress featured a daring, plunging, V-shaped back.  I wore that little number on dinner dates, on New Year’s Eve, to the theatre, and to one very memorable cast party with a group of quirky but hunky Shakespearian actors.

In my thirties, when all of my friends were getting married, I found the perfect LBD on a sale rack at Needless Markup aka: Neiman Marcus.  Reminiscent of the iconic long black gown Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this sleek, silk dress was ankle length, but with a deep slit up one side.  Even though I didn’t wear Holly Golightly’s opera length black gloves and tiara, this dress was magical, for it made me look taller and thinner than I am in real life.  It got me through the wedding blitz, and eventually I donated it to a young classical musician who needed a formal black gown for her performances.

My cousin’s upcoming wedding is cause for celebration, and for yet another perfect little black dress.  I was delighted to find a vintage-style, tea-length dress, embellished with appliques and lace, and a label that promised it was machine washable.  Although not my usual style, it was Boho Chic, like something Stevie Nicks would wear.  I liked it because it was different, and all was right with the world.  Until I washed it.  Despite following the care directions, when I took the dress out of the washer, I was horrified to see that the applique work had unraveled.  The dress was ruined.

With the wedding only two weeks away, I made the rounds at several fave dress shops.  Bad news travels fast, and one of the sales ladies had heard about “the woman with the shredded dress” and was eager to help.  The shredded dress turned out to be a happy accident because it brought me to my new perfect LBD.  This one is timeless, ageless really.  And since I’m now a woman of a certain age, timeless and ageless is a good thing.  This ladylike sheath dress is sublime, with delicate capped lace sleeves and the same lace yoke around the gently rounded neckline.  I will wear this one for a long time to come.

Just like the men who come into our lives, who are the perfect fit, at a particular time, so are these little black dresses.  Be assured ladies, this is no urban myth – there really is more than one Mr. Right and more than one prefect little black dress for the taking.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Buy Yourself Jewelry

The following is a re-post from February 2016.

Valentine’s Day holds the promise of hearts and flowers. But some of you married gals might have the kind of husband who’s not so good at remembering these things.  And what about the single girls who don’t have a boyfriend at the moment?  Why should they get gypped?

My advice?  Buy yourself jewelry.  It’s even better than going to the day spa.  I’m not suggesting you do anything crazy.  No Colombian emeralds or black Tahitian pearls.  You don’t need to buy the kind of loot you find in the Jewelers’ Building, with the able assistance of some older gentleman in a custom tailored suit and half glasses, who calls you “Miss” and, jeweler’s loupe at the ready, offers you a free appraisal of whatever happens to be hanging from your earlobes or dangling from your wrist that day.

A quick drive to the mall is all it takes to find something sparkly.  Even better, you can sit on your sofa with a glass of Red in one hand and the remote in the other and find some pretty serious bling on the shopping channels.  Or simply go on line to find your new bauble.  Remember, you’re not out to find the Hope Diamond here.  Just a pair of garnet studs.  Or an amethyst ring.

I’ve been buying my own jewelry for a while.  Some women like to travel – I’d rather buy gemstones set in precious metals.  For me, it’s one of the benefits of being a single woman in the twenty-first century.  You see, the jewelry is much more than a mere indulgence.  It’s a symbol.  To empower you.  And to remind you of your worth.  Sure it’s nice when a loved one buys you jewelry.  All I’m saying is that the loved one can be yourself.

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Girl Talk, Home Improvements

The Thrill of the Chaise

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a chaise lounge.  As a young girl I must’ve seen one on television or in a movie, because I imagined myself, grown up, sitting on my own chaise just like Cleopatra on her barge.  The glamour and luxury such a piece of furniture promised…

Each time I moved to a new place, my desire was renewed.  I could see myself on a rainy Saturday, sprawled out with a book, or dreamily napping on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  But a chaise lounge is not the most practical piece of furniture when you live in a small space.  And every chaise I came upon was either too big, or too ornate, or too extravagant.   I all but gave up my search.

Even before I moved into my house, the bay window in the dining room was crying out for a chaise.  The time was right and the search was on!  There was the pink satin one that looked like it belonged in the parlor of a bordello; another, so industrial with its straight geometric lines, was well-suited for a psychiatrist’s office; and the wave-shaped style was too avant-garde for me.  I felt like Goldilocks with the three bowls of porridge.

Two weeks before Christmas, I found what I was looking for online.  But there was a catch.  Actually two catches.  The manufacturer informed me the model was to be discontinued on December 31st and the only showroom where I could go to see the chaise was located in New Jersey.  How badly did I want this chaise, and was I willing to drive 260 miles to sit in it?

It was perfect.  And the navy blue jacquard fabric I chose strikes just the right balance between classic and chic.  I handed the saleswoman my credit card – Merry Christmas to me!

My chaise is ready and waiting to be delivered, but there’s been one final catch.  Work is so crazy that I haven’t been able to take a day off.  Do you know how long it takes to get a Saturday delivery?   So I must wait a little longer…

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