Commencement Wrapup

Commencement Weekend at the University of Notre Dame has come and gone, and I’m left with the following observations:

1) Nobody does Mass better than ND. This weekend was Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, and we had no less than 40 red-robed priests (plus two bishops) on the altar for the celebration!

2) Nobody does food better than the ND Food Services staff. Our Friday feast featured chef-carved beef, chicken, tilapia, and a dessert bar topped with a “2013” ice sculpture. On Saturday, they fed us grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, and made an elaborate display of round, two-layered white cakes with frosting — one for each family to enjoy!

3) Nobody offers better music than ND. Volunteers from the ND Band (minus the seniors) played at most events. And no, I didn’t do much more than tear up at “Pomp and Circumstance,” the Alma Mater, and the ND Victory March, so my desensitization helped!

4) Nobody offers more guidelines (that people don’t pay attention to) than ND. I was told no umbrellas or wide-brimmed hats that might interfere with people’s vision. I obeyed, but others did not. I was told to respect others’ views of the proceedings. I obeyed, but one woman stood right in front of me minutes before my son was to cross the stage to accept his diploma. When I politely reminded her, “I can’t see,” she jumped all over me, arguing that somebody was taking a photo with a camera phone and she didn’t want to block that. Obviously, it never crossed her mind to go behind the photographer, rather than block my view!

5) Nobody does unpredictable weather better than South Bend. Here I was, worried over cold and rain, when Sunday dawned brilliantly sunny and temps climbed to almost 90 degrees by afternoon. Good thing I remembered sunscreen!

I know some of you are also interested in what people were wearing. Comfort, indeed, was the better part of wisdom. And there were so many people milling around that I probably could’ve worn a grocery sack and not stood out!

In fact, I saw all manner of dress:

  • Men in khaki shorts
  • Men in flip flops and deck shoes
  • Men wearing suits and ties
  • Men wearing blue jeans
  • Men wearing Polo shirts
  • Women teetering on sky-high spike heels
  • Women in cowboy boots
  • Women wearing dressy sandals or flip flops
  • Nobody wearing pantyhose
  • Women wearing lace
  • Women wearing sundresses, long and short
  • Women wearing slacks and jackets
  • Infants in carriers
  • People in wheelchairs or on canes
  • People speaking English or their native tongue
  • People wearing sunglasses and ND ball caps

Me? For Saturday’s Mass, I wore a knee-length black pencil skirt with a black and white polka-dotted peplum jacket. On Sunday, I chose a pair of dress black slacks, a black and white jacket with blue-green flowers, and a matching blue-green knit shell.

It was a great celebration, but I’m glad the hoopla is over.

(I’m “going dark” for a week or so while I do some celebratory stuff with my son. Intrigued? Good, I love a mystery! I’ll post more when I get back. Love to ALL!)

Rockin’ the Shaggy-Faced Look

As any mom can attest, Boys will be boys, right?

And it doesn’t seem to matter how old the “boy” is supposed to be, either.

Take my son (AKA My Favorite Domer), for instance. He and his bro friends read online where some guys somewhere were initiating a “No Shave Conclave,” letting their facial hair grow until the Catholic Cardinals elected a new Pope.

What does shaving have to do with the Pope??

I didn’t ask.

Anyway, a “No Shave Conclave” sounded like a good idea to Domer’s group, so they decided to join in.

As Fate would have it, the new Pope was named in about three days, giving Domer and his friends barely enough time to sprout a few hairs.

That would never do. They opted to extend the “experiment” through the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Because they were going with the team to Dayton, Ohio, as part of the Basketball Band, and they figured they’d be there a while.

Again, Fate intervened. The Irish men lost their first game in the second round.

Which still wasn’t enough time to grow a proper beard.

Or so I’m told.

What would I know? I’ve never tried to grow one!

When Domer called to say he was coming home for a few days over Easter Break, he mentioned the “No Shave Conclave.” And I laughed right along with him, assuming of course, that now these “events” were over, he’d join the one member of his group to abandon the Grizzly Adams look.

Imagine my surprise upon seeing my precious son’s face covered in fur!

Some moms might disagree with me, but I’ve learned over the years that this, too, will pass.

Besides, it could have been so much worse — think tattoos. Or pierced ears. Or refusing to shower. At all!

So I’ve restrained myself from making any comments one way or the other.

It’s his face, not mine.

He’s the one having to bear the itching. And the upkeep.

Hair grows at the rate of one-half inch per month, more or less, depending on factors like genetics. Men “in the know” claim it’s a rite of passage to grow a beard, that it separates the men from the boys (and girls), and that it’s fun.

Well, okay, I guess.

Having him home — even for a few days — is so worthwhile, it doesn’t much matter whether he’s scruffy-faced or not.

And This is Why Shopping is Hard Work

(Part II of my search for the Dreaded Commencement Attire):

Last week I took an entire day off just to go shopping.

For something new to wear to My Favorite Domer’s Commencement in May.

Less than two months away, mind you.

I figured it would be a good time, seeing as how Easter is right around the corner, and most of the ads that have arrived in my mailbox are pushing dressy clothes.

(And nothing too pressing was on my work-calendar!)

What I didn’t factor in was the frustration level.

You men are lucky. You only have a few basic colors to choose from — navy, black, grey suits — and you can dress them up or down via colorful shirts and ties.

That I could handle. Why, it doesn’t take me any time at all to shop for Domer’s dress clothing, and he always looks good!

But we women have to work at shopping.

We’ve got gazillions of colors. And materials. And styles.

What’s worse is that there’s no rhyme or reason in the sizing department.

So we have to haul two or three different sizes of everything we take into the dressing room. And we have to unzip and zip, unbutton and button, unbelt and belt, unsnap and snap.

Every. Single. Thing.

Men don’t spend a lot of time worrying whether some stranger or even their best friend has the same suit they do.

C’mon, a black suit is a black suit, right?

Not so for women.

Nobody wants any other woman wearing something they own.

Doesn’t matter whether that other woman wears it on a different occasion.

Or with different accessories.

Or if it’s an obviously different size.

Or even if they know they look better in it than the other woman (though that definitely helps, heehee!)

Looking back, it wasn’t always that way. I can remember second-graders being thrilled when their best friend was wearing the exact same dress — on the exact same day!

No more.

Unless we’re adept at sewing (or know someone who is), we stress over shopping for that perfect outfit that will flatter our figure AND be unique!

You’re probably wondering whether I found one.

The answer, sadly, is No.

So I’ll keep hunting.

I’m certain the stores are counting on that!

Paring Down, Kind Of

This weekend, I finally tackled a chore that I’ve been putting off for years — cleaning the closet.

Inspired by my friend Lynne, who maintains that we really don’t need all the stuff hanging/folded up/taking up space in our closets, I decided it was way past time to beard the lion.

With the Sheltie looking on and wearing a confused face, I pulled out armload after armload of hanging items. Skirts, dresses, suits, slacks, blouses began to stack up on my bed as my brain categorized them based on the following criteria:

  1. Did it fit?
  2. Did I still like it?
  3. Was it even remotely in style?
  4. Was it in good condition?
  5. And, perhaps of utmost importance, had I worn it within the last two or three years?

Surprisingly, many of the things lurking in my closet hadn’t seen the light of day since Domer was a wee lad (and remember, he’s twenty-one now!). Those, obviously, had to go.

Others were gifts — wrong size, wrong color, wrong style — and had only been “gently” worn, probably to appease the giver.

Still others were items I’d loved. And worn practically to their threads. But somehow couldn’t bear to part with — then. Now, out they went.

I found a ginormous sack from Kohl’s and started filling it. I loaded in old blue jeans, crop pants and tops. I even added a few belts that I knew I’d never wear again.

Who knew that belts designed for waists wouldn’t fit around hips?!

When the sack was full, I dug out a bag from JCPenney and started filling it. In went a plethora of dress slacks, skirted suits, and better quality skirts (things I’m thinking might be better for a resale shop than for charity).

I lugged the bags downstairs and put them where I’d have to see them regularly — my system for “guilting” myself into doing something I know I should do but am hesitant about.

Then I went back to my room to survey the aftermath.

Wow! Lots more hanging space, lots of nice hangers. Yet still, way more stuff than I could ever hope to wear.

I get a warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing my clothing will probably go toward a person who needs it. Perhaps it will help them find a job. Or keep them warm this winter. Or give them confidence to leave a bad situation.

And no, this doesn’t give me an excuse to go shopping. Who needs an excuse for that?!

Where are the Fashion Designers??

Men have it so easy.

A shirt, slacks, maybe a jacket, and they’re dressed. No matter if they’re young, old, or somewhere in between.

Haven’t you seen “little men” wearing the same style suits as their grandpas?

Not so for women.

What works on a young child doesn’t work for a teenager. What works for a teen doesn’t work for a forty-something. What works for a forty-something doesn’t work for a blue-haired lady on a walker.

Now before you get all huffy about this, think for a minute. How many forty-year-old women can wear short-shorts? Or skinny jeans? Or stilettos and a sleeveless, form-fitting dress?

Doesn’t it look rather silly? Honestly?

Once upon a time, I’m told, women had the basics of dressing much easier. There were limited options — dresses, skirts and blouses, pantsuits. The ladies in Mom’s circle wore mostly dresses when I was little (dressy pants as I got older). They looked, well, like moms.

The older generation, like my grandmas, wore dresses and sensible shoes, necklaces, and “old lady cologne.” Sort of like the Queen, only not so classy and minus the Corgis.

Little girls were allowed to wear shorts or slacks and T-shirts for play, dresses for dress-up occasions. Their big sisters, teenagers, dressed similarly.

No more.

I’ve seen women old enough to know better trying to one-up their daughters by shimmying into too-tight jeans. Women long past their prime exposing flabby arms and back fat in racerback tops. Women risking hip fractures with mile-high wedge sandals. Women dressed like “bag ladies” in sweats and holey T-shirts.

Perhaps they’re simply confused. Or their “style” is all over the board. Or they’ve outgrown what used to fit and can’t find replacements.

My question is: Why aren’t fashion designers flocking to clothe these maturing women, many of whom are members of the Baby Boom Generation (those born between 1946 and 1964)?

Statistics indicate one person of this age group turns 65 every 8 seconds — and will continue to do so for the next 18 years!

These women prefer individuality. They gravitate to things that make them feel young. They embraced the likes of bell bottom blue jeans, graphic T-shirts, fringed vests, big hair. They practically pioneered bikinis, polyester shirts, knee-high boots, and big shoulders.

They set the world afire with innovation and hold the bulk of financial assets and marketing power, not to mention sheer numbers.

But they have no style. Think Jackie Kennedy style.

Shouldn’t fashion designers be tapping into that?

When I Tried Wen…

Seems like I can’t turn on the TV lately without seeing commercials for a hair care system called “Wen.”

This product by celebrity hair guru Chaz Dean is actually a 5-in-1 system, replacing shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler, and leave-in conditioner. It’s supposed to make your hair shiny and soft, preserve your color and highlights longer, and actually save you money by reducing the number of products you’ll have to buy.

Sounds intriguing, huh?

So when one of my friends said she had some and offered to give me a sample, I jumped at the chance.

‘I’m sharing it around,’ she said. ‘We all want to try it, but we shouldn’t all have to buy it.’ Indeed.

So why didn’t I use it the minute I got home?

Leery, I guess.

Typical Midwestern distrust of anything new, “high fashion,” celebrity-endorsed.

Sometimes that can be good, but it tends to put our region of the country far behind the curve compared to the East and West coasts.

Oh well.

Last night I figured if I was going to use the stuff, I might as well (doesn’t hurt to know I’m going to see her next week and she’s going to ask how I liked the Wen!)

Now in a general way, I’m not unhappy with my hair. It makes up for the “disadvantage” of being stick-straight by being thick and healthy and growing faster than turtles crawl.

But Wen commercials depict women with gorgeous hair, and who wouldn’t want that?

‘How do I use it?’ I asked.

‘Just put it on your hair,’ she told me. ‘Doesn’t matter how.’

She didn’t get that exactly right. I probably should have browsed through the instructional videos online before using Wen, but it seems results take place regardless.

After only one use, I can tell my hair isn’t tangly. It looks shinier. Feels softer. Seems straighter (if straighter is desirable!)

Wen is touted as containing only natural ingredients, nothing like the hair care products on the shelves. And it’s one of those things where you buy it, then they regularly send you another supply until you cancel. Kind of like ProActiv or something.

I’m not sure I want to get locked in to that kind of purchase.

Nor am I sure I’m ready to part with shampoos that lather up and smell wonderful.

Still, if you get a chance to try some, go for it. And do share your thoughts with us!

Goodbye Falsies

Call me a sucker, but recently I fell completely under the spell of a mascara ad on TV.

You’ve probably seen it. Strikingly attractive ladies travel around New York City to the 1980s “Magnum, P.I.” theme song.

Their eyelashes are Out. To. There.


What’s implied is that Maybelline’s new Falsies mascara can make any woman’s eyelashes look just as long, just as thick, just as upturned.

Like wearing false eyelashes without the aggravation.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. At least, it didn’t for me.

I bought a tube of the waterproof kind (doesn’t wash away or make you look like a raccoon if you cry or sneeze). And I opened it with excitement, knowing I was going to see myself in a new light with my thick, long, flared eyelashes.

The Falsies brand contains a non-smearing keratin fiber formula. Swirling the special “spoon brush” inside the tube, I eagerly applied it to my lashes, attempting to coax every single one out of hiding.

Nothing. My eyes still looked average.

Okay, maybe I didn’t have enough mascara on the wand.

So I tried again. And again.

Same result.

Hmm, I thought, this is taking a long time, longer than I usually give my morning face.

The more coats I added, the clumpier my lashes looked — thanks, I guess, to the quick drying nature of the formula. They didn’t turn up either, though maybe if I’d used a curler. . . .

Nah, those things look like torture devices.

For two weeks I fought the battle, telling myself I really ought to toss the tube out.

But who wants to throw money away in this economy?

Finally Fate intervened. I broke the brush. Snapped it right in half.

What a relief! No more frustration. Or guilt.

Now maybe I’m not supposed to have long, lush eyelashes. But I want ’em.

And while Falsies doesn’t do it for me, maybe another Maybelline product will. Something I won’t have to layer on, something I’ll have to fan to dry.

Which product claim have you bought into, only to be disappointed with the results?

What’s Your Definition of Short?

Have you ever had a lifelong idea about yourself shattered with just one statement?

That’s exactly what happened while I was shopping yesterday.

I went into a store at the mall in search of a pair of shoes. They had to be cute. Functional. Comfortable. Sort of stylish. And not over-priced.

Not asking much, huh?

But if you don’t set some parameters, you could end up with the opposite of what you’re hunting for. And I had a pair of casual twill slacks that were screaming for new shoes.

I explained my predicament to the clerk, who suggested ballet flats.

‘Already have some,’ I said. And the slacks I’m looking to wear with this as-yet-purchased pair of shoes hang about three inches longer than flats will accommodate.

‘Oh, then you need heels,’ she said.

Shrugging, I nodded.

‘Of course, you’re short and probably could stand having your pants hemmed,’ she pointed out.

‘Short? Me? No way.’

I’m pushing 5’6″, not short by anyone’s measure (unless I’m standing beside my TALL son!)

‘Five-six? Oh, but that is short,’ she assured me. ‘Why, today’s average woman is between 5’8″ and 5’10”. That’s why manufacturers are lengthening pant legs and jacket sleeves.’


Another customer overheard our discussion and inserted her two bits’ worth.

‘I always buy petites or short sizes,’ she said. ‘And I’m almost your height.’

No, she wasn’t. I could see I had a good inch or two on her. But who argues with another customer in a shoe store?

“Petites,” from everything I’ve read, are for women under 5’4″, specifically in the 4’11” to 5’3″ range.

That is NOT me.

Still bristling, I hurried (without a purchase) back home to my laptop to search for the average size of American women today. Guess what?

According to, the average height of American women was 5’3″ in 1960 but increased to 5’4″ in 2002. The article goes on to say the average size increases every two to three decades.

That’s 20 to 30 years, people!

By my calculations, it might take 45 years for the average woman’s height to reach my height. And in 45 years, I probably won’t give one fiddle-dee-dee whether my pant legs drag all over the street or not!

Store clerks who want to make sales should never insult customers, argue with them, or make all-encompassing assertions that are wrong (especially when customers are able to check the facts themselves).

I am NOT short, I’m average.

And I don’t consider that an insult. I’ve thought it all along!

All Dressed up and Nowhere to go

I kind of miss getting all slicked up and going into an office to work.

No, I’m not retired — I work for myself. Out of my home.

And while there are a gazillion-and-one positives, the slicking-up thing is one I miss.


In my early career as a newspaper journalist, casual pants and a blouse (or sweater, depending on the weather) were my “go-to” uniform. My makeup was subdued; my hair wash-and-wear. That’s it. I had to be ready for whatever the day would bring, whether it was covering a fire or a meeting or interviewing some official.

Male reporters wore slacks, a dress shirt, and tie (no jacket, unless you were an editor). Some donned jeans; the sports department got away with shorts (or sweats) and T-shirts with team logos.

The female reporters dressed pretty much as I did. Any time one of us appeared for work in a skirt or dress, the others in the newsroom never missed the opportunity to rib us and ask where we were heading that day to require getting “all gussied up.”

After I changed careers and became a pharmaceutical sales rep, I had to purchase a completely new wardrobe. Suddenly I needed suits with matching skirts or slacks, hosiery, heels, a briefcase. My makeup had to be perfect; my hair properly styled; my fingernails manicured with polish. Every day.

When you’re sitting face to face with doctors or pharmacists, promoting your product in big-city convention halls, or working with your manager, you want to look your best. Your company expects it; everybody else looks like a cookie-cutter version of you.

But now I’m a self-employed Web designer. I work from a home office; I wear what I choose.

Outside-the-office meetings with clients or potential clients find me dressing up a bit, but most summer days I’m in shorts, T-shirt, and sneakers; my jeans come out when the weather cools. Who really cares what someone is wearing when they’re working on a computer all day? But I haven’t shaken the habit of putting on makeup, keeping my hair styled and my fingernails polished!

The point is, Now it’s my choice.

Still, every so often, when I’m walking my dog early in the morning and I see cars pass with slicked-up people going to work, I find myself longing to be slicked up, too.

Well, maybe just a teeny bit.

Do I miss it enough to give up self-employment?

Uh-uh. No way.