Friday, September 10, 2010
Easy as A, B, C
Easy as A, B, C – whoa, I hear a Jackson Five tune coming on!
Here’s the scoop, starting at the very beginning. Isabel Allende, a favorite author of mine, spoke last night at the University of San Francisco’s Center for the Pacific Rim. She is on a book tour, promoting her latest novel, “Island Beneath the Sea.” Susan, my friend and Patricia’s mom, asked a few weeks ago if I wanted to go with her.
Oh yes! I am a longtime fan. Plus, I have reviewed a handful of Allende’s books for the Post-Dispatch, among them “'Ines of My Soul,” her account of the splendid life of conquistadora Ines Suarez, who helped found Chile. In that book, Allende writes that Suarez ponders life and death, musing, "I suspect in this life we are not going anywhere, and even less in haste; one merely follows a path, one step at a time, toward death."
This is what Suarez imagines when we reach that destination: "Death is not a hooded skeleton with empty eye sockets, as the priests tell us to frighten us, but a large, roly-poly woman with an opulent bosom and welcoming arms; a maternal angel."
Love that! After my review ran in the paper in November 2006, a radio station in Chicago called to say Allende would soon be appearing on an interview program and they wanted to read part of my review on the air. Was that okay with me? Sure, I said, but why not just fly me to Chicago so I could take part? They balked, and I did not get to hear the program, but I was honored nonetheless.
Last night, I sat on the aisle in the third row at Allende’s presentation. She is tiny, small in stature, made taller by slingback silver spike heels – this at 67! She wore a black skirt and top, with a sheer black jacket with maroon trim. Allende’s eyes are big, quick and intelligent, and a feisty sense of humor brings often unexpected remarks from her generous, smiling mouth. How wonderful to be in the presence of Isabel Allende at last!
About Beer: For years after my father’s death from cirrhosis of the liver, I imposed a two-drink minimum on myself. Why? Because I have loved every alcoholic beverage I have ever tasted. Margaritas and dirty martinis and caipirinhas and frou-frou drinks and Irish whisky straight up and big red Zins at $12.50 a glass – bring ‘em on! Then after a Betrayal of the Body six years ago, I was put on a medication that is hard on the liver.
“Don’t drink,” said the doctor.
“Ever?” I asked.
“Okay, four times a year,” she said.
I cheated. For the past six years, I’ve been enjoying alcoholic beverages maybe eight times a year. Really – ask my friends. Early this week I met with my new doc in San Francisco. “We know more now,” he said. “You may have one drink a week with no cause for worry.”
“One a week? I couldn’t,” I said, appalled. Then I confessed a secret: Over the past three years, I’ve been bumming a taste here, a swallow there, of craft beers being enjoyed by friends, and have come to love unfiltered wheat beer. The doctor laughed and assured me that one beer a week was absolutely fine.
I just had one! A Blue Moon. I drank it with a tiny pepperoni pizza from Trader Joe’s. Pizza and beer – what a pleasure! I’ll still order a margarita or martini on my birthday, and once in awhile when out to dinner with friends, I’ll indulge in red wine. Other weeks, I’m exploring craft beers.
And now to C, the haircut. San Francisco weather – the damp fog and the rowdy wind – has not been nice to my hair. The humidity isn’t high enough to cause my naturally curly hair to spiral in on itself and look thick and lustrous, and every day, the wind has tried its best to pull out what curl I did have. I’ve been walking around with my usual short hair looking long, standing straight up, a la Christopher Walken or even Albert Einstein.
On Wednesday, I walked into my neighborhood salon and said to Lison, my stylist, “Last month I asked you to duplicate the cut I came in with. This time, I am asking you what you would do if this were your head.” I explained the problem. Lison proposed cutting it really short on the sides and in back, leaving some height on top.
“We could go for an asymmetrical look,” she said. “If you pull some of the hair in front straight across, it will curl on the other side of your forehead. You will look more contemporary, new, exciting.”
Me? Contemporary? New? Exciting? “Do it,” I said. She did, and my hair did just what she said it would, curling on my forehead like a single quotation mark. Now when the wind tosses my hair, it just looks ruffled and somehow fuller, instead of sticking straight out. It’s easy to live with. It’s fun. It’s cute. I like it!
I took the photo posted here, but my face looks really big because my arms are short and I couldn’t get the camera far enough away to shoot a really good picture. If you want to see my contemporary, new, exciting hair for yourself, just buy a plane ticket and come for a visit. Karen Duffy did, and we had a blast!
And that’s my ABCs for today.