Showing posts with label Baby Boomers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baby Boomers. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My Mother's Diary (and a Meaningful New Year's Resolution for You to Consider)

When my sister and I were clearing out my mother's house after her death in 1999 at the age of 91, I came across my mother's diary and brought it back home with me, and though I dabbled in reading it back then, it's only been lately that I decided to actually read it all.






Mark Twain said:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

When we are young, we don't seem to give much thought to what is going on with our parents, who they are or whether or not they are happy.  We tend to take them for granted. Perhaps that is why we end up knowing so little about our parents. 

I actually don't think I gave my mother any credit for "learning" anything until I was in my 50's.  Oh, yes, I tried to talk to her from time to time and find out how she felt about things, but we were not only from very different generations but we were on a different wave length.

You see my mother was born in 1908 and she was 40 when I was born.  That puts me at 21 in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War and the sexual, social and political revolution that was taking place around the world.  My mother had absolutely no idea what was going on with me and pretty much wanted me to stay her sweet little 1950's goody-two-shoes.  That wasn't going to happen.

But it wasn't all my fault.  I remember when I was in middle school, sitting on the edge of my parents' bed with my Dad and asking him why I didn't know him as well as my best friend.  Even then I was trying to make a connection between him as a Dad and him as a person. He said something about parents not wanting to worry their children, which looking back now, was an interesting comment.

I read something recently that said our children will never love us as much as we love them, and now that I have had children of my own, I understand that, and it actually gives me some strange comfort.  It's like it's not ME my children have rejected by not hanging on my every word or asking me if I am happy or not; it's the nature of things. Children just don't wonder if their parents are happy.  They are too busy wondering when they are going to be happy.  When we're young we take our parents for granted and don't really give them much thought unless they are getting in our way.  I literally know nothing about what really made my mother tick other than what she didn't like about ME.

Now as I near 70 I would give anything to have her here to ask her questions about her life and marriage.

But I have her diary.

The diary documents my mother's life from 1930 through 1933, age 22 to 25, which was also the time that my mother and dad were "courting (they married when they both were 26).




My mother's entries in her diary consist of mostly pretty mundane stuff.  Each entry was only a few lines per day, but I was able to glean some things I didn't know:

  • When I was growing up, my Dad was a musician and played trumpet in various bands right up until he died.  But I didn't realize how much he did that as a young man.  My mother is always mentioning in her diary that my Dad, Frederic, was playing this evening or that evening but it added up to quite a few evenings per week.  And he was also in college during that time.

  • My mother also talks about her friend, Rosella.  She is the person I am named after, and I didn't know anything about her because by the time I came along, she had moved away. Likewise, it was fun reading about my mother's other friends whom I only knew as old ladies.  I thought it was wonderful that my mother still had all of those friends all of her life.

  • I didn't realize how close my mother was to her own mother.  My mother's mother died when I was around five, so I don't remember her very well, but my mother talks lovingly of her in her diary.  I knew that her mother had gone back to Sweden to visit her family but had not realized it was for three months.  My mother writes in her diary, "Mother has been gone for a week and it seems like a year."  I think that was partly because my mother's older sister was married and no longer lived at home but her five brothers did, so looking after her Dad and her brothers probably fell to her.  I found it interesting that my mother had told me about an unsettling incident that had happened to her during that time her mother was away but no mention of it in her diary.



  • Reading my mother's diary, I was happy to see that my Dad was just as thoughtful a boyfriend as he was a Dad.  He was always writing her letters and giving her gifts and she called him "My darling" and "My Sweetheart" throughout the diary. That made me happy and sad at the same time.  It made me happy because they clearly loved each other when they were courting, but sad because it was clear to me growing up, that by the time I came along, my Mother and Dad were not that happy together.  Though their marriage lasted until my Dad's death - almost 60 years - something had gone wrong somewhere but I never found out what it was.

  • My Mother's diary had all kinds of little keepsakes in it and clippings from the newspaper: announcements about programs at the YWCA or the Women's Club that she was a part of but also pictures of things she liked and things she wanted to remember such as cards and notes.


  • Ironically, though reading someone's diary should be like reading their thoughts, just as she was in life, my mother's diary didn't reveal very much about her inner thoughts.  Her diary is mostly a few lines each day about what she did - she came home and took a nap, her friend came for dinner and she would describe what they ate, she went to a concert, she received a letter from my Dad-to-be or she didn't.  Nothing very revealing and very little about what she actually felt about her life.

And that is not surprising since my mother was never one to talk about her feelings and she didn't deem it an appropriate topic of conversation either.  I remember as a teenager saying to her, "Mom, I am feeling depressed," and her response was "What do you have to be depressed about!"  It wasn't a question.  It was a statement.  She probably added "Count your blessings," and that was the end of that conversation.  Isn't it funny and ironic that I was a teenager who actually wanted to talk to her mother, but, also ironically, unlike most mothers of teenaged girls who wanted their daughters to share with them, I had a mother who didn't want me to.  So that was that.

She was also very practical.  When I was having problems in my marriage, I remember calling my mother and saying, "Mom, he has been cheating on me and is in love with someone else," and she replied, "Well, you can't fight that."  And she was right.  I couldn't.  So that was that.

So my mother's diary very much reflects her reluctance to share feelings and her practicality.  Except for mentioning the occasional spat with her husband-to-be, my Dad, my mother's diary reveals little of her thoughts, no soul-searching, no sad stories, no doubts about herself, so if I was expecting revelations about her life, they are not there.

But I am comforted by the details of her life as a young woman, a young twenty-something who would one day marry her sweetheart, my Dad, and give birth to me. I enjoyed reading about her daily life: she was an active young woman who was the secretary to the president of the local bank; she read books and went to concerts and plays; she was active at the YWCA, and at her church and belonged to a young women's business club; loved her mother and her family and she was always on the go.  She didn't appear to have a bad word to say about anyone. In fact, she spoke lovingly of her nieces (her older sister had already married and had children) and friends. She would mention my Dad's parents or her brothers and sisters but never revealed how she felt about any of them which is odd, because later in life, she had plenty to say!  But in her twenties, she seemed happy and hopeful, with her whole life ahead of her.

I am glad I have my mother's diary and can spend some time with her as the young woman she was.  I just wish I had spent more time with her older self, when she was still alive, so that I could have found out more about her.  I wish I had let her little criticisms of me go over my head and not cloud our relationship.  I let those criticisms bother me and because I was busy living my life far away and raising my own children, I didn't make the effort to visit her much or talk with her on the phone more than once a week. 

But I loved my mother and I know she loved me.  When I finally did get a divorce and asked her to come and help me, at 74, she dropped everything and traveled by herself to California from Michigan to help me with my two-year-old son and to help me get back on my feet, and it was comforting to know she was always there for me - and she was.



Now that I have grown children too, and am in a position similar to my mother's, I have time to reflect and feel regret that I never had talks with her about her true feelings (though I can remember trying upon occasion), what drove her to do some of the things she did, how she felt about her 50+ year marriage at the end and if she had any regrets in life.  Though I am glad to have her diary and glad that she did share some important things with me over the years, I still have so many questions.  I wish my mother was still here to answer them.

But now it's too late.

Since my parents are both dead, it's too late for me to ask them questions that I have, but it's not too late for those of you whose parents are still alive.  I urge you to try to find out about them.  I'm not talking about their accomplishments or the family tree, I am talking about finding out why they raised you the way they did, why they married who they married, how they feel about getting old, what they have learned about life, what they regret.  All of those things that make them who they are.  You will learn about them but it also might shed some light on who you are too.

So here's an idea for a meaningful New Year's Resolution.

Make a resolution that in 2018 you will have some meaningful conversations with each of your parents to find out about who they really are and how they feel about their lives.

It's too late for me but it's not too late for you.

Don't wait.  Do it now. 

Do it before all you have left is a diary.


Thanks for reading!



See you Friday 

for

"The Best and the Worst Movies of 2017:
 
Rosy the Reviewer's Top 10" 

 
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fashion Inspiration for the Woman of a Certain Age ( and Size)!



If you have read my blog over the years, you know that I love fashion, and despite being a woman of a certain age (and size), I still like to dress up.  I have also always enjoyed fashion magazines, ever since I found my older sister's stash of "Seventeen," way back when I was about eight. Since I love clothes and like to make a fashion statement, I always found fashion magazines inspirational. 

However, now that I am a woman of a certain age, I still enjoy them, but find that more and more, they relate less and less to women like me. It seems as we age, we become invisible, not just to the opposite sex and in fashion magazines, but to the world in general. 

So now, I still like to read fashion magazines and books not so much for the fashion inspiration I once sought but so that I can become outraged at the expectations laid out for us older women ("What Rosy Loves and a Rant About Fashion Magazines.")  Not only are we faced with 18-year-old size zero women, we are told what we should and shouldn't wear, what's out and what's in.  Because of that, it's easy to just say, "Screw it!" and give up on ourselves.  If the expectations are so great and yet nobody sees us and nobody else cares what we look like, why should we?

But we should.  We need to fight invisibility and make strong statements about the fact that we may be old but we are still alive and kicking, we still care about how we look and we look GREAT!

I recently posted "Make-Up 101 for the Woman of a Certain Age," in hopes that I could inspire the more mature woman not to give up on herself just because she is, uh, mature and a bit wrinkly.  I also wrote that post because I think we women should fight invisibility by slapping on a little color and not giving in to the ravages of old age.

So I am going to continue that theme, but this time, regarding fashion, in hopes that, despite a little extra poundage and a bit of thickness around the middle, we women of a certain age and size can still look good.  Especially if you are retired, I know it's tempting to just let it all hang out, wear sweatpants and old lady shoes because they are comfortable.  When you have put on weight, one of the first things to go is a waistband, but in the immortal words of Billy Crystal as actor Fernando Lamas on SNL  "It's better to look good than to feel good."

Actually, I am just kidding, well, sort of kidding.

I don't want you to be uncomfortable, but I also don't want you to give in to comfort to the point of not giving a damn what you look like or to think that because you weigh 20 pounds more than you should why bother to dress up?

I had fun awhile back writing a blog post called "Parisian Chic (it's one of my most popular posts, too!) where I reviewed all of those books that came out a few years ago extolling the virtues of being French.  You know the ones I mean, "French Women Don't Get Fat," etc., books meant to make us American women feel shlumpy and lazy.  We may not be French and we many not know 20 different ways to tie a scarf, but we are not shlumpy and we are not lazy.

As I said, though I am a mature woman, I still enjoy dressing up and reading about fashion, so if you, too, are interested in this kind of thing and feel like we women of a certain age and size are left out of the fashion party, I thought I would check out a few recent books on fashion to see if there are any tips that would not only make us less invisible but help us feel really good about ourselves, despite our age and size.  I am also going to see if these are inspirational, and if so, glean the best, share what I have learned and save you the trouble of having to wade through all of them yourselves.

And you are very welcome!

Oh, and I will throw in a few pictures of outfits I have thrown together too.




How To Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets For Making Your Clothes Look, Fit and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer (2015)


The title of this book is a bit misleading. It's not actually how to put on your clothes but rather how to take care of your clothes so that when you put them on you look amazing.

According to Freer, fit is the true enemy of great style and we need to get a tailor! 

"For example, for us curvy girls...

"Buying bigger and then taking in only where needed is the costume designer's ultimate secret weapon for dressing curves..."

You see, basically this whole book is about either tailoring your clothes yourself or getting it done.  I see lots and lots of dollars flying out of my bank account.

But she also talks about figuring out your own signature style, which I think is good.  Well, I thought it was good until she interviewed women in various professions and, wouldn't you know, one of them was a librarian...I had to say, "Oh no she didn't...

As you know, I am a retired librarian and have been fighting the librarian stereotype and the "you don't look like a librarian" comments all of my life.  Not sure what a librarian is supposed to look like, but I know what the stereotype is.  It's either an old fussy lady with a bun, glasses and double-tread floor gripper shoes or a buttoned up younger woman (yes, she still has glasses and a bun), who hides the dirty books under her desk and is just waiting for a man to come along so she can shake out her hair, take off her glasses, reveal how hot she is so that said man can ravage her on her desk.

So you can image what I thought of THIS then when a young librarian was interviewed about her personal style!

She was a twenty-five-year-old librarian and she had come up with "Librarian Noir" as her personal style.  Now I know she is making a statement about books with the noir part but when I read the blurb I had to cringe. 

Anyway, here is what our little librarian said:

"I run the library at my local university, so proper bookish styles have always been the cornerstone of my personal style.  But the older I get, the more I find myself wanting to break out of the classic 'librarian' mold.  I still need to look professional -- I'm just looking to add a bit of zip to my existing work clothes.  After writing down all the books and films I love, I realized that what I really wanted was to add a little classic Hollywood sex appeal to my wardrobe.  That's how I ended up with 'Librarian Noir.' I've plugged a few fluffy angora sweaters and seamed stockings into my existing closet of pencil skirts and ballet flats.  The result is a look that signals to the world that I'm a very proper lady--with a few secrets hidden just beneath the surface, should one want to scratch."

If ever there was a librarian stereotype, this is it. 

Librarian plus angora sweater and seamed stockings?  "A few secrets hidden beneath the surface?"  And scratch what?  Every man's fantasy, giving her a scratch and waking up that poor sex-starved librarian and finding out she's a sexual hellcat?

I also take issue with her talking about "bookish styles" - not sure what those are.  Likewise, don't know what the "classic librarian mold" is other than more stereotypes (reading glasses on a chain, pencil in bun, matching sweater set?)

(**As you can see, I feel strongly about the "librarian stereotype."  I actually wrote a whole blog post about it a couple of years ago called "Librarian Fashion. Others must care about it too, because that blog post has turned out to be one of my most popular ones. If you are interested, take a look).

After Freers finished discussing the importance of our finding our signature style, and I got over all of that librarian noir nonsense, she went on to list:

"Dumb Fashion Rules That Were Made for Breaking" which I mostly agreed with:

  • Be afraid of stripes
  • Don't wear white after Labor Day
  • Don't mix your metals
  • Don't wear leggings as pants
  • Don't wear boots in the summer
  • Don't mix patterns
  • Don't double up on denim

I agree that all of those are dumb rules except I think NOT doubling up on denim is a GOOD rule unless you want to look like you are just off the farm, and if leggings should be worn as pants, somebody should tell United Airlines.

Freers also offers some fun and strange tips that supposedly come from Hollywood actresses she has worked with: spraying your feet with cooking spray makes it easy to fit into stilettos - ladies, are we still wearing stilettos? - and "irons in a can (also known as wrinkle releasing sprays)" can work in a pinch.  Likewise, when it comes to our intimate wear, she says don't waste your money on expensive shape wear when granny panties and cotton bike shorts work just as well.  Good to know.  I've been wearing granny panties for years.

There is a chapter on shopping vintage and thrift and even one for the guys, but mostly this book is about clothes maintenance - stain removal, storage, shoe care and how to wash fabric the right way Yawn.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Inspiring for us women of a certain age and size?  Not really.  Some handy tips if you want to get into tailoring your clothes and need some advice on stain removal and greasing your stilettos, but this all sounds like too much work for me.  But at least all age groups and sizes can relate, though I'm still reeling from that 25-year-old librarian and her "Librarian noir."




This is what a librarian looks like!



How To Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig (2012)


No this book is not about how to look like a high priced hooker.

The title seems like it should be the title of a movie about high class call girls, but it's not.  In fact, Lustig takes issue with looking loud or tarty.

"Looking expensive is about looking chic and understated, polished and professional...It's about not being flashy or a show-off or a showgirl...It's luxe, not loud.  More Paris France than Paris Hilton."  Ouch.

This is yet another book revealing fashion secrets.  Who knew there were so many secrets about fashion out there and why are they secrets?  But in fact, rather than revealing secrets, this is more like a pep talk to not let yourself go.

"When you upgrade your look you are setting yourself up to upgrade your life."

"Improving your looks is a way to improve your life."

"Feeling like a million bucks makes you look like a million bucks."

You get the idea.

Lustig comes up with four styles to emulate to look expensive:

  • Park Avenue Pretty
  • Think Kate Middleton or Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Hollywood Boho
  • Think Taylor Swift or Chloe Sevigny

  • Glam Globe Trotter
  • Angelina Jolie or Sienna Miller

  • Modern Movie Star
  • Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lopez


She also goes into make-up essentials, the top eyebrow mistakes. wardrobe rules and more pronouncements:

  • Less is always more
  • Build an edited beauty collection (check out my Make-up 101 blog mentioned above)
  • Knowledge is priceless - DIY or know how to not get overcharged
  • You can't put a price on good taste
  • Maintenance is everything
  • Buying new beauty products is a lot cheaper than buying new clothes
  • The key to a look that reads high worth is to enhance what you've got without trying to be someone else (then why did she list those stars)?

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you feel like a pep talk will get your butt off the couch and motivate you to put on some make-up and try to look like Jennifer Lopez, then this book might be for you but I found it a bit smug.



I am channeling my inner Jennifer Lopez!

 

 






Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? by Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet (2017)



You cannot escape the French and their superior attitude about fashion and not getting fat.

According to them, you should wear a lot of denim and a lot of black.

Through a series of pictures, the authors show you how you should dress for various events from going to work,



going out to dinner



and what to wear to visit the Eiffel Tower.

Huh?  There's a particular way we are supposed to dress to see the Eiffel Tower?

There is also a list of fashion faux pas, because, well, like I said these authors are French.

Not sure why Bermuda shorts with pockets are bad.  I am thinking Bermuda shorts in general are bad.  The authors also don't like leggings, knockoff bags, platform sneakers, culottes, long down jackets, head-to-toe fur, crepe-soled shoes, Crocs, bras with clear straps, piling on jewelry, cat T-shirts, Mom jeans, and more.  I mostly agree though I have to say the last time I was in Paris everyone looked like the Michelin Man in their long down jackets and I have to admit I am prone to piling on a bit of jewelry.



They end the book with what you SHOULD do - "Fashionable Style Tricks" such as pairing a straw bag with an evening dress, cinching your blazer with two belts, turning your V-neck backwards and using a pearl necklace as a belt.

Two belts? And they think culottes are a fashion faux pas?

The book is nicely illustrated with full outfits for many occasions but the models are all young, skinny bitches wearing nothing but black and denim.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you can get past the skinny bitches and you like black and denim, you might find some inspiration here but once again, it's those damn French women trying to make us Americans feel fat and frumpy!



Gee, I wonder what they would say about an old lady in bell bottoms! 
 
At least I am wearing black!


 
 







The Power of Style: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Dressed Tomorrow by Bobbie Thomas (2013)


Another fashion pep talk.

What's with these pep talks?  Are all women giving up on themselves that they need pep talks to get dressed?  I'd better read this book fast since tomorrow will be here before I know it!

Before you can even get dressed you have to go through these steps!


  • Step 1 - See yourself and ask Who Are You?

  • Step 2 - Act the part - body language and first impressions

  • Step 3 - Brand yourself

  • Step 4 - Know your worth

  • Step 5 - Put a plan in practice

OK, Rosy who are you?  I am an old gal packing a few extra pounds who just wants to be able to get dressed tomorrow and look presentable without having to ask myself "Who Am I?"  All of that just to get dressed each day?


She then goes into colors (do we still do that? - I'm summer, by the way) and finding out the best styles for your body type but for one thing - who does colors anymore and the whole body type thing has been debunked.  We curvy girls CAN wear skinny jeans.

This book is less about fashion and more of a pep talk but reading 111 pages of pep talk would keep me from getting dressed by tomorrow.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if I have to do all of that before I get dressed tomorrow, I would never get dressed!



I just threw this together!




The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces by Wendy Mak (2017)


Here is the formula: 80/20.  80% basics and 20% stuff you actually like. 

Literally 109 pages putting those 30 pieces together into outfits. Mak shows you how to take 30 pieces and turn them into 1000 outfits but I have to ask, Why?Yawn.  What fun is it to wear the same 30 pieces all of the time even if they are in all different combinations?

Rosy the Reviewer says... I don't think I am a good candidate for the capsule wardrobe.  In jackets alone, I have more than 30 pieces and I like the idea of being able to shop my wardrobe.  I don't think I'm a capsule wardrobe person.



After all is said and done, here is what I have to say about fashion for the woman of a certain age and size:

DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!!!

Read fashion magazines if you want.  Read books about fashion if you want.  Both will give you some ideas but don't let those skinny bitches tell you what you can and cannot wear because the bottom line is - WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!

It's your life.  Enjoy it!

EXPRESS YOURSELF!



 
Thanks for reading!

See you Friday 


for my review of  

"It"  


and


 
The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."

  

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From Finicky to Foodie and Back Again: Confessions of a Baby Boomer and What She Ate





Look at her.

She looks like such a nice, dutiful little girl with her neatly folded hands and her little braids with the bows and her crooked bangs (cut by her father), but, don't let that fool you.  That little girl was a very finicky little girl when it came to food and could case major scenes if forced to eat something that "looked funny."

She wasn't just finicky.  She was VERY finicky.

As the audience used to ask in unison on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" when he made a pronouncement like that: 

"How finicky was she?"

And like Johnny Carson, I will reply:

  • She was so finicky that she wouldn't eat steak because she had to chew it too many times
  • She was so finicky that she wouldn't eat spaghetti sauce on her spaghetti, just melted butter
  • She was so finicky that when she went to camp she worried more about the fact that she would have to try at least one bite of what was served than that she couldn't swim and might possibly drown
  • She was so finicky that her salad was plain iceberg lettuce
  • She was so finicky that she wanted her peanut butter toast cut into "fairy cakes" (I think the Brits call them "soldiers")
  • She was so finicky that she cried if cooked carrots were anywhere in her vicinity

You get the idea.  She was really, really finicky.  And as I sit here sipping my glass of gruner veltliner and nibbling on a little piece of taleggio and a baguette, with some baby gherkins and fig jam on the side, I can confess that little girl was yours truly.

So what happened?  How did that little finicky little girl turn into a foodie who thinks nothing of crunching away on squid tentacles or relishing a nice bowl of pho with beef tendon?

I tackled some of my childhood finicky food preferences back in 2013 with "A Baby Boomer's Food Memories," where I shared some of my mother's recipes too, so I won't repeat myself here, though I will remind you just how finicky I was. 

I don't know how it happened but I did not trust food.  Or maybe it was my mother.  She liked to make casseroles and those are anathema to someone with food fears.  When I would ask her what was in it she would say, "Oh, butter and flour and meat and other good things."  I was suspicious that she would sneak something I didn't like into it, to say the least (which she often did), so I just said, "I'll have a tuna sandwich."  And when I say tuna sandwich, I am not talking about tuna SALAD.  Oh, no...that would include onions and mayonnaise (I only ate Miracle Whip in those days) and, horror of horrors, possibly mustard.  No, my tuna sandwich was plain albacore tuna laid out on bread that had been spread lightly with Miracle Whip.  Or if my mother was feeling particularly motherly, she would serve it to me on toast that was buttered on both sides.  Yum.

So besides tuna sandwiches, what else would I eat?

  • Cottage cheese (I liked to stir a little milk into it to make it more like soup)
  • Kraft dinner with pieces of bacon mixed into it (most people call this Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but we always called it Kraft dinner - I guess because it WAS dinner)
  • Soft-boiled eggs with a dollop of butter 
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup (made with milk, not water, and sometimes my mother would float pieces of peanut butter toast in the soup - I know it sounds weird but it's actually delicious.  Peanut butter is one of those things that goes with everything! See there was a bit of the foodie already starting to creep out though I can't quite explain why tomato soup was OK but tomato sauce on my spaghetti was not)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Fish sticks
  • Hamburger with just ketchup
  • Likewise hotdog with just ketchup (I abhorred yellow mustard and actually still do - if I was presented with a sandwich with mustard on it I would go hungry rather than eat it because once that yellow goop gets on the bread, there is no getting it off no matter what you do!)
  • Potatoes in any incarnation
  • Chicken and turkey (but only the dark meat)
  • Jello and anything sweet (but no coconut)
  • TV dinners if the vegetable was corn.

(Speaking of TV dinners, I don't think anyone these days realizes what a big deal TV dinners were when they were invented back in the 50's.  I think my mother must have died and gone to heaven, even though she was a really good cook and cooked most things from scratch.  But when you have a finicky kid like I was, she just had to put one of those babies in the oven, then set it on the TV tray and put me in front of the TV and she was done.  Yes, we had TV trays).

So growing up, that was about the extent of my food repertoire.

And, yes.  If I didn't like what my mother made for dinner, she would fix me something different, one of my acceptable foods.

Now I can just hear you parents out there thinking what a spoiled child I must have been and you certainly wouldn't do that for your child.  My mother would prepare the meal for the family, and then if I objected to the menu, make something special for me.  I probably was spoiled in many ways, but I don't think that is one of them.  My experience has been that most parents force their children to at least try the food that is put in front of them, that they eat what the rest of the family eats or go without.  Some parents even make their kids sit at the table until they eat what is put before them even if it takes hours.  And if that is what you believe is the best way to raise your child, then that is your right, but I am also going to say that it is also the quickest way to create food issues for your children. 

I applaud my mother for not making a big deal about food and what I ate.

The way I see it is, the best way to create an aversion to certain foods, or saddle your children with food issues, is to make them eat what they don't want to eat. You have no idea what a casserole looks like to a little kid. Certain foods would literally make me gag and that was not creating a very relaxing dinner table.



Yes, I was a finicky little girl and my mother catered to me, but I grew up to be a woman who has no food issues and eats just about everything.  I was never a model, but I was in the normal body weight range for most of my life (and if you want to know why I am now no longer in the normal range, read my post "My Menopause")!  But I digress.

Though I didn't appreciate it at the time, I believe the fact that my mother catered to me in that way also made me feel very loved and looked after, which in turn led to the confidence I would need to go out and make my own way in the world.  And looking back, being a mother myself, I know she didn't mind doing it, because she was able to show her love.  My mother was not a particularly outwardly affectionate woman, but she showed her love in ways like that.

So how did that little girl who cried if there was mustard on her sandwich or considered iceberg lettuce "eating her vegetables" turn into a foodie?

After years of spending massive amounts of time trying to avoid most foods and causing a scene while I was doing it, I had an epiphany my senior year in college.  I realized my finickyness was affecting my life.  I mean, it is a bit embarrassing to ask at a Thai restaurant if I could have a cheese sandwich.  

But I do have to give myself a bit of slack.  It's not all my fault.  I didn't exactly come from a foodie background.  I grew up in the Midwest and a town that would hardly be called a fine dining town.  Howard Johnsons was my parents idea of fine dining and even then we were not allowed to order anything special to drink or dessert, because that was extra and my Dad only wanted to pay for the entrees.  He would have a heart attack if he knew what we pay for wine these days when we dine out.  Sometimes the wine is a bigger part of the bill than the food!  It was also not a town with a lot of diversity in the food options nor were my parents very adventurous. Let me just say that my mother once told me she had tried "Thigh" food.  I think she was almost 80 at the time.  I didn't have the heart to correct her pronunciation.

So when I moved to San Francisco after college, I vowed that I would no longer be finicky but rather I would eat EVERYTHING. 



Though San Francisco is a town renowned for its food, when I lived there I was, shall we say, a bit cash deficient and thus not really able to avail myself of all of the fine dining the town had to offer. But I was still able to hone my love of Chinese food in that City's famous Chinatown, eat Chicken Kiev at a local Russian mom and pop, try kimchi in Korea Town and expand my hamburger orders to include onions and tomatoes.  I was getting there.

Then when I moved to the Monterey Bay Area where I was married and raised my family, it was all about seafood - sand dabs, abalone, sushi and calamari were favorites. 

But it wasn't until I moved to Seattle over ten years ago, that I became a real foodie.



Seattle is the premiere food capital of the Pacific Northwest (sorry, Portland), and I embraced it with a passion. 

I discovered that I loved not only eating food, but reading about the restaurants serving the food and the "celebrity chefs' who were making it.  The city was awash in new restaurants, and I read every review and attempted to go to every restaurant.  I even made a list of the best restaurants A-Z and started my quest to sample them all in order.  (However, by the time I got to the "F's," I realized that more and more new restaurants were opening with names that began with letters before "F," so I changed my strategy to restaurants by neighborhood).

Moving to Seattle, I became a fervent foodie (and if you want to know which restaurants are my favorites, you will have to check back on this blog) and embraced all things foodie with a passion!

I also threw myself into food-oriented TV programs. I am an avid viewer of "Top Chef" and have also watched all of Gordon Ramsay's TV shows from "Hell's Kitchen" to "Master Chef.  I read Marco Pierre White's memoir (he was the first enfant terrible of the kitchen), as well as all of Tony Bourdain's books (I watch all of his TV shows too).  I even paid extra for the VIP tickets so I could meet Tony when he did a show here in Seattle (he was very nice).



I "starred" on an episode of "Check Please," a PBS program that plays in several cities across the country.  The Chicago version can even claim a young Senator named Barack Obama (check You Tube). The gist of the show is that you and two others choose your favorite restaurant. Everyone goes to each other's restaurant choice, and then we get together with the host of the program to be filmed as we talk about our experiences.

(Here it is if you care to watch it).
 



And there I was expounding about food. And watching myself, realizing I was doing it insufferably so.

So as with most passions, it is easy to overdo it.

The finicky little girl who only liked her spaghetti with butter on it, had turned into a true foodie who could rave about her calamari steak, but as you can see, she had also turned into a huge, insufferable food snob!  I mean I am even saying on the show in front of millions of people that I don't like to dine in a restaurant with children!

If I were to revise that list of how finicky I was when I was a little girl to a list of how finicky I am today, it would look  something like this:

  • I am so finicky that I send my steak back if it's not perfectly medium rare (even though I know I risk the chef spitting on my food)
  • I am so finicky that if I want pasta, I don't even eat spaghetti anymore - more like lobster ravioli or braised monk fish on a bed of spiralized zucchini
  • I am so finicky that when I am at a high end restaurant I am disappointed if they don't give me an amuse bouche
  • I am so finicky that I won't order wine if the restaurant doesn't have a nice Oregon Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc
  • I am so finicky that haven't set foot in a Denny's in over 10 years
  • I am so finicky that I refuse to be seated in a restaurant near the door, bathrooms or kitchen
  • And I could go on, but I won't

And I am not proud of all of that. 

I have also turned into a person who chefs don't even like.

I read an article recently where Seattle chefs shared food terms that are overused and they hate to hear:

"Foodie" is right up there but how about these?

  • Veggie
  • Like butta
  • Sando (for sandwich)
  • Food porn
  • Foodgasm
  • Yummy
  • "Chef" as a verb (as in "cheffing)
  • Ethnic food (as in throwing all food that isn't European into that category)
  • Umami (using that to describe any flavor your don't understand)
  • Sexy
  • Mouthfeel


There's more, but I will let you read the article for yourself. 

My point here is that I have used over half of those words myself and finding out that, if a famous chef heard me say any of those words to describe the food I was eating, he or she would describe me as an idiot, has made me rethink this whole foodie thing, er, I mean this thing about food snobbism.

I may eat everything and actually savor all kinds of great food that I would never have touched as a child, I may love to read restaurant reviews and talk about my dining experiences, I may know what buerre blanc and veloute are, but in so doing, I have gone in the other direction and my newfound passion has turned me into a finicky snob about food. 

I have reverted back to that finicky little girl.

However, there is hope.

The difference between me now and that little finicky girl who expected her mother to cater to her finicky nature is that the adult Rosy realizes she can be a pain in the butt about her passion for fine dining, so from this day forward I vow to continue to enjoy good food, dine in fine restaurants and review them (watch for the occasional restaurant review in my Friday "Week in Reviews" posts), but I am going to watch my language and stop showing off. 

I may know all about galettes, aguilettes and semi freddo, but I don't need to be snooty about it.  I don't want to be that kind of person. You know the type.. describing her meal and acting all shocked and snobby that you didn't know what she was talking about ("You don't know what bucatini is?  Well, bless your little heart!") or telling her that you are not a big fan of chicken feet and her looking all sorry for you, not to mention your nodding off because she was boring you to death. 

No, I don't want to be that person. I certainly don't want to shame people about their food preferences, just as I wouldn't have liked it very much if people had made fun of me when I was young because I had never tried pizza (it looked funny).  Well, they did, but I got over it. 

Food is like art.  It's a matter of taste.

So for those of you out there who consider yourselves food experts, or god forbid, foodies, this is a cautionary tale.  Realize that not everyone knows what rillettes are, and more importantly, not everyone even cares. Gauge your audience, realize everyone is not as gung ho about food as you and stop showing off. No matter how passionate you might be about something, nobody likes a show off, even when it comes to food! 

And, finally, there is a little irony in all of this. 

Despite my food snobbism, in weak moments or when I am depressed or late at night when no one is looking, I revert to my childhood.  That finicky little girl who didn't like much in the way of food, whose mother catered to her, is still in there.  When I am craving something to eat, I don't whip up a cheese soufflé or a fancy omelet or potatoes lyonnaise. OK, sorry, a fancy potato dish.  

No, in those quiet, soulful moments, there is nothing like a piece of toast with peanut butter on it (cut into "fairy cakes, of course) to dip into some cream of tomato soup or a soft-boiled egg mashed up with a dollop of butter or a toasted tuna sandwich buttered on both sides to make me feel better.

Those comfort foods from my past take me back to that finicky little girl back home again being cared for by her mother. 



And nothing served to me in even the best restaurants in the world can compare to that.

 

That's it for this week!
 

Thanks for reading!

 

See you Friday 

 
for my review of
 
"Denial"

 and 

  The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before  

 I Die Project." 

 

 
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