Quaran-reading: Come Fly the World

I’ve mentioned my love of reading on here before. And my love of the Kennedy-Camelot era, too. So when I saw that the book Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am was coming out, I put in a request at my local library ASAP.

The stories former Pan Am stewardesses have to tell are fascinating. Back in the late 50s and 60s, being a stewardess was one of the most glamorous jobs available to women. To fly with Pan Am, women had to have a college education and speak two languages.

They also had to be under 26 at the time of hire, stand between 5’3″ and 5’9″, and weigh between 105 and 140 pounds. All beauty standards set by men. And they had to be single, to make them appear ‘available’ (wink, wink) to their mostly male passengers. But they got to see the world.

Being a stewardess was one of the first jobs that gave women independence and let them play an active role in world events. The most moving episodes in Come Fly the World describe Pan Am’s role in the Vietnam War, flying soldiers to and from R&R in Hawai’i and Tan Son Nhut air base before and after their deployment. And in April 1975, the airline evacuated 2, 000 children and infants during the fall of Saigon, a mission called Operation Babylift.

As the women’s movement gathered speed in the 60s and 70s, stewardesses joined unions to bargain for fair pay and labor practices. In June 1968, they won the right to continue to fly after they got married, and/or after they turned 32. Or at least take the airline to court if they felt they were being discriminated against for their marital status or age.

In 1991, Pan Am went the way of the dinosaur. It sold its InterContinental Hotel Group, although InterContinental Hotels and Resorts still exists. The airline also sold the iconic Pan Am Building in New York, the last New York skyscraper with legal rights to display it’s name in huge letters. It is now the Met Life Building.

I wanted to read Come Fly the World because about 10 years ago, ABC made a TV series about a Pan Am flight crew called, well, Pan Am. It was a period piece set in the latter half of 1963. Some episodes were better than others, but I loved the show. The women’s outfits and makeup were amazing.

Pan Am was canceled after 14 episodes, which is too bad. It had the potential to tell interesting stories, at least for a few seasons. You can stream it on Amazon Prime here. And FYI, one of the stewardesses was played by a then-unknown Margot Robbie.

Tell me. What kinds of books do you like to read? If you’ve read anything interesting lately, let me know. I love me a good book recommendation! Let’s go all book group in the comments!

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Let’s Talk About Pandemic Fatigue

The water was so still it acted as a mirror.

Hi all! Yes, it’s been a while. I think pandemic fatigue has finally gotten to me. I just have not been creatively inspired lately, to be honest. Even photography, which I genuinely enjoy, has fallen by the wayside.

The winter weather hasn’t been helping, either. But we are finally seeing some signs of spring here in NJ. That said, I have recently finished an online photography class given by the International Center for Photography in New York City. I’m hoping I’ll feel more inspired to pick up my camera once the weather warms up, and I want to be ready.

One cool thing I did do was take two outdoor photo treks in January with a Meetup group I’m in. Both treks were out in western New Jersey, which was fun for me, because I am not really familiar with that part of the state. One was to Carnegie Lake near Princeton (see above and below).

My fave shot from Carnegie Lake. I love the pop of blue.

The other trek was a hike up the red dot trail on Mt. Tammany, near the NJ/Pennsylvania border. And I mean it. was. a. hike. I thought I was in pretty decent shape, but apparently I’m not. For my efforts, I got four decent pics. My fave:

I was going for the reflections in this puddle, but I’m not sure if I actually got there. Unfortunately the weather was pretty overcast on both treks. I want to go back and do them again in sunnier weather. I also want to photograph the waterfalls along the blue dot trail at Mount Tammany. When I do, I promise I’ll post the pics.

As of April 5, journalists and members of the press in NJ will be eligible for the vaccine. I can’t wait to see people in person again, and burn my black yoga leggings.

So how is everyone holding up, more than a year into the pandemic? Let’s keep each other going in the comments!

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Lifestyle: Sunglasses from Serengeti Eyewear

Hi Guys. I got a new pair of sunglasses back in March, right as the lock down was happening.* So I wanted to jump on here today to let you know how much I have been loving them this summer!

The shades are from a company called Serengeti Eyewear, and the style I picked is called Lela, a 50s-inspired look. My love of all things vintage knows no bounds! I choose the brown and rose gold color combination. I have been wearing them exclusively since I got them. Even to things like outdoor yoga classes!

I’ve noticed I am not squinting at all when i wear them. With gradually adjusting Photochromic lenses and glare-reducing Polarization, they really do block the rays. And Spectral Control technology keeps colors crisp and clear. In bright sunlight or while driving, I see clearly and comfortably.

These glasses are also pretty durable. I’ve dropped them a few times (OK, more than a few), and they don’t have a scratch! They look just as new as the day I got them. The only thing? They didn’t come with a case. But maybe that’s not a big deal, if you already have a case you like. And yes, Serengeti sunglasses can be made to fit your prescription.

You can check out all the different Serengeti Eyewear looks here. And you can find Serengeti Eyewear on Amazon or at optical stores across the country.

Tell me. Are you particular about your sunglasses? Do you have a brand/style you really love? Tell me about it in the comments!

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* The sunnies were sent to me for my review. Opinions are my own.

Fabulous Links: Heatwave Edition

Like all good New Yorkers, Patience wears his mask!

Fortitude wears his mask, too!

So the Summer of ‘Rona continues. I hope everyone is staying safe and wearing their masks, like Patience and Fortitude at the New York Public Library (see above).

We are having a heatwave here is New Jersey. However, nail and hair salons (Hallelujah!) are open, and socially distant, outdoor exercise classes have begun. I am all about outdoor yoga.

I recently shared two items from Women’s Wear Daily that got some attention on Blend and Swatch, the Allure Facebook group, and on my own FB feed, so I wanted to share them here.

The first article is about how designer and Christian Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her fall 2020 haute couture collection: in miniature scale on doll-sized mannequins, in a short film by Italian director Matteo Garrone! Chiuri came up with this genius idea when the fall haute couture shows were cancelled due to the pandemic. The pandemic has forced people to think outside the box, and this idea is my fave example of that creativity! I hope the miniature, Surrealist-inspired collection goes on tour or on exhibit in a museum, so many people can enjoy it. I’d go see it. (WWD)

The second item announced Dior’s collaboration with Vespa scooters. If you’re ready for La Dolce Vita, the limited-edition Vespa 946 Christian Dior with matching accessories will be available in spring 2021 in Dior stores worldwide. How chic would you look zipping around your ‘hood on that thing? (WWD)

And as a bonus link, I read recently that Kanye West’s Yeezy brand is doing a collection with the Gap. The Yeezy Gap line will debut next spring at stores and online. Kanye seems to be pretty fashion savvy, so this collection should be interesting, maybe even a little edgy. You could even wear it while tooling around on your Dior-themed Vespa! (Fashion Network)

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Book of the Month: Quaran-reading

I’ve always loved to read. It’s one reason I became a writer. When I was two, my parents and I lived in Scotland for three months. We actually had to join the local library over there to get books for me.

So I was psyched to be gifted a subscription to Book of the Month last fall. It was a very generous gift from the Newswomen’s Club of New York for serving on the Front Page Awards committee. I wanted to jump on here to tell you about two selections I have really enjoyed.

The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang. This novel takes place in China during the Sino-Japanese War in the late 30s. During the war, Chinese universities had to evacuate, and students and faculty walked thousands of miles inland to avoid Japanese bombs.

Chang’s novel follows nineteen-year-old student Hu Lian on such a journey. As they try to elude the Japanese, Lian and her fellow refugees also have to protect a five-hundred-year-old collection of Chinese folklore called the Library of Legends. The Library awakens mysterious, immortal spirits as it travels across China. These spirits change the country’s fate, and Lian’s, forever.

The characters had an intriguing air of mystery about them, which kept me reading to find out more. And I’m fascinated by the fact Asian folk tales have survived for thousands of years. Plus, Chang kept mentioning Chinese dumplings, which are my favorite food and the quickest way to my heart.

My litmus test for if I really enjoyed a book is whether or not I would read other books by the same author. In this case, the answer is yes! Chang also wrote Dragon Springs Road and Three Souls, which I look forward to reading.

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd is best known for her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, both of which l loved. This story is a little different. It imagines what it would have been like if Jesus was married, in this case to a woman named Ana.

As someone who went to Catholic school for 13 years, I thought that premise was a little weird. Jesus was defintiely not married! But the book is very well researched, and Kidd is a good storyteller.

As you read her novels, it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire, and she’s telling you a tale. Her prose flows that easily. I am currently reading her book The Invention of Wings, which is the story of the relationship between a white girl and her black slave in early nineteenth-century Charleston, South Carolina. It gets you thinking about how deeply-rooted racism is in this country.

Tell me. Have you been reading more during COVID-19? Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, please drop them in the comments!

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Skin Care: 7th Heaven Coconut Peel-Off Face Mask

Hi all! Are we on day 104? Or day 105? I can’t remember. Self care and sticking to my skin care routine have helped keep me sane. Recently I was sent some face masks to try from a Welsh company called 7th Heaven.* The masks are certified cruelty free and vegan approved. They even have the Leaping Bunny symbol on the back of the packet.

Please excuse the IPhone pic and my Quarantine Barbie roots. My hair appointment on June 30 cannot come soon enough!

I got the coconut and clay peel-off mask, the charcoal detox bubble mask, and the Dead Sea peel-off mask. I tried the coconut mask, and LOVED it! The packet says it nourishes and hydrates, and that it does. It smells like coconut and yogurt, and has a yogurt-like consistency. You tear open the pouch, apply it to your (clean) face, and wait a few minutes for it to dry. Then the fun begins!

You get to peel it off! How satisfying is that?! It’s almost like Baby Foot for your face! Spending a lot of time indoors with the A/C has made my skin a little dry. But when I peeled off the mask, my skin did feel more hydrated.

I look forward to trying the other masks, too. The charcoal detox bubble mask and Dead Sea peel-off mask are for purifying your skin, so they may be good after spending time outdoors on a humid day, when you are all sweaty.

You can pick up 7th Heaven masks online at Walmart here.

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* The masks were sent to me for for my review. Opinions are my own.

 

Quaran-streaming

Hey, all. We’re in week what of this thing?! Week 4? Stay strong, my friends. I thought a post about fun things to stream while sheltering-in-place was in order. Though TBH, I have not really been watching much TV. Just Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings.

They have actually put up a field hospital in Central Park to care for COViD patients. That got me thinking about TV’s most famous field hospital, the 4077th. God knows, there’s enough episodes of MASH to choose from (250+ to be exact). You can even play Spot the Star Before They Were Famous. John Ritter, Ron Howard, and Patrick Swayze were all patients at the 4077th before they hit it big. And Shelley Long (Cheers), Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom), and Marcia Strassman (Welcome Back, Kotter) all administered TLC as nurses.

My fave episodes are ‘Hot Lips and Empty Arms’ and ‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’. Much of MASH might seem dated today, despite stellar writing from the likes of Larry Gelbart. But one character who really came into her own, and evolved into a woman ahead of her time, was head nurse Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan.

In ‘Empty Arms’, Margaret grows frustrated with her life as an Army nurse. A letter from a friend describing domestic bliss with a guy Margaret turned down makes her question her choices. So she decides to reboot her life by requesting a transfer. Cue the wisecracks and hijinks. Pay special attention to Margaret’s toast to Hawkeye and Trapper. (You’ll think about Thanksgiving a little differently.)

Loretta Swit, who played Margaret, really shines here. So it’s interesting that two women, Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place, wrote such strong material for her. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S2, Ep. 14)

‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’ has been cited as one of the best episodes of any TV show ever. Hawkeye gets a visit from an old friend that takes a tragic turn. The scene between McLean Stevenson’s Henry Blake and Alan Alda’s Hawkeye afterward is among TV’s most moving. And this episode features a post-Opie, pre-Richie Ron Howard as an underage soldier for whom Hawkeye decides not to bend the rules, for once. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S1, Ep. 17) (Or try Hulu.)

If movies are more your thing, there’s a lot of hidden gems. Here are three:

The late Burt Reynolds is hilarious in Striptease. As an oily Florida politician running for a higher office, he steals every scene he’s in. (Amazon Prime.)

Another Reynolds film worth watching is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Unfortunately, he’s sorely miscast here. (It’s a musical, and he doesn’t sing.) But the music is great, and Dolly Parton has a blast as the madam of the titular Chicken Ranch. But the real treat is the late Charles Durning’s charming turn as the governor of Texas. (He won an Oscar nomination for his role.) And the end has a special surprise: the original, country version of “I Will Always Love You.” Yes, that “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard. Dolly Parton actually wrote the song back in the 70s. I think you’ll like her version, too. (Amazon Prime)

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Volunteers, starring the world’s most famous COViD patients, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Who thankfully have recovered.) They have been married over 30 years, and legend has it they met on Volunteers.

The film is set in 1962. I love the Kennedy/Camelot era, even though i wasn’t even born yet. So I’m a fan of the opening sequence, set to a doo-wop-style cover of ‘Blue Moon’ by The Marcels. (Amazon Prime)

Tell me. What are you watching? I want to see Making the Cut on Amazon Prime, World on Fire on PBS, and Mrs. America on Hulu, but I’m open to suggestions.

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The Corona Chronicles

A friend of mine made this sign for her windows!

Hi all! How are you holding up? I’m doing OK. We’re in the heart of the storm here in Hoboken. Hudson County, where we are, has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the state. Nearby NYC, where many Hoboken residents work, has the most in the country. It’s pretty much Ground Zero.

I ‘heart’ NY

I try not to think about how downright scary this is. There is just too much uncertainty. When will the apex hit? When will quarantine end? Will someone I know get the virus, or God forbid, die from it? I mean, the loading dock of the hospital across the street from my building has a refrigerated truck parked there. For use as a makeshift morgue. And they say the virus hasn’t even peaked yet.

Sidewalk chalk art to thank the healthcare workers.

I’m still using blogging and photography to cope with my anxiety and fear. I also do online yoga classes and take walks. (We’re allowed.) And I watch NY governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conferences almost every day. If you are not watching or listening to those, you should be.

Even when delivering grim news in a Queens accent, Cuomo provides the strong, focused leadership New Yorkers need so badly during this time. He and his younger brother Chris, a CNN anchor who has tested positive for the virus, have become the best political brother act since the Kennedys.

I’m using this time to update my resume and continue writing for The Doctor Will See You Now. I am also trying to reach out to as many old friends as possible. A blast from the past just feels good right now.

So tell me. How are you sheltering at home? Have you eaten all your snacks and gained the dreaded COVID “19 pounds”?  I’m trying to be at least a little productive each day, but lofty goals like taking an online journalism or photography class are just not in the cards. Let’s talk boredom busters in the comments!

But before I go, can someone please check on Betty White?!

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Fabulous Links: Pandemic Edition

A little pandemic humor, courtesy of our local Athleta.

This coronavirus situation is really getting crazy! Everything is canceled or closed. I was supposed to go to Scottsdale, AZ, for a meeting. Canceled. I had planned to see Diana: The Musical on Broadway. Canceled, too. All the gyms and yoga studios in Hoboken are now closed, including the gym and yoga studio I go to. And we have a 10p to 5a curfew.

A sign of the times.

As I mentioned in my last post, blogging and photography are my therapy through all this, so I’ve put together a few Fabulous Links.

Schools are closed for at least a few weeks here. Parents with kids at home, I’ve got you. A FB friend shared a piece in Travel and Leisure saying that 12 of the world’s top museums offer virtual tours. (Travel and Leisure). And my favorite museum in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has virtual tours, too, including this tour just for kids.

I’ve got you more crafty types, too. The Craft Studio in NYC has online craft classes. Here’s their Instagram and web site.

And this is still a beauty blog, coronavirus or not. I love this advice for young women from Dame Helen Mirren. It is important wisdom that women of every age should keep in mind.

Tell me. Are you stuck at home, with or without your littles? Maybe you have survival tips to share with me and readers who are parents. Let’s talk ‘social distancing’ and hacks for life in the time of coronavirus in the comments!

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Is a ‘Nature Pill’ the Cure for COVID19-Related Anxiety?

The scene yesterday at Pier A Park

I went in to my blog admin page to put together a Fabulous Links: Coronavirus Edition, and I came across the piece below in my drafts folder. Even though it’s originally dated May 19, 2019, it’s actually more relevant now, so I thought I’d share.

In the past three days, schools, gyms/yoga studios, day care centers, playgrounds, and the Hoboken Public Library have announced they are closing for at least two to four weeks. People have had to cancel or postpone events or vacations. It’s a scary time. Yet, the parks were packed yesterday (see photo above). People are basically taking a ‘nature pill’ to help them cope with COVID19-related anxiety.

Here is the original draft of the post I was planning. I have added some links.

You may have heard time spent outdoors can reduce stress, especially for busy residents of urban areas, like me. I know I feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything when I get back from a walk along the Hoboken waterfront with it’s incredible view of Manhattan.

However, doctors didn’t know exactly how to prescribe a so-called ‘nature pill’. The optimal dose for such a ‘nature experience’ (NE) was unclear.

Now scientists from the University of Michigan have found that 20 to 30 minutes of contact with nature could lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The researchers said theirs is the first study to establish an effective dose for an urban nature experience.

“Until now, it was unclear how much time in nature was enough, how often to do it, and even what kind of nature experience would best benefit us,” MaryCarol Hunter, lead author on the study, said in a statement. The researchers hope nature pills would be a low-cost solution to the negative health effects associated with urbanization and indoor, sedentary lifestyles involving screen time.

Take time outside

The researchers enrolled 36 city dwellers in their study. They asked participants to spend time at least three times per week over an eight-week period in a place that made them feel connected to nature. Each NE had to last 10 minutes or more.

Participants were free to choose the time of day, length, and location of their NE. “Building personal flexibility into the study design allowed us to identify the optimal duration of a nature pill, no matter where or when it is taken,” said Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan. This flexible study design also accounted for participants’ hectic schedules and any unforeseen circumstances.

Nature pills had to be taken during daylight hours, and aerobic exercise was prohibited. Posting on social media, accessing the Internet, and taking phone calls during NEs was discouraged. These restrictions were intended to minimize factors known to increase stress.

Study participants provided a saliva sample before and after NEs every two weeks during the study. The pre-NE samples were taken to establish daily changes in levels of cortisol and the enzyme alpha-amylase.

The researchers found each NE was most efficient at reducing stress if it lasted between 20 and 30 minutes. After that, participants continued to accrue stress relief benefits, but at a slower rate.

“Healthcare practitioners can use our findings as an evidence-based rule of thumb about what to put in a nature pill prescription,” said Hunter. “Our experimental approach can be used as a tool to assess how age, gender, seasonality, physical ability, and culture influence the effect of NEs on well-being,” The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The take home message here is that it helps to get outside, disconnect from whatever chaos is coming through on your news and social feeds, and reconnect with the rest of the world. (But remember social distancing, people!) Taking a nature pill reminds you that in some ways, life goes on as before.

So tell me. How are you coping with all the COVID19 madness? Are you cooking, baking, or doing crafts? I find blogging and photography are my therapy. Let’s talk stress relief in the comments!

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