Friday, January 30, 2009

25 random things about me

Don't worry. I'm not about to reveal my favorite color or ideal vacation. If you have a Facebook account, you've probably slogged through dozens of "25 Random Things" lists already. This week personal trivia lists are all the rage, and mildly amusing, much like the handwritten quizzes my high school classmate Nancy and I would create for each other to fill out during chemistry class*:

"True or False (circle one): Mark Fitzgerald is a babe."**

A 25 Random Things list is what happens when adolescent navel-gazing meets the Internet chain letter. Someone on Facebook sends his or her list to 25 friends, instructing each recipient to compile his or her own and send it to 25 more Facebook friends. At this point there have got to be millions of arcane personal trivia lists zinging between people who hardly know each other. In the past three days alone I have read tales of nude hiking, Botox injections and bizarre food aversions.

And though I'm an utter spoilsport—the one who'll take those cheery mass e-mails people send, the ones that feature animated clip art of angels, folksy stories about the value of girlfriends, and the command to forward this to everyone you've ever met or they'll never have good luck again, and gleefully delete them, luck be dammed—at some point I caved to the pressure and did my own 25 Random Things list. As if, in addition to my Facebook page, my website*** and this blog****, anyone wants to hear any more from me.

But now I'm hooked. I want to read more random things from random people. So please keep sending me your lists, Facebook friends. As for everybody else, please put some random trivia down in a comment here.


*Now, I would like to slap my teenage self for not paying attention in chemistry.

**Mark Fitzgerald is a made-up name. No way am I revealing my high school crush on the Internet.

***I set up the website at the insistence of my book publicist, who says these days every author needs one.

***Ditto this blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

smoke and mirrors

I spent yesterday at a photo shoot. Between writing my third novel (or at least trying to; that's another story), I'm working these days as the fashion and beauty editor of a women's magazine launching this spring. (I'll post the name of the magazine at a later date; for now the project is a secret.) Part of my job is to go to fashion shoots and make sure I like the clothes.

We were photographing a "real person," which is to say, not a model. The woman in question was very attractive--tall, poised and naturally pretty. She was comfortable in front of the camera. In the magazine, it'll look as if she just strolled off the street into the studio and said Cheese.

It struck me, though, as it always does, just how much work and artifice went into making this one woman appear pretty much the same on film as she does in real life. She arrived wearing no makeup and looked lovely, but had she gone in front of the camera that way, she likely would have looked tired and washed-out. Enter Brandon, a makeup artist with a big smile and a belt full of brushes, who applied layers of foundation, concealer, blush, lipgloss, more concealer, mascara, liner, shadow, powder, more concealer--and those are just the products I remember. It's more makeup than our subject may have ever worn on her face at one time, yet on film she'll seem to be wearing a bit of lipcolor and mascara.

But Brandon wasn't the only soldier in our army. Mark, the hairstylist, did our subject's coif and stepped in between shots to brush each curl back into place. Tiffany, the wardrobe stylist, arrived with a rack full of clothes and spent her time straightening stray wrinkles in our subject's pants. There was the photographer, and two assistants to adjust the lighting. From our magazine, an editor was there to do an interview, the art director to approve the photos, and, of course, me.

Bringing the grand total of behind-the-scenes busy bees to nine.

And that was just for one quick portrait. Imagine what the shoot for a big fashion spread looks like.

Something to keep in mind the next time you compare yourself to a photo in a magazine.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

inauguration day

"I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. 

And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. 

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Memphis, Tennessee
April 3, 1968