Thursday, December 15, 2011


I'm awake at 6 am this morning because an hour ago I was lying in bed and I turned funny and my neck put a giant stop sign in my way. I've been trying a lot of RICE-- rest, ice compression, elevation--in the last hour, along with as many anti-inflammatories I can find, so that I can show up at my last class today. (I've been taking a class with one of my favorite writers and learning from her about writing and teaching and all kinds of good stuff.) But class isn't for two more hours, so while I breathe deeply and hope for healing, thought I'd return to this space and see what I have to say.

So on a different note, something new and wonderful and really interesting has happened to me: I've discovered makeup.
You're thinking, duh, Jess, now get yourself a smart phone (which I don't have) and a Facebook account (which I do have, see mixed feelings here) and we might be able to welcome you to the 21st century. But somehow I made it into my 30s knowing little and caring even less about makeup. On the contrary, I'd say my relationship to makeup was an actively antagonistic one. What little I knew about makeup was that my mother used it occasionally (but never showed me how to) and lots of girls at school used it. But I wasn't friends with those girls. They were the ones who knew boys and when boys talked to them, they could say things that didn't make them sound too smart or too bitchy, a skill I hadn't mastered when I was in high school. They were the ones who thought for more than 30 seconds about what they were wearing out of the house that day, and who wanted everyone to like them and to think they were cool. They were cool. They were effortlessly, perfectly cool, and I was a giant nerd, and wearing makeup just made me look like I was trying too hard and so I would have none of the feminine wiles they were offering like nectar to the gods of Varsity High. Of my closest girl friends who did use makeup, well, we didn't talk about that stuff. We talked about band and orchestra and what part we were hoping for in the school play and our I.B. exams.

I must have been worrying about my GPA and practicing my clarinet (yes!) and trying to graduate with a latin degree while every other girl was learning about blush and eyeshadow. That's one of the only ways I can account for the fact that I didn't start wearing makeup until after I graduated from college.

But now. something has happened. The stars have lined up a different way. I've given myself the permission to want to look pretty, and to feel good about it. That's never happened before. I always thought that if I looked too pretty, no one would take me seriously. Oddly enough, I've also always thought that those women who were so pretty were the ones who had all the advantages, all the charm and grace of social interaction that I just didn't understand. But I think the thing that's dawned on me is that I don't care what other people think of me anymore. I mean, I care that my boss thinks I'm good at my job, and that my students believe I'm dedicated to their growth; I care that my fellow writers think that I'm the kind of artist who is open and absorbing to many things and that I'm a professional joy to work with. But if I put on red lipstick and they think that makes me look all girly, they want to call me Princess, well they can stuff it. I'm no longer a woman threatened by the idea of looking feminine or attractive as a part of my self.

This feels a little rambly, and maybe it's the early morning hour or the fact that I'm in a lot of pain. Or maybe it's the newness of this idea. But I'll try to keep thinking and talking about it here. Don't worry--no beuaty tips or tricks. But I'm compelled by this journey that each woman chooses to make or not to make as she forms and discovers how she'll become a woman.

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