Accustomed To My Face

A few weeks ago, I was going thru some egotistical crisis. I had such a desire to be validated for my beauty. It was an odd moment.

Beauty is such a subjective thing and yet I find myself struggling with it more than I care to.

They say when you hit your 30s you become more comfy in your skin. And I am but certain other anxieties have arisen too. The bloom of youth is gone. I can feel my body deteriorate a little more with each injury I get. Things will no longer rise – everything will fall. Slowly but surely.

And yet, most of the time I can live with that.

When I was younger, I always felt that however I ended up looking would just be indicative of the badges I’ve earned through my life. Now that I’ve earned some, that’s not quite as assuring as I thought.

But sometimes, the youth have it right. I find myself so busy concentrating relentlessly on my flaws and pay only passing heed to the good bits. It seems like I should do the reversal, shouldn’t I? I look back at pix of myself in my 20s and I was adorably doofy. Truth is, I probably look better now. I stand straighter. I feel healthier. In all ways, I’m more of a complete person. And yet still…

What I do know – the ones I care for care for me and how I look is inconsequential to the equation. My head knows this. But my insecurities like to fuck around with the other bits of my psyche. I want validation from people I can’t really get it from. Past lovers. Passing fancies. Some men make you feel like you’re golden. Others, they show up but you don’t really know what they see in you.

I consider myself a fairly confident person but my confidence lies mostly within my intelligence and my wit, not necessarily with my outer shell. I consider myself pretty on some days and plain on bad days but most days, I’m normal. I’m simply just used to my face. But no matter how I feel on the outside, inside, I know I am a smart person – ALWAYS. Growing up, I was constantly validated for my intelligence that to this day, I don’t really question the truth of it. It just is. I guess you could say I received such validation for my smarts that I don’t really require much validation (if any) today. On that same note, I don’t ever recall anyone calling me pretty during my childhood or adolescence.

The sad thing – I wish it didn’t matter. The sadder thing – it does matter (to me) more than I wish it would.

The good thing – being smart isn’t affected by gravity the way my boobs will be when I hit senior citizen age.

Watching this newest generation grow up – it’s like a brand new world. They’re constantly being reassured of their intelligence and beauty. Even my mom! Now that she’s a grandma, she’s so generous with the beauty compliments to my niece. It’s weird to see how times have changed and how things my parents would never have said to me are now the norm for this newest generation.

And I wonder – how will this balance out? The good thing – they’re all smart kids and hopefully, will continue to be so. Their attractiveness – I wonder how good/bad they’ll feel as they age. Will they feel the same things I am now or will they surpass it because they have confidence ingrained in them about this aspect of their life? I’m curious to see how their lives will play out. What will I recognize and what won’t I know?

Listen, I’m not exactly sitting and weeping about all my imperfections. It’s just I want to be able to look past that…or learn to embrace it. There is so much weight put upon how a woman looks – damn the expectations of our society. And while I try not to fall prey to all the propaganda (cuz I know better), I can’t help but enjoy some of the accessories that go along with it (hello red lipstick!). End of the day – I do enjoy being a girl.

Do I wish beauty had less weight? Yes. I wish it had less weight with me.

Does it matter what the opposite sex thinks then? Yes and no. During this mind fuck of a time, I probably got more stranger on the street validation than ever before. Either that or I finally paid attention and noticed men noticing me. Go figure.

The oddity – I find myself very disconnected from the idea of me being attractive. When I walk down the street and men would say what they will or gawk, it feels out of body. Like it’s not me they see. Or I wonder – what is it that they see? And why do I not feel that? Why am I not connected to this? It’s as if I’m in third person mode. I recognize the signs of attraction but partly my guard is up and partly, I’m thinking – are they really looking at me? What the fuck do they see?

I’m still a little weird when I get compliments. Sometimes I can handle. Other times, I’d rather change the subject. I like dressing up and looking nice but when someone mentions it to my face, I get flustered. I try to take it more in stride but inside, that little girl is quietly pleased while the big girl just wants it to go away.

A friend of mine once told me he thought he wasn’t the kind of guy women found attractive right away. He just kinda grew on people. Made me giggle but in some ways, I feel the same way. I think it’s also an easier way for me to understand why men might be attracted to me. If they spend time with me or I allow them to see how funny/smart/charming I can be, then I can find a reason for their attraction. But being into me just by looking at me – I don’t fully get it. I do (cuz duh, I’ve been attracted to dudes like that) but I don’t. Working this out as I write, I think it’s just a distrust. To be attracted to me, in some part, I feel it has to be a totality but clearly the guy walking down the street isn’t going to have a chat with me about recent world events.

Gawd. The thing is – one day nobody will look at me when I walk down the street. I should appreciate it more. I do not seek it but maybe I should simply appreciate it. While I still got it. Whatever “it” may be.

I read something that it’s better not to look so much in the mirror. It just ends up stressing the person out. Better to go with how you feel than how you look. I like that idea. If I go with that idea – there will inevitably be bad times but mostly, I would be on the up and up. How many times have I felt great only to have it ruined by looking in the mirror and seeing what I deemed less than perfect?

My friend once said that age is the great equalizer. Whether you’re beautiful now or not…it won’t matter much when you’re 83. My problem is…I’m a long way from 83.

What do I want? I don’t want to want validation. I want to just let it ride and let it be. At times, I think I am close to that. Other times, I’m just human and racked with some measure of neediness. It’s just learning to wallow for a bit then move past. If I circle back a few more times, so be it. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to drive out of the roundabout completely. Or, at the very least, care a little bit less and just enjoy the ride.


All Quiet on the Westside

It’s only been dark about an hour and I’ve already run out of things to do.

For the past few months, it’s been non-stop in some way or another.

And now, my kitchen/bathroom are done. The family matters have happened and are learning to settle. All that’s left is me. Alone.

It’s been a REALLY, REALLY long time since I’ve felt this type of loneliness. It’s not crazy heartbreaking. My heart isn’t broken this time around. For lack of better word, it’s the ennui of a single gal in a great big city.

Dramatic enough?

Gawd, I didn’t fully realize how nice it was to have constant projects for the first half of the year and now with things mostly settled, I don’t know what else to do.

Sure, there are still tidbits left to take care of but really, it’s more about pulling the trigger on the final touches. It’s nothing super pending (like having your entire house covered in dust and constantly cleaning a pathway but having it dirtied up the next day anyways…repeat). It’s all so very still.

I’ve always been bad with time periods. I have many memories but I don’t have an easy time placing them in any chronological order. I can tell you details but not the year. Maybe the month but it could have been last year or five years ago. It’s all going so fast and yet staying so still.

My rhythm is still off-kilter. Not a bad thing but I can’t seem to figure out where and what I need to be doing. The core friends remain the same but the off-core ones rotate here and there. Change isn’t something I necessarily fear. I try to go with it when I can.

A friend remarked that I looked like I was ready to burst. Well, that was last week. But…that desire is ever present and only now and again does it rise to power. I need an impetus. An inspiration. Until then, it’s just ever so dormant. Ever so latent.

Maybe I’m full of shit.

Maybe I’m not.

This post is bordering on twee and that just annoys me.

I stop now.


Compulsion

So I had this deep thought – been floating it past my friends and so now I’ll present it here.

Thinking on past beaus and there is always this question of what if floating around them. Primarily the IF factor. If he was ___, then maybe we would have worked out. And so on and so forth.

But this was my deep thought. I never wanted the IF guy. I wanted the one in front of me. Thing is…IF the guy was ____, it wouldn’t have been the one I fell for to begin with. With all his flaws/imperfections/quirks, that was the guy I wanted to be with. Not the imaginary IF guy…I wanted THIS guy. As he is. As he was.

That said, it doesn’t mean “we” should be together and obviously, “we” are not.

What’s weirdly comforting about this thought is that for all the ways I beat myself up, I’m realizing I’m actually quite open and accepting to the men I decide to invite into my life. I have never tried to change them. Some would say if I had more time, maybe I would. But I’m too lazy to follow through with such notions. To be with someone who knows who they are is attractive for a reason. Allowing the person to be who they are and they allowing me to be me – that’s the ultimate goal. At least for now.

Playing the IF game can be a crutch when things are going wrong. That’s also probably a sign for you to re-evaluate why you are or shouldn’t be in the relationship you’re in. Been there. Done that. At the moment, I’m far removed from any sort of romantic possibility so it’s easier to have a more even-tempered eye towards things.

During the rough patch, the IF game was one of insecurity. One in which I wished I was the IF factor rather than my beau’s disposition. That’s just it…the rabbit hole of this deep thought…it’s not just giving yourself permission to stop the IF energy on him but mostly to stop it on yourself IF the relationship doesn’t work out.

And yet still, I am who I am and in my safe bubble of celibacy, I wonder how open I am nowadays.

Somewhat recently, I met a fellow. Single as far as I knew and he seemed mildly interested. I’m starting to realize that when I don’t give a fuck, my radar is much better.

Anyways, there was an opportunity for communication if I took it and so far, I’ve opted not to. I’m pretty sure I still won’t. It’s this weird thing – I can feel an attraction coming from his end but my end is a little fuzzier. He seemed like a nice man but…I didn’t care enough to move on it. In fact, I found myself steering clear of it any time the attention was going my way. I’ve been better as of late in forgiving myself for this lack of motivation. But for better or worse, I always hear in the back of my head…awww,he’s worth a shot. What do you got to lose? Why not?

The simple answer is I don’t want to. The bitchy answer is that I have finite amount of energy and I’d rather use it towards something that gets me revving for more than a mediocre “I guess so.” I don’t really like wasting people’s time any more than I do mine. Yah. I’m not very open at the moment.

I just have to remember to be OK with it.

I’m not a girl who is easily attracted to men. I can find some men nice to look at or nice to talk to but it just ends there. That extra “something” is a mystery to me. All I can say about that – when I see it, I know it. When it’s not there, I just mourn its absence and end up wondering if I’m too hard headed. Is it stubbornness though or just knowing what you want. Depending on the day, either option could be the answer.

I don’t want to act out of loneliness, which I feel this mostly would be. I want to act because I feel compelled to. Because I’m interested enough to. I want to feel that motivation of when things feel right to me. Is it so silly to just operate from my gut?

A friend’s sister once told me that she only dated “super hot” guys but they were dirt bags. So she decided to date “ugly” ones but it turned out they sucked too. So she went back to dating “super hot” cuz at least they were nicer to look at.

There are MANY things wrong with that story but it’s weirdly amusing. Amusing because we base so much on what the outside means and what a funny way to find out how little that matters. And also, you can’t change your stripes. You are ultimately attracted to what you are attracted to.

I’ve wondered lot if my ability to find unavailable men said anything about me. Perhaps. I definitely had commitment issues for a little while and that conveniently fulfilled that desire. But when I find myself caring about someone, commitment issues be damned – I’m willing to go with it. I’m in thrall of it. I’ve questioned whether I have much too high a fascination with pretty men but it’s no more than any other woman. That and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Someone who finds me gorgeous can easily be balanced by someone finding me plain. What gets me drooling can get another girl’s eyes rolling.

Trusting one’s instincts in this game of relationship roulette is just hard. Been so out of the game now, my perspective seems skewed. I’m a bit removed and sometimes, this makes me feel like I can see the game clearer. Maybe I am a little wiser. A little grayer around the edges. But I don’t think these are bad things. I feel weary and still unable to motivate myself to get online again. Truth be told, this year has been a very trying one emotionally and sometimes, a girl just has to get up to snuff before getting my courage to move on.


State of Grace

The past few months have been a whirlwind. Have contemplated a variety of subjects to expound upon but was too tired/busy/dusty to actually follow through. Eventually I would get to it…

Eventually has arrived.

My renovation has taken longer than expected, which was, in all honesty…expected. Down to the final touches (literally) at this point. Smart savvy choices were made. Small compromises were reached and the end product? Pretty fucking fantastic.

Truth is I’m a little sad to see my contractor go. I know. Who says that? But it was weirdly comforting to have someone around who could just fix things. Anything I saw or wanted, he would basically serve it up to me on a platter (a platter I have to pay for but this is beside the point!). It is just a comforting thing.

Together, we created and enhanced the vision in my head and it is utterly gratifying to see it all come together. I’ve never been a person who can fully visualize “things” until it happens. In that way, Pinterest has been my bitch – the website designed to exploit aspirational living was now a tool for me to realize my particular aspiration. Now, with the goal achieved, I just feel proud.

To wit – the other day, contractor and I were standing in my kitchen, admiring the 99% finished product. I was trying to be cool but failing to preserve the professional customer vibe. Basically, I squeaked out how awesome/cool everything looked. To which (to my great joy) contractor agreed. So much so that he wanted to see or possible return to take pictures of my kitchen when fully furnished. There is no higher compliment. On the outside, I was welcoming – of course I’ll send pictures! On the inside, I was like a schoolgirl who found out her crush likes the same flavor of ice cream – I DO HAVE GOOD TASTE! I DO! I DO! I DO!

So I’m infantile.

But after living in limbo and dust for four weeks…anyone would go a little stir crazy. I have literally been living and breathing this renovation since early May.

On the more practical side, having my contractor go means final payment is due and writing a check for that amount of cash is…bank breaking. All the “gimme that one,” “yah, get that one,” and “ohhh, that looks great so I’ll take that” has now come to a head. It’s not as HORRIBLE a number as it could have been but it’s not awesomely tiny either. To that end, I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have tried to be a bit more of a value hunter. But why go down that road. You get what you pay for and in the end, this is my home.

Now, when I look at my kitchen and bathroom, I can tell you how every nook and cranny got into its place and the minutes and hours I spent stressing about the proportions, color and texture. It’s my creation come to life and it’s this joyful thing – the gorgeous manifestation of all my machinations.

The thing I’m most proud of? My home just became a little more me.

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Hulk SMASH!!! And the Demolition Begins…

So the kitchen project was supposed to start yesterday but got delayed due to my contractor’s travel issues. Meh I say…another day means nothing at this point.

I woke my ass up early today to get fully dressed, etc as I have no idea what to expect but naturally…traffic. Late again but hey, what is an hour here and there.

Well, I had to hit my PT appointment for my Achilles issue and missed the arrival of my contractor and crew. Yay for doormen! Left the key and let yourselves in, buddies.

Side note good news – my foot is doing well albeit a little sore. Ran for nearly 20 minutes yesterday and was tempted to do more but also wary of causing any new issues. I figure less is more at this point. And today, I test it with my TRX class…without a doubt, I will be one sore motherfucker tomorrow.

Anyways, I returned to my apartment after my bout with the doc and whoa whoa whoa…kitchen no more. I wasn’t able to get in there to take pictures…basically it’s all debris all over the joint. Cabinets be gone and smash! EVERYWHERE!

It’s getting real, people!

Contractor and I went over the schedule somewhat and the jigsaw puzzle of having everything arrive on time. Side note – the most stressful thing I had to order? A pendant lamp. Let’s just say I had to make many calls and the damn thing still took 5 weeks to arrive. I pick it up on Friday!

This is real people…and my kitchen (if all items arrive in timely manner) will be done in about two weeks! The bathroom is still pending due to the fact I am still occupying it. Worry not – a trip is in the works so I can be out of the apartment long enough for them to obliterate the bathroom as well.

GAH!!!

So. Exciting.

Sometimes, destruction can be cathartic.

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Talk To Me Dammit! I’m Paying You! aka The Price of Communication

First off – my PT is progressing and I had a bit of worry as my ankle has been so oddly sore as of late. Got some good news that this might be progress as my unused ankle muscles are getting used again, hence the soreness. Going to aim for a quick test run this weekend to see how it goes and hopefully my road to recovery is closer to the end.

But while I was getting my ankle worked on, I got word that MY RENOVATION IS A GO! And Cinco De Mayo will now be more than a tequila-drenched holiday I use as an excuse to eat more guacamole but a day in which my new apartment begins its MAKEOVER!!!

And what girl doesn’t love a good makeover?

Contractor FINALLY got back to me and confirmed the “go” date! So what if it took him THREE days to do so. It’s not like I had a waking nightmare about it this morning. An aside about this – while I really dig my contractor, he does tend to email “like a guy.” Is that sexist? Whatever.

Now, I’ve never done the whole renovation thing before so I’ll admit, I need a bit of handholding. My tendency is to ask questions and hopefully get an answer ASAP. Not so. Not so. After I picked the guy, it took TWO days for him to reply with a yay! Like, really? I want to pay you. A lot of money. Isn’t this a cause for excitement? Is he really the right one for the job? Well, in a word…YES!

Why? Mostly because they were all like that. They all want the job but they all take days to get back to me. And believe it or not, he was one of the better communicators! Sigh.

As a result, I’ve had to tailor a bit of my emailing inquisitive style to acquire maximum results. That means longer emails with lazy bullet points aka hyphens. Does he answer all of them? Yes and then as we’ve gotten closer to closing the deal – not as much. That said, we also met again and I got all my questions answered in person. He is nothing but professional and easy going IRL.

What I’ve learned? Finding a good contractor is about as hard as finding a decent date but not nearly as impossible as finding a commitment worthy fella in NYC. Yep. I’ve made my decision and I’m committed…for at least 3-4 weeks! It’s truly an exciting time in my life.

Anyways, I think there are positives from this I can use towards my dating life. I’m learning to limit my communication output to only the most pertinent questions. Cuz of his response time lag, I’m also learning how patience can sometimes pay off. Do I wish he could just respond that he’s looking into things with a quick email or just let me know he’s read my email so I don’t sit there biting my nails waiting to see if we are actually going to do this? Hell yes! But that’s not the fella I picked. Instead, he’s quick with some responses, slower with others and then skips some altogether.

I do find it odd that in a business relationship he isn’t a bit more responsive to certain types of emails (aka I PICK YOU TO PAY!!!). Or maybe I’m just weird.

I also find it weirdly amusing that some emails go completely unanswered. In some circles this would be considered unprofessional. After all the crap I went through to pick him, I just think of it as another test of my patience. I tend to get stupidly giddy when he writes me back – I secretly think he’s training me Pavlovian style so that when he does email me, it’s like the heavens opened up. Snark aside, it also helps to know he’s stuck with me for at least a month and come hell or high water, I’m getting answers to all my questions eventually. There is great comfort in that. Plus he encourages me to buy lots and lots of products for my new updated apartment (I adore any excuse to shop – yes, total girl stereotype and I could give less than two shits)!

While I’m painting him out to be an uncommunicative spaz, he’s really not. This is the only aspect in which I’m currently figuring my way around. I know how I like to deal professionally but not everyone is the same. I respect and get the fact he’s crazy busy (he’s kinda popular and reasonably priced) so answering all the emails is probably not the most time savvy thing for him to do, especially if he’s in the thick of it. Am I creating excuses? Perhaps but hey, I’m paying the guy to do the job and so far, I’m filled with a good measure of confidence, even if the building has yet to begin.

What I do like about him – despite his email habits – he’s reliable. He is reassuringly calm and doesn’t make me nervous about the process. I feel like I’m in good hands. He’s professional, has good taste and comes up with really great ideas. Half the battle is picking the right person and the rest, you kinda just gotta go with it. While I’m not exactly one of those go with the flow types, I knew I needed someone I could talk to and bounce ideas off of. From start to finish, this is all ME. I found him. I hired him. I picked all the new cabinets, fixtures, appliances, layout, etc, etc, etc. None of my other friends has gone through this. I’m flying blind but I’m oddly feeling mostly fine about it. While it is without a doubt an intimidating endeavor, I figure if I got a good guy on my side, it’s a lot less so. And I know I picked a good one. Let’s hope my tune doesn’t change once all this goes underway.

It is funny though – right before I pulled the trigger on this fella, I had a mini panic attack. For a minute, I thought I had commitment issues. It’s scary to leap off the building and take a chance on a stranger. Is all this a greater metaphor for my actual dating life? Maybe. If anything, it makes for very amusing comparisons. Hell, this promises to be the most productive relationship I’ve ever committed myself to (!) AND it only needs to last 3-4 weeks! Yay to me and yay for commitment! But biggest yay of all to my brand new kitchen and bathroom!!!


A Taste of Honey

A few weeks ago two of my friends helped me perform a ritual – an exorcism of sorts.

Essentially, it was time to let go. We all have artifacts, mental and physical, from past relationships. We hang on to them at first because we don’t want to forget. And then we do and we rush to throw it all out.

I didn’t rush. I wanted to. I tried hard to. But I knew myself and at some point, life would let me know when it was time to say goodbye. It’s just that this time around, I had some friends to be along for the ride.

Well, without going into too much detail, I had a particular momento I needed to dump. But this momento had a strong and colorful history. I didn’t really want to throw it out without “honoring” what it had meant to me – what the relationship had meant to me.

I didn’t have much of an idea of what to do. I just told my friends about it and left the details up to them. After some rustling in my kitchen, my buddy came up with some dried flower tea, a bowl filled with water and a spoonful of honey. It was a cleansing. A reawakening. An acknowledgement of the past and the attempt to give it some peace. I’ve never really done this sort of thing but then again, I possess such a memorable item before either.

No need to go into each step of this ritual. We’ve all been there in some capacity. It was just funny to see it actualized at a time I could finally step away and look at where I had been. The most meaningful moment – my friend poured honey onto a spoon and gave it to me. At first, I thought he wanted me to eat it. Instead, he told me to pour it slowly into the bowl full of water. As the honey dripped into the water, he said it represented my letting go and all that I would be left with was the sweetness of that memory.

And the craziest thing – watching that honey fall, I could feel that bitterness dissolve into the water. I could enjoy the sweet without the rotten aftertaste that had haunted me for so long.

Do I think a spoonful of honey could do the trick so magically every time? Nah. It was a mix of camaraderie and time. It was the right time. To see it actualized in a random act was what made it so memorable and to be surrounded by the love, admiration and understanding of my friends was what made it unforgettable.

I felt lucky to have these people in my life and honestly, to have had him in my life too.

I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever memorialize this particular moment in this blog but I was watching “The Voice” (yah yah yah) and one of the contestants reminded me of an ex. Another ex. And I had such a weird fondness for this guy and I realized it was due in part to his likeness to said ex. At the time, we had ended abruptly. And suffice it to say, I took it hard. There was a lot of pain which turned to small fits of anger and then it just passed. And just like the spoon, I was left with only the sweetness of the memory. Which, in the end, is what I’m grateful to have experienced at all.

In the end, after all the big emotions pass, I am left with the choice to either be embittered but be emboldened. I cannot say the scars are gone. They remain. But they heal. And now they’re a part of me. When wounds are so fresh, it’s hard to even contemplate ever coming to peace with that experience. Eventually, though, it does. And it is my choice. To have minor regrets. To learn. To move on. To keep going even when it seems like an endless waiting game.

The bottom line – without these heartbreaks, I would never be who I am now and could not get to where I need to go.

Keeping the faith in that is a constant struggle. Some days are honeyed and some feel like a lump of coal. But I just gotta trust that time will keep me steady (eventually) and when I’m not, my friends will help me get through the bullshit until I can stand tall again. Or at the very least, they’ll have some honey on hand to help me lick the wound. ;)


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