So something interesting (to me) has happened this week. Because I knew I was going to be blogging this site–must support Sister Krissie–I started looking at things as Post Topics. I do this all the time on Argh, but I try to keep this kind of personal stuff away from there since it turns into a whine. No whining on Argh. Well, not any more. So instead of looking at my bathroom full of stuff and thinking, “I have to do something about this some day” and repressing memories of my mother saying, “Jennifer, you have to pay attention to your appearnce,” I looked at it and thought, “Re-Fab posts” and sorted out all the drawers and boxes, threw out anything that was too old or that I knew I didn’t like, and stacked what was left around the bathroom sink. Now I’m experimenting with skin care and hair care and make-up, trying to find what makes sense to put up here, not as recommendations–Re-Fabbers are too varied in their needs for that–but more as a shared journey. This is what I tried, here’s how that worked out, what works for you? It’s not hassling-hopelessly-with-appearance crap, I’m not wasting my time on my appearance, I’m doing research.
So this morning I got up and used one of the make-up remover cloths on my face and thought, “I really have to try some of those cleansers. Dove. Cetaphil. Oil of Olay.” (See, I’m listening.) Then I put the Roc Day moisturizer on because I need to try it for two weeks so I can report back. Except I already look better. I have a feeling that if I’d put Crisco on my face, I’d look better: any moisturizer after 62 years of none would probably be welcomed by my face with open pores. But still, my skin looks better. I used the eyecream. I put on eyeliner and mascara. I rubbed on some blush. I used hot rollers on my hair. The result: I look better but I don’t look like me, and I feel kind of greasy. There’s too much stuff on my face. I hate mascara. (I know, I just haven’t found the right one. I’m reading the comments, I’m listening.) And it took entirely too long to put those hot rollers in and take them out. The dogs don’t care. Why should I bother?
And then I looked in the mirror and thought of Willie Loman, and those famous lines from his wife Linda after his death:
So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.
Not that I’d let an old dog fall into a grave. We take our dogs seriously here. But I’m thinking maybe it’s time I took myself seriously, that maybe my mother has a point. I’ll spend hours slaving over a blog post or a graphic or a banana bread recipe to get it just right, but the fifteen minutes it took me to do all that stuff this morning is a waste of time? I’ll rewrite a single paragraph a dozen times because people are reading it, but I won’t spend ten minutes on my face even though people are looking at it? Maybe my mom and Linda are right, maybe attention should be paid.
Sometimes I think my antipathy for this stuff is plain-daughter-of-a-beautiful-mother syndrome. My mother is very beautiful, the kind of beauty that stops people on the streets. Even now at 87, she’s stunning. I look like my dad. His side of the family is Swiss and German: we’re not built for speed or beauty, but don’t fuck with us and don’t think if you wait long enough, you’ll win through attrition because we do not give up. It’s a good legacy, and if I’d been born a boy, all would have been well, but I was born a girl, named after Jennifer Jones the movie actress because she was so beautiful, and I didn’t measure up. So sometimes I think that this is just mother-rebellion stuff, the way my daughter became a preppy politician in high school to thwart her art-literature-drama-loving mother. (Rotten kid was president of student council. But she also won an award for acting. Basically, my kid is the best.) So I think it’s more of a “My mother’s beautiful? Fuck it, I won’t care about that, I’ll be really smart instead.” At some point, though, you have to grow past that I’m-never-gonna-be-my-mom stuff and start looking at what you really are and what you really need. And the truth is, my mother was right. We move through this world as physical beings, not just minds. Attention should be paid.
So I’m thinking the key here is that happy medium. I’m not my mother or my grandmother with their beauty rituals that had nothing to do with the beauty they were born with but that sure didn’t hurt. But this my-face-is-just-the-stuff-that-covers-my-brain approach is not right either. So I’ll keep trying until I find a moisturizer I like and I’ll stick with it because it makes my skin feel good. And depending on what my hair looks like tomorrow, if curling it after I wash it takes care of the stringy look the ends get, I can do that a couple of times a week. I can find a blush that doesn’t make me feel greasy (although I think that’s the moisturizer) and a lipstick that makes my mouth feel good without getting pink all over everything. This is not difficult, not like rewriting a blog post twenty times.
I’m going to pay attention.