Thursday, September 29, 2005

I'll Never Be a Walking Hanger

The organization that I work for just hired a new Research Assistant who sits across from me. She is nearly 6 feet tall and looks as though she just walked off the cover of a fashion magazine. Actually, in some sense, she did. As she proudly noted on the day she first arrived, she just got back from modeling in Italy. This has been great for my self-esteem! Now as I hide in my cubicle, fearful that I’ll be spotted – “unskinny” and unfashionable as I am -wearing the same tired outfit I wore last week, I look upon a bookshelf lined with an array of designer shoes. Yes… she has practically turned her cubicle into a private backstage dressing room and I am fortunate enough to get a fashion preview – and taken down a peg - each and every day.

As I stumble in early every morning on my too-high Steve Madden high heels, I am greeted by the Manolo Blahnik’s that stare me down making me all too aware of my lack of style and my inability to afford it, by these standards. It would be easy to despise her if it weren’t for the fact that she is not only beautiful, but brilliant. She is 6 feet of libertarian ideology, which blends all too well with my conservative mindset, and all the day long I hear her engaging in drawn out conversations about her deeply held economic convictions. I assure you that the men in the office at which I work are all too eager to engage her in conversation, and who wouldn’t be? Beauty and brains make for a winning combination in this profession, and any, I would assume. Except modeling, perhaps, where brains are not necessarily mandatory…

Nevertheless, all of this has led me to question what our perception of beauty really is. Does beauty necessarily have to come prepackaged in a wiry 100lb frame? Does it have to fit a standard “type” as illustrated by the multitude of fashion magazines telling us how a woman should look? What is beautiful to me may be repulsive to another and vice versa, right? So why are we so hung up on Kate Moss’ cocaine addiction and why are the newest Gucci fashions still being paraded around on the runway by models akin to walking hangers? I can’t help but wonder… will the tides ever change? Or will I constantly feel the pressure to compare myself to images that I’ll never duplicate (without converting whole-heartedly to the pro-anna, red-string wearing, self-sacrificing, starvation movement).

Fortunately for me, my validation comes from one place alone, and that is neither my coworkers nor my bathroom mirror. God made me this way and like it or not (and I often don't), this is what I look like. Still, I see the room for improvement. (We are always hoping to improve ourselves though, aren’t we?) I suppose I can always ask the new RA to take me shopping with her… at least we can discuss econ as I try on clothes 10 times her clothing size! There is hope yet.

I may never be a walking hanger, but that doesn't mean I can't hold my head up when I walk, in however tired my attire may be...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fight this Fight

Anxiety comes creeping in again, and I can hardly keep at bay the tides that sweep me up in such confusion, and I can hardly swallow down the pain that rises in my throat till I am barely breathing. And there is no escape from this.

Spent so many hours counting down the clock. It's time to go, but I can't move. I'm paralyzed by this dissension, this overwhelming sense of desperation. So much without a reason. And there is no relief for me.

And I can't find the words to put it into. Can't bear to speak at all. Can hardly write. Can't help but to withdraw. Won't reach out now. I only want to be alone. For now. Just let me ride this out on my own.

Just let me fight this fight the only way I've ever done before. It's the only way I know. It's the only way, the only choice I'll ever choose. I am on my own again now, so let me fight this fight.

It's not your battle to lose.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Better Day

This too shall pass. How many times was this saying repeated to me over the past three months? Enough… and today, after what seemed like a lifetime of rainy days, the sun finally came out. I was more than content. I felt happy. It was a little scary.

As I sat over lunch with two of my best girlfriends this afternoon and listened to one of them speak on the event in her life that gives her the most hope, I realized that I had not really identified one for myself, though there are so many that have. During those dark days, it would have helped to remind myself about the times when God showed himself to be so faithful, though I was probably too stubborn then to have acknowledged them. I guess we all need a reminder every now and then!

Today, for the first time in a long time, my eyes and ears were really open. It rushed over me so quickly that I felt lightheaded. I am really blessed for the amazing people that have been brought into my life, people that I’ve known for years, people that I’ve only known for a few months, and people that I’ve yet to meet (like so many of you on here who bring a smile to my face with your comments and emails everyday).

When it rains, it does pour, but eventually the storm ceases… Now comes the calm... and I am grateful for the rain...

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green

After carrying on a three-day love affair with my sofa while I was sick this past weekend, I was finally well enough to leave the house. On route to church, M and I stopped off at Starbucks. I couldn’t wait to step up to the counter and in one breath rattle off “tall green tea cream frap no whip” - which I can now say 10 times fast without biting my tongue having ordered it so many times - But M ordered it before I had the chance. “I’m sorry, we don’t have that anymore,” said the voice from behind the counter. “What?” I said frantically, “What do you mean you don’t have it anymore? You mean like… ever?” I started to panic. “It may be back next spring,” the barista said with little sympathy. “Next spring?! Are you serious?” My eyes got a little misty. “Yes, I’m sorry,” she said, still holding the empty cup and pressing the black marker to it impatiently, “what would you like?” “Then I don’t want anything,” I said in a low and defeated voice, much like a 5 year old who didn’t get that pony she asked for, for Christmas.

M was unsympathetic to my dismay. “It tastes like they took all of the flowers from the garden in front of Starbucks and grinded it up into a drink,” he once told me after I forced him to sample my favorite green beverage. I almost didn’t forgive him for that… especially after the time he told me that it tasted like spinach, and I, as a result, tasted nothing but spinach until I got to the bottom of my clear plastic cup. Among other insults to my dearly departed, was that it tasted like GRASS. No it did not! It tasted like heaven… and now it’s sadly gone. Fall is officially here. I’ll have to wait another year before enjoying my favorite drink again and warding off discriminatory comments.

Kermit the frog had a point.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I haven't forgotten.

“So, how is your boyfriend?”

The question was bound to be asked. “You mean from 4th of July?” I answered back, my voice dropping at the same speed at which my heart sunk. “Oh,” he said, in a voice close to a whisper, “I see.” “Yeah,” I said dryly, a little surprised and relieved that no tears had sprung to well up in my eyes, “We broke up four days later.” “You two seemed pretty in love,” he said not looking up at me as he spoke, perhaps waiting in case the tears did come. “We were.” “Then why did you break up with him?” he asked. “Actually, he left me,” I said, each word going through me like thread through a needle stitching me with the coarse thick thread of the reality I didn’t want to speak. “Wow, but, he seemed so smitten with you. You two seemed so happy.”

How long ago was July 4th that the memory of it is so far from me? As my coworker put it, this was the summer that never was for me, the summer that I once thought would be the best summer of my life. And yet, it never happened. At least not in the way I expected.

“I never want to see another firework again,” I said with a trace of sarcasm that vainly concealed my bitterness, and then laughed. “Yeah,” he said, “I hear you. I’m still in love with my first girlfriend.” I paused. “You can’t say that,” I reprimanded, “You’re married!” “Yes,” he replied, “but I never got over her.” “Bet your stomach would drop if you saw her enter a room then?” I asked, feeling as though I was conducting my own research separate from our organization. “Oh yeah, you never forget when you love someone like that.” I knew too well what he said was true. That’s when I decided I was doomed, and that the fact that my friendly coworker - who had scarce seen me since my final summer night with N - had helped me move my desk away from the window was a blessing because I wouldn’t be able to think about jumping out of it after that conversation as I surely might have.

Of course I’m only kidding. If anything, I felt OK after that exchange. I didn’t fall to pieces. I didn’t do the “girl-thing” and cry or get misty eyed reminiscing about times past. I didn’t even let myself remember. How much life can change in a couple of days, weeks, months, years, and yet not change at all.

When my coworker left, I settled in at my desk, facing the wall and the inside of the office. There on the desk, the same infamous post-it note I’d posted to make myself smile at any given moment back in May, “Remember to Cntrl+Click.”

I haven’t forgotten.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Looking Forward; Moving On

If there was a way to go back into the past, there are so many things I’d change. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Would I go all the way back to the beginning? Maybe even back to before it started – if I could…

Sadly, there is no changing the past. Yet, all too often, we torment ourselves with thoughts of what should have/could have/might have been had we not gotten in our own way. Sadly, it’s too late; we already have. Sadly, the consequences will continue to play themselves out before us and there is no reversing them, though improvement is always a possibility if we are willing to work hard.

The past is little more than an abundant source of lessons, but we are slow to learn and when we realize our mistakes our inclination is to want to go back in time to correct ourselves – but we know we cannot. All we can do is try to set ourselves on better footing for the future and hope we will not trip ourselves up again. We probably will. The scars we’ll carry will be reminders. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s better not to forget. If we forget, then we fall back into patterns that lead to the same end point. There's little use in repeating ourselves, but it's useful in some small way if we can see it that way.

I sometimes wish it didn’t take learning the hard way for me to actually learn, but it’s the hardest lessons that we remember most and what we derive from those darkest places that makes us that much more grateful when we again find ourselves in the light. I'm reaching for it this time. I'm looking forward. I'm moving on.