Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh God, she's hideous...

I am a fairly vain person.  I know what you're thinking.  What?  You?  But you're so...average looking...and you have both teeth and a nose that could use some fixing.  Also, sometimes your hair looks weird.  Well, dear reader, duh and/or hola and/or take your pick from the satchel of sassy retorts.  It's not my fault I'm too poor and lazy to be as finely sculpted as I wish to be...actually, come to think of it, it is.  Oh well.  It's not like I admire vanity.  I don't.  At all.  I find it a highly unattractive quality (oh the sweet irony!).  The majority of my family members are as humble as they come.  I, however, am seemingly cursed with caring more than I would like to about my visage.

So imagine my chagrin when I stood before the mirror in my bathroom on Saturday morning and saw a cluster of red in the corner of my eye. Naturally, I felt compelled to examine this situation more closely; I peeled back my eye lids, cocked my head to the side and lo and behold, there it was in all its glory--a bursted blood vessel.  Doing its absolute best to resemble a fertilized chicken egg.

For those of you not raised on farms, here is what a fertilized egg looks like:

Magnificent, isn't it?

I quickly called Moses in for a second opinion (although he would wish me to remind you that he is not nor will he ever be that kind of doctor.)  He seemed somewhat distressed by the whole thing; partially because it looked somewhat alarming (see fertilized chicken egg), partially because I was (slightly) in pain, and partially because just nights before he had unconsciously elbowed me in the eye (although, I was so drowsy I couldn't tell you which) and he knows that he is just one anonymous phone call away from being reported to the big bad rotten boyfriend hotline (only kidding, lambykins.)

Moses, in his infinite wisdom, suggested I wear my glasses until my eye gets better.  I, in my infinite narcissism, attempted to explain to him that my glasses are only to be worn in the following circumstances:

A. While sitting on the couch at home in my sweatpants, watching abc family programming


B.  When I have pulled an all-nighter and I am physically too tired to put my contacts in.  Note: this second circumstance only occurs during graduate school and often coincides with being too fatigued to care about my appearance.  It is also often accompanied by coffee stained clothing (since I've already put the shirt on and everything...)

So I huffed and puffed and swore I would still wear my contacts despite (in spite of?) my unsightly ocular blemish.  Alas, my eye stung just enough with my contact in it that I relented and have been following Moses sagacious advice.  But wearing glasses makes Wendy think that she looks like this:

Yes.  Mustache and all.  Although, Moses insists that I look adorable.

Here, judge for yourself in this rare pictorial of me wearing my glasses:

But this is really all in good jest and infused with a healthy dose of hyperbole (as if there is any other kind.)  Living in Los Angeles has actually had the opposite effect on me that it has on most people.  The more I live here, the less I care about my appearance.  The less I fuss over my averageness.  The less I fret over the fact that my nose and my teeth need fixing or that my hair looks weird or that my glasses are thick or that my clothing is stained.  It's just, well, much of the Southern California populace are SO obsessed with their exteriors that it makes the whole thing seem rather comical and pathetic.

So here, for your viewing pleasure (or idle curiosity) is my bursted blood vessel that I hardly even feel self-conscious about:

And just look at how nicely my nose appears from that angle. Normally, I look like this:

Only kidding.  She's much prettier.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Vintage Obsession

I honestly can't tell you why I am this way.  Or when it even started.  All that I know is that my closet--with the exception of the approx. 1.25 square inches that belong to Moses (affectionately referred to as that space where that one suit is hung)--is filled with vintage or vintage inspired clothing.

I will readily confess to you--to anyone--that I am a full-fledged consumer whore.  But somehow, purchasing vintage-y looking things makes me feel like less of one--as if buying an $8 vintage dress from Buffalo Exchange were some subtle form of rebellion, of sticking it to the man, of bringing down those evil corporations(, man.)  That is until I realize that I am hanging it next to a mere catalog's worth of garments whose tags bear the shameful stitching: MADE IN CHINA (while likely simulatenously sipping an iced beverage from Starbucks.)

I got my first vintage dress when I was ten.  My fashionable maternal grandmother (who I think I inherited all of this from) let me scavange through some of her old clothes from the sixities.  I blissfully capered away with an armful of dresses. I still have them.  I wore one to class once and some of my girl students asked me where I got it.  I told them, "from my grandmother," and they squealed with delight.

Recently, however, this obsession has taken a dangerous new hold since I have discovered ModCloth.com--a website that exclusively sells vintage inspired clothing.  Basically my own particular brand of heroin.

Take, for example, this:
In many respects, this is the vintage inspired personification of me.  Adorable yet not sickeningly so.  Colorful yet mundane enough not to warrant too much attention.  Curious yet skeptical.  And clearly, a brilliant scholar, teacher, and girlfriend...

The point is that this is just one sample from the 1000+ other precisely-tailored-for-wendy's-personality dresses that exist on this disturbingly perfect website.  And the most devastating thing of all, is that these dresses are almost entirely outside of my comfortable price range.

I have a rule you see--an arbitray one much like my "no more than one serving of ice cream per day" rule.  I can buy as much clothing as I want but I can't spend more than $25 on any one item.  And $25 is pushing it.  If it's $25, I will likely pace around the store, agonizing over the decision for a solid twenty minutes.  And yet, I can happily scoop up two $20 items and feel wonderfully content swiping my credit card through at the register.  I know.  It makes no sense.  But for whatever reason, it seems logical to me and I follow it staunchly and with ease.  Naturally, this rule keeps both my closet stocked and me splendidly poorer than I should be.

Moses has often compared my dress collection to the hydra.  He says that I will pick through it every few months and donate or sell the dresses that I have fallen out of love with.  But for every one dress chucked, three more new ones quickly take its place. (You see now why he's reserved to that space where that one suit it hung.)

The absolute worst is when I have an actual event that most reasonable people would purchase clothing for, like the wedding of my dear friend Ruth that I am going to in July.  Do I need a new dress for this occasion?  Probably not, no.  Do I want a new dress for this occasion?  You bet your two part-time job salary, I do.  With this one, I really broke my rule and big time--and you better believe that I spent a good two or so harrowing weeks fretting over this purchase.  But I have since come to terms with my first (and so far only) ModCloth purchase and I look forward to spending more money that I should not be spending there.

But hopefully no more than $20...well at least not on any one item...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The angels, whispering to one another,/Can find, among their burning terms of love,/ None so devotional as that of "Mother"

Recently, I was speaking with my dear friend Kate--who is currently celebrating her first mother's day with her eleventh month old, Jake--about parenting methods and she asked me if my mother ever let me cry myself to sleep in my crib.  I said no because my mother said that she couldn't bear to.  Kate nodded pensively.  "But," I said, in part to soften the smugness of my former statement, "who's to say that is a good thing.  To this day I have attachment issues with my mother--I would very much prefer for her to be with me at all times."

I wish I could say that I was joking--that this was just some clever quip to reassure Kate in her own parenting decisions--but the reality is that I would very much prefer to be with my mother most of the time.  But I don't think that is because I have attachment issues.  I think it's just because I have an amazing mother.

Naturally, I am biased; she's the only mother I have ever known.  But I've heard and seen enough about other mothers to come to the conclusion that she is and was the absolute best mother for me. 

The universal attributes of a good mother are, as I see it: selfless, devoted, encouraging, patient, resilient, and fun.  And my mother is every single one of those.

She gave up a lot to stay home with us kids--a social life, a burgeoning career--but she did it graciously and uncomplainingly.  Everything she did, she did for her children or for her family.  I cannot tell you how much I respect and admire that.  You see these shows like Real Housewives of Blank and these women are always jet setting, getting mani-pedis, and getting sloshed with their girlfriends--they are practically never at home with their children.  That was the furthest thing from my mother.  The only jet setting my mom ever did was to her environmental task force and league of women voters meetings.  The only babysitters that we had when we were children were our siblings, our father, or our polish grandparents.  And yes, we are a little stranger phobic as a result but whatever, we are still better people.

I also don't know any other mother that played with her children as much as my mother did.  And poor Mom, she always had to play the worst characters.  I mean, I had it bad enough, I was always forced to be the boy in whatever Genny and I played, but my poor mother was delegated the parts of the big bad wolf and the wicked step sisters--the parts that even Genny, in all her persuasiveness, couldn't talk me into playing.  When my sister was at school and my mom was pregnant with Scott, and it was just the two of us home together, we had theme days: Little Red Riding Hood, Little Mermaid, etc. Those are still some of my fondest childhood memories--my mother handing me our Red Riding Hood basket (that also doubled as my Dorothy basket), giving me a fruit roll-up to place inside of it (as one of the goodies to bring to my grandmother), and I would waltz down the hall (the woods) only to meet her, the big bad wolf.  Both of my parents made such an effort to foster our imaginations and as result, all of us are creative people: Genny writes, I write, Jeremiah makes up stories, John draws, Isaiah draws and makes up stories, and Scott comes up with these genius nebulous theories.  And what's better as parent than cultivating creative intelligent people?
In the Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon says "All women become their mothers.  That is their tragedy."  I know that that must be true for some people but as I have gotten older I am both relieved and delighted that I am becoming more like my mother.  I've noticed this especially with my patience.  My mom is the most patient person I know.  She would sit for hours and listen to my siblings prattle on about things that interested them or wild ideas they had about string theory or evolutionary biology.  She would listen to me read from my US History textbook and suffer through many an awful gel penned poem from purple notebook during middle school and high school.  None of us were ever made to feel as though we were bothering her or inconveniencing her.  On the contrary, it was like we had an unconditionally receptive, encouraging audience for anything.

I was thinking recently about both my parents and it struck me that in many respects, we got the best of both families; my dad was the best possible dad from his and my mom the best possible mom from hers.  And it's to our dad that we owe much of our inherent strength as individuals, but it is our mother whom we rely on to give us continual strength, especially whenever we flounder.  Emily Dickinson once wrote that "A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled."  She quickly follows that by explaining how her mother never filled that role for her but mine certainly has.  There is no one I would rather turn to for comfort than my mother and there is no greater sound of comfort than my mother's laughter--especially when it is in response to some outlandish fear I have: like bankruptcy or having Sarcoidosis.

So much of what is good and admirable about me comes from my mother, and since motherhood is so often thankless, as I am sure it was during the bulk of my teen years, I wanted to take this opportunity on mother's day to thank my mother for all those times that I didn't thank her.  So thank you, Mom, for everything that you have done.

And while this is may not be the wittiest or most eloquent post, true to form, I would very much prefer that you were here with me as I write this.

I love you.