The Weight of Aging?

So, in the not too distant past, I was lugging my “pocketbook” around (which is really more like a large tote), and noticing that it felt extraordinarily heavy.  Not just when I was carrying additional items, like, my shoes and a book, but just with, what I considered to be, “everyday” items…. you know, a wallet and a makeup bag, maybe a pen or two.

I was sure that there must be something in there (i.e., maybe I threw my moisturizer or body lotion in there by mistake) which was causing all that extra weight.

The first thing I noticed was that I was carrying three bottles of “medicine.”  One was a large bottle of hospital-brand Excedrin, which I rarely use because it has caffeine in it, so it’s only good for daytime use– and that’s only if I don’t have Advil–which I also carried in a small bottle, which additionally contained melatonin (put in there for an overnight stay at a hotel), meclizine (because once you’ve experienced vertigo, you never go anywhere without it), and aspirin (just in case I, or anyone in my vicinity, believes they are in cardiac arrest).  The third bottle was a rather large item containing my skin/hair/nails supplement.  Now, while three bottles is a little ridiculous, I didn’t think it was causing all the weight in my purse–but I did manage to remove at least one of the bottles.

Hmm… what else could it be?  Yes, my wallet has a bunch of junk in it (i.e., old “discount” cards that I bought from random school kids which I never used and expired the previous year), “extra” store cards which were there just in case the mini-card attached to my keys became lost, and etc. etc.  So I cleaned that out a bit, but surely, a few extra cards wasn’t causing the problem.

Well, what do you know— out comes the makeup bag.

When I was younger, I always carried a big pocketbook.  I remember I was often stuck with carrying lipsticks and compacts of other people who didn’t carry pocketbooks (what???!!), and they would get thrown into my bag along with my one–yes, ONE, lipstick, and my compact.  That was really the extent of my makeup needs for a night out on the town.

Fast forward twenty years later, and I’ve got four lipsticks that I can see, in my makeup bag.  Then there are two more, found in side pockets of my bag.  Then there is a lip gloss, a shiny tinted lip balm, and two chapsticks (I admit one was not supposed to be in there, it was my in-the-car chapstick which somehow got in my purse).  And that’s just for the lips.  There is also a liquid foundation bottle, two different compacts, a gigantic bronzer, a brush for the bronzer, a foundation stick, a highlighting stick, a liquid eyeliner, a pencil eyeliner (what the heck!!???), and an eyebrow liner.  What have I come to??

Funnily enough, I always really loved makeup but never wore a lot of it.  I never wore foundation, and only wore eye shadow if I was feeling fancy.  Now I’ve got enough in there to to style an intercontinental wedding party on a moment’s notice.  I felt a bit sad for myself, realizing that having a tan, or clear, not-old skin was no longer an option for getting me out the door with a bit of mascara and lipstick.  I thought, “Oh, this is how you know you’re getting old (apart from the other obvious things)…. a million tools needed just to look non-monster-like…”

And then….

I discovered YouTube.

Well of course, I didn’t discover it discover it, but I did quite a bit of viewing.  And there is another post I will do on this, so I won’t go on forever (ha), but I was in shock when I saw a lot of young ladies discussing the beauty products they would be bringing whilst away on vacation.  I watched some other videos, where they would show how they did their makeup for a “light” day…… Ho-ly Moses.

I’ve realized that, in fact, I may be under-equipped compared to these little’uns.  Here I was thinking that my senior-ity was the reason for needing so many tools, when apparently, I needed more.

All in all, I have become determined to lessen the weight of my makeup bag and just get over myself.

After I’ve taken a trip to Ulta.


I Bet You Think This Song is About You

Catherine as a kid:  But, isn’t this song about the guy?

Adult:  Yes, but it’s meant in a different way.

Kid Catherine:  But she keeps talking about him on and on, of course the song’s about him.

Adult: Yes, but she’s trying to make a point.

Kid Catherine:  I just don’t get it.  She keeps saying, “don’t you!? don’t you?!” like he’s wrong, but he’s right.  The song is about him.

Adult:  *sigh*

So, today’s subject:  Vanity.

I had to run to the store the other morning to buy some cream for my coffee, cream for my coffee, and…. the store is literally across the street, and it’s still pretty early in the morning.  Now, I hadn’t showered yet, and I was looking a pretty fantastical mess because sleeping when it’s 923 degrees (at the time, I think we’re back in the 50′s now) does not make for an attractive wake-up picture.

Now, despite the fact that there is likely to be no one in the store at this hour, and despite the fact that this is a Mom and Pop store and not Macy*s, and despite the fact that I’ve seen  people purchasing items from this store wearing pajamas, I actually went into the bathroom to rearrange my hair and apply some mascara before adventuring out.  I even put on some shoes rather than flapping over in my flip flops (though, some of you know my feelings on that matter).

Now I ask you:  what the hell is wrong with me?  I don’t think it’s vanity, but maybe somewhere down inside, it is?

Months ago, I had to have my picture taken for a photo identification badge at work, and someone asked me why I’m not really smiling in the picture.  I tried to explain that, for one thing, you feel like a moron standing there and it seems kind of ridiculous to have to work up a smile for something that has nothing to do with happiness or fun.  And the other thing I said was, “plus, I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard.”


I’ve analyzed that statement, and I have no rock solid reasoning behind saying something like that.  If you read my recent post regarding Beauty and how other women perceive it, you’ll notice that I have a thing about noticing what other people notice.

I don’t know, am I being “excessively prideful” about my appearance if I (a) don’t want to look like a scary homeless person when going out in public and/or (b) am concerned about looking “good” but not wanting people to think I’m trying?  Perhaps it’s just (c) you’re a weirdo and get over it, Catherine.  When does one cross the line from having a sense of propriety to overdoing it?  Or purposefully underdoing it?

Back in my younger days, I honestly didn’t care what people thought about my appearance.  I thought I looked fine, and my mantra was that people shouldn’t judge by what was on the outside, anyway.  When I looked at photos of myself and my friends, I didn’t think, “oo, I don’t look good there,” I thought, “we were having a lot of fun!”  Now that I’m a senior citizen, I find that I’m quite critical about myself when viewing photos.  I thought you were supposed to care less when you got older, not more?  I’m apparently doing this backwards.

I often complain in my “decline of humanity” type posts that people don’t give a poop about how they look, but maybe I need to soften my standards, I don’t know.  Just because I won’t walk around with flip flops and exposed muffin top and white legs in the summer, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t.  Right?

Okay, I take that back.  I don’t want to see any of that stuff, on anyone.  Maybe that’s some version of vanity.  Or maybe it’s just common sense.  I still believe, way down, that the cover is not a clear indicator of the book content.  But at least it should be presentable.  And not overdone.

If this quandary fails to resolve itself in the next 20 years, I’m checking into an asylum, where I can be blissfully unaware and uncaring about my appearance, because I’m too busy picking nits from the hair of a pretend monkey, and singing “You’re So Vain” to myself.

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

So, here’s the funny thing.  I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now, and consequently was also thinking about the title.  Now, before you expose your cat claws, let me tell you something (Missy).  I actually had quite the argument going in my head regarding the title, because, for one thing, it’s such a snobby, silly thing to say.  Additionally, this post has absolutely nothing to do with me or my personal “beauty,” or lack thereof.  It’s about how we (females, I’m talking to you) sometimes react to “beautiful” women.

My internal argument about the title should give you a glimpse into the content of the post, because in my head I was thinking, “I better not use that title because I don’t want people to think that I think I’m beautiful and this is going to be about me because while I’m not ugly, I’m not necessarily beautiful and even if I was I certainly wouldn’t say anything about it or entitle a post as such.”

This post isn’t about me, but what did you presume when you saw the title?  I almost didn’t use it, because of those presumptions.  But, as it turns out, I found the title kind of clever, in a way, because it says much on the surface (and the “surface” is what this is about, eh?), but it says waaaay more underneath; in implications, presumptions.  I could have entitled this post “Presumptions,” but I guess I prefer subtle trickery.

Anyway, that was a way long intro.

I used to work with two ladies who I would affectionately refer to as my “supermodel” friends.  They were each at least six foot tall, skinny, long-haired, lovely; one blonde, one brunette.  The brunette also had the great fortune to be Russian, and thus, had a sexy accent to add to her mystique.

Anyway, apart from the fact that I felt like a stumpy old ugly lady whenever I was in their presence, I was also introduced to the world of Beautiful People and the admiring Male populace…. annnnd the catty, mean, green-eyed Female populace.  You know how, in movies, they show those slow-motion scenes when a beautiful woman walks into a room, and pretty much every head in the place turns to see?  I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t just happen in movies.  It’s happens in REAL LIFE, folks.  Well, for the Beautiful People, at least.  Men were literally (I’m actually not exaggerating, for once) tripping over themselves when in the presence of these Beauties.

Now, fortunately for me, I’m mostly secure in how I look, and I’m not a stumpy ugly lady (I am getting old, so I left that one out), whether I’m in the presence of supermodels or not.  If I lingered too long in their presence would it lessen my chances of being approached by Brad Pitt?  Sure.  But maybe he’s looking for something different that day.  Who knows?

Anyway, I had a few conversations with one of these friends, and we were discussing the “almost” obvious fact that the ladies in the office were “mean” towards her.  It wasn’t imagined.  I told her that I honestly believed it was based on the fact that not only (a) she looked like a supermodel, but also (b) because she was very intelligent, thus, giving them no fodder for ridicule (the ultimate double threat).

It was kind of a weird assessment of things, and a strange realization on my part, but I truly felt that her Beauty was the problem.  Which leads me to more recent events.

I overheard a conversation between two women regarding someone they had seen, and the conversation was less than pretty.  It was a dressing down of a particular female, how “she thinks she’s all that,” how she shouldn’t be wearing “ho” shoes, how she actually has a fat butt/is “fat”, etc.  Now, I think I knew to whom they were referring, as I had also noticed this particular female.  I had thought, “ooo a pretty girl!” when I saw her, admired her clothing choices (in my head), and yes, I noticed that she wasn’t a size 2.  But she wasn’t a size 32 (not that that should matter) and I thought she looked great.

And there it is, folks.

Why, why, why do women feel the need to cut other women down?  I mean, what gave other women the impression that this particular female “thinks she’s all that?”  Because she does her hair and makes herself look attractive?  Has she walked past them with her nose in the air or looked disdainfully in their direction?  I’m betting not.  Presumptions were made based solely on her appearance.

We, as women, already do enough internal criticizing, and isn’t it great, we have a worldwide audience of critics to add to the chatter!

So, if you’ve ever caught yourself traveling down the negativity highway upon viewing a Beautiful Person, I want you to think before you presume.  What if this female was your daughter?  What if this female was someone who struggled with weight/disfigurements/personal tragedy all her life, and was finally coming out of it and celebrating Life?  What if this female was really just a normal, friendly, giving and caring person, who happened to be blessed with some good outside genes?

I think it’s “human” to feel jealousy at some point in our lives, but when we use it as a focus to publicly try to even the playing field, it makes your world and mine a pretty un-beautiful place in which to live.  I’m tempted to use the glass houses reference here, but I won’t.

Point is:  Think before you think, Ladies.

I’d Like to be Beyonce When I Grow Up

So, as I mentioned in my last post, yes, I’ve been a little pensive these last, ohhhh, nine months or so.  It has not been a good year, overall, for me, and, being apparently professionally unemployed (perhaps the only job for which I seem qualified?), I have had plenty of time and opportunity to think, think, think, and more think.  Which is likely the reason that I am up at 3:11 a.m. drinking a coffee and writing a blog post, rather than slumbering peacefully like most human beings.

Every once in a while I get sucked in to the world of YouTube, where one “innocent” video about potato farmers in New Mexico inexplicably yet possibly in a 7-degrees-of-separation-like fashion has me drooling at the screen four hours later watching a Beyonce music video.
Dual purpose drooling, mind.
Drooling because my brain is warped and I have turned into a zombie from sitting mindlessly at the computer, and drooling because if I were a dude, or a gal who fancied women, Beyonce would be IT for me.

I was not an early fan of hers, nor the whole Destiny’s Child thing.  I was pretty annoyed by them, to be honest, and was pretty gleeful about the whole Gemini’s Twin parody on Saturday Night Live.  I had a little twitch, however, when I saw her sing on some MTV (?) Fashion Rocks special.  You know, the one where she sings “Deja Vu” in her Josephine Bakeresque outfit.

I saw that and thought, “$hit, I want a banana skirt.”
Then, “I want to look like that in a banana skirt.”
Then, “I want a rhinestone bra too.”
“And a fan to blow my hair around because it does get pretty hot when it’s on my face.”
And naturally, “I’m never going to eat again and I’m going to work out every day so I can look like that in my banana skirt.  I’m gonna wear my banana skirt every day.”

So that was the beginning of my need to be Beyonce.

Fast forward to years later, watching videos of her surprising school kids and then performing with them in high heels as part of the whole “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign, and that got me further hooked.

“$hit, I want a pair of tight white jeans.”
Then, “I want to look like that in a pair of tight white jeans, even though it’s totally not my style, but if I looked like that, I would wear white jeans, dammit.”
And naturally, “I want to wear tight white jeans and a tank top and high heels and do a workout in a gym and not look like a total moronic white girl.  Every day.  In fact, I don’t want to be a white girl.  Also, I’m never eating again.”

I just found out, while searching for the banana skirt video, that she was voted “Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by People Magazine this year, so I guess I’m a little late to the show on this one.  However, just because apparently the entire universe agrees that Beyonce is IT, doesn’t mean I can’t wax poetic about her for one tiny post.

I know this may come as a total shock, but, despite all of those inspirational videos, my wardrobe still sadly lacks a banana skirt and white jeans.  Tomorrow, though, for sure, I will start never eating again, and doing tougher workouts.  Yes.

Inner Beauty, Of Course

Well, you know that I can’t do a week of posts regarding Outer Beauty without addressing the legitimate aspect of Beauty, which is, of course, the Inner part.

This will not be an overly long post (again, ha!), because there isn’t much to consider here; we should all know by now that Inner Beauty (or lack of) is what defines us more honestly than what we’re showing on the outside.  I would like to believe that it is the inner beauty of a person with which we fall in love, but, unless you’re Beauty (a la “and the Beast”), there generally has to be an initial outer beauty attraction.  I think it likely rare that a majority of us look past the outside “ugly” to even allow for the inner beauty to manifest.  More commonly, I suspect that most go for the outer beauty, and either never get to the inner beauty part (because perhaps, it doesn’t exist), or it is a slow development over time.

It seems to me, that some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life tend to be ones who are not, to the unenlightened world, considered “beautiful” on the outside.  Perhaps they’re even considered “ugly.”  I have found that often, the un-beautiful people have something more on the inside (or maybe it’s something less? Like pride, conceit, judgmentalism?), and I wonder if it’s because they don’t give a hoot about their outside appearances.  They have accepted their Outer Beauty for what it is (or isn’t), and have employed their energies elsewhere.  I’m not saying that these people are perfect; they have their bad days, and, like the rest of us, may sometimes curse their imperfections.  But that is human, and isn’t that what makes us?

I have a friend with an uncle who was born with cerebral palsy.  He was limited, physically (not enough to keep him from dancing an Irish waltz now and then, though!), and he could be difficult to understand when he spoke.  That did not prevent him from being one of the finest Men I have ever met.  I’m not exaggerating.  He was a gentleman, big-hearted, fun-loving, and an honest-to-God joy to be around.  An on-line search with the question, “how can I learn to love Life?” should direct you to a link on Uncle Frank (as he was known to all of us).  He may have been a little imperfect on the outside, but on the inside, he was Beauty, personified.  No amount of expensive creams, injections, or surgeries can buy that kind of thing.

Of course, there are plenty of people who have the Outer and Inner Beauty contained in one fine package.  Just because a person is attractive on the outside, doesn’t mean there is nothing on the inside.  But, if we all recognized the inner beauty as the only standard, there would be no separation of groups here.  Inner beauty really should be the standard by which we judge our fellow humans.  Imagine all the time and money and mental anguish we would save if we didn’t care how people (we) looked on the outside?

I’m guessing that there are a million studies out there which discuss our natural instinct to stare longer at pictures of attractive people.  There is probably something way down in our genes regarding survival of the species and picking the most attractive/fit mates for reproduction purposes.  This isn’t about picking mates, this is just about recognizing real beauty when we see it.  This is about rising above the standards of outer beauty which we have manipulated and adjusted according to whatever the Beauty Industry has deemed “in” for that month/season/year/decade.

I think we could all take a lesson from Uncle Frank, and others like him.  Perhaps if more of us worked on our inner beauty, we would be more apt to recognize it in others.  We would know that a perfect nose and big lips signify  absolutely nothing, if the heart underneath is small.  Regardless of what is on the outside, Inner Beauty, in my humble opinion, will always be “In.”