humor

A Weighty Issue

In my last blog post, I talked about my “mane” issue, and -not one to shy from barf-worthy wordplay- today I wanted to expand on the topic with a “weighty” issue.

You could say this topic weighs heavily on me. …OKAY I’M DONE NOW.

In trying to free up space on my laptop last week, I discovered a video clip from January 2014.

Hells bells. Don’t ever try to upgrade your laptop operating system when you’re looking for a video clip from 2014. Please accept this photo from the same timeframe.

I watched this platinum blonde bombshell in a tight red sweater dress with a mix of awe and regret. I was in love with her. This girl can have anything she wants. Is she even real?

At the time, I was 31 and my 10+ year marriage had just ended. I’d been laid off from my steady corporate job in New Jersey, was planning to move to Maine, and flirting with a Navy pilot who lived 3,000 miles away. I was also pretending I wasn’t in love with someone who didn’t love me back.

What the ACTUAL top guns was I thinking?!

I(t) was a mess. Except not really. I felt more alive than I’d ever felt. Anything was possible. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t struggling with food. I had something far more appetizing: hope.

I wouldn’t experience that feeling again until five years later when, after many remarkable synchronicities, I quit my [next] corporate job, packed my car, and drove across the country to live in a town I’d never laid eyes on.

Home sweet Oregon home.

I also didn’t know then that, in just a few months time, Navy Pilot would erode my newfound self-esteem, followed by a series of events that would effectively seal the deal, and I’d settle back into a far more familiar place.

That is to say, carefully angled photos from the waist up.

I’ve always been chubby. I went on my first diet when I was 9 years old. By then, I would have given anything to look as cute as my best friends, The Twins, in their swimsuits. By 12, I heard loud and clear, “Boys don’t like fat girls.” By 16, I was anorexic.

I got a lot of compliments that year.

When I was 33, I cold called a therapist and, trying not to cry, said, “My binge eating is out of control.” I saw her for three years.

If you made a list of all of the reasons people struggle with weight, I have 99.8% of them.

I really liked making lists until this very moment.

And yet.

It’s still this giant mystery to me. I still feel like I haven’t cracked the code. The closest I’ve come is in realizing that I need to make friends with this so-called demon because she isn’t going anywhere. As news of the COVID vaccine circulation hit the airwaves, I actually thought to myself, “Better binge now while you still can.”

I recently watched a video clip (thanks, Flynn) about our ‘silent To Do lists.’ The bottom line: every bit of stuff we keep in our homes speaks to us. The dishes say, “Wash me.” The books say, “Read me.” And the clothes that no longer fit say, “You aren’t good enough for me.”

“Just try and run a 10-minute mile marathon now!” this photo screams.

When we surround ourselves by things that don’t serve us -or people who don’t- we’re subjecting ourselves to silent, but very clear, messages that don’t serve us either.

I watched the girl in the 2014 red dress video and wanted to be her again. But would I really want to go back in time to that tumultuous place? Back to thinking some misogynistic creep was all I deserved? Back to going to sleep hungry every night? Sometimes it’s impossible to know which thoughts are serving us and which thoughts just bring us more anxiety.

I still haven’t figured it out.

Have you?

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humor

My Mane Issue: A Tribute

Before we dive in: I’m so sorry about last week’s email notification debacle! (Wherein my subscribers got an email notification saying I had a new, password-protected blog post available.) You didn’t miss a post, but to make it up to you, this week I’m offering the greatest blog post I’ve ever written.*

*this week

The follicle foibles I mentioned two weeks ago have raged on, and I’ve now colored my hair as many times as I’ve moved in the last six years.

Attempts #1,347-1,351.

The first time I ever dyed my hair, I was in my mid-teens. I had grown up a natural blonde…

Why cut your child’s hair free-form when you can use a bowl instead? P.S. – Happy birthday [to my brother], Bryan! I did NOT print our family portrait on a face mask or blanket for you this year. You’re welcome.

…but by the time I hit teen years, my hair color had faded into some sort of strange nothingness. It wasn’t blonde. Or brown. Or gray. Or anything. In trying to reclaim my roots (pun soooo intended), I wound up with a Chucky-esque, clown-orange hue. I eventually gave up, chopped off the offending remnants, and went au naturel.

I think we can all agree: everything in this photo needs to go away.

That didn’t last long.

By 19, I was determined. I would be Jules. Jules Blonde.

Why is this photo in my blog archives? What is this?

Though I’ve stayed primarily blonde through my late 30s, you can rest assured I’ve tried going brunette.

March 2010

“I don’t like it. It isn’t you,” my boss and mentor said, when, at 27, I decided to switch things up and come to work sporting a dark brown mane. By that point she’d known me as a blonde for five years.

Well this is awkward.

Her name was Carol and I worshipped her. She had a barely tamed, reddish-gray, curly bob, wore boxy, black jumpers over patterned turtlenecks, chunky black orthopedic flats, and took no prisoners. She was a mid-level manager in a high-level pharmaceutical company, and for some reason decided that employing a creative writing major with zero corporate experience was a swell idea.

At 22 years old, I got a plastic ID badge, a 401k, and a fast lesson in office politics and Excel spreadsheets.

My entire life from 2007-2011.

In those days, I didn’t know it was wrong to race into your boss’s office at 7:45am and holler, “I GOT A NEW CAR IT’S A BEETLE CONVERTIBLE COME LOOK COME LOOK!”

Clearly I have a lot of bad ideas.

In those days, I didn’t know it was noteworthy to start a weekly “Cookie Day” and host potlucks in the dreary back conference room.

In those days, I didn’t know that writing ironic birthday poems, baking cheesecake, and hanging Despair.com calendars across your cubicle was endearing.

“I just have to tell you,” Carol said after a few months on the job, “I finally read what that poster said because I just couldn’t believe you’d have one of ‘those’ [motivational] calendars. I was so relieved.”

Actual poster hanging in my first cubicle.

In those days, all I knew was that the people I saw every day from 9 to 5 had lost a sparkle in their eyes and I was naive enough to think I could bring it back with baked goods and bad great jokes.

After Carol’s hair comment, I didn’t stay brunette for long, and in returning to blonde, I saw that she was right. Over the years I worked with her, she made a few enemies and more than a few missteps, but she always saw me.

Not long after that, she died of cancer. It’s been over ten years and I still can’t really think of her without crying.

When someone sees you, it lives forever.

So. While I’ve enjoyed this latest pitstop [thanks to a botched bleach job] and treasure my friends’ kind words…

…I’ll be back to blonde myself soon.

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Do you have a similar attachment to an aspect of your appearance?

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