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Friday, June 20, 2014

WHY I WENT TO MY REUNION: Nevermind the Aftershame, Here's the Librarians!

So I just got back from my 25th college reunion.  YAY!!!!  We’re OLD!!!!  But seriously, folks, I had nothing but pleasant, stimulating and/or invigorating interactions the entire weekend.  NOTHING BUT, can you imagine?  For an entire weekend???  You are right, I was pretty sure I had actually died on my way there (I did drive through a monsoon-like storm) and was currently in heaven, because how is that a sustainable reality?  An entire weekend of nothing but positive, happy, supportive vibes?  Whew.  Looking back, it HAS taken on a dream-like quality…the familiar faces, the supportive rapport, the humor, the intelligence, the downright determination to have a FUCKING GOOD TIME.  ALL of these things came into play, and I was not sorry to see a single face, hug a single person and had a 100% lack of something I have termed “aftershame”.  You know, that sick pit in your stomach you get after a night out when you feel you may have tried too hard?  Or too little. Or drank too much. Or too little.  It is so hard to get it exactly right, right?  But I did.  Just this once.

Now surely you could find someone to disagree.  Someone who could say that I did drink too much, or mention the fact that I had mascara smeared under my eyes from laughing so hard I had to cover my face, or that I had to leave the bbq because I am neurotic about food, or wouldn’t dance at the campus pub because it was too damned hot, or wouldn’t march in the all-class parade because I DO NOT MARCH.  You could find those people.  But they are not MY PEOPLE.  My people would say the same thing as I:  a good (wonderful, fabulous) time was had by one and all.  We were happy to be together and it all felt so RIGHT, so IN SYNC (N’Sync?) that we can’t wait for 5 years to go by to do it again.  HA!  Of course we don’t really need to wait 5 years, but life is busy and time passes so quickly, and schedules are hard to coordinate and also, we are most likely saving it for the librarians.
Obviously, it will be difficult for me to justify this last excuse.  Save it for whom? What?  But actually, as a moment of perfection in an absolutely sublime weekend, “save it for the librarians” was my takeaway.  The quote that resonated most deeply with me.  Because a hilarious, gorgeous, vivacious woman shared with me the fact that her husband doesn’t, in fact, find her to be all that funny.  And when she whips out her rapier wit on his behalf, he tells her to “save it for the librarians”.  Yes, she is getting her PhD in library science.  So she’s smart, too.  “Save it for the librarians,” he says.  Ironically, this is a pretty good line.  But it is also reflective of a trend I noticed throughout the weekend.  We were quite terribly overjoyed to be with each other because we GET each other.  Even after 25 years.  And some of us (a lot of us?) are living with, married to or in love with people who not get us in that same way, even after much more extensive contact.  Proving to me at least, that you can’t fake or force that “CLICK”.

So what gives?  I am the first to admit, my husband doesn’t find me all that funny, although anyone who reads my blog knows I AM EMPIRICALLY A LAUGH RIOT.  Ha.  Another friend of mine, who can literally make me laugh without ever changing his expression, who simply by hesitating a moment can prompt me to guffaw, claims his S.O. “doesn’t laugh”.  Not only at him, but at funny movies, professional comedians, etc.  She just doesn’t like to laugh at all, he says.  So how does THAT work???  A high school friend of mine who recently started a successful women’s social club, shared an interesting encounter on HER blog:  she reconnected with an old acquaintance recently who rejected membership in said club with this excuse:  “I don’t like to have fun”.  YOU DON’T LIKE TO HAVE FUN????  WTF???  And what do you want to bet she is married to a PARTY ANIMAL?
So here is my theory:  the hilarious, gorgeous, vivacious woman whose husband told her to “save it for the librarians”?  She married someone who lets her rest.  Who gives her a break.  Who doesn’t need her to be hilarious, gorgeous and vivacious 24/7.  My friend with the S.O. who doesn’t laugh?  Needs a moment when he doesn’t feel obligated to make anyone laugh.  And perhaps the fact that my own husband doesn’t crack a smile while reading my blog is a relief to me as well.  It is hard to live with a bright light shining in your eyes all the time, and our partners do admirably well, when you consider their circumstances in that manner.  Hilarious, gorgeous and vivacious might actually be a little tough to take around the clock.  Hence, the request to “save it for the librarians”.  The ironically funny request.  But it also makes me wonder…while it is perfectly healthy to give it a rest at home, how many of us are forgetting to take it back out and let it shine in the rest of our lives?

When you are young and searching for your place, you pull out all of the stops.  No stone is left unturned in the hunt for the “CLICK”, that sense of belonging, that sense of self.  You put yourself out there again and again because it is the only way to experience who you are in the world.  But as we get older and life settles in, we become more self-protective.  Life (and aftershame) teach us to withhold more, hide our light when it makes others uncomfortable and believe the feedback of strangers more than our own hearts.  We start saving it for the librarians, because…well, pearls before swine and all that.  But here is the dilemma:  how will you know if the CLICK is there if you don’t pull out all of the stops?  There is no quicker litmus test as to whether or not you are in the best situation for you if you act completely and totally like yourself and get nothing but a slack-jawed stare.  I’m glad I went to my reunion because it reminded me that my people and my place exist.  But it also reminded me that the only way to find them is to stop hiding…and stop saving it for the librarians.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Even if you have never heard of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves (???) there is no way you have never heard the line, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”  This seems like an okay question to ask a mirror, I think.  I mean, a mirror gets a LOT of customers and MUST have some kind of opinion, right?  But the trouble comes, at least for Snow White, when the mirror tells the truth.  Instead of kissing the Queen’s ass, the mirror offers an honest assessment that hey actually, her stepdaughter is edging her out in the looks department.  And Snow White IS pretty cute!  But would it have killed the mirror to be a little nicer about it?  The Queen isn’t exactly someone to sneeze at, and it would have saved Snow White AND the Queen herself a world of hurt if the mirror could have told what amounts to a little “snow white” lie, see?  So what gives?

I personally enjoy playing a  game I call good mirror/bad mirror.  Whenever I look in any mirror anywhere, I form an opinion of ITS worthiness based on how I look in it.  I turn the tables on the mirror, if you will.  If the mirror doesn’t make me look like the fairest (or slimmest) of them all, then I proclaim it a “bad mirror”.  But if I look pretty good if I do say so myself, then that is a “good mirror”.  See, it’s the mirror’s fault!  And all those “bad” mirrors are clearly just bald faced liars looking for a rumble.  Too bad about the fluorescent lighting and the extra slice of pizza, mirror!  I look puffy and washed out and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!!!  BWAH HA HA HA HA!  That was my evil Disney Queen laugh, btw.
Have you ever looked at yourself in a fun house mirror?  The ones that can make your legs look two feet long and your torso unending, or give you a giant head and tiny body, or make you hugely fat or disgustingly skinny?  It’s funny, right?  Sometimes you stand and kick those little short legs and laugh, or wag a super long finger in front of your elongated nose.  We enjoy the bizarre images because we KNOW they are not the “truth”…we know we don’t actually look like a space alien, but instead like a denizen of planet earth.  So now I have a challenge for you:  can you decide that ALL mirrors are fun house mirrors?  That what you see reflected back is quite unlike what anyone else sees when they look at you?

I have had days when I leave the house feeling great about myself, only to catch a glimpse of my reflection in a car window that turns my mood upside down…how can I look like THAT???  I looked so good in my bathroom mirror (GOOD MIRROR!) but I look so bad in the car window (BAD MIRROR!).  And I let it spoil my mojo.  Instead of feeling confident, like I did only seconds before, I feel self-conscious.  Self-loathing.  I want to fix my hair, get some botox, change my clothes.  I want to change how I look to change how I feel.  But a) that is always a temporary and transient fix, because another bad mirror could lurk around the next corner and b) do I even have any idea how I look, really?  Do ANY of us?
I was cuddling my son before bed one night and I asked him, “Why are you so beautiful?” and he answered, without a moment of hesitation, “Because I came out of YOU.  You have no idea how beautiful you are.”  Now, I could rationalize this and say, “Well, he’s my baby, of course he thinks I’m beautiful”, or I could generalize this and walk out into the world with a new perspective.  A new perspective that says, “I have no idea how beautiful I am, and NEITHER DO OTHERS REALIZE HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY ARE.”  We have all experienced this with teenagers, when they wear that self-conscious misery on their sleeves and you just want to shake them by the shoulders and yell, “You are so fresh, young and lovely!  BE HAPPY, GODDAMMIT!”  But we have also had a super model friend tell us how “fat” she feels, a handsome and charming man bemoan his balding pate, a woman with a radiant complexion flip out over an imperceivable blemish.  Be happy, goddamit.  All of us.

Photoshop, stop messing with everybody.  "They give those nice bright colors, give us the greens of summers, make us think all the world's a sunny day"...but hey, I've actually met you, and you don't actually look like that picture you are so proud of; you look like you.  I love your crooked teeth, I love your sparkling eyes, I love that little hitch in your walk that you don't notice but allows me to recognize you at 100 paces.  You are more beautiful than you know.  The mirror can't properly reflect that, and neither can a picture.  It can only be seen in another person's eyes.  It can only be known deep in your soul.  You have no idea how beautiful you are, but the time has come to learn.  Even if it feels like a lie at first, remind yourself that the "truth" did not work out so well for the Queen.  Would it kill you to be a little nicer to yourself?  And to the mirrors of the world:  how about you take your opinion and shove it?  The view in here is just fine, thank you very much.