There’s only one thing I like doing less than whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing at the moment, and that’s whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing in an hour. The anxiety, dread, and pure, unadulterated terror that comes with knowing I have to do basically anything other than eating or reading quietly in my room alone is enough to make me question why my chromosomes ever thought I was capable of existing in real human form anyway. Seriously guys, have you seenhow I leave the house in the morning? Think of the agony you could have saved us all if not for your selfish desire to be alive.
The hour–ugh, who am I kidding, the day. Week. Okay, month maybe, whatever!–leading up to something I feel even slightly uncomfortable doing is the purest form of psychological torture. Don’t question me on this one. It’s science. Why I decided to willingly subject myself to an entire YEAR of this nonsense is completely beyond me at the moment (which just so happens to be a moment that falls within aforementioned timeframe, but that’s merely coincidence), but ah, such is the life of the brave soul that challenges herself to meaningless experiments. A couple of months ago, in a flash of careless bravado, I decided to sign myself up for an improv class. I suppose my decision may have had something to do with the fact that since moving to California I’ve made precisely zero effort to become friends with anyone who isn’t conveniently located at either of the only two places I really ever go (work, home) and some small, weird part of my subconscious (wrongly) believes this isn’t entirely healthy. But, honestly, I think I was just being a dick.
That’s the thing with Past Selves, they’re pretty much ALWAYS dicks to those obnoxious, feel-good Future Selves, and it’s the poor, unsuspecting Current Selves that get caught in the crossfire. I’d just like to say that I’m sorry, Current Self, for your risky asshole of a predecessor and her smug, self-righteous cousin. I’d really like to stuff a sock in Future Self’s big dumb “but you’re going to feel so much better after you do it!” positivity pie-hole, too. But alas, such is our cruel, cruel fate, my little CS friend.
When I grow up, which I imagine to be somewhere between the ages of thirty five and thirty six and a half, I would like to own my own wildly successful business. To all potential investors out there, note that I said wildly successful, not marginally successful or very successful, you darn penny pinching ingrates. The idea behind this business is simple (and also incredibly trademarked/copyrighted/patented/meaninglessly declared in a blog, so back off and get your own amazing business idea, stinkers): as a former chorophobe, I will have the innate ability to teach other chorophobes how to dance in the tender, patient way normal non-chorophobes could never achieve, thus, completely cornering the chorophobe market–an insanely booming industry as you already know. I’ll open my own school for dance, create a line of instructional DVDs for home viewing, and have a YouTube channel full of coddling speeches and inspirational videos of my journey from bumbling boob to All-Powerful, All-Loving Master of Dancery. Rhythmless meeklings will flock to my school in droves, their adoration of me growing to a feverish pitch as I transform their lives over the course of a few months. And soon, oh so deliciously soon, my empire will swell to mighty proportions, a horde of zealous followers throwing money at my feet and catering to my every whim.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Regan you repugnant, beautiful genius, what the hell are you waiting for?! You should be terrifyingly rich and beloved right now, why are you wasting time writing this blog when there’s literally nothing standing between you and instantaneous success?!?” And you’re right, of course, except for one small thing. Weirdly, there’s a tiiiny hitch to my otherwise flawless plan: I still don’t actually know how to dance.
January always brings with it a slew of sappy blogs about new beginnings and leaving the past behind and all that sentimental claptrap. While it might seem that a story about how I’m trying to suck less at dancing so I can enjoy life more and feel better about myself would fall into that category, rest assured friends, this post has nothing to do with personal growth. For me, cash-obsessed (wall)street shark that I am, it’s all about the power. So, a few weeks ago when traveling roommates left me alone with the privacy of a completely empty apartment for the first time in months, I took my first awkward, graceless step toward world domination and watched a dance tutorial I randomly found on YouTube.
Things started out well enough.
After a few minutes of warming up and a couple nervous foibles, I started getting into the groove. A few minutes after that and I was beboppin’, jivjivin’, and wigglyjigglin’ all over the place. I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror several times and laughed without venomous hatred or crippling humiliation. I followed along without looking, eyes closed tight in the passionate rapture of my own self-discovery. I was young, I was powerful, I WAS ALIVE, GODDAMNIT!!!
…And then things started turning south.
It appears that for some ungodly unknown reason you people seem to think that actual dancing involves more than just hopping side to side and gently bobbing up and down while remaining otherwise stationary. It’s ludicrous, I know, but apparently this is what the kids have decided. Before I knew it the fedora wearing sadist in the tutorial started adding insane moves that no earthly being could possibly achieve–like putting one foot behind the other or swinging one pair of limbs while still continuing to use the others–and along with any semblance of grace or balance I quickly lost all hope.
It pains me to admit this, especially considering how impossibly low the bar has already been set, but I think I may have overestimated my abilities a bit. Pathetic as it is, my situation is dire enough that a video titled “Basic Dance Moves” is about three times more advanced than my current skill level. Before I can learn to use my body to dance, I guess I have to learn to use my body period, and the best way to do that is probably through yoga. I’d hoped to avoid this conclusion, since doing yoga is yet another one of my fears and the torn ACL in my left knee will prove a formidable hindrance. But! If I ever want to face this fear and continue on in my journey to becoming a boss-ass bitch it must be done.
So have patience, sweet chorophobes, I shall lead us out of this darkness yet!
If you read the title of this post and didn’t immediately start singing Destiny’s Child I’m not sure who you are or how you’re alive and frankly I don’t really care to know.
When I was thirteen my best friend and I choreographed a bed dance (what’s a bed dance? it’s like this, minus the sexy bits and plus more awkward bits) to “Independent Women” and recorded ourselves performing it on VHS, for hours, in my parents attic. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, Regan, didn’t you JUST get done talking about what a terrible dancer you are?” Why yes, young muskrat, I’m glad to see you’re paying such close attention! While I am, in fact, a terrible dancer in all other genres, when it comes to choreographed bed dancing I am a goddamn artist. Just ask my mom, who I made watch the video in front of me while supplying encouraging commentary on more than one occasion.
Though I’m sure I didn’t really understand the song then and probably don’t fully understand it now (DC has got subtext, ya’ll), all I needed to hear were the words “independent” and “women” to know I was in love. The back of my junior high journal is plastered with the crossed out names of boys I’d liked, briefly dated, then quickly broke up with once I realized that dating meant I actually had to hug, hold hands, and worst of all, talk to them. When I’d finished the journal–and presumably felt the need to define its core thesis for the many biographers who would surely study it later on–I took the thickest Sharpie I could find and scrawled “INDEPENDENT WOMAN 4EVER” across the entire back cover. Thus began my new obsession. Being independent quickly became as important to me as being tough, despite the fact that I was, you know, thirteen and still relied on my parents for literally everything.
Predictably, my understanding of what it actually meant to be independent evolved a lot as I got older. By the time I turned eighteen I was finally beginning to learn that being independent doesn’t require you to be sometimes cold, frequently withdrawn, and eternally closed off to the people that care about you; but it would take eight more years, two lost friendships, one abusive relationship–and, yes, a whole lot of therapy–for that lesson to really hit home. I know that my understanding of independence will continue to evolve and grow as I do; but, from where I am now, real independence is just as much about being comfortable enough with yourself to be truly vulnerable with someone else, as it is about being strong enough to stand on your own. It’s something that I’m working on every day, slowly, through my relationships with other people, my relationship with my past, and, as you may have surmised, the writing of this weird little blog.
So, finally, all this is to say: I ate ramen at a restaurant alone a few weeks ago and it was GREAT!!!!!
(That is not actually all this is to say, but that’s all of the mushy stuff I’ll say in this post. I will eventually be expanding on some of the things I just referenced in the future since, ugh, opening up emotionally about issues other than makeup and food and Gollum is one of my fears…but that is for the future and now is not the future, now is now and now is about ramen so get your mind out of the gutter and FOCUS!!)
Eating alone is far less awkward, far more enjoyable, and about a hundred times messier than I ever imagined. I’ve always been self-conscious about eating in front of other people–probably because stupid David Cristos* said I looked like I was chewing cud once in the 4th grade and I WILL NEVER FORGET IT–and have avoided ordering anything at restaurants that might be tricky to chomp without getting food on every surface imaginable (which, for me, is basically all the good foods) for most of my life. But, oh! If only I had known the complete and utter rapture of eating alone! What divine palates I might have discovered! What delectable fantasies I might have indulged! How much ramen might I have consumed?!!
You probably already knew this since you guys are by and large not terrified idiots like me, but it turns out eating alone is pretty rad. So, let’s go ahead and cross that one off the list. As you may remember, I had originally planned on reading at a bar as my first Fear Number Four experiment, but, seeing as how going to a bar alone as a woman pretty much always results in some guy you don’t want hitting on you totally hitting on you, I’m gonna forgo that one indefinitely.
I recently read something somewhere by someone ranting about how they couldn’t stand to read one more blog by one more woman challenging herself to go out “fresh-faced” in public or wear red lipstick for a week or whatever. I can’t remember who it was by or when or where I saw it, but rest assured it is a VIVID memory and I resent its implications with the passion of a thousand juicy mangoes. If that mysterious mongrel is reading this right now: I’m very sorry to be a bore, but this is MY blog and these are MY fears and I WILL DO WHAT I WANNA!!!!! You are perfectly welcome to start your own fear blog and write about your own much more sophisticated fears elsewhere. I hear that LiveJournal is very happening these days.
Ahem. Now that that unpleasant business has been addressed, let’s get down to it. Or should I say let’s get UP to it, hahaha!! Dumb boys: be warned, this post is about makeup. Cool boys: read on.
I don’t know if you know this very important fact about me, you guys, but I’m Italian. To the average person the idea of Italian culture conjures up little more than an image of Marlon Brando as the Godfather and some nondescript piece of pizza. To me, thick, pasta-saucy Italian blood running through fifty percent of my veins, Italian culture means Marlon Brando as the Godfather, a very specific opinion on how to prepare spaghetti, and a chronic case of extremely pronounced under eye circles–or, as I like to call them, Danger Marks. (I’ve never called them that.)
As great as my dark circles have been for warding off baddies and street tuffs, unfortunately when it comes to looking like a fully-awake, marginally pleasant human being, they’re kind of a bummer. Pair that with my chronically misunderstood facial affliction, Bitchy Resting Face, and it can become a near deadly combination if left untended.
Don’t get me wrong. I like my face. Sure, sometimes after a particularly long night of drinking milkshakes at the candy bar I wake up feeling like one of the dread hounds from Willow, but for the most part I think it’s a pretty good face. I apply makeup to this pretty good face on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, namely that makeup is fun and also that wearing makeup helps prevent people from asking me if I’m sad or tired a trillion times a day. Makeup is a form of self-expression just like anything else. For example, when I wear a lot of eyeliner (every day), I am saying to the world: “I am someone who likes to wear a lot of eyeliner.” When I rock a vibrant lip shade (essentially never), I’m telling people: “Today I decided to apply color to my lips.” These messages are powerful, empowering, and Corepower, because that is also a type of power that people like.
Here’s the thing. A whole bunch of people have a whole bunch of opinions about this whole other bunch of people who choose to wear makeup. And the fact is, these opinions don’t matter, they just don’t. As much as you’d like to think you’re coming from a good place when you tell someone they “don’t need makeup,” you aren’t. Any judgement of someone else’s appearance is just that–a judgement. Judgements aren’t the end of the world! We all judge constantly! Judge Judy judges FOR A LIVING! But let’s either stop cloaking our judgements of makeup wearers in sweet little small pox blankets of One Direction songs or–better yet–stop judging makeup wearers altogether. If you’re so preoccupied with the fact that a girl deigned to wear mascara to the gym that you feel the need to scoff at her superficiality publicly, I’m fairly certain you’re the superficial one my fine feathered friend.
So, all this is to say: I’m going to challenge myself to not wear makeup for a week and YOU BETTER NOT JUDGE ME FOR IT!!! (Jokes! I wouldn’t write a blog if I didn’t expect to be judged mercilessly.) My reasons for this are many and far, far too deep and existential for you to ever understand, but I supposeI’ll throw you a bone.
Basically, I’ve learned through a long and storied history that my face without makeup provokes a generally negative response (see: “You look so tired! Did you not sleep well?” “You look so sad! What’s wrong?” “You look so angry! Are you going to whack me? Are you going to get Marlon Brando to whack me?? Oh my god, do you KNOW Marlon Brando???”), and my face with makeup seems to negate that. So, because I don’t want to be reminded that I do not, in fact, know Marlon Brando thirty goddamn times a day (ugh, he’s so beautiful, just take a moment to pine), I’ve understandably developed a little fear of leaving the house without ma’ ladypaints on.
But of course, this blog is about facing fears and despite my month long absence (more on that soon) I am a diligent fear facer, so, starting next Sunday I will take this tired mug to the streets with all the pride of a monkey at Ikea. Get those peepers ready, Berkeley! You’re about to see some sweet, sweet, Gob Bluth-like magic.
Loners wear sexy hoods. Loners carry sexy beat up leather bags. Loners have dark pasts and think deep thoughts that are way too dark and deep for anyone else to understand except you, the Saver of the Loners. They’re just so mysterious. All alone and misunderstood and sexy and alone, you know?
Growing up I tried my best to emulate the loner lifestyle. I wore oversized hoodies and black high-top Chucks and scribbled melodramatic song lyrics on my backpack. During recess sometimes I’d wander away from my friends on the playground, presumably to think deep loner thoughts like, “Am I looking into the distance wistfully enough?” “Maybe I should look at my shoes instead?” “I wonder if anyone is looking at me right now?” On more than one occasion I even attempted to run away, making it about a half hour from my house before I missed my dog and decided to turn back.
But it wasn’t until my first semester of college that I really came face-to-face with the actual “being alone” part of lonerism. And I can tell you right now, no matter how desperately I tried to romanticize the situation, there was nothing sexy about it.
Twelve hours after arriving at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire for freshman orientation I began filling out a transfer application to the U of M. Two days after that my mom drove the first of many trips to pick me up and bring me home for the weekend. While I still don’t think that Eau Claire was ultimately the right fit for me, I also can’t claim that I really tried all that hard to not make it suck. On the first night of classes a girl I knew from high school who was living in the “nice” dorm invited me to come watch movies with her and her roommates. Instead of taking her up on the offer, I decided to sit alone in the student center drawing pictures of myself as Gollum all night. That more or less set the precedent for the entire semester.
The truth is, unless you’re a surly studmuffin who looks great with sweaty hair and bloody knuckles who’s also secretly a king and named something that rhymes with “Slider,” being a loner is just kind of…lonely.
Don’t get me wrong, as a mostly introverted person, I need plenty of me time (this feral mud dweller look doesn’t just happen overnight, you know). I’ve always loved the idea of going to a movie or a museum or a restaurant alone, and I really admire those of my friends who do it without a second thought. But I’ve found that, since I experienced what real loneliness actually feels like, I have a really hard time doing things alone. Not being around people for an extended period of time gives me this weird anxiety that I still haven’t quite figured out how to shake. And it sucks, because I really do think that occasionally being able to do things and experience life by yourself is a really important part of personal growth.**
I have a lovely friend here in California who frequently goes to her neighborhood dive bar and enjoys a beer and a book by herself after work. To me, this is just about the coolest, bravest thing ever. And, conveniently, also a really great first step towards facing my fear of being alone (because books and beer, obviously).
Time to dust off my oversized hoodies and get to work!
**EDIT: After receiving a number of “I’m lonely too” comments on Facebook and Twitter and being explicitly told “You sound like you’re really lonely,” I realize I may have missed the mark with the original version of this post, and decided to edit it. The point was that I have a hard time doing things by myself, not that I’m lonely and alone and forever traumatized by a crappy few months in college. I’M DOING FINE GUYS!!!
I’m not proud of it. I won’t repeat it. But I can’t deny that at approximately 9:15pm on Thursday, September 5th, I kinda lost my shit.
After escalating upwards through the familiar veil of intoxicating street piss and exiting my local BART station, I felt a gentle buzzing in my pocket. The Nasonex Bee, come to find me after all these years?? No! Something even better. Flipping open my Samsung LG (the four year old version complete with super hot leaf-shaped crack on the screen from a wayward drunken step) I found a voicemail letting me know that I got the job I interviewed for the week prior. That’s right, pumpkins, mama’s EMPLOYED.
When I said in my earlier post that I came to San Francisco with nothing but the clothes on my back, I pretty much meant it. I had my plane ticket, a one month sublet rented, and enough money to cover the essentials, but beyond that, there really was no plan. So when I got that call telling me that I would be okay, that the anxiety of not knowing was over and I wouldn’t have to skulk back to Minnesota at the end of the month feeling like I had failed, I was naturally pretty effing elated. So I went out and did what anybody would do when they get life-changing news.
I bought books.
I bought books and then I bought candy and then I went back to my apartment and read alone in my room for three hours on a Thursday night and it was GODDAMN PERFECT. That tiny, miniscule fraction of the population who, for some unfathomable reason, decide to “go out” and celebrate “with people” when they get good news are weirdos and nutbars and I don’t care to know them. Clearly one has never lived until one has hunkered down into a beautiful nest of Sour Skittle dust, York Peppermint Patty crumbles, and a pile of old comforters with questionable stains, and read by the gentle light of one bare florescent bulb into the wee hours. I stand by that.
The last few weeks have been filled with illness and injuries and several stinkbots, but they’ve also been peppered with new jobs and nice people and little victories too. Things are only going to get busier as I attempt to move into a great new place with some great new people without such luxuries as a great bed or great furniture or a great car to procure such great inventions this weekend, but weirdly, I’m kind of looking forward to it.
It turns out, I guess, that I’m not so scared of leaving Minnesota after all.