Friday, July 30, 2010

Lady in Red

My red dress came in the mail today. I love it and hate it at the same time. Mostly I hate it because I need to alter it and 90+ of the reviews of the dress say the damn thing fits like a glove. Once it's tailored and hemmed, it'll be a showstopper. As for right now, it makes me look like a little girl playing dress-up in mommy's clothes. The main issues are my height and my bust, and the lack of both.

I have a complicated relationship with the girls. Generally, I like them. They're small enough I don't actually need a bra for support. I only wear it for shape and modesty. Sometimes I don't bother. I can buy the cute bras without worrying about said support or lift. They're not going anywhere. They're as high as they were when I was 20. I like the shape of 'em. No complaints, right?

When you're a small chested woman, you don't feel terribly womanly. Even with all these advantages (bralessness or cute bras and no sagging) you still miss out on things like cleavage, and more importantly... feeling truly like a woman. Men don't look at you as much, you feel inadequate when you can't fill out a special top or dress, and all around you larger chests are celebrated and praised and considered the ideal.

90% of the time I don't let it bother me. Most of the time I focus on what's good about my breasts. I happily think about how they won't be acquainted with my navel when I'm 60. But I'm not 60. I'm 27 and I'm missing out on something fun.

And for all the larger chested women I know who've talked about it, I can tell for all the complaints, they wouldn't trade places with me. I can hear a ring of the pride in their voices. Because there's something inherently sexy about even the most inconveniently large breasts. I see the DD+ club comparing complaints over who has it worse, but under it all it's a pissing contest. When those comments are made in my direction, I know the question is really, "Aren't my breasts big?" I know some women who genuinely want a reduction and have even gone through with it. When you get dents in your shoulders, you have a legit complaint. But I can tell the difference between that and trying to coy about boobie bragging.

There's a woman at my dance class who's often mentioning how much support she needs, and to me. It's like complaining you don't know which vacation house you should summer at this year to someone who rents out a room to live in. I don't understand. Clearly I can't relate. I'm happy for her that she enjoys such bounty up there, but do I really need converse with her about it? I have nothing to offer on the subject. So I reply that I don't need support and only wear bras for aesthetic reasons. (I find that acknowledging my tininess makes these types of women uncomfortable. I don't feel bad about it. Unfortunately, since acquiring this response, it's hard to turn off.)

The kicker is how many women with big breasts like to talk to me about it. Some have gone out of their way to mention it for no apparent reason. Almost like preempting my assumed envy and saying, "It's alright, it's not really all that great." Or maybe it's a way of being smug. Sometimes it feels smug, particularly when the boobs in question are not overly enormous and cannot really be such a nuisance, not when the owner loves showing them off so much.

Sometimes I feel sad when I know women have gotten breast implants. It's like publicly acknowledging an A or B cup's inferiority that had to be corrected. Like there was no way they could be beautiful and this woman just couldn't live like that. We live in a world that sends this message. All my bras save two have padding. And this hasn't been a necessarily conscious effort. They come that way. 9 bras out of 10 have padding, at least they do in the A and B range. Every time I put one on I'm reminded an industry and a culture thinks I'm inadequate the way I am, and by buying and wearing the bra, seems I've decided to agree with them.

I think sometimes to a conversation I had with a close friend of mine in a La Senza, who was shocked to see all the padding in an A-cup bra. "Can't we all just be ourselves?" she asked. Quickly, I replied, "No." And it's true. We can't. Women are walking lies.

We get up in the morning. Our legs and underarms are shaved, our eyebrows tweezed because we're all too hairy. Some women even remove hair from their holiest of holies because nature doesn't know best. We put on makeup because our skin isn't beautiful enough, our lips not red enough, our lashes not long enough. We get our hair coloured because our hair colour isn't right. We put on heels to alter our height and silhouette because it's sexier than being comfortable on flat ground. We put on perfume to mask our natural scent. We wear bras that change the size, shape and lift of our breasts. And then we go shopping and look for things that'll fit our unique body shape and feel like we are the ones who have failed when we don't conform to the shape of a dispensable piece of clothing.

And this is after the feminist revolution and the corset and the girdle.

I posed nude for an art class once. No makeup. No bras, no perfume, no heels, nothing. Just me. For the first time since I started my period, I was just fine the way I was. I got to keep a drawing of myself and I never looked so beautiful or so goddamned free. For the evening, I was liberated.

Monday I take the dress to a tailor.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cakes and books

I heard from an older and wiser woman that you couldn't make any real career mistakes until you were 30. I'm 27. I feel as though I'm at a sort of impasse in my work life. I've been doing the same job for five and a half years. I'm good at it. I'm really good at it. Five years of honing in on a specific skill will do that.

But it's a long time to be doing the same thing. And it seems that when the rare opportunity arises to advance, it's a mirage in the desert. I get close enough and it disappears. I've capped out my salary, too. I've got great stamina to work a job without getting bored. But give me over five years with some disappointments that crush my motivation and what I have is a career dilemma.

I have dreams. Not goals. Goals would suggest I'm actively working towards making things happen. I have dreams.

Dream one: To write a graphic novel. I already have the right story to tell. I have a measly six pages complete. I have no place to work on it. Strangely and sadly my best motivational time of day is when I'm working my job and can't take three hours to sit down and work out a page layout.

I think it was Virginia Woolf who said every woman who writes needs her own room. Or something like that. Virginia was on the right track, but I think one needs more. Virginia didn't have to work at a computer for a living. I sometimes wonder how JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter in a cafe in her spare time with a sleeping baby.

Dream two: Bake and decorate cakes. I love baking. I live in an apartment with practically no kitchen. It's a struggle to make quiche. Making sweets makes me happy and cake is my favourite. I've travelled distances and agreed to parties on the assumption I will get some cake.

I'm an artist. Inherently, it's a part of who I am. Designing unique cakes would be art. It'd be enjoyable and challenging. I have no room in my home or bank account to make this happen. And yet today I looked up cake classes, the prices, the dates and times.

I'm 27 years old. I'm unmarried and childless. I don't own a home. It makes no sense to think that I'm stuck in any kind of job. I wonder why I feel like I am.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Money Can't Buy Me Love

Yesterday the Dude and I attended a potluck with friends. Only instead of potluck, we all brought $10 and the hosts used their connections to buy steak, lobster and rum.

It's hard not to enjoy your life when your weekend is spent doing things like eating lobster, seeing friends, sleeping in and being incredibly lazy. Even if you are broke at the moment. The $20 we put in was so worth it, but waiting on some cheques to be paid out, it was a stretch. I sometimes ask the Dude how we'll look back on these early years. He says we'll feel like we paid our dues.

Not like we're po', exactly, but things are a little tight. Such is life when one party is a burgeoning freelancer. There's something romantic about it in its own way. It's sort of a struggle we're sharing together. I always liked listening to settled married couples talk about their first few years of living together. It always involves a story of tight budgets, less than ideal living conditions, some sort of hardship that they had to work on dealing with as a team.

Not that I wouldn't love me some sweet, sweet spacious home ownership or exciting vacations or lots of dinners out. But I've long since developed an appreciation for the things that build character. Knowing how to do without makes the doing with into something fulfilling. It's like a reward instead of a frivolous distraction.

It also makes you love the smaller things. The Dude and I have never travelled together. We've been overnight at his dad's on the lake. That's about it. Take something like going on the rollercoasters together at Canada's Wonderland last Sunday and there's been a happy glow in this apartment all week. When you can only do so much, what you can do feels amazing. And here we are saving and putting away money for a trip to Mexico in November. It's a bit of a burden, but we're making it happen together.

Today we slept in. The Dude made us coffee and we drank it in bed. Then we stayed in bed, ate scones and watched Mad Men all day. And it's the things like that which remind me not having money isn't so bad.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bursting seams

The attack of the fatigue returns. It's like I'm 70 years old and I MUST nap. Yesterday I said nuts to hot yoga because I was so damn tired. Didn't think being in a hot sweaty room would exactly wake me up. Wound up sleeping for two hours instead, the sort of sleep you can't fight off.

I'm a low-energy person. Except when it's 1:00 a.m. Then I'm a high energy person, which doesn't suit my current lifestyle needs. It's all so ludicrous. My digestive system is a ongoing battle, my brain doesn't follow any sort of sun rhythms or a clock of any kind. What is this devilry? I eat right, don't smoke, don't drink very much or very often, limit my caffeine consumption and I get a relatively okay amount of exercise. My body has no business being so unreliable. And yet here I am.

Sometimes I worry about the future. Like, being pregnant, getting old or fat, falling apart at the seams. Some people feel like they're immortal. I fear jaywalking 'cause I'm convinced I'll get hit by a car. I haven't eaten McDonald's in years because it feels like it'll take root in my body and never leave. I avoid pop and fried foods because the agonies they visit upon my intestines. My legs are bowed, so I can't overstress the joints in my knees or ankles or I'll cripple myself in the future. As it is, when I run I look like a hobbled gorilla.

I'm 27 years old. All of this hardly seems right. At least my skin is good. It's pretty much all I got right now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Peanut Gallery

Sitting next to my favourite dog.

Canada's Wonderland today was great. Good friends, fun rides, and the Peanuts characters roaming the park.

I spent a childhood reading Charlie Brown. My brother and I were devoted readers. Our favourites were Garfield and Peanuts. To this day it's our one true shared passion in life.

Peanuts' continued popularity fills me with joy. It's kind of fascinating that such a sad and often bleak little comic strip could bring people so much happiness, but it does. They never win a ball game, Snoopy never gets past "It was a dark and stormy night" in his terrible novel, Schroeder never reciprocates Lucy's feelings, Linus never reciprocates Sally's love, Linus is bullied by Lucy all his life, the Great Pumpkin never comes and Charlie Brown never kicks the football, among other of life's small ongoing failures.

It's a total projection of feeling like you're not good enough, never appreciated and isolated from others. No wonder it was so successful. Everyone feels that way.

But these deep emotions that I feel for Peanuts weren't what came out in me today when I ran to the characters and hugged them and got my photo taken (Oh yes I did). No, what came out in me was glee from my not-at-all recessed inner child. I felt like a kid again in the best possible way.

My friends humoured me, like good friends do. (In fact McPal rode the Snoopy ferris wheel with me. We had to borrow a family to be allowed on. Yeah, we went there.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

List of Summer Fun

The Dude and I have planned a summer of fun. Lat summer was this total reactionary blurb of nothing as we looked around for a new apartment, saved for the move, packed and generally ignored the season. We went to Casa Loma once. And there was a horseshoe tournament on the lake at his father's. That about covers things.

This summer is going to be different. I really want to enjoy this summer as much as possible. Last year's wasted months gave me the creeps as I felt my life slog by me with no memories to show for it.

So weird how fast time flies now.
So here is the list of awesomeness:

Canada's Wonderland
Toronto Zoo
Science Centre
Host summer party
See a theatre performance
Evening in Little Italy
Evening in the Danforth
Evening in the Beaches
CN Tower dinner

The dinner at the CN Tower is going to be what caps off our summer. The Wonderland trip is already planned. We have to complete our list by September 21, the official end of summer.

Something I've realized is that if you don't plan your fun, you can't expect it to just happen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Roughly a Dozen

Ah, 2:30 a.m., the best time to be on the Internet instead of bed. No, not really. But here we are. Well, here I am. I'm going to assume anyone who reads this gets into bed at a reasonable hour, unlike myself.

I went to my very first concert this weekend, Lady Gaga. The lady knows how to put on a show. Unfortunately for the four of us who went, we were in the nosebleed section. And that's with $100 tickets. I really wouldn't have spent any more than that, not being a concert person to begin with. But this was different. And it was great to be out with women. Lately I've been realizing I socialize a lot more with men.

And it's nice. Men are fun, good times and good companions in life. But I ache for female friendships. It's just that my male friends live here and my female friends keep moving away, or moving farther away, or have been far away to begin with.

I don't make new friends very easily. I never have. I don't know why. I can't see myself nearly as objectively as I'd need to in order to figure that one out. But it always hits me that I have a harder time than most.

Like in belly dance I overhear women I've been dancing with for 6-12 months talk to each other. We're on a friendly class-type acquaintance basis, but the women I overheard are in contact outside of class and have each other's cell numbers. The same sort of thing happened in my drop-in improv class a few years ago. I really learned to come out of my shell, but it was other people who connected and made plans outside of class, not me. No one ever wants my contact information to hang out. I never see the openings to ask for theirs.

I don't think I'm bad company. I actually get pretty good feedback from my friends, who tell me what their friends have said about me after meeting. Usually good things, someone's taken a shine to me, or loves the way I express myself, or that I'm really cute. But it's almost as if I'm a walking standup act or a living performance exhibit. Not that I myself am being inauthentic, but more that people enjoy me in the present but don't wish to connect with me beyond that.

And I don't really know why. I do know that there are roughly about a dozen people I've met in my entire life that I've really sparked with, not counting those I've always known because they're in a class of their own. I never forget them or how they made me feel, which is pretty much feeling like a person.

I have the knack of making an impression. I'm rarely forgotten. I can make people laugh. I'm good at that. I can turn a phrase, tell a story and mingle. I just can't make friends. It's always like some force I have nothing to do with when a new friend enters my life. I let people go very rarely because they're so rare.

I wish that was different about me. I'm 27 years old and I don't know this fundamental aspect of being a fully realized person. It makes me feel lonely.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Dress

Today is the sort of day where you get up in the morning and eat croissants. And in the absence of croissants, it's the sort of day your boyfriend goes out in search of some.

It's also a day to browse dresses that currently you cannot afford to buy.

This is my current dream dress.
I quite literally ache for it.

I would love to wear this to a wedding.
Though that's the only place I could see wearing it. But still.

This would be one of those practical buys
that I could wear pretty much everywhere.
Love those polka dots.

And this is obviously not a dress,
but right now I have this adoration for wearing watches as necklaces.

When I was visiting my friend in my hometown last week she asked me how many dresses I owned. Offhand I figured about 15. When I got home I counted them up. 22. 22 dresses. And yet I still feel the need fore more.

I haven't bought a dress from a mainstream store in about a year. It's taken that long to accumulate a unique wardrobe and develop my own look. Growing my hair out has been a part of that, and it's also been a year in the making, at least. Last summer I had decided I was going to make the change and the effort to alter my appearance in this way. It's been a slow, organic process.

Kind of a What Not To Wear sort of change, only less abrupt and on my own dime. But the idea is the same. Love your body by loving how you present it to the world.

I count the days till I can order the red dress. Oh man, how I desire it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Central Air

The Dude and I suffered through the first wave of heat minus air conditioning. Why? Our neighbours. It became painfully clear through the winter that having say over the central air was somehow in direct proportion to who pays what, not who needs what.

They pay 70%, we pay 30%. That's the lease agreement. So in the winter we managed about 18 degrees Celsius on a good day, and sometimes as low as 14 on a bad day. Why? Because for some reason they'd turn off the heat before leaving the house, even though they were aware I work at home and would be here. Eventually we caught on to them. But yet they'd still do it.

So we had to get a space heater. In order to save literally a few bucks on the gas bill, they had to pay a whopping electric bill since we kept that bad boy plugged in all the time. Fuck man, we were cold.

So when summer rolled around early in its blazing glory and we mentioned the A/C, well, we were informed it gets very cold for them when it's turned on. Ah. And since we can't turn it on without their cooperation, the windows needing to be shut and all that, well, we were screwed. No cool air for us.

Then the extreme heat warning came into effect. Humidity, smog, high temperature, all working together to make life no longer worth living. So I talked to the more reasonable neighbour as soon as she got home from work (also just in from the overwhelming heat) and the A/C went on. Life was good. It would take awhile to cool the place down, but it was on. Even cheap people have their limits.

But then around 11:30 that night we realized we were sweltering. It came on so slowly that it was a hazy realization. Heat, after all, can make you think slow and feel stupid. I crept down to check the central air controls.

The cooling was off. The fan was on, but the cooling was off. Heat rises. They were blowing their hot air up into our apartment. Our windows were closed.

Sometimes you're so mad and so flabbergasted you don't know what to do with yourself. First I laughed and cried in a little ball. Then I wrote what I hoped was a polite letter explaining just what they had done to us. I pleaded for my health, which can't sustain this constant level of heat and humidity, which I can't leave. I asked for an open dialogue about turning the controls on and off. I explained the temperature rises up to 35 degrees in here without the A/C. So far so good.

But it's unsettling living in these uncertain ways with your neighbours.

Smokey's been hanging out by the air vents, sucking up the cool air, just like Jerry used to hang out in the heat vents in the winter. Poor old bastard.

My So-Called Quarterlife

So I've been re-watching old episodes of My So-Called Life. Man, I was 12 when that show came on the air, and sadly only 13 when it was cancelled. I was in grade seven. It kind of defined for me a burgeoning teenage existence. I was too young to long for the independence and excitement that Angela wanted, but I was close.

It hit me around the same time, my grade 10 year. I felt stuck in a rut, like I didn't belong with my current friends and like my look and personality and the way everyone saw me all revolved around some bland and equally off-putting image that I couldn't break out of. I fantasized about changing schools or starting over in another city.

Since I didn't have the balls for that, I changed my hair. I chopped it all off, and for good measure I had huge blond chunks highlighted in the front and only the front. It was very punky and nothing anyone would have expected from me.

I also got new friends, and one in particular I could get in trouble with, the kind of trouble you want as a teenager: alcohol, sneaking out, secret parties, and all kinds of drama. So in a way, you could say I followed the My So-Called Life, well, life. I found my own Rayanne, so to speak, left my old friends and radically altered my appearance. Only my old friends I don't think noticed I left and there was no tears shed over my leaving.

I remember feeling like life was really happening. When I watch the show now I feel a nostalgia, not for the show, but the fact so much of that teenage drama and angst was real. Sadly, I also now relate to the adults who think Angela is being difficult or unreasonable. I didn't see it at the time.

I wish there was a show on now about this era of life. There have been a few stabs at it. I guess Friends counts. But it was hardly an attempt at realism, and even when I watch the first season now when we're supposedly the same age, they still look damn old to me. Then there was the failed Quarterlife show, cancelled after one episode.

I can't recall any others, none that really are about being in your 20s and the transition period of life. Where some of your friends are finishing school, others are getting their first jobs, some are buying homes while you still rent, and some are married and even have kids. It's a time in your life you can still feel like a kid while shouldering adult responsibilities and looking over said shoulder at others becoming full-fledged adults while you stay behind.

It's not like when you're a teen in high school and everyone is more or less in the same boat. It's not like early 20s where the differences aren't so great yet. The mid to late 20s is when everyone's life choices all come into focus and you can't help but compare.

There has always been and will always be shows about high school. I think that's probably because that short stint in our lives scars us all a little and we can't help but revisit it in various ways. I wonder why no one talks about what comes after that, after high school, and after college, but before your 30s (and the spouse, the kids, the house, the whatever).

I think there are stories to tell. Things happen to us before we go down the aisle and procreate.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy as a Pig in Soup

Today I got back from a trip to my hometown to see a close friend of mine. We did a lot of everything and a lot of nothing, which makes for a good trip.

Much time was spent outdoors, and unfortunately, just a tad too much of it out in the sun. And when you're fair-skinned like the two of us are, you get burned like ass. She got the worst of it. My arms suffered some rough times, but her chest lobsterized.

We left her house around 9:30 in the morning, shopping downtown commenced around 10:30, we went to a crafts fair at 12:30, and near collapsed into a patio around 2:30. Thing is I was ready for a nap. Sweet murdering bathmats was I ready for a nap. I discussed the possibility of one at the patio, and heard general agreement about taking it easy. I started living for a siesta around 3:00. It was about the only thing that was keeping me going.

But then we stopped in the market and the sun was beating down and I felt faint and crispy, so I sat down in the merciful shade nearby while my friend and a new acquaintance browsed. It was pleasant and I spritzed my face with a spray my friend had tossed my way. Then a smelly sexually ambiguous person sat down next to me and lit a cigarette, so I cut my losses and headed back out into the glare of the unforgiving sun.

We went back to a store to pick up a print she had wanted to buy and had set aside. I looked around for the print I had decided I couldn't live without and sadly found it had been sold.

We still had to go to the store for spinach and feta for a quiche we were somehow going to make at her place. There we ran into her boyfriend who invited us to a BBQ. My friend told me I literally looked terrified at the offer.

When we got back to her place I promptly fell asleep in a way that couldn't be stopped. It was like a baby who had no choice but to sleep, or like someone dying whose time had come, thank god. I was out like a light. My friend received calls all night to get us to come out to this BBQ, but we stayed in, made the quiche and generally vegetated while we recuperated from our afternoon.

Maybe this sounds like a bad day, but it wasn't. With the right company, these mishaps aren't problems, they're shenanigans and are fun and enjoyable. With a good friend, a sort of camaraderie occurs. It's too bad we don't live closer. She's probably my favourite friend to have a crazy day with.

Here is the print she bought. If it doesn't make you happy, you're nuts.

This pig's expression fills me with glee.