Thursday, January 16, 2003

Shivering Shattered Sheaves of Shuddering Shit

Well, I had a rather unpleasant day at work. I don't want to go into a lot of detail about it, except that at one point during the meeting this afternoon I started seriously wondering if I was the only person in the room with the tiniest grip on reality. And considering my track-record with Reality, that was a sharply disturbing thought. But my main theme today was disgust at the infantile behavior of relatively well-paid and generally well-educated "professionals." When your coworker's four-month-old baby actually behaves better than your boss, there's something terribly terribly wrong.

I have also been trying and in general failing to understand, and work with, my own responsibilities in these matters at the office. I seem to feel responsible for things that are not my responsibility in the least, and then somehow fail to do the things which are my responsibility. So I take on responsibility for the things about which I am feeling unnecessarily responsible in order to atone for the mistakes I made in realms that are my responsibility... if that makes any sense. Basically, everything is all fucked up, and I am fucking up my part of it while other people are fucking up their parts of it, and I am trying to unfuck other people's parts but they are not trying to unfuck mine. Most dissatisfactory... all this fucking and nobody getting laid.

Well, anyway, aside from the fact that we didn't get our paychecks today, I don't really care. This organization, these overgrown and overpaid infants, and the actions of one toward the other are not my problem. They do not represent me, they do not reflect upon me, and they can't do anything to me. The paycheck thing I am pissed about, and the fact that I am going to be driving all over everyplace tomorrow to get the checks, get them signed, and get them delivered to my coworkers as well as my own bank (none of which is my responsibility, natch) really pisses me off... but as with all of the things going on at work, I am practicing acceptance and detachment. It's hard for me to practice acceptance and detachment when my checking account is empty, but I'm doing my best.

In other, more interesting news, the dance class dilemma has resolved itself (you remember, the 2003 Goal to learn something physical, the discovery that the class I want is only taught at 8am on Saturdays?), in that the class was canceled this week. It was underenrolled (and I checked and discovered that even if I had enrolled, that would have brought the grand total up to three, and it still would have been canceled). So now I get to think of some other thing to learn, or some other place to take dance classes. I really do want to learn to dance... a little tap, a little ballet, a little jazz, a little ballroom. And I don't want to spend a lot of money on it, money that is required by my dentist, my jewelry vendors, the DMV, my Volvo repairmen, and all the other wolves at my door. But I definitely still want to do it.

And now for a complete change of subject...

I wish sometimes — actually, I wish almost all of the time, whenever I think about it — that I was thin again. I wish I was reed-thin and paper-white and had cheekbones again. With the big eyes and a fat-lipped sculptured mouth and glossy wavy hair that I never had. I wish I was the kind of tall and thin and cheekbones and lips and wavy who could go around in tropical white linen suits, riding habits with boots, or baggy pants and tanktops with impunity. I guess I wished I looked like a fashion model... the waifish eccentric type.

What I find funny about this is that I know better. I know that one cannot look any different than one already looks... I mean, there are things one can do with dieting and plastic surgery, if I wanted to go through all that... but it only goes so far. There are bones that you can't change, there are skin elements that you can't change, there is hair-texture you can't change, there are proportions you can't change. You can make yourself look like a waxwork freak, like Michael Jackson or that tragic Weisenstein cat-woman, but you can't turn yourself from a thirty-five-year-old me to a twenty-year-old one of these.

And even if you could, I know perfectly well that being beautiful by my own idiotic standards would not make me any happier. For a time it would, of course, by giving me a new Me to play around with, a new image and size to shop for, a new set of features to scrutinize and find fault with in the mirror. But eventually I would probably get a little chubby again (would I give up chocolate and pastry and cheese to keep myself rail-thin? I somehow think not) and my hair would thin and grey again (because that's what hair does) and my skin would ooch ever closer to the ground with each passing week (because nobody has yet found a cure for gravity). And then I'd be right back where I started... except with the memory and ruin of a faded beauty that could haunt me for the rest of my days.

I suspect, however, that my psyche is creating this impossible ideal image in order to give myself excuses from committing myself to a possible real image. Like I said before, there's a lot I can do with simple dieting and exercising and other non-surgical personal maintenance practices. But I seem to be telling myself, "Since I can't look like an Uomo Vogue stripling, why should I bother?" I think that is the little mental trick that keeps all these fashion magazines going... I know perfectly well that I can't look like that, but I want to look like that, and by wanting to look like something I'll never be able look like, I will be able to avoid doing anything to look like how I could look if I stopped eating ten thousand calories a day and sitting on my fat ass all the time.

The human mind is a strange and twisted place. Especially this human mind.

What I think it comes down to (and what so many things come down to) is the issue of Expectation vs. Acceptance. Beyond all rational reason, I Expect to be tall and thin and dramatic-looking, hairless, pretty, and eternally young; as such I find it difficult to Accept that I am tall and medium-weight and flabby and bland-looking and hairy in some places but not others and not pretty and quickly ageing. Though I have a talent and an eye for beauty, I have difficulty finding beauty in what I am. I mean, while I find enjoyment in aesthetic beauty, and can usually accept that aesthetic beauty is just one of those things that some people have and some people don't, as random and meaningless as blond versus brown hair, or freckles or inherited wealth or hæmophilia or the ability to curl your tongue into a little tube — I nevertheless sometimes just burn with resentment that I myself do not possess great beauty.

Fortunately, I have not slipped into the frame of thinking that lets me resent those who do possess aesthetic beauty. A lot of people fall into this pattern of jealousy, and it's embittering... because no matter what you do or who you are or how blessed you've been, someone will always have something you don't have. It's a no-win situation. I used to resent people who were better-looking than I, which in my own opinion is an awful lot of people. But once I realized that I actually resented people for being beautiful, that I felt anger towards complete strangers because they have something I want, I was able to see it as the silliness that it is and sort of talk myself out of it. And that has saved me from a world of anger, let me tell you.

But I still resent the fact (not any person or any sense of universal fairness that I don't beleive exists, or even God or myself) that I am not beautiful by my own standards. So the question remains, do I make efforts to make myself more like my ideal, or do I endeavor to change standards to include something more like I am? Something's got to give, as the song goes. Perhaps, as with most things, the answer will turn out to be "a little of Column A, a little of Column B." Both the ideal and the image must reach toward each other.

I think I'll go for a walk now and burn off some of these calories (we had pork sausage, steamed rice, and broccoli for dinner), and think about ways in which I can celebrate and enjoy my physical self while training myself to find beauty in less magazine-oriented images. It'll be my project for now. I just hope that such a project will not require me to stop looking at magazine beauty. Cuz I do love my haute-couture hotties!

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