I saw Ricki Lee Jones recently, one of the few singers I'll still actually shell out money and tolerate a crowd to see. It had been almost fifteen years since I'd seen her last, a whole world ago when I was still running with all the beautiful people in L.A. She played an invite-only show at The Whiskey and she was everything I wanted to be--beautiful and fierce, unapologetic in her delivery, unafraid of being vulnerable in front of strangers. I loved her before that night, but afterward I loved her with a profound fan girl heart that made me giddy about seeing her even a decade and a half later.

She came out and I was taken aback for a few minutes at how changed she was physically. My first thought was, "Holy shit! She's old!"

She was heavier, and her face had the lines of any other woman her age who hasn't gone under the knife in some way. Still, she was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. She was still everything I want to be--beautiful and fierce, weathered a bit but laughing and peaceful to be where and who she was. She's ten years older than me and I couldn't help but see the changes in her as a vision of what I will face in the not-to-distant future.

Getting older is only surpassed in weirdness by watching other people do it before you. What I saw the other night, though, set me at ease about it. In fact, it made me hope that I can be so lucky--to have a face that becomes more transparent with age, to have a face that lets the world know my spirit is steadily finding its way to the surface.
catelin: (birthday)
( Mar. 16th, 2007 07:22 pm)
I am forty-three today. Holy shit. ; )

An Older Woman

I am not that girl.

I tell you this and what I mean is that
I am not 36 and I don’t stay up late much anymore,
I only wake up at four a.m. for no apparent reason.
What I mean is that the last joint I smoked is now old enough to vote.

I am not that girl.

I tell you this and I mean that I am wise
Enough now to see the value in being patient with you,
Even you, with all your flaws and fears and troubles.
What I mean is that I understand the terrible ache for things we can count on.

I am not that girl.

I tell you this and I mean that I am faithful,
To myself and to the truth as it reveals itself to me over time,
I have shed the need to proclaim my purpose so loudly.
What I mean is that I grow more quietly subversive and fierce each day.

I am not that girl.

I tell you this and I mean I may have been her
Or a variation on that same theme of false bravado and fuck off,
Sometime before I learned to be rather than to appear.
What I mean is that I am already what you can only hope she might become.
catelin: (Default)
( Aug. 8th, 2006 11:55 am)
My face is getting old. I have wrinkles and spots that mark every day I ever spent in the sun, every time I furrowed my brow at a problem, every time I laughed out loud and squinted my eyes with a giggle. I heard Nora Ephron hawking her new book about women and aging on some talk show or another and realized that my worry was not unique. It's all too common of a preoccupation of women of a certain age. She's in her sixties. I cannot imagine worrying about my looks as much as I do now in twenty years. I hope that I will come to accept the changes carved into my flesh by time as some sort of graceful patina, something that makes me different but still physically beautiful in some way. A friend of mine suggested botox the other day and I was horrified. I can't imagine doing something like that. I can't imagine cutting, peeling, pasting myself to look like something I am not. It's a nice idea, of course, losing a few years here and there; but where would I stop? Where would I decide that it was enough? I never realized how much I relied on the currency of my looks until they started to fade a bit, until I started comparing myself to my younger self and the younger selves around me. I always feel ashamed to even admit that it is something that bothers me at all...since it is really so completely trivial in relation to what sort of person I am and what I do with my life. I suspect that the next decade will be one of making peace with this new physical landscape and of finding a way to define myself that brings the internal to the surface of my skin so that it can communicate who I am in ways that are still valued by those (including myself) who sometimes have trouble seeing beyond the superficial.
catelin: (sittingbrighid)
( Sep. 20th, 2005 12:07 am)
A shot taken on a hot afternoon, sábado at the Alamo, all of us looking fierce in our green and black finery. I don't like the picture at first. The vain bitch voice that lives inside my head points out everything that's wrong...too fair as usual, face too broad and frank, squinty little eyes, giant nose. See how awful you look next to her? she hisses. What were you ever thinking? You look ridiculous.

The thing is, over the years, I've gotten really pissed at that nasty little voice. I've grown impatient with it and I don't have much use for it these days. I used to say that I had no regrets about my life or the way I've lived it and several months ago I took that back. I was talking to a girl who is beautiful, drop-dead absolutely fucking gorgeous. She was so critical of herself, so intent on cataloguing every flaw that she was missing it completely. That's when I realized that I'd done the same thing to myself for decades. I didn't say anything to her, but I did say something to another girl. Ironically enough, it was on the same day this photo was taken. One of the girls, beautiful and graceful in the way you don't see very often anymore, began to quietly point out everything that she hated about her body and her face. She dreaded being photographed because she never came out looking "decent."

I told her that I had only one regret so far in my life and it was this: that I was so goddamn cruel to my younger self regarding my physical appearance that I never caught a glimpse of how beautiful I was back then. That I completely missed it and by the time I realized it enough to appreciate, it was gone. I see it now when I look at the rare photos where someone managed to catch me unawares, where I wasn't frozen in a horrible anxious pose or mugging to hide my intense fear of not photographing well. Don't get me wrong; I didn't think of myself as ugly. I knew my best and worst features by heart. I did, however, think of myself as never good enough. You know the drill, right, girls? Never pretty enough. Never thin enough. Never a flat enough belly. Never a rounded enough hip. Never full enough lips or big enough eyes. You name it. I had my own whole earth catalog of flaws that I could keep myself busy with all day.

That's my regret. I wish I'd been kinder to myself then. I caught myself listening to that awful voice more lately, coming into my forties. It's hard not to do when I spend several days a week around several dozen gorgeous women who are ten to twenty years my junior. I'd silently berate myself for different "flaws"--wrinkles, too many freckles, a neckline that's starting to show its age, arm flab, ass flab, belly flab...a whole fucking flabalanche. I'd like to say that I tell myself "fuck it" and don't give it much thought. And that's actually how it is most of the time. I want to be kinder to myself through this next transition into the woman I am becoming. I was a beautiful girl in my twenties. I rarely let myself see that, and then only in very superficial ways. In my thirties, much of the same, overcome in part by the birth of my two boys. I slowly began to grow into my body and my face, to accept that I had value beyond the external.

So when I caught myself letting that horrid voice drown me with it's awful criticism, I stopped looking. I set the picture down and didn't come back to it again, until I could remind myself that I deserve better than that. I will not regret the same sort of nonsense with my older self, so I sit down and take a good long look at it.

*snap* )
catelin: (Default)
( Dec. 5th, 2001 11:26 pm)
I've been asked a couple of times now if some of the icon photos I use are from a long time ago. The question always shocks me because I wouldn't ever have even thought of doing that. For one, I tend to like the way I look better as I get older (minus the few bothersome wrinkles and sags, mind you!). Second, I'm not nearly that tricky. I had no idea that people really even did stuff like that at all!! So for anyone else who might be wondering, all of the icon photos (and any others with the exception of my super 70s photo) I have were taken in the last year. The only reason I can think of that some look different than others is likely due to lighting and/or the fact that I was wearing makeup in some and not others. I dunno. And why am I even writing about this? Well, vanity, I suppose....and the feeling that I need to defend my honor! Heh! I really was aghast to think that anyone would think I was doing that. Oh, and this one (taken shortly before I moved from my old house)...it's because...well....just because I owe someone.

I burst into tears yesterday. The remark that brought this on was significant only in that it made me realize how changed I was--how changed my life was. Most of all, it made me see that I wasn't the person I'd thought myself to be. This offhand string of sentences from someone younger than me, expressing surprise that anyone had ever found me attractive. There I was, sitting in the car, suddenly feeling like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. I sat there and held my tongue. I finally blurted out, "You don't know anything about me!" as I slammed the door and stormed into my office. I'd wanted to scream at him about how I used to be something. How I had a life when I was younger that he couldn't even imagine. How I'd been the object of affection of people who wouldn't even bother to give him the time of day. I'd wanted to do all that until I realized how stupid it would have sounded. How ridiculous I would have been. "I used to be a contender!" Blech! I absolutely love the life I have NOW, but I suddenly felt compelled to defend myself with an image of my younger self.

He called and apologized. We are very good friends and he hadn't meant it the way it sounded. I told him that I know I'm getting old. I can see it in my face. I can see it in my body. I realized yesterday, even knowing I'd feel better the next day, that it bothered me. He suggested that it was because my friend is getting married, and here I am still single. But it's not that. It's not that complex; it's not that deep. What I realized yesterday is that I am vain. I have always been vain and I always thought I wasn't. I always thought that I never cared about how I looked. I've hardly ever worn makeup and most days I can't be bothered to do much more than brush my teeth and comb my hair. I always thought that getting older would be fine. What disturbed me was having to admit to myself that it did bother me. The fact that it bothered me at all fucking bothered me even more! I'd always expected to be above such pettiness. I felt like a boob, sitting at my desk crying over something so stupid. I was supposed to be calm...peaceful and serene...gracefully growing old. And here I was bawling like a baby behind my closed office door.

I finally just told myself, "So what?" So I'm vain. So I've got to start growing into a new face. It's not going to happen overnight. I'll have time to get used to the idea. I'll do the best with what I have and become the fabulous old dame I am destined to be. I am the first night of a full moon and I'll be damned if I'm gonna cry about it any more!


catelin: (Default)


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