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.
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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* )
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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.

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I had lunch (work-related) the other day with group of people...you know, the kind who remind you of Mr. Howell and Lovey on Gilligan's Island. They were talking about a wedding that I'm not invited to--evidently a big social event, the joining of two very big political families. I don't know about elsewhere, but these kinds of "arranged" marriages do still happen here. Then came the Bridget Jones moment. One of the frilly pink ladies turned to me and said, "Well, I think we can all be safe betting that Cate won't ever marry." There was a bit of twittering laughter after that...they're like a bunch of turkeys, these people...one starts gobbling and they all have to make some kind of noise. I simply smiled demurely and said, "Why marry when you can simply take a lover?" It was perfect. Same effect as if I'd said, "Why marry when I'm busy fucking all of your husbands?" Of course, I'm not. Fucking their husbands, that is. I sat through the rest of the lunch wondering, though, have I missed something? See, I'm one of those ninnies that's holding out for Big Love. Not that I haven't had plenty of Little Love along the way. But you get married for Big Love. That I don't know what it feels like but I'll know it when I feel it Love. Even when I've wanted Little Loves to be the Big Love...I knew. Which is why I'm still holding out. And with all the talk about beaded gowns and what style of veil and who's catering, it just seemed a bit insane to me. I've watched so many of my friends get married just because they felt it was "time" or that the idea of Big Love was foolish---mostly, they just got tired of waiting to have a wedding. Shit, I find Big Love and my "wedding" can be licking our palms and giving each other a whooping high five for all I care! The eyes of these people, these frightened, lonely men and women who gave up on Big Love a long time ago, make me sad. Turkeys. Depressing.
catelin: (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2001 01:31 pm)
I took a quick break from my editing work today to peruse a fashion magazine that a friend left in my car. This is probably the first time I've even picked one up in about ten years. I hate the fucking things...for so many different reasons that there's not even enough time to get into it. I've always just worn what I wanted, without much of a sense of whether it was in or not. I pretty much keep the same groove, fashionwise, and alternate between semi-hip and uberdork depending on what the outside world is cooing over at the time. I love people who just do their own thing and the rest of the world be damned. People who wear things because they make them feel good...not necessarily because they make them look good. I looked through the pages of this latest rag literally guffawing at some of the outfits these chicks are wearing. Joke's on you, honey must be the theme of the couturieres this season. When did it become stylish to starve yourself to the point where you look like a freakin' praying mantis!!?? Is heroin making yet another round with the models/actresses again? Or did it just never leave? I also see that cockroach killers are back in style. You know, those pointy-toe Witchy Poo shoes and boots? That's a fashion trend I'll glady ignore yet again. My tootsies need room to wiggle, thanks. I'm not going for the ankle-breaking stiletto heels either. Nope. I'll stick with my German prison matron clunkers. My grandmother wore those pointed stiletto heels for years...her feet looked like twisted roots by the time she was sixty. Pretty shoes, ugly feet, she'd say. Oh, and evidently the whole Flashdance thing is back. What a feeling. Yeah, right. So I'll stick to my bliss out here in the sticks, where I can wear whatever I want...or nothing at all. And where all the white trash fat boys wear belly shirts without even knowing how cool they are. ; )
I cleaned my house and my garage. I set up my work/sewing bench so I can do those many crafty/artsy things I do. I wrote letters. I played outside with my kids in weather that was just too good to be real. I half-waited for a phone call in vain..."because a lady should never really wait for any phone call. Why, that's just silly." That's quoting my grandmother. I received another phone call that I wasn't expecting. I read my Tarot cards...still pondering that. I missed the annual American Indian gathering that they have every year at the lake...first time in a couple of years. I got a wonderful postcard out of the blue! Thank you! I got mad and stayed mad...but not for long. I worked on a story called "Cloche Hats"---remains to be seen what will become of it. I had a nice e-mail from a publisher interested in my work. I pulled some things from my old life down out of my attic. I got hit on by one of the best looking bikers I've seen in ages standing in line at the store....Helllooooo Sam Elliot! I rode naked on the back of a Harley, years ago, outside of Bastrop before there was really anything out there. My hair whipped behind me and I laughed into the wind from the sheer stupid joy of it. I hung curtains the color of butter in my kitchen. I cut more rosemary and gave the boys a bath. I'm thinking of making dream pillows again. Mostly, I'm just feeling fat and sassy...like all is right with the world...at least in my little golden corner of it. So I'm gonna put my feet up and have a nice cup of tea, a bath, and clean sheets to fall into on my bed.
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I am a sucker for broken glass, books with missing pages, jigsaw puzzles, square pegs...anything that is odd, discarded, or doesn't quite fit in. As a kid, I wanted the misfit toys from the old Rudolph Christmas special that played on the television every year.

"You must be a fixer," someone once told me. I never thought about it. I suppose I am in many ways. I do fix things. I sew old dresses back together. I refinish old furniture. I rescue kittens. I collect junk of all sorts. I tried fixing people for a while. I figured out pretty quickly what a useless endeavor that was and went back to my junk collecting lickety-split.

I still am fascinated, though, by faces that aren't perfect...by people who don't camouflage their flaws. It's why I'll take Sandra Bernhard over Madonna any day of the week. It's why I salivate every time I see that scar on Joaquin Phoenix's lip. It's why Max Perlich's beady little eyes make me swoon. My view of the outside world is always made a bit more interesting by cracks in the windowpane. All the world, the best of it anyway, is a big rummage sale. I wonder what wonderful flea market finds we would all be?
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!
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I will be thirty-seven years old in a few weeks and for the first time in a long time, I am acutely aware of my age. It's not so much that I would like to be younger, but simply a sense of transition. A friend who is fond of taking photographs of me lately told me that I have an "interesting" face. "You will be like Georgia O'Keefe," he tells me. I look in the mirror sometimes and see shadows of my younger self playing off the aged face that is barely beginning to emerge.

I have become more accepting of my circumstances, less apt to rage against the beds of my own making. There's no weakness it that, much to my surprise. It has actually made me stronger and less likely to wallow in the emotional angst and bullshit I was once quite fond of. I have cleared the path for myself over the last couple of years and I now have an unshakeable feeling that wonderful things are ahead of me.
catelin: (Default)
( Jan. 24th, 2001 09:49 pm)
A friend and I were talking today about what we notice when we first meet someone. What it is that flips that synaptic connection in our brain to the hormones of "yea" or "nay." For her it was the eyes. I told her that I liked noses. It's not like I have some sort of nose fetish. It's just that for me, it is the nose that makes the face. I like a big nose, a long nose, an aquiline nose. No cute little pixie noses, no upturned snouts. I want more than just a couple of holes sittin' on a face. I like a NOSE...a Gabriel Byrne nose, a Jean Reno nose, even a Gerard Depardieu nose. Of course, my friend was quick to point out that maybe my choice in noses was proportional to the length of my own. Perhaps...but I like my own nose too. I had the chance to get a nose job a few years ago after an unfortunate collision with someone's kitchen floor. Only time in my life I've ever fainted--in the Valley at some launch party for a cheesy German metal label. I was trapped in a room with too much smoke, shitty music, glam hair, and not enough oxygen to the brain. I did a full-on swan dive right onto the parquet. The doctor told me that my insurance would cover the whole procedure if I wanted to have "some work done." I did think about it for a few minutes. I ultimately decided that I'd rather have my old nose with a new bump than a face that looked vaguely familiar but wasn't mine. I told my friend that I didn't think it was so much that I wanted a nose similar to my own...I mean I'm short and fair, and I tend to like taller, swarthy types...the old opposites attract thing. I tried to explain that even a pair of dreamy eyes set aside a small child-like schnozzle just made me think of Wilbur, or worse...Bobby Brady. There's no explaining taste, I guess. But for this lifetime, those with the "petite proboscis" are safe from my fawning attention...but if you've got nice eyes, I have a friend who'd love to meet you.
catelin: (Default)
( Dec. 30th, 2000 02:20 pm)

My friend Irene got a boob job. I suppose as soon as the bandages come off and the oozing stops, she'll look very much like the images that encouraged the operation in the first place. We've always had divergent concepts of beauty. She never leaves the house unless she's fully made up. I barely manage to wash my face and comb my hair most days. She took me once to a department store cosmetics counter for one of those free makeovers. Irene and the counter lady (some European chick with a funky name) ooohed and aaahed over me, telling me this was an easy routine that would only take five minutes each morning. I couldn't figure out how they came up with that since I sat in the fucking chair for over an hour while Eurochick glopped her commissioned wares all over my face. I got home that day feeling like the man in the iron mask and immediately ran for the sink. Irene was, of course, disappointed but resigned to my dismal failure as a makeup goddess.

This was the day we talked about her tits. She told me that she was getting breast implants. I tried to contain my revulsion at the idea. I guess the eyes rolling into the back of my head and the retching sounds gave me away. What's the big deal? That was her question to me. So I began to tell her how sad I thought it was that there's an entire generation of men who've come of age jerking off to plastic tits on over-exercised, under-fed bodies. How women have succumbed to this and see their bodies as inferior products, something to be "fixed."

I told her that I was disturbed by the growing numbers of women who shaved, powdered, douched, enlarged, nipped, tucked, lipo-sucked. Well, you get the idea. I explained that I thought the perfect man is one who adores the imperfect woman. One who is happy to lose himself in soft, fleshy mounds of breast and who inhales unperfumed snatch with gusto. I told her how I thought it was much sexier to have swollen lips from sucking cock than from collagen injections, how blush on the cheeks from a good morning screw was about all the makeup any girl should care to put on.

Mostly I tried to tell her how absolutely beautiful she was. Her breasts were gorgeous. I'd seen them many times over the years we'd been friends. Delicately curved, each dotted with a small rosebud nipple. I told her what a pity it would be to butcher them, to deform them. She just took a long sip of her iced tea and told me very matter-of-factly that her mind was made up. I knew her well enough to believe her. We didn't discuss it again.

She's at home now, wrapped up with some sort of elastic bandage thing that makes her look a bit like Elsa Lanchester. I'd brought over a copy of "The Birth-mark" for her, still trying to make my point, even after the fact. I was just about to pull it out of my bag and slap it down on the bed when I noticed how unhappy she looked. I asked if she was all right and she started to cry. She told me it was much more complicated than she thought it would be. I stuck my book down into the bottom of the bag as far as it would go, ashamed that I can be such a bitch sometimes. I just sat there holding her hand. I told her yes. It was all much more complicated than we thought.
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