find your beach

Or, things I have been doing instead of sewing.

  1.  My Face

Really, my head, if you include my hair.  I remember when I bought my first bottle of cleanser.  This was probably eight years after I needed to.  Suddenly, my unibrow was the most prominent part of my face, not its light-reflective sheen.  Sigh.  Well, let’s just say, those were simpler times.

Now, I slough and balm and tone and peel and thread.  I don’t apply sunscreen, I anoint myself with it.  I stand on my tippy toes to tightline, wiggle-and-pull, and pat-not-rub my way into. . .looking potentially marginally better?  Who’s to say?  Well-meaning friends and strangers tell me that my skin looks great.  I think that’s cute.  Until someone is following you around trying to capture your essence in an amulet, there is room for improvement.

First Wives Club - Fill 'Em Up
Can we please agree that First Wives Club is the only film worth watching?

I have to say, the meticulousness one can bring to beauty and hair/skincare taps into the exact same part of my brain that sewing does.  There’s also a little bit of hopefulness to it.  You can never actually see yourself, your face especially, unmediated by something else.  It’s sort of. . .unsettling that just about everyone else can spot you from head on but you, the same way that, in abstract, most people don’t truly choose their own clothes.  With skincare, I suppose one could be putting on a mask to make outside match in, or maybe to protect the you you want to keep from the impressions and projections of the viewing public.  Petals on a wet, black bough comes to mind, oddly.

Nothing if not a sanctimonious jerk, I feel compelled note:  I don’t really think of taking care of myself, aesthetically, as self-care.  Audre Lorde would probably not come sit on the edge of my bathtub and listen to me kvetch about another well-paid, organic, grass-fed day at my moderately stressful job, after which I clocked maybe a whisper of time helping someone who isn’t me or doesn’t sign my paychecks.  I do massage my stress frowns as I listen to NPR in these troubling times, but I get the sense that doesn’t count.

2.  Art, maybe?

Look, reader, I don’t have the necessary degree of dirty-mirror-selfie earnestness to say, “Art moves the mind.  I try to spend every day experiencing more of it.”  Because, well, no.  HOWEVER, I went from a lifetime of pooh-poohing modern art and a few years of relegating myself to the west wing of the National Gallery of Art to being a person who actually cares about art and contemporary artists.

I went through the same thing with books a few years ago.  I think some people genuinely prefer things made by the dead.  That’s cool.  Others might be afraid to admit to liking (or even trying) something without years (decades?) of a well-respected chorus supporting them.  Also cool.  I just started to feel like I was doing a disservice to the present in a weird way.

Anyhoo, I’ve appreciated and loved work like Hormazd Narielwalla’s—he uses vintage and contemporary Savile Row tailoring patterns and makes the most stunning collages.

3.  Reading Watching television as I lie near-comatose in bed

I never used to understand the appeal of this, and yet, here we sit.

4.  Learning to ride a bicycle

Marx Brothers on a bike
Night at the Opera promo. I still say that probably would go better for them than bike-riding went for me.

Funny story.  I did not know how to ride a bicycle until this past December.  I suppose funny in this instance is tinged with equal parts sadness and amazement.  Have you heard about all of the differing pedagogical thought when it comes to adult bicycle riding?  Well, get comfortable, because I have.  I left my second group class with the local bicyclists association crying because I was regressed back to one pedal!  One pedal!  This was my emotional and moral nadir of H2 2017, in case you were curious.  I took my wounded pride and sniffles into a bicycle shop, determined to get my own effing wheels and teach myself.  That’ll learn ’em.  (Spoiler:  It won’t.)

Then, horrified at the idea of an enormous decorative piece of steel taking up valuable floorspace in my matchbox-sized apartment, I [lowers head] sought private instruction.  On two Saturdays in a freezing cold parking lot of a part of DC that has no name, a very nice man (from REI, to be clear, I did not solicit a stranger) set up halved tennis balls and caution cones and everyone emerged unscathed.  That and I can kind of ride a bike now.  Sort of.

Hm.  I do have a (forgotten, but coming in the nick of time) one-on-one with Kenneth King scheduled for Sunday.  (I know.  I must have been in a deliriously treat-yourself mood in November.)  We’re going to draft a trouser block.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet?

4 thoughts on “find your beach”

  1. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 12. Which, granted, is not waiting until adulthood. But I didn’t learn to drive until I was 32, so…I love that you hired a private bicycle instructor. Maybe that’s what I need to get over my fear of turning left where there is no light or stop sign to control the flow of traffic.

  2. I used to think that I took care of my skin by washing it at least once a day and applying sunscreen/moisturizer. But I was brainwashed by Caroline Hirons several years ago and now I spend way too much time and money on my 4- maybe 5-step skin care process AM and PM. Will my skin look fucking amazing when I’m 60? It damn better look flawless 🙂

    I never understood why one should have a TV in their bedroom until my husband convinced me we should have one….and I LOVE IT!!!

    and good on you for taking bicycle lessons as an adult. I imagine that would be very intimidating (similar to taking adult swim lessons); I hoped it was worth it and that you enjoyed it.

    Good to see you’re back blogging! You might inspire me to take it up again….maybe not.

  3. I’m still not into the whole Bingewatching thing, but hey, if that’s what you like right now, go for it!
    I don’t consider skin-care self-care unless your skin is giving you a complex, than I guess you *can* consider it self-care… I’m feeling accomplished these days if I splash on some water, so imagine how I feel when I actually use soap on my face. Are my laughlines maybe starting to be more prominent and permanent? Why yes, but so are they in the faces of my friends who do use different moisturizers and stuff… What can I say, I am organic fed, I guess that’s enough?
    Good for you that you learned to ride a bicycle! I learned when I was little, and the first time my training wheels came off, I landed in a thorny rose bush. And in the following years I fell when I wanted to mount the curb a few times, scraping of all the skin of my elbows, and I actually hit a parked car, teeth first, once… So I guess there is something to say for taking private lessons with a very friendly REI-man when you’re an adult… Enjoy your bike!

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