freckles and wrinkles

They hate their imperfections, those which I have always wanted. i wanted my normal brown hair, a bushy sheet like untamed wool, to curl, to frizz, to turn burnt orange or a pithy black.

i wanted my face to look like spilled paprika. i wanted my shoulders to pucker and pink in the sun. i wanted my eyes to be twinkling peridots, ringed with lines like cracked mud, crinkling up like a shriveling leaf with every laugh.

i like that smiles, too, scar you. i’ve always liked scars. i’ve always liked asking where they came from. oh, these cracks by my eyes? i smiled too hard, too long, too often.

i want my face to look lived in. i am tired of looking young, which may be naive to say, but it is how i feel. i wish to look old. i wish to look like an adult. i want people to see how much i smile but looking at my temples. i want to be scarred by joy, a monument of laughter.

blackheads pepper my nose where my freckles should be. wrinkles choose to appear between my eyebrows and across my forehead instead of at the corners of my eyes. i become a memorial of sadness.

Introvert Boutique

Someone needs to invent a boutique for introverts.

I hate making small talk while someone’s cutting my hair. I hate piping up to ask for a change. Do you look at yourself in the mirror? Is it okay to take your arms out from under the cape thing they put you in?

And that’s just a haircut. My mother loves taking me out to get my nails done, but I outright refuse. Someone not a foot from your face, and you’re not allowed to move your hands? I feel so disgusting, making someone care to my hands while I look over their shoulder at the television, but I have no idea what to say to them so I just fall silent.

Massages are the worst—and I’ve never gone for one. I just can’t. Such an intimate thing, and what are you expected to say? Is it awkward to say that something feels good? Are you supposed to make noises, little moans and things, or stay silent? Massages have so many difficult social cues to pay attention to, and that’s not fun, that’s not relaxing. I would love to have one, but I’m too scared!

I vote on creating spas for introverts. An introvert boutique, an introvert salon.

The rooms in this imaginary spa are filled with soft music so it’s not an awkward silence. The lights are soft, the walls are peach. The chairs are comfortable. After a brief consultation to understand what you want in your haircut, manicure, massage, etc., the person who works there assures you that they expect silence, and they don’t mind it or find it awkward. They say that it is to foster a peaceful atmosphere. They say that they will not judge you if you do not smile or speak, and will take you for your word if you say you like it even if you may not seem to in the moment.

However, they say, please do interrupt the silence to notify them of any pain you are feeling or to correct them on anything they are doing wrong.

In the massage/facial area, they give you a nice little mask so you don’t have to worry about seeing them or them looking at you. They assure you that they do not mind if you make noises, or if you don’t. They say they will only say something if it sounds like you are in pain. In the manicure/haircut area, they have a television as well as the masks, so you can choose to either relax while they do their work or keep a keen eye out to correct them (especially with the haircut). They assure you that they will not be insulted either way.

At the end, they ask if you are satisfied. If you are not, feel free to say so. They will not be offended, and will do all they can to help you.

To pay, you may use any form of payment you wish. You do not have to approach the specific employee to tip them—in fact, tips are not allowed. The boutique pays them a flat rate plus commission, so you don’t have to worry about them not getting paid. You are welcome to write a short note of thanks if you wish, but there is no pressure.

After you are done, you are free to spend as long as you like in the meditation room in the back. It is silent here, too, save for a bit of peaceful music. It is warm, made of rich golden wood and peppered with canvas cushions. Once you feel relaxed and ready to face the day, you may leave without a goodbye and go about your day.

Doesn’t that sound like an idea spa day? Nothing sounds more relaxing than knowing exactly what is expected of you, and having that expectation be, “enjoy yourself in peaceful silence.” I can just imagine the zen-like set up, with plants in all the windows and a little rock fountain in the back.

I know part of being an introvert is learning how to face the world anyway. But I think that a business so focused on comfort and relaxation would do good to cater to the introverted crowd.

Dang. Now I really want to go.

Beauty vs. Ease

I’m not a very spiritual or religious person, but when I’m in a church I can’t help but feel the sacred power of the space. I recently toured the Trinity Church in Boston, an amazingly beautiful church founded in 1733. The space was nearly empty, and felt cavernous. Though I haven’t in years, I knelt at the pew and closed my eyes, feeling the empty space and listening to every creak and echoing step.

When I visited churches during my trip to Italy, I was in a group of 25 high schoolers who spent more time snickering at the strange-looking paintings of adult- baby Jesus than feeling the significance and beauty of the church, but here in Boston I was free to let the church consume my entire attention.

I walked around the perimeter, soaking in the intricacies of the stained glass and golden detail, the soaring pillars and the arching ceiling, every inch packed tight with as much beauty as would fit, and I began wondering why my church at home, made in the 1960s, is so plain. One stained glass window with nothing special, a decent crucifix, but really nothing but wooden pews, electric fans, and a few statues in the corner. The rug had several burns from toppled candles, and the choir sat on plastic chairs. When did we stop adorning churches with marble and gold?29.jpg

It may have something to do with the fact that my church at home is Catholic, and the Trinity Church is Episcopal, or the cost of material in the 60s, or any number of things, but I instantly equated it to this BBC article about how we are beginning to dress more and more casually to work:

Have we stopped caring about elegance? Yoga pants and jeans replace suits and nice dresses, the casual and comfortable taking the center place in our closets. High heels become flats. Is that a bad thing, or not?

You are what you eat…and what you wear. When I have time to do my hair and makeup nice, I feel more productive at work, more ready to face the day. When I’m a bit more sloppily dressed, my work follows suit. I wonder if we would all work better if we were meant to dress better?

And, why is elegance leaving our cultural conscience? Why do we opt for cheap comedies over the opera? Comfort over beauty? Ease over effort? Flats over heels? Plain over ornate?

As I sat in the elegant church, amazed and filled with admiration and wonder, I began to wonder about the people who made the stained glass, who worked so hard to adorn the church, inside and out. They must have felt a need to make the church breathtaking. It felt sacred, because it looked sacred. Because it looked beautiful, even though it didn’t have to be. People put effort into the beauty.

And yet, I was conflicted. Shouldn’t the church have spent all this extra money on the poor and hungry, rather than on petty decoration?

I wondered then if I would have been more spiritual as a child, and now, if my church at home filled me with awe. If my church matched the power and significance of the words we were taught, would I have more readily believed them? If it looked more sacred, more important, more spiritual, would it have felt that way, too? Or would I have been made sick over the vain over-spending from a church grounded in giving to the less-fortunate?

It’s a hard subject to think about. Same with clothing–obviously, I like wearing jeans and comfy shoes. So I guess I don’t know where I stand, in the fight between beauty and ease. What I do know is that these questions are good to think about, and may only come up when travelling alone, just you and your thoughts, in a big, empty church.


Fingernails versus Music

Good morning! Did yesterday’s Pulp Fiction and Kurt Vonnegut fangirl come as out-of-nowhere as it felt like it did to me? Movie/book/television program fangirling will likely appear from time to time. Can’t help it, I go to art school and spend a lot of time reading and watching things. Artsy introvert, what can I say?

Nonetheless, artsy introvert I am, I sometimes take a break from consuming and change gears into creative mode. Writing is my most common endeavor, but I sometimes like to draw, and sometimes (less commonly recently, sadly) I play music.

I play cello and ukulele, but since a cello is too bulky to bring to college I mostly just play my little uke, nicknamed Luna. I’m not great, but I can mess around and play chords I look up online. It’s a lot of fun, and relaxing as well.

I don’t often have the time to play music, and often go weeks without. That means when I do pick up Luna, my fingernails have grown out.

I like long fingernails, I think they’re quite pretty and, frankly, useful. Try peeling an orange without fingernails, I dare you. Or washing your hair–gosh, fingernails help so much with shampoo.

Anyway, my nails grow out, and when I try to play ukulele, my fingernails are too long and get in the way of playing. This is when I have to choose between my fingernails or playing music: or, more broadly, between beauty or creativity.

The Greeks prized beauty, and you can see it in their sculptures. The Romans favored realism. The most prominent example I have seen is the difference between how they sculpted their wine god, Dionysus/Bacchus. The Greeks made him look beautiful, high and mighty, staring at grapes intensely. The Romans made him look drunk, a far more accurate (probably) representation.

Neither is better or worse, in my opinion. I like art, and they’re both well-sculpted works. One prized beauty, and one prized realism, and here we are. My question is, did beauty limit the Greek artists? If you are expected to make something beautiful, and limited by that, it hinders creativity.

Let’s look at more examples. Picasso’s a good place to start. If he painted “beautifully” he’d be a footnote rather than a household name.

When Disney animators were drawing sketches of Elsa and Anna, the two sisters in Frozen, they commented on how hard it is to make two pretty women look different. Why couldn’t one be a smidge average? Why are we limited to pretty things?

Creativity is wild, untamed, ugly and raw. And I rip my fingernails off every time I play, because I’ll be damned if Somewhere Over the Rainbow is ruined by pretty nails.