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26

11 Dec

A few months ago, I turned the anti-climatic age of 26. And while I realize that this by no means makes me any wiser or more qualified to offer advice, I learned a few things in the past year — both insignificant and slightly significant — that I want to share. Before I begin, I’d like to offer a disclaimer on this post: parts of it are a bit deeper than my usual stuff. You–as my mom often does–might find yourself wondering, “Why are you being so intellectual, Jo?” (She asked me this after I told her I was reading The Red Tent). And to be honest, I’m not really sure. Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity, or perhaps its a chemical reaction from all the gray hairs I’ve forcefully removed from my scalp. But don’t worry, I won’t be an intellectual blogger forever.

Hair pills don’t work.
Sometime around the sprite age of 23, I decided it would be a good idea to cut my hair off. I honestly enjoyed my new ‘do (for about 48 hours), but I spent the next two years of my life looking like Thomas Jefferson caught in a rainstorm. I absolutely hated my colonial bob, and so I did everything (short of extensions) to fix the situation.

Here I am in my company headshot.

Here I am in my company headshot.

This meant taking an obscene amount of hair pills and vitamins that, when combined, promised me Kardashian-esque locks and frighteningly radiant skin. For a couple of months, I convinced myself that the results were worth the investment. My hair felt smoother, my hands looked slightly less scaly, and my breath was only mildly fishy. But one afternoon, my mane-and-tail cocktail didn’t sit too well with my delicate stomach and I ended up getting sick in a coworker’s office. To explain my cold sweat and sudden exit was awkward, to say the least, and so on that very day, I wrote off hair pills entirely.

Yogis aren’t all that crazy.
Until a few months ago, the closest I’d gotten to yoga had been by way of an extensive collection of black stretchy pants. To be sure, I never wore said pants while performing the actual act of yoga (or during any stretching, for that matter), but I appreciated their universally flattering fit and, like any 20-something, how well they complimented my Sperrys.

Then, a few months ago, someone told me that yoga is one of the best exercises for people with anxiety, and that she’d highly recommend it for someone as neurotic as myself (high praise, indeed). While I doubted it would bring forth the peace and tranquility she promised, I figured it was probably due time I learned how to touch my toes. Thus, I began an unlimited package at a yoga studio.

I showed up at my first hot yoga class feeling insecure and skeptical. Not helping my cause was the fact that I was the only person wearing athletic shorts, or that I’d brought an american flag beach towel to dry off with. Everyone else was clad in an assortment of spandex and tattoos, and no one — I mean no one — had a beach towel, let alone a towel as visually assaulting as my own. My skepticism only grew as the class went on, as the instructor proceeded to list the benefit of each pose as it related to the organs. I highly doubted that the compression from “wind relieving pose” (a ridiculous name in itself) would massage my descending colon and flush out my pancreas. Nor was I buying that by placing my forehead on my knee, I’d improve my metabolism and relieve depression. But as I’d already paid for a month in full, I carried on without complaining.

My next few appearances were much the same. With each subsequent class, I learned more about my organs, breath and glands than I had during my sadistic addiction to Web MD. But around my third week (around the same time I stopped wearing athletic shorts), something miraculous happened. I realized that I did feel better. I felt more balanced, more confident and more self-aware. I’m not saying I bought into any sort of lower-intestinal-massage powers, but I recognized a significantly positive difference in my body and in my mind. So, as it turns out, I guess yogis aren’t all that crazy.

And now for the intellectual stuff.

Anxiety doesn’t define me.
For years, I’ve joked about my anxiety. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I often make light of my germophobia and hypochondria. I get it. It can be funny sometimes. And until recently, I’ve found that joking about it has been the best kind of therapy. But a few things happened this past year that, quite frankly, aren’t all that funny. And they’ve made me realize that my anxiety (no matter how comical it can be at times) has completely run–and at times seemingly ruined–my life.

At the incessant urging of my mother, I won’t go into too much detail about my anxiety. But at some point, I plan to write about it because I think it’s a condition that more people need to understand. Generalized anxiety disorder isn’t worrying about passing a test or being late for work. It’s taking a fear or an insecurity (whether that be rational or completely irrational) and turning it into an obsession. It’s worrying about EVERYTHING — relationships, work, weight, body image, MRSA, germs, receding gum lines, typos, cancer, perfection, social awkwardness, what someone said about you 5 minutes ago, what someone said about you 5 years ago, etc. — to the point where you’re unable to “wake up” and check-in with the world around you. To the point where your mind is so incredibly clouded at times that it blocks any and all external thoughts — no matter how important it, he or she may be. Having anxiety means that routines are religion, and to deviate from them is almost unbearable. It means feeling debilitatingly insecure and inferior and, at times, it means feeling completely detached from everything and everyone. As a result, it means your friends, family and loved ones can’t understand why you’re so distant, so frustrating, so indecisive. They feel insignificant to you, even though they’re anything but.

For 25 years, I’ve done a pretty good job of masking the severity of my anxiety (except for all my bone cancer blood screenings, of course). And I managed to do so, in part, because I didn’t realize the full extent of it. But I’ve recently realized that my anxiety and insecurities have dictated far too much of my life, and that it’s time to make a change. So–with a little outside help–I’m learning that I don’t have to live like this anymore. And that feels awesome. I’m learning that my anxious actions are not who I really am. That they don’t define me. I’m realizing that being open and honest about my anxiety is far better than keeping it to myself, and that laughing at myself has been (and will continue to be) one of the best things I can do.

I’ve debated whether or not to publish this blog post for quite some time. It’s not exactly flattering. But after months of editing, re-editing, deleting and re-typing, I finally said screw it. At the very least, I hope it’ll help people understand me (and why it takes me 45 minutes to pick a beer) a little bit better. But most of all, I hope it’ll encourage those who struggle with similar demons to finally get some outside help, because it truly makes all the difference.

A Costly Milestone

12 Oct

I recently reached another adult milestone. I’m calling it a “milestone” because I want to reassure myself that this happens to other people, and that this is indeed some sort of way of life in adulthood.

Or, as my dad would tell me, “I’m rationalizing.”

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and checked my bank account only to find that I had exactly $0.00 to my name. Now, I’ve never been good with numbers, but I couldn’t help but marvel at my ability to have selected such a perfectly priced item. How often do people bring their bank accounts down to exactly $0.00? Surely that was some sort of feat. Thank goodness I’d gotten two beers instead of one the night before! I patted myself on the back for a job well-done and logged into my mobile banking account to transfer some funds.

As the page loaded, I took a moment to reflect on how mature I was being in catching a near costly mistake. “How responsible of me!” I thought. “How adult!” But when my account balance finally appeared, I saw a strange charge for “overdraft protection,” and all sense of accomplishment, pride and maturity vanished.

I began to freak out. Overdraft protection? What does that even mean? And how could I have so little money? Surprisingly, even after a slew of unpaid internships and lasting commitment to organic produce, I’d never seen my account balance so low.

I then realized that this could only mean one thing: I was a delinquent, an Overdrafter. And I’d wronged the Man. I started to contemplate what my life would look like as a newly anointed criminal. Oddly enough, my likelihood of surviving in jail comes up in more conversations than you’d think (the general consensus is that I wouldn’t do well, unless gluten-free snacks and Eucerin Cream make it into our prison systems).

Pish Posh Joan

Interval training with m’Lady.

I pushed the thought of jail far from my mind and considered the other possible consequences. With imprisonment out of the picture, surely this meant that someone would soon come to repossess my belongings, the most valuable of include Lady Joan (my cat) and my Keurig. My Keurig I could do without, but Joan? Joan would never survive without me. Nor I without her. She–not unlike her mom–is a very delicate creature. She requires organic, grain-free food, a finger to nurse on, and gentle yet regular interval training. Who would be able to support such a regal lifestyle? I cursed myself for not having named a Godmother. Now, it was up to the bank to decide her fate.

Long may she rein.

The Lady and her keep.

Perhaps I’ll get a side-job to recover some funds, I thought. I used to be a fairly decent lawn mower which, like golf, is a skill fit for any stage of life. It’s sustainable, it’s active, and it’s engaging — no two lawns are the same. I decided to start slow and pitch the idea to my parents. After all, they were my original clients. I used to charge them about $20/mow, plus an additional 25-cents per dog poop scooped. Considering inflation and the influx of animals in their yard, my 2014 rate would come to about $75/mow. $100 extra for animal carcass removal.

While I’ve yet to pitch my parents on becoming their landscaper, I am confident that I’ll emerge from this trial a better person. And if not a better person, perhaps a more fiscally responsible person. Although secretly, I’m writing this blog post in hopes that my parents will read it and send me some money. (Mom —  if not for me, do it for Joan.)

Ms. Delicate

18 Sep Quesadilla Sunday. Based on my sickly complexion and generally offensive expression, it's likely that this was my last-ever Quesadilla Sunday.

I am hands down the worst person to take on a date. Not only am I morally opposed to chain restaurants and establishments under a 99% health rating, but I require a menu diverse enough to accommodate my dietary restriction du jour. It’s no secret that I’m picky. But — a true rationalizer through and through — I believe that I am picky in a good way. Picky in a way that prevents me or any of my loved ones from eating at questionable restaurants or, God forbid, at a Cheesecake Factory.

If you knew me as a child, my current state of judginess would shock you. I grew up with a particular fondness for bologna and my favorite restaurant (using the term a little loosely here) was Taco Bell. Yes, Taco Bell. “Two soft chicken tacos no tomatoes” was a phrase heard all-too often in my household. At one point it was even my birthday dinner of choice.

So what happened, you ask? When did I turn from a Taco Bell lovin’ gal to a completely unqualified food critic? The first–and certainly most memorable turning point–happened when a girl at elementary school carpool told me that Taco Bell meat was actually dog food (an early whistle blower, if you ask me). As this girl had more LTD2 outfits than I had pet rats, I considered her an authority on all things important, and so I began to more thoroughly inspect my food for signs of foreign elements, including–but certainly not limited to–kibble. I began to question ingredients, food preparation and sanitary guidelines, and I no longer yearned for my favorite breakfast: the Hampton Inn continental buffet.

The red flags followed me well into my young adult life (the Mad Cow scare of the early 2000s, a live butterfly in my sister’s pre-packaged salad, Food, Inc., etc.), all culminating in one completely life-altering moment that set me over the edge: my first job as a server. I’ll spare the details, but it was at that moment I realized that I was truly alone in this world. No one shared my steadfast commitment to frequent and vigorous hand-washing, and no one understood the importance of cleaning lemons.

I should also note that at some point between my Taco Bell days and now, I became a vegetarian of sorts. I say, “of sorts” because I’m actually a pescetarian, but that just sounds way too pretentious. Now, I have nothing against meat eaters. Clearly, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of meat. And dog food, it would seem. And if a pepperoni were to sneak its way into my mouth, I wouldn’t throw a fit. It’s happened before. And–considering I once broke a tooth while demolishing a slice of Goodfellas– it will probably happen again.

But here’s the problem (yes, there’s more). Without painting too vile a picture, I can say that my digestive system is something akin to Mel Gibson –unstable and inflammatory. It’s not a new issue — I once went to the ER with a suspected case of appendicitis, only to come home with a formal diagnosis of gas. But since college, I’ve been plagued with an array of stomach pains and problems that have truly infringed on my quality of life, most notably on my favorite weekend pastime, Quesadilla Sunday. My doctor diagnosed me with IBS so, I kid you not, my chart now reads, “Anxiety, asthma, IBS” (I’m a catch, to be sure).

Quesadilla Sunday. Based on my sickly complexion and generally offensive expression, it's likely that this was my last-ever Quesadilla Sunday.

Quesadilla Sunday. Based on my sickly complexion and generally offensive appearance, it’s likely that this was my last-ever Quesadilla Sunday.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to do something about digestive misgivings. And–with at least one Pure Barre class under my belt–I felt I was ready to go full-on aristocrat and diagnose myself with gluten intolerance. Now, I realize that unless you’re a 40-something-year old white woman, you’re thinking that “gluten intolerance” is totally BS. And you’re probably right. But can you blame me if I want to have a backhand like Djokovic? Or abs like Bill Clinton? Or, at the very least, the ability to enjoy an afternoon without writhing in pain?

If you’re keeping count of my confessions, you’ll now know me to be a germaphobe, vegetarian, gluten-free* date with incredibly high-standards. To say that I am “delicate” is an understatement, as my frailty extends to all aspects of my life. Particularly traveling. Perhaps one day I’ll blog about how difficult it is to take me on a car trip. Or on a vacation, for that matter. But as I’ve now revealed my somewhat embarrassing health record, I think I’ll leave my soul bearing at this for the time being.

*After months of living on hard cider and overpriced ginger beer, I decided my love for beer (and pizza, when I’ve had too many beers) outweighed my desire to live up to a Gwyneth-like standard of gluten freedom. So I’m now drinking beer (and eating pizza, when I’ve had too many beers). It’s all very scientific. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

For the Game of Throners

3 Jun

Spoiler alert! This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones and, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, Harry Potter.

I have a bone to pick with Game of Thrones readers. Or, as I’m sure they’ve already jumped to correct me, with “A Song of Ice and Fire readers.”

Sunday night, after witnessing what can only have been the most traumatic, gruesome and aesthetically elaborate death scene in the history of time, I made the mistake of checking Twitter to see how my fellow Game of Throners were reacting. But instead of finding comfort and solace in the mutual grieving of my peers, I found a steady stream of horrid remarks from diehard Game of Throne readers (fine, f*@cking Song of Ice and Fire readers!)

As it turns out, those who read the books many years ago were rejoicing in the fact that we simple-minded HBO folk had stumbled upon a horrifying truth they’d known to be true for many years — that Prince Oberyn Martell, the arguably best (looking) person in Kings Landing, was doomed. With tears streaming down my face and into my goblet of Malbec, I read tweet after tweet from these people who were mocking – and even reveling in – my shock and despair. Really? Is it not enough that my heart has been shattered into a million pieces? And that, should my depression progress, I now know what it would sound like to explode? Is it not completely and utterly gut-wrenching that I’ll never again peacefully enjoy a Bells Oberon* Ale? Or chin straps? Or grapes?

To these people, I say shame on you. With such a feeble upper body and inherent asthmatic disadvantage, I am not one who would normally pick a fight. But (from behind the comfort of my computer), I am compelled to put my foot down this once.

I am allowed to enjoy the HBO series, Game of Thrones. I am allowed to cry, to mourn, to scream and sometimes, to exhibit mentally unstable behavior when one of my favorite characters is killed off. 

Visibly shaken from Game of Thrones and FaceTiming with my boyfriend who, bless his heart, does his best to sooth me.

Visibly shaken from Game of Thrones and FaceTiming with my boyfriend who, bless his heart, does his best to soothe me.

It’s true. I did not swing from the womb reciting Dothrakian poetry, nor am I able to screenprint a map Westeros with my left buttocks. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy and appreciate one of the greatest (albeit craziest) TV productions of our generation. Seriously, what’s the harm?

Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid reader. In fact, I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (aha! I am your equal!) Yes, you got to it before me, but can I not still enjoy it? Can I not discover the books on my own even though (GASP!) they’re suddenly trendy?

I’ll compare it to this: When I run into someone who hasn’t read the Harry Potter series, I am certainly taken aback by their poor judgment and complete disregard for fine literature (really, who doesn’t like Harry Potter?). But I am nonetheless encouraging. “You have to read the books!” I tell them. “They’re so much better than the movies!” I gush. I want them to experience Harry Potter and love it as much as I do (which I’ll admit sounds super creepy as I’m re-reading this). And yet in all my years of diehard Harry Potter fandom, never once did I find joy in watching movie-goers who hadn’t read the books realize a character’s unlucky fate. Sure, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t point and laugh at them when Dumbledore died. Or worse, when Hedwig died. I didn’t scoff at their tears when they realized that Snape, who they’d come to hate for years, turned out to be Harry’s greasy guardian angel. If anything, I comforted them. I cried with them, mourned with them. I welcomed them into my wizarding world with open arms and a slightly uncomfortable attempt at a smile. It is my way.

So while I realize this is a bit of an angry post (I’ll blame the Malbec), and that this insensitive behavior doesn’t come from all longtime “Song of Ice and Fire” readers, I needed to get it off my chest. George R.R. Martin is an incredibly creative, twisted and talented author with one of the most impossibly imaginative minds of our time. And his work is for all of us to enjoy.

*Yes, I realize the actual spelling of his name is Prince Oberyn.

A Walk in the Park

1 Jun

As I alluded to in my previous post, I was once an athlete. A field hockey player, to be exact.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

A pretty accurate visual representation of my field hockey career.

I realize that most people find this hard to believe as these days, my athletic endeavors are limited to chasing stray cats in my boyfriend’s backyard and the occasional lawn-mow (as illustrated in the photo below). In my defense, I recently gave team sports another shot. But after every tennis team I joined suspiciously “dissolved,” I decided that perhaps I’d better make a lasting transition into individual sports. So, I decided to get into running.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

My lawn-mowing face.

My favorite place to run is Cherokee Park. It’s full of pups, it’s relatively kid-unfriendly, and I always know exactly where I am in relation to the nearest bathroom. A few weeks ago, I was too tired and lazy to run, so I decided to power-walk instead.

But as I began my walk, I couldn’t help but feel a bit self-conscious. The only solo walkers were elderly women and strange men who believed that khaki cargo shorts were still an acceptable item of apparel. Certainly, I can understand the appeal of a nice pair of cargos — who wouldn’t want so many convenient options for storage? I myself was a cargo proponent for the better part of a decade, but I’m also the first to concede that they are in fact an assault on the senses.

But rather than let my insecurities get the best of me, I decided to put the negative thoughts behind me and make the most out of my walk. If nothing else, it would give me an opportunity to slowly enjoy the park, to see things I’d missed while running. Suddenly, my senses felt heightened. Like I’d splurged on an afternoon latte or, like Bran Stark, I’d opened my third eye. I began to examine every passerby with great attention to detail, realizing that this made me an anthropologist and that perhaps khaki cargos were a viable option after-all. Here are my observations:

1. Toe sock runners are dangerous

With heightened senses, I heard much of the world around me. The squirrels in the bushes, the birds in heat, the androgynous bikers whizzing past me. The only thing that snuck up on me, however, were the damn runners in those toe sock shoes. As an avid crop-duster, I’m fairly attuned to the gentle pitter patter of runners approaching me from behind. But due to the lightness of their footwear and the slenderness of their girlish calves, the men wearing toe sock shoes breezed by me without so much as a peep. It was startling and, quite honestly, unfortunate for all parties involved.

2. Big Foot probably smokes pot

At one point, I rounded a corner and was confronted with the distinct, skunkish smell of marijuana. I looked deeper into the woods to find said pot-smoker and saw what could have easily passed for the Germantown version of Big Foot — a man, casually strolling amongst the trees with long, unkempt locks and what looked like the remains of a tattered linen shirt. I couldn’t see his feet, but from my experience at Forecastle, I deduced that he was likely barefoot. I made eye contact with his chest hair and felt the blood rush from my face. I remained on-edge–practicing what I hoped would come across as a casual, yet passionate iteration of “I’m no narc”–until I realized that this fellow looked strikingly similar to one of sister’s ex-boyfriends. Certainly, a former Clark lover would cause me no harm, I thought. That soothed me. And I moved on.

This is an actual picture of an actual foot that I took at Forecastle.

This is an actual picture of an actual foot that I took at Forecastle.

3. Wildlife excites me

Obviously, this comes as no surprise. But at a slower pace, I realized that I was much more apt to spot critters. At one point, I even saw a turtle breast-stroking along with the current. It was almost too much. I stopped at every bridge to see how many ducks I could count, a treat I sometimes enjoy on my walk to work. To save money, I park in a free parking lot down by the Ohio River, which, for you non-Louisvillians, is the liquid that likely inspired the popular sci-fy series, Alex Mack. The Ohio is certainly no environment for whales, but every morning, I cross my fingers and pray to God that it will be the day I see one. It’s moments like these I know I need to relocate to Seattle.

4. I’m becoming my mother.

About five minutes into my walk, I thought to myself, “This would be really wonderful if I had a book on-tape.” It was jarring. And I rather not comment on the matter any more than I already have.

And those are the four things I observed at the park. To summarize, here’s a picture of my sister and I blowing away the competition at my first mini marathon.

joannaclark.wordpress.com

Return of the Gym Rat

4 Jan

I’ve decided I’d like to get ripped. Nothing too aggressive, just something that would look nice under a spray tan.

The decision comes as a result of several recent experiences, the most horrific of which being the morning my father told me that I looked, “Broad. Like a swimmer, Jo!” While I realize that this was probably a genuine attempt at a compliment, it was nonetheless devastating. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious of my shoulders — I was an early bloomer in middle school and once ripped a shirt in half while clapping. Over the years, I’ve done my best to avoid halter tops and overcome my insecurities. I’ll admit that I’ve even made some progress. But to have my stature likened to that Michael Phelps while wearing a new tennis tank was as a real tragedy, and I was immediately obligated to rethink my entire blazer collection. (I’d like to say that my dad soon redeemed himself from such a tactless comment, but moments later, he referred to my legs as “manscular.” The man has a gift.)

Another reason I’ve decided to get ripped is because I am embarrassingly weak (yes, even with such a “manscular” physique). I came to realize this when I decided to try out the whole “Pure Barre” fad. For the record, I’m not a Barre regular. Not only are the socks alone an ungodly financial commitment, but I’m fairly certain it’s an underground trafficking system for tennis bracelets and Lululemon. However, I was given the opportunity to attend a free class and, never one to turn down a freebie other than communal snacks, I decided to give it a shot.

I arrived at the studio in my trendiest yoga pants and thickest, most expensive pair of socks. I’d heard there was a barefoot component to the class, and I wasn’t taking any chances with potential skin-to-mat contact (ringworm is out there, and it’s only a matter of time before CrossFit sparks a worldwide epidemic). We began the class with a warm up, during which I was unable to complete a full push up. Red Flag Number One. Then, 10 minutes into the first routine, all of my cynical notions of the “Barre method” were completely debunked — that shit is hard. While the women around me were gracefully “pulsing” and “tucking” their “seats,” I was convulsing on the floor, grinning and clenching like a gassy old man. It was mortifying. I was physically unable to lift myself to a proper “tucking” position, so I instead used my free time to survey the crowd — Barre women are a breed all their own, and I was eager to observe them.

I looked around at my exceptionally flexible classmates, using the undercover creepy eye I honed in college, and quickly realized why people paid big bucks for the Barre method. The women were ripped. And I mean seriously cut. Before that moment, I’d only seen arms that sculpted on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a physical achievement I imagined to be made possible by tricks of lighting and expensive bronzer. But there they were, the arms of my dreams, flexing and “pulsing” before my very eyes! It was breathtaking. More than once, I tried to compare biceps in the mirror, but it useless — I was clearly the runt of the bunch, a travesty that no amount of self tanner could correct.

A young, stylish dog-whisperer. You'll notice my bowl-cut, as well.

“A Bowl-Cut and Bones.” People often referred to me as a style icon of my time.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back to Pure Barre. Neither my muscles, my ego, nor my wallet could handle a second appearance. I’ve never felt so weak, and I’ve since spent a substantial amount of time researching Shake Weights. In my defense, I’ve never been a particularly strong girl. Sure, I was fast at one point — but that was back in my youth when I was nothing but a bowl-cut and bones. Back when I was a swimmer, and all it took was some desperate flailing and a packet of Fun Dip to propel my lithe, boyish figure to first place. 

Now that I’m a mature woman of 25, I need more than an adventurous creek walk or rigorous talent show practice to maintain my shape. While I can always lean on a strategically applied spray tan to fudge some muscle definition, will that help in the long run? Will it further my dream of becoming a music video celebutante? Or perhaps most importantly, will it prepare my feeble biceps for the heft of an adult cat? I think not. And as I plan to groom the largest cat in the clowder during my first week as an official Humane Society volunteer, I cannot risk physical inferiority. If he’s to truly respect me, I must first assert myself as his queen.

So, these are the reasons that I’ve decided to start working out again. My first goal is to build enough definition to fill out a muscle tank, as I now look a bit like a house elf in them.

How I look in muscle tanks

How I look in muscle tanks

And with that stunning visual in mind, I hereby declare that it’s time to reinstate my forehead vein and revisit my career as a Gym Rat. Below is the proof.

The Silver Fox

12 Sep

Nearly one month away from my 25th year of life, I’m discovering some interesting things about myself. About my aging, to be exact. A particularly depressing revelation occurred about a week or so ago. I’d say it was the worst one I’ve had yet, but earlier this year, my mom asked me if I “did Botox.”  That would be the worst. However, something horrible happened recently that painfully confirmed my rapidly waning youth: my first gray hair.

The proof is in the pudding.

The proof is in the pudding.

A coworker spotted it one morning as we were talking in my office. It couldn’t have been hard to do — the bastard was sticking straight up from my scalp, waving in the AC draft like the white flag of my surrendering youth. To this day, the visual is still unsettling.

After somewhat awkwardly asking her to remove it from my head, we delved into an almost mathematical rationalization of all the things this could be other than a gray hair. We blamed my highlights (which I’ve never had), my potential “scalp birth mark,” and the small pharmacy of hair pills I’m taking to outgrow my Thomas Jeffersonesque bob. Perhaps I’d been particularly stressed out at work, or had a shocking, life-altering moment, she suggested. Almost instantly, I thought of the night I watched the “Red Wedding,” a night so dark and lonely I can scarcely bare to think of it. Certainly, this was life-alerting, but could it have been enough of a trauma to catapult me into early menopause?

My reaction to the Red Wedding. And yes, I had to blur some of the more unsuitable language.

My reaction to the Red Wedding. And yes, I had to blur some of the more unsuitable language.

Since the initial spotting, I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting. Who am I, really? Am I an adult, or a post-grad? I don’t feel like an adult, and I definitely don’t feel old enough to sprout a gray hair. Yes, I boast some elderly qualities, such as my scary witch hands and sensitivity to air quality alerts, but I’m also pretty sure there’s a Wet Seal tube-top still floating around in my top drawer.

The truth is, I am in an awkward stage of life. And as a generally awkward individual, this would seem a natural place for me. But it’s not. Adult life has proven to be as exciting and rewarding as it is uncomfortable and scary (the most uncomfortable moment being when I accidentally said “in fart of” instead of “in front of” during a client meeting.) But although the amount of math involved is far beyond my remedial abilities, and I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, sobbing hysterically during episodes Downton Abbey, I’m excited for what’s to come in my new-found adult life. 

Wet-Seal tube-top circa 2008

Wet-Seal tube-top circa 2008

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