General Awkwardness

I am a terrible liar.

I’ve said this before. Even when my deception is for a good cause (like planning my parents’ surprise 25th anniversary party, for instance), I’m still unable to fib with any conviction.

In a way, this strongly affects my stance on beauty.

Am I the only one who often finds herself doubting a certain beauty decision because she views it as a lie? I’m not talking about covering a pimple or two — I mean flat out turning yourself into something you’re not. (A la this.)

We all know I fully own to being a medium-maintenance gal, but my motto when it comes to any style enhancements is always that I want to be the best version of myself. I highlight my hair, but the first words out of my mouth to my stylist are, “I want it to look natural.” I’ve spent hours of my life seeking the perfect foundation, concealer, and nude lip colors. Even so, I rarely wear much makeup unless it’s a special occasion. It took me years to feel comfortable with manicures because I used to hate the look of colors on my finger nails. (Total disclosure: I still get painfully self-conscious about bright shades after a day or two.)

The line gets blurred when my best version deviates sharply from what I might currently have, like those pretty blonde locks currently inhabiting my noggin.

When you pride yourself on being a genuine human being, it can feel like a betrayal of self to adopt any disingenuous beauty habit.

I dread the question, “Is that your real…?” when I know the honest answer is “nope!” It’s a big part of why, as much as I wouldn’t be mad if parts of my body woke up different sizes or shapes tomorrow, I don’t think I would ever take surgical action to make them change — I’d still be the person I am, and being anything else feels a little bit like cheating.

Fortunately, in most cases, I’m not embarrassed when someone “catches” me faking it. When it comes to my hair, I actually like discussing the myriad things we find to do to those poor strands of dead protein on our heads. And, honestly, I’m not really ashamed to admit that at some point in my life I’ve had fake nails, a fake tan, fake eyelashes, fake eye color (this one is on my mom — she wanted to see what my eyes would look like really green), and even fake hair (anyone else remember those faux hair scrunchies you used to be able to buy at Claire’s to create a messy bun in a snap? …anyone?).

The point is, I try not to take beauty too seriously. At it’s most intense, it’s meant to be a form of expression and experimentation. (And these under-eye circles that seem to have taken up residence on my face aren’t going to hide themselves.) But I never want to become someone who feels like she needs to look like something or someone else to be happy.

So spill: Am I the only one who stresses about turning into a big, ol’ phony? I mean, I’m not exactly getting Real Housewife casting calls yes, so I’m probably fine, but y’all know I love when we share neuroses.

I am not what you would call a “scattered” person.

One of the things I have always known about myself (and that my friends and family have come to love…right, guys?) is that I have a type A personality and it affects the way I live. (For more specific information about my personality type, I refer you to this satireperfect article.)

I’ll give you an example: I can tell you with alarming description the exact location of almost every item in my apartment. Right now. With little hesitation. My mutant power manifests itself in acute awareness of every single bit of stuff that surrounds me at all times.

Yeah, it is a little scary.

There are few things in the world that stress me out so much as the few pockets in the apartment that I have not organized within an inch of their lives. (Lookin’ at you, front closet, crawl space, and filing cabinet.)

I hate not knowing exactly what is in there. Being forced toLearning to live with the stuff of another person, even if I don’t understand or like that stuff, was by and large the hardest adjustment of married life for me. (Sorry, babe, you know I love you. Just not your piles and piles of papers ;))

So, in short, I am a freak. It may concern or, at times, annoy others, but in general, knowing where just about everything is at a moment’s notice a pretty useful skill to have.

Which is why I bug out when I can’t find something.

Because, you guys? There is only one place I would have put it. And that’s the place it belongs. So if it’s not there, I am left with very few options:

1. It has been stolen.
2. Our apartment is haunted and it was spirited away.
3. I AM ACTUALLY LOSING MY MIND BECAUSE IT SHOULD BE RIGHT HERE RIGHT HERE RIGHTHERERIGHTHERE.

As you can see, this is how civilizations break down.

In the last two months, I have lost (in chronological order) my wedding band (oops), my favorite pair of leggings, and my watch. About a week ago, they were all missing at the exact same time. And I may have considered tearing the apartment apart with my bare hands to find them.

Much like the loss of a person, there are emotional stages to the loss of an object:

1. Indifference – “I’m not going to freak out…I probably just left it in my other bag.”
2. Denial – “If I don’t check my other bags, I won’t have to admit I don’t know where it is.”
3. Determination – “Today is the day I find it!”
4. Frustration – “Ooookay…I’ll check my other bags. I know it’s in one of them.”
5. Panic – “It has to be in this bag! Okay, no, then it HAS to be in THIS BAG. IT HAS TO BE IN ONE OF THESE BAGS.”
6. Paranoia – “Someone stole it. My husband moved it. PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS UPSETTING MY SYSTEM.”
7. Depression – “It’s lost forever. How could this happen? I’m a failure.”
8. Acceptance – “It’s lost forever. I will learn from this and NEVER LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.” (Cue an additional mental complex.)

OR

8. ELATION (possibly coupled with an inflated sense of accomplishment) – “I FOUND IT! I KNEW I would.”

I went through literally all of these steps with the three things I had lost. I didn’t help that they were three of my favorite possessions.

Fortunately, one by one, each piece materialized. The ring had fallen out of my jewelry holder and was hiding between my wardrobe and the wall. The pants had just fallen down behind the bigger pile of pants in the wardrobe. The watch was — get this — with all my other bracelets.

The fact that two of these things were technically exactly where they were supposed to be and I just didn’t see them might be evidence that I am, in fact, losing my mind. BUT THE SYSTEM STILL WORKS.

Does anyone else completely lose it when they can’t find something? Or have any mental tricks to recalling the location of an item? Help a (possibly insane) girl out.

And that’s how I wound up naked in a building in the middle of Manhattan.

Hmm? What’s that? You find my Tarantino-start-at-the-end-and-work-your-way-back-to-the-beginning-style of writing alarming?

Well, DEAL WITH IT. It’s called a hook. Consider yourself hooked.

Anyway. Though it ends with me in the buff, this is a story that starts with trying to get buff.

As I may have mentioned, I recently joined a gym near my office. It’s a bit pricier than any other gym I’ve ever paid for (in my life), but it’s actually moderately priced for the area thanks to an employee discount I get through work, and it’s so dang convenient that I can’t even get home without passing it. Which, as we learned from my Brooklyn Y experience, help ensure I actually go on a regular basis.

For the last couple of years, I have been a staunch evening exerciser. While I would prefer to start my day with a trip to the gym, my crazy-long commute prevented that from being a viable possibility. (Unless I wanted to get up before 5 a.m. Or die at the hands of a (possibly) homicidal homeless man.)

Thanks to our recent move, however, my commute is much, much shorter, meaning I don’t have to wake up as early unless I want to work out.

I think you can imagine where this is going.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been telling myself that it would be a good idea to wake up earlier, go to the gym before work, shower there, and then walk the four blocks to my office. I’ve been telling myself this, but had yet to actually act on it.

UNTIL THE FATEFUL MORNING I DID. Also known as…this morning.

For the record, it had always been part of the plan that I would shower at the gym. And this is not the first time I’ve showered at a gym. It had just been a really long time, and I had completely forgotten how unbelievable awkward it is.

To be perfectly honest, I rarely even change at the gym. I’ll usually change my clothes at the office, in the privacy of the spacious handicap bathroom stall, before making my merry way to work out.

I mean, on one hand, I know I’m being silly. I know pretty much everyone averts their eyes awkwardly just like I do when I see someone half- to fully naked in the locker room. But I just…I don’t know. Nakedness. In front of people. Ehh.

I’m a prude, is what I’m saying.

Today, though, it just had to be done. Lest I want to become known as the “sweaty girl” in the office. (Not a very clever nickname, but it still stings.)

So after working out, I stripped down only to discover that…

1. …GOOD LORD those towels they provide are tiny. Who are they made for? Toddlers? I normal-sized woman can barely keep her dignity in one of those.

2. …few things make you feel less like a grown-up than showering in flip-flops. Though I was grateful I remembered to pack them.

3. …those hairdryers you’ve been seeing in the locker room for weeks and telling yourself “are so convenient!” because now you don’t have to pack your own? They suck. You still have to pack your own.

4. …showering at the gym is not your favorite thing.

Plus, as we covered in the first sentence, there’s something about being naked in the middle of the city that just makes you feel more…exposed.

So! My fellow morning gym-goers. How do you survive showering at the gym? Do you skip it? Do you bring fancy shampoo to make yourself feel more human? Tell me your secrets!

 

So I guess I forgot something in my State of Justine Address from yesterday. Something anyone who has ever taken the plunge would probably admit can be a kind of major thing.

I got bangs.

Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s what that means visually:

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Ok? We see the difference?

Even though I got them cut on Saturday, I held off posting about it because, well, partly because it’s sort of awkward to talk about your looks. I try to tackle that subject from time to time because I feel like this blog is a place of honest self-assessment on all fronts, and I’ve experienced first-hand how our own assessments of our looks can affect every other part of our lives.

I also didn’t post about it earlier because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how I felt.

At first, I was a little freaked out when my stylist made the first serious cut.

I mean, I was excited about getting my hair cut. (Just ask the girl who sits next to me at work and who had to hear about my impending trip all week.) and I’ve had bangs for most of my life.

See?

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{Ohh those sexy middle school years. Why yes, that is a flute in my hand. And yes, I am at a solo competition. Thank you for noticing. But sorry, no, that skirt is no longer available. I know, you’re devastated.}

In fact, not having bangs anymore was sort of a spontaneous decision (that took a year to carry out…). And I’ve always sort of felt like my face needs bangs. I mean, I have a big head (thanks, Dad), which, especially in photos, can translate to a big face. It’s a lot of flesh, and a little hair curtain over a quarter of it doesn’t hurt anything.

The point is, bangs should not have been a shocking change.

Except, when the stylist finished blowing out my hair and a took my first look in the mirror, a was a bit taken aback. Because there, staring back at me, was myself in high school.

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{Actual me in high school. I’m using a picture of me and my high school (and middle school, really) friend Joe because he is kind enough to read my blog fairly regularly and I know this type of post really doesn’t interest him that much. So, in return, I give you pseudo fame on the blog. (I know, not much, but admit it: You’re a little more interested in this post now.)}

In the weirdest way, I suddenly felt seventeen and wracked with a 17-year-old’s insecurities. Did this hairstyle make my face look fat? Did it make me look like a baby? Did it remove any sex appeal I had managed to garner (by the skin of my teeth, folks) in the last eight years, replacing it instead with that (at times) back-handed adjective “cute”?

It was a moment wracked with emotions.

So, I did what any other insecurity-ridden girl would do and posted a photo to Instagram to get everyone’s assessment of me.

As predicted, I was cute. And the next day, someone else pronounced how young I looked. And therein lies the crux of my concern.

My mind flitted back longingly to the inches of blonde hair wafting to the salon floor. I swallowed hair and fiddled with my hair some more, hoping that simply shifting its position could somehow make it look like it had before I’d cut it.

I know this sounds like the ultimate #humblebrag to whine about being described as “cute”, but I swear, I’m being serious. Not everyone will get it, but any girl who has been “cute” for most of her life (and I say “most” because we all saw that flute picture) has grown weary of the term at some point. I mean, we’d rather be cute than nothing at all, but sometimes you just want a more grown-up descriptor. We want to be sexy. We want to be hot. We want to be stunning. Just once. (Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate those of you who called my haircut cute. I know you had good intentions!)

Anyway, I wasn’t completely decided that I didn’t like the bangs. For the most part, everyone was being complimentary in their commentary. My parents (while, admittedly, not the most objective source) loved them. My husband has always liked me with bangs. (He has a theory that they give a girl a sense if mystery.)(He’s weird.) And, honestly, I never had that much sex appeal anyway, so I was willing to embrace the mantle of “cute” for the rest of my life if necessary. (Poor me, right?)

But yesterday at work, something was different. I don’t know if my hair just fell in a different way or I just got better at styling it or I just decided to embrace my face and my hair no matter what they looked like, but my bangs started to look a little less school-girl, a bit more, I don’t know, intentional. I felt a bit more grown-up. And while, sure, a few people called them cute, one of my coworkers stopped me in the hall and said, “Your hair is looking foxy today; did you do something different with it?”

Side note: “foxy” is now my new favorite adjective from now until the end if time. We’re bringing it back, folks.

The point is, I think I finally got to the point where I’m wearing the hair instead of vice-versa. I’ve said a million times that your hair has an emotional effect on your outlook, and I like to think it’s a sign of self-assuredness that I’m slowly getting over that. (Slowly. Ever so slowly.)

So when my friend Madison asked me for a post about the new hair over Twitter yesterday, I finally felt ready to talk about it.

And you know what? I feel good about this. I feel like I actually look like I have a hairstyle instead of the hair just sitting there in my head, and I think once the bangs grow out a bit, I’ll feel even less like my high school self.

And just because Madison also requested lots of photos, here’s one more for ya. I mean, at the very least we can say I’ve improved from the flute days, right?

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Do you ever sometimes randomly remember something about yourself as a child and think, “Why wasn’t I bullied more?”

Because, seriously you guys, I was a weird little kid. For about a six-year stretch, I had braces and then glasses and then braces again. (By some miracle, however, the two never coincided. God isn’t that cruel.) I played the flute. I was in show choir. I was in the theater group. I was in the top mock trial team. (#mocktrialnerds4life)

In fact, if I stopped to think about it, I’m not sure I could point to a singular moment in my adolescence that I was like, “Yup, that was a cool moment right there. So smooth.”

NOT A SINGLE THING.

But the thing that I just remembered? In middle school, though I always had nice clothes (courtesy of my stylish mother) and was always dressed in something different every day, I would go weeks at a time wearing the same over-sized sweatshirt over whatever I had on. And not just any sweatshirt.

I was just sitting here eating my favorite pre-race breakfast (Nutella on toast with coffee, inspired by my runner friend Emilia) before my 5-mile turkey trot later this morning, drinking out of my hilarious “duck tape” mug:

…when I had the following thought process:

“I love this mug. Where did I get it again? Oh right, my childhood bestie Jackie bought it for me because I had a sweatshirt with the same thing one it. …that I used to wear EVERY DAY in middle school. A middle school that I had just moved to. …Why the heck did no one pick on me in middle school?”

Because, for realz, you guys. Every day. I don’t even know why I thought that was socially acceptable. (Though, looking back, there were a lot of things I did that now I’m like, “Yeah….okay, baby Justine. Ya weirdo.”)

But then I started thinking, “Well…but I wasn’t bullied. Like, at all. I was very fortunate that way. My middle school days were fairly blissful. In fact, that is probably the weirdest part about my middle school experience.”

So what was the difference? Maybe I wasn’t quite as crippled by my fear of embarrassment back then? Maybe I was even more accepting of my weirdness, delighted by it, in fact, and that inner peace and happiness somehow warded off any cruelty?

I really don’t know.

The point is (I think?), that I was the weird little kid who wore the forest green (ohhh, baby Justine…) “duck tape” sweatshirt every day for weeks. And I was so, so happy. And I turned out just fine. So maybe, even if I’m weird and embarrassing occasionally now, I’ll turn out even more fine in another twelve years.

I mean, it is a pretty snazzy coffee mug. #weirdkids4life