This project has problems. I worry that its emphasis on doing things for one’s self is selfishness in the guise of self-care, a justification for indulgence. That I haven’t been able to fully go for it is ultimately less important than that I’m now suddenly thinking about it all of the time; in fact, my inability to do one new or rarely done thing each day has fostered disappointment, which (because I’m me and part of the Ethos of Erin is making everyday slights or setbacks indicative of fundamental and existential flaws in myself and in the justice of the universe) has led on some days to a frustration I just don’t have room in my emotional schedule to deal with.
But as I said earlier, being a hero isn’t all glamour and sandwiches named in your honor. A bumper sticker once told me that John Wayne said that bravery is wanting to give up on a project you told the internet about but still riding your horse anyway. And so, I ride.
After taking a run in the foothills last Monday, on Tuesday I made cookies. But I always make cookies, so I decided to use the last round to make not several regular-sized cookies but one giant fucking cookie. Perhaps my disregard for the social contract and even the laws of physics has you worried for the well-being of not only myself but also those I love, but fear not, dear reader: the cookie maintained its structural integrity and harmed no one in either its conception or its execution. I cannot vouch for its flavor because it’s so big I was too scared to eat it and I’m kind of trying to drop five pounds because I think my body has heard me talk so much about aging that it felt like it needed to accelerate the death of my metabolism.
On Wednesday, though, I got to indulge in a more traditional self-care activity: I got a facial. Don’t be concerned that I’ve suddenly abandoned the Midwestern Protestant Great Depression mindset that is apparently a part of my genetic code—it was free. A friend of mine, or more accurately the long-ago ex-girlfriend of a friend, is opening a new day spa in Albuquerque: The Remedy Day Spa. As part of prepping to open in the UNM area, the owner generously offered to a group of friends and associates the opportunity to receive a gratis service in order to provide staff with the chance to work out the kinks that arise in a business’ first few weeks. But I initially ignored this offer, or rather, my default mindset is yeah, I don’t get to do that, so I pushed it aside. This isn’t an attitude that’s new to me since becoming a mother, though that’s exacerbated it significantly. There’s a cult of martyrdom in the discourse of motherhood, with self-abnegation held as the primary indicator of someone being a good mother. It should be pretty obvious that the same is not true, has never been true, of how we view fathers. No doy, right?
My mother modeled this trope to her bones. At no point during my childhood do I remember her doing something she wanted to do, and the few times she made moves to try (like go to night school to finish her degree), she was guilted into stopping. Even now, she colors these moments less as lost opportunities than as decisions she made to put her children first. This drives me bonkers because implicit in this is that if she’d done more for herself, it would have been at our expense. If I wanted to, I think I could make this even more about me, think that in there is a judgment about my own life and choices, such as raising a child while having a demanding career. As a bounty hunter.
But I know that’s not what she’s doing. My mom did not finish college and had me young, and while she loves her children, she would never wish for us to mimic her path. What I grew up seeing was a very loving mother who had made a choice to live almost entirely for her children, and I wanted nothing to do with that. As a child, I embraced a certain kind of selfishness as a refutation of this sort of life. I would never so totally sacrifice my own well-being for others, which meant that I was pretty certain I did not want to have kids. I was scared by the idea that making someone required losing yourself.
Here I have to note that I don’t think this is how my mom would characterize it, the all of it, were she to write her story. And I wish she would, write it, to show me all the ways I’ve been wrong. She’d once harbored small fantasies of writing, maybe journalism. Who I am is not without precedent.
Her influence can be seen also in this reluctance I have toward pampering, one of the few socially acceptable ways for women to slow down and pay attention to themselves. it’s not just my current lack of time or money that disallows for this but also the spectre of Puritan ancestors haunting my choices, whispering slut when I buy the face cream over $10.
But if it’s free, then my morals get a bit, let’s say, loose. Because of this project, I changed my mindset just enough to schedule the time to let a stranger rub lotion on my face.
To sum up: I got a facial and it was pretty terrific. My aesthetician was really lovely and afterwards, I must be honest–I glowed.
I think now that I’m adding new facial crevices every year (joining the already existing “A Few Lines Composed While Laughing at Inappropriate Things” and the one in the middle of my brow I like to call the “WHAT IN THE HOLY FUCK, JUST MERGE ALREADY” wrinkle), I should take care of the skin I’ll most likely be stuck in for the next 50 or so years because I come from a long line of cheap, mean people who stick around waaaaaay after the party’s done.
Note: As bounty hunting season progresses, it’s getting harder and harder for me to write. Let me just say that after this facial last Wednesday, here’s a list of the “ooooh, neat” that followed:
Thursday: I watched two episodes of “The Good Wife”
Friday: I went to the mall and had people put makeup on my face and watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time
Saturday: Not a goddamn thing
Sunday: Went to Acoma Pueblo to watch the dances, on invitation from a student
Monday: Umm….I made an elephant out of Legos?
Tuesday: Nothing…Oh, this isn’t really novel but I did watch the latest “Downton Abbey” and was thinking it was actually a really funny one and then BOY DID THAT TAKE A TURN.
Which one of these should I write a blog on? Legos, right? Wrong answer! It’s “The Good Wife!” It’s ALWAYS “The Good Wife.”