Monday, April 30, 2007

A Game of Dress-Up

Most girls played at it when we were young: tiptoeing up to an old cedar trunk, peering in, and pulling out clothes several sizes too large. My sisters and I used to love walking around in dresses infinitesimally too large for our little bodies, clomping around in antiquated platform shoes. We were being our mom, our aunt, a movie star . . . anybody who struck as older and more sophisticated, really.

But something I've come to realize is that I, as a girl, have never stopped playing dress-up. I have always dressed to fit a part. In junior high, I dressed the part of the geeky girl with a cool older sister. The many hand-me-downs I received may have added to the look: someone who looked as though she was trying too hard. And it seems marginally laughable because most of those clothes were too big.

In high school, I was somewhat schizophrenic when it came to my clothing habits: I dearly loved my preppy polos, but I also had a penchant for tacky t-shirts with all sorts of sayings and cartoon characters on them: one particular red Curious George shirt I still lament ever buying as a junior in high school. It seemed so trendy then. And it might have been. But I look at those pictures now and think tacky, tacky, tacky. Calling it kitschy would be a little too kind.

Once I hit college, I grabbed the nearest t-shirt and pair of jeans. As long as they were clean. And, let's be honest, sometimes if they weren't. College became a practice in avoidance--how often I could not do my laundry and get away with it. I never looked terribly grungy, but I never exerted a lot of effort taking care of my physical appearance.

I started thinking of this because I picked up some more work clothes on Friday, and again was struck by how much I feel like I'm playing dress-up--transitioning myself from Confuzzled the Collegiate to Confuzzled the Professionally Put-Together Human Resources Assistant. People think I look very stylish at work. It's an odd feeling for me, because I have never felt "in style." Au contraire--I often felt anti-style, and I didn't care.

But here I am, playing dress up again. Wondering if anyone will notice the little girl hiding behind the pinstripes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Something I Need to Admit

I'm going to admit something, right now, that I've never actually concretely, succinctly admitted to anyone before. Don't ask me why, but I'm feeling just a little bit confessional today. Not so confessional, mind you, that reading this blog post will make you want to cover your eyes, plug your ears, or do anything except shake your head sadly. Anyway, last fall I did something I vowed I would never do:

I put much of my life--and some of my dreams--on hold because I was dating a boy.

If you're reading this, odds are you know me. And if you know me, you know who I'm talking about. But anyway, my feet are getting a little sore from kicking myself over it. The way it works, I figure, is this: when you're outside of a relationship, it's quite easy to say, "I will never stop achieving what I want to achieve because I'm dating someone." At that point, you're watching everyone else in their relationships--all of the wheeling and dealing, the compromising, the sacrificing that is going on--and you're pretty sure that you're watching a whole lot of insanity in action.

And let's be honest. Sometimes you are. But sometimes you aren't--because, after all, a working relationship always ends up being a compromise. People give up some of their individual goals to form new ones together and see if those work out. But I jumped the gun on this last one, and my decisions to put some of my dreams and ambitions on hold came because I thought I was riding an express train when I was really on a bus inching forward in the middle of rush hour traffic. No wonder I experienced the bigger jolt when he applied the brakes!

Now I'm starting to wonder how I find my way back to my dreams. And now, even worse, I'm wondering what exactly my dreams are; an insatiable wanderlust keeps eating at me, but I have no idea how to satisfy it. So in the meantime, on this spring Saturday, I am going to do the only thing that brings me much relief at the moment: I'm going to clean. Like there's no tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

An Ode to Stoplights (sort of)

I am a fan of the eclectic in almost all forms of entertainment I choose: books, movies, TV. Especially TV. A guy-of-passing-acquaintance (who might have become a friend, but he made this faux pas among others) had the nerve the other day to mock one of my favorite havens of eclecticism: Gilmore Girls. "It's clever, I grant," he grated. "But there's just no charm in something so eclectic. There's no uniformity to it. It's just so random. How dare it be so random?"

In later discussions with a good friend, we have come to decide that much of its charm does, indeed, lie in its eclecticism. And, I added, that borderline feeling I always get when I'm watching something that's quirky and good. Good, quirky TV (and movies and books, for that matter) always feels a little bit surreal, but not quite so surreal that it's unbelievable: scenarios and places that make me feel that, though they probably wouldn't happen, they most certainly could.

Take, for instance, the stoplight in Stars Hollow. It's one of my favorite quirks, located just a couple blocks away from Luke's (although it seems farther away after an all-night dance marathon, as well it should). Anyway, it has detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to push the button and wait for the hand to change to a white walking figure and how to cross the street. It has always cracked me up. Seemed quite ridiculous, really. And like a very charming, surrealistic quirk.

But it's real. Those instructions exist! They are on the posts I wait by to cross the street every day after work to get to my bus stop to catch the 63 back to the lovely land of Centerville. In Bountiful, Utah! There are posts with those directions. Proof that life is full of quirks, after all. And that even though I have to resort to subterfuge to watch the Gilmores in my parents' house (my mom believes that Lorelai and Rory teach me all the wrong ideas about male/female relationships and has locked them from the cable, despite believing I'm a more or less mature 23-year-old . . . she still needs some control, I guess), I can still have a small taste of Stars Hollow in the middle of my own mundane life. How about that?