NO ONE SLINKS IN SATIN, NO ONE CRIES ON SILK
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”
Last Wednesday I underwent a ‘minor’ procedure where a surgeon broke my nose, drilled a hole into my septum, dislocated it, moved it to the left, sewed it into a new location, and then filed down some small protrusions obstructing my nasal cavities. The end result is that I am effectively confined to the apartment until March 11th, not physically, but because venturing out in public has not been well received by my neighbors in light of my current appearance:
To prevent muscle atrophy and deep vein thrombosis I actually do try to get out at least once a day for some fresh air and to walk the dog, either very early in the morning or late at night. Vancouver generally experiences mild weather at this time of year, and we reside in a relatively nice neighborhood, so I made the executive decision that wearing a balaclava would not well received. Sunglasses are also verboten for 6 weeks post-op, so save for a hood I am openly exposed during these outings, unprotected from the repelled and questioning stares of those inescapable few around me. Yesterday morning as the elevator descended to the lobby so I could take my French Bulldog Oscar out for his walk, I cringed as it stopped to let on a middle-aged Asian neighbor and her Pomeranian, likely going out for the same reason. After she asked me what was wrong with my nose and I stammered an explanation, avoiding eye contact by crouching down to pet her dog who cowered in the corner away from me as if I truly were a member of the alien species I resembled and stated “You’re not as pretty now.” Really. Wow. And I thought that the bruising around my eyes was turning into such a pretty shade yellow. Aware that English isn’t her first language, I’ve convinced myself that this wasn’t at all what she meant to say, but I haven’t come up with a close alternative that sounds flattering yet. “Aren’t you pretty now?” perhaps? Regardless, I must give her credit for acknowledging my very noticeable change in appearance, unlike others in the building who have simply tried to engage in idle chitchat while completely avoiding eye contact and stealing sidelong glances at my horrible deformity. “Have you noticed I recently underwent surgery on my nose?” “Oh really, no I hadn’t, it’s hardly noticeable!” “Yes, I know! It’s amazing how much this cast blends right into my face and it look just like I’m rocking this spring’s runway smoky eye!”
Beyond the one daily outing I have been maintaining, my life has been confined to about 1100 square feet. I’ve gone from trying to fit work, friends, my husband, exercise, writing, reading, and various other hobbies into the insufficient waking hours of day to counting the hours between doses of antibiotics and episodes of Stephen Colbert. For a few days, I wore the same Beaver Canoe sweatsuit that I slept in, refusing to take it off, rationalizing that since I was going to put it back on anyway for bed and wouldn’t be going anywhere between morning and night, the energy I would expend changing would be better spent on something else, such as using my Tide-To-Go pen to clean the stains that were accumulating on my Beaver Canoe sweatsuit. Showering wasn’t necessary since I wasn’t sweating just sitting on the couch all day, and even if I was, I couldn’t smell myself with all of the stitches obstructing my nasal cavities. I didn’t have much of an appetite because of all the antibiotics and painkillers and I couldn’t taste much with my nose blocked, so with the exception dinner, which my husband would cook for me, a “meal” meant alternating between a box of “Crispy Baguette” crackers and a box of chocolates until I felt so physically sick or disgusted with myself that I had to stop. I have watched the ‘Salsa Dog’ video (http://youtu.be/15XSbQZx_Kg) on YouTube so many times I hear the song in my sleep. With my personal hygiene routine condensed to one activity (brushing my teeth), no job responsibilities to attend to and no desire to expose my alien face to the outside world I had an almost endless supply of free time to devote to the things I loved and longed to do, like writing and taking pictures, reading favourite books over again, trying on my collection of vintage clothes, listening to records, all of which I never seemed to have enough time for after my frontline responsibilities were finally out of the way. The problem? I couldn’t seem to find the motivation to do any of them. Even though I knew doing any of these things would ultimately make me happy, I couldn’t seem to get a start on anything. I asked myself why as I opened various books, pulled out my camera, did whatever I could to get excited about something, anything, when the answer finally came to me when I looked in the mirror. There I was, greasy hair plastered to my head, lips dry and chapped, rosemary seasoning in my teeth (mmm, Crispy Baguette crackers), swollen face, and to top off this picture of grace and sophistication, chocolate-stained fucking Beaver Canoe sweatshirt.
- As someone who has suffered from depression, I can tell you firsthand that it’s hard to get anything done when you’re wallowing in your own filth. If you can’t even gather the motivation to pull your physical self together to the extent that you can be presentable to society, how can you expect to have the ability to construct your life in any organized and meaningful fashion? I learned this long ago, but it somehow slipped my mind last week as I lapsed into a coma of comfort. One useful piece of wisdom I have acquired in my 32 long years on this earth is that sometimes the things you do ‘just because’ which you would otherwise perform as obligations suddenly transform into accomplishments, which in turn inspire and motivate you to confront more ‘challenges’. Getting dressed some Sunday’s feels like an achievement because you choose to do it, because you have the ambition and the drive to do so, for on those days, unlike most others, it is simply unnecessary to do so. No one applauds themselves for getting up and getting dressed on a Monday morning before work when your entire day hinges on the momentum of these morning events. Although, what you choose to wear may very well influence your performance for the day. As comedian Demetri Martin said “I think that when you get dressed in the morning, sometimes you’re really making a decision about your behavior for the day. Like if you put on flipflops, you’re saying: ‘Hope I don’t get chased today.’ “ So on Friday morning, I decided to abandon my Beaver Canoe sweatshirt, which had not been leading me to great prosperity, and instead put on some real clothes (tights and a t-shirt folks!). I had a shower, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on some deodorant, and even some perfume. I made some coffee and eggs for breakfast. And then I wrote. I felt more awake, more energized, more motivated and less like a frumpy lump (technical term) than I had all week. Maybe clothes don’t make the man, but they sure can influence his mood. I know at a very low point in my life I found myself crying helplessly on the floor, on the phone with my father, telling him I just couldn’t get up. He naturally sent my mom right over. I doubt I would have been in that position had I been wearing a really nice dress. I wouldn’t have wanted to wrinkle it. If depressed, dress up. You won’t want to ruin your outfit with extended bouts in bed or by crying all over it. I recently decided to replace my old underwear with lingerie sets which I wear all the time, even under t-shirts so that I always feel sexy and my poor husband doesn’t think I menstruate all month because suddenly all I seem to wear is “period” underwear. Want to feel pretty? Wear a girlie dress to a party, even if it’s a Superbowl Party and you’re the only girl. Wear a suit to work just to feel professional, even if you know chances are someone’s going to puke on it. Sometimes looking the part is the first step. You know, fake it till you make it. I know it’s not always so simple, but at least you’ll look and smell good trying.