Pretty Woman & the Full Jackie O

I see ankle boots are a bit of a thing for fall. Frankly, I’m not thrilled. Aren’t they always in fashion?  I remember feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the boot styles last year as well. Every time the summer light starts to fade and the crispness of fall sets in, I venture out into the world to look for a classic knee high black boot to wear with oh, I don’t know, everything.  Either I can’t find what I’m looking for, can afford what I’m finding, or–it just doesn’t look as you imagine it. When I saw it on Jackie Kennedy, it looked a bit sleeker–a bit slimmer.

Image result for Jackie O Kennedy

When I go for the full Jackie O, I always feel more like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.  The great gaping divide between how you want to look,  what you think you look like, and how you actually look can be quite alarming when that little Bermuda Triangle of expectation and reality collide.

Image result for Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

First of all. Why is the average changing room so drab? Audrey Hepburn wouldn’t look good in florescent lighting, so what hope is there for the average woman? Down to the socks and underwear–confronting our figures in a cramped, shadowy spaces bathed in unflattering light? The sounds of chatter, babies crying, toddlers sprinting through the racks, some upbeat non-descript pop song playing just a little too loudly in the background.  Cowering in the changing room at war with the fabric, the buttons, the zipper at it’s height of resistance.  Wedged into a dress/bathing suit/jeans–whatever it is that makes you feel like fat Elvis trying to fit into a little girl’s dress.

Image result for alice too big in the house

Customer service is a dying art, and odds are, no one is coming to check on you. Put your own clothes back on and venture out into the store–avoiding the pictures of the models looking far better than you in the very clothes that you were wearing. Either buy nothing or something that you don’t really love. It can feel very, very grim.

Image result for pretty woman shopping

Shopping for a specific item can be such an annoyance. Like when you get a job at a place with a very specific dress code? Everyone must wear khaki pants! What better way to spend time and money: on clothes you hate as .for a job you need but possibly don’t want. Of course, khaki pants aren’t really a thing and now you have to roam from store to store searching for some vague equivalent. Worse yet, shopping for bigger clothes after a weight gain. Although, you didn’t really know that you gained weight, because you haven’t been paying attention. You head off to the change room with a size 8 and then require a 10, 12, 14. A most deliciously heinous feeling, trying to wedge one’s cheese filled sausage legs into fabric tubes, coming to quite the realization in a very public arena. Fuck it– I’ll have better luck with sizes at the food court, just going to wear ponchos and yoga pants for the rest of my life.

Image result for girl in a poncho vintageThough I love fashion, glamour, style, and elegance–shopping is not my favorite task. For that reason, I made an excellent personal shopper and was successful in retail.  I really tried to help a sister out–finding an outfit for a wedding, funeral, job interview, date, holiday, party, event with a lot of love, good humor and the occasional hug. Tears were a regular occurrence, as were self-deprecating remarks that usually start with “I hate my…” and end with “thighs, arms, belly, etc, etc, etc”. The key is to keep customers in the change room–bring them outfits that suit their body type and explain all the ways to mix and match. Make it fun, keep it light, and when necessary, a  generous dose of tough love.  Pull yourself together, god damn it–Leave your emotions at the door–and just find some fucking pants. 

Image result for vintage shop assistant old movie

When I encouraged body confidence to others,  I avoided taking in my own reflection in the many mirrors around the store. The agony of a conflicted figure, feeling physically inconsistent with not only your sense of style, but your mental self image. Who is the real me? What do I really look like? How am I perceived by the outside world?  If the reflection is to your dissatisfaction, what is the option? Continue on with the self loathing or shift e gears? Along the way to weight loss, the thought of giving up will enter your mind a million times. If discouraged, frustrated, or exhausted-when you can’t do another stupid squat or count another calorie you need to reconnect with your “why”. Health and mental wellbeing is a noble motivation–but sometimes it’s not an accessible visual like: “Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey. Hepburn. in. a. summer. dress”.

Image result for audrey hepburn in a summer dress

A year since I began the Herbal One program, I’ve lost 42 pounds and 52 inches. It’s been a time of enormous change, growth and grief. My three weekly visits with Beth and Elisha have whittled down to one, but the beat goes on. I know now that it’s an on-going, never ending process.  Like Sisyphus, the rock and that hill.  Keep pushing–forever and ever.

Image result for sysiphus

Poking around Winners on Labour Day morning, picking up a few pieces to update the professional wardrobe. After three years of working with children in a preschool and gymnastics club, it’s been a lot of stretchy pants and loose layers.  With a new job ahead of me, it’s time for a few fresh touches to the ole closet. I haven’t really had any kind of post-weight loss Pretty Woman shopping montage moments. Mostly I’m shopping in my own closet, wearing items that have been collecting dust on the lowest shelf. Now, that they all fit, I’m really getting a sense of just how long it’s been since I wore them–one pair of jeans that had a whiskering effect  made it very clear that it was not to be matched with this year’s ankle boots.

Image result for Kim Kardashian Ankle Boots

Interestingly enough, despite all the life-changing results- I still head straight to the plus sizes in the store. It’s like driving to your old house after you move across town. Taking clothes that are way too big to the change room or dismissing something as too small and it fitting perfectly.  Or the irrational fear of gaining aaaaall the weight back after eating too much bread or skipping exercise for one day.  Ultimately, it’s my brain catching up with my body amid breaking long standing habits, exorcising past pains, and discovering whiskered jeans buried deep in the closet.  I wonder if I would suit ankle boots after all? An option worth exploring I suppose–important to question everything.  It’s the eternal adjustment to the reflection’s metamorphic alteration. Forever seeking the perfect fit, when expectation and reality reconcile with one another once more.

Image result for vintage  looking in the mirror

Images Courtesy of Google etc.

 

 

 

Cheque Mate

Whenever possible I like to live as, say, Audrey Hepburn would.  Graceful, elegant, chic, effortlessly gliding into rooms and humbling people with my ballerina-like ways.

3891225390_7c268caf57

Of course, this is rarely the case.  While I often hope that I can glide in to spaces, I mostly crash into them. What I’d like is to be elegant to the point of invisibility.

tumblr_lmpl6xDdC81qjkp5ho1_500

Today, I opted for a delicious sleep in (7:06am, but whatever).  Ben took the car, and so when time came to run pressing errands, I had to walk to pick up the vehicle.  The first order of business was to retrieve my final cheque from my former employers.  I handed in my resignation notice last Friday, incidentally on payday.  I was dreadfully nervous, fearful of retribution or confrontation.   I had  just come from an hour long yin yoga class, one that focused on hips and upper thighs, so when I stepped out of the car, my knees nearly betrayed me.

1325932404_b13bbb84ab_z

I came into the building on my jello legs.  And stood in the reception area for a moment.  I could not, for the life of me, remember the word “resignation”.  I just stood there, my sweaty palm moistening the envelope.  “Resigning”? “Resignatory”? “Resignative”?  No matter, I could go into the office, drop the perspired paper purposefully on the desk, recite a haiku in German, and it wouldn’t really matter.  But somehow, I needed a grip on that exact word…like it was a mantra.  I offered the letter to the only person in the office.  And she took the letter without a fight.  Not that I wanted a fight, but in the same way you want to glide all over town like a chic starlet, it wouldn’t hurt for a wail, a cry to the gods, a shaking fist  to the sky, or my favorite, the ‘on the knees begging you not to go’.  “You have to let me go, I’ve just given my reignignatory letter, please, you’re only embarrassing yourself”.  She wished me the best, we shook hands, and I wobbled out on my rubber legs.  And I made it all the way to the car before I realized:  “Ah frick, I didn’t get my cheque”.  There’s nothing worse than having a tense or emotional moment with someone and then pop your head back in and ask if they validate parking.  Luckily, I was able to get my pay without having to pop back into the office with a cute “Me again!” kind of shrug.

Anyway, today, heading down the hill in black leggings and tank top, wearing black flip flops.  Listening to Erykah Badu on my I-Pod, and envisioning myself walking into the building, grabbing that cheque and walking right back out.  Don’t look back.  I was grooving to Badu, negotiating my way down a dusty hill, and imagining the end game. I pictured myself picking up that cheque, already basking in the closure–check mate, bitches, I don’t have to play this game anymore.

elvgren-chess

I’ve walked this way plenty of times before, but this was a first in these shoes.  It was lightning quick, the sliding, the levitation that occurs before a fall, with just enough time to know that you are about to eat shit, but not enough time to do anything about it.

falling pinup

Lying in a cloud of dust, I propped myself up on my elbows.  This is when I see the blood.  It appeared that my big toe decided to separate itself from…itself.  There was a strange, dusty, dirty divorce on my left foot, and still a small distance to walk.  I stepped gingerly down the path, loathing the fact that my in-and-out plan was thwarted.  This is the moment to walk through that door, coolly pluck that cheque that out of someone’s fingers, and go back the way you came.  You never, ever want to smile weakly and say “There’s actually an awful lot of blood here, mind if I raid the first aid kit for old times sake?”  The receptionist was very kind, she guarded the first aid kit politely, (as if I had tried to cut my toe off just to get my hands on unlimited antacids, PMS tablets and finger condoms). After I was washed and bandaged, I took my cheque, and excused myself.  Not the graceful exit I had hoped for.

It was not glamorous.

Actress Marilyn Monroe with Actor Robert Mitchum

Not chic or elegant.

jackie o crutches

Not adorably injured, I was bleeding like a hobo after a parking lot knife fight.

monroe_crutch2poolside

And let me tell you, with the money I just received, you can just forget about buying a 24-karat gold wheelchair a la post-hip surgery Lady Gaga.

lady-gaga-gold-chair-recovering-from-hip-injury-on-24-karat-gold-plated-wheelchair

I  limped away, covered in dust and dirt all, my foot throbbing, final cheque in hand.  I exhaled. No matter the exit, at least the job was over.  And I hobbled  towards the future, whatever it held for me, forgetting the injuries of the past.

mm with swin instructorAll Images Courtesy of Google

Fancy Meeting You Here

There’s an old joke that I’ve heard from time to time: “I ran into my ex today…then I backed up and hit him again”.  I don’t really care for that joke, because I hate the thought of hating someone like that.  Why, just yesterday, I read one of my favorite blogger’s postings, and it literally hurt my heart to read her angry essay about her cheating ex-boyfriend.  I feel for her dealing with the betrayal and anger, that’s a huge pill to swallow. But I can’t help but think–you lived with this person, were married or engaged to this person, you shared secrets under bed sheets,  you laughed, shared meals, payed bills, you once loved that person so much that it hurt…to hate that person after the love died is like hating that whole chapter in your life.  Do that enough times, hate every person that left before you did, you’ve got a lot of hate in your heart and a lot of bitter chapters in an already short life.  Of course, these things are painful, and nothing heals like time, but I’d prefer to be on friendly terms with all my ex’s.  I don’t plan to go on an Alaskan cruise with any of them, but in the off-chance you run into them on the street, I’d like to think that a hello and hug would be in order.

Still, running into an ex can be a bit of a minefield.  It is wholly dependent on your new station in life… or your place in the world compared to their place in the world.  If you’ve gained weight, recently gotten an unsightly scar, have just been fired/dumped/punted off a reality show, and he’s looking better with age and his new wife looks like she invested being young and hot…then yes, it’s a struggle.    A girlfriend of mine once told me that she saw her ex-husband  in a grocery store.  She had a moment where she recognized him, then took a step towards him, before realizing that they were divorced, and had been for quite sometime.  It’s sort of surreal, like being a kid and seeing your teacher out of the classroom. “So you don’t exist solely to teach me life lessons?”  I ran into my ex on the way to the post office.  It’s all very friendly and respectful, but there is a strange moment when you think… remember when we were a thing? And then years later, after all the dusted has settled, exchanging pleasantries by the cash register, wearing the turquoise American Apparel hoodie you pinched from him the day you moved out. Afterwards I headed to my appointment with my massage therapist.  Once on the table, she asks about my day.

“Well, I just ran into the man I almost married”.

“How was that?”

“Oh, it was nice to catch up, but I think as a rule, you’d like to be stepping off George Clooney‘s speedboat, or wearing a ballgown when you run into any of your formers”.

“I hear ya.  You always wish you looked prettier, were ten pounds thinner, and dressed smarter”.

But, then you’d never bump into them.  That’s Murphy’s Law; you could spend your whole life dressed like a fashion model, and the one day you nip out for a quick sweatpants-wearing, make-up free errand,  looking totally bland and pedestrian,  that will be the day you bump into those kinds of people.   The massage therapist’s comments about wishing you were all different kinds of things made me think about how you want to be perceived in this fleeting moment.  So, I’ve compiled a list acceptable times to run into an ex.

When looking effortlessly striking…

brigitte-bardot_vintage-beauty_7

On a horse, amid winning a polo match:

polo player

Fresh from winning an Oscar

audrey oscar

Being admired by millions…

vintage-red-carpet

…somewhere in between being a star and a princess…

grace kelly

Or just passing by, hiding behind giant sunglasses…

Jackie Kennedy Onassis

Or while casually glimpsing over your shoulder, looking impossibly young, fresh and stunning…

jane-fonda

Furthermore, most ladies want to run into the ex with new lovers in tow…

“Oh that’s just me with Richard Burton…pissing of the Pope in Italy”…

liz-taylor-rich-burton-june-1962-pat-moram-photo-off-ischia-in-bay-of-naples1

“Have you met Paul Newman? He’s possibly the most gorgeous man ever, so that’s what I’ve been dealing with these days”…

newman

“Oh him? That’s just Steve McQueen…no big deal”.

mcgraw mcqueen

What you don’t want–is to run into said ex–sans make up, or post stomach flu, or maybe ten minutes after you’ve given birth or had your mug shot taken…

Mugshot-Crying-4

Don’t let him see you making your sex face, out of context it just looks weird…

Beyonce-looking-unflattering

“Oh hey…how are you?” “Good”.  “So…Things are good?” “Oh yeah, real good” Good…I’m good too…” “Well you look good…your hair is…completely gone, which must be…cool in the summer?” “Yeah…it gets so hot when I beat the shit out of random vehicles with my umbrella”.  “Oh I’ll bet…”

britney_2007_girlstalkingsmack-502x549

You want to be bubbly, not blasted.  It’s wise not to get drunk as fuck and fall on your face, you never want you ex to see you flat out like so…

polo fall

Don’t we all have ex-husbands/wives, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends…and whether we run and hide, or march up and say hello that’s your prerogative.  But you don’t want to duck cowardly into an aisle, and have them pass you as you try to cram yourself behind a display of hemorrhoid cream or personal lubricants.  “Oh hey…I just dropped a penny back here, just trying to retrieve it….”

It’s like the end of “Annie Hall”, which is a small montage of them running into each other with new partners, and having lunch and laughing over old times, mixed with flashbacks of them meeting and falling in love.  And in the last shot, standing in the street, they shake hands and go their separate ways.  Rather, she walks away first, and he watches her go before he turns and walks in the opposite direction with this thought in his head:  “It was great seeing Annie again…I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her”.  The love story happened.  And then it ended.  But there’s no bitterness or anger, no regret or vengeance.  Just gratitude.  And it’s always nice to say hello.

Annie.Hall_.1977.720p.HDTV_.x264.YIFY_.mp4.Still001

All Images Courtesy of Google