Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Image of Perfection

I say that I dabble in photography because I'm not confident enough in my abilities to declare myself a photographer. So the fact that I get 'Professional Photographer' magazine makes me feel all heady each month when I find it in the mail.

I pour over every beautiful image. Portraits are most intriguing to me.Remembering my own senior portraits and the relief in knowing that the photographer (then working with film, not digital images) would touch up any pimples that cropped up for picture day.

Now, I thumb through the award-winning senior portraits and see that technology is even kinder to graduates today. Their skin is airbrushed within an inch of a porcelain surface. Not a blemish in sight... nay not even pores in their skin!They (and babies... and family portraits) are treated with the same technology and the same critical eye as the models in our magazines. It's not just my photographer's magazine doing this, but almost every wedding photographer and portrait photographer in business. Some photographers limit the degree of their touch-ups. They offer different pricing scales ranging from simple touch ups to pure perfection.

It's a bit disturbing.

Last year when I took some newborn portraits for my friend, I wanted to touch up his flaky just-entered-the-dry-world-from-a-warm-wet-womb skin. She wanted some of his baby acne eliminated. It was easy to get carried away. Suddenly I realized, maybe that red mark isn't a blemish but a feature of his skin. Will this mommy look at his pictures in two years and think, "Gee he didn't have that mark when he was born. Where did that come from?"
So I gave her both the original and the touched-up images for posterity.

Where did this demand for perfection come from?

Last year when the media was all aflutter with Farrah Fawcett's death that famous poster of her was everywhere - like it was in the 70s. Her bright, cheerful fresh face, flecked with freckles and a flush in her cheeks suggesting she had spent the day in the sun.
As I watched one program, memorializing her life and career, publicity photos from the height of her career flashed on the screen. A big beautiful smile - drawing lines around her eyes. A sun-kissed face dotted with those sunny freckles, and ~gasp~ visible pores and shiny skin indicating this was a real live, breathing human being! A natural beauty. I thought...
"Those pictures would never be published today."

Today all we see is manufactured perfection. Then we wonder why we feel inadequate.

So I was pleasantly surprised last night when, in a phone conversation with McTwitchy - we landed on this topic - and he asserted that the pressure women get from the media today is absurd. The push to be uber-thin and flawless. That even fit and youthful teen stars have their waists whittled away in Photoshop for magazine covers.

It's a relief to know that he feels this way even though I've never really felt the pressure to be thin, because I have always been thin. Instead, I feel some pressure to be curvy (which is never going to happen. Works both ways ladies!!!). It tells me that he's a man with reasonable expectations.

Then, somehow this conversation turned to our first meeting - which he remembers and I don't. Our mutual friend introduced us at church three years ago. I think she told him that she wanted to make an introduction. I was with Mr. Burns at the time (which she was unaware of) so the introduction didn't stand out to me as it did for him.
But I am flattered that McTwitchy remembers details like just how long/short my hair was. It suggests that he found me memorable, and maybe even liked what he saw.

As we talked about the natural curves and fluff of real American women, he asked me if I didn't weigh a few more pounds when he met me that time in church. (shock!)
He tempered the statement by saying that I didn't look heavy, but I am clearly thinner now.
He's right. But I was stunned that he would even mention it.
However, I've worked in media my whole life so critical statements sort of roll right off of me. And when I say 'critical' I'm referring to the dictionary definition - not necessarily criticism.

I admitted that I carried eight extra pounds back then - and that with my small frame, eight pounds on me resembles 10-15 extra pounds on the average sized woman. I also assured him that I am at my regular weight now - which doesn't seem to matter to him.

Uncomfortable as it may be, I'm chalking this up to him being A) observant B) realistic C) appreciative of what is before him and D) honest.
Moreover - it's refreshing to know that he doesn't subscribe to the media-generated beauty ideal. And that, ultimately... he sees my beauty.... inner - outer - all over.

It's not just him. Most men really do see past our societal influenced beauty standards.
Isn't that good to know?

Photo Credits 1) Professional Photography Magazine 2) myself and of Farrah Fawcett - general Google search.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I've been applying to 5 jobs a week every week this year - waiting out a decision from the regional manager at my part-time job. (come on - decide already!)

There are very few job openings for my skill set. It's very frustrating.

This week, I found an opportunity to photograph babies every day and be paid well for it. I've been accepted through first round qualifications.
I must supply my own camera and laptop. (I don't have a laptop but it's about time for me to make that investment anyway)

And, if I am selected for training, I have to be available for a full week, a week from now - with my camera.

Guess what? Two days ago I sent my camera away for cleaning and maintenance. It doesn't come back for four weeks.


(I figure I can rent or borrow a camera if it comes down to it.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sweet Agony

Being in like is more agonizing than being let down.

Yesterday, I was about to take a customer and her baby into the camera room, when my personal cell phone rang. I took a quick glance, saw it was McTwitchy and had to let it go to voicemail.
A huge smile spread across my face, and when my customer gave me a quizzical look I responded, "The boy just called. You remember what that was like, right?"

She smiled and nodded vigorously.

Now, don't think I'm ridiculously giddy. Just know he has given me enough feedback for me to know that this is still something good.

The agony is in waiting to see him again. It's killing me.
I'm fully prepared to feel foolish again if this thing peters out. But for now, I'm enjoying the agony.

(what really feels foolish is having this giddy, twitterpaited feeling as I'm about to turn 40! That's what makes me feel ridiculous!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Feel Much Better Now


That's better.

I called him last night and left a message asking how his trip went. You see, I've been simmering on a slow boil for almost a week, because he said he'd call when he returned... which should have been a week ago.

Some friends suggested that I call him, but initially my pride prevented me. He's supposed to pursue me. I thought he liked me. Why should I have to remind a man that I exist? Wah.

This morning, I received a text from McTwitchy saying he extended his trip for a week and a half because he picked up some freelance work with a friend there. He'll be back on Saturday.

As Jinxie said, and I paraphrase... it's not like he was being a jerk.

Now I'm looking forward to seeing him. I really am.
Also, now I know that this is part of his personality. He's spontaneous. He gets wrapped up in his work and doesn't call lots of people! At this point, I'm willing to see how it goes.
I have no intentions of changing him. But he has already told me that he wants to manage his time better - so if I see him working on staying in touch - it's worth it to hang in there.
If not... well hey - he's just not right for me.

But I am really looking forward to seeing him again. I feel much better!

A Nugget. Post-edit

When I replied to his text, which was a promise to call either before or after he gets home, I urged him to "Call soon... I miss talking with you."
I wanted to let him know that I miss him, without sounding mushy or over-dramatic. Yet belying a sense of urgency - which any good man should appreciate.

He replied that he wanted to talk to me too, and gave me an acknowledgment that I shall not share here... except to say, it was the nugget that I needed. Just a little something that speaks to his interest in me and appreciation of me.

That was all I needed. Just a nugget.
He is worthy of my thoughts and energy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Excuses

I'm entirely conflicted.
I could be upset that he hasn't called me yet. Or, I could call him and just say, "Hi, how was your trip?" I haven't decided yet.

I'm conflicted because I find myself making excuses for why he hasn't called. He runs his own, one-man business from his home, and having been gone for an entire week it's reasonable that he needed to get back down to business and make sure the money is coming in. Then it was quickly the weekend, and he couldn't assume I was free.

I tend to make excuses for men who don't behave as I expect them to behave.
I certainly did that for Mr. Burns.
But, I am reminded... men don't think like women. So my expectation is completely irrelevant.

I saw his friend at church yesterday, and when she asked how things were going, I told her I haven't heard from him since he came back from his trip. She replied, "That's totally McTwitchy. He's a workaholic. I don't hear from him forever then he'll call suddenly, saying how busy he's been."

I am reminded that there is a reason some men over 40 aren't married. If it's just because he hasn't figured out how to woo yet... I guess I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

But no excuses.

After all this time, I've lost some interest in him. (Guys, you gotta strike while the iron is hot!!)
But talking with Kikr, I was reminded of just how much I enjoy time with him.

I think I'll be calling him at the end of his work day today.

If you have an opinion, feel free to share it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Life has been a bit uneventful this past week as the object of my affection was out of town.

I'm not sitting around pining for him though. I managed to spend lots of time with girlfriends.

One friend got engaged during Holy Week, another had a birthday... there hasn't really been a dull moment.

Friday night my friend Kafi and I went to a party hosted by one of my favorite online stores... ModCloth.com!

Their writers were in town for a writers conference, and if you check out their website you'll understand why creative writing is so important to their product descriptions.
We met some of the writers and I told them that they're like J. Peterman for Anthropology type clothes!
Here's ModCloth's blog post about the event. As a registered shopper on their site, I was sent an email invite to the shindig! And my friend and I got some free stuff! I got the. Coolest. Earrings. I'll try to feature them here soon.
It was awesome!

On Saturday, I met a group of girlfriends for dinner and had a killer eggplant sandwich!

But back to the object of my affection.
Before he left to visit his family for a week, he said that he'd call me when he gets back.

I'll admit I was bummed that I wasn't going to hear from him, but I reasoned that we've only been seeing one another for about three weeks, and it's expected for him to compartmentalize his family visit separate from anything that is going on with me.

All my girlfriends agreed. I decided that I would just wait and see what happens when he gets back. (sometime today)
That is, until my friend's new fiance said he thought it was weird that McTwitchy would not even text me while he's gone. Then I bummed out a little.

But I have been thinking it's still not as much of a red flag as the many red flags Mr. Burns waved at me over the years.

After we had been dating more than a year, Mr. Burns went back East to visit family, and as I drove him to the airport, he said, "Don't be mad if I don't call you while I'm away."
WTH? That is NOT okay!
I replied, "I won't get mad. I'll just know that you're not thinking about me."

Mr. Burns argued that I was projecting or something... and I said no, you don't ask me to write you a hall pass for not calling while you're gone!!! And why would you want to? If you love me at all, you should miss me, even plan to miss me... and can't help yourself from calling me!

It should have been perfectly clear then that he didn't really care for me.
But we tortured ourselves for another year or so after that! Ugh.

Please learn from my mistakes ladies!!

Meanwhile, I don't want to have expectations on McTwitchy. But I also don't want to make excuses for him like I did for Mr. Burns.
So I'm just going to see what happens when he's back, and we'll go from there.

My feelings for him have been tempered over the past week that he's been gone. I'm a little less twitterpaited... but I am still feeling the pitter-pat of excitement that hopefully I'll see him again soon.
I'm just not counting on it.
And I think that's healthy.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Merit System

My girlfriend was waiting to hear the details about the guy who inspired the text: "I really like him."

Grinning broadly, I spilled. "I do. I really like him. He's a good man. I'm giddy!"

We talked about a few specifics before she looked at me through her eyelashes, saying, "If you end up in a relationship with him, I'm going to go jump off a building."

She hasn't been in a relationship in three years, and apparently the brief month between my final breakup with Mr. Burns and taking up with McTwitchy offended her sense of fairness.


We don't know that this will be anything. This may be God's way of softening the sting of being alone before I'm really all alone once again. Although, I secretly hope that I can fulfill that urban legend of the woman who gets out of a long relationship and immediately finds the guy she'll marry. But I am also prepared for that not to happen.

When we think about happy endings - it's hard not to think of them as a reward.

When Mr. Burns and I broke up for the second and final time - I felt again, the frustration that I just don't get to have what God gives everyone else.
No husband. No job. No babies.

Where did I go wrong? What have I done so wrong? What did I do that was so bad that I am not worthy of marriage and children, when I can point out people who, according to my logic - have that and don't deserve it. (yikes. Self-righteous much?)

It took someone to point out to me... "God doesn't work on a merit system."
That's an eyeopener. Although sometimes I wish He would.

It's really hard to think that perhaps marriage isn't a reward for good behavior. Having a teammate for life... someone to come home to... someone to share meals with... someone to share the power of touch.
It certainly seems like being without those things is a punishment. The gift of children is indeed a gift, not a bonus plan. (spare me the 'Marriage is Hard' lecture --- that's another post -- and my response is ... Anything worth having is hard. Duh. Being single is hard too.)

I know that my friend doesn't begrudge me finding a worthy man less than two months after ending a relationship. She just also wants that for herself. Even seeing all the difficulties Mr. Burns and I had, she still wanted that too... because struggling together is more appealing than struggling alone.

She's wondering what is wrong with her. Why, perhaps, she is not worthy.
The answer is Nothing. and She is.
The fact is, it's not that she hasn't earned it... but maybe she's just not ready. Or the man for her isn't ready yet. And that stinks. It really freaking stinks.

But I do know, God is preparing something for all of us. When it comes, the wait will have been worth it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Oh The Anxiety!

Almost a week went by with no word from Jerry/Hugh.
My I-really-like-him-bliss took a nosedive.
I was wrought with frustration. I thought he liked me. I knew he liked me. Why. Won't. He. Call?

I felt a bit of agony and only Kikr could console me... her charmed, married self remembered the wrenching misery of ugh... just not knowing.
She assured me this guy is solid. She has very strong opinions on this. When I accepted a date with Italian Guy last week, she scolded me. "No! We don't like him. We like Jerry/Hugh!"
(Italian Guy canceled due to work circumstances and I was relieved.)

In fact, that very night, Jerry/Hugh found himself within a block of my house and asked if he could stop by.

He likes me.
We saw each other two nights in a row. And I think I'm changing his nickname for blog purposes.

We were snuggling on my sofa and I was playing with his hair. His dark, curly, long-ish hair. Suddenly I realized, and blurted out... "You have Dr. McDreamy hair!" He understood the reference even though he doesn't watch Grey's Anatomy. I joked about Dr. McSteamy... and he rolled his eyes a bit.

We spent more time talking, and since we're in this far enough to really start to get know one another, our topics of discussion vary from deep to light. Silly, sweet and somber.
I'm starting to be able to read him... for instance when he's about to tell me something... like cracking a joke at either his or my expense... or something that might just be inappropriate... he twitches his mouth.
So now I notice his mouth is twitching and just ask what it is he wants to say.

Twice in a row... he was preparing a zinger. On the second one, I caught his mouth twitch and asked, "What's going on in there McTwitchy?"

Oh... and despite my firm rule to never tell my mom about someone I'm dating until it is a bonafide relationship... I was talking to my mom on Easter and she asked if I was dating any interesting guys.
I only told her that McTwitchy exists. Let's pray she doesn't get all worked up.
But I did tell her that McTwitchy and I have the same personality type and seem very compatible.
She asked for clarification; so I told her how, we've only been seeing each other for a couple weeks, but when we went out on Friday and he was parallel parking on a residential street he looked over to the curb and said, "Is that a..."
and I said, "No, there's no driveway, just a sidewalk."
and he completed his parking job.
As I got out of the car I said, "Did I just answer a question you didn't even ask?"
"Uh, yeah."