I do not make New Year’s resolutions as a general rule, but I do often have sort of new year projects. Some of those start in September, since, as everyone know the year actually starts in September (or at any rate, it does if you went to school for 27 years), and some start in January.
My projects last year were “stay busy so as not to get depressed” and “get some kind of hold on your finances”. The former led me to learn cross-country skiing, join a funky women’s exercise class, and start studying karate. As it turned out, working full time is enough of a time suck that those things kept me very, very busy, and keeping track of all my expenses took care of any spare moments. (Of course, I didn’t let any of this cut in on my sleeping, reading, or cooking habits, not to mention my talking on the phone habit.)
This year’s rather peculiar project is “try to look better.” This all started because I realized that (especially after gaining ten pounds over the summer) I had only about six outfits I could wear to work. That’s enough to get me through the week, and usually that’s enough for me, but some of them were pretty sketchy as work clothes. For instance, I’m not sure how cool it is to wear jeans with paint on them to work, even if it’s sort of inconspicuous paint. In any case, my whole presentation was starting to make me feel a little self-conscious, the way I felt in junior high when I had nothing but white socks (sensible enough, since those were the socks I wore at camp in the summers) and people asked me about it all the time. Nobody was asking, “Why are you wearing jeans with paint on them and a hoody to work all the time?” but I felt like they were.
Thus my winter break (translate: holidays off, five days of vacation time, and a day of unpaid leave) got dedicated in part to the whole “look better” project.
I braved the stores at Oakbrook after Christmas and came out with three articles of clothing that cost about $20 each, which still seems like kind of a lot to me. (We used to say that Goodwill was ruining us for Ragstock: “Yeah, but is this dress really worth five bucks?”). I’ve accepted that I may not always be able to find everything I need used, and so I was okay with that, mostly, but when I got to Iowa City, I hit up The Second Act, which is a pretty nice consignment store. There I got a pair of pants, a dress, a sweater, and several shirts all for about $40. I’ve been wearing my new clothes to work every day this week, and so far I’m pretty happy with them.
The other part of project “look better” was getting a haircut. My friend talked me into going to her fancy hair person, and I’m not even going to tell you how much I paid for a haircut, save that I was semi-able to justify it because of all the years I cut my own hair. Tragically, I didn’t manage to take a picture on the day I left the salon, or even on the day after. By days three and four it was looking not quite as good, but still okay. But by the time I got back to Wyoming and washed it with the fancy shampoo and dried it in the directed manner (I had explained that I don’t use hair dryers, so I was told to twirl it in sections and let it dry that way), it looked exactly the way it had before I got it cut. I’ve since been able to improve things a little, but it has been one of the more disappointing experiences of my life.
I know all these people who have fabulous, long-lasting relationships with their hair stylists–my mother has been getting her hair cut by the same person for over twenty years!–but I’ve never seemed to manage it. (I know, I know–cutting your own hair for the better part of a decade is not the way to make friends with your hairdresser.)
On the whole, though, I’m more pleased by this “look better” project than I thought I might be. I have a lot of weird hang ups about consumerism. I generally regard it as a bad thing, but it’s sort of like I have this relationship with consumer items that anorexics have with food. You need food to eat, and, unless you are either in the Garden of Eden or a really excellent dumpster diver, you do need to buy some things. I think that my figuring out that it’s okay to buy things is maybe a little bit like the struggle of someone with an eating disorder to see that eating some food is healthful and natural, but I may be wrong about that.
So that’s that for now. Incidentally, one of my other projects is “write more about what’s happening in your life,” and since I have this under-used blog space, it seemed like the place to do it. I apologize for the probable lack of political content in these posts, but if you’re interested in the goings on out here, there will, I hope, be more to follow.