Back in December, I went to San Antonio for a week to visit with friends and family. It was the first time since we moved to the Boston area in early August, and it was lovely to see everyone again. I didn’t think I’d be heading back again so soon, but then two things happened. First, I realized the Run 4 Hope 5K – an event I’ve participated in the last few years, to benefit the Rape Crisis Center – was happening the last weekend in March, and I really wanted to participate again. Second, I’d earned enough points for a free Southwest flight again. Woot!
My trip this time was shorter, only five days not including travel days. Whereas in December, I stuffed every possible visit (chiropractor, Spark-dinner, visiting every restaurant/store I missed…) into a week, this time, I took it easy and relaxed. The first two days were spent with my dad, stepmom, and half-sister. Lauren (my stepmom) took me walking down by the river in a newly-developed natural area, and the second day took me out for a long walk on the trail. All of it was so beautiful! Plus, super cute duck family with nine little squeaking ducklings! The change from cold-and-snowy to green-and-beautiful-out was amazing. (Not amazing was the oak pollen, which had me coughing/throat-sore, boo.)
From my dad’s house, I met up with my friend Stephanie to pick up our packages for the 5K, and went back to her house for the next 24ish hours. That night, we made dinner together and played a frickin’ awesome storyboard game called Story War, and the next morning, we met up with some friends (Sarah and Zach) for the 5K. The four of us walked it together last year, and did the same this year. We only broke out of our comfortable pace at the end, where we jogged across the finish line in superman poses. (Because the 5K theme was superheroes, as in being heroes for those who use the Center. I was representing a 34-year-old female this year.)
Stephanie took me shopping in the afternoon for my personal April project, which I’ve been colloquially calling “Operation Girly Girl.” It’s well-known that I do not like or wear dresses/skirts or makeup. Until this project, I’d only worn makeup twice in the previous decade – once at a wedding, and once for Halloween. Yeah. I vowed to “dress like a traditionally-gendered girl” for every day in April (difficult for me, since I’m agender – without gender – and do not feel any connection to traditional girly stuff at all). I put on makeup that afternoon (the pic I featured in that week’s Sunday Coffee), and have worn it every day since, despite my irritation with it.
I went to my cousin Jen’s house that evening and spent the next day with her. I will not say much about this part, because it involves Super Secret Stuff (okay, maybe just stuff I can’t mention yet). Before all the SSS, however, we went for a long walk/hike at our traditional spot. (And yes, I got in more exercise on this vacation than I’d been getting in awhile!) After all the SSS, we went out with extended family to look at a few houses that my great-aunt is potentially looking to buy, because she wants to move closer to the family (yay!). And after that, a whole bunch of my family went out to eat, and I had fish and chips and Guinness, mmm…
My last 1.5 days in town were spent with my mom. That included some additional shopping, mostly for stuff for the boys, and some fun things like chasing a rooster out of the yard so he wouldn’t attack my mom’s chickens, and gathering the chickens’ eggs for that day. Oh, and Intense Chocolate ice cream (not my pic), the very best ice cream on the planet, and can only be purchased in southern Texas…
My flight home was WAY too early (as in, get up at 4:45 kind of early), and I had three frickin’ flights that day. It might have been a horrible day, except that it turned out that my Aunt Lenny – one family member I hadn’t seen on either trip – just happened to be on that first leg, and we sat together and chatted the whole way. Totally made my day. Well, that and arriving in the Boston airport to see Jason approaching with a beautiful bouquet of roses. Bliss.
What a lovely trip you had. 🙂 I tend to get stressed out when I travel, and I strive to be in a place one day where I can truly enjoy my vacations.
I am curious about your Operation Girly Girl. You mentioned wearing makeup every day, despite being annoyed with it—is it simply for your own experimentation? I’d just love to hear what’s going through your mind about it!
I hope your transition back to that chilly Boston life goes well. I, too, am sick of the cold!
I tend to get stressed as well. I think my medication is helping with that, haha!
As for my project, there are two parts to it – the dresses/skirts and the makeup. I list my reasons for each separately, but first I want to say it was Andi who gave me the idea, Something she said on one of her Instagram posts made me wonder what it would be like (to myself and socially) if I made myself girly every day for a month. I don’t have to be 100% girly, just put forth SOME effort, to see both how I react to the project, and how other people react to me differently. Of course, it would be better if I was out in public more…
The makeup: I grew up unable to wear the stuff. I have extremely sensitive skin, and even hypoallergenic stuff make me break out in acne and rashes/hives. While everyone else experimented, I resigned myself to just being different. As I got older, and learned more about gender inequality (and gender itself), I began to be annoyed by 1) the fact that men couldn’t wear makeup, and 2) makeup seemed to be used to mask one’s true looks. As a huge advocate of real beauty and of being honest in every way, I refused to wear makeup even as my skin calmed. After that, I pretty much wore it when in costume, because wearing it to enhance my appearance felt false/dishonest to me. As I’ve grown to understand a little more about my PTSD, I’ve wondered how much of that urge toward absolute honesty was tied to trauma, and I decided to see what happened if I wore “a face” every day for a month. So far? A couple people have been kinder/more courteous, but for the most part, people I know don’t even notice, which is interesting.
The dresses: Weird irony – I don’t feel naked in a swimsuit, but I feel naked in a skirt, especially if I’m not wearing leggings. I don’t know the source of this discomfort, and imagine it’s probably to do with familiarity. Back in 2011, I was very uncomfortable in shorts because of my weight, and I forced myself to wear them every day all summer. By the end, I was no longer uncomfortable. I imagine I’m comfortable in a swimsuit because I spent five years of my life as a competitive swimmer. I wasn’t even uncomfortable in one when I was morbidly obese. I wonder if wearing a dress/skirt regularly will iron out that discomfort, just like it did with shorts and swimsuits.
A week into the project, ironically I’ve found that I don’t mind the makeup much – especially when people dont’ even notice – and I still despise dresses, even more so because they’re so hard to coordinate (I’m a clothes-minimalist), and there are no frickin’ pockets!
This response is terrible overdue—sorry!
I think we’ve commiserated over this before, but I have ridiculously sensitive skin too. 😦 Even taking a shower can irritate it! I think I went through the “ugh, girls who wear makeup are SO lame” phase instead, though. Your thought process about “being different” sounds much more friendly/rational. 😉 I think it’s awesome that you’re choosing to tackle this question of how much your reluctance to wear makeup is tied to prior trauma, and I’m also glad to hear that it’s going well, or at least isn’t proving emotionally difficult! Since it seems to be a sort of neutral experiment so far, do you think you’ll continue to wear it after the month is up?
That is really interesting about the swimsuit vs skirts/dresses! I suppose it makes sense that being in a swimsuit would feel more natural, if you spent a lot of your time in the pool, but certainly suits expose much more. I’ll be interested to see if/how your opinion of skirts and dresses changes. I too get so annoyed by the lack of pockets, but I’ve found a couple of really adorable dresses with them! Here’s my favorite: http://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses/coach-tour-dress-in-violet
On a personal note, I’ve kind of ditched shaving my legs and armpits over the long winter, and I’m not especially inclined to go back to it now that the weather’s warming up. I do, however, want to keep wearing sleeveless tops and shorts/skirts! I think this is going to be my own form of exposure therapy. 🙂
Sounds like a great trip! Have fun experimenting with makeup and such.
I’m glad you explained more about the girly girl project in the comments because I had the same questions as Shaina. I also didn’t know you were going through PTSD–think I saw you mention it somewhere else recently, too (guessing Instagram since that and twitter seem to be the only way for me to keep up with everyone lately).
I do wear a bit of make-up during the weekday…but only on my eyes (my eyebrows and lashes are very blonde). On the weekend I just can’t be bothered but I’ve never really associated this with how I feel about gender. I don’t like the look of overly made up women and I don’t want my daughters to think that they need to wear makeup to look (or feel) beautiful. I’m definitely more sensitive about this in the past few years.
Anyway–sounds like a great trip! Would love to take the girls down there for a long weekend…but as you know, soon it’ll be too hot to do so.
I was diagnosed with complex PTSD recently, stuff that harks all the way back to ten-year-old me, and have been trying to work through a lot. I did mention it both on Instagram and also when I reviewed a book about trauma recently. 🙂
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