Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Cover of My Book.

I strive to keep my blogs on Eating Gardenias pretty lighthearted and positive. I know there've been a few times I've slipped up and let a serious, or negative, topic seep through. I suppose this is a somewhat serious topic but I feel inclined to write about it anyhow.

As a youngster, I was not secure about my appearance. I was ridiculed for having frizzy hair, unusual features, gangly limbs and whatever else you can think of. Therefore, I gained a somewhat skewed self image during the "dancing queen" years.

This is tough to admit, especially on a public blog, but I still struggle all the time. Today, for example, I had an interesting experience at a cosmetic spa in downtown Charleston. I was fortunate to get assigned an article about the place, and I looked forward to being pampered with a facial and expert makeup application afterward.

But after the facial, with my face naked and glowing, my old insecurities crept back up. I wanted a private moment with myself in the ladies' room to look at my skin, adjust my hair and "check back into the reality hotel," as Brian would say. But my esthetician (who was super nice and accommodating; she just didn't know that I'm insecure) watched me gaze into the mirror post-facial, taking in the reflection of my face with zero makeup and a sheen of expensive moisturizer.

Next, I reluctantly followed her out to the florescent lights of the cosmetic counter, where a makeup artist waited to manipulate my mug. She followed my instructions to "keep things natural," and I could tell she was genuinely enjoying the process by how she kept smiling to herself, but, well, in the end my face still looked...strange. It didn't look like the face that greets me in the mornings after I apply my hodge-podge of cheap drugstore makeup. Not that I looked bad. Just ...odd.

Of course, the makeup artist and esthetician raved over me heartily, both before and after. They talked about how great my skin is, how pretty I looked after the makeup job and a slew of other compliments. It was nice, but it made me pretty uncomfortable.

 "You guys say this to everyone," I finally said, somewhat sheepishly. (Accepting compliments has never been my strong point.)

"We see beauty in everyone," agreed the makeup artist. "It's our profession."

I have to admit that was a good answer.

Later, I kept looking at my shimmery eye shadow and slightly darker lipstick in the mirror while I made dinner and reflected (pun intended) on how, really, I didn't look that different. I realize now that my makeup looked strange to me because I let someone else handle my face and talk about my appearance. In short, I was just feeling insecure. But, the makeup artist's declaration on how beauty is visible in everyone definitely resonates.

It's a hard lesson for me to learn, but I need to practice every day.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Mother, My Rock.

The other day, I was driving to work and one of my all time favorite songs came on: "Hey Joe," sung by Jimi Hendrix.

It's a great song, but I think at least one of the reasons I love it so much (and kept turning it up, louder and louder, in my car until I couldn't detect when Brian was trying to call me back) is because I remember my mom playing it for me on an old record she had when I was a little girl.

My mom has the most sincere affection for rock music of any person I've ever known. And, unlike many almost-60-year-olds, her devotion to loud, emotional guitar riffs has not diminished over the years of her life only to be replaced by sappy "adult contemporary" or whatever the hell. Nope, my mother still rocks, quite literally. She still gets excited when she hears a favorite song and turns it up - WAY up. She still knows how to dance to any tune that she loves. She still likes live music in small bars. And, she is probably responsible for my own musical reality.

After all, I did not spend the 1990s listening to Biggie, Tupac or Widespread Panic like some of my classmates did. I went from adoring my mom's old records (everything from Steppenwolf to the Stones) to embracing the grunge era, which my mom heartily approved of.

"Will you make me a tape of that?" she'd ask enthusiastically, watching me play air guitar along to Pearl Jam's "Jeremy." And I would.

After I left home, I of course became exposed to other types of music - disco and classical and hippie shit and, yes, even a little bit of the rap I missed out on - but I never stopped identifying the most with rock.

Nowadays, when I'm asked that common question about what I listen to, I always name the separate genres I appreciate, but I always finish with rock, in the most definitive way possible.

"I'm mostly a rock person," I always tell people.

And thanks to my mother, I am.

Hells yes.