Meet Our Readers

Put on your two-piece and come join the ladies below for July’s edition of Miss Spoken, where we talk bikinis, maillots, and everything that goes in them. Wednesday 7/29, Gallery Cabaret, 7pm.

Megan Kirby

Photo on 5-22-15 at 12.31 PM #2Megan Kirby has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Bitch, Paste and xoJane. She has also self-published a few zines. One is about The NeverEnding Story.

 

 

 

Eileen Tull

Eileen Tull HeadshotEileen Tull is a storyteller, performance artist, poet, comedian, and one-woman-show person. Her work investigates feminism, body image, addiction (to technology, to substances, and to ourselves), and, above all, seeking joy. She has performed throughout the country, from San Francisco to New York City, in fringe festivals, theaters, and found spaces. In Chicago, her work has been seen with Beast Women, The Moth, Loose Chicks, Is This A Thing?, 20% Theatre, The Enthusiasts, Knife and Fork, The Nerdologues, The Stoop, That’s All She Wrote, and the Chicago Fringe Festival. Eileen co-curates Sappho’s Salon at Women and Children and First bookstore, a monthly performance series for female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism.

Hope Rehak

hoperehakHope Rehak is a native of Chicago and a proud graduate of its public schools, as well as Oberlin College. Her work has been performed at The Garage at Steppenwolf, The Citizen’s Theatre Company in Glasgow, Scotland, and the student stages of Second City, iO, and Oberlin. In 2012, her comedy won the Newcomer of the Year Award in Copenhagen. She studied poetry under Billy Collins and at the Paris Writers Workshop. Though she has recently lived and worked in Los Angeles, Ohio, and Denmark, she is always happiest when performing in her hometown. Please give Lorne Michaels her number.

Miden Wood

1239483_10201799220693365_6524132634498212733_nMiden Wood is a writer and performer from Virginia-outside-DC. She has contributed to webzine Gapers Block, and has performed with The Home for Wayward Artists, live lit show Two Cookie Minimum and is excited to count herself among The Kates at the Book Cellar on August 29. She and her dog are both, generally speaking, happier than this photo suggests.

[GUEST POST] Swimsuit Season

Swimsuit season.

Or as I like to call it, nipple-slip camel-toe permanent wedgie season.

My large-bottomed sister and I joke that our asses like to eat, because no matter the swimsuit style, after three steps toward the beach all we have left is a Sisqo fold and an overdressed butthole.

I’ve never found a bikini top with triangles that didn’t shift around like Scrabble pieces. The knot at the top pushes so hard into the nape of my neck that it aches for a day afterwards. Because of this, I’ve resorted to buying bra-style suits that manage my boobs like a cartoon grasping at a slippery bar of soap.

Maybe I should go back to the tankini. I was so relieved the first time I found a full-length top to cover what my brother lovingly used to refer to as “the black hole.” (My bellybutton).

At age 11 I found a purple printed swimsuit at Old Navy, a sort of half-tank with a flattering cinch to highlight my brand-new breast buds. I showed my mom and said, “I like it, but I’m just self conscious about my stomach.” She replied, “Why don’t you go lay outside for a little bit so you don’t feel like a beached whale?”

Her intention: A tan may make you feel slimmer.

My teen understanding: I’m a beached whale.

At 13 I wore my first bikini, one of many hand-me-down swimsuits from my flat-abbed older sister. The swimsuit was orange, with a hazy painted sunset. The bottoms never quite fit right and would at times slip side-to-side, providing a locker-room visual if I didn’t quickly readjust. It had pilling all over the butt from sticking to the side of the pool, but I loved it.

The first time I put it on, I weighed 74 pounds. Orthopedic surgery to correct my uneven legs kept me out of the eighth grade and on heavy narcotics (an excellent weight loss plan). I remember limping into the bathroom to look at myself before going out into the yard, and sucking in my stomach. I could see every single rib, and quickly let out my breath to hide them again.

By 16, I had put on enough weight to go through puberty a second time. I went on a trip to Israel with a hundred other horny Jewish teenagers, and nearly sharted in astonishment when I heard that boys liked me. Up until that point, boys had primarily treated me as the unavoidable tumor on a group of pretty girls, providing me with creative elementary nicknames such as “pot-belly-socks” and “peg-leg.”

Suddenly, these hot underage Jews wanted to rest their heads on my stomach, and invite me for back stairwell “PCs” (private conversations). My weight was almost healthy, nearing the triple digits, but I was still reeling from the sudden weight gain. The constant attention made me feel safe enough to wear a bikini, whereas my best friend on the trip ate one-third of every shwarma and wore Soffe shorts three sizes too big. We were two peas in a pod.

At 19, twenty pounds and s-e-x brought on a horror of self-awareness I had never experienced before, even in a bikini. Fucking was like reading a graphic novel featuring a fatter, clumsier version of myself. Captions read SMACK, CLAP, and SQUISH, and every issue ended with the heroine crying in the shower.

Looking back, my entire life revolved around looking in the mirror and seeing my body for the first time, every time. My life was like a really shitty dubstep version of “Mirror Mirror On The Wall”. I lost all ability to see myself clearly, and began depending on compliments- my clues to what I really looked like.

I wish I could say it was the strength of girl-power that changed my feelings towards myself, but the truth is that it took falling in love to disrupt my body dysmorphia. My post-college boyfriend honored my body with zeal that bordered on worship, and over time I began to see parts of my body the way he saw them. He didn’t call my legs “long” or my body “thin”, but he treated my ass like the third member of our relationship. I trusted his opinion of my body when I couldn’t form my own.

Now single and in my mid-twenties, the funhouse mirror has mostly straightened out. I have a general understanding of what I look like, but sometimes I still study pictures of my body hungrily, searching for new clues. In those moments, I try to recall the confidence I felt with a man who praised my cellulite, and helped me stop fucking in the dark.

When it comes to swimsuit season – accepting my body and all that – I may not have the confidence to buy a thong bikini, but my hungry ass will always be looking for a snack.

Lena Kazer is a Chicago writer best known for her platform shoes and affinity for swearing. An avid over-sharer, you wouldn’t call her an open book so much as a never ending gag reel. Her composition is 75% whiskey and 25% gummy vitamins.

Check out her personal blog at SheLikesBourbon.wordpress.com.

Nanny Diary

I have been a nanny (part-tme, full-time and live-in) for what will be six years next month.

I never planned on this happening.

After my contract was not renewed for a 9-5 office job back in 2009, I found myself on unemployment.

A friend needed help with her twin boys once a week and the rest was history.

I found jobs on various care taking websites. As a provider, the service is free. You can enhance it by paying for background checks, which I did when I had the extra money. I slowly built up references and was able to land jobs when others were ending.

The best part about nannying is hanging out with a baby all day. Not all babies, mind you. Some you just don’t connect with like others. Still, they have their moments and it’s rewarding and fun to be there for those.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to become friends with the parents, or the very least, keep in touch once the job is done.

There are a lot of downsides to it too. The worst being the absolute instability of it all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told my services won’t be needed for days or even weeks because of vacations or grandparents in town.

Every day I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And while I understand the cost savings this has for the family, it hurts mine.

Not to mention, there is no guarantee I won’t be let go for any reason on any day, without notice. There is also a set amount of time you can work with one family full-time since eventually those babies turn into toddlers old enough for preschool.

There are no sick days and no paid benefits.

I’ve seen ads that ask for additional housekeeping and cooking all for the low, low wage of often times less than $10 an hour. I can’t help but think these people are hoping to come across undocumented workers or college students who don’t know any better (something tells me they do.)

I get that it’s cash under the table, but that works both ways. If you employ someone and do it above board, you’re responsible for their social security and medicare taxes.

I know that some people probably think I’m just an old babysitter. I suppose that’s sort of true. There is a lot of downtime, especially when you have a baby that sleeps a lot. For the families that aren’t looking for additional help around the house, I’ll often find myself behind my laptop or watching t.v. Yes, I get paid to do that. But that’s part of the job. My wages are based on my time and ability to keep a child alive and content, and ultimately, for someone else to go and make a living.

I’ve struggled with finding my worth. I go back and forth about wanting to make this some kind of career where I manage a household, run errands and act as some sort of Mary Poppins Executive Assistant. At least then I could charge $20 an hour and feel OK about it.

In some ways, I feel stuck. I’ve been doing this for so long now and the jobs keep coming even when I think I’m going to be out of work for longer than I want. I don’t gain any applicable skills as the years pass and my resume looks terrible.

Stranger still is leaving my own baby at home to look after another.

I’m not sure how much longer I can do this, but it’s also the only thing I’ve known for the last six years.

-Carly

No Second City

But really, I miss you.

(Especially the food.)

  • Gin gimlet at The Matchbox
  • Sunrise omelet at Over Easy Cafe
  • Lox and bagel plate at Tweet
  • Karaoke at Alice’s
  • Back patio at The Longroom
  • Mussels and frites from Hopleaf
  • Cheap items from the Urban Outfitters outlet
  • Everything at Sunshine Cafe
  • People sitting by themselves with headphones and laptops at local coffee shops
  • Cemitas
  • Wholesale shopping at Wilson and Clark
  • Filipino breakfast at Uncle Mike’s
  • The Clown Combo from Pick Me Up Cafe
  • Margie’s sundaes
  • Dim sum
  • Korean barbecue
  • Watching Chicago sports at a bar, after work or during the day on the weekend
  • The Lake
  • The Paper Machete
  • $10 manicures
  • Sonia’s eyebrow threading
  • $16 haircut from Aveda Institute
  • The movie selection at The Landmark
  • Musubi and bbq beef from Aloha Eats
  • Chicken schwarma plate from Sultan’s Market
  • Pie from First Slice
  • The Italian from Bari
  • The special slice from Dante’s
  • The pretzel at Bangers & Lace
  • Biscuits and gravy from Taste of Heaven
  • #88 (with egg rolls) and #V154 from Tank Noodle
  • Simon’s Tavern
  • A good find from Crossroads
  • Cheap Thai food from Luc Thang (dining in because they always had a table)
  • The rooftop bar at The Fountainhead
  • Tacos with onion and cilantro
  • Chicken wing specials
  • Ridiculously cheap drinks/beer at GO Tavern
  • But having one fancy cocktail at Scofflaw first
  • Inerja
  • Indian buffet
  • Waffle fries at The Beetle
  • Pistachio Meyer Lemon donut from Do-Rite
  • Figuring out what was still open after 2 a.m.
  • BYOB

And last but not least, all of the friends who I would enjoy these things with.

-Carly

The Reverse Commute

Seven years ago when I found myself unexpectedly camping out at my parents house, sleeping on a twin mattress in my brother’s old room, I made every effort to get into the city.

Nothing could stop me. Not a storm. Or a Cubs game. Or some other event that would surely back up the expressway. (Though back then I didn’t have GPS saying “No, seriously dude, it’s going to take an hour and fifty two minutes to get to your destination and you’ll be averaging nine miles an hour.)

I had a free place to stay in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I left my car parked there while I hopped on busses, trains or in cabs to get from bar to party to bar.

I was fresh out of a longterm relationship (re: dumped), lost a perfectly good job at Northwestern University and no longer had a home (one that I had spent the past three years building).

In other words, I was looking for a release and Chicago had everything I needed.

This is no longer the case. No, the distance from my parents’ house into the city hasn’t increased. I actually have my own car now, which I didn’t seven years ago. I still have close friends, some of whom I used to see on a weekly basis.

But I have a kid. This kid likes to sleep. Sometimes. This kid is getting his teeth. This kid needs to be entertained. He needs to eat. He needs a diaper. He needs.

I also pump all of his milk, which means I either have to get home to do this, or bring everything with me and do this at a certain time, either in my car or the nearest electric outlet. I also can’t spend money without thinking of that kid.

Forty five miles does not sound long. But with only one direct route into city limits, one in which rush hour traffic or a minor accident will cause travel times to double, it feels a lot further away.

Last week, after finally catching up with one of my nearest and dearest friends, I made the mistake of not keeping track of the time. Stuck on 90 in bumper to bumper traffic with a hysterical baby, two hours overdue on pumping (read: very painful boobs), I swore I wouldn’t do this again any time soon, at least not without considering these factors more carefully.

Yeah, it’s my fault for not planning better. I could have left earlier. I could have brought my pump with me. I could have drugged my baby for the ride home (JUST KIDDING, GEEZ). I could have not have taken him with me at all! (This is also a good time to mention that yes, I have free childcare from my parents, but I do my best not to take advantage of their time and energy.)

This is just one example of why my interest in venturing into the place I formally called home and loved with most of my heart is waning.

Yes, I had a great time a couple of weeks ago when I hung out with my former roommate and friend, eating the impossible to find in the suburbs Thai food, dancing with people who were born the year I started high school and ending the night at my favorite karaoke bar.

But my near empty wallet reminded me of how much I used to spend without thinking on meals out, Uber rides and rounds of shots.

The exhaustion (OK, hangover) from the night took two days to get over. And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t need to clean, do laundry and keep this baby alive.

And no, those things in it of themselves are not difficult, especially when I have help and two of the three are things every person needs to take care of. But the last is an extra added thing that makes the difference.

I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. Yes, i ask a lot of my friends when I invite them out here. I’m not oblivious to the royal pain the ass it is to come into the suburbs. I know it’s not fun to have to account for three hours of total travel time (sometimes more!) To be totally honest, if you’ve made the trek out here one time, that is enough for me. I hope you know how much it means to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be there for your shows, your birthdays, your get togethers. I do. I really do.

Just not enough to put myself through the stress of what seems to be a simple thing, but is actually a very layered event in which the timing has to be perfected and is wholly unpredictable.

I hope you understand. I hope you know that my not being able to make it is not a reflection of how I feel about you.

-Carly

Mothers

Here’s a recording of our May 2015 (FIRST ANNIVERSARY) show. The theme was Mothers. Readers included Samantha Abernethy, Sonia Denis, Natasha Tsoutsouris, and Shanna Shrum.*

*Not all readers featured in the podcast.

-Rose

Not That You Asked: My Thoughts Since Charleston

Monday morning I was up from 3 -5 am thinking about writing this.

Bear with me as I try to muddle through the many thoughts that came into my head in those early morning hours and my mostly bad and awkward attempt at sorting out some of these things.

Today marks one week since the shooting in Charleston and like many of us, I’ve had a lot to chew on.

Someone posted an article on Facebook about how even babies discriminate. (I was going to link them to this because I think they are awesome, but decided they may not want to be connected to this ramble.)

It was an interesting and frustrating read, as it gave a lot of attention to what doesn’t work when it comes to talking about race with your children and no clear advice on exactly what to say.

One thing that struck me in particular was that desegregating schools actually seemed to make segregation worse, as schools with a more diverse student body saw kids align themselves with the people that looked like them. There were pretty damning statistics that showed children pretty much stuck with their own kind, especially their closest friends.

I lived outside of St. Louis, Missouri between the ages of seven and twelve in a middle – upper class area of West County. The school I attended had an initiative to bring inner city kids into the classroom. While this seemed like a noble and kind gesture, it was a disaster. With no direction on how integration was just going to magically happen, everyone went about their business as if ALLOWING these city kids through their doors was doing them a favor and lets just leave it at that.

[It’s also worth noting that I lived in Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the country, where things like gentrification are discussed and debated constantly.]

I believe very much this was the start of becoming aware of my race and understanding what race meant in general. In class, I saw the white kids were treated better than the black kids. I was also treated the same as the white kids, at least by my teachers. But not always from the other kids. I was different to both of them.

My growing brain was quick to pick up on these nuances.

It was better to be lumped in with the whites than the blacks.

This would continue with me throughout my young life, often being one of few minorities and even fewer Asians.

Here is an excerpt from Dylann Roof’s manifesto:

East Asians

I have great respent for the East Asian races. Even if we were to go extinct they could carry something on. They are by nature very racist and could be great allies of the White race. I am not opposed at all to allies with the Northeast Asian races.

Am I glad the racist guy with a gun has no beef with me? Yes. Yes I am.

I always had large groups of white friends, though I was reminded every now and again that I wasn’t actually one of them. Someone would always be there to pull their eyelids or call me a “chink” or on a more minor level, compliment my English and ask where I was from.

I’ve always wondered and feared that my track record for dating white guys had a greater, darker meaning. That I was one of those Asian women people talked about who worshipped white men and wanted their attention because they knew who had the power. I think I’ve mostly been able to disregard these theories based on my friendships in Chicago. When I moved into the city, I hoped to meet non-white people, specifically other Asians. And I did. I even joined a bowling team that my grandfather had been on right after the war, a Japanese American men’s league. There I met a Chinese American guy who was connected to a lot of other Asians, many who were artists, musicians and filmmakers. As a twenty year old young adult, I was completely taken with the late night Korean barbecue, even later night private karaoke rooms and above else, an entire group of people who looked JUST LIKE ME. But this facade didn’t last long, and eventually I learned that not only did looking the same not mean very much, each of us had very diverse backgrounds and experiences that made us likable, or unlikeable, people. My being a Japanese American in Chicago meant very different things than a first generation Filipino or a Korean adoptee, though perhaps imperceptible from an outsider’s view.

To this day, I don’t have a true understanding of Japanese American internment, though my living family experienced it and amazing people like George Takei are trying to keep the story alive. It’s truly uncomfortable to know that thousands of American citizens, like my grandparents, were stripped of their possessions, land, money and homes and incarcerated for their Japanese ancestry not even a hundred years ago.

So yes, I take issue with some white people. And it feels good to commiserate with other brown and black people about our disdain for some of them. If you’ve ever been the target of racism, it’s easy to identify those feelings when someone else experiences them.

But that’s where the similarities end. Each individual has a deep history and personal account for their lives and what being a certain race has meant for them. I dare not compare the trials and tribulations of “my people” to any other.

That leaves me feeling a bit lost on how to handle things like Charleston and inevitably, what can *I* do to make this situation better even if in the tiniest way.

And the only way I think I can do this is through my son.

But how.

How?

I’ve always had a really hard time with patriotism. Mostly because I think there are many, many elements about living in America which I find ridiculous, cruel and unsatisfactory. And yes, I acknowledge that there are plenty of other places worse than here. But I have a feeling they probably don’t drone on and on about how great they are, how superior they are to the rest of the world, all the while lacking statistically in things like education, healthcare, economy and quality of life.

I believe the true root of America’s problem with racism and our inability to have meaningful conversations about it comes from the fact that we absolutely do not talk about what we did to Native Americans when we were freeing ourselves from the ever so oppressive Brits.

That we captured and kidnapped people from other continents and enslaved them in order to build our country to be what we wanted. 

On top of that, we looked down upon other immigrants who came here looking for similar opportunities, and exploited them to again, fulfill our hopes and dreams all the while making it impossible for them to achieve their own.

We are still doing this.

That is America, folks. Yet the stories we tell our children about Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are fairytales that indoctrinate them into believing we came here to be free and that everyone supposedly has this right as well, that there weren’t hundreds of thousands of casualties as a result of this freedom.

I’m sick of hearing about the American Dream. The American Dream is total bullshit. People who talk about it as if it’s an actual thing have got it all wrong. They think it’s about everyone’s “equal” opportunity to make money, buy a house and say whatever they want to say while bearing their arms.

And yes, I believe most immigrants come here to make a better life for their children and maybe themselves. There probably are more chances to do so in terms of making and keeping their own money. Perhaps they’ve found better housing, more access to essential things like clean water and healthy food.

Maybe they’ve even achieved great success, wealth and recognition, their children have attended ivy league schools, they’ve retired at the age of 50, they own three houses across the country.

And yet.

And yet, if they don’t have white faces, they can still be knocked down by one ethnic slur, one racist joke, one off color remark. Economic equality IS directly linked with ethnicity, but in more ways than the obvious ones. Money and power can only take you so far in this country. Look no further than President Obama if you need an example. Not to mention, do you really think we all start from the same place and are given the same chance to succeed? I’m not talking about work ethic. I’m talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need.

My partner (who is white) and I were talking about the origins of derogatory words to describe white people, like “honky” and “cracker”. It seems “poor white trash” is the meanest thing you could say and really it’s more about money than anything else. Just as there aren’t really terrible things to call men, but plenty of words to degrade women, those in power can’t be brought down by a name. They create words to describe those below them to keep them there.

A true Dream would be a place where we treat each other with decency. Human decency. And that can’t be found in America, my friends. Too many people are dying unnecessarily for us to believe we’ve come very far.

So where does that leave us? Where does that leave those of us who want to make a change, who want to create a generation better than our own?

How do I talk to my son about race?

I’m not totally sure. It’s what kept me up for two hours the other morning. I’m overcome with the task of figuring out a way to explain that yes we are all different, sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes because of the color of our skin. That BECAUSE of the color of our skin, we are treated a certain way and then become a certain person because of it.

All I could come up with is this: Children need to be exposed to it all, as much of it as possible, every color, every background, every experience. They need to be in contact with a huge variety of humans to understand that we are all worthy of getting at least one chance to be known beyond the color of our skin and all of the assumptions that go along with that burden. Be it white or brown or black.

We need to be able to talk about why that doesn’t happen already and what we can do to change that.

Maybe I’ll create a book of photos with a different face on each page and underneath it simply write “Person”.

-Carly

Meet Our Readers

Orgasms are like seashells. To quote the unnamed author of SeashellWorld.com, who will be no doubt confused and perhaps dismayed at being referenced in this post, “A shell formation can produce new structural elements (folds or tubercles), and as growth continues these irregularities can produce what is known as an ornament or sculpture on the upper surface of the shell.” Likewise, what happens between your ears and legs often spirals up to the surface, shaping the external in unpredictable ways.

And like seashells, no two are exactly alike. Swim through the ocean that is Chicago summer this Wednesday and find the distinct ridges and whorls that make up our readers’ experiences.

Kim Schultz

kimschultzKim is a recent transplant to Chicago via New York City. She is an actor/writer/improv corporate trainer and runs off to Mexico once or twice a year to run an artist residency on the Caribbean. Tough life. She has performed on many local and national stages, has written two solo shows, published several articles, one book and is trying to publish a second book about falling in love with an Iraqi refugee called Three Days in Damascus. Kim loves stories and how they shape our memories and lives. She blogs, tweets and and can be generally found at www.kimschultz.net, as well as Twitter and her blog.

Lesley Pearl

lesleypearlA former newspaper reporter, Lesley Pearl found her pen and her voice in 2012 following a nearly 15-year hiatus from writing. She shares stories of love, loss and life after divorce in the popular blog “A Wandering Jewess” (www.awanderingjewess.com) and at live lit events around Chicago.

She is a mad thrifter, an excellent parallel parker, and has an unnatural fear of raccoons. She also tends to lead on the dance floor.

Lesley is relocating to Madrid in July 2015 to teach English, learn Spanish and eat churros con chocolate. She may even take in a bull fight.

Jess Krista Merighi

jesskristaBorn and raised in the burbs of Boston, Jess arrived to the great city of Chicago with $3,000 in savings, 2 suitcases, a month long sublet, and no job. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. She now resides in the Ukrainian Village, and runs the customer service department of a growing company in the West Loop. A poet by trade, Jess is looking to expand her literary lexicon by writing more stories and essays. In her free time she enjoys biking, beering, and being an overall heathen. You can find more of her work at jesskristamerighi.com.

 

 

Kim Nelson

kimKim Nelson is a writer, performer, and retired roller derby skater from Chicago. She is a regular contributor and co-editor at the literary blog Drinkers with Writing Problems. According to Buzzfeed, her spirit animal is a dog wearing sunglasses. You can follow her on Twitter @ponytailup.

 

 

Meg Grunewald

meg_grunewaldGrowing up in the city of Chicago, Meg Grunewald would listen to books and spoken word on tape to drown out the sirens and noises of city life as she drifted off to sleep. She loved the way tone and inflections could change the whole meaning of a story. Always willing to read aloud in class and bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Meg has always loved performing, of any kind. She’s currently an ensemble member at ComedySportz Chicago, where she plays several times a month. Meg also has 90+ original characters on her vine channel (Meg Grunewald), where she holds over 19k followers. Meg lives in Lincoln Square with her two cats, Squiggy and Weezy. She also avidly loves the “Golden Girls”, particularly Dorothy Zbornak.

Look Better

Last night, I was near an Ulta and had randomly clipped the $3.50 off $10 coupon from Sunday’s paper and had it in my wallet.

I figured I could easily find something I “needed” there and rather than purchase it at Target for full prices, get it there with a bit of a discount.

That was a huge mistake.

I should never walk into a store without a general idea of what I’m looking for, especially when I’m pinching pennies and trying to utilize a coupon.

I decided I’d just replace the Cover Girl powder I was running low on only to realize the only reason they even make this anymore (though they are down to only three different shades now) is for OLD, OUTDATED people, like MYSELF who have been using the same sorry ass make-up for years.

I’ll have these wake up calls every now and again, like when I realize what a horrible dresser I am or when your roommate tells you everything in your closet looks like it came from Old Navy (and maybe it does?).

But yesterday was eye opening.

Ulta used to seem like an awesome store filled with fun things that smelled good. A candy store of beauty products for mostly affordable prices.

Instead, I was bombarded by an overwhelming sense that I should be doing more to make myself look better.

Seriously, there are nineteen different things I should be putting on my face to not only cover up how gross I am but to also alter my appearance so I no longer look like me.

I didn’t even know you could invent more products beyond foundation and powder, but I was clearly living in a world where BB cream, tinted moisturizer, bronzer, “true match” base and primer were only things professional people used.

I could understand how a woman might fall down the rabbit hole of thinking they needed all of these things in order to be pretty and desirable.

Is it wrong to not want to put on a whole new face everyday? I mean, I get how much better I would probably look, but aside from all of the time and work it would take, wouldn’t my regular old make-up less face feel like some horrifying piece of garbage unworthy of seeing the light of day?

Maybe my problem is that along with having no sense of style, I have no idea which eye shadow shade works best with my eye color (no matter how many times I Google this), or how to apply eyeliner correctly, or which bold lipstick I can pull off.

So it could be that I have to tear down the whole idea of Ulta because I’m just a clueless woman in a world where not being good at this kind of thing makes you look dumb. And possibly unattractive.

-Carly

Quiz: Are You the Right Kind of 30?

Remember how fun it was to take quizzes in Seventeen? A series of questions with pictures of your sultry, scowling contemporaries designed to help you figure out those pressing concerns: Am I okay? Am I doing the right thing? Am I good? I always changed my answers so I came off even and nice, brain racing too hard to answer anything honestly but pretty good at predicting that too many points made you a bitch. Choosing a lot of A’s meant a lot of 3’s, better throw a few B’s in there to balance it out and compensate for the crushing sense of inadequacy that plagues every waking moment. Man, adolescence was the best.

Remember how I’m being weird about turning 30? Let me remind you with this quiz from xoJane: 9 Thoughtless Phrases to Stop Saying To Women Turning 30. I don’t think it’s actually a quiz, but I’m definitely taking it.

1. “You look so young!”

I am young. And vain. Vain enough to override the implications behind that comment. Thank you. Tell me again.

2. “Do you want to have kids yet?”

Did you want to have them that young? Or that old? Let me judge your life choices.

3. “You’ll meet the right person soon.”

I’m in one of those long-term relationships so no one asks me this. Replace it with something about getting married.

4. “It’s all downhill from here.”

I have a ton of bullshit about aging, but I know it’s bullshit. The only thing worse than my pitiful flailing about my life being over that I know isn’t true is someone who actually believes their life is over.

5. “Do you feel sad about turning 30?”

Yup.

6. “You’re all grown up now!”

I’m only cool with this if you’re a female relative over 50. My Aunt Louise can tell me I’m a woman now and I find it lovely and charming. It makes me feel warm inside. Same thing with being called Rosie. Are you a) related to me or might as well be, b) over 50, and c) know the meaning of sheyna punim? Bzzzzt.

7. “NOW you’re in your sexual prime!”

What.

8. “It’s a good thing you did so much in your twenties!”

This is a weird slam, like “You did so much, that’s great because now you can’t do anything because you’re older and everything sucks”. It’s kind of backhanded and confusing. Also, I spent the first half of my 20s obsessing over dudes and putting substances in my face, so I don’t think I did so much, so much as accomplished very little. Whatever. This is passive-aggressive and weak.

9. “Do you feel like a woman now?”

See #6. But for real, as much as I see 22-year-olds and think oh my god you are tiny babies, you are women and should be treated as such, even though sometimes I get kind of bemused by you and try to hide it because I hated that shit when I was your age. I’m not more legit just because I’m older. I’m legit because I don’t quit.

-Rose

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