the defense rests

A fun thing I do all day long is defend whatever I’m doing to the detractors in my head. I thought maybe if I blogged about the things my imaginary detractors are most vocal about of late that I would stop having to explain myself to them so often, but actually what will probably happen instead is that I’ll go in the shower and lay my forehead against the cool tile and quietly regret publishing this.

Quiet regret, yes sir, I like to keep my regret at a low volume so it doesn’t bother the neighbors.

Washing my hair

I wash my hair every other day. Considering I washed my hair every day for thirty years, this is a significant achievement for me. It pales in comparison, however, to other people, who apparently wash their hair like once a week? Once a month? Never? The less frequently you wash, the better, I’ve heard. I’ve heard that shampoo strips your hair of oils and your scalp creates even more oil to make up for it, like a sulking teenager. I will show you, your scalp says. 

I have tried repeatedly to extend my hair washings to every third day, but I can’t. I just cannot. Even using dry shampoo, by the end of the second day my hair has ceased being composed of free-flowing individual strands and fuses together into a singular mass. I brush it and it just stays there, unmoving, defying reason and  gravity. The sleek, slicked-back look works well for people with diminutive features, like Winona Ryder or Tilda SWINTON, but on me it looks like I’m wearing a slightly damp muskrat pellet on my head. So committed is my hair to staying together that if I try to pull my hair back it clusters and clumps, generating wedges of visible scalp. Nothing says chic like random pattern baldness.

I don’t have a lot of hair. I feel like when I say this to others they always respond by hefting the weight of their locks from one shoulder to another and saying, “Oh, me neither.” Listen: when I tie my hair into a ponytail, the ponytail is the same diameter as a dime. All the hair on my head, every last strand, fits inside Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tiny metallic face. I don’t! Have! A lot of hair!

It’s not that my scalp generates more oil than other peoples’. It’s just that the oil doesn’t really have much of anywhere to go. My scalp oil’s a small town teen cruising the same five empty blocks of Main street every night. It wants more out of life but it’s afraid to leave. It gazes vacantly at the stoplight blinking red and turns up the volume on its favorite Linkin Park album to send the deeper thoughts rising and scattering like a flock of birds.

(What’s the early 2010s equivalent of Linkin Park? Is there even one, or do all teens, angry or not, just listen to Bruno Mars now? The questions I would ask if I had access to a live teen!)

Everyone says, well, if you just hold out, your scalp will eventually produce less oil. I finally say: fuck it. Fuck that right up the follicle. I can’t do it. I can barely make it to three days without wanting to rip the muskrat pellet off of my head and bury it in the yard. I’m an every other day washer. Done. I’m sorry. WASHING EVERY OTHER DAY WORKS FOR ME.

Dramatic lip

My imaginary detractors think it’s REE DICK YOU LUSS that I haven’t yet tried to rock a red or dark lip.”It’s so hot right now,” my detractors say. “Hansel’s so hot right now.” And he is! They both are. Hansel with a li’l dramatic lippy would make people die in ecstasy on the streets. But I’m not really sure that lipstick of any color is for me, based on years of extensive research consisting of very occasionally applying lipstick and then immediately losing it all over the rest of my body. Yes, even the super-strength stay-in-place stuff. Seconds after putting it on I’ll start chewing my lip or making mustaches with locks of my hair or eating or drinking and wiping my mouth with a sleeve like a barn-raised heathen. Sometimes I’ll forget and apply lip gloss over the lipstick and then all hell breaks lose. Hours later I’ll glance in the mirror and my lips are flaky and smudged and have fuzz stuck to them, like I’ve been passionately making out with a bag of cotton balls.

For me, wearing lipstick is like wearing a shirt you desperately want to love but doesn’t fit you in the shoulders and also keeps riding up in the waist, so you have to spend your whole day trying not to lift your arms while continuously tugging down your hem. It’s high-maintenance. It feels uncomfortable and unnatural. Lipstick is not in my wheelhouse. I’m sorry, detractors! I’ll leave the lipstick to those with actual skill and talent. I’m gonna just stick with neutral gloss, which is the forgiving yoga pants of lip accoutrement.

Packing light

I am in awe of people who can shove a couple of items into a rucksack, sling it over their shoulders, and carry it on board an aircraft for a weeklong jaunt. I am not one of those people. For one, I am normally packing a full bottle of booze, because you NEVER KNOW if say Portland, Oregon, is going to have run out of alcohol by the time you land? For two, I am incapable of assembling outfits in advance. I desperately strive to choose flexible foundation pieces that can be adapted to multiple looks, but I guess none of my clothes go together because that strategy never pans out.  

I tried the “picking outfits in advance” thing when I went to Michigan for my grandfather’s birthday last October, and when the time came to put on the first day’s ensemble I just stood crestfallen in front of the mirror wondering why I had packed for the trip while seemingly under the influence of a heavily regulated substance. “I look goofy,” I told my dad, helplessly holding my arms out to the sides to avoid being infected by bad fashion.

“Maybe you shouldn’t shop at the Disney store, then,” he replied, because Dad Jokes are common law.

Taking more clothes than there are travel days may be a little akin to putting out a lit match with a fire hose, but the more clothing options I have, the better I can correct my mistakes, because there are many.

The booze has never been a mistake, just so we’re clear.

Waking up

I don’t get up with the sun, and somehow this makes me feel like I don’t deserve to be loved. It’s hard being a not-morning person in a world where everyone has already risen in the predawn hours to milk their hypothetical cows. Lolling around in bed during the nation’s morning commute makes me feel straight-up lazy. And I am! Not. I am not. I am not lazy, detractors, because the morning simply isn’t my peak production time. It’s not even a production time, unless you count my bathroom activities, which, you know, let’s not. 

This has been fun! Let’s all meet in the kitchen later, detractors, and you can accuse me of peeling avocados inefficiently.

17 Responses to “the defense rests”

  1. Are you me? I think you must be me. There is no other explanation for how much I feel your pain, especially with the hair thing, except I am a wash every day person because my hair is short and therefore provides even less turf for the oil to cruise desperately around in.

  2. Solidarity on all of this really. Except for the hair washing, where I will say, the holding out for it to change is probably not true. I don’t wash my hair so often because I’m lazy and gross, but I am plagued with dry hair/skin. Even my hair gets greasy and weird on day 3. Which is to say, every other day is probably pretty good.

    Lipstick? Never. Always over packing. Given the chance, I would dawdle in bed for hours, despite the fact that I’m more productive in the morning than any other time.

  3. I forced lipstick to work for me. FORCED IT. Wore it through at least five different “ugh this feels terrible and unflattering” occasions before I started to feel okay with owning it.

    • Though I should admit to having friends who beg me not to wear “that awful orangey-red again.” So. Maybe I haven’t been quite so triumphant.

    • But you look so good in it! Seriously. It may have been a fight but it paid off for you.

  4. Neutral gloss is indeed the yoga pants of lip decor.

    For me, packing light feels like indulgence rather than self-denial. It feels like freedom.

    Anyway, xoxo

  5. Have you tried rinsing your hair without washing it? I wash my hair twice a week but sometimes I have to rinse it in between. It kind of gives me this, “yeah I’m powerful because I don’t give a shit if my hair is oily” spike in confidence. But that usually only lasts until I look in the mirror at work and think “what is wrong with you?”.

    • I haven’t! You’ve found it makes a difference in the oil/stickiness, then? The beau rinses his instead of washing every other day or so, but I’ve never considered it for myself because I didn’t know how it would interact with the product i put in my hair. Huh.

      • Just water rinses away the top sphere of shiny oil for me. Worth a shot. My sister just uses conditioner to wash her hair, I don’t get it though.

    • I rinse on the days I don’t wash and it seems to work much better for me. I was an everyday hairwasher until vbery recently, but my hair is dry and my scalp is dry and I live in a place that is super dry in winter. So. I am experimenting. Of course, when it’s -25 or -20C, I don’t get it wet before going out.

      My theory is that rinsing helps the oil distribute throughout the length better….

  6. this is why we’re friends. except the hair; i don’t even try with the hair thing. i will wash it every day, my friends!

    but i do have like 12 lipsticks in my makeup drawer, because every once in a while i see one in walgreen’s and i’m like THIS IS THE ONE! I CAN WEAR LIPSTICK! and then i spend $9 on it and 30 minutes later the dream is dead and the tube is in the back of the drawer with its brethren. might i recommend lip gloss? doesn’t get on your teeth as much, doesn’t require much upkeep, but it does make your lips kind of shiny. also, because i am apparently still 12, i regularly employ bonny bell dr pepper chapstick as lip gloss.

    i CAN pack lightly, i just choose not to, to my mother’s grave disappointment. i am currently debating whether i should check my suitcase for a trip where i will be gone for 1 night. pros: i can bring all the toiletries i want! FULL SIZE BOTTLES! cons: i want to impress the person picking me up, and i worry that “i can’t pack lightly enough to only need a carry on for a one-night trip” is not going to help on that front.

  7. You’re so cool. Those head detractors can just rack the hell off.

    I laughed at your dad’s joke. Dad jokes are funny, except when your own dad makes them.

    For what it’s worth, your hair looks awesome and neutral gloss suits you. Doing what suits you is my definition of growing old gracefully…..except that such a phrase is so women’s magazine as to make me want to punch myself.

  8. My detractors also want to know why I don’t get up earlier, and why I can’t just switch to no-shampoo like the cool kids are doing, and why it takes me so long to chop a shallot. When I do try lipstick, though, my detractors generally encourage me to put it down and leave makeup to more coordinated women.

  9. I pack lightly because I find it freeing. But I will add that pretty much everything I wear is black or dark grey, so it all kinda works together.

    And lipstick. I end up with lipstick everywhere normally within a few minutes of wearing it…but a few weeks ago I found the holy grail of lipsticks. I think someone mentioned it on APW and I noted it and tried it. And now I am convinced. (Though they recently switched their colors around, so i think the color I bought is now a new color- wit hthe same name and number, which is sad because the old version was was a my lips but better color for me.) But that lipstick STAYS ON. Even through drinking and eating and even over a whole night’s sleep. Ha! it is amazing, and my lips are softer than they used to be when I wore lipgloss/chapstick only. It’s the L’Oreal Infallible Lipcolor compact. It’s like a shiny mirrored thing that holds the color tube and the glass tube. I love it. I am just hoping that I can find one of their new colors that work for me so I can keep using it after this miracle tube runs out. Though since i only put the color on once a day, and it lasts through a whole work day, maybe it will last a while. i do re-apply the gloss several times throughout the day to keep it shiny.

    And as for getting out of bad….well, I snooze and snooze. I just have a really hard time making myself leave the comfort and warmth of my bed. Every morning. That is what the detractors in my head talk about most because it makes me run late.

  10. I should also add that this post cracked me up and I ended up laughing/coughing/choking, mid-piece of melting sea-salt dark chocolate I was eating.

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