Tuesday, September 3, 2013

a superficial life

I don’t want this to turn into a blog about pain and sickness, so I'll say upfront and only once, just walking an hour a day relieves a lot of the discomfort I’ve been experiencing because of my back. The other day I dove my head under water (oh, yes, I’d been practicing the swimming before NeckGate started) and pain shot right down my neck and into my arm, so for now, swimming is out.

Sort of related, aren’t you sick of people adding “-gate” to scandals?

I’ve decided to focus on the things that cause zero pain. I’ll make a list for you right now.

Things that cause me no pain
Lying…laying…lying…laaaay…ing…?... flat on my back

Things that cause me pain
Figuring out whether a verb should be lay or lie
The morning after a night of tequila

Right now I’m in bed after a night of tequila, so I’ll put the pain level at about a 2. It’s totally livable and mostly self-inflicted.

For a local activity, Groom and I went to see Steve Jones play at Schooner Landing in Damariscotta (local music, local restaurant) where we ate Pemaquid Oysters and I drank a wee bit too much tequila (could have been locally distilled in Lewiston because I drank well tequila. Note to self: stay away from well tequila).

I woke up thinking about a tequila-laced conversation I had with a friend of mine who told me someone had described my life as superficial, or more accurately, had described me as a person who lives a superficial life. This someone who perceives me this way isn’t a someone whose opinion matters a great deal to me, but the observation bothered me nonetheless.

It got me thinking about another friend who went through a peer review at work recently. I bring it up here because this friend was described by one of her peers as, in a word, selfish. The actual quote in the review was scathing, brutal, and very, very mean. It was an attack. My first instinct was to tell her to dismiss such a mean-spirited and personal attack in a work review. But, thinking about it further, I realized there had to be a reason someone would perceive her that way--doesn't matter whether it’s because this person doesn’t like her, or because her actions are misinterpreted, or maybe she simply has bitchy resting face (she totally does, by the way). It doesn't matter. There is always merit in examining one’s own behavior.

But then, I’m also reminded of another time, in my early 30s, when I let my friend Hugh cut my hair into a mullet before heading to the Poconos for a weekend party with some old friends. The mullet was part of a Halloween costume. I think I was supposed to be, I don't know, someone with really low self esteem? Hugh and his wife Caroline dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Watson while my friend Liana arrived as Elian Gonzalez—a costume that somehow incorporated a kiddie pool, but I can’t remember why.

I dropped my chin to make myself seem really fat.
Yet another bad idea.
When I showed up at the party, nobody laughed at my hair. At best, I was making people uncomfortable. And that started to affect my behavior. I felt disliked. I felt ugly. I felt vulnerable and self-conscious and awkward. I spent most of that Friday night of the weekend, sitting in the corner, by myself. At one point, Liana sat next to me and laughed as she explained that another friend at the party had asked her, “How long has Devlin been wearing her hair like that?”

People thought I was serious, that this wasn’t a costume, that I had changed my look. I was horrified and already so far removed from everyone, I couldn’t pull myself out of this downward spiral into self-loathing.

At about 2am, Liana settled me into a chair in the middle of her kiddie pool and cut the rest of my hair. She started with a pair of dull child scissors and moved on to a serrated bread knife until that dang mullet was gone. Once I was in my normal hair, I was able to enjoy the party and my friends again. (When we held the party again the following year, I arrived in a gown.) (And, I didn't realize until now that I had no idea how to spell "serrated.")

[HA! I found some old prom pictures. This is me and my date to the senior prom. He had a spectacular mullet. My dad is clearly not impressed.]

So, here I am, at 6am, the morning after too much tequila, and I’m thinking about this superficial life. I know part of that assessment stems from my desire to keep people engaged but at a distance, which makes me pretty good at cocktail parties but not very good at conversations about the meaning of life with people I know only superficially.

Ah, there’s the word again. Superficial. I lived pretty close to the bone while I was in my 20s, always striving to get to the root of life, always pushing people to see what kinds of reactions I would get, and always pressing on some emotional bruise that would have served me better if I had just let it heal.

Whether it was a conscious decision or not, I know I intentionally engage certain people only superficially. I’m ridiculously happy with this life, this groom, this family. And, I know I will continue this shallow blog filled with superficial lifestyle nonsense because it’s fun to do. So, while I appreciate having an opportunity to examine my superficial life, I still won’t let one man’s perception ruin the party for me, bad hair and all.

Ah, but yes. That isn't what this blog is about. Jesus, I can go on sometimes. Okay, on the docket for today: a one-hour walk and oatmeal for breakfast. Plus, I am on day two of no caffeine. (Mmmm...Maybe I'm not all that ridiculously happy with this superficial life right now. I do love coffee.)

And, if you think I'm not going to eat the leftover ravioli sitting in my fridge from Ports of Italy in Boothbay, you, my friend, are sadly mistaken.


  1. Sounds like your friend who gave you the mullet haircut did too good a job!


    Your friend who gave you the mullet haircut

  2. I don't want to seem too superficial, but I'm really impressed that you went to the prom with Jason Bateman.