who greased the vine?

I'm blogging on my laptop in my living room with the front door wide open. I'm not an open door kind of girl, really. In the dorms, one of my roommates had a sticker on her desk that proudly proclaimed "OPEN DOOR POLICY" as if it had been stolen from some high school counselor's office. If ever the door to our room were left open, I would be sure to close it. An open door meant that people could just walk right in, without even knocking. And what's more, they would feel encouraged to do so. I shudder to think of it.

But now my front door stands open, though I have a closed screen door separating me from the outside that will make any visitors feel obligated to knock. I desperately, desperately want visitors. I want little tiny ones in funny clothes who will knock at my door, and for no good reason at all, demand candy. And I will give it to them, from a big bag full of assorted fruity candies made by the Wonka company, a bag which I opened last night and took only four five pieces. Now I've taken another, a mini pack of Runts, and I'm eating them in reverse order of how much I like each flavor: first all the lime ones, then blueberry, cherry, orange, strawberry, and finally banana, which is the best ever.

I've never catered to trick-or-treaters before. Growing up, I lived out in the country on top of a hill. Mama always bought a bag of candy, usually chocolate, in case anyone ever showed up. No one ever did, so every year we all ate a bag of chocolate candy. When I lived in Boone, I again wasn't really in an area where children might come by, though I was in an area where college kids might come by for jello shots. Last year, I wasn't home on the big night. But here I am now, sitting excitedly on the couch, barely resisting the urge to run out into the apartment complex and attack any small children with free candy. I am actually nervous, like I'm going to get Halloween stage fright on my doorstep and not know what to do should a pint-sized pirate come along. Am I supposed to engage in conversation or just hand out the goods? What if I bought the wrong kind of candy? What if I run out of candy?

I went trick-or-treating exactly once, and I think I was eight. I don't think that my parents were anti-Halloween necessarily, just that they didn't want to deal with the hassle. But I begged and pleaded that year, until finally my mother agreed to take me out to the houses of various neighbors and church friends. I don't think we stopped at that many houses, but I do remember sitting on the floor at my friend Estelle's house with my haul spread out on the floor. It seems that I was not that impressed with the event, because I never went again. Either that, or part of the deal I had with my mother was that it was a one-time thing. It also seems like Estelle had a lot more or better candy than I had, and it seems like she made a point to mention that fact, too. I never liked her all that much anyway.

Now it's sixteen years later, and I've finished all the banana Runts and moved on to a piece of strawberry Laffy Taffy, which I guiltily eat only on the right side of my mouth so as to not disturb the recent dental work I've had done. The good thing about Laffy Taffy is that the packaging has jokes on it, which are usually very stupid.

Q: What were Tarzan's last words?
A: "Who greased the vine?"

The bad thing about Laffy Taffy is that it is quickly gone, and now I've got my eye on a small box of grape Nerds. I hear a car motor, then a door slam, and finally, small feet. Yes, there it is! A knock at my door: a miniature Batman and a, uh, girl in sweatpants. Maybe she's dressed as her mother or something. And you know, I wasn't really sure if tradition had held after all these years of being out of the game, but they really do still say it, "Trick or treat!" And better yet, afterwards, they say something else, "Thank you."

You're welcome, Batman.


uncles to the left.

I feel like I'm losing uncles left and right these days. Although I have no idea about my late Uncle Freeman's political feelings, I know that I've lost Uncle Cecil to the left.

I barely knew Cecil, mostly on account of the fact that he lived far away in Kansas, plus I was mostly just another little girl that called herself a relative to him because of the fertility of his older sister Louise. Cecil never had any children of his own, though I think he had been married once. I can imagine that he'd be a difficult man to live with.

Cecil was a hoarder. Something would go on sale at the local Dillon's and he'd stock up like the Cold War was still on, which it was at that point. But then he'd just have too much, and he would end up giving it away so he could make room for more stockpiles of supplies. His house was a glorified storage area, with paths going from room to room through all the piles of canned goods and whatnot. I don't remember my mother ever buying shaving cream, because we had a huge supply of Barbasol in the basement, courtesy of Uncle Cecil. It never seemed weird to me to be shaving my legs with men's shaving foam, until I noticed that my friend's legs did not smell like clean-shaven men. Cecil also apparently stocked up on soap once, probably more than once. I don't remember actually using any of those dozens of individually-wrapped soaps for bathing, but I do remember using them to make different kinds of furniture pieces for my Barbie dolls to sit or lie upon. My Barbies had the cleanest and freshest-smelling loveseats in the land.

I think the highlight of our visits to Kansas for Cecil was talking to my dad. Maybe he would have called them discussions or political debates, but they were just bantering. My dad was a staunch Republican and Cecil was a straight-ticket Democrat, so they'd bicker back and forth, making no real points but mostly generalizations and one-liners that they might have borrowed from some pundit. I remember one night of listening to them go at it while the rest of us played cards, half-listening and snickering every time Uncle Cecil talked about President "Boosh." We still don't know who President Boosh is.

My dad and Cecil had a great time, though, and each of them all but ignored the fact that the rest of us were around. Oh, it was harmless fun, but it made my grandmother very nervous. To her, they were having a heated argument, and she hated for people she loved to argue. She would ask, beg, even plead with them to stop, and they would for a little while. But then one of them would make some sly comment to the other and they'd be back at it. We tried to explain to my grandmother that it was all in good fun, but she never could accept that.

Cecil's mind went out before his body did. He had to be put in a home, and his days were filled with finding conspiracies against him. The last time I was in Kansas, we had plans to meet Uncle Cecil for breakfast, but he cancelled on us, because he thought that we'd already met. We were confused and sad, my dad was disappointed, but we left it alone. His living expenses at the home came out of my grandmother's pocket, because though Cecil had the money, he thought the home was stealing from him.

I guess I'm not really going to miss Uncle Cecil. I didn't know him very well, and I'd always thought he was a little crazy. If I were feeling generous, I might describe him as being a "character." But then again, he is my great uncle, and maybe I'm a little crazy, too. Maybe after my death some smart-aleck niece will write about her crazy Aunt Sandra, thinking she has some idea of who I was based only a few token stories told to her about my dotage. It's a shame to have your life judged based on who you are when you die, to have young folks look at you and not know that you used to be completely different, or at least completely the same, but better-looking. Basically, getting old sucks. But as my mother says, it's better than the alternative.

So here's to Uncle Cecil. Here's to getting old and being a little crazy, but at least leaving behind a few good stories.



If only Beth hadn't gotten fired, I never would have had to be her friend.

Beth is annoying and has low self-esteem. I can't tell which symptom caused the other, but in either case, I don't enjoy her company. She sits next to me in psychology class. She is a phlebotomist, which makes her sound like she should be really cool and interesting, but, alas, she is not. She tells very long stories in a meandering and half-stuttering style, and once you get to the end of the story, you find it wasn't even worth it.

We talk about our feelings a lot in that class. One day, Beth made some mention of how she'd had a really terrible day. I sit right next to the girl, I'm not without feeling, so I sighed inwardly, prepared myself, and asked her what happened. She told me she had gotten fired. I've been fired before, and it's one of the worst feelings in the world, or at least one of the worst that I've ever felt. Again, I am a nice girl, or at least I try very hard to be friendly to my fellow man, even if I do only cancel out my good deeds by blogging about how I really feel later. So I played the sympathetic friend while Beth told me about her career trauma.

Man, that was a long story.

Because of this, I became Beth's friend. No longer just a nearby classmate, we were supposed to fall into natural conversation at the beginning of each class, and I was expected to ask about her life. Which would be fine, except for the fact that she answers.

What I also discovered is that Beth is the type of girl who likes to peek at the papers of others. She doesn't exactly cheat, because she doesn't look at my answers when we're turning something in. She looks when we're just filling something out to discuss later. She apparently does not have enough confidence in herself to trust her own answers or to come up with something interesting to say on her own. Upon discovering this, my first impulse was to start being very protective of my paper. But then I just felt sad for her, because she knew she wasn't interesting.

One class, we took a break from talking about our feelings to take a quiz to determine if we were Type A or Type B personalities. Frankly, I was surprised that I only scored 9 out of possible 25 on the Type A scale. Any quiz that doesn't mark me as clear Type A is obviously faulty. One of the questions that added to my Type A score was the following:

Do you often feel impatient and restless with people who speak slowly or are slow to get to the point?

I checked a big fat "yes" on that one. Later that very class, Beth told a story to the entire class that made me want to cut her off, finish her sentences, prompt her with the words she seemed to be struggling to find. I may have developed a noticeable eye twitch. For some reason, it was even worse listening to her talk to the whole class, as if I thought they all blamed me for the fact that the girl next to me was talking at such length. The question from the quiz kept echoing in my mind, keeping me silent, reminding me that the fact that I was so restless was really my own issue.

Look, I do feel bad for feeling so irritated by Beth's very presence. I told you how nice I was to her, how I patiently and sympathetically listen to her problems week after week. I know that she is a nice enough person just trying to get by without the gift of gab. I need to not hurt her already-damaged self-image. I am trying, and it's a struggle, which means it's probably good for me in the long run, personal growth, blah blah blah. As long as she doesn't read this blog, she has no idea that she drives me nuts. And if she does read this, well, I was just talking about some other phlebotomist.


not a problem.

"You have an eavesdropping problem." I hear this comment, rather than overhear it, because it was directed at me. We're sitting at a table of strangers and I've been very engaged in the conversation between the bachelor and his mother who sit across from us. I realize that Josh hasn't been listening to those people at all, and the only reason he knows that I have is because of the loaded smirks that I give him from time to time.

An eavesdropping problem? Me? No, I do not have an eavesdropping problem. I eavesdrop a lot, but I've never considered it a problem. I suppose there are people who might, but I would know about it, because I would hear them talking about it. I don't squat at keyholes, nor do I carry around a glass for holding against thin walls. I eavesdrop when there is no barrier but air between my ear and the oblivious mouth. I almost consider it my right to overhear people if they are careless enough to talk in my presence. Don't want other people to hear you? Don't talk so loud. Friends constantly accuse me of speaking too loudly, loud enough that other people will hear. I shrug them off. I think I've got my volume under control, thank you very much, I spent years of school making sarcastic comments that teachers never detected. So I think my voice levels are fine, and even if they're not, well, who cares? Who is going to hear me but some other girl who is easily amused and knows that strangers are funny. Go ahead, listen to me! I am funny!

Am I violating privacy, even when the privacy is not being used? I don't think so. If people are having sex in the middle of the street, would it be wrong to look? I like to think that I'm subtle enough to listen without letting on that I'm doing so, so what is the harm? And even if they do find me out, maybe they'll speak a little more softly next time if they're so worried about their private conversations.

So, in conclusion, I do not have an eavesdropping problem. Yes, I'm a frequent eavesdropper, but it's not a problem, not for me, anyway. Maybe you think it's a problem for you that I do it, but just wait until I tell you what this dude was saying to his mom. You'll be glad I heard.


just a bill.

Everything seems so significant in D.C. You feel history actually bearing down upon you. Even if you're not looking at something particularly significant in itself, you get the feeling that behind some closed door very nearby, someone is making a decision that will affect you. I don't know how the residents stand it, unless they're making important decisions all the time, too.

It's very difficult to be cynical there, and I've had a lot of practice at being a cynic in general. My first afternoon in town, I walked downtown to just take pictures and see what I could see. I approached the capitol building, thinking to myself "So that's where the corrupt congressmen pass all the laws and all the money changes hands, where this so-called center of democracy...man, that's an impressive building. I'm so proud to be an American." Later I gave up on being cynical entirely and just started singing Schoolhouse Rock. "I'm just a bill, yes, I'm only a bill, and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill."

Maybe I'm just a sucker for imposing architecture. I'd walked from the Washington Monument through the World War II memorial, along the reflecting pool, and up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I stood atop the steps and looked out at the serene reflection of the obelisk and said to myself in awe, "Hey, this is where they filmed that scene in Forrest Gump!"

Even when you're nowhere near all the monuments and federal buildings, you're still constantly reminded of history surrounding you. There's a building code that the buildings can only be so tall in D.C., so that way you can see the monuments from far away. So even when you're just walking around some other part of town looking to find some good Lebanese food, you can still see the Washington monument standing up over everything.

You can't escape it, even when you think you have. I went on a short self-guided walking tour (okay, fine, I was lost) one morning and passed by an everyday, run-of-the-mill Hilton Hotel. Fine. The next night, I was driving by the same hotel with a friend and resident, and he pointed it out to me, "That's where Reagon got shot." Not so run-of-the-mill anymore, eh?

And amid all the tourists and school groups are just regular people who live there, residents whose jogging route included a lap around the reflecting pool. Do those people even notice the triumphs in architecture surrounding them? Do they still look up in awe or are they thinking only about their stock portfolio or the report they have to write for work? I don't want to live in Washington, and maybe that's why. I like the pure childish awe, the fact that I am still impressed by big buildings and important people and tributes to history. It seems like there are fewer and fewer opportunities to just look at something and say "Wow."




It's been a Washington themed week so far, so I thought I would continue with one of the many pictures I took last week.

I don't like feeling like a tourist. I lived in a tourist town too long to imagine that they are appreciated as a group, no matter how much their money is. So I always feel uncomfortable as one, which is a shame. Someday, I will learn how to just strap on my fanny pack, put my camera on a strap around my neck, and embrace my inner tourist. Because with that attitude, you can really enjoy yourself.

My parents are great tourists, because they're so oblivious. They are oblivious to the natives snickering, they are oblivious to their daughter blushing and covering her face in embarrassment. Someday, I will learn to be oblivious, and I will laugh at my daughter as she pretends that she got that nose on her face from some other, much more socially-acceptable mother.

The thing about D.C. is that it seems like everyone is a tourist. Maybe that's why I felt so self-conscious about being recognized as one. But they were everywhere, and they were so unhip that they were getting on my nerves. Don't worry, I'm already very disappointed in myself for being so caught up in appearing like a tourist. I don't seem to care how I come across in my own town, so why should another one be any different?

But anyway, the tourists.

Washington is like a giant photo-shoot. Everyone is always posing in front of something: making these awkward poses so as to get both them and the something famous behind them, forcing smiles as the amateur photographer or complete stranger struggles to work the camera. What was really funny were the people posing in front of the war memorials, making faces for the camera in front of grand tributes to the deaths of thousands. "Yes, here we are in front of the Vietnam War Memorial. Look at all those names! And see Jim is making rabbit ears. My, my!"

Since all these people were posing anyway, I started taking their pictures. It was like a mini-study of tourism. What kind of faces do people make in front of important monuments? Do they try to look somber at the war memorials? Do they make goofy peace signs at the giant statue of Lincoln?

So this week's photo is of a woman in front of the White House. I have no idea who she is, just that she was posing for a picture being taken by someone else, and I just happened to take her picture, too. She didn't seem to mind, but she didn't seem to know, either. She was definitely a tourist, so she was probably oblivious.

And now she is famous. So here's to being oblivious.


free crap.

For some reason, when I went to the army convention last week, Josh worried about the men. Not that I've ever shown the slightest inclination for men in peak physical condition with steady government jobs, quite the contrary; skinny musicians are really more my bag. I tried to explain to him that I wasn't interested in the men that I would meet there, and once I got there I tried to tell him how many of them were shorter than I am. So many of them, in fact, that I began to worry about national security.

In any case, I think I finally convinced him that I didn't care anything about the men (or even the manly women). The best thing about an army conference with 20,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors is the free crap.

And, oh man, what a lot of crap it was. Every booth was giving away something, be it a token pen or keychain or something more creative but still moderately useful like a plastic coin bank or a combination compact, hairbrush, and sewing kit. Each of the three days of the conference, I returned back to the hotel with a new bag stuffed full of my day's haul. I was there to work, but I would take a break from our own booth (from which I obtained a lanyard, sunglasses, a calender, and tiny toy Humvees with chrome wheels), and wander among the various vendors' booths, just filling my bag (which I also obtained from some booth or other).

It had to be obvious that I was just there for the crap, as I wasn't even remotely interested in purchasing water filtration systems, guided missiles, or insurance. But then I remembered all the lanyards I had passed out to people who were really in no position to purchase an armoured military vehicle. Yes, people will exploit the giving away of free crap, but that's part of the rule. At least you get free advertising. Most of the people at the booths understood all this, probably because they were sneaking over to the other booths for free stuff, too.

But I wasn't even getting the really good stuff. On the last day of the conference, they shut the thing down at 5 PM, just like the other days. But then they open it up again that night, from 6 to 8, for some kind of free crap clamor. That's when the vendors bring out the stuff they'd been hoarding the whole time. Then generals and other higher-ups come in with their wives, all dolled up, because the scrambling for free crap is apparently a black tie event. These people bring empty suitcases with them to use to take away their prizes. Everyone crowds around the bigger companies, like Boeing or Raytheon or General Dynamics, because they have the best stuff. Then someone blows a whistle or sounds an alarm and it's every man for himself. Shirts, chairs, bookbags, I don't even know what else.

Half a dozen people individually told me about the event like it was the stuff of legends, and I kinda wanted to go. But I asked each one of those people if the stuff you came away with was worth the hassle of having an old woman in heels climb over you to get the next-to-last free Army logo coffee mug. And they all said no, it really wasn't, because free crap is still just free crap. I didn't want to have to deal with all those crazed people, and I didn't want to see our nation's leaders acting like desparate parents looking for Elmo dolls on Christmas Eve.

Besides, I definitely had more than enough crap, some of it crappier than others. I never did snag one of the stress-relief foam hand grenades that I saw floating around in the hands of other convention-goers, but that's okay. I got countless pens and keychains, a leather business card holder, a coffee mug, my picture taken with the Travelocity gnome, a luggage tag, a tiny carpenter's kit, three decks of cards, a screwdriver, a t-shirt, and so on and so on. But no free army men. I might could have gotten one of those if I'd tried, but I didn't want one anyway.


the stars.

In the army, stars are apparently very important. I don't mean in that way that stars were important in kindergarten - this isn't about teachers holding a star in front of you like a carrot on a fishing line to get you to behave. No, a star in the army is more like being kinged in chess. Suddenly, whole new directions are opened up to you. It would be like in kindergarten, when the teacher gave you a star, you became a teacher. It's probably best that the system doesn't work that way in elementary school.

I saw lots of stars this past week. I was an exhibitor (not an exhibitionist) at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting and conference. There were lots of people there, everyone from Senator's aides to high school ROTC kids to guys who work at Boeing. And then there were the people with stars, the generals, the big men who walked around with an assistant or six and basically just impressed everybody. I wasn't impressed, but that was because I didn't know any better. I take that back, I was impressed, but not with the men themselves, just the way everyone else deferred to them.

I was helping out at the Humvee booth, answering any software questions that came up about the prototype vehicle I worked on. Since pretty much no one had any questions for me other than ones you might ask a secretary, I had a lot of time to observe. And I was constantly amazed at the way people just swarmed like bees around a queen every time a dude with any stars came near. My dad calls this knowing which side your bread is buttered on, and I guess he's right. We did want to impress the generals with our new vehicle so that the army might end up buying a bunch of them. I understand that the world works this way. I'm just not used to seeing perfectly ordinary-looking men get royal treatment.

After one would leave, the guys working our booth would stand around and compare notes. They talked about generals like they were celebrities, referring to them by their last names and trying to gauge how impressed they had been. By the end of the three-day conference, I was starting to learn their names, and I'd long ago learned where to look for the stars on their uniforms. I suppose my bread is buttered on that side, too.

During the last day of the conference, maybe half an hour before it all closed down, while we were counting down the minutes and complaining good-naturedly about our sore backs and feet, a guy in a wheelchair came by. He was a soldier, a private first class who had gotten his leg blown up in Iraq. He told us how he'd been in one of our Humvees, for which he was thankful, when the explosion hit and fractured all but one of the bones in his right leg. He told us all this matter-of-factly, and talked about all the rehab he would have to go through before he would be able to get back to Iraq.

He could not have been even twenty years old.

This soldier, this kid, he did not have any stars. And yet he was the one who would be driving around this vehicle we were trying to sell, he was the one whose life would depend on it. The stars would be safely back at some remote headquarters while boys like this one fought and either lived or didn't. After he left, we all just looked at each other sort of dumbly. I didn't want to be there anymore, I didn't care which side my bread was buttered on. I just wanted to get out of there, and I can only hope that the guys with the stars know what they're doing.


not interesting.

I am only posting to let you know that I am not posting. I am on yet another business trip, this time in Washington, D.C. I am so tired that I cannot even think of an interesting way to say all that.

My feet ache.


what i know is...

I am a big fan of Wikipedia.

For those who do not yet know the wiki, allow me to explain. A wiki is any sort of open database of information, where anyone can log on, write out what they know, then leave it for others to read and add to. What a marvelous idea. That way, if you want to know something, you can just search for that entry and read the information as written by people who were interested in the topic enough to research it themselves and then write up for everyone else. In all likelihood, you can find all or most of the information on a wiki at some other internet source, but here it is, all nicely compiled for you.

Of course, the danger here is that anyone could just make something up and post it for everyone to see as the gospel truth (or as close as we get in regarding historical matters). But then other readers can flag the article to say, "Hey, somethings not right here. There's no way that JFK cut the ribbon at the first Starbucks!" And then eventually someone will fix it.

I like the collective knowledge idea. No one knows everything, but together, we can know a lot. I've been using this idea in my life for years: I know lots of people who know a lot in specific fields. When I have a car question, I ask my old roommate, Nick. When I have a science question, I ask my dad. When I have a question about obscure family anecdotes, I ask my brothers. Any insurance or financial questions are answered by my mother. Literature questions go to Josh, and so do questions about music, Catholicism, history, word origins, philosophy, his ex-girlfriends, training pets, cartoons...I think I'm dating a wiki.

Anyway, here is a way for me to find out something even if I don't know someone who is an expert or if that person is currently unavailable when the information is needed.

Though a wiki can refer to any sort of such database, Wikipedia is the main one. It's basically an all-encompassing knowledge base. In my internet broswer, I have a search bar that goes directly to Wikipedia. Whenever I want to look something up, I just type it in there, and information becomes mine.

The fascinating thing about Wikipedia is that you can sit and be basically reading the encyclopedia for hours. Each article is peppered with links to other articles about related (and sometimes completely unrelated, but somehow referenced) subjects. You start with any old subject, read that, and then click some link that you found in the article, read that, click another link, and so on and so on. One day, I looked up the Nuremberg Trials because of a book I was reading, and I pretty much read the entire biography of every major Nazi. The day after the Miss Teen USA pageant, I learned the entire history of all major American pageants (one of them was started by a swimsuit company). I don't retain everything I read - I honestly don't really learn very well just by reading. But I retain enough of it, I'm kept entertained, and I feel good about the fact that I was making intellectual pursuits with my time.

I think my favorite part of Wikipedia is seeing how everything is related. At the end of each article is a bunch of links to related articles, many of them larger categories which the topic relates to. So maybe I looked up Steve Irwin the day after he died, then clicked on the Accidental Deaths category, which led me to Judy Garland (barbituate overdose, real name Frances Ethel Gumm), then clicked on the article about The Wizard of Oz (1939), which led me to the American Musicals category. From there, I hit Into the Woods, which led me to Steven Sondheim (who was born to nonpracticing Jewish parents), which led to Assassins, where I ended up with Leon Czolgosz, who killed McKinley. I went on to the category of 1901 deaths, where I finally learned about Srpouhi Dussap, the first female Armenian novelist. All that from Steve Irwin.

There are lots of wikis. A couple of my favorites include Muppet wiki and TMBG wiki. Particularly fascinating is how the different Muppets are made. It's fascinating to me, anyway.

I'm sort of amused at myself at how much I enjoy reading Wikipedia. I realize that I am essentially sitting in some library somewhere with a volume of the World Book Encyclopedia sitting on my lap. It's really, really dorky. But that's okay. I'm learning so much!


Jesus the cable guy.

Wow, I mean, just wow.

You know, I thought about spending this entry ranting about how poorly the South is portrayed in the media. I could go on and on about all the stereotypes, the horrible and inaccurate southern accents, the wide misconceptions that we here down South are all inbred, racist, or ignorant, or some combination of the three. I could even point out that the comedian who coined this catchphrase (one which I hate) is from Nebraska. I don't even think he's very funny.

But you'd still have that picture, the one I took of the back window of a van parked right outside my office, and my arguments would be useless. The South truly is a little ridiculous, maybe a lot. And sometimes the result is great, but sometimes, it's just...not.

Oh well, if anyone can git-r-done, I suppose it's Jesus.


naked face.

"Well, we've heard a couple of opinions about make-up brands, how about the rest of you? Are you Clairol or Clinique girls?"

"I HATE MAKE-UP. I have never worn it, I will never wear it!"

"Well, ok-"

"I don't understand it at all! All these women feel the need to just slather it on their faces everyday! It's so stupid!"

"Okay, and-"

"I mean, there's no way I would ever put that stuff on my face. I will never wear it."

"Right, well-"

"What's wrong with these women, anyway? Don't they have enough confidence in themselves? I will never, ever wear make-up!"

Everyone is quiet to see if she is done. She seems to be, and I sigh in relief. This girl, well, she's annoying. She has lots to say, lots of strong opinions, and if she expressed herself in an interesting manner, that would be fine. During her whole tirade, I wondered what she was trying to prove and who she was trying to prove it to. Mostly, I waited for her to shut up.

You know what? I agree with her. I don't wear make-up either: never have, probably never will. I don't even know how to put it on. But I did not shout out that information into the classroom. I sat quietly. Wearing make-up or not is a personal choice, I've made it, and I don't need to scream to the world about it to justify it, which is what I felt like this girl was doing. She'd finally figured out that she didn't belong with the pretty and normal girls and so she'd decided to overcompensate by trying to act like that's a good thing.

And it is a good thing. But when you have to assert yourself like that, it indicates that you believe intellectually that you are better off, but deep down, you still wish you were normal and pretty. And it's not that I never wish I were normal and pretty, but that gets old. So rather than advertise my lack of make-up expertise, I just sit here with my naked face: here I am! Take me or leave me.

Another woman piped up a few minutes later, after one girl talked at length about how women who overuse make-up are just insecure. "It's not insecurity. We're not trying to change who we are or anything dramatic. It's just for if you want to highlight some features or if, you know, have a blemish or something." I wanted to retort, "So you're too insecure to go out in public with a blemish?" But I didn't, because I didn't care that much, and I wasn't going to change any minds. So I sat quietly, blemished, naked face and all.