Tag Archives: eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Forehead

21 Dec

I’m getting dumber as I age, because in my 33rd year on this planet, I decided that it was time to inject poison into my head.

Botox.

God knows why. It was largely curiosity, which appears to be the driving force behind my every impetuous decision. And you should know that the word ‘largely’ is used rather ‘loosely’ there.

Ten days later I fucking hate it. Hate it. And there’s nothing I can do about it, either. I’ve got to marinate in my stupidity and wait for my vanity to wear off, which will take approximately three months. This is just long enough to come to terms with the fact that I’m ageing, and also dream up a bunch of Botox jokes that’ll never get old.

Ha!

So, it’s an ordinary morning in an unnamed laser clinic in Sydney’s inner-west. I’m in a plastic chair, fingers clutching the leather satchel in my lap, and I’m grinning like a fuckwit before a woman with an I’m-still-funky-in-my-fifties orange dye-job and freakishly smooth skin. She repeatedly calls me ‘Gorgeous’ in an attempt of camaraderie that’s about as natural as her hair; and she is hovering over the top of me: an odd, waxen Skeksis from a nebulous era.

I trace a finger lightly across my forehead, emphasising that my presence in her salon is only spurred on by the appearance of “some fine lines starting across here”. I’m not, you know, vapid or anything.

Her hazel eyes zero in on my face as her throaty voice corrects me. “No, Gorgeous. Those are deep lines. Quite deep for thirty two, actually.”

Great. Apparently I’m ageing in dog years.

“And you’ve got a frown line beginning here,” she continues. “That’s a fine line.” Pause. “There’s one here, too. And your crow’s feet could do with a little…” She puts down the marker that she’s been using to Crayola my face with and picks up a brochure. “There’s a package available for treating two areas or more. It’s discounted at the moment,” she makes a show of flipping pages even though I’m fairly certain she knows the price by heart. “$459,” she glances up, her emotionless face incongruent with her tone. “It’s our Christmas special!”

Now, to put the cost of these injections into another context, $459 is roughly equivalent to the GDP of Liberia.

*Pause for effect.*

And, if a woman were to get this package four times a year (once every three months) her budget for facial paralysis would be the annual income of a Vietnamese fisherman.

Or, in other words, it’s a Christmas special fit for Tiny Tim himself.

Essentially, this package would make everything from the cheekbones up immobile. And, while this did appeal to my narcissism on some primitive level, I declined. At least until I learn how to express myself like a chimpanzee.

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The side effects are listed as she preps the syringe. “…drooping eyelids, bruising, headache, a heavy forehead-”

“Wait, wait,” I stop her. “A heavy forehead?”

“It’s not a pleasant feeling, but you do get used to it. You might have to raise your chin to read anything above eye line.”

I stare up at her. Without lifting my head, incidentally.

“I’ve got a date tonight, I’ll be alright for it, won’t I?”

“Of course. Just remain upright for the evening. If you lay down there can be complications.”

“Complications?”

“It can spread and paralyse other areas of your face.”

Best birth control ever. Sorry cute musician boy, I can’t shag you- unless you keep me perfectly vertical during the entire event- because nice girls don’t let their face get fucked on the first date.

Three days later I can’t move my forehead. And I’ve tried. When I do, one eyebrow twitches and the other flattens- I’ve nicknamed them ‘Mr Abbott’ and ‘Mr Shorten’, respectively. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk. What’s more- or possibly, what’s worse– is that she put far too much in. My eyebrows, once as delicately arched as the Bridge of Sighs, are now two broken roller shutters hanging over my face. I’ve devolved into Cro-Magnon woman. The skin under one brow bags attractively- sort of like a prolapsed uterus. I look like a Fraggle with a busted facial stitch.

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And one could argue that I am a complete muppet for doing this to myself. I mean: I can’t express how I feel about the results. I’m absolutely horrified, by the way, but you’ll have to take my word for it because I’m currently unable to convey that emotion.

And there’s got to be a feminist rhetoric hiding in that statement. Botox caps our emotional range. It lobotomises us, turning us compliant, docile. The patriarchal hierarchy is dimming our fire, man! The bastards. In Renaissance Italy, women used to drop belladonna into their eyes to dilate their pupils, which was the socially agreed upon sign of beauty. The side effects? Blurred vision and eventual blindness. So they were pretty as, but, you know, utterly fucking helpless. This sounds insane, right? Well, I posit that cosmetic injectables are the belladonna of the 21st Century. Don’t believe me? Botox is a compound of botulism, a toxin that was manufactured for chemical warfare in the Gulf War (among other places). Not only do we now inject this shit into our faces, but we pay people for the privilege. If the ridiculousness of that isn’t smacking you in the face like an autistic toddler, let me throw some farce comedy in to drive the point home: shortly after my botulism injections, I went and got myself an anthrax exfoliating peel and an ISIS labioplasty.

So my skin is now smoother, but in being frozen from the eyebrows up, I’ve lost something of myself. Botox has literally and figuratively flattened me out. My face- once earnest, friendly and reactive- is now a mask. I have permanent Resting Bitch Face. I’ve become Kristen Stewart. I didn’t realise how much I used facial expressions to communicate: to convey interest, surprise, to build rapport. Without my eyebrows, I find myself nodding a lot, like a bobble-head dog in a Chinese lady’s Corolla. In my haste to preserve my skin I’ve incapacitated a chunk of it, turning it into a metaphorical comic book that sits on the shelf in a plastic sleeve- the one that you never read and therefore never enjoy because you’re worried about a crease diminishing its value.

And I don’t know if that’s an equal trade-off.

Because I earned those wrinkles.

Sure, through smoking, but also experience. The furrow of worry above my left eye is courtesy of being trapped in Cuba with no money, no escape and no passport. The one above my right? Nursing violent lunatics for four years. That one there? A university degree. This vertical line above my nose? A crazy ex-husband. They’re the physical manifestations of a life lived. They’re my fault lines, each forming from the minuscule internal shift that has occurred from being thrust under a pressure that has tested me, nearly broken me, but ultimately fortified me. Would I trade them for a boring life and a smooth forehead?

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And, if you’re hurtling towards the bathroom mirror every morning to marvel at the way your face has subtly shifted in the past ten years, it means that you’re still alive with your motherfucking marbles intact, which means that you’re incredibly fucking lucky. And if, like many of us, you’ve been challenged in your life; and if, like many of us, your body is now a roadmap of your emotional scars, you should stand tall because it means that you’ve not squinted in the headlights of adversity (or, if you have crow’s feet, maybe you have) but bore a brunt instead. So be fucking proud of it. Don’t erase it.

Besides, as a smoker, I’ll probably have a few more wrinkles than the average girl, but that’s the price I pay for sucking nicotine through a little tube every few hours. Getting Botox to ward off the effects of that is like going to church for Sunday confession after you’ve spent the week beating the shit out of your wife.

Back in the clinic, when I decline her $459 package, the Skeksis warns me about the importance of injecting the rest of my face as a preventative measure.

“I never started getting it until late and now my frown line just won’t go away.” She points at her glossy forehead.

I squint. Nothing. There’s nothing fucking there. Michael Jackson’s sexuality was more pronounced than that wrinkle.

“Preserve your beauty now, Gorgeous. You don’t want to wind up looking like me.”

I blink, considering the sentence that’s running through my head, choosing to remain politely silent instead.

No. I certainly don’t want to wind up looking like you.

Graded: F+

29 Sep

I worry that this is going to sound like a mediocre sociology essay. One that’s handed in a week past its due date. It has a coffee stain on the top left hand corner, and a stoner named Jeffro had to peel it off his backside the morning he woke up on the kitchen floor after a particularly messy frat party at Kappa Beta Alpha.

I’m going to talk about Free Spirits.

Without using the phrase “marching to the beat of our own drummer”.

However, I am going to bang on with tired, slightly forced analogies. There will be times when I sound breathtakingly arrogant. And, in my own awkward, hopefully adorable, cow-eyed, single girl way, I’m going to lay down a moderately convincing argument as to why you should try and date one of us because, as you may well know, ‘Free Spirit’ is actually an anagram of ‘girl who can be easily lured into bed with just a Jefferson Airplane record and half of an orange flavored Bacardi Breezer’.

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Then I’ll put my phone number at the bottom, click upload, and prepare to brave the swarms of eligible single men.

I’m practising my tinkling, flirtatious giggle right now, actually. It sounds like an oversized army boot smushing small, fluffy woodland creatures into shards of broken light bulbs.

The literature available on this topic seems to be split between two extremes. Girls who relate to a little too closely to Summer from 500 Days of Summer: “You can love a Free Spirit, but at the drop of a hat she will leave you for her next adventure, because she has only one true love- her independence” and men who write things such as: “How to tame a Free Spirit in ten steps or less: get her pregnant to trap her, and only tell her that she is beautiful twice a month to break down her confidence”. Wow. It’s little wonder that we apparently hold our freedom as our most prized possession. I wouldn’t want a man to “tame me” any more than I would want to emasculate or domesticate one myself. I’d argue that being with a Free Spirit has many benefits to the right person, but we aren’t for everyone.

If you ever find yourself in a relationship with one of us, you may discover that we are periodically tempestuous. Or maybe just tempestuous since, you know, it kind of suggests intervals of heightened passions. That was tautology, really. Slipping in “periodically” just stopped that sentence from reading: ‘We are high maintenance’. It’s probably true that we can be a bit…chaotic. We are a curious blend. Low maintenance enough to stay casual and malleable- and we have a ready laugh available for the foibles of the world around us- but we have high expectations and are all hopeless romantics with high ideals at heart. We aren’t a one dimensional Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Most of us are moderately complicated but ultimately worth the effort. You know that metaphor about the peaches at the top of the tree being juicier? Well, I posit that we are worth the climb. Most men don’t bother because there is plenty of low hanging fruit that can just be taken- and there are skanky peaches on the ground that are perfectly happy to be trodden on- but if you manage to clamber up that tree without breaking your neck, we will probably challenge, invigorate and inspire you; but for goodness’ sake, don’t think that we are going to storm into your dreary life and vomit rainbows everywhere.

We won’t judge you for your bank balance, but we will judge you for your character. We like to scratch the surface. There may be times that you feel that we are cracking open your cranium to peer inside. We speak our mind, so you will be free of emotional game playing, but we will probably remain enigmatic…unless you can find a girl with a blog verging on brutal honesty. We are ruled by intuition. You will never understand the choices we make. Half the time we don’t understand the choices we make. Just run with us, once you get used to impulsivity and infrequent bursts of insanity, it’s fun.

That sense of fearless adventure we hold transcribes to a sense of boldness in love. We tend to jump in wholeheartedly. Being experience junkies, we sense and feel things at the highest possible level. We can be intense, but we value freedom so we won’t ever smother you. The love of a Free Spirit is blindly loyal and occasionally selfish. Note I say blindly loyal- in nine out of ten cases, you can trust us when we fuck off to foreign lands alone. Most of us don’t travel to sample the local penis; we do it because the walls of reality have begun to close in, tightening around our neck like a noose. We have to periodically flit away to remind ourselves that we are still free. And alive. It’s my belief that we are all born free but life puts you in a cage. Most people don’t notice it but some of us are claustrophobic. Routine makes me suicidal. It’s why the concept of a nine-to-five job is intolerable to me. I need the novelty of the unknown or my feet start to drag.

To keep a Free Spirit happy, you just have to leave the door of the cage open. Let us wander and explore- with or without you- trust us, and we will return. At heart we are less like delicate butterflies and more like homing pigeons. I’d argue that someone who holds the childlike sense of wonder that keeps them scampering off into the great unknown with rose coloured glasses slightly askew would be a good catch. She would never try to box you in and she looks at her partner in the same way she looks at the world- with an unflinching appraisal of its flaws but completely accepting and loving of the same.

It’s not always easy for us. If men don’t try and tame us, they will often mistake our love of freedom for something else, something expendable. I’ve been told that I can’t act or talk the way that I do and expect to be treated like a lady. Because I am not secretly naming the unborn children of a man I meet, I can expect to be used and thrown away like a tissue. Ridiculous. It’s my experience thus far that most men aren’t secure enough to let us roam. Most men aren’t strong enough to sit with separation anxiety. Most men will try and turn you into a mother, a housewife. Most men won’t like hearing “I’m going to Myanmar for two weeks in November…” and most men will worry because they care. Most men can’t reconcile that wonderful protective instinct that they feel for a partner, and they will pop a collar and tag on you. Outside the bedroom. Precisely where you never want to wear one.

You will never impress a Free Spirit with diamonds, and spoiling us isn’t necessary. Personally, I don’t care if a man ever buys me flowers, but if he can consistently show me that he gives a shit through his actions, I’m happy. We aren’t materialistic but we are easily bored, so you will need to keep us engaged, amused, and constantly guessing. I don’t want to dredge up movie clichés to highlight my point, but there is a scene in the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the perennially Free Spirited Clementine says, “I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me.” I hate how that sounds. It’s blasé. Heartless. Flighty. Unfortunately there is an element of truth to it: we are capricious. Incredibly so. Our affections can be fragile, we are easy to frighten away and when we lose our emotional investment, it’s over. Many women can stay in a relationship after they have withdrawn emotionally. Convenience can keep them there. Comfort. Familiarity. Stability. We don’t value these things highly enough to stay in a situation that doesn’t work for us. The second that the embers begin to die, our feet start to itch.

I told you we can be selfish.

Despite the flippant literature I’ve read, most of us leave lost love with a heavy heart, and we will always remember the good times fondly, but at the core we are creatures that crave stimulation. This is why I suspect that many of us are cursed to have short lived affairs- something that bothers me if I’m truly honest with myself. The optimist in me believes that there may be hope- people grow, they mature, they slow down and their priorities change. Things that aren’t important to me as a thirty year old woman may hold dear importance to me in a decade. When I was twenty, I moved to another city by myself, where I knew nobody, to chase my dream of being a writer. I left my friends and my established life to venture off the page.

I would never do that now.

I toy with the idea, but my life is in Sydney. My family is here. My friends are here. And the bonds that tie me to this group of people have become more precious as I’ve aged. I wouldn’t leave my family any more than I would cut off my left arm. I’ve changed and grown in those ten years, some for the better and some for the worse. I’m happy that I had the balls to do it once, but as a thirty year old woman with a plethora of battle scars, I acknowledge that my loved ones are a source of oxygen. I need them. My priorities have shifted. So, maybe one day I will fall for a man who is just…enough. Someone who satiates that urge to run. Someone who excites me enough to keep me still. Because on some fundamental level, we all crave love, even those that never want to be tied down.

Henry Rollins has a beautiful thing that he has written about love, where he talks about keeping passion alive by augmenting it with absence. You can find it here. To me, it encompasses being with a Free Spirit. You will exist in a recurring state of missing them, remembering them, and burning for them, but you will never, ever get tired of them.