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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Grateful Friday

I saw a post on this theme on Michelle Fry's blog last week and knew immediately that I had to do it too. I am a pessimist by nature and tend to focus on the negative aspects of things. Sometimes I dismiss what goes right in my life, think of it as a fluke, and embrace the bad stuff as proper punishment for not being better than I am. I know how terribly misguided that is, and I hope that by making an attempt to be grateful every Friday I will slowly reorient my thinking and learn to value all the wonderful stuff that I now take for granted.

Today I'm grateful for being plain-looking. I've spent years agonizing about my weight (I've always been a size 12-14), about my hair (I don't think I've had a really good hair day as an adult), about the fact that I have an underbite, about the bumps on the skin of my upper arms, about my large thighs. I've spent so much time feeling sorry for myself because I'm not pretty, because nature decided not to pass on to me the perfect, beautiful bone structure of my mother's face, her dark curly hair, her smooth skin.

Well, no more. I'm beginning to see advantages to not being pretty. I don't stand out; I'm able to walk down the street, to be in a group of people, without drawing attention. I can observe others in peace from behind a face that is perfectly average, almost homely. I don't have to fear growing old; I have no good looks whose loss to mourn. No one will look at me and be stuck on the outside of a beautiful surface. When someone talks to me she will not be distracted by what she sees and will be all the better able to listen to what I have to say, to get a glimpse of who I am on the inside.

Beautiful women frighten me a little, I have to admit. When I showed up for my first facial at a beauty salon, I had to wait for about fifteen minutes before the beautician came out to greet me. I was annoyed and was going to make a comment about her being late. But she turned out to be this gorgeous woman with the most amazing blue eyes I had ever seen and skin like marble. I couldn't help smiling. I cringed when I heard myself say, "Oh, no problem," when she apologized for being late. I felt so ashamed of myself but I was simply spellbound by her beauty. I cannot, in all honesty, be sorry that I will never have that effect on people. I'm happy to be plain; I'm happy to know that when people like me it's because they have seen past this somewhat awkwardly put together flesh and bones.


Blogger Jonathan K. Cohen said...

I hope your husband reads this blog, because he should be the one to tell you this: you are not plain.

March 03, 2006  
Blogger Michelle Fry said...

I don't know what you look like but you are beautiful. You are also a writer whose work I really enjoy reading.

March 04, 2006  
Blogger Green Whale said...

Thank you both. I was just thinking, though, about physical beauty, about what's considered a classically beautiful face and body -- and how it's not worth being upset about not having them. I know that the kind of beauty that really counts is often found on the inside of bodies and things.

March 05, 2006  

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