My Red Lipstick

I recently read an excerpt from a book called something like “Why I wore lipstick to my masectomy surgery.” If that one chapter was so incredibly profound, I can only imagine what the the rest of the book is like, and I desperately need to remember to pick it up the next time I’m at the bookstore. I couldn’t do it’s intricacies justice here– couldn’t describe fully and accurately how a woman who was about to lose a part of herself, found her courage in a tube of red lip color. How she used that color to make herself more than another cancer patient having surgery. How she used it to leave her mark– more than just an exacted pound of flesh– on the operating table.And there is something empowering about red lipstick, isn’t there? A bold, fearless statement.

But in all honestly, I am not a lipstick person. And though at times (most notably the time I cut off all of my hair) an image adjustment has been cathartic for my Self, recently it has been more than my Self that needed a lift.

I hate to say that it’s my soul… my spirit is probably more accurate. My house is certainly a reflection of that spirit– it is much more that brick walls and a roof over my head. I’ve always though that my art is physical manifestations of tiny pieces of my soul. My house is that to the extreme.

And lately it has felt…

Stagnant? Sterile? Not like a wilting flower, but like a cheap plastic imitation of a real one. What good is beauty if it’s fake? My home hasn’t been my peace. My projects haven’t been the salve that cools the burn of a long hard week. I can’t lose myself in the rhythm and the joy of creating, because… I think, because someone expects me to. Because there are constraints on it. Do this first, do this now, skip the natural progression of the process and forget the joy of discovery because if it’s a work in progress then it isn’t done.

I don’t know how to illustrate how that makes me feel. Like a person in a box. Forced to walk a straight line… a path that holds no mystery. No character.

So I broke free. Found a can of red paint reminiscent of my old cabinets, and I painted. Without plan or permission. Without design or determination. And those first few strokes were a balm. They were a key that set part of me free again. They were bold and inspired and screamed “This is who I am.” And I felt the smug satisfaction of, so there.”

So… there.

Some girls wear red lipstick on the outside… I paint it on my house in order to wear it in my soul.

3 Responses

  1. June 28, 2012. Just read this. Makes perfect sense to me. Self-analysis can be like a finely painted landscape; just chock-full of little revelations. Thanks for being so lucid.

  2. Wow. I really didn’t want to be that person who comment-spams ALL of your old posts, but this really resonates with me right now. EDIT: I kind of want to delete what I wrote because it feels super woe-is-me but fuck it.

    I’ve been struggling to make it through college (I am graduating this Spring, thank God) mostly because it took me a while to figure out that I should be doing what I want, not what I think is expected of me by my friends or family. The time I lost left its mark in the form of depression and an almost completed degree in an unimpressive major that I really have no interest in, but will let me graduate sooner rather than later. I’ve been feeling pretty apathetic toward everything except an approaching opportunity to move out of my parent’s house and finally get a place I can make mine, even a little bit.
    Finding your blog two days ago has been an absolute balm to my spirit; your unapologetic determination to make your mark and no one else’s is inspirational, and your willingness to publicly share your experiences and accept your failures as part of who you are is extremely brave. I know you’ve talked about not being a role model, but you are to me. I’m approximately the same age now as you were when you got this house, but I’ve experienced very few life changing/derailing events at 22 due to a combination of my sheltered upbringing and decisions I made for fear of the unknown. Though I’m probably not half as mentally prepared to take on the world as you appear to have been, your blog has made me feel a little bit braver, and a little bit less guilty for not having my shit together despite having led a privileged life.
    Maybe I don’t have the courage to go out right now and do something I truly want and abandon the “line” I’m following (especially not when after limping along it for a decade I’m so close to a point on it that I can leave it without feeling like I’ve totally failed myself and the people I love) BUT, in the meantime I’m going to keep an eye out for my red paint/lipstick so that I’m ready when that point arrives.

    TL;DR: Um. Sorry if that was difficult to follow or just TMI. I may or may not have pulled an all nighter reading your posts so I’m both exhausted and emotional and yikes I wrote way too much… buuut I wasted an hour writing that sob fest so BY GOLLY I’M POSTING IT, NO EXCUSES. Anyway, thanks for the laughs, the tears, as well as for being both a powertool wielding badass farmer and an all around awesome human being.

    1. It’s actually awesome when I can tell by comments that someone is reading through the archives… I rarely go back and re-read them so it’s fun to remember the old posts.

      Also, you got this! Listen, that transition between end-of-college and the rest of your life is probably the most stressful time. Every decision you make feels like it’s going to affect your trajectory FOREVER. (And who the hell feels prepared for that? No one.) The truth is, having a degree is important, but your Major or your first job aren’t going to set the tone for your life. My two best pieces of advice are this: 1.) Challenge yourself to do the hard thing. Whatever it is that feels like you want to or should do it, but you’re hesitating because it seems difficult, or grueling, or you’re worried you’ll fail. Recognize those things (and all the excuses your brain will try to give you to avoid it) and then gather up your strength and courage and smarts and do the thing. (Life spoiler alert: You won’t succeed 100% of the time at this, but you will definitely learn some shit, and you will definitely surprise yourself at what a badass you can be.)

      And 2.) Set yourself up to have a lot of different experiences so that you can find the things that energize you. (For me at 22 that meant taking a job that I didn’t want/didn’t see myself doing in 5-10 years, but it taught me a lot of things about what I was good at, what I liked about business, etc. And it also taught me how empowering financial independence was, which let to my first house and all you see here!)

      Also, I’m really the extreme end of a lot of things and maybe not a great role model in that respect. I do occasionally take on really BIG projects/changes but I actually believe it’s the small decisions I made along the way that let me to the best places.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.