You Gotta Work, B****

Today, I got called out for being narcissistic. The reason? Selfies on Facebook.

A year ago, I started a trend among my friends. I posted a selfie of myself, red-faced and sweating, after my workouts as a way of holding myself accountable and congratulating myself. Many friends followed my lead, posting their own #wethairselfies after workouts. It has become a way we encourage each other. And yes, brag a little. It’s an accomplishment to squeeze in a workout when you’re a busy professional with kids. At work on Thursday, a friend admitted to me that she’s been getting up at 5 a.m. to work out, and it’s because of me. She said, “I thought, if Mo can do it, then I have no excuse.”

My karmic path is electricity. I’m meant to be a catalyst for other people’s greatness. I’m sometimes uneasy in that role, but it’s an apt place to tackle my envy.

Maybe I am a narcissist, but not a textbook one. I’m generally in a relationship with a narcissist, pouring out narcissistic supply as fast as she or he (usually he) can lap it up. I’m not the one acting the vampire, sucking someone else’s attention and adulation.

After coloring my hair to cover up the gray, I put on a little make-up and went outside to take a selfie in the natural light. Better to see the red highlights in my hair color. I used a filter on it, but I didn’t go nuts. The response to the photo was over the top. I was embarrassed but flattered. Until my friend accused me of posting selfies for attention because I KNOW I’m pretty.

Why do we post selfies? Artists painted self portraits, actors direct themselves in films they’ve written, and everyone takes selfies. Women are particularly criticized for this. We are expected to be photographed and admired, but when we take the photos ourselves, we’re called “narcissistic,” “stuck up,” and “full of” ourselves.

I’m terribly insecure, but I like how I can make myself look in a selfie. High angle, chin down, slightly to one side, look into the camera like I’m seeing someone I love, and smile. Most of them look awful and I delete them right away. Some come out terrific and I save them. Sometimes, I post them. The photo in question was to show off my hair color. I’d mixed Clairol’s dark auburn with medium auburn for a slightly more copper look than my usual mahogany red. I didn’t mean it as, “Look how pretty I am.”

One friend joked #bluesteel. I appealed to him to tell all these fools that I don’t look like this and it was just a photo. He didn’t. “Stunning photo,” he replied. It’s so important in our culture to be pretty. Most of us are average. How has the selfie changed the way we see ourselves? I think in some ways, it has made us more accepting of the way we look. We see our faces more than we used to. I remember when it was rare to see a photo of myself.

My Instagram post today stated that I’m reinventing myself for the first time for the millionth time. It’s true. Inspired by Britney Spears’ immortal words: “You gotta work, bitch,” I am on a quest to lose the last of my pregnancy/newlywed weight. I want my body to look the way it’s supposed to. I still eat out of boredom, sadness, and insecurity. I still feed myself poorly. Yes, I want to go from a size 12/14 to an 8/10. I also want to feel good, have energy, sleep better, and stop thinking about it all the time.

I’ve got the exercise down. I workout 4 days a week, every week. I just need to add one more. My diet is a disaster. I eat like a college kid. It’s time to get real.

I can’t do Instagram much because of my anonymity, but if you want to follow me there, it’s mrs.odie.

I have laundry to wash and fold, and papers to mark. Because you gotta work, bitch.

Posted in Dieting/Fitness, Essays/Commentary, My Eating Disorder (EDNOS) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Love me-love me Dance

When Tiger‘s birthday rolled around again, I sent him an email. I wished him well. Hoped his children were excelling at whatever combination of musical instrument/sporting competition each was no doubt enrolled in. Shared a funny anecdote about finding an old card he’d given me after my surgery that read “Take care.”

“You were such a romantic!” I teased him. Blah, blah, blah happy birthday. I am sincerely, et cetera.

I waited for the polite but distantly impersonal response. And waited. And got nothing.

It annoyed me. Not even a “Thanks for the note” with an ironic “Take care”?

I’m so completely unsurprised at myself for wasting energy on this. Do any of us ever fundamentally change? I know I’m more mature and less impulsive than I was at 25 and even at 35. But I don’t believe I’ve “changed.”

I was a cheater. If a man (or woman) I was attracted to came on to me, and the opportunity to hook up was there, I took it. Being in a relationship was a trivial detail to me. Am I still a cheater? No. Because I’m more mature and less impulsive.

I’m also in my forties and married with kids, so most social situations I’m in are with other married people and our kids. Women in their forties don’t get hit on so much, with or without the hubby and kids in tow. The single women I know my age and older despair about it whenever we talk. Our “Tinder” hookup culture exacerbates the male’s already annoying tendency to keep an eye on the door for someone slightly hotter/younger/sexier. Now he just has to swipe through an online catalog of available women, one that has new pictures on the daily. When my friend Helena has a nice date, she often waits patiently for the promised text, only to have her patience turn to frustration. “There’s always another picture to swipe,” she laments.

I read about people who reconnect with old flames on Facebook and cheat on their spouses or even leave them. It isn’t urban legend either. I personally know a woman who friended her high school boyfriend on Facebook. It went from liking each other’s statuses and photos to private messaging to texting to talking. Now, Laura and Manny are divorced from their first spouses and married to each other, with a six month old daughter-half sister to Laura’s three kids and his two.

Stories like this are why my friend Mabel suggests “Maybe his wife told him he couldn’t talk to you,” after I share my Tiger birthday email story with her. “I don’t let my husband be Facebook friends with his ex-girlfriends.”

The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that even 20 years later, I’m still trying to get Tiger to love me and pay attention to me.

Last week, a coworker paid me a wonderful compliment. My fitness instructor told me he thinks my body looks amazing. My husband chased me around the house, eyes crackling with lust, for most of the week, then finally caught me on Sunday morning (thank you, Sunday morning cartoons and bedroom doors that lock). What kind of validation was I jonesing for? Attention from the guy who doesn’t give it? And not just that one. I have at least one other person I’ve managed to cast in the role of “disapproving parent” or “distracted daddy.” I can laugh at myself, though. I can be grateful for my friends, coworkers, and lustful husband. I’m still doing the “Love me-love me Dance” but the intensity of my obsession and disappointment dulls ever more as time passes.

Next year, I might even forget his birthday.

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment