Vanity, Thy Name is Katy

On average, I look in the mirror 18 times a day.

That’s not even counting the number of occasions when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in some shiny surface. Yeah, that’s not me puzzling over that artistic portrait as to fathom the creator’s intent, that’s me trying to get a glimpse of how my hair looks in a ponytail.

It’s puzzling as to why we as humans aren’t content until we’ve looked at ourselves up and down, in a full length mirror, from a side angle, with duck lips, and with a hat tipped jauntily on our heads until we realize that such a hat is too bold for our certain hair style. Do any other animals perform this ritual of self-interest? Do ducks float around on lakes so as to constantly view their watery profile? Has anyone really considered why it is birds fly into windows? Perhaps they’re simply overly anxious to confirm that their feathers are as preened as they should be. I’m also fairly certain that if you gave a monkey a camera the first thing they would do is take a selfie while hanging out in their tree house.

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat...whoopee!

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat…whoop de doo!

And then once we do give into temptation and look to our beautiful image, what do we see? Ourselves. Almost exactly as we were the last time we checked. What’s the point? What does it matter if I have a small bump in my hair? If my lips need more glossing will the world stop spinning? If I end up wearing that jauntily tipped hat would it really matter in the long run? Who cares what we look like?!

Well, apparently I care; based on the fact that I look at myself in the mirror around 18 times a day.

Maybe if I were prettier looking I’d understand. But seeing as I’m just regular old plain average normal Katy, what the heck is with my obsession with myself? For me to have two mirrors in my room is extravagant. To look at myself in the full length mirror in the hallway while leaving the dorm is outrageous. To go to the bathroom for any other reason than relieving oneself is simply silly; who wants to spend time in a restroom simply to enjoy the mirror? Even my phone cover can serve as a mirror. Just in case I’d like to ensure that I look my best while sending a text message (because the recipient of my message can just tell if my necklace is hanging crookedly around my neck).

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Why must I look so good in scarves?!

But to be fair to myself, I don’t always set out in search of a mirror. I don’t memorize the location of reflective objects around campus and take longer routes just to get a glimpse of myself. But the fact that my building has a full length mirror in the hallway should tell you something about the world. The fact that there are mirrors above almost every sink, that people carry around compacts just in case, that ever in our cars you can find mirrors above the front two seats, shows what an egoistical and vain society we really live in. I don’t necessarily want to look at my reflection so often, but the world is telling me that I must. They want me to be vain, and I’ve been all too happy to oblige.

Yet, when looking beyond my mundane exterior, you’ll find a rebel with a passion for stirring up adventure and intrigue (in addition to finding a fanatical cat lady). It is this nature that makes me not just question the role of mirrors in my life, but that also makes me desire to denounce them.

There have been many documented challenges of people swearing off the mirror for a month or two or twelve, but seeing as I’m too cheap to buy their books, I’ve decided to create a mirrorless lifestyle challenge of my own. I’ll take a guess that they’ve leaned the meaning of true beauty, internal happiness, styling hairdos without visual assistance, and societal influences on commonly accepted standards, but I’m just hoping to get a grip on reality and learn that survival is possible without knowing if I’m having a good hair day or not.

Starting today, I’m going to cover up the mirrors in my room, avoid my image while using the sink, stealthily avoid looking too closely at my phone cover, and give up admiring/critiquing my reflection altogether. I will do all of this for one week (because I’m weak). At the end of this experiment, I hope to appreciate myself and my body a little bit more and gain some real understanding as to why I can’t help but looking at myself in that glass door window at the gym.

Also, I must have looked at myself nearly 50 times today in anticipation of my mirror cleanse. Wow I’ve got some work to do.

Also also, let’s hope I last the week because I’ve just remembered the wall length mirrors in the gym’s aerobics studio…

Also also also, I’ve just put up construction paper to cover the mirrors in my room. It makes me nervous.

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Our Daily Torture

Could you even imagine being enclosed in a space so small that there is hardly any room for you to turn around, let alone move. You wonder what could have happened to bring you to this terrifying enclosure of slick and sickly walls. Then, before an explanation can even enter your head half-formed, water comes cascading down from above, so hot that you instinctively jump away, though there’s no where for you to escape the bombardment of fierce droplets as your skin threatens to blister. And suddenly, as if the box’s true torturous purpose was revealed, the water turns ice cold, practically forming into shards that bite and anger the already delicate skin. An impulsive glance downward in an effort to lessen the anticipated facial mutilation reveals that you are stark naked. Vulnerable. Unprotected. Unsheltered. Unmasked and unveiled. You shutter recognizing that your feet are bare to the mysterious substances ever-present in this torturous chamber. The water continues to pour down in icy sheets from above with a vengeance that a furred Poseidon would be in no position to summon. And if your reddened and raw skin weren’t suffering enough, a bristly device is applied to every inch of your exposed self. Pressing, pushing, scratching, scolding. Back and forth the fibers now begin to remove layers of skin with the help of colorfully applied chemicals that have forever ingrained their distinct odor into your very being. As your body begins to shed its abused skin, you don’t even shed a tear. You have no choice but to remain upright and unaffected, or suffer the well-documented fear of ridicule and social expulsion. Just as you begin to think of escaping from this house of horrors, breaking free from this place of pain and site of suffering, when it almost becomes too much to even keep your eyes open through the torrential downpour that is now this never ceasing stream of water that will surely continue rising until your lungs are as exposed to its presence as your outer body, once your knees begin to weaken and your strength is nearly sapped from the tremendous endurance and strength that you have shown in the face of an unknown adversary that may just prove to be Satan himself-

You step out of the shower, and it’s back to reality.

A Nail Night to Remember

One special night each week, in my never ending effort to spend time with friends, keep my fingers feeling pretty, and avoid homework at all costs, I host Manicure Monday in my dorm room.

Girls from all around the hall flock to the 70’s patterned furniture in the lounge to cozy up with some friendly talk and brightly colored nail polish. On occasion, we’ll thrown in a movie to make the boys wandering by feel welcome, though none can bear the smell of nail beautification polish long enough to stop in for a hello; though the fear of a feminine ambush may be what’s keeping them at bay…

Somehow, despite the noticeable lack of testosterone and funky smelling furniture that an open window just can’t sort out, I still manage to have a rockin’ time. I’ve boosted my self esteem, I’ve visually and creatively expressed my mood, and I’ve found a way to bond with the girls around me despite having no opinion to offer on whatever popular shows are playing on MTV.

I truly hope that when I get older/get money/get a place to live I host people at my home in a fashion similar to Manicure Monday, hopefully extenuating the bonding aspect of get-togethers and minimizing the smell of chemicals that we’ve grown accustomed to from nail polish.

While away at college it seems almost too easy to make and retain friends. Aside from bouts of essays and finals, all of the people I care to spend time with are easily and readily accessible to me. And I know that won’t always be the case. I really hope that I make a sincere effort in the future to host murder mystery parties, football extravaganzas, and random board game nights, to keep the spirit of life and friendship alive and kickin’.

With our 70’s furniture, I seem to live in the past. With my longing for murder mystery parties, I seem to dwell in the future. I need to stop wishing the present away and simply commit to enjoying the time at hand, mostly, at my freshly manicured hand.

Free Fallin’

Today, I woke up to an odd tingling throughout my body. A tingling that I hadn’t felt for many months. An unpleasant and altogether alarming sensation that bid me to raise my head from my matted and cozy pillow and look to the window and the world beyond. Though my eyes were still heavily crusted with the eye gunk that spoke to my deep sleep, there could be no mistaking what I saw. But, just to make sure, I rubbed my eyes and inched up a bit further off of the bed. Sighing, I plopped back down; yes, there was no mistaking it, I saw autumn.

I pulled the previously discarded covers up to my nose and took a few deep breaths. The chill I had previously experienced seemed to be disappearing, and a new emotion was stewing. Disappointment.

snoopy summer

With the beginning of fall comes a lack of vacations, the end of day trips to the beach, more school reading than is good for your developing eyesight, and a sun that just can’t compare to its glory days of summertime. From the moment that I looked outside through the slightly frosted window pane towards the browning leaves and dark morning sky, I knew that I wasn’t far from bidding my flip flops farewell.

These depressing trees are once again in our future...

These depressing trees are once again in our future…

The colder months have always seemed to fill me with despair (there is a reason this blog was started back in February, I am absolutely miserable during the winter months and I thought that I’d need something to keep me upbeat, positive, and positively engaged with the world). Both the fall and the winter greedily snatch away my afternoon tennis matches, make soaking up some rays a chilly impossibility, and cruelly transform the beautiful trees of the world into nothing more than a pile of grimy sticks with no aesthetic value until covered by the soft white of snow.

I did not ask for this. I never ask for this. In fact, I’ve so far removed myself from the possibility of having another couple months in the cold weather that this seasonal shift has taken me completely by surprise.

That might just be why, though in the throngs of an autumn transformation, I managed to enjoy my first fall since I foolishly longed for the days of snow and silence as a kid.

Those leaves hanging off of the tree sure do look beautiful.

When did smooth jazz become such a delight?

It’s been far too long since I’ve slide into slippers.

I never knew that the color red had so many shades.

Goodness, don’t I look cute in this scarf?

I was so shocked to find fall upon me that I forgot to compile a mental list of why I dislike this season. Instead, I was bombarded by all of the beauty and promise that fall has to offer. While my new-found affinity for this season may be short lived, I’m glad to give autumn one more chance to get into my good graces and search for the wonder behind the weather; provided it never again disrupts my sleep with its chill.

Though this signals an approaching winter, I can still appreciate its beauty while it lasts.

Though this signals an approaching winter, I can still appreciate its beauty while it lasts.

Writing Exercises, My Kind of a Workout

When I was in the seventh grade, I had an English teacher named Mrs. Stroloski. Mrs. Stroloski made us learn and memorize the most difficult of vocabulary words (though I was completely enamored with the word disheveled), encouraged us to read from books far overreaching our comprehension level (in my expert opinion as a middle school student), and bid us to write in cursive at all times during her class period (a skill I hadn’t put to use since the fourth grade). Aside from her gorgeous handwriting and affinity for the color purple, I was never too fond of Mrs. S.

However, there was one writing drill that she would instruct the class to complete every Friday, and thanks to this exercise, I can look back on my seventh grade English experience with a little more appreciation than most of my middle school counterparts.

strong pencilHere’s how it worked: For 5 minutes, you had to write. No stopping. No pausing. No delays. Just words and letters. Even if you couldn’t think of your next sentence, you just had to repeat the same word or the same letter until your thoughts continued to flow. Nonstop. No limits. No topics. Just you, and the constant movement of your pen writing sloppily half-forgotten cursive down on your composition notebook.

writing drillLooking back now, I can’t remember most of what I wrote as a seventh grader. I remember complementing Mrs. Stroloski on choosing the color purple to adorn the classroom, I remember talking about how excited I was that they were serving pizza in the cafeteria right after an eventful and delicious taco day, and I also vaguely remember reading A Christmas Carol in her class and expressing my love and devotion to Santa Claus. Riveting stuff, I know. I may have even used the word disheveled a time or two or ten.

But I think that’s the moment when I realized that it felt good to write. I did not like how my cursive capital letters looked, but I sure did like expressing myself through the written word.

Sometimes I still practice this drill, as it seems great for relieving writer’s block, but often, I simply reflect on my classroom experience with Mrs. S. and wonder if the other kids that she’s taught over the years still recall this activity and are able to remember what the word disheveled means.

The Early Bird Gets the Sleep

I go to college. I hang with friends. I get homework done. I go to clubs and events. And I get a full eight hours of sleep each and every night.

garfield sleeping

Garfield really represents a lot of my interests

I’ve often felt that I need three things out of life:

  1. A complete and completely delicious breakfast.
  2. My cat and a camera with which to take pictures of my cat.
  3. Enough sleep.

No matter what it is that I’m working on that day, I always find time to get the necessities out of the way so that when it comes to bedtime around 11 pm (outlandishly early for a rockin’ college kid, I know), I’m free to hit the hay and end the day. Some people can go on three hours of power naps, a can of Red Bull, and the sheer desire to outsmart mother nature. I am not that person. I am the person who cozies up in bed with bright tie dye covers and a pillow as fluffy as the cats I envision jumping over a fence.

While I may miss out on some parties, I never feel as though I’m missing out on a crucial college experience, as I plan my life in the daylight hours. Pretty revolutionary, right?

Yes, I go to bed early, but the relaxation and happiness that I’m granted as a result of my delightful night’s sleep is worth ten times as much as the drunken stories of arrest and evasion that most kids have to show for their early morning hours.

Kate Upton Goes to College

Nothing against Kate Upton, she is beautiful and actually quite intelligent. But she does not belong in my college. In my dorm. In my lounge.

Earlier today I passed by the communal lounge to find the one and only Sports Illustrated model gracing the bland and outdated wall of Caroline Hall.

kate upton in our loungeI smiled at the few boys sitting in the lounge and continued on my way.

And then I cried.

How could such blatant sexual objectification exist within the confines of academia? How could the 100 boys that live in this dorm disrespect the 15 girls residing here by issuing this nonverbal statement of gender inequality?

This was more than a picture. This was a mentality. An attitude that expressed what women are meant to be. Nothing. Nothing but an image and a body.

And it was in a communal space meant to allow males, females, and all genders in between to feel comfortable.

How am I ever going to sit in that lounge again? How will I ever look any of those boys in the eyes again knowing that they are looking back at me as nothing more than an object?

I casually brought up the topic of the poster.

They asked if I would like a picture of Ryan Gosling on the wall. I said no. No question. That is awkward and uncomfortable. No. No thank you. I like Ryan Gosling, I think he is handsome, but I also think a whole heck of a lot more about him than can ever be expressed in a shirtless image of him with a coy smile.

I just lost some friends today.

But I gained a mission.

I’m no longer going to be a silent feminist. I am going to actively raise my voice to let others know that gender equality is both a goal worth fighting for and a future that is drawing near. I may not hold protests, but I will share my opinions and discuss the discrepancies between genders and what can be done to combat such differences.

Kate Upton, the next time you’d like to attend college, please bring a sweater.