Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 40 - 2 Steps Forward (Relationship), 1 Step Back (Mirrors)

Image originally published here.
This week was a huge milestone for my relationship with M.  We've officially ended our long-distance relationship!  This marked a big step forward (actually, 2 big steps forward if we're counting both of us!).  Unfortunately, moving also forced me to take 1 step back, in terms of the mirror project. Here's how it all went down:

To catch up those of you who know me only from this blog, my fiance, M, and I have been in a long-distance relationship for more than a year.  I met M when he was interning in Los Angeles over 2 years ago.  We hit it off immediately, but had to part ways when his internship ended.  We were too attached to break up (ahh... young love), so have been swapping weekends, weeks, and sometimes months in each others' respective cities - L.A. (me) and Palo Alto, CA (him) - ever since.   Our relationship has remained awesome, but the emotional and financial expenses of long-distance were exhausting.

So... even though I'm still teaching at UCLA through the end of the Spring quarter, we bit the bullet, sublet our respective places, and moved to San Francisco for 2 months!  I'll have to fly back to L.A. a few times to teach my seminar (on "Gender, Appearance, and Inequality"), but the important thing is this:  Long-distance = Over!  Never again.  Hooray!

Here's the downside: after almost a full week of successfully avoiding mirrors in Los Angeles, I'm having to learn how to navigate mirrors in a completely new home + workplace (I volunteer several days/week at the amazing girl-empowering nonprofit, About-Face)!  The good news is that our new apartment has far fewer mirrors than my place in Los Angeles.  The bad news is that, in the process of moving, I've managed to look at myself in every single one of them!  A step back, indeed.  :(

Initially, I'd hoped that M would be able sneak into our new place and cover/remove all of the mirrors before I even entered the building.  Wouldn't that have been nice?  Well... our moving plans went more than a bit awry (i.e., given the wrong keys, slept in hotel first night, etc., etc.) so we had to face reality and move in like normal couples do (i.e., in a stressful rush, and at the same time).

In the meantime, I've regressed back to my "in-training" mode for a few days: I'm taking note of all of the mirrors and reflective surfaces I encounter at home, on my commute to, and at, the About-Face office.  So far, nothing I can't remove, cover, avoid, or look away from!  Also, even though I've been applying makeup and styling my hair while looking away from the bathroom mirror, I've peeked at myself after.  I've already mastered the makeup application, but I'm still struggling a bit with my hair (lumpy ponytails, anyone?), so I decided that a few more days of practice would be a benefit to my sanity in the long-run.

But, don't worry - this is only a temporary setback.  This weekend, M and I are making a carefully calculated shopping trip to buy curtains to cover our bathroom and bedroom mirrors.  We'll also search for some to-be-determined supplies with which we can "gift-wrap" the 2 mirrored medicine cabinets in our bathroom.  That ought to cover it (pun intended)! In other words, this Friday, May 6th, will be my official LAST DAY of looking in mirrors until the project ends.  I'm pretty psyched, and can't wait to tell you how it goes!

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  1. Congratulations. All of this certainly makes me curious to know what M thinks about all this gift wrapping of the mirrors - he's been dragged into participating whether he likes it or not, but perhaps mirror-gazing is less important for some men. Also, your discussions of makeup make me wonder if in a year you'll look back at this and laugh at caring about eyelash definition or lumpy ponytails. The whole point -- from your first post -- is to redefine your good side, put less emphasis in your life on the outer appearance, etc., not to figure out ways to do about the same with less mirror time. But in the end, I suspect less mirror time will have its effect anyway...what do you think?

  2. Hahaha, I know from lumpy ponytails! Since my goals are a little bit different than yours I'm allowing a sort of mirror for the hair--I have a cutout pasted onto my mirror that's in the shape of my face, so that when I lift the veil from my mirror I can see just my hair. I'm keeping this only for when I really have to look presentable, though (meetings, etc.). I normally wear my hair in an updo so we'll see how--IF--that goes!

    Congrats on no more long-distance!

  3. Tara,
    I think you're spot-on with your comment about my makeup and hair concerns. I know that my makeup "make-under" has already been a step in the right direction.... fewer products, and a more relaxed sense of "good enough is good enough". Being able to leave the house without looking at myself or worrying feels freeing and I wouldn't be surprised if I started having makeup-free days altogether. The hair has been another story, which I'll write about soon.

    As for M... he is definitely making a some generous sacrifices for the project, but also gets veto-power on the decor. It will be interesting to see how easily we're able to agree on the "gift-wrap"!

  4. Interesting project. What do you plan to do to steer away from those side glimpses of yourself as you walk by a mirrored wall at the mall, restaurant, or bathroom?

  5. Hi Anna! Great questions.

    (1) I'm going to avoid going places where mirrors are inevitable. For example, clothes-shopping will become an online activity.

    (2) I rarely eat alone at restaurants, so I'm planning to send a dining companion to scope out the situation if I'm ever trying someplace new.

    (3) Bathrooms are pretty easy, actually. They ALL have mirrors, so I know to always look down at my hands when I'm washing up. That said, I did catch a glimpse of myself in a REFLECTIVE TOILETTE PAPER HOLDER the other day, which was really annoying.

    For "random reflections" like these, all I can do is commit myself to looking away as quickly as possible. Certainly no "peering" allowed!

  6. What happens if you accidentally catch a glimpse of yourself? Will you turn into a frog? Total abstinence from mirrors and even reflective surfaces seems a bit silly, though I agree with your premise that too much mirror-looking can hurt your self-image.

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