I’m not great at science-y things.
The northwesterly wind was still whooping as I pulled the door shut behind me with my foot and carried on, the large pan of ash in two hands, still slightly warm from the dying embers. I protected the pan with my body, searching for a good spot in our wonderland yard to dump it. The Terminator of Progress has paved so much, tidied so much, built so much, that the rubble piles become fewer and fewer on which to dump ash and I begin to miss the higgeldy-piggeldy of yesteryore. I’m one of those wives that will never be satisfied. Do this, undo that.
I finally find a spot near the northwestern corner of the house, behind the bread oven. Even there, it feels a shame to mar the sparkling white but it has to go somewhere or the fire will not breathe. I flip the pan. But as they say, location is everything — and the northwesterly wind picks it up in mid-air and blows it all over me. (This is what I mean when I say I’m not great at science-y things.) I squint my eyes shut, feeling the gritty particles between my lashes, ducking my head down to make my way back towards the kitchen door, as the wind grabs my lengthening hair and blows it forward. I have been showered in ash and blown clean again. But my hair is invisibly full with it.
Here is me in the morning: I have splashed water on my face and brushed my hair and that’s it. I could seriously use a swipe of lipstick but I’m keeping it honest. I don’t wear lipstick in the morning. Yes my lips are colourless. Still not red as roses like the princesses in fairytales, even a quarter century later, no matter how hard I might have wished for them to be. Also my hands are really big and how do people take those amazing selfies where the phone doesn’t show.
As you can see I’m in my pyjamas. Or perhaps you can’t tell. Now that I see the photo I realize why Aunt J doesn’t realize, when she drops by. I started wearing yoga pants and giveaway tops to bed a few years ago. Yoga pants (for those who don’t know?) are snug-fitting comfy black stretch pants (trousers for those from the UK, like Aunt J), my favourites are flared at the bottom like most, but they could also be slim cut. “Giveaway tops” are daytime tops that you bought too many of at the grocery store, while you were supposed to be picking out gourmet vegetables for the gourmet French lunch that you’re supposed to be cooking all morning if you’re a good French housewife. They’re stretchy and comfy-ish but kind of fashionable.
The too-many tops are overstuffing your closet and you’d like to give them away to hide the evidence but you finally decide to face the problem and use them as pyjama tops instead.
With this nightly uniform (just add grocery-store cardigan with faux-fur collar that you accidentally threw in the dryer one day turning it into a nubbly faux-fur ruffle) you can push the covers aside each day and begin your morning routine without having to change into workout wear. Then you can do the school run without even showering, still in your pyjamas. The school run includes a brisk walk around the local plan d’eau (little lake) between older and younger kid drop-offs, so again, workout wear/pyjamas come/s in handy.
So here I am in front of the mirror and I must say that a fine coat of ash does wonders for the skin and hair. Or maybe it’s the lack of wine. Hard to tell. But I begin to feel a subtle healthiness, from without and within, when I catch myself in the mirror (I don’t look very often, TBH — and this coming from someone who as a teen was there for two hours a day or more), which I used to only apprehend after I’d downed my third glass of wine. (I believe that’s called the “wine goggle effect” but like I said I’m not great about science-y stuff.)
In the background you will see my main beauty products. They are bottles of some former product, now cleaned and refilled and labelled with their new contents. One is a spray bottle of vinegar and the other is a bottle of olive oil shaken with patchouli and tea tree essentials. This homemade oil mixture is my morning and nightly moisturizer and the vinegar is my nail polish. Well not really polish it’s just for preventing toe fungus. Squirt on feet daily after showering. Particularly if you share a shower stall with five other people.
I’m making myself sound really low maintenance and minimal but I’m not. You can’t see the cupboard full of old makeup, hair products and hair accessories that I haven’t made time to use more often than once or twice a month, yet can’t quite bear to part with.
In this photo I marvel that I look relatively wrinkle-free. Sure my epicanthic folds are sagging but I’m nearly 46 so what can you do (–facial yoga actually, but I’m still too lazy/unmotivated for that). Anyway, my point is that in reality I am certainly not wrinkle-free and yet I have not edited this photo nor applied any filters. In sunlight I have crows’ feet around my eyes that could fill the branches of a tree. I’m not sure what happened here but I guess the best I can come up with it’s that it’s the smoke and mirrors effect. First smoke from the fire, or ash, actually (isn’t that what soap used to be made of)? And then this tooth-paste spattered mirror. Would love to credit the kids with that but in fact it was probably me.
My earrings are silver and blue topaz and I never take them out. If one ever gets lost or broken (say during removal for x-rays at the dentist, or just by snagging it on a wool scarf) I buy a new similar pair and wear those instead. This is what I’ve done for about twenty years. It’s not a fashion rut, it’s an earringiform. My necklace is special to me, I bought it at the village festival that happens once a year. I met a really nice lady that sells really nice rock pendants for really nice prices. I’ve always wanted to be a rock-selling jewelry maker so I babbled away to her and she told me about her process. Then I bought this blue-green beryl for a nice price. The chain is an incredibly beautiful silver one that my mother gave me some twenty years ago and I wear it nearly every day. It’s one of those ones with tiny boxes in a row and gives it a very sparkly effect. I love sparkly things. I’ve had many silver chains but this is one of the few that has not broken. I love my mom.
Isn’t my hair pretty ok though? Like I said, the ash does wonders for adding body. It’s getting longer though the ends are frayed, which means it will soon get shorter again if I either: A) get motivated enough to stand in front of this three-way mirror and cut it myself, holding strands high in the air above my head, to trim the layers or: B) get gutsy and committed enough to actually make a hair appointment, which happens about once per year. After reading Bernie’s piece the other day I’m thinking it might be option B this time.
Yes it’s greyish but I kind of like the effect. The ends are still dyed-blond but periodically I grow out my grey to get it healthy again. Recently I’ve been using a grey-hair temporary tint called “Age Perfect, Touch of Beige.” Sometime I use “Touch of Gold.”
Thanks, Prince l’Oreal. You certainly are a charmer. Almost as good as Rumpelstiltskin.
Notes/refs: 3 February 2019 at 07:01 Sun France, ended 08:06. in scrivener, then copied to wordpress. super-ego took over. overedited, overwrote, made a huge mess. then id asked for help and the help reverted it back to this near-original version. thanks help.