July 6, 2005
The Puley Report: Week Two

She's wearing purple eyeshadow today.

We're not talking about a subtle layering of lavender highlighter, swept gently across the brow bone ... nor a delicate dusting of lid color, the shade of summer lilacs picked fresh from Grandma's flower garden ... but purple, like the Kool-Aid. Technically, the name of the shadow is "Velvet Crush," and it's been rattling around in the bottom of her makeup basket since 1998.  She bought it accidentally, the year she moved to California -- in the false light of the Alameda Walgreen's Cosmetics Department she mistook the color for silvery-gray, which she needed to match a suit jacket she'd just bought for job interviewing (and yes, she used to match her eyeshadow to her clothing) -- but until now she's never actually worn it.  

Today she's got it smeared on both her top and bottom lids, along with a full complement of black liner and the usual four coats of Maybelline.

She's got her hair pulled into two short pigtails, one on each side of her head. Ordinarily she believes that forty-something year old women are too old for pigtails ... actually, she thinks anyone over the age of TWELVE is too old for pigtails ... but today she's got to admit that they're making her feel sort of sassy and sporty.  It was hot in the kitchen earlier this morning, while she was making macaroni salad, and on a whim she decided to pull her hair back into 'tails. They looked so unexpectedly not-completely-terrible -- so Marcia Brady on HRT -- that she decided to leave them in.  Even better: she's wearing the pigtails tucked behind her ears ... a fact that would no doubt have her former junior high school Bible Camp counselor experiencing a MAJOR *Sphincter Moment.*

(Flashback to Camp Lilly Dell Dunes, June 1970  ...  

Caroline Walkers' Mother: "Wouldn't you prefer to wear your hair OVER your ears, dear?"  

Twelve-Year-Old Secra (innocently):  "Why?"  

Caroline Walker's Mother (reaching forward and pulling little bits of hair over the tops of Secra's ears): "There. Isn't that better?"

Wearing her pigtails this way, with her Alfred E. Neumann ears in full undisguised display, makes her feel brave and defiant, on top of feeling sassy and sporty and ever-so-slightly macaroni-splattered.  

It's an interesting gumbo of emotions.

Yesterday she did a thorough binge-and-purge of her bedroom closet -- ostensibly to convince her husband that she's spending her off-time 'productively,' but in reality to make room for all of the new stuff she ordered online, just before she quit her job -- and during the binge-and-purge she discovered a pink polka-dot T-shirt she'd completely forgotten about. It still had the tags dangling from the collar. She's wearing it today, along with a pair of pink shorts she rescued from the Goodwill bag. (She can't seem to decide which clothes to keep and which clothes to give away, right now. Work clothes? Or play clothes? Fat clothes? Or skinny clothes? Tasteful classics that will stand the test of time? Or Clown College rejects?) She's accessorized this dazzling *ensemb* with bare feet (huge Band-Aid on the left big toe, of course) and the dangly abalone earrings she bought on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, last time she and David took Jamyi there to visit.  

She knows she looks silly. She knows that if Matt Lauer himself were to knock on the apartment door right now, she wouldn't answer.

She also knows that she hasn't felt thi
s good in a couple of months.

Next week ... or the week after next, maybe, or the week after that ... the job-search efforts begin in earnest. She's still OK for money, even after paying the rent and the cable and a monstrous cell phone bill (who knew that downloading all those Cyndi Lauper ring tones could be so expensive?), but this state of temporary solvency isn't going to last much longer. Eventually she's going to need the security of a regular paycheck rolling in again. And tomorrow is her first 'real' appointment with the doctor; the appointment, hopefully, where The Healing Begins. More on this soon.

In the meantime, though, she is enjoying another week or two of fullblown V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Sleeping in until the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. every morning, and then catching a nap, two hours later. Reading the stack of books next to the bed. Drinking fresh-squeezed juice, made from oranges picked from the tree in her mother-in-law's backyard. Taking her shower in the middle of the afternoon, if she feels like it. (Or not taking one at all, if she DOESN'T feel like it.) Cooking. Cleaning. Screening her calls. Sitting outside by the swimming pool with her laptop, pretending to write The Great American Novel (while in reality she's tinkering with her résumé). Walking up the street to Blockbuster to pay her late fees, then stopping at Foster's Freeze for a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone. Experimenting with silly clothing and makeup combinations. Listening to music. Not listening to music. Going for hours, sometimes days, without saying a word to another human being. 

Revelling in the quiet, both inside and out.

It's not a permanent *fix* to her problems, of course. The real work is just around the corner, and she knows it.  But for the moment, all of this peace and quiet and introspection and navel-gazing has been like balm to her frazzled soul. She feels something inside of her loosening up, just the tiniest bit ... as though she might be on the cusp of The Next Important Phase of Her Life. It feels sort of OK, actually.

Although -- just between you and me and the bathroom mirror -- the purple eyeshadow has GOT to go.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

the pigtails can stay, though.