Tuesday, December 14, 2010

freckle face.

Listening To: Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder
Three different people: have stopped me in stores to ask what color nail polish I'm wearing. My mom thinks this is hilarious, that people notice nail color. I notice too though. I realize there is a chance they want to know the color so that they can stay far, far away from it. But if you're feeling feisty (the color is a very dark-matte forest green) the color is Essie's Going Incognito. I'm quite obsessed. And Revlon makes one that looks just like it called Emerald. Which I didn't discover until after I purchased the Essie. Of course.

(This is what December looks like in these parts. I like to think of it as the sky's way of singing Christmas carols.)

This morning I dreamed that I set off an alarm at a department store and a security guard grabbed my arm and stared me down like, "You stealing stuff or what?"

Do you know what dream-me did when he asked this question? First, I shook my head no.

Then I tapped my forehead with my pointer finger.

... ?

Was I insinuating that I used Jedi mind tricks to set off the alarm?

Or that I had a metal plate attached to my skull that gets a little defective from time to time?

I do not know.

I do know that I woke up and realized I was hearing an actual (insanely loud) car alarm blaring somewhere in the neighborhood. I sat up in bed. And groaned. My dog sat up too (she mimics my actions quite often this way - it is very funny).

"Hey Bishcuit." I said. (I was still wearing my mouthguard.)

Biscuit cocked her head at me, cutely.

I pulled out my mouthguard and said: "I think I might be a Jedi."'Italic
Biscuit sighed and rolled back over like,
Gah. This again.

That's the obvious interpretation though, don't you think?

But I don't want to discuss being a Jedi this morning. I would rather talk about freckles.

Cause I got freckles. I got lots of freckles.

I have freckles all over my face and approximately six billion more on my arms. I even have a freckle on my mouth. At this point in my life, I think the freckles are fabulous. But I did not always feel this way. I think this partially had to do with the culture in which I was raised.

Like many small towns in the south, my hometown has a certain fixation with a state of being that has always, and will always, elude my freckly self: The Tan.

I am fairly certain there was/is a tanning bed in the back of every video store and flower shop in my hometown. If a business had a broom closet they weren't using, they swept that space out and shoved a tanning bed in there. Many people had tans (real and fake) all year long. And many people spoke of The Tan as thought it was a necessity to their very happiness and well-being. "I'm so pale," they would groan in disdain. "Must. Have. Tan!" I remember attending a Christmas function and hearing women talk about their tans for-ev-er. Like, the whole party, they talked tanning. I'm not being judgy, by the way. I think everybody is allowed one asinine conversational obsession. For awhile, I DVR'd Rachel Zoe's show so I am in no position to judge. (Brad is so easy to adore though, don't you think?)

So I knew a few people back home who were weirdly obsessed with tanning. Someone even suggested to me once that I should probably not wear skirts because my legs are so white.

*eye roll*

I do not have the capacity to tan. I burn. I freckle. Even when I don't burn, I freckle. I can't tan. I don't try. Please don't misinterpret what I'm saying - pale is not superior. I think it's so cool if you can tan. (I don't think tanning beds are cool though - I think they look like coffins. Coffins for chic space-age vampires. But whatever.) I'm jealous that you tan girls can sit outside without setting your phone alarm to remind you to reapply sunscreen. Tan is cool. Pale is cool. I think girls tend look prettiest whenever they work with their natural coloring.

And so, as a grown up (sort of grown up) (...more like, *makes air quotes* "grown up"), I've come to love my freckles. I don't cover them up with concealer. (I would arm wrestle the makeup artist who suggested it.) I seethe when people refer to them as "blemishes." I like my freckles because they're quirky and unique and a little bit summery.

But mostly, I like my freckles because of my dad.

(This is me, with my dad, during my very first Christmas. Can you see how crazy-giddy Christmas made me even back then?!) (Trivia fact: I'm also wearing a teeny-tiny cast on both legs in this picture.)

Necessary Backstory: When I was a kid, some very eloquent individual told me that my freckles made it look as though a bird had poo-splattered all over my face. Kids are so sweet (and so articulate), yes?

I wish I could tell you that I shrugged my shoulders and didn't let that snarky quip get to me. But I still remember it. So, obviously, it got to me.

I cried. I cried a bunch. My dad asked what was up. I said:

"I think my freckles are so ugly."

And Dad said, in that particular tone that always accompanies the honest-to-goodness-truth, "A face without freckles is like a sky without stars."

Just like that. Like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Like a sky without stars.

I have never forgotten that. I still think about that sometimes. I'm getting more comfortable with myself as I get older, more okay with the quirks that used to bother me so much as a kid and as a teen. But that doesn't mean that there still aren't days when I feel completely awkward in my skin, or days when I feel like I stand out for all the wrong reasons. There are days I feel plain. Mutant-ish. Misfit-y.

On those days, I remember the truth my dad spoke over my very scuffed up 10-year old heart.

A face without freckles is like a sky without stars.

I needed that affirmation. Every girl needs that affirmation. Maybe nobody has ever made fun of your freckles, but you were probably made fun of for something (or maybe you are made fun of for something). I hope that whenever you are made fun of - whether its for your freckles, your mouth, your nose, your skin, the way you walk, the way you talk, or the fact that you'd rather get into character than get into a soccer uniform - that someone is there to speak some star-truth into your heart too. I hope you have someone who tells you that you're beautiful. It is the honest-to-goodness truth. You deserve to hear it.

We all know inner beauty matters most. We know a beautiful heart is more important than being hawt. I get that. You get that. But, dag-nabit, a girl needs to hear she's pretty too. Women need that kind of affirmation (and women need a healthy understanding of how much affirmation is enough, yes?). Whether a girl is 8 or 80, I think her heart flutters when somebody calls her beautiful. Because sunsets are beautiful. Yellow flowers are beautiful. Art is beautiful. Music is beautiful. You grow up hearing the world beautiful associated with those things. And when someone says that you are also that way - that you are beautiful - there's a particular kind of confidence that swirls up in your heart.

Beautiful: yellow flowers, starry skies, bright paintings and you. It makes your heart go swirly, right?

This I know: when my dad told me that my freckles were starry, I went from feeling like a goblin to feeling like a rockstar in a matter of seconds. I will never forget it.

Know what else I haven't forgotten?

* Saturday mornings, when Dad and I would ride in his truck and listen to Johnny Cash all the way to my grandparents house.
Sometimes he would shut off the radio because I felt the need to burst into song. I was a horrible singer. I knew this. He knew this. But he would let me screech as long as I wanted because, sometimes, a girl just needs to let loose. Johnny brings that out in a person.

This is our favorite Johnny Cash song (please note that its not exactly "seasonal" ... might leave you a little melancholy ;). I think the lyrics are gorgeous. And, weirdly, I think there's a very sweet thread of hope holding this song together.

* I remember when I was little and had a cast that came up above my waist and couldn't sit up (I would flop over on my tummy and elbow-crawl around the living room - all fish-like.) My parents would lay in the floor beside me and read and stencil and play board games. Sometimes my dad would pick me up and "fly" me around the room in his arms, so I could pretend to be Supergirl.

* I remember how Dad would watch
Anne of Green Gables with me over and over and over. He has favorite characters and favorite scenes and everything now. Dad's favorite movies are typically blockbustery films - Bourne Identity, The Mummy, Pirates, etc. Anne doesn't exactly fit with those, but he watched them anyway.

* I remember when he would take a day off from work so he could go on class fieldtrips with me. I was in a wheelchair back in elementary school, so field-trippin' wasn't easy unless he came along. We always snuck out early and went to Taco Bell.

* I remember dateless Friday nights (and Saturday nights ... and Sunday nights ...) in High School when Dad and I would eat Oreos and watch Star Wars together. I felt loved.

(Dad, if you are reading this, you should know ... I had this dream. And I totally think I'm a Jedi.)

* I remember winter mornings in High School when Dad would scrape my windshield before he left for work and start my car so it would be warm when I got inside.

* I remember the Valentine's Day in college when my dad showed up at my dorm, took me to dinner, and gave me a bundle of flowers, and Oreos, and a remote controlled fart machine. He's seriously that awesome. And that fun.

As it happens, my dad turned sixty-three this week
. We celebrated at O'Charley's by eating lots of fried stuff. Let me tangent just slightly so that I might show you a picture of me and my brother from the O'Charley's celebration. I hope Mom uses this in her Christmas cards:
Lovely, isn't it? And then mom said, "...maybe I should take one more." And Chase did this:

I worry about that kid.
This next one is me and dad. The picture was taken under the very flattering light of my parents kitchen:
I think you can see, even in this picture, how fun he is. The look on his face here, like he's on the verge of a joke, is one of my favorite looks.
And this next picture is us, seven years ago, when we all went to Prince Edward Island for vacation. I still can't believe I got to go. Those books and movies did something inside me. I connected so much with Anne Shirley. I crushed on Gilbert so hard it made my heart hurt. And then, when I was in college, my parents saved up their $ and took us all to PEI so I could really see it. (I get teary even now when I talk about it!)And they made a point of showing me the places and things that had inspired Lucy Maude Montgomery to write her stories. We toured the places she loved. Saw the town where she grew up. Saw where she lived. Saw the church where she played piano. Anne is real on the page but I think my parents wanted me to know, to remember, that Maude (that's what her friends called her) really lived.

When we drove to the red cliffs, and I sat on the edge of the world and watched the ocean crinkle under the sun, my dad put his arm around me and said, "I bet Maude doubted herself too. I bet she almost gave up a time or two. I'm sure glad she didn't, aren't you?"

Here's me and Dad at Green Gables, back when he was rocking a stache:

See the way I'm looking up at him?

I've always looked at him that way. I know a hero when I see one.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks for loving my stargirl-freckles. Thanks for flying me around the room, so I could hold the stars in my hands for awhile. Thanks for listening to my stories. Thanks for Johnny Cash Saturdays. Thanks for the fart machine.

Love you.

Tomorrow I'm giving away books & pink stuff as part of my "I'm Dreaming of a Pink Christmas" Extravaganza. I am far too excited about this (chocolate is involved). Don't forget to swing back by and enter. I will do my best not to eat the chocolate before then ...


  1. Girl, you rock. This post totally brought tears to my eyes. I'm a total Daddy's girl, and though I don't have freckles...wowzers, did you dig up some emotion this morning. You are SUCH a gifted writer! And your dad sounds pretty awesome too. :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. That was such a great blog entry. Thanks for sharing all of this, Nats.

  3. Love this and LOVE your dad! There will never be another Doo-Dah. :)

  4. What a sweet post! :) I loved it. Your dad sounds awesome.


  5. P.S. I forgot to say that I can completely relate to you about the tanning thing. My town has more tanning salons that I can count, and almost every girl under the age of 35 has a permanent, year-round tan. And almost every girl over 35 is developing wrinkly, leathery skin.

    I used to want a tan, but no more. No way do I want to risk skin cancer and bad skin later just to look tan now.

    I laugh when I read "Pride and Prejudice," when the Bingley sisters accuse Lizzie of looking brown and coarse, from being outside a lot. Being tan used to be considered unattractive! How times have changed.


  6. I get this. My daddy is my hero too. He's the father of 6 daughters and no sons, so at this point he's become quite the softy. He delightfully indulges us when we want to go to their house and have our annual "Anne-fest", watching all of the movies on one rainy day. He always cries when Matthew dies, and tells us, "Poppies sure do love their babies." (We call him Poppie)

    And I understand about your freckles. Very much. I get mine from my Poppie. I even have one on the bottom of my foot that I thought was a stubborn splinter for the longest time. Our Daddy always told us they were "Angel kisses". I used to tell that to my friends while they were getting tans and teasing me about being white. Even if it sounded dorky, it made me feel better... I plan on telling my children the same thing.

  7. I loved this post. The dream made me laugh very hard. Ah, tans. I can't tan either, and I am SO not going to a cancer bed. And coming from a girl with tons of freckles, I love what your dad said. He sounds awesome. I have a pretty special dad too. My mom tells me I'm just like him and I take it as the biggest compliment. My favorite thing about him is when he's doing something like working from home, or watching an important football game and he'll stop and look at me and tell me that he loves me.

  8. I love all the connections you make in this post. Lovely writing and lovely gift to your dad!

  9. Your dad is awesome. :) Can't wait to try the nail polish out!! I have yet to try Essie.

  10. Ohmygollyhoppingjumpingjacks,

    :) First, I very recently bought Willy Wonka for a whole 5 bucks at walmart. Apparently, I'm the only person who digs Gene Wilder's performance to the enchantingly wonderful Mr. Gorgeous Johnny Depp.

    :) Second, nothing has changed at all around here. :) There's still the tans swimming about everywhere, they're going to take over one day and force my paleness into a *gasp* tanning bed, i just know it.

    :) Thirdly, I totally remember the body cast days. Like no joke, in fact there is a little picture floating around of the event still. I was reading the paper ;)

    AND el numero four :) believe it or not... I totally had a dream four days ago that I was a Jedi come to free the world of killer marshmallows and sew together a wedding dress?? :) haha I know, I have weird dreams.

    Uber amounts of love from the place covered in snow :)

  11. Love, love, love this. My gosh, can I adopt your dad?

  12. As I was reading this I was reminded of a beautiful song. Think cos you wre talking about stars and yeah..semi relates lol Heres the link to it:

    Have fab day
    Hannah :)