Sometimes I want to be a housewife, and other profoundly embarrassing confessions that reveal how terrible of a human being I am.

Everyone has the odd guilty thought. Often, these secret desires aren’t as bad one thinks they are—everyone has them, how bad can they be? But some people are entirely unaware that such horrid thoughts constitute a severe flaw in their personality or credo in the eyes of upstanding, sensible people. These are sociopaths mainly, and social conservatives.

Being a painfully self-aware person, I happen to think my own secret yearnings are of a particularly bad variety. I mean so awful, so shallow, so depraved, I should crawl under a rock somewhere and simply cease to exist.

They aren’t so terrible, in and of themselves. It’s just that they’re egregious given who I am as a person, or the kind of person I purport to be anyway. My ego is doing a lousy job of keeping my id, the driver of base, primordial, instinctual desires, in check. And it’s making my lofty superego cringe. Or at least I’ll claim to you that this is the case, for the purposes of this post. Exaggeration makes for more interesting reading.

But no, really, I am very ashamed of having these thoughts and desires, and go out of my way not to admit them to most people. This semi-anonymous blog, however, is the ideal therapeutic outlet—sometimes you have to admit how shitty you are as a person to come to terms with yourself and…umm, elevate?

In truth, there is no cathartic reasoning behind this post—some of these confessions, or parts thereof, are ones I have made before to close friends. Others, I would never dare utter. No, no—this post is to serve as an introduction to the cognitive dissonance that plagues this particular femme demi-bohéme (I’m quite certain the accenting on that is completely wrong, I haven’t had French since middle school).

Now, onto the relevant subject matter. My list of gut-wrenchingly horrible confessions:

Sometimes I want to be a housewife.[1]

I think this is a controversial thing to admit as a highly educated and “empowered” woman today. I should be out there taking advantage of my earning capacity. Contributing to the economy. Securing my own financial wellbeing. I went to an Ivy League university and a highly prestigious law school for heaven’s sake! That’s 7 years of extremely expensive higher education I would be frittering away by opting to limit myself to the “domestic sphere.”

All that higher education set me up to think I would work an office job—highly skilled and highly paid. Yet at every office environment I happened upon, I immediately felt stifled—trapped. When I was set up at what should have been my permanent job, supposedly the start of my career, I careened into a dark depression. I would toss and turn at night, thinking about how I should be at culinary school so I could run a quaint café in a couple of years. How I ought to be taking a flower-arranging lesson, attending a figure drawing session at an art studio, learning judo, or writing a novel. My impulse was, and still is, to improve myself or run my own business, as opposed to being strapped to an office desk at Corporate Entity X.

I realize that many people feel this way, but continue to work at jobs like these nonetheless, because it’s easiest to keep doing what you’re already doing. But my emotional volatility and resentment of hierarchy made me a particularly miserable office employee.

As for homemaking—I do in fact enjoy housework a bit. I love to cook (self-evident if you know me, having ditched a potentially lucrative legal career for culinary school); have recently grown to tolerate the act of ironing (I am, at best, mediocre at it, but you can’t show up to culinary school with a rumpled apron); I always make my bed in the morning (this sounds trivial, but it is a great feat of discipline); and I like keeping my home neat and tidy, if not exactly in pristine condition (that’s for the cleaning lady to do once a week). I’m also good at stretching a budget for all its worth (I never forget to punch my loyalty card at my neighborhood coffee shop and always buy the cheapest dishwasher detergent on offer at the supermarket).

halloween1

Bliss!

I think I might even make a decent mother. I’ll admit I am a little skeptical about the whole pregnancy thing. It seems like an awfully uncomfortable thing to have to go through, the payoff being a screaming creature that won’t let you sleep through the night. I’m also afraid of holding babies. But, you know, if it were to happen, I think I’d apply myself to it. My children would eat delicious, healthy food. I would be firm, yet loving. I would encourage hobbies and reading and learning for learning’s sake. They would have an expansive vocabulary. They would talk to me openly about their worries and triumphs. In a word, my kids would be well looked after and so blossom into wonderful individuals. They would be a welcome addition to the general populace as opposed to bratty wastes of space.

There’s just a bit of a snag, however, when it comes to fulfilling this deep-rooted desire. A housewife needs a spouse, right? Preferably a working partner, with a steady, if not astronomical, income. Hmmm. Well, considering the last person I was seriously involved with was very committed to remaining unemployed (being similar to me in both inclination and temperament), and no other prospective candidate has popped up as of late, my hideously conventional, dismayingly reactionary desire to become the dream housewife is shelved for the time being.

I occasionally consider getting a nose job.

To be sure, I am a proponent of natural beauty—I loathe the artificial aesthetic: excessive makeup, over-plucked eyebrows, that overt cosmetic modification look (puffed lips, botox-stiffened faces, noses far too slim and uniform for their own good, and those unrealistic spherical breasts you see at the beach). So entertaining the notion of getting a nose job goes against everything I believe in.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying people ought to be ashamed of getting or considering any kind of cosmetic surgery. An individual can be genuinely affected by a certain aspect of his or her appearance, a subtle adjustment of which could result in a massive spike in self-esteem and happiness. That’s one of the wonderful perks of the modern age we live in.

But I’m not one of those people. I have very little to complain about. My nose isn’t that bad. If anything, it has a bit of character. It’s a mite large, a touch wide, and has that endearing septum-drop that some of the world’s favorite actresses have—Sandra Bullock and Audrey Hepburn immediately spring to mind. All in all, it doesn’t detract from my features. Except in photos. But I rarely photograph well, and the blame shouldn’t fall on my nose alone. Maybe that strange face I seem to invariably make when I pose for photos, scrunching my chin up into my neck, is the real culprit. But unlike several friends and acquaintances that have actual complaints to lodge about their nose (size, shape, sinus trouble), mine has been good to me.

 

Unknown-1

A non-surgical option

But let’s discuss the origin of this nasty, nagging preoccupation with my schnoz. I’ll be frank—I blame my mother. Yes, it’s extremely simplistic to put this on her, but I’m doing it nonetheless.

It started when I was a tween. I was an adorable, and I might even say, rather pretty kid, but when I hit ten, eleven, twelve, something happened. My face puffed up. Very upsettingly, my breasts did too. To rebel against my encroaching femininity, I cut my hair short—and not in a cute, sophisticated way. It just didn’t do my swollen, zitty face any favors. Looking back at photographs from that era, that haircut was most heinous. Anyway, I was already an insecure teen, sporting what was likely the worst hairstyle at school.

My mother chose this time of vulnerability to suggest that I get a nose job when I hit sixteen. Predictably, I was enraged. The Bobo of yore was bookish, grungy, a rebel—a temperamental/existentialist artist (maybe?) in the making; a young woman of real substance. How dare she imply that I should engage in such shallow preoccupations! Whenever she brought it up again thereafter, later on in my teens, I would dismiss the notion out of hand, citing the character and individuality of my beak as desirable qualities. Look at Uma Thurman or Meryl Streep—their noses are not perfect. Did they cave when their mothers suggested going under the knife? I daresay they did not![2]

But she kept on about it, going so far as to book an appointment with a plastic surgeon on Harley Street for a consultation. He agreed with her—“Mmhmm. Indeed young lady, it could be refined at the sides, and the tip could be scaled down. Just a bit, for a more delicate look, nothing at all too drastic.” I was so chagrined I barely said three words to her the rest of that day.

As I grew older, my face grew into my nose. Or my nose adjusted to my face. Whatever it was, my bone structure developed in such a way that my mother finally dropped the topic. But these days, I’m the one who’ll entertain the idea. Not regularly. But you know, sometimes I think about it. Wouldn’t I look that much more beautiful if I just refined it a touch? Something really, really subtle done by a highly skilled surgeon. Maybe that guy she had taken me to ten plus years ago… No one would be able to tell. I bet then I would photograph better… And then I’m distracted by something else—ooh, iced coffee! And any thought of my nose’s inadequacy dissipates for months on end.

Nevertheless, whenever the notion nags at me somewhat more persistently, all I have to do is recall this one Nip/Tuck episode I watched years ago. That show was rather explicit; they often displayed some of the gorier aspects of the procedures involved. In this particular episode, the surgeons were preforming a rhinoplasty. The surgeon made a painstaking incision, gingerly revealing the cartilage and bone that constituted the patient’s nose. He holds aloft a hammer and chisel. Not delicate instruments, mind you, those things were sizeable. And then, he just bashed the shit out of her nose. That image alone does an excellent job of putting the kibosh on the whole thing for me.

Do blondes have more fun?

Women love to experiment with their hair: highlights, lowlights, ombre (am I spelling it right?), a platinum blonde base with overtones of pink or some other unearthly color, relaxers, perms, extensions and weaves. This sort of experimentation can be very stylish. It can make you look neat, or adventurous, or risqué. It can transform a plain Jane into a total glamour-puss. But it’s expensive, requires maintenance, and can do a great deal of damage to your hair. 

Being a very lazy woman, usually on a tight budget, I’ve never gone in for any of these treatments. Not even once. I’ve cut my hair incredibly short before (the aforementioned disaster cut in my youth, then far better, more sophisticated looks as a young lady boasting a much-improved bone structure), a drastic change from my usual shoulder length curls, but that’s about it.

I’m very lucky— having extracted myself from the stress-fest that is the corporate world (much to the detriment of my bank account), I only have about three gray hairs as I head into my thirties. Hopefully the greys will be kept at bay.

But once I do go grey, I’ve already developed a time- and cost-effective strategy to cope. Unlike most of the other women I know, who fight tooth and nail to conceal the silvery creepers, I’m going to let it be. I’m going to cut it very short again, and be that bohemian auntie who walks around in leggings and over-sized sweaters, adorning myself with chunky necklaces and rings. This will ensure that I appear to be generally much cooler than all the other middle-aged women you know, and much more nonconformist than I really am.

That said, I do look at the light-haired women around me and can’t help but marvel at how fabulous their tresses look. Their hair can go unwashed for five days and it still looks fresh. Bed-head looks sexy on them. Their curls, perhaps as frizzy as mine are at that given moment, look like a flaxen halo, whereas mine imply I probably should have spent a little more time with my John Frieda Frizz-Ease spritzer that morning. Not to mention the range of color gradation possible with blonde hair. Sometimes you see these “sandy” blondes who have undertones of dark brown, light brown, deep blond, then light blond, all in the same head of hair. I’m not sure if that’s a naturally occurring phenomenon or courtesy of their neighborhood salon, but I’m likin’ it! That just doesn’t happen when you’re a brunette, unlike you’re a very light brunette, verging on blonde.

So yes, I often try to picture myself as a blonde. My imagination, which has never been my strong point, leads me to believe it would look ridiculous in the extreme. Recently, I’ve begun entertaining the possibility of getting those roguish, interspersed blonde/light brown highlights. Those might look good, no?

images

What a lovely blonde helmet

Or they might look ridiculously trashy. Not to mention that they would probably have to bleach the living daylights out of my locks first in order to dye them and, given the extreme darkness of my hair, eventually leave me with those really brassy orange/green colored highlights that are the universal marker of a bad dye job. So for now, I’m going to sit on the sidelines of the dye game and maintain my same old fluffy brown ‘do.

I want to be thinner.

Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed with good proportions. Like most people, I’ve occasionally ballooned in size—let me see…there was freshman year of college when I put on about 8 kilos; and then there were the ten extra kilos I carried while on a high dosage of medication. And of course, everyone gains a bit of weight during the winter months. But for the most part, knock on wood, I fit in most of my clothes and even manage to look good sometimes. There is nothing to complain about here.

But I’d be lying if, in the privacy of my own home, I didn’t occasionally grab the flesh of my thighs, pull it taught, and imagine that I was just that little bit smaller. Just that teeny-weeny bit. Just a couple of centimeters shaved off, and I would look, like, soooooooo hot. Those ghastly dimples on my bum would be a thing of the past. My hips would be slimmer, more toned. I’d look sexier in a bathing suit. I might even fit comfortably in a pair of Diesel jeans! (In all honesty I never wear Diesel jeans anymore, because one, they are no longer cool and two, I am convinced those things weren’t designed with the female form in mind.)

This is all very silly of course. And incredibly vain. Because while I stand there, fixated on a centimeter or two, there are women who are ten, fifteen, thirty lbs overweight.[3] That poor teenage girl, verging on obesity, who’s just forced herself into this summer’s hot pants so she’s not the odd one out when she hits the mall with her thin friends. The new mother who just can’t shake the baby weight. The close friend who’s fat accumulates in awkward, hard to target sites, like the upper arms and back.

I’ve been spoilt by the gene pool, which has given me what is, while by no means the lithe and willowy proportions of a model, something I can work with.

And if I’m so unhappy with it, why not work on it? Why not tone those thighs, work those abs, pump that chest? Why not cut out sugar from my diet, and enforce a no carbs after 4 pm rule—a very effective regimen followed by a very close, and rather fit gay friend.[4] Why not engage in in a low-cardio (i.e. fat burning) activity, like a forty-five minute reasonably paced walk every day? Why not?

I ask myself these questions on a weekly basis. Aaaand yet I do none of these things.

I want to buy everything.

Have I mentioned before that I’m on a budget? Let me mention it again—I’m on a budget. Not an extremely rigid one or anything, but it’s a guilt-inspired self-restraint of expenses. My family has been so kind and supportive to me, and that has included supporting me financially while “I find myself.” They’ve been too financially generous in fact; there’s nothing like being out on the street without a penny to your name to metaphorically kick you in the proverbial pants. But no, that is not the way of my wonderful, caring family. So I get to sit in a coffee shop and write instead of working minimum wage at a pub kitchen (a job I did in fact have at one point, so don’t look down your nose at me so hard there, Ms. Fancy Office Job).

Based on my self-inflicted lack of financial security, I’ve turned down holidays with friends, dinners out (my weakness—this is something that I do tend to spend money on when I shouldn’t, and feel quite bad about later) and invites to parties (because I am so damn tired of answering that question, “So, what do you do?”). When I go shopping with friends, I’m the passive window shopper, the friend they turn to for opinions. And I try my best to be okay with that.

I scoff at my sister’s lavish 80-pound haircut, and I make peace with the unevenness of my 40-pound trim (well, I upgraded to a 50-pound salon recently and it is most excellent). I wear my sister’s nice clothes and fancy shoes, but when I do go shopping, I restrict myself to the high street shops and the occasional vintage store. I was upset (or at least claimed to be) when my dad surprised me with a spanking new MacBook Air, telling him it was a waste of money and an Acer would have done the job.[5]

I haven’t been gainfully employed in a while, and therefore I am undeserving of nice things—it’s a tradeoff: I’ve obtained a certain degree of peace of mind and freedom to live at the cost of being able to afford the finer things in life, and I’m okay with the consequences of that decision.

At least, that’s what I try to get myself to think.

Unfortunately, I really, really, really like the finer things in life. When I pass a well-dressed woman in the street I can’t help but assess her outfit and make a mental checklist of the things she’s wearing that I would love to own. I admire the Chanel bags all these young girls seem to draping nonchalantly across their bodies these days. I eye the Louboutins an acquaintance is wearing to dinner critically, and try to remind myself that, if you really think about it, they’re kind of trashy—unsuccessfully, because I still want them (in flats and stilettos).

A good friend of mine, once upon a time a huge “bag-whore,” has recently become more financially aware and has started going in for “fakies.” She gets them from the leather markets in Istanbul, where they craft high-quality knock-offs that don’t come cheap—about £100-200 a pop. But that sort of sensible approach to accessorizing is not for me. I want the real thing, or bust.

In a way, it’s not about what image I present to the world, so much as the private knowledge that I own this beautiful, tasteful, and ridiculously expensive item. The admiration garnered from onlookers is merely a bonus. As a result of my firm no-knock-offs policy, I haven’t bought one of those fancy handbags in about four years. They are monstrously expensive and spending that kind of money when 1) I don’t make any; 2) you could buy something far more useful instead (like a sofa or an espresso machine); 3) poverty is widespread worldwide, etc.

Instead I do vintage—perusing the shelves until I locate something reasonably priced, unique, and in good condition. Oh, and my sister buys these sorts of things so I often just ride her coattails on this one.

This same fixation on the finest in life doesn’t just extend to clothes, bags and shoes, but furniture, housewares, paintings in galleries, the hotels I want to stay at when I holiday. Whatever sort of consumable is out there, including food. I want the best of the best. I want it all. Well, at least the things I find pleasing to the senses. That doesn’t always mean the most expensive thing out there. Sometimes it means dumplings from that hole-in-the-wall in the LES/Chinatown boundary where the menu is entirely in Cantonese. But a lot of these things are very expensive and it’s all very upsetting.

outside2

Things like this might convince you the best things in life come cheap. And no, this is not the place I used to go to in NY.

I want all the best things that money can buy, but to ensure that they regularly come my way, that means I ought throw in the towel and become the corporate drone I was slated to become. That would be the easiest route to the fat paycheck necessary to indulge in all (or some—the world has become far too expensive these days) of my material desires. But given my bizarre temperament and erratic personality, that would be a bad idea, for both me and the unfortunate establishment that would make the mistake of hiring me, so I’m not going to go there. For now, I’m going to sit here longing for fabulous things but not doing much about it.

Why is this by far the most difficult confession for me to make? Well, in my own rather goofy and extremely casual manner, I nurse an irresistible fixation on elegance, good taste, and grace. I find ostentatious displays of wealth to be anything but.

Money as a concept doesn’t impress me very much, because it isn’t always the result of hard work, dedication, business acumen or creativity—things I deeply respect. Anyone can make it big by inheriting a rich uncle, scoring a contract for an insipid reality TV show, or selling arms to militias in Balochistan. Not impressed.

When my friend whips out his slim, little dark brown Bottega Veneta wallet to pay for a latte, what impresses me about it is not how expensive that item is, but how tasteful it was of him to have bought it. But the only impressive thing about the girl who gabbed incessantly about her daddy’s villa in Cannes being renovated over lunch was just how overwhelmingly insecure she must be.

It’s difficult for me to reconcile my love of opulence with my loathing for ostentation. The dissonance here is extreme, but I suppose spending one’s cash on clean, elegant, and well-designed items that have been crafted for life—subtle luxuries, if you will (Scandinavians excel at this, hence my devotion to COS)—is the way to go.

In conclusion, I am awful.  

It all comes full circle. If I did these things—say, dyed my hair a lighter shade; got that nose job; shredded that body; and rocked the expensive handbags, shoes and outfits; and hung out in only the most exclusive restaurants, hotels and bars, well, the chances of happening upon and entrapping that mythical high-earning executive-style husband-creature would be immeasurably higher. Then all my dreams of a lavish, leisurely lifestyle would materialize.

But am I going to do all, or any of these things? Of course not! These aren’t the things that I want in life. They’re fun to think about sometimes, but they just aren’t me.

I would be a horrible blonde—ugly in the extreme. I am too afraid to get a nose job—what if they botch it and I have to get another one? I find the gym terribly tiresome. I love my carbs far too much to even contemplate cutting them from my diet. And on any day of the week, I would choose a small, quiet restaurant that no one knows about over a scene-y resto-lounge in Mayfair, because, let’s be honest: those places are cheesy and full of douchebags and their dates.

In fact, attempting to live that way would most likely cause my heart or my head, or maybe both, to explode.

Except maybe the bit about being a mom and have fab kids and a lovely home but still getting to paint and write and go to yoga and all that. That would really be the best.


[1] Notice I didn’t the word “just.” I am in no-way belittling all those stay-at home moms who are a pivotal part of making their household function. Those women have a very demanding 24/7 job. But don’t forget those ladies who lunch, spend hours at the gym and embark on all-day shopping sprees. My mom was a combination of these two housewife variants.

[2] I in fact have no idea whether or not these two actresses have had plastic surgery, or if their mothers, agents, etc., ever suggested that they do.

[3] Fret not readers, I do my best to never, ever, EVER, bring up this silly preoccupation in public, particularly not in front of friends who are actually a little overweight. Trust me, nothing is more infuriating than a thin girl who complains she’s fat around her friends who are obviously fatter than her, even if they’re average-sized. It’s self-absorbed and makes your friends feel lousy for no goddamn reason. If you are one of these people, please, for the love of all that is holy, stop indulging yourself in this fashion and worry about other, more important aspects in your life. If you do this because you have an eating disorder, I suggest you seek help immediately.

[4] There is a lot of pressure on gay men to adhere to a set of stringent “hot body” criteria. Just like straight men’s feminine ideal is a toned woman with curves in all the right places and largely lacking in excess poundage, gay men are held to the same standard, except for dudes. This often means putting in a lot of hours at the gym and watching what they eat, which sounds like a real drag.

[5] Right now however, I’m so elated with my new machine I keep giving it mental hugs all day.