Actually, that's what you're supposed to say to me. After all, I'm the one returning to the world of blogging.
So, I'll wait while you congratulate me on my triumphant return.
Why, thank you. And yes Nancy from Tacoma, I do look great, thanks for noticing.
So, here I am. This will be my third (that's the one that's a charm right?) time attempting to write a blog and if you scroll down a bit you'll note that my last entry was 4 years ago. I still haven't figured out the formatting, some text is sort of janky, but I'm here and I'm trying.
A lot has happened in four years. I've changed jobs twice. I've had a baby who is now a toddler. I'm still madly in love with my husband. I have become highly dependent on the use of Gifs and Emoji to accurately convey my feelings in group texts.
And, of course, I am still scrapbooking.
Today I am going to share a layout that I just completed which I think shows the evolution I have experienced as a scrapbooker in the last four years. Ever since the magnificent Ali Edwards started her story kit subscription, I have changed the way I scrapbook or, stated more accurately, the way I tell stories through scrapbooking. I will address this more in future posts but for now, let's get to the layout.
This is a vulnerable story- and that's become my favorite kind to tell. Just like this adorable card says, "Connection is about being fucked-up together. There is no humanity in perfection."
So, I hope this will be a safe place for this story. I mean, the internet is a generally safe place right?
Famous last words. (Insert concerned emoji face)
Here is the journaling from the layout:
It all started with talk of the "bulbous tip."
I sat at the kitchen table with my parents my Junior year of high school talking negatively about my nose. They talked with ease about my mom's rhinoplasties as she also had the dreaded "bulbous tip." (I would in later years be casually talking to a friend in the kitchen about Brian's bulbous tip when he would overhear walking downstairs, offended and concerned that he had this feature. I assured him that i t works better with his face which, oddly, it does.)
My memory is foggy on the details but I remember pieces. I remember my parents being very breezy and completely supportive. I remember my friend Eric sitting me down the night before the surgery, pleading with me to reconsider and assuring me I was beautiful just the way I was. I remember thinking that I was just like a character in Clueless- except that I was a side character in the back of the classroom massaging her nose in a mirror, not like Cher with her perfectly pleated skirts and porcelain skin.
I remember the black marks the doctor placed on my face in the three way mirror at our consultation, explaining where my features were misaligned and how he could correct them. I remember the room lights dimmed so that the bulbs lining the mirror shined even brighter as he took a black marker and drew dotted lines around my face. My nose seemed enormous, looming far beyond the rest of my face as if a rogue character who would never yield to the laws of beauty until tamed by his surgeon hands. I can still see my head turned to the right, the doctor showing me how far back my chin was in comparison to the looming nose. "See that?" he commented as I nodded in agreement.
I remember the feeling of urgency as I walked out of the office that day, thinking the surgery couldn't come soon enough- my face was misaligned! My bulbous tip was taking over!
I remember the doctor was young and relatively new. I remember wondering if he enjoyed his job and whether he thought I was pretty. I remember the waiting room of the office and the fancy feeling of being there. I remember years later my mom commenting on my nose, scrunching her face and saying she wished we had found a better plastic surgeon.
The surgery was the summer before my senior year. This was a summer where I was no longer a Devilette but still friends with the people on the team. I had a new part time job at Subway. I was dating Ben Wissel. It seemed like perfect timing, it would be completely healed by college and I was pretty free that summer to recover. Part of the surgery involved breaking my nose at the top in order to make it smaller, shaving it down and realigning it. I can still feel the jagged bone at the bridge where it was broken.
There ended up being two follow up surgeries. One because cartilage broke off (no clue why) and one to remove the chin implant that became infected, likely from my lack of cleanliness as I was too afraid and too squeamish to clean it. I was afraid of it because I didn't understand how it could stay in place. Would it somehow come loose like the rogue cartilage on my nose? Would it travel all over my body, eventually migrating to my nose and creating yet another of the dreaded bulbous tip?
This was the first time I had ever had surgery and I don't remember being scared. I remember lying on the table, counting back from 100 as I got the anesthesia. I remember being wheeled out of the surgery room and into a hallway where my mom stood talking to the staff. My mind was foggy as I was waking up but for some reason I was able to interject as my mom spoke wildly, flailing her arms.
"Did you get in an accident?" I asked.
"How did you know?!" she exclaimed, explaining that she wrecked my car pulling into McDonald's. I don't remember caring about the car, just feeling excited that I was finally fixed.
I remember feeling that I needed to live up to the surgery. That I was being given a gift, a gift of beauty. I felt that I should honor the gift by doing my part and being as beautiful as I could be.
I laid in bed with pain medications and my cat, Jinnie, for a week as I recovered. Friends visited and I made a point to get photos with them. I had just started scrapbooking at this point! I couldn't smile because I needed to keep my face really still so I look sort of crazy in the photos. I remember telling Rachel and Angie and Katie to stop making me laugh because I wasn't supposed to move my face.
The worst part of the experience was in a follow up appointment. The doctor told me that he needed to inject steroids directly into my nose to keep it strong and prevent it from collapsing. This had happened to my mom so I knew it was important. It was by far the worst pain I had experienced until that point. I remember being alone as he injected three long needles into my nose, my head pressed hard against the chair in resistance.
I will never forget the disappointment I felt the moment the bandage was removed. I had been peeking obsessively under the bandage the week after the surgery, dying to get a glimpse of my new face. They told me it would be swollen for awhile and take about a year to settle in but I didn't really get it until I felt the disappointment. It looked even bigger. I felt like I had a pig face- it truly looked like a snout! It was even swollen for my senior pictures, very disappointing since I was sure they would be the perfect way to show off my new face.
nose has finally "settled."
Visually, it's not the nose that I imagined it would be, but then again, neither is any part of my physical body. I always assumed growing up that I would eventually become that perfect type of beautiful I always dreamed of. It always seemed like it was ten pounds and one hair product away.
I know now that it's all an illusion. And,
more importantly, an illusion that isn't even worth my time.
Honestly, I feel fine about it. I think my nose looks fine. More importantly, I sort of don't care what my nose looks like. It's just a nose. It can smell and breathe and I think that's about all I really should expect from it.
Thinking back on this experience is weird. I feel really separated from the part of myself that went
through it. The person I am today would never choose to get that surgery for a variety of reasons. But I
also wouldn't change anything because I know that I had to go through that experience to become the
person I am today.
The only thing that I regret is how this will impact Ellie. I like to look at photos and see similarities in family member features. I love how I can see part of my brother's smile in our great uncle that I never met. I love that people say Chad looks just like his sweet grandfather.
But now I feel like that will never happen with Ellie. If she does get the bulbous tip, will she be ashamed? Will she see it as something that needs fixed because I once did? Have we lost a connection in the way we look? There is no longer that thread, from grandmother, to mother to her where we all share similar facial features. It's as though I've isolated myself physically with a nose not carved by genetics but rather by a mildly talented plastic surgeon. I feel sort of sad that I ever looked at myself in the mirror and deemed the blessed body I was given to not be good enough.
I have come a long way in terms of developing a positive body image and healthy relationship with my body. I appreciate my body. I do not allow myself to criticize the way I look based on cultural standards or what is seen as acceptable to others. I believe in health and wellness and giving my body what it needs so that I can fulfill my purpose in this life. But the fact that I underwent elective surgery to change something handed down to me from generations of family because the bulbous tip is not currently en vogue?
Well, it's a little bit sad.
Sometimes I wonder if the societal pressure women feel to look perfect is intentional systemic oppression intended to derail and disempower us from reaching our true potential.
But that's for another scrapbook layout.
Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. This experience is a marker for me in terms of showing me how far I've come. It's an important part of my history and a story that needed to be told. And to my dear sweet Ellie, if you do get a bulbous tip, please, please embrace it. I promise it's beautiful. It's a part of history that I no longer hold but that you might get to. Focus on the function of your body. It's a vessel so that you can live your life, not the purpose of your life.
And anyway, do you think Rudolph would have led that sleigh without his big bulbous tip?
I don't think so! #fingersnap