A Loud But Tiny Portal

I will look much like this after I've won the lottery. I treasure my anonymity. I wrap it around myself like a burrito wraps itself around beans. It allows me to write whatever I want. It (usually) keeps me from offending people. It makes me falsely brave, and allows me to share deep, neurotic confidences with strangers. Like this one, for example. I know, it also means that I’m chicken shit, but I’ll go with that. I’ve always maintained that being invisible frees me up creatively. I try to stay honest, and I try to stay true, but really, if all my real-life friends and family were reading the things I post, it would seriously cramp my style. I’d be disowned, disavowed, disinherited from my vast family fortune and by now, fired from about six different jobs.

So I hide. I like hiding.

It’s become a bit complicated lately. My blog friend. Wendy and her husband, Buck, recently hired me to write for them, and it’s been wonderful and fun and fantastic. I’m meeting new people, telling their stories, and making them happy. I’m taking photos of their motorcycles, which in essence are bikers’ babies, and who wouldn’t be delighted to have someone brag about their baby? Who wouldn’t be thrilled to do that for a living? I know I am.

In the beginning, when I first  started writing for them, Wendy said, “I realize that this is going to cause you to have a panic attack, but y’know, at some point we’re going to need a picture of you. We show photos of all of our writers.” Bear in mind that after all these years, Wendy’s never seen me. In fact, I use my blog name when we speak on the phone (I do have a few friends who call me “Moonie,” so that’s not such a big deal), and I always use a pseudonym when I write. Still, when she told me this, I promptly agreed to comply, then conveniently forgot all about it.

It all goes back to anonymity. I’m glad that you can’t see me, that you have no preconceived notions about me based on the way I look, unless perhaps you imagine me like that little photo in the upper right hand corner of this page. But mostly, I like it that the words go from my fingertips to your brain, with no visuals of me to clog things up.  I could look like Quasimodo’s big sister, and you’d never know.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Buck on the phone, and he brought up the subject of my name, which isn’t really my name, but in a way kind of is. “I think you should be writing under the name ‘Moonbeam’,” he said.

“I can’t.” I whined. “I’m just kind of weird about it. I want to keep my blog writing separate from my other writing. I don’t want to mess with my online persona. I don’t want to confuse my readers.”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “Because your blog makes you so much money.” Touché.

Anyway, none if this is really what this blog post is about. What this blog post is about is that, at the root of all of these neuroses, is a deficiency in self-esteem. I’m less than fond of the way I look, especially in profile. I hate having pictures taken of myself, and have gone so far as to contact friends on Facebook to request that they remove my visage, so as to keep from upchucking on my computer screen. It mortifies me. I’m fighting with middle age (okay, old age), and while I like the way I look just fine in my mind, a photographic image serves as a reminder that what I see in my head is not what the rest of the world sees. It’s a phobia, and I’ve had it since childhood.

So Wendy called me again. “We need a photo.”

Buck e-mailed me. “We need a photo.” I started getting hives.

I contacted my daughter and asked her if she’d shoot some pictures of me, knowing that she is the only person on Earth patient enough to snap 14,000 images so that maybe, just maybe, I could cull one good one. I’m also comfortable enough with her so that my face doesn’t contort into a series of blinks, tics, scowls and other assorted unpleasant expressions during the photographic process. She agreed to do it.

By the way, Wendy is the Queen of Photoshop, and this made me feel a little less anxious. I’ve seen evidence of her skillz. She swore she could make me blonde and twenty, and I believed her. “You’re like a surgeon,” I told her earnestly.

My daughter took a bunch a photos, and a few were actually almost decent. I e-mailed five head shots to Wendy.  “Feel free to remove all wrinkles, gray hairs and pores,” I wrote. In actuality, I wanted her to remove my head, but that seemed a little overboard.

She sent me back a very sweet e-mail. “You’re beautiful,” she lied. “I hardly had to do anything to it. Let me know what you think.” I opened the attached, Photoshopped picture, expecting to be airbrushed to the hilt. I was hoping for goddess, though I would’ve settled for soccer mom. But what Wendy did was to correct a flaw that I didn’t know I had.  A new flaw, another body part to obsess about.

Wendy gave me lips.

“Oh my god,” I told Amadeus. “Wendy gave me lips.” They weren’t big, pookie Angelina Jolie lips; she just added a little padding, a little definition.

I thought I’d completed my mental list of plastic surgery objectives long ago. The eye lift, the face lift, rhinoplasty, chin-oplasty, implants, the waist-to-knee liposuction, the works. But I’d honestly never considered my lips. Okay, maybe I had, but I guess I was in denial about the extent of my imperfection. I hadn’t realized I needed a Photoshop intervention.

This transpired a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking lips ever since. Keep in mind that this was all for one damned photo, no bigger than a postage stamp, in a magazine that’s only read by bikers.  Still, I’m a professional worrier (PW), and I can’t stop thinking about my lack of lipped-ness. I looked up facercises online, and I’m now doing twenty sets of lip lifts, six times a day. It’s not working.

Tonight, I was looking at photos of Kate Middleton, that British chick who, by the time you read this, will have married Prince, or a prince of some sort. Her photo’s plastered all over my Yahoo mail page, and as I saw Her Thinness waving at her soon-to-be subjects, I noticed that A: She’s beautiful, and B: She’s got thinner lips than I do. This made me happy, but it also made me wonder what other beautiful people suffer from liplessness. I do plan to be beautiful one day, once I’ve won the lottery and completed the Plastic Surgery Wish List, so I started researching.

“Famous women with thin lips,” I Googled.

And so, without further ado, I present my newly compiled List of the Lipless.

Kate Middleton

Kate Moss

Kate Hudson

I wondered– was there a link between being named Kate and having no lips? I quickly looked up other Kates. Katie Couric has no lips at all, and Katy Perry is lacking in upper lip, but Kate Capshaw, Kate Beckinsale and Kate Winslet are pouty, so my theory quickly died.

Jennifer Aniston was listed as lipless, as were Heidi Klum and Reba McEntire. Gwyneth Paltrow is top lipless.  Nicole Kidman used to have lips as thin as rubber bands, but apparently has adopted some fatter ones.

I’m sure there are more lip deficient celebrities, but I had to stop there. My hives were starting to come back. Amadeus, who’s a band instructor and a musician and a sweetie, told me that lips like mine are very good for playing french horn. I wonder which is cheaper, collagen injections or a ten pound brass instrument.

Anyway, I’m taking my angsty self to bed. I’ll do my lip lifts while  praying for the people of  Japan. Then I’ll  fade out, dreaming of playing the french horn in a punk band.

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13 thoughts on “A Loud But Tiny Portal

  1. Claire says:

    OMG. I can always count on you, Moonbeam, to make me laugh. I love the way your mind works.

    I love making you laugh, Claire! It cheers me to know that all of this angst is good for SOMEthing.

  2. Heather says:

    You mean you aren’t Theda Bara?! Or at least a close facsimile or modern day version of?
    I’m crushed! ;-)

    Well, Heather, I do have dark hair. And I wear that same type of headgear. But that chick on the sidebar stays about 30, and I keep getting older. What’s up with that?

  3. David says:

    Two words: HAH!

    Here I’ve been trying to catch your reflection in all those snaps of Harley chrome. Thank you Wendy and Buck for letting the ostrich out of her shell. So she can, uh, play her French horn and shit.

    Sleep tight gorgeous!

    Two words back: Ugh.

    Don’t look for me in chrome, David. I’m in there, but usually shaped like an oil tank or points cover, which adds about 300 pounds to my body and gives me fishbowl face.

  4. Renee Mason says:

    Ever since I turned 50, I’ve noticed a serious diminution of puckerage. Where the hell did those pouty lips go? Are they on sabbatical? Are they planning to return home someday? Moonbeam, if you should see them on the loose, please send them back home immediately. Thanks for another great post!

    It’s another one of God’s cruel jokes, Renee. Aging does cause serious lip deflation. In our younger days, pouting could be sort of cute– now it’s just pathetic. I’m sorry to say that unless we go into prizefighting as a profession, we’re sort of screwed, puckerage-wise.

  5. Ann Marquez says:

    OMG, Moonbeam, I feel your pain and I totally relate. (We could talk! … but I’ll try to not write a novel here.) OH and that lip thing … ! GEEZE, thin AND fading! And how bout that HD TV? Is that a scary thought or what? Forget being on Oprah! No way!!

    I’m not photogenic at all and there are very few photos of me without my hands covering my face. As a matter of fact, I’d love a family photo to hang over the mantel but I think I’ll have to hire someone to do a family caricature instead :)

    I dreaded the author photo and even considered becoming “The Unknown Author” (oh wait, I guess you could say I’m already the unknown author:) But you know… like The Unknown Comic. I thought I’d put a paper bag over my head with a smiley face.
    Instead I got creative with the photo on the back of my book cover. But too much to explain here. Oh and when the local paper asked for my photo… oh I know what you mean. My husband snapped the photo shots and he definitely wasn’t interested in doing 14,000 shots … more like ten and he was done! I had no say.

    I could go on and on but I won’t:) Anyhow… another great post, Moonbeam. As always, interesting stuff … :)

    You’ve made me feel a lot better, Ann. We are so alike. When I wrote this post, I was actually perusing photos of people with paper bags over their heads. It’s definitely my best angle. I’d LOVE to see the photo on the back of your book cover. In fact, I’d like to order a copy of your book. Can you give me info?

    I take the nicest shots of Amadeus. He’s photogenic, and not at all camera shy. I look hideous in all the ones he takes of me, and at first, I chalked it up to my lack of photogeneticism. Lately though, I’ve decided to attribute it to the fact that I must simply be a better photographer. It’s not true, it’s just how I prefer to look at it. It’s not my face, it’s the camera angles.

    Thank God Oprah has ended her show, and we no longer have to freak out about our future appearances. Radio is a great medium, and I’ll fantasize instead about being on Fresh Air. I’d look flawless over sound waves.

  6. ivdanu says:

    Moonbeen, I can give half of my pouty lips…no big deal to have them if you are a man, I suppose… Glad to have again a bit of leisure time & be able to read your witty prose…

    Danu– do you think I’ve waited long enough to answer this? So sorry! I will be thrilled to take the lip donation. It sounds sort of gross and painful if I think about it too hard, but the end result would probably be worth it (for me, anyway!). I hope things are going great for you!!! I miss your art.

  7. linniew says:

    Hi Moonbeam– I like it here. I might just move into the closet or the back porch.
    Today I’m adding things to my blog, which is a kind of whiny unfocused not educational gardening blog, and I’m adding your link to what is so far a very little list because you make happy funny incisive incomparable sense. Love it.

    Linnie- I believe I answered this on your blog a while back, but since I’m playing ketchup, I just wanted to thank you again. Glad you came by, and though I haven’t been here for a while, I will be back.

  8. Howdy Moonbeam,

    Sorry I haven’t been around in forever. I’ve been busy, busy, busy. Working on making time for my own blog right now.

    I read this shortly after it posted, but never got around to commenting. Sorry. :( Beauty comes in all shapes sizes and colors. Unfortunately we went to blind to our own, being our own biggest critics. Now quit picking on my Moonbeam and get cracking on a new post for all your fans. You had three in April and none since. You’re over due, pretty lady. Get busy. :)

    On a lighter note, if you have time, perhaps you could stop by for a quick 10 question survey that only takes a few minutes, is fun/painless, the deadline is 06/04/2011 and will help me with a future post I’m working on; please and thank you. ;)

    Holy cannoli, Mr. P, I read this shortly after you posted it, and I just now realize that I never answered. I understand about busy, busy, busy, believe me. I know you know I know you know, because I did answer that survey. I’ll eventually get back to your blog, and mine. My brain cells all have little “reserved” signs posted on them. I’m using them for paid writing work, and it’s all I can do to keep up! Balance will come. I just know it.

  9. Pat . says:

    OMG – so much has happened – you a minister, married your friends, and you have no lips.
    Thanks for the hugs and the laughs.
    Good to see you blogging again.
    Big hugs and a kiss on the cheek (couldn’t find the lips).

  10. MusEditions says:

    Moonie, I miss you. I miss me too, but I do come around now and then. You ARE so absolutely beautiful. I don’t ever need to know what you look like, as I know what you ARE like! Things I can relate to: Blog anonymity! So, so yes. I panic about that too. Lips? I don’t know from lips. As long as they work, and your words come out, they are good for me!
    Those masks, though, are very creepy. If THAT’s what you look like I may have to stop reading your blog! (just kidding! really!) :)

    You angel, you. I miss us both too! I do get your posts via email, and I ALWAYS read them. They make me heppy, and I love that brain o yours. I really have been wrestling with time management, brain cell allocation and exhaustion. No way am I complaining– it’s fantastic to actually make my living writing, and the experience has been WONDERFUL. The only drawback is that I’m usually too tired to relay any of it to anyone! :) Working on balance, and I will get there. In the meantime, please just know that I’m still out here, enjoying the hell out of you, your thoughts and your words.

    Those are Guy Fawkes masks. If I ever start looking like him– well, I can’t even go there.

  11. Pat . says:

    Jeeez – Moonbeam – hope you are having fun – your devotees are all waiting to have witty responses edited into their comments – when you find your lips that is…

    (((Pat)))! This is so crazy. We must have ESPN. I haven’t been on here in so long, but I stopped by today because I had a nagging urge to post a song that made me think of my blog (for some weird reason). It makes my day that you and Muse both stopped by today too (at least, I think it was today), as well as the other nice commenters. See above explanations about my brain overload. I will be back soon, reed thin lips and all. I miss your blog and your comments. Have you figured out how to balance it all yet? I need some tips.

  12. Wendy says:

    I’ve got to weigh in here, being the perpetrator of this lip discussion. Honest to God, I don’t recall doing anything more to your lips than hitting the “enhance color” button. So, basically, I think it’s all in your head. And I mean that in a loving way.

    Heheh- it probably all is in my head– or was at the time. I got a lot of chuckles over the photo from friends and family, but it’s probably my goofy face more than the color enhancement. My mother picked up a bunch of copies at the bookstore, and her comment was, “Well, I think your lips look fine, but why are your eyes so droopy?” Sigh…

    I was reading about this thing called Body Dismorphic Disorder. It’s a psychological disorder where you see yourself as hideous, and your flaws are magnified by about ten-thousand. I talked to my sister about it later, and I said, “You know, I think I have that thing– you know that thing where you see yourself as hideous, and your flaws are magnified by about ten-thousand?”

    “Yeah,” she said. “It’s called low self-esteem. I’ve got it too.”

    So yes, this was not so much about you and your mad PhotoShopping skills (which are considerable), as my Body Dismorphic Disorder– or low self-esteem. You’re quite wonderful, and I mean that in a loving way.

  13. Gandalfe says:

    Having low self-esteem keeps me from jumping in Gordon Goodwin’s “Big, Phatt Band” and trying to take a tenor sax solo. ;O)

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