(Not) Dressed to Impressed

I served our local League of Women Voters as the Voters Guide editor for two years. It was a volunteer position for which I was ill suited, but I did my best.

My volunteer service in this capacity had a tumultuous ending. With a bundle of at least 100 Voters Guides in my arms, I could not see the stairs below (not to mention I was probably a bit high on a newly prescribed cocktail of Elavil + Lamictal + Lexapro + Neurontin) . Down I went, and a nine month recovery followed.

Toward the end of my recovery, I was able to drive and walk with a brace on my leg. In order to accommodate the brace, I wore long skirts or stretchy pants with sneakers. This also helped to accommodate the forty fresh pounds on my frame which resulted from a deadly combination of daily ice cream and the inability to walk.

This did not stop me from participating in a lobbying day at our state capital.  When I arrived at the PA Bar Association office for the pre-meeting meeting, I saw the convener stop mid-sentence as I walked into the room and look me up and down as if to say, ‘didn’t you read my email which specifically stated that you should be professionally dressed.’ I felt humiliated. Of course, it may have just been a projection of my insecurity.

There were many times during my recovery that I felt as though my appearance was scrutinized. Especially during those months that I was not able to walk, I developed a strong compassion for people who have permanent disabilities.

At the time of the lobbying day, I was an experienced advocate who could find my way around the capitol building with my eyes closed. I am certain that my fantabulous state representative and others (who, by the way, were elected in no small part because of the great work of the League of Women Voters and my Voters Guide – thank you, very much) were more interested in what I had to say than in my appearance.

I’ll talk a bit more about the staging of legislative visits and other forms of activism in one of December’s workshops, Theatre of Change.

Unmask Me

“You’re still hiding in a mask, you take your fun seriously. No, don’t blow this year’s chance. Tomorrow your mold goes back on.” – Halloween, Dead Kennedys

In the opening of The Madman, Khalil Gibran thanks the thieves who stole his seven masks and revealed to him the sweet kiss of the sun for the first time. I, too, long to be madwoman and yearn to see the light of day, yet I sometimes hide in the darkness cast by my seven masks. By unveiling my masks, I offer them to the thieves in the night so that they may be stolen and I may be set free. They are:

1. The mask of my former selves

2. The mask of desires and that to which I think I aspire

3. The mask of my expectations for myself and others

4. The mask of fear of the unknown

5. The mask of shame and guilt

6. The mask of perfection and control

7. The maskless mask, or the illusion of not wearing a mask