Friday, May 06, 2011

One is the loneliest number.

Tuesday was a bad day.

This isn't a post about why it was bad, though.  It's a post about how and when I knew shit was going to go down.  It was a small thing, really, but portended a day of brimming anger and frustration.  I got really mad and really upset later in the day.  I'm happy that my anxiety is actually rooted in real threats now (unlike the grey days when it would come upon me from nowhere) but the familiar rot of anger and fear in my arms and chest is hard to take because it hearkens to a time when Crazies just meant I was exactly that.

I left my house later than usual but early enough to hit the Starbucks drive-through for an Americano.  Though I usually go inside so I can avoid the commuter line in the drive-through, I had to put on my makeup.  I chose the snake of cars, happy for the time I'd get with talk radio and my tube of mascara.  I ordered the Americano without event--delicious smoky espresso filled my thoughts and awoke my salivary glands.

I pulled forward and leaned into the shadow of the rear view mirror.  This served two purposes: first to shade my face from the rising sun in the east (my Civic is missing a sun visor on the driver's side), and second so I could see my face and make it up.  On went foundation like thin peach milk.  I powdered my face to set it, rubbed in a bit of Prescriptives blush I've had since my wedding (seriously, it's magical; it's the tube that won't end) and reached for my eyebrow pencil.

I searched my blog a while ago for eyebrows to see how much of my neurosis I've revealed publicly.  (Answer: not much.)  Or maybe it's not neurosis so much as my inability to accept this one very specific, very noticeable trait about my face.  Really, it's the one thing about my whole body I wish was different.  At least with all the messed up middle section I have two beautiful monkeys to show for it.  For these eyebrows, nothing.  Just a battle I've been fighting since 11th grade.

My eyebrow pencil is the one thing I can't travel without.  I'm a hopeless eyebrow pencil addict.  You see, for whatever reason of genetics and fate, I have pale pale eyebrows.  They're blonde.  They're almost clear, really.  I feel like senior citizens with white eyebrows have more pigment in them than I do.  At least those are opaque.  Mine just look like skin, like that creepy flesh-toned beard that Spencer Pratt and that kid in my 10th grade history class both had.  Add to this my natural ability to tan, my high forehead and my brown eyes and if I'm not wearing makeup I look like a skin-toned Q-tip.  Go ahead, picture it.  Add some curly, frizzy hair.  That's me.  I'm like you ground down a peach Crayola crayon until the tip was round and smooth.  Plain.  Orangey.  Unremarkable.

I learned to pencil my eyebrows when I was dancing.  Everyone pencils eyebrows on stage or they look like fleshy aliens.  But I can't manage to go around without mine in the real world.  The whole peach alien thing is just so... yuck.  I've never wanted to draw on the ghetto harsh line or to have the pencil stand out as fake.  I will change pencil shades depending on my hair color, but in general I'm tied to the dark blonde variety.  I have spent years trying different products--powders, pencils, gels--and I have a system.  But there will never be a day when I will wear makeup and not wear my eyebrows drawn on.

I hate it.  I'm so beholden to the pencil.  I haven't been able to wipe my sweaty brow since 1995.  If I swim?  Whoops, there go my eyebrows.  Why not just tattoo them on, you say?  Have you ever had someone else do your makeup and it's just off in a way you can't pin down?  Now imagine that you were stuck with the result for, oh, I don't know... ETERNITY.  Imagine if the nice eyebrow lady gave me one angry and one surprised.  Yeah.  Real cute.

So back to Starbucks.  I reached for that eyebrow pencil, that curse-disguised-as-blessing, and I saw that it was worn down to the last nub.  It was so short I knew it would barely fit in the sharpener, but I always carry one for such an emergency.  Gingerly, carefully as a mother lifting her newborn for the first time, I held it in front of my face and made short work of the task.

I turned the corner so the sun was at my right, the passenger's side.  Do you know that indirect sunlight is best for eyebrows?  You're welcome.  Like every day before that day, I shaded the arch of my brow and pushed my wrist outward with quick, short strokes.  Right side--always first--done.  Turning my head, I checked its shape.  Fine.  I leaned in for the left, put pencil to face, and...

the pencil broke off and fell in a blink down the side of my seat.  Not a snap, but the kind of break where you're left staring down into the hollow business end of an empty pencil.


The pencil nub--you can bet your sweet Jesus I considered pulling over so I could find it and apply it to my brow--was lost in the abyss beneath the dark grey captain's chair.  I gave up and laughed at my reflection.

I was in the drive-through.

I was about to pull up to a smiling barista with espresso-arm extended.

I had one perceptible eyebrow.


I had no Kleenex.  I had no makeup remover.

I had no hope.


For reference, here's a photo of me with my regular makeup/brows, and sans brow.  My brows look so thin and pitiful.  I promise this isn't from plucking.  I'm a clear-eyebrowed beast. They grow from my forehead to my lids.  They're just sooo light.  Weakest eyebrowsauce ever.

You can see that going to school with one brow would not do.

You can see how it might freak me out a bit.

I rubbed the brow off with the heel of my hand as best I could.  I managed to get about 90% of it off so I could get my coffee, but I kept my head straight so it wasn't visible to the barista on the driver's side.  I couldn't shake the feeling that something in the universe was amiss.

I made a quick stop at Walgreens (Hand over my eyebrow.  For serious.) for some new pencil.  I redrew the right and then the left.  Something was just not quite right.

And that is the story of how I started my own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.


  1. I HAVE to draw my eyebrows on too. Mine are just as light so I feel your pain.

    -Kristi :)

  2. On skype this morning before a shower and makeup... sad reminder of how pale I am and, yes, have no eyebrows either.... i hate to say it, but it gets worse as you get older.

  3. Do you realize that you actually have darker natural eyebrows than I do?

    Yes, it's true.

  4. Been meaning to tell you that I think you look cute without your penciled-in brows. I know you're married to the habit, but as your fellow fair eye-browed friend, I can tell you there's nothing wrong with going au naturel.