As promised, I placed the new mattress pad and changed my pillows.
Going to bed it felt odd to have different pillows. It’s not that I could tell they were new, they just weren’t mine.
We get so used to our own grooves that sometimes the ground feels uneven just stepping out of them.
But maybe it’s the grooves that are uneven and stepping out of them is how we can get to solid ground.
It was another run, run, run type of day and I never got a chance to take a picture. I borrowed a car from a friend and headed off to Ikea.
As part of this feng-shui, redecorate and declutter program I’ve been on, I’d decided to renew my bed. Bed frame and mattress would have been ideal, but since that wasn’t an option, I did everything else: sheets and duvet a couple of weeks ago, pillows and a mattress pad on Day 6.
The place where I used to keep my sheets was so jammed I didn’t realize I had three sets leftover from when I was married. For six years they’d sat there gathering dust. They creeped me out, so I didn’t use them but I hadn’t thrown them out - holding on to sadness.
I thought because I couldn’t see it, it wasn’t there. I thought stuffing things in the back of the closet was the same as dealing with them.
Now I’m taking charge and getting all that makes me sad out of my life. It seems like a good step.
All this shopping was on Tuesday. It’s now Saturday and it’s still in the Ikea bag, waiting for me to have the guts to throw out my old pillows. I told myself I’d do it on Friday morning before leaving for the Cape so I could come back to a renewed bed.
I’ll do it when I get home. First thing. I swear.
The pillows and the tears they have accumulated have to go out.
You know that gap between the thighs that some women have? I don’t. Never have. Even at my skinniest, the top of my thighs is robustly round to support my butt. My thighs touching each other means that while wearing skirts and dresses I am prone to chafing.
So I wore pants. Whenever I wore skirts or dresses I wore bicycle shorts. A fact that probably surprised and disappointed my attacker.
But since I started this quest I decided to try to do without all that spandex.
When I went to Home Depot, I hopped on my bike and pedaled away freely in my white skirt aided by anti-chafe.
My thighs touch and not wearing bike shorts made me aware of that skin-to-skin contact. That awareness could have been uncomfortable, but I gave it a minute. The first few days I carried the shorts in my bag in case I wanted to put them on.
As I’m writing today (I’m on Day 9, and catching up) I’m in Cape Cod for the weekend. I came for a wedding and most of what I brought is dresses. I was already almost halfway to the Cape when I realized I’d forgotten to pack bike shorts and that I’m ok with it.
I like the way my thighs feel. I know the risks. I’m aware of the dangers gusty winds might pose and that flowy dress could get caught on things. But I’m taking chances and living on the edge of my thighs.
On Day 5 I wore pants. It was a long day that started at 4:30am and included a co-op shift re-stocking bread. A skirt would’ve been impractical.
But as I explore my feminine side, I want to dress the part. There’s a welcome BBQ tonight and I’m considering wearing the green dress I got on Day 1.
Today a green dress, tomorrow, the world.
It’s hard to rejoice in your femininity when you’re under constant attack because of it. I used to think that my body was disgusting and that’s why I invited such nastiness.
I didn’t come up with that on my own. It was drilled into me from a very young age – down to my very first memory - and reinforced through my school years. I’ve had well-meaning aunts give me advice on liposuction to reduce my butt. In case I forget, random strangers regularly remind me of my ass.
Now it’s clear to me that this is something all women deal with on a regular basis. A recent post on Rookie Mag highlighted this. Get a few women talking about this, and you’ll find out they all have stories to share.
As a kid, street harassment was just something weird that happened. By the time I went to college I found it disgusting but I’d accepted it and gotten used to it. But there were times when it went beyond harassment.
I’d fallen asleep on the bus on my way to class. I was a full time student and had asix-hours a day job to get me trough school. I woke up disoriented but with the sense that something was off. I was by the window and an older man was sitting next to me, eyes closed, arms crossed, his head hanging by his chest, bouncing up and down with the movement of the bus as we made our way towards downtown Bogotá.
I was about to fall back asleep when I felt something move on my thigh. Looking down I saw that his hand had been inching across my thigh and was almost at my crotch.
Besides the catcallers there have been exhibitionists, masturbators, and swarms of kids circling around to try to steal my bus money and get a hand up my crotch.
It wasn’t until I found out about iHollaback a few years ago that I started to question having to simply take this. It was when I began to fight street harassment in my own small way and stand up to it. I started to try to dress without fear of the men I might encounter on the way to where I was going and just dress the way I want to dress.
I started wearing colors and more flattering clothes. I liked what I saw in the mirror.
Which might have made dealing with the subway attack that much harder.
I’m working on getting more comfortable. On Day 4 I had to go to Home Depot. I wore a skirt because it was a lovely summer day and it’s what I wanted to wear.
On Day 4, Skirts 1, Pervs 0.
It was a good day.
I cheated on my pinks on Day 3. I don’t wear underwear while running and I didn’t want to risk chafing, so I left the day’s pinks at home when I left for the 10k.
It was the 40th running of New York Road Runner’s Mini 10k and I was dragging. It was hot and muggy and I could feel my old injuries with every step. Though I am in better shape now, it reminded me of how it felt to run the New York City Half-Marathon in March.
I’d been recovering from an injury and I hadn’t been running. At the start line, I was just hoping to make it to Times Square. I was struggling by mile 5. By mile 8 I was already feeding myself just-one-more-mile lines and by 10 miles my whole life had come down to one foot in front of the other. I’d even forgotten my name.
By the time I crossed the finish line I was crying in pain and in joy; the love that cheering crowds throw at runners getting to me. All that raw emotion in post-race hugs and congratulations that come with distance running surrounded me. At 13.1 miles it was just enough to start getting things flowing.
I was an emotional bundle after the race and I was feeling lost and lonely. I hadn’t asked any friends to come cheer because I didn’t know if I’d make it to the South Street Seaport finish line, which made it easy to connect with the first guy I talked to.
It probably helped that he was a good conversationalist and easy on the eyes. By the time he knelt at my feet, unlaced my shoes, took off my sweaty socks, slid on my sandals and strapped them for me, I was ready to follow him anywhere.
That ended up being about a week later for coffee. Then, since we were still enjoying each other’s company but were tired of sitting, we went for a walk. It was a sweet cobble Hill afternoon that included a crossword puzzle, used bookstore browsing, an early dinner and a few rounds of bananagrams.
I wasn’t used to spending time like that. A properly structured date and bed combo was al I knew. Even after dating for months I’d never spent a whole afternoon with any of the men I’d dated in the past seven years. Quite often after a while I was itching to go home kick them out, yearning to be by myself or rather to be without them. There was not enough of a connection on either side for a desire to spend more time together.
By the end of the evening we were at his place watching a movie, our arms around each other. We were on his bed, my head on his shoulder, our hips touching, quietly enjoying a great movie.
I’d forgotten what that was like.
I thought I’d become too broken and jaded to be able to sink into a cuddle like that. I thought I’d become too old for cuddling and affection.
That night made me realize that wasn’t the case.
I’d forgotten how to relax and be open with someone I was attracted to. I’d been looking at men with fear. The constraints of coupledom scared me. Last time I’d been one of two I’d gotten so lost that by the end there wasn’t one of me. I’d made so many little concessions that by the time we were signing divorce papers I’d given away so much of myself I had nothing left for me.
I’d been so full of fear I’d forgotten about all the nice things of being with someone. Now that I’d remembered that being with a man could be wonderful, my perspective changed.
Though things didn’t work out, having that day with him opened my eyes. I left fear behind and started looking at men in a different way. Instead of apprehension, now there was an inner question. When encountering someone my attitude went from are-you-going-to-hurt-me to are-you-wonderful, and I started looking forward to meeting someone.
I walked around with that in my heart and there was no room for fear. I smiled at strangers more and was friendlier in the kinds of causal interactions that are part of city living. There are good men out there. There are wonderful men out there. If I was open to it, I’d be able to meet one with whom I could have the kind of connection I wanted.
Until then, I was happy to be alone.
And I walked around New York City like that until I was the victim of a sexual attack.
On Day 3 I was running a 10k. Since I normally don’t wear anything under running bottoms - it’s built in - I’d left the pink underwear at home for after the race.
But since it was a women’s only race and we were discussing related issues at brunch, I brought up my pink underwear quest.
Of the five of us at brunch, only one admitted to regularly wearing pink. Another admitted to not having any pink underwear and liked the idea of it so much, the following day she went out and bought her nine pairs to start her own twenty-seven days of pink.
These are hers.
Good luck, B! Have a wonderful time wearing pink underwear!
Pink underwear doesn’t have powers, but wearing pink underwear might give me powers. It might be the right prescription to be able to see well.
I was recently reminded of doxastic penetration. It’s when beliefs (doxa) affect perception.
We experience the world from within. How we see the world is affected by what we believe of the world. If I believe this is a bad day, I will see it as a bad day. If I believe life is hard and overwhelming, everything becomes oppressive and getting through life becomes unbearable.
Beliefs can be very powerful, but one of the beauties of this is that beliefs can also change. Hold on to a belief firmly enough and it can change your life.
It’s why placebos can actually help healing. It’s not the medicine in the placebo that’s having an effect, it’s the person believing in the placebo that does the healing. Hope for health and the belief in that future health, helps people heal themselves.
On Day 2 I went to a work lunch. When I got there, co-workers mentioned how radiant I looked and asked about it. I had nothing to give them because this wasn’t about new makeup or a haircut and I wasn’t about to start talking about my pink underwear at a lunch meeting.
I was radiant through lunch and by the end of it, I’d gotten a proposal for an exciting new project.
Deciding to wear pink underwear is a choice to believe.
I believe the future is bright. I believe there’s good in the world.
Pink Day 1 - Part 2
They say you never forget the first one. The first one is also never what you’d expect. At around lunch time I finally bullied myself into putting on the first pair of pink underwear.
It was just pink underwear.
When I was done working on the computer, I got dressed to go out. It was subtle, but wearing pink underwear affected my clothing choices. I wore something slightly nicer than I normally would have for running errands, and topped it with a new pair of strappy sandals.
For years I’d stayed away from shoes like these. Flattened arches combined with multiple foot and ankle injuries made it hard to wear anything too pretty, but I’d found this pair the day before this project began and they were comfortable enough. It seemed like the kind of thing to wear on a date. If I went on a date.
As part of The Great Declutter of 2012, I had two boxes of books to bike over to donate. I took them to a thrift store nearby where the owner offered me a 25% discount for the donations. I walked out with a $7.50 green tube-top ankle length dress.
I owned nothing like it.
When I got home I put it on and almost didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. The effect was dramatic and feminine. The dress is an attention grabber.
I was brought up not to draw attention to myself. Men were bad and women had to protect themselves and their bodies against them.
One of my first memories is of tucking my shirt into my shorts to go to a birthday party and having my mom pull it out. I told her I wanted it in - it looked tidier and it’s how all the other girls wore it. My mom told me I couldn’t wear it like that. She said I had to disguise my butt so it wouldn’t be so obvious.
Street harassment is considered an accepted feature of life in certain countries and that’s how it was where I grew up. I wasn’t on the street much. My parents drove me to and from school and I wasn’t even allowed to go to the corner store by myself. It was my younger brother who always got to go out.
It wasn’t safe. I wasn’t safe. From men’s looks. From men’s desire. It was my duty to dress in a way I wouldn’t attract attention.
It’s not revealing, but this new green dress is attractive and striking, which is how I felt while wearing it.
I wore it with the sandals and kept both on until I was ready to go to bed.
One of these days I might wear the dress outside the apartment.
Pink Day 1.
For the first day I decided to wear the one I liked the least. Not only was it pink, but it was lace, it had hearts, and a bedazzled I ♥ VS.
I didn’t buy underwear I didn’t like on purpose. Once I’d decided to buy myself nine pairs of pink underwear, starting at Victoria’s Secret seemed to make sense. I was so uncomfortable at the store I ended up trying to get out of there as quickly as possible, and made out with only three pairs.
It’s not that sexy underwear makes me uncomfortable - it’s that I don’t like the hyper pushed-up, throughly airbrushed, and flowery scented mentality of the Victoria’s Secret vision of feminine sexiness.
Before this project I had generous drawers with nice underwear. About half of it had lace or some other sexy details, but none of it was pink, and none of it came from Victoria’s Secret. I enjoy wearing it both for myself and for others.
But not pink. Never pink. Pink is girly and for most of my life I’ve been carefully and deliberately not so.
As someone who prides herself in being strong and independent, for many years I had trouble being feminine. I didn’t want to be man, I just wanted to be treated like one and it was hard to shake off.
Not to be taken seriously seemed like the worst possible fate. I wanted to be treated like an intellectual equal. So I wore black. By my late twenties I’d moved on to brown.
I now wear colors, but until this project started that change hadn’t reached the deepest layer: the intimate one that goes right next to my skin.
It was Day 1, and I had to put on some pink underwear.
I work from home three days a week. Those days I’m showered, dressed and at my desk by 9am. On Day 1, it was 1pm and I still hadn’t put on any underwear.
Better to go commando than to wear pink underwear.
Which is when I realized there was something else going on here. I don’t have answers. Just thoughts. Hopefully semi-coherent ones.
When work started changing, I found myself needing a better workspace at home. My desk was tiny and cramped. My whole apartment was a cluttered cluster of memories holding me back.
I started by switching my bed and my desk and then I couldn’t stop. I went all feng-shui on my apartment. I found myself reading about dragons by the desk and good colors for the bedroom and just how bad clutter is for you.
According to what I’ve read, it’s because objects hold energy. Since the things we keep hold energy, anything with bad energy is going to have a negative effect. Whether it’s energy or objects simply acting as sad reminders, holding on to things that made me sad seemed like a bad idea.
I wasn’t doing it on purpose, but I realized by M.O. was to shove things in the back of the closet, or in the back of a drawer and forget about it instead of dealing with them. Just like with feelings.
In purging my life of all that was holding me back, I found myself throwing away unwanted, manipulative gifts, tearing pictures, shredding old documents, selling my old desk, and getting rid of clutter. As I did so, my apartment started to feel clearer and more spacious.
The process has been so much fun and I’ve been feeling so much lighter as I get rid of these things that I’ve been reading more about feng shui and love. My bedroom is now lavender, my sheets are red, and I have two nightstands.
It had been over six years since I’d had two nightstands.
I haven’t been completely alone. I’ve had my share of not-quite-boyfriends. But that’s all. Not enough to be worth a second nightstand in a cramped Brooklyn studio. NYC living is tough.
What surprised me was how hard it was for me switch to two nightstands.
It would look good. It would take too much space. The bedroom will look more balanced. It would be a waste of money, besides, there’s no one to use it. Let’s try to make room for someone.
I thought these past few years I’d been open to meeting someone but simply hadn’t. Now I’m noticing I not only was I not actually open - but I’d made sure there was no room.
So I’ve been daring myself to change.
Somewhere I read about wearing pink underwear to re-charge your love life. Buy three or nine pairs of underwear and wear them for twenty-seven days in a row.
Do I believe I will find a boyfriend in that time?
Yes. No. Maybe. It doesn’t matter.
But the idea of buying and wearing pink underwear made me very uncomfortable, so I decided to do it.
Taking advice from a Lululemon bag, “Do one thing a day that scares you”. For twenty-seven days, that thing for me will be pink underwear.
And I’m getting braver and braver, facing pink underwear one day at a time.