Getting to Me Time
Every day is the same. Radio
alarms at 5:35 and no hitting the snooze button. Just up. Pull on t-shirt and sweat pants, stumbling in the dark to the office.
Hit the button to start the computer and go next door to pee. Back to
the office and tell XP which user to choose by clicking on the icon that is a picture of myself.
Coffee. Fill the
pot to exactly six cups but after it’s poured into the maker, it only measures five and a half. Filter in the Mr. Coffee basket then three scoops Folgers, with caffeine, measured to exactness. Make sure I put the pot under the basket or I’ll end up with a mess of coffee grounds and tea colored
water on the counter and floor that will mess up my routine.
Shower next. The
water warms while I look for my underthings and a probable outfit for the day. Take
off one of two rings protecting it from nasty soap residue in the bevels and nooks.
Shampoo and condition depending on how bad my hair looked in the mirror. Sometimes
I can go three days without shampooing. I’m not lazy. It’s just that drying my hair takes so long and on hot Phoenix mornings, heat and humidity from the
shower and the hairdryer makes my upper lip sweat so profusely I’m constantly thrusting out lower lip to blow air over
my upper lip. It doesn’t dry my upper lip but is a habit inherited from
Buff puff with Neutrogena soap gently sloughs dirt, removing dead
skin cells from my forty-something face. Special soap for shaving, liquid Dove,
applied to pits and legs, running the razor around and over essential spots neat and quick.
And again, like washing my hair, it’s a matter of whether or not I need to shave.
Some days I go without because I expect to wear slacks and shaving can be a needless necessity, another to do cutting
into the precious minutes I have. Scrunchy wash thingy with a generous dollop
of Victoria Secret Dream Angels Heavenly body soap bubbles away yesterday’s grime.
Suds sluice away under gentle shower fall, leaving a hint of scent clinging to body parts, areas soon to generate their
own smells overpowering sweet Victoria.
Towel off. Pull on underwear.
Crest, the only paste used for generations in my family, smashed onto toothbrush bristles. During these ninety seconds of brushing with one hand, the other deftly opens the vitamin bottle and a
hormone pill from it’s tiny plastic case with the days marked by their initials.
Drugs go down easily with a drink from a little green Dixie cup used until it is misshapen or the bottom is falling
out from absorbing water.
Secret deodorant swiped up an down under each arm. Q-tip each
One dollop of facial lotion dispensed into my palm reminds me
to use it sparingly, as it’s a hundred dollars a bottle. And then I remember that I’m worth it. Victoria’s
Secret Heavenly lotion white and smooth, spread over arms and legs lavishing dry skin with much needed moisture.
Make-up next. Sparse
but adequate coloring to fair, freckled, pock marked face. Light beige cream
under eyes, over dark circles concealing puffy ugliness from too little sleep. Loose
powder brushed on, a fine misty residue floats down speckling the white porcelain sink.
Rosy pink blush, two strokes for each cheek, never forgetting Mother’s advice, “you don’t want to
look like a clown, do you?” A must to darken light eyebrows is the pencil,
medium brown shaping half moons in short precise strokes over close set eyes. Shadow,
three colors, earth tone browns, expanding two tone blue irises. One brown outlines the socket, a lighter shade covers the
lid, like a child coloring between the lines and a third highlights under the brow, a trick to make the brow appear higher
than it really is. Mademoiselle Magazine’s “Tips for Luminescent Eyes” learned two decades ago. Tame unruly
eyebrow hairs into a uniform shape with tiny purple Mary Kay brush my mother gave me before I knew what it was and if ever
I need a new one, I’ll have to contact a Mary Kay representative because you just don’t find these at Target or
Macy’s. Finally, a few strokes of black-brown Almay waterproof, smudgeproof
mascara on upper and lower lashes retarding mistakes by flexing facial muscles pulling skin away from overhanging brows and
puffy undereye bags.
Dressing in my uniform, I choose a bra, either white or black
depending on the top. Socks, always black to match slacks and shoes. Slacks, black, one of several pairs with or without pockets, belt or cuff.
The wild card is the blouse, shirt or sweater. Usually a solid color,
but on a whimsical day, a scarf or pin adds a splash. In Phoenix, where temperatures are known to rise more then thirty degrees
over the course of the day, I begin with a jacket or sweater only to abandon it by lunchtime, maybe sooner. However, office air conditioners chill us no matter the exterior temperature, hovering near seventy degrees
on the cusp of needing an extra layer.
Depending on whether I’ve washed my hair or shaved my legs,
which I rarely do on the same day because it eats up precious morning minutes, I’m ready to have a cup of coffee by
six. A mug with a generous helping of Coffeemate and two teaspoons of sugar,
the real stuff.
Now it’s me time.
What came before are the “gotta do’s” and once done I reward myself with “wanna do’s”,
which is unfailingly sitting in front of my booted up ready to go PC. All I have
to do is put my password in and AOL connects me to the Internet.
Here again, I am a creature of habit. Open e.mail, hoping for a personal note among the spam and newsletters I’ve subscribed to. Save those for last, a present to open once I’ve completed the “gotta do’s” of
my morning PC ritual. Review New York Times headlines, skipping past political,
death and destruction topics to sports and arts. Check several other sites for news or updates sipping just-the-right-temperature
coffee enjoying a last few moments of downtime before I face a day filled with stresses ranging from traffic jams to petulant
sales people who aren’t getting their way.
Time flies when you are doing what you want to do. It’s 6:35. A click of my mouse commands Windows XP to
shut down the computer. Slosh down the final dregs of my coffee, throw on the same two pieces of jewelry I always wear, and
kiss my sleeping husband on the cheek, “I’m going now.”
Awoken, though only momentarily, “Already?”
“Yes. I love you.”
He knows after ten years that while he is in slumber, I have readied
myself for the day, physically and mentally and I bless him silently for not messing with my routine. For I have come to know myself, to know these little comforts of doing the same thing the same way at the
same time do not make my life monotonous. Because everyone will make demands of me throughout the day, my morning routine
allows me to make only one demand, and that is “me time”.