Looking For Libby

In which I search yet again for my mother-in-me, this time not only to separate from her, but to make peace with and forgive her.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Feet Have Turned into An Old Lady's...

...especially the right one. The one where, since I was twelve, I've perked a fungal infection that has taken various guises. As a nubile tweener, I believe it just itched a lot. I remember the nurse at camp giving me chlorine to swab on it. Once into my sweaty, glandular teens, it not only itched, but it peeled. And smelled. Especially since I only ever wore sneakers with wool socks (which was the trend in my day). If I remember correctly, Libby would move my sneakers from wherever they were to the back porch. The smell of fungally feet is unmistakeable, a cheesy, earthy, grime- in-your-toenails odor that can waft upward and outward and is bad enough to gag a maggot.

In my twenties and thirties and, yes, my forties, when I was baring my feet on a regular basis, I used salves and prescription drugs to keep my wayward right foot in check. But now, now that I've been married for decades and I'm as old as I am, I just can't be bothered to wage war with the fungal guys. So I let it slip, and then I look down at my feet, and: the left one isn't bad, but the right one--it looks just like Libby's did in the last years of her life. Horny toenails, scaley, wrinkled--90 year old feet!

And there's no going back, I fear. This, too, I must accept as a fact of aging.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Six or so months later...

...I'm back.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dressing for Success

I am interviewing for jobs and Libby is just bursting out all over. First, she's incredibly, madly proud of me, but mostly, she wants to make sure that I am sartorially prepared for the interviews. I am not. And today's task, class, is to find out whether I, myself, me, personally care. Or is my urge to make a mission this afternoon of finding a pair of well-fitting, quality black slacks being driven by Libby?

Libby was the Personnel Director of a business school and as such, she was the arbiter of all things with an employment orientation. She sent out the young men and women from the hills and mining towns outside of Pittsburgh to their destiny as comptometer operators or shorthand secretaries. She kept spare gloves and hats in her office, because--one couldn't go on a job interview without gloves and hat and too often, the young men and women from the hills, etc. didn't know that.

Libby was a bug about "grooming." Her ultimate accolade for a person was "She's well-groomed." What did that actually mean? Your clothes fit, they were clean, and your slip wasn't showing. Your hair was combed, including the back which even if you didn't see, other people did. You were dressed in some semblance of moderate style. (When I was in college, I learned that if I wanted new clothes, all I had to do was go visit Libby in her office wearing an outfit that was too small, faded, or out of season. She would hustle me off to Horne's with her charge card.)

Where did this come from? She was one of seven children who were born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Five girls, two boys. The girls in particular (except, maybe, for one) hated that fact. They had grand illusions, or perhaps a knowledge that they were meant for Better Things, and part of that meant, I think, Dressing The Part.

Inherent in that is the sure understanding that there is a semiotic quality to one's dress. Libby didn't know about semiotics, but she did know that impressions count. Thus, when one goes for a job interview, one dresses appropriately.

Last night, I saw a bit of a program in which a young man was applying for a sales job. He was covered with tattoos and had metal stuck in various parts of his face, including a bolt on each side of his forehead. The employer told him he really wanted to work something out, but he had a hard time with the bolts. "Would the young man be willing to remove them for the job?" No, the young man would not. The bolts were a dealbreaker. I'm all for self-expression, but really....

Update: I bought the slacks, and the fact that they were a size smaller than normal turned out to be the highpoint, for me, of my interviews.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

What I Am Up to Here, or Why Am I Looking for My Mother On-line, Especially Since She's Dead?

Twenty-five years ago, the first time I sat in a therapist's office, she looked at me and said, "Fill in the blank: 'I do _________ because my mother makes me.'"

I was offended. After all, I was well into my thirties and the idea of my mother making me do anything was outrageous. What I soon learned, however, was that almost all my thoughts and actions and decisions were a function of my mother's influence on me. Therapy, it seemed, was a process of untangling my mother from me. The therapist, S., said the it worked this way: we would look at everything in my life, big and small, and try to work out where my mother's belief systems were implicated in my process.

Six years and some three hundred sessions later, I was a master at filling in that blank. I had separated from my mother, found my own identity, created an independent life for myself and, as they say, moved on.

Or so I thought. Till recently, when events have conspired to make me realize I am all too often responding to some thought or action or decision by rejecting it because it's too much what my mother did. Now I'm the therapist, and so I know that that kind of response bespeaks a less than independent state of being. It is time, once again, to look at what I do because my mother makes me.

I could go back into therapy...but for some reason, I want to do it myself. It's a big, complicated subject (or maybe not, we'll find out) that I need to see in front of me to figure out. I could just write a private journal, but, but, but --that seems so useless. My own thoughts just going round and round for only me. (note to self: where is Libby in this particular idea?)

So I've decided to do it in a blog. No one knows I'm doing this blog and I won't advertise it, but it will still be out there, which seems to satisfy some need to be public and published. This latter is definitely a Libby-inspired notion, and, yes, I will deconstruct it sooner than later.