I spent this week (post-exams, obviously) commuting to Kent and back, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours each way. The joys. The work's hard, and technical, and I could have really used a break after exams, and getting up at 6am is no fun, but it could be worse.
I could be in the arse-end of north London I could be back at a former posting. Plus, my team is made of awesome.
Except that one of them vaguely frightens me. She's about eighteen, I think, doing a gap year, and she wears more make-up than anyone I have ever met, drag queens included. Not bad make-up, not poorly applied, but just very, very thick. I only just realised that she has freckles - she'd painted them all off. Thick orange make-up, to simulate a tan. Kohl around her eyes, all the way around. Cheekbones precisely sculpted. Hair waist-length, ironed flat and - maybe extensions?
One of my colleagues was mentioning that she was on a diet to put on weight, as she'd lost a few pounds during exam time and her mother had been horrified (with good reason - said colleague is on the thin side) when this 18 yr old said, astonished, "I'm sorry, did you say you're trying to put on weight??" By expression, you'd think she'd discovered a prediliction worse than paedophilia. She explained that her current size 0 state was a result of her mother enforcing it upon her, and her grandmother enforcing it upon her mother - "that's the way it is," she told me, as if sharing a secret. What for all women? "Yes. Unless you look good, your life sucks."
Which is where I had to bite my tongue because - this girl is, yes, very thin, yes, her hair is immaculate, yes, her clothes are pristine, yes, her make-up has given her a flawless airbrushed face - and, no, she doesn't look good. She looks terrifying, like she's wearing a mask. No one looks comfortable sitting next to her. Yet she obviously thinks that she looks good - and, by the standards of beauty magazines, she does. Thin, stylish, heavily made-up: like a silk rose, all surface.
Intellectual pursuits other than working out if my coworker comes in her own box include lots of reading:
One Last Look
by Susanna Moore
page count: 288 pages
( A treatise on empire and its malcontents. )
My Life as Emperor
by Su Tong
( The worst Emperor ever? One can only hope. )
I have to go be asleep now. *fallover*
: I can't believe I forgot one! Just a quickie -Fragile Things
by Neil gaiman
Funny stories, scary stories, witty stories - good, yes, but I still prefer Smoke & Mirrors
... (mainly because I'd read some of these in various anthologies already, I think.)