First off, sorry it’s taken me so long to post this. I was teaching a writing workshop at BYU (the subject of my next blog) and fell into bed every night around midnight. But let me say I was blown away by all the responses I got to the Mind-Rain give-away. Should I be offended that I didn’t get 56 comments the last time I gave away one of my books? Hmm. I will tell myself that it was due to the interesting nature of the question and not the fact that you all like Scott Westerfeld better than me.
I was surprised with the thought provoking and often poignant responses that so many of you gave. I was also surprised that most people took the five years, hands down.
Apparently the rest of you are not nearly as vain as I used to be. I still remember those awkward years when I had braces, glasses, hair that I had no idea how to style, and zero fashion sense. Not surprisingly, I also didn’t have a lot of self confidence and social situations–like talking to guys–baffled me. (Really, if I dug out my eighth grade picture and posted it here, you would understand. But I’m not putting that out on the Internet. Nope. Sorry. You’ll have to use your imagination.)
During high school I shook off the feathers of the ugly duckling years, and it was like a whole new world opened. Guys paid attention to me. Girls treated me with more respect.
True story: (which will sound like bragging but is really just illustrating a point)I went to visit my parents in California one year when I was about 21. They were renting a house and the (fairly young) landlord was constantly rude to them,complaining to them about this or that and not taking care of things that needed to be fixed.
So during my visit, the landlord rang the bell and I answered the door. He looked at me with this sort of stunned expression on his face and mumbled that he was there to take care of a few things. My parents introduced me to him and he was completely nice to everyone while he went about taking care of his landlord things.
After he left, my parents laughed about the change in him and told me I should visit more often, but it puzzled me. Clearly, the landlord changed his behaviour because there was a pretty girl around even though there was no actual benefit for him to do so. I never saw him again. But it did teach me that being pretty is like going through life with bonus points. I liked that. I never wanted to lose it. If really given the choice when I was young, I would have gone for beauty instead of the five years.
(I tried to find a picture of me when I was young–but where the 80’s hair wasn’t too prominent. Don’t ask me what I was doing with my arms.)
That said, one day as I was getting ready for college classes, I realized it was a trick question. In between clothes shopping, clothes ironing, showering, shaving, blow-drying, hair-curling, and putting on make-up, I realized that I probably would spend more than five years of my life “beautifying” myself. I’d already made the choice.
Now in my older years, I make the opposite choice. I can’t tell you how many days I walk around looking like a bag lady because I’m so intent on getting my writing done. These days, I take the time over beauty.
Still it’s made for some interesting discussion here and also as I’ve visited my daughter this week. You can actually get a lot of mileage out of those five-year jokes.
Me walking into the room looking like something the cat dragged in: Hi!
Her: So, I see you’ve decided to take those five years back.
Gotta love her.
Anyway, it was hard to pick a winner because everyone was so profound. Really. I’m in awe of all of you. But I’m going to go with Jenilyn because I liked the way she picked the beauty but made it look like she was doing it for altruistic reasons. (making life easier for the nursing staff.) I think it was a reason New Pretty Town could totally support. So, Jenilyn, send me your snail mail at rallison 1 at cox dot net. And I’ll send you you’re book!
And the rest of you–I’m proud of you! Just don’t waste your five years watching tv.
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Note to self–find old pictures of Janette.
I’ve thought about the question posed, but didn’t comment in time for the contest.
I know it’s the politically-correct answer to take the years and not the beauty, but I’m still surprised how many commenters responded that way. I don’t know what it says about me that I choose differently.
I love life…it’s amazing, it’s a gift…lettering above my kitchen window reads “Life is Beautiful,” but if I died at 75 instead of 80 and in exchange I had beauty, I’d take it, and not just if posed the question as a teenager. If I felt more confident in the way I looked, I think I would have put myself “out there” more at an earlier age, not hide myself or my talents. Now I try to put myself “out there” in spite of how I “think” I look. (It’s all perception).
Now, of course, not all beautiful people have confidence or a good self-image, but I was blessed with amazing parents and family and awesome people and opportunities around me, and I was successful in the things that matter in life. Beauty would have just tipped the scales even more and time wasted on hiding crooked teeth and a too skinny frame (back before America was as obsessed with being thin)would have been spent on making friends and sharing my knowledge and talents with others.
I’ve definitely scaled down my beauty regimen. My kids know when I’m wearing something than the old gray t-shirt that I must be leaving the house. (Don’t fret, the old gray t-shirt does have a picture of Tinker Bell on it)
Golfing Librarian–don’t you dare find old pictures of me. It’s bad enough to know that you knew me at that age . . .
You’re beautiful, Janette! Congrst, Jenilyn!
I don’t comment on your book giveaways because I like the idea of supporting you and BUYING your books. (which I did at the conference and forgot to get you to sign them) Guess what I’ll be bringing with me when I come to your house in a few months?
In case you were feeling bad that more people responded to the SW give-a-way, I just wanted to state for the record, that I just discovered you at my local library and after reading MY FAIR GODMOTHER, I fell in love with the book. Guess what I am picking up the next time I go to Barnes and Noble?
Yay! I’m so excited to have another book to add to my Janette Rallison collection!