Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why Are People So Uninterested in What Disinterested Means?

This is another one of those really fastidious distinctions, but I am annoyed that most people can't be bothered to use disinterested correctly. The primary definition of disinterested is "free of bias and self-interest; impartial," as in, "the decision should be made by a disinterested third party." But most people use disinterested when they should use uninterested, which means "not interested, indifferent," as in, "he is uninterested in his school work."

The reason behind this problem, I think, is that the noun disinsterest, which means "impartiality," sounds OK, while the noun uninterest sounds really dumb. People want a decent word meaning the opposite of interest in the sense of "His extreme and sudden interest in her is really creepy," and it somehow sounds silly to say, "His profound uninterest in her is really not surprising." It sounds better to say, "His profound disinterest in her is really not surprising"--better, that is, except for the fact that it's technically wrong.

At least, it's wrong right now. Someday, disinterest will come to mean uninterest, all the time, end of story. But that will probably be after I'm dead, and until then, I'm going to use the words correctly.

Read my other complaints about the misuse of language here and here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What I'm Doing with My Summer Vacation

This is how bored I was yesterday:

I put on eyeshadow.

Yeah, that's right, and mascara too.

There was no particular reason, except that I had time to put it on and wouldn't see anyone who would notice this deviation from my standard routine.

I can't remember the last time I wore mascara--I think maybe I put some on for some occasion during the 2004-2005 school year but I can't be sure. I've never been someone who had to wear makeup every day, but I wore mascara, eyeliner and lipstick more days than not throughout my mid 20s. Some days I got pretty dolled up: along about 1987, after all, even guys wore makeup, and almost no one went for the natural look--what was the point? You could get teal mascara and lavender eyeliner, both of which look fabulous with a mullet. Fine freakish fun for everyone!

And then I got a job where I had to be up early each morning and didn't give a shit about impressing anyone, and I got out of the habit of coating my eyelashes with what is basically the same stuff used to pave streets. And I sorta discovered I liked not having to remove the crud every night before I went to bed. Lipstick was still fine, because it just wears off normally in the course of the day. But I couldn't be bothered with the other stuff.

Then I started a PhD program in English. PhD programs in the humanities are places were few people wear makeup. Plus it was the joyless 90s--was there a "look" to the 90s? I'm sure I couldn't identify one, but maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, there came a point when I realized that since I never wore eyeshadow, I should just throw it away--after all, every last fashion magazine insists you can give yourself a horrible infection if you use mascara that's more than six months old, because tight enclosed tubes are perfect breeding grounds for all kinds of icky bacteria: "Applying synthetic chemical concoctions to the most sensitive areas of your body is all fine and good, girls, until someone loses an eye!"

And for, oh, six or seven years, I didn't even own mascara.

And then two years ago I got a really good haircut and realized that looking pretty doesn't suck. And I went out and bought two tubes of mascara: fancy black waterproof something or other and that dependable cosmetic workhorse, Maybelline Great Lash in royal blue. (Yeah, so I still like blue mascara. It matches my eyes. So sue me.) I stroked the stuff onto my eyelashes about four times and forgot about it.

Until yesterday. I was trying to find the right shade of lipstick to match the red dress I was wearing, which necessitated pawing through all my makeup. And there was the poor, neglected tube of Aren't My Lashes Sexy. Realizing that I risk disfigurement by using old mascara, I still figured, What the hell.

And it looked fine. So I thought a little eyeliner wouldn't kill me, either. And then there seemed no reason not to use some eyeshadow, too.

I sorta like the idea of wearing makeup on special occasions, but I don't like how wearing makeup only occasionally announces that an occasion is special. Perhaps this is because people comment on makeup in ways they don't comment on clothes or hair. I really like getting way overdressed. And when I do, people might tell me I look nice, but they don't generally seem surprised, or seem like I don't know that I look better in some fabulous dress, stockings and nice heels than I do in mismatched sports socks and a housedress with juice stains down the front. When I walk into a party wearing party clothes, no one ever says, "Wow, you clean up well! You should wear expensive cocktail dresses and impossibly uncomfortable but still highly flattering shoes more often." But this does not hold true for makeup: Someone generally feels obligated to say, "Wow, don't you look glamorous! You know, you should wear makeup more often. Your eyes are much more dramatic with a little liner around them."

I mean, what am I supposed to say in response to that? Do these people think I'm too stupid to realize that there's a difference in the "before and after" moments of my own personal makeup application? Are they too tactful to say "You look ugly without makeup," or too tactless to care just how inappropriate it is to give unsolicited advice on personal grooming to adult women?

Frankengirl raises this issue with regards to weight, the way people just feel entitled to issue dictums on your appearance. The thing is, I hate unsolicited advice in generally, but I especially hate it when it comes to personal grooming. OK, there are some times when even I feel obligated to say something, like the time one of my friends strolled out of the bathroom in a bar with toilet paper dangling like a tail from the waistband of her jeans, walked up to the jukebox, presented her backside to the view of the entire bar, and started leisurely searching for songs she might enjoy. But actually I would tell a complete stranger if she had toilet paper hanging out of her pants, because however mortifying it is to be told that, it's better than finding it out all by yourself at the end of a long day.

Anyway. Makeup. Boredom. Yeah, highlighting my brow bone helped relieve the boredom yesterday, so I did it again today. And then, this afternoon, I did something I haven't done for 15 years: I bought a swimsuit. I rarely buy swimsuits because I rarely swim; I'm not good at it, I am mildly scared of water deep enough to cover my head, and the chlorine is bad for my hair. Still, even sitting in a jacuzzi (at which I am naturally adept and not the least bit frightened) will wear a swimsuit out after a decade and a half. But now I've got a stylin' new suit, so I just need to remember to pack it next time I'm heading out to a hotel with a hot tub and pool. I guess the same goes for my eye makeup, which I didn't even bring with me on my recent holiday and cruise.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

OK, Now I'm REALLY Pissed

As if waking me up early with lots of noise weren't bad enough, the roofers my neighbors hired have committed a much graver sin: today I noticed a piece of metal sticking out of one of my tires. So I went to have it repaired, and learned that not one, not two, but THREE of my tires had roofing nails in them.

This really sucks.

I Just Want to Get This Off My Chest

To all my friends in the Iowa City Green Party who supported Ralph Nader in 2000 because "It won't make any real difference whether there's a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, because the parties and the candidates are essentially the same, but it might make a lot of difference if the Green Party were to become a stronger third party":


Friday, June 16, 2006

Banging While I'm in Bed

One of the good things about being single and having summers off is that I can keep whatever schedule I damn well please, which right now means staying up until 2 a.m. doing nothing in particular. Staying up that late should mean that I sleep in until 10 a.m. as well, but unfortunately my neighbors decided to get a new roof and forgot to check with me about scheduling this procedure. Workmen arrive at 7 a.m. and start banging away with hammers while I'm still trying to sleep. I was out of town for over two weeks; any decent neighbor would have gotten their noisy new roof while I was away and had everything back to quiet normalcy before I returned.