Thursday, February 16, 2006

Under the microscope

This morning, I rolled out of bed for a weekly acupuncture appointment after a long night of television viewing, as I am in denial about the paper deadline lurking in the middle of next week. (I'm writing about multiscalar networks in climate change governance, which is about as coherent to you as it is to me...right now, my running outline is two pages of gibberish followed by rambling "Oh no! Oh hell! How am I going to write another 3000 words??" panic that I apparently decided to compose in lieu of actual work.)

Anyway, after staying up in a state of paralysis-inducing panic, I had just enough time this morning to slip into my clothes, pull my UW beanie over my mad-scientist morning hair, and race down the hill to the office.

Within a few blocks, I couldn't help but notice that every male in Cambridge appeared to be staring at me. This was particularly odd because England's version of attractive apparently is 180 degrees opposite of me. Words used to describe me here: "weird," "you know, sort of, freaky?" and "unique." These gems come straight from the mouths of friends, the same ones who've seen my passport photo and driver's license (taken all of six months ago) and gush, "Wow, you look so young and pretty there!" I don't even want to know what I look like now: old and haggish? As far as I can determine, the only thing different about my appearance now is a pierced eyebrow, which is not exactly a trait of the aging has-been.

Anyway, I was almost feeling flattered and wondering if I ought to leave the house every day in a semi-disheveled state of barely-awakeness, but then I noticed that every woman in Cambridge was also looking at me. Quizzically. They all seemed to have a question on their lips that they didn't have time to voice before we passed each other.

As soon as I saw the acupuncturist, everything became clear. I started to take off my hat and he said, "Aw, c'mon, I need a picture of you in that! D'you know it says 'Dawgs' on your head? Did they misspell it on purpose?"

I'd forgotten a cardinal rule of Cambridge: no one knows what a mascot is. People walk around in subtly-cocked berets or fluffy dead-animal wrappings (seriously, one of the most popular women's items here is a scarf that looks like forty round balls of rabbit fur strung together)...but no one wears anything that says "Ducks" or "Yankees" or "Huskies." Let alone "Dawgs."

I tried explaining mascots to him, but the whole thing about difference between the UW Huskies and the actual physical mascot Husky didn't make sense. Really, I shouldn't have tried describing the Stanford Cardinal and their redwood tree.

The great thing about acupuncture is that you lie on one of those tables with the round pad where your head rests and your face slips through so you can breathe...which means you finish the session with nice oblong lines running the length and width of your face from where you rested on the seams, like a shirt you left folded in the closet too long and forgot to iron. On the way home, even more people stared at me. C'mon, wouldn't you want to gape at the creased-face girl with the misspelled word emblazoned across her forehead?

Ecogrrl in England: why fit in when you can stand out? Or something...