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Sunday, September 25, 2011


... can break your heart. Couple it with insecurity, and it can possess you.

I will probably regret this entry. I may remove it... but probably not. I have always endeavored to be honest, to reveal all sides of myself, and I'm not going to stop now.

Without delving into a whole lot of detail about my finances, I will boil it down to this. Once upon a time, I had retirement/emergency savings. Thanks to some money my father left me plus my own frugality, I was pretty well set for the future. I was able to pay my bills with freelance work and I spent little on myself. I could take a distribution each year from my decedent IRA, but I kept those small. I knew I wasn't going to get married and that I'd have to take care of myself when I got old. That seemed like a doable goal.

Then the economy went to hell a few years ago. Two things happened; my freelance work all but dried up, and my investments lost some of their value. And I started taking bigger distributions, because I had to live on them.

I waited for things to get better. They didn't. My skills are good, but highly specialized, and nowadays people want employees, even freelance ones, to have way more knowledge and capabilities than I do. I didn't want to go back to the full-time office grind; it nearly killed me when I was in it. So I kept hoping for the best, and kept taking money out. Everything got more expensive. My medical insurance alone is nearly $1000 a month.

I still have some savings. I am not destitute. But the future is no longer sewn up like it once was.

So what do I want to do? Spend a whole lot of money. On something for my vanity.

I have a fairly youthful body. Some of that is luck; a lot of it is old-fashioned hard work with diet and exercise. But I can't exercise my face. I see myself in the mirror, in pictures, and my eyes are unwillingly drawn to the hanging flesh under my chin and on my neck. Yes, a wattle. I look like a turkey.

I got my frugal side from my mother, which is why I have very old furniture and old electronics. I don't wear designer clothes/shoes, I buy drug store cosmetics. I don't go to expensive shows and plays, I don't travel. I live simply. I have not one penny of debt. So thank you to Mom for that, for my ability to live that way without wanting, wanting, wanting. But I also got her crippling vanity, her obsession with looks.

In my mother's lifetime she has had: Breast implants, a nose job, two facelifts, her eyes done twice, at least one laser peel (probably more), and liposuction. Where she got the money for all that, I don't know. Yes, she looked great.

There is a famous cosmetic surgeon in Los Angeles; I know his name well, I know some of his patients, I've seen his ads and local-access programs. He does beautiful, subtle work. Recently, I saw an ad for one of his procedures, called a laser necklift. He had an offer going for a free consultation. Oh, what the hell, I thought. I made an appointment for one.

Last Wednesday, I went to see him. He was a lovely man, talked with me, explained the procedure and what it would entail. Because it was considered a "mini" lift, the cutting would be minimal, and all behind my ears, nothing would show. Unlike a full facelift, it would not require drains, and the recovery time would be short. And as he manipulated my skin with his deft fingers, he showed me in the mirror how I would look. My wattle would be gone and my lower face would be smoothed out. I'd look about 15 years younger.

I was ecstatic... until his assistant told me the cost. I felt sick, and told her there was no way I could touch that. She saw how my face had dropped even further than usual and said, "Let me talk to him and see what I can do," and she left the room for a few minutes. When she came back, she had gotten the doctor and the anesthesiologist to lower their costs by about a third. It was a substantial discount.

But still very expensive.

And yet, I couldn't bear to tell her no. I told her I'd think about it. And I did. By the time the day was over, I'd convinced myself this was meant to be, that I wanted this more than anything, and I would take it out of my savings. I'd make it work. What the hell... my life is now, right? What if I get hit by a bus when I'm 60? What's the point of denying myself every damn thing?

It would be my birthday present to myself, I rationalized.

I got excited... euphoric, even. Every time I looked in the mirror, I'd make a face at that loose flesh and think, "You're history." I looked forward to seeing my image in the mirror and in pictures without cringeing.

I'd be pretty again. Not pretty "for my age," but youthfully pretty. I'd recapture the looks I had in my wasted years, the ones where I was too depressed to feel attractive.

On Friday night, John and I went out to dinner. As we ate our sushi, I told him of my plan. He very calmly said, "You can't do that. You don't have the money."

I got angry. "I do too have it," I insisted. "I'll take it out of savings."
"You're already living on that savings," he pointed out. "It's not a bottomless well. You're burning through it, you're out of work, and now you want to spend an additional [ridiculous amount of money]? Can't you see how that makes no sense?"

He wasn't unkind. He was sympathetic, non-judgmental, said he understood the desire and if I had the money, he'd encourage me to go for it. But I didn't have it.

Of course, he was right. And I felt myself crash down into reality. I'm not rich. I'm a middle-aged, unemployed woman with an uncertain future. I can't afford to do this for myself. I just can't.

I wish I didn't want it so damn much. I wish it didn't mean so much to me.

I sat in the restaurant, tears rolling down my face. I couldn't stop. John tried his best to cheer me up, to make me feel better. He said maybe I could do this in the future. Maybe I should redouble my efforts to find work. Maybe, maybe, maybe. "I think you're beautiful," he said. I know he means that, and I love him for it. But love is blind. He also thinks I look like the T-Mobile girl in the commercials. I look nothing like her, aside from the fact that we're both brunette.

Saturday, I forgot things temporarily, as John took me out for a lovely dinner and we had champagne. But every time I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror, in the car window, etc., my heart sank. Today, when I was ready to leave for home and knew I'd be alone once again with my thoughts with no distractions, I started to cry again. Dammit. I hate being such a crier. I wonder where it all comes from sometimes; I feel like if I don't stop, I'll dry up and blow away.

When my mind is in this negative state, it wanders into other dangerous territory. I started thinking about some scene women I've known, the ones who get things given to them. Both femdoms and subs... their rent, new cars, trips, etc. I wrote in my book about some of the stories I heard when I was working in the dungeon. It seemed unfair to me even then, how some women didn't have to do anything and men just gave them things.

John was seeing a domme, a young and beautiful one, whose primary slave paid her rent and her bills. This guy made a ton of money and gave freely to her. And what did she have to do in return? Not much, except abuse him. She didn't even have to have sex with him; she saw to it that he wouldn't have sex with anyone again. Yes, she ruined his manhood, physically. I'll spare you the details of how. And he let her. When I expressed my shock and disgust to John, he said, "He wanted it. He got off on it." Yeah, well. He won't be getting off on anything else.

She once said to John, "I think you should show me your devotion and buy me a new car." Fortunately, he wasn't that devoted.

I used to look at those situations and feel contempt and anger. I don't want someone to pay my rent. I don't need fancy clothes and jewelry; what would I do with them? My old furniture (that's so old, someone referred to it as "retro") is still comfortable. I am not interested in travel. But you know what? If some well-to-do, kind person were to hand me a check and say, "Here, Erica. Go knock 10-15 years off your face, with my blessing," I'd take it.

I'm not proud of this. But it is what it is.

John held me for a long time before he let me go home today. I know he's worried about me, feels bad that I'm so down on myself. I'm grateful for him. Because I know others would look at this desire, this need, and think I'm vain and foolish. But I can't help it.

Why am I writing all this? Because it's where I'm at. Because keeping it bottled up and secret makes it worse.

If you've managed to read through this... thank you.


  1. Erica,

    I'm so sorry you're feeling so glum! Trust me, I can relate to you in more ways than one. I think we are our own worst critics. When I look in the mirror all I see is my too big nose, my too small eyes, and the stretch marks I seem to have (and am still getting!) even though I've never really been "overweight." So... I know that no matter what I say, you'll want what you want. But, I really don't think people see what you're seeing. I sure as heck didn't see anything you were describing.

    It's probably not much of a comfort, but when I saw you in person at SL, I thought you were absolutely beautiful. I even wrote a bit about it in my SL party report draft that will probably never get posted because I'm being lazy and my memories of the party are leaving me. If you knew me a little better you'd know that I wouldn't say this if I didn't mean it, but you are gorgeous -- not for your age -- but just gorgeous. Plain and simple.

    I really am sorry things are difficult for you right now. I hope you start feeling better soon and that your situation improves.


  2. Last week I popped into a store to size up size 14 sneakers. I looked around and decided, "I can get these, or a lot better, at Sierra Trading Post's on-line store for half the price."

    Now, I don't know, perhaps this doctor's fame is from outstanding work, but maybe some of the cost is the "label?" Might there be someone as highly skilled-- you certainly don't want less-- but not quite as highly priced?

    Of course, I myself find you stunning. Nor am I at all alone in that opinion. However, I realize that doesn't help you much just now.

    In any case, John is a good man, and wise. You can't go wrong with his lead in this, and I know he'll be thinking of solutions for you.

    Meanwhile, I send my love, a furry hug and a reassuring smack on the butt.

  3. I'd take the advice - and views! - of a wise, loving man VERY seriously, young lady ;-)

  4. Big Hug. You are already a beautiful lady and kind and compassionate as well.

  5. Erica, you are beautiful, both inside and out. I hope the practical, frugal side of you will win the internal struggle you are having with yourself.

    $1000 a month for medical insurance? For that amount, it should cover cosmetic surgery.


  6. Erica, I did read to the end, and doing so gave me a new understanding of the appeal of cosmetic surgery for women. Because it's not much of a stretch to realize that you're not the only one who has these self-doubts and feelings of inadequecy. Not that I think there's necessarily much objective validity to them.

    Your description of your financial situation is likewise not unique in this economy, but an example of what many other people are going through in these times. So I guess I'm saying, it's not just you. Not sure how much help that is though.

    If I may recommend a book, take a look at Martha Beck's "Steering by Starlight". May you find your way!

    Karl Friedrich Gauss

  7. Erica,

    I am so sorry you're feeling this way. We all see in pics and in the mirror in ourselves what others don't see at all. What is it with that dysmorphic ideal?

    I know many women who I believe have seriously gotten more lovely as they've gotten older.

    BTW, I think you're beautiful - and not 'for your age', but beautiful. I am 18 yrs younger than you (I think) and I wish I had some of YOUR physical attributes!)

    And I hear the frustration of watching what happens with some others in the scene. It disgusts me too.

    I understand about having lived so frugally and never doing for yourself that you feel like you should have it. And honestly, that does make a lot of sense, in theory. Except - when you *really* can't, because that is money you need to live on.

    John is a wise man. Listen to him.


  8. Erica,

    Let me first preface this by saying that I am not the most financially responsible person on the planet - I sometimes order delivery when there's food in the fridge, and have been known to buy new shoes before the other ones are ready for the trash bin.
    I also had a pretty decent amount of 'elective surgery' done a few years ago...and put every cent of it on my credit card, at....erm...somewhat high interest.
    I know, I know, a person must have money for retirement, incidentals, accidentals, and all of the things in between.
    Vanity is important. It's not such a dirty word, really. Neither is selfish.
    Never skimp on yourself, and never EVER skimp on cosmetic surgery.

    I think that you're just sublime, but I also know that it's your own opinion that really matters most. I can only speak for myself - it was the BEST money I've spent on myself and totally worth the price. (And remember...they can't repossess a facelift!)

    Devil's Advocacy ended.

  9. Erica, if I read this ten years ago I would say what's the big deal everyone get older. This past year I am not too crazy about what I see in the mirror, especially first thing in the morning, ugh. Good thing some of the lines disappear during the day. If I had the money there are a few things I would like to have done. If it is that important to you try getting a part time job doing something that you don't hate. Maybe working at a bookstore.

  10. Beth -- I don't doubt your sincerity, and I appreciate it. Thank you.

    For what it's worth, after I met you Friday night at SL, I blurted to Craig, "She's ADORABLE!" Honest. Ask him. :-)

    Dave -- I have researched cosmetic surgery (more than I should, probably). This is one of those "you get what you pay for" cases. You've seen 'em out there -- the pulled-back faces, the swollen lips, the waxen, stiff expressions. The uber-skilled (and yes, expensive) docs don't make you look like that. They just make people wonder why you're not ageing.

    MrJ -- yes, he's is the voice of reason and pragmatism, for sure.

    joey -- thank you, dear.

    Hermione -- tell me about it. Welcome to the American health insurance system.

    KF -- we do get mixed messages. Our friends tell us we're beautiful, but society, industry, etc. tells us we're old. One has to have the strongest of self-esteem to ignore the latter... and sadly, I do not.

    Sarah -- thank you, sweetie. I know John is right... I just hate it. Thing is, I feel like others DO see the flaws I see. My mother would sit and watch TV and pick apart women's faces and bodies on the screen. I figured, if she does that, others must too, right?

    Dana -- I agree with you 100% about how selfish is not a bad word (which is one of my square-peg-isms, but I don't care). And I applaud you for the things you did for yourself. Remember, though... you are young, and you were even younger when you did them. You had financial recovery time. Me? Not so much. In this economy, being jobless, plundering what savings I have for my vanity would be... well, you know. (sigh)

    Kaki -- as the expression goes, ageing is not for the faint-hearted. It's very easy for people to preach about how looks don't matter, but they don't live inside our heads.

    LOL... a bookstore would be lovely, if the damn things weren't going out of business right and left!

  11. Hi Erica, I am VERY sorry that you feel so sad and depressed :-( Your VERY BEAUTIFUL inside and out :-) I wish i had the money cause i would send it to you, maybe i can raise the money some how to help you out :-)Your VERY lucky to have John he is an AWESOME guy. LOVE YOU Big hugs to you ALWAYS From your naughty girl Jade XOXO

  12. Jade -- it's OK. You're very sweet and I appreciate the thought, but it's a lot of money. And yes... I am very lucky to have John.

  13. you missed one essential part: I said 'young lady'.

  14. I guess I'm the only one that's gonna say ... DO IT!

    I say this... as one that is in the same damned position.. (almost) -- but one thing doctors look at (good ones).. is ... "Is this woman doing this for all the right reasons". NEXT... the money hungry types will just do whatever if the almighty dollar is coming in.

    I'd research another doctor or two. They ALL give free consults. (I've gotten many) LOL -- anyhow... considering how EMPOWERING this will be for you.. it very well could facilitate other avenues of "making money". NOW, I'm not talking making money "that old fashioned way"... I'm talking YOU having the confidence to go out in the business world and sell yourself!

    It's amazing what a little self esteem will do for ya.

    And that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. there. :-)

  15. Erica,

    Don't torture yourself. Think it through and do what you think is the best for you.

    BTW, I hope I didn't inundate you.

  16. Sometimes words feel so superficial, particularly words in a small comment box on a public blog.

    So, first and foremost I'll go with: ugh.

    Secondly, you do sorta look like the Verizon girl.

    Anything else I could say just comes out as a pile of worthless words. You are you. Everyone accepts you as that, regardless of your age. I've told you a hundred times (perhaps more) that I don't see your age, I see YOU.

  17. Erica, this week starts the Jewish New Year 5772. So remember our 'Yiddishe' heritage tells us we are survivors. So with that in mind, start the Kosher New Year, with a hot and spicy matso ball soup, a plate of delicious latkes, washed down with a bottle of sparkling Manishevitz vino. And give three good cheers of "Ovey, Ovey, Ovey.". to ring in the New Jewish Year with Chutzbah.

  18. There is nothing wrong with your face. Your cheeky smile lights up any page you are on. Your face has character as well as beauty.

    As an aside, Bob Hoskins says that plastic surgery is the secret of his success as he is one of very few actors who has never had it done. Why look the same as everybody else?


  19. Zelle -- believe me, I want to do it. Yeah, yeah, beauty is only skin deep, it's what's inside that counts, blah blah blah. Fuck that. :-) However... being broke and dependent would not be very empowering. And being impractical is childish. (heavy sigh)

    Bobbie Jo -- no, you didn't. :-)

    Craig -- you know how it is, darlin'. We never see what others see.

    six -- you tryin' to kill me? Latkes are loaded with saturated fat and calories. :-)

    John -- I will never look like everyone else. My features are too... unusual. :-)

    As for Bob Hoskins, he's a character actor. They're well paid to be, well, kinda not so good looking.

  20. To repeat what so many others have said, I also think you are a great looking woman who could already pass for many years younger than your calendar age. I also know enough about you to say YOU know your own mind, wants and needs better than anyone else.

    I also think you inherited a self critical tendency possibly from your mother's standards of beauty. It's hard not to when someone you love makes the same critical judgements on his/herself as well as loved ones and strangers. As a kid I had mild psoriasis on my face and knees and remember my father screaming at me, "What the fu@@'s wrong with your face?!"

    Yes THAT unjustified bs treatment stuck with me to this day. I have since undergone facial laser treatments and can see how much smoother and even my skin looks.

    I so understand your job dilemma. You would most likely outshine many of the grossly overpaid office slackers-but it's NOT your desire. I HATE it too. :) Would you reconsider your no debt status and work out a payment plan with the surgeon?

  21. Kelly -- ugh. Parents. Gotta love 'em... not.

    You know, it's a pride thing. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it. Period. I don't know how people sleep at night when they're in debt, but I just couldn't.

  22. Erica, I think Zelle brings up a valid point about confidence bringing in more money. (Although there is a point where it tops out, obviously.)

    Is this something you could start saving for? I use the envelope system: put my desire on the outside of an envelope and start putting every spare dollar into it. Spare dollars accumulate faster than you think.

    I know we're not talking chump change. But perhaps if you start working toward it, it will make you feel like you are doing something about it. That always helps me.

    Anyway, I'll tell you you are gorgeous -- 'cuz you are -- but I also know that words are paper tigers against self-doubt.

    Big hugs,


  23. Oh for (=/¤"&#?)( sake. Here I type up a well considdered comment, and then I screw up the posting of it...

    Anyway. In a shorter form then, given that it's 2am and I got to get to bed.

    I don't follow your blog regularly, but your entry here touch something in me, and motivates me to write this.

    I'll echo the people that tell you that you don't need any form of surgery. You have a great body, and you look younger than you are. Given some of your entries on this blog, I'll additionally claim that you have to be both experienced and at least reasonably intelligent.

    You've heard all this before though, so I'll pose you a question for you to ponder the answer to, and a challenge.

    Question: Why does this matter to you?

    As the rational part of your brain has already told you, expensive surgery isn't an option at this point. So do the better thing.

    Challenge: Answer my question for yourself, and then deal with your reason for feeling the need for it in the first place.

    Like so many others, you see all of those picture perfect advertisements and stars, and they all look so fantastic! I can guarantee you that with a proper application of photoshop you can be made to look however you want to look. There isn't a picture you see in magazines etc. that aren't photoshopped to hell and far beyond. Remove the make-up and the photoshop effects and you wouldn't recognize half the supermodels and stars you see in magazines today.

    The fact of the matter is that you look good, and your friends believe so too, and those people are the only ones that matter. Who cares what some vain airhead might theoretically think about how you look! It simply doesn't matter. At all. If we are not a part of your life, and if you don't need something from us, we and our oppinions about you are utterly irrellevant.

    Perhaps not as diplomatic as I could have put some of this, but I hope you get my meaning ;-)

    All the best to you in all ways.

    /Christian, Denmark, Europe

    With regards to your freelance business, I'd suggest you pay a visit to You might be able to find some inspiration to marketing yourself in a new way, finding new customers, and improving/growing your business. Good luck.

  24. Pink -- I do need to work toward it. Having a goal will motivate me. And paper tiger or no, the words are lovely to hear, so thank you.

    Christian -- welcome. I appreciate your taking the time at your late hour, from your part of the world, to reach out... especially since you had to type it twice!

    My reason? I have myriad reasons. Are any of them good? Probably not. But they're real. Do I wish I felt differently? You bet. And as for vain airheads... I'M the vain airhead. :-) I'm the one who cares so damn much about how I look. Old, lifelong programming sticks and sticks, sometimes.

    Thank you for caring. It means more than you know.

  25. Erica, you are beautiful. Really, really beautiful. But it's not vain or foolish to want to change something about yourself. We all see things that we don't like when we look in the mirror, whether anyone else notices them or not. If you can realistically make it happen, I say go for it. If not, I hope you are able to put it to rest and not feel bad about it.

  26. First time visitor. Normally I'm pretty strong with the unsolicited advice, but for once I'll pass. Just wanted to say that I love your voice, or more accurately your honesty; it makes me want to read more.

    I'm pulling for your happiness and success.

    P.S. I'm not involved with this scene but from what little I read, I share your feelings of disgust at some of the weird dynamics there. If it isn't on some level healthy, that is good for the person overall, then it isn't sexy. That goes for both crippling sex organs to taking money for nothing - not healthy. But I love your admission to being susceptible when it'll bring you closer to what you really want. Me too!

  27. Lea -- those are very loving, accepting words. Thank you so much.

    ajr -- welcome. What brought you to my blog? I hope you will indeed come back and read more.

    Yeah, I'm quite human. I never wanted to be a taker OR a giver when I was young. Now... oh hell. I can see that they both have their places.

  28. Hi Erica,

    I visit Dana Kane's blog fairly regularly. She had recommended your writing some weeks ago and the memory of that, plus catching this headline in her sidebar a bit earlier this evening, pulled me in. I like your writing too much not to come again.

  29. Erica, I echo what everyone else says. From what I read about you and the pictures you post, you are a lovely person, beautiful inside and out. You have a wonderful smile that lights up your whole face, you can see your smile in your eyes such a genuine smile.

    I'm not going to say do it or don't do it, that I'm afraid has to be your decision. Before you decide either way maybe visit a few more doctors.

    Love and hugs,

    PS - Health Insurance at £1000 a month, I'm glad I live in the UK:)

  30. "My reason? I have myriad reasons. Are any of them good? Probably not. But they're real. Do I wish I felt differently? You bet. And as for vain airheads... I'M the vain airhead. :-) I'm the one who cares so damn much about how I look. Old, lifelong programming sticks and sticks, sometimes."

    Can't disagree with anything you write there. All I can say is that the real challenge is dealing with that old programming and overwriting it with a new one that allows you to be happier with how you naturally look ;-)

    But you don't need me or anyone else to tell you that. You already know that. And I'm willing to bet that posting this on your blog, is one way of trying to overwrite the aforementioned mental programming *S*


  31. Hello! First, even though it has been said a zillion times already, you look perfectly attractive as is and you do not need cosmetic surgery. Secondly, do leave this post up, it is a comfort to others who get the same feelings to know they are not alone. Goodness knows if I ever get the money the first things I'd get would be braces (my family couldn't afford them when I was a kid) and liposuction (can't stand my thighs). Anyway, it's universal for us to have these insecurities, and I'm sorry that you were sad because of them. The worst part about being upset over something is feeling like you're the only one. By posting this and putting it out there that even someone with your looks has these feelings, you make other women feel less alone, less silly for being upset, and like maybe things aren't so bad after all. Third, you set a great example to the rest us by delaying your purchase in the name of fiscal good behavior. Budgeting sucks. Being not the only one super sad over not getting something that you really, really "need" wanted makes it suck less.

    Your raw honesty about your feelings in this matter make this post, and the one following it a real gem. I recently obtained both of your books, and I loved that about them too. Too often people burry their feelings and try to squash them in the name of "self control" or "dignity" but there is nothing wrong with feeling one's feelings or aknowleging when you are upset. Self control is not punching someone when you're angry. Getting angry is fine, sayin you are mad is fine, punching someone is not. Feelings separate us from computers.

    Hope you feel better or at least "at peace" as you said, with this issue. Love your candid writing style, and happy belated birthday as well.

  32. Ronnie -- thank you. Yeah, I smile with my whole face and my eyes, people say. Got the crow's-feet to show for it too, but oh well. :-) I don't like fake smiles.

    Christian -- I have managed to overwrite several old tapes over the years, thankfully. Some are more stubborn than others. Kind of like computer files you think you've deleted, but they still lurk in the nether regions of the hard drive. :-)

    Adriane -- wow. That made me tear up again (but in a good way). Thank you. You're absolutely right -- emotions are not bad things. They are human things. It's what we choose to do with them that can be either beneficial or disastrous. I have learned that if I bottle my feelings, I sink into an abyss. I got tired of that.

  33. Erica ,your a beautiful lady inside and out, you dont need to change a thing .Listen to John .Huggs