Narcissus: A Rambling in Four Parts

I saw these for sale when I made an emergency run for coffee at the store: a dozen for $1.99. I normally do not buy flowers, the same reason I do not make the bed: What’s the point? But I made an impulse purchase that day and I am glad I did. Whenever I pass by them, which is all too frequently since they are sitting on the kitchen table now, a smile pulls into my face. Flowers do that to you. Besides, they are so much cheaper than a diamond necklace.


I held out the daffodils the way He-Man pulled out his Power Sword, screaming: “By the power of Narcissus!” Willing Spring the coy bitch to finally show her face.

I did that often when I was young: holding up my umbrella, yelling, “The omnipotent gods, please endow me with the power of miracle!”, the Chinese dubbed version. I harbored this longing to be a super hero, or a swordsman. All of these fantasies involved me cross-dressing incognito. There is a lot of theorizing available behind a cross-dressing story such as HUA Mulan (Don’t say “Fa” please. Use the historically correct pronunciation, in Mandarin…) : being male in appearances somehow signified a path to empowerment and freedom, provided you are not found out.


Back to Spring. Or the lack of sighting of that pesky bitch forever running late or simply no-show even after she had RSVP’d when the universe was first created. The sky was dressed in blue and adorned himself with glorious white clouds yesterday, waiting for her.*

Whenever the kids and I see the sky looking like this, we’d say, “Look! The Simpsons!” And we all could hear the intro music to The Simpsons wafting in closer from behind the clouds. Or maybe it’s just me.


Back to the lingering thoughts of cross-dressing. Sister Merry Hellish recently wrote a great post on “Men in the corporate culture, their ties, and the women who fight them” aptly titled Sex, Ties and Reconditioning. She had asked several bloggers to send her pictures of themselves wearing a tie, and I am honored to be one of them. You really should click over and read the post. Actually, don’t even worry about finishing this post and leaving me a comment (srly sometimes I wonder what I myself would say if I had to comment on the gibberish coming out of my keyboard…). Just stop and hop over there right now!

As always, assignments of self-portrait stresses me out to no end and I did not pick up the camera until the last minute. In the end though, I had to admit that I had a lot of fun posing with a hat and a tie inside our powder room, holding a camera with my right hand, snapping pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror. I, a 40-year-old woman, was playing dress-up in a tiny bathroom, in the middle of the night, by myself. And I had not even been drinking.

Do you ever wonder now what your parents were doing when you were sleeping back then?

It was really late when I sent SMH my submissions, and I knew she waited up for me so she could work on her post before she went to bed. I continued to play with, or what I like to call, A Woman’s Best Friend. After much cropping (for you could see the toilet in the original picture AND I was wearing a pair of hot pink pajama pants underneath. They were only $5 on sale!), massive editing, and over-applications of effects, I have to say I love how I look in a fedora* and tie.

The funny, and slightly disturbing thing is how often I stare at this picture of myself ever since. I know it is not real: Too much cropping and softening and posterizing effects have been involved. But it makes me feel strong inside when I close my eyes and see myself in a hat and tie thusly. Does that even make any sense?

I hope I can manage to retain this mental image of myself channeling Annie Lennox (who is a very strong outspoken feminist. Yes, she does not deny that she is a feminst) on days when I feel oh so unworthy of working side by side next to all these men around the conference table.

Self: I can’t do this any more. These men think I am an idiot.

Annie Lennox:

You’re a bird in the sky now baby
Feet on the ground



Today, in a very self-serving way, I am going to declare that we all need a little bit Narcissus in us.




* On second thought, I guess we can’t blame Lady Spring for not showing up this weekend after all since blue tux & white ruffles combo inadvertently conjures up the image of Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber

The fedora actually belongs to Mr. Monk, my 8 year old. I now am convinced that every man and woman should own a fedora.


Article by Absence Alternatives

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{ 80 comments… add one }
  • SisterMerryHellish April 3, 2011, 8:16 pm

    Funny, I have ALWAYS thought of you as Annie Lennox strong! And she has nothing on you in a hat and tie! You’re not the only one who can’t stop looking at this picture.

    Beautiful writing, even more beautiful writer, inside and out.

    Love you, Lin!
    SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…True Story

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:30 pm

      Love you right back SMH! Thank you again for such a great prompt. And please forgive me because I am going to create another project for you here: SMH is still accept submissions! LOL. 🙂

  • Neil April 3, 2011, 10:36 pm

    Can’t exactly put my finger on it, but this as the most touching post I’ve read of yours. And I’m not even exactly sure what it is about.

  • Life with Kaishon April 4, 2011, 12:00 am

    I think you are exceptionally beautiful!
    I am not usually a fan of oversaturation. I am a fan of you though : )
    Awesome in every way!
    Life with Kaishon´s last blog post…a million dollar question

  • Juli April 4, 2011, 4:39 am

    First of all, I love daffodils. Second, I adore playing dress up. And I often fall in love with photos of myself. It is narcissistic, but I am my own harshest critic. So, it balances out somehow. I should play with photo effects more often. Happy Spring.
    Juli´s last blog post…Lord of the Flies

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:32 pm

      Thank you very much for visiting and commenting. Upon seeing the title “Lord of the Flies” of your post (CommentLuv) I am already getting very excited!

  • Ry sal April 4, 2011, 7:36 am

    I love this! Totally going to dust off my fedora today…
    Ry sal´s last blog post…Project Photog 4 Purple Crush

  • TheKitchenWitch April 4, 2011, 8:14 am

    You look great, kid. I think we all need a sassy and flattering picture of ourselves to gaze at when we’re in need of a smile.

    Spring kicked our asses this weekend. Saturday: 80 degrees. Sunday: snow. Arrrggggg.

  • Renee Fisher April 4, 2011, 8:37 am

    I read the SMH post. Fun. You look mah-veh-lous, dah-link, in that photo.
    Renee Fisher´s last blog post…The Monetization of Hopscotch

  • Elly Lou April 4, 2011, 10:02 am


    Also? “…a smile pulls into my face” might be my new favorite phrase. Have I told you lately you’re my favorite?
    Elly Lou´s last blog post…Ponies- Sneakers- and a Ukulele Winner

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:40 pm

      *giddy with excitement* *fear that the jealous fans of yours are now asking for my blood…It’s like if Justin Bieber has chosen me as his favorite if I were 30 years younger…*

    • Wicked Shawn April 7, 2011, 9:30 am

      WTF Elly??!! You just throw the rest of us into depression when spring isn’t even here yet to brighten our lives?? *sad vagina face*
      Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…What the What!!

  • BigLittleWolf April 4, 2011, 10:37 am

    Love this post, and can so relate. Not only are your photos beautiful, but, the unreal quality we sometimes capture in a photo of ourselves that nonetheless touches a truth about ourselves – I consider it special. A little gift.

    We have so many ways to know ourselves, and each other. Sometimes the outer reflects the inner. Other times, not at all.
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Don’t judge a book by its cover

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 10:56 pm

      I always appreciate your comments very much. This one so inspired me that I feel I almost need to write another post just to continue this conversation!

  • Justine April 4, 2011, 10:43 am

    Oh I would stare at that pic all day long too if I were you. It’s a pretty fantastic shot. I loved SMH’s post and wish I had the time (and courage) to take the shot I have on my mind to partake in this awesome endeavor. I too am surrounded my testosterone in a company run by a boys’ club so the “up yours” stance with this series is especially empowering to me.

    And as a Cantonese-speaking Chinese, I’m going to go with “Fa” 😉 It’s great to see you surrounded by such pretty ones. Great reminder that spring is indeed on its way.
    Justine´s last blog post…A label belongs on a can- not a parent

  • dufmanno April 4, 2011, 12:18 pm

    You know you are rocking that fedora better than any member of Duran Duran in their heyday. I’m not sure what it is about the image that’s so compelling. At first I thought it was the red backround or the off center peek a boo nature of your appearance but now I just think it’s cause I love you.
    Well, that and you are forever smoking hot.
    dufmanno´s last blog post…Baby Anarchy An Ode To Elly Lou

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 1:02 pm

      Ok. This post has officially become my shameless bid for affirmation. You guys are so so bad for being enablers! **Love**

      Remember how they rocked the eyeliners too? This is a great reminder: now I can crossdress without having to give up my eyeliners!

  • writerwoman61 April 4, 2011, 12:44 pm

    You’re gorgeous, Lin! I like fedoras too (on other people!)…

    Hope spring finds you soon!

    writerwoman61´s last blog post…I’m Versatile Again This Week!

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:45 pm

      Thanks. Srly, I am kind of embarrassed right now. I need to pump in more Narcissus juice into me.

  • Meg at the Members Lounge April 4, 2011, 12:59 pm

    OMG, that was so much fun reading SMH’s post! (Squee! Another fabulous blog to read!) Hey, what is Photoshop for if we can’t apply beautiful filters and reinvent ourselves a bit? I truly love that photo and the fact you were doing that in the middle of the night. I think brandishing flowers is something we should all do every week; and I think the Narcissus might just bring out the Bacchus in me later on!
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s last blog post…Monday Potpourri

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:48 pm

      Just imagine what would Bacchus say on Facebook to Narcissus now?! 😉

      Of course, he’d start with, Yo yo yo, what’s up brother? yeah this is Dionysus but I changed my name when I moved to America, eh, I mean Rome…

  • Mama Zen April 4, 2011, 2:30 pm

    You look spectacular!

    Would you believe that my daughter and I do The Simpsons thing, too?
    Mama Zen´s last blog post…So Ugly Hes Cute

  • The Sweetest April 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I love this post. I feel like you are giving me a little peek at a side of yourself that doesn’t always get showcased here, and now I want more.
    The Sweetest´s last blog post…If You Can’t Stand the Heat- Get Out of the Kitchen

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 8:53 pm

      You mean I should talk about myself even more?! 😉 Thanks sweetie for the encouragement. Bawhahaha.

  • secret agent woman April 4, 2011, 5:05 pm

    That’s a steal on the daffodils – I’d have bought them, too. And a lovely shot of you.

    But. I don’t want to take on the trappings of masculinity in order to be considered strong. I don’t use expressions like ballsy, or “grow a pair” or cojones. I think we need to reclaim womanly strength. Because I don’t think femininity and strength/courage are in the least bit mutually exclusive. So all the things that tend to get associated with the masculine – sexual desire, independence, intelligence, bravery, competence – I believe all those things should be owned, with pride, by women without the need to lay at being men. I don’t even want to be a man. Why? Because I can have all those traits AND give birth. What’s not to like about that?
    secret agent woman´s last blog post…Springtime definitely improves my mood

    • Absence Alternatives April 4, 2011, 11:00 pm

      I absolutely agree with what you said. When I was writing this post, I was a bit worried that I may be reinforcing this arbitrary dichotomy between male and female. But sometimes battles need to be won from within… chipped away bit by bit.

  • secret agent woman April 4, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Ahem. Only “womanly” was supposed to be italicized but I was typing too fas tand there is no way in wordpress to delete and start over like there is in blogger.
    secret agent woman´s last blog post…Springtime definitely improves my mood

  • meleah rebeccah April 4, 2011, 5:10 pm

    These photos are truly as incredible as your writing style!

    And, OMG, whenever I see the sky looking blue like that – I ALSO think of “The Simpsons” ahahahahahahhahahaha!

  • Nance April 4, 2011, 7:30 pm

    Fedoras rock! And these images are going to be all over the internet once they show up on Google Images, because they’re that fabulous. I may have to steal them myself.

    You’re a better than average post rambler, too.
    Nance´s last blog post…Profit Is Their Most Important Product

  • Unknown Mami April 4, 2011, 8:06 pm

    My head is ridiculously large, which makes it hard to find hats that fit; hence the paper bag.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Salud!

  • Kathryn McCullough April 5, 2011, 1:32 am

    What a great photo of you in the hat and tie! I look forward to checking out the post you recommend. Sounds fun and fascinating! Hats of to you, my dear!
    Kathryn McCullough´s last blog post…Crazy for Creativity a Not-So-March-Madness

  • Jotter Girl April 5, 2011, 6:28 am

    You are so cute in a tie! Way back in the day when I spent a lot of time in Rome, I used to dress with a male influence in an Annie Lennox sort of way. The local barmen at the cappuccino place used to call me “little man” in Italian. I wasn’t dressing that way to keep up with men, I just liked how it looked. I still have a few of my ties put away, just in case I need to revisit that phase of my live.

    Glad you bought yourself flowers. You deserve them!
    Jotter Girl´s last blog post…Writers of tomorrow

    • Absence Alternatives April 6, 2011, 11:12 pm

      Thanks. I am now dying to see pictures of you as “little man” in that Italian village. Actually, let’s just build a time machine!

  • MacDougal Street Baby April 5, 2011, 7:15 am

    I rarely buy flowers. Sometimes I spy into my neighbor’s beautifully washed kitchen window with her perfectly arranged flowers and think to myself, “Maybe I should make a little effort” but something irrelevant pulls me away and I’m off to other things.

    I also used umbrellas in my imaginative play. I would jump off the highest stoop with my arm outstretched and pray that this would be the moment I would fly like Mary Poppins. Life back then was a series of disappointments.

    Yes, indeedy do, hubby and I also look at a woolpacked perfect sky and hum The Simpsons. I have a picture I took recently with just this in mind.

    Here’s a fun activity when you find yourself out and about in the city. Count the number of fedoras you see. You’ll be shocked. One time they exceeded the head toll. I’m not joking. I, for one, am a big supporter of the chapeau. It helps hide my bald spot.

    P.S. You are one sexy broad.

    • Absence Alternatives April 6, 2011, 11:14 pm

      Love the idea of counting hats! There are a few ladies on the commuter train that have some classy styles that I admire. Maybe one day I will have enough courage to ask whether I could take pictures of them.

  • Stacey April 5, 2011, 8:53 am

    “Do you ever wonder now what your parents were doing when you were sleeping back then? ”

    I do now.

    Considering borrowing the husband’s fedora from the downstairs closet for the day.
    Stacey´s last blog post…Legend

  • Irene April 5, 2011, 9:17 am

    I have to make my bed. I just have to. OCD maybe. Could be. I haven’t had a check up in so long I wonder if I’m even breathing.

    I think you rock that tie! Between you in the tie and hat (the earrings really make the outfit!) with the red background, it’s an awesome picture!

    I love those spontaneous purchases! For $1.99! How can you beat that? You get a bouquet of sunshine!

    I never thought about the Simpson’s when I looked up at the sky like that. OMG, that’s too freakin’ funny! Now I’m going to be thinking of that next time I look up . I hate you.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting! I’m seriously going to think about laundry analysis. It’s not like I’m really that busy here….watching birds eat sunflower seeds. Oh wait, mail’s here. Highlight of my day!

    • Absence Alternatives April 6, 2011, 11:15 pm

      Thank you very much for the compliment! Now come over and make the beds in my house for me! I bet people love you as a house guest. 🙂

  • Jane April 5, 2011, 9:18 am

    I believe you are reviving a very stylish trend! And may I say, you look hot!

  • Andrea @ Shameless Agitator April 5, 2011, 10:42 am

    Love this post! And especially love the pic!
    Andrea @ Shameless Agitator´s last blog post…A new toy

  • Georgina Dollface April 5, 2011, 2:09 pm

    Awesome self portrait. Yeah, cropping and tinting are my friends too. What would I do without them? Like you, I don’t normally buy flowers but in the Spring when they are local and cheap, I just can’t resist. Tulips are my favourite, next to daffodils. I must remind myself to buy both more often when then are so abundant and fresh here. – G

    • Absence Alternatives April 6, 2011, 11:19 pm

      I love tulips! But someone once told me that the dark red/purple ones look like penises… That thought makes me blush and laugh every time I see them now. Kind of ruined it for me. LOL

  • Ameena April 6, 2011, 10:40 am

    Finally someone who understands the futility of buying flowers. And yet, I couldn’t resist the price of these exact same ones at Trader Joe’s. And yes, they died way too quicky.

    I think you are a knockout. I absolutely thought of Annie Lennox the second I saw that photo! Gorgeous my friend. Just gorgeous, inside and out.
    Ameena´s last blog post…a weekend on the slopes

  • magpie April 6, 2011, 12:01 pm

    I almost never buy flowers, except for those cheap daffs that appear round about now. This post totally made me smile.

  • Is it wrong that in all this meaningful, amusing, self-photoshopped writing, my favourite part was the $5 hot pink pajamas? Rock on, sista, rock on.

    Also? Great you bought the flowers. I bought 6 yellow roses at the grocery store on an impulse buy, and they lasted 3 weeks! Made me smile every single time I looked at them.

    SO hurry up Spring!
    StephanieC | Seriously? Really? Seriously?´s last blog post…Win &amp Fail

  • Velva April 6, 2011, 8:57 pm

    You absolutely crack me-up in a good way. I love the things that you are willing to do. I was totally captured by flowers, the crystal blue sky and then…how it related to the Simpsons and then… I was just having all kinds of experiences reading your blog post.

    You should never stop blogging.

    Velva´s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday

  • The Good Greatsby April 7, 2011, 12:31 am

    You are absolutely right that everyone should own a fedora. I made this realization recently and having been looking for one in my size.

  • Wicked Shawn April 7, 2011, 9:34 am

    You are so beautiful, saturated or not, inside and out! This picture captures so much of the essence of you! Strength, wit, daring, sexuality……you embody these qualities in this pic! tempted to print it out and frame it!
    Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…What the What!!

  • chickensconsigliere April 8, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I love that picture. It makes me think of Sex and the City-remember the one where Charlotte does a gallery show for a photographer who dresses woman as men and photographs them, and in the end, she has one done of herself? Now I want a fedora.
    chickensconsigliere´s last blog post…In Which Chicken Re-posts an Old Post for the First Time Ever and Begs Your ForgivenessExcept- Hey- Maybe You Never Read This Post Before in Which Case- Were Good- Right

    • Absence Alternatives April 10, 2011, 10:17 am

      Yes you need a fedora. AND I don’t think I have ever seen that episode. I need to go find it now!

  • linlah April 10, 2011, 5:21 pm

    When spring does finally come the pastures in front of and behind my parents house will be filled with Narcissus with red tulips here and there, it’s very impowering, like a fedora.
    linlah´s last blog post…hoover dam does not power las vegas

    • Absence Alternatives April 11, 2011, 12:30 am

      Could you please please take a picture for us? For all of us? Just picturing that is making me tear up… (Ok, I am exhausted and am now sitting alone in a hotel room not looking forward to pulling an all-nighter because I did not work this weekend at all…)

      It sounds simply divine.

  • Melinda April 10, 2011, 8:25 pm

    You rocked the hat. That should be used as your avatar. It’s got attitude! Lovely post.
    Melinda´s last blog post…Preschool Playground Scams and Justin Bieber

    • Absence Alternatives April 11, 2011, 12:48 am

      Thank you for the compliment. I thought about changing my avatar (yes I am VAIN!) but I’ve promised someone on Twitter that I’d never change my little gal avatar otherwise “baby angels will die” or something… People are crazy on Twitter. 🙂

  • flutter April 10, 2011, 8:27 pm

    um, yep. Pretty sure I love you.
    flutter´s last blog post…fatty fatty 2×4

  • The Barreness April 12, 2011, 11:09 am

    Holy crap I LOVE this photo of you.

    You are working that hat, baby.

    I remember the night I sent in my photos too…only I was drunker and much MUCH more naked than you.

    Opposites attract, n’est-ce pas?

    – B x
    The Barreness´s last blog post…Vagina schmagina

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