Afternoon Inquisition

AI: I’m cooler than my life indicates

Today I announced to my husband that I was dying my hair platinum blonde. Then I went to the salon and bleached my hair.

This is just weeks after I chopped it off… and that was just weeks after I first chopped it.

I’m now toying with the idea of just shaving it.

And I’m pretty sure I’m going through a midlife crisis. I’m not sure what that means or what I’m supposed to do about it… all I know is that while I’m driving around in my Camry, though my suburb, complaining about my homeowners association, grinding baby food and changing diapers, I will not be mistaken for a “suburban mom”. No way. That’s not me. I’m way cooler than that.

I think it’s time for a new tattoo… and maybe to pierce some more things on my face or something. And to mother fucking split some infinitives. Cuz I’m a rebel.

Are you ready for your existential crisis? Have you gone through one? Want to join me? What should I do next?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for an existential crisis. I’ve gone through a few small ones so far, mostly of the “why didn’t I do an internship?” “What am I doing with my life?” variety. I had a slightly more dramatic one after getting my Asperger diagnosis; I didn’t think there would be, because “Asperger Syndrome” is just a term to describe what I’m already doing on the biochemical level, but reality was a bit different. Realizing what Autism Speaks really is, that I couldn’t get independent health insurance even when I could pay for it myself, that there are people out there who *hate* people like me even though they have Aspie/autistic kids and love them dearly… it was all a lot of pressure, even without setting up a virtual soapbox and spotlight.

    I’d join you on your crisis, but it’s yours. How does one join someone else on her crisis?

    What to do… have you thought about adding streaks of color not found on humans to your hair before you shave it off? Just to see how it looks.

  2. I’ve always had the urge to chop my hair off/dye it pink or something, but I’m not brave enough. Pretty sure I’d look like a dude with short hair anyway :\

  3. @Jennifurret:

    I found that the boobs make the “dude” look harder to pull off.

    And the dying it pink isn’t far… if I hated it today, it was totally going to be pink tomorrow.

    @Rebecca C:

    I figured you’d join me on the adventure side of it… getting tattoos and bleaching your hair. I didn’t figure anyone else was going to become a 33 year old mother of 2 with a fear of Keds.

  4. Heh. My mid-PhD crisis was a desire to become a stay-at-home mom. I’m pretty sure I’d go nuts if I actually did that, though. At least, if I tried to d0 it the Martha Stewart way.

  5. Hello everyone. Hope I’m not intruding here with my facial hair and everything.

    So, I’ve had a few minor eight, fifth, and quarter life crises before. I’m not sure how to go getting through them quickly, but I would recommend doing something new and fun, something you’re not familiar with. Learning or experiencing something new seems like a good place to start.

    But not sky diving. That’d be bad.
    Awesome and crazy, but bad if your parachute doesn’t want to cooperate.

    Maybe a concert or something.

  6. How can you be a rebel getting a tattoo or another piercing,when every other person is doing the exact same thing? How many people do you know of your age who doesn’t have at least one of those things?

  7. Existential crisis? Having one as we speak. Mine is that I’m realizing that my career as a software developer is somewhat stymied by the specialty I more or less fell into: Client-side front-end code. Basically, the stuff that runs on your browser. It’s a widely disrespected field, because “everyone can do HTML”, right? So I’ve been jobhunting for two+ months now, and the best I can find is something at ~$1000 less a month than my experience deserves.

    If I’d been a database coder, nothing of the kind would ever have happened, and I could have picked and chosen among any number of plum assignments.

    Also, I’m wishing I’d become a carpenter instead.

  8. See, I just break the mold of all the ‘mom’ hair by having ridiculously long locks of silken smoothness.

    But a fantastic way to avoid existential crisis is to pick up an extremely demanding hobby. Then the brain doesn’t get a chance to duel with existential-y-ness.

    Or just get a sick tat. Eyebrow piercings are good too.

  9. @tmac57: Well, first of all, I think Elyse was using the term humorously (she does that, sometimes), and second of all, there are more things to rebel against than the people around you. Like your own fears and expectations.

    I’m getting pretty good at the perpetual existential crisis thing. I call it “living dynamically.” Hey, let’s go get tattooed together!

  10. I had a month-long existential breakdown this time two years ago due to, well, I wouldn’t call it a broken heart, but it did involve a situation in which I realized I couldn’t be with somebody I love. The situation was multifaceted but a lot of it had to do with my chronic illness that prevents me from basically doing anything without some type of help. I couldn’t be with my exgirlfriend of four years and I couldn’t be with this person or the person before her. It’s a feeling that’s unique to people like me.

    Funnily enough I got a piercing the August before that. Coincidence?

  11. @Elyse: Don’t bet on that. A lot of dudes have boobs. I’ve even got some little ones. Remember the Seinfeld where they started wearing “Bros”.

    I’ve not had one yet. I’ve been a father since I was 20 and normally broke or nearly broke. I think I’ve been too busy trying to survive and keep the kids safe. But I think I may have one soon. My youngest will be off to college in 4 years. I worry about that. I don’t know who I will be when I am not taking care of the kids. My entire adult life has been devoted to be a father.

  12. I contemplated an existential crisis in my early forties and decided it would take too much energy. So instead I dumped religion which pretty much eliminated most of my angst issues. Booze helps sometimes, but then again life’s not worth living without some low level of persistent existential angst. No thinking = no angst.

    @Gabrielbrawley: You will go to TAM and get drunk with Elyse and me!!

  13. I get so restless sometimes I have the urge to do crazy things to my hair or go back to school or get a new job. My latest expression of this restlessness is my new full back tattoo. I now have the outline of a huge peacock with a background of dragonflies and bamboo just waiting to get some color. I gotta say I think it was a good move. It has made me feel quite empowered and…rad! Hey, it’s cheaper than going back to school :)

  14. I am currently having one as well (hi guys! Long time no see!)

    I don’t know why mine suddenly started, but it did right around the time I had my daughter (my first) about a year and a half ago. Maybe it’s because I can’t just do things like I used too. Maybe because I have this fear that people see me as a boring Mom now.

    I have finally started getting comfortable with myself since I have been jogging and my hair has grown out (I was unhappy with a pixie cut for too long) and I’d love to dye it black but I am so scared of the upkeep after working so hard to grow it out.

    30 is also fast approaching and in my mind that’s the year that officially means the end of childhood. Period.

    I feel the same as you Elyse – I go grocery shopping, I change diapers and go to play dates but in my heart I am still the girl that goes to Burning Man events when she can, wants to dye her hair black, loves horror and goth music. I feel so much cooler than the day to day stuff and I am scared that’s all people get to see.

    What doesn’t help is that someone I knew once called me “vanilla” not knowing me at all. You’d think the fact that they really don’t know me would allow me to ignore it but I couldn’t. It really, REALLY bothered me. I am NOT vanilla.

    Being a Mom also makes me want to rebel and feel more sexy. I almost overcompensate because I am trying to separate the two aspects of myself so I don’t go crazy. It doesn’t help that I have a closet full of fetish boots and corsets with nowhere to where them. Where I live now doesn’t really have the “life” for it and I get those items so that I can be seen in them, not just for the bedroom. My mode of escape used to be a Burning Man regional in our area but that went bust and now I feel stuck in suburbia but too scared to leave since I have been here my entire life.

    *sigh* I can honestly go on and on, but I should just shut up. Man, this turned into a vent-Stevie’s-pent-up-feelings comment :-P

  15. It also doesn’t help that my husband hasn’t been on the same page as me lately either. He’d be home all day watching movies if I didn’t get his butt out occasionally.

  16. I think I already had one – at least, I recently drastically changed my life. It involved dumping hubby #3, who had slowly – over eight years or so – sucked me into a low-grade hell of emotional and mental abuse – not physical, for which I *am* grateful – it could have been so much worse. On the other hand, though, physical I would have recognized right away for what it was. Having NEVER had any experience before with the other kind, I genuinely didn’t recognize it as *abuse* until the end.

    But…. finally up and left, moved to a completely different part of the country and in with my grown daughters, changed gears completely, going back to school at the ripe old age of 50 (51 next Thursday) to become a medical assistant, and got a new tattoo on my upper chest (perhaps-cheesy but meaningful-to-me) of a phoenix. Does that qualify as a midlife crisis?

    Works for me….

  17. In one. I think you have to shake up the way you see yourself every now and then.
    Challenging all the things that give me an identity, my job, where I live, my orientation (OY)
    Also considering getting new tatto. Can’t decided what to get, though. What suggests change, yearning, loss and sheer stubborn will?

  18. A razor-shaved mohawk is an answer to suburban mom syndrome.

    Actually, a fresh new mohawk is a good cathartic answer to just about anything.

  19. I’m kinda in a bit of a mini crisis myself since I left my ex-partner. I realized I wasn’t so much of the sexual dynamo that I portrayed for most of my 20s, so I did some inner searching for that, cut off 9 years of dreadlocks, finally getting dental work (partials on my front teeth, yey), removed half of my body piercings, and going into school for a career that might not be my dream, but will hopefully keep me a little less than utterly broke.

    Oh, and I moved 1000 miles away from the state I resided in for all my life.

    Maybe I’m going the opposite way to handle my “crisis” and just working on settling down and being all sort of boring. *shrug*

  20. 6 years ago I was fed up with my job. Couldn’t imagine staying in it, couldn’t imagine developing in it, didn’t see it as useful to society, but didn’t know what else to do. Came in late, goofed off online a lot and on a couple of occasions called in sick because I was sick of it all. Then they cut 25% of all employees in fixed-line and gave me a severance package which I used to become a teacher. Yay!

    Now I just mope about entering my late thirties and not being very good at finding a partner so I can catch up with my house,-wife-and-two-kids, younger brother.

    As with all problems I deal with this one by procrastinating. It may not be a recipe for success, but it’s something I know very well how to do.

  21. So I get the baby bathed and ready for bed, kiss the wife and little one, jump in car seat containing, Toyota Rav4 and go to my new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Just started on month ago and I’ve already been to the doc for some x-rays – but otherwise it’s awesome. And I get to be some a little different a couple of nights a week.

  22. Currently going through one right now. I’ll graduate in May with my PhD. After spending most of my life in school I have to go be an adult and independent, which is scary as hell.

    Chopped my hair off this summer and I’d totally be down with a tattoo (or two). I may just do it this summer as a present to myself if I actually finish my degree.

  23. I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I’m in late-mid-life and on the 31 day plan for retirement. One day for the boss to piss me off and 30 days for the notice.

    It didn’t help my frame of mind that my soon-to-be exspouse is going through the same thing.

  24. I’ve always wanted to get “USS Indianapolis” tattooed on my arm, so I could have it removed.

    My rebelliousness tends to be pretty tame.

  25. Been there, done that. Angst was cured with a brand new electric guitar and the newfound ability to play Clash City Rockers.

  26. I joined a coed softball league without my husband to cure my doldrums. I was living in the Bay Area and met some great people I never would have met, and had beers in dives I never would have found. After a few games I allowed my husband to come and cheer me on from the bleachers… with the express condition that he would not join the game. I felt powerful again.

  27. been going through one for years. Probably since college even. Have no intention of dying my hair though, and will probably not ever get a tattoo. I’m not a fan of needles, but if I ever end up giving blood, then, and only then, will I consider getting a tattoo.

  28. Yeah. I’m in the midst of one right now. Got stopped from shaving my head not 3 weeks ago. I am starting to realize that this job I have, while in science, is NOT particularly good and I need a change. I keep thinking about opening a bakery but I have absolutely no background in bakery operations. So I thought I’d shave my head, cause that’ll work….

  29. @tmac57:

    I’ve never in my life met another person with a tattoo or a piercing. I’ve often wondered if enough people want them to justify opening a business of some sort… one that offers tattoos and piercings to the public.

    I’d do it but I have shaky hands… and I’m already a billionaire, so I don’t need the money.

  30. You look so hot as a blond, too, Elyse :).
    My wife wanted/wants pink hair, too.

    I had no existential crisis; I outsourced mine to Mumbai. Much easier to handle, though sometimes difficult to understand.

  31. @tmac57 You’ve based that assertion on the assumption that everyone who gets tattooed or pierced does it for external attention. I can assure you that many many people have tats and piercings that you’ll never see. I have far more metal and ink out of sight than in.

    Tattoos and piercings aren’t Baby On Board signs or pet rocks. Elyse, I have needles and hair dye standing by. Where should we start? LOL

    @mattg If that’s the MattG I know, then he is an authority on rocking a mohawk!

  32. @maggie:

    Obviously… let’s start in Boston then pierce, tattoo and dye our way cross-country on motorcycles!

    But first I’ll need a lighter adapter for my breastpump…. which, now that I think about it, makes me rethink the motorcycle idea.

  33. FYI tmac, I’m getting my tattoo for me. Not to look odd, cool, or rebellious. I like the way my tattoo makes me feel.

  34. i can realate to elyse. i often refer to myself as a mellowed rebel, 31, single mom with a 7 year old, did the shaved head, tattoos and piercing thing back in high school (before i dropped out). but about 5 years ago i ditched the deadbeat old man, I finally got back into school, quit waitressing and got a “grown up” job. but still felt something missing, i felt i had lost my identity. I became a mother and a wife and lost my individuality. what i did was join roller derby! i have a group of girl friends for the first time i can ever remember, a fun cool sexy hobby that i do just for me! and i am thrilled to have a little piece of “me” back!

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