What happens when you close your eyes and try to remember who you were

Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

When I put on lipstick, I have to lean in close to the mirror.

It’s a phenomenon that mirrors the fact you can’t put on mascara without opening your mouth, lips slightly pursed in concentration. But mascara is child’s play. Lipstick is for grown-ups.

I rarely wear lipstick. It always seems to smudge off on my face, my drink, my food, my fork, but worst of all, my teeth. Smile and reveal a lipstick-stained grin, flakes of color splattered across a creamy background of orthodontially-assisted teeth (thanks Mom & Dad).

But today is a day for lipstick.

So, I’ll hover…

There is a cancer at our University — you must remove her.

University of Virginia Rotunda with green lawn and blue sky beyond.
University of Virginia Rotunda with green lawn and blue sky beyond.

Deans Groves, Sauerwein, and Baucom,

I have worn the honor of Honors. I graduated from Virginia.

In 2010, I graduated from UVA, as did my husband. We cherish our time there and look fondly upon it, often reflecting on our memories of youth — the things we learned, mistakes we made, and the overarching joy that came with it all. That isn’t to say, however, that we have not been forced, now more than ever, to reflect back also on negatives and inequities of our University, to examine a complicated history.

While at UVA, I gladly signed the Honor Pledge…

Enough is enough.

The system is broken. It’s our job to fix it. Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

People who have worked with me know that I have long tried to be a voice for those not given a seat at the table, particularly within the architecture and design industries. Sadly, my voice has often been singular, dismissed and pushed aside when it was inconvenient to take into consideration. But honestly, I’m tired of pleading with my colleagues to give a damn. Why should you have a choice in whether you get to care? The people and places you choose to ignore have no say. They have no choice. They have no voice.

If I’m tired, imagine how…

A love letter to my layoff, Lucy

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dear Lucy,

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Actually, I really just wish I’d had the chance to quit you. But you broke up with me first. You told me you couldn’t afford me, that I was expensive, that the sky was falling and I couldn’t be with you.

I fought. You didn’t.

I cried. You didn’t.

I was lost. You weren’t.

I thought that all I had done meant something. It didn’t.

I told you that I wouldn’t wait for you. That if you wanted me, you had to tell me now. …

An unlikely recipe for attacking personal anxiety

Photo by Jamie Fenn on Unsplash

Sourdough starters. Handstand challenges. Netflix. Push-ups.

We all have a recipe for trying to deflate our coronavirus anxiety balloons.

Some people meditate or initiate a yoga practice to try and relax. Others may bite their fingernails or nervously bounce their knee. Maybe they eat a whole pizza. There could be productive thought journaling, painting, or composing. You might instead crawl under a blanket, binge watch Real Housewives of Who the Hell Knows (exact location not important), and count the number of times so-and-so calls you-know-who a you-know-what for doing only-God-knows-what.

I’ve probably done all of those things (except for the…

Trying to stay sane as an unemployed shut-in

Woman looking out window in city.
Woman looking out window in city.
Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

I have a dirty secret to share.

When my last office first started working remotely, I was convinced that I was going to become a body-builder, superstar chef in all of my newfound free time. Goodbye, MTA! Time to be interior designer by day, kick-ass housewife by night.

Then I lost my job.

After finding a way to peel myself off the floor and a way to plug the tears, I told myself that in addition to mastering a souffle, building six-pack abs, and cleaning every corner of my house until it shines, I would push forward so fast and…

A lesson from a Disney princess and the produce aisle.

Cinderella’s castle in Disney world with sun behind
Cinderella’s castle in Disney world with sun behind
Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Growing up, I never wanted to be a Disney princess. Sure, I watched the movies, but I never had the same obsession with them as some of my friends and classmates. The Princesses were a tangential part of my youth only. One year for Halloween, I think I might have been Cinderella, but I can’t even be sure; the only evidence exists not in my memory, but in the puffy blue dress in my childhood dress-up box. …

An in-progress puzzle of a New Yorker magazine cover
An in-progress puzzle of a New Yorker magazine cover
When life becomes a 1000-piece puzzle you have to cobble together from the doldrums of NYC self-isolation.

An introspection and the musings of a perfectionist struggling in these very imperfect times.

I’m not sure I even took a breath this past weekend. Strangely, not because I was afraid of inhaling dangerous coronavirus particles, but because on Friday, I lost my job. I was laid off. It wasn’t something I even knew how to begin to process. As I cried to my parents on the phone, I said simply, “I don’t know how to be laid off.”

It’s true. I don’t. Not that any of us really know how, unless you’ve perhaps had the misfortune of it happening before, but even then, I doubt we really know how to be laid off…

Laura A. Heeter

Designer, thinker, and doer based in Richmond, VA.

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