Sunday, July 17, 2011

it's our policy!

I was on the way to herding lesson with Gibson when I stopped into Wayside. The little country store was booming with summer tourist business, and I waved to Erin and Chelsea inside. Erin beamed at me. "Not a lot of people could pull that outfit off!" she said with a light voice. She wasn't mocking me, but complimenting my getup. I was wearing long khaki shorts, a black t-shirt, knee-high black Muck boots, and a big straw cowboy hat. A mala dangled from my left wrist and a large pocket knife gleamed from my thigh pocket. I smiled and told her the only reason I could pull it off was because I didn't care if I could or couldn't. I just liked it.

I am sad to admit it took me nearly thirty years to stop caring what people thought about me. In college I would have been terrified to wear a cowboy hat anywhere outside a costume shop. Now I am just grateful to have something light and airy to keep the sun out of my eyes. If people wanted to laugh, let them. Nothing else happens. They don't ask you for money, or hit you, or even usually have the balls to make fun of you to your face. With no consequences at all, I wear what l please. Let them laugh and scurry home to their peer-approved brands and wardrobe. I'm wearing my goddamned hat.

If anyone ever makes fun of you for your clothes, chickens, canning jars, vehicle, hair, makeup, pets, choices... just look them straight in the eyes and say. "So?" And you will be amazed at the lack of follow-up. If you can get an answer to that, ask again. I have never met a person who could make it to three So?'s.


Look at that tan line Your arms are Hispanic and your legs are Irish!


You don't match, is all. It's funny!



See what I mean? The Jenna of two years ago would have worn jeans because she would be ashamed of her pasty legs. Even though keeping them hidden is exactly what made them pasty in the first place. That Jenna isn't around anymore. Good riddance. She was a chump.

The hat incident reminded me of when I bought the Dodge. After hours of paperwork and fussing at the dealership I just wanted to sign the dotted lines and go home. I had to pick up 12 bales of hay at Common Sense Farm and was way behind schedule. When hands were shook, they told me I had to wait another 30 minutes so they could wash and detail the truck. "Please don't." I asked, and I meant it. I had no interest in a mindlessly clean truck. Within hours it would be loaded with hay, dog hair, spilled coffee and my own sweat. "Oh, we have to. It's our policy!" He said, as if this was some sort of incentive. I explained I did not want a detailed truck. I had absolutely no interest in a detailed truck, whatsoever. I told him about how within 45 minutes of leaving this driveway their work would be covered in hay and mud. Detail someone's new show pony. Not my draft horse.

I had to wait the thirty minutes.

I'm not saying you shouldn't shower or drive around in a filth bucket. When the truck gets too gamey, it gets a ride up to the car wash in Salem for an old fashioned wash, vacuum, and rub down of random varnish and interior tonics. I know my way around an Armor-all wipe. But if you think I gave it a second thought when Gibson leapt up into the front seat just out of the water tub after our 90-degree herding lesson.... think again. Wet seats, as it turns out, are impermanent.

This truck might make it a decade if I am lucky. I'm not getting buried in it, and no U-haul is following my hearse full of material possessions I meticulously dusted and kept tidy. Nothing lasts, certainly not us, and I'm not going to go through the rest of my life with a plastic container of Clorox wipes in the back seat or worried about scratches on my dang truck. Life is too damn short to worry about detailing. I have no patience for it. I'll never get those thirty minutes of my life back.

Here's to stupid hats and wet dogs. May they procure ridicule and scratch cars forever more.


Blogger Ruby said...


July 17, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Becky said...


July 17, 2011 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Beth said...


I feel the need to jump up and holler. :)

July 17, 2011 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

For quite a few years, I have worn outrageous earrings. As I tell people, there aren't earring police who are going to tell me I can't. And now, if I don't wear outrageous earrings, people wonder what is wrong.

July 17, 2011 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Never having dressed “to suit” some standards in which I had no voice has only kept me from a High-paying job and i care less about money than i do about how i look. Hats are sun protection-fashion comes after function. My dozen hats fight for room on the eight-point rack that holds the stash. Enjoy your life and never mind those with Opinions.

Now those with Help are another story altogether and you know lots of them.

July 17, 2011 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna I am soooooooo proud of the woman you have become. It thrills me to read stories like this one knowing you have moved on and no longer live by everyone else's rules. You go girl!!!

July 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

July 17, 2011 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love this! I am learning, also in my 30's, to not give a s%$t what people think about me. I live in a conservative town and just may be the only hippie here, but I let my freak flag fly proudly!! Thanks for the inspiring read!

July 17, 2011 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Age does bring wisdom!

July 17, 2011 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

Amy Dickinson recently suggested this answer to nosy or stupid comments. Laugh and say, "I know, right?" Like you and that person have a little joke going. Then walk away. "So?" works. But having another little response in one's arsenal of "Who cares?" comments is always nice.

July 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Robbie Grey said...

How long can wear a mala on your wrist before it breaks? For me, the string ones last about a month, at most. Wire ones naturally last longer. Of course, I tend to wear mine around the neck nowadays and just for certain times.

July 17, 2011 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Bravo! You'll find that life becomes so much easier when you don't give a rat's ass about what every one else thinks. Some of the worst times in my life were when I was desperately trying to fit in, and all of the best times were when I was marching to the beat of my own drum. You are beautiful just the way you are, we wouldn't want you any other way!

July 17, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Dang right, all of it!

July 17, 2011 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


July 17, 2011 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Deirdre said...

I'm so impressed that it only took 30 years for you to stop caring what people think. Some of us (me) are slow learners.

July 17, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hear, hear! It took me quite a bit longer than you, to realise this!

July 17, 2011 at 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm your age and I'm slowly getting there. I spent most of my life trying to make other people like me by trying to do/act/think/wear like them. It never worked.
I recently sold my Mercury Mountaineer and bought a souped up Dodge Durango. Not that I really needed a souped up version...I just needed the Hemi engine for trailer pulling. It came complete with silver trim, extra alarm sytem, extra loud muffler, onboard navagation, DVD player in the name it. (A client got me a REALLY good deal on it...I can't randomly afford that much crazy stuff!)
Guess what...I pull a pet grooming trailer with it and I stuff as much hay and straw in it as I possibly can for my little goats. The hay people worried about the condition of the truck as I was stuffing it and I laugh and said it's a cargo vehicle, not a passenger vehicle. Most people, when they see every nook and cranny covered in hay and straw, ask why I bought it and not a pick-up.
I bought it for the towing power and temperature controlled interior for mini goat hauling. I tell people my standard poodle can watch Westminster on the DVD'll never get used. I keep hoping the hay bales will knock it off. It takes up valuable storage space. :P
You go girl! I can't wait to actually GET to that point in my life. :)

July 17, 2011 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

Love, love, love it!!!!

Jenna, It has taken me almost 40 years to come to the same realizations and I am on the same page girl!
I find it entertaining to find and big funky hat and wear it out. Keeps me laughing.
Rock the damn hat!

July 17, 2011 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I would have to say it took me 55 years to be comfortable wearing what made me happy. Good for you.

July 17, 2011 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Lord, where was this post at the family reunion 2 weeks ago when my brother-in-law kept saying how weird I was to everyone who came up to me and asked after my chickens and my garden?
I swear, if my mother hadn't been there, I would have decked him after the 3rd incident.
I love the 'so'. Will use it with abandon at my next encounter with Mr. Big House in the Suburbs who has never grown a green bean or a carrot.

July 17, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I have a Jeep Liberty that I call the dirt mobile. It's hauled straw, chickens, guineas, dogs and feed. It's rarely clean on the outside because we live down a gravel road. It's my work horse and I love it. As for fashion, you might catch me in my pajamas wearing rubber welleys to feed the pigs and chickens,and ya can't have a farm without a good straw hat. Life is good.

July 17, 2011 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Amen, cowboy hat sister. I finally have a cowboy hat and I could give a shit who thinks it's insane.

July 17, 2011 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, that reminds me of a few days ago. I went to pick free blueberries at a farm up the road. I was so happy to have gotten 2 whole gallons in about 30 minutes. I had 2 gallon buckets and set them in the back of my Trooper and put the cooler with the goat milk I had to deliver in front of them so they would not spill. Well, they did spill when I had to slam on my breaks. So blueberries all over the back where I have hay and goat poop from hauling wethers up the road last week. I just scooped them all up, hay and all. Got home and washed every single one of them and got them in the fridge. I guess if my Trooper was detailed, I would not have had to wash them. But what's a little extra work.

And I have not washed my Trooper in a few years. I know. But what's the use when it will be dirty right away. Or have to haul an animal again.

July 17, 2011 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger E said...

But you "didn't have to wait". You can take the keys to your truck and leave.

July 17, 2011 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger admin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 18, 2011 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger admin said...

Well said! I got some funky tan likes too.

July 18, 2011 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

You need to read Green Barbarians. Right up your alley. You need to read it especially before you start having kids.

Which you are gonna do someday.

July 18, 2011 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger mmgreenough said...


July 18, 2011 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger ThriftyPuppy said...

You go, girl! I've never been a "clothes horse" and have never cared what other folks thought. All that stuff is so shallow and I've got better things to do with my time. I thank my grandpa everyday for teaching me to be independent.

July 18, 2011 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a great thoughtful post. I've just come to this fashion epiphany after almost 50 years on the planet. You have no idea how encouraging this post was. Bless your heart.

July 18, 2011 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I love this.

July 18, 2011 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Robbie Knight said...

30 years to begin to move toward living authentically is not long at all. At 50 I am still spotting ways that the culture has me doing self-evaluations. And some poor souls will never break free. Sometimes I see a woman, maybe at the grocery store, who is so obviously worried about neatness or attractiveness that she's burdened by it. It reminds me of a story a friend told me of a small village in China, in which only ONE girl of a generation did not have her feet bound. Her parents were radicals and refused to do it to her. This girl without bound feet was regarded as repulsive and unmarriable in the day, but 40 years later the ladies with bound feet were in constant chronic pain, completely out of shape and weak from no activity, and grumpy from both conditions. The daughter who's feet had never been bound was everybody's favorite local personality, zooming around the village on her bike with a basket of fresh vegetables to sell and radiant with health and humor. And yes, she did marry a little later than the others...but it was a happy marriage. She wasn't a grumpy wife!

July 18, 2011 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Re: cowboy hats

Back when I was in my 20's, I'd NEVER have imagined I'd be wearing cowboy hats or western boots. I grew up in the north, and moved to Texas in middle school. I had, shall we say, a rather negative view of that particular aesthetic as it seemed backward and ridiculous to me. My friends and I made fun of the "roper" kids in school. I TAKE IT ALL BACK.

I have since learned that cowboy hats and western boots have functions, and serve their functions extremely well. Over time I have also come to feel that a man in Carhartts, white t-shirt, cowboy hat and boots working a fence line really might be the sexiest thing I've ever seen. I'll shamelessly slow the truck down as I'm passing by. :)

July 18, 2011 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Alassel said...

This was a lovely post. I too have a large obnoxious hat (mine's a lime green sunhat with a 10" wide brim!) that people shake their heads at all the time. I don't care - I'm practically translucent, and wearing it means no sunscreen and no sunburn! :D

July 18, 2011 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Cynthia R. said...

When I hear of people negative comments about how other people dress, act, or talk I always think what a sad boring world this would be if everyone dressed, acted, or talked the same. We need color in our life and Jenna you certainly put color in a lot of people's life. If someone makes negative remarks about the way you dress then they are probably not your type of person anyway.

July 18, 2011 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Robbie Knight said...

We spend the first 20 or so years of our lives carefully studying the culture in order to find our places in it. That's completely natural. Separating from the culture as needed after that, to become more and more authentically YOURSELF takes longer, because it is a careful and detailed process...and I think most of us do it for a whole lifetime. It's amazing to discover yourself under layers of cultural programming...and it's fun.

July 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

That's the spirit! If you stop worrying about other's impressions of you, you become who you really are.

July 18, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Haha! You said it!

July 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You are right - who cares! Was talking with my mom this morning and she made the comment about dressing the way she wants and finally being able to not care what people think. I told her I'm 27 and heck, I haven't cared for a few years now.

Love your reference to keeping Clorox wipes in the son is 18 months and has been sick ONCE. I credit it to the fact that I am not super disenfectant mom. He is clean, we live in a clean house, etc...I just don't freak out if he picks up a cracker that fell on the floor 2 seconds earlier, or eats dirt. He's all the healthier for it.

July 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger darah said...

yay! people have always given me crap for being so pale. for some reason the kids in the pool saying- look it's like your legs glow!- has stuck with me these thirty some years. who the eff cares? it's hot and i don't tan, i freckle so back off and enjoy my pasty legs - because I do!

good job jenna!

July 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger jen said...

Damn straight!

July 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

permagrin!! :)) can you see it?!!

July 18, 2011 at 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this post, Jenna!
I was the same when I was younger but having kids I had to just "let go". I don't own any clothes that I can't just throw in the washer because I will have paint, glitter, PB&J, and dog hair on them by the end of the day. I'd rather be happy and comfy. The people who matter will accept you for the wonderful person you are.

p.s. Our pasty legs = no skin cancer! woo hoo! :)

July 18, 2011 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Girl after my own heart, you are! I don't care much what people think of how I dress or what I drive, or any other thing I do that suits me. I'm 65 years old now, but I've been this way a long time. Sometime you should read the poem "When I'm an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple" It's a funny poem that I think you'll appreciate, even at your young age. Now, of course, when you're older, you'll like the poem even more.

Diane in North Carolina

July 18, 2011 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

PREACH!!! Love, love, love it!

July 18, 2011 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

Do you need one more huzzah? Here it is: huzzah!

July 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Patterson said...

Here's to life lived authentically!
Homes are for living in and vehicles are to be used. Do what brings you joy.

July 19, 2011 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Amen Jenna!

July 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

So what I needed to hear right now after a long day of "not fitting in". Its not like I wanted to....but every once in a while it gets to you. Shame on me. :) Cheers!

July 21, 2011 at 2:00 AM  
Blogger DeirdraV said...

I heard that Sista!! Great post! Heres to cowboy hat wearing, muck encrusted, hay dropping, dog hair covered girls !

September 5, 2011 at 7:34 PM  

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