One Reason For Severing A Family Connection

Imagine tossing out a family memento before you realized what you had. That’s the way I felt when I discovered the old photo I showed you in this post and talked about in the follow-up one yesterday.

In the mid 90s, I had a little plastic surgery. When I did it I unknowingly severed a connection to my family history. I have to admit I felt a little wistful when I saw the old photographs and realized what I had done.

Looking back, it seems fairly shallow and superficial that I spent so much time worrying about a physical characteristic that most people didn’t seem to notice. It bothered me a great deal though and when I got a bonus at work, I took a bit of the extra money and changed my look.

Elizabeth Harper - 1993

Ignore the mullet and how it oddly looks like both ears are sticking out here.

Not only did my right ear stick out in a way the left one didn’t, it was flat inside with none of the whirled bits that most ears have. I never considered I had the option of changing it until I was in my 30s and mentioned it to the plastic surgeon who reworked the area where my melanoma had been removed. She talked to me about the ease of having it done and before I knew it, I was living with a new ear.

When I went in for my post surgery follow-up, I said it felt like she’d cut my ear off and sewn it back on. The look that passed between my doctor and her nurse confirmed I was probably not far off in my sense of what it must have looked like during surgery.

My Ear After Surgery

Was it worth it? I never really questioned my decision not even when I realized the connection to other family members. After years of avoiding getting my hair wet while swimming, and wishing I could wear my hair cut really short, I could finally do both without worrying about how my ears looked. The only lasting negative side effect has been the way my ear sometimes aches when the weather’s very cold.

Elizabeth Harper With Jersey Girl

After years of turning my head to avoid showing my ear, I have trouble remembering to face the camera fully and it’s difficult to find pictures showing both ears at once even since my ear surgery. This shows me with longer hair, but you can still see that the ear closest to Jersey Girl is no longer sticking out through my hair.

I loved the results and rarely thought about it when looking in the mirror or tucking my hair behind my ears until I saw the picture of my great-grandmother and discovered that what I’d considered an imperfection was a family trait.

As someone who worked for years in an industry that liked to have cheerleader pretty types marketing their products, I was acutely aware that product knowledge needed to be balanced somewhere between bubbly attractiveness and at least the appearance of youth.

Elizabeth & Alley - 1994

I look hyped up on caffeine, but I had just rushed in from Atlanta to grab our cat so my daughter Miranda could have her at school for pet day. Notice the before surgery ear I’m trying to hide with my big hair. It’s hard to see my ear with that door knocker hanging off it. 

As a working actor, I recognized that pretty, and young, were often at the top of the list when casting a part. It’s no accident that my ear pinning happened while I was working as a drug rep and auditioning for film and commercial work.

Elizabeth Harper - 1996 - Funny Ears

See it sticking out on the left?

When I was working towards my university degree, I had an advisor tell me that I would not get much work as an actor until I was older as I was more suited for character roles. I thought at the time that he must be thinking that at 24, I was too old and not pretty enough. Having spent time a little time in front of a camera, I think he was right.

Can you find me in the photo below?

Elizabeth Harper - UGA - With The Major-General And His Other Daughters - Pirates Of Penzance

I haven’t done any acting since 1998 when I changed companies and didn’t have time to do both and these days I’d rather spend my time writing. I was never really that good of an actor, but if I’m ever moved to dip my toes back in the shallow and often ‘looks focused’ waters of the acting world again, I can totally rock a Dame Judi Dench haircut especially now that both of my ears match.

Dame Judi Dench (Internet Photo)

Elizabeth Harper - 2011

New Zealand Travel Research – Traditional & More

New Zealand Travel Guides

For all of you who included New Zealand as a destination in our upcoming extended holiday … you were right!

Even though we have Round the World tickets, most of our time will be spent touring New Zealand. While I usually book flights myself, this was one instance where I saw the benefit in working with an agency to book the many flights we will be on while we are away for eight weeks.

John has handled all the arrangements, bless him for that … for most of my travel life, I have been the one to take charge of the big and small details and it is so different to relax and let someone else do it. Having been to New Zealand in 1996 for six weeks, John knows exactly what he is doing and how to get the best experience for the money.

I would never have known that buying Round the World tickets were the way to go since I associated the RTW expression with the mega wealthy who might go for six months at a time and stop in more countries than the four that our toes will touch down in while we are away. Remember when I said we would be in four countries, well … one was to throw you off a bit as we will only be refueling there during the 22 hour first leg of our journey.

We can hardly count Thailand as it will only be a quick stop, but we will spend a few days in Sydney, Australia before moving on to New Zealand. If you live in Sydney and want to meet for a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch let me know. We are staying near the Botanic Gardens while we are there, but plan to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing after we recover from our long flight. If you have any suggestions for places around Sydney that we should put on our ” Must See list ” please leave them in a comment below.

Some of you guessed correctly that America would be on our list as well. After about seven weeks in New Zealand, we will fly to Atlanta to spend Christmas week with my family. I am really looking forward to showing John what Christmas with my family is all about and it feels like the perfect way to end our trip.

Getting back to travel research, we have gone through guide books both old (from John’s 1996 trip) and new, The Rough Guide To New Zealand, but none of these have photographs that do proper justice to the beauty of the country we are going to see.

The slightly unorthodox ” travel guide ” below has done more to get me excited about what we will experience than all the words in the books above.

Billy Connolly’s World Tour Of New Zealand

Billy Connolly is a comedian who I find screamingly funny at times, but has such a potty mouth that some of you may find him offensive. I know a lot of comedians can get pretty tacky on stage and he tends to put me off a bit with his bad language and constant references to sex, but when he talks about New Zealand (off stage) and shows us places he visits during his ” Too Old To Die Young ” comedy tour he shows us his softer side which is my favorite. (Off topic: I also think he is a fine actor and I loved him in the role of John Brown in the movie, Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench)

John ordered the New Zealand World Tour DVD set above and we have been watching it for the last few days. It is broken into series of eight shows that mix New Zealand travel with segments of his shows performed in towns on both North and South Island. The country looks as magnificent as I have heard and I cannot wait to get there.

I will as you might expect be blogging from the road so don’t be a stranger as I won’t be completely away.

If you are a reader who lives in New Zealand and would like to meet for coffee, just give me a shout through email (found on my “About Me” page at the top) and I will get in touch. Suggestions from readers about what not to miss are always welcome so feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.

We still have a few days before we go, but the house is such a wreck in places that I feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t know if I feel more obliged to leave it spotless as our housesitters will be family or if strangers would make me feel the same need.

What about you … would you worry more about order and neatness with family or with folks you did not know well?