Beauty


While I was home over Christmas, I had my yearly facial with the awesome esthetician I’ve been seeing since I was 15  (15, and then in the throes of dermatological unpleasantness).  She is the mistress of the art of extraction, and my first visit to her was as much a cultural touchstone of my entry into modern womanhood as my first trip to the gynecologist.  Though no less painful than my first pap, at least the esthetician rubbed my face and shoulders down with essential oils, and I had glowy skin a week later, once the zits she coaxed to the surface and the redness had subsided.  The gyno just poked me with a metal spatula and gave me the pill… which made me break out.  (Sudden stroke of brilliant idiocy – spas that also offer pap smears!  I am trademarking that business idea right now.  Whole Women’s Health & Beauty sees you inside and out!).

Sadly, after treating my skin for almost 15 years and my own mother’s for 30, our esthetician was hanging up her tweezers, imported creams, and bug zapper to retire.  This would be the last proper facial I will have in a while, as I’ve yet to find anyone half as good.

Lying back in the chair, listening to Enya, snuggled in my quilt, wholly safe in the hands of a professional, I was sad, and wanted to mark the occasion somehow.  What about… a lip wax?  I’d been annoyed at the downy hairs on my upper lip for some time.  Terri is the only person I would let wax and pluck my eyebrows, given her skill, and the only person I trusted to tell me if an upper-lip wax would be a terrible mistake, or a bold move forwards. (more…)

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I have been using Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes recently, as I scored a fancy new job and am wearing mascara for the first time in my life.  Because that is fancy for me.  For the vast majority of you, mascara is not an extravagant addition to your repertoire, but something you’ve been expertly applying for 20 years, so keep in mind that I am a Domestic Dilettante and a Noob of the Feminine Arts.

Anyway, I finally discovered makeup remover after 15 years of just washing my face with good cleanser and attacking any raccoon-eyes with a Q-tip and moisturizer.  The “problem” I have (I have put “problem” in bunny-ears because, like, people in Haiti have problems – I am struggling with mascara and an ill-judged haircut.  Oh, the humanity!) is that the wipes are way too big, and I hate to waste them.  I use less than half a wipe, and have tried to make it last until the next day, which works reasonably well, but it gets a bit dried out.

Full disclosure:  Despite being an avid consumer of mass-produced shit, I am loathe to waste things.  It is the weird result of growing up in the age of cheap consumerism and environmental awareness, and the essentially foolish tightrope one always walks between the two.  I recycle everything I can and hate to waste food, but purchase ready-meals and coasters picturing Flamenco dancers because they are on sale and cute.  I also use half a tissue, save it, and then finish it off on a second nose-blow.  I thought this was all thrifty and fine until a colleague was in my office and yanked the top tissue out of my Kleenex box, to find it had been half-crumpled and stuffed back in.

HER:  “What is this?  Is this a… half-used tissue?”

ME:  “Eerrrmmm…  There was a…  You know what, give that to me, and I’ll give you a new one.”

See, if I were really all that environmental, surely I would use a handkerchief.  My dad does, which I think is adorable and retro until I start to think about germs, and then I have to bring in my sanitizing hand lotion to gently massage away the icky.

So these makeup wipes.  Only half-useful, and then dried out and not-so-useful on a second go-around.  But you know that they are good for?  Cleaning your bathroom counter!  My super-’70s pad has a stainless steel sink that collects toothpaste like so much bird shit.  I have found that a discarded make-up wipe works a treat for a quick spin over the basin, counter, and mirror to cut through any built-up scum.

Go forth, my bare-eyed and shiny-sinked friends.  Namaste.

So, today was a big day for me.  I took some time out of work for a much-needed wardrobe replenish, and the logical place to go here in the UK for an office-appropriate, sartorial pick-me-up is the ever-tasteful Marks & Spencer.  After two hours of browsing and 20+ items in the dressing room, I walked out with a killer black, belted dress, a deep purple cardigan, and a fresh reminder of why, exactly, I hate shopping so very, very much.  It’s because I have to try on 20+ pieces of clothing to find two that even attempt to flatter me, and I generally walk out cursing my bizarre, awkward body and the fluorescent lighting that has highlighted its flaws in such loving detail.

But that wasn’t all.  I also arranged for an afternoon appointment in the lingerie section with one of those legendary Bra Whisperers.  You’ve heard tell of them, if you are a woman – you walk into an upscale lingerie store and, with the wink of a beady eye and a quick snap of a tape measure, they inform you that the bra-size you’ve called your own for the last ten years is, in fact, dreadfully mistaken and then, while you sputter protests, they conjure up a host of beautiful delicates in some combination you’ve never considered, and suddenly, magically, you are harnessed into the bra of your dreams.  Your tits are caressed by angels’ breath and the support is like flexible steel girders, and, “Ooh,” you breathe, “I never knew it could feel like this!”

So, yeah, my expectations were high.  After a lifetime of 34B (high B, low C!), I was ready to discover my true bra size.  I’ll admit, I was having fantasies that the Bra Whisperer would eye me up and proclaim me a 32C, although this was unlikely, as my 34Bs are normally straining at the last hook of the strap and runneth over my cups do not.  Still, while the grandmotherly Whisperer dispassionately assessed and measured me, I sent up my prayers.

My regular old Calvin Klein bra, with light padding - this is what I wear most days.

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Dear Blog Diary,

Today was a pretty good day.  We had friends stay over last night and got up this morning to make a Sunday breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, and hash browns, served with milk or orange juice.  I put roasted red peppers and goat cheese in with the eggs, and it was all really tasty, if I do say so myself!  Everyone remarked how fancy the gold napkins are that I used to set the table, and I think they offset the pale green placemats very nicely.  We put the BBC news on the television in the background, so that we could all learn about the Basque Separatists and watch video evidence of that cop in Wiltshire who assaulted some lady in custody, and I guess forgot that CCTV would capture him flinging her across a jail cell and busting her face open.  And now we all get to watch it, over and over again!  How silly!  There was also some tech piece about new trends in shopping, but it seemed pretty dumb so I didn’t pay much attention.

After breakfast, our friends went home, and I settled in to watch Gladiators in my nightgown and eat some ice cream.  Boy, that “Spartan” Gladiator is really sexy, but I wish they wouldn’t let him talk!  I like watching him perform muscle-bound feats, though, especially when he was wrestling with that cute teacher on the Pyramid.  Their shorts are so tight, I had to cross my legs and eat more ice cream to cool down!

Anyway, I was sort of annoyed because Boyfriend was using my computer to play his chess games, while I got stuck washing all the dishes.  That was so dumb!  I was scrubbing out a pan and not really listening to the TV, when the opening credits of this cool show came on, and we both stopped everything we were doing to watch!

(more…)

David J. Phillip / AP

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge and winds up to 120 mph at its center.  Originating off the coast of Africa, Ike was responsible for at least 195 deaths:

Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year…  In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 23 are still missing. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle. Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.6 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.6 billion in damage…  The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state’s history. It also became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.

Besides the devastation to homes and infrastructure, loss of life, billions of dollars needed for repairs and damage to Galveston’s tourism, it was also an ecological disaster.  As Swamplot noted in November 2008 (bold casing from original article): (more…)

My mom has never made a big deal out of Mother’s Day, which is certainly pleasant for me and Dad.  A card is nice, flowers are always appreciated but not necessary, and you can pretty much stop right there.  No breakfast in bed (she would hate it).  No fuss.  No brunch or shopping or spa treatment (not our style, anyway).  For her, it is a made-up holiday to be tolerated.  Her refreshing approach cuts down on guilt and expenditures – I think it means more to me now that I’m older than it does to her, so I usually send an e-card and some flowers and, when long-distance, give her a call.  She’s always pleased and reminds me, sincerely:  “You didn’t have to do anything!”

Baby Me climbing Mother Mountain, roaring with delight

This year she got, in lieu of flowers, a $30 Amazon gift card, which she will hopefully spend on herself.  So given her low-key approach, I don’t have a soppy Mother’s Day message, but I do have some beautiful pictures my father sent us of Mom playing with me on the bed as a baby, and I wanted to post a few.  (more…)

The Body Fortress Goliath to my standard hotsauce David.

Well, it’s finally happened.  My skinny, indie-band-guitarist-looking boyfriend has brought home a vitamin bottle full of powdered protein bigger than my head and announced his intention to Buff Up.  It’s been a while coming.  His best friend is a highlighted gym bunny, two of their good mates are professional football players with tree-trunk thighs, and another is elite Special Forces with a chest like the side of a barn and the alleged ability to maim with his big toe – not that any of this affects their collective smoking and drinking regime.  The rest of their boy gang are regular blokes with varying degrees of fitness, and Boyfriend has coasted comfortably as the Good-Looking and Sensitive One for years.  He’s got strong legs and more than held his own in the weekly five-a-side, but lost his niche a bit when he left everyone behind and relocated to London to move in with me.

I knew it would all change when we started partnering in hand-to-hand combat class and he discovered I could punch harder than him, as well as tote him across a gym in a fireman’s carry.  Actually, no, he likes these things about me, and since we found out I’m three pounds heavier, he will jokingly accuse me of throwing my weight around whenever I’m being bitchy.  Oh, the fun we have!  It just proves I could save him in a war zone or an emergency.  If I felt like it. (more…)

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