How-to


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.

Two weekends ago, I met a friend for late afternoon drinks at a bar across the road.  When I arrived, he’d been soaking up the sun and cider for a couple of hours already, and was sitting with a cheerful group of people I was invited to join.  This included:  Chester from Newcastle; Chester’s Swedish girlfriend, called Em; the bar’s owner, Dave, who is Irish; Dave’s Polish wife; my South African mate, Sean; and their friend, Gary, who is from Edinburgh.  I mention the hodgepodge of nationalities only because this is one of those things I love about London – Sean also lives with a Ghanaian, an Italian, and two Czech lodgers who were all presumably drinking pints in another patch of sun.

As I was a little bit late to the party, the conversation was relaxed and winding.  A popular topic, however, was what substances could be used to spike Gary’s drink without him noticing.  A range of fluids were suggested, with Gary’s enthusiastic participation.  This was mildly amusing, but a bit weird for a bunch of thirty-somethings to be talking about – with two PhDs amongst them, no less.  It was more the stuff of the fifth-grade cafeteria table.  Because four of the group were bartenders, the discussion covered what noxious liquids could be visually disguised in what ranges of seemingly innocuous beverages.  I finally had to pipe up and ask:  What exactly was the deal?

It turned out that one drunken night four months ago, Gary bumped his head getting into a taxi, and suffered a mild brain injury that had left him without a sense of taste or smell.  The loss of smell is called anosmia, but Gary’s principal complaint was that everything tasted of, well, nothing.  Although likely the hundredth time poor Gary was forced to tell the story, we all sat and contemplated this for a while.  (more…)

A week ago I had an appointment with the British Home Office in Croydon to upgrade my immigration status from a sponsored Work Permit to Tier 1 Visa as a Highly-Skilled Worker, for which I am newly qualified.  My reasons for this are two-fold:  for one, I am job-hunting, and this grants me the ability to work for any employer in any industry within the UK, rather than relying on new sponsorship within my current profession; secondly, although I still have over two years remaining on my Work Permit, I thought it best to get in there fast to take advantage of the recently relaxed requirements for Tier 1 qualification before the new Tory coalition government clamps down on immigration policy.  It means that I can continue to live and work in the UK without dependence on a company or a partner, which is a pretty sweet deal, even if it does cost £1095 for the privilege.

Like anyone would, I jumped at the opportunity to combine my passion for navigating bureaucratic red tape with the thrilling roller-coaster ride that is the uncertainty of employment and immigration status.  It’s like visiting the DMV, but with your livelihood on the line!  Already a “highly-strung” personage, I’ve found the experience to be nerve-wracking, especially on top of the dozen job interviews I’ve had over the last couple of months.  I feel like I’ve been living in an uneasy state of limbo and have been hopeful that at least settling this aspect of my existence here in London would bring some clarity.

Alas, it was not to be.  Here’s what’s happened so far. (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…)

I posted a week back about a certain resume that made its way to my inbox some time ago that remains a valued source of delight.  Favored commenter London_Calling was thus inspired to share this little tidbit from another jobseeker out there in the world, who introduced herself thusly:

What my resume does not reveal is my professional demeanor and appearance.  In a business environment, these qualities are of the utmost importance in dealing with clients as well as co-workers.   In me, you’ll discover a reliable, detail-oriented, and extremely hard-working associate; one who will serve as a model to encourage other staff members to demonstrate the same high standard of professionalism.

Alright, it’s a  tad arrogant, but I like her forthrightness.  She expects a high standard of professionalism from herself and those she works with, and believes in the importance of presentation – got it.  This is no bad thing and, personally speaking, if the rest of her CV fit the needs of the job for which I was hiring, I’d be intrigued.

I expect the potential employer who received this resume felt the same way.  Unfortunately, when her name was Google searched, one of the first things to pop up was this image from her Facebook profile: (more…)

Once you get out of school, it becomes harder for the bullies among us to persecute people online, which is obviously a real shame.  Sure, for the junior high set there’s been MySpace and the high schoolers have the Facebook, and college and grad students have the benefits of JuicyCampus or other social boards to slander and libel their peers (click on any of those links for a good time!), but what of us grown-ups, out in the real world?

I mean, LinkedIn and Viadeo have been great professional networking tools, but I’ve often found them lacking – where’s the free-for-all forum where I can launch personal attacks and deride my colleagues for their laziness, brown-nosing, or just being giant whores, with the comfort of anonymity?

Well, the internet isn’t about to fail us, hence the advent of the professional and anonymous peer review board, Unvarnished.  Unvarnished allows users to dish about their co-workers’ job performances from the safety of their home computers and is fresh out of beta testing.  The concept is similar to Amazon user reviews and, if it isn’t already obvious to you, can be abused just as handily.  From Time Online:

It’s a concept that has caused some controversy, particularly since Unvarnished allows employees to be reviewed anonymously and with no way of removing a negative review. But the co-founders, veterans of sites like LinkedIn and eBay, think there’s a market for honest, unfiltered feedback about how individuals perform in their jobs and say their site will ultimately be more useful than the carefully selected job references or curated blurbs on someone’s LinkedIn profile. “We’re trying to take how professional reputation works in the offline world and port that online,” says co-founder Peter Kazanjy.

Yeah, you bet your ass there will be a market for it.  A sweaty, grimy, desperate black market.  Because why launch a whisper campaign within your organization when it might be traced back to you, when you can simply put it online and remove the risk of accountability, not to mention ensuring that your grievances will be available, forever, to potential employers and contacts worldwide?  It’s the future, y’all. (more…)

Note: I am not snarking on this man, but would like to say that the BF's back situation is not quite so dire.

I’m heading off on Tuesday morning for five nights in Malta and a much-needed vacation after a stressful first quarter (what else is new? – oh, I mean that stress-wise, not jetting to Malta-wise – the latter is new).  Our flight is at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, and we are requested to appear at the airport two hours in advance.  To cut down on travel stress, we’ve booked an airport hotel room for tomorrow night, and I intend to head there after work for the luxury of rising at 4:00 am rather than 3:00 am, and the avoidance of taxi/tube/train panic.  Worth £44?  You betcha.

Besides my typical packing freakout (present and accounted for, sir!), I took the opportunity today to engage in pre-vacation grooming.  I opted out of a bikini wax this time in favor of an economically advisable DIY razor-job.  While I have been dreaming of a sunshine and beach holiday, I fear that even Malta will be too chilly this time of year for sunbathing, so I don’t see any point in suffering through a wax when I will likely be clad in jeans and a monochrome tee-shirt for the majority of my visit.

Nonetheless, I have plucked, bleached, and shaved in anticipation – at the very least I am hoping for a Turkish bath and a massage, and, sadly, one wishes to conform to Western beauty standards.  But while I am responsible for my own grooming, it seems I am also responsible for that of my male vacation companion.  I’m not complaining, per se – if one was able to competently shave one’s own back, one would be something of a medical marvel.  But aside from my responsibility for sunscreen, bathing suits, itinerary printouts, and toiletries (all things he has/will forget without my prompting), I am also tasked with boyfriend depilation. (more…)

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