Saturday, August 29, 2009

Makeup Is Easy: Twofer!

Okay so I KIND of forgot about this a little bit, but I also used the same makeup a couple days in a row so don't worry, you didn't miss any glorious achievements in makeup. First, we have the Adapted Post Workout Look.
Same gold tones, but this time I topped it with a bit of Takes The Cake from The She Space to add some color above the eyelid. You can kind of halfway see it in the below photo. I also added Guerlain Terracotta Loose Powder Kohl Eyeliner in Brun. I believe I am wearing Lipstick Queen lipstick in Rouge Saint but I may also be wearing the lipstick I will be talking about in THRILLING LOOK NUMBER TWO!
When fall comes along, the makeup trends always involve grey shadow for some reason, so I was getting ready for that with my Paris eyeshadow from Nars.
Aww, can you tell this is pre-coffee? Yikes.
The EXCITING feature of this look is that I have in fact applied lipstick pre-coffee, which rarely happens as I am a little lazy about lipstick application and prefer to not apply it for the sake of removing it with my mug rim. I went for Prescriptives Exhilarating Lip Color in Strawberry and topped it with Dior Sparkle Lip Gloss for added depth. Fabuloso! I like using glosses over flat color to make them a little more interesting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Makeup is Easy: Medieval Queens

Well, I did the same eye and face makeup today as on my gym days - honestly, it's the best approach to summer makeup; anything more tends to sweat off - but I have two new things to talk about. One, as you can see, I chopped my hair off. I'm adjusting to the length but I like it a lot and am really, really glad to have my hair off my neck. We were at the Sox game on Friday and I was ready to rip my hair out by the roots thanks to the humidity. So! That's exciting, and if you're in the Worcester area you should definitely go see Cherie or Heather at the Hair Market in Tatnuck. The main reason I like Cherie is that I can kind of wave my hands around and issue a bunch of word salad in her direction and somehow she'll understand that and turn it into a great haircut for me - not something purely trend-based, but something that looks great on me.

Secondly, I used a new lipstick from a company recommended a couple times over by the hot shit in residence over at Apocalypstick Now. Let me give you a hint - this woman is simply not wrong. Not just in regards to the lipstick...she knows her makeup. I have followed a couple of her suggestions and have yet to be disappointed. I went with the Medieval lip treatment mostly because of the cool story..."[in medieval times,] full coverage lipstick was considered a sin. Instead, women used lemons to stimulate the lips and stain them a see through blood red." This modern copycat is loaded with Vitamin E and as a result it feels like I'm wearing chapstick and nothing else right now. It's a great color and you really couldn't go wrong on her site, so check it out!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cannonball Read #41: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower Series), by Stephen King

Wing Chun: God, Stephen King. I defended him for years and this is how I'm repaid? With a stating-the-obvious column in EW about how the Jacko trial was a circus?
Sarah: Yep, so did I. Zealously defended him. Said he was underrated.
Wing Chun: Same here. Underrated because of his subject matter.
Sarah: Yep.
Wing Chun: And then…On Writing.
Sarah: Ohhhhhh, On Writing. You little scamp.
Wing Chun: "The key to writing is to write a lot, every day. Now I will talk about myself and how awesome I am for two hundred pages…blah blah…rhubarb, rhubarb…and in conclusion, good luck to you, suckers."
Sarah: "Did I mention I got hit by a van? A van…load OF WISDOM?"

Girls Bike Club IX: Negative, Ghost Rider, the Pattern is Full
I read a lot of Stephen King when I was a kid, mostly because they were the biggest books in the Young Adult section before the Worcester Public Library got gloriously remodeled and presumably gained some sense, what with It not really needing to be easily accessible to the same readership seeking out The Babysitters' Club. I have always been a fast reader and I used to get frustrated when books only lasted me a day or two, so I figured that King's doorstop-weight tomes would buy me some more time. They certainly did, and for all the nightmares that they earned me, I loved those books for being so radically different from what I'd been reading to that point. I don't think I really appreciated King's actual authorial skill until eighth grade, when I read Eyes of the Dragon, a stunning story about a rightful King imprisoned through the machinations of the sinister Rasputin figure of his father's court. It's a gorgeous story, vibrant and detailed, and I think it's one of the best showcases of King's actual writing. After that though, I didn't read much of him until we started getting Entertainment Weekly, at which point I started wanting to brain him with something heavy for being an insufferable, self-absorbed prick, this coming from someone who often shares some of King's "Damn Kids These Days" sentiments. I recognize that it's not exactly fulfilling a higher calling, but damn dude, you can write lazily without being wildly obnoxious.

Regardless of those EW columns, I still remember the talent in King's books and this has kept him a viable option for me. Over the course of my reading life, pretty much every single one of my reader friends has recommended the Dark Tower series to me. I've never gotten to it before now, and of course much like the time I was introduced to Neil Gaiman via my book club I am all pissy and angry that it took so long. (I think I may actually have accused several people of keeping Gaiman from me, which...sorry guys.)

King's explanation of this series' writing at the end of the book is important; I think on a certain level he might consider it his life's literary work. He describes it as being the only story to stay "alive" for him over years, that being the most important aspect of the eventual completion of a book. This elevation of purpose makes it some of the best of King's writing I've ever encountered. It combines the best of his stylistic ability with the most effective of his deep, broad understanding of horror and suspense. There is little gross-out gore in the story, but where it does appear it is in the service of suspense, not grisliness.

Using a full length novel as setup for a story is fairly risky, but the story itself and the mystery therein keeps your interest and sends you running for the nearest bookstore to get the rest of the series. The Gunslinger pursues a mysterious Man in Black across a bleak desert landscape and as the two men travel, we learn a little bit - a little - about how the Gunslinger came to this place in his life. I hesitate to explain more, because you should be reading it and it's a wonderful, complex story, but I assure you it is worth your time. I would recommend buying a couple of the books, however, because I am now waiting on the second book and it is KILLING me.

315 pages

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Makeup is Easy: Targeted Courtesan Homages to Xanadu

I should note that I am really loopy for about an hour in the morning. This particular day, I was thinking about David Bowie. I can't really explain this. In any case, Mr. Bowie inspired some funky makeup, using the Half-and-Half Jenna Technique, named for my friend Jenna who I met in January when she was wearing WILDLY kickass half-and-half eye makeup. Jenna is awesome.

I swept my whole lid with Takes the Cake from The She Space, then split the lid in half, using Lucifer's Chariot on the inner half and Twisted Psychic on the outer half. Once I had applied the powder, I swept my finger from the inside of my eye to the outside to improve the blend from pink to purple. I then grabbed my Dior 5-Colour eyeshadow in Tender Chic and used the pure white shadow in there to put a small teardrop-shaped dot of white in the hollow beside my tear duct and apply a thin line of white from the break of my eyebrow to pop out those two areas and open up the eye.

That all came out pretty well, and I remembered I'd bought this insane necklace that had similar colors at Target. It always reminds me of the brooch the Queen "loses" in Ever After, which is probably why I haven't had the balls to wear it in the two years I've owned it. Sad, really. I wore this over a black mid-sleeved turtleneck (I am so not kidding about how cold our A/C is on the second floor) and a black pencil skirt so it would be the only whickety-wack on my person.
THEN I remembered I also had SHOES that were in a similar color palette (called Courtesan from Irregular Choice, so I'm oddly maintaining the whole court/royalty thing) so I threw those on.
Then I decided I'd better leave the house more or less instantly because things were getting out of hand. But that's how David Bowie inspired a great outfit and great makeup!

Gardening with Matisse

Henri Matisse's art is not always necessarily my thing - the above Blue Nude (one of a series) is really the only one I enjoy beyond simple art appreciation - but his approach and his fervor do resonate with me. Painting was what he loved, and what drove him, and his stubborn refusal to knock it off and get serious is something we could use more of. Enough of what we should do and people say we must do. Let us do what truly brings joy to our lives! So much of doing what we think we should do is motivated by fear - fear of the unknown, fear of insecurity, fear of judgment. That's no way to live; no wonder people are so full of neurosis and confusion.

Matisse got a lot of criticism for painting "frivolous" things like flowers; people said people wanted "serious" subjects and that the world didn't have room or time for his kind of compositions. To these critics, he replied that "there will always be flowers for those who want to see them," and that's the very crux of the matter - maybe we "shouldn't" waste our time on pointless art in small galleries or bother with any piece not displayed in the Louvre or the Guggenheim, or with anything painted this year...but what kind of life would we have if we didn't make time for the flowers? There will always be people who want to look at flowers without worrying about what they should do, and I hope there will always be flowers to see for those people, because they are doing it right.

All this is a very long way of saying that I am planting these next spring for a glorious midsummer and I want to see flowers at all times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Makeup Is Easy: Workout Day Routine o' Speed

On Wednesdays and Fridays I usually see Frank the trainer at 6a, which means I get up at 5:25a. I work out for an hour (and it is awesome, call him immediately), then have to go home and get ready for the day. This is both a great and a horrible plan. On the one hand, I get my workout for the day done early, but on the other, it means I HAVE to be efficient in the morning or be late to work, and I am not naturally speedy before, say 10a. The upside is that I have a fast makeup routine to share with you that looks good on everyone and is perfect for summer when you can't wear much makeup anyway for melting reasons.

Everyone looks good in some shade of gold, so you should tinker around and find a dark one and a light one. I use Necessary Morality - and sometimes Burned by the Light - and Broken Rules from The She Space. I don't mean to harp on constantly about The She Space but it really is some of the best damn makeup I've ever used AND it comes in a zillion glorious colors AND it is cheap as hell AND each container lasts forever. Seriously, it's great.
Broken Rules, at left, and Necessary Morality

The darker the colors on my eyelids, the more concentration I need. With the light golds, I can throw the darker shade on the lid itself, sweep the lighter color right up to the eyebrow, apply mascara and call it the day. That being said, golds aren't particularly strong from a distance in this particular application, so I leave a little of the impact provision to my lips. In this case, I went with the Sephora brand lip gloss that those lovely Sephora folks sent me for my birthday gift this year, in Bronzed Beauty.
Below we have lid color...I need to get a new camera, because you can't see the lighter shade on top at ALL and this has been a persistent problem. The colors on the left are truer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Makeup Is Easy: Green With Envy

Another day, another bevy of SheSpace products.

It's incredibly humid these days in New England (glad you could make it, summer), so I have been showering, neti potting, blow drying my hair and then going to make breakfast before doing makeup. The combination of doing anything except standing very, very still and blasting myself with hot air makes my face sweat more or less instantly, and I don't like when my makeup brushes get all sweaty and damp.

I went with just powder today, because I wore powder over foundation yesterday and regretted it the whole day because the heat greasified the whole shebang. Much like the necessity of wearing shoes you can walk in, makeup isn't pretty unless you're comfortable in it. (Read: the shoes don't make you Carrie Bradshaw, ladies...the attitude and ability do.) I used Without Wonder blush over the powder.

I have recently gotten in the habit of using a neutral color over my whole lid instead of finishing with a white shadow, because the white often looks a little too strong for summer. Today I used First Class Con over the whole lid, right up to the eyebrow. It's a "velvet" from The She Space so it's just flat color. I then swept Fairy Tale Failed over the lid and just up to the start of the orbital bone, and added a soft sweep of Convicted over the top of Fairy Tale and a bit higher onto the orbital bone itself. The picture below does a really crappy job of showing Convicted; it's a much lighter taupe and has green shimmer in it to tie everything together.
Clockwise from top left: First Class Con, Convicted, Without Wonder and Fairy Tale Failed
The outermost photos are most accurate to color, but the center picture shows the whole lid best.
Open eyes on top, closed eyes on bottom. Yes I do makeup in a towel SORRY if that is creepy for you, you'll all just have to cope.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Name the Bunny

And now to swing violently back to inanity, there is a bunny in my yard:

There were originally two bunnies who very much enjoyed the ice storm refuse that we had dutifully dragged to our curb, foolishly believing that the town meant it when they said they'd pick it up in a week, where it instead stayed for the better part of three months in a somewhat beaver-dam-like configuration, slowly killing our grass. I usually saw said bunnies in the morning and because I am a crazy person usually said good morning to them, but now I have only seen them in single servings and I am concerned Bunny Number Two may have entered the downslope of the circle of life.

Let us not linger.

I came home the other day and VOILA! Bunny! I took these pictures of him, which mostly look like pictures of grass and my garden. This is because he is using his bunny camoflauge to blend in with the brown rock in the middle of the garden edging. I have decided I should name said bunny so as to be even creepier in the morning. I am too lazy to figure out how to embed a poll so I'll list a couple names here and you can vote in the comments.

a. Clyde
b. Lennie
c. D'Artagnan
d. Mickey
e. Karl
f. Other

Is Twitter the New Case for the Philosopher King?

"And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and to these only you will entrust the State." Plato, "The Republic"

It seems to me that we are unable to have a conversation about healthcare in this country. Regardless of how you feel about the Obama plan, the dialouge surrounding it is flush with inaccuracies, flat-out lies, hysteria and frantic shouting, very little of which gets to the crux of the matter, that being whether or not the United States government should provide medical care to its citizens. Insurance is not medical care, nor is it a wormhole to medical care; in many instances, high insurance co-pays and premiums discourage people from seeking out medical services, to say nothing of the limitations of insurance and the fact that it is a business, and thus driven to a perpetual aim of cutting waste to lean down its expenses. It doesn't make insurance companies good or evil, it just makes them a business. If we adopt a plan that forces insurance coverage, it's really no change at all. The true discussion should be about whether or not a socialized plan is a good fit for the United States and where to go from there. Instead, we're hearing horror stories about the perceived failings of other nations' systems. First of all, the vast majority of these "the government will come to your grandmother's house with guns on her 85th birthday" claims are simply incorrect, as millions of elderly Britons, Canadians, Japanese, French people and Germans can attest. Even worse, all these hysteronics have sprung up while missing a crucial fact: we don't have to adopt an existing system. There is no Healthcare System Store in the basement of the United Nations. There are good things and bad things about all of these systems, and we have the unique opportunity to observe those systems in action and learn from their successes and failures in the process of building our own healthcare system.

(NB: For the record, I am pro-Socialized healthcare. I think that national healthcare ensures people's ability to pursue happiness and preserve their lives, allows businesses to regain losses from illness and chronic disease, removes the burden of insurance payments from said employers, allows people to pursue the healthcare they need regardless of cost and generally encourages a willingness to seek medical care that can stave off more problematic conditions down the road. Christopher Bird and "Strawberry" have summed up the reasons why far more eloquently than I could without getting too far afield. And before you get on me about Evil Socialism, a little socialism never hurt anyone as long as its parameters are well defined. See for reference: United States police, fire and public school systems. Also, Norway's #2 spot on the Human Development Index. I think what people are actually angry about is the ridiculously small return on investment their current taxes are currently seeing. I do not blame anyone who is pissed about this for a second, but that has nothing to do with the moral decision on national healthcare.)

But instead we are talking about death panels and wait times and all kinds of hugely dramatic "inevitabilities," and it's not just about healthcare. We just got clear of an extremely contentious election season that featured some of the most callous and vicious rhetoric in years. Why is this happening?

In the past few decades, our lives have become increasingly based in mass media and the Internet. Paper media are dying, and "mid-modern" media are splitting themselves obsessively to gain control of niche markets in a desperate attempt to preserve their financial and influential lives. There was once "the six o'clock news," and now we can watch dozens of news channels around the clock, all reporting from a different viewpoint. The new media - blogs, social networking sites, etc. - began their lives as archipelagoes and have only continued to split as their popularity rises. I could begin reading nothing but hyperliberal tripe this very moment and still have enough information that I could convince myself I was well and accurately informed about international and domestic policies. I could do the same with neo-con blather. I would be incorrect in either case, but I could do it. We have increasingly moved into a self-centered, self-selected reality and while variety is indeed the spice of life, how good an idea this is in the current context raises several serious questions.

Strangely, I believe that the desire to see news and information relayed in "our" preferred manner stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of political life. Not everything is necessarily liberal or conservative and even if something is of one stripe or the other, it may be passively so, the political leanings being wholly irrelevant to the thing itself. Moreover, our own weltanschaaung limits our understanding of political significance - what is daringly liberal in Tehran would hardly merited a batted eyelash from American conservatives. American media force active political context on every report and this leads us to similar thinking in our every day lives. Fox News, CNN, the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, MSNBC...all of them spin all day long, and this perpetual state of abstract politics trains us all to think in these terms at all times and constantly try and pigeonhole all the events we observe or hear about into the same tightly and inaccurately defined terms. The "Liberal" and "Conservative" of today's media have little to do with classical liberal and conservative thought, but the usurpation of the terms have made it nearly impossible to discuss these classical politics without wild diversion.

The Internet, in particular, affords us extraordinary access into each others' lives and into the worldviews of those around us, but it is also singularly isolating. Every day, the number of people getting their news of the world from the Internet increases. On the Internet, the ability to pick and choose our sources and biases increases exponentially, and so does our ability to create our own images. If a person completely immerses himself in an environment of his own choosing, he lacks any shared context whence a viable debate can begin with another person from a different environment. How then can we discuss the challenges of our time...of any scope and scale? If my cocoon of information tells me dyeing my hair blonde is inherently bad and someone else has been told that dyeing hair blond is inherently good, there is no acknowledged gray area and a true debate cannot unfold. Hair dye is minor in the grand scheme of things; what havoc is loosed upon our discourse when the same concept is applied to say, healthcare?

The problems of the Internet as information source are compounded by its univeral volume. I'm sure almost everyone has declared that "Google can find anything" in some way, shape or form, and the problem is that this is true. There is a certain attitude that says any source is a good source - hello, Wikipedia - and this has permeated our lives more than we may realize. You can find something to back up any viewpoint on the Internet and people are increasingly willing to abandon the vetting of sources for the sake of shouting down opponents. The Internet also removes the reflexive politeness that accompanies face-to-face interaction, leaving us with little in the way of civility and a reckless approach to argument selection. Jason Calacanis explained a certain phenomenon he called "Internet Asperger's Syndrome" in a fascinating article here, and much of it rings true to me. People with Asperger's Syndrome traditionally have trouble identifying non-verbal cues from other people, including facial expressions, tone of voice, etc...all things that are removed from human interaction via the Internet. Those with Asperger's frequently have trouble with empathy, and you only need to check out the comments section on any newspaper's website to see the same effect online. We can be whoever we want to be online, but it may be at the expense of our ability to interact with other humans offline.

It is important to note that as so many of us pour our lives into the Internet, we risk abdication of our physical rights and powers. Many of those so invested have begun to equate online action with real world action. Nowhere is this more evident than in the various do-gooder applications on Facebook. I receive about five to ten invitations per week to join certain causes. I know that joining these makes certain types of people feel as though they have Done Something, but the opposite could not be more true. This is actually very similar to my problems with "legal" protests and protestors who do not follow up their appearances at rallies with letters to every representative they have. A "protest" for which permits have been pulled is not civil disobedience, it's a block party. If you don't write your representatives, you are just one face in a relatively well-behaved crowd. You must stand and be counted to make a difference, and clicking a button on your computer doesn't qualify, nor does showing up at an anti-war themed street fair. Decisionmakers will simply not be swayed by online petitions or neutered demonstrations. You have to make physical contact - a letter, a call, a meeting - and persist, on a personal level, for your voice to be heard. No wonder people feel betrayed by the government; the government and the polity behind it are free to do as they please while discounting the wishes of their constituents. If you knew the most opposition you would face would be People Being Angry On The Internet, would you care?

As we all shift into web-based lives, we move into the realm of pure theory and must begin relying on ethereal information to construct our understanding of the world. This is far more revolutionary than we give it credit for. We have all met people who we knew couldn't hack it in college and went anyway; he probably had something he excelled at, too, but going to college was what you did, so he went and did horribly. All paths are not made for all people. This new theoretical and customizable world is unlikely to fit everyone in much the same way. Some people simply do not care or do not know to vet their information and dig deeper beneath the headlines. Yet these people can begin a blog just as easily as I can and can tweet just as easily and I can, and their opinions will hold exactly the same weight. When paired with a decreasing regard for correct use of language, this creates an amorphous blob of competing words, all of equal weight and equal impact. Who should sort out all these conflicting views? Should anyone?

If we give ourselves completely over to the realm of the theoretical, some leading faction must inevitably rise to the top as a guiding influence. Humans naturally seek stability, so even if we take a brief plunge into what one could term informational anarchy, the odds are that we would see some modern form of the Social Contract emerge. It's hard to say how far the pervasiveness of the Internet would have to go before this could happen, or what form it would take. Most of the classical philosophers agree that in one way or the other, a leadership class will emerge. The nature of this class is always subject to both debate and context, but as we progress further into this ethereal state, the case for Plato's Philosopher King seems to rise anew. The dialogue in which this Philosopher King is discussed enumerates a variety of traits and qualities that such an individual must possess. It is understood that each human must pursue their own abilities to their greatest possible fulfillment; for the Philosopher Kings this means ruling the State with their increased faculty for superior perception of truth, justice and beauty, and for the Guardians of Plato's Republic, this means physical protection of these Kings and those they govern. Ultimately, all of us in these online worlds are seeking some form of truth; should not a Philosopher King emerge to guide us towards the ultimate truth, and pull us from the petty concerns with superficial and insignificant "truths" that are merely in the service of our own earthly desires? It is interesting to think that amidst a deconstruction of a centuries-old social order based on human-to-human interaction, the greatest opportunity for the rise of a true Philosopher King may emerge.

I'm not sure if an encroaching online reality demands a Philosopher King, nor if I or anyone else would want such a figure to emerge, but it's an interesting concept to ponder. Much ink has been spilled over the Internet's death sentence for true social interaction but if indeed our lives are to go all the way online and lead to the emergence of such a leader, could we not be on the verge of a chance to go back to the beginnings of society and determine the new face and course of our world? Neither idea is inherently positive or negative, but it is all worth thinking about.

Today We Begin Yet Another Endeavor that is Likely to Fall By the Wayside.

I am a big fan of makeup, and mostly because I was bored this morning I decided I would take a picture of my daily face and post it to the internet in the interest of teaching people that MAKEUP IS EASY. That will in fact be the name of this new The Outlaw Josie Brown featurette, set to run daily least until I get distracted and stop caring. (NB: It is entirely possible that this will occur tomorrow, because I have the attention span of an excitable ferret, so if you enjoy this concept please make your voice heard via comments, email or Facebook.) Today we'll do a little bit of housekeeping and then I'll explain why makeup is easy today.

The first part of this whole Makeup is Easy concept is giving yourself the gift of good skin. This is actually way, way easier than Neutrogena, et al., would have you believe. Two main things for good skin - lots of water, and washing of face. I used to be supercrappy about washing my face because for some reason I decided that face washing had to be a wholly separate project from showering. I don't know how this happened. So now, every morning I wash my face in the shower with some combination of three things - Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Fruits + Passion Radiance Vitaminized Cleansing Mousse, and Arbonne Foaming Sea Salt Scrub.

Here's the thing...those are more or less random products. They're not specially engineered for my skin or Ph balanced so they're strong enough for a woman, they're just stuff either recommended to me or in the case of the F+P stuff, given to me. The Badescu stuff is a good solid starting cleanser; it costs something like $26 for a big ass bottle and mine has lasted me over a year. It's a gentle gel cleanser that doesn't have aggressive scent and gets your face squeaky-clean. The Fruits Mousse is light and airy but cleans hard and makes your skin all glowy (I assume this is the work of the vitamins). The Sea Salt Scrub is great for summer; I don't know about you, but I feel my grodiest in summer because you sweat and the sweat accumulates but you're out at the pool so you don't want to hose down and then by the end of the day you're just grossed out by your own self and you need something that gives you the emotional support of feeling like it's sloughing off the grossness. The Arbonne scrub is a gentle exfoliant but gives you a nice tingley feeling as it works, so you feel 100% more human. The important part is washing your face, at least once, every day. This is not to say those aren't great products, but the main point is the washing. Clean all the gunk out of there.

You always hear that you ABSOLUTELY MUST TAKE ALL YOUR MAKEUP OFF BEFORE BED and this is true but honestly I suck at this. When I come home from a night out and it's 2am or whatever, turning on the water and cleaning with soap and then towelling off is like, WAY too much work for me (yes, I know this is sad). So you know what I got? Ponds old-school cold cream. That shit gets off the most ornery mascara and makes your face supersoft. All you have to do is slather your face with it, then wipe it off with a towel. It's really easy, doesn't involve modulating water temperature so you don't traumatize your drunk face and does a great job cleaning so you don't get giant creepy zits to go with your hangover.

I also use a toner when I remember, but generally I am bad at this. If you can remember toner, that is a good thing. Moisturize and apply sunscreen. This does not mean you have to throw on the Bullfrog every day. Almost every tinted moisturizer and foundation has an SPF now and if a brand doesn't, that brand does not love you and you should dump its sorry ass. Sunscreen keeps your scary Boca Resident tannery-face risk down and keeps your face from burning and prompting co-workers to ask you concerned questions about "what happened." SPF literally costs you no more than whatever foundation you already buy, so do yourself a favor and get yourself some.

If you can get yourself in for a facial once in a while to clean way beyond what you can get to on your own, go for it. Communicate with your facialist - if you notice skin problems in the mirror, mention them to her. If something feels too aggressive or not aggressive enough, let the facialist know. These people deal with skin all day, every day, and they can answer questions for you and generally make your life better. I had these weird little doo-dads under my eyes, the better part of a year and I went in to see a facialist before the wedding. I actually forgot about them, so I didn't mention them, but all of a sudden the facialist was all "I'm going to fix your milia," which are teensy little attempts at your skin trying to eject something it doesn't like. She lanced those bad boys out of there and now my skin is wicked happy. Also, if you have a chronic skin situation, even if it's just some persistent redness, it's probably worth your time to go see a dermatologist. So many low-grade skin issues are relatively easy to fix, but they'll drive you nuts if you just let them linger.


Today's Makeup Is Easy took a grand total of ten minutes and frankly looks way better than my phone's camera is up to showing. I moisturized, then covered up a couple feisty red spots with a little concealer. I generally try to avoid concealer because I find it always looks clumpy and gross and attention-grabbing by midday, but sometimes my OCD wins and I have to throw something on there or I'll obsess about it all day. I used Prescriptives mineral foundation, then brushed Body Shop Nature's Minerals powder over the top. I have also found that I can do perfectly fine with the powder alone. If you have clean, happy skin, you do not need goop.

All the color today came from The She Space which rules and has everything. I used "Without Wonder" blush, which is an orangey pink. For my eyes, I applied "Lucifer's Chariot" (fierce purpley-pink with blue iridescence) to the lid and just over the curve of the orbital bone. I will note that I have found pulling the stronger color into the little hollow over your tear duct helsp make the color more pronounced without mashing it all the way up to your eyebrow a la Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. After that, I switched brushes and applied "Broken Rules" (soft pale sandy gold) over the whole shebang. That pulled some of the Lucifer's Chariot into the lid and evened out the color. I finished it off with my absolute favorite, totally-awesome-you-must-get-some-immediately Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes mascara, which despite having a completely stupid name and a brush that looks like a teensy little hedgehog will let you get every single tiny lash and cover it with an awesomeness infusion unlike any you have ever seen. I applied MAC Dazzleglass in "Get Rich Quick" in the parking lot at work and called it a day.

Total time: 10 minutes

Friday, August 7, 2009

This is Why No One Wants Healthcare

Dear Departments and Registries of Motor Vehicles,

I bet you guys' feelings have really taken a beating listening to people bitch about how they don't want national heathcare because the USPS and RMVs are terrible, poorly run government agencies and any national health system would be just as crappy and probably inject babies with poison. That really sucks, and I have to say, I've defended you many times to people making that argument. There are plenty of ways to argue against national healthcare, I would say, but ths USPS and RMV Argument is a weak approach.

Well let me tell you something...I have come up with a way to make people stop dissing you. You know how? STOP HIRING HEINOUS WENCHES AND HAVING OBNOXIOUS HOLD SYSTEMS THAT KEEP YOU LISTENING TO LOW-GRADE MUZAK FOR FORTY GODDAMN MINUTES.

All I wanted to do was re-register a company vehicle. I applied online, and you sent me an email all "sorry, no can do, call this number." I called once, thinking that I'd be able to get it sorted out no problem and move on my life, but thirty minutes of non-refundable life later, I had to go cover lunch for the temp downstairs. I got back a while later and dialed again, only to be on hold forty damn minutes, interrupted by alternating male and female voices telling me they cared, but couldn't talk right now. (Confidential to every automated system purchaser in the world - this only makes people angrier.)

That wouldn't really be a problem if the woman who picked up the phone wasn't the bitchiest sounding cranky ass I've had to talk to all damn week. You know what lady, I JUST WANT TO RENEW MY GODDAMN REGISTRATION. If I could have avoided talking to your unpleasant self, I would have, but your own idiotic website conspired against you SO HERE WE ARE.

So in conclusion, I'm GLAD people are being mean to you, RMV, because you have EARNED IT.

Die in a fire,


PS - We have to go in and show them proof of insurance, because apparently at whatever stargate the RMV is operating from fax machines and scanning have not been invented.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cannonball Read #40: Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Apparently this is the section of the Cannonball Read where I read about Islam a lot. I first heard of this book when I was taking a course called Terrorism and the Modern World last fall, and just recently, a work friend of mine handed me a copy of it, saying it was really excellent, if a little graphic in parts. It took me about five hours to finish it.

***There will be spoilers throughout; Ali is a political figure whose story is fairly well known, so I am not going to worry too much about keeping the details under wraps. ***

There is something uncomfortable about non-fiction of this stripe, because you want to think that the greatest monstrosities only exist in the imagination. The range of problematic thinking that is required for people to carry out this kind of punishment is truly frightening, and it's far too easy for those of us in the West to brush these actions off as Things That Do Not Happen. It's books like these, from women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, that remind us that they do and that we as a global society have in no way resolved gender discrimination. There may have been a time when these issues were local and had no global reach, but as world trade and development in communications and travel technologies progress, we now must understand the way these problems affect the health of the world as a whole.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia, but more importantly, she was born into an extremely tribal corner of the Muslim world. The book opens with Ayaan's grandmother's lessons in their heritage, going back countless generations, inbuing the young girls with a sense of tradition and community. This is the kind of awareness of history and family that is often lacking in the Western world, but as we come to see, it also becomes a binding tie that traps Somali children in the small world of tribal family and Islamic tradition. There is no progress, no future for these kids; you just do as your relatives have always done, even if there are other ways offered by modernity. Over time, her family would become increasingly strict, with her parents shoving her towards Islam even as they declined to answer her questions. Here the churches of the world should take note - you must be willing to engage questions about inconsistencies and complex theological points if you want to preserve your believers' adherence. "Because I said so" has never worked on anyone. It should be noted that Islam is inherently difficult to interact with in this manner, because the Qu'ran is understood as the direct word of Allah, free of human editing or influence.

Until Hirsi Ali escaped from Africa, she underwent and witnessed a horrifying array of abuses - women beaten routinely and for the most insignificant infractions, child brides shuttled off to older men, women marginalized at every turn, murders of family members whose relatives had offended the tribe somehow. It is a true testament to both Hirsi Ali's inner strength and to the horror of her childhood surroundings that one emerges from this book feeling that Ayaan's own female circumcision was one of the lesser offenses of her life. How she manages to concern herself with the pain and suffering of other women after undergoing such a horrific process is frankly amazing. She gives a very precise, graphic but not sensational account of her excision, and describes her sister's operation the same way. These genital mutilations cause a lifetime of pain for the women who suffer them; for those unaware, the external parts of the vagina are cut off to varying degrees, and then the cuts are sewn together so that when the woman eventually has sex, the man must force the healed and now sealed vagina open. Oh, and by the way, even after sex and childbirth, the vagina may heal over again, which lets the woman go through the entire experience again. This of course is all to say nothing of the less than sanitary conditions in which these operations generally occur, opening the door to infection, complications and death. If your knees aren't around your ears right now in complete squicked out horror, I don't know what to tell you. That is pain beyond anything I can imagine. Still, Hirsi Ali somehow overcomes an experience that leaves many women (not least her own sister) with crippling neuroses and social problems, to say nothing of physical trauma.

Perhaps the most interesting - and important - aspect of this book is the remarkable journey from devout Muslim to Western feminist that Ayaan takes. It is an essential presentation of the way Islam works its way into people's lives and how difficult the language and dogma of the religion make it to question the religion once you have entered it. Ayaan begins life under the tribal culture of her mother and grandmother, which adheres to a certain loose understanding of some basic Muslim tenets but has more to do with the tribal traditions of their ancestors than hardline Islamic extremism. In time, Ayaan begins attending Muslim madrassas and takes up a very strict Islamic doctrine, wearing a full burqa and doing her best to assimilate to the Muslim life. I think it's important to note that she repeatedly mentions that she felt very positive about her adoption of the burqa and later iterations of covering. Western commentators often see women's coverings in Islamic society as purely punitive and of great offense to the wearers, but it's important to understand that you are looking at a cultural phenomenon that is often freely chosen and affords to the adopter certain good feeling in accordance with their Islamic mindset. The burqa, for Hirsi Ali, brought her closer to Allah and made her feel that she was improving herself. Eventually, Ayaan would drop these traditions as she experimented with her life as a woman in the West, but her explanation of the benefits gleaned from wearing traditional Islamic garb is important to one's understanding of the Muslim mind.

Hirsi Ali finally escaped to Holland and became a Dutch citizen. She would later become an outspoken Member of Parliament, and after working with producer Theo van Gogh on his film Submission would eventually go into hiding. Van Gogh was murdered and his body found with a death threat against Hirsi Ali, and this pushed her into hiding despite her desire to live publicly in the name of free speech. She has also worked with Geert Wilders, producer of the film Fitna, a direct challenge to the assertion that Islam is a religion of peace. She and her many allies have dedicated their lives to fighting against the injustices of Islam and against the subjugation of women everywhere.

The worst thing about discrimination and prejudice is that they cut both ways. This is crystal clear in Hirsi Ali's book; the women may be the ones who suffer most obviously, but the men are just as trapped in these ideologies. In large part, they are simply unable to think outside of the way things currently are. Ayaan's father is presented as a fairly forward-thinking Muslim who takes a more interpretive approach to Islam and affords his female children more respect than most of the other male Muslims in the book, but when Ayaan begins to challenge the traditional gender roles he resists and is unable to accept her actions. Think of how sad it is that entire societies are indoctrinated into this kind of mindset, how limiting that is and how anchored to their traditional ways they all are. Traditions shouldn't be cast aside for the sake of progress, but they should be supplemented by new ideas and actions as time goes on and the world changes. If these adaptations cannot take place, the society will be unable to participate effectively in economic and social prosperity, and is doomed to remain precisely as it is.

Reading this book right before the shootings in Pittsburgh was deeply troubling. There have been several excellent commentaries on the nature and permissibility of misogynist violence, and many of them point out that we have become so accustomed to certain sexual predations and violence being the exclusive purview of women that it's hardly a blip on the radar when a man shoots 10 Amish schoolgirls after releasing all the boys. Without published screeds condemning women like Pittsburgh gunman George Sodini left, the misogynist bent of these crimes often goes unnoted and even if there is a mention of this attitude in the commissar of such a crime, it has a certain obivous feeling to it. "Women just have to deal with rape. Women just have to accept that men feel this way about them. Women have to accept this risk. Women just have to understand that this is their lot in life." Just as in the Muslim world of Ali's upbringing, men are just as trapped as women by these dynamics - male rape victims are seldom taken seriously and frequently mocked, and the same goes for male victims of domestic abuse, because these are Crimes That Happen To Women. Read Infidel, think about what can be done to make that particular violence stop but do not, under any circumstances, think that we in the West - or the religiously diverse world - have set aside our gender conflicts. Our gender problems have evolved just as our societies have, and we do ourselves an immense disservice by ignoring that fact.

384 pages