Friday, August 22, 2014

It has been a wobbly journey, but contouring and highlighting are very much worth the effort.
I had managed to work out the concept of contouring—all that needed is matte bronzer. But stuck as I am on strictly matte products for everything else, I was stumped as to find a highlighter/luminizer without sparkle. 

Yet as I observed other makeup-ed females, some radiated a delicate gleam along their upper cheekbones. I was fascinated. 

After watching the 2013 version of "The Lady Vanishes," I decided to abandon, just this once, my matte standards.
You can't really tell here, but the character Iris Carr had the most fabulously illuminated cheekbones.
I purchased the Sephora Microsmooth Baked Luminizer in 01 Stardust. As recommended by some online tutorials, I apply it in a "C", starting from my brow bone, around the eye, and along the top of my cheekbones (a "special" brush is not needed; I use the e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush, which is also good for contouring).

While Megan here implements both cream and powder, I find that powder products do the job quite well on their own. 

The luminizer is also ideal for dabbing in the inner corners of the eyes; it really makes them look awake and bright.
For blending, since the contour grooves can sometimes be too harsh, or  come out too dark, I use the Fantasea Large Kabuki Brush. The bristles are so soft and malleable, and with a few buffs everything is beautifully blended out. 

The current icon whose name is synonymous with "contouring" is, of all people, Kim Kardashian. 

She has to be thanked for reviving interest in contouring and highlighting. I think. 

And one more photo: 
Experiment, my lovelies! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't Have Confidence in Confidence Alone

"What are you looking for?" 

Dare I open Pandora's Box?

The answer to that question is a difficult one. Even though I respond with the same initial hesitation every single time, even though I tentatively list yet two or three items lest I be considered the means to my own spinsterhood, there is also this: Am I truly being honest? 

Am I really self-aware? Do I actually know with such conviction about what I am seeking in a spouse? 

I was recently told a guy's information over the phone. He has it down pat. The criteria for his ideal wife went on and on and on. The shadchan had to pause for breath, to lick her finger to turn the page. He seemed so sure.

Women aren't as confident as men, studies have shown. But, David Brooks counters in "The Problem With Confidence," why is it assumed that the male standard of confidence is the norm? What if men are overconfident, to their own detriment? 
Dan Ariely’s work shows how consistently we overpraise our virtues and rationalize our faults so we can think too highly of ourselves. Most of us call ourselves honest. But, in fact, most people regularly cheat in small ways, when the situation is right.
. . . how can we inject more of this self-doubt and self-policing into the wider culture. How can each of us get a better mixture of “female” self-doubt and “male” self-assertion?
But my second reaction is to notice that people are phenomenally terrible at estimating their own self-worth. Some Americans seem to value themselves ridiculously too little while others value themselves ridiculously too highly.
"Self-confidence" can be quite dangerous, really. As Brooks says, if it is merely a forced inflation of a limp ego, it isn't real. 

Rather, instead of fussing over in the intangible, focus on what is quantifiable.
If you want to talk about something real, it’s probably a mistake to use a suspect concept like self-confidence, which is self-oriented. It’s probably a better idea to think about competence, which is task-oriented. If you ask, “Am I competent?” at least you are measuring yourself according to the standards of a specific domain. 
When do I feel my most confident? When I have climbed every mountain, forded every stream. When I have risen to the occasion, and conquered it with aplomb. That's when I require no pep-talks, no weak attempts at internal boosting. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


"Have a good night," I wished him politely, then trotted indoors. 

He was a ridiculously nice fellow, a refreshing change than the last roster of bachelors, but the conversation didn't reflect any other similarity of character or outlook. I slept peacefully that night, having cheerfully assumed that he would say "no."

Except he didn't. 

"What?" I gasped in shock, dropping my spoon messily into my cooling oat bran as Ma sadly told me the news.

"But—but—" I stammered feebly. 

A turmoil of thoughts and emotions bubbled and seethed, much to Spock's dislike.

To pull a Tevye: 

On the one hand, he is a really, really good guy; that cannot be discounted. 

On the other hand: That's it. 

On the third hand, that dreaded phrase: "Who knows?" 

"Who knows." I hate "Who knows." Because of "Who knows," I consider relocating to an empty mountaintop, with the woodland creatures as my sole companions.

But there is also the other aspect, the one that is the true cause for my discomfort (specifically, cramping intestines). 

I have had a few crushes following a first date, which were not reciprocated. I have burned from the dreaded sting of rejection, followed by the days, months, sometimes years of thinking, If only I hadn't said "_________." Maybe, if I had said "_________," we would be happily married by now with five kids. I would have changed for him, into whatever he wanted me to be instead. I could have changed for him. If only he had given me the chance. 

But I really do know, even when the stupid delusional part of my brain is blathering away, that I don't want to change my inherent self for anyone. 

And I don't want anyone else planning to change his inherent self for me.

I don't want him to go through that which I went through, recriminations, moments of self-disgust, questioning my own identity and values—that hurl-inducing roller-coaster ride as id, superego, and ego slug it out.       

He says he understands my reasons. That he'll change. 

I don't want him to change. He shouldn't have to change. He is what he is now, as I am what I am now. If we had been 21 when we were introduced, would the issue have been an issue? Probably not. But we met now, as we are now. Isn't that, too, bashert?

He is Supermensch. He deserves to be with someone who will respect and appreciate him as he is, instead of sending him out for repairs right off the bat, even if they are voluntary. 

I don't want to hurt him, or anyone else, the way I have hurt. I asked the Eibishter to spare me that worry, and for once, for His own reasons, He hasn't.

The Tevye voice fades away, leaving only a firm, repetitive resolve. I know what has to be done. 

"Hello, Mrs. Schwartz? Hi, this is Lea. Look, he really is an amazing guy, but . . . "    

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Have No Ruach

Ah, summer. 

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. The blistering, skin-damaging sun; the potentially disease-ridden mosquitoes; the tedious sweating. Ick, sweating. 

In my innocent youth, I didn't quite realize my stance on summer. Additionally, day camp was rather exhausting; they always expected you to cheer. The same songs. Every single frickin' day. 

"B'nos! Do your ears hang low/Do they wobble to and fro . . ."

"Didn't we just chant this? Like two minutes ago?" 

Then: Sleepaway. I was shipped off when I reached the required age, and my antithesis to summer reached it's crescendo. When I returned, I was adamant: Never again.
I love my parents because they let me remain home every summer following. 

My aversion, however, had to be kept on the down-low. It's not socially acceptable to be anti-camp. It may almost be considered tantamount to harboring sociopathic tendencies. I like (tolerate) people well enough, when there is competent air-conditioning humming and I can get a proper night's sleep. Which one cannot in "sleepaway" camp. Try getting tweens to go to bed at a godly hour. I'm an early bird, but I was still unpleasantly rattled into consciousness every morning by an obscenely cheerful head counselor squawking on the sound system. 

Then, after years of nurturing an insecurity complex (I exaggerate) the Sunday Styles redeems me! "Not a Happy Camper," by Pamela Paul. 
Each of my camps had one thing in common. I didn’t like them and they didn’t especially like me. Camp girls form their own special strata of the tween hierarchy. Girls who liked camp could do cat’s cradle without cutting off their blood circulation. They didn’t mind drinking from metal containers and were not especially attractive to mosquitoes. They knew how to hit balls with bats.
Yeah, there's that ruach girl. Always clambers onto benches, belting out the repetitively mind-numbing lyrics, over and over and over. Happily. "We've got ruach!/Yes we do!/We've got ruach!/How about you?" 

Leave. Me. Alone.

Keep in mind I was a wanna-be tomboy, and I still couldn't summon any enthusiasm for camp. 
Camp was for joiners; I was a loner. Camp was for participants; I was an observer. Camp was for extroverts; Susan Cain practically based her book on me.  
My experiences at sleep-away camp only solidified earlier, unpleasant encounters with day camp. I didn’t want to sing “Kumbaya,” and I didn’t want to sing the “Cat’s in the Cradle” and I sure as hell did not want to sing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” for the 47th time. (I still can’t get it out of my head.)
Oh yeah, I'm an introvert. An introvert that is cool with singing a song, once.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: Uncommitted Exercise

I am somewhat vocal about my aversion to gyms and other instruments of torture (i.e. ellipticals). I get my daily cardio from walking to public transportation (I am very happy that is an option) and according to the Science Times, that is enough. 

But one day I thought I could do a little more to tone. Don't get excited, I'm not signing up for any yoga classes or anything. That evening, watching The Big Bang Theory and The Daily Show reruns, I unhappily crawled off the bed and executed leg lifts in thirty count increments. Maybe about five sets.
Dang, it made a difference. 

I started doing them regularly, if I had a few spare minutes; when cooking, during phone conversations, sometimes even when reading, I would actively lift my legs. 

Then Luke told me he's been doing leg lifts, the same ones I've been doing. I squealed in delight at our mutual epiphany to tone. 

Sometimes I mix it up with a sideways version.
If I'm laying down and can't (or won't) get up, I can still do leg lifts.
What I still loathe about exercise is that one week off the wagon, and kaput. But since I am not committing to a major daily sweat-out, I can maintain this. Maybe. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I was going to try to figure out a way to work this dance into a post, but decided to just share it. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Shidduch Lit" Revived

I closed the book with a satisfied sigh.
From the first moment I had opened it, I knew it would be gripping, but I didn't comprehend how gripping. It also contained many observations and experiences about the state of marriage that would be applicable in our day, despite the fact it was written in 1921. 

I had attempted to take note of the many passages I wished to pass on to my readership, but found that simply advocating the title would be a better option. 

It came to me then, on that lazy Shabbos afternoon (after prying the book out of my sister-in-law's hands since she pinched it when I dozed off), that there should be added titles to Bad4's original lists of "Shidduch Lit" (her additional posts on the subject here and here).

My nominee: The Girls by Edna Ferber. It discusses quite a number of topics: young love and parental objection; the status of an unmarried woman in society; settling; 'tis it (really) better to have loved and lost than to have loved at all?
It doesn't have the expected happy ending, but it made it all the more endearing. 

Second suggestion: I am not proud of this, but He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo was an entertaining as well as comforting read. But, according to the Bad4 rating system, it gets a capital "U" for "unaidel." The most delectable snippets I plan on sharing on the blog, however (yes, the shidduch crisis is mentioned in there! Kinda), so I'll fill you guys in.
I open the floor to all the frum readers out there: Are there any titles not named by Bad4 or myself that is worthy of a "Shidduch Lit" label?   

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Inject a Happy Face

I have certainly learned that even when one is feeling pretty horrible, summoning forced joviality can actually lead to natural chipperness. 

Now, hear this: Botox freezes facial muscles, this we know. By paralyzing specifically the frowning muscles, more than half of a study's participants, who suffer from major depression, felt better ("Don't Worry, Get Botox" by Richard A. Friedman)!

It was believed that facial expressions are simply the, well, expressions of a certain mood; happiness first, then the smile. Not so. 
In “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” Darwin posited that the control of facial expression causes a like effect on subjective emotions. William James took the idea further and proposed that emotions were the result, not the cause, of various bodily sensations, suggesting that “we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.”
Cause and effect. How often have we gotten this chicken-and-the-egg thing wrong? Yet again, we see how Judaism's emphasis on action, as opposed to motivation, is on target.
In a broad sense, these Botox studies underscore one of the biggest challenges in treating people with depression. They might think that the reason they are depressed is that they have little interest in the world or their friends — a mistaken notion that is the result, not the cause, of their depression. They insist that only once they feel better will it make sense for them to rejoin the world, socialize and start smiling. Their therapists would be well advised to challenge their inverted sense of causality and insist that they will start feeling better after they re-engage with the world.
"I'm not in the mood." True. Not yet.
Give us a grin.   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can't You People READ?

Yet again, I found myself at the mercy of a so-called "shidduch organization."

They requested I e-mail them my information first, and after "reviewing" the profile (since that takes so very long), an appointment will be scheduled for a flesh-and-blood meeting.

We settled about the table, the two seriously flipping open notepads, pens poised. I felt as though I was being inspected by mental health professionals. What manner of deep and dark inquiry would this be that required a face-to-face introduction?

The interrogation began.

"What's your e-mail address?"

That's on my profile.

"How old are you?" 

Check the profile.

"How tall are you?" 

Cast a glance on the profile. 

"What do you do?"

Profile, lady.

"Where did you go to school?" 

Did you even look at the profile?

"How many siblings do you have? How old are they? Who are they married to?" 

Profile, profile, profile. 

"OK, we'll keep in touch. Please make the check out to—" 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

No More Hollywood "Love"

One of the pleasant prerogatives of the feverish is cuddling up under the covers and watching television all day. (It is recommended to moan occasionally to maintain surrounding sympathies.) 

I energetically channel-surfed, and as there were no Law & Orders available, I made do with a decade-old rom-com. It was so predictable I couldn't bear to finish it. 

Let's see, there is the free spirit, daughter of a high-powered magnate and she has only been a disappointment to him. She doesn't "do" relationships. The guy that she met and made a fool of herself in front of is now—surprise!—her business associate. They get stuck together for some weekend project, where they "bond" over alcohol. 

It was at this point I flicked on a lame cooking show. Let me guess: She rises to the occasion and makes her father proud. She decides there is merit to a long-term relationship, after the guy she fools around with turns out to be a jerk. She has feelings for the business associate, her opposite in every way. 

Probably somebody chased something (taxi, plane, train) in the last two minutes of the film.
New Yorkers, of course, care so much about romance that they don't mind holding back traffic. Snort.
I thought I was alone in my disgust and rejection of the dying rom-com, but apparently I am simply reflecting the feelings of a worldwide audience; movie-goers are sick of the rom-com, as "To Revive a Genre, Zombies and Snow" by Brooks Barnes reports. 
“People are not tired of romantic comedies,” Mr. Radcliffe said in a telephone interview. “They are tired of manipulative, cheap and sappy films filled with big romantic gestures that never happen in real life, ever.
Movie houses are now operating by a different method: let indie-filmmakers concoct more honest, less formulaic offerings for a laughingly small budget, see how the audiences take to it, then acquire it for relatively nothing (in mega-movie house terms).
"Fill the Void" was later acquired by Sony Pictures. The original movie budget was mostly eaten up by the clothing.
When I was younger, I thought relationships were simple; I gobbled up the rom-com with gleeful naivete. No more. Now, I want my movie romances to bear closer resemblances to reality, not teenage fantasies.