Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh, The Makeups You'll Try

Since my relationship with my tinted moisturizer imploded, I began to search for something different. 

  • matte (no sparkle or sheen)
  • many color options (to ensure a better chance of a skintone match)
  • SPF (even though it wouldn't be sufficient to properly protect skin, I like it if my makeup can at least add a little more to my sunscreen)
  • non-comodegenic (maybe that will help the milia)
  • meant for combination/oily skin
  • moisturizing (lightly)
  • paraben-free (I get hung up about that even though research hasn't proved anything conclusively)
  • light coverage that allows my own skin to shine through while obscuring imperfections

1) Lancome Teint Idole Fresh Wear 18-Hour Shine-Free SPF 15 Foundation appears to have the whole package except for moisturizing. But that is easy to take care of; I can use a moisturizing primer instead (like Korres). 

I went to the Macy's counter, and the salesgal whipped out a few bottles for comparison. It seemed all too easy when I quickly settled on Ivory 2C. 

The foundation itself is watery-thin, which is what I'm looking for, not for something too thick that will sit heavily on my skin. 

I skipped home.  

Of course I popped the champagne too soon. 

Beneath the truth-illuminating light of my bathroom mirror, this foundation was distinctly ORANGE. If one looks at the swatch online, it appears to be distinctly yellow in hue, however, not in person. 

Hi-ho, back to Macy's it will go.  

2) Cover FX Natural FX Water Based Foundation SPF 15, which also meets most of the requirements. My interest was piqued because of the variety of shades, including the M-line for yellow undertones. My skin is fair with a hint - just a hint - of yellow. I was hoping that the foundation would be able to capture that. 

It is meant for the sensitive and red of skin, and claims to be long wearing, which would make it ideal for Shabbos.

I purchased the lightest of the M, M10/Bone. In store, the color looked like perfection (as usual). At home, it seemed as though it was slightly too dark. But it seemed to be a better match than anything I've tried so far. 

It is not matte. While it is not sparkly, my face looked shiny in no time. Apparently, it has a "dewy" finish. But this "dewiness" seemed to make any coverage disappear in no time, even though I coated myself in powder. My boss told me I had something on my chin. Thank you.  

By the end of the day the foundation was blotchy and flaky around my mouth.

Those with dry, sensitive skin seem to love this foundation, so it is not for my combination/oily skin. 

3) Clarins Everlasting Foundation SPF 15 is meant for oily skin types, and the reviews are off the charts. But I didn't want to get stuck with a wrong color again that I would have to return, so I brought along the Hourglass tinted moisturizer that matches so well. 

And nothing remotely matched it. The 04 Cream was too light, the 07 Beige too orange, the 05 Nude too dark. Dodging the grasping salespeople, I bolted. Sephora's policy is to leave customers alone until they request help; department store cosmetics is like a jungle. 

I am irritated because if they hadn't been so pushy I would have been able to hear myself think and make a better informed decision. I may try again one day, after setting off a diversion.

4) Hourglass just released a new foundation, meant for oily skin types: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Mattifying Oil Free. I was ecstatic since it is available in Shell, which is the same shade I had the perfectly matching tinted moisturizer, but there is a glitch: no SPF. I am used to my cosmetics pulling double duty, so this is a turn-off. 

Additionally, it doesn't claim to be non-comedogenic, but I decided to be adventurous. It wasn't yet available in my local Sephora so I bought it online with free shipping. 

Tinted Moisturizer in Shell - beige.  

Powder Foundation in Shell - ORANGE! Orange, orange, orange! WHY!?!

In terms of the foundation's consistency, I have never experienced anything like it before. Straight from the bottle, it is watery in texture, but after blending it in it dries to a powdery finish.

It's kinda awesome. Except in a few places my pores seemed more obvious as the foundation sank into the skin, and it is hard to blend since it dries to powder immediately. There was some streaking on my face where I didn't blend fast enough. 

But it was the first that didn't have a dewy, shiny finish; my skin (except for being orange) looked pretty close to the matteness that I seek, although is seemed cakey in certain areas.

The color ensures that it goes back, and I really want something with SPF. But maybe when it shows up in my local store I'll see if I can find something in my color. Meaning, not orange.

5) Shiseido The Makeup Dual Balancing Foundation SPF 17. They also have a color line, Ochre, for yellow undertones, and I got the lightest avauilable, O20 Light Ochre. 

It is not orange! Woo!

For combination skin types, it claims to hydrate dry areas (my cheeks) and minimize shine in oily areas (t-zone).

One thing to whine about it the bottle. It has no pump or applicator, making it a little awkward. I'm not happy about dipping my finger into a bottle every day, as that contaminates the product. But hey! It's not orange! I'll let it go.

The finish is semi-matte, meaning no sparkle but not dry. I dust on some setting powder, which takes away any dewiness.

This is probably the first liquid foundation I tried so far that matched my skin color pretty close to perfect. In my bathroom mirror it is divine; but sometimes in other lights it looks either whiter or darker. I can't quite figure it out, but I'm going to keep it for now and squint in different lights. 

Good thing too, since I am a little scared of the saleswoman and I would be terrified to bring this back.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bright Eyed, If Not Bushy Tailed

I starting taking out makeup books from the library. While they rarely teach me anything groundbreaking, and the looks are a bit much, I usually get one or two tips that are of use. 

Consider Makeup: The Ultimate Guide. The author, Rae Morris, has a great writing style and doesn't take herself too seriously, and for those who know nothing check out this book, but not the looks. They are a kinda overboard.

But there is one thing that she does over and over, and that is to apply white pencil to the waterline.

Deciding to opt for slightly less dramatic, I purchased the Tarte EmphasEYES Inner Rim Brightener. It comes in only one color, nude. 

As a contact-lens wearer, I've managed to permanently disable any frantic blinking reaction, so it was easy to slide the pencil up and down the waterline after lining the lower rim in black. (The waterline is what it sounds like; the wet area of the lower lid that is close to the eye. The lower rim is the dry territory beneath the lower lashes.)

I also applied some in the inner corner of my eye. 

My eyes did look brighter and bigger, and lasted a pretty long time, considering. 

I find that lining the waterline in black makes the eyes look smaller, while opting for white makes them bigger. Use the black liner on the lower rim instead. 

I think I'll get a white pencil soon. I'll try the Buxom Insider Eyeliner in Pearl next.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Brush Love

I have just found the most awesome eyeshadow brush: Up & Up Crease brush. 

Up & Up is a Target brand, and the brush costs $1.99.
This brush is PERFECTION. It accurately applies color and easily blends it out at the same time, so forget about even accidental harsh lines. 

I am stocking up on these! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cell vs. Landline

Hello, Mister Henkel, this is Harvey Johnson,
Can I speak to Penelope Ann?
Hello, Missus Miller, this is Harvey Johnson,
Can I speak to Debra Sue?
Hello, Missus Garfein, is Charity home from school yet?
--"The Telephone Hour," Bye Bye Birdie

My phone policy for first dates is to give the landline number. Cell phone conversation usually involves a lot of "What was that?" so I prefer when dealing with details of a meeting to ensure clear reception and so, clear understanding, to use a device that involves wall cables.

I was on the first phone call with who shall henceforth be referred to as Zuckuss, and somehow it happened to slip that he had called a landline.

"But-but-but-what if someone else had picked up the phone?" the self-professed suave lawyer stammered in terror.

"That's what caller ID is for," I replied. 

After I hung up, I thought: Would it really be so terrible if someone else picked up the phone? Would it be so hard to say, "Hello, can I speak to Lea, please?" You're a professional, as you said repeatedly; calling people is kinda part of your job. This shouldn't warrant the same reaction as ending up in a cave with a Wampa.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carbonite In Your Cola

Luke was in the market for a new ice tray. He decided on this one: Kotobukiya Star Wars: Han Solo in Carbonite Silicon Tray
Also can be used for chocolate molds.
I think I have to get me one. 

Also available in R2-D2, Darth Vader head, Stormtrooper head, Millenium Falcon, and X-Wing Fighter (the last four on various sites).
Must . .  resist . . . Lightsaber Chopsticks . . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fashionable, But Not Frivolous

In the local paper's "Dear Abby," a woman wrote in fretting that her tomboy daughter would be unwanted by men. "Abby" reassured her that not all men are interested in stylish but useless women.
She didn't exactly say "useless." She said that such women would be unwilling to get their hands dirty.


While she may have just said that to calm down a frantic mother, I was still insulted, on my behalf and that of my fellow "frumanistas." 

Every year I assemble the succah, emerging grimy from the bug-ridden garage, my nails cracked, various parts of my anatomy bruised. I refuse the ministrations of a cleaning woman, preferring to scrub my bathroom myself; I have no desire to hire one even when I establish my own household. I am the go-to assembler, knocking office furniture together with a minimum of cursing. I know the difference between Phillips and flat-head, and have used them accordingly. Due to my active aunt-ness, I have cleaned up frightening messes and disposed of particularly nasty diapers and bathed plenty of splashing children and fed cholent-throwing toddlers . . . you get the picture.
Meaning, I can look like this, too.
It's not like I feel put-upon by this. Each exercise in sweat and dirt leaves me feeling accomplished.

When I was a kid, all I wanted to be was a tomboy. I wished I could climb trees (I'm too chicken), I hungered to be good at sports (my hand-eye coordination is laughable), I craved to cartwheel (I fall like a ton of bricks).

It was not happening. 

For years I was in limbo, gazing longingly at my hoop-shooting classmates who, I failed to notice, also enjoyed fashion. I believed that if I dressed like a tomboy, somehow I would be close enough to the real thing. I then realized (later than most) that I liked makeup, adored clothing shopping, and coveted chic boots. I have a long-held respect for the tomboy, while incapable of being a true member of the club.

There is a family of women whom I admire greatly. They dress attractively funky, their voices are breathlessly girly, they teeter upon the highest of heels, their bright makeup is always perfectly applied.

 Yet these women do difficult chesed like you wouldn't believe. They did my grandmother's tahara, for instance, to name one.

A person has the choice to be as interested in fashion, to whatever extent. But please refrain from categorizing those who are fashionistas as nothing more as idle window dressing. 

We like fashion, yes. But plenty of us can also wield a mop.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Friends No More

It's a common complaint, one that I read about in Jewish papers or on the blogosphere. 

A friend marries, and "poof"—she disappears.  

Those that are casually sloughed off are angry, after years of a presumably close relationship, complete with killing oneself over wedding shtick and showers.

There is an explanation, beyond simply marriage. 

When one marries and has children (although the age the NY Times attributes this to is the 30s, not the frummie 20s), one is busy with a family. And due to that occupation: 
People approaching 30 — many of them dealing with life changes like marriage and a first child — often tend to feel overwhelmed with responsibility, so they lose patience with less meaningful friends, said Dr. Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University’s medical school. 
It is not that they have dropped all their friends. They drop the ones they don't really feel that close too. 

When I see photos from people's vorts online, I'm thinking: "Really? She has fifteen best friends? I don't think so." 

The article was talking about how to de-friend properly—and I don't mean on Facebook. 

When I was young, there were times I made friendships which I decided I need to extricate myself from. The girl would not be a good influence, for instance, or she used me as an inferior, rather than an equal. 

My path of choice is usually the one of least resistance. I would have various family members answer the door on Shabbos afternoon, claiming I was taking a nap while I ducked behind the couch. 

Very cowardly, I know. And it did lead to supremely painful situations of meeting the other again, while they either glared or looked dolefully at me. Crud. 
Indeed, honesty may not be the best policy, Dr. Landau of Brown said: “Remember that white lies are O.K. in the service of not hurting feelings.”  
It would have been nice if I had this article back then. It suggests that instead of doing it a la the Seinfeld band-aid ("One motion! Right off!") it recommends a gradual easing out. 
The first step before you end a friendship is to consider, very carefully and seriously, if you want to end a particular friendship or if you just want to wind it down,” said Jan Yager, a friendship coach . . . “It will usually be a lot more pleasant to just pull away, and stop sharing as much privileged information.”
The passive approach can work, sort of. Marni Zarr . . . employed it when she decided that a friend she had picked up in parents’ circles was starting to drag her down with her neediness and constant competitiveness. Ms. Zarr gave less of herself in conversations, stopped talking about her feelings, became vaguer about future aspirations.
I took the route of distancing myself: not immediately answering texts,” she recalled. “I answered the important things, but not the ‘Hey, how are you doing, what’s up tonight?’ ones.”. . . “She went to friends of ours and asked: ‘Do you know what’s going on? Is Marni upset with me?’ ” Ms. Zarr recalled. “The friends just said, ‘Oh no, she’s just really busy.’ I was. Anyone can be busy. But when you really want to have people around, you make time for them, even if it’s a few minutes.”
For the single friends feeling the sting of married rejection: perhaps it is time to reexamine that relationship. While you did do a lot for the "friend," was it asked of you (like shtick and showers)? Was it reasonable? Was it truly a close relationship? Maybe she never was a friend. 

Because if she was, you would not be the hot potato.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Waddya Know? Words Hurt!

First, to get the right mood, check out this cartoon.

I was teased a lot as a child (I was incapable of teasing in return), and I never understood the idiot who came up with that rhyme. Words have such power - to build, to destroy, to certainly able to instigate a sleepless night. 

Sometimes I cannot believe the conversations I overhear. 

"How old is your baby?"

"A year old."

"He's so small." 

I saw the mother blush, clutching her infant, and then, stammering, attempt to explain how his low weight is not her fault. The other woman had already turned away, probably to make someone else feel good about themselves. 

Very often I cannot believe what is said to my face. It seems to be a common phenomenon with singles. 

"While you are 23 now" (this happened a few years back) "soon you'll be 30, so just take any guy and at least you'll have children." No, I kid you not. 

Every time I am in a social setting, my mind races to think back if I said anything that could be construed as hurtful. Thinking before speaking is sometimes difficult when conversation is flying back and forth, and often I am crippled with remorse for years following a ill-thought remark. 

I was explaining to my niece how "no offense" doesn't make a comment any less offensive. She caught on quickly. 
This Berenstain Bear book describes it well. Brother teases Sister all the time, despite the parents telling him to lay off, and when he in turn gets picked on by Too-Tall and his gang, he realizes how hurtful it really is. 

I heard a rabbi say it well: "Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can really hurt me."  

"I'm just being honest . . . " 

"Honesty" does not equal "truth." Honesty is simply professing one's (often biased) thoughts - and one's opinions, unless favorable, do not have to be offered unless requested. And even then, honesty is not so necessary.

"Please, be honest, what do you think of this dress? I bought it, and it's final sale. I thought that I love it, but I'm not sure if it is flattering."

Think before you answer. Real hard. Would it really be so terrible if her ego is becalmed by a simple few words? If the answer is "Well . . . " that is enough to ruin her week, while the speaker goes home and doesn't think on it again. 

Embarrassing someone is like murder. So think, "Would they blush if I said it? Would they second-guess themselves?"

"It's lovely."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shabbos Face: Prep Those Eyelashes

"Excuse me," she asks hesitantly. 


"I hope you don't mind . . . "

"It's alright." 

"Um, are your lashes . . . fake?"

I bat them prettily. 


Let me reassure my audience that I do not, in any way, have particularly magical natural lashes. Elizabeth Taylor may have had a genetic defect that resulted in double rows of lashes (och mer a genetic defect) but I do not.
They are, as always, achieved with the use of smoke and mirrors. 

How to? 

Primer again!

In this case, lash primer. 

I had recommended to someone lash primer, and she came back to me saying that it didn't work. She said she tried one with primer on one end and mascara on the other. 

So don't use a primer that has mascara on the other end. Get an independent lash primer, free of attached mascara.

My current primer, which I have recently re-purchased, is the Tarte MultiplEYE Lash Enhancing Primer. I'm a sucker for the "we have no poisonous ingredients!" claim, but I noticed on the box, in small letters, is "Do not use if pregnant." Oh. Maybe I'll get another one next time.

Before this one I used Smashbox Layer Lash Primer, which also worked very well. 
Clinique Lash Building Primer is also rated pretty high. 
Dior DiorShow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum and Primer is the top seller, with the highest rating by users on Sephora.

Liberally apply that white gook, and see how the lashes multiply in size and length. It will bond the mascara to the lashes, ensuring that it doesn't flake over Shabbos. While I may be concerned that my lipcolor or eyeshadow will rub off overnight, I have no worries about mascara. And as I said, mascara is everything

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Too Young to Coach?

There's a woman I know. She's in her 60s, but her whole life is made up of short-sighted choices. Her finances are a huge mess; her savings are non-existent as she makes bad move after bad move. 

After trying a few "get rich quick" schemes that didn't pan out, she went for life coach training.  

Say what?

The most she can do, I thought, would be to tell people, "Do the exact opposite of me."   

The NYTimes had an article called "Should a Life Coach Have a Life First?," listing quite a few successful life coaches who are incredibly young. One of them mentioned is Chanie Messinger, a girl from Borough Park!
Last February, Chanie Messinger, 20, a psychology major at Brooklyn College, decided to augment her workload by enrolling in an online Torah-based professional life coach degree program she discovered while flipping through The Jewish Press on the bus ride home to Borough Park, where she lives with her mother. She has since built a base of 10 clients, including a 48-year-old woman who, until recently, was living in denial of the fact that she has diabetes.
“It was a very difficult breakthrough for her, she was crying,” Ms. Messinger, who charges from $25 to $75 an hour, recalled of a recent session with the client. “I just made her aware of more options, like maybe you can try Splenda.”
Ms. Messinger said she had recently completed the 80 hours of live coaching required by the Refuah Institute, which is based in Israel, with an office in Brooklyn. She has also invested in a profile on (meant to conjure “new me”), a centralized online coach directory where coaches pay as little as $19 to advertise their services, in the hope that potential clients find their bios, fees and picture most suitable to their own needs.
Isn't that awesome? She's only 20! And she's got great style. Her photo is on page 2 of the article. 

Considering how age is definitely not a factor in successful life coaches, it is very possible that there are enough wise youngsters who can give valuable advice to others.

I had met a young girl who was in college for social work. "I want to help people!" she gushed, eyes shining. From what I have learned from social workers is that they deal with a lot of people who don't necessarily want to help themselves, leaving a social worker in a frustrating position. 

But life coaches are approached by people who want help. They go to someone and say, "I feel as though I need to make better choices." They are looking for another perspective.

Vive la différence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Super Makeup!

If it isn't already obvious, I like cartoons. Comics. Hand-drawn characters.

Makeup has noticed that niche. Themed makeup echoing the feisty fictional characters of childhood has its appeals even amongst the adult sect.
While the idea of Miss Piggy eyeliner should be able to reel me in oh-so-easily, I believe certain things in life shouldn't overlap. Makeup and Smurfs are two such concepts.

The more themed a cosmetic item is, the more I consider it incompetent. I do not want my lipstick endorsed by a Princess of the Amazons.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Chewing

When I was still stuck in a uniform skirt, I had the same issues every lunch. 
Bell would ring. Whip out my sandwich. 60 seconds later lick my fingers and gather up the crumbs. 

And spend the next 40 minutes watching classmates slowly consume their lunches. 

I didn't know what I was doing wrong. 

How does one sit there and actually put the sandwich down between bites?

I once attended a fascinating shiur given by Rabbi Rietti, in which he discusses the Rambam's guide to a long, healthy life. Chewing until food is a liquid was recommended.

Digestion begins in the mouth with the help enzymes in saliva. Apparently, wolfing down my food like a python unhinging its lower jaw and swallowing a pig whole is not the way to go.
You should see the photos right after they have swallowed dinner.
I'm definitely better now. Lunch takes between 10-15 minutes; not yet ideal liquid-chewing, but baby steps.

By chewing thoroughly, the stomach will register the food and tell the consumer's brain that it is full. Otherwise, one can keep on eating and eating and the stomach can't process that it is full until after overeating. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Last Holdout

I wasn't happy to go to this wedding. 

Not because I wasn't ecstatic for my high school classmate; rather, as one of the last single girls of my grade, I expected the usual gloating of marrieds and condescension to the singles. 

So I marched into the hall with the most false bravado I could muster (along with the most makeup) and prepared for battle. 

"You're single?" 

"Yes," I bristled, with a "what of it?" attitude.

"So you make money? And you can save it?" Her gaze was not that of hauteur, but rather of yearning envy.

I wilted. 

As the evening progressed, it became obvious that this young wife's reaction was not rare. Not once did I receive patronizing comments; but I did get more than one vicious glare. 

Prepped for a miserable evening of having my ego crunched underfoot, I was, rather, the belle of the ball. 

When rabbanim say that our generation is "fastidious," and so can have leeway when it comes to privation, it says a lot about our mentality. 

It cannot be that every girl back from seminary is ready for marriage. In my mother's day every girl out of high school got a job. When one experiences life under an unreasonable boss, 9-5 work hours, and a commute, one really knows the pressures of employment. Add to that the stress of crying infants, laundry, and a husband to be fed. 

I am not saying it is impossible for a young bride to be happy, eagerly tackling the new responsibilities. But I have noticed that has become more and more of a rarity. 

Many children enter marriage without going through even the smallest of pressures. Is it fair to them, to shoo them hurriedly into wedlock lest spinsterhood awaits?

I found it sad that so many young women - not yet 25 - were not the happiest they could have been as they took on something they were not ready for. At least, maybe, if they were realistic, they would have realized the difficulties as well as joys of marriage. 

But we are not encouraged to think past the wedding. We are just told get a guy before you become a dry stick like Princess Lea over there. Yeah, it'll be wonderful, whatever, love, blah blah blah, just get married, time's a'wastin'.

For those still single and no longer 21, be happy that you have this time to know who you are, what you are capable of, and dabble in other interests, like playing recorder. And we can hope that the extra time will leave one all the more appreciative when the baby cries at 11:05, 2:38, and 5:16. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Shall Love Again

I have gone through recent heartbreak. 

My tinted moisturizer has failed me.  

When I discovered Hourglass Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer, I thought I had met the one.
You tease.
It was oil-free, which I thought meant would mean non-oily; it claimed to have no questionable ingredients; it matched my skin tone perfectly; it had SPF; the coverage was like a foundation. 

After spending more time together, I noticed that it has been slacking on me. My face goes from stunning to slick in no time flat, getting supremely oily, even settling into grooves around my mouth (!)

Then I noticed that my hands, after application, were oddly sparkling. Despite the fact that I only wear matte, somehow an "illuminating" product sneaked its way into my heart. 

I finally went to a dermatologist because of my milia-woes; he scoffed when I said I made a point to use oil-free. Apparently, unless a product it officially labeled "non-comedogenic," it can still clog pores, even if it is oil-free.

I felt as though I had been had. 

What made me more horrified was that I would have to go crawling back to Laura Mercier, who I had threw over for my new and shiny Hourglass. And she would rub it in. 

"Back, I see. Didn't I tell you it would end in tears? What does it matter if I don't perfectly match your skintone, or if I contain parabens? You know you won't find anyone better than me." 

I can't reward that sort of smugness. I managed to keep my dignity and hit the internet for alternatives. 

Update soon on my search! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

People Who Need People

I was reading William Dietrich's Napoleon's Pyramids (a humorous espionage novel), and a passage jumped out at me. It is a fictionalized conversation with Benjamin Franklin.
"Too many humans will gladly trade rational world for a superstitious one if it calms their fears, gives them status, or gains them an advantage over their fellows. People are always afraid to think. And alas, Ethan, integrity is always a prisoner of vanity, and common sense is easily eclipsed by greed."
It made me recall a letter Rav Steinman released in 2009. One of the matters he addressed was how that many Jews nowadays have abandoned bein adam l'chaveiro, and involve themselves strictly in bein adam l'Makom. Mindlessly mistreating the people around us, we focus on how to "appease" God.

Sometimes I find the reactions of people towards mitzvos to be that of pagan worship; if something is not done just so, then a lightning bolt will hit us. I have known people to freak out about the slightest of things, like having a vachtnact on a Friday night (since a Shabbos bris is considered to have a shmirah, than a vachtnacht is "unnecessary." One family had one anyway since the house was bursting with little boys, and a woman in her 60s was having a fit.) 

If people's feelings are hurt in the pursuit of "appeasement" (such as insulting someone else's religiosity), then that is collateral damage by some coreligionists. One can loudly question another's knowledge of the law or Judaism in general in a misguided attempt to gain brownie points with the Man Upstairs, destroyed egos be damned.

But Hashem would rather that no one is embarrassed. His kavod can stand on its own two feet.

In Judaism, the ends do not justify the means. So think a sec. And consider the big picture. No, bigger than that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Letting Go

It is not easy for me to let go. I remember every hurt, every insult, every remark from grade school days. I don't even have the best memory in general, but these sort of outdated episodes manage to stay with me. 

I am not proud of it; I am annoyed at myself. I know that I am not always, consistently, nice or pleasant; I hope that others wouldn't hold that against me indefinitely.

I have changed over the years; it should be assumed that others do as well. I shouldn't hold people accountable for things they said or did when they were 10. 

On Facebook the girl that constantly teased me in elementary friended me. She was married, smiling with her sweet-looking husband, a burbling baby bouncing on her knee. I accepted the friend request. It's not like we contacted each other in any other way; simply that every day, there she would be, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, aggravatingly awakening reminders of a childhood when I allowed myself to be pushed around.  

I couldn't do this anymore. I couldn't be constantly brought back to that time when I couldn't understand why she was picking on me. I de-friended her, and immediately felt lighter. 

Dorri Olds wrote of a serious trauma in her past. At 13, eager to make friends, she was gang-raped. She never told her parents; she never reported it.  

38 years later the one who instigated it has the chutzpah to "friend" her. He's married with two children, one being a teenage girl. Dorri is knocked mentally senseless when she recalls the helplessness and violation, and she thinks of an apt retribution. She friends his wife with the plan to tell her.
But when I looked at my computer again, I saw she’d written on my wall. She posted a sideways smiley face and complimented the photos of my dog. How could I tell her? She’d done nothing to me. My rage belonged to her husband.
So I went back to his profile page and typed a private message: “I hope that night has haunted you. I was naïve and a virgin. I see you have a teenage daughter now. Better keep her safe from guys like you.”
I wanted to hate him and hurt him but realized that the only way to be free was to let it all go. When I defriended him I felt strong. The past was the past, and my mouth wasn’t covered anymore.
Being able to let go is the only way to move on and be free. 

Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head. - Esther Lederer

It is not easy. I am guilty for holding on for too long. They don't give the past a second thought; why should I? Why should I torment myself with unpleasantness?

Perhaps as a sign of my new-found forgiveness I should have kept her as a "friend." Her face in my friend list, however, was a trigger for the past. As long as the reminder isn't there, then I can forget for now, no longer blaming her. She certainly won't be in my head.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mascara Must

If one cannot be bothered with a full makeup routine, here is the basic minimum: mascara.
It's easy, relatively painless (I have poked myself in the eye once or twice) and with a few effortless swipes, one looks transformed.  

I have recently concluded that for myself, I prefer volumizing to lengthening. Some mascaras I tried that primarily lengthened also clumped my lashes together into a few spidery spikes, making my lashes look fewer. I now make sure to analyze the brushes.

The original "pipe-cleaner" brushes seem to be ideal for volumizing.

My new purchase is Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara
I love how my lashes look, and it claims to promote lash health, but since I just got it I cannot say if it does or not. My lashes are defined, volumized, and lengthened - I had tried three mascaras before this one that were all returned, since they made my lashes look deformed. This one is a keeper. 

I gave blood the other day, and the nurses were going bonkers. "Look at those lashes!" they gasped. I assured them it was all mascara. "How do you spell 'Tarte'?," they asked, with pen and napkin in hand.

Another option is Kiehl's Marvelous Mineral Mascara. No matter how many mascaras I try, I usually end up buying this one again.
When it comes to mascara, feel free to apply more than one coat. A few. Several. Many. Layer to whatever level of comfort. 

Just remember: it is the absolute MINIMUM.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Brats are Banned

I take my shul going very seriously. More specifically, I believe that if adults are going to shul to daven, children should not be permitted to goof around talking loudly and running noisily. 

While parents may bring their offspring to shul with the claim of "chinuch," allowing children to disturb others' prayer and treating the shul as a playground is definitely not chinuch. 

Since I am a crabby spinster, I will tell off children and chase them out if they misbehave. Usually the kids have the same reaction: initial disbelief, followed by nervous darting eyes for a savior, finished off with a terrified fleeing for the outdoors. Incredibly satisfying. 

The other week two little boys waltzed in, unaccompanied, into the ladies' turf. They most definitely broke records for the most obnoxious; they propped their feet on the shtenders, they had loud conversations across the shul, they clambered over chairs as though they were rock-climbing. 

Obviously, they had to go. 

I pulled myself up to my most forbidding height, I marched over, eyes flashing, and snarled, "Get out." 

The boys said no. 

Come again? 

"You come to shul, where people are davening, and bang? GET. OUT." 

They refused to move. 
I visualized myself grabbing each by the ear and throwing them out forcibly, but I thought that may lead to a lawsuit. 

I sat down, dazed. 

My shul tends to be pretty tolerant, but these two were so mind-boggingly bad that at least five other women approached them, all to no avail. 

Never. Happened. Before. 

I have noticed, on more than one occasion, that there are parents who are either incapable of disciplining their children, or simply do not care if the creatures they are responsible for run amuck. 

It's your kids. You are ones granted their emotional well-being. From who else will they learn proper behavior and decorum? The help?
Only if you've got SuperNanny.
First things first: children have to learn how to sit quiet and still for a few hours at a time. Then they can come to shul and learn the importance of davening. And if they don't know how to do that first, don't be surprised if some crabby spinster boxes your kid's ears.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Please Don't Help Me

Whenever I go to a sale in a department store, I am besieged by falsely chipper salespeople who destroy my focus as I frantically grab four sizes of the same item to ensure a right fit. 

"Should I take these for you?" she oozes.  

"Not right now," I say distractedly, holding up the various skirts to see which one will be long yet flattering enough. 

"OK, but if you need help, my name is Amy."  

"Uh-huh, yeah, sure." The 8. I'll stick with the 8. 

She re-materializes not five minutes later, while I'm debating whether the jacket in my hand hand has a distinct belly-concealing peplum or if it is just too long.  

"How about now?" 


After four more reminders of her existence, I give in and hand over my precious hoard. Of course, when I return to her lair to reclaim them, she barely looks at me. I wait a half hour for a dressing room, while she coos insincere compliments about my patience.

I would also be more impressed with this so-called customer service if, when coming back three days later to the same floor to return an item, a salesperson would actually be there to take care of it. But it seems they have radar for returning merchandise, and the floor is deserted. I finally manage to detect an associate lurking behind a rack. She grumbles and angrily punches the keys as she processes the credit. 

The NY Times believes that it is because of the peaceful online shopping experience that buyers no longer want an over-smiling clerk bopping into their face as soon as they walk in the door. 

Since online clothing shopping does not work for me, I am not going to afford the internet credit for this, since: 
“At the department store, the beauty associate is on top of shoppers from the moment they walk into the section. In our studies, women often described them as ‘sharks’ or ‘vultures.’ ”
A customer’s attempt to get to an intended counter “becomes as planned and calculated as a military airstrike,” he added.
Amy, who obviously thought she had netted a tuna or spied some carrion, didn't even bother assisting once she was safely holding my selections hostage. 

But it was at a sale last year, while I was struggling with various shoes, a saleswoman quietly appeared by my elbow, cradling in her arms the boots of my dreams. 

"Thank you," I breathed. 

So rare is this divine shopping experience that I almost vowed to name my first born after her.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gown Selection

A while back I decided to sift through all the Only Simchas! weddings from the dawn of the website. Not to gaze upon the happily marrieds and wistfully dream of a nuptials of my own. Rather, to analyze the gowns.
Lavan Bridal
The grandmother that gifted me with a genetic desire to slather my face in night cream is also a connoisseur of clothing construction. Despite her current feebleness and flirtation with dementia, when I visit her I immediately twirl, having donned a look strictly for her enjoyment. She then beckons me closer and rubs the fabric between her fingers, eyeing my getup up and down to take in the lines and cut. 

She has so far asked for a few pairs of my shoes. 

So, I shall insist that fetish for garments is another familial aberration, and my clicking through thousands of photos to see the current styles in vogue/available does not mean I am the desperate female seeking a man so she can have "HER DAY." 

Here are a few conclusions (visualize all the photos below with sleeves and proper collars): 

1) Short girls should not wear a-line or mermaid. These looks elongate the torso, making it look as though the lower half of the body begins later, so when the gown hits the floor, the kallah looks as though her legs have been cut off by the knee. The short should stick to ball gowns. (Randy from Say Yes To The Dress will back me on this. Ball gowns make the short look taller). 

2) 3/4 length sleeve wisely. 3/4 sleeves can make the arms look longer, so sometimes the kallah looks as though her hands are brushing her knees. This is not a given, but be aware of that possibility.
3) Careful with the round collar. If the collar fits too snugly on the  neck, let's say while in the process of building up a gown, the front of the dress may not sit right, bunching up. Either opt for a collar that is not so tight on the neckline, or try a square collar. 

4) Please, no empire waists.
5) In terms of details such as bows and paneling to highlight certain areas: sashes should be placed on the waist or lower. No higher.
That top line is a no-no. The one thing that should be emphasized is the waist, which  looks here deceptively non-existent. 
Waists, drop waists or mermaid tails can have sashes defining that area. But no need to have sashes or paneling above that mark, around the, ahem, chest area, unless the gown has a wide sash/stomacher.
This concept is better, because it holds in and defines the stomach and waist rather than drawing attention . . . above.
6) If going with the mermaid look, where the gown is tight then flares out, it has to flare. Not remain a closed, tight, ball of fabric. If one wants a more contained look on the bottom, rather seek out an a-line graduated flare on the bottom, rather than mermaid.

7) No one wants to look back at their wedding gown and think, "Man, that looks soooooo dated." Try to avoid trendy, noticeable details so the grandkids (or your little sister) won't laugh. Like the flared sleeve. It was so sharp in 2002, now, not so much.
8) Iridescent sequins, I find, do not sparkle classily on a wedding gown; if one likes bling, go with rhinestone details instead. But in any case, a little sparkle goes a long way.
Ad nauseum.
9) Remember what flatters, whether pear or apple. Just because something looks magnificent on the hanger or on that other kallah does not mean it will suit you. Pears: ball gown. Apples: more of a drop waist, and it may take a bit of looking around to find one that holds in the stomach.
Peplum for the apple!

10) When in doubt, either:

      Tulle; or

Grace Kelly.
This dress is sublime. There is no other that can match it.
One last point, even though it doesn't have to do with wedding gowns: 

I am not a fan of this "family wearing white" thing. The kallah's stuck when it comes to her gown color; no need to wear a wedding gown, too. The bridal party should be wearing other colors to liven up the place.

How about some jewel tones instead?