Friday, May 31, 2013

Mineral Blush and Bronzer

For those who like the loose mineral products, I have found myself both blush and bronzer that I like. 

Since I have been having some success with bareMinerals, I went with them again in first selecting a bronzer: "Faux Tan Matte," with "matte" as the magic word.
I purchased it on Amazon and I received something that looks a tad more orange than it does on the BE website, but it does the job, contouring while lacking sparkle, with the barest minimum. That stuff is seriously pigmented

At the same time I scanned BE for a matte blush. I decided to browse through their pink eyeshadows instead, since there was more options in the matte department. I settled on "Frolic,"  and also bought it from BE through Amazon

However, despite being called "matte," it possessed a blinding pearlized sheen. How in heck was this matte? I sent a huffy email back demanding a refund. 

I then hit the 'net again, and after much squinting and comparing, clicked on L.A. Minerals Lush Blush in "Cheerleader." It is described as being the "Perfect matte girly girl pink shade of blush." This time I emailed the company first to confirm that it is, in fact, matte, which they soothingly did. I bought it on Amazon as well. And lo, the blush arrived, bright and matte. 
For those who prefer tamer shades, I would highly recommend it. "Cheerleader" adds life to cheeks subtly, but one can build up to whatever shade desired. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Once Upon a Time

Bàbi is a storyteller, Ma tells me. Due to language barriers (my grandmother's English was never proficient, and I was never adept with foreign tongues), I'll have to take her word for it. 

But Ma isn't bad herself. Having been born in Europe, her childhood tales of comparative rusticity always enthralled me. Like the time the house was attacked by mice, and Zeidy borrowed a cat from the neighbor, bringing it back in a burlap sack.
The cat did the job, but one night Ma awoke to find the cat at the edge of her bed. Ma never liked animals, and did not fall back asleep again, just watched the feline with wide, horrified eyes. 

Then there are the sagas of Holocaust survival. How Bàbi stole rags to keep her sister's children warm, how she pilfered potato peels to keep them fed, even getting caught and beaten by a farmer. 

I tell over these same stories to my nieces and nephews, usually on a long Shabbos afternoon when they are desperate for entertainment. I try to drum into them the various messages; to be grateful, living in this wonderfully comfortable time when we can be warm and fed and not persecuted

I have always felt that "To know where we are going, we must know where we come from." As Jews, that certainly has many meanings. 

Bruce Feiler's article, "The Stories that Bind Us," possibly provides a reason for mysterious Jewish longevity (besides for the fact that we have had guaranteed existence from Above). 
The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative. 
Knowing one's past fluently has all sorts of benefits. 
. . . Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students.
“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said.
Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions.
Examples included: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth? 
. . .  The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.
Following the trauma of 9-11, the children who knew more about the family's past coped better. Being part of something larger than themselves provide children with emotional security. 

It also matters in the manner of presentation. There are three types of narratives, according to Dr. Duke. (1) ascending, how each generation is an improvement upon the previous; (2) descending, how we used to have it good then lost it all; (3) oscillating, telling over the good with the bad, but that in the end, the family stayed together (obviously, the third narrative is the healthiest.)
Traditions, even goofy ones, have an beneficial impact.

Doesn't this sound an awful lot like the Jewish narrative? 

What is our origin story? Heck, we've got books and books of them, detailing our high moments and our low ones, with the result that hey, 2,000+ years later in exile, we're still here. As for traditions, we are up to our eyeballs in them, some probably meaningless in origin, sometimes riding roughshod over actual halacha. But we cling to those traditions, apparently, for a reason. 

My family, for instance, has a serious egg-fetish. On Pesach night, we eat a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water before shulchan orech, and we consume the same egg smeared with ash on the night of Tisha B'Av, sitting on the floor. The circular egg, the constant symbol of life and renewal. 

My constant coping mechanism in times of difficulty is to remember how my grandparents managed to claw through the unthinkable and rebuild. As did my anscestors, so very long ago, whose land was destroyed, and they were exiled to Babylon. The incredible, edible egg.
No matter how bleak matters may seem, it is never the end.     
The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.   

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Ungrabbable

"You are going out with him?" she gasped. "Grab him!" 

"Him" has earned the princely alias of Boba Fett. Yeah, that bad. 

He was given my number on Wednesday evening, but didn't call until Sunday afternoon, making it a quite obvious tactical move that he therefore "couldn't" take me out on Sunday, and possibly waste some of his precious recreational time. 

Better yet, he rang from a train, warning me that he may go into a tunnel. Apparently, calling me before, or after, on terra firma, was not an option (I just don't believe that anyone can be that busy for four straight days).

He initially spoke of dinner, but then texts that he works really long hours. Oh, you just remembered that now? He proposes the option of drinks at 6, or dinner at 10. Well, obviously I'm not going to wait around in the city until the dead of night, so we both know already that I am accepting the former offer. But the brilliance of it is that it is now my doing; after all, he suggested dinner, I just didn't take him up on it.

With about four hour gaps of text response time, he gives me an address across town. After walking for thirty minutes (it was nice weather and I prefer to walk instead of subway) and changing my shoes in a nearby Sephora, I get there limpingly prompt. He is nowhere to be seen, and so I text him. He says he's almost there. 

Actually, he quite obviously had just left his office right then, since it was only a couple of blocks away, and he arrived casually un-winded a leisurely ten minutes later. 

After exactly an hour, he hies off back to work. 

"He squeezed you in the way he would a client," Ta said. 

"I expect to get a bill for that hour," I replied.

The shadchan, poor thing, called up a few days later saying Boba never got back to her. Future reference, dudes: If you wanna go shidduch system, you gotta play by shidduch system rules, which is getting back to the shadchan before I do. 

As for "Grab him"? 

What happened to Boba Fett again?
He got grabbed, all right. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We Can Write It Out

Whenever I read something offensive in a newspaper or magazine, I get all worked up, furiously telling off the author in my head, trying to phrase all the arguments to bring my antagonist to his knees.

Once I feverishly composed a three-page letter chock full of arguments, logic, and proofs. But then, when I concluded with my last triumphant semi-colon, I noticed that I was no longer passionate with righteous indignation; having flung my fury upon the ever-patient computer screen, I felt at peace. I then leisurely sliced and diced my composition into a succinct two-paragraph missive, which was more likely to be heard and printed. 

The idea of writing out one's anger and frustration can apparently be applied to human relationships. I hate confrontation. In the heat of the moment all sorts of ill-chosen statements get tossed back and forth, wounding needlessly while rarely addressing the actual point. 

Fighting is a usual inevitability in marriage. But how a couple chooses to fight can make a difference, not only in the success of the union but the health of the individuals. 
For the other subgroup, though, we gave an additional, if modest, writing assignment. Beyond their summaries of the fight, we asked each spouse to write about the conflict from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for both spouses — and, from the perspective of this imaginary individual, to identify, if possible, any single positive aspect to the argument.  
After a heated, emotional dispute, sitting down and rationally dissecting the spat for just a few minutes reduced the stress levels in the relationship.
It didn't reduce the amount of quarrels, mind you, but they were now handled better.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shmeck Git

Perfume and I have a sort of on again/off again relationship. I think I have found the perfect thing, I run to buy it, then I never remember to wear it. 

My nose also has an annoying sensitivity to some scents. For instance, I had made a major decision and marched out to purchase DNKY Be Delicious. I even upgraded to the large size, so sure was I that I would use it devotedly. 

However, on daily application, my head would hurt. The perfume would burrow into my nostrils, aggravating my sinuses until I had darts of pain behind my eyes. I had to grudgingly pass it on to Bàbi's aide, who happily squirreled it away. 

One day at Sephora I came across a display for Pacifica, a "natural" perfume line. I became immediately attached to Tuscan Blood Orange—I adore citrus scents. I was able to breathe it in deeply without coughing or wheezing, which seems to be a good sign. 

In August, when the mosquitoes are out in full force, I became nervous that the sweet orange smell would attract them, so I purchased Nerola Orange Blossom. It's sharp and tangy while still holding a hint of elusive fruity zest. I've gotten quite a few compliments for it. 

There is one con: The stuff disappears in no time. Standard commercial perfumes will hold on like death (maybe that's the chemical that makes my head hurt), but after a ridiculously short time my two citrus scents would dissipate. I go through them pretty quickly, but I wait until Pacifica has a sale and I stock up (free shipping over $50, and I'm not charged tax).  

To refresh while on the go, they do have convenient roll-on sizes, but the one I purchased had unappetizing backwash pretty fast. I got instead a travel atomizer

I had once purchased rosewater, and never ended up using it. I decided to finally empty the bottle by using it as my morning toner (I only wash my face at night, swishing toner-soaked cotton round on my face before applying makeup in the mornings). The scent quite appealed to me, and I recalled that Pacifica has Persian Rose

It has a true rosewater scent, plus it has much better staying power than the other two that I had been using until now. Plus, no heachache either!

However, it has received mixed reviews. 

"Do I smell bug spray?" asked my boss. 

"I smell . . . rotten apples," said Luke. 

"It's kinda like something you'd splash on after a bath," Ma observed. 

Well, I like it.   
If any out there has highly sensitive sinuses yet managed to uncover a scented holy grail, kindly share.    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Other News

My thanks to Pretzel for making me aware of this article—and why, pray tell, did they not seek me out, she who has an entire Shabbos Face section? And how people laughed when I said I use a straw on my soup on yontif—and whenever I drink on Shabbos too. But don't purse the lips; it may make the skin wrinkle.
At the moment I am too chicken to put hairspray on my face. There is Urban Decay's line of face-setting sprays, however. 

Also, the film that I have been giddy to see, "Fill the Void," is now in theaters in Manhattan. As an added perk, my favorite film critic, A. O. Scott, wrote a glowing review.  
What the film makes clear, with unfailing sensitivity and wry humor, is that for Shira and her family the ordinary arrangements of living are freighted with moral and spiritual significance. Their routines are dominated by prayer, ritual observance and obedience to Jewish law, but their world does not seem narrow and austere. On the contrary, it is at times almost unbearably full of feeling and significance . . . 
He calls the movie "thrilling"!
I have some familiarity with the chassidish community, and I am often frustrated how those looking in, even other observant Jews, allow prejudice to color their view. It is wonderful to finally have a depiction of their world by one of their own. 
I hope that for Rama Burshtein, this is the first of many.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

So You Say . . .

I've had it up to here with this profile shtick. I can't stand it. The lingering whiffs of superstition from my background quakes at the mention of ayin hara, and yet I see it everywhere.

Examples of unnecessary information on males' info

"I have a big heart." 

Was it transplanted from an elephant

"I'm smart." 

Said Forrest Gump.

"I'm good-looking." 

Thanks to Photoshop. 

"I'm successful." 

Where do I begin?

The more someone tells me of their glittering qualities, the less I believe them. A diploma can attest to academic achievement, but for everything else?

Rattling off adjectives as how they like to see themselves does not mean that reality got the memo. 

If you truly are, I will be able to see it. After all: 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Golden Mean

There's this juice-cleanse fast trend that I don't quite get. Apparently, those who need to revamp their eating lifestyle from junked processed fare find that the only way to do it is to slurp meals from a straw, slapping the body around until it cries uncle

Um, did you try just roasting some vegetables?

What is it with the extremes? 
Moderation. Remember that? It was once held up as an indisputable virtue, virtually synonymous with prudence. Don’t get too carried away with any one thing. Don’t become too set in your ways. That was the message from parents and teachers. That was the cue the culture gave.
But America these days is an immoderate land of fixed opinions and outsize fixations. More and more we wallow: in our established political philosophy; in our preferred interest group; in our pastime of choice; in whichever health routine we’ve turned into a health religion. 
America is "The Land of the Binge," according to Frank Bruni (and no matter how we think otherwise, us frummies get sucked into the lifestyles of the land around us). 
“It’s all or nothing,” she wrote, flagging a dichotomy: cooking in trendy restaurants has never been fattier, while the trend of “cleansing” with a severe regimen of liquefied fruits, vegetables and nuts has never been hotter. Feast or famine. Binge or beet juice.
I turned from her lament to the front page of The Times. It reported the accidental death of someone participating in the X Games, a magnet for “extreme athletes,” as the article called them. The word “extreme” stuck with me and struck a chord. We compete extremely (look at Lance). Work out extremely (look all around you). Eat extremely. Watch extreme amounts of whatever we’ve decided we love, which we love in extremis. Even our weather is extreme: superstorms, Frankenstorms, snowmageddons.
Frum bloggers will rhapsodize about a new hip restaurant, hailing their shmaltzy potatoes, the next month reviewing a juice plan.

We become extreme with our religion, constantly trying to outdo the other. Pesach sedarim must last until 2 a.m, as participants wheeze after consuming freshly-grated horseradish. Oh, and the cleaning? No, disinfecting the house never was necessary. Purim must be "celebrated" by drinking excessively. One Rosh HaShana one can't move for the simanim, as goat heads rival with celery for room on an overburdened table.
We’re immoderate not just in our affiliations, but also in our impulses. “Work Out So Hard You Vomit” proclaimed a headline on not so long ago; the story with it presented a tour through the long, grueling trials to which the fitness-intent subject themselves.
Never mind studies that suggest that moderate exertion — less than 20 miles of running a week, not more, and at a stately pace — bodes best for well-being.
When did self-flagellation, in the name of overdosing or self-denial, become so pervasive
And actual diets, by which I mean those aimed at superfluous chins, are flamboyantly ascetic, with solid food exiting the equation for three days, for five days, even for 10. The BluePrintCleanse, the Cooler Cleanse and other retail juice fasts have surged in popularity over recent years. Sales of juice extractors are also on the upswing. Even our self-punishment is indulgent. We binge on deprivation.  
I have one task at work that I hate with every fiber of my being: filing. The dim, claustrophobic room, struggling to shove space on the shelves for the bursting redwells, the fear that I may be squashed by a coworker as he mindlessly twirls the handcrank—shiver. I usually tackled the chore in a recognizable pattern; spending an hour filing, then avoiding the mounting pile for months on end. 

One day I realized this could not go on. I told myself that I would spend ten minutes daily, at least, in there. One day I would hurriedly flee as soon as the ten minutes were up; another day I would get caught up and maybe spend as much as twenty. But I was doing it every day, simply by applying the golden mean. Maimonedes came up with this concept quite a long time ago.
Not eating right? Cutting out processed foods alone will be a major adjustment. Take a stroll in a fruit store. Become acquainted with the abundant greenery available. Then, after a healthful meal, one can even have a little ice cream.