Friday, August 29, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: We Can All Dream

After watching myself for a few days, I can't stop rhapsodizing to myself during davening one morning. 

Goodness, I feel great! Light, airy, like gravity couldn't keep me down! Why would I ever overeat when I feel so fantastic? It's so simple! It makes absolutely no sense for me to stuff my face in that mindless way. This is first day of the rest of my life, I shall always be in the grips of iron self control, because I want to hold on to this ecstatic sensation always! 

Then the kinfauna come to visit.

"Eat up the rest of your supper." 

"But I'm fuuuuuull." 

"Two more bites." 

Two grudging bites. 

I can't throw away good food, even though I had supper already.
Next day: 

"Can I have some cake?" 

"After you eat lunch." 

She eats lunch. 

"Now can I have cake?" 

"Sure. A piece for you . . . while I stand here by the open Tupperware and mindlessly munch."

You get the gist.

Davening the next morning: 

I don't understand. It made no sense. I still over-ate! Why? Incomprehensible! Well, today is the first day of the rest of my life!

I can gently roll off that wagon. It doesn't take that much effort to. But clamber back on again, as soon as may be. It'll take a little more koyach, but just keep forging onward.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Antibiotic Wisely

Whenever one of the kinfauna whine that something "has germs," I have to take a deep breath and count to ten. 

"Tell me," I say in a low, villain-esque voice, "what sort of terrible, horrible disease did someone get because a glass wasn't washed and dried until 'sparkling'?" 

They smile sheepishly and accept the non-sterilized cup of water. 

The scientific community has been retracting all of the disinfectant and antibiotic hysteria of recent years, now calling for discretion. Not only that, but some even encourage dirt exposure.
From the OMO "Dirt is good" campaign
There are many "gut" problems nowadays, and a number are caused by antibiotic overuse and sterile environments. Our kishkes are composed of a beautiful ecosystem of bacteria that keeps our bodies humming along smoothly, and antibiotics annihilate the good with the bad. It can take years to recreate that necessary population.

I have even read that those with a genetic predisposition to intestinal disorders ("Speaking Up About an Uncomfortable Condition" by Jane E. Brody), such as IBS, should actively expose themselves to germs: 
Dr. Sartor also noted that early exposure to common viruses and bacteria can strengthen the immune system and keep it from attacking normal tissues.
“My advice to parents and grandparents is, ‘Let them eat dirt,’ ” he said.
Dr. Abigail Zuger reviewed Dr. Martin Blaser's book, Missing Microbes ("We Kill Germs at Our Peril"), who cautions against antibiotic overuse as well.
For other increasingly common conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, Dr. Blaser offers an inversion of the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that by removing us from contact with outdoor microbes, sanitized modern life has allowed the immune system to spiral out of control. Instead, he suggests, blame rests on the distortion of our internal microbial world.
Don't get me wrong, antibiotics are amazing, but they have a time and place. Some doctors chuck them at their patients like Tic-Tacs, though, and too much of a good thing can be detrimental.
When I got sinus infections I would limp to my doctor and beg for a prescription, which he merrily provided. But it would have gone away anyway in the same time that I was popping those pills.

It's just amazing how Hashem set up this world, down to our symbiotic relationship with teeny tiny microbes.     

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"**** Statistics."

Liz Tuccillo in He's Just Not That Into You:

 . . . I'm just going to come right out with it: There aren't that many good men around. Statistics prove it, articles and books have been written to verify it, and women would be happy to testify under oath about it. There are more good women out there than good men. Oh, wait, there's this one as well: A lot of men want to date much younger women, so as you get older, there are even fewer men that want to date you.

Behold, ladies, the very same arguments for the "shidduch crisis" (urgle) that I've heard before. 

Liz continues that this is why many fabulous women (such as herself) lower their expectations. Considerably. But then she says it is because they hate being alone.

I am deeply pragmatic, so given the sheer statistics, I don't have a clue what to say. I know we have to love ourselves and think we deserve happiness and be optimistic. I also think it sucks to be single. Greg, are you telling us that we we should just stay single and picky and not settle (and thus not settle down) until we have met the person we think is the one?

Do you see how her argument changes? First, it is that it is near impossible to find a decent being with  a Y chromosome, but next she says that settling comes from hating loneliness. To me, that sounds like two separate arguments. 

What if this whole "shidduch crisis" hooey is just a front for the scary emotions we don't want to face: We cannot bear our own company.
Being single, especially in the frum world, does suck. We base our whole religion on the sanctity of the home. Maintaining shalom bayis is a major thing. It has been wired into our DNA beyond the biological need to reproduce that spiritual fulfillment lies in marriage. Plus, it sucks to be alone. God said so, right after He created Adam. 

Greg Behrendt responds: 

Statistics are bleak . . . You can't do anything with these statistics except scare yourself and you girlfriends. So I say, "**** statistics." It's your life - how dare you not have faith in it! . . . I believe life will turn out well. More fervently, I believe that you have no other choice than to believe that. I am writing this book, and women will be reading it, because we are all tired of operating from a place of fear. 

Fear. What single hasn't had that terrifying vision of a cat-filled future? When you come home, defeated, from yet another date (after being dateless for months), wondering when you can finally get off the farshtinkener merry-go-round?  When everyone around you (what "shidduch crisis"?!) pair off casually.
Someone has to be blamed. We are used to blaming someone. We don't want to blame ourselves, though. So we say "shidduch crisis." We say "statistics." We say empty terms that clash with our religion. Or we aren't honest enough to say, "I hate being alone. I'm scared of my future. I'm frightened that there is something wrong with me. And I just don't want to wait anymore."

You know what "statistics" also say about a tiny nation the size of New Jersey surrounded by murderous superpowers? Don't quote "statistics" to me!
Because what is the point of being a frum Jew, if I need lessons in emunah from a stand-up comedian?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Compassionate Literacy

I am not sure if I am genetically inclined to reading, or if I was simply raised to be a reader. 

As far back as I can remember, Ma was always taking out books for me in the library. She knew the good authors from her many years of prowling the aisles. Then the grand transition from children's books (the eminent Fudge series by Judy Blume!) to young adult—Journey for a Princess, The Calico Captive, Mrs. Mike, Step to the Music
Now I do my own selections, placing requests online; I prance into the library with anticipatory glee to collect a delicious stack from the wheezing librarian. P.G. Wodehouse, Lois McMaster Bujold (for which I owe Sparrow eternal gratitude), Norah Lofts (I have an homage to her scheduled), Frank Herbert, Nancy Mitford, Edna Ferber, and Bernard Cornwell are my current obsessions. 

The house is adorned with baskets full of children's picture books, the den shelves are stocked with Gordon Korman. But not all children seem to be geared to read. 

As my niece sits on my head on a Shabbos afternoon, I beg: "Just get a book." 

She doesn't move. 

"Go read something!" I eventually order. "We have books upon books upon books!" 

She don't budge. 

Frank Bruni shares my literate concern for the next generation in "Read, Kids, Read." 
There’s research on this, and it’s cited in a recent article in The Guardian by Dan Hurley, who wrote that after “three years interviewing psychologists and neuroscientists around the world,” he’d concluded that “reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic.
In terms of smarts and success, is reading causative or merely correlated? Which comes first, “The Hardy Boys” or the hardy mind? That’s difficult to unravel, but several studies have suggested that people who read fiction, reveling in its analysis of character and motivation, are more adept at reading people, too: at sizing up the social whirl around them. They’re more empathetic. God knows we need that.
"God knows" is right. 

One of the best recommendations from my mother was The Rich Are Different by Susan Howatch (there is a sequel, Sins of the Fathers. It took me four re-readings to realize it is a modern retelling of Julius Caesar and his heir, Octavion). What I adore about it is that the book is divided into segments, and the narration switches between the characters. When seeing the world through the many players' eyes, the stringencies of the black-and-white perspective blend together, forming inconclusive gray.
Are there villains, are there heroes? Who is the protagonist, who the antagonist? Is that character really so good? Is that person really so terrible? How do they consider the situation? 

How do other people see me?
If we spend our last hours or minutes of the night reading rather than watching television, we wake the next morning with thoughts less jumbled, moods less jangled. Reading has bequeathed what meditation promises. It has smoothed and focused us.
"Blue light" stimulation prevents slumber; I cannot, and I mean cannot, fall asleep without reading first, whether one page fifty. It calms me, soothes me, and eases me onto a serene plane as I leave the anxieties of the day behind.      
To read . . . perchance to dream . . . 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Turkey Brain

It seems none of us are immune to bias. While I have been more accustomed to religious observance as a means of discrimination, I have heard quite a bit about cookbooks versus textbooks. 

"You know, those girls," she sneers, "the only thing they know how to do is make challah."
I have not yet heard the scorn from the other side (like "Those girls who read for fun!") so it seems to be a currently one-sided prejudice. 

Such an accuser conjures an image of a frumpy bluestocking, but she was actually quite stylish, sporting a designer bag. I was then even more confused. I would have thought such disgust over such gross physicality as a delectable dinner would spill over into other aesthetics, such as label-worship.
I have, in recent years, become interested in cooking. If I am to truly do battle with the horrific diet of the typical American, I certainly have to be in a position to offer palatable alternatives. The process of extracting edibles from raw ingredients can be a complicated project, so to have it so derided as a pastime for the feeble-minded was certainly a puzzlement to me. 

I was fond of academia (until the professors' egos got in the way of the education); college, I found, was not strictly about learning—it was about thinking, to ponder the cultures and ways of many societies outside of our daily comprehension, and attempting to do so without judgement. 

We are all not meant to be the same; the world would be quite boring if we were. Marriages would be arranged by lotto; food would taste the same; fashion would require but one runway. 

If "that" girl knows how to make good challah but is not interested in the history of the Renaissance, God bless. But there are plenty of females who enjoy, say, both. I refuse to permit but two categories, "ignorant chef" or "hungry intellectual."

There is also a third alternative, of one who can't cook to save her life and flunked out of high school. She is also allowed to have her own strengths, her own accomplishments, outside of such a simple worldview. 

The truly well-read will acknowledge that an anthropological outlook is in order, and it behooves a graduate of higher education to step outside of her own standards and grant some goodwill to skills she does not possess. 

Can't we all just get along?  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hearken to My Cream

I've been trying to terrorize you people to put sunscreen on every day, and I don't know to how much success. For those stragglers, watch and weep:

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).

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. 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. 

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.     

Monday, August 11, 2014

Princess Lea Flies Again

I must be a glutton for punishment. 

Nearly two years ago I swore off liquid foundation. I just couldn't handle the disappointment anymore.
To recap, my skin tone is elusive enough (fair with a soupçon of yellow) that I usually have to blend two shades, as I do with my mineral makeup. For daily use, in terms of easy application and sufficient wear, mineral makeup really is great, especially in the summer months when my combination skin gets shiny real fast. I appear "dewy" instead of "shvitzy." 

A while back, in a moment of weakness, I got a sample of Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15 in Sand. I forgot about it until, following an accidentally violent glycolic acid treatment, I had a patch of flaking skin that had to be babied. Donning my usual mineral makeup before Shabbos would aggravate and highlight the boo-boo. 

I scrabbled about in a few drawers until I found the tiny container, whipped out the top-rated yet so far unused Sigma F80 flat kabuki brush, and applied.


Not only that, the coverage lasted way longer than the mineral makeup. Shabbos morning I carefully blotted away excess oil on my t-zone, and I was good to go. 

Okay, liquid foundation! I have been convinced. I was all set to purchase a full bottle, but the reviews online for the BB were less than ecstatic. Even though I had been receiving compliments, I decided to experiment.

Sephora has a Color IQ thingamajig into which you input the brand and color of your matching foundation, and they provide different options. It's less than infallible; with the different options I put in I got a different skin tone conclusions. To winnow down the options further: specifically long-wear formulations for combination/oily skin types that are also non-comedogenic, SPF would be nice, and they should be somewhat loved by other women (MakeupAlley and Sephora for user ratings).
After rigorous research, I was able to plunk down my carefully culled selections before a less-than-cheerful Sephora associate, and I bore home numerous, precious containers of samples to experiment with.

For all of these, I first applied Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 PA+++ to moisturize my skin, moved on to my eye makeup to allow it time to sink in, then the liquid foundation. (I have also dabbled with a makeup primer on top of the Mattifier and beneath the foundation, but quite frankly my results with the Mattifier has rendered the primer moot.)

All makeups were set with loose powder.

To the lab!

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Bone 1W1 and Sand 1W2: This foundation is, like, the most loved, ever. I had considered it beforehand and thought all options too dark without trying it on, but now with samples I could experiment calmly. "15-hour staying power," they say. Not only that, the color selection defies belief: THIRTY (30) options. THIRTY.
Conclusions: Oh, the divine yellow-ness! Is it so hard, cosmetic companies, to provide a range of shades? Finally, my face seems to match my neck!  Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer! Without a trace of doubt in my mind! I'm in love, I'm a believer, I couldn't leave her if I tried . . . Sing with me! (Read through the full lyrics; it is definitely the "I found the best makeup" song.)

Back up, PL. No need to announce the engagement yet. Let's see.

The design of the bottle is a real drag. No applicator, no pump, which makes overspillage, waste, and contamination a concern. Yet, if it is truly divine, I can overlook that. 

It keeps shine amazingly at bay; I didn't even know it mattifies. I had initially donned it at 7:45 on a sunny June morning; by 4:30, my t-zone was still matte, no blotting required. By 7, my face had that "dewy/shvitzy" finish, but really, it held out amazingly well. Nor was there any dreaded oxidation; the color remained the same throughout the day. It had settled into my pores somewhat, but I'm just impressed at its day-long performance. Good show, fellas, walk it off. Or do I mean wash it off? 

Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation in Light 45: This is full coverage, and supposedly lasts through Yimei Moshiach. Not quite, but "24-hour wear." I don't really require such serious coverage, but for Shabbos Face . . .

It also claims to absorb oil and hydrate the skin at the same time.
Conclusions: It is nicely yellow, but I think slightly too pale for my skin. I fetched from Sephora a sample of M52 to blend with the L45. I need just a touch of it to have it match my neck.

In terms of performance, it did a great job, even better, than the EL in keeping shine away. The color stayed true as well. 

At 9 p.m., I inspected my face carefully. The coverage seemed to have faded slightly on my noise, but that is preferable to having it settling into my pores and highlighting them. As for the rest of my face . . .  well, it looked an awful lot as though I had just applied the foundation

Stay calm, stay calm, deep breaths . . .



One lack: it doesn't have SPF. What this means (besides applying a stronger SPF beneath) is that it is flash-photography friendly. See, from what I've read, it is those SPF ingredients in foundation (like titanium dioxide) that can cause serious white-face when taking photos. Maybe now I can get a normal shot by weddings.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15 in Fair Sand and Light Sand: The consistency is more like a mousse, not really liquid, supposedly "weightless."
Conclusions: It's certainly heavier than the previous two; BB and EL are both quite liquidy in texture, KVD a trifle stiffer than that. For that thickness I thought the Tarte coverage would be better. Yet it's merely . . . eh, aright. 

The finish is actually a lot like mineral makeup, rather powdery and dry. It's also matte, which I like, but the color match is . . . eh, okay, as opposed to divine. Additionally, it performed just like my mineral makeup (such as highlighting dry areas), and I'm not in the market for another mineral makeup.

It did not make it to the next round. 

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation in Sand: How does it stand against the competition?

Conclusions: One Sunday I was pretty busy, with two simchas back to back. I applied my face at 4:30 for Party #1, changing only my clothing for Party #2. In the car to Party #2, at 7:15, my face was already "dewy/shvitzy," and could have used blotting. The makeup wasn't melting off, but with EL and KVD my face stayed matte for a lot longer.

We have two finalists: EL and KVD! Ding-ding-ding, let's get ready to ruuuuuuumble! 

Shabbos Face!  

That's right, the 25-hour Face-Off (pun intended)!

This took some time to figure out. One week EL, the next KVD, back and forth. They both seemed to perform pretty well. I was really dithering until Ma called it: 

"It's definitely this one," she insisted. 


The champion! It really looks as though I just applied it on Shabbos morning, which is totally ridonkulous. For those who need serious coverage, by the way, this will fit the bill.

As opposed to the EL, however, there are only 18 shades. Additionally, despite the fact I contacted Sephora to complain that when they added new shades, there is no description of those shades. "Light 49." That's it. Yellow? Golden? Neutral? Peach? Pink? Help a girl out! I had to go to the store, pump a dab of each onto my hand and peer at it in varying lights (natural sunlight is best). 

Those with problem skin tend to swoon over the KVD coverage, that just a little does an amazing job.       
The above video recommends applying with the fingers, but I tried it last week and didn't like the results. It went on too thick, and my face was so bleakly one shade that I lunged at my bronzer to apply contouring (I'm doing a refresher post on just that soon). 

My brush spreads the foundation in a delightfully sheer manner that doesn't obliterate my own skin tone. Therein, since not all skin types are the same, follow thy heart.

There is a reason I compare myself to the toughest Princess in the canon: Makeup quests are not for the faint of heart. I need a nap.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Stay Sober, My Friends

This is not happening.

Nope, it is. 

Me, along with a squirming panel of fellow eligible females, watched in bafflement and disgust as half of the men on the other side of the table labored at drinking themselves under it.

I didn't even want to be there, but when a neighbor calls up to invite you to one of those Shabbos lunch singles things you can't say no, or else be referred to as "that picky girl." Then, of course, that unarguable reasoning, the bane of my existence: "You never know." 

Well, I certainly didn't expect this

I thought this was a solitary incident, to be swiftly brushed under the rug; an error on the hosts' part that they actually offered Johnny Walker along with the chulent. But more and more bachelors aren't even bothering to shield their indiscreet alcohol habits from a less-than-impressed public. 

A "shadchan" mentioned to me that at her last singles' event, she was asked by more than one guy why they don't serve booze. 

Dude, guess.  

Another single female, entrapped in a similar Shabbos singles' event (to which I was thankfully not invited) stormed home and proclaimed, "They were all drunk!" 

I know those "The World's Most Interesting Man" ads are rather beguiling, my bachelors, but you chaps do realize that that's not how most women perceive bloodshot eyes and shaky hands, right? 

We associate it more with . . . 
Um, yeah. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Author: Bernard Cornwell

I was in the library, gleefully picking up a stack of requested books, when a fellow reader, a man in his 60s in a basketball jersey and shorts, caught sight of one of my items. 

"You're reading a Cornwellian series?" 

"Hm? Oh, yes." At the bottom of my pile was Sharpe's Waterloo, the 22nd book in the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell.  "I also really liked his Arthurian saga."
"My God," he breathed. "The perfect woman."

The Sharpe series is about a fictional British soldier and his experiences in historical battles. Despite the vivid descriptions of splashing blood, spilling guts, and the vagaries of early 19th century weaponry, I'm gripped.
Richard Sharpe, played by Sean Bean (sans his sardonic scar)
I really dug the Arthurian saga (which is officially referred to as The Warlord Chronicles), but I wasn't that crazy about the Grail Quest novels (although there is a stand-alone sequel, 1356, that I'm willing to try). Now visiting the wiki-page, I'm delighted to discover two more series I have yet to read, the Saxon Stories and the Starbuck Chronicles.

On! On!
Via, Sharpe's Eagle