Thursday, May 31, 2012

A thousand wasted hours a day

I was just listening to the JV Club podcast with Jen Kirkman, and in it they talk about the music that influenced them as teens, and shared how much they loved The Cure's Disintegration album, which of course made me want to pull out my Cure playlist. Something about those long moody guitar intros take me straight back to high school.

The first The Cure song I remember hearing was In Between Days, still one of my favorites. I was in middle school. I immediately went out and bought Standing on a Beach, which was a greatest hits compilation that included that song. The real superfans, the ones who dressed like Robert Smith, looked down their noses at my Johnny-come-lately fandom - they owned Pornography on vinyl and I just had a cassette. But whatever, their last name was not the same as the name of the band so they were probably just jealous. And I'm pretty sure they didn't have to buy their album twice because they wore it out.

My first non-compilation The Cure album was Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, and it remains my favorite to this day. Sure it has some catchy poppy numbers like Why Can't I Be You and Just Like Heaven, but it was the moody If Only Tonight We Could Sleep and A Thousand Hours that really spoke to my angst-ridden teenage soul. And continues to speak to my inner 14-year-old.

   A thousand wasted hours a day, just to fill my heart for a second. 
   A thousand hours just thrown away, just to feel my heart for a second.

I mean, these lyrics were written specifically for angsty teenagers, right? Plus I love that the album cover was a giant pair of bright red lips....wait, is that where my red lipstick obsession first started?! (OMG, did I just have an epiphany while writing this?)

I know Disintegration is the favorite album of quite a few people, and I love quite a few songs from that album, but it's not the one I pull out to play from beginning to end on rainy days. That honor belongs to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, the album that reminds me of the girl I used to be.

   Yeah I know who you remind me of
   A girl I think I used to know
   I'd see her when the days got colder
   On those days when it felt like snow
   You know I even think that she stared like you
   She used to just stand there and stare
   And roll her eyes right up to heaven
   And make like I just wasn't there
   And she used to fall down a lot
  That girl was always falling again and again
  And I used to sometimes try to catch her,
  but never even caught her name

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Let them eat cake (but I'll pass)

I don't like cake. There. I said it. Go ahead and judge, I'm used it.

Look, I LOVE desserts. I have a neverending sweet tooth. I believe in eating ice cream year-round. I'm known around the office for almost always having a stash of chocolate. I like to bake, and have been told I'm pretty good at it. But I have never been a fan of cake.

This goes back as far as I can remember. As a kid, my least favorite part of going to a friend's birthday party was the part after singing "Happy Birthday" and blowing up the candles, because then came the cake distribution. My love of sweets was well-known, and I wasn't exactly a skinny kid, so of course every parent assumed I'd want a big chunk of cake....and they were all mistaken. My sense of tact wasn't exactly well-formed at the age of 5 or 6 (or today for that matter) so I'm pretty sure my "polite" decline involved some sort of face of disgust. Didn't matter if it was chocolate or vanilla or caramel cake....I wasn't having it. I'm pretty sure there was a temper tantrum that led to my early departure from a party because of a parent insisting I just try the cake. (I try to block out my memories of acting like a brat.) Now, if the parents were kind enough to have ice cream available, I could easily just pass on the cake and focus on the good stuff, but that was rarely the case.

I have a hard time explaining why I don't like traditional cake other than to say I prefer to consume my calories in a different format. I also don't like whipped cream on top of things, another thing that caused issues when I was a kid - who doesn't like whipped cream on their sundaes? Me. I prefer my calories to come from the hot fudge, thankyouverymuch.

Back to cake. I think a big part of my dislike is that I'm not really a fan of buttercream icing, no matter what it's flavored with. Put some cream cheese frosting on it, and I will give it a go. The thing is, I spent a significant portion of my formative years living outside of the U.S., and cream cheese was not something that was available at the time. Which means I was deprived of the wonders of cheesecake until I was in college. It must be said: cheesecake in its many variations does NOT fall into the dislike column.
(Nutella cheesecake, an original recipe which I have not time-traveled to share with my childhood self.) 

I don't dislike all cake - in addition to the aforementioned cheesecake, I'm a big fan of carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, fresh apple spice cake....basically, cake with stuff in it. And if that "stuff" is ice cream, I'm all over it. Ice cream cake is the bees knees, and discovering Carvel's masterpieces at the age of 7 permanently changed my birthday party outlook.

I know a lot of people love cupcakes, and there are many TV shows and bakeshops dedicated to them, but they are really not my thing. I think many are very pretty and decorative, but unless it's some sort of "weird" pineapple passionfruit almond cake or peanut butter chocolate chip with cream cheese frosting, I'm not going to be all that tempted to try it.

I firmly believe everyone should be able to have their cake and eat it too, I just ask that my cake come layered with chocolate ice cream instead of chocolate buttercream.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I put a sock in it
I love wearing my hair in a bun. I have since I was a kid. I think it looks way more sophisticated than a ponytail or a braid, the other two default ways I have of keeping my hair in control and out of my face. Why do only ballet dancers get to be called bunheads? I mean, what about Princess Leia? Can I use the term if I danced ballet for about a year in first grade? Do I get bonus points because I got to dance with the long tutu? I'm claiming the word for those of us who don't pliĆ©.

In the past year I've heard about both a novel and a TV show called Bunheads, apparently completely unrelated. I actually want to check both of them out - but they are both about dancers, not about women who like to shape their hair into donuts on their head just for the heck of it.  In the past week I've heard of a technique that I was previously unaware of to obtain a nice puffy bun - using a sock. It's quick, and is way more work appropriate than my previously mentioned default dos. I highly recommend Googling sock bun tutorial if you have longish hair that tends to drive you crazy in the summer.

So for now, and for probably a big chunk of the summer, I am wearing a sock in my hair. I am really digging being a (sock)bunhead.


I’m literally a red-headed stepchild. I’m not sure where the phrase comes from or why it’s negative, but I have to say in my case it’s been pretty positive. Other than a rough patch during my obnoxious teens, my stepmother and I have always gotten along and truly cared for each other.

I did grow up a redhead in a family with no redheads. My parents didn’t have red hair, and although two of my aunts had reddish hair, they started dying it before I was born, so it looked nothing like mine. Not sure what genetic mutation caused my hair color, but I’ve always embraced it…..I’ve also always clung to other redheads in pop culture, because I never saw them in my day-to-day life.

The first famous redhead I remember embracing was Annie. She sang some catchy tunes and ended up living in a sweet mansion, but I was NOT a fan of her signature red dress – not a flattering shade (her hair needed a good deep conditioning mask too.)  The soundtrack to the movie got A LOT of play on my little plastic record player as a kid, but unlike say, Wonder Woman, I never dressed up as Annie.
Another redhead who made a big impact on me was one Anne of Green Gables, aka Anne Shirley. One of my aunts (different one, without reddish hair) gave me a book that contained a compilation of several stories starring this feisty/fanciful/sensitive Canadian redhead when I was in middle school. I instantly found a kindred spirit, and had to read everything L.M. Montgomery wrote about her. My love of Anne carried over to the 80s miniseries based on the books, and still has me talking about kindred spirits some 25+ years later.

My soft spot for redheads carried over to music. I loved that both Alison Moyet and the lead singer from T’Pau had strong voices and catchy tunes. In the heyday of music videos, I not only loved their music, but also tried to recreate their looks; unfortunately all that black eye liner didn’t do me any favors.  Another favorite I love to this day is Cyndi Lauper– even if her red hair was fake.

The redhead that probably made the biggest impact on my young life was one Molly Ringwald. I was first introduced to her while watching Sixteen Candles at a sleepover at a friend’s house. I totally related to her character Sam, and rooted for her and that dreamy Jake Ryan. Molly and John Hughes made two other movies that to me are classics: The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. I wanted to dress like Claire in The Breakfast Club (and coveted her nail polish color) and was inspired to take fashion risks by Andie in Pretty in Pink. So maybe Molly's other 80s work wasn't my cup of tea, not a huge fan of The Pick-Up Artist or For Keeps or Fresh Horses, but I definitely saw them all, and looked to Molly and her on-screen characters for fashion and makeup tips.

(Seriously, what was that polish color?)
Looking back at all the redheads that influenced my youth, it’s nice to see that they were spunky characters that carved their own paths. They may have inspired some poor fashion choices on my part, but as far as role models from pop culture go, I could have done a lot worse.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A bag full of kisses

I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not love makeup. I was one of those little girls that you see trying to play grown-up while applying clown face makeup at age 5. Not only was I in my 4th grade play, I appointed myself the head makeup artist for that production. My attempts to show off all the techniques I had learned reading Seventeen magazine, trying to contour and do smokey eyes on my peers, were rejected. Believe it or not, my work was ruled too subtle for the stage. If only Herb Ritts had been around, I know my work would've KILLED in editorial. I didn't actually learn to apply stage makeup until high school drama club - it only took one production for me to appoint myself makeup artist assistant.

I wasn't allowed to wear makeup off-stage until middle school - and even then I was only allowed to graduate from cherry Chap Stick to lip gloss, but that did not stop me from saving my money and pouring over magazines trying to ensure that by the time I was able to purchase the real stuff, I was prepared. So when I finally started buying makeup, I went straight for department-store brands, and just knew I could apply mascara without poking my eye out. (Okay, I wasn't living in the US at the time, so Revlon and Max Factor were department store brands for me.)

Long story short, I fell into a signature look pretty early on - mascara, some eyeliner, an earthy brownish-red lipstick, and concealer as needed. I found the perfect shade of red for me pretty early on: not too bright, a little orangy, didn't clash with my red hair. How often does one find the perfect shade of lipstick in HIGH SCHOOL?! Really, I want to know, how often does that happen? Problem is, I graduated and came back to the US for college. And not too long after I started my higher education, I found out that Max Factor had discontinued that particular shade of lipstick. (I can't remember the name. It's been 20 years. It was something about the earth or clay.) Then I lost my last, precious tube. And THEN they stopped selling Max Factor in the 'states. So, as any lifelong makeup lover does, I began my search for a dupe of that illusive shade.

I lost that tube in 1991. It is now 2012. I cannot tell you how many tubes of red lipstick I've purchased in the past 21 years. I've tried department store, drug store, at-home-sales companies...and although I have found many, many lipsticks I've liked, none have been that perfectly flattering shade.

This all came out of my purse. I carry a big purse.

Lipstick is my default makeup purchase. If I'm feeling a little down, all it takes is a new tube to lift up my mood. I literally pulled all of that haul in the picture above from my purse. That isn't counting everything I have at home. I like, even love, all the lipsticks I currently own. But still, I look at pictures of me in that red shade and I go back to the store, hoping to find the tube that will recapture the magic.

What can I say other than I totally agreed with Peggy when she said "I don't think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box." That was in the Mad Men season 1 episode titled"A Basket of Kisses," otherwise known as the episode where I fell in love with the show.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

First post

So, I've started a blog. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to build up a huge army of readers, but it should be way to share things I think are cool or funny in more than 140-characters, and possibly work on my writing. It's either that or actually start working on the novel I thought of in 1999 - and I'm way too much of a procrastinator for that.
For this first post, thought I'd start off by sharing some random facts about myself, maybe setting the tone for what's to come.

  • I think music feeds the soul. If you take a look at my music collection, you'll see that this means my soul is made up mostly of cheese. (I love cheese.)
  • I'm a sucker for fresh, warm bread. I find it almost impossible to resist, and do not understand or relate to people who don’t find it tempting. (Warm bread + soft cheese = fabulous)
  • Should I ever win the lottery, I'm spending a big chunk of the winnings just traveling the world.  
  • I love Chinese food, and have eaten at Chinese restaurants in 6 different countries and visited 6 cities’ Chinatowns. I think the movie Eat Drink Man Woman is food porn. As part of my tour of the world, I want to continue trying different interpretations of this fine cuisine, particularly the regional variations in its country of origin. 
  • I still know the choreography for Janet Jackson's "Miss You Much" video. 
  • My most embarrassing moment is more of a highlight reel than just one single event. 
  • I love to travel to new places, but hate to fly and hate to drive. Despite my dislike of getting there, have visited 10 countries and 30 US states.
  • I am constantly looking for the perfect lipstick, and still miss that one that was discontinued circa 1991.
  • As of today, I have rated 3182 movies on Netflix. Most of it is NOT highbrow…10 of those ratings are for movies starring one Mr. Freddie Prinze Jr.
  • I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry at commercials, listening to the radio, while reading, watching ESPN, sometimes sunshine in my eyes can make me cry. (Off to listen to John Denver now.) Basically, I have to have tissues with me at all times.
Hope that those of you reading this enjoy it, overlook the gross grammatical errors that I will surely have, and let all the sarcasm and snark slide.