Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume Three

What, did you think we were done? Oh my goodness no. We are done with the makeup, yes, but knowing as you do about my color issues, you must have guessed that the compulsion to have every color extends in other directions. Like this one.
This, my friends, is the kind of pencil/pen case you come home with if you shop at Walmart at odd hours of a Saturday morning. This item came home with me on the ill-fated bra buying trip.
I was stumbling around the office supply aisles and all the school stuff was out and suddenly the though streaked across my under-rested brain like a late breaking dementia: IMMA GET A PENCIL CASE!!!!
There were lots of sedate options; burgundy. Olive green. Even the ones with kittens looked less like they fell out of a young Ken Kesey's backpack. But I had to have this one. So have it I did. And here's whats inside.

We have Magnatank gel pens in red, blue, green, purple, and black. Papermate bold points in red and black, Dixon Tri-conderogas (on account of they are triangular, yo) and their special sharpener, two clicky pencils, some colored pencils, old school Bics (the lenders in my pencil case; these go to shady pen borrowers who may/may not return), some more gel pens, couple of Zebra Sarasas which are the best gel pens ever and come in maroon and forest green and other colors that make me want to weep with their perfection, two Pilot Varsity fountain pens that are grudgingly acceptable replacements for my cracked, old Parker fountain pen that the soulless bastards at Parker stopped making, more Papermate bold points, and various 3m Tape Flags and Tabs because you never know when you might run across something that begs to be tabbed and color coded and you NEED TO BE READY.

There was a time when this kind of pen stash was completely reasonable. I wrote letters. I had international pen friends. I wrote letters of encouragement in painstakingly transcribed Russian to prisoners for Amnesty International. I journalled, which is apparently what all of us did before we had this fabulous medium of self indulgence and confession.

These days, my commitment to the epistolary arts has not departed altogether but it is seriously diminished. I still journal, because there is some mental floss that simply does not require its icky bits to be flung into public scrutiny, whether it be an attack of preciousness or unassailable darkness. BUT BUT BUT....I NEED pens. I just need them. I still have to write checks and fill out ambulance paperwork and write more checks for the ambulance association and take notes in classes and carefully write appointments into my schedule book and sign birthday cards with a flourish. I need to leave notes to feed the cat and jot witticisms on bulletin boards. I need to scrawl "You, sir, are a selfish bastard" on a post-it and slap it on the driver's side window of a car parked across the last two parking spaces. (Do I carry post-its in my purse for this and similar purposes? Hells to the yes. )

But in the end, most of the pleasure just comes from spreading them out and looking at them.
I like to think it comes from a deeply seated need to see, feel, taste and experience LIFE.
In all the colors.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Acceptance in Words AND Action

Its so easy, and more than a little fun, to sit here at this computer and write my little fingers off talking about size acceptance, empowerment, and refusing to belittle and degrade yourself even in jest. Its even sometimes not all that hard to say the 'F' word in public and ignore the barely disguised flinch of others when you do. But the critical voice never goes away. She bides her time and waits for that breach in the wall, that weak spot of self-condemnation that might be overlooked for a while but will pop up and surprise you.

I was uploading some photos to Facebook last night, and I reflexively hesitated at one of myself. I found myself thinking, oh, you can see how fat my legs are in that picture. Uh huh. So? I'm on standby as an EMT. I'm trained to use everything in that truck. I know what to do if someone passes out, if one of the football players gets dropped on his head, breaks an ankle, if there's a diabetic emergency, a cardiac emergency, a seizure. But I looked at that picture and thought to myself, if I put that up people can see that I'm fat.


There. Worlds did not end. Civilizations did not fall. And its really kind of liberating to say "This is me" in words AND pictures.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume Two

Dims: 8 1/2 " X 11 3/4" X 10 1/2"
Loaded Weight: 14 Pounds
Contents: Fabulous

When last we spoke, we talked of the lips. The toolkit of color and spectacle, the vast possibility of attitude contained therein. But this is it, the IT that took me many moons to find. Previous 'makeup bags' and later 'makeup cases' were puny, feeble, and failed copies of this ultimate in pulchritudinous conveyance. They came in colors that mirrored the Barbie Dream Van. Their compartments were too small and too few. I wanted something that looked like it should be handcuffed to the wrist of a burly, darkly handsome Mossad agent in a $3,000 suit. (It even locks, which would excite me if I was still 12 and not the very kid makeup needed to be locked away FROM. )

Let's tour the facility, shall we?

The first stop is correction. Anything you could possibly need to cover, from a sleepless night to a sketchy memory involving Jose Cuervo, a couple of ill chosen karaoke numbers, and a guy named Paul who would call you if you hadn't given him your chiropractor's number can be taken care of out of this section here. Oh, and yeah. I got the new Cover Girl and Olay stuff. Because I'm not 23 anymore. I noticed that the Bare Minerals was accumulating in lines on my face in ways that were less flawless airbrushed perfection and more Kate Spade hobo bag. I'm over it.
The Girly Squee award in that section goes to that tiny tube of Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You'll feel slightly violated paying what that costs but BELIEVE ME its worth it. No amount of poor choices in an evening will budge whatever you put on top of that stuff.

Next stop, color! Most of the shadows on the green backdrop are out of Ulta color collections. (Forget Disney, people. Ulta is my happy place. You can shop online, but find a store near you and GO THERE. Its like Tractor Supply for girls. ) The rest of the color is either Bare Minerals, Smashbox, or cheap and fabulous drugstore finds. Wet and Wild has come a long way since I picked it up at Eckerd's with a new can of Aqua Net. They have a lot more than those $1 foot long black eyeliners we used to melt with a lighter.
Speaking of which....this is the eyeliner collection. So we've got your standard pencils, then again with the W & W because their liquid liner is fantastic and doesn't have that pokey brush that, in a moment of inattention, show you what its like to be blinded by a Sharpie, a bit of pricey Smashbox gel action, and my one bit of throwback that you'd have to pry from my cold dead hands, Mary Kay black cake eyeliner. They no longer make it. It takes practice to use. But you can get everything from a faint charcoal line to full on burlesque queen action depending on how much water you use and once it dries it goes NOWHERE until you want it to.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes I AM holding on to that shade of peacock blue until acid wash jeans come back.

Look at them. All neatly arranged like a symphony. On the left we have the basecoats and topcoats and sedate, tasteful, job interview-appropriate, do-your-grandma's-nails colors. In the middle back, the slightly bolder, arguably seasonal, but still normal colors. But on the right...well, let's take a closer look.
Let's see. We have black, yellow, orange, two shades of blue, two shades of green, and two shades of purple that, worn shimmer over flat, make my fingers look like they were dipped in awesome sauce. I call this my 'F-em if they can't take a joke' collection.

Oh, and the little bottles in the front? Embellishment. So I can do stuff like this. Tonight is Homecoming at our local high school. I have to go standby on the ambulance, so in addition to my Hornet's green ambulance sweatshirt, I'll be rocking these:

Its hard to focus on your own hand, particularly one as dainty as mine, but my middle finger is painted like a cheerleader sweater. (Do cheerleaders still wear sweaters?)
There's sparkles, y'all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moderate Excess, Volume One

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.
Gwyneth Paltrow

There are some things in life I can't get enough of. I thought it might be fun to give you a peek into a few of them.

I confess, further, that these are things I have obsessed over since childhood. In my pre-literate days I was fascinated with color. I'd line up the Mobil Travel Guides or McCormick's Cookbooks and stare at the spines, spellbound by the way they were all the same and yet different colors.

I have trouble when things come in colors. How can I choose just one? What if, one dreary day, I want something different? Or what if that old compulsion to line them up and just LOOK AT THEM overtakes me? You can imagine how long it took me to pick out and iPod shuffle. (In the end I opted for red.)

So anyway. Somewhere between being a ground in, denim clad tomboy and my big hair high school days, I discovered makeup. I found out that I could look at pictures in magazines and copy the way makeup was put on. In the 80's this was not hard, since the application tended to be of the paint-roller variety and the color contrasts were pretty stark. Every woman on Dynasty looked like she was one gold-beaded headdress and a g-string away from Carnival. But I was in the fourth grade, and my makeup collection was limited to giant stick glosses the size of a peppermill in various flavors like grape and cotton candy. I'll admit now (since I believe that the statute of limitation on sisterly beating has passed) that my earliest experimentation started with creeping into my sister's room when she wasn't home and parking myself on her vanity bench.

These days, I'm a makeup connoisseur, but not a makeup snob. I'm just as delighted with a cheap thing that works great (hello, NYC Color and Wet & Wild) as I am with my Smashbox and Tony and Tina. But my ALL THE COLORS thing hasn't abated. If anything, its gotten worse.

I start with the lipstick case.
My lipstick used to be neatly ensconced in the Tool Box. (We'll get to that.) But it quickly overflowed its allotted portion of the box, crowding the other neighbors and causing complaints. Well, maybe I should just show you.
Its hard to fit it all in to one picture. What we have here is a seperate compartment for champagne/beiges, one for lipliners and sharpeners, one for pinks, and one for fiery reds, for those days when only a retro hair roll and a bit of burlesque-queen black eyeliner will do. What you see in the middle is the entire collection of NYC Color Extreme Lip Glider Lip Gloss, including the three special edition colors that weren't in the NYC display but I found then anyway. Oh, and seven Chapsticks. And a Blistex in Raspberry Lemonade. And some Rosebud Salve.

Don't judge me, but sometimes I lay in bed in the wan predawn light, thinking about what color I'm going to wear that day. Then I build the rest of the 'look' around it. I take issue with Gwyneth on one point; beauty is being comfortable in your own skin and believing that you are worthy of a kickass red lipstick. Lipstick says, hey, I decorated myself today, and I'm happy with the result. (Red lipstick says a few more things but I'll leave those to you to figure out.)

In our next installment, we'll venture to the Tool Box, where we'll examine such pressing issues as:
Is there a place in your life for yellow nail polish? (Perhaps)
Does one really need five completely different types of eyeliner? (You bet your sweet bippy)
Ulta: Delightful retail establishment, or dangerous makeup crackhouse? (You be the judge.)