Superman vs Batman

People debate the merits of comic book heroes all the time. Much has been made of Superman but I am always-and-a-day Team Batman. Here’s why:
1) Superman’s powers are fickle. Walk up to him while wearing the wrong jewelry and he’s screwed. His powers depend upon keeping a certain type of rock out of his immediate vicinity. Batman on the other hand, is a total ninja. His powers are his powers and he is ready to rock-and-roll at a moment’s notice.
2) Superman’s livelihood is dependent upon keeping his cover at the newspaper office. Batman is his own boss.
3) Superman is frankly unpredictable. Who knows what the long-term effects of indestructibility really are, or if indeed he truly is indestructible (see 1 above). Invincibility is not all it’s cracked up to be. He can decide to get big-headed and then where would poor Lois be? Batman is aware of his mortality and has a fairly healthy sense of humility to boot.

In any case, I think that the DC lineup is overall pretty lame. I mean seriously, who really wants to attend a costume party as Aquaman?

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Smash The Stash 2018 Challenge

January 2018 Empties

These are the beauty items that I used up in January.

My Yays :

The It’s a Ten Plus Keratin Miracle Leave in is really a fifteen. My Mane loved it. I will purchase the full size when finances permit.

I got the Sunday Riley Pretty Young Thing set at Sephora in October. My skin’s overall quality improved after a mere week of usage. Of the three items in the kit, my favorite was Good Genes. However–! I admit that I feel kinda gypped on the price. Those bottles are a teensy tiny 0.5 ounces-or-less per item for a whopping $90. I had thought that I was getting at least an ounce of product per item ; oh well, we live and learn. I will get by with Sephora samples until I can afford the full size.

The Dr. Weil Mega Bright is my favorite SPF for face, décolletage and shoulders. I have two other SPF lotions to consume before I can repurchase. But I will repurchase. It has a lovely citrusy scent and absorbs pretty well though it can be slightly greasy on the face.

Another item that will be replenished albeit with samples is the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. It smells so good that I sometimes don’t even bother with perfume.

The jojoba oil I mix with a few drops with Jamaican black castor oil and apply to my hairline. It’s a great cuticle oil as well. I’m not married to any brand but this one is sold at my neighborhood Target.

The Korres Fig body wash is a great moisturizing body wash. Good for those days when the skin is feeling parched from the heating. Neutrogena Grapefruit Acne Wash is my weapon against bacne. I know, I know, they have a body wash in the same scent but this works better for me. Slap it on your trusty net sponge, lather across the back and let sit while doing other in-shower things. Rinse off with whatever other body wash is out to play that morning and Bob’s your uncle.

My Nays:

The two items that I don’t anticipate repurchasing are the Guerlain Cils D’Enfer mascara and the Marajó shampoo/ conditioner. I got the mascara from an Ipsy bag. It was rather clumpy and towards the end it irritated my eyes. The Marajó was a sample from Sephora. It purports to be gently moisturizing but it really didn’t impact my curls. It smelled nice and all, but I don’t see myself purchasing a $30 product that doesn’t make my curls go whizz-bang, you know?

The Challenge Continues!

February 2018 Empties

The challenge continues! In February, my goal was to get rid of as many of those shop samples as humanly possible. So that little pouch holds a couple of sample pots of Sunday Riley Good Genes and a Smashbox primer sachet. The teensy tiny tube is a toothpaste I got on a Lufthansa flight last year.

My Yays:

Anastasia Beverley Hills brow pencil in Dark Brown. I used that bad boy until there was nothing left to sharpen. I find it so beautiful against my skin and it doesn’t give one those blocky Instagram brows.

I was sad to see the Too Faced Hangover Rx primer go. I first got one in an Ipsy bag, and didn’t even let that finish before ordering this from Sephora. I just have to finish up some other primers that have been in my kit ,then I am going in on a full size in time for summer. This is billed as a primer but I use it as a moisturizer in the summer.

La Roche has some really good SPFs that are in my current rotation, so I thought to try the Micellar Water which turned out to be terrific. Will definitely repurchase.

Yes, yes , I know that Shea Moisture was cancelled in the Natural Hair community last year, but I still have a bunch of products in my Mane Event box. This JBCO Strengthen and Restore Styling Lotion soaks right into my curls and smells yummy. I am kind of over the cloying artificial coconut scent that suffuses many products geared for moisturizing the curls.

Jamila henna powder(black) goes in my conditioner. It makes my strands super strengthened which is what they need after that terrible episode of anemia. An aside : had a bit of a whoops! moment this past Sunday and kinda dyed my nails indigo. Not feeling the Morticia Addams vibe but at least my nails will be stronger , no?

Nays:

I was disappointed in the LaRoche Facial wash . It came in a care package I received on campus. It doesn’t take off makeup very efficiently so you definitely need to do another cleansing step with this. Will use up the other sample I have or give it away, but will stick to my Purity wash.

Anthony Facial lotion turned out too watery for my liking. I didn’t quite finish it because I frankly got fed up with trying to repurpose it : no joy, even as a hand lotion for my purse.

Final nay is the Glam Glow mask in the black tube. It worked fine but the bits of twig and pieces of leaves are a wee bit much to handle. Far better is that lovely mask in the aqua pot. It has that coconut scent but it is a lifesaver when the skin is parched. Use that overnight if you are sleeping in an overheated room.

All the stuff they don’t tell you about post-op recovery.

Last January, upon admission to the hospital for a fibroid embolization, a pre-op CAT scan unexpectedly discovered that I had a suspicious growth on my left kidney. My first thought upon hearing of a potentially cancerous growth was, “ Geez, I come in for one thing…”. But as the sober looking oncologists (yes, the tech summoned two cancer specialists to my side) explained, growths on the kidney are always assumed to be cancerous unless otherwise proven. They follow a sort of “cut first, ask questions after” approach with kidney tumors. And they don’t attempt kidney tumor removals by keyhole operations lest, G-d forbid , the process inadvertently seeds a patient’s insides with loose cancer cells. I was certainly alarmed by this development but the team was very reassuring and they took exceptionally good care of me the whole time. I say now that if the pain of the massive fibroids (that had me looking as though I was carrying a second trimester pregnancy) did nothing else for me, they made me so miserable that January morning that someone was forced to try and track down another possible source of the pain. Up to that day, I had had several MRIs but a CAT scan will pick up items that do not show on other tests. So thank heavens for whomever decided to order the impromptu CAT.

I had the scheduled UFE the following morning, which went well, then returned eight days later to have what ended up to be about half  of my left kidney removed. In retrospect, I honestly wasn’t emotionally prepared for the impact of having two major surgeries within a fortnight. I couldn’t have been. Nor did I know what to expect afterwards, and no one was really volunteering a great deal of information about the aftermath. The focus was to quickly remove a potentially cancerous tumor from my body as swiftly as possible. Recovery has been steady but boy, it’s been fascinating.

1. The first two months after a deep incision are fraught with unexpected agonies. Take the simple act of coughing. “Hold a pillow over your side when you need to cough,” they said. “That way it won’t hurt.” Yeah. Right. I need to find out who started that story. I am absolutely going to make him and whichever of his descendants I catch into My. BITCHES. Just saying.

2. The incision site will feel weirdly numb for many moons afterwards even after it’s properly healed over. It will be the oddest feeling when you go to scratch the area and can feel your nails on the surface of your skin just fine, but have the impression that there is cotton wadding in the underlying muscle. Never fear, they didn’t leave anything inside me—I asked and someone was kind enough to check just to humor me. I started to regain the feeling in my side after starting to massage the area twice a day with castor oil.

3. If pre-operation, you previously used to like carrying a backpack,  just know that post-operation you won’t at all like the alarming sensation of your lateral incision scar trying to stretch with you as you lean back to hoist the straps on. You will quickly switch to carrying a tote bag, or at least the smallest bag that can contain all your necessities.

4. No one warned me that after the UFE, I would be draining a weird vaginal discharge every day. Every single day. For a whole year. Or that it would smell like…frankfurter water? So no, I’m not even dreaming of the romance department. I can’t bring myself to have to try and explain to anyone why my sheets might smell like a hot-dog cart.

5. For that matter, no one thought to mention that the fibroids wouldn’t shrink that much. So I no longer look like I’m five months pregnant . Now I only look like I’m four months along. So I still wear a Colombian faja style shapewear most days.

6. This one is a “me” thing, but no one told me that I would become obsessed with aiming for the maximum recommended water intake. I’m concerned about getting kidney stones with the 1.5 kidneys I have to work with. I fret when I don’t manage to drink six glasses of water daily. And I don’t believe that soda water and tea count.

These are a few of the reasons why I’m set and determined to make it through medical school. If I can help or reassure even one other poor woman going through the changes that I’m going through right now, it’ll be worth it.

Crowning glory

There is something inspiring about developing a way to take care of yourself. I have never liked the sense of feeling at the mercy of whosoever is going to be working on my hair. What if they happen to be in a sour mood? What if they decide to cancel at the last moment, leaving me to walk around looking topsy-turvy ? Or what if they simply don’t have a blind clue what-all they are about and are simply mucking about in my hair?

The last woman I had give me a flat press was comically inept. She was recommended by Tillie ( remember her?) whose hair is always on point. However, the woman simply did not have experience with type 4 hair and it showed. She tried to dry my hair unstretched, and then tried to go through it with a comb so small that it almost snapped. I smiled, produced my own wide tooth comb and detangled it myself, thank you. She ended up heat damaging my Mane who in turn expressed her outrage by converting to hay within 24 hours. My friend Flint said that it looked like I’d stuck my finger in a wall socket. This was almost a year ago. Well, this time I refused to cut off all my hair again. I continued alternating box braids with ponytails, deep conditioning every fortnight, and trimming my hair in twists every few weeks. Finally, ten months later, the worst of the heat damage is now gone. Because I’m on an iron regimen to combat severe anemia, my hair is no longer breaking. For 90 days I took a popular hair,skin and nails vitamin tablet which probably didn’t hurt. I’m now ( rejoice, my heart!) looking at hair grazing my collarbones once again.

This summer, I decided to teach myself how to do crochet braids. For real this time. In summer 2016 , I had tried to prepare my own crochet braids with the loose braiding hair extensions but ended with a tangled mess. I felt a bit frustrated and took the rest of the extension hair to my braider for regular box braids not in defeat, but more like in a tactical retreat. I had hoped to try again during the winter break. But winter 2016 into 2017 saw me in the hospital. The reason for that sojourn actually had some bearing to do with the general poor state of my hair, but that’s another post.

A couple of months post-hospital, I began henna gloss treatments. The first time I immediately felt a huge boost to the texture and density. As I rinsed my hair out it felt almost like I were handling a really good wig. My hair hasn’t felt so luxurious in a long time. I enjoyed a twist-out or two for the first time in eighteen months.

Then it was back to school season and I decided to revisit the crochet braids. I must’ve watched YouTube tutorials for a week but I finally got up the gumption. I marched down to the beauty supply shop and got three packages of pre-twisted hair. Having already washed, henna treated and deep conditioned the Mane, on the last Saturday afternoon of August I sat down and installed crochet braids. It took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to do my hair from sectioning, setting the mini-twists then hooking in the extensions. I was going big or going home on this job: the following day was the wedding of my dear friends, so I really needed to not roll up at my first chuppah looking crazy.

It looked incredible!

How I Bit the Apple: A comparison of the Apple iPad versus the Amazon Kindle Fire.

I first got onto the tablet bandwagon with a Kindle in 2011. I liked the idea of being able to cart around my substantial personal library in a piece of hardware that could fit into my purse. I have purchased several different iterations of the Kindle since then.Recently, I found myself wanting to do more with my tablet than access the internet and read books. I have a growing need to be able to work on class assignments on the go. While I can actually knock out a paper on the Kindle in a pinch, I feel that my 7” Kindle Fire screen is simply too small for me to do this comfortably.

I am not in the habit of buying the most current phone or computer the moment it lands on the market. I am more about functionality than sexiness in my electronics. I am usually the lady to purchase a laptop or a mobile phone and work with it until it needs a decent Christian burial. However, dissatisfaction with my Android phone’s storage performance, some major accessibility issues with my new Kindle Fire and certain health-related concerns made me, nay forced me to begin to reassess my options. I have never been attracted to the Barnes and Noble Nook. I was underwhelmed by most other brands. And unfortunately for their advertising department, despite the delightfully choreographed commercial campaign, the Microsoft Surface Pro failed to draw me in either. My online searches kept suggesting the iPad (thanks,Google AdWords). So,I went to the site and pored over the system specifications information, kvetched a bit about prices but finally decided to be fair and at least see what all the kerfuffle is about Apple products. I mean, there has to be a reason that their stock traded at $140.64 (on Friday March 24).
Now just to be clear, I have always been somewhat cagey about Apple. I see the Apple logo and I think, “ iPad, iPhone, iSeeYou”. The thought of a device designed to capture my thumbprint for “security purposes” sends a frisson of dread down my neck. It just feels too much like Big Brother for me. And frankly, those prices! I refuse on principle to spend more on a telephone than I would on a computer. It just seems very frivolous to splash out $800 on a device that is meant primarily to send and receive phone calls. Um, it is a mobile telephone, after all. Nevertheless, I stand in need of a working tablet, and in the name of fair consideration , I decided to grant the latest iPad a fair trial.
I visited the Apple Store at Garden State Plaza to investigate the Apple iPad in person. The store itself is actually pretty groovy: a long, futuristic hall with rows of tables, each full of snazzy looking display models. Apple technicians in their blue polo shirts, lapels blazoned with the familiar logo (now, that is highly symbolic– an apple with a single bite taken out of it–shades of Eden!), mill about offering sales advice and tutorials. I was told that they actually hold classes to teach customers how to get the best out of their shiny new phones and tablets. Well! I had better find out if I can get college credit for attending a class, hadn’t I?
Now I wasn’t going in just to see how pretty the iPad is. My first consideration was the size and weight of the tablet. I need comparative portability to that provided by Amazon Kindle: whatever I get needs to fit into my tote bag without weighing me down since health issues restrict me for the time being from bringing my laptop along in a backpack. Next, I need reasonable storage. I plan to use the tablet in class, hence the next criteria, ease of use as a writing interface. Storage is also important. I have had my share of horror stories involving lost college work ( my transcript has a stack of incompletes from last semester as a result, whole other post right there), so I need reassurance that I can retrieve work on demand. I therefore need WiFi access and cloud services. Finally, I want a tablet to look like something that I paid decent money for.
Now, while Amazon Kindles generally meet the standard for portability and for affordability (Kindle Fire sells between $40 and $90), I was greatly disappointed by the poor overall performance of the latest Kindle Fire. For one thing, the touchscreen is frustratingly unresponsive. The previous Kindle Fire 6 accustomed me to the Swype feature, something absent from this one. The screen resolution is not incredibly sharp. The actual tablet has the objectionable heft and feel of a cheap plastic toy, not to mention ridiculously garish color options– neon shades of tangerine, magenta and electric blue — compelling me to encase it so as not to look silly in public. I am a woman grown. I certainly do not wish to appear to the casual passerby to be playing video games with a children’s toy when I am in fact going about serious business. And speaking of business, to my chagrin I am unable to utilize critical productivity applications on the new Fire. I need access to either Word or Google Docs to edit academic work on the go. But apparently, the Google Docs app for Kindle has not been available for download in over a year and remains unavailable at this time. Bummer. The only improvement over the older version that I can find is that the Kindle now has a port for a micro USB. As far as every other feature I expected in a tablet, I was sorely let down. Boo, Amazon. Boo, hiss.
I finally checked out a review from the industry website, Trusted Reviews (why not?), and I found this nifty table:
Here’s a full comparison of the new 9.7-inch iPad (2017) specs, compared to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2

New iPad (2017)

iPad Pro (2016)

iPad Air 2 (2014)

Screen

9.7 inches

9.7 inches

9.7 inches

Display Resolution

2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264ppi)

2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264ppi)

2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264ppi)

Dimensions

240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm

240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm

240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm

Weight

469 / 478 grams

437 / 444 grams

437 / 444 grams

Chipset

Apple A9

Apple A9X

Apple A8X

RAM

TBC

2GB

2GB

Storage

32GB / 128GB

32GB / 128GB / 256GB

16GB / 32GB / 64GB / 128GB

Primary Camera

8 megapixels, f/2.4

12 megapixels, f/2.2

8 megapixels, f/2.4

Secondary Camera

1.2 megapixels, f/2.2

5 megapixels, f/2.2

1.2 megapixels, f/2.2

Connectivity

Wi-Fi (LTE optional)

Wi-Fi (LTE optional)

Wi-Fi (LTE optional)

Charging Cable

Lightning

Lightning

Lightning

Fingerprint Scanner

Touch ID

Touch ID

Touch ID

Battery

32.4Wh (10-hour life)

27.9WH (10-hour life)

27.62Wh (10-hour life)

Colours

Space Grey, Silver, Gold

Space Grey, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold

Space Grey, Silver, Gold

image: http://static.trustedreviews.com/94/00003d6f4/d36b/new-ipad-2020.jpg

Armed with my checklist, I ordered the new release (March 24, 2017) iPad, receiving it about a week later. The size is comparable to a standard book. Weighing in at just under a pound, it fits nicely into my tote bag, settling snugly into the side pocket. Despite the lightness, it nevertheless has a pleasant heft to it. You just feel like you are holding something substantial. My first order of business was to download the Google Drive app for iPad. Wouldn’t you know, but it works like a charm, granting me immediate access to my documents in Drive. Deliberately keeping the plastic film on the touchscreen, I happily discovered that I can nevertheless zoom in and out, enlarging text with the flick of my fingertips. Screen size is just right for a tablet. It is aesthetically superior to the Kindle in design, in material and in color choices. When I asked about storage capabilities, the phone representative told me that the complete works of Shakespeare would consume just under 5 megabytes of the possible 32 to 64 gigabytes available in a new release iPad. I can also use the virtual iCloud storage if need be.

After having used my iPad for about six weeks, I find very little to be desired. It is just about perfect for my college work needs as I can simultaneously do online research and type up my work on the go. However, I am still gaining familiarity with the iOS. I did find out one thing: your iPhone and iPad will ring in unison if you don’t disable the sharing feature, even if the phone is on silent (I am so sorry, Professor I. !). And I got my iPad at a small discount from the Apple Education Portal, saving $20 on a $330 device. Just because I’m slightly nervous about such a pricey device, I also plumped for the 2 year insurance. I’ll probably never need it as I am quite careful with my devices, but I spent another $7.99 on a screen protector plus a total of $20-odd more on cover cases. In all, I can say that I am enjoying my little foray into the Dark Side. The Apple tastes pretty good.

Always getting duped.

Not because I’m gullible but because I’m prudent. Let me clarify. You see, I allow myself a set number of high end cosmetic purchases annually. I have gotten really fond of makeup but I have to make thoughtful, considered choices that won’t break the bank. I have almost made a vocation out of going to the makeup counters at department stores and messing about with the lotions and potions, figuring out what items will earn a spot in my little (and I do mean “little”) toilette area.
A practice that has served me well for years is to find a similar product from the drugstore to practice with first before shelling out the big bucks. For instance, in 2012 when I was considering purchasing the NARS bronzer-blush duo, I practiced with a comparable $3 e.l.f compact just to see if I even liked the concept. Turned out that while I did like the contoured look I came to feel that it would be too much hassle for everyday. So I didn’t end up essentially burying $42 in my makeup bag when I could have better spent the funds on other skin care or hair care products. That said, I have purchased –and thoroughly enjoyed the use of– three other NARS blush shades over the years without a prior test run at the drugstore. When the nude lip regained popularity, I searched the drugstore for my ideal “my-lips-but-better” shade before plonking down the moola for higher quality tubes from MAC and Hourglass in similar colors. I mastered the art of the groomed brow with the aid of $3 eyebrow kits from NYC and e.l.f and they proved more satisfactory than the $23 Anastasia Beverly Hills kit, no matter how you want to dice it.

Skin care is pretty important to me. In my mission to keep my skin looking like porcelain, I’ve gone through a great many samplers from the department store looking for The One Cream That Rules Them All.  When I moved back to the States for good, I asked my cousin who has exquisite-looking (but alas, exquisitely sensitive skin) for her best picks from the drugstore.She pointed me towards Basis bar soap and Aveeno. Since the only bar soap I like –and even at that only on my body– is the original Dove beauty bar, I tried Aveeno Positively Radiant facial wash and was delighted. I have loved it ever since. Sometime later I decided that I wanted to get all fancy. I recalled a product that my late sister had used for a while but discontinued when the cost of importing it to Nigeria became prohibitive. One trip to Macy’s later, and the Clinique 3-step skin care products have been in fierce competition with the drugstore Aveeno Positively Radiant line ever since. I’ve reached detente by maintaining a supply of both sets of products side-by-side in my closet and alternating between them as the whim strikes.

 

An effortlessly delightful collection.

Mary Kay lipstick heart

Image courtesy Mary Kay Inc.

 

In my quest for a more efficient, uncluttered lifestyle, I’ve  watched hours of Project 333 , Project Pan and other minimalist-inspired videos seeking inspiration and encouragement. I am in the process of streamlining my clothing and curating my possessions to include only specimens of the highest quality that I can afford of their kind. My desire is for quality over quantity: I would rather own two or three really high-end lip products from prestigious brands like NARS or Hourglass than have twenty cheap, waxy tubes of lipstick. In my current state of affairs, interspersed among the items that I consider to be enhancements to my quality of life are other items that I wouldn’t consider essential to either life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. And whereas some objects may have a legitimate, though infrequent usefulness, certain others are mere filler. My aim is to establish the gold standard in what I choose to adorn my space with.

To this end, I have undertaken a progressive “renaissance project” for this year: by December 2016 my goal is to have refined the very best of my clothing and cosmetics down to whatever might fit into two compact pieces of luggage. What I have done in this first phase is to place all my clothes into two large suitcases, then set aside two dozen empty hangers and two carry-on sized suitcases empty and waiting.  Working  by season, I get dressed with clothes selected from the large suitcases then put them away into the smaller cases at the close of day. What I hope to achieve at the end of each season is to see what makes it into the carry-on bags. Those items will be re-hung on the clothes rack that I am replacing my Ikea wardrobe with come Spring 2016, and the rest will either go into storage or be sold/donated. My shoes and accessories are already at a manageable amount but then I still have to ask,why do women find it so hard to discard busted-up shoes? Honestly, there are a couple of pairs of shoes in there that deserve a decent Christian burial!

Last November, I sorted through an unexpectedly large hair product stash (I buy a lot of  conditioners and the like by stacking coupons during drugstore sales) and gathered any partially-used deep conditioners and what-not that I could find into a soft sided organizing cube that lives on my bedside shelf. My goal here is to use up any five of the lot by February 2016 and to enter Summer 2016 with a collection of no more than perhaps 10 items in this bin in a new,unopened state. My revised “Mane Event Box” should eventually include one hair gel, one pomade or edge control product, one jar of shea butter product, one jar of 100% coconut oil, two alternate co-wash products, one leave-in conditioner and two alternate deep conditioning masques in addition to a basic set of heat styling products (the two heat-protective serums and a keratin mist) that currently reside in a Dopp kit under the bathroom sink. Reducing the general population of the use-it-up bin probably won’t prove too difficult since I am pretty generous when applying conditioner. Additionally, since I went back to keeping my hair in ponytail styles (see my post “Time Out” for why) I have already completely emptied four out of the posse of products that I began the challenge with last November. The only hair products excluded from the use-it-down program are my heat styling products. Even if I tried, I don’t believe that I heat style frequently enough to use most of that lot down anytime this year.

Color cosmetics are a bit tougher for me deal with as I like playing with my pretties. However, my aim here is to ensure that, come December, I won’t have much more than can fit into the acrylic cosmetic organizer I purchased on Amazon last summer. My organizer is a two piece set: a stackable upper unit with compartments for a dozen lipsticks, spaces for longer items such as lip and eye pencils or makeup brushes and a square section to house a few jars of lotion , and a rectangular 3-drawer unit. The drawers currently house whatever is in the current month’s rotation of eye makeup, facial makeup, blushes and so forth with the appropriate brushes. This arrangement means for instance, that I can simply pull out my dedicated eye makeup drawer from the unit and place it on the dresser as I work. All the required brushes, my eyeliner pencils and the eyeshadow palette currently in rotation are collated into this drawer. When eyes are done, I move onto the drawer dedicated to the next step– in my case, foundation, then onto blush, highlight and finishing powder. I currently own around a dozen lipsticks, but I have six in active use at a time. My goal for makeup is to use up any two of my currently opened products per month.That can mean a sample-sized lipstick and an eye-liner pencil, or an eye cream and a lotion or a face wash and a clay mask. Additionally, I am planning to hit pan on a couple of individual eye shadows in any palette on active rotation about every other month.

I am starting to really enjoy this challenge. A huge advantage of this process has been that I’m deliberately pinpointing those beauty and hair products that I genuinely love and would repurchase in the future. Should I encounter a particular product that I don’t care so much for, I will simply use it up or pass it along with a courteous farewell and a sense of genuine gratitude for its contribution to my life. Over the course of time I have become all about rediscovering  those things in my life that effortlessly delight me. I wouldn’t call myself minimalist in the strictest sense, but I am more focused upon consciously possessing whatever I choose to own and  encapsulating it into a curated collection of a few beautiful and elegant things that can feed my sense of joy.

 

 

Dress like you mean it.

Image

Brand-Nude-pumps-high-heels-shoes-women-pointed-toe-high-heels-pumps-thin-heels-shoes-sexyA few months ago, I was taken to the ER from campus in a state of semi-collapse. There I was, hooked up to blood pressure monitors , IV lines and an EKG machine, with an oxygen mask on and wires going everywhere. Suddenly I started laughing. The nurse looked at me as if I was losing my mind and asked what was so funny. I replied, “Well I’m glad I took my mom and grandmother seriously when they warned us to always wear nice underpinnings when you leave the house!” The entire floor burst into peals of laughter. When she caught her breath again, she remarked that she had noticed that I was probably the youngest woman she had ever seen come into the ER wearing pantyhose, full slip and matching panties and bra on a regular weekday morning. Someone else remarked, “Well, that’s the benefit of good old fashioned ladylike upbringing right there.”

I have always taken my appearance seriously. I might have once tended toward safe and perhaps even a little boring but never was I unkempt. In recent years I’ve begun to venture towards more trendy looks. I don’t care for the boyfriend jean or distressed (translation: torn up and raggedy) vibe. I lean towards classic silhouettes and timeless styling. For example,when fringe came on trend I purchased one blouse to pair with a classic moto jacket and professional dress slacks or a pencil skirt that went down very well in the campus office. I aim for a look that is of the moment without making me look like I were trying to recapture my lost tweens. I enjoy dressing intentionally. I will go to the trouble of putting together clothing combinations and hanging them up in the closet for a week or more of outfits as you see recommended in certain lifestyle magazines. You know those “Outfits for a Month” layouts? yeah I do those sometimes. It saves me considerable time in the mornings when I know that all I need to do is to pluck my outfit for the day from a hanger already set out the previous night. It makes me feel in control, efficient, like CEO material. I just enjoy feeling like “I got this”. Fuss and feathers may not make the man but a sleek, pulled-together sartorial presence can certainly make the woman feel like a million bucks.

Clean up your act.

The word “minimalist” evokes for me  images of clean, spare, almost futuristic home decor in crisp colors, neatly pressed garments hanging in wardrobes, kitchen cabinets occupied by small tidy stacks of crockery, and dressing tables with maybe six lipsticks, a comb and brush and a flowering plant on display. I hold so dearly to these images as a means to anchor my sanity. You see, I dwell with a compulsive hoarder who fills every available surface of our tiny home with stuff : empty yogurt containers, folded bits of tinfoil, pizza boxes, take away boxes from Chinese meals and doughnut shops, stuff that normal people throw out because,you know, it’s trash. Plastic bags filled with – what else? – more plastic grocery bags are crammed into every possible corner because otherwise,”it would be wasted space.” There is neither rhyme nor reason to what one can find squirreled into what used to be quite a nice apartment. Once when I opened the drawer where I keep fresh dish sponges and steel wool scrubber pads, I found a bag of onion peels sitting there. Yes, dried onion peels. I’ve even found a bundle of empty ramen noodle wrappers, folded down tightly and secreted at the back of the television. She must have been gathering those things for weeks, foraging them from the kitchen trash can. I have taken to stashing the empty juice and milk containers and the like in my purse and taking it all with me as I leave the house. I cannot make this stuff up. I can only thank G-d that she isn’t willing to leave the house, or G-d alone knows what might follow her home should she take to actual dumpster diving. House cleaning is fraught with angst . For Mother’s Day I completely redid our sole bathroom, hanging new shower curtains, replacing the bath mat, soap dishes and towels. It looked fabulous for about three days. Her response? She immediately filled a slew of plastic grocery bags with clothing and tied them to the towel rod where they have remained ever since, slowly festering. I’m almost accustomed now to cleaning and feeling the glare of suspicious eyes following me about as I dust and scrub off grimy surfaces, peering closely at my every move lest I should dare discard any of her precious things. Of course, but a Coca Cola bottle that was re-filled with tap water and tucked behind the television is priceless, a national treasure. So are the jars that once housed food like pasta sauce and jelly but now live in every possible space in the kitchen cabinets, carefully refilled with tap water and wrapped in safe little cocoons of paper towels. “You hate me and want me dead!” she accuses me whenever she discovers that I have discarded a mildewed parcel of grunge that she had been “saving”. I have resorted to photographing new discoveries of stashes before I sweep them out of a cupboard and attempt to air the place. I sarcastically promise to print the photos out and compile them into a Sanford and Son Calendar that she can distribute should she bring herself to part with it. A calendar is paper, after all, and paper apparently must never be thrown away. Not even if it is soaked in rancid grease.

I bitterly resent that we basically live like vagabonds. We are held ransom, compelled by kibud av v’em, or honoring one’s parents, to dwelling in an unsafe environment in order not to anger her by simply disposing of the piles of trash that she has hoarded around us. We have to dodge and duck around piles of objects to get in and out of any room in the house. Whenever the estate maintenance guys come over to perform repairs they laugh incredulously at the mess we live in. And I am so mad that since I am one of the nation’s 14% chronically underemployed, I currently cannot afford a place of my own. I cannot in good conscience produce any commercial baking in a kitchen that looks like a dumpster, so a once-promising baking business has all but died. I am seriously considering becoming a sugar baby and fixing the price of my favors as an apartment with cleaning service.