Monthly Archives: April 2011
I’m a beauty product slore.
Men, I urge you to look away now.
I’m always reading the beauty product reviews and oohing and ahhing over packaging and over-zealous claims of companies determined to rejuvenate and revitalise your skin. Essentially I’m a product junkie, not to be confused with hoarding.
Over the years I’ve learnt to calm my gullibility and just stick to the essentials of beauty. I try to keep “chemical usage” as my mom says, to a minimum. I don’t like experimenting too much on my skin – its sensitive hehe. But I’m still a sucker for that A star product rating in Glamour magazine or on one of my fave beauty blogs. If I’m really dying to try a hair product or a new lip gloss, I stalk the counter and talk my way into 2 samples or maybe even a free gift! I had so many little samples of hair products of Aveda, it got to the point where I had to give in and just BUY the treatment!!
More recently, my skin has acted superfluous. It’s been sore and just covered in Oestrogen induced acne. I clock my cycle pretty well and I know that no matter how hard I try, there are months where my fertile stage corresponds to an eruption of 10-12 pimples on my forehead. Some months, I happily get away with it, others…*sigh* I’m pretty much “pizza face” for about 2 weeks. I blame genetics, unhealthy eating habits and Propioniobacterium acnes.
My skin routine: Clarisonic (sometimes), Origins or Cetaphil face wash & Kiehls abyssine moisturiser with spf 23. Occasionally I’ll apply lemon on my skin or egg whites as a mask to help tighten my pores and ease hyperpigmentation.
It all works really well till I get breakouts, then I do the most dreaded, vile, accursed thing: I pull out a tube of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid acne gel and just abuse it till they disappear. Eating healthy helps, but my need to use a quick solution is pretty shameless. And we all know the side-effects of acne gels: dryness, peeling, redness, and absolute skin dehydration. I’ve been captive of dehydration especially. I have combination skin, so it’s pretty difficult to get my skin BACK to normal moisture level after an acne gel rampage. Any moisturiser I use would need 2-3 applications throughout the day because of the dryness. It’s pretty sad.
Well, that is until I met Clarins.
Perusing the counters, I got a free Clarins Hydraquench Cream-Mask sample.
Sidenote: Why do they insist on making long names? Damn.
It’s especially formulated for dry and dehydrated skin especially during summer/winter months. It’s seriously helped my abused skin. My skin feels more supple, plump, smooth and most of all? It keeps my skin moisturised for a long time, even without moisturiser! *Hurray*
I love this product and I’ve used it once every 3 days. I never thought it would be so fantastic, but oh, it is. It’s fantabulous and of course, the ingredients toot their own horn:
- Hyaluronic Acid with High Molecular Weight: Forms a barrier film to prevent excessive moisture evaporation
- Katafray Bark: Boosts the transformation of epidermal keratinocytes into new corneal cells. Encourages the synthesis of natural moisturization factors
- Hyaluronic Acid with Low Molecular Weight: Replenishes essential water reserves that keep skin firm and toned
- Sorbier bud: Strengthens blood vessels and boosts microcirculation for enhanced skin radiance
So there you have it. You know my shameless secret, and I can imagine most of my friends nodding their heads in complete agreement. Please be advised, my junkism forms no dent in my finances!
- My Skincare Routine (joeychong.wordpress.com)
Chorus girls at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, photographed in 1936 by Lucien Aigner. Aigner, who photographed everyone from Hitler and Mussolini to Gandhi and Haile Selassie, was originally from Hungary. He emigrated to the United States to avoid Nazi persecution. Techincally and “enemy alien”, he was prohibited from photographing war-related subject. Talking of Harlem, He observed: ”I photographed black people when it was not good manners”.
“Pictures produce impact, writing adds meaning. Pictures without words are often ambiguous, words without pictures lame. To gather material for a written story requires painstaking, continuous effort in time while catching situations in pictures requires concentration on the instantaneous.”
- Harlem Shuffle Revisited (fleamarketfunk.com)
- One of Harlem’s A-List couples graces the cover of Uptown Magazine (harlemcondolife.com)
- National Poety Month In Harlem (harlemworldblog.wordpress.com)
- Why does Hitler get focused on more by historians than Mussolini and Stalin (wiki.answers.com)
Some days I forget that my family has the most profound history.
There was a story in the paper about a girl being so insecure and distressed about her looks that she attempted suicide and failed. I found it quite sad. I can identify with insecurity. Almost anyone can.
However my aunt said this: “Hm! Insecurity, suicide…! People feel miserable about superficial crap; try living through Baby Doc and his dictatorship! Crying over looks and hurt feelings! Give me a break!”
My mom added: “Baby Doc ruled with a whip! When we were young the biggest insecurity was failing your family and abandoning your country; everything else was irrelevant.”
Suddenly my feelings of “ugly days” came into a non-existent form and I felt bad for feeling bad. Society has made us so detached; individuals looking to reach the galaxies, forgetting to collectively care for our earth.
I am amazingly grateful for life, for love, for a career and for over-all contentment, but some days I struggle. I honestly wonder how some persons who lived through such dictatorships could come out of it and be so successful and be such stable people. To me, they are incredibly admirable. Witnessing lives lost, shattered dreams and tarnished streets with blood would have sent me straight into a mental facility. But here’s my family recollecting stories, paucity, sharing close calls with the law and death with an air of whimsicality and even then predicting future events for the county.
“…mm! I saw the cholera riots; I’m telling you, Haitian men aren’t like they used to be – their faces are masked, gas bombs are thrown everywhere and then they disappear! Like ninjas!”
Then an air of seriousness descends: “I know in the 50s and 60s it was terrible, but at least we had clean streets, tourism, and we were proud of our system in some ways.”
I read the newspapers and although the news is so heart wrenching, I admit I can’t always identify with them. I don’t know their hurt, I can’t understand their loss nor have seen their tragedy. However, there at the Christmas table, I felt my family’s loss of a country and of a better time. Do I need have to be connected in order to relate to a tragedy? Perhaps my heart is too emotionally naïve: a sense of physical insecurity, lost relationships, and failed grades are all I have to show for pain.
So what can come of my recollection?
I educate myself, I learn of the past, and though I want to see a grand change, I cringe because I have no profound ideas of my own. I can’t map out a huge economic and political strategy to save its 200 year history of failures. No matter how many Flag Days I celebrate; all I can aim for is pride and remembrance. I can earn a profession and physically lend a hand perhaps through medical aid or donation rallies, but I can’t save Haiti. So I pledge to be better, to learn and mature and go back and give back to the soil. I don’t know if that solution will work, but I can earnestly try.
I walk into the room.
He stares while I twist my hips.
I dash an over the shoulder glance then have a seat.
He licks his lips.
I bite mine.
He lowers his head chuckles, and then puts his hand in his pocket. Good sign.
I pull my stomach in tighter, arch my back and make my cleavage look fuller and perky.
I’m hot, flushed, and I’m completely ready to hear his voice and forgo the celibacy thing.
He mouths: “Hey” and waves.
I smile, and wave back.
I hear clickety-clackety heels from behind me, run past and into his arms.
He continues to stare and winks.
5 minutes of over the room flirtation turn into full-blown resentment and I curse my naiveté.
I’m mortified and head towards the waiter for a glass of wine and read my notes for my impending lecture.
He comes towards me and explains: “Hi, don’t worry, she’s a friend, I only have eyes for you.”
I give in, smile and we dance. Am I a sucker for a smooth deep voice? Well who isn’t?
We talk, laugh, and from the corner of my eye, I see her again. This time she’s dressed in a bright pink bunny costume with a revolver on her waist.
She shoots at him and the loudness of the gun, coupled with the sound alarm clock startles me into the day.
This is the 3rd time I’ve had this dream and every time, a giant pink bunny with a revolver shoots at the man who takes interest me in the dream. I’ve had odd dreams before, and usually they go away. Repetitive dreams make me feel like I need to find an interpretation. Sleuthing into dream world concludes these recurrences: pink, bunny, other woman, a theme of sex and sensuality and of course a gun.
In reality, I don’t know anyone who loves pink and has an affection for bunnies. Nor am I in a relationship to think there might be another woman. Sex and sensuality? Non-existent. A gun? I loathe them.
Where do odd dreams stem from? And why does this bunny keep infecting my thought process? Is something keeping me from a successful relationship?
A damn bunny keeps infiltrating my sanity and potentially my love life. No more will I say I’m single because of career engagements, no no, now I’ll be happy to retort that a mythical bunny is plotting my downfall. Do I have a solution? Well, so far my dream seems to end when my interest gets hit, but I never know if he dies or is just hurt (he must be brave then).
Maybe it’s not me, maybe the bunny is actually some sort of protector from sleazebags?
But I’ll never know, since that damn bunny never explains; just disappears like a frickin’ ninja.
She remembers the moment. The photographer took her picture. She remembers her anger. The man was a stranger. She had never been photographed before. Until they met again 17 years later, she had not been photographed since.
The photographer remembers the moment too. The light was soft. The refugee camp in Pakistan was a sea of tents. Inside the school tent he noticed her first. Sensing her shyness, he approached her last. She told him he could take her picture. “I didn’t think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day,” he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees.
The portrait by Steve McCurry turned out to be one of those images that sears the heart, and in June 1985 it ran on the cover of this magazine. Her eyes are sea green. They are haunted and haunting, and in them you can read the tragedy of a land drained by war. She became known around National Geographic as the “Afghan girl,” and for 17 years no one knew her name.
Names have power, so let us speak of hers. Her name is Sharbat Gula, and she is Pashtun, that most warlike of Afghan tribes. It is said of the Pashtun that they are only at peace when they are at war, and her eyes—then and now—burn with ferocity. She is 28, perhaps 29, or even 30. No one, not even she, knows for sure. Stories shift like sand in a place where no records exist.
Time and hardship have erased her youth. Her skin looks like leather. The geometry of her jaw has softened. The eyes still glare; that has not softened. “She’s had a hard life,” said McCurry. “So many here share her story.” Consider the numbers. Twenty-three years of war, 1.5 million killed, 3.5 million refugees: This is the story of Afghanistan in the past quarter century.
“There is not one family that has not eaten the bitterness of war,” a young Afghan merchant said in the 1985 National Geographicstory that appeared with Sharbat’s photograph on the cover. She was a child when her country was caught in the jaws of the Soviet invasion. A carpet of destruction smothered countless villages like hers. She was perhaps six when Soviet bombing killed her parents. By day the sky bled terror. At night the dead were buried. And always, the sound of planes, stabbing her with dread.
Here is the bare outline of her day. She rises before sunrise and prays. She fetches water from the stream. She cooks, cleans, does laundry. She cares for her children; they are the center of her life. Sharbat has never known a happy day, her brother says, except perhaps the day of her marriage.
Such knife-thin odds. That she would be alive. That she could be found. That she could endure such loss. Surely, in the face of such bitterness the spirit could atrophy. How, she was asked, had she survived?
The answer came wrapped in unshakable certitude.
“It was,” said Sharbat Gula, “the will of God.”
Source: National Geographic
I went speed dating once. A friend kept telling me how much of a great experience she had, so I wondered, “why not put myself out there?”
I told my friends and they laughed. “Desperate move!” Sure it was desperate. I didn’t expect to have a husband by the end of the night, but I wanted a different social experience. Albeit it might be seen as a desperate one, but it was a unique experience!
I didn’t know what to expect. I wore a black dress with tan heels and a matching tan bag. I wore my hair out and wore soft sensual makeup. You know the kinda lipstick/lip gloss that draws attention to the curves of your mouth *ahem* and stuff. I looked ok. I was confident and ready to attempt some flirtation skills I read online.
Walking in, I wish they had told me that everyone had brought a buddy or several buddies for “social support”. I just brought myself and a bit of confidence. Damn! Every guy looked nervous and every girl clung to her wine glass, myself included. I did the typical thing: I scanned the room for hot men and black men (or hot black men). Only a few were present. And by a few, I mean hot men. Nevertheless, I was ditching my vain need for hotties and decided on getting to know people – that was the aim right?
Rules were explained: 2 minutes per table. Women were to move to each table and tick whether they found him likeable enough to date. My first date was cute, had a great engineering career, but he struggled with his English and when he told me he was from Transylvania, I thought he was pulling my leg. I really wanted to make a Dracula joke like: “aye! you ain’t gonna drag me to your dungeon right? Cuz’ I hear y’all love snatching people up!” But that would’ve been childish and I certainly am not childish….on a date. The entire 2 minutes with him was spent helping him gather enough words to become interested in each other. By the time I had enough information, the bell rang and I was semi-relieved.
Guy to Guy I kept moving and hoping for a spark, but it’s kinda hard to get a spark when you have to ask all the right questions and at the same time, play it cool.
“What do you do?”
“Where are you from?”
“What would you do if I gave you 10 bucks, whip cream and Russian vodka?”
One guy was pretty vocal about interviewing for a wife: “What’s your hobby? Can you cook? Do you want kids? Would you consider getting married in 6 months?”
One date kept me cracking up like I was at the Apollo, just hysterical. Too bad I guffawed him outta interest. He was such a nice guy and I really wanted him to take me out (hehe).
I couldn’t help notice the competition women in the room. One girl confessed to me that she was only there because of the open bar and made damn sure to nab a bottle of white wine, which she proudly took from table to table. She was obviously drunk and really pretty. And they say pretty women don’t have issues! Puh! One girl wore the tiniest dress and flirted her way through a lot of phonebooks (which was totally unfair, rules are rules! Hello?). It was unbelievable and commendable, but the competitor in me needed to step it up to her level, but I didn’t have the gall to. Homegirl said some lines which I thought were explicitly meant for lovers. Just phenomenal.
At one point, I honestly felt that my ideal match would show himself, emerging from the corner in full Bollywood dance and song “My lovelyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” The flirty girl would be jealous and try to entice him and all the dancers would be singing in high-pitched voices: “No no! He only has eyes for herrrrr!” And we’d be carried away to an exotic date on an elephant. Of course, if this were Nollywood film, the flirty girl would have poisoned me with a bit of obeah and he would be in a loveless marriage with her trifling ass.
I know, I’m delusional.
I found guys I liked: 10 out of 25 men. I was pretty excited with my selections. They were smart, engaging, funny, ambitious, loved books, art galleries etc! I couldn’t wait to go home and see who I matched up with. I signed in, and scanned through, the computer says, “Number of matches: 1! Contact him now!”
Wow 1 guy? That was my reaction! One. Single. Uno. One shot with one guy. I felt mortified and slightly confused. I thought I was sexy? I thought I was funny? I thought I was interesting? I thought I used my flirtation skills right? I mean I played with my afro hair, I smiled, and I didn’t overshadaow him, blah blah blah….!
I know I shouldn’t have based my attractiveness level on the response of 25 men. But, it was just mind-boggling, brutal and semi-honest.
Will I go speed dating again? Probably not. It was fun, but there’s only so much desperation a girl can put out there.
For the past few days, I’ve been feeling really deflated. There’s no zeal, no enthusiasm. Just utter and perpetual boredom marinated with bit of sadness. I try to shake it off with a jog or by posting positive inspirational stuff on my Twitter or Facebook. But the truth of the matter is: I’m in a funk. I have so much going through my brain that I just don’t know where to start solution wise. It feels a tad overwhelming and sorely exhausting. What gets me even more down is that there are people out there getting up from much worse personal conditions and still make the day productive.
When did the funk become my comfort? I remember being such a hobbyist, and I was so proud to tick things off my to-do list. Now it seems that every to do on my list is a bore mundane aspect of adulthood. I wish I had something exciting to write like: “Plan romantic getaway with Michael Ealy” or “Secure private beach in Fiji for best mate’s party” or heck even “Call the decorators in for my new Art gallery”. But instead my to do list comprises of dry cleaning, preparing lecture material, and needing to put in 5 hours work tomorrow. I love my job, but some days, I wish I had more excitement than a bit of heart tissue and an eyeball socket to microbiologically test.
When I was a kid, being an adult seemed almost inspirational. I sat counting the years till I would be 21 and could wear what I wanted, and have loads of sex with my uber-hot husband. There was even a point where I thought “when I grow up, I could be a superhero!” Delusional much? Adulthood is actually more of a drag than MTV lets on. The years tread on, and your dreams change to suit your current livelihood. No more “I want to be a successful singer/dancer/actor/painter”, it’s actually more like: “I want to be able to save 20-grand by the end of the year and get a promotion and maybe start an internet business”. Imagine being 8 and having that as an aspiration? It sounds absolutely dull. Where’s the fireworks? The ka-boom? The attention? If I had known the adult years would span more time that childhood years, I would have prayed for it to be longer.
I would love to say I’m going to plan some productive action plan for this weekend. The truth of the matter is, I’m waiting on a that perfect inspirational quote to drive me out of bed and churn out bucket loads of solid gold, class A work. Or perhaps I’ll quit being such a whiner and put some work in, without the need for The Secret. Who knows? Stay Tuned.