Friday, September 10, 2010

Seething While Polishing Makes Things Shinier

This evening, I was seething as I polished the granite counter top. (Don't ever get a black granite highly polished counter top if you value your time in any way whatsoever, unless you can afford a slave... I mean 'help')

To be honest it doesn't take that much to make me seethe, as I quite enjoy it. But this was not seething in a venty, let's-rant-about-it-over-cocktails kind of way, it was serious having an argument in my head type seething.

The arguments you rehearse are always so much more eloquent then anything you can conjure in real life ( TV never reflects this truth - remember the verbosity of Dawson's Creek?) and almost always you decide precisely what you want to say after the fact.

Anyway - I hate being told what to do. In the most perverse manner. Even if I wanted to do the thing I am being told do a little bit, I will stop wanting to do it if someone keeps insisting that I go ahead and do it. And then I will absolutely not want to do it, at all, ever. This might be to my detriment but it doesn't matter, as long as I win, and I only do what I want to do and not what someone said I should do.

Of course there is a loophole - at work I frequently do what people tell me. But this involves using a whole other facet of my personality that barely would see the light of day otherwise, in which I try to be helpful at all times (providing there is a cash reward). This is leftover conscientiousness from when I was Lisa Simpson. I mean, a child.

Anyway this evening the sister of the lady of the house decided to give me advice/barrage me with probing questions and accusations on my relationships. I have to say, I could assume this is a cultural difference. Perhaps in Canada it is not rude to tell someone you barely know what they should be doing with their love life, even instructing them in a patronising tone that you need this book. (Don't follow that link - it's new age self help, you don't want to see it.) But in reality I think unsolicited advice on relationships from a virtual stranger is as rude here as it would be at home, especially when it comes from a sixty year old single woman who's had 3 different love interests since I arrived here (they are a frequent topic of the family). Plus her nosey assumption of my 100% straightness was really irritating and she kept labouring the point of my waning fertility (not outright or I might have poked her in the eye).*

What really rubbed me up the wrong way is that I am not 19. I don't even look it. One more grey hair spotted this week! (Scratch that - today I picked up the little one from school to discover I was in the same outfit as most of the kids - skinny jeans, converse and a hoodie. I don't look 19; I look either 28 or 12, depending on the clothes.) Not being a teenager means I have accrued 11 years experience at loving people other than my family, and you can learn plenty in 11 years.

This extemely annoying bright-orange-haired lady then proceeded to recite to me the following saying with an up and downy 'you know what they say' warning tone of voice:

'If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.'

For anyone who even knows me a fraction, it is obvious that my current stance on relationships (as in, I'm only bothered about myself) is certainly not indicative of me doing what I always did.

For the first time since the year dot, a/n other is not the top priority. Obviously this allows too much time for navel gazing (re blog) but it does allow for trips all over England and abroad to see friends, and the realisation that I'm feeling relatively good about being by myself right now.

I must add to this that the lady of the house, (and now her little dog sister too) are trying to hook me up with a local guy they vaguely know. My time out has stretched a bit longer than I thought, but I've been on dates, kissed friends I probably shouldn't have and fallen inappropriately and disproportionately in love with a French intern's accent...but unless you are this guy, in the flesh, then my plate is full enough thank you very much.

p.s. I realise that links to a photo of Lee Min Ho in flip flops sitting in what could be a teenage boy's bedroom (only much cleaner), which denotes he is too young for me. This aint Vancougar for nothin'.

* Yes, it's a sensitive subject already in case you couldn't tell

Hanging In

Recently I have been the recipient of a number of concerned emails from the readership of this blog.

Of course I was stunned and delighted to discover that a readership does in fact exist. I don't know how many people you have to have checking in to qualify as a 'readership' but it sounds way better than 'bunch of friends I emailed my blog link to with a plea for them to read it'.

Every one of my lovely friends are still waiting for a response as this week I was attacked by a Back To School Frenzy induced lethargy that I didn't expect to have to deal with until I was actually a parent. But naturally it's not the kids who had me knackered and falling asleep before 10pm each night, it's the housework. Doing it properly is no joke. Turns out I have zero experience in doing it properly, so I am indeed shocked at the inadvertent workout I'm getting. Hey if I wanted to be superfit I'd be hiking that bloody mountain outside my window wouldn't I? It's always glaring at me reproachfully.

Anyway this is just to say please don't worry too much. As my Dad sweetly reminded me on the phone 'Well, you're warm and dry.' I reminded him I'd hoped to be shooting for a little more just two weeks shy of my 29th birthday, but he isn't wrong. I'm not in physical discomfort. And emotional anguish, however superficial, is what all creative endeavours stem from, right?

Having said that, one thing that may have serious lasting effects (and please feel free to write letters of complaint to my house) is that I am suffering from an overdose of Enya. Yeah, I liked Enya too, when she was new, in the late 80s. When I was seven.

There's only one thing more disturbing than the eerily quiet dinnertimes here; and that is when Enya's sonic tranquilizer floats around us at dinnertime. It's as if we are in the waiting room of a private plastic surgery clinic (J - please write and tell me if this is true ;) and I feel I am being put into a deep Celtic trance of relaxation.

It makes it difficult to chew properly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Benefit Review

Feel free to skip this if Sephora means nothing to you. It's mostly for my Mum who always asks me what make up I wear cause one of her colleagues asks for recommendations. I don't like hearing that since said colleague is about 40, and I still harbour the vain hope that some day my skin will be perfect. The only thing that truly aids my skin is water. I have to drink a LOT to get good results, but it's worth peeing every 45 minutes to have a better complexion.

In the meantime I am devoted to Benefit. It's not the best at everything (Nars has better blusher, Urban Decay's eye shadow primer is number 1, and I wouldn't trade my Max Factor mascara for anything...except maybe Dior's) but here is a run down of what's in my collection, so you can reference it if you're ever having once of those days when you feel the need to Tippex out your face and start again:

Boing - Concealer
They don't call this industrial strength concealer for nothing.
This makes my face resemble it's former self; before year of staying up too late to finish work I should have done earlier/ hours of crying over no good boys and girls/ doing tireless research on how well the public transport system works in various cities in the middle of the night, after consuming as many Lemon Drops as my wallet would allow (That's not many, Mum. They're expensive!). Please note the packaging has downgraded to look particularly crappy these days - some nonsense about how the inclusion of a mirror causes condensation on the concealer. Having no mirror is much worse, but it's worth the hassle anyway.

Erase Paste - Concealer
This is so awesome I have it in 2 shades. Number 1 for when I am pale in winter and need the extra brightness, number 2 for when I am generally tanned.
Hilariously, it actually comes with a little plastic trowel enabling you to properly spackle your face. Don't use the trowel, just a light finger tip. It's a lighter texture, a looser creamier feel than Boing. It's better for under eyes but less durable on other facial areas.

Eye Bright - Um, I don't know what this is supposed to come under - trickery?
I have this in pencil form, excellent for one's handbag, and in a genius contraption that LNB gave me for Christmas. It is half Boing and half Eye Bright in a cute compact complete with mirror (the original Boing packaging no less!). It makes you look awake when you're not. I'm not sure how convincing it is, but I really like it. It works for me, but is more of an added extra than a necessity.

Some Kinda Gorgeous - Foundation, kinda
I want to like you, Gorgeous 'foundation faker', I really do. You have such cute packaging, with your old school record shape design and very chic compact mirror. But I only think you're ok. This is because in a matter of weeks I have slapped so much of this light base onto my face that I can already see the plastic at the bottom of the compact. If you actually have perfect skin and are just pretending to need make up, for the glamourous application factor or the packaging or whatever, then this is for you. I actually need help so this does not give enough of a foundation for me. I long for Hello Flawless which is about twice the price but since I have used it many times in the shop I know it covers more and stays on longer. Plus I really want to own something in a shade called 'Me Vain? Champagne'. It's adorable.

It Stick - Concealer
Another concealer? Really? YES. This is perfect for under my nose where is gets red. Hey, I like wine and I'm Irish, it's only going to get worse with time so I have to combat it now. This works inexplicably, it's a pencil you actually draw on your face with. Follow your artwork with the lightest of pats to smooth it in and you are ready to go out in public without looking like a wino.

Bad Gal Eyeliner - like it says
How different can one stick of charcoal be from another, you might ask? The answer is very. I would never have found this out, preferring to pay 2 squid for a Revlon version back home, if it wasn't for a free Bad Gal I got with a copy of Glamour magazine. This stuff is smoky and gorgeous and glides on. Wear it with the Urban Decay primer for punk rock eyes that would stay on for days if you were actually going to rock out. Or 'oot'.

That Gal - Primer
That Gal aint for this gal, that's for sure. It feels nice putting it on, it's pink and is meant to give you a glowy pink freshness. I honestly can't tell whether I have it on or not. If you want a primer you can feel the difference with try Smashbox or Laura Mercier. Yeah, I know, and a Porsche while you're at it. It's hard to pay so much for an invisible film that goes on your face before any actual make up, but just because That Gal comes in a pretty shade does not make it work for me. Absolutely gorgeous tube though.

Hoola - Bronzer
Hahaha! You will laugh at yourself in the mirror when you first put this on. It needs a really light touch if you're to refrain from looking like a guest on Jerry Springer (that is to say - seriously muddy fake tan). I actually love this though; be light, swirl it in well and top with a little bit of blusher for summer perfection. Look! You're luminous!

Dandelion - Blusher
I haven't owned one of these in a long time but it's a long standing favourite ( it got edged out by Nars's fabulous yet dumbly named Orgasm Blush). It is sheer and pink and gives a lovable rosy glow. Like you've been kissing and eating fruit; sexy yet wholesome all at the same time.

Dr. Feelgood - Primer/skin 'protector'
This does feel good. It's like a seriously smooth talking date. By the end of your first encounter the medicinal old fashioned scent and silky feeling you get will have you convinced it's a keeper. But once you realise the lid of the tin gets permanently stuck on and can't be worked off without some kind of heavy duty utensil, you will lose patience and your love will quickly fade. Fond memories remain though, and I'd give this retro little accessory another whirl anytime. If I also had a screwdriver handy.

Benetint - Blusher/lip stain
I LOVE this. How can you not. It's made of roses, it smells of roses, and leaves you looking like you have delicious, devilish thoughts running through your mind constantly and that you are a lot more fun than you actually are. (Maybe I was applying too much?!) Too bad the lid broke before I was even a quarter of the way through using it. If this leaks in transit you are going to have one rose tinted mess on you hands. Not worth the worry. I like the lip balm version more.

Stay Don't Stray- Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer
Cute name! I like this. I think. It's hard for me to give it a chance as I am already in love with the Urban Decay version. See if you can get a free sample of both and try them out. What? You don't have that kind of time on your hands? Well don't worry, you probably have a real job to go to. You could probably afford to take the bus to visit a friend without having to arrange a salary advance.

Hey, at least I'll be the most well-concealed woman on the bus. And yes, I understand that probably the reason I am so broke right now is because I spent my 20s purchasing all the above products. It was worth it. It's not akin to spending $40,000 on shoes, like Carrie Bradshaw.

Noonchee Oppsah

If ever there was a backhanded compliment contest, the one I received today wins hands down.

The mother of the house got an email from a girl who had wanted to work for her from the aupair/nanny website. She has another job in the vicinity and wonders if we could introduce her to any other young women, show her round etc. This morning over breakfast the mother told me the reason she hadn't hired her.

'She was just drop dead gorgeous! I saw her picture and I was thinking there's no way she's coming into this house!' The last part of this sentence was delivered with a nod towards the much younger Mr of the house who was sitting in the next room.

This was followed by about 5 minutes of glorification of this hot 19 year old German's hair, figure and everything else. It was blatantly obvious I had been hired because I would not pose such a distraction.

Another 5 minutes later and the implication of her raving about the German made the mother backtrack a little 'I'm not saying you're not pretty. I just realised that sounds like I was saying you're not pretty. It's just you looked a lot more down to earth and more like us.'

Being called down to earth is not a compliment, it's a consolation.

Don't worry lady, I certainly won't be pretty after I've eaten you out of house and home and acquired a forehead that needs Botox from all the frowning I'm doing.

Mountain Equipment Co-op

If I ever decide I want a boyfriend, I know where to go.

Mountain Equipment Co-op is positively crawling with dudes. I was their accidentally, accompanying my charges and their mother while they spent a small fortune on camping accessories for a 2 day hike. I had plenty of time to wander round, contemplating the vast assortment of freeze dried space food (including a Neopolitan ice cream sandwich!) available for people to take camping.

There were guys everywhere, they were generally not unattractive, and in an appropriate age range for me to be noticing. Sadly I can't avoid the obvious fact that if I actually knew any one of these men they would inevitably ask me to go hiking with them. Or camping. Or kayaking, Or any number of outdoor, healthy, dirty, wet and cold activities that result in you becoming dirty, wet and cold. Oh yeah, and healthy. But whatever. It's not like I smoke. How much do I really need to be outside? I can be healthy while safely indoors. Even if I did leave my yoga mat in England.

Anyway, I perused the jackets as it turns out the $9 I spent on a second hand Zara jacket at the Salvation Army did not in fact buy we a waterproof bargain. It bought me one very wet arm (one arm has to stay outside the umbrella so I can hold the dog's lead). The jackets cost more than I make in a week so I am going to return to the Salvation Army and find something with a very big hood, so even if it looks hideous, I'll be in disguise.

I'm sure I don't need to explain that people here wear Northface and Gortex in the streets in the city every day, that there is no such a thing as a Banana Republic trench, a Gap duffle or G-Star Raw anything. My friend, the Fellow European, owns a vintage designer coat (Dior, Prada, some big house but I can't recall which one) that actually bewilders her colleagues because it's not a parka. This all sounds like I give a monkeys about labels, and for a woman who lives in Forever 21, I honestly can't afford to care. It's the absence of labels I care about, in a city this size. The absence of any acknowledgment of the outside world that does not involve mountain climbing unnerves me.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being surrounded my mountains. I just preferred it when I could see the Hollywood sign nestled amongst them.

We're not in Kansas anymore

...or rather, we have arrived in Kansas....

Something really cute and unexpected happened the other day and I am recording it here in case I ever need reminding that this truly is another world I have landed in.

I was walking the dog down a leafy street full of gigantic wooden multi-coloured houses (imagine craftsman cottages or lake side cabins on steroids) and a blond boy on a bike called over to me 'That's a cute dog you have there!'. He had the lilting intonation of all small North American children; each word squeaks up at the end of the sentence to a pitch only dogs can hear.

He got off his bike and came over and asked if he could pet the dog and asked how old she is. Then his sister came strolling down the street and asked the same questions, and told me she was barely able to leave her dog alone, she's so tiny. I asked how old the dog was, just because this seemed to be the appropriate question (8 weeks).

'I feel so bad leaving her but we're just going to the candy store' she gave me a goofy smile and shook her handbag for effect and I could hear her candy change rattling around inside. She was at that lanky stage when it seems like your teeth are too big for your mouth and your legs are growing too long for your body.

It was an exchange that impressed me all day. How do children grow up in 2010 and feel like it's normal to wander the streets alone chatting to strangers and flaunting their candy money? I wonder if they will ever grow up to live anywhere else. It was so innocent it was like going back in time.