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Getting Nailed

I’ve been trying to be smart about money lately.

(Yeah, I actually typed those words.)

It’s something I should have been doing all along anyway, but lately with uncertainty about my job, and with the holidays coming up, I’ve been cutting back on the non-essentials.

Like getting my nails done. I like my nails to look neat and clean, and my cuticles get a little gnarly, so I was going every other weekend for a mani/pedi.

manicure-1Plus, it’s an hour to myself to sit and relax, reading a trashy tabloid while someone massages my hands and feet. And even though the place I go isn’t very expensive, it adds up. So I’ve started giving myself manicures and pedicures at home. Now I remember the real reason I’ve been paying money to have someone do my nails: I suck at it.

I look at it like painting a room—it’s all about the prep. I’ve been getting my nails done for so long that I know all the tips and tricks the manicurists use, but somehow the whole thing never comes together for me.

I don’t keep my nails long—I like a little length, but not much beyond the top of my finger—and I like just the edges rounded a bit (not square and not oval). But when I’m done wielding the nail file, it looks like I hacked at them with a saw. The nails are a little asymmetrical and they’re always still a little raggedy.

I soak my hands in warm, soapy water to soften up the digits, I push my cuticles back and I slather on lotion. I dab a little rubbing alcohol on each finger to absorb the oil from the lotion, and make sure everything is dry for the polish.

And the polish is where everything really goes wrong.

I will usually go wild with color on my toes and keep my fingers more natural unless they’re a nice length and look somewhat even. Otherwise, my hands look like Britney Spears’ in her crazy days…

Nice manicure

Nice manicure, Britney

But whether I use a more natural color or something bolder like Opi’s Lincoln Park After Dark, the result is the same—the polish looks like Ray Charles was turned loose with some spray paint.

I apply the base coat, and no matter what I do, no matter how flat and stable I keep my hands, the base coat seeps into my cuticles and builds up in the edges. I try to smooth it out, or clean it out with an orange stick, but it just stubbornly slides back into the cuticles. I wait a minute for that to dry before I apply the main color, but it doesn’t matter. The base coat slides down the same way, collecting into the cuticle. And if I’m using color, especially a dark red, the color settles in making my cuticles look like I’ve been gnawing on them for lunch—they look red, dry and ragged.

I apply the polish the way the pros tell you—just three swipes of color: start in the middle, then do one side of the nail and then the other. I try to keep the right amount of polish on the brush, but no matter how many times I swipe it against the opening, it’s too much. It glops and goops. I try to clean that up between coats, but if I use polish remover and a little brush, the remover oozes into the polish, making it an even bigger mess.

The next coat is supposed to add more coverage and smooth everything out, but it always seems too thick, too viscous. And then I have to wait an eternity for that mess to dry before I can even tackle the top coat.

When all is said and done, I’m left with nail polish that peels and bubbles, cuticles polished like an old window painted shut, and raggedy-ass nails.

And, of course, the more it peels, the more I peel it. And the more raggedy my nails get.

Manicures and pedicures are suddenly starting to feel less frivolous and more of a necessity. I may have to do the unthinkable and cut back on my Starbucks. Or food. Or something.

Wordless Wednesday

This…

Yes, this is a grocery bag full of hair

Yes, this is a grocery bag full of hair

Came From This…

She no longer looks like this. Now? She looks like a billy goat.

She no longer looks like this. Now? She looks like a billy goat.

Magnify that hair by a thousand or so and that’s what got me thrown out of the dog salon.

A Few Things I Can’t Live Without. Seriously.

There are a couple of things I can’t live without. Well, I could, but I’d prefer not to. They aren’t over-the-top indulgences and these aren’t products that I’ve been asked to write about (because, you know, this blog is so big time that advertisers are clamoring for my opinion, yo). They’re just simple things that make me look and feel better.

Neutrogena Body Oil (Light Sesame Formula)

This is one of my favorite body products…ever. About 10 years ago I started using this in the summer to try and prevent my skin from looking like a handbag after being in the sun. Plus, it gave my skin a nice healthy glow. Now I use it year-round because it keeps my skin all moist and soft. I slather it on after my shower in the morning and it stops the alligator skin from happening. It’s not super greasy either so you don’t feel like you bathed in an oil slick after you put it on. (About $10, but almost lasts a year.)

Neutrogena

Smooth like buttah

St. Ives Intensive Healing Advanced Therapy Lotion

I am a lotion junkie. I put it on my hands and feet in the morning, when I go to bed at night (and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and slather some on), and I keep some at my desk so I can put it on during the day. It’s rich and feels kind of silky. And it’s fragrance-free so you don’t smell like someone’s grandmother. My hands and feet tend to get kind of dry, and this stuff rocks. (And, yes, I use this with the Neutrogena.) Target usually has it on sale for about $4.

intensive-healing

So soft...

L’Oreal Extra Volume Collagen Mascara

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I rarely leave the house without a stitch of makeup. I’m shallow like that. At the very least I’ll swipe on some mascara just to make my eyes look a little more open. I don’t really need length or volume (surprising because my lashes were so long as a kid that I cut them much to my mom’s horror!), but this is the only mascara (about $8 at most drugstores) I ever bought that goes on easily without any clumping or flaking. Just a few swipes and I look doe-eyed (or at least awake). Unlike some other mascaras I’ve tried, it looks pretty natural.

The brush is twice as thick as most mascaras

The brush is twice as thick as most mascaras

Starbucks Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte I hit Starbucks every morning (at least during the week) for this. It’s non-fat milk and sugar-free vanilla so you don’t go cross-eyed from too much sweet and sugar. If I’m really having a rough day, I’ll add another shot to kick the adrenaline into overdrive. Priceless.

And they even spelled my name right

And they even spelled my name right

Now if you have a good anti-aging cream, let me know. I’m still on the quest for a good one.

So she’s not a vegetarian

Last weekend Bill and I planted a bunch of lovely flowers and plants in our backyard. For a couple of days after, I’d go out and just admire the little spot because it’s been a dirt patch for so long.

A few of the survivors

A few of the survivors

On Thursday I went out and discovered that Gracie dug out most of it. She left the flowers alone but she ate the plants.

I didn’t think much about it at first because we didn’t plant anything toxic to dogs. And Gracie has proven that she’s part billy goat, having eaten her rope toy as well as a leash (when she was about 6 months old she ate an entire nylon leash—minus the clip—threw it up whole and tried to eat it again). I was mostly pissed because I thought we were beyond the whole digging up the yard phase.

But Thursday night she was clearly sick. She was lethargic and didn’t eat her dinner. By bedtime she was miserable. She was drinking gallons of water, then would need to run outside to pee. I’d hear her try to lay down, but she’d immediately get up, circle around and try to find another position. She moved from her bed outside to her dog house to the lawn and back. Then she wanted to be let in and moved around in the bedroom trying to get comfortable all over again. It got so bad that she’d whine and cry with every move.

At one point I got out of bed and got down on the floor with her to see if I could help her get comfortable. I noticed that she didn’t cry when she laid on her back, so I tried to position her that way and tried to get her to stay. Of course, she wouldn’t. She got up, moved to her bed, curled up, cried, got up and moved to another spot.

Meanwhile, all the water she drank and grass she ate to sooth her stomach was doing it’s job and she threw up about a half dozen times that night.

When she stopped getting sick I got back on the floor with her and curled my entire body around hers and held her still for half the night. She whined and cried in her sleep.

In the morning, I got her to the vet as soon as they opened. They took X-Rays in case she had swallowed a stick, but they didn’t find anything like that. But her stomach was sort of swollen and irritated, and when they tested her blood they found that her liver numbers were high. I guess normal is about 118—hers were closer to 150.

She was hooked up to an IV full of antibiotics and god knows what else, and they kept an eye on her all day. When she finally stopped crying and shifting around and the vomiting stopped they called and told us we could take her home.

They sent her home with a case of high-fiber dog food—a constipated dog is a cranky dog—three kinds of pills that I have to shove down her throat twice a day, a bald patch where they shaved her leg, and a $500 bill.

By the time she got home, it was like she had never been sick. She got bitchy because (per the vet’s orders) cut her off her treats for a few days, and because she had to eat the damn fiber food.

And this morning? She came outside with us while we worked on the yard…and she ate a bee.

It’s a good thing she’s pretty…

Content after eating the bee...

Content after eating the bee...

It Figures

Of course, the day Jen Lancaster links to my blog, I write about my diarrhea.

Big 80’s Southern Belle dress and diarrhea.

Awesome!

Flirting With 40 (Part 1) UPDATED

I never thought I’d be the sort of woman who became obsessed with her age. I’ve (almost) always taken pretty good care of myself, going to the gym, (mostly) eating well, taking care of my skin (although not wearing sunscreen nearly enough), and getting enough sleep (ha, ha!). I’ve always thought I’d age gracefully, that a few wrinkles wouldn’t bother me.

Turns out I AM obsessed. Aging is pissing me off.

I’m going to be 40 this summer. There, I said it out loud.

40. I’m not at all what I pictured 40 being when I was 14 or even 25. For the most part I’m okay with it. I’ve grown up, I’ve learned a lot, I’m smarter and more confident. But as the day gets closer I’m frustrated with certain things.

I work long hours and I’ve been under a lot of stress and I’m wearing it all over my face like a big fat Fuck You from life. I look tired all the time. I can’t get rid of the dark circles under my eyes (granted, I’ve always had them, but they’re way more pronounced now). Recently, I’ve noticed that my skin looks ashy—if I don’t wear makeup I look like the walking dead and if I do wear makeup it settles in, making me look like a drag queen after a long night of partying (that may partially be the fault of the makeup I’m wearing. Damn you, MAC Cosmetics). To add insult to injury, I’m breaking out. So even though I’m turning 40 soon, I get to relive puberty all over again. I should just run out and get a spiral perm, braces and glasses to make it official.

I never thought I’d consider any kind of cosmetic procedure—not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m all for it if it’s going to make you feel better. But now I’m staring in the mirror, scrutinizing my face, checking out my skin, searching for new wrinkles and other imperfections. And I hate what I see.

I don’t mind the little wrinkles around my eyes—I think they add character. But I hate the furrow I’ve developed in my brow. I look perpetually angry or angsty. And that big divot in my head is making my eyes look dark and heavy. Have you even noticed how much tighter your face is when you have your hair wrapped up in a towel on your head? That’s what I want to look like again. I don’t want to slice open my hair line and have someone tug my face up to my nose, but I am considering Botox to smooth out my forehead.

And a good facial wouldn’t hurt. And maybe a haircut and some highlights.

I know it sounds shallow. Even to me it does. But I’m just not going to go gentle into the dying night. I’m going to rage against the dying of the light. And against the total destruction of my face.

I’m going to fight 40 like hell.

(See? I’m not totally shallow—I can quote Dylan Thomas. Sort of.)
PS: I came to this conclusion today after spending $140.52 at Sephora. (Sorry Bill)

The Gap Hates Short People

Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
To live

They got little hands
And little eyes
And they walk around
Tellin’ great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet

Well, I don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Round here

Short People are just the same
As you and I
(A Fool Such As I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It’s A Wonderful World)

Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
To love

They got little baby legs
And they stand so low
You got to pick ’em up
Just to say hello

They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin’ peep, peep, peep
They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They’re gonna get you every time
Well, I don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
Don’t want no Short People
‘Round here

I hate this song. I have hated this song since it first came out when I was a kid. But apparently, it has become The Gap’s anthem. Because The Gap hates short people.

I’m lucky because I can wear jeans to work every day. Even if I have to meet a client wearing jeans is acceptable. I don’t wear ripped, or old or funky jeans, though—usually a nice pair that’s fairly tailored-looking. The Gap usually does a pretty good job of offering a variety of fits for every size. And they have cute jeans that don’t cost as much as a car payment. Although, at $60 a pop, it’s not like they’re dirt cheap. Which is why I’m a little pissy with them right now.

The other day I bought a pair of boot cut jeans online from The Gap. I know what fits me there (I should—I buy about 10 pairs a year) so I don’t need to haul my ass into the store to try on 65 pairs. Or so I thought. I was looking for a slightly different style than the ones I’ve been wearing and I found these:

picture-1

Nothing fancy. Just simple boot cut jeans. Because I usually wear them with some kind of heel for work, I bought regular length—not petite. Over the years I’ve found that petite jeans (or any petite pant, really) not only has a shorter inseam, but the waist and hips are narrower, which I don’t need because my hips and ass are not narrower. I didn’t get that part of the petite gene.  So I buy regular whenever I can. If you dig around in the Fit Guide they tell you that the Petite Inseam is 29 inches, Regular is 32″ and Tall is 36″. With a 3- or 4-inch heel, regular-length jeans should hit me where those jeans above hit the model’s foot.

This morning when I was getting ready I was so excited to try on my new jeans. I pulled them on—and then kept pulling them on. And pulling. The waist fit perfectly, the thighs were just right but…they were about 8 inches longer than they should have been. I could make a (hoochie-mama length) jeans skirt out of what I’m going to have to cut off.

The average height of American women is around 5’5″ (or so my Wiki tells me). I realize that at 4’11” I’m smaller than average but c’mon, really? Eight inches? I called customer service to see if they were mislabeled and see if I could exchange them. Turns out those weren’t mislabeled. They’re really meant to be that long. Something to do with the wash of the denim, and since they’re a medium shade they’re longer, yada yada yada. I tuned out because she might as well have just told me “Suck it up, short stuff. Until you grow some legs, we’ve got nothin’ for ya.”

So now if I want to keep them, I have two options: Exchange them for petites, which are too short unless I wear flip-flops or pay another $30 to get them hemmed by a tailor. Because you can’t just hack off the bottom—it’ll leave a wide bell bottom thing going on that went out of style 30 years ago.

On principle I’m tempted to send them back. Either Regular means 32″ or not. It shouldn’t be 32″ unless you buy a dark wash on an even date on the third Sunday of the month. It’s bad enough that they do vanity sizing (a 2  is really a 14), but now they exaggerate height too.

Like I’m not insecure enough. Now I’m fat and short.