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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.


Crap I Shouldn’t Care About But Totally Do

There’s a lot going on in the world. We’re going through the confirmation process for a new Supreme Court judge. A Hispanic female no less. There are two female American journalists imprisoned in a hard-labor camp in North Korea. The war in Iraq is still going, unemployment is at an all-time high (and President Obama announced yesterday that it will continue to go up), the stock market is still in flux and there have been 1,000 killings so far this year in the Mexican border town Ciudad Juarez.

These are all important events and I do care about them. But there are other things I care deeply about, too. I know I shouldn’t but I just can’t help myself.

So here’s my list of crap in no particular order that I shouldn’t care about but totally do:

1. Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. Apparently they’ve broken up. The day before her 29th birthday. Which is rude. But not the first time she’s been dumped right before or on her birthday. Didn’t John Mayer do the same thing to her? I guess it’s clear that she chooses selfish men who can’t hang in there a day or two before cutting all ties. But what’s more interesting to me is that she had a Barbie & Ken–themed birthday party planned for herself before the breakup. Barbie and Ken? That’s an awful lot of pressure to live up to.

Jessica Simpson & Tony Romo in happier times

Jessica Simpson & Tony Romo in happier times

2. Jon Gosselin. He’s clearly going through some midlife crisis. But after being married to Kate, he’s obviously choosing really young (and fairly stupid girls—I deliberately didn’t say “women”) to date because he can be The Man in the relationship. They’re young, impressionable and easily wowed by a guy like that. A guy who basically walked away from his family so he could party.

I love the fact that his 22-year-old girlfriend Hailey Glassman is upset because she’s been the victim of bad press.What did she expect. She’s basically a child dating a man who’s going through a very public divorce. He has eight kids. Eight. She’s not remotely equipped to handle that. If I were Kate Gosselin there would be no fucking way I’d let that chick, who was arrested for drug possession and has been photographed drunk off her ass—in fact, photographed ass up in a potted plant—near those kids. “U.S. press is all over stories about her being some slutty party girl with a history of arrests,” a source tells Us Magazine of Hailey. “She was upset tonight.” Seriously?

Plus, as bitchy and domineering as Kate was, I’m starting to think there was a reason for that. She had nine kids—not eight.

Jon and Hayley Glassman

A douche on the loose

3. The Real Housewives. So Hot-lanta is gearing up to start season 2 this month, and there’s all kinds of drama over the New York cast holding out for more money. And they’ve introduced the new Housewife in the O.C. Plus? They’re casting in D.C. and Las Vegas? Ohmygawd, I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Yo! Atlanta in the house!

Yo! Atlanta in the house!

4. Michael Jackson’s Daughter. After seeing her at her father’s memorial service, I have the feeling we haven’t seen the last of her. She seems extremely precocious and definitely isn’t afraid of the camera. Her comments about loving her dad and him being the best father ever were heart-breaking and genuine. But when she was sitting in the front row during the service, she seemed to like the camera and she was totally into performing  when they were onstage singing “We Are the World.” It may not be a bad thing but I hope to God she doesn’t get sucked into the same machine that chewed up Michael Jackson and spit him out. I hope whoever ends up with custody keeps her safe, protected and away from the spotlight as long as possible.

5. Bridget Jones. There’s going to be a third movie? This one is going to be about her trying to have a baby. If it’s half as good as the first one, I’m so in.

Diary of Bridget Jones

Diary of Bridget Jones

6. Bret Michaels. Will there be another Rock of Love? I hope so. Mostly because it’s good entertainment but also because I can’t believe he’d end up with that skank Taya.


More Rock of Love, please

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)

You Know You Watch Too Much Reality TV When…

I watch a lot of reality TV. A lot. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not entirely embarrassed about it either. I work hard and every night sometimes I need to flop in front of the boob tube and watch some truly spectacular crap. I’m not stupid, I’m not vapid, I’m not shallow, and it’s not like this is all I watch (and, yes, I do read) but, to me, reality TV is like a good cocktail on a Friday night. It goes down smoothly and it takes the edge off.

But I AM starting to realize that maybe I’m watching too much of this stuff and I need a reality check. When I scan through my list of recorded shows, it looks something like this:

The Amazing Race. This actually doesn’t qualify for crappy reality TV. I love this show. And I’m determined to get on it with Bill. With my brains and his beauty, we could totally win!

Rock of Love Bus. I’ve chronicled my love for this show on my blog before, but really, it bears repeating. Bret Michaels and his mid-life crisis rock. Yes, the chicks are skanky and not so bright, and they frequently get stinking drunk, but for some reason it’s my crack. I need my fix every Sunday morning.

Celebrity Rehab 1&2/Sober House: It’s basically like Celebrity Intervention. Dr. Drew gets a lot of crap for selling out but there is some good advice in there and he doesn’t make it pretty or tie things up in a neat package.

The Real Housewives of Orange County/New York/Atlanta. They’re casting for a Las Vegas version. You know these women are gonna be more gaudy awesome than the Atlanta Housewives.

The Girls Next Door: Holly, Kendra and Bridget have all left Hef, and I actually shed a tear. Hef suddenly looked old without the girls. It won’t be the same with the new twins (nope, not a euphemism).

Ru Paul’s Drag Race: Ru is more fierce than Heidi Klum any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Dancing With The Stars: It’s back! And it’s got Steve-O, Little Kim, the Naked Guy from the Sex & The City movie, and the usual selection of football players, Olympic athletes and Z-List “stars” (that’s you, Denise Richards).

Top Chef: It’s got drama, knives, good food and snarky judges.

• American Idol: I tried to stay with it this season, but I decided to break up with it a couple of weeks ago. I just can’t do it. It does nothing for me. Delete.

You know it’s bad when your reality show collide. Holly Madison and the dumped chick from The Bachelor on DWTS? Is this show becoming the consolation prize for reality stars?

This list, by the way, doesn’t even cover the real TV I watch. Seeing it in print is a little scary. Acknowledgement is the first step, right?

Social Media or Anti-Social?

I had dinner Friday night with my best friend. She’s been a part of my life for the past 13 years or so. The first three or four years we were merely co-workers—although I’m sure she saved my bacon on more than one occasion. I was laid off from that job after nearly four years, but she was instrumental in getting me hired in a different division a few months later.

Over the years we’ve gotten closer. She knows me. She knows almost everything about me. She knows about all my ups and downs, my frustrations, my accomplishments. We share our dreams and fears over cocktails and dinner.

Friday night over one of our not-frequent-enough dinners we were talking about Facebook—I’m pro; she’s con. I was yammering on about all these people I’ve reconnected with—old friends from grammar school and high school. For me, it’s been exciting to catch up with people again at this point in my life. People who, for the most part, good friends at one time. Others were acquaintances—kids who were part of a very extended circle—but I’ve enjoyed finally getting to know them now as adults, without all the bullshit and drama of high school insecurity.

My friend doesn’t see it that way. Her thought is that people drift in and out of your life at specific times, and when that time passes, you move on. I’m sort of taking editorial liberties with this, but I think it’s the gist of things. She jokes about having a scrap heap—a jumble of people who have come in to her life and for various reasons have gone. Sometimes it’s a matter of outgrowing friendships. Sometimes it’s a matter of not being treated well by someone. You wash your hands of them, and that’s it. I have my own version of that scrap heap. Very few make it off the heap and back into my life.

So when I was telling her how happy I was that I’ve caught up with specific people, on Facebook, people that I didn’t just drift away from, but had deliberately cut out of my life,  she reminded me that there were reasons I was no longer friends with them, and she pointed out to me the ways that I’ve changed since I’ve becomes so socially active online. And not necessarily in a good way.

I like to think that all this social networking I do is sort of healthy. I am not the most social person I know in real life. Far from it. I’ve always been painfully shy but I’ve tried to overcome that as an adult. But I still get nervous and insecure when I have to meet new people. I still hate the idea of making small talk with a group of people I barely know. It’s not exciting to me or an adventure. I am bad at networking in real life because I can’t stop tripping over my tongue. I get so nervous that a person’s name goes right out of my head. I am full of non-sequitors in conversation because I can’t get out of my own way and listen to whomever I’m speaking to. I wonder if people are calculating how many seconds it will take them to get away from me. I wouldn’t blame them because I’m usually calculating how many feet it is from where I’m standing to the bar.

For me, my online social life is safe. I can relax, hidden behind the security of my lap top. I can take a second to think of what I want to say (although I’m sure I hit Publish too quickly sometimes), which makes me feel witty and smart. I’m fully aware of how pathetic and anti-social this sounds. I don’t really think I’m either thing, though. I do actually leave the house and meet people and have real-life friends and relatively healthy relationships.

But I do wonder if it’s made me a little narcissistic. I think in status updates sometimes—for Facebook and Twitter. I try to think of clever, funny comments that get people’s attention. That all falls in line with sometimes being obsessed with my blog stats.  And none of that is in line with why I started doing any of this to begin with.

I started this blog because I needed a creative outlet. It was never supposed to be about stats and comments. I wanted to start writing again. This blog was supposed to be an online journal of sorts, a place where I could go and write about what I was feeling or thinking with my own little sarcastic twist. Twitter was just supposed to be an extension of IM for me—another way to keep up with friends and see what they’re up to. Soon, my list of people I followed whet from 10 to 180. And, weirdly to me, my list of followers shot up to 175 at one point. Swoon! They want to know what I’m thinking! It’s sort of like Andy Warhol’s concept of 15 minutes of fame. Facebook was definitely meant to be a way to stay in touch with people, but it’s made me a little out of touch with myself, my real-life relationships and the people who matter.

It’s probably a safe assumption that my friends and family are less then thrilled about being surprised on this blog with  big revelations I have about myself and my life. Where I used to talk to them about things, work out issues over long (sometimes uncomfortable) conversations or just have a good laugh, now I sort of vomit ideas on my blog. I have a thought! I must blog! It’s a little chicken shit. Thank god I haven’t found a way to replace cocktails with friends with an online version or I’d probably be friendless right about now.

I’m not saying that I’m going to quit blogging (sorry, you won’t be let off the hook that easily!) or Twittering or even trolling around on Facebook, but I am going to be smart about it. When something is bothering me I will step AWAY from the keyboard and get some good old-fashioned face time with the people who matter. I’ll stop taking all the wrong things so seriously and start remembering what’s important. Without real social connections, nothing else is really real.

(How’s that for Buddah-like insight?!)

Lust, Must or Bust?

So what I really wanted are these:

Christian Louboutin Peep Toe Pump

Christian Louboutin Peep Toe Pump

Or, even these…

Christian Louboutin Mary Jane

Christian Louboutin Mary Jane

But sadly they are a bit out of my price range.

So I bought these…

Michael Kors Brookville Platform

Michael Kors Brookville Platform

They’re pretty comfortable, but a little more stripper shoe–looking than I realized when I bought them.

These are shoes that I wanted to wear to work, but I don’t want to send the message that I’m working the stripper pole instead of a desk. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them or not.