Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beauty Quest

In researching things for my side hustle, I got a book called The Complete Organic Pregnancy (great book!). It scared the shit out of me. There are chemicals everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Since we are planning on having a baby in the next year or so, I decided to start implementing some of the things they suggest such as using a natural dry cleaner, banishing chemical cleaners and using all-natural, paraben-free beauty products. The first two are no brainers and super easy (especially since my housekeeper uses the cleaning products).

The beauty products… well, I love products. Not love LOVE like people who blog about them, but I wouldn’t want to know how much I spend on them annually. When I went to Japan, I came back with two different shampoos, two kinds of smoothing cream and lots of make-up (the clothes are too small for tall Americans). Sephora makes me dizzy with possibilities. So, limiting my cosmetic purchases is, well, kind of like punishment. And kind of like a giant scavenger hunt.

During this hunt, this quest, this desire for paraben-free, silicone-free shampoo and lotions that works really, really well, I’ll post my results.

Since my husband is German, I feel a kinship with Dr. Haushka (that, and the fact I can get it much cheaper when I am in Germany). People are almost cult-like with their praise of his products. Last winter, I got a face milk (looks like this but not 100% sure it is the same thing since mine was in German and I used it all up and threw out the bottle) that was okay, but didn’t WOW! me. Recently, I tried the Rose Day Cream (I paid $39.99 at a local natural store and it's $20 on Sephora?!!). I give it a resounding thumbs DOWN. It was greasy feeling once on my face, and the cream is so thick, it’s hard to get on, which might be why it felt greasy. I probably put way too much on. I also have this crazy skin that breaks out in a fine rash, or in this case, cystic pimples if it doesn't like a product. Once I find a moisturizer I like, I usually stick with it for a long time. In the past, I’ve been a fan of all the Orlane creams, and now I am using Bioelements (hey! looks semi-natural!), which has an SPF of 15(until it runs out). Many of the natural face creams have no SPF because, hello! it is full of chemicals. The woman who gave me facials (all 2 of them) before the wedding recommended mineral make-up for sunscreen, but I haven’t gotten that hard-core yet. Eminence makes one that is all organic.

So, I am taking back the Dr. Haushka and trying Burt’s Bees Royal Jelly Night Cream ($14.99).

Currently, I am also testing:
Dr. Haushka shampoo
EO Conditioner
Burt’s Bees Shampoo (just bought today)
Burt’s Bees Conditioner (just bought today)
Burt’s Bees Cleanser (just bought today – guess who went to Target at lunch?)

On a side note, I also tried Stella McCartney’s line of moisturizers and they irritated my skin, too. (They were samples and I don't recall which one.) I’m trying to hold back on spending a million dollars on the Eminence line, but I’m heading that way.

Cheap thumbs up: honey as a exfoliater/masque. I tried it this weekend with some local honey I got at the farmer’s market. I just smeared about a tablespoon on my freshly washed face, let it sit for about 30 minutes while I watched TV, and washed it off. My skin looked great and felt good, too. Plus, I kept creeping out my husband by asking if he wanted to lick my face (he didn’t).

After linking to all the products I am using, I could have saved a ton of money if I'd just bought them online. Things are much cheaper than the natural pharmacy I went to in the Palisades, which, due to high pricing, will remain nameless for now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birds of a Feather

When I was single, I dropped married friends. I didn’t do it on purpose, but slowly, after a few invitations to do things got turned down, I just stopped calling. Then, on a whim, I’d remember how cool the person was and call again. We’d hang out, have a great time and promise to see each other more often. Then, as before, they would be busy with their husband and I’d stop calling again. It only seems to get worse with kids.

Or maybe it was a combination of them wanting to spend time with their husband and us not having as much to talk about. When I was single, I’d spend hours talking about who I was dating, analyzing why he did or didn’t call, wondering if it was going to work out, wondering if the woman at his office was indeed “just a friend.” I’d hike along with friends listening to them agonize over their recent asshole boyfriend and I’d empathize and tell my most recent asshole boyfriend story.

Once, when I was dating a great guy/asshole, I was bemoaning why he didn’t call more often and why he never asked me out in public with people if I meant so much to him when one of my married friends said, “Forget about him. There are much better guys out there.” WHAT??? FORGET ABOUT THE ASSHOLE?? Does this smug married woman have any idea what it is like to date in your 30s? She met her husband at 24 and married him at 30. They had their ups and downs, but she never had to face her 30s single. She was clueless. Needless to say, my calls to her, her husband and two kids grew less frequent. Clearly, we were in different stratospheres. And clearly, she did not understand me.

Or did she? When I finally met my husband who is not an asshole, I finally started to understand her comments. They weren’t said to be smug or demeaning, but because she could see what I couldn’t.

Sunday, I hung out with three single women. All amazing, beautiful, successful, smart women. And all single. (Stupid men.) And I felt like… well, like a fish out of water. I felt like when I opened my mouth I was on watch. And then, just like a smug married, I made an incredibly insensitive remark. We were talking about population control and how people shouldn’t just have kids because society says you should. One of the women said she didn’t’ think she wanted kids, but she better decide soon. I said, as the conversation pulsed along, “The decision might be made for you.” She shrugged. Simple. The conversation continued for a bit, and we all broke apart and headed our separate ways.

Then on my bike ride home, it hit me. That was a smug comment. I knew the feeling because I’d been there recently. I know what it is like to look down the barrel of motherhood. The clock is ticking. There is no man on the horizon, and the idea that motherhood – the most innate of all things a woman is supposed to be – might possibly pass by. The last thing you need is to be reminded of the clock. I know the comment came out as insensitive. Out of touch. Smug.

Maybe there is a reason married people and singles don’t hang out as much as they did when everyone was single. We’re just in different places, and sometimes, it's hard to understand the other place.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Colorado Dreaming

Autumn. Fall. It brings to mind warm sweaters, cool nights, leaves changing. That is, if you live somewhere with seasons. When I moved to Los Angeles over five years ago, I grinned when I realized fall meant a light sweater at night, no crowds at the beach and a new television season. I used to hike almost every weekend, and even nature in Los Angeles changes with the seasons. It is just more subtle. And I was happy with this.

All of this seems to have changed. I got married. Friendships got magnified. Between my wedding and my friend Maggies’s wedding, I spent most of the summer on trips and adventures with my Colorado friends. I love lots of things about Los Angeles. The year-round farmer’s markets. The Pacific ocean outside of my window. An endless choice of restaurants and shopping. But this year, I’m missing the cooler weather and my pack of friends in Colorado.

I talked to my friend Tricia who lives in Vail this weekend. She was talking about walking around in the village, the covered bridge, the place where we celebrated New Year’s eve 2001. She told me she’s taking a wagon ride to Beano’s cabin in Beaver Creek tonight. And all of a sudden I could picture it all. I could feel the cooler air and imagine walking around Vail near the creek; the aspens turning gold. Aspens catch light in an amazing way. It sort of bounces off the leaves, filtering the light so it twinkles. When I used to camp, I loved waking up in an aspen grove just to see the morning light.

It all made me miss Colorado. Of course, when it is 10 degrees there with a blizzard of snow, I’ll be happily walking around in flip-flops, but today, I miss Colorado and I really miss my friends.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gratitude and Lunch

Since I couldn’t have twenty bridesmaids, I decided to have a bridal luncheon honoring the women who make my life wonderful, full and hysterical. They are the women I call most often. The ones who saw me through way too many bad relationships, job changes, times of poverty and deep debt, the loss of my stepfather, graduations and of course, the development of my relationship with my husband. To me, this luncheon was incredibly important. The luncheon, just as I envisioned it, was sort of magical.

My mom and I decided to have the luncheon at her mountain house – the one she lived in with my stepfather that she now rents out as a vacation rental. This is the house that I thought of when I started thinking of North Carolina as home instead of Virginia. The house itself is nothing spectacular. It’s an A-frame house two miles up a dirt road. But once there, it is peaceful with a breath-taking view - on a clear day, it's a seventy-miles view. It was the best place to escape to after finals in college. In the winter, I would snuggle down into bed and sleep all day. Since it is about thirty minutes from town, the most there is to do is relax, take walks and relax some more. I couldn’t imagine all my friends flying to North Carolina without seeing this part of my life.

I felt like utter and complete crap the Friday before the wedding. I was fighting a cold and popping pills like a strung-out junkie. When I pulled up to the house with my friend Jen, people were already there. My sister-in-laws (I have 3 now!), aunt and mom had set everything up beautifully. My best girlfriends were mingling in the living room and on the deck taking in the view. My 90-year old grandmother chatted with them. All of these amazing women were in one place. And all celebrating me and our friendships.

Before we ate, my mom wanted to do a blessing. We gathered in a circle on the deck, and I took a few moments to introduce everyone and to say how I knew each person. All of my friends had heard of each other so it was great for them to put faces with names. Jen was my best friend at the University of Colorado. Cheryl was my oldest friend - 34 years of friendship! Krista and I met in the dorms freshman year. I met Heidi in Hollywood. Tracy is my local friend - a true North Carolina native who procured the moonshine for the wedding. Tricia, one of my always happy friends, is the one, ironically, I've shared the most grief with. When I met Maggie, we didn't like each other because we were in the shadows of our ex-boyfriends and blind to how cool each other are. Rebecca was my "husband" when I lived in LA right after college. She picked up the bills most of the time and I cooked and cleaned. Kristin is my calm, cool friend who I love to talk cooking with. And my cousins who were like sisters to me growing up. I didn't mention everyone, and if any of them read this, they know just by being there how important they are to me.

For 35 years I was mostly single, and these women made life so much more fun. They supported me when I was going through changes, but most of all, they kept me laughing. After lunch, I handed each woman a card I’d written for them thanking them for being in my life. Then, in a nice quirky turn, my aunt suggested everyone say why they liked me.

I sat like a queen at the front of the living room, sipping hot ginger tea on a 95 degree day in an effort to be healthy for the wedding, and listened as friend after cousin after friend told stories about me and said how much they loved me. It was amazing. My aunt said, “Only on your wedding and your funeral do all your friends come together. How lucky you are to be alive now to hear all the good things they are saying!”

Amen, Aunt Karen. I am incredibly lucky and blessed.

(And thanks to ginger tea, sudafed, nyquil and antibiotics plus a little wedding magic, I felt great on our wedding day!)