Thursday, May 27, 2010

Feminism isn't relative.

Towards the beginning of the semester, I asked my sophomores, "Are you being intolerant and bigoted if you say that you hate racists/bigots/homophobes?" Overwhelmingly, they responded with "Yes - all hatred is bad. People should be allowed to believe what they want to believe, even if it's bad."

What few of them know (because only a few of them actually asked me) is that I wholeheartedly disagree. And my reasoning is that if you hate someone based on their skin color or sexuality or religious beliefs, it is entirely likely that you are seeking to limit their rights and privileges and to basically treat them as lesser than you, and in some cases, to even destroy them. If I hate someone because they are racist, I'm not saying that they don't deserve the same rights and chance at happiness in life - I am really only asking that they don't take that away from someone else. I don't want to oppress THEM - I want them to open up their minds and stop oppressing others. I do not believe that tolerance is relative.

Nor is feminism. Sarah Palin has decided to call herself a feminist, attempting to create her own brand of feminism. Well, in my opinion, her "brand" of feminism is NOT feminism. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't read every thing in the world written about or by her, but from what I've gleaned, she's anti-choice ("pro-life") and anti-gay marriage. And that's enough for me to raise my eyebrows at her calling herself a feminist.

I will admit that part (just PART!) of how I define feminism is the freedom to express myself and make my own choices about my life according to my own will, as opposed to be pressured by society and gender roles and the patriarchy to live my life a certain way. And I believe that other women should have the same freedoms. Even Sarah Palin should have those freedoms.

But SHE doesn't believe that every woman should have those freedoms. And that's the thing. According to this article, she is so NOT a feminist. Feminism isn't just about letting women do their thang. It's NOT a "to each her own" sort of thing, at least, in my opinion.

I don't understand how you can be conservative, anti-gay marriage, anti-choice (yes, I'm using that word deliberately), pro-abstinence and ALSO be feminist. Because none of those things allows women to choose what to do with their lives and their bodies. A big part of feminism is women's rights! (I personally also tend to include men's rights under "feminism" as well.) If you take away women's rights, then you're taking away a major part of what feminism is. If the implementation of your beliefs eventually leads to women having to step back into the outdated, old-fashioned gender roles that we were trying to break out of in the first place, then how is that feminism???

Give me back your feminist card, Sarah Palin. I'm not even sure how you got one in the first place (it's probably like how kids can get fake IDs to buy alcohol?), but you don't deserve it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

6:58, are you sure where my spark is?

I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
- Oriah Mountain Dreamer, "The Invitation"

 This week I asked my freshmen to reflect: "When everything seems bleak and hopeless, what keeps you going?" And so I ask myself the same question.

Things aren't bleak and hopeless, but I feel like I've been in a rut lately. I have not been feeling great about work - I'm either stressed out, or tired, or just in general feeling like a failure. I don't feel desirable and attractive. I feel like I am no longer a person who does cool and interesting things and who keeps stretching her limits and learning as I live. In general, I just feel... blah. Ordinary. Mundane. Unremarkable. I would not go as far as to say that I feel like no one cares about my existence, because I know that's not true. But I would say that I feel like my existence is not making as big a dent in the universe (in a positive way) as I would like.

But it's not like I crave attention or popularity. (I would hate to be famous - I think I'd make a horrible celebrity.) In fact, it's the opposite thing that I want - instead of being recognized, but not known, by lots of people, I would rather be truly known, and cherished, by a precious few. How many people truly know who I am, what I'm all about? How many people would say that my presence matters in their lives? Not many, not enough even to comprise a precious few.

I'm not including my family, like my parents, my brother, my own daughter, and Jimmy because... well, it's a given. It would be stupid for me to say that I haven't impacted their lives and that they don't know me. Also, other than maybe Jimmy, they didn't have a choice about whether I would be in their lives or not.

No, I'm talking about people I happened upon along the way, like friends, colleagues, school mates... Was I everything that I could've been, to them? Did I make my mark, or did I just pass through, like sand in a sieve?

In other words, I've been feeling a little bleak lately. Not hopeless, but definitely bleak. It's been hard for me to feel motivated to start my day. I sit in my chair in the morning before work, and I just don't want to go. I go, of course, but my mind is at such a disconnect from my life and my responsibilities right now.

A big part of my problem has been work, and not even the part I get paid for. Being an advisor has been a major stressor for me lately, and if I didn't love my officers and Michael and Lisa, I would've hightailed it out by now, to save my own sanity. It really has gotten to the point where it affects the part of my job that I DO get paid for - the teaching part. I admit, I haven't been there for my own students as much as I should have, because I've been letting my advising responsibilities take up more of my time and energy - if I'm not actively doing advising work, I'm sitting and staring out at my kids like a zombie because I've got nothing left to give. And that is NOT how things should be.

I have trouble facing the day. I not only lack the motivation and interest to do the things I have to do, but I also no longer have the energy or will to do things that I actually want to do. I cancel social engagements. I've stopped going skating. I can't even bring myself to walk down to the weight room and go running right now.

I literally just don't. want. to do. anything. I don't even want to sleep, if I'm awake. (And if I'm asleep, I don't want to wake up.) I've become one of Newton's laws of physics - an inert object will remain inert until an outside force is applied. It's like, I literally don't want to move unless I have to.

And of course I feel bad about it. I feel like it's my fault somehow, for not being able to find my spark, for losing sight of my inspirations in life.

Okay, so... after a long-winded intro, here's the actual point of my post: I'm trying to find my way again. What does inspire me? What keeps me going? What makes me happy?

I was musing on Facebook the other day that I need to make a Happy List - things that make me happy, nice things that people have said to me or about me, anything that will pick me up. And I should look at it whenever I'm feeling down or unmotivated, and it should buoy me up.

I'm not going to put it here - the things that some people have said to me are very personal. But here are some of my inspirations, things that make me happy:

- Jolie - Of course. Not just because I love her. Not just because she's my daughter. The fact that I'm watching her experience the world makes me want to make the world a better place for her to experience. I'm excited to share things with her. You know how some people like to take other people to see movies they've already seen? Or some people like to make mixtapes of their favorite songs to give to other people? It's because we want to share something with someone else and see their reactions and see them experience what we've experienced already. It's why I never get tired of teaching certain books over and over - I enjoy seeing how my students will react. And so, I am enjoying seeing how Jolie reacts to the world. I can't wait to see her try ice cream for the first time. Or ride a rollercoaster. Or watch a horror movie. Or try makeup.

- The "a ha!" moment - As a teacher, I deal with a lot more negatives than positives. For every kid who gets it, there are three kids who, not only don't get it, but they don't care if they don't get it either. From what I can see, the lives I touch are far and few between. (I say "from what I can see" because teachers don't often get to see if they've affected a kid's life... sometimes the kids themselves don't realize that they've been affected by certain teachers until much later, when something clicks and they realize, "Hey, Mr./Ms. So-and-so was right!" At least, this is what I'm telling myself.) But every now and then I will witness a student having an "a ha!" moment in class, and it's the most fantastic feeling. This year, when I was teaching film terminology to my sophomores, one of them said, "Dude, Ms. Ngo, I've never even heard of any of this stuff before! This has totally changed my life - I'm never going to watch movies the same way again!" Again, these moments are far and few between, but it's enough. I'll take it.

- "You look really nice!" - Okay, I'm not totally vain, but it really is nice to be complimented on my appearance, because I don't hear it a lot, so when I do hear it, it's extra nice.

- Beauty, in general - When I say this, I'm referring to beauty in nature, in art, in the world - not just "beautiful people." I love the sky at sunset. I love gorgeous photography. I love smiles. I love vivid, saturated colors. Vintage, crackled-paint furniture. Lace. Feathery eyelashes. Droplets of water. The sound of a glockenspiel. A perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream. Argyle. These things are all beautiful to me, and they make life pleasant.

- Hugs - I love to be hugged - not just the reaching-around, two-pats-on-the-back, hey-how-ya-doin sort of hug, but a real, I'm-holding-you-because-I-need-you-to-be-near-me sort of hug. The kind that needs no words. Those don't happen often, but they're so wonderful when they do.

- Injustice - What I mean is, as long as there is injustice in the world, I'm going to care about fighting it. Injustice isn't a motivator in the sense that it makes me happy (because that's dumb); it's a motivator in the sense that I will never want to give up fighting it. Hatred, bullying, oppression... I'm throwin' down, because everything I've listed so far? That's what I'm fighting to protect.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



When I was in 8th grade, a bunch of kids who hated me started calling me a dyke and a lesbo every time they had a chance to. (This isn't my only instance of bullying, but it was the first time they used those words.)

This was in 1997, and we were a tiny little private K-8 school, and my 8th grade class of 25 kids was mostly Asian and Indian. I am willing to bet that they didn't actually know what being lesbian or being gay actually meant - they just knew that it was an insult, so that's what they called me.

Looking back, I probably didn't know any better than they did what being lesbian or being gay actually meant either. But in response to them calling me those words, I would often yell back, "What are you, some kind of homophobe???" And it would shut them up for a while. (Either they didn't know what the word meant, or they could tell that I'd just called them something worse than what they called me.)

Being bullied and teased taught me compassion and empathy for other human beings - seeing other people/groups being bullied, discriminated against, harassed really hurts my soul. It taught me non-conformity - if the popular thing was to be like THOSE kids, then I didn't want to be popular. I don't need to sit around waiting for other people's approval.

On the other hand, I'm a bit lonely. Aside from a precious few people, I keep a certain distance from most people I know, and I don't feel comfortable in social situations. And I live a life of frustration in trying to convince other people (my students especially) to care about their fellow humans. (Doesn't mean I'll stop trying though.)


One of my favorite shows from my adolescence, Daria, was finally released in its entirety on dvd recently, and I'm excited for it. (It's on my mind because this morning, a friend of mine from high school sent me a really great article about why the show was "the greatest work of young adult fiction since the cave paintings at Lascaux.")

This show was a major influence in terms of shaping my personality and interests and the way I responded to the world. Even though I was more like the character Jodie (student body president) than Daria herself, I admired the fact that the hero of the show was smart, sarcastic, and just as disillusioned with the youth of America as I was. Not to the point where she completely withdrew from the world, but enough to keep her from getting sucked in. And that's kind of how I am. Daria was not a "F*** the world!* sort of person - she was more of a "The world does suck, and it's fun to laugh at it, but in the end, I'm going to stick around because I do actually care" sort of person. She was not easily impressed, but she wasn't a brick wall either.


I have a love-hate relationship with being Asian. I love being Asian when it relates to my family and traditions and what I grew up with. I hate being Asian when it relates to my peers or the collective identity of my generation of Asian-Americans. When I was in high school, I wasn't Asian enough for the Asian group - too whitewashed, because I listened to Nine Inch Nails and Bush and Dance Hall Crashers and shopped at Hot Topic back when people still thought it was a weird goth store, instead of listening to rap/hip hop/pop music and wearing whatever was popular with them back then. You know, things that don't actually have anything to do with being Asian, right?

And then when I went to Lewis & Clark, which was over 80% white, I was invited to events sponsored by our school's Ethnic Student Services, which helps students of color "adjust" to life on campus, I was actually offended. "Me? Ethnic? The only part of me that's Asian is the outside!" was my response. "I don't need help adjusting. I'm practically white!" In hindsight, I was completely, wrongfully judgmental of the department's aims, and one of the things I would change, if I could, was my decision not to be involved in their events. I think it would have made me a better person, and that is one of my regrets. Maybe I needed more help than anyone else, because my relationship with my ethnicity and my cultural background is so troubled.

I wish I could say that I've figured out my feelings on the subject. In the end, I just am what I am. I won't deny that there is Asian in me - not just my physical appearance, but everything that I grew up loving is there. It's not going to go away, and I don't want it to either. I don't really know what it means to be Asian, but what I do know is that no one else gets to make that distinction for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I have this conversation in my head sometimes

Not to make fun of the people I know who don't knit, but...

Just sayin'. As the title of the comic says, "You are free to learn how to do anything anytime." :) It's funny, the mental blocks we put up.

"I wish I could knit. Knitting is hard."
Me: "Like anything else, it takes learning and practice. It was three months before I got the hang of it."

"I wish I could knit. I don't have time."
Me: "Ever sit around waiting at a doctor's appointment? Ever sit around at a coffee shop waiting for someone to show up? Ever watch tv or movies? You have time to knit."

"I wish I could knit. The two sticks thing confuses me."
Me: "If you learned how to actually do it, you'd know what to do with both of them. They both have a purpose."

Questions I always get:
- Was that hard to make? - Not really, in the sense that you're just wrapping string around a stick. It took me a long time because I actually have a job and a baby and stuff.
- If I pay you, will you make me one? - Honey, you couldn't afford it. If you paid me for the cost of yarn, plus even minimum wage for my labor, you'd be looking at, like, 60 bucks at least for  hat or scarf. Maybe a couple hundred bucks at least for a sweater. So, no, I don't work on commission. I knit for other people when I feel like it.
- Can you show me how to make one? - I can teach you to knit, but you'll never get anything done unless you're willing to put in the time and effort to work on it. Knitting's only fast when you're already good at it, and even then, not always.
- Why don't you just buy one instead of making it? - Um, because the point is that I enjoy the process of making something with my own two hands. Plus, a lot of the patterns I've seen are totally unique. I've never seen things like that in stores.
- Isn't the point of knitting that it's cheaper to make something instead of buying it? - Again, no, the point of knitting is that I enjoy making something with my own two hands.
- Is knitting the one with a hook? - No, that's crocheting. And both knitters and crocheters get annoyed when people mix them up. Even if you can't tell which is which when you're looking at a sweater at the store, you should at least keep the hooks vs. needles thing straight. Or, when in doubt, ask. Don't act like you know what you're talking about and then get it wrong.

Knitting is not merely a hobby, a time-waster. It, like running, keeps me sane. It gives me a chance to let my creativity flow, and it gives me immense personal pride in making things. If you want to do it too - by all means, hop on board! I'd be happy to teach you. But if you're going to hem and haw about it, then don't waste my time - I've got knitting to do.

(Not to sound totally rude in my post, but... by now, I've heard these things a million times over. At this point, I just gotta say... if you want to try something, then DO it. Knitting is a low-risk activity and knitters are happy when more people join their cult. So why are you afraid?)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shh! It's a present for someone!

I'm giving it to them tomorrow.

For my dearest friend Lisa, who is pregnant right now.

This is the Basic Baby Slippers pattern from the Baby Knits Kit - you know, when knitting was starting its new wave of popularity a few years ago, companies were selling boxes with pattern cards and they also came needles and enough yarn for one of their projects?

Well, this was the project. Only, they TOTALLY give you the wrong needles - they said size 4 on the pattern card, and the ones in the kit have GOT to be 8's. I can only assume that this is acrylic yarn.

Anyway, I made some modifications - instead of the icord/elastic cuff in the pattern (there isn't even a picture of it online, so I can't show you), I crocheted a foldover cuff with eyelets for stringing the ribbon through.

I hope she likes it! She didn't know I was making these for her, so it'll be a surprise tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Deluxe in blue!

This is the same look as the one I just posted, only instead of using Fishnet as the crease color, I used Peace (a bright teal) instead!

On my face: UD's Urban Defense tinted moisturizer, MAC's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, and UD's Afterglow blush in Quickie; on my lips: UD's lipstick in Requiem
Ransom on the lid up to the crease
Peace in the crease (ahaha that rhymed)
Ruthless as a highlight

I used Lola's Fineline pencil in black (a VERY tiny thin eyeliner) to line my upper lid, and UD's Flipside pencil to line my lower lid. Topped off with Fresh's Supernova mascara.

Funny how blue instead of pink changes everything!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sylvi by Mari Muinonen

Finally, after a YEAR of slaving away, it's finished!

I started this sweater when I was pregnant, and look! We both can fit in it still!

An open letter to Pearl Izumi

In response to ads like this one, this one, and the latest one to appear in the new issue of Runner's World magazine:

THE MARATHON. ONCE A TEST OF WILL, NOW A TEST OF PATIENCE. The marathon used to be an elite athletic contest. These days, it’s an all day affair where some people mosey across the finish line seven hours after they started. Now don’t get us wrong. we don’t want to take anything away from these “finishers”. But we are fairly certain that Pheidippides wanted people to beat more than the sunset. In our humble opinion, the marathon is a race that was meant to be, well, raced. Because when you race the marathon-when you truly give it everything you have and then some- you honor the spirit of the marathon. And that is exactly what it will take to keep running the most venerable race alive and well. So the next time you’re toeing the line, respect the marathon. Run like an animal.

 Dear Pearl Izumi,

I'm not sure who told you that alienating the largest part of the running demographic (slow runners, especially beginning runners) was good business strategy, but let me tell you that it's not. Also, let me enlighten you (in case you didn't know) that Pheidippides promptly dropped dead after he arrived at his destination. I'm not sure who told you that encouraging your clientele to engage in running at such an intensity as to drop dead is good business practice, but let me tell you that it's not. If all your customers die, and everyone else refuses to buy your products because your advertisements are insulting, elitist drivel, then you'll be up a creek without a paddle. And you don't seem like you're the sort of people who respect aqua-jogging.

Who exactly are referring to, when you talking about people moseying across the finish line? Nobody moseys by the end of a marathon, no matter what speed you've been going. I've walked a few half-marathons, and I've always finished with a slight limp. People who are seriously walking in a serious marathon walk hard. It's true it takes them all day, but we can't control our appropriate speeds. Now, I'm operating under the assumption that it's not good to die at the end of a marathon (a belief that you don't seem to share), but I tend to believe that marathons should be run/walked/completed at a pace that won't cause injury. For some people, that pace is a 6-minute mile; for a lot of others, it's a 17-minute mile. Either way, it's never a mosey. And considering how lots of races have a finish time requirement, very few of them are all day affairs.

Do you have some sort of magical mind-reader laser beam that can tell when people are like, "Oh, I'm going to take it easy for the MARATHON, I don't want to wear myself out"? Do you, as a big running gear corporation (but not even the biggest one anyway - oh hi, Nike!), have the power and the authority to infer people's motives and thought processes and intentions when they decide to train for a marathon?

Stop being d-bags. The beauty of the marathon, and indeed of running in general, is that everyone can do it. Some people have more talent for it than others, but if you can put one foot in front of the other properly and with some propulsion, then you can run, and if you can run and you have the will to train, then you can complete a marathon. WITHOUT dying.

And choosing to walk or run slowly does not invalidate the accomplishments of those who are faster or more experienced. All marathoners, at any speed, have to be at a certain base level of fitness and ability to even complete the training program, let alone complete the marathon. It doesn't cheapen the marathon. It's not like "true" runners do the full 26.2, and we "joggers" are doing only 20 and then calling it the same thing. 26.2 is 26.2, no matter who it is that finishes it, or how fast. If you need something to separate yourselves from the rest of us unwashed masses, that's what your finishing time is for. But if you're butthurt because you "ran" and someone who "walked" finished in approximately the same time as you, then tough noogies.

Runners are people who run. Period. It doesn't matter how fast. It doesn't matter if it's outside or on a treadmill. It doesn't matter if you wear ratty tshirts and gym shorts, or matching spandex outfits. It doesn't matter if you run the whole entire time or if you do a walk/run interval. It doesn't matter if you're training for a race, or if you're just trying to get healthy. You're a runner if you run. If you run and are obsessed with status and labels and elitism? Well, you're still a runner, but you're jerk too.

Pearl Izumi: Why don't you spend more of your adspace encouraging people to be runners instead of encouraging people to be jerks?

Thu. A RUNNER who runs just slowly enough so she can have some energy left to kick your ass for being jerks.

"The world was such a wholesome place until...Cruella..."

Test driving it today. Blotted the heck out of it to make it stain-like. Kept the eyes light. In keeping with the NARS lips, I'm also wearing my NARS Multiple in (what else?) Orgasm.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

One flower down, three more to go

Sylvi approaching the finish line!

Try this look: The Royal Deluxe

It's my first Mother's Day today. Hooray!

And as a big believer in giving myself the royal treatment on my special day, I present to you The Royal Deluxe, a gorgeous, purpley look (because purple is the color of royalty, dontcha know?) using Urban Decay's Deluxe Eyeshadows.

So, here are the products I used:

The UD Deluxe palette, two single Deluxe shadows (Frigid and Ruthless), and three 24/7 eye pencils (Zero, Ransom, and Gunmetal).

  1. After priming my lids, I used a small eyeshadow brush to apply Ransom (an sort of iridescent indigo) from the palette to my crease (the actual one on my eyelid, as opposed to the area just under my browbone. Since I'm Asian, I have two different "creases" whereas different ethnicities just have one). It goes on pretty sheer, so depending on how intense you want it to look, you might want to layer more. (I layered more =P)
  2. Using a crease brush, I applied Fishnet (fuschia) from the palette and blended it into my browbone crease (just above the Ransom, so it blends the line) in a swiping, upside-down U shape. This one is not quite so sheer - definitely start light, and add more if needed.
  3. Using the same crease brush, I applied Ruthless (the single shadow - the taupe color) as a highlight on my browbone and in my tear duct area, and blended the Fishnet a little bit.
  4. Using a smudge brush, I applied Frigid (single shadow - the dark purple) along my upper lash line, kind of as a super thick eyeliner, but blended it into the Ransom, so there wasn't a harsh line.
  5. I used Zero (the black eye pencil) to line the INSIDE of my upper lid as well as smudge just a teeny bit into the lash line (and then prayed that the makeup gods won't punish me by giving me some horrible infection). The Zero should not eclipse the Frigid - it should be the thinnest line possible. It's funny - you'll want it sharp to have a thin line, but not TOO sharp, because your waterline is pretty delicate.
  6. Ransom (the pencil - similar iridescent indigo as the eyeshadow) was used on my lower waterline.
  7. Gunmetal (shimmery gray) was used to define the inner corners of my eye.
  8. Topped it off my Maybelline Colossal Waterproof in Blackest Black.
And that's the look! Go easy on the lip color (choose a nude) since the eyes are very intense.

On the rest of my face:
  • Stila Sheer Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30 - Medium
  • UD 24/7 Concealer pencil in DEA
  • MAC Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus
  • Lola Treat 'n Glo duo in Laid Back Chic (used both the blush AND highlighter)
  • UD Lip Primer, 24/7 lip pencil in Wallflower (filling in), and Lipstick in Wicked (a shimmery mauve)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reflections on the eve of my first Mother's Day

I honestly haven't given much thought to what it's been like to be a mother. When I hear the word "mom," I think of those ladies in the commercials, mopping up spilled fruit punch with a smile because their paper towels are so absorbent, or shaking their heads at their silly children running off the plate of pizza rolls without a thank you. That's not me.

In all honesty, I don't know if I can tell what it's like to be a mother because I don't think of myself that way. I don't think of what I'm doing as being a mother. I just do my thing, and Jolie does hers. At this point, it's pretty straightforward. I change Jolie's diapers because I don't want poo and pee coming out all over the place. I feed her because I don't want her to die. I hug her and kiss her and play with her because... well, who wouldn't want to? She's beautiful and cute as buttons! I provide the input, she provides output, which is that, namely, she's strong and healthy and happy. And unlike other people's children, she seems to prefer me over someone else's mother. At this point, it's kind of like taking care of a pet. Only, I don't even have to walk her.

I jest, of course. I know it's not THAT simple. These first nine months haven't been all that simple. I've been working on a video and a baby book lately, to commemorate Jolie's first year (there's a lot to dig through), and having to go back through all my photos and memories of the early days has really reminded me how much I fretted and fussed and cried. How often we drove her to so many different doctor's appointments (as far as Oakland), because three different doctors needed to examine her hemangioma. How scared, humiliated, and wretched I felt the day she was born (until she was actually born). How the NICU made us go out of our way to prove to them that we weren't incompetent parents before they would release her. The preemie formula she had to have twice a day. The propranolol three times a day. Pumping every three hours, and crying that I was hooked up to a machine instead of being able to breastfeed my own child. The gestational diabetes. The blood tests and hormone tests because they couldn't see anything at my first ultrasound. The days of crying after more than one person expressed their wish for me to terminate my pregnancy.

This made me realize, of course, that life with this baby hasn't been simple at all. I remember for the longest time feeling like the odds were stacked against us, that we were doomed to experience as much complication and strife as possible, that we were never fated to have anything go smoothly, indeed.

And that's what makes Jolie so special. She is a beat-the-odds baby. She was born early (not Josie Duggar early, but still pretty early), but she was perfect (and the fact that she was small made her delivery extremely quick and easy). She never really went through the whole colicky, crying 24/7 phase - she only ever piped up when she needed to eat, be changed, or sleep. She completely caught up in her growth by 6 months. She had no problems with the hemangioma and it's fading so much. She does not shriek and cry at strangers; she just studies your face until she decides that she's okay with you. She loves all the solid food we've given her so far. And she's beautiful and sweet, but she's also extremely intelligent and quite feisty. In this sense, she's more than I could've ever asked for in a baby. She's somebody special, different from any other baby I've ever met.

The fact that everything I went through in being her mother could actually slip so far into the back of my mind really truly speaks to the fact that Jolie makes it extremely easy to be her mother. :) And the one thing I'm so glad about when it comes to that fact is that it allows me to retain "me."

And that goes back to what I said at the beginning. I'm not a typical mom, and it's because Jolie is such a wonderful baby that she can be my whole life without changing who I am as a person. I'm still me, only older and possibly wiser. And I think that that's the best of both worlds. When I say that having Jolie has changed my life, what I really mean is that she adds to my life; she does not take anything away. I didn't disappear down the Mother rabbit hole and end up in a weird warpy world full of Swiffer cloths and cartoon-printed bandaids and bake sales and PTA meetings. I still got to try out for roller derby. I'm still running. I still listen to Radiohead instead of Kidz Bop. I still knit. I still don't drink or smoke. I still don't go clubbing. My life lacks nothing that already wasn't there when I got pregnant, and in fact, it's much fuller. I can do all these things, and at the end of the day (and the beginning... and the middle... and pretty much all day), there is an amazing child who gets so excited to see me that she gets all gasp-y and giggly like school girls at an N Sync concert and whose cheeks need to be kissed and who needs to be picked up and held, and she knows that it's not the same if it's not me.

So, me, a mother? I don't even realize it. I don't think of what I do as being a mother. I'm just living. I'm existing, I'm breathing, and I'm doing. If you asked me to list words to describe myself, I'd probably first and foremost say "teacher," and then I'd say things like, "aspiring marathoner," "Jane Austen fan," "make-up addict," "literature nerd," etc, before I ever think to mention the word "mother." And yet, that's what I am, isn't it?

It's been a joyous ride. I love my daughter. And I love my own mother too. She must have done a great job raising me if my daughter is turning out so well.

Happy Mother's Day.

Here it is: my everyday red

I was actually lucky enough to find TWO reds that I could wear every day, but this was the one I chose to buy first. (Because I am SO going back to get the other one later on.)

Introducing... NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella...

"If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will!"
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are GIANT FATTY lip pencils. They're not like an average lip liner. But they are a great cross between a lipstick and a lip liner. They are a total matte finish (which is actually pretty drying on my lips, so I put on UD's Lip Primer underneath, to give it some moisture). They glide on like lipstick, but have the application control and staying power of lip liner. (If I try to put on lipstick without liner first, and without a brush, my lips look all sloppy.) It maybe needs some gloss? (I probably won't put gloss over it) And then, good to go!

Bright? Yes. Eye-catching? Definitely. I'm starting to realize that, no matter what shade, wearing red takes balls. You can never completely take the drama out of wearing red lipstick - it will always stand out. But unlike my Gash lipstick, Cruella doesn't have any shimmer, and it's not too dark either. And actually, I think it's more on the orange side than blue (on me, at least - I read a review of this that said it had more of a berry undertone). Maybe it's just me, but orange red seems more casual, more daytime, than a blue-red, which definitely says evening/dress-up to me.

Cruella, even in a light application, doesn't go on pinkish. (Gash does - you really have to glob it on to make it RED.) It really just goes on... red. You could put on just a little bit, smudge it all over your lips, and it's still red, not pink. (Which is actually how I tried it on at Sephora, because I started to apply it, and the tip totally BROKE and fell off, so I just pressed my lips together until they were all covered, and I actually liked it that way. I like the full coverage in my photos above too, but that light application was great!)

And it's SUPER LIGHT on. You know how, right after you paint your nails, you do everything kind of gingerly because the polish is fresh, whereas a few days later, you go about your business as normal? I'm like that with lipstick and lip gloss - when I talk with lip stuff on (actually, even with just lip balm or chapstick), my mouth doesn't feel exactly the same way it feels when I'm not wearing anything on my lips. It's like I'm UBER conscious that I'm wearing stuff, because I can definitely feel that there's an extra layer on my mouth. But 'tis not so with my Cruella - wearing this, I'm liable to forget that I'm actually wearing anything and kiss my baby with it and leave a big red imprint on her :)

So, that's my perfect red. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. I love it. It's perfect.

PS - My OTHER perfect red, also by NARS, was the semi-matte lipstick in Shanghai Express. Apparently it's everyone's perfect red, because it's one of the best-selling reds at Sephora? It's actually very similar to Cruella, IMO, only it's semi-matte, and definitely needs lip liner. (You can't wear reds without lipliner - you need perfect definition.)

PPS - I found a blog maintained by an British-Asian girl/woman that is called My Perfect Red, and it's basically all about - you guessed it - red lipstick. She hasn't updated in almost a year, and she doesn't seem to have any photos of herself wearing the actual colors, but she does have swatches and photos of the products, so... *shrug*. If anything, it's a nice long list of reds to check out.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mission accomplished!

I found my perfect everyday red tonight! I took some photos. However, the lighting really didn't do it justice.

To hold you over until then, here's a photo of me wearing the Gash Triumvirate - Gash liner (filled in), and then Gash lipstick, topped with Gash Ultraglide lipgloss. Vampy! (And then edited for fun on Picnik.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A comparison of reds

I love a good deal as much as anyone, and when had an Urban Decay sale recently with up to 75% off, I had to jump in. I bought two Ultraglide lipglosses for $4.25 each, and their Big Buddha Brush for only $9.

The two lipglosses I got were O and Gash, both gorgeous reds. And I already have the Ultraglide in Heat, so I thought... let's do a comparison of reds! I tried on all three and snapped photos.

The glosses, with very subtle differences between them

 So, here's a swatch sample on the back of my hand:

L to R: O, Gash, and Heat
And as sort of a "context," here's me, without any lipgloss on. (No makeup at all, actually, except for eyeliner. Please excuse me.) I'm showing you this because 1) lipgloss can be sheer, and 2) the lighting where I took the photos isn't great. But this should show you the difference between me glossed and me non-glossed. Because if you saw me in person, my lips actually have a little color naturally:

So, without further ado, here we go. First up is Heat, the one I already owned. From Urban Decay's website:
And this one definitely is sheer. I mean, you can tell it's on, but it is definitely sheer, and the glitter reflects so much light that it probably looks more sheer than it would be if it didn't have glitter.

So, it does look like I'm kinda wearing lipgloss, but it's pretty subtle. If I weren't the one actually wearing it, I would not have thought that there was any lipgloss (in the second photo, at least).

Next up is O:

It looks red in the tube, but it does actually go on as a pink. It's got a sheen to it, but is definitely the least sparkly of the three. On me:

Ultraglide is billed as a cross between a lipgloss and a lipstick, and I think O definitely brings some truth to that assertion. The creme sheen and the coverage definitely make it lipstick-y, but the texture and glide make it gloss-y.

Last is Gash, and this color is near and dear to me because it's my favorite (special occasion) red in its lipstick form. (See my post from junior prom.) Gash is billed as:
It's definitely deep, definitely shimmery (not glittery like Heat). The cola flavor is kinda weird, I have to be honest. But it doesn't bother me.

On me, it's less like my favorite lipstick, but probably great as an every day version (especially if worn over Gash lipliner pencil.):

Love it!!!!! The lighting doesn't do it justice - it's definitely RED, but less vampy and in-your-face than the lipstick. Gash reigns supreme as my favorite red shade of all.

What am I going to do with three red lipglosses? I don't even know. Lipgloss never lasts as long as lipstick, but it's so cute! And if you LOVE looking dramatic in red, lipgloss is a perfect way to tone down the drama a little bit but still keep that attention-getting factor.

PS - I applied the glosses straight from the tube - they have this soft, silicone applicator tip, so it's really nice going on. If I wanted to be very neatnik and precise about it though, I would use a lip brush.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jolie: Month 1 (video)

So, I'm working on a video to commemorate Jolie's first year of life. It's going to take me a while - there's SO much I want to include, but you know, not everyone is interested in ten straight minutes of photos that look very nearly the same :) So I'll have to pick and choose.

Here's a teaser. It's the intro and the newborn era. Notice how in the composite, there are some photos missing :) I'll go back and fill those in later.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hooray for Jolie!

Yesterday was Jolie's 9 month birthday, so she has officially been out of my womb longer than she was in it!

Today was her 9-month checkup with her pediatrician, and I have to say that I'm SO proud of her. She measured in at 28.25 inches, which puts her in the 75th percentile for body length for babies her age (and we're not even looking at an adjusted-for-preemies scale!). We could tell that she had grown, but I didn't realize just how much - at her 6-month checkup, she was 24.8 inches, so she's grown almost four inches in the last three months! So amazing!

And she's right on target for all her other measurements and her eating and all that, so I couldn't be more proud of my little girl. On the date of her birth, she was 16.75 inches, and now she's 28.25 - she's pretty grown an entire foot!

The little "birthday" girl :)
In not too long, it will be her REAL birthday, oh my gosh.

Atop her throne

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My first "long" run!!!

Run 5:00, Walk 1:00

See the preciseness of that time and distance? It's because I am now the proud and doting owner of a Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch!

And here, check this out:

Average pace: 13:37mi
Average speed: 4.4mph
Max speed: 6.8mph

It's enough to make any stat monkey DROOL. And it syncs with Daily Mile! I just press a button and there it is!

So, the run was fabulous! I decided to run with the 13:00-13:30 group, because I've been doing my run intervals at a 13:00 pace on the treadmill. I've done all this crazy math to figure out how fast I have to run in order to make my average pace be fast enough so that I can finish the marathon on time (because you have to factor in the walk breaks). According to my math, I'd have to run a 12:30 pace. I'm starting slow right now, and hoping to get faster as I get more conditioned.

So, I thought that's what our coach meant - we would be running at a 13:00-13:30 pace. But apparently that ended up being our average pace! Which is excellent. Because I would need to go faster than 14:00 in order to beat the 6 hour time limit. Granted, I only did 3 miles this morning, but still. It's great to feel like the future is promising :)

I got new running shoes afterward, because I've had my current pair for two years. (Obviously, I haven't been using them the entire time.) I went to Running Revolution, a running specialty store, to get fitted, because if you want to be a serious runner, you should NOT just choose shoes off a wall at Sport Authority. If you choose the wrong ones, you could mess yourself up really bad.

Apparently I have boat-sized feet!!!!! My shoes are a MEN'S 7.5 2E!!!!! And my left foot is longer than my right foot! I'm a freak!!!

Get off your butt and get moving!!!!

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” - Henry David Thoreau

“Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” - William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” - John Bingham

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” - John Bingham

“Running won’t kill you….you’ll pass out first.” (uncredited)

“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?’ ” - Peter Maher

“The world is run by those who show up.” (uncredited)

“If you quit running, nobody cares, but you’ll always know.” (uncredited)

“You may run slow, but you are running faster than someone on the couch.” (uncredited)

“Quit? You know, I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time, but with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I’m sure you have a good reason to quit.” - Lance Armstrong

“People can’t understand why a man runs. They don’t see any sport in it. Argue it lacks the sight and thrill of body contact. Yet, the conflict is there, more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition. For in running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability, with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.” - Glen Cunningham; 2-time Olympian

(Okay, now off to go running!!!!!!!!!)

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...