Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review: My Highlights of 2013

In rough chronological order, here are some of the best moments of the past year for me:

- Reading The Fault in Our Stars
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in general, but especially being in the fandom
- PRing my half marathon, twice
- Disney Coast to Coast challenge
- Educating myself more about feminism and intersectionality
- Going back to roller derby
- Santa Rosa marathon
- Welcome to Night Vale
- My "excuses" being on Buzzfeed
- Catching Fire
- My birthday weekend

Monday, December 9, 2013

Demanda Riot, Disney princesses, and the marathon I didn't run

This weekend I turned 31. And none of it happened how I planned.

This was the weekend I was supposed to run the California International Marathon in Sacramento. It would've been my third full marathon, and my fastest (because I would've had to finish in 6 hours instead of 6:30 or 7:00). I was supposed to run it with my best friend Becca.

What happened instead was that I sprained my knee badly at the end of September scrimmaging at the BAD warehouse, which meant that by the time I felt well enough to run, it would be too late to just jump into marathon training, so that was out.

I was already missing so many things due to that injury, and missing the CIM was a major blow. Still, I tried to be optimistic and planned ahead.

Even if I couldn't train for a marathon, I could heal enough by December to get back on skates, right? So I decided to sign up for Red Red Holiday, the annual derby tournament put on by the Sac City Rollers, which was also taking place my birthday weekend in the Sacramento area. I signed up for a couple other derby events in the weeks leading up to Red Red, expecting that I would make it.

The weeks ticked by, and my knee barely got better. And then I got a sinus infection. And then SVRG's Thanksgiving tournament happened... without me there. And then PRG's mini-bout happened... with me off-skates as well.

And then, miraculously, my knee felt exponentially better. Not 100%, but all of a sudden I could do certain things that I couldn't do without pain before. And with skills testing going on at practice, I immediately went in to see my PT. She cleared me on Thursday to return to full-contact skating.

Just in time for Red Red Holiday - finally I would get to skate. I was assigned to Team Camo.

I was optimistic. I planned to play it safe - with 100% health, I would've been prepared to go in every other jam if they'd let me, but in this case, I would be content to go in every 3rd or 4th. (They were 20 minute bouts, so... not much playing time.) Nervous and excited for my first taste of derby action since the end of September, I packed up my stuff and made the drive through heavy traffic and hard rain with two other skaters from my league.

Saturday morning, I awoke after a restless night's sleep to birthday well wishes and nervous jitters - how fitting that my team was in the very first bout. On my birthday. What a way to start the day.

I met up with the rest of Team Camo, and we went over our plan and did some off-skates warmups before gearing up to hit the track. My endurance is pretty much shot to hell, but I managed to get through the paceline drills and stuff.

Then we did a blocking drill in threes. I was a little shaky because I was still finding my footing and getting used to playing aggressively again. I tripped and fell a little awkwardly, but I scrambled to my feet quickly to get in place for the next people to go through our wall of three. I slid kind of awkwardly again while trying to block, and BAM. I landed on my bad knee almost the same way I injured it. I cried out and pulled myself off the track and just stayed there for a minute on all fours, not really believing what had just happened and not really sure what to do about it. I couldn't even get up - my knee was hurting SO badly that it couldn't support me enough even just to stand up. A couple refs and even a couple teammates came over to see if I was okay, and I told them that I just needed a minute. I honestly believed that if I sat there for a little bit, I would magically be okay again - as if I could just TELL my knee, "Hey, we JUST got a doctor's note two days ago, so PULL IT TOGETHER." Knees just don't work that way, I guess. Stubborn, ornery little things.

I tried to get up again, and I couldn't. So I sat back down, right there on the inside of the track, and the sinking feeling was overwhelming. I bit my lip to fight back tears, as I realized the inevitable conclusion, which was that even IF I was well enough to get up and get back out there with my team to start the bout, it wouldn't take much of a fall to completely mess me up again. Especially with the level of skating from the girls on my team and the other's - I'm more than a rookie, but I'm nothing compared to these girls. And they weren't planning to go easy, so... there was only one choice in front of me if I didn't want to spend another two and a half months or more off-skates with something even worse.

I refused to let myself start crying right there in the middle of the floor in front of the growing crowd, so as soon I was able, I hobbled off the track and went back to our team locker room (which we shared with some other teams). And I cried there instead. I fought it for as long as I could, but with each piece of gear I removed, the tears fell harder. Derby can break bones, but the thing that hurts the most is when it breaks your heart. I had made it all the way there, only to re-injure myself during WARMUPS.

Knee injury, 7. Thu, 0.

I'm sorry to say it, but I moped. It was my 31st birthday, and I sulked and sniffled in the locker room like a little kid. Mine were the tears of the bitterly disappointed, and even after that subsided, I still sat there a little while longer, staring blankly at the ground or at my phone, hardly believing my bad luck.

Other skaters approached me to see how I was doing and offer their sympathies, and when I finally left the locker room to rejoin the derby festivities, my league mates didn't miss a beat trying to cheer me up. As we were watching one of the bouts, we noticed Demanda Riot standing nearby, and Moose said, "Hey, we should get Demanda to sign a program for you!" I managed a small, pathetic smile - I was too depressed even to get excited about my derby hero at that particular moment - and turned back to watching the bout silently. BUT... because Moose is the kind of person who will totally DO stuff, she ran off and came back with this:

And even I had to smile at that :) I don't know what Moose told Demanda (though I would love to know). The autograph itself would've been awesome, but the fact that she wrote "Happy birthday!" too made it pretty damn special. (I plan to frame this, by the way.)

A couple hours later, after I was feeling a little bit better, I was walking in the vicinity of Demanda and I decided to talk to her. I've spoken to her before, and she's ALWAYS been absolutely friendly and kind, but you know? When you have a crush on someone, you just can't help but be nervous around them because you think so highly of them and you want them to think highly of you. It's not JUST that I am in awe of her derby skills or that I find her incredibly attractive, but I also think she's an amazing person - again, as famous and widely-admired as she is, she's SO nice, and humble about her skating, and not into the superstardom aspect, and is just an all-around cool person - like, whenever she does a post-bout victory lap, she makes sure she high-fives ALL the hands and doesn't skip anyone, or the entire weekend, she played to the level of the other skaters on her team and the other team - she didn't go out and try to show off and SMASH everyone, which she was fully capable of doing. She's a classy skater who cares about the sport, and I respect that so much. I admire and adore her SO much.

So I was nervous. And I was already feeling pretty shaken and emotional, so when I approached her, she eyed me rather curiously and said, "Hey," quirking her eyebrow a bit. (I don't even want to know what my face must've looked like.)

In my brain, I was like, Oh god, she acknowledged me. Now I have to SPEAK. But then aloud, I said, "Thank you so much for signing that program for me. It really meant a lot."(I tried to sound as lighthearted as I could, but it didn't quite work, and I probably just looked so solemn and subdued.)  I figured she must sign a gazillion things all the time, and she wouldn't specifically remember my thing (and I didn't have my name on my jacket or anywhere she could see, and I would never expect her to remember my name or who I am), but she broke out into a big smile and said, "Aww, you're welcome! I'm glad to hear that. Happy birthday!" And I had to fight HARD to suppress the goofy grin that was suddenly threatening to overtake my face.

And from that moment on, I really started to realize how blessed I was to be there. I mean, yes, it's true that I would not have re-injured my knee if I had decided to stay home, but I would've been mopey at home missing both CIM and Red Red Holiday. I truly think that the derby community is the greatest thing in the world, because my entire weekend was full of kindnesses from other skaters and particularly from my league mates, who went above and beyond the call of duty and busted their asses to make sure my birthday ended on a FAR better note than how it began.

The thought of that makes me tear up a bit, because I never got super attached, emotionally, with other skaters in my league before I left derby last year. Maybe that was even a contributing factor to me leaving - I never felt excluded on purpose, but I tended to feel outsider-y, you know? Like, I honestly didn't think anyone cared much about me (not that anyone was uncaring, but I just didn't feel connected), but this weekend, I really saw how wrong I was about that. I know it sounds cheesy, but I had actual moments of, "They like me? They actually like me? They don't just put up with me?" and while I hated feeling burdensome (because they were there to play/watch DERBY, not to deal with my extreme emo-ness), I also felt incredibly moved by the love and caring I received from my PRG sisters.

And everyone else who was there, whether they realized it or not, really contributed to making my birthday (and this weekend) end on a high note, because there really isn't anything like the derby community. Jane Austen wrote in Northanger Abbey, "Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love," and while it's not disappointed love that I'm dealing with (well, it's really my disappointed love for derby, actually), the rest is certainly true: even strangers who heard the birthday shout-out that Moose ordered wished me a happy birthday (after seeing my name on my clothing), and a great many derby acquaintances asked me about knee, having heard about it all fall. Despite the fact that I'm injured because of roller derby, the best place for me to be was around other derby skaters, who know how disappointing it is when an injury keeps you away and who also love the sport so much that of course they don't find it ridiculous that I cried about not getting to play, because maybe they would cry too. I may never be as good as the majority of the skaters I watched this weekend, but I still definitely felt like I was among kindred spirits.

So this morning, as I sat reading the updates from the CIM (that I wasn't running) and watching bouts (that I wasn't skating in), I could not in any way feel sorry about my decision to go to Red Red for the weekend. I did not get to skate and I did not get to run, but I did get a smile and an autograph from Demanda Riot, and I did get the greatest outpouring of love and support I've ever received, and I did get closer to my leaguemates, and I did get to watch some awesome, AWESOME roller derby.

And I did get to meet some Disney princesses at Peet's Coffee on the way home, as well as ice cream at Fenton's:

Despite the way it started out, it did indeed end up being a happy birthday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Naked 3 basic look

This is in no way meant to be even a remotely impressive tutorial - I've been sick with something awful for three weeks, and it shows. However, I'm posting it because I though people might want to see how some of the shades show up against my skin. (I'm a MAC NC40, UD Naked Skin 7.0.)

- Buzz all over the lid
- Liar in the outer third of the lid
- Darkside in the crease and along the outer half of the lower lash line
- Limit to blend out the crease
- Strange on the browbone
- Eye pencil in Rockstar
- Maybelline The Rocket mascara

Buzz is described as "metallic rose shimmer" and Liar is described as "medium metallic mauve shimmer." On me, everything looks more brown than in the pan, but I can see the hints of pink as well. I'm curious to use these exact colors again over my NYX Milk pencil and see how different it looks on a white base.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quick thoughts on the Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay

I got my Naked 3! I managed to get my order in before they sold out.

Very beautiful! Nooner and Darkside are probably my favorites so far. Dust and Buzz are my least favorite just because of their micro-glitter texture - they're very beautiful shades, but they're a little crumbly compared to the other ones.

They don't all totally pull pink on me, and I think it's because some of them are less pink than others in the palette. Like, seeing them all together next to each other, you're like, IT'S ROSY! But swatching them individually, they aren't so pink that they clash with my warm undertones. (Also, I'm medium-dark, so that probably obscures some of the pink.)

Here are some pictures of palette:

And I know some people will find this sacrilegious, but I immediately depotted this because I want all my Nakeds to live together:

Naked 1 on top, Naked 2 center (I took out Half Baked and Blackout because they already exist in Naked 1 and 15th Anniversary, respectively), and Naked 3 on the bottom. (My Naked Basics lives with my 15th Anniversary palette.)

You can definitely see overall how much pinker this palette is than the previous two. Each shade has some element of "rosiness" in it, whether it's overtly pink, or peachy-pink, or goldy-pink, or mauve, or dark red. It's lovely, and I can't wait to use it. :)

Teachers are such precious unicorns.

One of my coworkers posted this blog on Facebook called "Don't date a girl who teaches," and it's a comical list of reasons why dating a teacher sucks. I thought it was hilarious. This isn't what I'm ranty about.

I'm ranty about the original blog post that inspired that one, called "Date a girl who teaches."** Oh, lordy. The girl who wrote this is obviously some sort of preschool/elementary teacher, because her reality is apparently all sugary-sweet and sparkly unicorns.

If you are looking to date a girl who teaches, and THAT list is what you're expecting, then you'd better stay away from me.

Date a girl who teaches children.
Okay, I guess teenagers are technically children too, but I can guaran-damn-tee you that secondary school teachers are an entirely different breed from primary teachers. When I was a brand new teacher having to do obligatory new-teacher stuff at the district office with all the other new teachers in the district, the divide was obvious. We would have large-group discussions about what we were experiencing in our classrooms, and the new elementary teachers were all sunshine and roses, and those of us at the high school (and even middle school) table were just like, WHAT. Bags under our eyes, stacks of grading on the table next to us, lots of expressions of dismay.

Our conversations were like:
"One of my kids told me to f*** off today."
"I heard kids have been sneaking off to the bathroom to have sex."
"A kid showed up to school DRUNK today."

I respect elementary school teachers, I do. I know they have their own set of issues to deal with, and I would never want to be an elementary school teacher, because I prefer the problems that I have - I'm just saying that THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE between our world and theirs. A BIG ONE.

(Although, I will say that that particular group of elementary school teachers in my new teacher group were kind of... well, misguided in their attempts to offer us advice about how to deal with our high schoolers. I know they meant well, but... YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE.)

God, that was just the first sentence of the blog post.

Date a girl who enjoys more in a bookstore for school supplies and children’s books rather than in make-up store.
*cough cough*

Find a girl who teaches. You’ll know that she does because she always carries supersized bags. She’s the one who has everything in her tote. From art-project glitter materials to wet wipes. She has to carry her laptop almost everyday and all those papers and booklets that only she can understand.
Because coming home bogged down with work to do every weekend is so cute and precious. (And of course, not getting it done because LIFE, so you keep carrying the same assignments back and forth. But hey, killer shoulders, amiright?)

It is easy enough to date a girl who teaches. She won’t want expensive gifts; you can buy storybook for her birthday, flowers for Teacher’s day, craft punchers for Christmas. You can buy her anything but please spare her with coffee mugs; she has lots from her students.
I CALL BS. While it's true that I did not get into teaching because of the pay, it is not true that I don't want or appreciate expensive things. And even if I DID want people to buy me school supplies as presents, it is also untrue that they are inexpensive. Maybe this girl has many uses for craft punchers, but a class set of novels for my kids would cost a lot. My digital projector was something I had to buy for myself (YEARS before our district finally got around to this whole "technology" thing and started buying them for teachers at our site), and that wasn't cheap. I got a couple great Litographs posters for free, but I was deathly afraid of hanging them up in my classroom, because I know how much they retail for, and I know how careless students are about the stuff on my walls when they stand up out of their chairs before they're supposed to and swing their backpacks onto their shoulders, knocking half the pushpins off the wall.

The idea that teachers don't care about money or the finer things in life isn't true. We DO care. We just care about other things a little bit MORE.

A girl who teaches won’t require much of your time. She will hardly see you on weeknights because she prefers to finish her lesson plans and worksheets and catch up sleep.
Yeah, because THAT's a healthy relationship. "Date this girl because you won't have to try as hard most of the week." Ask anyone who's married to a teacher - it actually requires a lot of your time, because then you're having to take care of the stuff that she can't get to. Ask my boyfriend how awkward it is when we're out together and we run into my students. (Actually, this is probably why we just stay in all the time.)

This is also assuming that that's ALL this girl does with her life. If you insist, she will try her best and make it to the last full show of Inception even on a freakin’ Wednesday night just to be with you. (Please cooperate and pretend with her that she enjoyed the movie by not asking details of the show anymore.) Umm... because teachers are incapable of doing and enjoying anything that doesn't have anything to do with teaching? Because all we are is THE JOB and we have no lives or interests outside of teaching?

Date a girl who teaches. She’s heaps of fun, up for anything, and generally the life of the party after her long workweek. You won’t remember that she works with small children until she starts sharing insignificant stories about children that you will never meet.
Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's just high school teachers, but we don't get together and share cute stories about cute kids. (Please see my earlier example of conversations between high school teachers.) I'm sure there are lots of teachers who like to PARTY ALL THE TIME PARTY ALL THE TIME on the weekend, but most of the time? We're just tired, yo. And we've got all the other LIFE things to tend to.

Don’t be scared if you accidentally fart in front of a girl who teaches. She has high tolerance on the yuckiest things on earth, be it snot, poop, pee or vomit. She won’t bother.
I can't believe this was seriously a thing on this list. Homegirl, WHAT ARE YOU ON? Yeah, I personally am not judgy about bodily functions, but it's not because I have kids pooping in my classroom. (Another difference between elementary and high school, I suppose. If you accidentally fart in a high school classroom, it's not the teacher's opinion you'll be dealing with.)

Also, as a teacher I've grown accustomed to bad vocabulary, grammar, and spelling, but like, that doesn't mean you should let loose.

Experience dating a girl who teaches young children and you’ll be surprised of the life lessons you’ll learn from her. She will definitely touch your life.
I guess you can't learn anything from girls who don't teach young children. Woe is me.

Date a girl who teaches because you deserve it. She’s sweet, she’s witty, she’s creative (in ALL areas)
WOW. Did homegirl just throw out a sexual innuendo? I mean, it's not like there isn't already a cliche about sexy teachers. It's not like we don't have to be super careful about hugging our students or keeping our doors open/unlocked in case people get THE WRONG IDEA. It's not like linking "teacher" and "sex" can in ANY WAY threaten our jobs because we're supposed to be perfect, sexless robots because there's a "role model" clause in our contracts and THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

Seriously though. I'm not a prude or anything - I just think it's hilarious that this statement is trying to imply that just because I came up with a really cool project idea for my film-as-lit unit, it somehow translates to being sexually adventurous. LOL, y'all.

she’s thoughtful (you will never fail to receive a personalized greeting card in glitter for every occasion).
I do like to make my own cards/gifts sometimes, but like... don't EXPECT it from me. Because sometimes I don't have time, okay? And lots of other teachers don't even like to do that, so... just DON'T. Don't have these ridiculous expectations of us just because we're teachers. We already have lots of ridiculous expectations to live up to that don't involve personalized greeting cards in glitter.

And if you’re looking for an excellent mother for your offspring, she’s the one
OH MY GOD. Speaking of ridiculous expectations to live up to... being a teacher who is also a mom is probably one of the hardest things ever because being a teacher and being a parent are probably THE two things that everyone seems to have an opinion about without having actually been either, and people usually aren't shy about offering those opinions UNSOLICITED either. Don't even get me started on how women are pressured to have children like that's their only purpose in life and that's all they're supposed to want, and are considered selfish if they don't, and if they ARE mothers, if they decide to work, they're considered selfish too. (Whoops, too late. I started.)

If you're trolling the schoolyard in search of a baby mama, YOU'VE GOT ISSUES.

Also, it should be said that, even though I do have a child and I love her to bits, being a teacher really made me think twice about being a parent, because it's like I've got a full-on glimpse into the future. Even if I COULD be the perfect parent and make sure that my daughter has zero things wrong with her (*snort*), I cannot shield her from the world. Nor should I.

If you find a girl who teaches, keep her close. Her love is unconditional and she’s the most patient creature on earth. She’s a well-rounded lover and a guaranteed best friend for life. Find a girl who teaches young children. Date her. Marry her. Make her happy. Because no one ever is more passionate, than a girl who teaches.
I guess... I  mean, I don't see how any of those things is teacher-exclusive. I'm pretty sure my best friend who is not a teacher is totally awesome too.

If I sound a little cynical, it's only because I want to be seen as human. Teachers are not precious unicorns, you guys. We are PEOPLE. Yes, we deserve respect, just as any person deserves respect. But we are human beings, not mythical creatures spraying rainbows out our ears. I don't want anyone to put me on a pedestal; I just want people to see me for who I am - a highly flawed, tired, passionate, derby-skating, makeup-addicted, knitting-obsessed, marathon-running, YAF-fangirly, amused-by-autocorrect-fails, always-wanting-the-best-for-and-from-other-people teacher.

** Upon further reading, apparently this girl did not originally write this post. I tried to follow the trail of links, and it led me to this FB post. Oh well. I still stand with what I wrote.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thoughts on Catching Fire

I was suuuuuuper excited to see the next installment of the Hunger Games series, and I was definitely not disappointed. I just wanted to share some initial thoughts. I guess SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT? I'm not sure what will be spoilery about the movie if you've already read the book. There weren't any huge changes or surprises a la Breaking Dawn Pt. 2.

I went to the IMAX double feature with The Hunger Games showing first. I only ever saw it on a regular movie screen, so even though I've watched it MANY times since it came out, it was still a treat seeing it on the ginormous screen. Here's the blog post I wrote about it when I first saw it. I still love this movie. I liked it when I first saw it, and I still like it now.

So, Catching Fire...

- If I had to choose one word to describe it, I would have to say "visceral." The entire experience of seeing this movie hit me squarely in the gut, from the terror to the tragedy to the romantic feelings. For the first time ever, I think I might have actually liked the movie better than I liked the book - and I didn't hate the book or anything; I just have a tendency to skip through certain parts when I reread (mostly the beginning parts). I thought the writers did an amazing job of keeping the important stuff, trimming down the "fat," and making changes that didn't take away from the story (and in fact, actually helped the story). For example, I liked that Gale gets busted by Romulus Thread for trying to protect someone in the Hob rather than getting caught with an illegal turkey.

- The scene at district 11 was so much more terrifying and intense. The dystopian genre has been around a long time, but it's gotten so popular recently with the YA crowd that it's easy to forget that dystopian stories should actually be kind of horrifying and should scare you into taking a good, hard look at the world around you. The speeches delivered to Rue and Thresh's families were touching and sad, with lingering shots of Rue's face on a huge screen and the crying faces of her mother and sisters. And just when you start to think that you can't take anymore, the riot happens, and watching it happening ourselves, as well as watching Katniss take in what's happening to the old man, was absolutely gut-wrenching.

- The characterization of Plutarch Heavensbee was very interesting. Since the book is narrated by Katniss, you only see Plutarch twice - once at the party, where he shows Katniss his mockingjay watch (which foretells the arena), and then at the end when they pick her up. Generally he comes across as a little froofy and naive (I believe we see more of him in Mockingjay?), but the way he's written here is much darker, much more calculating, which I think is a perfect showcase for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Remember in the book, Katniss recognizes Plutarch as the guy who fell in the punch bowl when she shot the arrow through the apple in the pig's mouth in the first HG book? (They didn't show the punch bowl guy in the first movie.) Well, the Plutarch in this movie is definitely NOT that sort of guy - he is not someone who would be so startled by something that he would fall in the punch bowl. Also, Plutarch in the movie is the least Capitol-looking person from the Capitol that I've ever seen, and obviously that was intentional. Even President Snow himself, who is not outrageous or ridiculous-looking in the movies (in the books, he's had lots of plastic surgery and it shows), is always in fancy garb. You would not have thought Plutarch lived/worked in the Capitol just by looking at him, and I think that was the point. And PSH plays him perfectly - the scenes where Plutarch is scheming with Snow are just the right amount of uncomfortable.

- Speaking of the scheming... my one teeny, tiny gripe (not really a gripe, since it didn't ruin anything, really) was that they made it seem like the decision to reap from the pool of victors was instigated by the events following the previous HG. I liked how it was ambiguous in the book - Snow had a box of sealed envelopes dictating the terms of the Quarter Quells for centuries to come. It was definitely suggested in the book that he possibly bent the rules or found a way to sneak in his own envelope, but it was ambiguous, and I really liked that about the book. However, this didn't ruin it for me or anything. - Also, President Snow sipping champagne, and blood flowing out of his mouth into the glass. I was wondering how/if they were going to include the whole "his breath smells like blood" thing, because that's Katniss' internal observation and not something she says aloud. It was a short, quick moment in the movie, but (I thought) so effective at demonstrating that there is something seriously wrong with that guy, even if you don't know what.

 - The maturation of Prim was very effectively shown in a very short scene (the one where she helps their mom take care of Gale).

 - They cut out all of the "Peeta goes hardcore personal trainer on Katniss and Haymitch" stuff, and I think that was for the best. (That was another part I pretty much skip/skim when I reread.) However, they cut out the parts where Peeta and Katniss watch footage of the other victors - I would've really liked to see the sequence of young Haymitch winning the games, but I guess that is better left to the imagination. (Or to this brilliant production.)

- The other tributes were wonderful. I've never been a huge Jena Malone fan, but I thought she nailed it as Johanna Mason, and as little time as she had on-screen, I loved Amanda Plummer as Wiress. Jeffrey Wright as BeeTee was awesome, of course. The career pack was beautiful and brilliant and super intimidating, and Enobaria's teeth were SO COOL.

- Finnick! Oh, Finnick, possibly my favorite character in the series. I like the way Sam Claflin looks, but of course, I was interested in seeing him act. The sugarcube scene is one of my favorites, and though he played it differently from how I read it, I thought it worked. I think Finnick got better and better as the movie went on. Not that Sam Claflin isn't pretty, but I enjoyed his performance more when he was doing something more than just looking pretty. He looks downright heroic wielding that trident, and for the first time since ever, I got the sense that Finnick is a really wonderful foil to Katniss. Peeta is the one who balances her out (and of course, that's why eventually-eventually they get together), but in this part of the story, in this Games, Finnick is the one who can give Katniss a run for her money, being equally as deadly and also having a heart of gold.

- Did anyone notice the freaky headgear that the Capitol servant (why can't I remember their names?) was wearing in the background of one of the scenes?

- Katniss’s dresses were gorgeous - I saw a lot of knitwear on the Victory Tour that I would love to reverse-engineer. And the mockingjay dress did not disappoint. I always had a hard time picturing in my head (because in my head, it always just ended up looking cheesy - this is why I am not an artist/designer), but it ended up being striking and beautiful.

- Just wanted to say - dude, they both look totally sexy here. (I was going to say "hot," but that would've been quite the "DUH" moment, considering they are both literally on fire.) I mean, seriously. Both of you two, your faces need to stop. (Also, when did Josh Hutcherson get SO FINE? I thought he was cute in the first movie, but DUDE, homeboy really stepped up his game. Or, um, maybe he just got older, and that's what I'm noticing. Either way, I totally swooned more than should be allowed for someone my age.)

- I did not expect Peeta’s painting of Rue to be so hard-hitting. (Actually, Katniss never sees it in the book.)They didn’t talk much about their “careers,” which was fine, but in the book Peeta takes up painting to deal with his PTSD. There was a perfect, subtle moment in this part of the movie where Katniss walks into the room for her final training, and Peeta gives her a look that lasts just a wee bit too long to be comfortable - like, you KNOW something happened, but since they didn't mention Peeta being a painter, you might not have known what to expect if you hadn't read the book. I'm glad we actually got to see the painting, and the implication that Katniss did what she did afterwards (hang Seneca Crane in dummy form) was out of rage rather than out of a desire to take the heat off Peeta was a change I was okay with.

- I noticed they didn't go through the scores for the tributes. It's just as well - it wasn't really that important.

- Effie Trinket was amazing as always, in her outrageous dresses and making her adorably funny schmoozy comments, but there were two really wonderful non-comedic moments involving her, and I think Elizabeth Banks did an amazing job. The first moment was the one they show briefly in the trailer: at the reaping, she calls Katniss' name, and for a second, her composure slips and she looks like she might start crying, but she kind of magnificently pulls herself together because it's her job. And the other is the moment when she gives Peeta and Haymitch their tokens, and she's like, "We're a team, right?" and she's saying her goodbyes. I think she tearfully says something like, "You two just deserved so much better," and it was such a touching moment that I almost started bawling. (Yeah, there were lots of tears shed during this movie.)

- The entire sequence of Katniss going into the tube, watching Cinna get beat up by the Peacekeepers, and then getting transported up to the arena was gut-wrenching. The camera stays close to her face as she's going up in the tube, and you can see her gasping and trying to regain control as she knows that the Games are about to start (you only see the end of this moment in the trailer), and it was pretty fantastic and well-done. As I said earlier, visceral.

- I’m actually kinda glad they never bothered with her “bad ear” thing. The effects of the force field were beautiful and awesome. I liked the hexagons that appeared. It could've looked really weird and cheesy, but I thought it was well-done.

- Mags’ death scene - more hard-hitting than it was in the book, and maybe it's because we get to see it as a third-person party rather than through Katniss' eyes. They didn't have Mags say anything, ever; she had no dialogue. But the relationship between her and Finnick was definitely there and well-acted, and when she ran into the fog, it was completely harrowing.

- Speaking of the fog and being "harrowing," all of the threats seemed extra terrifying. They were freaky to read about, and seeing (and hearing) the billowing fog, the huge, scary monkeys, and even the jabberjays really drove it home. That is a TERRIFYING place to be. I was amazed at how all of this was so faithfully brought to life and MADE SCARIER. I never cared much for monkeys, birds, and tidal waves before, and I definitely don't like them now.

- The chemistry between Katniss and Peeta felt much more believable this time around. I don't know if it was intentional or not (probably was), but in the first movie, their "love" scenes together felt kind of stilted, whereas in the book, there was some measure of believability about their interest in each other. In the book, there were moments when Katniss herself wasn't really sure if her feelings were real or not, or if Peeta's feelings were real or not, but in the first movie it wasn't so ambiguous - it came across as forced, and it fit with the narrative. I thought JL and JH did a good job at portraying the subtle (or not so subtle?) changes to their relationship this time around - since now Katniss and Peeta are definitely in cahoots this time (rather than Katniss questioning Peeta's intentions), it makes sense. *Edited to add* I just realized they left out the scene where Katniss and Peeta hang out the entire day before they go back into the games. I understand why they did, but I think it would've gone a long way towards establishing their relationship better.

- The sets were well done. I liked the arena, I liked Caesar Flickerman’s new stage where all the tributes stood. Also, did his teeth get whiter? Is that possible?

- Speaking of Caesar, AND Claudius, there was a lot less of them in this movie. I can't recall that there were any scenes of them narrating/explaining stuff to the audience members watching at home once all the interviews and stuff were done, so we were not constantly being reminded that everyone was on a tv show.

- The sequence at the end of Katniss lying there as the arena crumbled and getting lifted up to the sky was AMAZING. It was really... quite poetic. - Her face. At the end. YES. I couldn't help but recall the ending shot of Breaking Dawn Pt. 1, where it also zooms in on Bella's face, but obviously they are two different characters from two different stories. Still, I think a whole separate blog post/essay could be written comparing the two shots and discussing how emblematic they are: Bella, serenely morphing into her beautiful, perfect vampire self and eventually living happily ever after, and Katniss, the expression on her face changing from grief to rage as she prepares for the eventual war. Yeah. That's an analysis I'd love to write sometime.

Dear readers, this was everything I could've asked for in a book adaptation. I can't say it enough - it was perfectly done. It included almost everything I liked, and no moments felt wasted, and in the end, I definitely felt like there was a tremendous amount of care that went into this movie, from all angles. Like I said earlier, I think I might actually have liked the movie better than the book, and that doesn't usually happen.

I will definitely be seeing this again. And buying the dvd. And fangirling all the way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What’s in my purse? A rundown of my to-go essentials

I have an overly large stash of makeup, and it goes without saying that I can’t take it all with me. But I do like to keep a basic stash of essentials in my purse for beauty emergencies, and I don’t always carry a large purse, so what are my most important things to keep around? Here’s my list of must-haves:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Race recap: Mermaid SF Sirena 10-miler

It was simultaneously not my best run and also a breakthrough run, if that makes any sense. It was not my best in that my pace (16:45) was nothing to write home about, and the first 3.5 miles were quite painful and hard on my knee. But it was a breakthrough in that after about four miles, everything just loosened up and stopped hurting, and for the first time in months, I could actually keep up a semi-regular (if super short) running interval for the rest of the run. I'm pretty sure I ran a negative split, not surprising when you consider that I was hobbling up and down hills before I got to the bridge and everything leveled out.

Oh, the bridge! I've never run across the Golden Gate before, so I was SUPER excited, and that was my whole reason for signing up for this distance. It was a beautiful day - perfect weather for such breathtaking views :) I'm not sure I'll ever do it again, but I'm definitely glad I did it just this once.

I ran this one with my fellow PRGers, Rat Frink, Amanda Commanda (who does a bunch of Mermaid Runs with me), and Physical Terrorist (who did the 5k). I was the last one to finish in our group, but I don't even care, I was so happy just to be able to run again. I feel like things are FINALLY starting to get back to normal.

This is my last race for 2013, I believe (unless I decide to sign up for another one last minute). It's been quite a year, hasn't it?

See you at Disneyland in January.

Official finish time: 2:47:33

View from on the bridge


View of SF from the Marin side

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh yeah, finally got THIS done

Remember on my 30 Things Before I'm 30 list, one of my unfinished items was "get a Jolie tattoo"?

Well, I did!

This one was inspired by the artwork for Shel Silverstein's "Moon-Catchin' Net":

Because that picture is exactly how I envision my little Jolie, the adventurer who always wants to chase the moon at night in my car.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This is why.

I teach a gender studies unit with my sophomores. Maybe some people in the world might object to this, but I try to introduce them to the concept of feminism and gender equality, and there is some media literacy and literature. We start out the year by critiquing Disney fairy tales and the messages they send about femininity, and then we move on to Killing Us Softly 4 and discussion of contemporary feminist issues such as body image/fat-shaming, slut-shaming/oversexualization of women, and the glamourization of violence in the media. We are wrapping up this second part of it with a big project/presentation that is due this week. (And just in case you're curious, we're just starting Cyrano de Bergerac now, and we've been having discussions about society's standards for male beauty.)

Today, before class, one of my students approached me at my desk.

"You really inspire me," she said, all of a sudden.

"... Thank you?" I said, not sure where this came from or where it was going. This is not a student who normally talks to me, unless it's to ask about assignments.

"Seriously, I'm really inspired. All of this stuff that you've been teaching us... like, it's changing my life. I have BDD," she said, her eyes tearing up a bit, "and all this stuff you've been talking about, and like, looking up stuff about it [for the project] and everything - it's really helped me get through it. You seriously inspire me. Thank you so much."

Tearing up a bit myself, I thanked her and told her that if she ever needed someone to talk to, she could come to me, and we hugged before she went back to her seat as the bell rang.

This is why, you guys.

This is why I'm a teacher, and this is why I'm a feminist.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friends.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Challenge complete!

Today I ran (er, walked/hiked) the ZombieRunner Halloween Half Marathon in Los Gatos. We will not speak of it (let's just say, I still can't run much on this knee AND there was a really difficult climb for the middle 5 miles or so AND they did not have mile markers ANYWHERE), but it's DONE, and that means one thing:

I did it! 13 13s in '13! 13 half marathons in 2013, and along the way, I picked up two extra series medals (the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge medal, and the Bay Area Running Series medal).


In addition to those thirteen races above, I also did a full marathon, and I have one more race next weekend (the Mermaid San Francisco 10-miler).

I have more thoughts, but am exhausted, so I will save those for another time. For now, I just want to sleep FOREVER.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"The circus arrives without warning..."

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

My knee injury has been lingering awhile, so I finally got to see a physical therapist yesterday about it, to see exactly what was wrong. Basically, I still can't bend my knee into a deep squat, and I can't kneel on my knee.

My PT, Nicole, surprised me by asking me right away what my derby name is! It turns out, she's a derby fan, and she was excited about me coming in because it was in my file that I'm a derby skater (because that's how I got injured). It was really great that I happened to get an appointment with someone who is familiar with my sport and who has an appreciation for the kind of impact and injuries that result. (Of COURSE I invited her to our bout.)

After a few assessments, she determined that there's nothing WRONG wrong with my knee (like, my ligaments are fine and all that) - my IT band and the surrounding muscles in my knee have healed really tight and my knee is out of alignment with the rest of me. My homework is to foam-roll a whole bunch and to do some strengthening exercises to get my other muscles to pull my knee back where it's supposed to be.

Even though it may take a few weeks before I really start to notice any improvement, I'm really happy about this, because I now feel like I have some modicum of control over the situation. Before, I had no idea what was wrong and no idea what to do about it. Basically, all I could do was just sit around and WAIT for my knee to feel better. Which sucks - I am the worst when it comes to waiting and being patient. But now I feel like a little of it is back in my hands (or, rather, legs), and I can actually be proactive about healing and getting back on track.

Small victory, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's MY excuse?

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am NOT criticizing this woman or women who look like her. Nor am I criticizing anyone who draws inspiration from this photo to make positive changes in her own life.

But I AM about to get a bit ranty. I've been seeing these "fit mom" memes everywhere for a long time, and in truth, they rub me the wrong way, and here's why.

If you ask me who I think the fittest people in the world are, I would have to say Crossfitters and endurance athletes. Whether it's your first marathon or your fiftieth, whether it takes you five minutes to complete a WOD or fifteen, it takes a certain baseline of fitness. But if you show up to ANY start line or ANY CrossFit box, you will notice that not everyone looks the same. SOME people look like the woman in the photo - feminine, conventionally hot, tanned, non-cellulite-y, smooth-skinned with nary a blemish. But many other people do NOT look like that, and before you interject to tell me that it's because those people are not as fit as the woman in the photo, let ME interject to present you with a couple of photos:

This is Paula Radcliffe. She is the WOMEN'S WORLD RECORD HOLDER in the marathon. You can't get more elite than that. She does not look like the woman in the first photo.

This is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. She's an elite Crossfitter, and she's become a majorly recognizable face for CrossFit because she's really pretty. But even she does not look like the woman in the photo.

You want to know what's also different about these two photos I shared versus the Fit Mom picture at the top? They're action photos. They are photos of athletic activity. I'm sure they have their fair share of posed photos as well, but they also have lots of action photos, photos of them DOING something other than looking pretty.

What's my point? My point is that fitness looks like many different things. Fit people take many different shapes and forms.

AND YET... through this whole Fit Moms thing, we are consistently presented with only ONE way to look, one way to BE. The underlying message of the "What's your excuse?" meme is "What the hell is your problem that you don't look like this person?" and that makes me ranty.

Let's talk about the "fit" part of "Fit Moms." Fitness, as I said, looks like many different things. That is because fitness isn't a LOOK at all. Sure, there is a "glowiness" that unhealthy people lack, but aside from that, fitness and health don't involve your looks at all. They are about how your body functions and how it accomplishes certain tasks.

But I've never seen a Fit Mom photo that displayed someone's spectacular blood pressure or their half marathon PR or their one rep max back squat. I've never seen a Fit Mom picture that said "Boston Qualifier - what's your excuse?" (God forbid we make people feel bad about the things they can't do!) In fact, I feel like I only ever seem to see Fit Mom photos that are photos of a woman who fits society's definition of "hot," and she's always thin with a light touch of muscles (GOD FORBID she have muscles that are too big), and she's always posing prettily instead of displaying her athletic prowess. (I've seen pictures of Serena Williams where they photoshopped her fantastic thighs SMALLER so she would look more "feminine.")

And truthfully, we are not all genetically-programmed to look that way. Even if I were able to shed all my excess bodyfat, I still wouldn't look like the Fit Mom up there. My body just doesn't work that way. And I am okay with that.

Now let's talk about the "Moms" part. The truth is that being an athlete, even a non-elite one like I am, takes a lot of time and a lot of money. I have a fairly strong support base of people who watch my daughter while I'm out for a run or at derby practice, and there is not a single day that I don't feel guilty about it. Not everyone is as lucky as the woman in the photo - they don't have the time, money, energy, or ability to achieve a HOT BOD. Like, they LEGITIMATELY don't, because maybe they're still healing from a difficult pregnancy, or they work for a jerky company with a lousy maternity leave policy, or they don't have other people in their lives to watch their kids, or their kids have special needs that require all their focus. Societal mom-shaming deserves its own blog post, but there is no shortage of people ready to make women feel bad for not dedicating every second of their lives to their children, so can we lessen the burden, please? Let's not add to their guilt by making them feel bad for not looking like models too.

And it shouldn't go without saying that I have never seen a Fit Dads meme. There are no photos of hot men with their children with the caption "What's your excuse?" (I know, I know - many women would not object to seeing such a thing), because society doesn't emphasize men's bodies and appearances NEARLY as much as women's. The Fit Mom meme implies that women SHOULD aspire to look a certain way, and if we don't meet that standard or even care about doing so, we're failures somehow. Men are not subjected to that kind of pressure.

And in case you've decided to write me off as simply being jealous of the Fit Mom, I have to tell you that I'm actually not, and that is the truth. There was a point in my life when I would have been, because there was a time when I bought into society's message that I needed to look a certain way, and I thought I was being inspired, but really I was being told to hate myself. Looking back on it now, I was desperately unhappy EVERY DAY because I did not look like a fitness model. And now I'm not. I still don't look like a fitness model, but I'm a two-sport athlete (I stopped Crossfitting because time and money) and I feel satisfied and fulfilled, while at the same time inspired to do better. (And "doing better" is not about how I look, but how I perform.)

It's taken me a long time to get to this point where I don't get jealous of other women's bodies anymore. I get jealous of people who can run fast enough to qualify for Boston. I get jealous of people who actually CAN skate 27 laps in 5 minutes. I get jealous of people who can do pull-ups. But I do not get jealous of people who have a thin body type. A body type is what it is, just like your hair color, and while it's possible to change both things if you wanted to, we shouldn't feel pressured to do so. Society doesn't shame me for not wanting to bleach my hair blonde, and I'm sick of it shaming me for not making "being hot and thin" my number one priority.

To reiterate, I'm not criticizing the woman in the photo, nor am I criticizing anyone who is inspired by her. I AM saying that if we're trying to encourage fitness, we should be actually focusing on FITNESS and showing all the ways people can be FIT, rather than this one narrow definition of fitness (that is more about being hot than being fit) that not everyone can meet. So if we're going to have Fit Mom photos like the one above, let's not stop there. Let's show a variety of Fit Moms, doing fitness-y things, and let's change the cultural discourse surrounding fitness, and moms, and women in general.

*Updated to add*
I wrote this post BEFORE I read more about this woman and her fauxpology... yeah, I'm just not going to go there right now. *facepalm*

Monday, October 21, 2013

Race recap: Morgan Hill Half Marathon

Who shows up to a half marathon with a knee injury and zero base mileage and does it anyway?

*raises hand* Me.

There's a fine line between gutsy and stupid, and I think I pretty much live on that line. I own REAL ESTATE on that line. I have claimed it on behalf of my mother land.

I injured my knee three weeks ago, and while it's mostly better, it's not 100%. I had hoped to be able to run SOME of this race, but as it turned out, a few 3-minute repeats brought on some sharp pains behind my kneecap, and I knew that it was going to be a looooong morning.

It's hard going from averaging 3 hours for a half (with a PR of 2:44) to knowing that I would be taking longer than 4 hours. It's a definitely blow to my ego. I haven't taken that long for a few YEARS (not counting last year's Summit Rock half which took me 5 hours because it was hilly as f***. I climbed a damn mountain.)

Add to that the fact that Morgan Hill was my first FULL marathon, and here I was, hobbling through the half all by myself, and I was not a happy camper. The only thing keeping me going was the fact that I am running out of opportunities to finish my 13 in '13, and I really wanted the Bay Area Running Series medal.

And also, I missed running. Not that I got to run much yesterday.

It was interesting doing the half this time. At the start line, I overheard many excited people talking about how this was their first full, and it made me a little emotional because that was me last year. I'm no grizzled veteran of marathoning, but I can relate to how it feels. (Maybe that feeling never actually goes away.)

The half course was so much easier than the full, and not just because of the distance. Far less hilly, though the downhills were pretty brutal on my knee. Still the same stench of cow poop though - that is less fun.

I finished in 4:12:37. Oi. It sucks not being able to run.

But at least I finished? I don't know, it still doesn't feel like a victory in my book.

Next up: my thirteenth half marathon on the year, the ZombieRunner Halloween half marathon on November 2nd. TIME TO WRAP THIS UP. Then the Mermaid Sirena 10-miler on November 10th. And... that'll be it for 2013. So far.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Down for the count

It's been a while since I did a real, legit blog post, so I thought I'd do one now, since I have a lot of time. Why do I have a lot of time? Because I'm INJURED.

Last weekend, I skated in a team-on-team scrimmage against the BAD skater pool, and I was super nervous because it was my first THING since returning to roller derby, and I know as well as anyone else that BAD skaters aren't ones to mess with. I had ONE goal, and that was to not get injured. (Well, yeah... you can see how well that turned out.)

So it's been over a week now, and I'm ALMOST back to normal. I'm not limping so much anymore, and most of the pressure/swelling has gone. I still have a hard time walking down stairs and I definitely still can't kneel on it without pain. (Which would be a big problem if I were to skate and then fall on it.)

I've been off it completely, which is really hard for me. Ironically, I haven't been running or doing anything other than skating lately anyway, but of course, as soon as I injured myself, I suddenly wanted to do EVERYTHING. I like having the option. I don't like having a body that limits me.

Since my knee has been feeling better, I was hoping to get back to running and stuff, and then this past weekend, I was hit with a really bad cold, and I'm still sick right now. Sore throat, stuffy nose, head spinning -type of sick. Yesterday was actually the first day I've taken off work so far this year (which is a record for me), and I really should be home today, except I can't bear the thought of leaving my kids with a sub for two days in a row. (It usually ends up being way more work to have things ready for a sub than to actually just GO to work.)

So, here I am. Trying not to pass out in the dark while my kids watch The Odyssey. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A pretty good dupe for Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in Venom?

I don't have it myself, so I can't directly compare, but Wet 'n' Wild's Fergie Centerstage lipstick in Ferguson Crest Cabernet is a pretty close match to UD's lipliner pencil in Venom, at least. And the combination of the two totally left a stain on my lips that lasted overnight, even after I scrubbed it off, so... pretty good staying power :)

Here are a couple shots in different lighting:

And here are the lip pencil and lipstick swatched:

Venom on the left, Ferguson Crest Cabernet on the right
Again, I don't have the Venom lipstick for comparison, considering how close the WnW lipstick looks already, and the fact that I only paid 3 or 4 dollars for it, I don't feel the need to drop $22 on Venom :)

Post-B2SN Fatigue

I have no energy today. Therefore, I present to you... GIFs from Tumblr.

What I look like when I'm teaching:

"Ms. Ngo, do we HAVE to include quotes?"

When a student hands me what is SUPPOSED to be a formal assignment, written in pencil

When a kid interrupts me mid-sentence to ask to go to the bathroom

"Ms. Ngo, I hate reading."

When yet another kid forgets to put his/her name on an assignment

When I have to repeat myself for the fifth time because kids were too busy talking to hear me say it the first four times

Friday, September 13, 2013

Urban Decay Shattered Face Case - new for Holiday 2013


I love Urban Decay Face Cases. Back in high school, they were among my first high-end makeup purchases, and from then on, I've been an Urban Decay megafan ever since.

See this post? I have owned ALL of these.

And now I have the newest one, Shattered (which I half-expected to come with the actual eyeshadow color Shattered *shrug*). There is another one, Anarchy, that will be Sephora-exclusive.

I'll spare you the products shots (because there've already been a LOT posted this week by the big bloggers), and I'll just post the look I'm wearing today with all five shadows.

- Remix all over the lid
- Nameless in the crease and blended onto the outer corner
- Shakedown to blend out the crease
- Minor Sin on the inner corner of the lid
- Bleached on the browbone
- eye pencil in Zero along the upper lash line
- eye pencil in Vice along the lower lash line (not included with the face case)
- Maybelline The Rocket mascara

I'm also wearing the Lovechild gloss pencil, Overexposed blush and the highlighter, but I can't photograph those well on my face.

Every color is pretty much a winner. The two lightest ones needed a little extra, but it could just be because I'm dark-ish-skinned. (Same thing with the highlighter.) The blush, I was told, was super-pigmented, so I went into it with a light hand.

I already like and have Zero and Lovechild, and that was my only "problem" - I already have them. I wish they could've given us at least an exclusive gloss pencil shade like with the Anarchy face case. I have accumulated a TON of Zero pencils over the years from all the different UD palettes, and have even had to give some away, especially now that I never use Zero anymore now that there is Perversion in existence. I also kind of wish that, instead of two blushes, we got a bronzer, but maybe that's just me.

I had a really hard time opening the bottom compartment, and I don't know if it's just the one I happened to get or not - I really had to dig my fingernails in to open it. And when you try to set the face case down with the bottom compartment open, it ends up top heavy and actually tips over backward. It's okay, because it fell over gently enough that the gloss pencil just rolled into the compartment formed by the top compartment tray, but I imagine it would be a PITA if it were to fall over harder (say, off the counter or something). Speaking of which, I totally dropped my face case on the bathroom floor and everything was fine.

I am in love with this! It's good, UD quality as you would expect, and the colors are totally my colors - purple, which I love, and taupey browns. Aside from my tiny complaints above, it is pretty much AWESOME.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Urban Decay Black Market eye pencil set comparison swatches

Happy holidays!

Wait, what? Oh, it's only September. Well, it FEELS like Christmas, because Urban Decay's Holiday 2013 collection is dropping this Tuesday (9/10).

Except that apparently Ulta already has a couple of fancy schmancy new items available for purchase today, including the Black Market eye pencil set, which features 6 travel-sized pencils, 5 of which are new/exclusive colors, and the one that isn't new/exclusive is new-ish, in the sense that it was one of the new colors UD released when they re-released their line of eye pencils (so, it's not a color that has been around for years).

I was already at Ulta anyway, returning a couple things. I saw the set... It was inevitable.

So, the Black Market set comes with:

- West, a medium brown with tiny gold sparkles
- Black Market, a satiny light black (if that makes any sense)
- Desperation, a matte gray (This is the one that is part of the permanent line)
- Riot, a dark bluish purple with sparkles
- Apathy, a metallic olive green
- Ink, a navy blue with a sheen

West, Black Market, Desperation
Riot, Apathy, Ink
And of course, I had to do some comparison swatching, so you can see how they look next to UD's other pencils.

*At this point, I do not have Abyss, Cuff, Smoke, and Loaded. I would've liked to have seen Abyss and Loaded swatched next to Ink and Black Market.

Here we go. I first did a mega swatch of all the shades remotely similar to the one in the set, and then I pulled out the ones I thought were MOST similar for a closer look.

The horizontal swipe up there is the Wasteland shadow pencil. The rest, from L to R:
Demolition, Corrupt, Whiskey, Muse, Bourbon, Hustle, Roach, and West

So, to my eyes, West looks like a darker Muse, but not as dark as Corrupt, and I believe Corrupt has silvery sparkles in it whereas West has gold. (Muse is kind of gold-y.) Verrrrrrry tiny difference.

From L to R: Perversion, Zero, Oil Slick, Uzi, Black Market

Black Market is a touch grayer than zero, but not gray enough to be actually considered gray, if that makes sense. It's also got much more of a sheen than Zero does (and obviously, no sparkles). I find this color super interesting and can't wait to wear it. I hope they make this permanent someday. PS - The version of Uzi I'm using in these swatches is pre-reboot of the eye pencil line.

 From L to R: Stray Dog, Ether, Mercury (shadow pencil), Gunmetal, Uzi, Desperation

I actually already have Desperation (I just never did swatch photos of it), and I swear, it is the color I have been waiting for all my life. It's a dark matte gray, and UD has never made a color like it. It has become my Holy Grail gray. And actually, all four pencils swatched in the photo just above are my favorites for my lower lashline. (I forgot to add Mushroom to the super-swatch photo, so I added it in for the second swatch.)

From L to R: Empire, Vice, Delinquent (shadow), Delinquent (liner), Riot 

Riot is very similar to the Delinquent liner pencil, but rather than being blackish with purple sparkles, it's a blackened purple with purple sparkles. It's also bluer than any of the other purples. You know, I didn't swatch Ransom, because I knew it would be much lighter than Riot, but I'm willing to bet that in blueness, they would be comparable.

From L to R: Invasion, Junkie, Clinic (shadow pencil), Mildew, Apathy 

Mildew was the only one that came remotely close, but it's brighter than Apathy.

From L to R: Binge, Sabbath, Mainline, LSD, Ink 

Ink doesn't have any near-perfect matches either. It's dark like LSD, but its finish is more like Binge's - kinda metallic/shiny, and no sparkles. Sabbath was far darker, and Mainline was too teal.

All in all, I think that West is the only one that I could probably do without because I already have so many just like it, and I rarely wear brown eyeliner. (Is that weird?) Riot has some close matches too, but I love any and all purples, so I don't mind. And the other four I'm totally stoked about, even the one I already have.

It's $36 for 6 pencils. If you are only interested in a few, I recommend splitting the set with a friend.

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...