Friday, November 28, 2014

Swatches: J. Cat Beauty's Wonder Lip Paint

Last month, I received one of these Lip Paints in my November Ipsy bag (see here for pictures as well as my thoughts on the formula), and I liked it so much that I purchased a few more. They finally arrived, and I had to swatch them right away.

What I got:

- Wonderland, a beautiful blue-leaning turquoise
- Always Late, Rabbit!, a pinkish purple
- Caterpillar Smoke, a bright, warm rosey-pink
- Blabberwocky, a salmon pink
- Red Potion, a blackened berry red
- Queen of Harts, an even more blackened berry red that is more purpley as well
- Curiouser, a warm-ish beige

Some of those colors are totally colors that I always gravitate towards (purple, vampy reds), and some of those are colors that aren't really me (um, the blue!), but at $5 a pop, it's not a big deal, and it's a good opportunity to get those weird colors that I always wish I had every time it's a crazy dress-up day.

Here they are, swatched in the order listed above. They all were thick and glossy, except for Always Late (the purple one), which for some reason came out really watery every time I tried to use it. (I'm inclined to think that this particular tube is an outlier and that maybe the contents of the tube separated and settled in transit.) As you can see, they're all SUPER pigmented. Red Potion and Queen of Harts are very, very similar, but not exactly the same.

Here's how they look in action.

Always Late, Rabbit!
Caterpillar Smoke
Red Potion
Queen of Harts
So yeah. Wonderland is kind of hilarious on me :) I don't think I'll ever be able to pull it off in any context other than a costume context. (As opposed to one of my friends who looks AMAZING in her teal lipstick and can totally just wear it to Target or to pick up her kids from school. Sigh.) Red Potion and Queen of Harts are a bit easier to differentiate in person (the lighting in my photos didn't really help), but they are still very, very similar. Did I really need both? Well... you're asking someone who has about twenty red lipsticks, so... YEAH. I DID. :)

These Lip Paints are fun and pretty good quality. They don't stay on as long as OCC's Lip Tars do, but you can't win 'em all. They apply really well, feel light and moisturizing, and will last you a long time because a little goes a really long way in terms of application - I'm sure I'm pretty much set for life with these now-eight tubes that I own. I definitely recommend these.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On privilege

It's Thanksgiving, and I want to talk about privilege.

Specifically, mine.

There are people who appear to have a lot of trouble either understanding what privilege really means or recognizing that they do in fact have some, and I want to talk about mine because I'm hoping it will clarify some things in a hopefully non-accusatory way (I will try to police my own tone on this one, but no promises) and also... just to express thanks. It IS Thanksgiving, after all.

So let's begin with what and who I am, in no particular order:
- Asian (specifically, Vietnamese)
- Female
- Graduate-educated
- Upper middle class
- Cisgender
- Heterosexual (though to be honest, I would call myself "heteroflexible" or "curious")
- English-speaking
- American-born (to immigrant parents)
- Physically and mentally able
- Fat
- Atheist
- Unmarried

As you can see, there are areas where I have privilege and areas where I don't.

I'm heterosexual (for all intents and purposes), and I'm in a hetero relationship. And despite being unmarried (which comes with all its own judgments), if I wanted to get married, I would have NO problem. It will not be my marriage ever being protested on the front of a newspaper. The legality of my hypothetical marriage would never be threatened. When I look around in pop culture, the vast majority of relationships being depicted are hetero ones. I will never be bullied about the people I love. If I ever move out of California, I will never have to worry about getting fired because of my sexual preference.

I'm also cisgender (which means that my body has female parts, and I identify as female), which means that I will never know what it's like to be at odds with my own body, and I will never be forced to use the bathroom for a gender I don't identify with (and no one will bat an eyelash if I use the bathroom for the gender I DO identify with), and I will never have to correct anyone about my name or my pronouns. I will never be bullied, harassed, or murdered for being cisgender.

I'm an English-speaking American citizen. I can move through life and through the world easily because of this. And I know how hard it can be if you're a non-English-speaking immigrant, because that was most of my family right there. I grew up seeing how hard it could be.

I have no physical handicaps and no mental illness. I can walk and run, I can drive a car, I can interact with people to survive, and no one will think I pose any danger due to my mental state.

My biggest one is my financial and educational privilege, and yes, I lump them together. I am not only educated with an advanced degree, but I went to private schools for most of my life and have never had to work to pay for it. Thanks to my parents, who have well-paying jobs and who were therefore able to make education (and not merely survival) MY priority, I have been set up to succeed. My house has always been filled with books and the latest tech equipment. I have never had to sacrifice study time for a paycheck (or vice versa). Even now, despite the fact that I'm in a career field that is notoriously low paying, it's still a white-collar job with tenure and benefits for myself and my daughter, in one of the most expensive areas to live in the entire country. I have a roof over my head, and I can go to the doctor when I'm sick, and I can even afford Whole Foods -type groceries to feed my family if I wanted to. I have access to birth control, which means that I'm not forced to bear child after child. I even have some room to pay for my hobbies - running, knitting, makeup, derby - and I have the time for these hobbies because I don't have to work multiple jobs to support my family.

And while, yes, money can open a lot of doors, it doesn't protect me from everything.

Money can't save me from a lifetime of being told that I'M the one who has to take measures to keep myself from GETTING raped. Money can't save me from a lifetime of being told that because I'm fat, I am disgusting and deserve to be invisible. Money can't save me from the scores of "Where are you from? No, where are you REALLY from?" questions and the stereotypes and lack of representation of complex, well-written characters in all forms of media.

I'm female, which means that my body exists to be judged and commented on. It means that I would've been judged for NOT having children, but it also means that, since I DID have a child, I will still be judged for my choices regarding the birthing and raising of that child. It means that if I'm ever sexually assaulted, it will be MY character that is called into question, and not my attacker's, especially if the attacker is someone I know or have previously interacted with (as opposed to a lurking stranger). It means that I'm expected to take my husband's last name if I ever get married, and not vice versa, because marriage historically has been a contract that positions women as the property of their husbands. It means that when I go out in public, whether I'm going running or just trying to get from point A to point B, I'm vulnerable to men whistling at me or telling me that they'd like to c*m on my toes. (Yes, that actually happened. And no, I did not take it as a compliment.)

But... I'm a cisgender female, which means that no matter how difficult I have it as a woman, I still have it easier than trans women. This is called intersectionality. I'm not saying it's easy being female, but things could be a lot worse, because I have privilege in other areas.

I'm Asian, which means that I grew up never seeing many Asian people on my tv screen, unless it was something kung fu-related. I grew up seeing people put on my culture's traditional garb like a costume. I grew up painfully aware of Asian dragon-lady stereotypes and as I became an adult, I could also add "yellow fever" to the mix. At many points in my life, I've been asked to speak on behalf of Asian people (as a token), I've been asked things like, "Do Asians really eat dogs?" and "Can you teach me some curse words in your language?", and I constantly, every day, deal with living in this other space of being Asian and American. I grew up feeling American and identifying as American, being told by my family and my friends that I was "white-washed," and then went to a REALLY white college where I absolutely felt the weight of my otherness just by looking around at all the other faces.

But... and I'm going to be blunt here... Asians have it easier than other races. I would even dare assert that we are the second most-privileged race, and that has a whole lot to do with the Model Minority stereotype, which is insidiously damaging and contributes to anti-black and anti-Latino prejudice and oppression. Also, as a "full" Asian, I have it easier than people who are multiracial, who are visibly othered no matter which side of their family they turn to. I'm not saying it's easy being Asian, but things could be a lot worse, because I have privilege in other areas.

So, I have privilege in many ways, and in some ways, I don't have privilege.

Let's talk about what privilege is and what it isn't. While I've been talking a lot about the privilege that I do have, privilege isn't necessarily a personal, individual thing. It's a system. My own personal running-related analogy is that life is a race course, and when you have privilege, it's a nice, flat, paved road, and when you don't have privilege, it's a steep hill. Regardless of whether or not you have privilege, you still have to run the distance - no one can do it for you - and you still have to deal with pot holes, dog poop, and occasional less-than-ideal weather, but depending on how much privilege you have, your course might be otherwise perfectly flat, or it might comprised of gentle rolling hills, or it might be the toughest, steepest streets of San Francisco. Me? I have some hills, but it's otherwise manageable. I am extremely, extremely grateful for the privilege I have.

So what does this all mean? Well, it means I have choices I can make about my life, choices that are not afforded to everyone. For example, I can choose to be complacent and just continue on through life without paying attention to anyone around me. OR, I can choose to open my eyes, realize the struggles of those around me, and try to help. I can choose to be an ally.

To use my running analogy, if I see someone struggling off to the side, I will stop to check and see if they're okay. I will give them my extra Gu if they need it, or I will find an aid station or use my phone to call for help if they need it. And the key is "if they need it" - listening is a really important part of being a good ally.

I'm choosing to be an ally. I'm not perfect, and I don't get everything right, but I'm trying, and I'm willing to apologize and correct myself when I do something wrong.

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for my privilege, and I vow to use it for good.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Instagram post: Purple for daaaaaaays

I have purple hair now :)

My November Ipsy bag, featuring J. Cat Beauty's Wonder Lip Paint

November's Ipsy theme was Girl Meets Glitter. After not being terrifically impressed with the last couple of bags, I was pretty happy with this one, which had a nice variety of items:

- Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil hairspray
- Be a Bombshell eye base in Submissive
- Laura Mercier Invisible Loose Setting Powder in Universal, with a mini fan brush
- Elizabeth Mott You're So Fine Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Glitterati
- J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in Mad Splatter

I also cashed in some Ipsy points for a full-sized bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow in Elegant Taupe:

I liked the smaller sized version enough that I didn't mind getting a full-sized one in taupe, because you know how I am about taupe :)

Swatches, top row: Elizabeth Mott eyeliner, bareMinerals cream eye shadow
Swatches, bottom row: Be a Bombshell eye base, J. Cat Lip Paint

In particular, I was most interested in the Lip Paint. If you look at the packaging, they are obviously meant to mimic OCC Lip Tars. But how did they perform in comparison?

It's VERY similar. There's a very subtle difference in texture, and I don't know if other shades of the J. Cat would be the same or not (because sometimes it's a matter of the finish or the materials used to produce the shade): OCC Lip Tar is definitely a liquid lipstick, and it spreads the way paint does, whereas the Lip Paint is more jelly-like, and spreads more like a gloss, albeit a very thick, very pigmented gloss. Aside from that very subtle difference, it feels the same on, but it doesn't have the same staying power (and staining power) that Lip Tar does - it definitely wipes off much, much more easily. Still, considering how it's, like, $5 a tube compared to $18, I think I'm going to be seeking out dupes for the Lip Tar shades that I couldn't justify buying before. It's buttery and moisturizing, and costs less than the average drugstore lipstick.

I did also try wearing the eye base all by itself - since it's a lovely gold - and the eyeliner. Both were largely unimpressive - not bad, but unimpressive. In my opinion, calling yourself a waterproof eyeliner means nothing to me if you can't last throughout a workday plus a strength session at the gym. Both items are things I don't mind adding to my stash, because they each serve a useful purpose, but I won't necessarily reach for them first.

Overall, I thought this month's Ipsy bag was better than previous months'. I think I will keep my subscription for longer.

If you would like to sign up for Ipsy and give it a try, you are welcome to use my referral link here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Race recap: Mermaid Run SF Sirena 10-miler

Yep, the selfie game is STRONG with this one.
This past week was my first "off" week since maybe early September. Going into the race today, I'd only run four miles (though, I was coming off a 28-mile week). For various reasons, I was just really off my game this week.

But still, I was excited to run this. I did the inaugural Sirena 10-miler last year with my knee injury, and though I enjoyed the race anyway, it definitely wasn't a great performance. I was looking to redeem myself today, even with being off my game.

I woke up at 4:30am, which is not so different from my weekday runs, except getting up early to DRIVE feels way worse than getting up to run. I know that sounds weird, but seriously, once you start running, your body wakes up.

It was surprisingly not very cold when we got there. The last couple of weeks, my long runs in Los Gatos were 48 degrees at the start, and by general rule of thumb, San Francisco is colder than the South Bay, so imagine my surprise when I was fine with just my short-sleeve shirt (that I even had to roll up to make a makeshift tank top halfway through).

The first three miles for me were actually literally painful - I was limping-running. There are a few reasons for this that I can tell:

- I hadn't run since Wednesday
- I had two hamstring-heavy strength sessions this week
- My right shoelace was rather loose, which gave me killer shin pain (but was quickly and easily remedied), and
- (Probably the biggest reason) I finished my first mile in 12:15. This includes two minutes of walking and the slow slog through the starting chute, btw.

That last one, seriously! I went out way too fast. I didn't even realize how fast I was going - I just ran. But considering the first three reasons and the fact that my legs take at least two miles to warm up anyway, I should've known better and forced myself to slow down, even if I already thought I was going slow (which I wasn't).

So mile 1 was flat and straight, but miles 2 and 3 are the WORST. They're the two BIG hill miles, to get you up to the bridge, and considering how I was already in pain, I pretty much had to walk those, both up and down the hills. But it gave me a chance to warm up and gently work through the pain, and by the time I got up to the bridge, I was golden ;)

Too bad the bridge itself wasn't. Golden, I mean. It was quite shrouded in fog for almost the whole way. This is GREAT for running - it kept me cool and it kept me from seeing too far ahead of me (and stressing over how much further I had to go) - but it was not so great for trying to see the spectacular views (which, let's face it, why ELSE would sign up to run the Golden Gate Bridge?) But like I said, it made for great running conditions, and aside from worrying about slipping on the wet ground, I ran my BEST paces I've ever run in TWO YEARS (since the 2012 Mermaid SF, when I PRed my 5k time). At one point, I think I ran three consecutive miles at around an 11:40 pace, and I think at some other point, I actually ran an entire mile in 11:05 (or so says my Garmin). Again, keep in mind that this is my overall pace, and that I was running a 4/1 interval, so my running parts must have been faaaaaaaast. We ran up one side of the bridge, had to walk down stairs to cross under it, and then had to walk up stairs to get onto the other side. Stairs, Mermaid Series? REALLY?

It wasn't all gray, though. Once I reached the halfway mark, at Vista Point, the fog suddenly ended and we were bathed in sunlight. I could not resist getting out my phone for some pictures, because how often am I ever on the north side of the Golden Gate?

So, miles 4-7 take you up the bridge and back, mile 8 takes you gradually down hills and around Fort Point, and then miles 9 and 10 take you on the dirt/sand path to the finish. Those last two miles are pretty difficult because of the dirt, and because it just feels interminable.

I finished in 2:10:00 flat (I love when I get even numbers!), which was my goal time anyway, and this is pretty remarkable because I did the first three miles in 45:00 and the remaining seven miles in 1:25:00. So my average pace for the first three miles was 15:00, and my average pace for the remaining seven, after I was pain-free and sufficiently warmed-up, was 12:08, which is pretty darn fast for me, considering (again) that I do run/walk intervals. So yeah, at one point in this race, I ran a 17:58 mile, and at another point, I ran an 11:05 mile. Hills, man.

So yeah, despite the first three miles, I'm really happy with how I did today, and considering how my time last year was 2:47:33, I would say that I redeemed myself BIG TIME today.

Next on deck: THE CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL MARATHON, ON MY 32ND BIRTHDAY. We are less than a month away. Next week's Sunday run is the dreaded 20-miler, and then... we taper.




Finishers' necklace