One In, Five Out

After a self-imposed block on buying this year, I have been pushing away the need to shop as an emotional crutch, which is healthier (I think) for my soul and bank account. When I found myself needing something – and by need, I’m being honest! One does sometimes need new underwear or a replacement white t-shirt! – I would follow a ‘one in, five out’ rule. So for every new item, I would need to toss/donate/sell five existing items of any kind. I wasn’t so strict as to say for every new black t-shirt, I had to throw five black t-shirts but any five clothing items.

This has saved money in some cases, and made money in others. ThredUp, The RealReal, and Tradesy have been great for donating, consigning and selling, respectively. Sometimes I think I hold onto items that have emotional or sentimental value, and that can make something harder to toss even when I know it doesn’t fit or suit me. I know I’ve put on weight, and objectively this should be a good thing as when I moved to LA I was about 90lbs (I’m 5ft 8ins) and wore a 0 or 00, so from a “health and medical” perspective then it should be good I’ve put on about 20lbs. However, as much as it’s not ‘politically correct’ (or whatever) to say this, but honestly I was happier when I was thinner. Clothes look better on me when I’m skinny, and I had less breakdowns when getting dressed in the morning. So there is part of me that cannot bring myself to throw my skinny jeans (I guess I am holding out hope I’ll be that skinny again one day?) because it’s like admitting I’m not thin anymore. It sounds so trivial and petty, I am well aware of this, but that doesn’t stop it being true.

I’ve also been trying to buy secondhand where possible, to further reduce my footprint. There are so many great online shops that sell secondhand goods, and since I’m selling my own things through them, it’s often better value to use store credit than to cash out.

I’ve not been perfect. I found myself perhaps buying more beauty items than usual, especially in an effort to combat my skin which decided to regress 15 years even though I had pretty fucking nice skin in my teens. I went down the /skincareaddiction rabbit hole on reddit, but have since come to the conclusion that the water in LA is just too hard and horrible to combat. I had no reason to try our new mascaras since I’ve already found my holy grail one, and nobody needs as many perfumes as I have. I’m thinking of setting up a beauty product swap at work, where people can bring in the products they tried and didn’t like to switch or share with others, so this might help alleviate some of that backlog too!

That said, I’m glad I’m doing this and I think it’s going pretty well. I’m saving more and not filling my house or emotional holes with unnecessary things. Downsizing is not something I plan on stopping once 2018 ends.

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My Teens Did Not Equip Me For This

I had relatively easy teens in regards of appearance: I didn’t have skin problems and didn’t need braces. While my teeth have thankfully continued being low maintenance (no fillings yet!), my skin has continued to give me a spot (haha) of bother from time to time. Thankfully, this has mostly just been a zit or two on my chin or three if it happened to be my time of the month. However, a few weeks ago I woke up to skin I did not recognize and it really threw me off. Near the corners of my mouth were dry, red and flaky, and my jaw line had a blotchy unevenness of acne that I had never seen on my skin before.

What consumed me was working out why this had happened – I hadn’t changed any soap or diet or habits, so it seemed to make no sense why it suddenly happened. Was it the result of going off birth control NINE MONTHS AGO?! Was this some odd acne baby I was birthing on my face? Was it a belated reaction to medication? It could be stress, but why was it manifesting this way now? I had no idea.

The dryness was flaky and impossible to hide under makeup, and I had to apply moisturizer (and then I started using vaseline – yep, the stuff out the blue tin you use on your lips – to avoid the white streaks and pilling that moisturizer gives you) almost hourly during the day. The red blotches on my jaw stood out against my pale skin, and there was even some unevenness and bumps on my forehead and by my nose. The dryness meant coverup wasn’t really an option, so I just had to ride it out all the while diligently washing my face every morning and evening, praying it went away, and hiding  in my office out of embarrassment.

I would never judge or make fun of someone for their skin, but I felt that’s what other people were doing, especially since it appeared overnight to someone who didn’t usually look this way. It was painful, physically and emotionally, and I still didn’t know why it happened. I started taking some supplements that were supposed to help, and continued with the vaseline and washing routine all the while trying to destress when I could.

This was two weeks ago and only now is my skin finally returning to the clearness it had before. The crop of acne on my jaw has disappeared, and the bumps have gone down or away, with only a few remaining that get nuked with creams morning and evening. I can finally look in the mirror without wanting to cry, or driving myself crazy with working out wtf happened. Even now I have no idea, and I’m sure my dramatics over having acne for 2 weeks is laughable to someone who has struggled with it for years, but when your teens didn’t equip you for it you have no idea how to deal with it.

Getting older is really lame, you guys. Fingers crossed I don’t have this crop up out of nowhere again.

But most of all, I miss coats

I feel personally betrayed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not only did I never get Chosen, but I now believe the amount of beautiful coats she had for living in Southern California was just not realistic.

It’s absolutely cliche to complain about the lack of seasons in Southern California, so I won’t waste too much time on the nostalgic dreams I have for woodsmoke, chilly evenings and the hope of a snow day. However much I miss the change of seasons, I really don’t miss deep winter where I had to wear leggings under jeans, navigate those slush pools of indeterminate depth, and biting wind. It’s a trade off, and one day I shall live in a place that has a happy medium (which is where? Please tell me!) but until then, I shall side-eye Buffy and her peacoats, leather trousers, and boots.

I mean, sidebar, but her dedication to her fashion game during night patrols was impressive. Of course, she didn’t know who she might bump into so it was a good call to not scrub it up, but why didn’t girlfriend wear sneakers and leggings? I suppose leather was practical in terms of protection from enemy weapons, but was it practical for the supposed heat of SoCal? I hope the reboot addresses this. 

Anyway, as a person who adores coats and boots I feel a bit adrift at this time of year. Sure, New York was still warm at the start of September and during Fashion Week but there was still the hint of autumn in the air. It’s always easier to deal with when the trends aren’t to my taste, but the coats this year on Revolve are fabulous. (I’m lazy and do the majority of my clothes shopping on Revolve because the selection is wonderful, delivery is fast, and it’s all my fave brands under one roof!)

Too Old-2

I guess I’ll have to go on vacation to wear a coat, which is a pain in the arse because have you tried packing coats into a suitcase? Nightmare.

Arrested Development

There are some unwritten rules for when you’re due to ‘age out’ of something. When you stop and think about these ‘rules’, they almost all exclusively apply to women. Think about the policing on how acceptable it is to wear a denim skirt, glitter makeup, or shop at certain stores. I’m trying to think of the male version of these ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ thought processes and coming up blank.

Once you become aware that these rules are just a construct of the patriarchy, hell bent on policing the bodies of women, you can be at peace knowing you are never too old or young to wear something. Your hair is acceptable however you want to wear it, your makeup is up to you, and you can use all the emojis you damn well please.

While I may not buy the sweatpants with PINK written on the arse, I will still continue to shop at Victoria’s Secret Pink despite being long past my college years. Sure, I probably should be shopping at a more sophisticated and expensive store, but those 5 for $28 deals are pretty good and I like brands I can buy online knowing my size. The same can be said for other ‘juniors’ stores like Aerie, Brandy Melville, or DollsKill that I am not in their target audience for but will still shop at. Whether it’s the prices or style or comfort in the familiar, you should never feel ‘too old’ to shop somewhere. Similarly, if a young teen wants to shop at Chico’s then more power to them.

Beyond shopping, I still refuse to have ‘guilty pleasures’ because having guilt over your pleasures is just silly. If you want to watch Disney movies, collect Lego or listen to pop music then that shouldn’t have an age limit. Of course, some of those things can have their appeal lessened in older age as you question more (plot holes in Disney, exploitation of pop singers) but if you like it then nobody should try to make you feel that something as trivial as age would be a reason not to.

Too Old

I’m don’t agree with an arrested development approach to life where you remain in a stasis of the same clothes and music, but you don’t have to bow to pressures to rid yourself of things you enjoy because of an arbitrary social construct. I won’t feel guilty over the pleasure I take in wearing Uggs and shorts, but I do acknowledge that it is not appropriate to wear to work. That’s growth! Find that balance is the all important part of holding past habits dear and still growing up. You can still read Buzzfeed, but maybe read some other outlets too.

I have had the same favourite song for over 25 years, but I won’t stop listening to new music. I won’t feel guilty about certain things I wear, but I know when it’s appropriate to wear them. Since my generation is fucked out of owning houses or relinquishing themselves from debt, why should we ‘grow up’ if the next stage of our life (home ownership, tenure, whatever) is closed off to us due to an economy determined to screw us over? Shopping at juniors stores is financially sensible, toys are better to collect than diamonds, and maybe I’m still wearing these 10 year old jeans because I can’t afford new ones.

 

 

Middle Earth Mood

My Nana had two VHS tapes at her house that I must have watched every time we visited when I was little, and both gave me a deep love for the worlds they built (and probably sparked my love for world building in general). Those tapes were episodes of the Moomins and the Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings cartoon – and I highly recommend both!

I remember my gradual introduction to the world of Tolkien after watching the cartoon, moving next to the Hobbit (which I also had on audio tape), the Lord of the Rings, and then the Simarillion and beyond. I’m glad I got to live in the world before the movies came out, so I was able to create my own imaginings and visuals – which I enjoyed comparing with what the movies did.

(I have various feelings about some interpretations the movies made, but that is a whole rant for another time. In general, I adore the movies and they are one of my favourite ‘comfort food’ watches – the ride of the Rohirrim is stupendous – and the soundtracks are among my favourite of all time.)

Since mood boards are my go-to activity to de-stress and I’m not really feeling fashion trends right now (c’mon, neon and tiny sunglasses?! Get the fuck outta here with that please) I’ve turned other sources of inspiration.

Númenor

Ah, what folly. Numenor was like the decadence of the early 00’s before the crash (or, in their case, a wave). Don’t listen to pretty lies, for it will end badly.

Gondor

Admittedly, I’m a bit more #TeamRohan when it comes to the world of men but I do like the colours of Gondor a bit more. Despite missing the black wall (stickler for details), I thought the movie representation was brilliant.

Hobbiton

Who wouldn’t want to live in the cosy, comfy Shire? I totally get why Gandalf loved to visit so much and the appeal of a circular front door.

Lothlorien

If I were an Elf, I’d choose Lothlorien over Rivendell or Mirkwood. Not only is it a protected haven, but I bet Galadriel has the best stories from the first two ages.

Mordor

You cannot simply walk into it… unless you’re two Hobbits, I guess. Although I didn’t really picture Sauron quite so literally, I kind of liked the crazy big eye tower. It was certainly an impressive vibe.

Rivendell

The last homely house, where Elrond must be used to (but growing tired of) people just showing up unannounced to stay. If you don’t want uninvited house guests, don’t be super knowledgeable and live somewhere welcoming. I think Elrond secretly likes the company since his sons skipped off to the North.

Rohan Palette

Why Rohan over Gondor? Well, I like their earthier vibe (wood over stone) and you know they’d be more fun at a party. Although I like the colours and flag of Gondor more, I’d probably enjoy living in Rohan more. As if living in any of these places is a possibility… but whatever, it’s easy to get carried away when you wander into making mood boards.

But as we all know, not all those who wander are lost.

Content Overload

There is just too much content online. As someone who works in producing digital  content, I know I am part of the problem. I’m talking more specifically about the sheer volume of television shows and movies online, and my daunting list of what to watch.

Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, HBOGO, Amazon Prime, and even some ongoing/new shows, I have no shortage of things to watch when the mood strikes. Whether it’s movies or television, there is always something just a tap away from entertaining me. But is anyone else finding it difficult to keep up? My list keeps growing, and I’m now seasons behind on some shows so much that it feels I’ll never catch up. An awards season passes and I’ve only seen a handful of the hyped movies (even though I work in entertainment!), and sometimes a movie can feel like something you should see rather than want to see.

Binging television and movies is not always easy to fit in with a full time job and other non-couch-based activities, and then it’s sometimes hard to be in the right mood to watch something heavy. If I’ve had a long day at work, I’m not really in the mood for a heavy trauma-filled or emotional rollercoaster, but something light. Then something prestige-y can sit on a list for so long, that it feels more like a chore to watch.

I’m finding the video speed plugin a pretty handy tool to get through some shows that I want to see but have a tendency to drag (cough NETFLIX cough) and honestly the only thing that looks a bit funny are fight scenes or sex scenes. You’d be surprised how slowly people must talk in shows, because speeding them up sometimes has very little effect on how their voice sounds. I also will turn back to regular speed during the finale episodes, just to do them justice, and even if I’m usually doing something else (multitasking y’all) when watching the series, I haven’t found things impacted negatively to my recall events or be less emotionally impacted. I’ve not tried it with movies yet, but I’ll let you know if it worth trying there too.

If I didn’t work in entertainment, maybe I’d feel less pressure to get through all these shows. It’s not just important to be up to date when meeting with clients, but for my own reference when brainstorming or if I need to work on a franchise or series.

This isn’t even considering how I feel I lag behind on staying up to date with podcasts, music or reading books too. I like turning things off and silence, which isn’t conducive to the always-on lifestyle that is important to churning through all this info, so reading isn’t too difficult to slot in although listening is easier to do at work.

Sometimes I feel like I’m doing the shows or myself a disservice with this hurried approach, but I don’t know any alternative given the pressing need. Despite the list, I also sometimes feel the need to rewatch an old favourite (do you have comfort-watches too?) because not only is it guaranteed to be great but you can notice things you might have missed before or you benefit from an older perspective. I suppose there is naught else to do but continue to plug away at the list and hope my rate of watching is faster than the rate the new shows debut.

Movie Reboots + Remakes

It’s Comic Con weekend and the news, trailers, and releases are coming thick and fast. This isn’t exactly a new or hot take, but damn are there a lot of reboots and remakes swarming around. Would you call a belated sequel a form of reboot too? I’m not here to say all remakes/reboots are bad, but quite a few are and it’s beginning to feel rather lazy and pandering.

I understand why it’s attractive for a movie studio to reboot or remake: established audience, lots of guaranteed press, repositioning a movie to be more ‘woke’ to win PR points. It’s all bankable nostalgia cashing in. I don’t know about you, but I’m more psyched for a movie that’s telling a wholly original story. Something unique for the time we live in (not forcibly updated) and with a tale to tell that we don’t know already.

Sometimes the themes and message of a movie from the 80s should exist in its own time capsule, and doesn’t work if you shoehorn it into the society and messaging of 2018. I don’t mind ‘inspired by’ movies or some of the belated sequels, as these can add to the world built in the first movie but still allow them both to stand alone.

I understand that the movie business is eager for franchises – for the financial security – but if a one shot movie is a huge success out of nowhere, rushing a sequel is rarely a good idea. TV too is not immune to this, as we saw with the rushed follow up to True Detective. I’d much rather either no sequel happened, or the film makers and writers were given as much time as they need to make one that feels true to the story instead of a cash grab.

I feel this annoyance most keenly when watching a documentary or a show like Drunk History, which has these amazing true stories of past events or people that would totally make an awesome movie. Why isn’t there a good (drama, serious) Rasputin movie? What about the deviously magical Alastair Crowley? War heroes like Daniel Inouye? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Ir’s not just historical dramas I’m looking for, but original stories. (Maybe they need to buy scripts from women, people of colour, differently abled and discover a whole new trove of stories!)

I think the box office is reflecting that original stories are resonating, from indie movies like The Big Sick and Lady Bird to bigger movies like LA LA Land and Moonlight.

It’s not a coincidence that these original movies did well at the awards, but even movies that were never going to be Oscar nominated can perform exceptionally financially (eg. The VVitch) despite not being part of a franchise or remake. I hope that that entertainment industry is brave enough to remember the one-shot movies from the 70s/80s/90s that were allowed to do really well and not get a sequel. There is definitely a place for big franchises, but not every movie should be shoehorned into one. 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts: Not Enough To Be Their Own Post

  1. Those DNA-what’s-my-heritage companies probably have just preset results to send out to tell people their descendants of a Cherokee Princess, Queen Victoria, or a President, depending on a quick Google search of what the applicant would like best.
  2. Watching streaming shows at 1.7x speed (via plug in) is honestly the only way I can have time to actually watch all the shows out there. There is too much content. I am still so far behind. How else do you find the time?
    1. Fight scenes and sex scenes are the most hilarious sped up.
    2. It’s no surprise that even at speed, those Netflix Marvel shows can still drag. Except Jessica Jones. Season 1 of JJ and the Cottonmouth arc in Luke Cage are the best, IMHO.
    3. No, it doesn’t speed things up and make the voices all squeaky. It’s just faster.
  3. Whenever I’m driving and I see another driver do something foolish, it’s always in a Honda. (Sorry not sorry if you drive a Honda but damn it’s always a Honda).
  4. I blame Industrialization for so much wrong with the world. Actually, I probably could write a whole post about this.
  5. Once I got out of the habit of shopping, I’m now kind of averse to shopping. I’ve even begun selling my stuff. I hardly recognize this person, but she seems cool so I’ll roll with it.
  6. Eating yogurt/apple sauce/ice cream/etc with a child/baby spoon is the best. Extra points if the spoon is plastic. I have a secret Hello Kitty spoon for such things.
  7. When it’s really hot and I’m running the AC, I have intense guilt because I feel like the harder the AC runs, the more it will affect the environment and thus contribute to global warming. It’s a vicious circle and it makes me have a knot of guilt in my stomach all summer.
  8. That said, I love the heat and have an odd tolerance to it. Even humidity. I’m always cold so I imagine myself as a lizard sitting on a rock to soak up heat. Warm me!
  9. Am I the only person who doesn’t like wrap dresses because they never seem to sit right? I’m always put on pause when I see a pretty dress that’s a wrap style instead of a ‘hidden zipper’. The same with skirts.
  10. I have very strong opinions about Middle Earth.

Expat Existence: Accent Ownership

Although it’s been almost ten years since I moved to America, I still get regular reminders that I’m not from here. Most overtly, it’s my accent and my feelings towards its ‘difference’ has been somewhat of a rollercoaster.

It didn’t take long after moving here to discover some situations are made easier or less hassle to adopt an American accent to avoid comments, attracting attention/questions, or when you’re just not in the mood to humour the inevitable exchange. Sometimes its just helpful to do so as, for some reason, some people found my accent hard to understand sometimes. It’s accommodating and self-minimizing, probably only a habit of female expats as it’s more ingrained in us to adjust ourselves to the needs of others.

However, this accommodation and consideration evolves into a defiant ‘why should I change myself fuck that’ feeling and I swing back into my real accent and stop bothering to translate into ‘American’ terms like using Fahrenheit because it’s not my nature yet. At best, people find this charming but at worst, people get offended and confused. Although I sympathize with the confusion and then adjust myself  to ‘oh, when in Rome I guess’ and use the terms of the land I live in, if someone gets rude then I’m less likely to respond in English at all.

Because honestly, if I say “over the street” instead of “across the street” and you can’t use your fucking intelligence to work out the context then you deserve people to get annoyed at you. Many non-Americans have managed to navigate through context so stop being lazy and try to get out of your own head for once.

The final evolution of this thought process is me worrying that I’m starting to lose my accent. While I sound ‘other’ enough in this country for the comments to come every time I talk to a stranger, my family back home tells me that my accent is lessened. So, am I adrift in between the countries? Somewhere in the Atlantic? Is there now no country I can talk in where I sound like a native? How much of my identity is my accent?

Having moved around a lot as a kid, I have spent most of my life with an accent that was ‘other’, even in my own country (because regional accents are a thing) but having a unique accent isn’t as fun as it sounds. I now get assumed to be from random countries I’ve never been to, due to the odd blended I now have, and I’m exhausted from explaining myself. I’ve been explaining and apologizing for my accent for the majority of my life, and now when I’ve reached the point of ‘fuck it’ my accent has been influenced so much by moving that it no longer feels like my own.

 

(July 4th seemed like such a fitting day to share these feelings.)