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.

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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.

Hair Recovery

Can we talk about hair tutorials and how-tos for a second? As someone who isn’t blessed with the skill to do up their hurr I am grateful that there are videos online explaining slowly how to do fishtail braids or get beachy waves. That said, why do all tutorials and guides assume the reader has thick, long, healthy hair?
Of course a messy bun or plait is going to look fab when you’ve got long thick hair! Have you ever seen a top knot made from mid-length fine hair? It’s a sad little golf ball that is flattering nobody.

My hair has been in a state of recovery for the last few years. After battling a rather nasty addiction, my hair and fingernails ended up showing the toll long after my skin and body had suffered the brunt of it. There wasn’t much I could do, except use strengthening nail polish from time to time but mostly avoid polish in general (so I could also avoid using remover) which was a bummer because my nails were a rather sickly yellow colour. My hair became very thin, and that delightful combination of dry ends and easy-to-grease roots. It was very tempting to cut it off and start for scratch, but as a person who finds comfort in hiding behind their long hair, I wasn’t in a place to cut it off.

Thanks to a wonderful, and I do mean WONDERFUL, hair dresser my hair has gradually started its encouraging recovery. Patiently we waiting for the most damaged bits to grow out, and trimmed regularly, so now the majority of my hair is the healthy stuff. It’s also looking and feeling more healthy, smoother and thicker, and even giving hints it might get its wave back. After having hair that looked like it had been flat ironed even if I air dried it, I am very happy to see a bit of life come back in the form of a wave!

In addition to my physical and mental recovery playing a [huge] role, I also decided to really pay attention to the products I used. It was initially galling to spend a lot on shampoo, but it turns out the good stuff needs only a small amount to be used and ends up lasting a really long time. After trying out a lot of different brands and products, I have a clear winner. Oribe is now my go-to for shampoo, conditioner, sprays, serums, and oils. It absolutely delivers on what it promises, and is worth every penny (which is good, because those are a lot of pennies!). Here are some of the products I own and use:

oribe

I legit wish this was an ad (hey, Oribe please send me anything!!) but it isn’t. I just really love these products. I even have the little rollerball of perfume because it smells so damn good.

So, the short story is: please don’t get hooked on pills because the detox process is brutal and you will show the signs of it for a long time. The long story is: as horrible as it all was (and is, for recovery is always ongoing), it has been good to focus on my health and seen progress in my hair becoming healthier again. It’s outward proof of the feeling of health I feel on the inside, and that’s encouraging.

I still probably can’t do a big messy bun tho. But that’s ok, because a wearing a hat is way easier anyway.

 

Sartorially Speaking: Summer 2018

Am I the only one who is quite unimpressed with the fashion trends of late? The hottest looks for the summer (according to the style blogs like Refinery29) involve those bucket bags made from netting, plastic shoes, prairie/smocked tops, tiny sunglasses, lockets, and pedal pushers. What the actual fuck. Apparently they all got bored with the good 90s trends and fancied reviving the terrible ones. 

I walk the line between staying trendy and clinging to pieces I adore despite them not being Vogue-approved. In other words, you cannot pry me from my floaty Stevie Nicks witchy wraps but please give me all the well cut jeans. I like knowing what’s trending, and clicking through the shows at Fashion Week (Paris is the best, obvs) is a pleasure so I’m not sure if my displeasure can be chalked up to ‘not getting what’s fashionable’. 

Fashion Fails 2018

I think nostalgic trends only work for you if you liked them the first time around. I was never a fan of bucket bags (they are super awkward and your stuff gets lost inside), plastic shoes (uncomfortable and make feet sweaty), tiny sunglasses (I actually want sunglasses to protect my wuss eyes from the sun), lockets (bulky, sentimental and ugly but acceptable in horror movies if they contain someones soul), and pedal pushers (who the fuck is this even flattering on?). As for the other trends like sculpted heels, gingham, polka dots, and raffia shoes… I’m neutral on them, and will not be rushing to add them to my cart. 

I’m not mad though, it’s really helped me to stick to my ‘don’t buy anything’ resolution and not every trend has to cater to my whims. Since the turnaround on trends seems to be pretty fast, I probably won’t have to wait long until something I fancy comes along. My main fashion dilemma these days has little to do with trends exactly, and is more ‘what the hell am I wearing to work today?’ -based. Is it too dressy or too casual? Am I too old or too young to wear this? Is there a client meeting today? Is the office going to be cold? Am I walking a lot? Ugh, I miss working at home sometimes. 

Put up with the rain

A wise woman once said ‘If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain’, and even if you live somewhere sunny and rainy days are scarce, you still need that rainbow from time to time.

Why yes, that is a clunky metaphor thank you for noticing. One of my personal rainbows is creating mood boards online. It’s like scrapbooking, or a more focused Pinterest page I guess, but even if I don’t share them there is a certain enjoyment to sourcing the images and bringing them all together under a theme.

It’s a window into your mind, and I love to see what others create too! As the trees and flowers are blooming here, I was inspired to make a colour wheel of petals and flowers.

owls.png

Do you have a favourite flower or season? I like dark reds and dark pink for flowers, but a well-mixed arrangement is always delightful. It’s the best way to have a rainbow nearby, and silk flowers have the bonus of never dying.

Beauty Edition

There are a lot of “cult faves” and hyped products in the beauty world, and while sometimes you can be disappointed there are times when it actually does deserve all the praise. Of course, people are different and just because I love a product doesn’t mean it will work for you in the same way. This is just my personal list of makeup or beauty products that I will cry real tears if they ever get discontinued.

Beauty Essentials-2

 

  1. NYX is perhaps my favourite ‘drugstore’ brand because it’s got a great variety, is good quality, and very affordable. I love many of their products but their lip liner is fantastic, and you can usually find a corresponding lipstick to match. I mention it in particular as they have a shade that matches my natural lip colour per-fect-ly and makes it so I can fill in the scar on my upper lip so nobody can notice.
  2. As a natural blonde, I am well versed in mascara because if you don’t darken those natural blonde lashes people will ask you if you’re feeling faint. If it’s better than sex for real is up to you, but it’s better than any other mascara I’ve tried. The formula is quite thick so definitely one to stick in your bra or waistband to warm up before applying!
  3. Rihanna is not only out there being a talented, funny, sexy, sharp force of nature but she’s also out there bringing us beauty products. Her super inclusive line is friendly to us who lurk on the far ends of the spectrum – light or dark – and actually gets that all undertones are not created equal. My pale AF olive-undertone skin adores it. (Shout out to the Kat Von D line too, which was the first brand that I know of to cater to us Eastern Europeans).
  4. Eye crayons are fantastic because I’m lazy, but finding them that don’t have a sparkle to them is oddly hard. Sometimes I don’t want my eyes to glitter, and Julep (which I found on Amazon) understands that. The Putty shade is the perfect shade for smoothing my eyelids for a nude look.
  5. Oribe (which is pronounced “or-bay” apparently) smells like heaven and all the products of theirs that I’ve tried have been brilliant. This texturizing spray is the shit, and one of the few things that makes my fine hair look thicker and interesting.
  6. The packaging initially made me think it might be a bit gimmicky, and while I haven’t tried the makeup products (except the blur stick) I have found their skin products to be very good. I love the Matcha Toner for easy and smooth application, and how it hydrates my skin really effectively without clogging it up.
  7. Yeah, Glossier has a lot of fans so this recommendation is hardly groundbreaking. I love this moisturizer because it’s so thick and luxurious, applies really well and has a neutral scent.
  8. I get this from my dermatologist, so it’s the only thing on this list that isn’t easy to pick up although it’s not a prescribed product so it’s not hard to get either. SPF is important and this is a light formula that wears very well. It’s not scented and absorbs quickly. There is also a tinted version which I am rather eager to try out!

There were many other products I wanted to include, but wanted to keep the list streamlined for brevity! Sephora blotting papers, The Ordinary Retinols, Guerlain Pearls, La Labo Soap, Oribe Brightening Shampoo + Conditioner, Burts Bees Lipbalm, Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor, and the list goes on!

What are your beauty and makeup essentials?

Style Chameleon: Society Sorcerer

It’s a tea party at Miss Havisham’s manor and you’re all invited. Unpack your fingerless lace gloves, costume jewelry, and best ruffles because the dress code is your best gothic finery. It’s girlie and dark, a tinge of the Elegant Goth Lolita Harajuku look but more understated and wearable. Don’t shy away from jewels or hats, and more is more when it comes to tulle and lace.

Society Sorcerer

There’s a fine line between girl and woman, which the Society Sorcerer look tiptoes along. A debutante in her mother’s art deco finery, heirloom pieces and ruffles. I love the idea of a coven having a debutante ball, with innocent silhouettes in rich fabrics and gems. Look to Helena Bonham Carter, Vivienne Westwood, and Art Deco for inspiration – even some Tim Burton movies have that fancy darkness to them (especially Corpse Bride!) and even some old fairy tales too.

Nodding Blandly

Nostalgia is being peddled as currency, and no generation seems to be immune. Whether it’s the Boomers waxing poetic about a time that wasn’t really that great, or the 90s getting a reboot in the form of movies and fashion – we are all being sold a polished up memory.

As one of the kids born in the 80s, I am part of the generation to graduate into a recession and have Buzzfeed try to lure me with listicles of candy and television shows I should terribly miss. While I certainly share common experiences with those my age, there are some glaringly disjointed experiences I don’t share having grown up poor (by American standards) in another country.

Nodding blandly has become my go-to state when the conversation turns to reminiscing.  It tends to be the case that Americans think if something existed here, it existed everywhere but I can assure you that it is far from true. In all fairness, without having Sky or cable TV as a kid meant I was a little out of the loop in general because of the 4 channels our small TV (that was black and white until I was 6) received, none of them were MTV or Nickelodeon.

Due to the delay in pop culture reaching our shores, I found I had more common touch points with the Americans born 7-10 years before me so I often find myself straddling two generations in a peculiar manner. I don’t resent the American-centric nostalgia I’m sold because this is America and what else would I expect? Generations are generalizations, and I wouldn’t want to be put into a box in any case.

I just want to let other expats and foreign-born America-dwellers to know you are not alone. When a song comes on at a 80s/90s night and you have no idea what it is because despite the whoops around you, it had no success beyond the US: you are not alone. I’ve been there and I know how awkward as fuck it feels. Nod blandly unless you want to hear “oh my god don’t you know this?!” or “but this was such a big hit here!” or “come on, are you sure?”. When the talk turns to actors who were on that totally popular kids show, nod blandly because trust me you don’t really care and the explanation will just open a can of worms to more things you don’t need to know about.

Sometimes it’s worth asking about, because it can explain how and why things are the way they are. However, most of the time it is best to nod blandly and just look it up on the internet later. Nostalgia is a big emotional trigger and it is often easier to look it up without invoking a passionately intense explanation from someone which can sometimes leave you feeling stupid or vaguely unwelcome for asking.

Nod blandly now. Internet later.

DIY Heaven

There is a common theme to articles about saving money: do shit yourself instead of paying others to do it when you can. Now, I am not suggesting you start cutting your own hair or doing your own dental work, but there are definitely things we can do to ease back on the reliance on others and start saving cash.

Manicures
It surprised me that getting your nails done was not classed as a luxury here. Coming from a country where nail salons aren’t as prevalent, having a manicure was a special occasion type of thing. If you have a special event or want something intricate, by all means go to a salon, but learning how to paint your own nails for the times in-between is a no-brainer. I loved nail polish as a kid so I’ve had many years of practice to get a professional result from my DIY efforts, and there is no reason you can’t either. Drug store brands like essie and OPI are affordable and used by salons, and you can even get the gel versions if you want. Practice makes perfect, and it’s a rather relaxing thing to do!

Coffee
It still boggles my mind that people consider daily trips to Starbucks as necessity. I understand that caffeine is a necessity, but c’mon y’all. Make it at home! Starbucks sells its coffee from stores and supermarkets for you to get the same taste in your travel mug, and you can also help cut down on disposable cups an straws. Start slow by going every other day and go from there.

Cooking
Ordering takeout is tempting, but it really adds up. We all know the advice to make a big batch of something and eat throughout the week, but this can get boring. Freezing some of your leftovers is a good alternative to quick meals that you haven’t been eating all week. It’s quick to defrost, and healthier too!

What are your DIY tricks and tips?