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On Beauty…

11 Jul

This morning, as I groggily opened my bathroom cabinet to pull out my facial cleanser, I paused to marvel at the entire ROW of different cleansers and moisturizers and creams that sat in front of me. (All Neutrogena, so I’m consistent that way, aren’t I?) Each one boasting the wondrous things it would do for my face, each one promising, essentially, the same thing. So why do I have an array of different beauty products promising the same thing sitting in my bathroom cabinet, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you, since you asked so nicely:

I happen to be a beauty product collector.

Specifically, I’m a 1) beauty product collector with 2) rabid amnesia and 3) a case of paranoia.

1) I walk through the aisles and a few carefully placed words jump out at me. Non-oily formula. Non-greasy. Light and refreshing. All-in-One. Like a Neutrogena Stepford wife, I obey, grabbing as many of those lovely promises as I can. I want what they can give. And so I buy. To further the problem, 2) I have completely forgetten that I already own half these products already, or items similar to them, and do not actually need any of them. However, 3) what if the formulas in the products I already own are outdated? What if some Neutrogena scientist has discovered a stronger non-oily/non-greasy/light and refreshing/All-in-1 solvent that is far more powerful than the ones I already own, thereby rendering my daily skincare regimen utterly useless, ineffective, and potentially poisonous? Riiiight. It’s clear now, isn’t it? I’m a beauty product collector with rabid amnesia and a case of paranoia.

Blame puberty. Like every other girl on the planet, my growth spurt came bearing gifts: pimples, even bigger pimples, oily skin, and a suspicion that me and this guy might be related. At first, I relied on plain old soap and water (which dried out my skin to no end). Eventually, when I started working and earning all my Benjamins (funny how $6.50 an hour meant something when you were 17 years old), the beauty product collecting began. No more soap and water! Now Salycylic acid!  Nevertheless, despite my current purchasing/amnesia/paranoia problem, things are far more stable and, dare I say it, glowy, when it comes to my skin. I try to regularly cleanse and moisturize, I drink far more water than I did as a teen, I takes care of business.

But enough with all the me, me, me, shall we? Let’s hear from my lovely cousin, J (you know how I feel about government names on the interweb), who, hands down, is a veritable skincare expert. I posed a few questions about her personal skincare regimen/ongoing journey with beauty products.

Ok. You’re an expert when it comes to beauty products. Do you research what items will work for you? If so, where do you get ideas on what to buy?

I’m more of a spontaneous product junkie. If I see an ad for mascara, I buy it and try it out. Because of my unique skintone to the demographic area I live in, I do have to venture out to the high end product line. But even with that, i just buy and try. Usually my ideas come from makeup advertisements, the Maybelline commercials on TV, and sometimes in articles fashion articles where I see models with similar skintones, i look to see who the makeup artist is or the product used, and then go from there.

What’s your daily skincare regimen?

My daily skincare regimen is quite sporadic and probably should be improved. In the shower in the a.m., I wash my face with either a creamy Burts Bees cleanser or a light Boots gel cleanser and finish off with a Boots day moisturizing cream. I’m not as diligent in the evening as I should be. I’ll cleanse with a combination of black soap from Ghana called Chocho and Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Scrub. Then I finish off with a teeny dab of choco creme.
What products do you think are good for African-American ladies who have oily skin? Or dry skin?
I have dry skin and so far the best products for me have been Burts Bees “beeswax” brand (can only find this particular line for skincare at Whole Foods and online) and Boots creams and cleansers for normal/dry skin (can be found at Target).
Are you a collector? Or do you stick to one brand?
I am definitely a collector.
Some ladies say to go the natural route for skincare: drink plenty of water and use the simple basics, like Vaseline or Shea Butter, and avoid the chemicals. Thoughts about that?
I say yay and a teeny nay. Natural is always good, but depending on our imperfect skin, we may need a lil extra help. I say if you do decide to use products that are not 100% natural or raw, at least look at the labels. I try to pick brands that don’t have a lot of chemical ingredients.
Any concluding advice for women who are looking for the right type of skincare maintenance?
It is good to be consistent, but sometimes based on changes with our hormones and environment we may need to change up our routine. Don’t always go for the cheapest and you don’t have to go for the most expensive. Try to find that happy medium in the middle.

Thanks, J! For the good advice, the good tips, and admitting that you, too, are a collector! Incidentally, I will be pursuing some, if not all, of the products you mentioned. Unsurprisingly.

compliment, threat, same thing…?

17 Mar


This morning, as I made my way toward the metro escalators, I noticed a woman adjacent to me, also heading for the escalators. Even more notable was the fact that she was looking directly at me, a sort of knowing smile/smirk on her face. At first, I wondered if we knew each other. We didn’t. Nonetheless, as we arrived at the top of the escalators around the same time, she said, “you look pretty today.” I smiled, thanked her, and continued to descend down the stairs.

I was completely rattled.

The following thoughts took over:

  • who was that woman?
  • do i know her? have we had a conversation before on the train?
  • she wants to harvest my kidneys.
  • i’m wearing a huge coat, a scarf, sneakers. i look pretty?
  • i look pretty TODAY? as opposed to the other days when she had seen me?
  • what was with that weird smile?
  • please, please don’t sit next to me on the train.
  • where did she go? she was right behind me and now she’s gone!
  • did I imagine that whole exchange?
  • maybe she thought she knew me…
  • who WAS that woman?

The end. (I refuse to psychoanalyze myself in this instance. I’m accepting my reaction. The woman freaked me out.) 


Eternally Paranoid Girley

Let’s Sip on this Maddening and Marvelous Cocktail, Shall We?

9 Mar

I am a Metro commuter.

They should have meetings and/or support groups for our little subculture (well, hardly little), for the sole purpose of me standing up in the middle of a room and making that statement, followed by people who nod and say, “yes, YES.”

Anyway, as a Metro commuter, I have moments where I scratch my head out of the confusion and frustration of it all, and I have moments when I smile at seeing the most intriguing and interesting slices of life and the human experience. As a rider, it can be thoroughly stinky. As a writer, it can be completely inspiring. A veritable cocktail of madness and marvel.

The Madness

  • Unfortunately, riding on the Metro has proven something I sadly knew but didn’t want to see evidenced almost every day: chivalry is, indeed, largely dead. Never have I seen more men lacking in courtesy to women, especially those with special circumstances, such as pregnant women or the elderly. I once watched, horrified, as a hugely pregnant woman stood and lurched backward and forward with each movement of the train while men sat all around her. (Once a seat became available, I nearly pushed her into it, I was so desperate to see her off her feet. There is no way, anywhere, that a pregnant woman should be mashed between people on a train.) Anyway, I’m not generalizing, by any means. It’s not all men, but some. Nonetheless, scenes smiliar to the above happen more often than not, and I find it incredibly sad and infurating. And utterly maddening.
  • Let’s be equal opportunity here: I’ve seen some women show their discourtesy to other riders, as well. Blind individuals; people with special needs; OTHER pregnant women; the elderly—the list goes on and on. What’s worse is when they’re sitting in the seats reserved for those with special needs and then someone walks onto the train and requires those seats…and they pretend to be oblivious.
  • The Metro doors are monstrous. They aren’t like elevator doors with sensors. No, if you wave your arm between Metro doors to keep them open, bid farewell to that precious arm. The doors will close. Everyone who rides the Metro is aware of this. Even tourists pick up on it fairly quickly. That said, I cannot understand, for the life of me, why people race to those doors to try to beat them. I don’t get it. I don’t get potentially risking your limbs to get on the train. The doors will not release their hold on the Jansport bag belonging to Mr./Ms. I Don’t Care About My Limbs, which is stuck between the doors. (I’ve seen an entire group of people trying to help one person remove their object from the doors. Quite a sight.) Some doors will malfunction completely, causing an off-boarding (removing all of us from the now defunct train) and trapping us at a station until the next train comes, which invalidates the crazy attempt to get on the train in the first place. Ugh. Ugh!
  • Um, stinkiness. Enough said.
  •  At times cramped, uncomfortable, having to look up at the ceiling to avoid staring at the person standing inches, micro inches, from your face…
  • Public displays of affection from plenty of amorous couples. Unfortunately, escape is impossible, so my eyes return back toward the ceiling…
  • The Metro is by no means the library. Silence is not a requirement. However, the morning commute is traditionally not loud. People are reading their newspapers, still trying to wake up (yours truly), etc. So a raucous conversation with your friend about the crazy night you had the night before…it’s just not cool.

But…sometimes, amid all of the above, we have…

The Marvelous

  • Alternatively, people do help each other. People give up their seats. People steady other riders who nearly fall over. People attempt to hold the door for mothers with strollers or others who need to get on the train, despite the danger and risk. People stand aside and clear a path for those coming off the train. When the Metro endured a terrible collision last year, I read about the most beautiful acts of heroism and just pure decency. So it exists.
  • I watch families smile and laugh with one another. I watch loving, non-crazy PDA couples (thank you) tend to each other; whisper and hold hands; and generally behave in a manner that kind of touches my little cynical heart.
  • The men/women in fatigues and camouflage? On their way to the Pentagon? They stand on the train like armed guards. I feel protected.
  • Lots of people do say “thank you” and “excuse me.”
  • I have a part-time job as a people-watcher. The Metro is a grand employer, as far as that’s concerned. I see all kinds of gems and fascinating moments in human nature, all of which can be creative perks.
  • When we’re above ground, I sometimes see the traffic on the street, where a million cars snail towards their respective destinations…and I’m super grateful. By and large, we keeps it moving on the Metro.
  • Once in a while, despite all those strangers, someone I actually know sits next to me! Totally and completely awesome when that happens. It’s definitely nice to share the ride with a friend.

Smiles or frowns, such is life. And such is life as a Metro commuter.

I’ll Admit It…

6 Mar

I love Michael Bolton’s music. Soul Provider? Please. Kills me everytime.

I watch cheesy Nickelodeon shows for kids. I’ve been watching Nickelodeon since I was a kid. Why stop now?

I follow the royals. All of them. Even the royal families in countries no one ever talks about. They fascinate me. Ugh. Love it.

I don’t care how old he is. He’s…he’s so…he’s just so.

What Do I Know?

28 Jan

I know that I should stop wishing. This week, my wishes for real snowfall, not these silly dustings we’ve been getting lately, was somewhat acquiesced. Somewhat in the sense that snow did come come, along with sleet, rain, and enough mayhem to paralyze the tri-state area. So, um, my apologies, tri-state area. And no more wishing.Vehicles clog the downtown streets of Washington as traffic comes to a halt as snow begins to fall, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Monsivais)

I know that I have wonderful friends. This week has been a bear. With stress at work and not feeling like myself, I was starting to slip a bit down the emotional rabbit hole. Then came friends. Long conversations where I got to release some things off my chest and get some much-needed advice; text messages that I was being thought of; being asked about my day. It was amazing. And hardly surprising. This always happens. I have wonderful friends, and I’m constantly reminded of that fact. I just hope I can be there when they need me. No, I won’t hope: I know I’ll be there.

I know that I’m currently experiencing a bit of writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean failure! I’ll be torturing a few fictional characters in no time!

I know that this will be a short post, because it’s blissfully time to go home.



Sincerely, Taj

Dear World, I have stuff to say, so get cozy. Here, I've got cupcakes.

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