Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Other Book, and The Journey Ahead

So, yeah, I did finish that other travel book. The one that I've been resisting to read.

And now that I've finished reading it, I can't bring myself to be snarky about it at all.

Maybe it's because of all the things that have been on my mind lately with this trip, and my teaching, and turning 30 this year - which, I have to admit, I wasn't able to acknowledge as properly as I should have - but now that I've finished this book, I feel very inspired, like I've got the rest of my life ahead of me.

Never mind that my journey is taking me to San Diego instead of Bali, or to spending 15 weeks teaching in a classroom in the middle of Oahu instead of a meditation retreat in the middle of India. I understand that it's such a massive cliche to say something like "This book spoke to me, people," but it did.

I feel like I've emerged from a deep sleep, looking at the world with new eyes. (As I am typing, I am looking over my shoulder and noticing the orange sunset outside my window - is that so wrong?) Instead of feeling like I'm in a rut, I look at everything around me and think: Man, oh, man, there's so much of the world that I really have to see, and see now.

It's not like I have much time to waste here waiting, really. I'm looking at making a fresh start, and starting right now, just to make sure everything goes forward from here onward. Even the mess in my apartment - the initial inspiration for calling this blog Domesticity - is begging to be shaken up and turned upside down.

It's going to be a great year ahead of us, folks. Until then, I'll see you all after New Year's.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the High Horse

One last post (and not counting whatever book I'm reading now) before I go on my winter trip to San Diego this week:

If I haven't posted any beauty related content on this site for a while, that's because I'm deathly tired from everything - work, school, starting a new teaching position next semester - that I don't know if there's anything left for me to say, or try.

Those of you who have followed this blog since the very beginning know that I take a lot of breaks from blogging, precisely because of the very things that keep me busy in real life. I keep mentioning this on and on, but it's true - I am a graduate student, I don't have much money (apart from however much I'm getting paid at my part-time job) and I don't have any pretensions of becoming a real beauty journalist any time soon. So it makes my blog a bit of a mess -- so what? I write what I want to write, what I like to write, and I don't have to fear any recrimination.

In contrast, I've been deathly disappointed with some of the commenters on the blogs I frequently read, because it seems to me that every other blog, every other day, is involved in a flame war. Let's be frank here: I don't have to read it if I don't want to... but, for crying out loud, blog-reading has been my morning habit for the last three years, and the last thing I want on a morning when I could be facing a rough day at work or school is an even rougher argument initiated by two people who have never, ever met each other in real life. I want beautiful words and beautiful pictures with my morning coffee, dammit - not badly-spelled arguments and uglier name-calling!

Believe me, there is nothing you want to see any less than yours truly being tempted to writing death threats to people I have never met, for no good reason than ruining my morning. It's already bad enough that I see this on the political and showbiz blogs... but on a beauty or fashion blog? I don't care how stressed you are this time of the year, or any year, because - and pardon my French here - that shit ain't right.

With that said: I already mentioned that I will be student-teaching next semester, and carrying a full academic load while doing so. That means waking up before sunrise every morning for the next four to six months, so I can make the trek all the way across town to work with children. This is the reality I will be facing for a good chunk of 2008, which means that some of the content I might end up publishing here will reflect that significant reality. I'm not saying I'm going to change the content or theme for this blog - hey, if I write something about shoes or makeup that can stand seven hours' worth of teaching time, so much the better - but that also means I won't have the same amount of free time that I would have had if I didn't have this assignment. If I don't read a blog at this time, don't take it against me; if I don't post a new entry, don't make it an excuse to bomb me with death threats. All I'm asking for is a little understanding on everyone's part, because it's about time at least one of us finally grew up for a change.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Honeymoon on Hardcover

So you're looking at this and you're thinking: Great, another travel book by an upper-crust, broken-hearted American who can afford to chuck the dead-end job for months and months of long-term travel, with all sorts of Oprah-worthy Finding My True Self Among The Poor Little People in the Third World epiphanies along the way. Come on, Mei, haven't you read that other memoir about chucking it all to travel the world - the one that actually has a longer chapter about Indonesia?
Okay, I'm not trying to diss Eat Pray Love here - in fact, I read Honeymoon with my Brother as a way of preparing me to read that book. (Also, Franz Wisner was on Oprah at around the same time as Elizabeth Gilbert.) And yet, Honeymoon had already been in my possession (neighbor gave it away - don't ask) for months, waiting to be read. It didn't take too long for me to break down and read it.
Those of you expecting some kind of "woe-is-me" pity party-turned here would be disappointed, because Franz Wisner writes in a way that doesn't make you want to feel sorry for him. Yeah, yeah, we know that he got dumped at the altar and demoted from the corner office, blah blah yada yada - in fact, the parts where he talks about his life post-dumpage will make you want to say, "Yeah, I hate your life, too." He's equally unapologetic about making fun of hippie backpackers, Lonely Planet guide books, Ugly Americans, crazy Third World taxi drivers, and occasional side trips into HoYay territory. And he definitely does not want our sympathy when he drags his younger brother along on his travels, in the hope of developing a better filial relationship that does not involve one carrying the other over a threshold.
Hemingway, he's not. But those of you hoping for Mitch Albom-style fuzzies will be horribly disappointed, because Honeymoon is not that kind of a book. True, the Wisner boys do end up bonding with each other and becoming Better Men at the end, but that doesn't mean you can't have a laugh at their expense over their adventures, where they stumble through continents like clueless party boys. It's a real-life version of The Darjeeling Limited, stretched out over 53 continents, but without the Freudian psychodrama or the designer luggage.
You'll read this and realize that, darnit, this is how straight guys travel the world: chucking guide books in the garbage can, enduring day-long flight delays, traveling great distances for weird-looking animals and amazing beaches. You'll snicker through stories of questionable sex, crashing with friends, and the things that go terribly wrong with your house while you're away. You'll laugh at the moments when they walk into a supposedly "un-touristy" restaurant and find themselves surrounded by fellow haoles who found the same restaurant through their guide book. You'll wade through pages and pages of horror stories, hoping somebody would hit them over the head and say, "Dammit, can't you find anything good to say?"... and then, as soon as they get on the departing flight, you'll find yourself empathizing when they tell you how they finally realized that they'd fallen in love with this crazy country, warts and all.

And as somebody who has managed to spend the first 2/3rds of her life in the Third World, I can tell you: they sure managed to get all those parts right. Especially the part where they don't want the whole ride to end.
A note: I recently read that not only are the Wisner brothers working on Book Part Deux (coming out in '08), but they now have a movie deal for this one as well. Sweet! I won't even mind them recasting the parts of Franz and Kurt Wisner so it won't look like them. Hint, hint, hint... um... hell to the no.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Wha-evah you liiiiike, we do fo' you!"

For those of us who like to get our mani-pedis at the neighborhood salon... here's Anjelah Johnson riffing on getting your nails done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holidays in Red

Nope, this isn't another post about Gap. It just so happens that my Lane Bryant/Cacique purchases just came in this morning... and didn't you know that they're having a sale right now?

So without further ado, I just want to share what I'm wearing right now, straight out of the box.

Red flannel! Gold stripes! A darling satin ribbon for a drawstring! Not to mention the right amount of roomy fit. Could I be more in love with a pair of pajama pants right now? The color scheme might scream "Christmas!" but I could see myself wearing this all year, even on a coffee run. I'd even wear this with my red suede platform wedges and a white tank top... that is, if I felt like "entertaining."

And for those moments when I don't have to make a lot of sexy time (which is, um, most days of the year), I have this other red number from Cacique to keep me company...

Perfect for those cold nights in where all I need is a cup of cocoa and my laptop to help me sift through my paperwork. I ordered this in a 14/16 - otherwise I would've drowned in the next biggest size - and it fit me like a dream. It's way too much with the pajama pants, but it does cover enough of me to be modest if I felt like doing my laundry in it. Plus the snowflake print is subtle enough to not look like a holiday leftover.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Domesticity Retail Mini-Roundup: Post-Black Friday Edition

Another year, another Black Friday passing with me in the red. The only "malling" I've managed to do so far was to pop in and out of stores to grab things that were already on my shopping list, like gifts for my family, school supplies, and the occasional fancy ingredient for the holiday meal. That said, here are some pleasant surprises I've found so far...

- Remember what I said in the last entry about the new Eau de Toilette collection from Gap? I finally got to sniff them today, and boy was I pleasantly surprised. My absolute favorite of the group so far is Velvet Bloom - the notes listed are muguet (lily of the valley), osmanthus (which I know is supposed to smell like fresh pineapple), musk and sandalwood, but to me it smells almost like a spicier version of Mukki by Fresh, with the chocolate-nectarine undertones. It's definitely a "casual" scent for those of us who, like me, are very much into oriental-floral fragrances that smell like exotic desserts. My other favorites in this line are the Mandarin Jasmine (citrus-floral, very feminine) and the Lavender Tea (crisp and clean, like a good Gap shirt). If I remember correctly, the one I really didn't like was White Amber - I think that was the one that smelled like bug spray to me.

- Speaking of scented stuff, I got this gift idea from one of my undergraduate co-workers at the school bookstore: It's not a bad idea to get a room fragrance for the college student in your life. Yes, it sounds like I'm advocating something something illegal here, but hear me out - I was in college, too, so I know that the day does come when your dorm room or dwelling of choice will inevitably start smelling like dirty socks. In my co-worker's case, he was getting tired of spraying Febreze, and he was living in a building where incense was banned (fire hazard) but candles were OK. It just so happened that I had a Glade Scented Oil Candle burner at home, so I grabbed that and a box of Apple Cinnamon-scented refills for him. Needless to say, he was thrilled by the thought - and it helped that the apple scent made him think of his home in the Northeast. For those of you who are not into Glade or apple-scented anything, you can also get guy-friendly candles and reed diffusers from Pier 1, Yankee Candle, Target, and Banana Republic.

- Books are also a no-fail gift idea for kids, especially those who love to read books. During a recent Scholastic Book Fair, I managed to snag a paperback copy of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid - the situations may be above and beyond the younger ones, but I like the fact that it's printed to look exactly like it was written by an actual kid on composition-book paper, so that you could use actual sentences from the book as samples for penmanship. I'm going to pack this with me as an alternative to the Nintendo DS for the nephew.

- And because it can't be said enough: GO BOWS!