Sunday, January 27, 2008

Student Teacher Needs Help in Beauty Routine; Pigs Fly

For the last two years, I've been blogging to talk about things I like and buy (or things I don't like but have bought anyway). Now that we're a little more fabulous, however, it's my turn to ask everyone else for help.

So I've been doing this student-teaching thing for two weeks, right? Everything's going peachy professionally (or as peachy as it gets when you're working in a public school), I'm on track with academics, and things are working out the way that they should.

Except for one thing: I've been going to school without makeup.

Oh, sure, I have a few essentials in the work bag - lipstick, mascara, a tiny bottle of body spray - but I can't carry the full arsenal any more because it's crowding out all the paperwork I have to carry with me at all times anyway. Also, since it's still January, the air outside is still pretty cold (though not as YIKES IT'S SCARY COLD as it is in, ahem, Ohio) so my skin is a little dry, and there's no need for me to powder up.

Adding some confusion is my current morning routine:

5:15 am: Wake up; turn on the TV for Sunrise (yet another reason why I no longer have that love-hate relationship with Hawaii's Severe Weather Station); take my supplements and meds
5:25-6:00: Breakfast of cereal with soy milk, and green tea. Waste some time looking at email and Facebook. Hair sometimes gets taken care of during this time - I have straight hair that gets poofy in the morning, so I brush it a little and I'm good to go.
6:00-6:15: Brush teeth, get dressed (and yes, Mom, I plan all my outfits the night before... it's still long pants and a sweater with sneakers most days, but still)
6:20: Turn off TV and get out of the door ASAP to catch the CityExpress B bus going towards School Street
6:40: Find a good seat on the bus, close eyes, and meditate
7:00: Get off at the corner of School Street and [undisclosed location in Kalihi Valley to protect identity of school]; walk 20-30 minutes to school
7:30 - 7:45: Sign in at the office; confab with fellow teachers at cafeteria while keeping close eye on rugrats
7:45 - 8:05: In the classroom, making final preparations for the day before the kids come in
8:15: Kids come in; teachers get down to business

...and so on, and so forth, until I have to go back to the classroom and hope for a moment without kids so I could check their papers and figure out what else I can get from this classroom to add to my portfolio. I didn't include my lunch break here - regardless of where I get my lunch (and the cafeteria we have is pretty good), that still gives me a good 10-20 minutes to be in the classroom and go back to supervising the kids.

I hate being a morning person, mind you, but sometimes I have to do what I should be doing in the first place anyway. And as much as I get lost in my teaching, I still have every reason to worry that I am not - literally - putting my best face forward by going to the front of the class with unpowdered skin, dark circles, and pale (yet-t0-be-balmed) lips. Mind you, I am not here to be sexy, but I do have to be in a position of authority.

Soooo, if anyone out there is reading this... Am I doing this right? Should I be making more of an effort to look polished? Are there any beauty products (like a tinted moisturizer or a brighter lipstick) that I should add to this routine... and can you give me some very good suggestions on how to manage my time better?

Post all your comments below, and let's see how well I can take it from here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Everybody's Doing It

For today's post, I point you to this comment made on Manolo for the Big Girls:

(And, by the way, I’ve got a healthier lifestyle than I used to have, too.
But that was my decision. Nobody else’s. As it should be for all of us.)

That's a good way of putting it, don't you think? Because everybody's doing it. I'm doing it, my family's doing it, my friends are doing it, even Afrobella is doing it. (Note to self: add Afrobella to blogroll.) Everybody's making the conscious decision to eat a lot healthier... and if somebody had to say so in order for us to do it, that was from our own volition. Nobody else's.

I, for one, am painfully aware that I'm bombarded by messages every day to Eat Something Healthy. There isn't a day at the supermarket that goes by where I don't see something or somebody telling me to eat healthy. Some of it can be outright lies (Safeway, I hate you for taking the flax cereal off the shelves and putting HFC in your Eating Right cookies), some of it can be blatant marketing (shut up, Bob Green) and some of it could actually be good for me. But do I listen? Well, two times out of five, I do... but that's not enough.

And don't get me started on my student teaching "job," where my lunch breaks are punctuated by listening in on my fellow teachers talking about how their diets affect their health and their teaching. Which reminds me: If there's any person whose lifestyles and careers should be affected by their diets, it's teachers like us. Sure, there are those the God-knows-if-it's-good-for-you lunches offered by our cafeterias every single day, but it's painfully evident why we have to stay healthy. Not just because we want to be role models for the kids, but we also want to be, you know, not dead by the time the little varmints are done with us. What good is our job, after all, if we can't have the stamina to chase after the kids, or our immune systems are weak enough to take us down with a nasty virus every time somebody touches us? What about our blood sugar levels, hormonal surges, and all the other things that affect our level of crankiness?

So I made the commitment. I switched my breakfast from coffee and pastries to multigrain cereal and green tea, and made sure I woke up early enough to make them. I found a bus route that enabled me to walk 20 minutes - uphill, I tell you! - from the bus stop to the school, just so I could get the exercise and still be warmed up by the time I get to the classroom. I studied the cafeteria schedule closely so I could pack a healthy lunch on the days when I don't feel like eating what they're serving. And those are just the small steps, mind you - but that's where everybody has to start, right?

I'm already a pants size down from all the heavy lifting I had to do when I worked at the store; I won't be surprised if I'm a lot smaller by the time graduation comes around in May. That, however, is just a small bonus for me. If I can make it through the next few months without getting sick, losing my energy, or losing my head altogether, that would be the best thing that could happen to me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

All I Need is a Miracle

Howdy! Back with a new entry and a big question: Why do people insist on rubbing spicy stuff into their scalps to encourage hair growth?

I understand the whole thing about stimulating the blood vessels under the follicles and all that, but some of the hair-growth "formulas" in the market sound more like ethnic-food recipes [edited 01/7/2008 for clarity] than viable alternatives to Rogaine. On one end, there's Lush, which has a solid shampoo called New that claims to restimulate hair growth with cinnamon, clove, menthol, and other oils. On the other hand, there's garlic shampoo, which isn't too expensive, and I know of one person for whom this has worked wonders... but, really now, I love garlic as much as the next person, but more often than not I would rather have the stuff on a plate (smothered all over chicken and hot bread, mmm-mmmm) than in my hair.
(EDIT: Don't get me wrong, though, because I'd love to try this one day. The garlic shampoo I posted claims to be "unscented," and the person who did recommend it to me is a family member who I love to bits. Sounds like it's inexpensive, too. Will let you know how this pans out when I come across the stuff.)
That said: I do have a thinning-hair problem - one that has been exacerbated by stress (yes, watching UH get steamrolled by Georgia at the Sugar Bowl did not help much) and not helped by my own thin, fine, straight Asian hair. So what's a girl to do when she's too freaked out to buy Rogaine, but absent-minded enough not to remember which salon on Oahu sells the miracle garlic shampoo?
All things considered, I did end up at Wal-Mart, where I went straight for the ethnic-hair aisle - socio-political (and aesthetic) ramifications notwithstanding - and emerged with a shampoo that sounded crazy enough to work:

Yep, I went for the Dr. Miracle 2-in-1 Tingling Shampoo and Conditioner. To be honest, the claims did sound very shady (should've read what Afrobella had to say about the brand before I did this) but I went for this primarily because (I thought) it had less Sodium Laureth Sulfate than the Lush shampoo I mentioned before. It's too bad the folks at Dr. Miracle's don't post their ingredient lists online, because I swear that I read the list they posted on that box and didn't see SLS on it until the last three lines or so. They better be truthful about that SLS, because the shampoo liquid itself looks pretty pearly to me.

(To be fair, I don't remember this shampoo having my other hair enemies: petrolatum and mineral oils.)

At the top of the ingredients, however, is clove oil - and beware: When you smell this straight out of the bottle, the clove will attack your nose first. And maybe it's because I don't mind the spicy stuff, but he scent did dissipate when I started using it in the shower, so any fears I had about smelling like a Christmas pomander/ ham factory/ smoking section from an Indonesian restaurant were put to rest.

What does linger is the notorious Dr. Miracle's tingle, which not only stayed in my scalp but also ran down my back and some parts of my face - including my eyes, which did hurt and itch a bit from the tingling. (To be fair, however, my eyelashes have never felt fuller.) In fact, some of the tingling did stay on my back even after scrubbing and rinsing - problematic if you don't like that sort of thing, but it's more like the soothing effect you'd get from Vicks VapoRub.

And what of the hair? Well, it's only been four days (and I'm frustrated that the Dr. Miracle's people can't decide whether or not this shampoo should be used daily or weekly... way to go with the credibility claim, folks) but my scalp isn't as flaky, and my hair does seem to have more bounce. I did notice that the bald spots I had over the Christmas break have become less noticeable - not so much proof of my hair growing back than a testimony to the aforementioned bounciness and scalp health. I also noticed that, despite the 2-in-1 claim, it's not as moisturizing as I would have expected an "ethnic" hair product to be - in fact, I still had to use conditioner to keep my otherwise fine, pin-straight hair soft and bouncy at the same time.

I'm at the point right now where I don't have to use the Dr. Miracle's every single day - not so much because of my hair but because I have to give my body a break from all the tingling - so I would use this only when I need the boost, and alternate it otherwise with my regular shampoo and conditioner to tone down the excessive spiciness.