Monday, August 30, 2010

The Aforementioned Fun Post, aka This Blog Entry? Is Bananas.

After much wallowing (and philosophical musings on how the best way to honor the dead is to keep on living, blah blah stop watching TV news already) I've decided that it was about time I gave myself something to smile about.

Hence: Rachel Zoe.

I don't know what it is about her; she used to come across as stuck up and annoying, but I actually found her endearing on The Rachel Zoe Project. I caught the episode where her assistants are trying to style her to deflect rumors about her weight, and she almost cries because she was attending a friend's event and didn't want it to be about her, even with the press around. No wonder she looks and feels haggard all the time. 

(Side note, as far as body issues are concerned: Every time I look at my batwing arms and wonder whether or not I should get plastic surgery for them, all I need to do is look at Rachel Zoe's triceps and remind myself that - regardless of weight loss or exercise intensity - arm flab is a common reality for most women. I mean, So. Real.)

Then there's the Harper's Bazaar shoot, which - gallows humor aside - is actually a better rendering of "I Die" than the similar spread that Preview did on the same topic of accessories. Whereas the Preview story focused more on gorgeous shoes worn by tragic suicides, this one strikes me more as endearing mockery, as if to remind people that it's pretty ridiculous and OTT to die die for fabulous accessories. Besides, the whole Rachel Zoe-and-frenemies concept reminds me of Mel Brooks and Jerry Zucker... and I'm a fan of that kind of comedy, so I'm biased.

So, yeah. I'm liking the former Rachel Rosenzweig a whole lot more now. And that's just cool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Please Stand By

Out of a lot of respect for things that have been happening lately - both in the news and in my local community - this blog will go blank for today and Friday.

I do have something fun planned for Monday, though. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Song Syndrome: Take Me To Another Place

Things I remember most about the early '90s:

1) Watching The Arsenio Hall Show always made me feel, like, so awesome and cool.

2) Grunge may have been king, but there was no greater hip-hop group ever than Arrested Development. (This is coming from the same person who rented Cool as Ice without any sense of real irony.)

3) Then the rest of high school happened - along with a whole bunch of drama - and... scene.

That said, here's Arrested Development at their blazingly live best (and with Dionne Farris!) on Arsenio.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 16: I Wish I Had A Picture For This

Just weighed myself for the first time in so many weeks.

Saw a number that I never thought I'd reach, even during my most active days.

Ladies and gentlemen, your humble blogger now weighs...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Sort-of Update on the Writing Front

Speidi, moving vigorously, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, any performance involving Joss Stone/John Mayer and an aging black soul legend, humidity (my hair), Frangela, all condiments, sunglasses indoors, and the following sentence: "Hey, Tia, how's the writing going?" - Tia Williams
It's been a while since I've written about my writing... but since I'm committed to posting on this blog three times a week - and I'm still in pep-talk mode on a lot of personal matters outside of the blog-world - I might as well bring up my screenplay.

One of the reasons why my writing takes too long to finish is because I have the tendency to style and art-direct my characters. This does not always work for novels and short stories (seriously, there's only so much droning on and on about blouses and polo shirts that the average reader could take), but I find it easier to show more and tell less by using clothes as a narrative device in my screenplay.

So far I have included the following details:

- His-and-hers Ed Hardy shirts;
- A short-sleeved barong;
- A Panama hat, not unlike what this guy is wearing; 
- Several variations on the khaki-and-polo retail uniform, inspired by Best Buy employees;
- White veils during a church scene;
- An awkward pairing of a conservative blouse with jeans;
- A virtual parade of off-the-rack suits;
- Sweats and a beat-up T-shirt worn by the female protagonist during her Moment of Catharsis; and
- A semi-fictional version of this jacket, worn by (who else) the main love interest:

(I don't know if this one's still available, but I do know that this Old Navy one comes pretty close.)

And now there's a scene where said protagonist emerges from the subway to meet said love interest for lunch, which means that I now have to procrastinate look through the Internet retail sites for a sandal that looks comfortable and sexy at the same time, since it looks like they're doing a lot of walking. Behold:

Clarks Women's Erda Sandal

...And now I must find an excuse for my heroine to wear serious stiletto heels. Not in a cliched, Cinderella-ish way, but as one of many subtle details in the story. Maybe - in spite of her outward dorkiness - she had a pair of them all along, and waiting to dig them up for a special occasion?


Friday, August 13, 2010

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

This isn't a beauty post or a workout post; this is more of a pep-talk based on the titular question.

I've been comparing this week to Shark Week, in terms of all the insanity that I faced. It didn't take me until around Wednesday afternoon to kick everything back where they were supposed to: sorted out my classroom issues, got my personal affairs in order, squeezing in a few workouts.

Which is not to say that my life is awesome right now. I'm still wrestling with a little heartbreak (don't worry, it's not romantic) and I'm still neurotic about whether or not I've injured myself by stepping up my workouts. There are still pockets of my day that I could use for more meditation and silence, and even those are often interrupted.

But what would I do if I knew I could not fail?

Here's where the "Eye of the Tiger" moment comes in: I have to believe that I can do it, setbacks be damned. So far I've resolved most of the conflicts in my classroom by letting go of my need for absolute control; I don't know if it's too late, but it's better than nothing. Same goes for my diet: I can cry all I want about things I can't eat, or I can work through the issues and make all the adjustments.

If I knew I could not fail, I'd put down the newspaper and the RSS feeds (two sources of unnecessary aggro) and thwart all the odds: spend more time with the people I love, work on that screenplay, get involved with my community. If I knew I could not fail, I'd do that and keep my room clean and get some bloody antihistamines so I would stop sneezing during Mass.

I've been teaching my kids this week about positive self-talk and helping each other with our goals. It's about time I convicted myself on that one, too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Case for The Basics: Skincare

Above: Skincare according to Jessica Harlow. (For reference, JH has dry skin and acne.)

Here's a dirty secret that I've been reluctant to share lately: I'm one of those beauty bloggers who have contracted the habit of not wearing that much makeup every single day.

My laziness when it comes to wearing the stuff is a combination of several factors, including but not limited to rushed mornings and extreme humidity. The only thing worse than being a makeup slacker, however, is the fact that I'm also a skincare slacker.


There's a lot of hubris to blame for that last part. For the last decade or so, I've been told that I have the kind of skin problems that most people wish they had: smooth skin, no pimples, the occasional under-eye circle or two. Even after I turned 30, I still receive scads of comments from folks who refuse to believe that I've aged a day past 21. (Okay, 15 at the earliest.)

Did I also mention that my skin can be very sensitive sometimes - acting OK with a specific product at first, and then freaking out on the next instance? Yep, it's that crazy.

And now that I'm also losing weight from my face as well, I've decided that I have to put a stop to all this madness and start taking care of my skin again, once and for all.

Here's what my course of action looks like right now - and remember, I have purchased all of these products on my own, without any promotional considerations from the manufacturers themselves...

- Face wash: Pond's Perfect Care (available at the supermarket)
- Serum: Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Daily Regenerating Serum, applied on bare skin
- Moisturizer: Pond's Age Miracle, applied on top of the serum. Usually I put on the Overnight Treatment, but sometimes I would put on the Daily Resurfacing SPF15 cream (during the daytime, natch) because I've found that the sunblock ingredients in that one do a good job of keeping the humidity in check.

(Side note: Yes, I understand that the above products are not organic and natural and stuff, but you have to understand that I really am that much of a skincare slacker, and as such I am rarely obligated to use anything that has no preservatives in them. That is, unless you consider the product that I am going to mention next...)  

- Eyes: Human Nature Sunflower Seed Beauty Oil. Yes, it's an oil - and therefore not a product that can work as a bottom layer for makeup - but I have yet to see an eye treatment work this well when it comes to both under-eye circles and overall puffiness. One application actually makes my eyes look less tired from the day before, so it's a good counter-offensive for sleepless nights and dry air. For what it's worth, I also use this on other dry parts of my face, especially during the days when my skin looks like hell.

- Spot treatment: Sometimes I use tea-tree oil, and sometimes I use a spot treatment if the zits are especially bad. Pimples have been few and far between so far, though.

- Others: I try to chill out as much as possible with a face mask every week. If I'm especially cranky, I might even fool around with a scrub (like this) and then follow it up straight with a moisturizer... but that's just here and there along the way.

This skincare routine, along with the diet and exercise, is a way for me to establish a routine, which in turn would bring me closer to putting things in order for the rest of my life. If I can do this, I'll be one step closer to bringing the sanity back into my life... and that's not something I can put off any longer.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Post-Summer Favorites: Take a Sunny Picture for Me

Maybe it's the gloom and doom that comes with typhoon season, but for some reason I've been craving a big, bright dose of metaphorical sunshine. I miss the bright colors and the lightweight clothes... and I miss it more so, now that I'm a quarter of a way through my weight loss goals and trying my best to stay upbeat.

So it's not surprising that I'd go with a set that celebrates that fuzzy moment between summer and fall, not unlike my trip to Cleveland summers ago.

(To get more information about each item, move your mouse over each component of the set. Thank you, Polyvore and your interactive thingamabobs!) 

The muse: NOT Miranda Kerr, unfortunately - even though I've always had a soft spot for the current Mrs. Orlando Bloom and her darling little face. (Let's not even mention the extreme Photoshopping in this picture, because I am absolutely sure that Miranda isn't that overly stretched out.) What we're looking at here, then, is the unidentified Debenhams lingerie model in the middle of the page: her body is closer to mine than it does to a Victoria's Secret model, and yet she just draws you in with all that confidence and curves and all-out oomph. I don't care how my body looks at the end of it all; I just want to have what this girl does, and get away with it.

Speaking of lingerie: I've spent the last two weeks hemming and hawing about how much mass I've lost from "the girls" and "the back view," and that can only mean one thing for me: New undies! Which also means that I'm in the market for yet another sports bra to maintain the necessary frontal control. Hopefully I'll be able to find a super-supportive one, like the Nike model shown above.

More sports-y stuff: Those Philippe Starck-designed weights look pretty cool, don't they? But I'm more interested in dumbbells like these - inexpensive, practical, and easy to handle for someone like me who hasn't done a lot of weight training in a while. Here at home we have 1.5-lb. weights covered in neoprene, which are a good place to start.

Here's to sunnier days ahead!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Stop and Smell the Existentialism

(A history of this brilliant piece of merchandise can be found here.)

Originally, I was planning to post something a little more angsty... but I wanted to go with something sunnier, considering that it's typhoon season over here and summer everywhere else. Not to mention that I'm still working on the sequel to my last Polyvore set, which should get posted soon.

That's how I stumbled upon this video from the MAC Cosmetics channel on YouTube. 


I don't use these products in the exact same way - although I am seriously considering switching back to liquid foundation* - but I love the effect of using a darker face powder as all-over contour, followed by a mineral blush for more "pop." (You can read more about the products I'm using in particular in this entry from 2009.) Worth checking out for the techniques, though.

*And now I've figured out why foundation tends to darken on most Filipino skin - especially mine, Scribey's, and SisMei's: OXIDATION! Might have to test this theory with MamaMei first, though, since she just bought a jar of Cover Girl's Simply Ageless foundation after a salesgirl at Watsons sold her on the oxidation theory.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Meimei's Day Off

I was supposed to have class on Tuesday morning, but a power outage forced me to dismiss my students early. It was a blessing in disguise - yay, more time to work out and plow through my This American Life backlog - and it also gave me a chance to manage my network of students on Facebook.

Then I realized that today was my free day.

And then I found out that Aunt Flo had arrived... with matching cramps that turned my post-workout burn into searing pain.

This made me rethink what I had just written on Karen's blog the other day...
3. If you could take today off and do whatever you wanted to, what would you do? Work out, then catch up on podcasts and cook dinner.
Two out of three isn't bad. But I wanted more.

As of this writing, I'm trying to finish Outliers, but I'm reading the chapters that involve academia, and OMG I need to bring this stuff to work and all that. I also have a headache and cramps, which I have resolved to deal with by meditating as soon as I log off.

Until then, here's one of my favorite videos from Michelle Phan:

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 15: The Unkindest Cut

(DISCLOSURE: I still hate this song as much as I did when it came out ten years ago. And I still hate 98 Degrees, even though Drew Lachey really won me over on Dancing With The Stars.)

Originally, I was going to post an entry from my SparkBlog, but after reading it I realized that I sounded really, really grumpy on that one, and it would've been better if I'd written it in a more even-tempered manner. Anyway, that's that.

What I really want to discuss here, however, is my decision to cut out red meat from my diet.

It'll be a long time before pork and beef get reintroduced back in the rotation, but right now my body has yet to stabilize itself in terms of processing fat and uric acid. The main thing here is that I don't overindulge in anything other than fruit and veg, which should help me get my blood chemistry under control.

Another thing that's making a long-overdue exit from my diet: butter. The last cake I had was coated in butter icing, and I felt it in my mouth and stomach... like I was going to throw up by the time I got home. That was the last straw for me. Sorry, Goldilocks, but I think I liked you better without frosting.


Enough about my diet - let's talk about the rest of the plan.

Upgrading my exercise routine has been the best thing that happened to me - not just with strength training, but also with my stress management. Not that I'm the very example of "calm and collected" at my job right now, but using weights and keeping up with my workouts gives me the chance to burn off a lot of frustration.

Come to think of it, that's a LOT of frustration that I need to burn off right now, too. Every single doctor I've consulted in the last year or so have told me that exercise is the best way to get a handle on my health problems: it's cheaper than therapy and less scary than prescription drugs. If I didn't do this, I would be looking at a litany of missed opportunities and bitter regret that no doctor can cure, and could only make matters worse health-wise.

(A piece of advice from my college days, which I believe I picked up from Scribey: If you feel like you can't get through your current workout, imagine yourself stomping on all the annoying people in your path with every move. Frenemies: trip 'em with a roundhouse kick! Ex-boyfriends: pick up a hand weight and push 'em away! Works every time.)

Another part of the plan now is to work on my communications skills. I've started consulting other professors to help me grade and teach my classes more effectively. I'm working on accepting my friends for being the good-hearted people they are, instead of potential saboteurs. (Ironic, though, because I still need to trust my gut whenever I come across someone who doesn't make me feel comfortable - which explains why I've un-friended so many people on Facebook.)  And, of course, I've started writing a journal again, for no other good reason than to keep track of myself and stay sane in the midst of all this chaos.

There's more weight to lose at this point, even if I am feeling good and confident enough to have my pants taken in. We've only just begun.