Wednesday, February 29, 2012


A few months ago, I got a facial at my favorite little day spa, Studio Cie Wellness Spa in Long Beach. I've been going there for awhile, and whenever I can afford it and get a little time to myself, I love to go and get a facial or a massage (during my pregnancy, I got a prenatal massage all the time. I highly recommend prenatal massages! My massage therapist, Sarah, did an amazing job keeping me comfortable. I've been back a few times for relaxation massages with Sarah, but not as often as I'd like. And, she gave us a wonderful one-on-one infant massage class that I really enjoyed. I think Exton did too). All the staff at Studio Cie are wonderful - they treat me like a friend, and the service is perfect.

I've always enjoyed facials and pampering (who doesn't?) and because my skin is kind of dry, sensitive, and prone to bouts of eczema, I've had a few extra issues aside from the scourge of occasional adult acne to deal with. Nothing major, though, and thankfully, aside from some bagginess and dark circles under my eyes (I think we can blame genetics and my baby for that), I seem to be slow on the path to wrinkle (thank god!); though my most recent eczema flare up occurred on my neck, and I think I would trade a few crow's feet for the yucky neck that gave me. I hope it's temporary.

Anyway, now that I'm 40 I'm trying to take my skincare a little more seriously. Thanks to the baby, I've increased my water consumption (breastfeeding is hard work), and I think that's helping a little, too. At that last facial appointment, the aesthetician recommended a new product for me, which I misplaced for awhile, and recently found and started using regularly. I thought I'd write about my experience with it, and some of the other skincare products I've been using lately. I don't really wear makeup, except for the lip gloss when I remember to use it (usually it's just Aquaphor Lip Repair, or this stuff), so I can't really talk about that (for awhile I was wearing Bare Minerals and I really liked it; I just don't have the time to do it now. I liked it because I didn't feel like I was wearing any makeup, which is key for me. It has to be very, very subtle for me to be comfortable, and the stuff I was using was exactly that). I know it can only take 5 minutes to apply the small amount of makeup I would wear, but my morning schedule can't spare 5 minutes. I'm lucky not to be late more often than I already am. And, I would rather sleep and cuddle my baby than be putting on lipstick. I'm sure more talented people than me can manage it, but I just don't care that much about it.

Repechage Essential Oil of Seaweed
This is the product that was recommended to me for my problem areas (eyes and around my mouth) and I'm now addicted to it. It comes in a tiny little bottle, but because you don't need to use very much, it's lasted a long time. I use it as directed (eyes, mouth area) but also on the aforementioned dry skin on my neck. It makes my skin feel silky and it looks smoother and less irritated. It's a little expensive, and sort of feels like a "luxury" product for me, but this stuff totally works.

NovAurora Organic Skin Care
After I had my baby, I had a lot of funky skin issues. Some of this was caused by an infection in my breast (mastitis, pretty nasty) that required surgery. I'm not sure that my doctor ever confirmed this, but I feel that infection caused me to have itchy, red skin (my whole body was affected; I literally looked like a tomato). My doctor prescribed hydrocortisone and Aveeno products, but because I suddenly understood that every product I applied to my body or ingested by mouth would be somehow transferred to my baby (and because I was operating on very little sleep and therefore not 100% rational), I was overly cautious about Johnson & Johnson products and a little freaked out about reports I read about cancer-causing ingredients, especially for the baby. I used the hydrocortisone sparingly, too (which I guess was a total overreaction on my part. I think it would've been OK for the baby to be exposed to it, at least once he hit 6 months). I've never been much impressed by Aveeno. I felt like their products sat on my skin, weren't absorbed very well, and I found them to smell a little...unappealing. And the anti-itch properties they were supposed to have just weren't that impressive to me.

At around the same time, a friend of mine from City Garage started posting on Facebook about her mother's skin care line, NovAurora. I checked it out online, wrote to my friend's mom about some specific problems I was having, and tried some of the products. Again: I fell in love and I'm now addicted to these products. I use the Hand and Body lotion, Soap-Free Cleanser and Skin Smoother, Rejuvenating Face and Eye Cream, Repairing and Toning Lotion, and Jojoba Oil. I like that these products are organic and cruelty free, but I also like that they have zero scent. And being organic makes me feel better, too. Go to the website and read about this company: there's a lot of information there that I can't do justice to. The products have a very nice quality to them - I use the Hand and Body lotion daily, and everywhere. It absorbs perfectly and leaves my skin extremely soft. I feel so confident about this product that I use it on my baby after every bath, and he loves it (okay, maybe he just loves playing with the bottle). In the past, even expensive skin care products (Murad, Dermalogica, etc.) have not been gentle enough to use in my eye area; the Repairing and Toning Lotion is not only gentle and safe for that area, it also addresses my dark circles and puffiness. Let's face it: I don't have a lot of time in the morning to be super careful about not getting stuff in my eyes, but with this product, I don't have to be. I do feel that it is helping me with that problem, too.

I bought the Jojoba on a whim, to try on my dry elbows, and it works great for dry skin, but recently I've started using it on my hair, too. When I cut my hair short in October, I was using the Aveda product that my stylist recommended. I love Aveda products, and this one was really nice (it was Light Elements Texturizing Creme), but because I don't always have the luxury of taking a shower every morning (darn baby! No, actually, our morning routine is easier now that he's getting older), I felt like it was too heavy to use every day. Also, Aveda products are way scented; even if it's natural, sometimes the smell gets a little overwhelming for me. Just a tiny amount of Jojoba in my hair makes it shiny and gives it a little definition without being too sticky or stinky.

Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant
I hate wearing sunscreen. Whatever weird seasonal allergies I'm having, sunscreen always makes it worse. The stuff makes my eyes run. It makes my face itch. I hate it. However, this product does none of that. I can slather it on and I feel nothing, yet I can feel confident knowing that I'm getting SPF 30.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream
Finally my dermatologist recommended something other than Aveeno for my problem skin. At my last appointment, she said that she went to a conference and all the dermatologists there were raving about this stuff. I really like it. I use it after I get out of the shower. Strangely, my eczema has shown up in weird (for me) areas: I used to only get it on the inside of my elbows , but these days it shows up more random areas: my wrist, my neck, my forearms, my right little finger. This stuff helps combat that and is really emollient without being too thick or greasy. It's smooth, and a little goes a long way. I've used that heavy Eucerin cream that feels like paste, and this stuff is nothing like that. It really relieves any itch, and makes red, ugly skin feel and look calm again.

Anyway, there you go. I'm not getting paid for any of these testimonials, I just thought somewhere, someone (some lonely someone...) might be interested. I'm really a pretty low-maintenance kind of gal; I'm pretty natural without being all crunchy-granola about it. I'm trying to be better about choosing products that are eco-friendly, or cruelty-free, but it's most important that they be safe.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dancing with the stars

The latest cast of "Dancing with the Stars" was announced today, and I guess there's a lot of talk going around about the quality of "star" they've lined up. I think this talk happens every time they announce the lineup. I do have to say that I was so pleased to learn that Melissa Gilbert was going to be on this season. I love her. She's a natural. Half Pint!

I have no idea what criterea the DWTS people look for when casting the show (a pulse?) but here's my fantasy list:
  1. Stewart Copeland. Did you really think I was going to lead off with anyone else? Look, he's dreamy, sure, but he also a) is fit (all that drumming/cycling/polo is good for something), and b) possesses a sharp wit that would make him fun for TV. The guy's a charmer, I'm telling you. He'd be a great fit with that feisty Russian chick.
  2. Elisabeth Shue. It only makes sense - the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio, was on last season (looking almost creepily the same age as he was in the 80s). I think they screwed up by not casting her then. She's still beautiful. My only reservation about her is, she might be too busy. She could be too good for this show.
  3. Mark Hamill. Two words: Luke Fucking Skywalker. Wait, is that three words?
  4. Kathy Griffin. One of the few places where Kathy might be a bigger star than some of the other people who have appeared on this show.
  5. Paula Poundstone. I know, I know, two comediennes on the same show could be a disaster, BUT, Paula has been lobbying (weakly, I think, but still) on her Twitter and Facebook pages. And she's so funny. I don't think that she would have the same experience as Kathy Griffin, who (it seems to me) is way more comfortable being glam.
  6. Mia Sara. She played Ferris' beautiful girlfriend in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." I don't know what she's been up to lately (Wikipedia has her in a TV pilot and a miniseries but I didn't do that much research). She probably could use the attention, don't you think?
  7. Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Steve Sax, Mike Scoscia, etc. Get some old school Dodger Blue out there.
  8. Tony Dow. Wait, is Tony Dow dead? No, no, he's not dead. Did you know he was a sculptor now? He might be too cool for Dancing with the Stars.
  9. Any of the Cosby kids, except Raven-Symone. Or Claire; she'd probably be the best of all of them.
  10. C. Thomas Howell. One word: PONYBOY.
  11. Cybil Shepherd. I bet she still has great legs.
  12. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Would he be clueless? Maybe. Would it be awesome? Probably.
Well, I could go on, but why?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't get mad.

On Saturday, I went to Culver City to take the baby for a visit. On our way home, we took the same route to the freeway we always do, down Laura Love's grandparents' street (they don't live there anymore, but that's how I've always thought of that street. Believe it or not, we used to climb the trees in front of their house. I know, I don't seem like the tree-climbing type, do I). I came to a 4-way stop, and a guy driving a truck did too. He was going in the opposite direction, heading back toward my mom and dad's street. He had reddish hair and was wearing a baseball cap.

We both stopped, and then I pulled out into the intersection. That's when I guess he realized that he wanted to turn left, so he did.

He didn't hit me or anything; I stopped about 2 feet into the intersection, and he had plenty of room. I, however, acted as if he had committed a felony. I didn't give him the finger, though I might've shaken my fist at him (which is worse?). And I suppose my face looked mad (and it's possible he could read my lips), because he said, through his open window, "Don't get mad [indecipherable]!" I'm hoping that the word I couldn't hear wasn't "bitch."

I got all embarrassed, and then I thought, jeez, JP is sleeping through this now, but what about when he's 5? 10? I need to control myself a little better. Even though that guy was totally a jerk, my reaction wasn't exactly the greatest, either. It wasn't the end of the world or anything. Next time I hope I let it just slide.

However. God gave you that blinker for a reason, my friend. Use it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

IT Guys: they're not all like Patrick

I just had two strange encounters with two separate IT guys in the space of about 10 minutes.

One came to work on my co-worker's computer. She came to work this morning but left even before I got here, sick. He was here to because "she has an open ticket." He said he'd been calling her all day but she wasn't answering. I said, "Oh, she went home sick today." If someone's not answering their phone, what does he think happened to them? Then he asked me: "Was she here yesterday?" I said No. "Was she here the day before yesterday?" I said, No. Then he said, "Was she here Monday?" I said, "Look, she's not here. Do you know what she needed to have done?" He said, "She just said that her computer is running slow." I said, "Well, I don't know anything about her computer. Can you look at it without her being here, or do you need to come back?" He said, "I don't know what she wants done."

(NOTE TO COMPUTER TECHNICIANS: Usually I don't stick up for this particular co-worker when it comes to problems with her computer because I know that she causes a lot of the trouble herself, what with her sloppy clicking and disorganized files and sheer laziness about learning something new (or remembering something old). However. When someome complains that their machine is running slow, it's not that hard to figure out what they want you to do: THEY WANT YOU TO MAKE IT RUN FASTER.)

Anyway, that conversation ended with me rolling my eyes, and him leaving (possibly not in that order).

Not five minutes later, another IT dude I've never seen before entered my office. He was making a bunch of noise out in the hall, talking to someone. I guess he was looking for me. I didn't hear what they were saying.

He comes in, and says he's looking for a Safety video. I am the Keeper of the Safety Videos. I said, "OK, which one do you want?"

The rest of our conversation was kind of boring (though at one point he was kind of insistent that the date today is the 3rd, but no, the big ass calendar right there on the wall confirms that today is indeed the 2nd); we were just discussing the videos and how long they are, and then, right when he was sitting there, I emailed him the list of all the videos we have and he commented on how fast I can type, etc. Then he got up to leave, and he says to me, "How do I get back to the bottom of the center of the building?"

I said, "What?"

The bottom of the center of the building. Hmm. That must be where we make the donut holes. I mean, what?

My office is on the 2nd floor. There is one hallway - once you get off the elevator, if you go left, you will hit a locked door, which has a sign on it that says "Executive Offices." If you go the other way, you go down a long, not very well lit hallway. There's a door to the stairwell at the end. My office is somewhere between the elevator and the stairwell. Clearly marked with a sign on the door and everything. When it's time to leave, it's fairly simple to find the elevator: you just go back the way you came. He wasn't sitting with me long enough to forget that, was he? Did he sustain a head injury while we were talking? As far as I know, he didn't black out or have a stroke. He appeared sane enough (except for that confusion about the date).

Then I said, "Oh. Open the door. Turn right. Go down the hall and take the elevator to the first floor..." and then he left. Man, I hope he made it downstairs okay.

Viva la Village Parisien!

Twenty-odd years ago I was taken by an incredibly generous family (the parents of my then-fiance) to France. It was an awesome trip, and I had a wonderful time. Those people were so sweet to me. It was the furthest from home I'd ever been, my first time out of the country (I'd never even been to Tijuana), my first time on a plane!

Our trip started with a stay at Eurodisney. This might seem strange, but it wasn't: it made perfect sense... to them, and since they were paying for everything, I assumed they knew what they were doing. They'd been there and done all this before. We stayed one night at Village Parisien in a cabin.

I remember very little about this part of the trip. The cabin was pretty small. We were in the woods, sort of. I may have had some jet lag going on. I remember checking in with the Eurodisney people and being totally charmed by their French accents. Some of the people we met at Eurodisney were not French but the ones who were alleviated that old "French people are rude" rumor I'd heard, right off the bat. Yeah, I know: working for Disney, there must be some high standards, but it was a nice introduction to the people.

I remember being excited, and anxious. It was weird being in another country. I was kind of young, kind of naive. That night even though I think we were all not very sleepy (and it didn't get dark until about 10:30 pm, which was also... strange), we did everything at the "correct" time. I slept badly.

I had a bad dream. I remember the dream quite clearly:

I was in a fancy hotel, the likes of which we did not stay on that trip. My fiance and I went on lots of road trips but we almost always, with one exception, stayed in cheap-ass hotels. The weekend of the Northridge Earthquake, we had splurged on a room at the Westin St. Francis, where I had my first (and last) martini, but I can't remember if the trip to France was before or after the trip to San Francisco. We were probably a little scruffy for the St. Francis. Anyway, my dream:

I was in a fancy hotel. I got a call to come to the front desk, that there was a message or a telephone call for me. The front desk had lots of gold and red velvet and dark wood. That's how I knew it was "fancy," I guess. I picked up a phone on the desk. The person on the line was my brother, Andy. He was calling to tell me that my mom had passed away.

At that time in real life, my mom was perfectly healthy. There was no cancer, no nothing. I've had dreams about family members dying before, and they always freak me out; this one did, too, of course, but it was the first time I'd had it away from home.

I woke up all freaked out, and woke up my fiance. I might have been crying. It was scary - and he was nice about it. He took me somewhere to call my family, where I found out that of course my mother was fine, everyone was fine, and then we returned to the cabin, where his mom was making us breakfast.

Seriously: these were nice, decent people. I'm sure the dream was triggered by my anxiety about being somewhere new, on a big trip with important people in my life. Afterwards, I tried to forget about it and have a good time, and oh, DID WE. They took us to Normandy, where we stayed in a gite (a private home that we rented) in the countryside. It was beautiful. We drove around France in a rented car - I think it was an Audi. Then we went to Paris, where we stayed in another home, but this one was smaller, and in the suburbs. The food we ate! The things we saw! It was a grand trip.

Last night I had the same sort of dream, but this time, instead of being in a fancy hotel where I got the bad news, I was at that Eurodisney campground. I haven't thought about that place in years.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And so the countdown begins:

In exactly 9 days, I will reach a dubious pinnacle of achievement:

I will turn 40.

In all honesty, I was a lot more freaked out about turning 30. This time around, well, it's just a number. Lots of people I admire are way, waaaaay older than me. And they always will be.

Nyah nyah nyah.