Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fall from the wagon

I fell off the diet wagon hard yesterday... My boyfriend is gone sailing, and less than twelve hours after his departure I cave and buy a huuuuuge bag of chips, and eat almost the entire thing over the course of the afternoon. PMS finally reared its ugly head, in a really violent way.

Well, I feel good and sick to my stomach now, as well as having rubbed the roof of my mouth raw from the salt, and suffering from an insane case of cramps. The very thought of the word "junk food" turns my stomach. That'll show me to fall off the wagon. After I start eating again, it will be healthier food. Ow.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


I felt the need, very strongly, to write this as it happened. It goes on in some detail (and at length) about the very technical art of applying lipstick just... so. And for those who are going, ick, that's disgusting lipstick, I have since thrown it out.

She’d always known that she didn’t have a spectacular mouth. Cute, perhaps, but never glamorous and sensual. A moderately full lower lip, but not much upper lip to speak of. It would thin to the point of invisibility whenever she smiled, much to her chagrin, and so saved herself from grinning hugely unless she was with close friends or family, because face it, no one wants to see a lip disappear. To top it off, she frequently had dry lips, and as such, were always rather pale, unless she had just been eating (or kissing her boyfriend passionately, which, due to the unfortunate circumstance of living apart, didn’t happen very often). As a result, she never thought much about her mouth, except when she couldn’t find her lip balm.
One hot July day, she was lounging about in her apartment in a faded, thin, white undershirt of her father’s. It had stains from hair dye, and holes in the armpits: not exactly siren-esque clothing. Sitting at her computer, she turned in her chair to look at herself in the mirror only three feet away. Her short hair was messy, and greasy enough to be manageable and stylish as the same time. Bed head, they called it. It was perfect bed head. If it got too flat, she simply had to plow her fingers into her hair, at the nape, and comb up through to her forehead and voilà! Instant shabby chic ’do.
She gazed at her image for a long time, forgetting her computer utterly. She slouched in her chair and brought her left foot up to rest near her crotch, letting her right leg dangle. She turned the chair slightly, to bring herself into near-profile. She played with her belly, imagining the day when it would carry a child, and then pushed it out slightly. With her left hand under her breasts, and her right seeming to cup her belly, she determined that in this position, she could pass for five or six months pregnant.
She smiled to herself as she ran her hands again and again over her protruding tummy, examining it from different angles in the mirror, envisioning her body as that of an earth mother, when all of a sudden, she noticed that her smile looked—yes, radiant! Her cheeks plumped perfectly, and whether it was the evening light coming in through the window, or the sheer force of her maternal vision, she glowed. Her face was pleasantly flushed, not with exertion or heat, but with the simple suffusion of happiness into her features.
She was dumbstruck. Over and over, she relaxed her face, and then watched as she thought of being a mother and her mouth would just widen and look so…happy! It was incredible. It was as if a light had been switched on. She had a beautiful mouth! It simply took the right thought to trigger it! She smiled at her discovery, and for the first time in her twenty-two years, noticed a dimple. It wasn’t very deep, and barely noticeable, but it was there. She had a dimple in her right cheek, much higher and farther back than she’d thought a dimple might be found. It took a different sort of smile to get the dimple, a more squinty-eyed and amused smile. She knew that more often than not, when she really smiled, her eyes tended to close a bit, her right eye a bit more than her left, until she almost looked like she’d be winking. She supposed it was some sort of facial tic she had to think about to control, but she knew that when she did control it, her smile didn’t look genuine. It wasn’t like her to prepare her face for an appropriate expression. Like all true expression, it shouldn’t be controlled.
Suddenly eager to learn more about her mouth, she got up and then sat right in front of the mirror, examining her lips minutely. She licked her lips and watched for any cracks. There were none. For once, her lips weren’t dry and they even had some colour. But she wanted more. She got up and headed for the bathroom.
She owned exactly one tube of lipstick. It was nearly ten years old if it was a day, but a Merle Norman brand and thus still in fairly good condition. Mocha Cream semi-transparent lipstick. It had been her mother’s tube, one she had bought after getting her one and only makeover, and one lifted by her from the dresser on the way to a sleepover. Though mother and daughter looked much alike, the colour had a different effect on the daughter, who was much more pale. On her mother it simply looked like a natural enhancement of her lips, but on the daughter it was more dramatic, much darker.
She fiddled through her meagre kitbag, looking for the rosy tube and the lip liner (also lifted from the dresser those many years ago) meant to go with it, with the tempting name of Choice Chocolate. Seeing the lip liner dull with years of use—though only for special occasions like New Year’s Eve and graduation—she sharpened it with an ordinary pencil sharpener. It took a while, because the delicate wax kept breaking, but eventually, she got a nice tapered point. She then returned to the bathroom and rooted one more time for the coveted lip brush, a tiny thing in a silver case that ensured more precise and lighter application of the lipstick.
Starting with her lower lip, as she always did, she carefully drew from right to left, outlining her lip with the tip, then filling it in carefully with the pencil at an angle, so as not to lose the slightly sharper tip. This was the easy part. Her lower lip, she conceded, could indeed be very sensual. One uncomplicated curve.
She scrutinized her upper lip once more, wondering how to accentuate the bow that was barely there. Thinking of the Roaring Twenties, she remembered that flappers would put on their makeup—in public, no less—and emphasize their lips à la Clara Bow, the It Girl of the time. In other words, creating a bow that wasn’t there. When she had gone to her high school prom (God, was that five years ago already?) she had gotten a makeover from the mom of a friend of a friend, who had also tried to create a more pronounced mouth, much as she was doing tonight. That woman had failed miserably. The image in the mirror had horrified her (it looked like the Creature From the Collagen Doctor From Hell, lips all over the place) but she smiled politely, paid her five dollars, and wiped it all off when she got home. She wound up going to the prom au naturel, makeup-wise.
She held the pencil firmly as she traced the slighter, subtler curves of her upper lip, and then stopped. She looked and saw that her upper lip looked like a straight line. It frustrated her. She knew she had at least a bit of a bow. She neared the mirror until she was almost nose-to-nose with her reflection. She began by adding obviously fake and exaggerated curves to her lip, and then leaned back to examine her handiwork from afar. Hmm, she thought, a little too much on the left. Grabbing a square of toilet paper, she wiped with her nail under the tissue to ensure a straight erasure. A little better, and she fixed the line to meet the corner of her mouth a little more naturally. Almost done.
The cover of the lipstick came off with a satisfying muffled pop, and she deftly twisted the coloured tube up. The cover for the lip brush was a little harder to remove, as it hadn’t been used in many years, but it finally came off with an equally satisfying wrench. She pushed the cover of the lip brush onto the end, which in turn pushed up the brush and held it firmly in place. She carefully brushed the lipstick, and then began with broad strokes on her lower lip. Her upper lip required a little more concentration, and she filled in the slightly triangular peaks delicately. She then cleaned off the lip brush, covered the lipstick and the lip liner and the lip brush, and put them all away.
Going back to her room, she looked at her reflection, at the whole effect. It was hard in the bathroom, with that artificial light and neck-up image. But here it was different. She looked like she should be in a black-and-white film. The lipstick was darker, much darker on her than it had been on her mother. She looked and felt like she should be wearing a long dress and be swathed in diamonds. No, pearls. Something classy. And sexy. But at the same time, she didn’t want to be necessarily classy…but definitely sexy.
She drew the worn and holey shirt from her body and reached immediately for the black teddy she had bought at the second-hand store. She pulled it over her head and let it slither down her body. She hummed in pleasure, and moved her hips in time to the silent music that suddenly played in her mind. She opened a little white jewellery box and took out the some jewellery she had lost months ago and only found days before. A necklace, dark metal with black beads draping her collarbone in graduated lengths. Taking off the three slender gold hoops she normally wore, she put on matching earrings, four beads long, level with her chin and light enough to tickle her jaw when she shook her head. Finally, one single black stud for the second hole in her left ear.
She put on her black strappy heels, but then nixed them as she realized this teddy required bare feet. She stood in front of the mirror, and was stunned as she looked at herself.
Her lips were perfect.
They had never looked better to her in her entire life. She moved closer, and they still looked good. Again, she put herself nose-to-nose, and still, they looked amazing. She knelt, posing in what she felt was a sexy pose, and ever so slowly, she smiled. A temptress beckoning her lover with a slightly arched left brow.
An incurable romantic receiving a dozen roses.
A famous actress winning an Oscar.
A shameless hussy putting money in her brassiere.
A petulant and spoiled mistress.
A crazy comedienne hooting hugely at her own joke.
Back to the maternal smile.
And then the smile that went beyond it all, that entirely spontaneous cheek-plumping, dimple-making, eye-squinting grin that made her laugh with the sheer exuberance of her discovery. She could have a beautiful smile. And now she knew it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Blackmail, Etc.

I detest people who make unreasonable demands or threaten to take negative action before allowing you the chance to explain or make amends. Arg.

I suppose that's one of the hazards of being in a customer service call centre. Just fill in the Mad Lib.

"I had a [negative adjective] experience at one of your stores and I was told [unlikely story]. I'm going to tell [anyone customer has ever spoken to] about the [negative adjective] policy that you guys have and I think I deserve [some ridiculous compensation] for my troubles, because I live [number] kilometers away and it takes me [amount of time] to get there, but I take the time to go there because it's my favorite store and you [insulting name] have to make an exception just for me me me because I'm your best customer and if you don't do this I'm never going to shop at your store again."*

*this is a lie, we've checked

Honestly people, just come up with something a little more original. Or be proactive and try to sort things out with the store first. Or read the goddamned rules of the program before you bitch about why you couldn't get something for free. I freely admit it's not the easiest read, but we're not hiding anything from you: we truly want you to understand. Don't tell me you can't find it anywhere. It's right there.

Don't try to rationalize your frankly ridiculous demand. It won't work.

No, we are not going to send you a $200 gift card because we changed one of the rules of our program. We reserve the right to change the terms without notice.

No, we don't "have it all on computer". We aren't going to call a dozen stores for you to see if they have a limited quantity product available on the last day of the sale. Call them yourself.

No, we do not do exchanges or refunds without proof of purchase. Neither do most other retailers, so don't try and pull that "but Wal-Mart does" bullshit on us. (For the record, Wal-Mart's policy does require proof of purchase, too.)

No, we cannot re-send previous issues of our magazine. Change your address at least one month ahead of time. Besides, it's a free magazine so stop complaining that we're grossly inconveniencing you.

And so what if you leave? For every customer we lose we gain a few more. Let's be frank: if you've shopped with us for five years and you've only spent a few hundred dollars, that amounts to what...less than $100 a year? Which means you probably spend more on coffee in a year than you do in our stores. Reward your loyalty? What loyalty? Get real.

Then there are the calls that are actually bad. You were yelled at by the manager in front of other customers and/or staff. You were not told you could get almost $100 of free stuff and instead blew your points on a magazine. You slipped on shampoo on the floor and hit your head. The photolab lost the order of irreplaceable honeymoon pictures, or the pharmacist gave you eyedrops instead of eardrops.

We understand. We care. We want to make sure this doesn't happen again, and we genuinely want you to feel better about our company after this experience is over. We appreciate your patience while we look into the matter for you. Please give us a chance to rectify the situation before you go running off and telling everyone in creation what a horrendous experience you had.

Yes, it was bad, and we admit that. But think about how it makes you look if you run away from everything before giving it a chance to be resolved.

If you went to a restaurant and ordered a burger with no mayo, and when it arrived and had mayo on it, would you just leave the restaurant in a huff? Or worse, would you throw the burger at the poor waitress and scream, "I said, no whipped eggwhite on my beef patty!"? No, you'd say, "Excuse me" (if you were polite, anyway, maybe you'd just say "hey you"), "I ordered it without mayo." At which point she'd likely apologize and bring you a new burger.

Well, it's the same with us. If you notice something's wrong, let us know. If you don't tell us, we'll never know, and then we can't fix it. It may seem absurdly simple, but it's true. Take my word for it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Who, me? Diet? (Part Two)

Well, it's been nearly a month and I'm proud to say we're still sticking to our healthy-eating and exercising regime. I haven't eaten any chips in a month, I didn't throttle my boyfriend while I was PMSing (though I came close to tears a few times), I have a bit more endurance, and I truly think I've lost weight, though I have no idea how much.

(I actually found the scale under the bathroom sink. So much for getting rid of it. But I haven't stepped on it! Still no idea how much I weigh!)

I look better, too. My legs look leaner, overall, though I'm still not entirely pleased with my thighs. Oh, well, eternal struggle and all that. My pooch is disappearing, too. Pooch, y'know, that irritating little pocket of flab, women, between your navel and your pubic bone? "Pooch" sounds better than "sub-abdominal fat sack", anyway. (No, I don't know if that's the genuine medical term for it. Take it up with Gray's Anatomy.) And my hips are getting smaller knickers aren't as tight. It's fabulous!!! And he's lookin' fi-ine, if I do say so myself. Not that he didn't before... oh, you all know what I mean.

Don't get me wrong, I still totally miss chips. I don't eat pasta as often as I used to. Or A&W burgers and fries. I'm not saying «I weel nevah eet zees tings again». We're doing a slim-down phase right now, probably for another month, and to keep ourselves from going crazy Friday is designated "not-so-healthy food" night (Philly melts or pizza and beer for him, chicken fingers or burgers and fries for me, for example). We will gradually move into the 'maintenance' phase, where we slowly start re-introducing the junky foods (Wavy Lays and Doritos) that we miss into our diet, though still making sure we don't eat them too often. That's the trick. We both think our stomachs have shrunk as a result of the smaller portions, as we both get full faster than we used to, so that helps too.

My boyfriend and I compromised on one of my favorite foods: instead of deliciously fatty, salty nachos, I could eat whole wheat pitas, torn into strips, with my hot'n'spicy salsa. They're actually pretty good.

Exercise... well, I'll admit, it's been harder than the eating part. I do Tae Bo once (sometimes twice) a week, I take the stairs up to the apartment about every other day (it's only about five minutes, but it helps), there's my little sprints to catch the bus almost everyday... I hope it adds up.

We rollerbladed to Home Depot and back yesterday (about an hour total). I honestly thought my legs would be killing me today, as I distinctly felt muscles being used that hadn't been used like that since last summer, but I'm fine. I guess this whole exercise thing is actually working. Who'd have thunk it.