Monday, August 18, 2014

Out, damned spot!

I'm too sexy for this face mask.
No, this isn't a post about The Scottish Play. It's about the fact that for the past four years I've battled more zits than I had to during my goddamned teen years, for fuck's sake. Is this right? Is it just? I had the braces, the bad hair, the awkwardness around boys I liked back then. It took me YEARS to outgrow these, and more YEARS to get over the psychological trauma they caused. (OK, the "awkwardness around boys I like" continues to be a problem, I own it. Back off.) Now, NOW, when the hormones be flarin' up in advance of motherfucking menopause, NOW I've gotta fucking deal with acne like it's 1989 (when I was 18 and acne would've been totally age appropriate)???

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!

So-called spot treatments.
Anyway, yeah, I've been getting acne pretty regularly since I hit 39 or so, and it takes forever to go away, and the spots, oh, how they linger! Having had little experience with the problem when I bloody well should've, I picked up some stuff I thought would help to reduce pimples and the appearance of these frigging spots. The active ingredients in these tubes of goo which are no doubt beloved by the younger set are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, respectively (from left to right). I say they're beloved by the younguns 'cause the reviews I read about these online were pretty positive coming from folks in their teens, even very early twenties. But for me, they really didn't help. At all.

More research revealed that middle-aged users of clay masks sometimes found relief from their way-adult-onset-acne. Sweet! I'd used a white clay mask from Lancôme in the past, just not often enough to develop any thoughts about it as a zit-fighter. I thought about breaking it out to deal with a Frankenzit from a few months ago (a Frankenzit is what I call a trio or more of pimples that unite to conquer my face/peace of mind by flaring up quickly and so close together it looks like some alien life form's about to burst outta my damned cheek), but worried it wouldn't work well or quickly enough. I read a lot of favorable reviews for this Fresh Umbrian Clay whatsit and dropped a load of ducats to try it. Result: well, I liked its earthy scent and I guess it did provide some overall goodness to my skin (I have to say, Fresh doesn't tout it as an acne-buster, but some of its users who've reviewed it have). But when a few weeks' (WEEKS!!!!!) usage, even to the point of dabbing some of the stuff on Frankie and leaving it overnight, didn't yield the desired results I went back to the Lancôme clay and, actually, I think it worked better for my skin. I mean, Frankie didn't disappear, nor did the marks of bygone zits, but his size and redness was somewhat reduced. I don't mean to damn the Lancôme with faint praise, though—so far, it was the first product to help even the littlest bit!

But that pernicious Frankenzit still scoffed at me, so I betook myself to the local drugstore to see if I could find any anti-acne products containing sulfur.  And not because I'm all "diabolical Goth Mom (Lite), I've the forces of Darkness at my beck and call, oooh, fear my wrath!" or anything, but because I'd used a Murad product in the past that had sulfur and did seem to help, only THEY FUCKING DISCONTINUED THAT SHIT. *Ahem.* I did find this Bye Bye Blemish stuff, which looks weird and smells camphor-ish (which I reckon beats rotten-eggy). BUT it helped more than even the white clay stuff**. I mean, it's this weird silty stuff at the bottom of the bottle with clear liquid at the top into which you dip a cotton swab (no double dipping!) and apply the resultant mixture to your spots and leave on overnight. No, you're not supposed to shake the bottle. You're NOT. It says so, like, a gazillion times on the box AND on the bottle. I think it'd be like crossing the streams or some shit, and suddenly, instead of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, you've got a fucking gargantuan pustule roaming your city and ruining your urban skyline and whatnot. Or similar.

**Curiously, it seems the first time I use either the Lancôme or the Bye Bye Blemish, I get pretty good results, but the SECOND time it's like my skin's all, "Yeah, yeah, been there, done that—you don't seriously expect this shit to work twice in a row, do ya?" So a second application the day after the first doesn't seem to do much, but if a week or so passes before the next application, it does. I think? GAH! OK, so spot treating proved slow going, but I had a couple of weapons in my arsenal, which was two more than I'd had to begin with. Still, it was a long, arduous war, and I hoped to shorten the time Frankie would occupy the battlefield. As it were.

I began to wonder if maybe it was time to retire the moisturizer I'd been using since my mid-30s. I mean, it was possible that my changing body chemistry no longer cottoned to it. In any event, it didn't really seem to do anything spectacular for me, so L8RZ. More research revealed that the argan oil to be found in Josie Maran products (among others) had proved beneficial to skin conditions for quite some time, and the reviews I read for the stuff on Sephora were very encouraging. I got a super small size of just the oil, which I tried with some trepidation, its positive reviews notwithstanding. I mean, I've got fair, dry, sensitive 43-year-old skin that freaks out when I try new things (so, I rarely try new things), and here I was, about to put OIL on it. Well, I tried it. No harm, no foul, and it actually made my face feel lovely. I found it a bit difficult to apply the oil, though, as no sooner did I drop a bit on my fingertips than it would slide down them and into the juncture of my fingers. Ick. So then I tried a cream-to-oil version, which had a light citrus scent (not my fave thing, but OK), proved easier for a klutz like me to apply, and also felt great. Both products did subtly improve the general condition of my skin but didn't make the zits go away. (Over the weeks I've been using the argan oil products, I have seen stuff slowly fading, which I attribute to the use of the oil, but still, it's very slow going indeed.) Regardless, I like these and plan to keep using them. (Also, running a bit of oil through my freshly washed/towel-dried hair's ends makes 'em look purty.)

Uh...it's not what you're thinking. This one
really is for massaging one's face. Honest.
All this time, in the back of my tortured mind was the thought of investing in one of them electronic face brushes. Again, folks who used them and reviewed them online raved about how well the devices cleaned their faces and how many of the gals (and some guys) experienced far fewer breakouts since using them. I asked my boss, who's a year older than I am, if she knew anyone who used a facebrush and she told me that she did and also noticed a reduction in hormonal acne. Great! The recommendation of hundreds of strangers and one person actually known to me was encouraging. The price tag for the thing was not. Still, if I could just reduce the instances of breakouts, perhaps it'd be worth it. So I got me a Clarisonic Mia2 in a gorgeous purple color they call "Siren," 'cause that's just so TOTALLY me (the lighting in the pic doesn't do it justice, alas). Anyway, I sucked it up and coughed up the cash to buy it. Started using it just a week ago, so it's still too soon to tell if its efficacious as a preventive measure. But I live in hope.

So now I've got stuff to prevent, stuff to ameliorate the overall condition of my skin, and stuff to lay on the next zit that rears its ugly pus-filled head. Which, being that I'm due to get my period any day now, proved to be today. Excuse me while I head over to the bathroom with my Q-Tips and a bottle of pink silt.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cause and Effect?

Gabe-birthday-part.jpg
"Gabe-birthday-part" by Twice25 - Ghearing family.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
This Saturday, my parents were fixin' to go to a birthday party for one of my dad's maternal aunts. I knew the dear lady was "up there" in age, but didn't know the number, so when my mom told me it was 97 I was suitably impressed. Another thing I didn't know is that my great aunt had some troubles with her heart and that she's suffering from depression and thinking a lot about death. (That I've inherited the depression gene from my dad's side of the family, and have thought about death pretty much daily since I was maybe 5 years old, I didn't bother mentioning. I mean, what's the point in upsetting my mom when there's nothing she can do to help me?)

Anyway, my mom noted that my great aunt's lucky in having so many children who love and look after her, who check in with her regularly, so that she's not going gentle into that good night all by her lonesome. (I'm embellishing a little; I don't believe my mom's familiar with the poetry of Dylan Thomas). She anticipated that the party would be just annoying enough to cheer my great aunt, what with folks asking her the secret to her longevity. In a rare moment of like-mindedness, my mom and I agreed that there's very little cause and effect with regard to these matters. You can eat healthfully, exercise, and never miss a doctor's appointment or medical test and die young. You can eat crap, do all sorts of drugs, and live long (and prosper!).

From there, our conversation turned to the old controversy of nature v. nurture. Somewhat shockingly, we again agreed that it makes more sense to think about things in terms of an individual's disposition and willingness to unlearn bad stuff/press on with good stuff. Again, there's no guarantee that a person raised in a "good" environment will turn out to be "good," and that a "bad" environment insures a "bad" person. We understood that there's no formula for human perfection. Living's an art, not a science. We all make choices, it's just that sometimes we need help with choosing to do "good" (and sometimes, some need a little more help than others).

Finally (and I think I may have seen pigs flying by that point), we concurred that people seek 1) the easiest of answers to the profoundest mysteries of life, 2) rough and ready labels for one another, and 3) pithy sayings to summarize the human experience. One that I find particularly loathsome is the ubiquitous, "Everything happens for a reason." It comforts some to think this, perhaps because it assures them that, though they've no control over devastating external events, some benign hand guides them, and even the most awful thing has some deeper meaning and purpose. Me, I'm not so sure (which, I suppose, makes me a very bad, quasi-practicing Catholic, indeed). Given some of the horrors visited upon us, I can't help think the "lessons" are overly harsh. I don't see any intrinsic value in suffering and I don't believe that it's necessary for growth and learning (in my view, positive reinforcement works better than negative). Rather, I'd simply paraphrase Keanu Reeves and say, "Everything happens." The challenge isn't to find meaning in the happenings, but to arise from the smoldering embers of destruction and create meaning, and the reality you desire, despite them.

On Sunday, I nibbled a monk-style breakfast of bread and Portuguese cheese (eaten by Portuguese monks, of course) while watching Futurama reruns. The season 7 finale lampoons documentaries of animals in the wild, with the Planet Express peeps playing the roles of the animals, so to speak. There are three segments in it; in the first, Leela and Fry, as salmon, struggle against tide and time to spawn. That done, they die, and as they float away, the Morgan-Freeman-like narrator says,
"And so the endless circle of life comes to an end; meaningless and grim. Why did they live and why did they die? No reason."
I paused mid-chew to ponder this (because I can't masticate and think simultaneously, obviously). Nearly on the heels of my philosophical discourse with my mother (an extremely rare occurrence), it struck me, hard. But I've concluded that I'm not quite there, just yet. Whether it's because I need the comfort of belief in a reason for living, or because I'm too stubborn and stupid to accept that there may not be one, I can't say for sure. No, I totally don't buy that "everything happens for a reason." But I feel that we happen for a reason (us living creatures, I mean). I guess it's the drive to discern that reason, or to make our own reason, that propels us all through to our inexorable good nights.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Words, wOrds, WoRDS

Heya, peeps; it's that time of the month again! (No, not that time.) (As if I'd tell y'all when I'm experiencing that time of the month.) (I mean, I've no qualms about sharing how much the cramps, bloating, backache, and mood swings suck but, you know, I don't think telling you "when" my own personal hell strikes makes for entertaining reading.) (Assuming folks find anything I write here entertaining, of course.)

Dang. Now that was a heroic digression. Sweet Lord!

What I'm tryin' ta tell youse guys is that it's time for a game of Words, wOrds, WoRDS

Using the Random Word Generator at CreativityGames.net, I'm going to toss out a word and you're going to share the first thing that comes to your mind, in the comments section below.

Ready? OK!

Today's random word is...

Texas

To learn what came to my mind, select the darkened text between the asterisks.

***

My very first thought was, "Yee-haw!" Which made me think of the Dukes of Hazzard TV series from the 80s. Though, actually, it was set in Georgia, so that just goes to show my own ign'ance. Which you probably already suspected...

***

Go on, then. Reveal unto the world what that word inspired in your little gray cells.

If you dare...



Monday, July 28, 2014

Wanna Go "Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar?"

Click here to read an excerpt!
It's OK to say yes if the idea intrigues you. And it should, really. Go read my review* of this groovy, 2014 RITA® nominated paranormal romance novel, written by Alabama native Lexi George, to find out why!

*I wrote this review for the RITA® Reader Challenge 2014, hosted by the incomparable and discerning babes over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. The RITA® Awards recognize "excellence in published romance novels and novellas" in a competition sponsored by Romance Writers of America®. For a complete list of finalists in every category, click here. I mean, your wallet and To Be Read Stack(s) may not appreciate you checking these out, but your imagination will.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Is The Kid Losing His Edge???

Balthazar & Goth Mom Lite
on Balthy's 19th birthday
May 29, 2014
If you're a regular reader, you'll know how my Kid, Balthazar, and I tend to go out of our way to push one another's buttons. And by that I mean that he goes out of his way to be a smartass and I struggle just to keep up. From being asked how I'd feel about him joining the Church of Satan to being advised that the men who've shown the slightest bit of interest in me must be psychopaths, Balthazar delights in nonplussing me. (What? That's totally a word.) Sure, I've managed to score the occasional hit, but it's generally the Kid who's in the lead in this ongoing game.

Except...I think he's mellowing, a bit. Possibly, he's losing his edge. Rather than seek to blindside me, he's been more...goofy.

A few days ago, I posted on The Facebook the following:

NYC's experiencing mighty stormy weather at the moment. Here's the text exchange between me and My Kid about him getting picked up by his friend to go to band practice:

Me: Ok. Text when u get to [friend's name redacted]'s

Kid: Why???

Me: Cause it looks like Armageddon out there.

Me: Isn't it dark, cloudy, rainy in [hometown's name redacted]?

Kid: Idk what youre talking about the sun is out the birds are singing a unicorn just flew by and Osama Bin Laden is dead like the forecast could not be more positive

Me: ...

Kid: Naw but yeah its p shitty

See what I mean? Goofy! But not obnoxiously so!

I wonder...

...should I worry? Is he simply dialing back in his advancing years? Or is this a fake out, and he's lulling me into a false sense of security, planning to zap me a good one when I least expect it?

Hmmm...


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