Lash Extensions Review

Thursday, January 6, 2022

 

This year, the Fam intends to go to Italy for a well-deserved overseas vacation.* In order to have a maintenance free beauty experience, I thought getting lash extensions and a wash and wear haircut would be indicated. I haven't moved on the haircut yet - my regular stylist is out on maternity leave and I don't trust anyone else to cut my hair that short, but I thought I'd give the lash extensions a whirl to see if they'd suit. 

The short answer: No. No, they don't. 

Here are my lashes prior to the lash extension application:


Here are my lashes immediately following the first lash extension application:


And here are my lashes two weeks after my first fill:


As you can see, my left eye held up pretty well. This is about what I'd expect after two weeks, as I had anticipated a need for fills twice a month or so. 

My right eye, however, was a fricken disaster. The lashes on my right eye started falling off almost immediately, and continued to fall off at an accelerated pace compared to my left eye. I adhered to every recommendation the esthetician gave me including not getting them wet for 24-48 hours after application, a special washing formula with a custom brush, only brushing them out with a clean spoolie when they were dry, wearing a sleep mask since I sleep on my right side and friction with my pillow might have caused the surgical glue to come loose. Nothing changed this outcome. 

Since the left eye was in good shape at the end of the two week period after both the initial application and the refill, I don't fault the esthetician for this outcome. Clearly she did a good job based on the results on my left eye. My right eye is just a PITA when it comes to this service.

So I'll be letting the remaining lashes fall off naturally, and stick to my tried and true Blinc mascara from now on. Lash extensions are expensive, and unlike permanent makeup, it's an ongoing, monthly expense to maintain them, plus requiring two trips a month to the lash studio. Applying mascara daily takes one minute, and I only have to buy new mascara four times a year. 

Thoughts for a New Year

Sunday, January 2, 2022

 

And so, 2022 begins, much like 2021 began.

2021 wasn't ALL bad. For most of 2021, I took better care of my body. I got to spend time with my Sistahs and their incomparable Fellas. No one I know personally lost their life to COVID or complications from COVID. The Smart Man started a new job, which he genuinely likes. I got promoted and received a raise. I saw my niece marry the love of her life, a splendid young man who sees the light in her, just as I do. My Mommy continues to enjoy good health and still lives independently. The Smart Son is settled into his career, and doing well. 

U.S. economic output jumped 7% in the last three months of 2021. Overall growth for 2021 was ~6%, and is predicted to grow another ~4% in 2022, the highest growth the U.S. has seen in decades. America's economy improved more in Biden's first 12 months in office than any president during the last 50 years, largely due to Democrats' American Rescue Plan. Democrats have also earmarked $1.2 trillion for long delayed and much needed infrastructure investment.*

But let's be honest: 2021 wasn't really a good year, either. We're still dealing with the Omicron variant of COVID. Over 5.5 million people have died of coronavirus so far. Trump Republicans (which seems like ALL Republicans these days, the cowardly fuckers) continue to politicize vaccines and masks, ensuring more Americans will die unnecessarily of this disease. Additional Americans will die because there will be no hospital bed for them, as ICU wards continue to fill up with unvaccinated COVID patients. 

We've watched the Republican party lose their collective shit and whatever pretense they once had of living in a fact-based world. We had an insurrection in our capital, which retRumplicans have basically denied, and over the last year, we've continued to be exposed to the Big Lie. Much of the country believes the Big Lie, and take pride in their complete lack of critical thinking skills on this topic. 

How can I, as an individual, live a happy and meaningful life while watching the fall of the country I spent so many years defending? How can I come to terms with those who refuse to vaccinate and mask for the common good, because "freedom" or selfishness or "you're not going to tell ME what to do?" How can I help prevent our nation's fall while the far right continues to use such an effective fascist strategy to cement their power and disenfranchise all who don't agree with them? 

This has been on my mind of late. No one knows how long the pandemic will last, especially with the virus evolving so quickly, and worldwide vaccination hovering at less than 50% of the population. "Waiting until it's over" no longer seems like a viable option. I don't know that life will ever return to a pre-pandemic state, and I feel that I need to find a new normal, a new way to live in this new world. My depression has been going through peaks and valleys this year, and caring for my mental health is now something which requires a new strategy. 

It's very tempting to isolate myself, ignore the latest shenanigans of the retRumplicans, surround myself with like-minded people who I know will do whatever's necessary not to spread disease. But that's clearly not the answer. As a citizen dedicated to the rule of law, I have an obligation to try and save that which I've fought for. As a human being who cares about our species, I have an obligation to try and do whatever I can to help humans move past this pandemic, whether those humans chose to support the common good or not. 

It's a conundrum. At the very least, I think I'm justified in deciding to spend time only with those who have chosen to get vaccinated and follow the CDC's recommendations regarding masks. I don't want to get sick, or worse, make the high-risk people in my life sick, because of someone else's political beliefs. I will continue to follow the science, regardless of how politicians try to make the science a matter of political opinion rather than a fact-based thing. 

As for our country, I will continue to vote my conscience, I will continue to call out bullshit wherever I find it, and I will continue to stand up to the bullies who would shape our nation into an oligarchy to serve their own purposes and quest for money and power. I will continue to support politicians who live in a fact-based world and at least behave like they care about other human beings.

But is that enough to find peace of mind in this new world? My mind constantly spins on what I can do to make the rest of my life meaningful, and happy, and to help build a world where the Smart Son can live without fear. It doesn't feel like enough. I don't know if anything I do will ever be enough. I fear I'm losing hope, which would be the worst possible outcome. 

So my focus for 2022 will be "hope."  Hope for a world where the common good is a priority for the majority of humans. Hope for a country on the brink. Hope for myself and my family, that we may find meaning and joy in a changed world. 

Just...hope.

_________

*I say "Democrats" because these measures passed without a single retRumplican vote, even though those duplicitous bastards claimed credit for them to their constituents. All the retRumplicans have done is complain about the cost, conveniently forgetting that the freeze-dried whackaloon they choose to follow presided over the third largest increase in National Debt in our country's history, right behind George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom were paying for wars. Hypocritical, lying motherfuckers, the lot of them. 




The Whackadoo Lauren Boebert

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

 

So. Lauren Boebert. Congresswoman for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. Gun rights advocate. Restaurateur. The recipient of a GED in 2020. Also dangerous, too stupid to breathe, hypocritical, and radical. 

I have to ask, 3rd Congressional District voters - what the fuck were you thinking?

From a recent public speaking event: 

I am tired of having Godless people who hate America run this country! You and I are going to take this country back!

Let's unpack, shall we?

I am a godless person. I don't believe in any gods, and am basically completely irreligious. And yet, as an Atheist, I strongly disapprove of rhetoric that encourages violence against other humans, religious or not. Not so Boebert, who believes Muslims make baby Jesus cry and should be eliminated, by a bullet if necessary. 

Danger score: 9

Stupidity score: 7

Hypocrisy score: 11

Radical score: 9

Apparently I also hate America, along with other liberal Americans. If only there was something I could do to prove how much this country means to me, and how strongly I believe in the Constitution...perhaps something like serving the United States in uniform for half my adult life. 

Danger score: 5

Stupidity score: 11

Hypocrisy score: 9

Radical score: 7

Boebert also believes that someone has stolen the country and made off with it like a thief in the night. I wonder who she thinks these thieves could be? I wonder. Could they be people who think that working a 40 hour work week means you shouldn't live in poverty? Or people who believe lobbyists should not be permitted to bribe our representatives? Or maybe it's people who want to ensure children aren't shot to death for the crime of going to school. Could it be people who think a progressive tax rate with no loopholes for profitable corporations or ka-billionaires is the right thing to do? Oh! I know! It's people who think the punishment for being poor shouldn't be a death sentence because you can't afford health care! And I'm also going to take an abductive leap, here, and include "everyone who's not white, Christian, CIS, straight, and inexplicably believes they're entitled to equal treatment under the law" to that list. 

Danger score: 7

Stupidity score: 6

Hypocrisy score: 10

Radical score: 11

Again, I have to ask -  3rd Congressional District voters, what the fuck were you thinking?

Whoever runs against Boebert - in both the primaries and the general, if she runs - will be receiving some of my hard earned dough to beat this whackadoo. She's a national embarrassment, and the sooner she's relegated to the obscurity she so richly deserves, the better. 


Anger, Grief, Regret, and the Pursuit of Peace

Monday, December 6, 2021


In 2011, my biological sister chose to end our relationship without telling me why, and we haven’t spoken since. 

This is not something I’ve previously written about. Partly because my anger has kept me from organizing my thoughts in a meaningful way, and partly because parts of this story aren’t mine to tell. But after years of therapy and introspection I feel like I’m ready to write about the parts of the story that are mine, in order to try and reach some level of peace. 

For years after she cut me off, I was incredibly angry and hurt. I felt betrayed and used, and came up with explanation after explanation as to why she had disappeared from my life, each more reprehensible than the last. I was so angry and hurt I never reached out to her, nor would I permit any family member to do so on my behalf. 

This went on until we lost my daughter Moe to suicide in 2013. I was so destroyed by this loss the best I could do was to to ask an extended family member to notify her of Moe’s death before the note Moe wrote to her and her husband arrived via the mail. While I felt no obligation to let my sister intrude on my grief, I thought being notified just by the note would be unkind in the extreme. She chose not to reach out to me at that time, and to be honest, I was relieved. I literally had no emotional labor left for anyone else - I barely had the emotional energy to continue living.

Instead, a week following Moe’s death my brother-in-law chose to text every member of the extended family to tell us that he hoped we all burned in hell. No exceptions, not for people who had been nothing but kind to them, not for those who had not taken sides in the estrangement, not even for my son, who as a child I had allowed to build a relationship with them, just as I had with Moe. What precipitated this choice? I don’t know. I have no idea what Moe wrote to them prior to her death. It was critically, vitally important to me that I abide absolutely by Moe’s wishes after her death, so after the coroner's office reviewed everything Moe left at the scene of her death I simply mailed the note to my sister and her husband, exactly as Moe had asked. After those text messages were sent, I gave up all hope of ever having my sister as a part of my life again, and my anger burned anew. I considered such an unkind act at a time when every member of our family was torn down by grief to be unforgivable, regardless of the motivation. To be honest, I still feel that way. 

A number of years later, I found out that her husband had passed away. I found out long after the fact, almost incidentally. Again I chose not to reach out to her, even though I suspected how difficult his death must have been for her. How could it not be? They spent their entire adult lives together. But I was still so angry and hurt not only by the initial severing of the relationship, but by her continued silence following my daughter’s death, that I could not bring myself to do so. She and her husband had made it abundantly, hatefully clear that neither I nor any member of the extended family was to contact them, ever again. So I didn't.

And yet, I grieve. I grieve for my lost relationship with her, and the years we’ve lost, and will continue to lose. I regret what I did to precipitate this break, not even knowing what that was. I regret not having the opportunity to make amends for that hurt. I regret that we were not able grieve together for the child we both loved so dearly. And I grieve that I see no way forward from here. 

I’m not the same person I was eleven years ago. How could I be, after losing my only sibling, and then my Gram, and then my only daughter, and then an Auntie I loved like a daughter, and then my beloved mother-in-law? I don't think my sister is the same person either, after her own pain and suffering. 

But how do you mend such deep pain? How can you let go of the anger and hurt and start anew? Is it even possible? I don’t know. For over a decade, my anger has been a festering burn in my heart, bringing me nothing but grief and regret. It brings me to tears of rage, it steals my sleep and my peace of mind. Until today, I’ve not expressed that anger in any meaningful way except to my therapist and those who know me best, because what difference would it make? My anger won’t change the outcome, and I believed that expressing it would just bring more drama into my life when all I want is peace. 

And now, I've finally reached a point where I'm ready to make room for my grief in addition to my anger. My own journey in working through my feelings won't change anyone's perspective but my own, but I do believe it will help me in my quest for peace. And that's reason enough to write about it, I think. 

She’s still my sister. I still love her. I still want her to have a happy and healthy life, even though she's decided I can't be a part of it. My hurt and anger wouldn’t be so deep and abiding if I didn’t still care about her, still miss her presence in my life. 

No one is the villain in their own story. It’s taken me ten years of therapy and self work to admit that while I've always considered myself the injured party in this story, she almost certainly feels the same. Does she also have regrets? Does she miss me at all, as I miss her? I have no way of knowing. She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to hear from me, and I’ve respected that wish, initially because of my anger, and later because even though I hate the decision she made, she’s a grown woman with agency who commands her own destiny. She has the right to determine who will be part of her life and who won't, just as I do. 

But I'll still grieve for this lost relationship, and probably will for the rest of my life. I'll regret that she found it necessary to sever our connection, whatever the reason. I'll continue to work through my anger, grief, and regret, to try and reach a point of peace and acceptance. Because these are the only things I can do. 

Magpie Designs

Friday, September 10, 2021

 Are you looking for a reasonably priced, meaningful gift for someone in your life? 

(Begin shameless self-promotion)

How about a custom, hand-inlaid ring in the materials of your choice? I'm introducing my new side-gig, Magpie Designs. I'm making such rings for sale, as well as making them for my friends, family, and as incentive gifts for those who donate $500 or more to my favorite charity, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

Here are some examples of my work:

"Forged in Dragon Flames"
Crimson Opal and Dragon Scale Opal in Black Ceramic

"Waterloo Sunset"
Fire Burl Dichrolam in Stainless Steel

"Delirious Nebula"
Deep Space Opal in Cobalt Chromium

"Tiger Bones"
Tiger's Eye in Black Ceramic

"It Might as Well be Spring"
Forest Green, Wasabi Green and Black Polymer Clay in Cobalt Chromium

Each of these pieces represents different techniques and materials, and is named for a song that represents the vision I had for the ring. 

If you're interested in commissioning a ring for yourself or someone else in your life, visit Magpie Designs and see what I have on offer. I'll be taking orders for guaranteed delivery by Christmas through November 1st, best effort after that. Thanks for considering my creations!

On the 8th anniversary of your death

Saturday, July 31, 2021

 Today is the 8th anniversary of your death. In some ways, it feels like I've been bearing this burden of grief forever - it's part of my life, and carrying it is my "normal," whatever the hell that means. 

But in other ways, it feels like I learned the news of your death just yesterday, and my grief is still a raw, blistering thing that lays upon my heart like an anvil. 

I'm doing better this year than last, since last year was simply unbearable for a variety of reasons. But it always hurts, and will continue to hurt, for the rest of my life. As the analogy goes, grief comes in waves. Sometimes I can catch it and ride it to shore, and other times it wipes me out, leaving me tumbling through the sea like a piece of flotsam during a storm. 

Regardless of whether it's a terrible year or a bearable year, I will always, always love you, each and every day of my life. I will always, always honor your life and work to make the world a better place in your name. I love you, baby girl. 

________


July 31, 2013 was the worst day of my life. It was the worst day of my life because that was the day the Police Department came to our home to tell us our precious daughter Moe had died of suicide at the age of 22. 

Moe died of uncontrolled mental illness. She experienced severe depression, and was under a doctor's care for her condition. But we lost her anyway, leaving a Moe-shaped hole in my heart that nothing will ever be able to fill. 

Every day I mourn her loss in this world, and I would give everything to have her here with us again. But I can't do that, so instead I choose to perform service projects in her memory such as being a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and donating money to institutions she cared about, like our local library foundation. 

And I also support AFSP's mission in helping people who are at risk overcome their lack of hope and help those who have been affected by suicide. 

This is the fifth year I've been up to participating in this event personally, but this will be the eighth year the Maureen's Marchers team is hitting the road in my baby girl's name on the annual Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Walk. The money raised in this event will go to fighting suicide and supporting AFSP's goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025. This goal is especially challenging in our current situation, where people are still feeling isolated, anxious and uncertain of what the future will bring. 

The danger of suicide is especially high within the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24 and the third leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 14. Among youth who identify as sexual minorities, the likelihood of death by suicide has been estimated to be two to seven times greater than the likelihood of death by suicide among heterosexual youth. These kids need help, and it's up to us to provide it in any way we can. 

Please help us honor our lost, beloved Moe-Moe and consider donating to the AFSP. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. The AFSP is a Charity Navigator 4 star charity, and they spend 83.1% of their total budget on program expenses. 

"When you are sorrowful look again at your own heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." ~ Khalil Gibron

Thank you for your support!

So Exhausting

Thursday, July 29, 2021

 

Yesterday while reading the news, I discovered that the CDC has changed its guidance regarding masks due to a large uptick in COVID infections across the country. In areas where the Delta variant is running amok, they now recommend even vaccinated people where masks indoors where there are many people present. 

I also read that resentment of people who refuse to get vaccinated is growing - even among Republicans - as we continue to struggle to move past the pandemic.

Then I read this morning that even vaccinated people, i.e., yours truly, may be carrying a significant viral load of the Delta variant, even while asymptomatic. 

What this means to me is that I am now a danger to those around me who are not vaccinated. It means it's possible I've already had COVID, masquerading as summer allergies. It means I have a responsibility to society to prevent spreading this illness to those who either refuse to get vaccinated, or those who cannot get vaccinated.

And I have Feelings about this. 

Mostly I just find the whole thing exhausting. It was very easy to get out of the habit of masking up when going out in public, with the exception of air travel. It was a delight to start socializing with folks outside our "cell."* It was a pleasure to get back to the gym for strength training without having to wear a mask. And now we have to go back. 

I want to be clear about something - I am absolutely willing to go back to mask wearing for the sake of those among us who are immunocompromised, or can't take the vaccine for other medical reasons. As a member of, you know, humanity, I have an obligation to do so. It's a minor inconvenience, after all, and doing so costs me nothing and may save someone's life. Go, saving someone's life. 

But I have to admit that doing so for the sake of the knuckleheads who refuse to get vaccinated because "freedom" or "you can't make me, neener-neener-neener" or "it's all a radical liberal plot" sticks in my craw just a little. 

I absolutely believe in agency when it comes to health and safety. You want to ride your motorcycle down the interstate at 100mph without a helmet? Fine. There's a reason ER personnel call such folks "organ donors," but whatever - it's your noggin. You want to forego a seatbelt because in 1 out of a 1,000 accidents being thrown from the car results in the person not dying? You do you, boo. Clearly you flunked statistics, but again - whatevs. 

But vaccination is different. An individual's decision not to get vaccinated does not affect just them. It affects all of us, in every community. It decreases herd immunity. It puts stress on our health care system. It increases the probability of folks who cannot be vaccinated getting sick and dying. It puts the burden of the health of the willfully unvaccinated on the shoulders of those who committed to the idea of the common good and herd immunity. And while I'm having some trouble mustering up sympathy for new COVID cases among the willfully unvaccinated, those who cannot get vaccines should not be subjected to additional risk because I (or anyone else, for that matter) refuses to wear a mask because they don't understand science, or "freedom," or they get their medical advice from unqualified, partisan politicians, or they just don't give a shit about anyone else as long as they're not inconvenienced. 

I don't believe vaccines should be mandated on a public level.** Such an edict would contradict my core values. But I do think the unvaccinated should be made to reduce their public life for the sake of public health. Don't want to be excluded from a cruise or an airplane or a public event? Then get vaccinated. Don't want to get vaccinated because you're a putz? Then restrict your public movements. 

It really is that simple for me. And I find the politicalization of vaccines and science to be disgusting, immoral, and shameful. 

You'll see me on the other side (of my mask, that is). 

________

*We only socialize with people who are 100% vaccinated. We still have high risk people in our lives, and even before the CDC changed its guidance, we were taking no chances with their health and well-being. If that offends you or hurts your feelings, sorry-not-sorry. 

**I'm a-okay with vaccine mandates for certain professions such as healthcare workers. As a veteran, I fully understand the need to give up some control of my medical care for the sake of the group, and while I understand such things may stick in the craw, it is my belief that doing so is a public good from a Kantian point of view.