Thursday, February 19, 2009
Last year, Janet convinced me to try a product called Coppola Keratin Complex. It turns out, that Coppola works miracles - it leaves your hair smooth and shiny and healthy. It is supposed to be nontoxic (although the fact that it makes my eyes tear up makes me a bit skeptical). Most importantly, it makes hair incredibly easy to blow dry. A job that used to take me nearly an hour now takes 15 minutes. This is a product that has literally changed my life!
Problem is Coppola doesn't really straighten my hair, it just works really well on the hair that's already relaxed. When I first had the treatment done, which was expensive, I was annoyed with the results because Janet had touted it as a replacement for Anticurl, but after paying a lot of money I still had curly roots. I called the salon to complain (perhaps I should have spoken directly to Janet) and they told me to come in. I saw Janet who told me that the product wasn't a hair straigtener. (Thanks for letting me know a couple of hundred dollars later). I asked her to apply Anticurl on the roots and she had a hell of an attitude while doing it, all the time complaining in some Eastern European language to her cohorts. I was frankly quite hurt that she reacted this way after I'd been patronizing her for the better part of a decade. To add insult to injury, I still had to pay for the additional treatment when it was done! Fine, I graciously tipped her anyway, gave her a kiss and said my goodbyes all the time thinking that it was the last time I'd see her.
So, around the end of the year my hair is needing to be touched up. I do my research and find a salon that does Anticurl called Dueto Salon. I should've been forewarned when every other client was an octogenarian, and the owner made me wait for my appointment while he gossiped with one of them. We do the Anticurl and I notice a lot more breakage then usual after it's done - you know, those embarassing little short strands that stick up from your head like you've been electrocuted (I felt a little better after noticing it wasn't as bad as the case of shorties Caroline Kennedy had). Being too obtuse to have learned my lesson, I asked the owner if they did the Coppola treatment, which I thought might help since it improves damaged hair. I stressed that I meant the Keratin product that did not contain formaldehyde. He said they did, and I come back a week later for the treatment. After he's done he leaves the bottle out and I notice that the label says Brazilian Keratin - a different product. I pick up the bottle and read the ingredients and sure enough it has formaldehyde (i.e., poison) in it. I'm livid. Also, for months afterward, my hair was limp and lifeless. Perhaps because my hair is naturally fine, but the process does not work well for my hair.
Eventually, I discover that my favorite salon for hair cutting, Arrojo Cutler (different salons serve different purposes), carries the actual Coppola treatment and I am thrilled. I have it done and my hair gets back that silky texture. Problem is Arrojo doesn't carry Anticurl and my roots (and every other secret I'm trying to hide) are starting to show. Do I go crawling back to Janet? NO! I decide I'll go in on her day off and ask for someone else to do my hair. Turns out they schedule me with Serge! Serge is Janet's professed nemesis. While doing the job, Serge is the consummate professional (and a flaming queen - not that there's anything wrong with that). He adds some protective cream to all of the hair strand except the inch of new growth that he's going to treat so as not to use the product on previously relaxed hair. All the time, Janet's Eastern European mafia posse is eyeing me and I feel as if I'm having an illicit affair. The discomfort. Serge meanwhile has no qualms about shamelessly offering me a discount for his services the next time I come in even though he knows that I'm "Janet's client". Anyway, when my hair is done, I'm quite pleased with the results. I feel so guilty and underhanded, but Serge was great. Can I keep seeing him behind Janet's back? Can I even go back to Janet now and snub Serge? Perhaps I should have tried to work things out with her, but at some point I must get on with my life. Yes, I know that I at least could look for someone who doesn't work in the same salon and not rub it in her face, but I've tried, I've really tried . . . and finding someone you trust to do your hair is very difficult. What exactly do I owe Janet anyway?
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I just finished reading "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point and Blink, neither of which I have read). Mr. Gladwell argues that to understand the reason for why some people have incredible success we must look at a variety of factors such as culture, family background, birthplace and even birth date in addition to the personal qualities of the successful "outlier". Although some of these ideas may not be new, his hodgepodge of anecdotes contain the most fascinating tidbits of information. For example, out of the 75 richest people in history going back to the Byzantine empire, no fewer than 14 are Americans born in the 1830s (OK, three of these were born in the year 1840 if you want to be picky); the most successful hockey players are born in January, February and March (no, it has nothing to do with those being icy months); the most successful New York lawyers were Jews born in the 1830s to parents who worked in the garment industry; Colin Powell's family is from Jamaica; and traditional wet rice farmers in Asia fertilize their rice paddies with a combination of burned compost, river mud, hemp and human manure (this factoid is not especially relevant to his central argument, but I thought it interesting as well as gross). At any rate, I was, frankly, enthralled. I'm sure Gladwell will have his detractors - those who will argue that his ideas are recycled, that the rigor of his research is suspect, that he chooses his anecdotes selectively to support his arguments or that he does not give enough credit to the qualities of grit and perseverance over the element of social determination, but I thought the book was a fascinating and provocative read.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Anyway, having been on vacation the last two weeks, I decided that I was going to take advantage of all the current sales and try to update my wardrobe. (Plus, I have almost no tops to wear under my black jackets and/or cardigans.) Inspired by an older gentleman who shops as a sport (and is not gay!) and buys only when he finds the absolutely best deals, I was determined to do my research. I spent hours browsing retailers' internet sites and then set upon expeditions to the stores to see the actual pieces and try them on.
I started at my fallback, the DKNY store in SoHo. I had seen a pair of trousers on their website that looked great, but that did not fit quite right when I tried them on in the store. I was able, however, to find another nice pair for under $80 and a cool boxy jacket for under $140. I also found a pair of shoes at the nearby Anne Klein store for $20 bucks that looked just like a $300 Taryn Rose pair I had been eyeing! Score! So all in all, I had bought a suit and pair of shoes for under $250. Problem is everything I bought was black. That's OK, we were just starting out.
Next stop, JCrew. JCrew is so ubiquitous and the go to place for so many teeny boppers that it is really best for only basics because otherwise everyone will know you got your clothes there. I did make an exception for a black and gold print silk blouse that was only $35. It was the wrong size, but when I tried it on it fit! I also bought a wool and cashmere WHITE turtleneck sweater from their website that they didn't have in the store for $50 (although it was almost $60 with shipping). OK, so I was regressing a bit.
Next, Bloomingdales. I spent three hours here and came home with a black cardigan to show for it. (I may be mentally challenged.) However, this was a cool silk Marc Jacobs cardigan striped with this metallic threading that was $240 on the website but only $90 at the store. Can anyone really have too many black cardigans anyway?
The true payoff to all my hard work however was this beautiful silk blouse by Milly that I tried on in the store. I knew from my research that it was $96 dollars on the website (but it was not marked down from its almost $300 price tag in the store!). Of course, I ordered it as soon as I got home. See, isn't it pretty?
Anyway, I love it and it will go well with my new trousers.
I also ordered this short raglan sleeve turtleneck to go with my new boxy jacket:
So besides a fuller closet, a somewhat diminished bank account and a blister on my foot, I came away with the following lessons from my shopping extravaganza:
1. At least for me, black is still beautiful. I can keep it simple with black pants and jackets and mix it up with the tops I wear.
2. It pays to look for sales both on a retailer's website and at the store. I found certain items marked down on the website but not in the store and vice versa. Also, especially if you're buying final sale items, you need to be able to try them on to make sure they fit.
3. Make sure you factor in shipping and handling when you order online and that you still consider it a deal after adding in that cost.
4. Shopping, if done with the object of getting the best price, is hard work. Note that I was on vacation during this time and I still only visited one store per day when I actually went out to shop. Some days, I spent a significant amount of time on the internet. For me, I think it paid off. For about $600, I was able to get a blazer, pair of trousers, pair of shoes, a turtleneck sweater, a cardigan and three blouses. (OK, I probably could have done without an additional black cardigan).
5. Know when to stop. Like with investing, you don't want to put your money into the market all at once. There is always another sale around the corner.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Sunday, December 28, 2008
At any rate, for the last five years or so, I have spent Christmas with my boyfriend's family during which time I exchanged gifts with his Dad, three siblings, and a varying number of their significant others. I then typically visited my family where I exchanged gifts with my sister, her husband and my parents. In the last few years, I have gained two nephews and my boyfriend has gained one. While buying presents for this number of people was not exactly an economic hardship for me and I derive (as I assume many people do) a certain pleasure from gift-giving, the task had become daunting. Also, I have to say that I was troubled by what seemed to me to be excessive waste in terms of time, effort and money spent in buying all of these material objects. I was often left with an uneasy feeling after all the presents were unwrapped and we were left with all this STUFF, most of which we didn't need and was frankly a drag to have to figure out how to carry home.
This year, something in the air made my boyfriend's family decide to do a "secret santa" instead of the traditional exchange of gifts. Inspired by this development, I informed my family that I was liberating myself from the tyranny of the Holidays this year and that they should not buy or expect to receive gifts from me (except in the case of my nephews). I ended up buying a few extra gifts anyway, but these were more in the nature of tokens made with no sense of obligation or expectation of receiving anything in return. The result: I didn't spend the days leading up to Xmas in crowded stores stressing out about getting the right gifts for everyone and running myself ragged. I stressed out about other things instead. My boyfriend spent more time with his siblings. I had only a small bag of stocking stuffers to carry home and enough room in my closet to put them all. I spent time with my family and it felt nice just to visit. (Although I still wish my that my older nephew had been more excited over the spectacular pop-up book I gave him (Winter's Tale by Robert Sabuda)!).
Anyway, I don't know what will happen next year, but this year, it felt more like Christmas to me than ever. We went back to the basics - spending time with family, relaxing and making the little ones happy. I was even able to maintain my anxiety in check as I sat back and watched the nephews open their presents, play with their toys and begin accumulating all this stuff that they don't really need.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I love to wear this wool v-neck dress over a black turtle neck tee and tights with knee-high boots. Nice and cozy for $175.
And, finally, cool, comfortable shoes for under $100.
Now, I just need to stop myself from shopping anymore for a while . . . .
Monday, September 15, 2008
Source: BBC News
According to this BBC News report, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is reporting that the level of noise in the world's oceans are causing serious problems for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, blocking their communication and disrupting their feeding. Apparently, the noise generated by ships' engines and propellers, seismic airguns used in oil and gas exploration and military sonars have been implicated.
Whales and dolphins are cool, and this makes me sad. . . .
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
By the way, does anyone remember McCain's off-color joke of not too long ago about Chelsea Clinton who isn't even running for anything (at least not yet):
"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno."
Yup, he said it. Funny? Maybe. But the point is that hypocrisy is everywhere, so let's start calling it when we see it. Anyway, let's assume Obama did mean his remarks as a dig against Palin. Why does she need so much protection anyway? I must take issue with the strategy because it is so transparent that it offends my intelligence - paint her to be the victim (ooooh, they're talking about her children, that's off limits; oooooh, they're questioning whether she can do the job b/c she has 5 children - that's sexist; ooooh, they're looking into her background and questioning whether she's qualified) so that when she comes out swinging she looks like a big vigilante hero. She's a victim when the PR people are handling things but a "barracuda" when she steps into the limelight.
Of course, she wouldn't come out herself and cry "stop picking on me!" while she's trying to prove that she can play with the big boys. But stop doing it for her already and let her speak for herself. All we've heard from her so far is her speech from the Republican convention, which she repeats verbatim wherever she goes. Enough, with introducing me to your kids, woman, come out and tell me where you stand on the issues! And please reassure me that the books in my public library will be safe if McCain ever gets elected and then croaks.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I will declare that I am left of center. I am a registered democrat and cautiously liberal. I am a Hispanic female. I am 38, unmarried with no children (I live with my boyfriend of 7 years who sometimes demands almost as much attention). I am an attorney in the financial services industry, where I assume that most people would not share my views if I expressed them. I never saw the point in alienating half of one's audience anyway. But I also have some intellectual appreciation for why some people feel that small government is best or the philosophy that people cannot be made to feel responsible for the welfare of their compatriots against their will (perhaps because I myself do not care to part with my money so freely). I AM a strong believer in individual liberties. Show me a right and I will probably be supportive - the right to privacy, the right to die, the right to fornicate (responsibly if with multiple partners), the right to generally be indifferent to other people's misfortunes.
Anyway, the foregoing is a long prelude to what I originally wanted to say, which is that I watched Senator Obama's speech when he accepted the Democratic party's nomination the other night and found to my chagrin that I was being moved. I'd watched him in debates but (although I had read his speech on race and was quite impressed with his skill or that of his speechwriters) had never actually heard him make a speech. I had been a Hillary supporter (there I go alienating at least three quarters of my audience) and although I was resigned to support the party's nominee had started out a bit deflated. His speech impressed me for what I was shocked to find it made me feel - I felt like he had held up a mirror and showed to me my cynicism - it made me wish I was a better person. When he said words to the effect that we are better than a country that says to people that "you are on your own" I felt guilt. As I've aged, I have progressively (or regressively depending on whom you ask) embraced the attitude that it's me or the other guy and rejected any suggestion that I bear any social responsibility other than to do no harm, which I still contend is not a terrible place to start. I also resent it when people tell me that I must "give back to my community" (whatever that means) or words to that effect. Having been born to poor parents, my attitude when choosing a career was that serving society should best be left to the rich kids who could afford the luxury of self-righteousness. My primary goal should be to "get ahead" and any success itself would represent progress. Of course, that thinking goes against much that was instilled in me growing up and I never fully freed myself from guilt for doing well while leaving others behind (not to exaggerate my financial well-being since I am far from financially secure and almost every other person I meet has a lot more money than I do). A few days after listening to Obama's speech, my views are not dramatically altered, but the fact remains that I was moved and challenged by a political speech. While listening, I kept asking myself - "could this seemingly right-thinking individual be for real or is he just a smooth operator?" - and I found myself hoping that . . . . Well, that's just it - I found myself HOPING. How embarrassing.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Recently, I've heard a lot in the media about the dangers of wearing flip flops. Regular flip flops reportedly accentuate pronation (the rolling in of your feet), which causes fatigue and stress in your feet and lower legs and can lead to overuse injuries. They can also accelerate bunion formation by increasing the stress on the great toe joint (eek, I have bunions!). The fit flop, on the other hand, is supposed to increase muscle activation and make the muscles that stabilize the foot work harder and over a period of time can actually strengthen your feet. Fit flops are touted as helping to tone your calves, thighs and butt. I don't know if that's true, but they actually make your legs look good while wearing them, and after wearing them all day, it felt wrong to wear my regular flip flops at home in the evening.
I also think they're pretty cute. I bought the Walkstar II model in patent bronze shown above. I had the hardest time finding this particular model in my size on the internet. Finally, I walked into Macy's and bought the last pair they had in my size (I generally wear U.S. size 7, but these run large so I bought a 6) for $59.99. Score!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
This is the crap we had to deal with last week after discovering a bedbug in our apartment (once again). We had to have every item of of clothing and fabric in our apartment laundered or drycleaned, vacuum virtually every possession we own and then pack everything in plastic bags so that the exterminator could come in and douse everything with chemicals. It was as grueling as having to move, but much more aggravating because it was certainly not by choice. Coincidentally, around this time last year, I also found a bed bug. I informed the so-called "resident manager" who only asked me if I’d been travelling but basically shrugged it off. I hired a pest control company which charged me a large sum to come and spread chemicals in my apartment three times. I threw out a bunch of my possessions, including a semi-antique couch that I purchased on Ebay because I thought that maybe it could be the source, and had to dry clean almost every article of clothing that I own. A huge expense and ordeal as you can imagine. A few weeks after that nightmare, I found out from one of the other employees of this venerable, luxury building that another apartment on my floor had had a major infestation. I only ever found two bedbugs back then and the pest control company confirmed when they were done that there appeared to be no infestation in my apartment – the logical conclusion being that they came from outside the apartment. Now, almost a year later, I’ve found another one! There is no reason I should have bedbugs – I haven’t been travelling or staying in hotels, I’ve brought no new or old furniture into my apartment and I vacuum religiously because I have terrible allergies. This time, I wrote an angry e-mail to the management company, and they at least got an exterminator in here; he came and sprayed everything last week and we're now in the process of unpacking and putting everything back. He'll have to come back and spray again in a couple of weeks but we won't have to repackage everything for the second treatment. I've sent my drycleaning receipts to the management company asking for reimbursement and also asked what they've done to ensure this never happens again. They have not responded. As far as I know, they have not inspected any other apartments on this or adjoining floors or even bothered to alert people so that they can be vigilant. I've at least alerted my neighbors on my floor and actually stuck underneath their doors copies of the correspondence between myself and the management company, including the management company's feeble attempts to cover their asses at my expenses (such as by suggesting that I was taking my sweet time preparing the apartment for extermination, even though the exterminator told me right in front of the "resident manager" that he was booked for a week). Anyway, this is a video of the preparations we made for the exterminator to come in, which is admittedly goofy, but now, that (hopefully) the worst is over, I can talk about it . . . and let the healing begin.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Anyway, today I had some soundproofing folks from City Soundproofing over to evaluate the situation. They were very professional and made me feel better because they totally validated my belief that the elevator noise is excessive (yes, I realize I'm paying them and it's in their interest to make me feel that way). They're going to go back and formulate a proposal but they tell me that although we may be able to treat the ceiling, there's not much I can do about the elevator noise on my end. So tomorrow I'll go back to the management company and start this dance again. It's really draining.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Rarely do I see something at C&B that I feel I MUST have, but I am loving their Avery Bombe chest for $799. The dimensions (41 x 17 x 34) make me think that I can get two and use them as nightstands. I think they'd go well with my high bed and I need a little extra storage for clothes and the like. I also love that the drawers are lined with this silk screened black and white paper with a vine pattern. Don't know that I'll actually get it, but I think it's cute, cute, cute!
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I cannot say my home healed my heart. But I can say that, as my heart healed, my home reflected it. Perhaps my house forced my hand, at times, with its unrelenting demands. And perhaps at times my heart, gladdened, let me turn my attention homeward. Whatever the strange, looping path I took out of sadness, it wound its way from room to room, like a recurring dream I had as a child, in which I kept lo looking for something in a cavernous, empty old house, never finding it, but never being able to stop the ceaseless searching, either. Maybe my subject is yearning; maybe that's the case for most of us. We yearn to live in houses full of love, happiness, passion, and peace, too. We yearn for domestic bliss. Even when we have found it, we are restless about wanting things to be better. As soon as we get what we want, we want more. That's the nature of being alive, of persevering, of striving. And that is the nature of redecorating.
Friday, February 8, 2008
A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre. After careful planning, he craftily got past security, stole the paintings and made it safely to his van. However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, "Monsieur that is the reason I stole the paintings: I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh
Sorry, I know this is pretty bad, but I figured I had nothing Toulouse!
Friday, February 1, 2008
Who would've thunk that turquoise jewelry and a burgundy suit would go well together? But Hillary managed to pull it off nicely at last night's debate. I have to hand it to her hair, makeup and wardrobe people - she's been looking FANtastic!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I suffered from a bout of ennui after returning from Culebra. The beaches there were so beautiful, the views breathtaking and the weather - sunny and hot. It seemed senseless to return to the cold, to my job, to my dark little apartment. Needless to say, I had a bit of the post-vacation blahs. I received a small bonus from work and, interestingly, could think of nothing special to do with the money. I'm past thinking that any material purchases can make a lasting difference in my life or happiness. On the other hand, continuing to save for the future while getting insufficient enjoyment in the present makes little sense. So what, then, could add some zest? At first, I resolved that we would try a different restaurant and sample new fine cuisine each week. The food, I then realize, is more symbolic - I want to focus more on experiential pursuits in general. If I have to articulate a New Year's resolution, it's that I want to be constantly forming new "tracks." Alas, I think I have a goal and, for now, the cloud above my head has lifted.
(1) aerial view of Culebra (transl. "snake") upon arrival after a 25 minute flight from San Juan; (2) beautiful Flamenco beach where we stayed at a small villa; (3) the road to Carlos Rosario - a 15 minute hike on a trail at the end of Flamenco beach leads to a small lovely beach; (4) views on the way to Carlos Rosario; (5) the pristine waters of Carlos Rosario beach have some of the best snorkeling on the island; (6) me at Carlos Rosario; (7) we took a boat ride to an even smaller island called Culebrita (transl. "little snake"); (8) we were dropped off at this jaw dropping beach in Culebrita - there, I saw a stingray while snorkeling as well as tons of colorful fishies; (9) more of the beach on Culebrita; (10) the view on one of our hikes on Culebrita; (11) another view on that same hike; (12) the end of our pilgrimmage - a lighthouse built by the Spanish Crown in the 1880s.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The Devin Ottoman from Crate & Barrel (52"x20"x19") -$899 I'll just show because I think it has all of the advantages of an ottoman and some of the benefits of a coffee table and is reasonably priced. Unfortunately, the style just doesn't do it for me.
One intriguing option that I stumbled upon on 1st Dibs was this Louis XV style bench and coffee table, but what is more shocking than the $3,000+ price tag is that someone has already bought it!