Not a beauty blogger

I am not one for beauty treatments, washing my face and brushing my teeth is about it. But I’ve recently tried masks, curiosity got the better of me in Wal-Mart. 

Tried this one, the luxury of gold and looking like Iron Man convinced me, as well as the 2.50 price. 

Same here, I like the packaging, it looks like jellybeans


Even I know about the magic of Korean skincare.  I saw women carrying shopping bags out of the cosmetics stores in Inchon. Lots of women with lots of bags, even more than the duty-free stores that sold booze and chocolate.  I had some high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed.  It felt pretty good. 

I followed the instructions, peeled the slippery masks and managed to arrange them on my face. Then I was advised to relax for 15-20 minutes. The first time I relaxed pretty hard and dozed off, I wore the Iron Man mask for 26 minutes but no harm. Depleted Iron Man mask below. I think I’m on my way to becoming high maintenance. 

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Thrift stuff

The last time I went thrifting was July, the memorial thrift trip I made for the 3rd anniversary of Jerry ‘s passing. I hit a different store and remembered why I hadn’t been here. They were playing country. I put in my earbuds. 

I took pictures of my finds, they were not very good. I do not know how Instagram “models” do it, I admit I have more respect for their skills now. 

This store has half price tags and nearly everything was marked down. Total was less than ten bucks. 

Black top, I’m wanting something to wear to Depeche Mode next week. I already have several black tops but can always use another.

Another long sleeve black top. I might wear this to the concert or just to work. Can’t have too many black tops.

Blue linen shirt. It’s after Labor Day and though those archaic rules may not still apply, I will wait til next Memorial day to bring this out. Loose, comfortable and I like the detail. 

 
Pillow shams. They look 80’s and design is sort of Japanese, 99 cents for the pair. Doesn’t go with anything but I don’t care. 

Vera Bradley lunch bunch bag, Catalina Blue. Most expensive thing, 2.49, with 4.98 price tag. I have a Vera lunch bunch already, will hang onto it til my current lunch bag gets raggedy looking. 

Black skirt, maybe my best score. Fabric is patterned, thought it was burned out velvet but more like embroidery. Like the silver belt buckle, will wear to Mass. Almost too ladylike for me but 1.49,why not?

The pictures I took trying to model my stuff were blurry, didn’t show detail of the clothes but did show my dirty bathroom mirror and were sad.

I have not mastered contouring or highlighting either. 

Early morning

There is a running club that gathers at the unnatural hour of 6am on Saturday mornings and runs. There are two groups, one training for a full marathon and those training for the half, because we are only half crazy (old, old joke).

I am not a real dues paying member and I don’t know anybody there. I know I am the slowest one in the half group. I’ve been passed by strollers. It does slam my ego to get passed by runner after runner but I try to remember I’m a walker, one who is slowly transitioning to running. Slowly is my byword.

It’s also my secret identity.  No one at work knows I do this walking torture on early Saturdays. I don’t mention it and I don’t worry I’ll be discovered because no one in my department runs. Few if any of my coworkers run, some work out at gyms but not that many. I also don’t worry about being found out because I don’t know any of the running club people. A few I recognize on sight, mostly as they pass me but I’ve never exchanged names or anything personal with anyone. People are focused on their run, no time to chit chat. I’m cool with that.

No one sees me. I am up at 5am, stumbling around in the dark, putting on my shoes in the car (I keep them there because its the only way I’ll ever walk, it’s easy to make excuses if I ‘accidentally’ leave my shoes at home) and drive to some place I’ve never walked before. This is helped by seeing a bunch of people, most very skinny, very fit and very energetic, already there. So I’m not crazy and I’m not alone. There’s usually some announcements about the route and water stops. The first time I did this I was so slow the halfway water stop was already gone. So I take my own bottle of water, looking like a dork but at least I’m a hydrated dork.

No one knows me, I don’t know them either. My dad knows I get up and leave while its still dark and return sometime after the sun comes up but has no idea where I’m going. Most times I’m not so sure myself. But no one else knows what I do, at least not until now. It is, was, my secret. I’m undercover. I don’t look like the serious runners or anyone else out there.  I’m old and lumpy,  I’m not white ( I’ve seen a few Asian and Black people but so far I’m the only brown one), I wear comfy clothes instead of serious running shorts and tech shirts. And I am slow, I’ve only seen a couple of other walkers but most are faster than me.

Today’s run was on Sunday and I went to Mass on Saturday so I’d be covered. I got up, made to the Catholic high school where the run was scheduled. So even though I missed Mass I was still on familiar ground, so to speak. The marathon runners did 14 miles today, the half marathon runners and I did 7.

There’s something stupendous about seeing the city before it wakes up. It’s like seeing things in a benign way, you are free and safe, there are no cars or people around when the run starts. lt’s almost like being a superhero, in a low-key way. It’s like we’re a bunch of ninjas traveling secretly through the city, no one knows. But as the sun comes us there’s more activity, more people, cars and reminders that we aren’t alone. It is somewhat comforting to see other people, but that spell of secrecy is broken. Yet most of the people walking dogs or riding bikes are friendly. People in cars, that varies.

I like seeing other runners, usually the marathon runners, as they pass me. I even catch up to some of the half marathon people, those who started out fast and passed me may be walking now and that makes my ego feel a little better. It almost makes up for being passed earlier. Even if I’m not as fast as the others it is a reminder than we are still out there, that we made the effort to get up freaking early and that this is worth it.

It will pay off. Eventually.

I also took these pictures along the way. Since I’m by myself and slow as a turtle stampeding through peanut butter my finish time doesn’t matter.

ANTICIPATION 

I am in a strange state of anticipation. It’s not a good place, anticipating something I want or to earn. Rather I am waiting, monitoring, the health of my mother-in-law and dad. Both are elderly, unhealthy and I am preparing myself for the inevitable. In other words, I am waiting for them to die.

I am not a vulture, ready to inherit money or their possessions. It’s likely I may have to contribute financially, especially for my mother-in-law who has no savings. What my dad leaves will be mostly memories and a lot of junk (sorry, dad) in the garage. I’m not rubbing my hands together in greedy anticipation. There will be stories, memories and pictures, those we will share and carry with us. I know this because I’ve been through this before. With Jerry and before with other relatives, I know what to expect and I want to be prepared, as much as it is possible to prepare.

I don’t mention this, of course. I look at my sisters and wonder what it will do to them when our dad goes. They were young when our mom died and it affected them for years after; they missed her when they graduated and got married, and when my nephew was born. Our dad was able to be there for those occasions at least y u how much longer? I know they think about this too.

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We all had lunch today with our dad; my sisters, their husbands, my nephew and me. It’s a rare thing for us all to be together but they made the effort because we all know our dad has one operating artery and there is nothing else the doctors can do but give him pills. He goes to his cardiologist on a monthly basis. He eats bacon and pork rinds without being scolded. While we were eating he casually mentioned the pastor he wants to do his funeral, he’s already asked him. I just swallowed some Diet Coke and choked a little. I know he’s made his arrangements, a military funeral and burial. I know, we all know, the funeral home handling the arrangements. He did this because he’s trying to be helpful, to make it easier on us when the time comes. My grandpa, my mom’s dad, did the same thing. Truly it did help but there are still details and hard moments, it isn’t easy. Grief is a layered business.

My mother-in-law is a contrast. She’s not planned for anything. Honestly I don’t blame her, denial is a pleasant place. She’s in Florida (God’s Waiting Room, she once called it) I talked to her and she was groggy on painkillers. She has heart problems too, but raises the stakes with a large blood clot in her left leg. She had surgery on her leg, the clot was bigger than they thought and now she’s recovering in a rehab facility. My brother-in-law is helpless and frankly useless. I ask him how she is, what the doctors said, what about her meds and treatment and he says she’s not good but that’s all the info he has. He’s never had to deal with stuff like this, I know he loves his mom but he isn’t a good advocate. Jerry did all that for them both, he was the steady and responsible one, taking care of them both from an early age. He’s not here now and neither of them seems to know how to cope, Ruth because she’s sick and weak and Mike because he never learned. Most of my info comes from Bear, who takes his dad’s role as protector seriously even when he’s 10,000 miles away. I dread getting a phone call from Bear about his grandma. I hope that when the time comes she isn’t hurting or alone and I hope someone is with my brother-in-law too. I am concerned that I may have to go to Florida, she once told us she was paying on a funeral plan with a funeral home but not sure she kept making payments and I don’t know its name.

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I don’t look forward to making arrangements, calling people, deciding whether to put it on Facebook (probably will for my dad), finding something to wear and dealing with the condolences, among other things. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again but I know better.

Bear messaged me and said he is thinking of visiting soon. His wife’s Visa is still being processed and they don’t know when it will be ready. He says he might come anyway. He says he misses Fall but we both know the real reason; he wants to see them both and say goodbye.

Long walk

For me, anyway. For some people, short little hike, no big deal. I did my morning walk, I walk about 3 days a week and this is my longest walk of the week because I have more time. More time to do and to recover. 

I took a bottle of water, room temperature,  with me and I’m glad I did. It was awkward carrying it and I need to wear pants with pockets. Although it’s only 79 degrees F I am sweating like a politician on the witness stand. I even sweated off my eyebrows. 

Besides sweating a lot, I feel accomplished. It takes effort, just making myself get up and drive to the river was hard today. I knew I was going to do 6 miles and that I haven’t walked that far in almost a year. I managed 5 miles but one more was intimidating and a little frightening. I told myself I could do this, I could go slow, I could rest if I needed, it’s okay. 

I did stop once, to go pee between a couple of fir trees. Got pee on my leg, poked by a tree branch and hoped nobody saw me, especially the truck passing on the bridge on my left.  

As I turned around and started back I said “you’re more than halfway there.” I repeated it and checked off the streets and bridges as I passed them on my way back. Once I made it to my car and changed my shoes I began thinking about the other stuff I need to do today. After I conquered this, and I feel conquer is the right word, I feel like I can do anything now, today. 

 Yeah, I need to pluck those brows.

Post race

Last Sunday morning I was downtown, in the dark and cold with 19,000 other people. I signed up for the Memorial Marathon, the 5K weenie race. I want to say it was because I believe in supporting the museum and as a remembrance to those who died April 19,1995. I admit it was more about a tech shirt and keeping up a pattern of doing this race every year. The other stuff yeah, the main reasons why there are nearly 20,000 people out there every year and why they keep coming back.

I went downtown Friday after work and picked up my packet. I decided last minute to go ahead and do this thing so my name wasn’t in the self check-in computers. I got my packet from a kindly volunteer, an older woman who assured me I was okay to go. She handed me a clear plastic bag with my bib in it and I mentioned I was just doing the 5K not the half or full marathon, the real races. She replied that every person, no matter which race they were doing, GOT THE PLASTIC BAG. The same bag. This is a big deal, because 2 years ago when I went to pick up my 5K packet I was told that only the half and full marathon people were deemed worthy of a bag. 5K people were not. I had a little feeling of shame that grew and multiplied when I learned this. I did not run or walk much that year, I was slow, old and knew I was good to do the 5K but not to ask more of my body. I had done the half, that was in 2012 but that nearly wiped me out because I ran more than I should have but still, I knew my lumpy little body was capable of doing more.

I had a good excuse for not running or walking. The previous June my husband passed away and most of the usual things I did I stopped doing. Although I enjoyed getting outside and solitude most of the time this year was not the same. It felt like a burden and the endorphins just weren’t kicking in. But I still managed to do the freaking 5K, in part because I knew he would have expected me to do it. So I did, I took my sad little loser 5K shirt and did the race in 2015.

I didn’t do the race in 2016. I couldn’t afford the $60 entry fee and somehow it didn’t feel like something I wanted to do. I was tired and didn’t want to hear about remembering the dead and being positive, about being better or stronger for the experience.  It seemed personal and intrusive in a way the previous year hadn’t. So I slept in and went to Mass instead.

This year I thought about it and tried to decide if I would or not do the race. My mind said to train for the half again, the sticker on my car needed a replacement. My body said forget that, do the 5K, it’s enough and besides you got other stuff to think about. The other stuff being my son’s wedding in Vietnam. My body won this round, as it usually does and I was not ready for the half. So I debated the merits of doing the race and the merits of sitting it out. My pride won out, as it often does, and I signed up online. i told myself to prepare to pick up my loser shirt and bring a bag.

So when this woman handed me the bag I felt grateful and humbled. Grateful that I had a bag to swing around like the big kids doing the real races. Humbled because it’s just a 3 mile race but it is important enough to provide every person with their own gear bag. I stammered something about picking up my packet 2 years before and how I was, wow, surprised and thank you.

The next step was getting my shirt. There was an expo, booths selling running shoes, clothes, protein gels, display racks for your medals, any and every thing that could be imagined for sale. I walked about five minutes before I got distracted and nearly forgot where I was going. But I found my way out of the maze and found several people in line for their shirts and took my place in line. When I got closer I saw only blue shirts. I told the man behind the counter I was just doing the 5K, that I didn’t get a half or full race shirt. He just asked what size I wanted. All the shirts were for the race: 5K, half, relay or full. I was stunned again. I babbled that last year there were different colors for the 5k, half and full. All blue and I told him I’d take a large. There were finisher shirts after the race, for the half and full but we were all in the same shirt starting out. Different bibs but the same shirt.

The race was not bad, almost anti-climactic for me. The real effort was getting up at 4am and driving in rush hour traffic trying to find a parking place in a downtown perpetually under construction.  I finished, not my best time, but I felt good after. Getting free food and finding a short line at the port-a-potties helped too.




That’s a soccer ball on the right, it floated around before the 5K started. 

Buying stuff

I was broke, too broke to go to the thrift store, after my trip. My bills were paid, Porkchop and I had food but all I had in my purse was twenty cents til payday. Then like sunrise payday came and I breathed again. I also started spending money again. 

The first thing I bought was this Vera Bradley bag on shopgoodwill.com. A virtual thrift store, cheaper than ebay but shipping is high, usually more than the item you buy. The first Vera bag I bought was a Villager in Twirly Birds pink, this pattern. I think this is a Metropolitan, a small carryon with a laptop pocket. It was 7.99. 

Then I hit the most amazing estate sale this morning on my way to Wal-Mart. Most estate sales have better quality stuff than garage sales but higher prices. They also tend to have, well, boring stuff. Old people things, outdated electronics and the like. This started out that way, one of the first things I saw was a collection of giant rodeo belt buckles. Enticing to some but not my thing. I went on in and was glad I did. This is what I found.

Porkchop making himself comfortable on my loot.

Andy Warhol messenger bag, by LootNYC. My cost, $3.00. There’s a pink smudge on lower right Andy’s face but otherwise pristine. I plan to rock this bag at work on Monday. 

Kipling bag, from Fergie line a couple years ago. I saw this, then the Kipling tag and started hoping that woman looking at the pillows next to it would not pick it up. Please, dear lady, ignore it and move away. Soon as she did I swooped in on it and felt a little giddy. I really felt it when I saw it was 5.00. Has the tags and monkey. 

I nearly bought this because it looks like ‘SOD’ as in “sod off.” I chose it because it was .50 and a pretty box with notepaper inside but there was another bonus.

Victoria And Albert Museum. London, people. I’m an anglophile from way back and still hope to visit London and as much of England as possible. This is one less souvenir I’ll need to buy. There was a matching set of note paper and envelopes for $2. I may go back tomorrow when it’s half price and see if it’s still there.

From right to left: blank notes on silvery paper, Marcel Schurman Christmas cards I remember from my Borders days and cute dog and cat Christmas cards. $1 for each. I collect stationery and yes I might have a problem. 

Beautiful detailed book by the late Kevyn Aucoin, Louisiana boy who was a great makeup artist and full of great pictures. Published in 1997, it’s gorgeous and even someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time doing her own face can appreciate this book. $2.00. 

Kitty cat frame, I plan to put a picture of Porkchop in it and send to my son in Saigon. Porkchop had to check it out first. $1.00
 

Bubble wrap. No tag. Today’s total was 15.71