You're gonna miss me when I'm goooooone

I've been rubbish this month about updating, feeling guilty about any typed word that doesn't go toward my National Novel Writing Month word count. And I'm afraid it's going to get worse before it gets better.

I am dedicating the last few days of this month to trying like HELL to finish this damn POS novel that's eating my friggin' soul right now. Because I refuse to fail. But don't worry! I'll be back really soon with all sorts of stuff, like a review of NARS Sheer Glow foundation, my breakdown of Lush loves and duds, and my favorite products of the year.

Consider this my Thanksgiving blog break. Love you. Mean it. See you in a few days!


Sunday Pinspiration No. 18: Knit like a beast

When I started knitting, I got lots of teasing. But go pick up a fashion magazine or stroll through Nordstrom. Knitwear isn't grandma, it is chic. There's even a Vogue Knitting magazine. The next time you see a girl knitting and feel compelled to tease her, ask yourself, "Self, when was the last time you took two sticks and a ball of string and whipped up a piece of wearable art?" Oh, never?

Anyone can knit, and if you've never tried it, there are so many books and YouTube videos that show you the process. There are free patterns online, often rated by difficulty level, and books like the Stitch n Bitch series. Knitwear can be old-fashioned or totally avant garde. Knitting is challenging but relaxing, you can do it while watching TV, it's portable, and it renews your appreciation of fashion. I like projects like hats that work up fast, and I like bright colors and natural fibers, like the cool color-changing Noro yarns. I also love the look of crochet projects, which I have yet to learn how to do.


Caught on fire

Last night, I witnessed Francis Lawrence pee on Gary Ross.

I liked Ross's work on The Hunger Games. It was a suitable adaptation with some additions and omissions that puzzled me, but still captured the spirit of the novel.

Catching Fire is a cinematic masterpiece. This is Francis Lawrence's masterpiece.

The screenplay: brilliant. No unforgivable cuts, no unnecessary dialogue, no dragging in the middle. The performances: phenomenal. The arena: like something out of a horror movie. The impact: so evocative that my husband, who is pretty hard to get a rise out of, was talking about how moving and powerful it was.

I was mildly disappointed in the sugar cube scene but not in Sam Claflin's performance. He is a wonderful Finnick. I wish they'd at least mentioned the Quarter Quell that Haymitch won. I wanted to see Katniss and Peeta's pre-Games picnic. I'm trying to think of anything else I disliked and nothing is coming.

Prim taking the morphling syringe from her mother's hands and assuredly treating Gale after the flogging was beautiful and really showed how capable she is even though Katniss thinks she's fragile. The scenes with Snow and his granddaughter were brilliant. The glimpses of real romance blooming from Peeta and Katniss's showmance melted me. And I really lost it when Katniss spoke to District 11 about Rue and when Peeta painted her in the training facility.

Eric thought they'd tone down Cinna's beating while Katniss was in the tube, but they did not. It was brutal and bloody, and Katniss's horrified reaction was gut-stirring. I thought they'd tone down or axe Johanna's stripping in the elevator. Oh no, they went there and then some. Making Peeta unzip her, having her wink at Haymitch and seeing both men perving out while Katniss looked like someone had farted in her face was GENIUS.

Jena Malone, whom I loved in Saved! was a FIERCE Johanna. She was just psychotic and eccentric enough to scare you but restrained enough to not be a caricature. More, please. More Johanna!

She will cut you. WITH AN AXE.

Finally, the costumes made me want to weep. Suzanne Collins uses fashion as a storytelling device, not as filler, and the execution was marvelous here when it was certainly lacking in the first movie. So shall it be written that costume designer Trish Summerville will win an Academy Award for this film.

Here's a thematically appropriate track for you to #backthatazzup. Because Katniss Everdeen is a survivor. Because you know this was your anthem in high school. And because this week has kind of sort of sucked butt and yet I'm not going to diss anyone on the Internet because my momma taught me better than that.

Survivor by Destiny's Child on Grooveshark

Be well, go to the movies this weekend, and wish me luck on finishing NaNoWriMo!


In celebration of Doctor Who turning 50, let's celebrate his companions' accomplishments

Yes, I should be working on my NaNoWriMo stuff. Yes, I am procrastinating. Come at me, bro.

My first thought when I wanted to write a post on Doctor Who was ranking some of my favorite episodes, or maybe some of the most ugly-cry-inducing moments in the new series. And then I thought, meh, the whole Internet is going to be doing that. You know what I bet they won't be doing? Having an awards ceremony for the Doctor's long-suffering companions, who are pretty much the only reason that man is still alive and hasn't used up all his regenerations (although lesbi-honest, they'll wibbly wobbly a way to give him endless regenerations as long as the series is a hit, which will be FOREVER).

Without further timey wimey, everyone step forward to accept your companion merit badges.

The badge for Relentless Resourcefulness goes to my girl Rose Tyler. Rose was always clever and brave, with one famous example. The Ninth Doctor sent her home using an emergency protocol, with no way for her to pilot the TARDIS back to save him. She was displeased by this. It's worse than getting broken up with on a Post-It note.

But would Rose ever give up? Not on your life. Enlisting the help of her mother and Mickey, she deduced that she could communicate with the heart of the TARDIS and ripped the ship's center open using a moving truck. With contact made, she absorbs the time vortex, pilots the ship back to the Doctor, destroys all the Daleks and finally gets a kiss from the man she loves. All in time to get back to London for Christmas dinner.

The badge for Power of Love goes to Craig Owens, whose double appearance on the show makes him a companion in my book even if he never boarded the TARDIS. In "The Lodger," he taps into his previously unconfessed loved for his best friend and uses his intense desire to stay and be with her to short circuit a crash-landed space ship, which is searching for a pilot desperate to leave and frying up a bunch of innocent bystanders in the process.

He again saves the day with love by reversing his conversion into a Cyberman after he hears his baby, Alfie, crying. Let's process this. He was reprogrammed to have all his emotions eradicated, and his love was so powerful that it could overwrite the reprogramming and fight off the Cybermen to protect his child. Or as he beautifully put it, "I blew them up with love." Someone please give this man a World's Greatest Dad mug immediately.

The badge for Stunning Self-Assurance goes to Rory Williams. His fiancée runs off with another man, her imaginary friend, in fact, the night before their wedding. He then tags along with them and is, at least for a few episodes, painted as a "gooseberry" who is the odd man out while Amy and her raggedy Doctor yak it up. Is Rory a chump? Nope. He's a champion. I get the sense from rewatching Rory's episodes that he always knew he had Amy on lock. Whenever a choice was presented, Amy chose Rory. He eventually encouraged and joined in to her friendship with the Doctor, confident in the knowledge that while lesser men should be threatened by a gallant Time Lord, his ability to protect his woman, wield a sword and do it while dressed as a hot Roman warrior would always leave the ladies saying, "Doctor? Ha! Doctor who?"

(And the merit badge, or demerit badge, for worst joke ever goes to Liz. Boo. You suck, Liz.)

The badge for Insane Bravery goes to Clara, my beloved sister in MPDGness. The sassy nanny faced certain and repeated death by jumping into the Doctor's time stream, which scattered "echoes" of her throughout time and space to undo the damage the Great Intelligence did in reversing all the Doctor's victories into defeats. No whinging, no fear, just the conviction that she had to do what she had to do. Clara, I've realized, is the ultimate metaphor for the fan. The companion is always the voice of the audience. Clara began her journey with the Doctor with Eleven, like many current fans of the show have, and then she jumped into his past, poking around in his history even at the very beginning, learning every one of his faces. Yes, we do that on a less grand scale, involving more Netflixing and Wikipediaing than transtemporal splitting, but still. My point is, Souffle Girl, you da business.

Two badges, one for Excellence in Comedy and the other for Defiance of Clichés, go to Donna Noble. The Doctor is kind of a lady killer of late. Martha Jones wanted a piece. Rose Tyler got a piece. Donna just wanted to travel and have a laugh and had zero romantic desire for the Doctor, in part because he was too scrawny. No companion has had the wit or spunk that Donna had. She humanized the Doctor more than anyone else did, by making him laugh and being his best friend, and by forcing him to do more when he refused to claim responsibility. I miss Donna, you guys. She had tremendous personal growth in her travels with the Doctor. The program exhibited paradoxical brilliance in giving her a happy ending that made the viewers cry all the tears, and I still hope we'll see her again.

Happy birthday, Doctor Who. Here's to another 50 years of brave companions, laughter and buckets of tears.


Sunday Pinspiration: Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence and I have a broadmance in my head. She is my woman crush. I just want to hang out with her and eat burgers and drink beer because I think we would be best friends in real life. And I'm convinced that's not a pipe dream — she's from my husband's hometown, Louisville, and was my stepmother-in-law's student in elementary school. Her mom runs in the same social circles as some of our family in The Ville, so we're basically cousins, right? Right.

Why do I love Jennifer? For one thing, she's bawdy and hilarious. For another, she's supernova hot and I just want to look at her all day. And she's freaking Katniss Everdeen. Catching Fire comes out this week, after what has felt like five years of waiting, and it looks so much more powerful and thrilling and true to the novel than its cinematic predecessor.

But my favorite thing about Jennifer is she just seems like a genuine and kind human being. When I read about her rushing off the red carpet to comfort a crying little girl in a wheelchair and take pictures with her, and saw the video of her talking quietly with the fan and kissing her on the cheek, I was so touched. She could have kept walking. She could have followed protocol. She could have made it into a big deal of a publicity stunt. But no. She's just good peoples. And wouldn't you know it, the beyotch even looks good with short hair. Swoon.


Doctor Who Companion Series: Amy Pond "no makeup" look with drugstore makeup and added freckles

I'd like to apologize for the dearth of blog posts lately. Trying to bang out a novel in a month and dealing with stressful Real Life Shiz has taken a chunk out of my blogging time.

Sweeping that out of sight, today I've got a no-makeup makeup look inspired by Her Royal Hotness Karen Gillan, who plays Amelia Pond on Doctor Who. That's right, another companion tutorial! This one features "invisible" eyeliner and fake freckles for those of us who are STILL NOT GINGER. Added bonus: I used all drugstore makeup! Hope you enjoy, and make sure to support the channel by subscribing for free!

Products used:
Revlon Nearly Naked foundation in Fresh Beige
Physicians Formula Concealer Twins
Wet n Wild Fergie brown gel eyeliner
E.L.F. Studio Blush in Pink Passion
Physicians Formula Happy Booster translucent powder
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama gel eyeliner in Blackest Black
Revlon Matte Balm in Unapologetic
Maybelline Master Shape Brow Pencil in Deep Brown
Maybelline Great Lash clear mascara

And now, I'd like you to #backthatazzup.

Earthquakey People by Steve Aoki on Grooveshark


Fandom life lessons

Readers of this blog know me as a Whovian, but my real-life friends know this isn't the first fandom I've gotten carried away with.

I've been thinking about why I love certain shows and books, what meaning they bring to my life aside from entertainment. A few of the lessons I've learned from a few of the fictitious worlds I've lived in as a fangirl, where words on a page can make you sob yourself into a coma or do a happy dance and grin like an idiot:

Harry Potter taught me ...

... that even if you think you're the most ordinary person there is, your power can surprise you. The little boy neglected by his family can grow up to save the world. The dork no one took seriously can stand up to a tyrant. Even J.K. Rowling's real life shows how much someone can build from nothing.

... that even if you think you have to fight your battles alone, your friends will stand by your side.

... that "what's comin' will come, an' we'll meet it when it does." Thank you, Hagrid.

... that we all have darkness inside, but we can choose to act in the light.

Doctor Who taught me ...

... that whether it's a bowtie or a Roman warrior's garb, Converses or red stilettos, it's important for your own confidence to put on a show with your wardrobe. To hell with raggedy!

... that in the aftermath of unspeakable loss, you must mourn, and you must travel onward.

... that cleverness is the best resource and can even make up for lacking anything else to fight with. Sonic screwdriver optional.

... that we live many lives in our existence, make many mistakes, have companions who stick around and ones that leave us forever, and that it's all significant. We're all stories in the end. Lucky for us, we get to choose how we tell our stories and how to find something inspiring in the heartbreak.

The Hunger Games taught me ...

... that even when you really really REALLY don't want to do something because you don't think you have it in you to survive it or to even care enough, you can find the will to do it.

... that food is precious. It's fuel and life force and something to be enjoyed, not to stress out and feel shame over.

... that a world where children aren't safe is going nowhere.

... that the person who should be by your side is the one who makes you feel hope and see possibilities in life, not someone who shares your worst traits. I am lucky to be married to someone who is my version of "the dandelion in the spring."

Sex and the City taught me ...

... that walking in a woman's shoes can be hard, and sometimes, you need extra special ones to make the walk more fun. And you shouldn't be made to apologize for that!

... that love will hunt you down no matter how cynical or uninterested in it you are.

... that absolutes don't apply to relationships. "Good" guys can hurt you, "bad" guys can stay bad until the millionth second chance you give them, or, you know, they could just stay bad and you should be strong enough to say, "Peace, playa." You can make those judgment calls, and don't have to let any trite advice column make them for you.

... that cosmopolitans, while cliche and girly, are freaking delicious. Another round!


Transition update: 3 months in!

My last relaxer was July 31, making this about the time I'd be spending an extra 20 minutes a day with my flatiron, trying to subdue my nappy roots. What a misery!

Instead, I have used less heat styling in the past three months than I used to in a week when I wore my hair straight. The exception is using a dryer for my Curlformer sets, but I don't count that because it's indirect and infrequent.

I'm very happy I made the decision to stop chemically straightening. I'm finding styles and products I love, and I love my new growth. I'm estimating I'll be able to chop off any remaining relaxed hair by six months from now, but am open to grabbing the scissors before then if I get comfortable taking that step at a shorter length.

My favorite new products include the Carol's Daughter Co-Wash and Lush Big Shampoo. I'd used cleansing conditioners like Hair One before, but the Carol's Daughter one is more effective because it has more slip and is easy to work through the hair and into the scalp. And Big is the weirdest, coolest discovery. Few things sound as dumb to the clueless like me than washing your hair with chunks of salt -- until you realize that it adds so-sexy-it-hurts volume and is a dream to use. I just follow that up with a cheapo olive oil deep conditioners from the drugstore, and PA-POW! Hair model status.

Plus, miracle of miracles, I gave sleeping in the Curlformers another shot. While still a drag, I've gotten used to it. I think it helps me get really defined spirals. 

My go-to styles have been wearing my curls down, or taking an elastic headband, putting it over my hair -- not tucking part of it under my hair at the nape of my neck -- and then tucking all the strands up and into the band. Instant romantic updo!

While I have you here, care to #backthatazzup with me?

Last night, I was listening to the first play of Lady Gaga's ARTPOP on iTunes. I liked enough of the songs that I'll probably be buying the album. "Donatella" is a standout. Just the intro makes me laugh so hard!

Donatella by Lady Gaga on Grooveshark


Autumn additions

I'm embracing the gloomy Pittsburgh fall — not so gloomy, really, if you focus on the gorgeous red and orange trees and not the dark, gray sky — and gravitating toward richer makeup shades and scents.

I talked a bit about E.L.F. Pink Passion blush, a glorious steal for $3. A blue-toned, bubblegum pink blush is the way to go when you're owning your cooler-weather paleness. The pigmentation on this is from outer space. It will show up gorgeously on even the darkest of complexions, I'm sure.

My late-summer love for berry lip shades has become more fervent as the temperatures have dropped. I've been reaching for MAC Lustreglass in Decorative. That one's been in my collection for a while. It's a buildable brownish berry with gold and pink glitter and feels good and slippery on my lips.

Despite earlier proclamations of how put off I was by the cost, I did pick up a Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Mauve Shimmer Ink. A little gray, a little brown, maybe purpley if you squint. The multicolored shimmer in this is noticeable only up close, making this suitable even for the office — it's just made more dimensional by the sparkles.

From top: E.L.F. Pink Passion, MAC Decorative, Bobbi Brown Black Mauve Shimmer Ink

In fragrance, I've been loving Tokyomilk Dark in Bittersweet. Described as smelling of cake flour, dark cacao bean, osmanthus and bronzed musk, it smells like a very elegant chocolate dessert, bittersweet like the name suggests and like a more sophisticated version of the chocolate bubble bath I used to love in middle school. That whole line of perfume needs to be experienced, it's unlike anything else I've encountered.

And finally, I spent a long swatch sesh at Sephora trying all the new Formula X polishes. I got Vroom, a metallic rose gold. In some lights it looks champagne (think Urban Decay Sin but in polish form) and in others it's the prettiest pink. I've worn it by itself and with a Formula X confetti topcoat called Turbulent. Unfortunately, the wear time sucks, but everything on this earth chips off my nails so that's to be expected.

Expect more vampy picks in the months to come. This aesthetic is inspiring me!


Sunday Pinspiration: Home decor that doesn't make me gag

Home decor pins on my Pinterest feed nauseate me. It's all so twee, so impractical, so Stepfordized. I want my place to be homey and colorful and FUN, not feel like a hotel room where I'll get billed for breaking something!

But Peter Pan herself is contemplating being a real live grown-up and buying a home. Oh yeah, I'm flipping through Home Buying Kit for Dummies, I'm browsing homes on the Zillow iPhone app and driving around Pittsburgh suburbs with Eric, getting a feel for different neighborhoods. It's so early in the process that I don't even consider us to be in the process. Still, I'm envisioning pinup-girl prints framed in a master bathroom, gray walls and bright bedding, and a sci-fi/fantasy inspired nursery when we start having mini-babes. I want to decorate my house without having to hire someone and spend money I don't have.

This is a pin-happy board that I'll keep adding to, so if you like what you see now, please feel free to follow it! Happy Sunday.

Follow Sunday Pinspiration No. 16 by Elizabeth Diane on Pinterest


On dealing with assholes

Freshman year of college, I got into a car accident while home in West Palm Beach, Fla., for winter break. I was in bed, on muscle relaxers and miserable. One night, someone vandalized my car, pouring dog food all over it and writing the most vile, twisted insults imaginable on all the windows.

I shrugged it off as a random prank against some faceless stranger. Why would anyone direct that level of vitriol at me?

But around this time, I was getting hateful text messages and mean-spirited posts on Facebook from a group of guys I went to high school with.

Once I found out that my tormenters and the late-night car vandals were the same group, I very much wanted to walk over to my ex-boyfriend's dorm parking lot and put a brick through the windshield of his car — he'd given them my address and confessed/apologized months after the fact.

Years later, I've got no ill will toward my ex — he's a good guy, and if he's reading this, I hope he doesn't think I'm publicly shaming him. The other guys aren't even blips on my radar. This wasn't even the assholiest of asshole behavior to be directed at me in the 25 years I've been on this planet. And compared with the type of monstrous behavior in your average Main Street, USA middle school right now, it's cupcakes and fuzzy sweaters. But it's the simplest example I can give you of my experiences with people being nasty SOBs for no good reason.

A few things I've learned about dealing with people who behave like total assholes:

It's not about you. People acting horribly toward you says nothing bad about you. Someone being a total shithead doesn't make them superior or you inferior. It doesn't reflect poorly on you that they're being mean to you. It reflects poorly on them. And some asshole calling you a name doesn't make it true.

I can't wrap my brain around bullying or general douchebaggery because it's such a waste of energy. Looking back, the idea of a bunch of dudes sitting around, not having anything better to do, spending their money and time that could have gone toward anything else on messing with some chick just makes me pity them. You know what I do when I don't like someone? Um, ignore them because I want to not even think about them. Try it sometime?

"Don't let it get to you" is bullshit advice. Just like courage isn't the absence of fear, strength is not the absence of vulnerability. If the assholes make you cry, they haven't won. When I'm hurt, I cry, scream, text all my friends, cry and scream some more. I used to think this made me weak. (OK, sometimes I do still think that.) What I believe now? I'm a tough broad. When someone hurts you to the core and you still manage to dry your tears, reapply your mascara and smile as you strut away from them, that's strength. You think honey badger cares that it got bitten by the cobra? It doesn't give a shit. It passes out and then gets right back up like nothing happened! You have permission to ugly-cry. 

Don't be an asshole back. Had I thrown that brick, I would have been just as bad. Of course, I've done bitchy and horrible things to people. I'm not proud. But I want those incidents to be my footnotes, not my summary. Bonus points: being ceaselessly nice drives mean people crazy.

Shield your psyche. Don't dismiss this as woo woo until you try it. When the assholes are people who have authority over you or people you have no choice but to see every day, giving them the finger isn't really an option. And crying in the bathroom every day isn't productive, either. I find it so helpful when I'm going to be around difficult people to imagine a sort of invisible armor around myself, like I'm in this impenetrable bubble where nothing can touch me. Use whatever visual works for you. Imagine Uma Thurman in Kill Bill walking alongside you with her samurai sword as your invisible bodyguard if that helps you! Hum "Titanium" in your head if that's what works. The more ridiculous and stupid you feel doing it, the better.

When it's really bad, get help. "Bullying" is such a buzzword now that it's losing its meaning. And I think the image of schoolyard jerks that it conjures up doesn't do justice to what some people endure. If someone is hurting you verbally, physically or in any other way that makes you hate your life, please listen to all the trite afterschool special advice and tell someone. Let someone who cares about you help you figure out how to deal. Rubber-glue-back-to-you doesn't always work. When you're in pain, hearing "it gets better" is a slap in the face. But at least entertain the idea that maybe it might sorta kinda one day get a little better, even if just a shred of faith in that is the most you can summon. Don't let the bastards grind you down. Don't be an asshole to yourself.