Auld Lang oh GTFO

Gin, sass and Photo Booth

The year 2014 did to me what spring does with the cherry trees — but in a prison way. While my natural tendency is to look back on the year that was and spin the tale into some feel-good cotton candy, I'm not there yet. Check back when my memoir is a best-seller and Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez is playing me in the film adaptation. On my deathbed, I will be ranting unintelligibly about 2014 as I thrash into that good night. (I imagine I will have pink hair and everyone will call me Crazy Abuela Liz).

I set no goals, make no resolutions, expect nothing. Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans. I'd say I've learned my lesson, but if the patterns of my life hold, that would just be signing up for extra credit! I'm not into tempting fate.

For now, I wish you all a happy, fantastic new year. And 2015? Please be gentle with me.


Midseason sailing report, or, these TV couples I ship need to get married

I collect fandoms like I collect coffee mugs. No one can keep track of what shows I'm watching when. And although the ensuing post is longer than Taylor Swift's list of ex-lovers that'll tell you she's insane, I promise you that I whittled this down to very few of the shows I've actually been watching this season.

Shipping. Everyone does it, even if you don't know you're doing it or don't want to admit it. You always have that one couple on a show that you're rooting for, even if they aren't together in the canon. Ships make the shows you love, and even the ones you hate-watch, that much more interesting.

Here's who I want to get or stay together on my main shows this season. Spoilers after the jump for everyone who hasn't seen the midseason finales of Once Upon A Time, Sleepy Hollow, Jane the Virgin and Reign.

New in: A serious red lippy, yummy bath gel and more DevaCurl

I dropped by Ulta the other day for some treats. Two were repurchases, two were brand new suitors courting my affections.

VitaBath Cupcake Couture Luscious Lemon Creme Bath Gel: This is my third bottle of this stuff. It smells like lemon shortbread cookies. Which sort of reminds me of my wedding cake. Which had Funfetti-esque sprinkles in it because why wouldn't it. Smells are my everything of late, and this makes my shower heaven. It's also apparently sulfate free. I wouldn't know if this makes my skin moisturized, because I set the temperature in my shower to summer-in-hell and that sucks all the moisture right out.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso: I've had this on my must-buy list ever since I saw it on Coco from The Beauty Milk. A super matte, rojo bien chillon, as mi madre would say. So far, this hasn't demonstrated the longevity everyone raves about — it does not like balsamic vinaigrette one bit — and it feathers, but golly is it gorgeous. It practically glows in the dark. It's a Martian babes in silver leather with ray guns kinda shade. A burlesque performer in a giant martini glass red (for the aforementioned longevity, I'm trying to talk myself into biting the bullet on burlesque queen Dita Von Teese's intriguing yet muy expensive recommendation, Lip-Ink. Tee hee). From swatches I've seen, it looks a lot like MAC's Ruby Woo. 

DevaCurl No-Comb Detangling Spray: I went in intending to get a full-size bottle of Mist-er Right, but was intrigued by the concept of a detangling spray with conditioning properties. I've tried this on dry hair and wet, and I think it's a pretty decent detangler and curl refresher on dry hair that provides some slip and softness. It feels sort of emollient, if that's even a quality a hair product can have, but it's light, not oily. I can't describe the scent, but it's pleasant and clean.

DevaCurl Travel Size Mist-er Right: Another repurchase. I can't decide yet whether I like it. It certainly doesn't hurt anything, and helps me redo my do while making me feel less like a poodle being hosed down in the backyard than when I just use a spray bottle with tap water. The lavender scent is pretty strong, so if lavender is your bag, baby, spray away.

Buy anything lately? Give me the itemized receipts, lassies.


The do-better beauty list

Internet, I have been in a rut. My writing projects, this blog included, were covered in cobwebs (exhibit A — I started writing this post two weeks ago). My laundry, even the clean stuff, sat in neglected heaps until recently (I was overly enthralled by finding matches for all my socks and finally organizing my unmentionables drawer). My hair, in an awkward curly mullet phase, was being subdued with a resigned sigh into the same twisted in the front and pinned behind my ears style every damn day. My social life consists of making snarky comments to the characters of whichever one of my programs is on tap on Hulu Plus (that part hasn't really changed, but the fall TV lineup is providing loads of variety, and at least now I'm adding much more knitting into the routine).

This is not the behavior of a bad bitch. It is the behavior of a basic bitch.

Superficial as I am, my prescription for soul malaise will always include getting pretty. So here is my beauty to-do list.

I will wear lipstick again. These days, my lips are lucky if they get slapped with some Rosebud Salve. Once in a while, when I want to look like I tried, I'll reach for my beloved Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey. All my MAC tubes huddle together for warmth while I give them the cold shoulder. No more. I will exfoliate, balm and line my lips and lovingly apply MAC Red or NARS Luxembourg or Kat Von D Adora.

Mucho mejor

And of course, a bold lip means that...

I will rock winged eyeliner. This might be a good time to offer a dissenting opinion about Benefit's They're Real Pushup Liner. I ran out and got this like everyone else did because it was supposed to be the liner to end all liners. And it was the Into the Gloss praise that made me covet it more than any other review. Gel formula! Angled tip for easy application and perfect flicks! Herculean staying power! No, no, no. For me, this has a crusty texture, is unwieldy and smears. I can't build up the color to a nice opaque finish. I've never had a more difficult time with a liner. Such a disappointment.

I will clean my makeup brushes. I've been applying foundation with my hands out of sheer laziness. That's fine, but being a hoarder of makeup brushes, I need the return on my investment to justify the counter space.

I will find new hairstyles. My hair is finally long enough to put in a little ponytail with the short, mullety pieces braided and pinned back. It's like a cute little bunny tail. As I type this, I am stepping it up a notch and rocking a sock bun. Fringe benefits of putting my hair up: I imagine it'll get fewer single-strand knots from me absentmindedly twirling it all night at my desk, and the back-and-up pull has to function like a mini facelift.

And on some days, its glory defies understanding

I will take better care of my skin. I haven't used my Clarisonic in weeks. Because my skin was drying out, I cut back from using it twice a day to just once, and then less and less from there. But that's not my gravest sin. Oh no. On more than one stray night, I have gone to bed without washing off my makeup at all. I KNOW. Trust me, there's no need to slap me, I've done it already on your behalf. Skincare is the perfect playground for a product junkie to experiment, and I am ready to look dewy and lit from within, Pittsburgh's winter be damned. Be damned, I say!

But I will not, WILL NOT charge any new experimental beauty purchases to my credit card. One way in which I am absolutely not in a rut? For the first time since freshman year of college, I am out of credit card debt. I paid it all off, and it felt amazing. There was a time even a few months ago when I thought the end would never be in sight. If you asked me about my debt a year ago, I would have cried or gotten really embarrassed. But those days are behind me. And you know what's pretty? Shaking off a burden like that. It's healing. Those things show on a person.

I will be healthier. More yoga, fewer McNuggets.

And, I will make an effort to blog it out. The frivolity of glamour makes me happy. Waxing poetic about a lipgloss or face mask might not cure a single one of the world's ills, but it's fun. Fun also shows on a person. So, more fun. Lots more.

Do you ever get in a beauty rut? How did you get out of it?


This and that

A navel-gazing roundup.

Watching: On a whim, I binged on the single-season series Caprica, a prequel to Battlestar Galactica. I'd never seen Battlestar, but I was in the mood for new stimuli. The prequel is a soapy saga about two families brought together — and often placed at odds — by a terrorist attack that claims their children on Caprica, one of 12 planets inhabited by mankind.

Along the way, it deals with heritage, corporate intrigue, organized crime, religious extremism, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, a subject I started writing about in a novel last year. But frak me if the show doesn't put me to shame. The intricacy of the virtual worlds is dazzling. The very first scene is set in a virtual nightclub where teens go for simulated group sex, fight clubs, murder and human sacrifices (!!!). And there's this very cool, very noir aesthetic that develops later in the New Cap City world, which is where I think the show really hit its stride.

It's all an elaborate precursor to the near destruction of our race by Cylons, a robotic race that evolves to  look like us. I'm now dipping my toe into BG. I think it greatly enhances my geek cred.

And because of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. GRRRR.

Also watching: the new season of Doctor Who! I originally intended to recap the episodes, but meh. There's enough people doing that, and too few people who would be into that read this blog. I might mention it from time to time as I see fit. I love Peter Capaldi as the Doctor! It'll be interesting to see in what direction they take him, but so far I love how cantankerous he is, how much humor arises from that, and the very different dynamic he has with Clara compared with the flirty levity she had with Matt Smith.

Reading: I'm on a graphic novel kick. I read Marjane Satrapi's Embroideries in one sitting. That's the author of Persepolis, the film version of which I fell in love with immediately after reading Embroideries. While Persepolis is a broad memoir of a childhood in war-torn Iran, Embroideries is a more intimate story, about one evening among the author and a gaggle of women drinking tea and talking about marriage, sex, and getting your vajayjay stitched up. It's poignant, raunchy and funny as hell.

Next, I went back to Phantom of the Attic in the 'Burgh and picked up Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which I also read in one sitting. I haven't been in a comic book shop since I was in middle school/early high school, and then I went back one summer during college to visit my former crush who worked there. (It's kind of a funny story.) I still haven't seen the movie that's out now, but I rewatched Sin City, got a lot more out of it than when I first became obsessed with it, and now want to read two of the graphic novels it was derived from, That Yellow Bastard and The Big Fat Kill.

I'm also dabbling in Wonder Woman comics. Why not?

Swearing: In Spanish. It makes me feel closer to my culture.

Missing: My friend Carlos. He was visiting from Santa Fe — his sister also recently moved to Pittsburgh, of all the coincidences. It had been more than a year since I saw him and I really, really needed to catch up with him and do pizza, booze, telly nice and proper like we used to. He said I needed a blue wall, like I had in a Santa Fe, and even that made my little drunk heart giddy with sentimentality. Eric and I had major Santa Fe flashbacks with him being here.

Carlos. You need to just move here already and give up this charade.

We've had lots of visitors lately! Eric's Aunt Lisa and Uncle Joe were here, along with their sons Kevin and Ryan, who stayed with us. I hadn't seen Ryan in four years. I was unfortunately struck with the plague during their visit and wasn't much fun, but I liked having people in the house, and Eric liked having people to bro out with.


Knitting: I'm still working on this damn shawl. I'm still on the first skein even though I bought the second one weeks ago in anticipation of needing it soon. I'm so in love with the colors and just want to wear it already! 

Resenting: Petty neighbors. My psychobabble. The lingering life effects of being a gypsy wolf child. My twisted, scumbag brain.

Considered re-writing this for proper grammar. Decided to not be an a-hole.

Fantasizing: About writing another screenplay, one low-budget enough that I could shoot it myself, get discovered by Judd Apatow, then get lots of money to make the project I really want to make (yes, I'm aware that's what happened to Lena Dunham. Bitch). Traveling to Europe next year, God willing. Getting my shit together, getting my life going, finally.

All right, that's enough rambling punctuated by out-of-focus iPhone photos. Later, babes.


I am not a good girl. Neither are the Litchfield ladies.

What do you know! I'm not dead.

I didn't intend for an extended absence on top of my already sporadic posting. I've been distracted. Among my distractions has been Orange is the New Black. Since I'm late to the party (I'm probably the opposite of a hipster sometimes, loving things not before they're mainstream, but once they're already passé) a review is worthless. So instead I'll use it as an excuse to GIF and as a frame for some introspection.

Like WASPy Piper, sweet but psycho Morello, manipulative Alex and vindictive Red, I am not a good girl. I thought that I was. Everyone has always told me I am. And the world sure wants me to be one. But. Having to live up to expectations to only have traits that fit a very narrow definition of "good" is agonizing. It makes me feel like I'm evil if I fail. Like everyone will hate me. Like I have to be vanilla. God forbid I ever offend anyone even if no one cares if they offend me. God forbid I have a dissenting opinion, make a lapse in judgment, choose wrong, say a bad word, break a rule. What will people think?!

It sure messes with your sense of self when you think you're one thing that's universally praised and realize you're a multitude of others.

That's what happened to me. Years and years of proving myself wrong when I said, clutching my pearls on my righteous high horse, "I would NEVER do that."

Let me tell you something if you have a long list of your "never woulds": yeah, hooker, you would. So shut the fuck up.

They tell you, your whole life, "Good girls don't." And you listen. Because when you're bad, bad things happen, right?

Be a good girl, or else.

Well, I've been a good girl, and I've been a not-so-good girl. The "or else" comes regardless. It's trick logic.

People act like all you could ever offer is being a "good girl," which often means you're just someone who does as you're told without question to fulfill what someone else wants. To stay out of their way. So they make you feel like being a "bad girl" is the worst thing in the world. Ever notice how in the movies there's always a "bad boy" with a heart of gold, but the "bad girl" is just, you know, a dirty slut we aren't supposed to sympathize with?

That's one reason I love the show. None of the characters fit a lovely description, but you love them regardless. Crimes and all. You see something pure and human in Morello, even if she's a stalker, in Red, even if she starves people out, in Crazy Eyes, even if she throws pie at you. 

I don't want to be a good girl. It's infantilizing as a motherfucker. I'd rather be a good woman. Whatever that is. I'm not even sure. You can be a criminal, a liar, a thief, and all your prayers can be those of a criminal, a liar, a thief. But you could have that mythical heart of gold. You could let more tears fall on your shoulder than the ones you cause to spill. You could be constantly trying to learn from your screw-ups. You could have just the tiniest bit of light that makes your dark bearable. You could be doing your time. 

I'm not sure I'm a good woman. But I sure try to be. Sometimes I'm not nice. I don't always do the right thing. I don't always apologize for it.

What else am I? An incisive thinker. Creative. Tough enough. Kind, usually. Forgiving, sometimes (I'm learning). Funny. A down ass bitch, when I want to be.

And when I don't want to be? Then I'm like Piper. I'm a lone wolf. A vicious one.

What are you going to do? Lock me up?

Entertainment nostalgia

A contradiction of my brain is that I crave constant, novel stimulation, yet can happily rewatch the same Doctor Who episodes I committed to memory 10 viewings ago, and my iTunes Top 25 Most Played list includes about 23 songs it did in 2012. I love retracing those psychic grooves.

Which makes me think I can please both cravings by revisiting entertainment from back when I was a wee lass. What might I get out of old pleasures now that I have more life experience? (I remember watching Breakfast at Tiffany's as a kid vs. a few years ago. It was like watching two different films. The hooker subtext was totally over my head!) I'll listen to a song I loved in high school, for example, and my mind is blown because I at last understand it. I've lived it. It's like the universe planted stuff in my head years ago in anticipation of the day it would be useful. What insights lurked in plain sight of the girl I used to be?
Among my nostalgic options:

Fight Club

I went through a heavy Chuck Palahniuk phase in high school. My crush at the time got me into him. I was pretty sheltered and naive at the time and probably read everything with one hand shielding my gaping mouth. Now I'm more educated and will probably pick up on themes that I missed. I'd like to reenter the seedy, transgressive psychothriller that inspired one of my favorite movies with my more worldy, less innocent perspective.

And! I just heard about the upcoming graphic novel sequel! Hot damn, I'm rereading that book for sure!

Negotiating With the Dead/anything Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a literary rockstar, a living legend whose prose is nourishing nectar to mere mortals. I vividly remember getting too carried away during an interview for an internship about how jealous I was of her writing. I fangirled hard (it was OK — I got the gig, and people find my enthusiasm endearing).

Now that I'm contemplating getting serious about my writing, I want to analyze with care how the master does it. I want to revisit her fiction and the copy of her book on the craft and life of a writer, which I picked up at the college bookstore freshman year.


A couple of years ago, I rewatched the pilot of Roswell, one of my favorite TV shows when it aired originally. It was my introduction to sci-fi and I was so into the sexy aliens and the romance. You know what I realized upon rewatching? Twilight completely ripped off Roswell! Girl meets boy. Girl has near-death experience and is saved by boy, which reveals the boy is something beyond human. Girl figures it out. Boy confesses. Boy's siblings are mad as hell that their very existence is threatened by their lovelorn brother revealing their lifelong secret.

Roswell did it much better. I want to rewatch the whole series to see whether I still love it as much. I remember thinking it had so much to offer.

All I need is some Fun Dip and some Power Rangers jammies to get this nostalgia party going.


Review: DevaCurl Curl Discovery Kit

Via Folica
I've written about my dalliance with the Curly Girl Method, and it all started with the DevaCurl Curl Discovery Kit. Since then, I've tried a truckload of other DevaCurl products to cleanse, refresh my curls and add shine. But the kit covers the basics, and some of the products have made their way into my regular routine.

The No-Poo cleanser smells wonderful and makes my scalp feel tingly and refreshed. It's not a BioFreeze, chilly tingle — it just feels really clean. It has great slip, and my hair feels hydrated and easy to detangle even before I use conditioner. Since then, I've tried the Low Poo, which lathers but doesn't make my hair feel as clean, just stripped. So I went back and bought the big ol' liter of No-Poo with a pump.

One Condition didn't wow me. It's not something that I would buy on its own. This didn't make my hair feel very soft or do anything that TRESemme Naturals doesn't do for a fraction of the cost (it's 5 bucks for a huge bottle) and also without silicones.

DevaCurl Light Defining Gel is another one I repurchased after trying it in this kit. Some days my hair likes it better than others. It can give me amazing curl definition and hold, or it can leave my hair crunchy and stringy like ramen noodles. It's not a be-all, end-all, especially when you can get gel for $3 that probably works just as well.

The Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam did nothing for me. I don't think it adds anything and I just didn't see the point of including it in the kit when something like the Mist-er Right lavender spray or the Shine Spray would have been a more useful bonus.

The kit also includes a microfiber towel. You can dry and avoid frizz the same way with a T-shirt or a cheaper microfiber towel, but since this was included, I use it all the time and really like it.

So to summarize: This kit is a great introduction to DevaCurl and the Curly Girl Method and was a perfect starting point for me as a novice of the wash-and-go. While I think the Deva products are overpriced and I'm always seeking alternatives at the drugstore, the No-Poo is fabulous and the one product in the set that I'm happy to splurge on. I don't think I could ever get on board with co-washing on its own (using just conditioner and friction to clean the scalp), but this product makes saying no to shampoo in favor of something gentler enjoyable.


Humpday Confessions

Vodka and Soda

Lean a little bit closer so I can tell you some stuff.

  • My default mental state is 12-year-old boy, but at the zoo, I become a 6-year-old girl. I mean, yelling at the penguins to jump into the water, tearing up about how sad the elephants look, wanting to take a lemur home with me. I could stare at flamingo necks all day. I love feeling like a little kid again. That's so freeing.
This has to be one of the best pictures I've ever taken.
  • I was a bride before Pinterest. Which I suppose makes me elderly. Pinterest launched in March 2010, and I got married in May 2010. I never even heard of the site until my friend Brittany mentioned it when we were in the Bahamas several years later. I have to tell you, I hate wedding shit on Pinterest. More than anything, I hate wedding boards made by girls who aren't even dating anyone, like, "I'm going to plan this big party that's all about me and I'll just insert the guy's face here once I actually meet him." You do you, ladies, but can't you designate that shit as a Secret Board so you don't seem crazy? Like I do with my baby board, for instance.
  • One reason I don't really do Facebook anymore is that it was a breeding ground for hate crushing. When my life was going shittily along, I spent so much time cyberstalking people I didn't like, looking for evidence that their existences were as dreadful as I thought they deserved. That has to be one of the worst expenditures of energy, that schadenfreude defense mechanism. It sets you up for a karmic smackdown. Now I just skip Facebook, and I love the hell out of people in my life because I only spend energy ON people I love. Always love, man.

  • I submitted a short story for publication in an anthology last month. It was promptly rejected. Writing it was the most intense creative experience of my life so far — a spiritual bloodletting through my fingertips and into my keyboard. I showed it to one person before I sent it off. That was like putting all my internal organs on a platter, handing that platter over with a magnifying glass, and tap dancing without my organs while someone took notes. When I got the rejection email, I had a flash of "What was the point of even writing this?" 

  • But you know, I'm so glad that I wrote it. I'm glad I got that first soul-crushing rejection out of the way. Writing that story was proof that I CAN write. That I can start with zero words and see something through to completion. That I can write something that's provocative and brazen and so not like me and survive. That makes me feel like I'm taking a step closer to who I should be.
  • My newest show is Louie, and I'm haunted by Parker Posey's turn as a MPDG who works at a bookstore and makes Louie put on a dress, buy a homeless man medication so he stops hallucinating snakes and climb a bajillion flights of stairs to see the city. I'm so moved by the speech she gives him when he begs her to not sit on the ledge of the building.

You're still not getting my ass on the roof of a building, though.


Feed your head

This lady needs to be pampered.

I've been spectral. A wisp of vapor swirling in a cloud of stress. My psyche is showing wear and tear. My right calf is stained in bruises that prove why normal people learn to ride bikes as children, not when they're pushing 30. My skin has forgotten that I'm pushing 30 and is punishing me for my neglect with mean little zits and flakiness. And where are all my clothes? Oh, right. People are supposed to wash those.

I'm languorous and craving a massage and a day in bed. Maybe a milk bath and a glass of red wine, and I'm not even a vino girl. Good thing I have the next four days off from work! Maybe I'll just watch White Oleander and have a good ol'-fashioned ugly cry — you know, the kind of cry that goes DEEP and cleans everything out, and suddenly you're sobbing about being pushed onto the asphalt as a kid and skinning your knee and not winning the district spelling bee. Ridiculous, ancient, primal wounds, purged. That kind of cry.

Above all, I'm in the mood to treat my senses.

First, some jams. A little mix of sexy throwbacks and newbies I made you:

Groovy Monday by Liz on Grooveshark

Next, scent. Into The Gloss is my new obsession, and its fragrance section might be my favorite among an embarrassment of curated riches of novel beauty tips, culture and on-point writing. I could read it all day. I've been thinking of my favorite fragrance notes and what I'd want in the mix when I one day have my own celebrity fragrance (writers get contracts for celebrity fragrances, right? Right). If I were a fragrance, I'd be some blend of ylang ylang, incense, hyacinths and chocolate chip cookies. And leather. Because I'm a bad bitch.

Want some eye candy? Here's a list I found via Stumble Upon of 30 Places You'd Rather Be with spectacular pictures.

If taste is what needs titillating, here's some food to fap to.

And finally, while you can't cuddle them through your screen, no bad mood is immune to the charms of Cute Roulette. Click through for hours of time wasted awwwwing over adorable baby animals being silly.

Happy Monday!


Legally Blonde: The Musical. I will never be the same.

Legally Blonde is my milestone marker. My well-worn DVD (I may have even owned the VHS once) has been watched at some point in every major transition or whenever my belief in myself was lacking.  Breakup? New job? Crippling bout of anxiety? Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods was there. I can quote the film from start to finish and always well up at the end when "Perfect Day" plays while Elle is graduating and the subtitles under Luke Wilson's face read "Emmett is proposing to Elle ... tonight." 

So when I went to see the musical version in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, I expected nothing short of life-changing.

We met up with my coworkers Jenn and Rob, who were also going to the show, for rushed drinks beforehand. I regretted my foolish decision to wear my 5-inch glittery platform stilettos to prance around Downtown Pittsburgh and its silly brick sidewalks, but kept my poise because Elle would.

Blocking the poster because we're goobers. And Eric thinks I'M a chihuahua.
I LOVED the show. This was my first movie to musical adaptation, and it was cool seeing what they changed, like turning Elle's Harvard essay video into a cheerleading routine and making her friends a Greek chorus in her head instead of calling her on the phone like in the movie. Never mind that I didn't catch until later that the "Greek" chorus was also a play on the sorority. My cognitive sharpness drops with each sip of booze and extra half inch of heel. Also, Spanx. *shakes fist*

"Chip on My Shoulder" was my favorite musical number. That song encompasses what the movie means to me, a woman who always has something to prove. Giving Emmett a backstory was brilliant, and all his scenes with Elle were spectacles of chemistry and adorableness. The actress who plays Paulette may have gotten the second-loudest applause after Elle. That VOICE! All the songs were catchy and enjoyable. I didn't even get sick of "Omigod You Guys."

Some of my favorite movie moments were expanded in the show (the Bend and Snap was a plot point, and the gay pool boy got his own musical number, with the entire courtroom singing, "Is he gay, or European?"). Damn, that was a lot of punctuation just now.

My connection to this story is so strong that adding song and dance clobbered me with emotion. I was tearing up, more than once. Everyone endures feeling as if they aren't enough, and Elle fights to prove she has more to offer than what's on the surface and more to gain than a man. Although she gets that, too.

A blast. Life-changing.

And the twist with Elle being the one to propose to Emmett? Beautiful, even without "Perfect Day" playing.


"Curly Girl: The Handbook" book and method review

There are genius gems for styling your curls when you get past the awful wordplay like "self mane-tenance" and "multi-curl-tural hair" and subliminal product propaganda in Lorraine Massey's Curly Girl: The Handbook, in its second edition.

Massey is the founder of the Devachan Salon and the DevaCurl product line. Do a search on YouTube for "Deva cut" and you'll find both rave reviews and angry rants about Massey's method of cutting hair curl by curl while it's dry — which necessitates a commitment to wearing your hair curly at all times, because it won't look even while straight. As for the products, I've found some Holy Grail contenders and some underwhelmers, which I'll be reviewing in later posts.

But back to the book. It's a thin, picture-packed and informative volume with styling regimens for different curl types, which are shown on an included DVD, plus a Q and A section and chapters on caring for men's and children's curls. Sprinkled throughout are first-hand accounts of curly girls who've struggled past frizz, bad cuts and youths wasted on relaxers and flat-ironing (hello, my sisters!) to finally embrace their ringlets. It even includes DIY information on trimming your own hair and recipes for treatments (be smarter than I was when I made an avocado hair mask — put it in the blender and don't just mash it with a fork. You'll be digging chunks out of knots for an hour).

The Curly Girl Method is supposed to make your curls their most hydrated, bouncy and defined. Its main tenets are eschewing sulfate shampoos and conditioners and styling products that contain silicone. The logic is that sulfates are drying, and moisture is a curl's best friend, and silicones build up in hair and require the stripping sulfates to be rinsed away.

Of course the DevaCurl line is Curly Girl Method-approved, so this book must be a real moneymaker for Massey. I haven't totaled up how much I've spent the last few weeks trying Deva products, because why upset myself? It can't be good for my curls.

So, I love a few tricks I've picked up from the book. First, the most valuable lesson I've learned is how to properly use hair gel. Gel creates a cast that keeps the curls in place, but you end up with crunchy, ramen-noodle texture. The way to get the curl definition without the crunch is to let the hair completely dry without messing with it — a STRUGGLE — and then scrunch and fluff it out to open the cast. The first time I did this, I think I audibly gasped at the mirror. I'd never seen my hair look so spirally all over! And I like the way my hair looks when I clip it at the crown during drying, as suggested, and think using a microfiber towel probably does help ward off some frizz.

However, I'm not at all a fan of finger detangling. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I just don't think I'm doing much other than adding knots for later. So I sometimes finger detangle, and other times I just reach for my comb or my new Tangle Teezer. I think the tradeoff is my hair looks stringier when I use something other than my fingers, but I just don't have the patience sometimes.

And do you know how hard it is to find a silicone-free styling agent that gives me the shine I crave? Next to impossible. Silicones are in everything, and they're like crack to me. I can't give them up. I can go maybe up to a week and a half at best, but usually I find myself reaching for the glossy, greasy stuff every few days.

And while I'm on board with avoiding sulfates for the most part, sometimes I think my hair and scalp really need a deeper clean, and I reach for my Lush Big shampoo with the sea salt. And ooooh, does it feel wonderful. And naughty. Oh, sulfates and silicones. Gimme gimme.

If you're new to curl care, I recommend picking up a copy of the handbook and trying out some tips. If anything, it'll inspire hours of Pinterest hunting for celebrity pics once you've identified your curl type.


Ay, Gloria!

With all my shows done for the season, I've been binging on Modern Family. (Oddly enough, Modern Family was another one of my shows that just ended. I watched the most recent season, and now I'm going back to the series beginning. Chronology is for people who play by the rules.) The show is hysterical and by the end of every episode, I'm tearing up because I'm a sentimental sap.

I watch it for laughs, but I also watch it so I can study Sofia Vergara as Gloria.

Primero, she's gorgeous. That face, those white, white teeth and full lips, her hair, that body. Of course those are the first facets you notice.

Then she opens her mouth, and this over-the-top accent hits you. I love the accent. It reminds me of mi madre. I can impersonate it dead on.

Then she gets going, and you realize that beautiful, sexy woman is funny as hell.

Gloria is sassy, sexy, goofy and loving. In the blended Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan, she is the soul. The type of woman who nurtures but takes no nonsense, who makes everyone around her feel like they are important and special. She's not a lady. She's a WOMAN. She will not keep her voice down! She will NOT behave herself!

She embraces her Latina heritage, and I haven't always embraced mine. When she starts talking in Spanish and referencing her family's wild superstitions, and playing out all these Latina stereotypes that I should find offensive, I start slapping the furniture while guffawing like, um, every Latina stereotype.

I could stand to be more like Gloria. And I'm not just talking about hitting the yoga mat a little (a lot) harder and getting a good colorist. She's so present and full of life. Her confidence is KILLER.

She even makes not being able to ride a bike (something we have in common!) look sexy.

Sigh for days. Tell me — who are your TV crushes?


Balenciaga Rosabotanica fragrance review

I've been daylighting — moonlighting if your "day job" is from rush hour to after last call — with a florist, and it's given me a crazy appreciation for the scent of flowers. One in particular: hyacinth. It's the best scent I've ever smelled, totally intoxicating and dense and just PRETTY.

Finding a perfume that's a close approximation of that hyacinth high is my new life's purpose. While I'm not sure that the hyacinth note in Balenciaga Rosabotanica is just right (I haven't gotten my hands on the real floral recently enough to compare) I was drawn to the perfume's offbeat, unsentimental floral hit as a warm weather fragrance. I wanted a floral, but nothing too princessy or reminiscent of air freshener. And oh yeah, that bottle design, though! It looks perfect on my vanity.

Rosabotanica is described as featuring rose, fig leaf and petitgrain. I'd never heard of petitgrain. It also has citrusy and woodsy notes — I am a sucker for vetiver! — and pink pepper.

When you first spray it, it's very strong. The word that came to mind when I tried it in the store was "green." It's got a pleasantly sharp herbal scent, somewhat minty but not quite. I get zero rose in this. I don't mind because I have plenty of rose scents, but don't go into this buying the name as a legitimate description of what's in the bottle.

The green explosion settles down fast. The midpoint of the romp is the high point for me, when the scent isn't as sharp but still smells different, verdant and sexy, but a little more subdued.

But the problem with Rosabotanica is that it doesn't last. I'm spoiled by Shalimar, a sillage monster that even in the EDT form I prefer smells powerful hours after spritzing. Within an hour or two, Rosabotanica is so faded and clings so close to the skin that you have to bury your nose in your flesh to get a whiff of what little is left. I wouldn't describe the scent as soapy, but it's about as weak later in the day as the scent of soap would be after a shower. I have the 1 oz. version, but I almost wish I'd gotten the much cheaper rollerball, because this scent benefits from periodic reapplication. But the BOTTLE, though!

Overall, Balenciaga Rosabotanica is an interesting floral with a sophisticated yet earthy character. I don't think it's a scent that I'll repurchase, but despite its flaws, I've been wearing it every day since I bought it. If you're drawn to the name because you think it's a rose fragrance, skip this one and try Jo Malone Red Roses or Stella.


OOTD: Celebratory

Tank top, Old Navy // Skirt, Francesca's (similar) // Sandals, Target // Coach Willis bag (classic style still available)

During my birthday last week (more on that later!), Eric took me on a shopping trip as a present. Now that the weather's warmer, I realize a lot of my breezy clothes don't fit right or look their best anymore, and someone I won't name (Carlos!) "joked" my clothes are dated, so yes, to the mall we went!

This pencil skirt at Francesca's made me go "Oooh!" out loud. I love how the print is different in the back. I was eager to do a post with it so that I could share shopping details on it with you guys, but unfortunately, it is nowhere on the website, and the closest approximation I found is more than double what I paid. I tried, dudettes. I tried.

Pencil skirts are so the thing to feel womanly. The skirt, shirt and sandals are all from my birthday haul, and I wore this get-up on our wedding anniversary. I love how gladiator sandals toughen up anything you wear. And they add a somewhat scandalous edge to miniskirts.

So. I'm 26 now. I'm thrilled to be in the latter half of what's proving to be a challenging decade! I feel eternally 23. You know no one likes you when you're 23. The last few years have been this molten metamorphosis when I've burned and cooled into almost but not quite the same form, the changes imperceptible to the casual observer but foundational to me. Maybe now I'll solidify into something radically different.

I know, I know. I'm such an a-hole.

Anyway, on my birthday, Eric and I had a picnic. I don't get outside much. It was lovely. We fed geese. Would you believe me if I told you I've never done that before? It's true! I felt like a little kid. It's pretty intimidating when they start squawking and closing in on you and flying over each other to get more bread, catching each other's feathers in their beaks in the process. I'm wary around birds sometimes because I think my hair reminds them of a nest. 

We were going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, but postponed it for our anniversary. Talk about feeling like a little kid! I was bouncing in my seat. The X-Men have been a major part of my life ever since I watched the cartoons. I got into the comics when the first movies came out, and now, revisiting that world feels like a nerdgasmic homecoming. I loved all the clever winks for the fans. I LOVE the ending and what it means for the franchise. And while my girl Jennifer Lawrence was killer good, the standout character for me was Quicksilver, with his cool and mischievous persona and that genius, slapsticky slow-mo action scene. Seriously, go see it. Do it.

P.S. The movie not only made me want to head to a comic book store to catch up, it also made me want to re-watch the first two seasons of Skins. Nicholas Hoult will always be Tony Stonem to me.

Beauty stuff that makes me way too happy

I'm a beauty nerd. Obviously. But some beauty moments make me disproportionately giddy, including but not limited to:
  • When my eyebrows are full and symmetrical enough that I don't have to fill them — just a swipe of clear mascara and I have presentable brows!
  • Extend that to any time I look in the mirror and my skin can get away with just a dusting of powder and blush.
  • The rare times that I can actually go to the other extreme and do hardcore fake lashes and red lipstick and feel totally glamorous. You know, before glasses. Ugh, I miss fake lashes. They're magical.

  • A thick new petal of Coalface soap from Lush. Coalface deserves Holy Grail status. My skin loves it.
  • Curl definition in my frizziest spots, at the top of my head. I've been giving the Curly Girl method a try, and while I'm not convinced I can or should live without sulfates and silicones — I realize how many shine serums have the banned cones, and that stuff is crack to me — its tips for styling make a world of difference. Flipping, gelling and scrunching the hair just so, then leaving it the hell alone until it's dry and fluffing out the gel crunch makes my hair look amazing.

  • Getting compliments on my perfume. I'm so alert to how people smell that being ranked among the pleasantly fragrant means I've met a life goal. I feel like a contributing member of society. (P.S. I'm in the market for a sexy floral perfume. Preferably with a hyacinth note. Nothing tweeny or air freshener-y.)
  • Post-exertion glow. 

  • Researching what lipstick a TV character is wearing. Bonus points if I guess the brand and shade correctly. Declaring myself queen of everything if it's a shade I own or a dupe for it.
  • Painted nails. For the blissful full hour until they chip.
  • My kid sister's mad makeup skills. I know my way around a shadow palette, but this kid has a natural aptitude for theatrical makeup that is genius. I'd love to post this awesome picture of her in zombie makeup, but it's buried under the million selfies and inspirational shit my mom puts on Facebook. 


Once Upon A Time Season 3 finale recap

Holy crap. Emma broke it. Or should I say, froze it.


All curls, all the time

"I'm sorry that I have magnificent hair that requires products and appliances!" I told my husband when he complained about how much space my hair stuff uses.

"It's a drain on resources!" he said.

We have these joking arguments about my hair. He says we need two bathrooms. I say, "No, we need three. One for me, one for you, and one for my hair!" The truth is, my hair doesn't take that much work since I've stopped relaxing it. It's much healthier and stronger since I quit chemicals and constant flat-ironing.

But I have yet to find the right styling methods and products, that magical combination of elixirs that will give me frizz-free, defined ringlets without crunchy ends. What makes my hair go BOING one week makes it go WHOMP WHOMP the next.

I'm not used to having curly or short hair. I just got it cut again, to even out the sides where I'd left it longer and with a few straggly relaxed ends yet to be chopped. Now it's a short little bob. Vast improvement so far. At this length, the trial and error cycle starts all over. Towel or T-shirt to dry? Gel or mousse? Moisturizer, serum or some combo of all the above?

The most surprising thing about having curly hair is something I've read on all the blogs. Your curl pattern varies. The front of my hair is more S-shaped, and the back is spirally. I still use the Curlformers in the front to get the shape I like.

I'm also surprised every day by how much I love my curls. I'm driven to distraction pulling and twirling that one perfect, springy curl a few inches behind my left ear. YouTube and Pinterest have me fantasizing about big, long hair. I love how ombré looks on little ringlets, and I have more freedom to experiment with color now that it wouldn't be chemicals on top of chemicals.

I haven't gone crazy with spending money on aforementioned products and appliances, but oh, I could. I've got my eye on a Q Redew hair steamer (although I don't know that it would be much better than just using a spray bottle!) and already bought a cheap blowdryer with a diffuser that apparently won't be much use to me until my hair is long. I want to try some Deva and Ouidad products, but don't know where to start. I'm fascinated by the concept of a Deva Cut, where your hair is cut curl by curl to best emphasize the curl pattern — but people complain because then they flat iron their hair and, surprise, the ends are uneven. So it really requires a commitment to the curls.

I'm excited about learning how to make my hair awesome. Grow, hair, grow. I want to play with you!


FOTD: White gold

I use my MAC Fascinating Eye Kohl all the time to brighten my waterline, and I wanted to play with using it as regular eyeliner.

For my base, I used the Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Peach, which is a godsend for my dark circles, Smashbox CC Cream in Light/Medium, Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation in Cashew Beige for extra coverage, and some MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark to set.

I lined my upper lashes before doing anything else. To try to up the opacity, I used the white shade from the LORAC Pro Palette on a wet brush, and then added more over top. I couldn't get it as intense as I wanted to, but it did help a touch.

Next, I patted some metallic Maybelline Color Tattoo in Gold Rush to the center of my lid, then swiped the light bronze shade from the palette in the inner corner and the gold shade from the center out. I lined my top and bottom lashes in a black Maybelline gel liner. I wanted to add some contrast against the white without adding liner on the lid, and I like that it makes my lashes look darker and fuller. For mascara, I used my baby love MAC Prep + Prime Lash and Lancome Hypnose Drama (of which I own a mini from a Macy's free gift with purchase deal). For brows, I've reverted back to the NYX Auto Eyebrow Pencil in Charcoal.

My finishing touches were ELF Studio Blush in Pink Passion and Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Lovelight, a glittery peach.

I really like the gold and white together. It's sorta disco and Foxxy Cleopatra with my little baby fro!


Thoughts on "Gone Girl"

I've had some time to process Gone Girl, and to try to scrape off some of the ice clinging to my skeleton about it. It is the most disturbing book I've ever read. I'm keeping this brief (for me) and spoiler-free (at least as far as what I'd term spoilers) because I really want to encourage anyone who hasn't read it to pick up a copy.

Gillian Flynn's novel is a masterpiece. It's a suspenseful, psychological mindfuck and in a really twisted and probably intentional way, a love story. Because you can't destroy and manipulate someone as masterfully as Nick and Amy do if you don't know them to their core.

The book has been described as the story of a marriage gone horribly wrong. It is certainly that, but when I reached the end, there was so much that I hadn't been able to sort into truth or lies that I couldn't tell you exactly how their marriage went wrong. And as I've already said, there's something about this toxic union that reads like a love story. Nick and Amy may just be perfect for each other ... even though Nick may or may not have murdered her.

That, of course, is the question. It's why you pick up the book, because of the mystery of Amy's disappearance and the near certainty that her husband, who counts the number of lies he's told police, is behind it. But he doesn't count the number of lies he's told you.

Being betrayed by a narrator is a strange sensation. You get used to first-person narrators being biased and unreliable, but liars and tricksters? That's novel. I managed to guess one of the major twists, but Flynn outsmarted me every other step of the way. Every time I thought I understood the game, she dropped a tornado on the game board. Every time I thought I'd understood the depth of her deception, I tripped down another cliff.

The story unfolds from New York to Missouri, against backdrops of abundant, romantic times and bleak, hateful times, for the couple at the center of the tale and for the world around them. It'll be interesting to see how it translates to film. Director David Fincher did Fight Club, another complex book adaptation, so I believe it's in good hands. Ben Affleck is dead-on casting for Nick. I'm less sure about Rosamund Pike as Amy, and the trailers show very little of her other than empty gazes. I'm most curious to see how they handle the dueling internal monologues and Amy's diary, which is integral to the plot but that could be tricky to put on screen.

The book delves into the idea of identity, one of my favorite themes. We think we know who Amy is, but that might be a shaky concept even for her. At one point that seems to resonate with a lot of readers, she talks about how women try to be the Cool Girl, because that's what men want. “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl," Amy tells us. "Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding." So basically, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. In a novel loaded with unsympathetic characters, I sympathize so much with Amy trying to meet other people's expectations, trying to be a triumphant ideal and looking around asking herself, so, why is this supposed to be fun, again?

I lost sleep reading this book and more sleep thinking about it in the days after I finished it. I hated the ending so much. I desperately want Flynn to write a sequel. There's so much more I want to know and and she's acknowledged that she knows the ultimate fates of her characters and that the possibility of a sequel exists. I love her writing style. Even her ugliest, meanest sentences, the ones meant to make you cringe, show artistry and craftmanship. I wanted to keep living in these characters' sick, sad worlds a little longer.


Technical difficulties

I'm still going to write my review of this week's Once Upon A Time, but because Hulu is not cooperating with me, it's going to be delayed. I'll still get it posted once I can finish the episode sometime today or tomorrow, for posterity and continuity, but for now, apologies!


My idea of sexy, Part 2: Bring in the boys!

When I wrote "My idea of sexy," I wanted to talk about how my ideals about attractiveness and femininity were shaped in my formative years, and look at the images that I found positive and empowering, not the ones that made me feel insecure and inadequate.

This time around, I'm just going to objectify men. I'm sort of kidding. There will be objectification herein, yes indeed, but you know I like getting psychoanalytical and deconstruct my psyche for you. I'll try to do more than drool.

First up, an appetizer we can all agree to share:

The Ryans

Gosling and Reynolds. Either would do nicely. Ryan Gosling is a flawless diamond of a man who speaks highly of his exes and whose face has become the backdrop for a feminist meme. He's the man who gave us "It wasn't over for me. It still isn't over!" and made us want to make out in the rain, foundation melting all over our dress fronts. Ryan Reynolds is the darling goofball who you can just imagine is as in love with love as his character in my favorite movie, Definitely Maybe, counting Alanis Morissette and Scarlett Johansson as paramours. That movie puts Reynolds in the winner's spot for me, although you can't watch Crazy Stupid Love and not sort of hate Emma Stone for getting to crawl all over Gosling.

Jared Leto

He was Jordan Catalano. I shouldn't have to expand on this. He was the '90s embodiment of every woman's high school one-who-got-away. He's got an amazing singing voice and makes me want to tackle my guy and attack him with guyliner.

Jon Stewart

Whip-smart and funny as hell. He's a charismatic man who speaks truth to power and idiocy and looks damn good in a suit. The only problem is you'd have to bust your butt to keep up with his intellect and encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture (or at least that of his writing team). But I love a challenge.

Seth Rogen

I have a thing for the funny chubby guys. I do. I actually think Seth is a cutie pie with a fantastic smile and warm eyes, but a man who can make me laugh so hard I feel like I'm doing pilates is off-the-charts attractive to me. And he's got a hot wife who made one of the most incredible, obscene comedic lovefests I've ever been privileged to watch, For A Good Time, Call..., which made me want to just run away to Hollywood and become a screenwriter. I might just cozy up to him to get an intro!

Johnny Depp

At my job before this, I got to write an entertainment and celebrity sightings column. New Mexico became a hotbed of film and TV projects because of the state's tax incentives, and I declared a Johnny Depp Watch while he was in and around Santa Fe filming The Lone Ranger. I'm still devastated that I never saw him out and about, and believe me, I LOOKED. His versatility as an actor is mesmerizing. I have fond memories of this picture of him (love a bad boy, me) gracing the front of one of my binders in high school.

So now you know what Lizzie likes. Smoldering good looks, a wicked and raunchy sense of humor, a brain you just want to lick, and just a little bit of an edge. Being really talented and passionate about something is a bonus.


Once Upon A Time recap: Bleeding Through

Steamy makeout sessions we didn't see coming stole the show from flashback-inducing ghost possessions on this week's Once Upon A Time.



Moving = Putting on fast food weight

The exhaustion is fiendish.

What's in all these boxes? I don't know. Will I ever finish removing what seems to be multiplying quantities of bits and bobs from my last apartment? I don't know. What do I know? I don't know. I'm too tired. Where am I?

I'm so tired and have so much on my mind. I want to write it all down, sit at my keyboard and bleed, like the adage goes, but I want it to mean something and not just be rambling. My brain feels like congealed pudding. I don't want to share my pudding.

I will tell you one realization I've had in the last couple of days, when mental and physical exertion beyond what I feel like coping with have made what's really bothering me surface.

I want to fall in love. Feeling stimulated and passionate and blissfully fixated on something to the point of delirium is what I am in agonizing need of finding.

The next book I'm planning on reading is Gone Girl, because I'm the kind of girl who avoids popular books until a good-looking movie trailer for it pops up. Usually I'm dissuaded by a book's best-seller status, since it's too likely it'll be Twilight-level bad.

But Ben Affleck is like a sleeper crush to me.

From the Kindle sample I read and a couple of editorial reviews, I think the novel is going to make me feel stupid. Not just because it'll keep me guessing, but because it'll be so brilliantly executed and lyrical and all the things that I think I'll never be able to do with my writing. But maybe I need to read a book by someone so talented it pisses me off. Maybe that's the creative push I need, since what this pointless post proves is that I have writer's block. I have all kinds of blocks, you know. Writing is this quiet constant in a very unstable existence I've led. It's this fact of who I am but something I've never devoted all my focus to, but I feel like if I do, if I just tune the world out and devote myself to writing, I'll feel fulfilled. I'll find whatever it is I'm looking for.

Right now, I can't even find the box with my DVDs or my MAC Mineralize powder.


Once Upon A Time recap: The Jolly Roger

In this week's Once Upon A Time, Hook's ego and his good heart duel and everyone loses, our Head Witch in Charge teaches the Savior some new magic tricks, and the Charmings are annoying. And Ariel shows up, but not all is as it seems.


This and that

Reading: I've been reading Danielle LaPorte's The Fire Starter Sessions. The premise is that we need to revise how we think about our ambitions and finding what makes us happy. Instead of identifying the things that will make us happy, we should be identifying our core desired feelings and then seek experiences that will get us there. It's loaded with worksheets and immensely quotable. It's not the sort of thing that's linear and can be put into practice all at once, right away, but it's a perfect template for what I'm doing right now: a deliberate, controlled burn of my life. I am perhaps for the first time in my life questioning my motivations about what I want.

Watching: I'm all caught up on Once Upon A Time and having to endure the weeklong drag between episodes just like everyone else. I hate the Wicked Witch. I want Regina to tear her limb from limb. This last episode had some great Regina moments, like her hissing at Zelena, "Never bring your heart to a witch fight." Should I start writing episode recaps? I think that might be fun, even if no one reads them.

Moving: About 3 miles north! We're renting in another duplex, in a much nicer, cleaner neighborhood. We had the best of intentions to stay at this place (because our lease would be going month-to-month starting in May, so we could just pick up and go once we get it together and buy a house). But location, space and sheer reluctance to pack up all our crap again cannot blind me to the horror of neighbors who think it's OK to dump mattresses and vodka bottles on the property. Frozen dirty diapers in the yard plus a view from the kitchen of bags of dog poo hanging from tree branches (10 points if you get it in the tree!) are amenities I can do without. I'll laugh about this place. One day.

Coveting: MAC Toying Around Lipstick (last shade swatched here). It's unlike any shade I own or have even seen. So freaking beautiful.


Once upon a television binge

I have dozens of excuses for why I've been scarce around my blog lately. You know, I used to think a quarter life crisis was no more than a self-indulgent delusion, that anyone having one was being childish and in need of a good slap.

Well, just call me Little Lizzie and don't hit the left side of my face. It's my good side.

Aside from spiraling into another existential reckoning — one that may have done some good for me, this time — I've devoted approximately 1,980 minutes, or 33 hours, in the past week or so to watch the first two seasons of Once Upon A Time.

How am I so late to the Enchanted Forest party? This show is so my scene. It puts all the fairy tale characters in our world and flashes back to their lives before a curse landed them in this universe. This storytelling method of converging plot lines and gradual revelations in the present through backstory is one that I've loved since reading Holes (it was done to masterful effect in The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, too). It's the kind of life-affirming, just-cheesy-enough show to make me an emotional wreck every other episode. It's got enough twists and warped family trees to make the Doctor say, "All right, slow down, you're confusing me." That's a reason I'm glad that I'm watching it all in one go — it's much easier to keep the story straight without the lag between episodes that would make it likely I'd forget details.

Most of all, I love that Once Upon A Time takes the fairy tale, a realm of fiction where you can't get any more black and white, good vs. evil, and sketches in colors and dimensions that challenge the viewer. Maybe the Evil Queen has a heart that can be redeemed. Maybe Red Riding Hood was the wolf all along. Maybe the lost girl can be the savior. Anyone who I've ever talked about literature or TV to knows how much I love archetypes, and nothing is cooler than when they are expertly turned inside out.

I'm so in love with the characters. Their fairy tale versions and real-world counterparts are compelling and well-developed, from the most minor character to the heroes. I love a show that allows me to say ridiculous comments like, "Oh my gosh, Rumplestiltskin just beat the crap out of someone," and "Ugh, I can't stand Mulan." Among my many favorites are:

Emma Swan. Reluctant heroine. Mother. Daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Keeping law and order in Storybrooke, slaying dragons with her daddy's sword and being an all-around BAMF.

Regina Mills. Evil, or just ... misguided? Villainess in couture. Her mind is even more dangerous than her magic.

Captain Hook. The target of my unabashed objectification. Driving the ladies wild with suggestive zingers, leather and guyliner. Here's another picture, just because.

Love a bad boy, me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got Season 3 to powerstream.


Blush is all you need. Here are 6 to try!

Blush is everything.

Putting blush on just makes you feel happy! Your face isn't done without a nice sweep of princess pink or glowing coral on your cheeks. I'd even say that you could skip foundation and all that nonsense — but put your brows on, those are vital — and just put on some blush. Boom. Instant radiant babe from outer space.

Powder is my favorite because it's just easy, but there are upsides to every formula, from liquids to solids. I think all colors look great. My mantra with makeup is always that you can pull anything off, and I think red blush is just as wearable as a shimmery peach, if you have the right touch.

I like to apply blush on the apples of the cheeks or on the cheekbones, and then sort of diffuse it in the other direction. On the apples, you get a more youthful and innocent look, but I think it's easier to overdo there because people apply it too far down. On the cheekbones, blush makes you look more sophisticated and sculpted.

A few you might like, listed in order of swatch from left of both photos (I swatched each twice, heavy and then blended):

E.L.F. Studio Blush in Pink Passion: The $3 marvel. Crazy pigmentation, soft as butter and in a shade with a major whimsical effect. Like you're a wind-kissed woodland fairy.

NARS Deep Throat: Everyone wants to talk about Orgasm, but Deep Throat is like Orgasm's cool, less flashy sis. But you know, everyone has their favorite Olsen. This is my go-to shade.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Natural Beauty: I bought this when I first got really into YouTube and became obsessed with Essiebutton. She calls this the "Snow White blush." I think it can go quite vixen! But don't let the bright red scare you: this gives you a perfect, realistic flush.

City Color Be Matte in Fresh Melon: I got this in an Ipsy bag and am wildly impressed by the quality. I agree with "Fresh" because it wakes up your complexion, but I'm not sure about "Melon," since this shade says grapefruit to me more than it does cantaloupe.

NYX Rouge Cream Blush in Hot Pink: Not one to mess around with if you don't know what you're doing! This color is intense and stains, stains, stains, so you need to put it on with a stippling brush and blot off the excess before you start blending it into your cheeks. Done wrong, you look like you slathered on Pepto Bismol. Done right, you look like you just went for a brisk walk. Or some other cardio.

Tarte Cheek Stain in True Love: This swatched weirdly brown in the photo, but it's not. It's a nice, blendable blue-toned pink.

And here I am wearing the City Color offering with minimal makeup. I swear I own more than one shirt, but this seems to be my swatching outfit!

What's your favorite blush?