Archive | November 2012

Four Day Weekend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons: food, fellowship and Friday, black Friday. While this year’s Thanksgiving was quiet, I did make the most of the four-day weekend. Growing up with a shopaholic meant I spent many hours bored in department and discount stores while my mother scoured racks for clearance deals. My mother loved to tell people how much my outfits cost. This was back in the 80’s and 90’s when department stores had huge discounts on merchandise. I don’t know what changed but there aren’t discounts galore anymore. The ability to brag that an entire outfit including shoes cost less than $40 has diminished. I actually hated Black Friday. Waking up at 6 a.m. to shop until noon wasn’t my thing. However, something changed when I spent my first Thanksgiving in Maryland. I didn’t like it and I decided to shake the blues of being away from “home” by shopping. So I marched myself to WalMart at the crack of dawn and got a lovely $99 top of the line sewing machine and a $39 portable DVD player. And then headed to Sears for my first digital camera. Hilariously, I use none of these things currently. My sewing ability is limited to hemming garments though I keep saying I will take sewing lessons. The DVD player was used for exactly two bus trips to NYC before I determined it to be more of a nuisance (because I prefer to limit myself to one bag). I dropped the camera in a fountain in Vegas and it never recovered.

Black Friday is very controversial. My name brand devotees despise anything but the best so scoff at most doorbusters. I am not an electronic brand junkie. If the best television costs $800 and the second best costs $600, I will be buying the $600 one and spending the $200 for entertainment money. I prefer experiences to things. However, occasionally the best technology does go on sale on Black Friday (rarely and usually at deadly Wal-Mart, which has just devolved into chaos). Ultimately, I stick to household items, clothing and appliances. I know that there are actual deals to be had and I learned to love the thrill of getting a great deal.

Now, I have set rules for Black Friday shopping:

  1. No off-brands. I owned an Apex CRT television years ago that never worked and I returned it twice! This was difficult because it was a CRT and I had no upper body strength
  2. No Best Buy ever. People camp out and I don’t wait in line. Also, it takes forever to check out. I actually waited in line for 45 minutes without moving once before giving up. Occasionally, I go later in the morning and get the deals that the masses didn’t care about.
  3. Never wait in line. Yep, I arrive about 10 -15 minutes before opening, queue up and enter when the doors open. Placement in line rarely leads to the good items as you just need to be rather quick
  4. Know what things cost. Not everything is a deal. Some stores, mostly clothing stores, marked things 40% off but raise the original price so it’s really only 25% off
  5. So, understand trends. Some stores also have a 40% off sale on Black Friday, but make everything 60% off the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes the converse is true. I swear by leather cashmere-lined gloves which go for $80-90 dollars. On Black Friday, they are $30 and they never went lower than $40 all winter. The next year, I knew to buy more on Black Friday
  6. No fighting. I think this should go without saying
  7. Scope out the store prior to the sale. Some stores stock the merchandise the week of Black Friday and you can get good surveillance. If I know that there are only 20 crock pots, I will head for those first versus the 500 pajamas. This also helps when items are in weird places. Target once hid automatic wine openers on the top shelf and no one could find them. I knew where they were and got multiples for gifts one year. They were a hit

After all of that shopping, I treated myself to the Faith Evans concert. Despite my numerous times at the Howard Theater, I have never eaten there. I always eat before going anywhere, even meeting people for dinner. This is for self preservation. I understand the food wasn’t good, but the show was awesome. Faith, sang her face off, as the old folks say, and was so energetic. She also had the best, happiest backing band that I have seen in an extremely long time. I saw her a few years ago at For Sisters Only, which never looks right in the new Convention Center, and she was okay. I reckoned that maybe I should have seen her in her prime and shrugged it off. I actually tried once when I first moved to D.C. and the show was cancelled. That incident leads to one of my best stories of how I once spoke to the Vice President of Ticketmaster. Back to Faith, boy was I wrong. Maybe the venue, time and event didn’t lead to a good show at the Convention Center, but we definitely got the best of her last Friday. I left in awe or should I say with Tears of Joy. Too corny. Oh, okay.

Advertisements

Third Week of November

My third week in November—second on a $30 entertainment budget—included only one outing. I was scheduled to attend an Omega Psi Phi Founders Day event for the odd price of $16.24; however, plans changed. A friend of a friend’s mother died, which required immediate attention. 2012 forever will be remembered for me as the year of parental death. So many of my friends and former classmates had parents die this year. This is especially difficult because childhood friends’ parents have more of an indelible mark on your life than current friends’ parents, due to the fact you remember eating at their houses, seeing them at outings, watching them drive you around. It’s a different relationship.

Gentleman Jack Logo on the Andrew Mellon Auditorium Ceiling

For my lone outing I attended the Gentleman Jack’s Art, Beats + Lyrics. I typically never wait in line, outside for anything. Even, Black Friday (post forthcoming), I just arrive right before doors open and just glide in. So this event tested my patience. I arrived not at the start, 7p, because I heard the lines are long and figured that arriving later would allow for the line to die down. This was remarkably untrue. I began to lose my patience after about 30 minutes of waiting in the cold and my lack of knowing anyone important enough to let me cut the line. However, I discovered that friends were slightly ahead of me and got an impressive 30-40 people jump, which isn’t worth telling. The event was a mix of art, music and drinks. Free drinks have an amazing ability to go quickly. Upon entering, we immediately entered the drink line, where we received the last of the last of the specialty cocktails. Good thing for that 30 person jump.
The first act was Mansions on the Moon. A casual onlooker remarked that they sounded a bit like U2. I could hear that slightly. They had a rhythmic guitar sound that is reminiscent of the Irish band. It made for great background music to view the art on display. Next, was Shock G of Digital Underground, the fun hip hop group from the 90’s, which sadly is best known for launching Tupac. He prompted a contest amongst my friends to name all of the Digital Underground songs that we could. Boy, was that a sad output. He could actually play an instrument, which impressed me more than his attempts to get people to jump up and down. People waited in line too long in the cold for this to actually happen, maybe if it was a beach concert. He did more songs than we remembered as we forgot Kiss You Back, which is shocking (no pun intended) because I owned that song in high school, back when you could buy singles on cassette for .99 cents, pre-iTunes.
Finally, we were treated to Scarface, whose songs I definitely remembered. He came out playing the guitar!!! This was awesome. Then he sang some Led Zeppelin, thanks Twitter as I don’t know 70’s rock music at all. It really is a black hole of my music knowledge. This was not as awesome. I became concerned that since this was a free event we would be treated to those weird artistic shows that Billy remarked on in Purple Rain that only satisfy the artist. However, Scarface said that he was just bullshitting and moved on to the hip hop he was famous for.

As for the art, it wasn’t my taste. It verged a bit on the kind of artwork you see on t-shirts at festivals and fairs. However, I love faces and these items were my favorites. I thought Mansions on the Moon made a better backdrop for perusing arts, as Shock G and Scarface took attention away from the exhibits, the make your own art installation and the not sure if it was ironic opportunity to take a group picture (the kind you saw in clubs in the 90’s and that my college crew refused to take). Meanies! Now, I have absolutely nothing capturing that part of my life.

I might go again if I can find the will to stand in line again. However, it was free, which means more money for next week. Yay!

Stay Cute Mondays 11/19

I remember when I was younger I saw an Oprah episode called “Are You Cute As You Can Be?” I loved the premise because many have stated that they don’t find Oprah to be a traditionally beautiful woman. As an aside, I never understand what people hope to accomplish by telling someone that they find him or her to be unattractive. Now what? That person just disappears.

Back to beauty, the idea is you should strive to look the best you can possibly look still keeping who you are. The idea was further defined by a Vogue article I saw years later that gave 5 ways you can always be attractive even if you aren’t beautiful:

  1. Get a great haircut. Ponytails are for the beautiful
  2. Wear clothes that accentuate your figure. Down with sacks and lumpy sweaters
  3. Be well groomed. Get your eyebrows arched. Use makeup to enhance your best features
  4. Have and maintain great skin
  5. Have a great smile and smile a lot

I love this advice. I live this advice. Plus, it works. Following it makes does indeed make you your cutest. If you follow it well. Hardly, any fault can be found in a polished, well put together woman.   This can be difficult in the well-scrubbed world of Washington, where women believe the key to being treated seriously is to look serious. Lotions, potions and notions have always made me happy. However, wearing lipstick in certain DC environments can make you look absolutely frivolous.  Does that mean you should wake up, wash your hair and secure it with a clip everyday? Of course not. What’s the fun in that? So for this I’ve started Stay Cute Mondays. Enjoy.

For Rule 5, I have naturally dry everything—skin, scalp, lips. Therefore I developed a wonderful daily three-step system to cure my least favorite beauty faux pas: chapped lips. I hate chapped lips. And the fix is super cheap. So when I see someone with chapped lips, I often wonder where her life went wrong. Supple lips are the key to a great smile.

Exfoliate

Exfoliate!

This trick always works.  Always! Rub a little lemon juice on your lips. It may sting if your lips are cracked, but melts away all of the dead skin.

A good second best is a lovely lip scrub from Lush. I like Mint Julip.  I’ve seen recommendations to scrub with a toothbrush, but I don’t find this particularly effective.

 

 

 

Soothe

My next step is to soothe my lips with a solid lip balm.  Amazingly my favorite lip balm I received free. I love Fresh Sugar lip balm which I got as a free birthday gift from Sephora. I just love it. It gives my lips a great base for the next layer. Another favorite was another serendipitous find—Panama Jack vanilla lip balm. It was another freebie as it was a bonus to a sunscreen purchase. It’s so soft and smoothes on easily. I find that important in a lip balm for those of us with full lips.

Smooth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finish

This is odd but true, but I am not fond of the color of my lips. They are a soft brown, not a vibrant pink. Because of this I always wear a tinted lip gloss with moisturizing ingredients. My personal choice for years was Kiehl’s Lip Balm SPF 15. However, I discovered that my beloved standby has been discontinued in  September 2012. A good runner-up is the Mentha Shimmer Tint from Bath and Body Works.

Finish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These steps will ensure one aspect of your great smile looks great. Even through winter’s cruel, cold months.

Veterans Day Weekend

On 10 November, I attended Liner Notes, courtesy of a wonderful deal through my usual channel for inexpensive events: Goldstar. I am quite broke this month and challenged myself to only spend $50 a week on outings. This may seem easy for many, but proves difficult for me. My problem stemmed from the fact that I purchased a $43 ticket to see Mint Condition. As an aside, I really need to make at least a small effort to go to the box office of concert venues while I am already out because the ticket fees were 43% of the cost of the actual ticket. Then I took one of my best buds who was only in town for a night to birthday drinks.

Amazingly, this dropped me to a remaining $30 for each of the next three weeks. Here’s how I spend my second weekend in November (first on a $30 budget): I went to an Afro-Brazilian dance class for $12. I thoroughly enjoyed my first class, though I had to leave early because I was improperly (i.e. in the grocery store parking lot) parked. I wasn’t particularly good. The instructor only showed the class the move once and then I had to rely on wiggly White girls in front of me to remind me of what it looked like, which I feel wasn’t the best exemplar. Who are we Alvin Ailey members? If we could get a dance on the first try then we wouldn’t need this class, would we? D.C. has the coolest classes to get more interesting exercise but honestly parking precludes my attending most because paying to park is equal or more to the cost of the class, which blows the budget.

Then, I attended the aforementioned Liner Notes for $10.50 with fees. I will admit that I did not know what to expect as the description on Goldstar didn’t give much and shockingly, the theater’s website didn’t link properly to the production company’s site.

Pic from the B-Fly Entertainment website

The event was a celebration of music, connecting original songs through a live full band—bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, horn, vocals—to hip hop songs that sample the content with lyricists under the theme of “Family”. In fact, there were generations present throughout the night with men playing alongside sons, daughters and grandchildren.

I am quite knowledgeable of 70’s era music because my mother has an extensive music collection. It is ridiculous actually. People tried to convince her for years to sell it and she refuses. Being defiant about every damn thing including small items, like “turn right here”, she sabotaged potential sales by discarding all of the album covers. She knew this ruined all resale value. However, this collection means that I can usually identify most samples of hip hop songs easily, not that this is a marketable talent. The event started with Sly and the Family Stone. I actually remembered “Sing a Simple Song” from the recesses of my childhood though I should really go back and re-listen to this stuff. However, I couldn’t remember what hip hop song could have sampled it and then the ending. Yes, the “Ahhs” and pow, “Mama Said Knock You Out”. I was extremely excited to learn new “originals”. I didn’t know the origin of the “They Reminisce Over You” sample at all and it’s a really beautiful song. I had a ball for many reasons. I got to sing and dance. I love singing along to anything, even Garth Brooks songs I remember my high school classmates playing ad nauseum. Plus, I had an opportunity to do something that I have been doing for years inside my head anyway—bridge the gap between the music my mother adored and the hip hop that defined my generation. Great event.

I capped off my holiday weekend, forgetting my migraine jamming to the Chuck Brown band and the band of my generation, Mint Condition. I really could listen to “Nothing More to Say” live over and over again forever.

Welcome to Streetrunner Life

Welcome to my blog. The title is a play on something my grandfather used to say about me and my cousin: “Y’all sure do run the street. Bang, bang and you are off to the next…” It’s perfectly fine as my grandfather was/is a bonafide streetrunner himself. So it really runs in our genes. Enjoy.