Archive | March 2013

The Birthday Edition


I spent my…ahem…birthday on the lovely island of Jamaica. I didn’t want to do anything but sit on the beach, sip a rum-infused cocktail and catch up on my reading. Of course, everyone thought I should do things: take a tour, go to Margaritaville, learn to swim. Ugh, no. Relax. This has been a stressful three months. It wasn’t like my 2011, which was hellish but I needed to do nothing, to think nothing, to accomplish nothing.

Of course, this did not happen. I was sucked into activities that were remarkably dissimilar from the descriptions on the brochure / website. First, I was forced into snorkeling. I say forced because I cannot swim. I am not one of those people who just never learned or taken lessons. Oh, I tried. Twice. Then at 11, I decided that swimming wouldn’t be included into my plethora of skillsets. So I was about to hit the lazy river, minding my own business, when the water sports crew recruited us to join their last trip. Okay, I am not particularly fearful except when it comes to water and my inability to swim. I seriously think I drowned in a previous life. So snorkeling went…okay. I summoned courage to jump off the boat, then clung for dear life to the ladder. Finally, the aggravated tour guide hit me on the head with a floating thing (See, how often I swim? I have no clue what it’s called.). I kicked with all my might away and looked into the water for approximately 12 seconds. My mask wouldn’t stay on and I couldn’t snorkel properly.

Next, we went horseback riding. I have a two big fears: water and enclosed spaces. Me in an MRI tube is not a pretty sight, which a previous doctor learned the hard way. Then, I have some select stupid fears. One is being off the ground. Not heights. But physically being off the ground without something underfoot. Such as I don’t like being lifted and don’t like rollercoasters with dangling feet. Hilariously, horseback riding plays into this fear as I am off the ground. Granted, I am on a horse, but it was a very discerning first five minutes. They picked the slow, grandpa horse for me and we sauntered off. The problem with the horseback tour was the actual scenery. We got to see a small impoverished village and livestock. The goats were cute, but otherwise, I think I could have easily taken horseback riding lessons somewhere else and soaked up the beauty of my hotel beach. I feel bad for the dunebuggy tour buyers as what was the draw of the village without the horse? Then we would go for a swim on the horse. I switched horses as grandpa likes water as much as I do. Turns out, my new horse tried to make a break for it into the sea. And of course I screamed. The guide had to rescue me. This activity took all day, okay 5 hours. Still.

My final activity was the Dunns River Falls. You climb the Falls. That is about the extent the event. It is difficult to describe the Falls as I was imagining Victoria Falls and it was more like a rock climbing wall except with water and in bathing suits. This activity reminded me of wilderness camp in high school. I hated wilderness camp. I also don’t really like doing things without a proper bra, so it was an adventure. The whole thing was videotaped. I don’t care for being on camera. And being on camera, currently 10lbs over, in a swimsuit? Yea, that video wasn’t purchased. My friend purchased the video and as I oddly suspected, there were a lot of cleavage shots. Of my cleavage!! I knew something was up when the videographer kept trying to chat. This is why I say it was false advertising. If I knew it would be photographed, I would have worn a different full coverage swimsuit with a little cover-up skirt to eliminate any potential Girls Gone Wild implications. After this, I was done with activities. No drinking, no bars, just sitting. Nothingness. Of course, this was with only one day left.

The best story of the trip was the airport. As I cannot escape any trip without drama: a fight broke out at the airport. Not really a fist fight, but a heated verbal disagreement between passengers at the check-in counter.  Losing this loud discussion, the poor woman resorted to a complete temper tantrum with:

  • Yelling – “I refuse to move and demand attention.” Oh honey, you got it.
  • Paper throwing – That’s right girl! Grab those papers stacked on the counter and throw them at the mean lady and airline worker because that will show them.
  • Balled up fists – You know what helps? When security guard comes over to calm you down, make baby fists and pound at his chest like in a 1920’s movie. Then when he holds your wrists and asks why are you so mad, just ignore him and keep trying.

Meanwhile, her travel companion seemed to be occupied living out some How Stella Got Her Groove Back fantasy with a semi-interested local to be of any assistance. And we all know how well that turned out. Finally, when you discover that the mean lady who bested you and all the witnesses to your showing your ass are on the same flight, just bury your head in your hands while at the gate, hoping no one remembers you. The electric blue pants you are wearing are not memorable at all and all Black people look alike anyway.

Then I came back to America. Nothingness over.



Stay Cute Mondays – Battle for Beauty

Last week, I decided to return to what I know. During last year’s Fashion Night Out, I went to Neiman Marcus as my original plans were waylaid by forgetfulness. The lovely lady at Bobbi Brown convinced me to purchase two gorgeous lipsticks: Hollywood and Orange to layer for a pop of color. I typically don’t do pops of colors and the champagne made me adventurous.

Here’s the truth. I actually don’t like lipstick. I only wear it to project maturity and authority. Lip gloss has a tendency to make women look frivolous in male-centric environments where I need to look commanding.  However, I was running to an engagement and I couldn’t find my lipsticks (turns out they were in my going out purse). I grabbed an almost gone M.A.C. lipstick I found in the drawer and dashed out. Something weird happened by the end of the day. My lips stay supple and soft. I realized my parched lips required moisturizer not just from my lip balm, but from lip stick as well. Therefore, I really should return to an old standby.

I often try to leave M.A.C. without success. Lipstick and lip liners only! The company offers a good combination of staying power and unique colors. I hate the cliché of the Black woman in red or burgundy lipstick. My problem isn’t the company but its consultants. One year, I left M.A.C. for Clinique. There I learned the valuable tonal lesson of applying a lip liner about two shades darker than your lipstick for the simple, pretty look. They paired a lovely plum liner with a soft grape lipstick. I received so many compliments. If only that darn lipstick lasted longer than an hour. I went to the consultant begging for a solution, maybe a primer, to give it some endurance. She had nothing for me. Back I went

Last week, my return to M.A.C after six months wasn’t pleasant. I started to make my return easy. Purchase some colors I always wear and just head out. However, I thought maybe I should try something new. I knew it was going wrong when the consultant pulled out the infamous Chestnut lip liner. They have this weird theory that women should wear a lip liner that matches their skin tone. There’s one problem. I am not Chestnut. After a previous battle with a consultant in the former Georgetown location, I discovered that I am a Cork. Chestnut-wielding consultant first suggested a red lipstick (no!) and second, a raspberry colored one (what am I, 15?). I didn’t realize that the 90’s were back. Dozens of colors and every time, I get the same useless recommendations.

I’ve had these battles with consultants before and made no headway into some narrow thought of make-up application. To combat this, my best strategy is to wait until the store/counter is jam-packed. Once no one is looking, I try out multiple lipsticks until I find one I like. Then I ask the consultant to suggest a non-brown lip liner similar to the Clinique color tone theory. This plan works wonderfully. However, for this trip the store was empty and I was becoming increasingly annoyed. I shook off everything she said and ended up with two old standards: Strength, a gorgeous ginger snap color with flecks of gold, and Media, a dark plum that actually replaces the one I found in my drawer. Strength was obtained through a previous seek and test mission. I honestly don’t think I would have found it if left up to a consultant. It looks amazing against my skin and I always get compliments. So this time, I made no new discoveries. However, my lips are soft and I only need to reapply once a work day. You win some, you lose some.

The Discount Edition

Last weekend was a burn off weekend. We decided to burn off all of those pesky discount deals we purchased that quickly became annoyance. I already have wasted two in the last year as the parameters are strict and finding other discountpeople to help with these twofer deals is quite difficult without a stable plus one. I’m convinced these things are for the long-term marrieds who can force each other to do anything. I love deals as I have mentioned in the past and cannot seem to pass up anything that seems truly awesome.  I am a discount site retailer’s dream client.

First the most difficult: a two tickets to West End Cinema for $10 voucher. This was problematic for several reasons. One, it is an independent movie theater. Lately, there have been no movies that I would even consider seeing. Two, it is tiny. I discovered some don’t like the tiny. That means getting to the theater early. Three, people buy tickets online. With a voucher, I cannot. This means unless I get there super early, the movie I want could sell out. I actually attempted to use this voucher previously without success because we got there late and the movie was sold out. This time I was nervous. We were running so late that I didn’t stop by the ATM en route. (Sorry, cabbie I couldn’t tip).  We made it into Life of Pi, barely. There were only two seats left together, in the front. Not ideal, but still together. Later groups came in and didn’t have the chance to sit together, so we had perfect terrible timing. Life of Pi was lovely. I adore Irrfan Khan, so I was quite pleased with the film.

Then we cabbed it over to Mova Lounge (sorry again cabbie). We had a martini tasting for two voucher for $17. This was however expired but it gave us $17 off our purchase. We purchased two very inventive martinis a piece. The venue was lovely and empty. Despite the emptiness, there are only about 4 non-VIP chairs, so I couldn’t sit in the pretty yet sparsely populated venue. I really wanted to sit, because I was getting over a cold and easily winded. We weren’t sure if the venue became hopping after midnight or on other days of the week, but it was awfully apparent why they were offering vouchers to entice visitors. The coolest feature of the space was the showing of videos to coincide with the music playing. I actually have no idea what videos for songs look like outside of VH1 Soul’s rotation. I appreciated seeing videos for popular dance hits outside of my nemesis, Ke$ha.

On Sunday, I used my free.99 voucher for two tickets to the Travel and Adventure show. Sunday was perfect because there was track work on the metro and I was able to find rather close parking in the neighborhood, which is allowed on Sundays. The show could have been better in my opinion. However, I am biased because I find the Washington Convention Center, despite its relative newness, rather ugly. This is my professional opinion as a marketer who has attended many tradeshows in many cities. I gathered good information about potential trips and got an opportunity to see an adorable penguin courtesy of the Orlando Sea World. I hoped for some instant deals aha moments for vacations, but didn’t find anything that I must do, just some nice to haves. I then spent a wonderful Sunday in DC having brunch, going to yoga and visiting my favorite bartender. Unfortunately, I was forced to pay full price those activities.

The Badu Edition

Fuzzy Ms. Badu

Fuzzy Ms. Badu

Last week, I was blessed with seeing Ms. Badu. Anyone who follows Erykah Badu regularly knows that her concerts constantly surprise. Last summer, when I saw her at the Summer Spirit Festival, she appeared irritated and sang no radio hits. She stuck mostly to the Worldwide Underground, my personal least favorite album, and Mama’s Gun. People wanted to hear Window Seat and other more recent work. Folks were disappointed. I wasn’t completely. Only because every time I see Badu, it’s an adventure.

My first time was in 2001, fresh from Mama’s Gun. We went Baltimore’s African American Heritage Festival, where she was the headliner. My friends disliked driving everywhere and insisted that we take the train. Plus, it was a Friday night and there was traffic to consider. My have times changed. Her show started late and we only had about 15 minutes to see her before we needed to catch the train. Luckily, we heard a few songs including my beloved Otherside of the Game. This no-driving plan turned out disastrous. We purchased the wrong tickets back to D.C. Thus, we each had to either pay an extra $30 to board the train or be stranded. Fortunately, my girlfriend was one of those women (not like me at all) who could charm a man into anything. Therefore, we ended up riding free on the next train. Through all of this drama, I kept thinking that I wish I was back at the Erykah show, can I rush back to the Erykah show. I was in love.

True confession: I didn’t own Mama’s Gun until about 2008 when I picked up the CD for $6 at a going out of business sale for a failed retailer I don’t remember: Tower, Circuit City, whatever. These things blend. My friends were incredulous that I didn’t love that CD. It was the best thing in human life according to them and I finally admitted that I didn’t own the CD. The problem lied with Bag Lady. Anyone around in summer of 2000 knows that song was a breakout hit. Radio stations and video channels played it incessantly. The song was background music in every restaurant, bar, lounge and I absolutely hated it. It caused mixed feelings. I wanted Erykah to have success, but with that song. Ugh. Anyway, I wrongly figured that song represented everything else on the album. It didn’t not and I found out eight years too late.

When she announced the tour of revisiting previous work, I was conflicted. I didn’t love her previous show and needed good mood Erykah to make effective use of my money. I’ve never seen her in a bad mood (just irritated) but those that have are scarred for life. I wanted intel on how the concerts were progressing before purchasing. Erykah makes me irrational. My favorite song is Otherside of the Game, but my anthem is Cleva (story of my existence). I couldn’t decide which show to see. With all of the vacillating, it was decided for me. The Friday Mama’s Gun show sold out. Baduizm it would be. I re-listened to Baduizm several times to prepare. I forgot how much that album takes me back to one of my favorite years. I swear 1997 was one of the best years of my life. I spend so many nights listening to that CD in my dorm room while completing assignments since my university refused to give students the basic human right of cable. Therefore, I only got about four channels on a regular basis. I was set for the nostalgia and what great nostalgia it would be.

I was ready for the show as I don’t get excited. I won’t mention the cramped conditions of Fillmore. I don’t understand how the venue skirts around fire code violations as I think there were about 300 too many people in the space. We were shoulder to shoulder and I couldn’t move my arms. Nonetheless, we had good mood Erykah that night. She even made jokes. The surprising thing about the concert was how straight forward it was. When I saw her a few years back, she sang Apple Tree as a reggae/ska song that forced the audience to listen closely for identification. The show had few remixes, even though that word minimizes what she does. She merged On and On with Mama’s Gun …& On. She turned my adored Otherside of the Game into a spiritual, trance experience with the addition of echo machines and primal screams. Other than a few gospel-tinged elements, she executed each song flawlessly as heard on the CD. For the uninitiated Erykah attendees, it may have given the wrong impression. Those folks might expect simple, great performances in the future and that’s a set-up for failure.

However, the encores killed my worry. First, she did a cover of Chaka’s Stay, but not just Stay as she weaved in elements of other songs. Then Didn’t Cha Know which she merged with Believe in Yourself from The Wiz. That was the kind of awesomeness I truly expected and makes me a believer. I didn’t want to leave. I saw someone selling tix to the Mama’s Gun show on Twitter and almost copped them. Then I remembered that I had visitors in town and, you know, I should be around. That’s what Erykah does to you. You only think of her and nothing else. Nothing else.