Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vintage Tea - Vote for Design!

Hi everyone, I don't normally use this blog as a platform for promotions, but I've designed a t-shirt on that rather fits the theme: Vintage Tea, a design that combines 2 of my great loves--Earl Grey tea and past eras! The design is in the voting stage this week; if it receives enough votes by next Friday, Threadless will print the shirt, which means everyone can buy one and have one (including me)! So please go here to sign in, critique and vote: Vintage Tea

Thanks everyone!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Engagement Rings.

For diamonds do appear to be, Just like broken glass to me. ~ Panic! At the Disco, "Northern Downpour"

I can't say how it is I pick topics for this blog. I've been juggling several ideas for the past few months and none of them held me long enough to make a post, or just didn't fit the theme of this blog. For one--elephants. I still would like to do a post on them sometime...that is, elephants, and animals, especially the intelligent ones that some think are as smart as people. I wanted to talk about how the idea of intelligent animals does in no way threaten the Biblical view of man as dominant over creation, which both Christians and not tend to think is the case. Or another topic--abortion. This too I would still like to post on. But this is a blog about beauty, and abortion is ugly. Murder is ugly. So until I can find a way to talk against abortion and focus on its opposite (life), without getting impotently furious and mocking pro-abortioners with sarcasm and all-around nastiness, it'll have to wait.

But this topic just occurred to me today, and wanted to be written about. This is going to sound like another shallow Lipstick post, but hopefully I can express my deeper thoughts on the matter.

Engagement rings. I don't have one of these, because I'm still waiting for someone to help me with that. But I know a lot of people who do. And that's cool too, because I actually really like looking at the things. Why? Am I Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!--diamonds are a girl's best friend? Not likely. My sentiments toward diamonds lean from the vaguely apathetic (they look JUST like cubic zirconias! Admit it!) to the scientific (nothing can cut a diamond but another diamond. So I assume the gems are shaped with diamond gem cutters, right? Well, what cut the gem cutter? My question is, what cut the first diamond?? Huh? I'm going to go the Children's Catechism route and say GOD). No. I just have a weird habit of looking at people's left hand to see if they're married, and I like to see engagement rings best because they're usually more glitzy. And to me, a ring is never just a ring. It has a story.

A frumpy old woman has an engagement ring over her wedding ring, and I start to try to imagine her younger, and someone was so in love with her that he spent some of the money he'd been saving up ever since he finally got a good job, just to buy her that diamond. A beautiful young woman with a body like a model's, sitting next to me with her nice hips and her nicely pedicured feet in sandals, is using her iPhone with a left hand adorned with a very, very large diamond sitting atop her wedding band. Some guy out there once walked into a jewelry shop, still hardly able to believe that a girl that hot was in love with him, and got the biggest gem he could find because she was more than worth it. Okay, so I make up these stories. And yes, I am a romantic. Cynically, I suppose, these stories could be complete fabrications, and the old lady was pressure by her family into a marriage with a cheating drinker. The young woman could be a vain monster who cajoled her boyfriend into putting himself in debt for that massive ring. But both those situations abuse the entire purpose of an engagement ring, which is a pledge. Everyone forgets that, even the cynics.

When I was younger, I read a newspaper article about women buying their own diamond rings. The gist was, if you don't have/want a fiancé, that doesn't mean you can't have a ring! They spoke of many celebrity women who sport diamond rings, and one normal woman in particular who bought herself a diamond solitaire. "I haven't found the right guy yet, and I'm almost 30!" she explained. "I was tired of waiting for a man to buy me one, so I got one myself!" What is sad about this? Not the fact that she can't find anything more useful to blow $1,000 on (like school loans for ME), nor the fact that she is having a hard time finding a husband. It's the fact that one of her biggest reasons for wanting an engagement is so she can have a diamond. Seriously?? I don't want a diamond ring on my left hand without a fiancé, it's fake and silly and belittles the meaning of an engagement ring. Engagement rings are not about the diamond.

I have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better than one you buy for yourself. ~ Mae West

Another thing they're not about? Property. As any feminist--or, better yet, a quick stroll through DoubleX blog--will tell you, men buy women engagement rings because they are purporting some antiquated combination of Bad Oppressive Things. That is, they want to give you a ring because (1) they want to show they can pay for everything so you don't have to work and fulfill dreams and so you can stay home and be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, making sandwiches and nursing his 13 (preferably male) brats; and (2) they want other men to see it and be like, "Oh, man, look, it's Ted's Woman. I can't have that one now, notwithstanding any of her wishes in the matter--she is Ted's Woman, just like that labrador with the collar is Ted's Dog. Man, too bad, I like that Woman and wish to objectify her as a sex object. I must now go find another Woman Thing for myself, and brand her with a bad, oppressive $1,000 ring that she likes the design of and will show off to her Woman Friends." Then he will shuffle off on his knuckles, grunting. Yeah, because if I wanted to show someone how much I loved to step on their neck, the FIRST thing I'd do would be to spend inordinate amounts of money on them. Right. Now, some men are gross pigs who want to own women, but the idea of the engagement ring is not that.

It's a pledge. We don't talk too much about pledges nowadays, but that's what this is. The ring is a symbol of the woman's promise that yes, she'll marry him. I read recently about "man-gagement rings" they put it, "more and more women" are doing the proposing nowadays (wha...?) and are giving their men rings. (Yeah, I don't know anyone who's done this either.) Because they see rings as a dog-collar that tells who's whose, and want their men to be branded and off the market. But that's not the meaning of an engagement ring. In ancient Greece, a piece of jewelry was given to the betrothed woman to indicate that her soon-to-be-husband planned to "adorn" her with his love and protection. In the Victorian era, the engagement ring was often the first wearable gift that the woman could accept from her beau, as clothing and jewelry were seen as permanent gifts that could only be accepted in a permanent relationship, which courtship was not. The betrothal period was therefore almost as serious as the ensuing marriage, and could not be broken off without considerable embarrassment. Etiquette of the time also required a ring be returned upon the breaking of an engagement, since the ring is not a "gift" in the ordinary sense but rather a symbol of the promise made; if the two decide not to marry, no matter whose fault it is, the girl gives it back. It means nothing once the pledge no longer exists.

It's not just a diamond. It's not just an identification tag. It's not just a piece of jewelry. And that's why to me, the sparkle of a diamond on a finger seems so much more than just a ring. It's a beautiful meaning, an entire story--if not of the individual, then of the rich history of betrothal gifts. I was standing on the subway platform and thinking about engagement rings, and I looked at my left hand and tried to picture how one would look. It's hard, because I can't seem to separate the sight of a diamond ring from the story of its bestowal. I don't know how it should look or what size it should be or anything, because I don't yet know my story, and an engagement ring is a symbol of that.

Or maybe I just see everything as a story. Is that bad? I think not.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Whenever a female takes a strong stand for herself, the majority of the time they have to really, really narrow it down to being feminine and wearing dresses and just being lipstick chic. - Michelle Rodriguez

I'm not really 100% sure what Michelle meant when she said this. You know Michelle Rodriguez, right? She's the Puerto Rican actress who is always playing a really tough girl (usually a cop or a soldier) with a gigantic chip on her shoulder. You usually really want her character to die, and she usually does (Ana Lucia in LOST, zombie fodder in Resident Evil). So considering I've never seen her in lipstick or a dress, I think she may have meant this sarcastically. Well, I take it quite literally. If I could choose one thing that I find can make a woman seem more empowered, it is lip color.

This sounds crazy. But lipstick, and lipgloss and lip balm and whatever else we may use, is actually very important to most women. I say this because I find it to be so for myse
lf, and though I'm aware of just how trivial lipstick actually is, that doesn't change the fact that we take it dead serious. I'm not going to attempt to prove this scientifically, nor to philosophize on why exactly I think this might be true. Since this post, like my post on tea, is simply a topic that makes me happy, I'm going to just talk about it.

By far the most iconic and often-used of the breed. I always love it when feminists oppose lipstick on the basis of it being, supposedly, some sort of gooey red shackle men use to keep us down. Yeah, whatever. In ancient Egypt, men wore more makeup than your grandmother, so that doesn't really fly. No man ordered six-year-old girls to smear their faces with the stuff for dress-up or pioneer teens to bite their lips red. (I need to work on keeping my tone light and fluffy. I alwa
ys start sounding really angry.) Apparently, during the Great Depression, when sales of many luxury items were dropping as people tried to be frugal with their money, the sales of one particular product began to rise. That product was bright red lipstick. It seems that during those difficult times, women were allowing themselves the one small luxury that they found lifted their spirits.

I've often Facebooked about my Rosie the Riveter afternoons. In the process of doing much back-breaking sweaty housework, I require three things only: Elvis music
, my big clunky harness boots, and red lipstick. There's something about the stuff, the way it stands out on your face and makes you look like an old-timey actress. Also, even if your hair looks terrible, somehow red lipstick pulls it all together, even when you've got Clorox bleach dripping from the ceiling onto your face like in a horror movie. My pick: N.Y.C. Ultra Moist LipWear lipstick in Retro Red. One dollar, yes, one dollar. Duane Reade and CVS carry them.

A fairly new addition to the lipcolor world. I mean I don't th
ink they really had the stuff when it was most fashionable to wear a matte (non-shiny) lipcolor. These are neat because even girls who don't like the feel/look of lipstick (and I can see where you're coming from) can like this stuff. So many different kinds! So many different colors! I have perfectly clear ones, and dark dark opaque red ones. You can get them in a squeeze-tube, a wand, or a little pot that you can scoop out with your finger. Because of the variety, I have several faves.

C.O. Bigelow.
Lipgloss aficianados swear by C.O. Bigelow. Their glosses are made with at least 2% real peppermint oil, with the result that putting them on feels like swiping your lips with a wintry blast of minty goodness. In fact I'm going to put some on right now. Mmmm. They come in squeeze tubes, and are mostly sheer. I have in my possession Plum Mint, which has a hint of russe
t color, and Ultra Mentha, which is super-minty and clear. Also, around Christmas time they come out with special flavors, like my Ginger Mint that has ginger flavor and gold sparkles. My sister has Chocolate Sundae, and my friend Mrs. Byrd loves Cinnamon. You can find them at Bath & Body Works.

You can also find there Liplicious lipglosses, which smell so good you might want to eat them. Seriously. One of my sisters has a Blackberry-something flavor, and it smells like a popsicle. I bought Maple Sugar once, which smells like pancakes and is the nicest shimmery pinkish-gold. It ran out, and they stopped making them. BUT I found them on eBay for cheap and bought two, so I will have them forever! And yes, it is just like putting maple syrup on your lips. Except you won't attract bees.

And Mrs. Byrd bought me for is so wonderful I have to show you:

Yes. Lipgloss pocketwatch. Mine is red! So beautiful.

Lip balm.
C'mon, even you ladies who hate makeup have to admit that lip balm makes your lips feel nice and smooth and happy. I actually sleep with lip balm on--and no, I am not a crazy who must look made-up all the time (although hey. If Indiana Jones comes crashing through my window asking for my help, or if an owl arrives with a letter from Hogwarts requesting my immediate presence, or if Wolverine barges in and demands I come with him to Professor X's school, or Sam and Dean break in--well, er, if any of those things happened I would be prepared). Lip balm at night helps your lips not be cracked and chappy and peely all day, which looks bad no matter what sort of lipcolor you slather on top.

Good ol' Cherry Chapstick. This stuff smells so good (but be forewarned--it doesn't taste that good. Take my word on this. Like birthday candles, yuck...take my word on those, also). I also love Lip Smackers...yeah, they're for kids, but they have Dr. Pepper and watermelon and all sorts of other delish flavors. Just don't get the sparkly ones, the glitter gets all stuck on your skin and all over your pillows and makes chapped lips worse. Ick.

Is this post too weird? I don't know, lipgloss makes me happy. Whenever I get sad about things, I think about Earl Grey tea and fluffy socks and pillows and Three of Swords and lipgloss. (You can do all those things at once, which is wonderful.) In fact I'm at work now but I wish I was home, sitting on the sofa, drinking tea and holding a pillow, while my sister writes something fun for me to read and I draw a magnificent picture. Quite possibly later, excepting the magnificent picture, of course. It's hard to draw on top of a pillow.

Oh, and time to cross-pollinate some bloggage--Sabe mentioned 3ofSwords in her daily blog, One Thousand Mad Things Before Breakfast. I love her blog, guys. It's fun to read and has introduced me to wonderful stuff like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Take a look.

Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not color, but to accept God's final word on where your lips end.
- Jerry Seinfeld