through the Looking Glass

...and what alice found there

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moment of silence

Tomorrow I'm out of here kitties. My nails are painted and ready to go with a glaring shade of ruby red. Jag-U-Are. That is actually what it is called. It's the first time I can paint my nails for a long while, they wanted to come out and say hi. Since I'd be meeting people of a more upstanding calibre than usual it was probably best that the colour was something that was more within the accepted range of normality. I'll save the harlequin checks for after I get back.

Two weeks absence, give or...give two days. My level of readiness at what is now roughly 14 hours away from takeoff is tip off to how I feel about the whole skipping town situation. That is to say, not ready at all. At least it won't be the all nighter ordeal that was the 48 hours before my flight back to Australia back in December.

I am feeling somewhat optimistic though. Finally leaving would also mean that I'll finally be on the last legs of being in such close proximity to the giver of my lifeblood, the lioness to my cub, the cause of all this buzzing in my head that I spend all my life trying to get rid of. The last three weeks has not been easy. I was kept sane by occupying what little space between us with things. Filling up all the time with anything but silence, or the promotion of conversation. Movies, mostly. Movies I knew would offer the least amount of argument, mostly Oscar winners and nominees of the past year that I didn't deem to be required viewing at the time of release.

But this post is not about that. This post is about the sunnier, sparkier, sweatier future awaiting my return. It would be July, and it would be glorious. This Summer break has not been much of a break yet, for a lot of people, but July would eventually come and lift the straps off our heavy heavy hearts, expertly running its fingers over our back finding every knot and kneading it back into submission. I intend on not doing very much in July. It would be the long refreshing nap that gets you ready. The one that's full of promise. Reader, we're going to love July.

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Accompanying material:

Metropolis Unbound - David Bordwell

Observations on Film Art

I'm not too ashamed to admit that I've never seen more than 25 minutes of Metropolis. I've tried, 7 times in total, to sit through it but I always seem to fall asleep at about the same 10 minute mark into the film and wake up at around the same final 1/3rd before calling it a day and taking it back to the Video Ezy at which point the old man with the blue glasses that owns the place would again, laugh at me.

I don't think it's a silent film thing, I've begrudgingly sat through a back to back presentation of Battleship Potemkin and Oktyabr, which would arguably kill most people. Individually of course they're both worthwhile and thrilling and game changing as far as cinema goes (please don't shoot me Felicity!), but a double bill, well that's just a torture device.

And I'd be the first to admit. I've slept through a lot of films at uni. I don't know, once you start watching 4 prerequisite films a week in lecture halls that promote drowsiness it doesn't matter if you're watching Battle of Algiers (which you know is "important"), you will start nodding off (which I did). But that's not it either. I have tried to watch Metropolis in a variety of settings, with a variety of different soundtrack versions, at different times of the day, all to no avail.

Mr. Bordwell's article has ignited a renewed spark. Perhaps with all these gleaming new insights in mind I can give it a final college try.


Reading back on what I wrote last night, I must apologise for the lack of focus, structure, or anything really. I was trying to think while maintaining a conversation with my mother and the Quantum of Solace was also competing for my attention in the background. A lot of things, other than my thoughts, were happening.

I guess what I ended up concluding is that, I tend to glorify "real life". Something inside me obviously feels that I would never actually live that life. Man, woman, house, home, children, animal. I'm sure it's somehow Jungian, that it has something to do with the fact that I never grew up having all that. I'm also sure that some overpaid shrink would be able to trace my dramatic aspirations to this "lacking" childhood. It's simpler than that. I like to play house, because I am a child. For a period last year I had a brief go at domesticity. The relationship itself was a bit of a joke, neither one of us gave enough of ourselves for it to be in any way real but you know what my favourite moment was? That first day I stayed at his apartment for the whole day by myself without him, I made sure I cleaned, and had dinner in the oven by the time he stepped in the door. As he ate what I had prepared for us, he told me that was his favourite meal. That moment, like some stepford wife, was probably the highlight of the entire 8 month period I spent with that boy. The feminist inside me is rearing to have a right thrashing of that version of me.

Last night I was listening to a three week old podcast of LNL with Phil Adams. They were talking about the massacre in Congo and how rape has now turned in a weapon of war. The statistics are not shocking, though alarming. The UN estimates that over 200,000 girls and women has been raped during the extent of the civil war, and growing. With the youngest victims being about 3, and the oldest being 75. A vast majority of these rape cases are perpetrated against teens 12-17 years old, and an even more disturbingly large majority being gang rape of up to 7 armed soldiers on one girl in public. It's actually more shocking how unsurprising these horrific stats are, but the most interesting thing to have come out of these events is this women's movement that's starting to happen. Because of the public nature of these crimes, it's allowed for these victims, these women, to have conversations, march the streets even. It's prompted them to want change, to have women in positions of power. It's kind of exciting, to have a renewed surge in a women's movement, as opposed to the three steps back we're taking in our more developed worlds, and in my own world.

We're going to watch Mao's Last Dancer now, so that'll do for tonight before I get too distracted again.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Glorious Mundane

When I think about all the stories I've been drawn to, had affected me in some way, they all seem to follow a similar tangent. Intimate stories mostly in search of home, trying to find some kind of purpose other than the tedious to family, proving to myself that there is art to heart. There's comfort in knowing that remarkable people, people I admire would be as interested in a small and insignificant life as I am. I don't think I'm supposed to want that, as an actor I mean. I didn't think I ever would either, but here I am, looking on longingly at the final shot of Away We Go as some kind of final reward -- uncomplicated bliss. I know that a lot of my friends, people I thought I was much more alike, still find that ghastly, many of them find Away We Go ghastly dull. Perhaps this is some passing phase.

A recurring theme of the past few years of my life has been this fort building game of mine. Finding out what I need, and discarding what I don't. Learning to live out of boxes and scuttle everything that constitutes a home with me. I had a hermit crab when I was younger, it never got a name, it didn't feel right to name something that carried its whole existence on its own back. Like any egotistical child who read too much and had too much time on her hands, I found great poetry in my hermit crab. I took pride in my ability to adapt, falling into new homes, new friendship circles, new living situations so easily. I guess I still am like that.

The pursuit of my perfect world becomes harder when each move puts more distance between the where I am now and where I was. I wish I could pack people and relationships up in boxes like my books. That would be the major shift from when I was young I guess, when friends became what they were meant to be, my lifeblood. If I had to put a finger on why this sudden wanting of the small life came about, it would simply be because of the fact that I finally found the the joy of something like family through my clinging onto to people I want to keep in my life, and now there's a growing urgency because it's becoming clear that I would never have everything I want in this utopia of mine. Who cares about all the new forms of communication in this world, for all your skypes and facebooks and emails, best they can do is maintain an ebbing stream of consciousness. As my roots in New York plant itself more firmly, I feel a pull from everyone back home. All the people who helped me find my feet, made a woman out of me, if you will, people who knew every embarrassing minute detail of my life, why aren't you here already? 2012 couldn't come any sooner, and when the moment arrives, you'd all better live up to your word. 'sall I'm saying.

With growing intensity, I've been wanting to do what we've always talked about, to drop everything and move to Oaxaca together for a month or two, or three. That would be enough for me, a small piece of my perfect small life. Soon, my kitties, soon.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Home Song Stories

It's time to plan another trip to China. It's been 3 years since the last time I visited. Last time, that happened.

No more week long death rituals this time, for which I'm thankful. No more monasteries either, which is a bit of a shame. China is always one of those place I reluctantly go because I have to, to visit people I feel a vague connection to, eat, sleep, and shop because there's nothing else to do. It's always a good time to catch up on some reading, and to catch a glimpse of teen Asia that which I so despise through hours upon hours of Chinese channel [V].

My diaspora exists somewhere within the collective unconscious of expats who grew up to run away. My memories of 'home' are happy and few, and of a place that is no longer there. I have no allegiance with the murky cosmopolitanism clouding those cities I'm supposed to call my own. Most of my mothers friends who have not let go of their motherland think I'm some kind of haughty, rejecting my traditions and culture. They think they understand on some primitive way, treating me like a rebellious teenager, "Westernised". What they couldn't understand is that this could never be some cookie cutter rebellion. Away with everything Chinese and long live the Queen! The traditions I remember are my own. Making wontons with my mother and grandmother. The music, my mother's performances. The dances I led in primary school. All the things that belong to the "New China" movement while it was still in its infancy. I embrace all of these. The bubbling motion happening now within a certain sect of Chinese intellectuals creating new art forms is incredibly exciting to me.

What I absolutely despise is the mass whoring out of that particular brand of "Chinese Culture", the kind that's meaningless. The kind you wear to show off the past you do not part take in. Someone once said of me in a somewhat dissenting tone, that apart from speaking in Chinese with my mother I may as well be white. Well, what should I do to satisfy your objectification of Chinese? Does it have to be specifically regional, or would anything that could be generally considered exotic to you be enough? My grasp of the language is very much the defining streak of my Asian identity. It's my only key to all the nuances of the culture that does not make me nauseous.

I'm hoping that my upcoming trip would consist solely of meeting interesting, like minded people, and a minimal of having to look at that which I hate. I know it's an annoying tendency that I have, my absolute refusal of having anything I don't like in my world. But it makes my world better, and until something happens that would make me feel different I don't see why I should be the one to change.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


I still remember the last time my fingers traced over a piano knowing that the keys under them were still in my command. I remember all those performances at random society ladies homes for the Musical Society of Victoria where I had just phoned it in. Like that one time, when my mind was elsewhere when I was playing that Beethoven sonata, and I skipped the development altogether and jumped from exposition straight to the recapitulation. That entire musical chapter of my life, I just completely glossed over. The fact that I had a fucking grand piano in my house since the age of 12 apparently never phased me. Or the fact that my piano teacher's whole family became family friends who, if you can believe it, we had traveled Europe with. Or even the fact that despite my obvious deficiencies, the Music Society ladies kept calling me month after month requesting performances during their recitals, an honour which a more diligent student would have killed for, but I merely winced in annoyance at. The amazing concerts I went to and yawned at. I knew people with far more talent than I, who started playing at a far younger age, and I knew I was never going to be a pianist, for that reason alone it became just child's play. Did I at any stage realise how amazing it was that I had that amount of serious musical education?

I've been thinking about this for a while now. Every time I hear classical music, I realise again and again how charmed my upbringing was in relations to music. It takes a lot of virtuosity to impress my privileged mind. It was not until Elianto, that phenomenal little string quintet I heard in the goddamn subway station that stayed my foot for almost half an hour that I noticed the pain of something missing in my life. I have not touched a piano in a serious way now for about 8 years. Two more and that's about how long I played it altogether. In terms of childhood memories, the piano was a source of pain, even in the later years when I tried to alter my relationship with this instrument I had to strap myself to 2 hours a day, sometimes a lot more, it was too late. Like a bad romance novel, the negative habits had already set their form.

I'd give anything to have a chance to play again, but there really isn't a solution to this problem. Yes there are pianos at studio, but to practice something that's 8 years stale in such a public space horrifies me. Besides, I need to play about 48 hours worth of scales before my fingers would work the way I'd want them to again, and that is just not something that anybody wants to hear. Keyboards are....keyboards. I like a synthesizer as much as the next person but in terms of piano pieces, they take all the musicality out and replace it with a throbbing dance beat.

O woe is me.

A particular favourite of mine to play back in day. And, if I may be as bold to say, I would have kicked the shit out of this guy. (only this piece though, because I loved it so much.)

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Monday, May 17, 2010


Blogging during daylight hours? WHAAAT?

Do not fret, my kitties, I am just as sleep deprived as always when I come around to this blinking cursor, and my prose, I trust, would take on much of that same level of lucidity.

Taking the proverbial stroll down a narcissistic memory lane, I started reading my old blog posts and old emails these past two nights. As cringe inducing as moments were during this sojourn, I did find my old self to be a more interesting specimen that this person sitting here today. Thoughts were better phrased, ideas more succinct -- readers, I used to think.

(The above literary device taken from the first line of the final chapter of Jane Eyre was something else my more interesting former self used to utilise all the time. I have, I am ashamed to say, not accumulated any more such devices, because apparently I have reached my cultural peak during high school. Which was 7 years ago. She says as she cuts up another piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and swallows it whole)

All this is by ways of saying, you may begin to notice slight changes at this address from now on. I wouldn't think of altering anything that has already been because, for some stupid reason, that form of self censorship feels like cheating. I may occasionally correct an obvious typo or 2 if I happen across them. Some of you may have already noticed that I have removed all traces of this blog from my facebook presence, barring the link in my website section of the profile. I will be more militant about updates. I will attempt new things. There will be a new category of posts I'm proposing to start working on. In the interest of full disclosure, it will be an instruction manual of sorts. It's an idea I've been toying with, oh what the heck, it's already out -- Madam Qin's Guide for the Girl About Town.

It would be just random bits of information that covers living in a city as I'm slowly working it out for myself, chapter by chapter. You know, there'd be a post on cooking and how to stock the perfect start-up kitchen and a few simple tasty recipes. Make up and fashion tips I can wax lyric on myself. How to clean things properly, what to use, it still amazes me that young people don't know about the windex + newspaper combo for mirrors. How to set up a home stereo system. How to change the oil in your car. How to shop for a second hand car. Basic home repairs. Simple life things that a lot of girls don't seem able to do on their own. Maybe include an etiquette section because we all know that's going out the window. I can spend a few paragraphs on the wonders of OxiClean, talk about breakups and have a humorous list of healthy and unhealthy ways of handling things. Sickness and how to feel better in every situation. Basic over the counter drugs guide. Healing powers of Matzo Ball soup (see rules #5 and #37 of my rule book). How to load a freakin' roll of toilet paper without needing Kleenex to conduct a nation wide survey. It's ALWAYS over, people, no exceptions.

Travel tips, I've already started on that. I have my air travel process down pat. Down to every single carry on item and where I store them and when I take them out at what point of the flight. The order I take off my coat, shoes, take out my laptop to optimise a speed through of the security checks. I'm an air travel ninja. Have you seen Up In The Air? I'm George fucking Clooney in that movie.

A big part would be how to fill out forms and what to look for in contracts for work or properties. I'll get my lawyer friends to help me with those. I'd get expert advice in each category except for the ones I don't need them on, namely, makeup. It's going to take a long time, and eventually published, I hope. It would be thick and weighty with lots of pictures. It'd be encyclopedic in information and parents would give it to their daughters on their 18th birthdays as a reference guide to the rest of their lives. In the print edition I would provide up to date lists for must read, watch, listen items, but less for actual quality, although quality would have to be guaranteed, but more for the cultural expansion of knowledge so that said daughter would get the references made in the world they're stepping into.

Ambitious, no? But that's the 5 year plan. For now, I'll start small, very small. In fact the moment I hit publish I am going to regret putting this out into the world at all and probably do nothing about it.

I also have a Momofuku's Crack Pie date to go to, so toodles for now!
(It would appear that I may need to write a chapter on stunt eating, and use myself as an example of what not to do.)

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Slop Bucket

As promised, summery days and nights arrived ahead of its cue, and like an embarrassed child, retracted apologetically. We did manage to slip in a few fun filled days in the park during its brief appearance, as most of you on facebook (read: everyone) already know. That was one way to while away the listless daylight hours now. I suppose I could (should) start the job hunt on the illegal overseas student employment market. If there are any readers out there who are owners of manhattan based establishments willing to take on a neurotic (in an entirely professional way) Asian (= hard working) girl who is constantly on the quest for approval (= fantastic customer service), please, save me the trouble and drop a line.

Apart from that, I think I'll just continue on my mission of watching every episode of shows on netflix I'd always wanted to watch but never had the time to.

That would only be until mother arrives, of course.

I need to make it clear though, here, for everyone to see. I, Alice Bing Qing Tao Qin, hereby swear that my work ethic is going to shape right up, as of, Remember my fuck it manifesto? Well it's now going to include this amendment.

On top of not being afraid of creating and treating it like first time sex (just get it done so you can get on to the much better second and third time sex, according to merlin mann) I will actually go further, do more than the bare requirement. Ask more of myself than what is asked by the other people around me. Not just getting the job done but banging it out of the park. I'm mixing metaphors here but you get the idea. Because let's face it, being "good enough" is too easy, and unsatisfying (shit, the sex puns just want to write themselves). There, it's in print now, and you can all hold me to it.

CALL ME OUT ON MY BULLSHIT, people. If I'm clearly not trying hard enough, slap me, hard.

The fat trimming would begin, coincidentally, with fat trimming. Before you guys start on me, yeah, I know I'm not fat. I'm clearly not thin either, and the truth is I probably never will be simply because of my body shape. But for someone who has always sat on the "underweight" side of the BMI scale, to be smack bang in the middle now makes me sad. Regular regimen, cutting out most of the junk (save for my How I Met Your Mother dates, because girl talk and sitcoms are not the same without chocolate), and throwing out my takeout menus. Earning points on is just not worth it. That's enough airing of laundry for the night.


I have had a fine start to my summer break, people. Enjoyed the company of great people, learned a lesson in managing expectations... there is one thing nagging the back of my head though.

I lost a friend recently. No, no one died, but through an offhand comment, I had manged to offend someone irrevocably. Obviously, a button got pushed that I shouldn't have played around with in the first place. I have went over my words repeatedly and have decided point blank, that I would not apologise for them, because the entire friendship was based on two people who can be brutally honest with each other, and an apology would simply be a lie. Knowing him to be who he is, I am sure he would not see my side of things either. Stale mate, a friend is lost. I haven't thought about this for days now, namely because I've had a blissful few days, and I'm a brilliant compartmentaliser. But today, waking up in an empty bed, feeling a little disoriented and then realising that the person I normally try to make sense of it all to, to jot down these related elements in my life in a cohesive way, I can no longer relate to. For that, on a day that I was already kinda bummed, the arrow ticked over into the blue zone.

Let's focus on the bliss for a moment here. I won't go too much into it, but good food, good friends, and other kinds of good times. The lesson here is to just go with it, that if it feels right, then don't let inconsequential things hinder you any. And High Fidelity is still an awesome film no matter how many times I've seen it.

The Girlfriend Experience is on showtime right now. You know, for someone who performs like a champ in front of a camera for adult activities, Sasha Grey is really an incredibly dull person. Speaking of which, could we pause for a moment to revel in the recently resurrected hotness of scarjo? She has reclaimed her heights at the Match Point levels of hot, meaning, had I not been in the company of people, I may have had a much bigger reaction to that last black widow fight sequence.

Alright, this post is now officially living up to its title, time to call it a night. It is now a Friday though, so you know what that means...

Five scenes from my life in 2010 so far.

* The night before leaving Melbourne, Dean, Maya and Yoyo in my drive way, making things impossible.

* After Jimmy's critiques of the Poetry Projects, the running outside followed by the 45 minutes of uncontrollable sobbing that occurred.

* Studio 2F, Voice and Speech class, the most awkward thing to have happened this year, you know what I'm talking about.

* Corner of 32nd and 5th Ave, outside Chicken Revolution, two girls screaming at each other about life changing things.

* Walking out of Hotel Chelsea with a certain red head

More Narcissism Than You Asked For

1. What time did you get up this morning?
Chris texted me before noon, I woke up, typed a reply, fell back asleep before hitting send... I'm going to go with noon.

2. Diamonds or pearls?
Diamonds, duh.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Iron Man 2. It was good times

4. What's your favorite TV show?
Studio 60, Mad Men, and then a lot of trash I'd rather not admit to but you all know anyway

5. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Nothing, refer to question 1.

6. What's your favorite cuisine?
The carb/starch portion of most cuisines. Breads, Rice, Potatos, Pasta, Noodles. I could KILL a garlic naan right now.

7. What foods do you dislike?

8. What is your favorite chip flavor?
Red Deli chips Lime and Black Pepper (someone please send me some)

9. What's your favorite CD at the moment?
Today was a Portishead - Dummy kind of day.

10. What kind of car do you drive?
used to. Pug, I miss it, it's a sad story.

11. Favorite sandwich?
the closed smxl at Melbourne Central 5/6 years ago. Moroccan Lamb, served by Tony. (If you know who I'm talking about, please contact me)

12. What characteristics do you despise?
Arrogance, Ignorance,

13. What is your favorite type of clothing?

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation.Where?

15. What color is your bathroom?
Painfully white.

16. Favorite brand of clothing?
My own that I'm totally going to create that only makes one size in each style

17. Where would you retire to?
Melbourne. Really truly.

18. Favorite time of the day?

19. What was your most memorable birthday?
My 21st. It was super low key, with very select people, and I actually remember it being happy.

20. Where were you born?

21. Favorite sport to watch?
Errrr.... Anything during the Olympics. Tennis during Aussie Open, Soccer during World Cup, but if there's some sitcom marathon on at the same time I'd totally pick the sitcom

22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you?
no one

23. Person you expect to send it back first?
I will be sending this to no one

24. What fabric detergent do you use?
Bounce dryer sheets

25. Were you named after anyone?
I was named after a Chinese proverb. Alice I just picked out of a dictionary.

26. Do you wish on stars?
no, I prefer to ask questions to the solitaire gods

27. When did you last cry?
When Bernard's voice quivered during my evals, I lost it.

28. Do you like your handwriting?
When I'm trying, it's ok, but not really.

29. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?
I like to think so.

30. Are you a daredevil?
haaaaaa. In that I do stupid shit, yes.

31. Do looks matter?
Yes. Absolutely. But how a person look to you changes as you learn more about them.

32. How do you release anger?
In imagined outbursts while I'm lying in my bed. Or in very passive aggressive ways.

34. What were your favorite toys as a child?
Books. I was a boring kid. Actually I just liked playing with other kids. Jump rope, stunt jump rope, hide and seek, stunt hide and seek, trying to kick shuttlecock.

35. What class in High School was totally useless?
Chinese, because we had a bullshit teacher who even my mother agrees I could have taught.

37 Favorite movies?
Check my facebook profile

38. What are your nicknames?
I did a Friday Five on this once...

39. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Not often

40. Do you think that you are strong?

41. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Pistachio - because I'm an old lady.

42. What are your favorite colors?
Right now it appears to be green. Bright colours that make me happy

43. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
I don't like it when I talk. I communicate better in noises.

44. Who do you miss the most?
ergh, where do I begin. My grandfather, Dean, Maya, Yoyo, Daphne, Cary, Ryan, my boys Miles and Charlie.

45. Do you want everyone you sent this to, to send it back to you?

46 What color pants are you wearing?
I'm wearing a dress right now

47. Last thing you ate?

48. Favorite song?
This is joke response because the question has to be a joke. Mao! Mao! by Claude Channes

49. If you were a CRAYON what color would you be?
Yellow. Right? RIGHT???

50. Last person you talked to on the phone?
Hannah, arranging our Crack Pie date tomorrow

51. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Eyes, then if I'm interested, shoulders then lips.

52. Favorite drink?

53. Do you wear contacts?

54. Favorite day of the year?
First day of Spring, New Years Day.

55. Endings happy or sad?

56. Winter/summer?
errrrrrr.... Winter, because I look cuter.

57. Hugs OR Kisses?

58. What is Your Favorite Dessert?
Something light. Fruit over dessert most of the time

59. What Book(s) are you reading?
ergh. I'm a pathetic book reader right now

60. What is on your mouse pad?
you mean what's on my trackpad? well worn finger marks

61. What Did You Watch Last night on TV?
Arrested Development

62. Favorite Smells?
Clean laundry coming out of the dryer, Pillows a cute boy slept on after he's left, Clean hair, Armani Sensi

63. Stones or Beatles?
Beatles. I do love me a bit of Stones too though

64. What's the furthest you've been from home?
Right here.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

here comes the sun

Or, coming out of 'Pause Poise'
...which would literally mean 'waiting to exhale'

Did I tell you that my room is, for the moment at least, "complete"?

Bedside table, assembled. Posters, up. Bookshelves, overflowing. I have the most perfect cozy nook this side of 14st street (as far as I'm concerned), and I'm not afraid to roost.

The funds are getting tighter, which makes my 'easy living' something of a game. The weather is finally turning on the charms. I remember this time last year I was discovering new land, and myself, cohabitation, and making new friends whom I wish I could see more often, or even at all. Early Spring days that feel like summer could now only mean Coney Island, gelati, and spontaneous bursts of joy - all very good things to associate with (except for Coney Island, which is just hilarious). This time around it would never be the same again, and as nostalgic as I like to be sometimes, I'm still pretty freakin' excited.

Drama school is, as common knowledge, pretty much synonymous with psycho therapy. Either replacing it, or driving you towards it. Being the usual ball of needy mess that I am (while maintaining a perfectly painted and pruned exterior), the summer finally means a chance to get my breath back. Release from the 'Pause Poise', if you will. The well of insecurities which I managed to clamp shut most of this semester finally broke a few weeks ago, and with it everything else broke too. Got sick for the first time in ages, felt alone for the first time in ages, got back on my feet on my own for the first time in ages, and looked forward to a break from everything for the first time in ages. Do you ever get the feeling that you love everything that you're doing, but you just want it to stop for a while? That you are just so absolutely exhausted from everything, you could hole up in the fetal position and stay there for months? I am there right now, even with all the shit that the humidity of New York summer dumps on my face, I say, BING. IT. ON. I am so ready for you.

Someone once told me, I write a lot, but I say nothing in these blogs, and I realised that it's annoyingly true. I hate those viciously vague blogs that waft on about intangibles, and here I am, wafting on about intangibles. It's because the people I would have to write about, would most definitely object to being written about. You should write me an email requesting for clarification or anecdotal evidence. I compose excellently juicy emails that would ramble on ad nauseam about any number of topics. I am the fountain of random inconsequential knowledge peppered with sassy opinion seasoning on absolutely everything.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

beauty HGs

I have by no means found them for every category, but for the ones I have found, I will forever remain loyal. So for now, I will post here, my few makeup and skin care HGs. Obviously not a post for everyone, but at least it's something I can finally be bothered blogging about. The categories are random, because the items that have officially achieved hg status is random, so bear with me.

(HG = abv. holy grail. term used in beauty blogs to indicate the ultimate product in any given category. It either performs up to its marketed claims or does everything you want something in that category to do)


Aesop - Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream

I started using this about two years ago, mostly because a new store opened in South Yarra next to my bank and it looked so clean and beautiful inside. I started using this as an evening cream (I still use Olay Complete for Sensitive skin with spf 15 during the day), and didn't realise any major changes because my skin was doing just fine at the time. But I did find that my skin felt calm, and comfortable. It didn't break me out, or felt left it feeling greasy, or tight. My skin was in one of those perfect relationships that you take for granted, and eventually make you itch for something else. With every new flashy packaging or some fantastic write up in the beauty news sections of top fashion mags my eyes would guiltily stray, but I never dared to actually have a full blown affair, not even a fling. My camellia nut stayed with me through my move from Melbourne to Sydney, then to New York. Three very different air conditions, and my skin fared well in all three.

Over the last Christmas and New Years holidays, I went back to Melbourne. I had finally finished my 120ml jar and wanted to stock up in Melbourne (It is still depressingly limited in access here in the States). I had a small tube of Hope In A Jar, one of those beauty award winners and customer favourites that During my faithful years with Aesop I had kept flirting with. What better time to try than Summer in Australia right? It was a horrible mistake. The harsh Australian sun and dry hot winds gave me terrible dry patches that flaked and broke up in rude tiny red bumps all along my cheeks and dangerously close to my eyes, and there was nothing that Hope in a Jar could do to stop it. I'm sure that after a few weeks when my skin got used to the change in climate it would have calmed down on its own and went on merrily in a mildly unsatisfied way. But this was my holiday dammit, I had friends to see! So I went ahead and ran back to my Aesop a little earlier than planned. First of all, my skin felt better, and it only took another two nights of vigorous reapplying for it to look better. As I sat in front of the tv with my mum, I rubbed a heavy dosage every 10 minutes into the trouble areas, my very own version of a hydrating treatment, and it worked. The best part was it didn't irritate my extremely sensitive skin either, even in such heavy doses around an area so close to my eyes.

So in summery, super good stuff for dry, sensitive skin. yeah. Unfortunately for my American friends, it is only available at Barneys, and J. Crew Men's stores of all places, and they only stock the smaller 60ml jar size.

USA: USD$43.50 for 60ml at Barneys.
Australia: AUD$43 for 60ml; $59 for 120ml at Aesop

Pencil Eyeliner

Urban Decay - 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil

Don't worry, not every item would be an essay. This one is pretty straight forward. It's soft, creamy, really does glide on but has bang on staying power. My eyelids are not greasy so I can't speak for everyone, but on my uppers it lasts as long as I need it to, until I wash it off at night. It lasts a few hours on my waterline, but then again nothing should last any longer than that on your water line. I carry the black one (zero) with me everywhere I go, the white one (yeyo) has a frosty finish, and brightens the inner corner very well. I like to use one of the bright colours that they do on my lower lash line, then smudging it out with a similar coloured eyeshadow, even when I'm doing a relatively neutral eye look, it ads a nice punch of colour. When you smudge them, they provide a nice base for your shadows too. They work a bit like gel eyeliners (the ones that come in a pot and requires a brush), once you have it on you have a few seconds before it "sets", but a lot more convenient, all you need is a good sharpener.

USA: USD$17 at Sephora
Australia: Unavailable, but I'm willing to ship it to you.

Eye Shadow Brush

Mac 239

I don't know why every brush line don't carry a flat white goat hair eyeshadow brush. Years and years ago, when Red Earth wanted to actually be a proper cosmetics company, they had a dupe which I actually personally find to be better than the mac one, but no use trying them now because the new ones, though technically the same, is shite. The basic concept is, it's stiff, but soft. You get precision in application, and it let's you really pack on the colour. You can get away with just this one eye brush if you're travelling, because you can use one side for your base colour, the other side for your crease colour, and blend it with the tips of the bristles. Ideally you'd also have a blending brush, something nice and fluffy and a stiff little pencil brush to blend your liner, especially the lower line. For that I'd suggest mac's 224 and 219 respectively. Anyway get it, it's what turned me from a high school girl with nfi what she's doing still trying to work with sponge tips, to that crazy girl with all those colours on her eyes. Bright colours is, of course, not obligatory with the brush, the brush is obligatory in trying to do decent rainbow eyes. Ya get me?

USA: USD$24.50 at Mac
Australia: AUD$48 at Mac (how depressing is that?)

Loose Powder

Make Up For Ever - HD Microfinish Powder

The Laura Mercier translucent powder had been topping the the InStyle Best Beauty Buy list for years, and two years ago I bought it, but it didn't impress me any more or less than the SK-II mum gave me because some one gave it to her and she hates using powders. The overwhelmingly underwhelming powder left me wondering if powders are all and the same, as long as it's finely milled, not one brand or product will perform better or worse than the other. By then I'd started using Everyday Minerals foundation daily which didn't really need a finishing powder on me (my skin is not that oily) so I'd just given up on the stuff altogether. The the Make Up For Ever HD powder came out. I wanted to feel it because Leesha over at xsparkage talked it up so much. Oh dear lord! Never has my skin felt such smoothness. It was beautiful. I started using liquid foundations again on days I had more time and felt good about it. It's translucent, and I found it to be translucent. After suggesting it to a friend she got a mini jar to test drive but told me she didn't like how it lightened when you pack it on. I don't know, I never really found that to be the case with me, I think it depends on the oils in your skin and what foundation you use.

USA: USD$30 for 0.35oz at Sephora
Australia: Unavailable

Bright Matte Red Lippy

Nars - Jungle Red

I know this is highly subjective, and because of skin colouring etc this would be different on everyone. But this is MY list so I can choose whatever the fuck I like, and this is perfect for me. From it's nice feel packaging to simple product design to the staying power to the bangin in ya face red shade. This is my ultimate red lippy. I love Nars lipsticks in general, all the lippies I ever use, when I can be bothered with doing my lips (which is not often, I've been trained by constantly dating boys who refuse to kiss me when I have anything on my lips).

USA: USD$24 at Sephora
Australia: AUD$58 at Mecca Cosmetica (are they serious?!)

Everyday Blush

Nars - Amour

Everyone knows about Orgasm blush, but I hate having shimmer on my face. This is basically the same colour as Orgasm, but without the shine. It is literally my everyday blush, as in, I wear this, every. day. period. It might seem costly, but it lasts forever. (seriously, has anyone ever hit pan on a Nars blush?)

USA: USD$26 at Sephora
Australia: AUD$62 at Mecca Cosmetica (mecca tax at its worst)

Lip Balm

DAY: Nivea - Repair and Protection

These are the requirements for me for an everyday lipbalm.
a) single handed application. eg stick or tube form
b) non-sticky
c) penetrates the outer layers and not lies on top of lips
d) having good/no taste
This covers them all. The boys in Sydney got me on to this. What better beauty endorsement than from queens on Oxford St right? I haven't tried their new formula now with SPF 20, but as long as they don't change the old one but just add the spf then all should be dandy. I hate chapstick because of the taste, and the way it feels like it just lies on top of my lips without doing anything to them. I used to be a blistex girl but they stopped making the DCT (daily conditioning treatment) in the tube form and I hate mini jars because I like to reapply lip balm often, and having to use my fingers throughout the day grossed me out. This is gentle, actually moisturises, doesn't have any taste and not too sticky, unfortunately, unavailable in the states as of yet. I stocked up when I went back to Australia but I may need replenishment as I litter them around my apartment and in various coat pockets. (yes, it's THAT MUCH of a necessity for me). The fact that it's cheap is just a bonus.

USA: unavailable
Australia: AUD$3.99 at all good pharmacies, Pricelines, supermarkets

Night: Lucas Paw Paw Ointment

Also unavailable in the states. I know, my poor lips, having to rely on my infrequent trips home. Not much to say about this, it's largely petroleum, which is vaseline, but the 10% paw paw does make a difference. When my lips are in need of serious care I use this, or sometimes I put on a thick layer at night and by morning my lips are soft and pouty. Of course this stuff is not just for your lips, it's good for elbows and knees or anything you'd normally use vaseline for. But just like vaseline, it could feel greasy. I saw price of a 25 gram tube grow from $3.99 to the now exorbitant $7.99 at priceline, all within the space of 3 years, simply because the beauty mags picked up on this secret. But you can still find it for the el cheapo price of $3.99 on the Pulse Pharmacy online store

USA: Unavailable
Australia: AUD$3.99 for 25g tube, AUD$7.99 for 75g jar at Pulse Pharmacy

That's about it. There's a lot of products that come very close, and so I'll just go through a few of them.


Mineral Foundation: Everyday Mineral foundation in Semi-Matte. My colour is Golden Light (I'm about NC25 in Mac right now), and it's the one foundation that I got the most compliments on. I like the coverage, and it doesn't move on me, it lets my natural oils come through during the day so even when it starts coming off it doesn't look gross. It's a nice formula that doesn't do horrible things to my skin either. My summer foundation.


Liquid Foundation: MAC Studio Sculpt. It's technically a gel foundation, I love the texture, it's full coverage (when I'm wearing a liquid foundation, it's always when I need it to be heavy coverage, otherwise I'd just stick to my mineral) and it's got some spf which is always a good thing

Do-it-all, The one I travel with Foundation: MAC Studio Fix. It's a buildable coverage powder foundation, I just wack on some concealer, and buff it on with a kabuki. It's easy, you get really nice coverage with it, and not messy like mineral foundations can get.

On The Go Powder: MAC Mineralized Skin Finish Natural. On good skin days I can just concealer and put this on. It's nice, light coverage, I'm using Medium but I could almost go for Medium Plus, but since it's very light coverage one shade can cover a lot of scope. There is coverage though, it does even out your skin nicely.

This is contentious. Every brand would do some colours beautifully, and some not so well, so these would be generalisations. You really do have to try out the texture and pigmentation in the store.

For Bright Colours: Make Up For Ever. (especially their purple, number 93. It's hard to find a good purple and this one is perfect, you would have heard other people talk about this). I really like their mattes.

Overall: MAC, of course. As far as colour selection goes nothing else compares. I especially love their Veluxe, Veluxe Pearl, Velvet and Satin finishes. But of course there are duds in every finish, go feel them in the store.

For Golds: Stila. Yeah, I know, surprising, but their golds are beautiful.

Beginners Colourful Palette: Urban Decay Deluxe Shadow Box. These are nice and soft, and you can build a whole bunch of look from this. All you need is an additional high light colour and from bold to neutral, you're pretty much set. I don't like the normal urban decay shadows but their deluxe shadows really are nice to play with.

Pen style liquid eyeliner: Shiseido. It's refillable, the packaging is beautiful, it's got a nice brush that give you a lot of control and draws nice lines. Only gripe is the actual liner itself, could be longer lasting, but on my upper lids I've never had a problem. Would not recommend it for the lower line, or a potentially teary day.

When I can be bothered eyeliner: Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner. Seriously good stuff, but it's just so gosh darn cumbersome. From having to clean the brush everyday, to the fact that it would dry out slightly so that by the time you're half way through the expensive and tiny-looking-but-lasts-a-surprisingly-long-time jar you need to start reviving it with eye drops, after which it's never the same again. I'm going to try the Urban Decay Liquid Liner next, because I hear good things. Will get back to you.

Skin/body care:

Body Scrub: Kiehls Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish. Yummy, and makes your skin soft. What else do you need from a body scrub right?

Body Lotion: Vaseline Sheer Infusion. I like the smell, it moisturises fast without making your skin greasy, does exactly what I need in a body lotion.

Toner: Kiehls Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner. Again, no complaints. I can feel a difference when moisturising depending on if I use it or not so obviously it does something, when it comes to toners my bar is set pretty low, basically as long as it doesn't irritate my skin (which a lot of products do) and this fits the bill.

Cleanser: Kiehls Foaming Non-Detergent Washable Cleanser. I've tried a bunch (philosophy being a huge disappointment again) but this one does what the Philosophy Purity claims to do, wash my face and remove my makeup. Obviously not every trace of waterproof eyeliner but enough. My skin do feel a little bit tight after but honestly, I moisturise so soon afterward so who cares. I started using the Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing self foaming Cleanser recently, it does it's job well for a drugstore product, not as well as the Kiehls but I'm willing to continue using it until I finish it. I really like the self foaming pump as well.

Spot Treatment: Origins Spot Remover. 2% salicylic acid, no-nonsense spot dryer. It's not instantaneous, best used overnight since it's very drying. Best in the category, but I wish it could be better.


Overall Nail Polish: Essie. I know it doesn't have as wide a range of colours as the other brands, but it does enough bright colours that make me happy, and they are my favourite formula. (I'm not a big nail polish person, but I'm really not a big fan of OPI, yet to try China Glaze)

Mascara: Most Lancome waterproof mascaras. Most notably Hypnose, but since I purchase them at duty free when I travel I always get a 3 pack and it takes a while before I get to try a new one. For a drugstore mascara I always go for Maybelline's Full 'n' Soft (again, in waterproof). I have tiny Asian lashes, I need the lighter waterproof formulas so that my curls stay.

Korres Cherry Oil Glosses. Nice, non-sticky, I like the cherry flavour.
Clinique Superbalm. I don't know why they're called Superbalm, they're glosses, they're slightly sticky like a gloss, but they do hydrate like a balm. Colours are sheer, but do make a slight difference. Get the 4 mini packs during holiday time, You can prick a hole through it and put it on your key chain or your cell phone.

Ok that's enough blogging for the day, that took me all of 2 hours. Good night ladies.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

missing stacks

My apartment looks directly into the window of this dude who leaves the TV on at all hours. There's some animal planet show on, something predatory. I wonder if he can see into my window just as easily when I'm perched at my makeup stool in the mornings, covered by a towel (at the best of times).

I'm not sure if this place feels exactly like home yet. I bought a refurbished 1950s rotary dial princess phone to go on the land line, connecting that made me feel a bit like an adult, the fact that the first phone call I received was a wrong number made it feel real. The bulk of my books are on their way to me now but the bookshelves are already full. I'm destined for homes that would perpetually look messy from stacks of books lying around.

Life evolves around our lady, Miss Adler. My days and nights are spent hauling ass to-ing and fro-ing from home, to studio. Sometimes involving an air-mattress.

It's been bliss.

Over a year in New York, I'm still not used to it. I've got my patterns and endless lists to do, to see. Try as I might I'm still scratching at surfaces, that's just a part of living here I guess, the constant realisation that the city has endless offerings. I'm sure I'll feel comfortable once all my books get here, and my posters go up, and the rest of this shoebox gets filled with things that make me smile.

All this is my fault really. I seem to settle into the discomfort of being in limbo. There's a bedside table that I have refused to assemble for the last 4 months, still sitting in its box in my entrance hall. there's the summer clothes I've set aside that I still need to put away, just in time for the approaching warmer months. I get into the habit of being too angry with myself to do anything about it. Masochistic much?

I had wanted to sleep early tonight, and it's now 1:30. So I'll leave it at that, but I'm not done yet, not by a long shot...

5 topics I need to cover tomorrow when I pick this up again:

1. Books not read
2. Films not seen (and therefore entirely uninformed Oscar predictions)
3. The outpouring of love I feel for a surprising number of people in my section
4. Cupcake adventures
5. The further misadventures of my romantic encounters.

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