Birthday Celebrations Hostile City Style

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Who needs extensive planning to enjoy a birthday?  Okay, there was some planning for the hair and outfit, but that’s it, I swear.  Special thanks goes to Wal*Mart for having an oh so perfectly tacky pink ‘Birthday Girl’ button.

Drove up to my grandma’s house in the late afternoon for some great conversation and a light lunch, not to mention picking up a card and birthday wishes from Dad.  It was nice to visit but a bit sad as well, because the town hardly ever changes and is just a reminder of why I feel so disconnected from that part of Jersey.  It’s a place I lived for several years that seem like they are millions of miles away now, but that is the way everything feels since I have gotten back from traveling.  Perhaps life on the road has effected me more than I care to admit, because if I get caught up in silly notions I will get distracted by them and believe that is the way things are.  Or maybe I am just thinking about things way too much.

With the evening coming fast, I returned to the house, showered and proceeded to assemble myself for the evening.  Rocked some red and white eye shadow to compliment the freshly touched-up colors in my hair, which was styled in Bettie bangs and loose curls.  Decided to wear a newly purchased circus-style black coat, grey and black pinstripe corset-style halter top and a black pleated skirt that just touches my knees.  Clipped some red bondage straps that I have had forever [they came from a shop on Saint Marks in NYC many years ago] onto the D-rings , slipped into black pothole tights, accented them with ed ankle socks and then strapped on a pair of black leather Mary Jane’s .

While hiding in the car to smoke a bowl the other day, I was startled by the ringing of my cell phone.  Ordinarily I do not pick up unknown or private numbers, but something in the back of my head told me I wanted to answer.  That instinct came in handy, because there was a familiar voice that greeted me from the other side.

It was Jon and my heart skipped a few beats — we have not been in contact pretty much since I left Jersey to go on tour with the carnival.  Then again, I did not really have the time or desire to talk to anyone, but that is not the point here.  After discussing the things we had been doing, Jon mentioned that he was back in the Garden State himself and said he wanted to give me a birthday to remember.

Jon asked me to meet him down in Philly, which I have only really visited when I was a young child.  We have designated spots where we usually meet, so the request was a bit strange.  However, it seemed to be part of whatever scheme he had up his sleeve, as I know him well enough that I always have to prepare for the unexpected, so I decided to play along.  Grabbed directions from Mapquest and took my first official ride to the City of Brotherly Love.

There was a smile on my face when I pulled into the parking lot, my sides about to  burst from excitement.  How many days had passed since we last saw each other?  They were not worth calculating and at that moment totally meaningless.  No matter how much time spans between our meetings, they unfold as though it never existed.  Jon had shaved his head when we parted ways over the Summer, and when I saw him with the Mercury, immediately I noticed that it had grown in, molded into a flawless pompadour.  The trademark white streaks were prominent under the lights that kept the parking lot from being dark.  He looked absolutely stunning in a black on black pinstripe shirt, his favorite patched-up pants, blue snake-skin boots and red leather jacket.  His entire face lit up when he saw me and as he slowly approached my heart swooned.

Our embrace seemed to last forever and could have spanned the entire collection of Hollywood Moments we built over the years.  He smelled like the ocean, black licorice and whiskey; the scent of his leather jacket was fresh with cologne and the colors of his tattoos stood out against the blackness of his shirt.  It would have been easy to lose myself in that moment, but the night had just begun and he pulled away to light a smoke for us to share.  Before we leave the lot, he gives me a little gift that we make use of while walking up a flight of stairs, across a pedestrian bridge where we emerged onto a place called South Street.  This random girl in platforms wearing black, green and yellow dread falls sees me and says: “I love your hair.  You’re beautiful honey…fucking gorgeous.”  Hooray for compliments from strangers!

Mako’s is the first bar we visit.  The door man wished me a happy birthday and instructed me to tell the bartender to give me a shot.  While he had noticed the date on my ID, Jon made sure he pointed out the fact as well.  As we make our way upstairs, he nudges me and jokes that I better be able to handle what is coming.  That ‘shot’ wound up being a Long Island Iced Tea which was 100% alcohol; Jon did shots of whiskey and laughed while I slowly drank the wicked brew.  A second was purchased as we watched people play pool.  While I had plenty of money I was told that spending it was out of the question.  The scene was not really my taste, or maybe it was due to the fact that all the people seemed to be hanging out downstairs.  We were upstairs with really bad music and easily grew bored with watching pool, so we decided it was best to head elsewhere, but not before we raced each other drinking a beer.

Even though it was fairly dark outside, I could see the illustrations clearly painted on the outside of the next bar we went to — a place called Tattooed Mom.  They were sideshow banners.  Well, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but the aesthetic of that kind of artwork was certainly there.  At that point I was beside myself with glee and we had not even gone inside yet.  Jon explained that it was one of his favorite bars to visit when he was in Philly so he thought I would enjoy it as well and so far he was right.

Inside was far more awesome than I could have ever expected.  There is tattoo flash in frames on the walls, creepy action figures and Bleeding Edge Goth type dolls on shelves hovering high in the air.  People are heavily tattooed and display prominent piercings.  There’s some rocking music that’s blending into the multitude of conversations around me, yet I felt so totally comfortable that it was almost ridiculous.  We did shots [my first one being free] of whiskey and snacked on a huge mound of nachos ‘n’ cheese while chatting about what we did over the  Summer.  On several occasions I found myself rambling because I was so captivated by him and probably made a fool of myself.  Something made my heart flutter, but I told myself it was a result of all the things I was putting into my body.

Jon wants me to check out the upstairs, so I follow him up a narrow flight and am thankful that I was wearing sensible shoes because my legs were feeling a bit rubbery.  The walls upstairs are covered with graffiti in vein of CBGB’s, so it was cool to have a NYC flashback for a moment.  There were bumper cars and an old wood roller coaster car just sitting up there as well.  No idea where they came from, but I totally wanted to steal them.

Jon and I managed to squeeze ourselves  into that wooden sled and toasted my birthday with a shot of whiskey.  At that moment I became aware that his arm was around me and he was holding onto me tightly, seemingly distracted by the mass of people around us.  Then he turns to me and plants a small kiss square on my lips, a sly smile following as he stands up and helps me out of the coaster car.  The bar was becoming increasingly crowded and it was a hassle to get any more drinks, so we decided to head out.

We wandered down to street and find ourselves at a place simply called 218.  At this point I am nearly delirious with excitement – the best I can describe it is to associate it with the same feeling I get after being pierced or tattooed.  It was a little overwhelming but I managed to keep things together.  Jon and I sit down at the bar where I have another free shot followed by rum and pineapple juice, while he has a pint and some shots of whiskey.  Then I find myself to be beyond drunk and not really sure how I made my way into the bathroom.  The call of nature may have guided me there for all I know.  However, I did recall leaving a tag in every bathroom I had visited, with that one being no exception.  There was also a chick who was not shy about hoisting up her skirt to show me her tattoo, and much more.  It amused me that there was no door to the stall, just a shower curtain, and an ugly one at that.

When I returned to the bar, I just had to share my bizarre bathroom experience with Jon, who laughs and says he is bored with the people there.  Next thing I know, we are walking down the street searching for another bar to go in.  Worth mentioning here that he held me close during this walk, almost in a protective way.  It was nice and felt comforting, which was needed since I definitely stumbled a lot.

By the time we made our way into a bar it was last call, which is always enough time for a free shot.  There was some dude that could not stop staring at Jon, and I guess he sort of has that presence about him.  Jon almost confronted the guy but was more concerned about getting us back to the parking lot.

All of that is a blur as we are climbing into my car and he instructs me to head towards a diner.  Jon was certainly in no condition to drive, but the place was too far for us to walk.  Calling a cab would have been a better idea, but in our heads we had found the best solution as I was sober enough to man the wheel.  We make it to the diner without incident and have a bit of a wake up call before going inside.

Driving may have been accomplished but I failed at walking.  All I remember is that we were crossing the street one moment, and then I was lying on the ground.  Jon is standing above me and I burst out laughing, drunkenly rambling about how I fell down.  He laughs too and hauls me to my feet.  Our eyes locked for a moment, and I was so close to his face that I touched my lips to his.  We continued to the diner and I had to put the momentary kiss in the back of my head.  Got some nasty marks on my knee, but that’s cool.  Now I have a reminder of the evening.

It was good to have breakfast in the form of a Western omlette on toast and cup o’ joe with tons of sugar — always a favorite after a long nite of drinking and needing something to settle the stomach.  It was an all too familiar scene for me.  So many times we had found ourselves on either side of a table with our minds soaked in alcohol and rambling as we stuffed our faces with breakfast foods before awkwardly parting ways even though neither of us ever wanted to.  This time it was different.  This time there was no boyfriend waiting up for me, wondering where I was and then accusing me of cheating when I did not explain.  This time I could stay with Jon for as long as I wanted.

In any event, I was in no condition to drive back to the house, so he insisted that I crash at his place.  When we get there it is a direct route to his bedroom where gave me something to change into.  He politely invited me into bed, taking me in his arms and holding me close the way he always did; one friend sharing comfort and security with another.  Then came the moment where something else happened that made Jon’s earlier prediction come true, though those details will always be locked in memory and not written words.

Everything had been different since the minute we had met in that parking lot.  It only built up for the rest of the evening, and as we laid there in our most vulnerable state, I could no longer deny the fact I loved that man despite the baggage he comes with and the nagging drug problem.  He has told me numerous times that he loves me more than he needs a fix, but that night he finally proved it, and there is no question of where his dedication lies.

Although I had slept well, my body was still weary when I woke up.  Had some fruit and tea with Jon as we blazed and watched some cartoons.  If I had not already made plans to visit my Dad, I definitely would not have left and part of me was definitely fighting against having to do so.  It was hard to say good-bye, especially since Jon almost refused to let me out of his grasp.  Every second I had spent in his arms was filled with safety and comfort, and I certainly do not feel that way at all now.  Thinking about all of this makes me miss him terribly.

The entire trip to and from my Dad’s house was absolutely horrible.  My body needed more rest, as I kept drifting off while driving, had a nap while at his place and had to pull over while on the highway driving back so I could vomit.  Suffice to say that drinking in excess is not something I really want to do again any time in the near future.  Sure I can  use the excuse that it was my birthday, but I felt awful and wished I was still with Jon.

Was able to smoke a bowl which helped make me feel better, and I decided against going out for New Year’s Eve because I just did not need to.  Jon called earlier to check in on me and we wound up talking for a few hours, which certainly helped me feel a lot better.  As I wait to fall asleep, I am promising myself that the new year will bring a new life for me.  There needs to be a change and I know that I am going to have someone by my side every step of the way.

Big Apple Circus

[Originaly written 12.30.2003]

Woke up early to shower and assemble myself, curiosity bugging me the entire time as to what Jon’s surprise was.  Walked down to the diner where we met up and had a small breakfast.  He had a huge smile plastered across his face but wouldn’t even drop a subtle hint.  Noted here that he was dressed in his Carny best: light blue sear-sucker suit, freshly pressed red shirt, yellow silk tie and matching pocket square, and a pair of red snake skin boots; dirty blond hair styled in shallow waves.  Meanwhile, I was rocking a layered red chiffon skirt and blue cotton button-down blouse with black leather pumps, my hair dancing around in chaotic curls.

After breakfast, we climbed into his Chevy and hopped on the Turnpike to get to the City; Jon lit a blunt en route.  Took the super secret way to the Holland Tunnel, bypassing all the other people that sat in traffic.  Tried to find decent [and legal] parking on the street, but no dice, so he  decided to just park in a lot.

At this point I would like to mention that it has been a long time since I went to see a circus.  Well, I do remeber that he took me to the Greatest Show on Earth at Madison Square Garden a couple years ago.  However, the Big Apple Circus was out in Lincoln Center, in a fucking tent.  Yes, in a small section of NYC there was this big blue tent that drew in the curious of all ages.  The smell of popcorn and hot dogs and other such non-nutrious foods swirled in the air as we entered that magical space.  The bathroom was a trailer, the seats were plastic and quite uncomfortable, and some snot nosed little brat kept kicking the back of my seat, but I had a blast.  The performance was over two hours long, complete with clowns, animals and aerialists.  The bright costumes, live music and the entire atmosphere in general made me forget where I was, taking me back to a time when the circus frequently rolled into town.  My face ached because I was smiling so much the entire time, my hand settled nicely in his.  Afterwards I gushed with thanks, which made Jon blush a bit as he said it was no big deal.  He just wanted to do something nice for me on my birthday and knew that I would appreciate the gesture for what it was.

We wandered around for a bit and found a neat little cafe where I had cake and coffee while my mind was wandering.  There is nothing else I want to do more than perform; to wake up the world from its ignorant slumber and entertain the masses.  In all honesty, I feel that is what I was put here to do and am anxious to start doing shows with Jon again.

Tomorrow I will be helping out with the big New Year’s Eve bash at the Palace of Variety with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.

Going out to lunch with my Dad soon.  Afterwards, I have to do a quick costume change and meet up with Jon so we can head into the City [again] and go look at some cool art.  Will most likely do dinner and drinks afterwards.  Time is wasting so I have to scoot.

[Later that evening]

It’s really late and I am full of so many stimulants that it’s ridiculous, but I won’t have time to write tomorrow and I want to get this down before I forget.

Lunch was really nice; my Dad gave me balloons, flowers and a lovely card.  While I wanted to tell him about the wonderful present Jon gave me, I kind of downplayed everything and simply stated I was enjoying my birthday.  Dropped everything off at the house and then met up with my boy in Newark.

Rode the PATH in, as neither one of us wanted to risk the amount of traffic that would be in the City.  Smoked a blunt while on the way to Fuse Gallery and casually chatted.  Ever since I got my hands on a John John Jesse print, I have been studying his work and learned many interesting things about his life.  When I discovered that several of his works would be on display in a local gallery, I had to seize the opportunity to see his art in person.  Of course sharing the whole experience with my best friend [on my birthday no less] carried a great amount of significance and was fitting as an excellent gift.  There were a lot of people crammed inside when we arrived, but somehow we managed to make enough room to gaze at the magnificent paintings.  Wine and assorted snacks were also up for grabs so we made sure to help ourselves to plenty of them.

Afterwards we wandered around to finish off the blunt before sitting down to dinner at Otto’s Shrunken Head.  This was one of those times where we dressed appropriately for the setting but still managed to stick out among everyone else present.  While I had expected the waiter to shove us in the back, we were shown to a table set with a cluster of votive candles and had a slight bit of distance from those around it so we could have a tiny bit of privacy.  We began with incredibly strong tiki drinks and ordered a bunch of appetizers with the plan of snacking when we wanted instead of attempting to have a full dinner.  This was a good idea, particularly since Jon had slipped me something on the way to the bar that already started to have me feeling good.

The music swelled around us and it was cool to see a decent amount of people at the other tables, even if they blurred together into some sort of cartoonic tiki nitemare.  Jon laughed when the waiter brought me chocolate lava cake with a sparkling pink candle in the top and a bunch of servers came over to sing me Happy Birthday.  He had the guiltiest look on his face but was caught up in his fit of hysteria, so I laughed too and waited for everyone to leave before snuffing the ‘candle’ out on my tongue.  We destroyed that cake and it was absolutely divine, melding well with all the rum in my stomach.

Eventually we had to leave because the bar was closing and it was quite an adventure back to the PATH, the ride seeming to take forever.  The air didn’t feel chilly at all as we walked to the lot where his car was parked, his hand holding mine, the soft leather of his glove swallowing my fingers.  When we reached the Chevy, Jon leaned me against the door and gently kissed my lips.  There was a part of me that wanted more, but I was starting to feel tired and unsure of what motivated the gesture.  So I slipped out of his arms and walked around the car, then waited for him to unlock the door.  Jon laughed and shook his head as we both climbed inside, silence filling the atmosphere.

Best birthday ever?  Possibly.  There are too many things running through my mind at the moment, and I need to get some sleep because I have to wake up and go into NYC tomorrow for New Year’s Eve madness.

Aesthetic Autopsy: Trapeze

The most notable performers in any classic or modern circus are those who utilize skills while simultaneously putting themselves at risk, making difficult maneuvers look incredibly flawless with smiles on their faces.  For me, pretty much every aerial art is beautiful and breathtaking, with toned, athletic bodies accomplishing feats that seem possible only in the realm of a comic book.  However, the grand champions of the space above the traditional rings that are a host to their own multitude of talents, are those individuals whose very entrance garnered the same reception as royal monarchs.  Trapeze is an aerial ballet that must be expertly coordinated and excellently timed – one simple misstep could result in a mid-air collision or even send the human body hurling towards the unforgiving cement floor of an arena.  Thankfully safety nets prevent most serious injuries, but deaths have occurred in the past and for me is an ever-present element of danger that makes achieving even the smallest trick incredibly magnificent.

trapeze-tony-curtis-burt-lancasterMy appreciation for this art comes from the 1956 classic film appropriately entitled Trapeze, which stars Burt Lancaster as an injured former star and Tony Curtis who becomes his protégé in hopes of learning the triple – that is, completing three somersaults in the air.  The passion captured by Lancaster’s performance as Mike Ribble, who firmly believes in the purity of traditional circus is something that I can definitely relate to.  Ribble plays coach to Curtis’ Tino, who has the ability to be something great but is distracted by Lola.  She wants to be her own star and wedges her way between the gentlemen in more ways than one.  She is also an example of how eye-candy is sort of expected when it comes to circus, which is obvious in the one scene where she is purposely showing off her costume in order to get what she wants.  The point is that the film does a great job of spotlighting the customary values of trapeze arts and how they are handed down through generations.

The wardrobe most commonly associated with the trapeze artist consists of leotards, tights and ballet-inspired shoes; each element allows them to execute a variety of stunts and the garments ensure these movements will not be restricted.  When making the grand entrance to an arena, a group is often adorned in coordinating colors, vibrantly hued material accented with sparkling sequins that will surely capture lights even hundreds of feet from the ground.  For an increased level of flamboyance, intricately detailed capes are displayed, further sustaining the notion that these individuals are no ordinary human beings, but in fact are blessed with otherworldly powers that they humbly choose to share with the audience.

CONTEMPORARY COSTUMING

Opulence does not have to be an understatement, nor does one want to be mistaken for an overdressed gymnast either.  There is a means of interpreting the aesthetics of trapeze costumes without duplicating them exactly, as inspiration does not need to lend itself to replication, particularly if one is aiming to capture the essence of a look for a photo shoot or performance piece.  Monotone outfits with graphic prints are a favorite when it comes to garnering attention for all of the right reasons, and so this first look is built upon a stunning latex leotard with large black and white “V” design that is fierce, while ruffled accents and flattering cut keeps the piece feminine without being overly frilly.  This feather and silk-fringed bolero is all about the details and will assist in keeping arms from being too chilly while waiting to ascend into the air.  Tights with a black and white diamond pattern are an excellent way to make legs look lean, which is essential when guiding gazes to leather ballet boots.  They are appreciated by fetishists for their posturing arches and require a strict amount of discipline if one expects to walk in them.  It is often said that the trapeze artists flies through the air with “the greatest of ease”, and this pair of Harlette Bella Du Juor Cuffs adorning the wrists will assist in attracting a mate while doing so.  Of course a silver necklace with angel wings could be considered a good luck charm and is not an overwhelming accessory.  For that statement piece, I present the brilliant black and white lattice print kisslock purse, which is lined with red silk to ensure that even the smallest personal item deserves to be handled with care.  A feather and sequined headpiece becomes the topping to this visual display of elegance.

SAVAGE STARLET

Bringing emphasis to the endless seduction of a woman’s curves, there is no denying the allure of this Leopard Print latex dress by Venus Prototype, especially since the red and black piping along with the crisscrossing lines across the front do much to punctuate the otherwise transparent leopard print.  Matching hat and gloves can also be found on her Etsy shop, omitted here in lieu of a single perfectly coordinating accessory in the form of these appropriate leopard print Teeze pumps from Bordello Shoes, which even comes with a red satin bow.  This elegant Black Crystal Beaded Pashmina shawl maintains a hint of modesty while adding a splash of sparkle, and vintage styled glamour gloves in fire engine red protect the much depended on hands from minute disasters that could affect a performance.  Take advantage of the feathered hair accessory trend while it is still raging, or if you are a bit on the craftier side as I am,  earrings can easily be up cycled into fascinators.  Summon strength and accuracy, both of which are needed when gripping a trapeze bar in mid-air, via this whimsical blackened metal octopus adorned with white diamond crown.  Wearing one’s luxury is encouraged for special occasions, perhaps a fancy New Year’s Eve party, and thus a Swarovski crystal studded flower bracelet should be displayed without shame.  Last but certainly not least, I amend my former statement to include the Lucky Me leopard print purse by Luxe De Ville, because it certainly does a great job of putting the finishing touches on this feline inspired femme fatale ensemble.

AUDACIOUS ARISTOCRAT

If the idea of a man in tights conjures up images of stereotypes and otherwise labels an individual as effeminate, then obviously your mind fits in a very small space and should be distracted with things one might find more suitable to macho tastes.  For those who can appreciate that there is no such thing as gender specific clothing and that men do not have to be left out when it comes to first-class style. Alexander McQueen’s koi print leggings are covered with ornate designs that are brilliantly hued and exquisitely detailed, which surely will make every movement smooth and effortless.  Since there is an overt fetish theme to this retrofuture circus, leather Jodhpurs become more than befitting as a wardrobe staple, because there is such an appreciation for time spent cultivating an athletic body, and it should be proudly displayed.  A simple white cotton tank top layered with a laced up cotton shirt are quintessential for lightweight comfort, and serve as a base to highlight this black velvet Regency Waistcoat that can easily translate into a number of different styles.  Personally I feel that men’s accessories should be clean and classic, with simplicity and the right dose of sophistication, which is why I am promoting the use of a black silk paisley cravat in place of a tie, and this robust sterling silver ring with black rubber accents.  Other accoutrements that a gentleman cannot be seen without include the Captain Spaulding Steampunk Top Hat in royal blue crushed velvet, an elegantly crafted walking cane, orange leather gloves, white leather combat boots [not pictured]  and a fashionable black wool cape.

While many of the items presented in this guide are certainly categorized as high-end pieces that flirt with fetish and would be acceptable to wear under specific circumstances without a bunch of silly questions and confused onlookers gawking, the general aesthetic remains as one reserved for the higher ranking members of Circus.  After all, they are the ones who put themselves at risk the most in order to entertain, and it is often their legacy that draws in those paying crowds, so it is natural that they should want to carry an appearance which reflects this status.  Over all, keep in mind the things that you like and suit your tastes, because it is always much easier to dress as yourself while drawing inspiration from various sources, rather than donning a costumed incarnation that doesn’t truly represent who you are.

Photo credit: 1 – en.wikipedia.org, 2 – allstarpics.net

Birthday and NYE Plans

[Originally written 12.27.03]

As of this moment, I know that I am definitely going out to lunch with my Dad.  It is a tradition that I didn’t get to do last year, and I also have not seen or talked to him in some time, so it will be good to sit down and have lunch with him.

After that I will be meeting up with Jon, and we shall be taking in John John Jesse’s art at the Fuse Gallery.  He finally emerged from his private nam and apologized for the lack of contact.  Following our drinking game fun, I went thru the process of spending the ‘holiday’ with the Asshole and his family.  Which was better than being alone, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about Jon the entire time.  Of coure I understand what the ‘holiday’ does to him, considering his mom and dad have been dead for a number of years, he has no living blood relatives and our Family was murdered earlier this year.  Putting it that way, I honestly cannot imagine the kind of torment one must endure watching everyone else visit with loved ones.  Just thinking about it makes my heart ache.

What he does to himslef is another story, but I won’t talk about that here.

When I mentioned my plans to the Asshole [obviously omitting the part where I would have company] he actually said: “You don’t want to do that on your birhday.

First of all, I don’t remember asking for his opinion.  Secondly, my birthday is on a Tuesday, so it’s not like there are a lot of things to do.  Is he planning something?  If that is the case, he better say something now and not wait for the last mintue like he always does.  Besides, I do believe that it is my birthday and I can do whatever I want with whomever I want.  This will be the second time I get to spend it with someone who means the world to me, and I would not trade that for anything.

The Asshole also made no mention of New Year’s Eve, which is not at all surprizing.  Again, I suspect that he is waiting until the last minute to say something. The few times I decided to spend NYE with him, we did not go out or do much of anything.  To be honest I do not feel like being in the apartment, and I would rather hang out by myself than repeat that.

Besides, I am currently sorting out details to attempt spending NYE in NYC.  It is something I have never done, and while I would not be among the huge crowds in Times Square, I would be close enough and could say that I have actually celebrated NYE in the City at least once.  Things like that mean something to me, even if they seem insignificant to others.

At least Jon is giving me something to look forward to as far as my birthday is concerned.  No one else could be bothered to make any sort of plans, and that has always been one of the main reasons I hate my birthday so much.  It is five days after Gift-mas and the day before NYE, so people are occupied with visiting relatives, going to parties or whatever, and I understand that.  Really I do.  However, other people should not expect me to care when their birthday comes around, because they are certainly going to get what they give.

Have to plan my outfits, makeup and hair, as well as somehow contain my excitement for the next three days as I fill with curiosity of what Jon has planned.

What I Really Want For My Birthday

[Originally written 12.16.03]

Not that I think I deserve anything at all, seeing as how I am a rotten person who can’t get gifts for people because I am poor.  Of course that sort of thing shouldn’t really matter, since the ‘holidays’ are supposed to be about family and togetherness and whatever.  However, I have no desire to see my relatives, and I don’t think they even got me presents this year, which is completely fine by me.  It would be nice to have gifts for my birthday, but I have no idea if anyone [not related to me] aside from Jon even gives a shit about me.  Make no mistake, I am not looking for charity or pity; this is not meant to be a sob story, nor do I want to hear “I’m sorry“.  At this point in my life, I have come to terms with the way things are and just deal with them.

Perhaps seeing Jon go thru his private nam with the whole ‘holiday’ situation has made me appreciate what I have had.  Really wish we could talk about everything beyond the information that he has given me in years past.  It hurts to see him on so much coke…

Watched a documentary on Coney Island the last time we chilled, as well as one about great old amusement parks that are still around today, one of which is out in Santa Cruz.

Two years ago, Jon and I got on a plane to fly over 3,000 miles and rode the Big Dipper down in Mission Bay. Yes, we spent our money to ride a roller coaster and had the time of our lives.  Ever since, we wanted to go back again.  We left right in the middle of Winter and arrived in warm weather.  Blue skies were abound, we soaked in the beauty of the Pacific Coast Highway and I was excessively giddy about all the palm trees, as I had never seen any in person before.

The point is that I would love to go to Santa Cruz, to ride the other Big Dipper.  That also hapens to be the location of one of three carousels left in the world with brass rings.  [The other two being at Knobles and Coney Island, respectively.]  To bring back one of those brass rings would mean the world to me; call it sentimental value if you want.  My plan is to take the same souvenir from the B&B carousel on the Island once the season opens.  Then I would have one from each coast.

It doesn’t matter if no one but Jon understands my reasoning behind this, and that is fine because I don’t really expect anyone to.  My soul belong in the era when Coney Island experienced its golden age.  When Luna’s thousands of incandescent lamps burned brightly at nite and Steeplechase was the fun place to go.  When you could take a boat from Newark and arrive at that city of fire, an electric Eden, a kingdom that burned so bright it could be seen for miles.  A time when being tattooed or born different was not something to be shunned, ashamed of or looked down upon, but rather used to advantage in advertising a congress of physical oddities that were alive and on display for a nominal fee.

Of course I could go on endlessly, but no one would bother to read.  Everyone is so entertained by corporate sponsored theme parks with their hyper speed steel thrill rides.  Anything that gets your adrenaline going or makes you want to puke is considered a good time.  If it goes upsidedown or spins or over 70 MPH down hills that are taller than buildings, it appeals to your ignorant minds.  Fuck theme parks and their thrill rides.  Fuck their over-priced admission, food and souvenirs.  Fuck Disney.  Fuck Six Flags.  Fuck Paramount.

None of those places would exist witout Coney Island.  Everything you see now was ripped off what was done at the Island, when it was new and people had to rub their eyes and pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming.  When fun only cost a nickel and millions of people converged on the beach and boardwalk on a hot Summer day.

My soul belongs to the sea, and that is all I really want for my birthday.  To get on a plane and fly over 3,000 miles again to bring back one of those brass rings.

Nothing would make me happier, but I certainly don’t expect to get what I want.

Snow, Warmth, Drugs

[Originally written 12.8.03]

Four days ago I went into the City and met up with Jon.  Don’t know how we keep having these long spans where we have no communication, but it’s for reasons that are totally understandable.  He seemed distant the last time we hung out, and I don’t want to make assumptions, but I think he’s hitting the coke way too hard.  It goes without saying thatI know how he gets around this time of year, so the signs are pretty obvious.  Just wish he would talk to me instead of trying to drown things out with drugs.  We went to a diner and just sat and talked about random things, and I made an attempt to bring up the subject of his predictable behavior concerning the upcoming ‘holiday’.  However, there was something in his eyes that kept me from doing so.  It wasn’t the right place or time, so I just smiled and laughed at his jokes instead.

Later on we’re at Thompkins Square Park drinking whiskey and smoking a blunt while people-watching.  The air was chilled, signaling the fact that snow would be arriving soon.  Everyone that passed by was bundled up in jackets, hats, gloves and scarves as tho the white stuff was already falling from the grey skies.  It was pretty quiet considering the usual traffic that comes thru, but it was kind of nice to be able to sit together on a bench without getting harassed by stupid people and their ignorant stares.  Jon seemed to become distracted at certain points, drifting off inside his own head and looking a bit lost.  Sometimes I really want to know what’s going on in his thoughts, but I am far too polite to actually ask.  It’s just one of those things we have a mutual understanding about; if he wants to talk about what’s on his mind, he will.

In other news, I went out driving on Wednesday.  One of those drives to nowhere particular.  Passed thru Jersey City into Bayonne and back again.  Saw these two gorgeous movie houses which sadly don’t really exist much any more.  It’s all sanitized, plastic multiplex theaters that charge way too much for the movie and refreshments.  To see the golden age of movie houses, palaces really, would have been such a great thing.

Friday afternoon I spent an hour getting all the snow off my car, put some warm food in my belly and managed to venture out into the falling mass of whiteness.  It really wasn’t bad if everyone kept moving, but as we all know, New Jersey is full of people who can’t drive for shit to begin with, never mind in snow.  Did pretty well if I do say so myself, and it was the rest of the drivers on the road that pissed me off.  Apparentely people fail to realize that going too slow gets you stuck.

Made it to South Jersey in one piece, and the first thing I saw when I got inside Jon’s house was his new Bally bingo pinball machine.  It came all the way from Tennesee, and the dude he bought it off of delivered it right to his house, for a small fee of course.

The rest of the evening was spent smoking ourselves stupid, because there really wasn’t much else to do in the snow, while taking turns playing that fantastic machine.  Bingo pinball was popular in the 50s and is much different than what would find in arcades.  All of the mechanics are bunches of wires and relays; no computer parts or LED displays here.  The back glass and playing field are hand painted, and they often feature classy pinups.  There are holes numbered 1 thru 25, and the point is to get the ball into said holes to create three, four and five-in-a-row on the cards that are displayed above the playing field.

Now this particular one had A thru F features, which means that when the letters are lit up, you can hit a button to spin the numbers around to better your chances of winning.  While they are in numerical order on the playing field, they are randomized on the cards.  In the old days, one would have to fill the machine with quarters to increase the odds and get the features to light up; this one just had to be prodded in the right spot.  The more the odds increase, the more points you score for getting bingo.  It sounds kind of complex, but I had no problem getting the hang of it in just a few hours.  However, maneuvering the ball thru the playing field in an attempt to get it in the right hole takes a lot of practice and skill, but it’s fun as hell.

Saturday we woke up to more snow.  Had a good breakfast and decided to go out.  We could have stayed in and watched the terrible shows on t.v., but since there was pretty much little to no traffic on the road, Jon suggested that we brave the storm and go see a movie.

It really wasn’t all that bad, and Jon drove of course, so we made it to the theater with no problems.  The snow didn’t really bother us; it was the bone-chilling wind that hurt.  Smoked a blunt before going inside, and he slipped a flask of whiskey into his jacket pocket that would be shared once we were situated.  Master and Commander was watched.  Now, not to take anything away from Pirates of the Carribean, because lets face it, Johnny Depp made a damn good pirate.  As good as that movie was, it still smacked of Disney.  This, however, was full of blood ‘n’ guts and cannon balls destroying ships.  If you like a good sea movie with lots of action, this film is definately reccomended.

We made a few stops on the way back for appropriate supplies  The rest of the day was spent making use of said provisions, writing and taking turns playing bingo pinball while Jon read up on how to finely tune it.  He made an excellent dinner that made my gut feel like it was going to burst, which was followed by smoking a massive blunt and then hitting the drags.  A couple shots of whiskey later and we were rolling in the snow outside, which then turned into a snow ball fight.  Laughed so hard my sides hurt, and my feet were kind of numb from not having decent shoes on, but I didn’t care about that or the fact snow was melting in all the wrong places as I continued to pelt him with crudely formed snow balls.  He tried to get me to go down to the ocean but I wasn’t having any of that, so we went back in and had a hot cup of mushroom tea.  Being curled up next to him for the rest of the evening was certainly full of happiness.

Sunday afternoon, I woke up with excruciating pain due to cramps .  Jon was sweet enough to go out and get me chocolate, because he understands what I am going thru.  Have to admit that it certainly made me feel loved.  In fact, he kind of spoiled me the whole day by brining me anything I asked for, ensuring that I wasn’t hurting.  As much as I think of him as my King, for reasons that may seem silly to those who don’t get our relationship or my mindset, it was really nice to be treated like a Queen for once.

Did not get to see the last episode of Carnivale again because HBO had some boxing match on, and I guess I fell asleep waiting for that to be over.  Jon said that he tried to wake me up when it was on, but I was pretty much out.

Today we’re going to the City, tho I don’t know exactly what we’re doing yet.  It’s all good; I’m pretty much up for anything as long as I am with him.  Would love to go out to the Island, as there is a certain beauty to seeing the beach covered in the snow, and I haven’t been there since September.  To take my mind off the cold, of course I have been listening to surf music non-stop, which just makes miss the Island.  Even in Winter it’s fun to go to, but I guess Jon and I are in that small category of people who feel that way.

Yuletide Jollification

Winter Wolf FairyOriginally the name Giuli signified a sixty day tide beginning at the lunar midwinter of the late Scandinavian Norse and West Germanic tribes.  The arrival of Juletid thus came to refer to the midwinter celebrations.  By the late Viking Age, the Yule celebrations came to specify a great solstitial Midwinter festival that amalgamated the traditions of various midwinter celebrations across Europe.  Eastern Slavs worshipped Rozhanista in 12th century Russia as their mother winter goddess, offering bloodless sacrifices such as honey, bread and cheese.  In late December, brightly colored winter embroideries were made depicting the horned goddess in honor of the Feast, while white deer shaped cookies were given as lucky gifts.  December 13th is Lussi Night, supposedly the longest night of the year.  The Feast was celebrated by ancient Swedish, Scandinavian Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox before being appropriated by Catholics in the 16th century to become Saint Lucy’s Day.  Some folklore in Sweden had people, particularly children, that if they failed to carry out their chores, the Lussi [a female demon] would come to punish them.  [Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice]

No matter how one chooses to ceremonialize the holiday this month, it can be agreed that the atmosphere is one of excited anticipation swept up in cups of hot tea or chocolate while fantasizing about blankets of sparkling white snow.  We find a comforting familiarity in the spirit of caring and sharing that drives us to annually repeat the tradition as it continually evolves, adapting practices to fit our tastes and aesthetics.  Certain themes remain prominent in various celebrations around the world, but there is no absolute in terms of creating an atmosphere of merriment that is limited only by imagination.  Whether one is gathered together with family, friends or forced to participate in some ancient ritual with relatives that you only see for that occasion, there are certainly wish lists that humbly implore fulfillment.

There is an assured delight that comes when an individual unwraps their first makeup kit, as it acknowledges the trust from parental units and marks a significant stage in life.  Once lipsticks were like crayons, beautifully colored with a smooth textures that easily glides across many surfaces.  Playing dress up is not always appreciated, especially since what is perceived as pretty toys someone spent a lot of money on to be destroyed in the hands of a child who was just satiating curiosity.  For the first time you are now in control of these tools, though much experimentation and practice must be executed because we are not born with perfect application skills.  Sure, the makeup most likely was purchased at the drug store or some retail chain, but it is undoubtedly yours to wear as desired.

Having said all of that, as an adult who views makeup as another artistic medium and making no claims of being a professional, there are plenty of choices to fulfill the needs of every budget.  The trend of wearing white, silver, blue and enough sparkles to rival the ball dropped in Times Square in recognition of the New Year is as out-played as clever holiday puns illustrated on greeting cards that are filled with gift certificates.  Instead, this guide will focus on four well-known brands punctuated with bold colors and a softer, subtle sheen for that enchanting fireside glow, with a bonus featuring tips on how to keep skin moisturized and ways to pamper oneself with bath products that are appropriate for the season.

M-A-C

Glitter & Ice

M-A-C’s 2011 Holiday Collection is inspired by Olympic skater JoHnny Weir with emphasis on glitter and glamour, suitable for anyone who wants to feel like they are basking in the glow of a spotlight.  Starting off with the Paint Pot, a product which offers creamy application and smooth shine, seen here in For Effect, which is a simple black with a pearl shimmer.  The Mineralize Eye Shadow is a winterscape of cool shades that range from powerful frosts to high impact color; Winterized is a dirty purple with silver, indigo and pink malange.  For superior pressed powder that is cool, frosted, soft and shimmering, try M-A-C’s Beauty Powder in this frosty pink beige aptly named Snowglobe or How Beautiful, which is a pale shimmering taupe.  The Technakohl Liner brings high-style glamour to eyeliner in six sensational shades to line or blend with other products, including Seasonally Spicy which is a lovely brown with pearl.  M-A-C’s lipsticks for the season boasts six championship colors such as Eloquent Air [a shimmering sheer white silver], with an equal amount of new Dazzleglass lip glosses that are glamorous multi-shades of shimmering pearls, seen here in Pleasure Principle [clear winter violet, teal and white pearl].  Compliment your festive face with three limited-edition Nail Laquer colors such as the true bright red Get Noticed, which I personally feel would look fabulous on a vintage manicure and is a fun way to spice up your holiday attire.  Swipe on a few coats of Opulash, M-A-C’s state-of-the-art mascara in a new formula saturated with intense black and extra-volumising curl delivered to each lash by a bodacious brush [not pictured], and complete the carefully crafted look with a pair of M-A-C 7 Lashes, which have been shaped and arranged to give a striking effect to any eyes.

6 Snowglobe Eye Shadows/CoolFor products that are less flashy but still deliver a bold impact of color, Ice Parade offers a collection of eye shadows, exclusive ready to go face kits and a line up of essential for any retrofuturistic snow queen.  The trio of Snow Globe shadows presents three palettes in Cool, Warm and Sultry, each with six frosty shades suitable for any fun festivity one might be attending.  As a bonus, the compact double as a charming snow globe!  Fabulous Festive Face Kits are a limited edition product that comes in Winter Cool or Warm.  Packed into MAC’s iconic clear bag, each kit contains a Brow/Eye shadow/Blush compact that is dual-layered, three glitter-handled brushes and a coordinating Lipglass.  The Iced Delights Eye Bag – available in Silver, Pearl and Gold – is another limited edition filled with items that correspond in color to the bag’s given name, which include a duo eye shadow, eye liner, mascara and applicator brush.  Similar in concept is the Iced Delights Lip Bag – available in Winter Cool, Sultry and Rocking – contains three products needed for a high-fashion lip: stick, gloss and liner.  There is even a pair of Iced Delights Nail & Lip bags in Rocking and Pure Drama that are compositions of a lipstick, Lipglass and promo-sized nail laquer which leaves all the guess work out of matching statement colors.  Make It Perfect is a mini collection of brush kits that make it easy to have a professional level stash of fundamental brushes that includes special editions and key mineral brushes.

If one really wanted to turn up the volume on glamour, than a bit of spoiling via the Gareth Pugh For M-A-C collection is in order.  Products include limited editions in a variety of products: Pigment, Metal X Cream Shadow, Flight Lash, Studio Fix Bold Black Lash, Technakohl Liner, Lipstick, Lipglass, Powder Blush, Beauty Powder, Nail Lacquer, square-handled Buffer Brush and an elegant Makeup Bag that is less flamboyant than their Iced Delights counterparts.  Wearing this makeup might no transform you into a supermodel, but they will definitely be a punctuation of whatever statement you are making with your presentation of Self this holiday.

NARS

Holiday Color Collection

The Multiple is a product which features a cutting-edge creamy formula that blends efficiently into eyes, lips and cheeks; seen here in G-Spot, a rich gold-infused rose .  Arabian Nights presents a trio of compatible color combinations of micro-fine powders that are highly pigmented in black with red pearls, black with purple pearls and black with gun-metal shimmer.  Joyous Red is a contemporary semi-matte lipstick that provides full-bodied, velvety color in a highly pigmented, non-drying formula and is a stunning amber red.  Highlighting Bush features illuminating powders that give the skin a light-reflecting luminous glow, seen here in Miss Liberty which is a soft shimmering peach.  Duo Eye Shadows  are a stylish product with astonishing micro-fine powders that are highly pigmented, long wearing and crease resistant, represented here by Mandchourie, a golden-infused denim and rich navy.  Creamy Eye Shadows are Graphic powders that blend easily, offering a range of suggestive color to deep concentration, such as Ponderosa, an opulent mink color.  Long-Wear Eyeliner brings a domestic product to the next degree with savory yet soft color that coasts across lids evenly with no smearing and no caking for up to twelve hours of wear.  The striking shades are named for the most well-known streets in the world such as Champo De Fior [antique brass] and St. Marks Place [bright violet].  Influenced by NARS’ signature Highlighting Blush, Albatross Lip Gloss gives lips a high-gloss, golden shine.  Leading-edge and time-honored NARS nail polish shades announce remarkable brilliance and increased holding power with UV protection to prevent discoloration, shown here in Endless Night [black gloss] and Space Odyssey [aluminum].

Hanamichi Eyeshadow PaletteTopping the list of other products NARS lists as suggestions for gifts is the beautiful Modern Kabuki Holiday collection, which upon sight is obviously influenced by the costumes and makeup of the kabuki theater.  The Kuroko Mini Nail Polish Set charmingly offers four inspired hues in high-gloss formulas with a durable finish.  The expressive kabuki eye is depicted by the Hanamichi Eye Shadow Palette, in prevalent, majestic high-impact shadows immersed with color.  The striking allure of the Kudoki Kabuki Lip Set is named for the elegant and dainty dance of kabuki theater, presented by a trio of intense shades in a keepsake wooden bento box to truly cherish this limited edition.  The Mie Mini Soft Touch Shadow Pencil Set is a fresh take on the kabuki eye with dynamically magnetic color with pencils that apply fluidly and are easily blended.  The Yorokobi Kabuki Super-Orgasm Set is a collection that emphasizes pink-pearlescent flecked with gold for a lustrous brilliance that can be applied to lips, cheeks and nails.  The final piece of this collection is the Nagauta Kabuki Brush Set, an extravagant limited edition assortment of multipurpose matte black brushes that come in a polished box much like the Lip Set.

There are also a variety of Artist Palettes available, the intriguing Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself series of makeup groupings that coincide with a published photo project that examines different aspects of beauty and a selection of gift sets featuring five exclusive assortments.

TOO-FACED

Only In Your Dreams

Dedicated followers of Too-Faced know that their holiday collections are presented in aesthetically pleased packaging, and this year’s anthology is certainly no exception.  Dreams Come True is comprised of astounding products that features the limited edition In Your Dreams fifteen-piece face palette trio with flattering shadows such as Pink Peacock [pale pink], Swing [plum brown], Fishnet [silver black] and Full Moon [silver]; Girly Show is a cool mauve blush and Heart On is a smooth pink velvet for the lips, and it all comes with illustrated step-by-step face charts.  Lash Injection Mascara builds a seductive false lash effect and is waterproof, while Shadow Insurance Primer keep eye shadows where they belong for the whole day while preventing fading and creasing.  All of this is contained in the Angelic Beauty Bag, which is delightfully designed and has numerous uses.

Glamour To Go – Dream Edition is a fanciful pocket-sized beauty palette filled with a  marvelous collection for the lips, face and eyes with dainty vintage-inspired products such as mutli-functional eye  shadows, lip gloss, bronzer and blush.  Stunning Shadows come in eight alluring shades in an ideal mixture of textures.  With a brush of Flawless and Flushed, one gains  immediate luster from the golden bronzer or an ethereal glow from the sheer coral blush.  The ideal aesthetic for lips this winter can be achieved with Glamorously Glossed, and the bright pink lip gloss is appropriate everyday wear.  Finally, the size of this palette allows one to easily stash it in a purse or suitcase, as the wealth of products are what every discerning makeup maven needs for any holiday situation.

Beautiful Dreamer is an exclusive eye shadow quad composed of Teddy Bear, Blonde Ambition, Totally Toasted and Satin Sheet, as well as a blush and bronzer combination with Who’s Your Poppy Full Bloom Blush and Sun Bunny Bronzer Light, with a limited edition Pink Swan lip gloss, Shadow Insurance primer in a sheer gold called Candlelight, and LashGASM black mascara that boasts “It is thte size of your lashes that matter“.  Everything comes in a cute pink bag with swans, roses and the company name printed on it.

URBAN DECAY

While the only one of the four companies highlighted here that doesn’t have a specific theme, Urban Decay certainly delivers a bounty of festive merchandise that anyone would be excited to find stuffed inside a stocking.  Book of Shadows IV is a palette loaded with sixteen alluring eye shadows [ten of which are new colors], a full-size 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, travel-size eye shadow primer potion and a travel-size Supercurl Curling Mascara.  The eye shadows have creative names like Cobra [sooty black with gold shimmer], Hijack [greyish green with blue/green shimmer] and Sin [shimmering champagne], and the collection also includes a portable speaker as well as how-to vidoes that reveal looks created exclusively for the palette.

The Stardust Sparkling Lip Glosses are saturated with sophisticated sparkle, while multifaced shades mimic deep, dynamic car paint glinting without the scratchiness of teenage glitter.  They are are not sticky and contain conditioning nourishment with staying power and an interesting vanilla-mint flavor.

Something that can easily be tossed into any makeup bag are these 24/7 Travel Sets Of 5, available in Naked: a collection of sexy neutral tones including Demolition, a sumptous matte dark brown, that provides subtle daytime sultriness, or Electric: ideal for a revved up evening with colors such as Junkie [bright sparkly green] and Radium [vibrant shimmery blue]. Creamy and waterproof, these enticing shades are coordinated so that one spends less time picking out the right color and more time being a brilliantly hued social butterfly.

The 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash is a travel-sized shadow pencil medley to research use of daring hues and flowing effects.  Perfecting impressive coats of color and decisive lines is an effortless task, with hues ranging from delicate iridescence to blazing and broad; Delinquent is a dark purple with bright purple sparkle, while Sin is a shimmering champagne.

Urban Decay’s Primer Potion is recognized as being the most sought after eye shadow, and the general consensus agrees it maintains your shadow’s dynamic color for 24+ hours.  Sparkling Lickable Body Powder gives skin a smooth luster when scattered over body parts, touted to smell and taste amazing.  The Holiday Nail Kit is jazzed-up with six mini bottles including five new hues such as Hot Mess [sparkling fuschia] and Wrecked [deep burgundy] to add festive flair to any manicure.

LUSH

The final gift suggestions for this guide focus on things that will help ease the aches of winter that can settle into one’s body, offer relaxation for wear retail workers and change what is often viewed as a boring bath into an impromptu spa session.  Whether you have loved Lush products since you can remember or are in the market to try something that isn’t filled with a bunch of artificial scents, the holiday season is captured in every aspect of in the selecting of products presented in the collage above.

Retro Christmas: Iced Wine – grapefruit and bergamot oils blend with saccharine hints of real Canadian Wine that is added to each pot while a seaweed infusion softens and moisturizes skin.  Directions: Put in the freezer and treat yourself to an invigorating, fruity scented shower. This shower jelly can also be crushed into a shower pouf to create a rich lather, rubbed directly on the body and also make great shampoos, adding lots of softness and shine to hair.

BATH BARS

Directions for use: Crumble under running water for a reviving and refreshing bath. Store in a cool dry place for best results, and remember that the stronger the water pressure, the more bubbles will be made, so use accordingly.

Bling Crosby – glitter encrusted and scented with Lush’s signature Kama fragrance of oranges and spices.

A Gold Star – full of solar essential oils such as sandalwood, frankincese, benzoin and a micro-galaxy of little golden stars.

Christmas Kisses – composed of warrming ingredients like cinnamon leaf oil, clove leaf and sweetorange oils that will aid in reliving fatigue.

Christmas Eve – deeply relaxing jasmine and ylang ylang scented bubble bar, with irish moss for soft sking and hair, as well as clouds of twikling foam.

Ruby Red Slippers – packed with carnation and rose absolute, plus a dose of bright red sparkles.

BATH BOMBS

Directions for use: Fill tub with warm water, drop in the bath bomb and enjoy – if you don’t want the added surprises in your tub, wrap in a nylon before use.

Green Party –  a blend of galbanum essential oil, sensual ylang ylang and stimulating bergamot; also fizzes recycled paper streamers.

Silver Cloud – a concoction of sweet orange and lime essential oils, laced with floral gardenia and a sharp zesty scent; silver sparkles.

Snowdrops – scented with mandarin and grapefruit, combined with a dash of peppermint and some irridescent sparkles.

Cinders – cinnamon oil brings warmth while almond oil emollient leaves the skin feeling silky smooth; crackle and pops due to being filled with fizzing candy.

The Melting Snowman – the first Luxury Bath Melt in an accelerated formula that releases essential oils and skin-softening butters which quickly dissolve into bath water with ease, while the almond icing, marzapan scent leaves your skin smelling like a decadent desert.  Directions: Drop half or whole into the tub while it fills with water, then get in and allow the natural oils to soften and moisturize your skin. 

TIPS AND TRICKS

It seems inevitable that with the arrival of the winter season, there also comes the unfortunate side effect of dry skin and chapped lips, both of which can be easy to manage by taking advantage of products that are specifically designed to target and relieve these problems.  Oily substances that are a product of the epidermis control the moisture level of the skin and refreshes itself monthly.   Dry skin develops when dead cells are not shed easily, and this decreases the usual active fortification of the skin.  Age, genes, weather changes, long lasting hot baths or showers, smoking, layers of woolen clothing and chronic health conditions are all causes of dry skin.  Certain body parts are also more prone to dryness, and hydration is important for skin health.

Somewhat modifying your skin-care routine by avoiding products with high levels of alcohol is a good way to protect your skin.  The face should be cleansed at least once a day and  gently exfoliate with a soft scrub or washcloth.  Confine showers to five minutes or less and make sure the water is lukewarm; adding collocidal oatmeal which is especially helpful for chapped skin.  Drinking water, applying lotion two times a day and putting a humidifier in the bedroom are also good ways of renewing your skin’s moisture.  Change the water daily and clean it once every three days.

When heading outside, my father always had the best advice – cover up – which is still an essential part of surviving brutal East Coast bone-chilling cold and colossal snow totals.  Leather gloves administer improved protection against moisture evaporation than cotton, and wax-based products provides a barrier for vulnerable lips.  To treat just about any degree of dry skin, the products fall into one of three categories:

PreventionCurél Ultra Healing Intensive Moisture Lotion for Extra-Dry Skin, Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking Lotion  and Dove Pro-Age Body Cream Oil

Dry SkinAveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion, Johnson’s Nourishing Renewal Lotion and Olay Quench Therapy Body Lotion

Severe DrynessElta Tar, Aquaphor Healing Ointment and AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Cream

Whether making a list for Santa [who suspiciously has the same handwriting as your boyfriend] or looking to treat yourself to something special this season, may one and all embrace the joys that should be associated with the holiday no matter what your choice of celebration may be.

Photo credits: 2 – elight.com, 3- amazon.com, 4 – maccosmetics.com, 5 – narscosmetics.com,

Resources: maccosmetics.com, narscosmetics.com, urbandecay.com, toofaced.com, lushusa.com