Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drug store diva.

When I was in college I had a part time job working at Walgreens.

It was a place for me to spend a few hours in the evenings and on the weekends to earn a little spending cash so I could go and drink myself silly, naturally.

They didn’t really know what to do with me at the Walgreens in Springfield, Oregon. At first they put me in the fabric department, because I was a girl I guess, and they figured I knew how to sew. Not only did I not know how to sew (not even a button) I didn’t know anything about “bolts” of fabric, what “trim” was, or how to measure a “yard” of anything.

I was not good at math, I was a theatre major.

After many unsuccessful attempts at cutting things, my boss Tim decided to put me where I belong, behind the fragrance counter in the cosmetics section.

Suddenly coming to work was fun. I gladly donned that elephant gray and hot pink polyester smock and headed out to work, especially on days when those big blue boxes of new inventory arrived.

At Walgreens we carried a variety of scents ranging from the Body Imposters Body Spray (“If you like Giorgio – you’ll love PRIMO!”) to our “fancier” scents which were kept under lock and key because they were so valuable. These included old lady favorites such as Wind Song, Lady Stetson and Emeraude. But there was one scent that stood out - it would fly off the shelf as soon as I could get that big blue inventory box opened. I barely had a chance to get it locked up before it was flying out the door.

Exclamation perfume by Coty was so stinkin’ popular at Christmas time we had a waiting list and were giving out rain checks left and right for the stuff. Not only was it stinkin’ popular, it was also just plain stinky.

My boss Tim could not understand why this particular scent was so popular, he said it gave him an awful headache and I have to say, I agreed.

Don’t get me wrong, you know how I love to jump on a bandwagon...I was all over this stuff in the early ‘90’s. But yeesch, you know when you try really hard to like something just because it is cool and everyone else likes it (or was that just me?)

Peach, apricot, amber and sandalwood – four things that should never go together, but they sure do, in a big old black and white bottle of Exclamation. Passing someone with a cloud of Exclamation on is enough to make you pass out cold. It smelled like a super-intense baby powder bomb had gone off.

I would rather wear my grandma’s Charlie or Jean Nate than this stinky stuff.

I remember vividly putting a box together of stuff for Goodwill with an almost full bottle of Exclamation teetering on top. I also remember feeling guilty that some poor person was going to also now be enveloped in a cloud of this stuff.

Ultimately I was fired from Walgreens, or “let go” as I like to say.

I grew bored. I started calling in sick more and more. Mostly I was sick from spending all of my paychecks on Vulcan Mind Probe shots at the bar.

The last straw came for my poor boss Tim when I had my good friend Eric call in for me saying I had backed over my cat and was too upset to come in. He told Eric, “You tell Lori to get her fanny to work.” My fanny did what Tim told it to do. I arrived at work that day in my scratchy polyester smock with my head hung in shame.

I got to work, went behind the counter and doused myself in Exclamation Perfume and strolled by Tim several times that day as he unpacked big blue boxes, causing him to have many angry, wild coughing fits.

He never did ask me how my cat was doing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yet another reason not to go to the gym.

Do you know that giddy feeling you get when you hear or see someone doing something that makes you say “Oh My God, I thought I was the only person who did that/thought that/ate that?

The other night I was listening to a story on public broadcasting (I hate when people say that, but it is true, I was) about a study that shows that women who have naturally curly or kinky hair are not getting enough exercise because they refuse to work out on days that they wash their hair.

HELLLLLOOOOO…this story was speaking directly to me.

I like to work out on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, because those are “dirty-hair days” for me.

My scalp can sweat away on Tuesday, fine by me.
My hair can take a step class on a Thursday, since it is most likely up in a ponytail already.
My hair can sit in a sauna on a Saturday, because hey, who cares…it’s Saturday.

I never have felt validated about my issues regarding arranging my workout schedule around my hair washing schedule until I heard this piece on the radio. My friends have rolled their eyes when I decline a workout saying, “No, not today, it’s a clean hair day.”

“Who cares about your hair Lori?”

You know who cares? I do.

My friend Kristen suggested just washing my hair on different days so I could walk with her - the thought of that change almost made my head explode.

In that case I wouldn’t have hair to worry about!

Working out with clean hair is like a waste of an hour of my time, like I may as well not have gotten up over an hour early to comb through my knotty wet hair. Do you know how bad it hurts to comb through knotty wet hair at 6:00 in the morning by the way? My life is hard, I know.

Because, if you work out with curly hair at noon by 12:05 you will have a frizzy afro, it’s a fact.

And if you go for a run with clean hair it will become windswept - not in a good, sexy way more in a messy, unruly way.

So don’t make fun of me or make me feel bad for not wanting to work out with you or go for a run on a Wednesday.

Just compliment me on how pretty my hair looks.

I choose these curls.........................over these curls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I dreamed a dream.

I love a good musical.
Always have, always will.

West Side Story came on HBO the other night at 11:00 and I was screwed, knowing I had a long night of Jets, Sharks and Natalie Wood ahead of me.

I of course always strived to star in a musical, but knew deep down I didn't have the pipes for it.

I took voice lessons all though high school, in preparation of becoming the next Barbara Streisand. I once sang a very offensive rendition of “Can’t Help Lovin’ ‘dat Man ‘o Mine” from Showboat at a recital. It was not good.

As with most things (dancing, cheerleading, speech and debate) I was much better in my mind at singing than I was in real life.

The musical bug bit me when I was eight years old and my parents took me to see Annie on Broadway, starring none other than the future Carrie Bradshaw as Annie.

I was hooked from the get go.

I will never forget that truck driving on stage, seriously.

Phantom of the Opera.
Holy shit did I love The Phantom of the Opera. It was more than a musical to me,  Phantom was also very Phashionable. I had the sweatshirt with the glow-in-the-dark mask on it, the mug, the t-shirt, the pin, and the earrings shaped like the Phantom’s mask, which also glowed in the dark. Phantom got me super-obsessed with all things Andrew Lloyd Webber including Jesus Christ Superstar (yay!) and CATS (boo!). I loved the music from Phantom and if I am pms-ing I can still get a little teary listening to Michael Crawford sing “Music of the Night.” I have seen that chandelier do that painfully slow fall more times than I can count, but I still think back to being a senior in high school and seeing it on Broadway for the first time and how magical it was.

Les Misérables.
My dear, sweet Les Misérables - what eighteen-year-old-girl doesn’t love a musical about convicts, love and redemption in the early nineteenth century France? Oh Lord, again, I had the Les Mis sweatshirt and t-shirt but this one meant a little more to me than Phantom did. I waited outside in the rain and the cold after seeing it for the first time to get the actors autographs. I cried through half of it. I envisioned myself in every single female (and male) part in that show. I sang “Master of the House” around my house so much my dad threw his slipper at me one time to get me to stop. I pictured myself in that opening scene, doing that box step on the giant lazy-susan stage, I was obsessed. And I guess I still kinda am.

The other afternoon I was flipping around on TV and on public broadcasting there was a 25th Anniversary production of Les Mis on. It was pretty far into Act II and I called my six and three year old in to watch it with me. Because six and three year olds don’t want that Shrek the Musical crap, they want “Castle on a Cloud” and a little boy with a cockney accent singing “Little People”, right?

My older son immediately left the room - but my younger one seemed interested. He asked a lot of questions and wondered when the girl with the pretty voice (Cosette) was coming back on stage. But then he kind of began to lose interest too, asking, “Can we change this? Is Sponge Bob on?”

I made him watch the rest with me - listening to that music that still got to me - just like it did when I was eighteen. He was ready for me to change the channel.

I had made him misérables.

Tonight I’m going to root around for those Phantom glow-in-the-dark earrings; I swear I still have them. Maybe if I put those on I can interest them in Phantom.

Halloween is right around the corner and all, seems appropriate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The girls who work in the beauty supply store downstairs from my office in the mall know me by first name.
I know…go figure.

I like to breeze through there on my lunch hour, admire the goods, see what’s new and exciting.

They have been on me for months about trying a new line made specifically for curly hair called Deva Curl. I am constantly on the lookout for the ultimate curly-hair-girl-shampoo and the salespeople were promising me a world of curls in a bottle.

I have been asking when the product would come in a travel size, because the Deva Curl system ain’t cheap…and I didn’t want to shell out twenty bucks a pop for shampoo, conditioner, and gel if I ended up thinking it was less than miraculous. They assured me IT WOULD BE MIRACULOUS and I totally need to buy it.

Here is the deal with Deva Curl.

Their shampoo is sulfate free, so there are no suds or bubbles involved when you shampoo your hair. Which is totally weird and takes some getting used to. Like you put the shampoo in your hair and it kind of like a magic show in Vegas, when something disappears in front of your eyes and a naked lady is involved. But you also kind of feel like your money disappeared too, because hey, that was twenty bucks, and where the hell did it go? Also like Vegas.

Another thing that is totally weird is that they call their shampoo “No Poo.”
I don’t have to tell you why that is weird.

So I did the disappearing No Poo, the Ultra Creamy Daily Conditioner, and followed up with the Set it Free Moisture Lock spray and used the Defining Gel as the cherry on what should have been my curly cake.

Should have been.

Results were – curls were more defined, but hair looked dull, a little flat and I hate to say it, a little frizzier than normal. What the what? The big claim of this product is that it locks in moisture and prevents frizz. Grrrr.

So now I am stuck with this little travel set of No Poo and other poo-less products that cost me close to thirty bucks.

The girls at the beauty supply store are in for a piece of my mind next time I head downstairs.

I learned a lesson. I need my suds. I love my lather. I like bubbles.

What can I say, I'm a fan of the poo.

I'll have the poo-poo-platter please.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Baby love - and what the hell am I doing.

The top shelf of my closet is jam packed with various brightly colored bags and purses that I go between quite often. There is a certain ritual for the changing out of the old purse into the new purse; deciding which one I’m in the mood for, pulling them out of the dust cover bags, emptying out the old one – goodbye gum wrappers, pennies and expired coupons that have floated to the bottom of the old bag.

Yesterday I was changing into a big gray purse and I noticed a bound notebook in the bottom of it. I was about to hand it over to my three year old Sam to use as a coloring book when I started leafing through it. Inside the notebook were thoughts I had written down, from when Sam was three months old. I started reading it and a million memories came rushing back. Here is an excerpt from the day before I was to return to work.

I was going from being a stay at home mom back to the 8-5 Monday through Friday grind. I so vividly remember this day as it is described below:

I spent my “last day” with Sam doing mundane things. I wanted to make sure I had great pictures of him for my desk at work so I went to Cost Co to get some developed. Then I went to Michaels Craft and Floral to buy new frames for the new pictures of my new baby. This was all very important and had to be done today.

Then I got the oil changed in my car, for free! I had a coupon.

While we waited for the car to be done I walked Sam over to the Safeway and picked up a few things. Bananas for work tomorrow and two scratch-it tickets. I LOVE scratch-it tickets, today I won six bucks, a pretty good haul. It was difficult for me not to trade my winnings in for six more scratch its but I figured I could treat myself to a foofy coffee drink in the morning.

We sat in the little café at Safeway and I scratched my scratch-its. I fed Sam and watched a guy in an orange construction vest sit down and eat an entire rotisserie chicken from the deli with a plastic knife and fork.

I started to feel guilty, thinking this was the way I had chosen to spend my monumental “last day” with Sam. Then I looked down into his blue-gray eyes as he chugged from his bottle and I knew it didn’t matter where we were. And I am not kidding when I tell you that “We Belong” by Pat Benatar came over the sound system and I began to get a little teary at the Safeway deli. The man had his chicken and I had my Sam and tomorrow it all was going to change.

I wish I could stay home with my boys, raise them up well, pack their lunches, drive them all over tarnation, and wipe their butts. That is definitely what I want to do with my life.


I am actually kind of looking forward to putting on some make up and a nice blouse tomorrow and talking to some other adults.

For the working mom’s out there – did you have a Safeway deli moment?

I am so glad I found this record of what happened on that day - just another day, but not, for me and my boy.

Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
Weeeee belong, we belong, we belong together.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dial me up anytime.

You gotta get a gimmick!

You know what made these beauty products better?
They had a dial on them. There was a click, a snap, you turned them and set them.


Products like this were made for someone like me. I took my hard earned money from working at the video store and gladly gave it away to get these little clickers in my hand.

They may not have been the best products in the world but lord knows, when I think back to them I get a little chill, a shudder if joy. Did I mention they had a dial on them??? I was in totally charge!

Maybelline Dial-a-Lash Mascara.
I always enjoyed this ad campaigns 
use of the word 'globs.'
I remember these commercials starred a lioness looking woman talking in one of those weird trans-Atlantic-semi-European accent saying, “Dial it low, for a light coat…dial it high, for a dramatic look.” Mascara with a little dial on it? I was sold. Something like this was right up my alley. Plus I wanted to look and talk like the lioness lady, so this mascara could help. The dial was pretty useless for me, since I loved wearing a ton of make up it was constantly at setting number ten. What was the point of using a one when the ten was available? Guess what? This mascara is now discontinued. People realized that you could get the same ten effect by simply putting on an extra coat of any old mascara. But it’s kind of not the same as turning that big ‘ol dial with the shiny gold numbers at the bottom of the tube.

Flicker Razors.
Flickers angle on the razor world was that shaving your legs with a mans razor was downright dangerous. Really bad things could happen to you, like the razor could develop devilish cartoon eyes and a demonic personality and try to attack you.

To avoid this happening, you needed a big round, hard to hold razor made "just for a woman." Flicker had five blades inside, you would turn the dial when one wore out and move on to the next one. It’s big claim to fame was that it was “designed to cut hair and not skin” which is good, because I have that other razor that I use when I want to just cut my skin. I remember deciding not to use the Flicker anymore after wasting way too much time trying to shave my armpits with something round. It didn’t work. Guess what? This razor is also now discontinued.

The click of my mouse as I write this is making me all nostalgic.

Wishing I had a little Dial-a-Lash today, I’d even be willing to try a lower gold number. Maybe a four, I think that would be the lowest I could reasonably go.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scent and the city.

Here are two things I love with a big, gigantic, red heart:

• New York
• Perfume

Bond No. 9 has launched an entire line of perfumes in honor of New York City. Where has this line been all my life?

The Bond No. 9 collection of women's, men's, and unisex eaux de parfum — has a dual mission: To restore artistry to perfumery, and to mark every New York neighborhood with a scent of its own. Each fragrance represents a specific downtown, midtown, or uptown locale or a city-wide sensibility. It infuses the island of Manhattan with scents – genius!

The variety of fragrances available in the line is as big as the city itself. And the bottles are miniature works of art. You know I am a sucker for some good packaging and this line is an over-achiever in the eye candy department.

You can visit every inch of the city through the different scents – let’s go to Fashion Week at Bryant Park, in this hot pink and black little number, selling sweetly of rose-patchouli concoction with pink pepper.

Then let’s take the A-train on to New Haarlem and sit in a cabaret jazz club. This androgynous sexy scent has notes of coffee, vanilla, and patchouli.

My favorite of the line (so far) is Chinatown. The gorgeous cherry-blossom bottle contains an equally gorgeous avant-garde scent containing notes of Peach blossoms, gardenia, tuberose, patchouli, and cardamom.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Andy Warhol bottles. His artwork graces the Union Square, Montauk and Lexington Avenue bottles - this is an art exhibit I can really get into.

But how can I choose a favorite, there are so many. I guess I will just have to try samples from the line in again, the most fun packaging ever. Imagine my reaction when the saleslady handed over what looked like a beautiful piece of candy. Nope, that miniature bon-bon is my perfume sample. What a treat!

Bond no. 9, I am nutty for you. I like your style, I like your smell, and I like your attitude.

Now I can have a little piece of New York on my wrist to smell all day long and on my dresser to admire.
I’ll take a little piece of home wherever I can get it.