Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The one thing I can't stop doing before bed

I have a post-Thanksgiving post that I want to post (pippity, poppity post!) but before I do that, I need to come clean about something.

I have an addiction. It’s something I can’t say no to (duh), and it’s cost me thousands of dollars over the years. From the content of my Thanksgiving post, you might assume I’m talking about alcohol.

Well, you’re wrong. I love to drink, but I can say no to it whenever I’d like—which isn’t very often, but you get the idea.

No, my addiction is to something much more benign: face soap.

Gasp! Yes!

Washing my face before bed is a ritual I cannot live without. Truly. If we’re camping and there’s no running water, I’ll walk in the dark to find a stream so I can wash my face. If I have too much to drink at a party, come home and pass out on the bathroom floor, I will stand up to wash my face.

My mother doesn’t wash her face. Sometimes when she sleeps over I daydream about creeping downstairs in the middle of the night and...washing her face.

It started in my teens, when I began battling pimples. Since then I have tested practically every facial cleanser on the market.

I've used all the Neutrogena products. Neutrogena in the bottle (too thick!), in the bar (too slippery), Fresh Foaming (meh), the Deep Clean line (too ointment-y), Oil-Free Acne Wash (makes your skin smell like a band-aid), Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit products (the citrus smell gets old real fast), and Visibly Even face wash (zzzzzzz).

I’ve used Aveeno’s Foaming Cleanser Clear Complexion, Positively Radiant Cleanser, and Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser (collective yawn); all of Olay’s cleansers; all of Loreal’s cleansers; and all of Revlon’s cleansers. Sure I liked some of them, but I didn’t love them.

I’ve tried countless department store brands as well. Like Estee Lauder. And Clinque. And philosophy (talk about over-hype). And The Body Shop (Tea Tree Oil soap? Too medicine-y. Natrulift Softening Facial Wash? Humdrum).

Life Goes On Kellie Martin once claimed she couldn’t live without Origins mint face cleanser. I tried it, and I could. Ditto for all the non-lathering soaps. I hate Cetaphil, Clinque’s Cream Cleanser, and The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Cream Cleanser.

Hate, hate, hate cream cleansers. They’re like washing your face with Vaseline.

I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion, what am I looking for? What?

It comes down to a few things. Smell is a big one. I still have the cleanser I used a mere 15 years ago, when Chuck and I started dating because I love the way it smells. Loreal reformulated the scent in 1999, which broke my heart. I would have used that face soap for the rest of my life.

Texture is another draw. During the winter I crave a silky, creamy texture, like Shiseido’s Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam. During the spring and summer I’m drawn to something light and fluffy, like LancĂ´me Creme Mousse Confort Comforting Creamy Foaming Cleanser (hello mouthful).

Can I afford these products? No. But if have some extra money, you can bet I’m treating myself to some foam.

The reason I’ve confessed this novel is because someone really, really important asked me to review some facial products, and I thought you’d like to know about my credentials.

That person is none other than Jessica Simpson (’s beauty products editor). Yes, I know. I’m big time, baby.

Simpson’s line is called BeautyMint, and it’s all about customized skincare and using “patented technology ... to protect ingredients so that they can remain structurally sound and supremely functional.” I’m not sure what that really means or how you’d even go about proving it, but it sounds impressive, yes?

The products’ packaging is sleek and simple, in a Proactiv kind of way.

When I got the paraben-free cleanser I greedily opened it up and took a big sniff. Major blow: It was unscented. For a smell-a-holic like myself, I couldn’t get past that.

I squirted out some gel and tried to make some lather. Nada. Because it doesn’t have any harsh lathering agents—which is actually better for the environment—it doesn’t suds up. Still, it rinsed well enough and I had the sense that my face was clean.

Now for the serum, which was also unscented. The press kit claims, "Our revolutionary serum is comprised of an incredible 50% marine collagen, targeting visible and future signs of aging from every angle" and "Our patented technology delivers a power-load
of actives to skin."

I’d never used serum before so I wasn't sure how much to use. The bottle read: “Massage over face and throat.”

I did that, albeit too generously. That night my face stuck to the pillowcase.

The next night I used it just around my eyes and laugh lines. And the night after that. And so on. And so on.

After using the products for close to a month, here's what I've decided: The cleanser isn’t drying, but it also isn’t terribly refreshing. I think my fine lines have diminished, but I can’t be sure. My skin doesn’t feel taught, per se, but it also doesn’t feel weighed down.

Therein lies the appeal (or not) of the BeautyMint products: They’re something without really being anything. If you’re a minimalist, these products are made for you (and in that case, BeautyMint has an offer for you).

If you’re like me and you like a few bells and whistles (and foam) you’ll be left looking for more.

Sorry, Jess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If you were in line tonight at a liquor store, I am thankful for you

I had to go to the grocery store after work today to buy stuffing and diapers. Mmmm. I'd expected pandemonium. Thankfully it was just congested, not quite chaotic.

Next I hopped over to the liquor store to buy red wine (loving Sangre de Toro for $9.99 by the way. Wine plus a free plastic bull!).

Therein lay the pandemonium. Lines of people snaked through the store. They were out en masse.

As the shoppers clutched their beer/wine/vodka/nips (not unlike someone might cling to a favorite stuffed animal), I stepped back and smiled. I felt all warm and smushy with kindred spiritness.

Can we be honest? Lots of people talk about how thankful they are at this time of year but really, there are some things (like wacky relatives) we just can't be thankful for because they're too weird for words.

Alcohol helps.


Case in point, my father called me at 9:45 last night to tell me he was hosting Thanksgiving. Nine-freaken-forty-five. One day before the holiday. Our family plays the holidays like a hand of poker.

"Whatcha doing for Thanksgiving?"

"I don't know. What are you doing?"

"I'm not sure. Why don't you tell me what you're doing then I'll tell you what I'm doing."

We dance this little dance because deep down, we don't really get each other and would rather that everyone forgot about the other and went about their own decking of the halls. Except that a day or two before the actual holiday, someone has a case of the sentimental warm fuzzies—"Remember that Christmas we all stayed awake and watched TV together?"—and picks up the phone.

"Whatcha doing for Christmas?"

"I don't know. What are you doing?"

"I'm not sure. Why don't you tell me what you're doing then I'll tell you what I'm doing."

It's quite bizarre. I blame it all on my 40-year-old cousin who still lives at home. The same scantily clad women of 1970 (think "Help Me OB1 Kenobi, you're my only hope") are still affixed to his wall on posters. My other cousin? Her mouth is a fire cracker of swear words, Marlboro Reds and Budweiser.

So here's what I want to say on this eve before Thanksgiving: I am thankful—for all the people in line at the liquor store who need to throw back a few to make their day with the relatives more tolerable. Family members are crazy. A drink or two can be a curing salve to an open, Princess Leia obsessed wound.

One that can talk only about Nascar and the Food Channel, which you'd think would be mutually exclusive interests and yet at the end of the night, race cars, Parmesan Roasted Butternut Squash* and chicks swirl together in a beautiful display of colors.

I told you booze helps.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*No, he doesn't bring any of this shit to Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shouldn't you be making turkey hand puppets anyway?

I have some sad news. Because of budgetary constraints, Mulletville Corp has decided to axe the Thanksgiving gift basket. Even more crushing, the Gift Basket Committee has been disbanded.


I know. That gift basket brightened the days of many employees.

Remember Robert, who needed a bus pass so he could get his turkey home? Carrying his bird up a fire escape was such a treat. Then there was Steve and his dead wife and cat Fang.

(Update on Steve: He recently told me that I reminded him of one of the "girls" from Scooby Doo. "Don't worry," he told me, "I don't mean the fat one with the glasses." Thank you, Steve.)

Yes, the shitty economy is hurting everyone, even cartoon characters.

If you're hurting and need a good laugh, you can read about my dear Aunt Burty, the woman who had so much holiday love to give, she couldn't keep her hands above the table. It's a hoot.

Oh, shut up. I told you this was a shameless repost! Gheesh!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The most compelling turkey story you'll ever read

I am so excited. After three months of trying I, Mrs. Mullet, have finally gotten my name on the fucking snack sign-up sheet at my son’s nursery school.

Three months.

Aren't you excited for me?

I’m bringing in turkey rolls, to be exact, to be eaten by the little darlings after their Thanksgiving skit. Delicious, condiment- and cheese-free turkey rolls. Mmmmm.

You would think that the desire to contribute snacks is one that would be easily appeased, but getting on that sign-up sheet has been absurdly difficult.

You see, of all the nursery school moms, I am one of two that works.

Oh, shut up. This isn't going to be an us vs. them post. It's about turkey, for Pete's sake!

I wasn’t being stereotypical when I mentioned that my eye candy is limited to stay-at-home moms in yoga pants. Literally, there’s a yoga class held next door to the nursery school during class time; they all walk over together and work out.

(Who, me, jealous?)

During morning drop-off, I bring Junior into the school, kiss him good-bye, then look at my watch and realize I have 10 minutes in which to make a 20-minute drive. At the exact moment I make that realization, the teacher reminds everyone that the upcoming week’s snack sign-up sheet has just been posted on the bulletin board.

As the other women amble over to the board and casually discuss whether they’ll bring in cupcakes or graham crackers, I trip my way out the door, over children and over more women in yoga pants. By the time I make my way back to the sign-up sheet at the next day’s drop-off, there are no empty slots. Not even for sliced fruit!

Is it so wrong that I want a turn to slice the damn fruit?

Then, this morning, in a cosmic occurrence similar to that of Mars aligning with Saturn, the teacher announced the sign-up sheet posting as I was walking in. Heavens to Betsy!

I shoved Junior out of the way, ran over and wrote in my name. In big letters. Huge letters. Turkey rolls: MRS. FRICKEN MULLET. YES! I WILL BRING IN TURKEY ROLLS. MRS. MULLET WAS HERE. 2011.

I turned around, immensely satisfied. I’m not sure what I expected. Applause? Nods of approval that yes, working mothers can feed children too?

No one cared. And really, it’s silly of me to expect them to.

But I care. And that’s all that matters.

Now step away from the sign-up sheet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm cutting short my introspective (and self-indulgent) clogfest

So I can share some exciting news: My husband Chuck got a full-time job, and he's starting at the end of this week!

He's been a stay-at-home dad/freelancer/TV personality (ok, ok, it was just one episode) since being laid off in 2009.

Fricken 2009, man.

I'm happy for him. Getting laid off takes its toll, particularly in this crappy economy.

I'm also happy for myself (we can finally afford fig newtons again). But. I'm also sad. He'll be away a lot. The job entails travel and long hours. The kids are going to miss him. And I'm going to miss him in his Mr. Mom role—even if he didn't have a stuff drink waiting for me when I got home from work, nor was he wearing something sexy.

He never quite got that aspect of our role reversal.

It's going to be a big change. I'll be managing two kids and a full-time job all by myself. Taking out the garbage. Doing laundry. Cooking dinners. Bathing the kids.

Five days a week.

All by myself.

Oh, God.

See, dammit. I knew those ugly-yet-buttery-soft clogs were a good purchase. (Thank you, T.J.Maxx.) If only they came with super powers.

But enough about me: Congrats, Chuck!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For a nanosecond it was the year of the nose ring

I drove to Assachusetts yesterday so I could spend Saturday night with my dear friend Sandy. Because she is so wonderful and because she understands I don't get out much these days, she met me at the door with a pitcher of diet ginger ale and Early Times whiskey.

I love her (remember how she visited at the height of the flea infestation? Now that's a friend).

After tailgating at her place, we walked around Northampton and tried in vain to find a bar where we could sit. We finally settled on a pub where one of us could sit.

As soon as my ass hit the stool, I got lost people watching. In Mulletville Lite, my people watching is limited to a) Chuck and the kids, b) my parents, c) the neighbors, and d) the moms who drop off their kids at the nursery school (i.e., a blur of yoga pants). No one has tri-colored hair. No one wears red lipstick. No one dresses up.

The room was full of eye candy. Pure eye candy.

Dressed in my black sweater, jeans and black boots I felt hopelessly generic in comparison. Not in a bad way. More in a I'm-36-and-live-in-Connecticut-so-I-have-no-pep-or-originality kind of way.

Ok, ok. I guess I can't blame it all on Connecticut. Having two children has made dressing a completely utilitarian effort. Putting on a shirt correctly is good, never mind if it's funky and/or flattering.

Then there's Chuck. He bought me a Vera Bradley handbag for Christmas last year and, in the midst of a homogeneous hiccup, I started using it.

So there I was at the bar. Drunk on whiskey and pretty lights and somewhat pretty people, I contemplated a drastic makeover for myself. Bangs. Lipstick. Textured tights. A ferret hat. Something different. Something that would set me apart from the yuppy Mulletville Lite crowd.


If only I hadn't stopped at that store on the way home from Assachusetts today and bought these:

Clogs. Fucking clogs. Sucked in by their comfort and functionality, I didn't have a chance.

And, honestly, I kind of knew this day was coming. I just didn't think it would follow such quick suit after "I'm gonna zip and zest my hump, my hump, my hump. My lovely lady lumps (lumps)." There are worse travesties, I understand, but for a few drunken hours I really did think I'd return home and infuse my life with unique and dazzling glamor.

(Myah, that last line just made me burst out laughing.)

What about you? Do you feel like you pay hommage to your inner diva or are you subsisting on comfy schlepwear?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Perplexing and vexing all at once: 4

At four-and-a-half years old our first son, Junior, isn't quite so junior anymore.

Lately he's been throwing us for a loop. He can do it all by himself. NO, HE NEEDS HELP. No, he can handle it. NO, MOM I NEED YOU. One minute he's beating his chest and declaring, "I'm brave! Braver than Dad!" In the next breath he's whimpering up at me, pleading with me to pick him up and carry him.

At close to 50 pounds, that's no small feat.

He loves nursery school, so much so that he gets into the car before me and yells to me to hurry up. Yet he won't tell us what he does at nursery school. We're able to piece together some of his activities based on the sheer volume of crafts he brings home, but I'm convinced he took an oath of silence the day we registered.

He uses the word "like" a lot. He got that from me, which means I'm a valley girl who doesn't know it.

He's musically inclined. I prefer it when the performances take place after 8:30 a.m., but I realize that's not always an option.

Junior has my temper and I'm sorry for that. When I watch how Chuck handles him at his finest, I see how lucky we are to have such a patient man in our lives. When they cuddle on the couch, I see how lucky Junior is to be so loved.

When I asked Junior what he was doing the other day and he replied, "Not kicking Everett," it made me realize that when Everett is big enough, Junior's probably going to have a few black eyes.

Junior's been seized by the jealousy bug—to the point of counting seconds on hugs and kisses and claiming that Everett's lasted longer. He's also been seized by the "NO, EVERETT! DON'T TOUCH THAT, EVERETT!" bug.

He has no idea what his brother is going to do to his toys.

It's best that way.

I miss the malleable mini man Junior was at three. Some days I don't recognize the little giraffe who is racing around the house, demanding that I watch "the coolest move ever." He is quick to say no and even quicker to offer a bargain. I had no idea that four-year-olds were such used car salesmen.

But I love Junior at four. I love his "Mom, I sneezed and tooted does that mean I snooted?" I love his crazy self-portraits.

Most of all, I love the fact that even though I have known him his whole life I am still finding out who he is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

None of my friends have long fingernails

When I was a kid, my parents dropped me off at my aunt's house for the day. I was four or five. Or six.

I can't recall it was so long ago.

My aunt had 10 cats, a creepy husband, and a daughter (my cousin) who had so much metal in her mouth her lips had track marks. (You whipper snappers who bitch about your clear plastic "braces" don't know how good you have it!)

The creepy husband liked to watch creepy movies. My cousin and I liked to sit behind the couch and pretend we were playing with Barbies, but really what we were doing was sneaking peeks at the horror movies he was watching.

Because listening to the blood curdling screams wasn't enough.

That fateful day I happened to catch a creature of some kind walking down a hall. A little girl was sleeping in her bedroom. The creature wrapped his fingers around the door frame and peered in on the girl.

To this day I remember those fingers and fingernails: long, bony fingers and talon-like nails. Slowly wrapping themselves around the wooden frame of the door.

Then, the creature's head. Sloooowly peering in.

My parents paid dearly for that day of freedom. As I lay in bed that night I stared at the door frame, convinced I could see the tips of the creature's fingernails. Convinced that the second I closed my eyes he would peer in on me and eat me.

I told them as much.

Night after night. Month after month.

"I can see him!" I'd scream. "He's going to get me!" Sometimes it was right at bedtime. Sometimes it was in the middle of the night.

I believe my mother entitled this phase "We hate you" in my childhood scrapbook.

I remembered all this as I stood next to Junior's bed tonight. We let him watch Cars 2. As he lay there, his stuffed animals tucked sweetly underneath his armpits, he said, "My mind keeps seeing the mean cars. I don't want to close my eyes."

My first thought was, I so feel his pain. It was in his very bedroom that I'd slept as a child and given myself all those panic attacks. I knew exactly what he was going through.

Poor kid.

My second thought was, Please don't let this fuck up our sleep. Please. I just want to sleep.

Or maybe that was my first thought. During the opening credits.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Everyone knows about the melons

But what people really need to know about is the sweet potatoes. Think of it as "before" and "after."

Before kids:

After kids:

And yes, the girls are pointing straight at a bottle of tequila. Can you blame them?

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...