Don’t Worry, This Isn’t 800 Words About My Hair or Something

It has taken me 7+ years of blogging to recognize that one of the causes of writer’s* block – for me – is having lots of little mini-posts created in the shower or during my commute home just sort of…sitting in my brain.  So while I think my bulleted lists are sort of a cop out, they also seem to serve a larger purpose of clearing the way for something more entertaining (hopefully) so let’s give this a whirl, shall we?  (GOD, CHRISTEN STOP WRITING ABOUT WRITING AND JUST WRITE ALREADY.)

  • Like everyone else in your mom’s book club, I recently finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I have to say that unlike a lot of organizational books, it’s a pretty easy and practical way to approach paring down your belongings.  Instead of demanding you toss anything you haven’t touched in a certain arbitrary time period, she asks that you simply assess whether the item in question “sparks joy.”  If yes, it stays.  If not, it goes.  No shaming around the quality or price or obligation surrounding the item.  I do think part of the success is due to the fact that I’m constantly shrieking, “DOES THIS SPARK JOY?” at Ed, who is bound to grow tired of these shenanigans soon, leave me, and take all of his stuff with him.  Hey look!  Now my place is half-empty.  MAGIC, INDEED!  #KonMari
  • My mom is on assignment in Omaha, Nebraska for the next six-ish months and as someone who hates humidity, being cold, and steak she’s not doing too hot right now.  Her company will pay to fly me out to see her so we’re looking at dates for me to hang out and hopefully I can help ease some of her homesickness.  If anyone out there has any ideas of fun stuff to do in Omaha (more like OmaHA! amirite?) please tell me because so far our plans include watching movies and wandering around her local Target.
  • Over the weekend we were driving through our neighborhood and Ed spotted a guy trying to get in front of us in traffic.  “Don’t you dare pull out,” he said.  Me, without skipping a beat: “That’s not what your mom said last night.”  He remained silent and continued driving.  I think this exchange sums up our marriage perfectly.
  • I’m wearing white pants today and ate lunch that included a red sauce without spilling on myself and seriously I might actually be invincible.
  • Despite all evidence to the contrary in terms of my actual behavior, I am apparently at an age where anyone younger than I am assumes that I know what I’m doing and asks my advice.  Sometimes this is career-related but usually it’s of a more personal nature.  This has got to be highly amusing to anyone who knew me from 1992 until, oh, today because I’m hardly the poster child for some sort of “If you do ABC then you’re guaranteed success” type of formula.  But maybe that’s the genius here: if I came out the other side happy, healthy, and relatively unscathed despite the stupid decisions I made, you can too?  Maybe I’ll write a book about this: Dare to Wear White Pants While Eating Red Foods. Best-seller list, here I come!

OK, I feel better now.  I’m sure you do, too.

*I am by no means putting myself in the category of a “writer” but “blogger’s block” sounds dumb.

Over 700 Words About My Skin

Hey, you know what we haven’t had around here in awhile?  A good, old-fashioned rundown of what I’m putting on my face only to wash said things down the drain 12 hours later!  Who’s with me?

*Usual Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way and everything has been purchased with my own money. I am not an expert but merely a woman with an opinion and an Internet connection. Use anything here at your own risk, don’t sue me, etc.

A little background: my skin/complexion has always been My Thing.  A combination of good genes and near-obsessive application of sunscreen and anti-aging creams since I was in high school meant that for all of my dorky awkwardness I at least had “good skin” going for me.  Fast-forward to my 30’s. Thanks to months of popping Clomid like Skittles with a chaser of progesterone (natural AND synthetic because variety keeps life interesting, you know?) my skin lost its fucking mind.  Chin acne, rashes, dry patches, and – at the all-time high point of sexiness – my skin actually started splitting apart.  Admit it: you’re turned on right now.  Luckily it started to slowly sort itself out again once I stopped pumping myself full of hormones, and the situation downgraded slightly from “I’m Not Leaving the House” to “This…Isn’t Great, but I Need to Go to Work.”  During the peak of Skinaggedon, I had started slathering my face and neck with anything and everything I could get my hands on.  Not the smartest move, but desperation rarely leads to good choices in my life.

Once everything had somewhat normalized I had a realization: if I wanted to look like I did when I was 16 (minus the oversized flannel and look of disdain for anyone over the age of 25) I should start using what worked way back then and simplify instead of piling on everything that came in that month’s Birchbox and hoping for the best.

So now my morning routine is as follows:

  • Cetaphil: An old favorite since I was 12, probably?  Gentle and cleans well and I can get a huge bottle at Target for $9 and it lasts foreverrrrrr.
  • Purpose Moisturizer, SPF 15: Another product OG that can be purchased at any drugstore. Yes, please!
  • 100% Pure Eye Cream: A fairly recent addition to my all-star line up and I’m digging it.  Seems like anything that smells like coffee would have to be great, right?  Yes.

I was feeling much better and had my makeup done for a friend’s wedding.  The 25 year-old who was matching my foundation told me that I had “skin like butter” so I guess my plan worked.

In an exciting twist I’ve added some new items to my evening routine and my skin has actually gotten better.  Oh, you want to hear more?  WELL OK THEN.

  • Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser: I was skeptical of the claims that this melts your makeup off so thoroughly but this shit is no joke.  It also includes Vitamin C so I can skip serum and my skin doesn’t feel stripped and dry.  Sold!
  • Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream: Somehow a sample of this made its way to me (I honestly cannot remember from where – Sephora? Birchbox? My mom just randomly gave me something?) and I was hooked immediately.  Downside: no sunscreen.  But!  That makes it perfect for nighttime and it smells so nice but without an actual scent, if that makes any sense?  Sort of like how I imagine a rich person’s bedroom would smell.
  • Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant: So here’s a youthful habit I have thankfully ditched: scrubbing the ever-loving hell out of my face with the harshest thing I can find. I think we can all agree I’m lucky that ranks among my dumber moments, right?  Anyway, you mix this powdery scrub with water and rub it all over your face and rinse and oh hey your face isn’t bright red.  Apparently your face shouldn’t look like you took a belt sander to it after exfoliating.  Live and learn.

I know “low maintenance” is probably not what you think after reading that list but this is pared way, way down from what was going on at the height of my (totally not a) crisis.  Which, in retrospect, was probably not helping anything but throwing money at problems is my jam, apparently.  Next time I’ll try throwing common sense at them, but don’t hold your breath.

*ETA: I somehow forgot a product: Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming Mist.  I apply it before moisturizing morning and night.  It adds another layer of moisture and sometimes when my skin is a little irritated I spritz it throughout the day and it seems to keep itchiness at bay.

Friday Afternoon’s Alright for Blogging

Hey, remember when blogging was sometimes just posting lots of little random thoughts and then Facebook and Twitter made that possible so now you feel like you need to have a “real” post with some sort of substantial message or something?  Me too.  So I’m bringing back the old school stylez.  You’re welcome.

  • I’m on a major Tina Turner kick lately. I’ve listened to “River Deep Mountain High” about a billion times today and holy shit her voice is startlingly beautiful.
  • Speaking of music, I really have to hand it to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack for introducing a new generation to The Runaways.  My heart leaps when I hear my brother singing “Cherry Bomb.”
  • A new requirement in any friend of mine is to agree that James Spader was straight-up hot in Pretty in Pink. A complete and total asshole to be sure, but I can’t help but think that would be some fantastic cocaine-fueled hate sex.
  • Wow, this list is a real testament to all my hot takes on not-so-current pop culture.
  • I had new passport photos taken today and came incredibly close to paying extra for a set of me making, like, duckface, and show it to Ed and see if he said anything.  But the woman taking the pictures was so sweet and I felt weird wasting her time just to play a (probably not even funny to anyone but me) prank on my husband.  Is this what it’s like to grow up?
  • Rather personal question: if your workplace restroom is one of those multi-stall deals, do you have a favorite?  Because I found that I was feeling rather put out lately when the stall I frequent is taken so I’ve been trying to switch it up a little.  But my real pet peeve, it turns out, is when I’m the ONLY ONE in our large and rather well-appointed ladies room (baskets of tampons in each stall! music piped in! floor-length mirror!) and someone else comes in and takes the stall right next to mine, despite DOZENS of other options.  Which makes me circle back to maybe everyone has a preferred stall and I just happen to be next to it?
  • OK, I have literally devolved to potty talk.  Talk about circling the drain.  *rimshot*

What are we all up to this weekend?  I’m envisioning a nap, outdoor cocktails, and possibly cleaning out my closet because, hey, I like to goof off, too.

Perhaps Toning Down References to Sketchy Fictional Characters Will Help My Situation

While I’m pretty proud of the fact that I am good about maintaining friendships over the course of my life (seriously: you cannot shake me) I know I need to work on initiating friendships in the first place.  My overly trusting and eager nature has screwed me over in the past and I, despite having met many lovely people in my 20’s and 30’s, have some trust and rejection issues.  When a potential new friend asks me to grab coffee my first instinct is to check the rafters for a bucket of pig’s blood. Then I assume that I am lame and bothersome so I rarely ask people to hang out, which makes me appear disinterested and aloof.  And then I bitch that I have no one to go shopping or happy hour with me.

I’m a real treat.

A blogger I’ve read and admired for ages, Emily, reached out to me to hang out and I took her up on her invitation.  She had a last-minute meeting near my office and wondered if I was free for lunch.  I said yes, even though I wasn’t wearing the perfect outfit and hadn’t picked a place in advance and was feeling sort of shy. I had a wonderful time and am so grateful for that little act of kindness.  We had a great time (at least, I did, but she didn’t block me on gchat or anything so I think it was mutual) and she didn’t seem totally freaked out by my million questions about her life.

So, I’m going to make it a goal to a.) not display the social skills of Boo Radley and b.) initiate plans with the people around me because it really shouldn’t be this challenging for a grown women to find someone to get coffee or a drink with her.

Wish me luck.

It’s Not a Tumor

Alternate Title: Why Ed Shouldn’t Go to Sleep Before I Do Since I’ll Just End Up Cruising WebMD

A short list of things I Googled/decided I had after a leg cramp didn’t go away:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Gout
  • Avian Bone Syndrome
  • I’d like a really tasteful memorial but also there should be an open bar
  • Well, at least I’m not going to die in a changing room trapped in a too-tight dress. Or chained to a wall in a sex dungeon.

The more logical reason(s):

  • Tweaked something doing a lunge
  • Got up from the floor kind of weird while holding my friend’s newborn
  • Dehydration
  • Am old
  • OK, Christen, go to sleep now


37 Is the New 17

Like most nightmares, mine started with a trip to the mall.

Well, not the mall, exactly, but while shopping.  For the first time since adolescence, I feel really, for lack of a better term, self-conscious about what to wear.  I don’t mean what to wear for an interview or black-tie party (not that I’ve ever attended a black-tie event.  I’m not married to Bruce Wayne) but on a daily basis.  And it’s fucking annoying because I’m 37 years-old and have the means to buy nice things but I wander around stores unsure of myself and wondering if I’m too old to be in a certain store or if I’m required to shop at Talbot’s and look like Emily Gilmore and this is truly the dumbest thing to think about all the time and yet I cannot stop.  Maybe it’s not having a super strict work dress code for work so the lines are blurred between Business Christen and Weekend Christen so I can pretty much wear the same thing on a Tuesday and a Saturday?  Kind of like when I was a kid.  Maybe it’s working and making friends with people who are younger?  We go shopping and they suggest things for me and while my initial reaction is usually “Yeah, that looks good” I panic that I’m going to look like one of those women who is desperately fighting her age and clinging to youth and that is most definitely not a good look.

An additional issue: in the last eight months or so I’ve put on a fair amount of weight.  The combo of longer work days, happy hours with new fabulous coworkers, the abundance of food and snacks in the office, socializing which generally revolves around food (and wanting to explore new restaurants), AND not finding a new running group has resulted in a slow but steady creep.  I have started a new, sustainable workout routine and have been making better choices about food and portion control, but it’s going to take time to get back into a fair amount of my clothes.  In the meantime, buying new clothes has become a necessary chore because I can’t come to work in yoga pants. So I’m shopping in the middle of an identity (midlife?) crisis and not exactly psyched about it, or the body I’m dressing.  What could possibly go wrong?

So, yes: I am basically reliving my adolescence, only I can stay out as late as I want and buy my own booze.  Yay?

On Carpe-ing the Hell Out of the Diem

One of the things I love most about Ed is that he cares and likes to make things special.  He isn’t afraid to be spontaneous, but he likes to put some time and effort into researching things a little so we don’t, say, drive around a strange town aimlessly and have to eat at a Chili’s on Valentine’s Day and risk explosive diarrhea from the questionable nachos because someone is just too fucking cool to look into places or HEAVEN FORBID make a reservation like some square because you fancy yourself an artist who likes to layer irony over every interpersonal interaction or some shit.  Not that that’s ever happened to me with a previous boyfriend.  (It totally happened with a previous boyfriend.)

Anyway.  Ed: he cares.  I care!  It works well, actually.  Except when it means we are paralyzed with some idea of perfection that keeps us from actually doing things.

We’ve been in our new place for almost six months and have been purging and rearranging and organizing and decorating and generally trying to make it a comfortable home that we can open up to friends.  We have a good social circle here, and have continued to make new friends, too.  I mentioned something to Ed about wanting to have a few people over for dinner soon.

“But we don’t have any artwork for over the couch.”

“So? Is that necessary for dinner or drinks?”

“No, but I just want everything to look nice.  And be perfect.”

And here’s the problem: we do this a lot.  While it may seem like I’m calling Ed out, I fully acknowledge that I’m guilty of this.  Waiting until everything is perfect before doing something is innocuous enough – we’re talking about a dinner party here – but when I look around me I’ve been seeing the result of that thinking, that lifestyle, and it scares me.  We currently have three out of our six parents dealing with health issues, all to varying degrees of severity, but all serious enough that day-to-day quality of life is compromised.  And out of that three, two have operated from a “someday, at some point, after I accomplish XYZ” mentality and someday is here and now they can’t travel, garden, swim in the pool.  So why in the hell are we putting off a damn dinner party until we have artwork on the wall?

My dad is among the three who isn’t doing so hot right now; he’s at home and healing slowly. He is on bed rest primarily, which is maddening and frustrating and scary at times but we’re staying positive. Obviously, he isn’t able to participate in much, and while he’s hardly ready to tag out I see that he doesn’t seem to have many regrets. After his accident, he continued to ski, learned about sailing, and started SCUBA diving. Not to mention that whole had another kid thing. He hasn’t let age and circumstance stop him from doing what he enjoys and living life. We don’t always agree and our relationship can be complicated (isn’t that always the way with two stubborn people?) but damn it if I don’t admire that about him.

It’s quite a leap here, I know that.  Not to mention weirdly morbid to tell your spouse, “We should have people over because one day we’re gonna be old and our friends will be dead and we’ll regret the cookouts we DIDN’T have!” but seriously: life is short, we don’t tend to get healthier and more energetic with age generally, and there’s always going to be something that would make everything perfect, if not just a little bit better.

So who wants to come over for dinner?