A Profound Experience Of Art… Or Something Like That

While I won’t delude you into thinking I am a particularly sophisticated woman, every once in a while I do get a whim- a flight of fancy if you will– to get off my couch and do something cultural for a change.

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He knows

One such temporary break in sanity occurred this past weekend, when I attended both Ai WeiWei’s According To What? exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Nuit Blanche in downtown Toronto on the SAME DAY.

What can I say? I was bored just really love contemporary art.

The first stop on “BreezyK’s Excellent Bougie Adventure” was the AGO. If you haven’t heard of Ai WeiWei, he is a Chinese contemporary artist, famous for designing the “bird’s nest” stadium at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as for his activism.

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An outspoken advocate for democracy and human rights in China, Ai has participated in several investigations of government corruption and alleged cover-ups- including the 2008 collapse of government schools resulting in the death of thousands of children following the Sichuan earthquake.  

As a result of his activism, Ai has been unable to leave China since 2012; his passport confiscated by government officials. His studio and home have also been under constant  surveillance, and his daily blog monitored and censored. 

Regardless of your stance on Ai’s political ideals, his work- which includes sculpture, installations, photography, film and architecture- is pretty incredible. I particularly enjoyed his sculptures, which were massive pieces of work requiring tons of manual labour and raw material to create. Like this piece, made from wooden stools fused together using an ancient technique with no nails or glue!

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Or “Straight”- composed of 150 tons of steel rebar recovered from the sites of the collapsed schools in Sichuan- each meticulously straightened by hand.

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It was a pretty cool, and but also extremely emotional experience. Here’s me cutting the tension and showing my instagram followers how artsy I am:

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The exhibit is on until October 27 in Toronto, so check it out if you have the chance!

Stop 2 of the day was Nuit Blanche – the annual contemporary art festival in Toronto where museums and galleries open up their doors for free from dawn till dusk, and over 150 projects are exhibited around the city by more than 500 different artists and curators.

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The pieces ranged from “Forever Bicycles” (pictured above) by my BFF Ai WeiWei, a sculpture of over 3,000 bicycles suspended in air, to smaller projects like Parallax, a light fixture of sorts composed of horizontally stacked tubes of different sizes.

020… Not gonna lie, it kind of reminded me of a Lite Brite. 

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The other pieces ran the gamut; from “Ferris Wheel” designed to evoke “joy and delight”:

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To “Music Box”, a jack-in-the-box like collection of instruments that feed off each other and produce one random symphony:

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…to whatever the hell this is:

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Something about “childlike innocence”?

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As I walked the streets, watching others marvel at the pieces before them, I thought of a passage in a book I read recently called Leaving The Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. The book is about a young American poet named Adam Gordon on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid. One day, Adam witnesses a man openly weeping in front of a painting at an art gallery, and begins to worry that he himself has never been moved to such a level by art:

“Was he, I wondered, just facing the wall to hide his face as he dealt with whatever grief he’d brought into the museum? Or was he having “a profound experience of art”? I had long worried that I was incapable of having a profound experience of art and I had trouble believing that anyone had, at least anyone I knew. I was intensely suspicious of people who claimed a poem or painting or piece of music ‘changed their life’ especially since I had often known these people before and after their experience and could register no change. [...] The closest I’d come to having a profound experience of art was probably the experience of this distance, a profound experience of the absence of profundity.”

I could sort of relate. While I appreciated some of the pieces; others (like that scary giant insect) were just completely incomprehensible to me. I wondered if this was because these pieces didn’t  especially “speak” to me, or because I straight-up didn’t “get” it.

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In any event, I’ll have some time to think about it, as I’ve now fulfilled my entire culture quota for 2013 and can happily go back to rotting my brain with as much reality TV as humanly possible (which, let’s be honest, was really the goal of this entire exercise.)

Question of the Day: Have you had a “profound experience of art”? Do you believe in it?

Workouts, Wild Turkeys and Way Too Much Time On My Hands

Greetings from Canada’s Ocean Playground!

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I’ve been in Nova Scotia for about a week now, visiting with family and friends, lazing on the beach, and basically living the life of a bored housewife with way too much time on her hands.

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It’s all really great and relaxing-  except for the WILD TURKEY who has taken up residence in our backyard and insists on waking me up at 6 a.m. every morning. Seriously guys, this thing is hard as f*ck. It’s about 2 feet tall, feral looking, and has a “call” so loud and frightening it has started featuring prominently in my nightmares.

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It also hasn’t been relaxing in the sense that my family are exercise fanatics and insist on constantly shaming me into working out. Hot yoga, running at the local track, “power walks”, gym sessions… I’m beginning to think they’re trying to tell me something.

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If I'm getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I'm taking a selfie of it.

If I’m getting my ass to the gym on vacation, you better believe I’m taking a selfie of it.

My mom, just killin it.

Look at that smug look on her face.

Skinny b*tches.

Anyway, gotta make this a short one because I must return to my busy schedule of watching The Doctors, making unnecessary trips to the grocery store and coordinating hairstyles with my 8-year-old niece:

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so for now I will leave you with this adorable photo of my niece Maeve, who, at 14 months old, is already demonstrating more maternal instinct in her little finger than I will ever hope to possess.

My niece Maeve and her baby/twin

Happy Friday y’all!

Question of the Day: How do you exorcise an evil turkey nemesis?

… and don’t say garlic, crucifixes or kryptonite cause I’ve already tried that sh*t and the damn thing ain’t budging.

My Life Through Instagram Vol. 2

What up, homies? I know my blog has been about as active as a Giant Panda on Valium lately, and for that I apologize.

Side note: did you know Giant Pandas spend approximately 16 hours a day eating?? 

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We have so much in common.

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Anyway, it’s been a busy few weeks for your girl BreezyK here: weddings, parties, cottage weekends, and most importantly- a new job!

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(Do I get points for the timely Shoppers Drug Mart gif? No? Ok.)

It’s still in law, but no longer in private practice… so I expect the quality of my life to improve drastically to have more regular hours and thus more free time for blogging. (When my busy schedule of grooming and beauty related appointments permits, of course.)

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Those pictures were completely gratuitous.

Anyway, I know I owe you guys a real post (and to read and comment on some of the great stuff you’ve been writing), but as mentioned above, I’m in panda-mode. So in the meantime, I thought I’d give a little update on my life through my favourite fleetingly popular social media platform: instagram.

(You can see my first installment of My Life Through Instagram here.)

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you definitely should: @BreezyK1. I am extremely self-absorbed and post a lot of pictures of my manicures. Who doesn’t like that in their newsfeed??

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1.    Someone’s been making mixtapes!

2.    See, I told you. (Hey, when it takes as long as this did, it deserves to be instagrammed) 

3.    Summer BBQs. If you can believe it, there was actually way more food unpictured.

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4.    We clean up aiight 

5.    Sunset over Sugar Lake

6.    Wine and Cheese with a view.. oh you fancy huh  

7.    This album has been getting me through a lot of tough runs lately. Kanye- you may be a crazed egomaniac with questionable child-naming skills, but your beats are solid and your lyrics genius. So thank you for that.  

8.    Champagne celebrations

9.    I challenge you to name me a treat more delicious than s’mores

You just peed in your pants a little, didn't you?

You just peed in your pants a little, didn’t you?

10.  So I joined a softball league this summer- considering the ability to play softball entirely irrelevant. The only thing worse than my batting average is my attendance- but I do contribute to the team by taking glorious, sunset candid shots like this one.. so I think I’m pulling my weight.

11.  My lovely friend Danielle looking fierce at her wedding

12.  Cottage Adventures

13.  Do you… canoe? (Ok that was lame. Forgive me guys, I’ve been out of the game for a while) 

14.  Little father’s day tribute to my pops.. (and some inadvertent product placement. Mmm. Veggie Thins) 

15.  Delicious Sangria by the pool… I am just noticing now how many of these pics involve alcohol.

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16.  A lifesize “The Claw” arcade game set up in the financial district as part of Toronto’s Luminato festival for the arts and creativity. There was actually a dude inside who, when you put money into the machine, tried to retrieve a toy for you with oversize claw-like implements. Everyone cheered when he got one, and when he missed they played the sad fail music from the Price is Right. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ytCEuuW2_A

Umm this Youtube video has had over 3 million views. I don’t know why, but that’s awesome.

Question of the Day: What has been the highlight of your summer thus far?

Mine’s probably a tossup between drinking that Sangria and watching the new season of Big Brother.. but I expect that to change when I head to Nova Scotia this weekend!

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

What do a 10 lb box of condoms, a taxidermy owl and a life-size model of a human throat all have in common?

…………….No, not that, you filthy animals. 

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Well, maybe that. But also this: They are all the subject of hilarious essays in David Sedaris’ new book, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls.

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In this, his 7th collection of autobiographical essays and short stories, America’s greatest humorist (IMHO) takes us on a journey from a suburban Costco, to his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, to feeding Kookaburas in the Australian bush- all with the cunning wit and sharp observations of a perpetual outsider.

owls2 A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Sedaris do a reading of this book here in Toronto. It was a bit of a surreal experience for me, because having read all of his books, I sort of felt like I knew him already. I could tell you intimate details about his family, his childhood, even about his days as a meth-addicted starving artist. I had the urge to blurt out “How’s Amy?” (his famous sister) at one point, but then I remembered that I don’t actually know her at all, and wisely refrained.   

Although I do think we could be besties.. don't you?

Although I do think we would be besties if given the chance.

He spoke for over an hour, reading several pieces from the book, as well as sharing anecdotes from his tour thus far. He was witty, sharp, and incredibly gracious and welcoming of his fans – except for the fact that he had a very strict no picture policy. Luckily, I am a master sweet-talker who no man (even a gay one) can say no to, so I was able to superimpose my head onto some random man’s body convince him to take this one with me:

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I think it’s a framer.

Anywhoo- back to the review.

Longtime fans of Sedaris might find Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls a bit of a departure from his earlier works. Whereas Naked and Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim focused primarily on his childhood and coming of age tales; this collection delves more into his current, adult life and day-to-day encounters. If you’re open to it, this can be a refreshing change. We learn a lot more about his relationship with his partner Hugh in this collection, as well as receive an unexpected glimpse into his writing process with an essay on the diary he has kept since 1977. He also shares hilarious, cutting observations of the people in line with him at the Airport and Starbucks that are laugh-out-loud funny, and make you wish he was your best friend in real life.

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Throughout it all, you get a sense of what makes him tick; a behind the scenes look at the grown-up David Sedaris. 

Interspersed throughout the book are several pieces of short fiction, which Sedaris explains were written to be recited by teenagers at forensics competitions. Some are comic monologues; others are biting satires of right-wing ideals. I have to admit, these pieces were not my favourite. I found them too far afield from his regular style, and a bit too political for my liking.

That being said, overall, I still thought this book was great- perfect for a plane ride, a Friday night in, or a weekend at the cottage.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh, and has felt like an outsider once or twice in their life.

On that note, the winner of my David Sedaris book giveaway IS: (drumroll please, assistant:)

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Ross!  E-mail me at thecamellife@gmail.com with your address to claim your prize!

(And just to be clear, anyone else is free to e-mail me at that address too. You know, if you wanna like, talk about the new season of Arrested Development, or who Desiree should pick on The Bachelorette. Whatever really. I’m basically just very lonely. )

Question of the Day: Who, in your opinion, is the funniest writer? 

6 Things Everyone Should Know About Las Vegas

So good news everybody: I survived my whirlwind long weekend in Las Vegas!

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The bad news? I am once again freezing my tuckus off in a subarctic Canadian climate. Also, the Easter bunny seems to have forgotten about me completely. I wonder if this has anything to do with the epic diss I gave him in my last post?

*Not me

I still blame him for being so creepy.

So I must admit, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Vegas at first. As my friend Jane so eloquently put it, “I didn’t think Vegas was leftist enough for you“.

I take her point,

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But I still really enjoyed it. As Steve Wynn, owner of half the Las Vegas strip (and that creepy voice inside all the cabs) once famously said:  “Las Vegas is sort of like how God would do it if he had money.”

I have a feeling God might have made a few changes- but if his son`s tweets are any indication, a Las Vegas run by the holy family would still be a pretty fun place to be:

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Since I promised my fellow bachelorette-goers I wouldn’t get into too much of the nitty-gritty of our trip, I’m tailoring my Vegas recap to a few things I learned about the city in general. So here goes:

6 Things Everyone Should Know About Las Vegas

1. There’s Something For Everyone 

Based on my limited knowledge of Vegas, I expected the crowd to be mainly party-goers, eloping couples and Kim Kardashian.

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Au contraire bonjour! Apparently everyone goes to Vegas! Families, couples, grandparents, these guys:

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Is that a flamingo on your shirt? Or are you just happy to see me?

At first I was confused by all the little kids running around,

………..And then I saw this roller coaster:

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It’s also way less glamorous than I expected. I thought people would be dressed to the nines everywhere I went- but let’s just say….. they weren’t. (Hey, I’m practicing cutting people some slack here!)

2. You Can Literally Do Whatever You Want. Except Bring Gum Inside Wet Republic.

My first thought about Las Vegas was that there were no rules whatsoever. Everywhere I looked people were walking around with alcoholic drinks, wearing bikinis, smoking INSIDE.

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I even saw one guy drinking his walktail (<– see what I did there) out of a full-sized plastic guitar. It was awesome.

Like this guy, but not this guy.

My perception shifted, however, after my first visit  to MGM’s famously raucous party pool Wet Republic.

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With security so thick it rivaled Bieber’s entourage, guards double-checked your ID and vigorously inspected the contents of your purse at the entrance- removing any prohibited or nefarious looking items. Advil? No bueno. Bottled water? Fuhhhgettabout it.  I even had my pack of Dentyne Ice confiscated. I still don’t know why. Maybe they thought I was some sort of gum weilding assassin?? Or maybe they just didn’t want me to get it stuck in my own hair. That makes sense.

3. It’s In The Desert, Yo!!

I know what you`re thinking, and yes, I have seen a map before. But it was in that movie National Treasure and I couldn’t make it out very well.

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Anyway, I kinda had an inkling that Vegas was in the middle of the desert, but I guess I didn’t fully appreciate this until my skin started shrivelling up like a California Raisin.

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My hair quickly followed suit, leaving me resembling one of those sad “before” girls from hair commercials.

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Ladies: 3 words: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
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4. If You Move There, You Will Gain 300lbs.

Ummm.. HOLY PORTION SIZES BATMAN. The American “bigger is better” philosophy was really drilled home to me during my several trips to McDonalds and In-and-Out Burger. Did you know a standard McNugget meal in the U.S.is 10 McNuggets, while in Canada, it`s only 6??

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And as if that weren’t enough, my hotel also had the world-famous Jean Phillippe Bakery right downstairs. Nutella brioche??almond croissants? CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN? Heart… Beating… Faster.

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You guys, it was a bad scene for BreezyK. Think Homer Simpson in the land of chocolate,

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But worse. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5. There is always a “List”-  And you need to be on it.

For girls, this basically means just leaving your hotel room. For guys, it means putting on your best Burberry knockoff and spending hours in line haggling with some glorified bouncer to let you and your buddies spend a grand  on a bottle of Grey Goose. Which you will then ultimately give to a group of cute 20-somethings, who will drink every last drop before running off to find the next table of suckers. The b*tches probably won’t even say goodbye.

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And they say life isn’t fair  ;)

6. There`s a Good Chance It Was All Just A Mirage

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I mean, it was in the middle of the desert. And the whole thing did sort of feel like a dream. The only evidence I have of even being there are a few instagram pics and a quick-fading tan. But that doesn’t prove anything. I could have just been abducted by aliens with a penchant for vitamin D and social media.

………If I ever made any sense, I have clearly ceased to do so.

Lets get to the winner of my East-Vegas giveaway! Congratulations (drumroll pleaaaaase):

Whinybaby! 

E-mail me at thecamellife@gmail.com with your address!

Question of the Day: Have you Ever been to Vegas?

Viva Las Vegas (Giveaway!!)

In true lapsed Catholic fashion, this year I’ve decided to spend Easter weekend in the un-holiest place on earth: Vegas Baby!!

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That’s right folks- by the time you read this, I will be on my way to Sin City with 17 other bad b*tches to celebrate the bachelorette parties of two of our closest friends. Yep- a DOUBLE bachelorette. God help our livers us all.

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I was initially worried that my very devout mother would be horrified at the idea of my spending Good Friday popping bottles with Diddy at Wet Republic,

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But apparently she’s way too busy worrying about Pope Francis to even notice. (“I mean, I know he preaches the simple life and all.. but if he doesn’t start using more security soon he’s not gonna be preaching anything at all” )

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So I think I’m all set! I’ve got my flip flops, sunglasses, magazines, a crap- ton of candy, and this divine piece of literature for the plane:

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The lady at Chapters assured me that it was “amazing” and “a total page turner”, but with lines like “the next time I drive a Ferrari, I’ll be sure to wear a longer skirt” – I have my doubts.

Anyway, I’ve never been to Vegas, but if it’s anything like I’ve seen in the movies, then I expect to do at least one, if not more of the following things while I’m there:

1. Play a specialized role in an organized casino heist with a motley crew of 11 12 13 sidekicks

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2. Lose one of the bachelorettes, kidnap Mike Tyson’s tiger and pull my own tooth out

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3. Develop an elaborate card counting scheme under the direction of my mentor, Nicholas Cage

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4. Marry Ashton Kutcher and split a $3 million jackpot

What Happens in Vegas movie image Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher

5. Launder millions of superdollars in a counterfeit scam involving the Triads

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6. Thwart Project Vulcan after nearly being assisinated by FemmeBots

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7. Form an unlikely relationship with a hardened prostitute and suddenly develop a new lease on life

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8. Lose all of my money gambling and have to share a $1.49 buffet with my cousin Eddie

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9. Enter a beauty pageant in order to save the original Captain Kirk

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10. Get hopped up on acid and drive around in an old Eldorado

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Yes my friends, in Vegas, anything is possible!!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and that the Easter bunny finds you. (For your sake, I hope it’s not the same one whose lap I sat on in grade 1.)

*Not me

*Not me

And if you want to make your Easter REALLY special, you can enter my Festive East-Vegas Giveaway! Just match each of the Vegas activities listed above with the correct movie below, and you could win a free CAMEL LIFE TSHIRT!!

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Unfortunately, it’s a ladies size small, so if it doesn’t fit then I guess you’ll just have to frame it and hang it on your wall along with the rest of your BreezyK memorabilia. The winner will also receive a personalized Easter card from me and a Las Vegas themed trinket for your garbage home!

If more than one person guesses the order correctly, I will take bribes draw names.

Here is the list of movies to be matched with the correct # above. Good luck!

A. National Lampoon’s Vegas vacation

B. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

C. Rush Hour 2

D. What Happens in Vegas

E. The Hangover

F. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

G. 21

H. Oceans 11/12/13

I. Leaving Las Vegas

J. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Contest closes on Sunday, March 31 at high noon!

Question of the Day: What are your plans for Easter weekend?

The Demise Of The Penny: A Catalyst For Change?

February 4, 2013 was a day that changed the lives of Canadians forever. No, Tim Horton’s didn’t stop serving coffee (thank God). We didn’t change our national sport to curling. Ryan Gosling didn’t (officially) become President Of The Universe.

No. It was much more drastic than that. On February 4, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing pennies.

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Yes, like old age security, military spending and that CBC show Little Mosque on the Prairie, the penny became yet another piece of collateral damage in Canada’s tightening fiscal policy.
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Although I knew this day was coming (the announcement that the penny would be phased out came in mid- 2012), I couldn’t help but feel a bit sentimental. It seemed like the end of an era. Pennies had been a fixture in my life since childhood: I dove for them in swimming pools, landed them on the ledge of the PEI ferry, rolled them in 50’s to buy the latest toys.

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What was going to happen now? Would a new denomination be arbitrarily deemed “lucky”? Or would luck just be much harder to come by? And what about thoughts? Would they be incrementally more expensive?

I should have been more prepared for this, given that it was not, as it happened, my first rodeo. Back in 1996, the Canadian Government pulled another fast one on me by replacing my beloved, rose-coloured $2 bills with a two-toned, Polar bear embossed coin embarrassingly dubbed the “toonie”
penny5As a semi-OCD 9-year-old, this change made me uneasy. I refused to accept this new imitation currency; and instead chose to hoard $2 bills in my piggy bank like some sort of depression-era housewife.

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This obsession continued for about 2 years, until one day in grade 5, I caved and spent my last bill on a bottle of a questionable-looking carbonated beverage called Orbitz:

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I still ask myself whether it was worth it.

Anyway, this whole penny situation reeked of Tooniegate 2.0. Plus there were all these extra complicating factors. Like what would happen if things didn’t add up to 5 or 10? Would the cash register just explode?

The Royal Canadian Mint released this helpful diagram to clarify:

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but whenever I looked at it, I still felt as though I were being cheated.

It’s been about 6 weeks since the penny disappeared, and shockingly, not much has changed.

I expected my life to be significantly different: to be perpetually in a state of pricing vexation; or to feel the absence of copper in my hand like some sort of phantom limb. But to be honest with you, I kind of… well… forgot about it.

I think part of this is because I rarely pay for anything in cash. (Yes, I’m that annoying girl who whips out her debit card to pay for a $2 coffee.)

Luckily for me, my chronic inability to visit an ATM doesn’t impact my life all that much given that the world is becoming increasingly electronic.

This was reaffirmed for me by this week’s episode of 60 Minutes, which featured an interview with twitter founder Jack Dorsey. (I know. Reading books and watching 60 minutes. Who is this kid??) Dorsey recently developed a new product called Square, which is a small device that attaches to smart phones and allows vendors to accept debit and credit card payments.

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Dorsey claims his product is the way of the future because people don’t really like handling money: there’s an inherent guilt and dirtiness about it, and it’s nice when it just disappears. It makes you feel like you’re being taken care of.

I get what he’s saying- I feel this way about buying books on Amazon. The website has all of my personal and credit card information saved; so all I have to do is click “order”. It eliminates (most of) the guilt associated with online shopping and makes for a much more pleasurable experience.

At the same time, I think removing all physical indicators of spending can also be dangerous. Not having that mental reminder can make keeping track of your spending much more difficult, and there are definited security concerns involved. Plus, just to say it: maybe we don’t really need more “guilt free” methods of spending given that consumer debt levels are at an all-time high.

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I also don’t know if I totally agree that people don’t like holding money…or at least that’s the impression I get from music videos.

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Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it makes us feel more secure. Maybe it’s just the inherent Scrooge McDuck in all of us.

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I really can’t say. Just like I can’t say what will happen to the fate of cash-money. It’s federal budget day here in Canada, and for all we know, the nickel could be next on Jim Flaherty’s chopping block. Maybe the penny will become a catalyst for change- or maybe it will just be some other weird Canadian convention, like the CFL, or half hour timezones. In any event, I don’t plan on hoarding my bills just yet.

Question of the Day: Do you always carry cash?

…. or are you chronically cashless like me?

Road Tested: TopBox.Ca

So today, I’m going to talk about beauty products.

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Guys, I’ll give you all a minute to peter out slowly.

All gone now? Ok, good. Now I can feel free to post this highly unflattering/terrifying picture of myself:

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Yah, I went there.

Let me back up a minute. About a month ago, I signed up for this service called TopBox (I know- the name is a bit unfortunate. Especially if you’re a 15-year-old boy like I am) where for $12 a month, you get sent four beauty products to try out from a list of great brands.

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Pretty sweet, right? TopBox is only available in Canada, but there’s a similar service in the States called Birchbox, so no need to feel left out my American friends!

About two weeks before my first box was scheduled to arrive, I got an e-mail asking if I’d like to choose from one of the March “specialty” boxes. One was a collection of Aveda samples, another some Jurlique products, and something called “Lippy Girl” which I think was lipgloss. Anyone in my family will tell you that I’m lippy enough already, so I decided just to go with the standard four product mix.

I got home from work on Friday to this lovely little gem in my mailbox:

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I thought it might be fun to test out the products and do a little review of my experience- so here goes.

L’Oreal Mythic Oil

I was really excited about this one- mostly because I thought it was some sort of actual magic potion.

mythicMy initial excitement waned a little when I found out it was just a hair product, but I was still willing to give it a try.

According to the website, this product “leaves even the finest hair looking shiny, feeling nourished and supple.” I did as the instructions said and put a few drops in post-shower/pre-blowdrying.

Before:

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After*:

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*I may have edited the after pic slightly. Slightly.

As you can see, it really did leave my hair feeling softer and shinier. It also smells wonderful. I wish you all could scratch and sniff the screen right now. Not sure if it’s as great as Moroccan Oil, but I’d definitely try it again.

MaskerAide Hydrating Facial Mask

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Given that this product is described as “Pre-Party Prep”, it’s only fitting that I used it on a night when I was doing absolutely nothing at all. Gotta look good for my books, peeps!

When I took this mask out of the package it had the weirdest consistency- gelatinous and a little slimy. It reminded me of something you’d eat at Chinese Dim Sum. I did my best to just ignore that and put it on anyway.

Looking in the mirror with this thing on was a truly horrifying experience- like Friday the 13th meets The Skin I Live In.

Quad_Skin I Live In_AW.indd

I did, however, enjoy texting the pic of me above to all of my friends and freaking them out.

The instructions said to leave the mask on for 10-20 minutes and relax, so I did just that. I lit a candle, put on some Youth Lagoon, and read a magazine. I was so relaxed, in fact, that I completely forgot I had that sh*t on. It must have been like, 40 minutes before I realized. Panicked, I ran to the bathroom, expecting to find my face completely disfigured a la Freddy Krueger, but luckily, all was in tact. I was a little red the next day, but I’m not sure it was because of that or just because I have sensitive skin. Either way, i don’t think this made much of a difference, but it was still kind of fun to try.

Aveda Caribbean Therapy Moisturizer

I’m usually a big fan of Aveda products. I get my hair done at an Aveda salon and love their shampoos and the fancy Aveda brand tea they give you in the waiting area.

That being said, I thought this moisturizer was kind of whack.

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The texture was thick and clay-like and the colour was very unappetizing. (Go ahead, say it: TWSS). It also didn’t spread very well and left me feeling like I had covered myself in baking grease.

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Despite my subsequent deliciousness, I would still classify this as a non-buy.

Marc Jacobs Fragrances

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This cute little case contained samples of Daisy, Daisy Eau so Fresh and Lola by Marc Jacobs. Of course, being the genius I am, I broke the Lola one because I thought the top twisted off when clearly it was a spray cap:

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So I never got to try it. But the two daisy ones were nice and fresh. Not sure if either will be my new signature scent though. Choosing a fragrance is a big deal: just ask Snooki:

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Overall, I was a little disappointed with this month’s selections. I was really looking forward to there being some makeup products and I was kind of bummed it was all hair/skin stuff. That said, it was still really exciting to get this package in the mail. It reminded me of when I was a kid and used to buy those $1 Grab Bags at the corner store. You kind of knew everything in it was going to be crap, but there was still the thrill of the unknown. I also had a lot of fun reviewing everything (this is literally how I spent my Saturday night), so if you guys are game, maybe I will do another post for next month’s products?

Question of the Day: Have you tried out any new products lately that you love? Any bad ones?

…. or are you low maintenance and think I am incredibly vapid and vain. Because that is also a fair assessment.

Book Review: Ham On Rye By Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was one angry man.

….Or should I say, Henry Chinaski, Bukowkski’s thinly veiled aler-ego in the novel Ham on Rye.

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In this semi-autobiographical take on Bukowksi’s own life, Ham on Rye follows Chinaski through his childhood and adolescence, first in Germany, and then in depression-era Los Angeles.

To say life wasn’t easy for the young Chinaski would be an understatement. Poverty, bullying, and frequent beatings from his father were just a few of the problems he faced on a daily basis. Not to mention the horrible,  disfiguring acne he acquired as a teenager, forcing him to suffer through painful treatments and social ostracization.

As a result of this, Chinaski grew up an angry outsider. He had few friends at school, and spent most of his time reading D.H. Lawrence books in the Los Angeles public library. He also sought solace in writing, but his stories were often dismissed by others as being “too angry”.

I would call Chinaski a misanthrope, were it not for his abiding love – nay, obsession- with the female form. (let’s just say l had no idea how gross teenage males could be).  Oh, and of course, alcohol. He notably remarks, after experiencing intoxication for the first time: “this is going to help me for a long, long time”.

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Unfortunately, the honeymoon is short-lived, and his relationship with alcohol leads to progressively seedier and more violent behavior.

There’s not really much of a “plot” in Ham on Rye: it tells the story of the first 20 years of Chinaski’s life; and then it ends. And that was OK with me.

I read this book in one Sunday afternoon. I had planned on seeing Gangster Squad, but had 45 minutes to kill before the movie started. So I popped into the bookstore next to the theatre. I’d been wanting to read Bukowski since I read this letter he wrote, so I picked up this book and settled into a comfy chair to check it out.

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Four hours and 230 pages later, I completely missed my movie, but found a great book. (Yes, a book beat out Ryan Gosling. What is happening to me.)

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I ended up buying a copy out of guilt (Well played, Chapters Indigo…Well played), and proceeded to walk out of the store like a zombie. The last time I read an entire book in one day was probably in Middle School, when I was obsessed with the Emily of New Moon series.

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I used to lock myself in my room for days, devouring books like some sort of crazed meth addict. I’d forgotten what an overwhelming and mentally exhausting feeling this can be. Thoughts and emotions whirred around my brain like crazy; letters floated in front of my eyelids every time I blinked.

I think this book hit me particularly hard because it was so emotionally raw. At times I thought about putting it down, but couldn’t. It was sort of like pressing a canker sore; as uncomfortable as it was, I also kind of liked it. Having read a lot of fluff before this, it felt good to read a book with real pain and tangible feelings involved- one that wasn’t obviously angling to become a Hollywood film.

I think one of the biggest things I took away from this book was just how good my generation has it. Growing up, my parents would say things like, “you kids don’t know how lucky you are!”. And proceed to regale us with harrowing tales from their youth; like “I used to walk four miles to school, in 35 foot high snow!”  or “I had to scrub the floors for three hours every day.. with a toothbrush!”

It was easy to tune them out and hear the voice of the Charlie Brown teacher when it was my parents:

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not so much when the words were right there on the page in front of me. It made me feel guilty and ashamed for complaining about all of my first-world problems, when poor Henry Chinaski was wearing the same pants to school every day and getting his ass kicked for missing a blade of grass when he cut the front lawn.

Chinaski’s experience as a German immigrant also really hit me on a personal level. Like Chinaski, my father was also the son of Eastern European immigrants, and he too was chided by his peers and made to feel unwelcome for his immigrant status. It gave me a whole new appreciation for how difficult it was for my dad growing up. I wanted to reach out across four provinces and give him a great big hug.

Even though it was aggressively emo and made my cold sarcastic heart grow three sizes in one day,  I still thought this book was great, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to take a step out of their reading comfort zone.

I give it: 4/5 Intellectual Dachshunds 

Intellectual Dachshund Says: I Feel Feelings

Intellectual Dachshund Says: I Feel Feelings

Question of the Day: What book has made a lasting impression on you?

And P.S. for those of you who are worried about my emotional health, rest assured that I am currently reading The Happiness Project.. which I’m told fixes every problem in your entire life. Right??

When Did Valentine’s Day Get Such a Bad Rap?

The other day, I got a package in the mail from my mom and dad. In it, was a little Valentine’s day gift (yes, I know I am 27 years old.. what is your point, please?), as well as this vintage looking card with Raggedy Ann on the front:

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Curious, I opened it up to reveal that this was one of the cards I had given away myself in elementary school.

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Cute, eh? I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I gave these out in grade 3. I also dressed up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween that year, so the timeline (and sadness) of it all would make sense.

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Grade 3 was a bit of an awkward year for me.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking about Valentine’s days past.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

Back when I was a kid, Valentine’s day was invariably awesome. I’d wake up to some little treat from my parents; a card with some chocolate, some new barrettes, maybe even a Barbie (!!!) and then sit down to what I can only assume were my dad’s attempt at heart-shaped pancakes.

He tried.

He tried.

Then, I would deck myself out in red from head to toe (even the socks. I was a Valentine’s day extremist) and head to school, where we’d spend the morning fashioning little envelopes out of construction paper to hang on the edge of our desks to collect our Valentine’s bounty.

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After lunch was when the magic happened: Everyone brought in some food item to share with the class; (homemade cupcakes if your mom was fancy; a box of Oreos in my case) and there was often a bowl of punch, which, as a kid always made you feel very grown up.

Then, when it was time, you’d walk around the room and drop your painstakingly chosen Valentines into the newly minted envelopes of each of your classmates. No one was ever left out; as the rule in my school was that everyone got a Valentine.

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When all was said and done, I’d lay them all out on my desk; analyzing my haul the way I would my Halloween candy. Disney cards were always a constant; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Other themes varied from year to year. One year Power Rangers was big; another year I distinctly remember getting 6 separate Sailor Moon cards.

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I can’t help but wonder; when did it all change? When did Valentine’s day go from being this awesome day filled with treats, kitschy cards and self-assurance; to the polarizing, commercial holiday it is today? When did we start calling it “Singles Awareness Day”, rather than just “Best Day Ever”?

sadWas it once elementary school ended, and the safety net of everyone getting a card was cruelly ripped out from under us? Or was it even sooner? Come to think of it, I remember as early as grade four, poring over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles card given to me by my crush, analyzing the cryptic message inside. “You have a Pizza My Heart” it read. Did this mean we were officially an item now? He had pushed me in the mud earlier that day…

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I can’t say for sure, but I kind of long to have those days back. I want to make sh*t out of construction paper again, and dress in monochromatic red with reckless abandon. I want to drink Hawaiian punch out of a fancy bowl and gorge myself on Grocery store slab cake. (Ok, that last part I will probably still do; though it will be in the solace of my own home rather than a classroom setting. And the punch will probably be spiked with the good stuff). Who’s with me? Let’s find a DeLorean and make it happen.

Question of the Day: When did your perception of Valentine’s Day shift?