Contemplating Lip Gloss …

Though I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I’m a TV-product of the 90’s. During the 90’s, I was sucked into Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Ghost Whisperer. Not sure where the fascination with Magic, Ghosts and Demon-Slaying came from, but there you have it.

My 11-year old daughter and I have successfully completed our Netflix binge-watching of both Ghost Whisperer and Charmed. She too is fascinated by Magic and Ghosts, and the occasional demon slaying. As we watched, though, I recognized one thing these shows all have in common: Perfect Lips.

Rose McGowan (Paige on Charmed Seasons 4-8) always had perfect lips. No matter how many demons she encountered, her lips remained pristine … Red Lips that never mussed or faded and shone with heavy gloss. In the Final Season, Kaley Cuoco (now of Big Bang Theory) became a regular. Her lips were painted a natural shade but with that same thick, shiny perfect gloss.

Now, I like Make-up. I’ve been playing with it since I was little. I like to try out new colors. I like to have manicured nails. And I like to paint my face and create smokey eyes like any girly girl. I know how to use it, mostly. I experiment and spend quality time at the Lancome counter. But, no matter how many Lipsticks or Lip Glosses I buy, I can’t achieve that glossy shimmer that Rose and Kaley mastered on Charmed.

So what is it … this thick, shiny flawless look that lasts even after kissing a guy or vanquishing demons? And how do I create it … me, whose only demon battles occur in my dreams or sans potions during a tough day at the office. What gloss do I have to buy to achieve it? What brush do I use to paint lips to create a look that won’t crack or fade?

It’s not Dior, I’ve tried it. And that’s pretty much the top of the line. What is the secret formula? Who sells it? What brand is it? Where do I get it? How do I create “the look”? It’s much to shiny to be petroleum jelly and that’s the thickest gloss I can think of.

And that brings me to the next questions, how many breaks in action did it take to film one episode of Charmed? How many applications were necessary to keep the perfect lips perfect for 43 minutes? Was there a Lip Person on staff?

How Shallow am I, you may ask, to be concerned with creating perfect lips amidst the realities of today. Obsess much, Jenni? But I want “the look.” I want lovely, shiny lips … Perfect Lips.

But, Perfection is impossible. Perhaps it can be created on screen with a staff of Lip People and Directors shouting “Cut!” to pause the action for addition of a new lacquer of shine. Oh, I recognize the impossibility of achieving lip precision of this magnitude. I’ve learned to love myself as I am, lipstick free most days. But can the same be said for today’s teens? For today’s young women? Or are they too trying to achieve some TV-promoted concept of the “Ideal Look.”

I tell my daughter, there is no such thing as Perfect. That she is beautiful as she is. That no matter what she saw on Charmed (and Alyssa Milano made some very questionable fashion choices) that she is loved not because of how she manages her lipstick, hair and clothing but for her heart, kindness, compassion and spirit. When she once asked me if she looked Fat, I was horrified that a healthy, active and very normal 11-year-old would ask that question.

But Hollywood projects an image that many of us — myself included at times — are tempted to emulate. And, these Hollywood Stars make it all look so easy. The actresses are uber-thin with shiny, extension-laden, highlighted hair and trendy, fitted clothing. They have smooth clump-free painted lips and smile or pout, displaying their perfect lip gloss. But then, taking care of themselves and presenting the best of themselves is their job … a trainer, hair stylist or make-up artist is part of their packaging. They have Staff to present them to the world in a specifically defined way. But, I bet inside their own four walls, they are just like you and me, albeit a little thinner due to the fact the TV cameras add poundage.

The Hollywood life is defined by the camera … Perhaps that isn’t really “ideal” either. To live a life in the spotlight and be judged by the world by their looks. Kinda sad, really.

So I want Perfectly Glossed Lips. Yeah, okay I do. But, I’m not going to become obsessed. I’m going to present the best of myself possible, that’s just who I am. But there are days I go out without make-up. Days I opt to wear my comfy yoga pants and a cozy sweatshirt with my hair swinging in a high ponytail, no eye make-up on. And — ya know what? I don’t care who sees me that way … It’s real and it’s an aspect of who I am.

Yeah, I have a couple extra pounds or a few grey hairs I’d like to get rid of. But at 50, I feel really good about how I feel and how I look. I take care of myself, yes, and find joy in the woman I have become along this crazy journey. I’m good with me … Just the way I am. I hope my daughter continues to love and honor herself for who she is, not define herself based on some Hollywood stereotype. I will do everything in my power to help her.

But … if anyone knows what Lip Gloss creates that shiny 90’s lacquered look with staying power, I’d still really like to know …

— Jenni


Looking for a one-night stand …

I’m looking for a one-night stand.

Oh … it could hang around longer depending on length …

Now cool your jets. I’m talking about a BOOK.

The other day, I found myself browsing Barnes & Noble in dismay. Now, you have to understand that B & N is one of my Happiest Places on Earth. I’ve dedicated many blissful moments to the Fiction Aisle, seeking, discovering and exploring. I’ve found a great deal of Satisfaction there.

However, this Sequel or Muliple-Book Storyline is wearing on me.

Wandering about the bookstore, I found myself drawn to titles … I’m a sucker for a good title and a lost cause should the cover art intrigue me. Call me shallow. But every book that drew my attention that afternoon was book one or book three or some number of book in a multi-tale series.

Several years ago, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time sucker-punched me into its murky depths. There were five very lengthy books already written and in paperback form at that point. I figured I was safe.. Well, I’ve recently purchase Book 13 — written by dictation to Brandon Sanderson since Robert Jordan died before he could complete this mega long series of mega detailed books. Each book is at least 800 pages. At this point — 17 years into it — I’m completely lost. The only way I’ll be able to figure out what the heck is going on is by picking up book one and starting over. And the books are too long and I have too many other things to read to begin that ridiculousness. So, all that initial investment and I still don’t know how it ends!!!

Not knowing how a story ends is pretty much hell for me. I’m left on the cliff … wondering what happened to those characters I grew to care about. I crave closure. I want to know the rest of the story (a phrase coined by Paul Harvey, I know.) I need the backstory and a chance to study the cliffnotes. I want to dig deep and explore the characters that intrigue me. So, quite a few years since I’ve even delved into their stories, I find myself wondering what happened to Rand? Did Moiraine really die? And then there’s Egwene and Nynaeve (who always reminded me of my friend Jodie) … Oh well. I guess there are some answers I may never get.

Sigh. I just want to pick up a book, read it from cover to cover contentedly traversing the adventure and befriending the characters, and move on to something new and different.

Mysteries have become my one-night stand reads of choice. If you are lucky you get a good protagonist (or an evil one depending on your perspective) and a hero who is clever enough to puzzle out the wicked deed, crime or murder. Thus in the end, they prevail and wrap up the tale neatly — delivering it to me with a bow. Occasionally the characters “carry over” to other books like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or (my latest discovery) Amory Ames. But you don’t have to read books in any particular order and you aren’t missing something if you don’t read the first release first or even another of their mystery adventures.

Then there’s Sarah J. Maas who seduced me into her clutches with her Court of Thorns & Roses series, regaled my senses and took me on a wild ride to great heights … and left me hanging. Not smart enough to realize I should walk away when the silence hit me (book three is of course not done yet), I picked up her Throne of Glass series and … four books later … am desperately waiting to get my hands on book five.

JK Rowling gave Harry Potter seven novels to complete his tale, but she’s beginning to sneak in new stories so I guess it’s not done. Sherrilyn Kenyon writes urban fantasy and has crafted at least five separate series, building from character to character with each release. You have to read from the beginning or you miss some vital tidbit that unlocks secrets. Hunger Games, Delirium and Divergent gave us three each. Lauren Kate gave us four books with the Fallen series. Ms Peregrine’s tale is covered in three stories … I could go on and on with the list of authors utilizing this multiple book storyline.

Perhaps it’s a financial thing. Diana Gabaldon has me captivated and waiting for book Nine in the Outlander series. I’ve read and re-read these 900 page books since the series started 20 years ago. Perhaps there are just characters who have a lot to say and do. Thus, one book won’t complete their story.

But, unfortunately, I get lost. I get confused. Sometimes years go by between the book I read and the next installment of that particular series. I read other books in that time — quite a few other books. It’s difficult to pick up where you left off after a gap when you don’t remember what happened when the story was last interrupted.

Yes I long for the simplicity and closure that come with a one-night stand. No lengthy commitment. Just a short ride and good thrill. I thank those authors that provide me that pleasure. One beautiful moment in time. Nothing more need be said. I go to bed with my book, it takes me to exiting places and offers great pleasure. And then … The End.

— Jenni