My Relationship with Ipsy

You know that friend that you kind-of like, and you want to like, but they just keep doing dumb shit that disappoints you? Yeah; that’s my relationship with Ipsy.

 

I looked at various beauty box subscriptions for months, trying to decide which one I wanted to do because I’m cheap (the result of growing up on the less wealthy side of the income spectrum and being a broke university student for four years of my life). So I broke it down and it came down to the fact that I like makeup and I wanted an inexpensive way of trying high quality makeup. In the end, Ipsy won my March Madness bracket and I subscribed.

 

Here I am, five months down the line and I’m still not quite sure what I feel about Ipsy. On one hand, I’ve gotten to try a few products that I’ve been fairly pleased with. My absolute favorite item thus far was a gel eyeliner by CAILYN from two months ago. If I didn’t already have so many eyeliners and didn’t have a bunch more on my “to try” list, I’d probably go and buy another five of the CAILYN gel eyeliners and I will write an in-depth review of it at a later date.

 

Most everything else that I’ve received from my Ipsy subscription thus far has been on the “okay” part of the scale. But receiving “okay” things do not drive me crazy as much as you would think. The thing that has thrown me into repeated fits of rage has been the fact that in the five months that I have received Ipsy, I have received one lipstick. One.

 

If there’s one makeup product that I consistently spend money on, it’s lipstick. There have been three months where getting a lip product was possible. I have gotten an actual lipstick once. ONCE. That was last month when they failed to send me Benefit’s Benetint (another WTH, Ipsy) but at least sent me the POP chubby stick.

 

Nothing could really compare to my absolute disappointment upon receiving not the “Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick” sample, but a lip balm. Not even one of those “Sugar by Fresh” lip balms but some random $3 lip balm. Let it be known that I don’t care for lip balms; I use whatever is cheapest and on sale at the pharmacy which is usually the in-store brand, Chapstick, or Carmex. I spend $1 on chapsticks. I spend an average of $20-$25 on lipsticks because I have a problem.

 

I very specifically stated that I like lipsticks and not gloss or balms on the Ipsy quiz. This repeated slight feels like that friend who never listens when you tell them that you like something and then keeps getting you things that you have no use for. It’s pretty annoying when it keeps happening again and again.

 

I’m pretty sure I want to break off this friendship before I go any deeper. I know, $10 is barely the cost of a lunch, but I anticipate a lot of red in the next few months with trips and Christmas around the corner, I think I would rather save the $40 and buy myself that Shu Uemura palette I’ve been eyeing.

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The thing about Black Friday…

Ah, Black Friday. It comes once a year and the news headlines are filled with stories about crowds, lines, and I believe I even read something about people being shot today in the circus of people desperate for that $300 savings off that LED flat screen television from Best Buy (or is it Walmart?).

For consumers, today is perhaps the most crucial day of year where people camp out on Thursdays to line up for the best deals of Friday. For Retailers, today is the biggest consumer spending day of not only Q4, but the whole year. I would not  be surprised if that is true.

Funny enough, with the economy still in a slump and the Occupy movement going relatively strong, Many editorials from various news corporations have justified the madness of Black Friday to the fact that most people are poor, unemployed, and that the Middle Class in America has been suffering and need to save wherever they can. So instead of spending Thanksgiving Day with family as traditional, they adhere to the new tradition of camping out for the best deals come Friday.

While the slowly persevering economy is a valid excuse for the animal farm craziness of Black Friday, I really do not buy into it. In fact, most people I know who have been camping out for years have instead shifted their Black Friday focus online. Cyber Mondays start early, and it starts on Black Friday. So what is the deal with all these people still going to wait in line for the best and the cheapest?

Greed.

Of course a bunch of people will jump up in arms and say it is not greed that drives people to go shopping to deals on Black Friday. I admit, for some people, it is not so much the greed as it is the festivities of going Black Friday Shopping. My own brother went to Best Buy last night with friends, even though he came home with nothing. For two years as a teenager, I woke up at 6AM to see what I could find on sale only to return home disappointed with the selection and annoyed by the long waits.

It was not worth it. I still think it’s not worth it.

When you are poor, broke, and can’t really afford anything, you do not go out and wait in line for deals so that you can spend whatever money you have. I grew up poor; I was denied a lot as a child. Treats did not exist except for birthday cakes and I maybe received one toy a year. When you are poor, you primarily only buy things you need, not things you want.

This is not what I see on Black Friday. Instead, I see a large number of people running to stores to buy luxury goods such as a computer or a new flat screen television. America has become a strange culture of materialism and it always rears its ugly head during Black Friday.

No Jobs –> No Money –> No buying things you don’t need.
No Jobs –> No Money –> Going to get that big screen on BF since it’s cheap.

Perhaps I am preaching from an ivory tower since I am surrounded by luxury items even as I type this. But when I see the so many people stressing the lack of jobs in America, and then I see Black Friday, I can’t help but think that there’s a discrepancy here.

NaNoWriMo 2011

Last year’s novel is gone with my dead hard-drive. As a result, I will write most of my story on cloud technology this year. I still remember the plot and perhaps I will attempt it again one day when I can properly plot political intrigue.

This year’s novel has a large cast of characters. My protagonist is a young man named Phoenix Tiger Walker. It’s a somewhat unfortunate name depending on who you speak to. He’s supposed to be the rookie to an elite mercenary group called NoVA. I’m still trying to decide what NoVA even stands for. Everyone in the mercenary organization goes under the code name of a different constellation. The ones in NoVA are of the western star-signs.

The antagonists are the Homunculi who want to turn all humans into homunculus. The plot is basically NoVA (humans) vs Homunculi. There’s also a revolution happening in Amoria while all this occurs.

My Chinese Thanksgiving

America is a country founded upon immigration and a myriad of cultures with nowhere to go, hoping for a better opportunity. We were all immigants at one point in our family history. Benjamin Franklin’s father was an Englishman. President Obama’s father was Kenyan. It is in our history to be from other places, but we are all still American.

While my parents immigrated from China nearly thirty years ago, they steadfastly held on to the roots and culture of the Chinese. It comes as no surprise that the most important holiday of the year in my family is still the Chinese New Year. However, they’ve lived in America for nearly thirty years, and we’ve had to assimilate–especially when both my brother and I started learning about all these American holidays when we started school, and not quite understanding why we didn’t do anything for Christmas.

Of course, assimilation in my family did not mean taking the culture and values of Americans and using that as the standard for our household. Instead, as Chinese people have done for centuries, milleniums even, we take parts of other people’s culture and make it our own. We just celebrated Thanksgiving last night, just like every year for as long as I clearly remember celebrating Thanksgiving. Every year, We have a turkey, ham, and sometimes yams. That is where we stop being American and we deviate into Chinese culture.

Chinese Roasted Pork - picture from culinaryescapade.com

Chinese people, particularly Chinese people from Southern China, tend to like our food cooked and warm. This means that we do not eat salads. We saute our lettuce with garlic instead of adding dressing. We add shrimp to our broccoli because shrimp is also something that is nearly always present in large family meals. At our Thanksgiving, we will have bok choy without fail. Having any sort of family dinner without bok choy at the table is just unthinkable–at least to me. Another food item that always seem to be present is the roast pork. No, this is not a roast pork as the Western culture sees it but roast pork as you would see at a luai where the skin is crispy and the meat is moist and delicious. This is our chinese version of roast pork. When you read that, you’re probably thinking that there aren’t any carbs in our menu. When you’re having a Chinese meal, the carb is nearly always rice (again, this is southern Chinese). Soup is crucial to any meal when you’re in a Chinese household; we had lotus root soup last night.

It’s not the traditional American Thanksgiving I see on television shows, nor is it like what my collegues talk about–instead my family celebrates a very Chinese-American Thanksgiving and I like it just fine.

NaNoWriMo – Day 01

Since 2006, I have attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo. Every year, I go into November with such high hopes and expectations. I plot out my story, I wait for midnight to hit on Halloween night, and then I start writing. Unfortunately, I usually lose focus after the beginning and stop. My word count for previous years look like this:

2006 – 3847
2007 – 11,039
2008 – 271
2009 – 50,447

Just barely, last year, but I made it. The difference between last year’s novel and the previous years was that I actually kept to a single character’s perspective. This works for me because I can get into the narrator’s mind and keep going. It also helped that I had some semblance of a plot.

So once again, that time has come and I have started NaNoWriMo without a plot, without characters, and basically without any sort of preparation. I’ve started with a story, but I’m not sure I like it. I like the idea, but writing in a fantasy world has never been my forte, just like writing romance novels are not my forte.

The majority of my novel last year was written during Thanksgiving weekend. I’m not sure I can crank it out like that this time since it’s coupled with job searching, but here’s to hoping.

Rite of Passage of a Parasite-Single

First step of the parasite single

Never in my life have I worked in proper customer service. The first job I ever got was working as a clerk in an office environment. My work and educational background basically programmed me to have all the skills required for office or administrative work; not customer service. Every CS job I have ever applied for has failed to return my inquires and outright ignored my resume. The best response I ever received was an email from the clothing retailer H&M that I was overqualified to work in a sales position. At that point, I became a discouraged worker.

Now that I have a bachelor’s degree and I am once again living at home, I have become an unemployment statistic of the US Department of Labor. What’s worse is that my title has been demoted from “university student” to “parasite-single.” What is a parasite-single? According to Wikipedia the parasite-single is a Japanese term for a single person who lives at home until their late 20s or early 30s. Basically, someone who leeches off their parents (thanks for letting me do this, Mom and Dad!).

The problem is, being a parasite single would not eat away at my conscience if I made some sort of income contribution to the household. According to the lack of responses from my job search, I am either overqualified thanks to my degree or underqualified as a result my lack of relevant work experience. So what is an early 20-something recent university graduate supposed to do? Apparently, keep on truckin’ and you will eventually find someone who will hire you.

For example: after two and a half months of epic job searching, a retailer finally hires me as part-time with nearly 40 hours a week. A job! In this day and age, having a job in itself is a cause for celebration. Yet as I stand behind the register gaining retail experience, I realize that I am not being challenged to think or use my mind. There is also little to no chance of me being promoted from my parasite-single title with the wage I am getting.

So my first step as a recent college graduate in a failing economy is pretty much taking any job I can get. Is this attributed to a lack of talent, or luck? Perhaps a bit of both; however, I like to think that it is a rite of passage.