Monday, April 16, 2018

The Top 7 Things I've Learned In My Twenties

Confession: I've waffled for years about whether to start a blog or not. And in fact I have, I guess, started a blog but I've never been consistent with it. This is partly because I doubt I have anything to really say, and I fear being a Millennial navel-gazer (I mean...look how many times I've said "I" already!), and I consider the way I spend my time to be a little bit disorganized. I guess that's OK. Growing up is hard. We are still growing up, in case you were wondering.

So here I am, coming to you live from my 2009 MacBook which I feel lucky to own and still be able to use, and also totally silly for not having replaced a couple of years ago when I had more money saved. Oh, well. Maybe you can guess by the tone of this that I think a lot, and regret stuff when I feel down, and it's a sucky spiral to get caught up in. But never mind all of that. I feel a need to share some of what I've learned in my 29 years on this planet. I'm also interested in getting better at writing, and I cringe a little bit when I read the stuff I wrote a couple of years ago (but that's a good thing, right? Means you're evolving). So, you're about to read some of that said "stuff" below.

About two years ago, I was working full-time at a YouTube management company in Los Angeles. My boss hired me to be an editor for a new "online magazine" she was launching that centered on mainly female YouTubers in the beauty/style space. Everything felt very shiny and official, like I was moving up in the world. I used quotation marks back there because I found the whole operation to be pretty unfocused, and personally thought that creating a WordPress site and throwing up listicles does not automatically make you a magazine. Was I drawn to the pay raise and the office location more than the actual job itself? Yes, guilty. Did I go for it anyway on the off chance that this was actually a cool initiative I'd regret passing on? Of course.

Needless to say, I felt really unsatisfied at that job and it wasn't until I got fired (more on that later) that I started taking the time to get to know myself better. I guess that's a lifelong process because there's still so much that I don't know. We all have in us an incredible amount of potential, I believe, and I frustrate myself when I can feel my potential bubbling up and I let it simmer back down.

After getting fired, instead of plummeting into a pit of despair (well, I did that a little), I started getting more serious about writing songs. I'd been playing guitar since college and had written a few here and there, but they weren't great, and it was something I'd always thought about taking more seriously. I had in my mind an idea of Nashville as this magical place where people get to go to work everyday and literally sit in a room writing songs together. And I thought to myself, "I know I could be great at this if I just devote the time and commitment." So that's what I started doing.

All of that to say...my life is pretty different now. Over the last couple of years, I've written some songs I'm truly so proud of and can't wait for people to hear. I work as a server and I live in Nashville (but don't get paid to write songs—yet) and when I was miserable in my fancy office job I started writing down this list of things I've learned throughout the last decade as I was walking to lunch one day.

It's two years old, so it's entertaining for posterity's sake but also I still agree with a lot of what I wrote.

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I think we can all agree on one thing: Your twenties are not an easy time. Most people have no idea where they're going, or why, or when things will really 'click' into place. It's sucky but can also be very exciting. And, being that we are still "young" (I've been guilty of Googling things like, 'Is 23 young?'), I feel it's important to give yourself the leeway to make some mistakes and push forward a little more often.


1. Not everyone will like you and that's OK.


I remember when I was a sophomore in high school, my friend Zaza was complaining to our English teacher Franny (no, these names have not been changed, lol) about someone at school who just didn't treat her very nicely. Franny said, "You know Zaza, I had to learn this when I was younger—you're going to have people throughout your life who just aren't going to like you." I'm sure everyone can attest to this. The fact is, if you're going to live authentically true to yourself then it's inevitable not everyone will like you. The more disappointing thing that's harder to stomach is when you really think you ought to connect or click with someone specific (like a roommate) and they just don't warm to you at all.

On a more morbid note, my mom's wise friend Jack always says "F**k 'em all but six" because you need six people to carry your coffin when you die. Ha, ha. Truly though, I'd rather have a small handful of great friends who'll be there no matter what than a bunch of fair-weather phonies.

2. Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself doing the things YOU enjoy. 


No one relates to perfection, first of all. One of the main reasons I've enjoyed following Taylor Swift's career trajectory is because she's not perfect. She's never been the best vocalist and it's exciting to watch her evolve and get better. But I love her writing and am interested in what she has to say and how she says it.

Also, no one really cares. People might judge you and care for about five minutes if you "mess up" but then they go back to worrying about themselves. This is fact.

Everyone in this life, no matter how selfless (hi, Mom!) or giving they are, spends most of the time thinking about themselves and how any given situation will benefit them. Isn't that why you're reading this in the first place?


3. People will not remember your name or your resume and it's TOTALLY FINE to pester them multiple times. 


Don't think you're being rejected just because no one responded to the one email you sent out with your very basic resume. Don't be afraid to be annoying when you are applying for a job you really want. Again, no one will care that much. So be annoying.


4. Avoid energy-suckers. 



Looking back, it took me a long time to not only understand the red flags but also to extricate myself from a toxic friendship. It was probably about a solid year of feeling like something was off, and not knowing how to fix it until push came to shove. If there's one thing I've learned from friendships, it's that you really ought to feel like a great version of yourself when you're with that person. If you feel off, or low, or just generally uncomfortable in any way, then you owe it yourself to stop spending time with that person. Life is too short to hang out with people who don't light you up or make you feel excited to just be alive. I'm proud of myself for getting out of relationships that didn't feel good to me.

5. Do some writing—ideally every day. 


I'm a memory hoarder and I also need to write in order to feel sane, so this is kind of personal. But it doesn't matter what kind of person you are—I really believe writing is therapeutic and can help you expel crap out of your system you need to get out. It can clarify things for you and generally make you more creative and a stronger thinker. Whether you're writing a single sentence, a short paragraph or 3 full pages; whether it's morning or night, I strongly suggest doing a little bit of writing every single day. Sometimes I even write a Gmail draft to no one (I also have a bunch of song ideas in there). For me, when I get older I really want to remember how I spent my days and look back on how things unfolded to lead me to the place I end up, wherever that is.

As an aside, I'm currently reading my great-great-grandfather's journals that he kept as a teen in the late 1860s into the early1870s. He repeatedly wrote about how he had nothing to say, or that it was another boring windy day on the farm, or that his dad brought him home some apples and a new pen, etc. He often felt down and didn't see the point in recording in his thoughts. But I'm so grateful that he did, because now it's a fascinating family treasure and helps me feel close to someone I was never able to meet in real life (he passed away in 1944 and was the oldest living man in Wolfeboro, NH!).

6. Sometimes it's nice to call people instead of texting them. 


I often find it's so much easier and more efficient to have a conversation this way. I know calling someone is the 90s equivalent of showing up at their house, but as life gets deeper and people get more spread out, I find it to be the most effective way to catch up with someone. Hearing the nuance in someone's voice and having a conversation you simply couldn't have had via text is really wonderful.

7. No one can tell you what you're "supposed" to be doing in life, and that's a good thing. 


So, here I am finishing #7 and the funny thing is, I wrote this bullet point when I made the list two years ago and am just now coming back to finish the description. Present Cora actually really needed to hear this from Past Cora. I've been having a hard time lately, if I'm honest.

Like I mentioned earlier, I moved to Nashville last summer after living in Los Angeles for almost four years and even though it was a move I wanted to make, it's been difficult for me to settle in. I've been guilty of always thinking the grass is greener somewhere that I'm not, and I felt that way for a while living in LA, too. I know I end up missing out on stuff with this mentality, and it's something I'm working on and trying to get to the bottom of now.

I guess the solution might just be deepening my commitment to myself as a person, writer, artist, etc. No one is coming to save me or hand me the life I want on a silver platter. And I find that no matter how much advice I seek, whether it be from friends, family, Tarot cards (lol) or my astrologer father, I know deep down what I need and want. It's important not to lose that internal compass and get swayed by what other people are doing. You're only you once, and for this single lifetime, so there's no point following anything except your own heart and your own gut.

Thank you for reading, sending a hug to anyone who needs it!
xo,
CJ


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review: Cover Girl The Super Sizer Mascara by LashBlast

Well, color me surprised. I actually emphatically like a Cover Girl mascara.

Whether it's justified or not, I never really put Cover Girl in the bracket of impressive or daily go-to mascaras. Rather than being on the top level of my rotation, they're always kind of...there. I've tried many CG mascaras. Super Thick Lash mascara, along with LashBlast Fusion, and also that underwhelming "Flamed Out" stuff, are perfectly wonderful for more natural workday lashes—but in my opinion, only when you have time to painstakingly build up your mascara over a period of several minutes (which, thanks to Mother Nature for my sad, thin lashes, I do).

So that's mainly the category I've had CG mascaras in. But being the beauty obsessed cheapskate that I am, I couldn't resist trying the new Super Sizer mascara. (Side note: does anyone else ever worry about what the mascara names are going to be like in ten years? Seems like they've blown through a lot of pretty dramatic ones already. "Sky High Curves," anyone?)

Anyway, here's the packaging:



And here's the wand, which you're supposed to twirl while applying. As you can see, it's different from other LashBlast mascaras. Mind you, the bristles are still plastic but they're longer/more spaced out. This means it packs A LOT of product onto the lash line as soon as you first put it on, which makes it a great out-the-door mascara. I personally like packing a lot of product on at first stroke, but it's not for everyone.


As you can see, the brush is different from other CG mascaras in that it's sort of reverse-tapered, with longer spikes for the plastic bristles.

As for application, here are eyelashes with/without (please note how puny and sad my natural lashes are.):


Left eye, no mascara. Right eye, lots of mascara.
Now, I don't recommend this, but my 40 minute commute to work allows me the perfect intervals (read: bumper-to-bumper traffic, lots of red lights) for applying mascara in the car. I've actually given up doing it at home before getting in the car because I actually enjoy my ride to work more when I'm putting mascara on at the red lights. Is that sad or cool? Anyway.

Even though this mascara promises "400% corner-to-corner volume" I would actually put it more in the category of curling and lengthening. IF you already have somewhat voluminous lashes (which clearly I do not) then you'll likely love it no matter what.

The complete effect:

Hesitant facial expression not intended.

In short, this mascara:
  • Lengthens
  • Curls
  • Separates
  • Dries FAST, so best to apply coats quickly
  • Packs on a lot of product at first coat
  • Washes off semi-easily (I use Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover to take the residual bits off)
Also worth noting is you get .4 oz of product in this little guy, so it'll last a long time. (By comparison, L'Oreal Miss Manga is .27 oz.)

All in all, really loving it. Anyone else tried it/found success with it?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spotted On Sale: Milani Power Lip at CVS

My heart sort of floods with joy whenever I see that bright little clearance sticker on something. Makeup that I previously had little to no interest in suddenly becomes a must-try item. Such is the case with Milani Power Lip, a "lasting and moisturizing gloss stain." I'm not sure if this is at all CVS locations, but mine has these moving off shelves for 50% off right now. I grabbed the color Macaroon, a seemingly mauvy pink.

Let's take a look:


The one thing I like about Milani is that it typically doesn't use any parabens. I always look at ingredients, and these seem pretty good (coconut alkanes high up in the list)!

Here's how it looks on- please excuse the un-groomed eyebrow(s) and half done face:

Milani Power Lip in Macaroon
 Closeup:


The formula feels pretty good on, if a bit waxy. I'm not certain this is really the best shade for me, but at less than $4, I can't complain. Definitely check CVS if you're looking for a new lippie at a stellar price! 

Thanks for reading and hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend! :) hash tag America. 







Sunday, June 28, 2015

Makeup and Me in 2015


Hi guys!

It's been a long time since I updated this blog, but I really want to get back into it. I have to say though, I was pretty miffed when all of my photos from my first few posts got wiped. (Thanks, Google!) Basically, I deleted a bunch of blog photos from Google+ after they imported automatically, thinking I was just deleting them from my public G+ profile. Nope! That also wiped them from the blog. I see a lot of people have had this same problem, and I feel awful for people whose years of blogging were basically wiped without so much as a warning. Anyhow, if you look at old posts and wonder why there are no photos there, that's the reason.

Onto the present, though.

Here is me:

Lake Gregory, CA, May 2015
I decided to revamp this blog because I find that no matter what happens in life, no matter how many amazing friends I have or how much I love playing my guitar, nothing sparks joy quite like opening a new mascara or trying on a new lipstick. It's a little sick, eh? Clearly I'm not alone, though. And I would love to get better at writing, better at reviewing, and better at taking photos of things I love and things I wish I loved.

So, I'm writing this just as a means of promising (to myself) to post more. This week I'm going to pick up a couple of new drugstore mascaras I've been eyeing (no pun intended, oyy) and review them. 

Thank you for reading and I'm excited to share more of myself and my life with the great ol' internet in 2015.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

new(ish) hair color!

So I recently decided I wanted to go a little lighter with my hair.  I am naturally a dark brunette, with hints of auburn in the sun, and a color that responds well to Sun-In (my go-to highlighting method).  So a few months ago I dyed my hair with Revlon Colorsilk in Medium Ash Blonde.  I went to Florida, my hair got a little lighter in the sun, and as my roots came in the contrast started to bother me, so I picked up another box of Colorsilk in plain old Medium Blonde (which, according to the numbers, is a tad lighter than the 'ash' version).  Like any at-home hair dye participant, I'm always afraid of orange, but I think this turned out pretty nicely.  Here's what my hair looks like right now.  Excuse the tired face.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Neon Pink lips! according to The Body Shop.

Today I reluctantly left sunny/humid Florida and headed home to cold/dreary upstate New York.  My Mom and I had a connecting flight in Charlotte and decided to run to the Body Shop during our short layover.  I spotted this lipstick in #59- Neon Pink- and could not resist picking it up.


It reminded me at first of MAC Gladiola, which came out with the Dame Edna collection.  Gladiola is a bright blue-based matte pink, and not very moisturizing.  It definitely appears more purple-y than Neon Pink.


Neon Pink, however, really gets the job done in terms of moisturizing the lips and leaving lasting color.  Because I was a) bored on the flight and b) excited about my new lipstick, I took some pictures of myself wearing it as the sun was starting to go down.  They actually turned out pretty well, and I think demonstrate how non-garish this color really can be.  It reminds me of some of the loud colors Lady GaGa's been seen sporting as of late, but definitely toned down a bit.  When layered on a little more, this shade shows up as having a subtle lavender iridescence.  Until I'm confident enough to sport Lavender Whip (MAC), this will suffice.  For only $12.50, you really can't go wrong.

The first picture is not my best but I like how the color of my sweater offsets the color of my lips.  Not a bad pairing. (this one was obviously not taken on the plane. the two below it were.)



 
What colors have you discovered recently that you loved more than you expected you would?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

cheap eye shadow, etc.

     So the other day I was at Ulta and I decided to pick up an eye shadow since they were on sale for just $3 each (the Ulta brand shadows, that is).  The one I ended up getting is called 'Organza' and it's a light, silvery taupe lilac.  I got home and played with it a little, and ended up putting NYX's 'Gypsy' in the crease, which is a dark purply-plum with some slight shimmer.  The result was pretty and wearable, not too dramatic. (I should really use the word 'wearable' less. I sort of hate it.)  Anyway here is a photobooth picture of it--not the best quality for taking this type of picture but you get the idea.  Also if you're curious, the nail polish I have on in this picture is O.P.I.'s Gargantuan Green Grape- a light chalky pastel green.  It is love.