the original kStyle blog.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Two Words

Honey tangerine

And also,

Post #650

Tuesday Is the Cruelest Day

You expect Monday to suck. You get up early, you slog through it, lump the frustrations, get home. You survived, but you're spent. Then, early the next morning, the alarm sounds and you must muster the strength to do it all again, this time, exhausted from Monday.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Funny, Not So Funny

Funny: Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock. All he has to do is walk on screen and I'm laughing--what a talent! That Golden Globe was completely deserved, even though the other contenders (the guy who plays Earl, Steve Carrell for The Office) are also funny. Mr. Baldwin is hilarious as Jack Donaghy, making 30 Rock my favorite TV watching this season. Of course, the rest of the cast is also brilliant, and the writing, clever and whimsical. (Second favorite viewing: Monday night's back-to-back How I Met Your Mother and The Class on CBS. The Class is a little hokier than the others, but it exudes a certain charm.)

Not So Funny: I confess I was disappointed in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which we finally just rented. It didn't make me laugh much, which was sort of the point. Nonetheless--

Funny: Sacha Baron Cohen as Jean Girard in Talladega Nights. Dear god, so funny.

Friday, January 19, 2007


OK, so I just drank a beer more quickly than intended, which could negatively affect my coherence.

I'm currently taking an online course about creating a business plan, and it's so fucking cool! The first 2 lessons were released this week. My classmates come from all over the country; the highest concentrations appear to be from the Northeast (rah rah rah!) and the Southeast.

The first lesson is about entrepreneurship in general: what is an entrepreneur? How does one define success? What qualities make for a good entrepreneur? Our first assignment was to research the career/life of an entrepreneur we admire.

The discussion boards are where it gets good! It's so much goddamn fun to read about my classmates' ideas for businesses; they run a whole gamut. I would say that 95% of my classmates are passionate about something, so passionate that they want to begin a business. The other 5% are interested in starting a business, but they're not sure what kind. To me, this is strange, but I recognize that it's also how the necessary things get made. Like envelopes or, I don't know, elastic bands...or, god I can't even think of dull but useful things. I'm in the 95%. I'm starting a freaking wellness center. Useful? Er...

Anyway, the real fun begins when we post our assignments to the discussion board. I've been checking in to read my fellow traveler's bios of various entrepreneurs. (I wrote mine about Gary Hirschberger; email me if you'd like a copy and you know me well enough to know my email address.)

It strikes me that a characteristic of many of the best entrepreneurs is: They see a problem and need to fix it. No healthful, environmentally sound fast food offerings? Mr. Hirschberger began his own chain! (O'Naturals) Mr. Warren Errol Brown went to law school because he wanted to change the way sex ed was done (or not done) in this country. When he realized he was fighting an even more uphill battle than he'd thought, he turned to his true passion: cakes. And he began a successful bakery. There are other examples I can't think if right now.

I most admire the entrepreneurs who, like Mr. Hirschberger, root their life work in their values. Stonyfield Farm yogurt and O'Naturals have grown from his dedication to sustainable agriculture and community-building. To which I say: Rock on.

To sum up: It's cool. I'm taking this class.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Every Day Matters.

Here is a verbatim email correspondence with a customer service rep at a natural skin care company; only identifying details have been omitted or altered.

From me:
Hi, I'd love to try your products, but in the past I've found
that organic skin care products give me a horrible facial rash with
swelling! Since then, I've only used hypoallergenic products--which,
sadly, aren't organic or natural. Are your products hypoallergenic?
Thank you.

The response:

Hello kStyle,
Thank you for your recent inquiry. Hypoallergenic is a poorly-defined
term that we prefer not to use. Our products are based on a holistic
formulary philosophy and include pure, natural plant extracts, oils and
essential oils and other supportive ingredients. Of course one can be
allergic to anything in nature, but avoidance of irritating and
synthetic scents and preservatives often allows those with chemical
sensitivities and allergies to use Dr. Frauline products without
problems. I hope this information is helpful. If you have further
questions please feel free to contact the customer service department at
the number below.

Every day matters,

Jessica Ross

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dr. King

A visionary, an activist, a person who said what was needed to be said, consequences for himself be damned.

I'm proud that on this Martin Luther King Day, we in Massachusetts have our first African-American governor, Mr. Deval Patrick--the second African-American governor in the history of the United States.

Clearly, we still have quite a way to go, but maybe we're getting closer. A little closer.

Happy Dance

My new client has had insomnia for 1.5 years, despite antidepressants, therapy, and sleep medication--until our session, after which she enjoyed two solid nights of sleep without waking! I feel great hearing that!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I am a serf of the Great King, Arthur

While my bread was doing its second rise this afternoon, I found myself munching on a few chocolate chips from the Ghiradelli bag, and pondering that these li'l chips, while delicious individually, should really be put to a greater collective use, a use worthy of their deep, slightly bitter, dark chocolate flavor and rich texture.

So I consulted King Arthur again, and made the crispy chocolate chip cookie recipe. Now, I'm no stranger to baking or eating CC cookies--I've been around the Toll House block a few times--but the results of this recipe far surpassed any I'd made before, and most I'd eaten. As we ate the golden, crumbly cookies with rich, molten chocolate chips and slivers of toasted walnuts, I commented to G., "These cookies have really good crumb, don't they?"

He stared me in the eye and replied, "You're part of the cult. You're gone."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Trauma at the Dentist

It was so awful.

My Chinese hygienist spoke poor English and was rushing. She kept placing the X-ray bite in my mouth, rapidly, and I bit on the heavy, sharp plastic. It was OK in the front, but she kept placing it farther and farther back, where it hurt to bite down, plastic digging into my palate and gums. She went so fast, running back and forth, admonishing me to bite down harder, and it really hurt. She was going so fast, and she took so many, but they kept coming, and I started gagging. And then, there it was, the familiar lightheadedness. I told her we had to stop and asked for water; "I'm getting lightheaded."
"You have headache?"
"No, lightheaded," I said weakly. "I might faint."
Then it got worse, the room started spinning, and I wanted to cry. I buried my head in my hands as she waited for me to be ready to resume. "We have to stop today," I finally asserted. "I'm sorry. I'll reschedule for the filling." She still didn't quite understand for a moment.

She told me to rest and went to get the dentist. My hygienist was apologetic, I was apologetic, it was all an embarrassing mess. The dentist, whom I normally like, asked if it was MORNING SICKNESS. I firmly replied that No, I just have a strong vaso-vagal reflex. Glaucoma exams make me pass out; throat cultures are right out and I always refuse them.

Note to dentist: not every overweight woman with a wedding band is preggers. Some of us are just fat. Insult to injury, anyone?

I got to my car, called G, and just bawled. I'm still feeling a little shaky. I'm at home, drinking beer at 2 PM.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Armchair Travel Geekism II: Why Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa Isn't So Smart

Simple: It would seem that Rudy has never heard of a "budget".

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Globe Trekker v. Rick Steves: a short post for armchair travel geeks

Rick Steves' Europe is waaay better than Globe Trekker. Here's why:

I. Pace
Rick Steves: a relaxing show with a mellow, vacation-like pace, chronologically covering a doable vacation in each episode (for example, beginning in the French Alps, traveling into the Swiss Alps)
Globe Trekker: frenetic, disorienting, and slightly disorganized program that hops all over a country geographically

II. Practicality
Rick Steves: Gives lots of good travel tips, for example, how to purchase a EuroRail pass and why it's useful; shows us inexpensive and hospitable lodging
Globe Trekker: no good travel tips

III. Personality
Rick Steves: Our affable, humble host with the most competently guides us through each episode
Globe Trekker: A gaggle of college kids straight from study abroad with either cocky or "I'm-so-cute" attitudes; no one person to get to know and trust. But that English guy is kind of likeable.

IV. Historical research
Rick Steves: Explains the significance of architecture and art in historical context
Globe Trekker: none that I've seen

V. Attitude
Rick Steves: Respectful approach to each culture, dining with the locals; approaches travel as a way for people to connect across cultures; refers to "traditions", not "superstitions"
Globe Trekker: Treats foreign cultures with a "this-is-so-weird" anthropological approach. Hosts go out of their way to find weird food to eat. For example, in the Mexico episode, Justine squealed and flailed her arms about and said, "Justine, you can do this," all in the interest of eating a live beetle from a Mayan woman at the marketplace. Rick Steves would never be so ridiculous and disrespectful. He'd help us find the good food. AND Megan called the Portuguese a "superstitious" people! Rude.

I welcome a counterpoint from any Globe Trekker fans.

Next time: Why Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa isn't so smart.

Gotta go, time for Rick Steves.

UPDATE: After watching back-to-back Rick Steves' and Globe Trekker episodes, I feel compelled in the name of fairness to list a few categories in which the Trekkers have an advantage over Rick:

1. Infinitely better music
2. Prettier, more sophisticated cinematography
3. They cover the whole world, whereas Rick is limited to Europe. This is also an advantage for Rick, however, because he knows the locales very well and offers an insider's perspective.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Wow, I've been quite busy the last 2 days. Don't be disappointed if I don't update for a little while...I'll be back eventually.

In the meantime: It's rude and annoying when people say, "Okaaayyyyy". Discuss.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


What do you find relaxing? I mean, utterly, truly, I-could-be-on-vacation-I'm-so-relaxed, relaxing? I got to thinking about this question one fall day when G said, "You know, I don't think anything's more relaxing than sitting on the couch on a weekend morning with the sun pouring in, drinking my coffee, listening to NPR, covered in cats."

This made me very sad at the time, because I was getting toward the end of my rope working 7 days/week. I sadly had to admit that I didn't know what was relaxing.

This weekend, my first of the new year, I'm relearning how to relax. Here are a few things that make me feel I'm on vacation:

-reading Architectural Digest in bed in the morning
-long afternoon strolls
-wheat beers
-watching Rick Steves Europe


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Feminism, or I'm Really Just a Goddamn Contrarian

I've always shied away from talking about Feminism in this space, because I believe it's a very personal thing, and also because I would rather create a Web space of harmony than one of conflict, and nothing gets heated like a discussion of Feminism.

But it's a bold new year. I just ask that any discussion in the comments stays respectful and cool-headed; of you're feeling explosive, come back later to write your piece. And please, let's be sure to listen to each other.

As I mentioned below, I'm a bad Feminist. I have little time to contemplate the patriarchy because I'm occupied contemplating life, and I do honestly believe that framing actions/choices as a reaction to patriarchy is another way of giving the patriarchy power. Not that we should close our eyes and ears and lalalaaaa, I can't hear or see a patriarchy, but if, for example, a woman really wants to stay home with her children, and sees little point in the numbing, petty rat race; or if it means a lot to her to take her husband's name; or if she likes high heels; then I say, good for you, doing what you want. Don't structure your life as a reaction against; create your life as what you want. Yes, certainly, there are women who feel that they "have to" take their husband's names or stay at home or wear heels, and I'd love to tell them that they should be fulfilling their own potential/desires, not someone else's expectations. Compromise is always necessary, of course, but that's a two-way street. In feminism, as in elsewhere, intention is very important to me. Intention and actions; words are secondary. Anyone can say things. (I'm a regular meditator, and one aim of my practice is to get clear on my intentions and keep them pure. To avoid action based on impure intention, too.)

Feminism takes myriad forms. Each woman's feminism is, I believe, as unique as her. No two snowflakes, women, or feminists are alike. And who am I--who is anyone, really--to say, No, you're not a feminist, because of x, y, or z? So let's just dive into a few case studies of Women I Know Who Do Not Read This Blog, Except for the First Example, Who Is Me.

Example #1: Me.

I don't call myself a feminist. I do believe in the ideals of equal rights, personal fulfillment, health and wellbeing, etc., for every person, regardless of gender, creed, sex, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the rest. I also believe that compromise is necessary for a peaceful society. by "compromise" I don't mean, women in the kitchen poppin' out babies, I mean, like, not driving Hummers. Recycling. Respecting each other. "Your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins." I believe that with individual rights comes individual responsibility. On occasion, especially when inebriated, I might confess that I believe stupid, willfully ignorant people should not be allowed to drive or to vote.

And yet, I've made several decisions that many people would consider feminist. I kept my maiden name, I'm starting my own business, I never wear heels, wear makeup only when I really feel like it. My husband and I split the housework even-steven; in fact, I seldom do laundry because I freakin hate it. In truth, he probably does more housework than I do, because his schedule allows more time at home. (He's very sweet.) My shiatsu practice focuses on women's health, which I believe is underserved/poorly served by conventional medicine.

At the core, I'm stubborn and contrarian. This is called "Rebellious Stomach Qi" in Chinese medicine, or "being an Aquarius" in Western astrology. I have no desire to tell others what to do or how to live (except for the stupid and willfully ignorant), and woe to anyone who tries to tell me. I will accept and consider heartfelt advice with an open mind, but I will do the opposite of anything that I'm told I "have to" do. Before our wedding, I was on the fence as to whether to keep, change, or hyphenate my name. Then the future MIL pleaded and chided and tried to browbeat me into taking the name (even though she divorced out of the name but still has it). That’s when I made up my mind to keep my own name. My mother was disappointed, which only reinforced my contrary ways. Shortly before the wedding, I had to tell both my mom and MIL that I hate kids, because if they dropped one more hint about eagerness for grandchildren, I knew I would decide never to produce any, and I might want kids someday.

Which hopefully gives you an idea of why I can't join any sort of feminist movement. If the more strident feminists tried telling me not to shave my body hair, it would only reinforce my decision to shave it. I don't like being told what to do, by men, by women, by trannies, by the patriarchy, by the Catholic Church, by a manager (mine mostly leaves me alone because I do good work and I think she understands my independent ways), by feminists, by diet gurus, by antifeminsts, by the government, by advertising, and so forth. Frankly, it's between me; my conscience; my intention; my confidants, true friends, and loved ones--when they are clear on their intentions; and the Divine. And I won't tell you what to do, either. Unless you're driving a Hummer or voting along the 700 Club's lines.

I'll just summarize the other examples. I have one friend who calls herself a feminist, and is a member of NOW; she took her husband's name and she does 99% of the housework and is obsessive about her own and other women's weight. (I've been trying to encourage her gently along the path of Self-Esteem.) Another friend doesn't call herself a feminist, but rather calls herself "traditional"; she took her husband's name and is super-driven at work while her husband gets his Bachelor's degree. Her family is freaking out because of the "untraditional" arrangement. Another feminist friend belongs to NOW and has bumper stickers like, "I'll be a post-feminist in a post-patriarchy". She hates the institution of marriage, but is thinking about committing to her guy; she stomps around in big black boots and calls herself a "riot grrrl". She's fun and also uber-neurotic. Once when I was teaching her some qigong for menstrual problems, she became angry that women place right hand under left on the lower belly in the exercise, but men do the opposite. I pointed out that men and women have different anatomy and therefore a different arrangement of qi. It's not that one arrangement is better.

And you know what? To me, it's all good. If they're happy, then I'm happy. Plus, we're all on a journey, continually changing. And that's great.

PS I use the spelling "women" because acknowledging our connection to "men" does not mean we are less than them; it means we are the same species.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Narya has written a thought-provoking post about makeup, which has provoked thoughts in me.

Specifically, I got to thinking about my own relationship with makeup. I'm not a "good" feminist. By that I mean, I largely ignore the "patriarchy". Is there a patriarchy? Maybe. But I believe that choosing our actions in defiance to a patriarchy gives said patriarchy nearly as much power as does dumbly following the patriarchy's dictates. Ergo, I just ignore the patriarchy, and yes, I believe that most women are discerning enough to know what they truly want vs what they think they want because of patriarchal programming. I respect women, in other words. Or, I respect people who know their own minds, and I think those people come from across the gender spectrum, and there may be more of them than are given credit.

So, makeup. My take on it is arguably removed from patriarchal considerations. Or, I should say, I'm not interested in exploring a patriarchal component here, at least not directly.

I wear it in phases, literally every day for 6 months to a couple years, then not at all for about the same length of time. When I don't wear it, it's just another thing to fuss with and I always oversleep. It's expensive, too. And also, I have a tendency to become so wrapped up in Inner Life (meditation, qi gong, reading, and so forth) that I can totally forget about my outward appearance and one day wake up 35 lbs overweight and in need of a haircut. Then there's the environmental consideration. I can't believe that cosmetics are great for the environment, and the hippy stuff (Aveda, for example) gives me terrible rashes on my face.

Then why do you like makeup, kStyle?, you ask. I applaud your excellent question. In college, I was hanging around the theater department after a dance rehearsal one evening, and I walked by a play rehearsing in Theater Practice Room B. They were in desperate need of a makeup designer, and I walked by, and someone who knew me asked if I would design the makeup, and I shrugged and said, OK. Little did I realize that, without any makeup experience, I would designing makeup for a play based on Indian folklore. Specifically, I had to transform humans into flames and goddesses and a cobra incarnated as a prince.

It was a raging success, and I was soon roped into makeup design for other shows.

And I realized, then, that makeup has awesome transformative power. It can make you into someone else; it can also make you look more like yourself. You can bring out the parts of you that you're feeling more today, and hide the parts that you aren't feeling. You can enhance your projection of your inner self.

I adore makeup, really. But I just don't have time.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I resolve...

  • To rest one day per week
  • To make decisions by the litmus test: Does this simplify or complicate my life?
  • To live in a closer circle of yin and yang, not out by the extremes (see point one)
How about you?