In the Prime of my Wardrobe

Not gonna lie; I am exhausted and this blog post is probably going to be a little rough around the edges. However, even when I’m tired, I will still push through.

One thing that I have learned in quarantine and staying in all the time is that lounge wear is my new uniform. I have worked in my sleep shirts, walked the dog in pajama pants, and reacquainted myself with my collection of soft tee shirts and tanks. Like any article of well-loved clothing, my frequent fliers were showing the signs of wear and tear. Unfortunately, the pandemic limited the amount of in-store clothes shopping one could safely do; if stores were open, their fitting rooms likely were not. I didn’t lose hope; rather, I looked seriously at my options for replenishing my clothing supply from home.
Enter the behemoth of online ordering, the megacorporation that seems to suddenly own everything, the digital bookstore turned retail giant: Amazon and its clothing offshoot, Prime Wardrobe. The premise of P.W. is simple: add up to eight items to a shipment, keep the items risk-free for seven days, ship back anything you don’t want to keep, only pay for what you want. They even offer a personal stylist option which seems to be Amazon’s version of Stitch Fix. (Or, so they hoped.)
My first shipment was simple: some shorts, a dress, and sandals that have become my go-to footwear. I can’t stand flip flops, but I also didn’t want to don my tennis shoes all summer in stifling humidity. I kept the shorts as well, but the dress was a bit too large.

Mary wears short shorts! (Also, the tank was a limited edition Pride purchase from Target)

Shipment number two featured picks from my personal stylist. I took a style quiz that evidently led my shopper to believe that I needed to look like a grandmother. As of this writing, I am still in my late twenties; no grandmothering is happening here anytime soon. Still, I did come out with some good picks like a stylish jean jacket.

Y’all. I TRIED. It was even more hideous in person.
I have a tattoo featuring a Lady Gaga quote that says, “Love is the new denim or black.” I’m making a neutral face here, but I have very strong feelings about this jacket.

I held off for a bit but knew that I wanted to try my luck again. This time, I would forego the stylist’s picks and go with my own ideas. I am happy to report that it was MUCH more successful; I kept a pajama set and a nightgown as well as a cute pair of floral earrings. I would have kept this skirt if I knew I would be able to safely go out and about among people again, but I don’t see myself wearing it much around the house. The shoes were FAR too narrow and stiff.

What do you even wear with houndstooth?
Look at them! Aren’t they cute?
I wanted to like this flannel, but it was a wee bit too snug.

Overall, I like the idea of buying clothes online and shipping back what I don’t like after a certain period of time. I also enjoy the fact that I can try different pieces with articles of clothing that I already own, and that can be a challenge in a traditional fitting room. I’m not willing to buy all of my clothes using this method for the rest of my life, but it will work for now.

Come back next week as I share some delicious quarantine eats that I have made!

A note about RBG

I know it’s Saturday and it’s not the Amazon wardrobe post that I said would be next, but I need to get this out.

This blog is about new things I’ve done in quarantine. Last night and today, I am mourning the death of a Supreme Court justice for the first time ever. One of the women I have idolized has taken her last breath as of September 18, 2020.

The notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg wrenched opened doors for women in the workforce that were supposed to lock us out. She studied law and made her mark with the American Civil Liberties Union by cofounding the Women’s Rights Project. She was the second female justice in U.S. history to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, and she was never shy about speaking up when she disagreed with a court decision. (Read some of her dissenting opinions. You can find SCOTUS opinions at their website.) She refused to retire even when she lost her husband, battled cancer and found herself in the hospital multiple times.

My heart is heavy. The fear and terror I feel with her passing is real. I am so grateful for all the time she gave us and I hope we can proudly live out her legacy by ensuring the most vulnerable minorities among us are treated equally.

Thank you, Justice Ginsburg. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Quarantine Salon 3: Waxing Poetic

I remember learning basic facts about mammals in elementary school: they have warm blood, live births, and body hair. I’m sure there are exceptions to these rules, but I am not a biologist nor am I here to discuss biology.

It is a quirk of western society that we should want to rid ourselves of body hair, especially when we identify as female. Although I’m a firm believer in doing whatever makes you happy (all the hair, no hair, or some happy medium), I have wondered if it’s worth a few minutes of pain to give the razor a rest. Yes, friends, I am referring to waxing: a practice in which you spread goop on yourself and yank it off, revealing bare skin. Ideally, I would go to a licensed esthetician who would get the job done; however, in the era of COVID when non-essential businesses have been closed or offering limited services, going to a salon continues to be difficult.

So! Much like my tresses, I decided to experiment. To pay respects to the title of this post, I have opted to tell the tale in poetry.

There was a young blogger named Mary
Who wanted to do something scary
She purchased a pot
Of wax and then got
To work on becoming less hairy
She chose to begin with her face
Because there was plenty of space
To use all the strips
That came in the kit
And RIP! There was no time to waste
She saw her brows as subpar
For they looked like caterpill-ars
She warmed up the wax
And placed it on flat
But WHOOPS! She went in too far!
Goodbye eyebrows, it’s been nice
She promptly went to her spouse
And said to him, quiet as a mouse
“I think that I may
Have gone quite astray”
And his laughter shook their whole house

(The end.)

I suppose I could also talk briefly about waxing my legs. I don’t have quite as much to say, so these haiku ought to suffice:

When waxing one’s legs
Be sure to buy coconut
Oil for stickiness
You will likely bruise
But this is somewhat normal
If you’re sensitive
(I didn’t photograph the purple bruising because it was upsetting, but I own lots of violet things. Enjoy my sleepy cat on one of my royal blankets.)

Stick around next week as I delve into the good, the bad and the repulsive finds of online clothes shopping!

Quarantine Salon 2: Electric Blue Boogaloo

Let’s go ahead and preface this with a disclaimer that this post, blog and blogger are in no way affiliated with the alt right hate group by the name Boo*galoo, okay? Okay.
Now, the fun part:

Quarantine Salon 2: Electric Blue Boogaloo

Having tried purple and pink hair, the next logical step in my quest to have the most badass hair of my life was to go blue. Blue is easy to coordinate with clothing; jeans pair with everything from blouses to t-shirts, right? I even remember a time in the early aughts when jeans under dresses and skirts was in fashion. Maybe that trend will return in this warped timeline where we find ourselves.
Ahem. Moving on.
Outside of clashing concerns, I quickly learned the pink was a huge pain to maintain and faded to a sad reminder of what it once was. I did my homework this time around. I was going to do it right: no horrible bleach jobs, no panicked drives all over the metro area to get supplies, no holing up in my bedroom stuffing my face with Keebler cookies while I felt sorry for myself. Actually, I still like those cookies, but I would gleefully eat them out in the open.
My research led me to the Britain-based company Punky Colour. I was intrigued by positive reviews as well as a wide range of inexpensive yet bold shades. I stripped out the Barbie pink in favor of platinum white-blonde before tumbling into the cerulean sea. While the Pepto Bismol hair tried desperately to cling to dear life, I banished it from existence.

Okay, “banished from existence” isn’t quite accurate. This crap was so stubborn!

So! The hard part done, I was ready to go. I set to work with tools in and on hand: tinting brushes, hair color bowls, and protective gloves. I was delighted at the outcome: just look at that ocean on my head!

Beer is love, beer is life.

I suppose the story could end here, but fear not, dear reader; I would not leave you hanging.
Did I look better in azure? Absolutely. However, much to my husband’s chagrin, it felt like everything else in our apartment was stained blue. Hurricane Sapphire made landfall in my bathtub as one would expect. It also splattered my bathroom sink, ran through my towels, bled into my pillow cases, and soaked into my fingernails. In my zest to avoid losing my security deposit, I learned some tips:

  1. Wear gloves. Not just when you’re coloring; keep them around for shampooing and maintenance.
  2. Invest in towels and linens that are dark, are bleach-friendly, or have been so well-loved that you wouldn’t mind staining them.
  3. Makeup remover and nail polish remover gets dye off of your skin and nails. Bleach works on porcelain. Shout works on laundry, but be timely.
  4. Apple cider vinegar. No, seriously. Watch this video.
Continue reading “Quarantine Salon 2: Electric Blue Boogaloo”

Quarantine Salon: Getting to the Root of the Problem

I want to preface this story as the first in a series called Quarantine Salon. There is no better time to alter one’s appearance than when you’re home all the time and no one is seeing you except your family, right? I took the plunge on some appearance alterations like hair dyeing and waxing so you don’t have to (unless you REALLY want to). Quarantine salon will also feature some fun photos because clearly, we all need proof of my decisions both good and bad.

So, here goes!

Quarantine Salon, Installment 1: Getting to the Root of the Problem

One thing that was absolutely (mostly) forbidden in my house growing up was hair-dyeing. For reasons I still don’t quite understand, messing with my hair was a particularly taboo subject, and when I stumbled into middle school, the sweeping emo fever had infected everyone. I was not immune, and by seventh or eighth grade, I was hellbent on being anything but my natural brunette self. My mother pushed back every time I asked without any real reason.

However, what she did not count on was that I would defy her orders while I was away from home visiting my dad. His girlfriend had a daughter my age, and it was common to see the two of them with fresh new hair colors every month or so. If her daughter could dye her hair, couldn’t I?

This reasoning led to us heading to a Rite Aid on a Friday or Saturday night and me choosing box dye in a copper shade. We have all seen a shiny new penny fresh from the mint, right? It looks lovely on a coin. On my head, it was an intense shade of orange. I forced myself to believe I liked it and that the initial shock was simply because it was new. We managed to pull the wool over my mother’s eyes for at least a month since she only ever saw me when the sun was down thanks to late autumn and its lack of daylight savings time. When she finally saw what I had done on Christmas in the brightly lit living room of my uncle’s house, she was FURIOUS. My roots were coming in and adding a distinct dark stripe in the middle of the orange sea, and as punishment, I was to grow it out with no hope of dyeing it back to its natural color. (The joke was on her; she bought a box of mousy brown dye roughly a year later to color her own eyebrows and then opted not to use it since you really, REALLY shouldn’t dye your own brows at home, and I stole it for myself.) I opted not to color my hair again until long after I was out on my own.

So, we will time warp to years down the road long after the horrors of middle school had died away. It was odd to be in the adult world and learn how many professions adamantly refused any unnatural hair color for employees. If the shade wasn’t auburn, blonde, brown or black, it was prohibited. So, until 2020, the only color I donned outside of my natural shade was auburn. (It’s how I hooked my husband; true story.) I had read articles about how fun hair colors were surging in popularity as lockdown orders went into effect across the world, so I decided to go for it myself. The hair salons were still closed in my state at this point, so I decided to take the plunge and do it myself! It’s just hair; it grows back, right?

Attempt number one was found in a bottle of purple Manic Panic. I was scared to bleach my hair because of the damage it would cause, but sadly, my natural shade was far too dark for the purple to show up. Because of this, I sadly lack any photos. Outside of direct sunlight, my violet-tinged locks were wholly invisible. I wanted to go for something bolder, and I accepted that I would have to use bleach if I wanted anything vibrant.

At this point, I should warn you that I was two things: impatient and impulsive. It is true that hair grows back. It is also true that growing your hair to certain lengths beyond a pixie cut can take months to YEARS, and that is something you have to accept in the event that things go very, very wrong.

While I was grocery shopping, I found a kit of Splat dye. It included both dye AND hair bleach and claimed that you could do both in one day. Fantastic! I wanted pink hair and I wanted it NOW, and no one was going to stop me. As I opened the box and read the directions, I saw that keeping the bleach a quarter of an inch away from the scalp was ideal. The act of eyeballing measurements has never been my strongest suit, and this experience illustrated that in a cruelly obvious way. In my zest for the bold unnatural hair color that no one had let me have in my tween and teen years, I added the package to my cart and rushed home. In the privacy of my bathroom, I mixed the bleach, globbed it all over my strands, and waited.

After a shampooing, a towel dry and a blow dry, I looked at myself in a mirror to evaluate my results. I was HORRIFIED. I sent my husband a frantic text along the lines of, “Can I just stay in my room forever?” followed by a crying emoji. He came in from the living room and IMMEDIATELY broke down into peals of hysterical laughter. He hugged me and assured me that it was not my hair that was so funny; it was the content and tone of my text that was so amusing. Because all horrible decisions should have photographic evidence to prove they happened, I offer you these gems:

My hair down. Orange has never been my color. It never will be. Still, it looked even worse when pulled back.
My hair up. Remember that whole quarter-of-an-inch thing that I said? Yeah. Well. I definitely left a quarter of an inch. In fact, I left SEVERAL quarters of several inches.

Even though I was working remotely and had no plans to return to the outside world, I could not and would not keep this disaster bleach job longer than necessary. I frantically bought another box of bleach while donning a stylish beanie and sheepishly asked my love to help me bleach the spots I missed. Luckily, he obliged. (Again, photographic evidence. This was a rough weekend.)

We don’t wear makeup when our life and our hair is in shambles. However, we do rock the beanie.
Yes, yes, welcome to Quarantine Salon. We take all of our selfies at this angle.

Even though the bleach still was quite brassy after round two, I was able to cover it with the pink Splat and give myself the emo makeunder that I had always wanted. If you are reading this, you may recognize this post with a caption about returning to the RAWRing 20s:

Even wore my Green Day shirt for the occasion. They aren’t emo, but they are near and dear to me forever.

Stay tuned next week for Quarantine Salon 2: Electric Blue Boogaloo in which I dye my hair (and my hands, fingernails, bathtub, and life) blue!

Why Am I Here? An Introduction to the Creation in Isolation Blog

I remember how quickly things changed: in February 2020, I was living my life as per usual. My fiance and I were planning our September wedding, a mild Virginia winter was waning, and the future was full of possibilities. Sure, there were some strange reports coming out of the international news sphere about this new respiratory disease, but it could be contained, right?
If you are reading this at its publication, you likely have your own tale of how your life turned upside down. If you are reading this years down the road, you may have some memory of what this was like if you were a younger child at its inception. If we are optimistic (and I really try to be), you may have no memory of this time or you may not have even been born. It was a strange time for all of us. Within weeks, local governments were ordering businesses to close, sending schoolchildren home for indeterminate periods of time, and panicked shoppers were stockpiling toilet paper, hand soap, and cleaning products. In the early stages of quarantine, my preteen stepdaughter would often ask: have you been through something like this before?
No, not really. I grew up in the late nineties and early aughts, and while I definitely spent a lot of my time in front of a computer screen, I never once had to worry about school being out for months on end with no clear idea of when or how we would return. Sure, there were scares with influenza, MRSA, and evacuations due to bomb threats and school shooter drills, but life returned to normal. Although I was a child who witnessed 9/11 and saw the Iraq war come to fruition, my day-to-day life was not altered the same way that it is now.
However, one thing I did in my adolescence was keep a few personal blogs. To my knowledge, some have met an end (MySpace, Diaryland and Xanga, for example) while others continue to exist in their original form. (Livejournal still exists! My LJ is still on the web packed full of teen angst from late middle school through early college. If you manage to find it, please be kind to the teen behind the screen; she was doing the best she could.) Having grown up in rural central Virginia, I had a lot of time with myself and my thoughts. In a way, self isolation reminds me of that time when my link to the outside world existed through an internet modem. In my teens, I felt trapped and all I wanted was an escape. My mental health was in shambles, my interpersonal relationships often took more from me than I received, and I counted down the days until I was on my own.
Well, here I am!
Age twenty-nine, stuck in my house since March, no end date in sight. It is what it is.
So, having had time to think about how to cope and what I enjoy, I have opted to create a blog about how I am passing the time. My focus is any activity that I have tried which is new to me; while I am sure I will break some of my own rules, my intention is to examine things that I did not try before the pandemic. There have been cooking wins, tales of fun and horror in quarantine salon, and new habits that I plan to incorporate into my routine even when the worst of this plague is behind us. I hope you laugh, cry, and otherwise enjoy the escape into my world at home.