mirror, mirror

On August 23, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

“Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within its face – the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man – all present still, preserved like fossils on superimposed layers, and, like fossils, dead. Their message to this live dying creature is: Look at us – we have died – what is there to be afraid of?

It answers them: But that happened so gradually, so easily. I’m afraid of being rushed.”
― Christopher Isherwood,  A Single Man

“Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.”
― Virginia Woolf,  A Room of One’s Own

“Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror.”
― P.G. Wodehouse,  Right Ho, Jeeves

reflection

Mirrors are undoubtedly strange. Common, so we get used to having them everywhere, at least in privileged areas of the world, but for me they never lose their strangeness.

There is the strangeness of the mirror-image itself, the version of the self most familiar to the self, yet bizarrely wonky when compared to a photograph (or reality), the version of the self most familiar to others. Like the discrepancy between your voice as you hear it and your voice on a recording. I have a staunch loyalty to my versions, feeling a shame that the world only gets these diluted, misshapen versions of me.

There is the strangeness of knowing what one looks like at all, the technology for mirrors—and especially accurate, clear mirrors—being relatively recent in human history. There’s a bit in the mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows wherein the vampires, who cannot see their reflections, ask one another to draw their likenesses so they can see what they look like. The drawings are comically bad, which is the bit, but it rings true that they would want to know, and take any scraps of information they could. I want to know. I want every scrap of information.

Then the strangeness of making eye contact with oneself, and seeing (almost seeing) what other people see. And the strangeness of knowing that, because you can only be yourself, you aren’t necessarily seeing what other people see at all, not noticing what they might notice. And so, in a way, you are not able to see yourself at all. I often have this thought with clothing, when I can’t quite decide how it fits. Sometimes I’ll take a photo, and look at that, but what I really want is to see a body identical to mine but not mine wearing the same thing. Then, it seems, on some other being/mannequin/stand-in, I would be able to judge it properly.

I have a suspicion that I spend more time than the average person in front of the mirror. Likely due to some combination of having a lot of mirrors around, giving my skin a lot of careful attention, doing a fair amount of making up, wanting to check on things generally, not trusting my hair to be where I last put it, and liking the act of looking at myself.

This last reason is not, it is important to clarify, because I think I look so great.* I am equally or perhaps even more interested in looking at myself when I look awful, or just unremarkable, which I mean in a matter-of-fact way, sans negativity.** I mainly look unremarkable (that is, normal). Still, I don’t seem to tire of inspecting my reflection, as if it might tell me something.

*Though I do sometimes think this, or something like this. It is more that I now and then have a glad feeling toward my face, like I might toward at anything that pleased me in the moment.  Not necessarily because it is ‘pretty’^ in that moment (not because it’s been made to look so-called pretty), but because I just like it, for whatever reason.

^Pretty is a problematic term, no? I use it but as a commercio-cultural construct it’s difficult.

**Negativity is aimed directly at various blemishes and scars to maintain a good relationship with the face as a whole.

reflection

My face and body, though in a sense random, genetically random, don’t feel random. They feel integrated. Not significant, exactly, not as if they mean anything, but influential, yes. Perhaps this is only my attachment to the material world.

 

loving: Oi oil

On May 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been using Davine’s Oi Oil for about 4 months or so, and I think it’s been long enough to be able to say with confidence: it’s love.

IMG_9172This is what I would call a serum oil, a slightly viscous liquid that has an oil-like effect on hair in terms of providing gloss and moisture while being extremely lightweight and unobtrusive on the hair. Really liking this serum oil tech across the board, from skincare to haircare. It tends to absorb quickly and lacks the grease factor that straight oil has. I don’t actually mind the grease factor, my hair is dry enough that it can take an astonishing amount of oil without appearing greasy, and I still enjoy many oils…but still, the texture is really nice, and the shine factor is subtly brighter and superior to that which oil provides. I use it both on the ends of the curls and to tame frizz in the front. Curly folks, I recommend this to you especially.

It was recommended to me after I complimented a friend on her very long and glossy, slightly wavy hair, the health and shine of which she largely attributed to Oi oil. This is lightweight enough to be suitable for all but perhaps the most delicate, fine hair types. Even then I think it could be OK on the ends.

All this, though, is nothing compared to how fantastic this stuff smells. Davine’s, well done. Evidently the active ingredient here is Roucou oil, also known as anatto, derived from the seeds of the Brazilian achiote tree. Wikipedia describes the scent as ‘slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg,’ which I think is a good beginning. I would add that there is a nutty richness, the aroma of an exotic (unfamiliar) nut, and an intensity of fragrance I associate with proper parfums. A gourmand scent but not in an explicitly edible way. I don’t experience it as a strong scent at all in practice, you use such a tiny quantity of the product that the effect is much softer than sniffing the bottle, but honestly either way, gentle or full-on, this smells incredible. Quite unisex, too. Maybe especially good on men. Full marks.

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Here, too, is a fittingly beautiful comb, the Mason Pearson Rake Comb. Handcut teeth, made in Switzerland, high quality celluloid, etc. Not a bad price point, and basically just a wide-tooth comb…but such a lovely one. My hair is always getting presents. Totally worth it.

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on a rose kick

On June 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I recently realized that all of the lip balms out on my dressing table are rose scented.

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What?! I like options! (Oh, I got this acrylic organizer at TJ Maxx, which liking.)

Completely unintentional!

I have a thing for rose, definitely (well, yes, and lip balm). I knew that already, but I seem to be on a real kick at the moment.

Here we have Rosebud Salve, a classic (I like the minted rose one, too), Jurlique’s Rose Love Balm, a deluxe sample of By Terry Baume de Rose (ridiculously expensive but also really, really nice. Wonderfully emollient, thick, feels productive to put it on), and an organic rose petal balm by a family friend. Which balm I reach for depends on the state of the lips and how I’m planning to follow up. I really do use all of them.

What you don’t know is that the Dior Creme de Rose balm (still love) and rose-scented Vaseline (which I don’t like as much as Rosebud Salve, not by a longshot, and won’t repurchase) are on my bedside table…

[Along with the unsexy Blistex Lip Medex, the mentholated tingle of which I enjoy.]

the dressing table

On December 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I like the routines of grooming and preparation surrounding the dressing table, a key player in the (not the literal but certainly the ceremonial) beginning and ending of each day. This for me is almost always some elaborate series of attentions paid to the skin but the full setup* is stocked with all manner of tools and medicaments, cosmetics and paraphernalia. A great deal can be accomplished in this space, particularly in the realm of transformation, and it’s often a meditative process. It strikes me as a private space, too, where I am with myself (with the reflection of myself, too, causing that multiplication/division of identity a mirror always does for me).

*No coincidence that I show you only a fragment, though this is partly a matter of obscuring what the mirror would betray, which is a true, true—as I define it—mess (this, too, is private).

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This, I realize, sort of in conjunction with my bathroom and all its tools and potions and particulars, is the main reason I don’t like to be away from home. My current favorite products within familiar reach. This general arrangement, at once stylized and utilitarian, and the set of routines it facilitates, is one I don’t like mucked with.

Showing you a bit of it as I enjoy seeing how people store things; how their lives, their daily environments, really look. In this no detail is too small to interest me (sometimes it is only the small details that will interest me). I keep this space quite organized (there are cardboard dividers in the mugs to sort pencils and brushes into subcategories, I’d just used the lipstick when I took this), though I change it around often, too, rotating products in and out according to my rapidly shifting whims and preferences.

IMG_0247You’ll spot a number of favorites I’ve mentioned, and more.

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