Friday, September 17, 2010

The Good Life

Looking back on this post featuring my first makeup brushes, I notice that it's once again the end of summer, football has started, and Jack was with us for some time again. Now we're in a different place; I'm more familiar with football players; and I know just slightly a bit more about makeup.

I still follow many fashion blogs and pay attention to what I wear, especially for teaching. But ultimately, I tend not to wear anything all that exciting, save for maybe a few dresses here and there. With the new house, the finances have been redirected from H&M et. al. to Home Depot et. al. (The exception was buying some stuff in Japan, "for teaching," or because it was 80% off the original  price!) However, something that keeps falling from the sky are Japanese beauty products. I am so grateful for this that I built (ordered from Target, then assembled according to instructions) a shrine for these products.


When I say they fall from the sky, I'm talking about the friends and family discount which can be interpreted as "Here, take this, I don't use it" at best, or the "Five Finger Discount" at worst. My cousins' father is a cosmetics wholesale distributor and gets sample products from various companies, and they have a small storage room of unused, unopened, in some cases not-even-on-shelves-yet beauty stash. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of euphoria I experience when I go into this stuffy, neglected, moldy room. Basically, it's like going into a small convenience store of beauty and household products. Except there is no cash register, and you're handed empty boxes and bags and told to fill them up with stuff to take back home.

Heaven's doors: beauty on the left, cleaning on the right.

And you think that's a great story, right? BUT THERE'S MORE!

One Saturday while I was in Japan, I went shopping with my cousins' mother. I had no idea what I was getting into that day, but I knew we'd start with shopping for a yukata (light, summer kimono) that she wanted to give to me as a gift. I got a lavender one with some floral decorations towards the bottom, like a light, summer version of my wedding kimono. I feel securely more Japanese, even if the kimono and yukata spend most of their lives in storage. On the way back to their house, we picked up Fauchon eclairs, one with a Hokusai print on them (?!) and KFC. High + low=delicious.

The Hokusai print was on white chocolate, and the ladybugs were also made of chocolate, so they were all edible. The pale pink eclair on top had earl gray filling and the yellow eclair on the bottom had a curry-ish filling.

I cleaned up their storage space of cosmetics, selected many products to place in my box and bags, and then we went to dinner at an okonomiyaki restaurant and a magic bar in Kannai. A MAGIC BAR. "Kinjiro," was perhaps more a comedian than a magician, but it was worth whatever it may or may not have cost to someone or no one.

He claimed he would post the photo on the right on Mixi. LOL.

As we walked back to their car (white 2-door BMW 3 Series!) I thought I couldn't have had a more festive day. But then the family decided to make one last pit stop, at a drugstore across the street from the bar. It was kind of like CVS but infinitely better because it's huge, Japanese, and doesn't smell strange. My cousins' father has many good business relations with these drugstores, and apparently loves them so much that the occasional drugstore spree is a kind of  family ritual. I followed them into the store, where they handed me an empty shopping basket, and told me to fill it with products that I couldn't find in their storage of sampled goods. Specifically, they pointed to the higher-end (or lower end of high-end brands of) makeup that was indeed not available in their closet of cosmetics. WTF?! I was totally dazed, not to mention tipsy from a few cocktails (who can pass up a fizzy blue drink called "Yokohama Wonder Boy"?), and the store was closing in ten minutes. They put magazines in my basket, and I picked up blush, a sheer pink lipstick, and shower cloths for myself and Mordecai. There was definitely a part of me that was trying to be polite, not taking my arm down an aisle to swipe and dump everything into my basket like a straight up THIEF. But even if I hadn't held back, I would've had no idea what else to get. In these kinds of situations, I like to say something Mariah Carey says, which is, "I can't even know what to say." I worry about how I have nothing with which to repay them, but luckily, Japanese people still admire The American Life. In other words, when they visit again, I can treat them to CHEESE FRIES.

So now, I have many beauty products that will no doubt last me until next summer. I am eyeing Elfa shelves to help me keep these things organized. I've been keeping a mental catalog of which products I like more than others, and trying to figure out where one can find them in the States (many of these products are available at Mitsuwa, but tragically and obviously not for the friends-and-family-five-finger-discount). I've also been reading Teen Vogue's Beauty Director Eva Chen's tweets quite religiously, and I realized that we are similar in that we take home products for free and test them out. The glaring difference is that she is a professional reviewer, and I am a bum, but that's beside the point. With some inspiration from Ms. Chen and other beauty gurus, I'm going to try to update here with some products that I use, even if no one cares or no one has skin/hair/eyes/taste like mine and therefore has no reason to read my reviews.

And this whole story does not even include the "friends" part of the discount where this past Labor Day, Carla hooked me up with some of her unused makeup and brushes. What?!?!


Jade said...


kei said...

Jade--It's a green shirt! From H&M! It's sheer and kind of baggy, but it's a cheap and way to look semi-decent year-round, even in sweltering Japan.