Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time To Get Out of the Pumpkin Patch!

In the classic Peanuts cartoon, which all members of Generation X look forward every October, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, we see a deluded young Linus, sitting in a pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to bestow gifts upon him.

The other kids in the neighborhood are not so deluded.  They are all out trick-or-treating (am I the only one who hates the use of  "trick-or-treat" as a verb?). We can assume that just about every house in the neighborhood participates.  The kids are collecting quite a bit of stuff (except for poor Charlie Brown).

Trick-or-treating is a great system.  Everyone in the neighborhood contributes something.  Even people without kids are likely to hand out candy.  Every kid in the neighborhood is then able to partake.  Sure there are some people who may not be able to afford candy for the neighborhood, but their kids are allowed to share the festivities.  Maybe they can afford candy next year.  When their kids grow up they might very well have the money for neighborhood candy.  Sometimes a home might run out, leaving nothing but that rock for Charlie Brown.  Even though Linus is wasting his time in the pumpkin patch, I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelt have provided candy for the neighborhood.  After all, Lucy and Rerun are participating.  

I find myself drawing a parallel between Linus and his belief that something bigger and better is coming from the Great Pumpkin to Republicans who believe in trickle-down economics.  We have a system in place that everyone contributes in some way, or will contribute to in the future.  Everyone is entitled to the benefits.  We have a system that pays for roads and emergency services, for schools and aid to those who can't provide for themselves.  They resent that system.  They believe they shouldn't pay into it. As far as they're concerned, Charlie Brown deserves all of those rocks for not being able to properly cut eye holes in his costume.   Rather than understanding a system that benefits society, they believe that as long as those at the top are making money, like the Great Pumpkin flying over the pumpkin patches, they will receive something bigger and better. 

Linus believes that if the pumpkin patch is sincere enough, he will reap those immense benefits.  Isn't that just like the Right?  Just cut taxes more.  Just pray more and prove how Christian you are.  Just elect more Republicans.  Just deregulate more.  As soon as you do that, the wealth will reach us.  No matter how much history has proven this wrong (The Gilded Age and the Great Depression),  no matter how many more jobs are cut and moved overseas, no matter how much the gap between the rich and the poor increases, they still believe that they have something more coming.  They just keep waiting, keep hoping their pumpkin patches are sincere enough, and keep seeing schools and infrastructure crumble while they wait for some big payoff. 

It's time to get out of the pumpkin patch and start enjoying the benefits of trick-or-treating.  Everyone in the neighborhood will benefit - including you!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Something I Really Don't Get

I have begun to notice a pattern among people who complain nonstop about Obama "ruining the economy" with his "socialist" policies.

If the economy is in ruins, it doesn't seem these Republicans are suffering much from it.  I hear these complaints from people who seem to be doing quite well.  People who own nice houses.  People who can afford children and give them rather nice clothes and plenty of extra-curricular activities.  People who own all kinds of technology.  Families who have one parent staying home with the kids on a seemingly permanent basis.  Families who can afford multiple horses or expensive cars. 

They have all of this despite these supposedly crippling socialist policies that the president himself has put in place, apparently without the help of Congress.  How much they must be suffering!  Tell me again just how poor you are.  Remind me of how all of those handouts to people who are clearly lazy and undeserving.  How can you buy your kids the latest video games and designer clothing if those horrid poor people have the nerve to want to feed their children when they're out of work?  The nerve of them! 

What will happen if Obama is re-elected?  Will you have to cancel your plans to upgrade your Range Rover to an Escalade?  Will you have to send your kids to a second-tier school instead of Ivy League?  Maybe you'll have to settle for a trip to Hawaii instead of Bora Bora.  Oh the horror!

I'm sure if Romney is elected, you will never have to pay another dime of taxes again.  Poor people will stop having children.  Maybe they will all die off because they have no health care and you won't have to take care of them anymore.  You will have so much more than you already have, because you have suffered so much in the past four years. 

If you are a single mother working three jobs to make ends meet after losing a better-paying job five years ago and you really don't see a way out, I can understand where the rage against Obama would come.  If you had hoped for change and received none, then it would make sense to seriously contemplate what someone else can do for you.

If you're still enjoying a very comfortable middle-class, or upper-middle-class existence I'm not sure what you're complaining about.  You're worried about money?  Well, welcome to the human condition!  Glad you join the rest of us.

If you're just as successful and healthy under Obama as you were under Bush, then it's time to shut up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Style 101 - Dressed to the Nines

Most looks I've been posting since I started this series have been about casual/fun looks.  What do I do when I really want to dress up?  What do I do for a night out?

Obviously I go heavy and I have a lot of fun.


Here are the starring players: liquid foundation, concealer, eyeshadow base, plum eyeshadow quad, blush lipstick, liquid eyeliner, mascara, and powder.

I like my mineral foundation, but if I'm really going all-out with makeup, I like the extra coverage of liquid foundation.  Lancome Teinte Miracle is a favorite of mine.  It truly does make your skin look lit from within.  Worth the hefty price tag.

I prep my skin with serum after cleansing and moisturizing.  I start with concealer, blending with a sponge and also use a sponge to blend the foundation.

Eyeshadow base goes on the lids.  It smooths out the color and gives the shadow more staying power and keeps it from smudging too much.

I use all four shadows in the quad.  It's a little hard to see, but this one contains a white highlighter, pale sparkly lavender, a medium plum, and a dark plum.  I place the lightest shade under the eyebrow and bring it down all over the lid area, taking it around the tear ducts. The lighter plum goes on the lid and up into the crease.  The dark plum goes from the outer corner of the lid and the outer edge of the crease.  I don't wing it or cat-eye it.  My eyes are very round and trying to extend color outside the lid area just looks weird.  As a final touch I put just a little of the pale lavender in the middle of the lid.

I put a very careful dark gray line on the upper and lower lids with the liquid liner.  Don't use liquid liner for the first time the day you intend to wear it out of the house.  It takes a steady hand.  Practice first.

I finish the eyes with a coat of mascara.  Years ago I could get away without it because I have very thick lashes, but they're not what they use to be and they now get lost in the rest of the eye makeup.  A light coat keeps them from disappearing.

Blush is a nice neutral pink and lightly applied.  With so much eye focus, the cheeks have to stay in the background or we'll be veering into clown territory.

I would normally keep lipstick fairly neutral for the same reason you want to keep blush toned down.  However, the day I was photographing this look, I was wearing a red dress, so I couldn't let my lipstick clash.  I put on a blue-undertoned red (yellows and oranges don't really work in my wardrobe or on my skin tone) very lightly and then topped it with a clear gloss.  With a different outfit I might stick to a dark mauve.

Finish the whole thing with powder and I'm good to go.

I took photos for a post about a sun-kissed summer look and never got around to posting it.  Not really a good time to post that sort of thing anymore.  That will have to wait until next summer.  I plan to do posts on the business look as well as how I do a traditional smoky eye.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Letter to Americans Who Believe This Is a Christian Nation

Dear People Who Believe America Is a Christian Nation,

I've been thinking long and hard about what it must mean to you to be a Christian Nation, and I'm still very confused.  What exactly do you mean by "Christian Nation"?  How do you define it?  How should Christianity be expressed and enforced?

Is it that you believe our leaders should be Christian?  This is diametrically opposed to the Constitution which states that there will be no religious tests for elected officials.  Besides, Christians come in many flavors.  Jimmy Carter proudly calls himself a born-again Christian, and yet it seems he is universally loathed by the Religious Right.  George W. Bush calls himself a born-again Christian as well. Would both of them be considered a proper leader of a Christian Nation? Is there a certain mold of Christianity that you require in your public servants?  Do you honestly believe that only a Christian is the right person for the job?

Anyway, if you believe this is a Christian Nation, why did you vote for a Mormon?  I learned in a Christian church that Mormons were a dangerous cult that mocked and perverted Christian teachings.

"We want Christian principles!" Is the reply.  Again, which Christian principles?  Christian principles are split into many ideologies.  Do you want your principles to come from Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Doug Philips, Dinesh D'Souza, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, or Bill Gothard?  Perhaps you would prefer the Christian principles of Martin Luther King Jr, William Sloane Coffin, Desmond Tutu, Barry Lynn or the founders of the Clergy Letter Project? What about Catholics?  Are Catholics the right kind of Christian or aren't they?

What Christian principles do you value most?  Do you believe that Christian principles are about the Ten Commandments and that we need Christianity to avoid crimes like theft and murder and lying.  Guess what?  All major religions, and even atheists, condemn crimes like theft and murder.  Respect for others are also at the core beliefs of most religions.  Do you think Christianity is the only force stopping all humans from going on a murder spree?  Even atheists believe in The Golden Rule.  Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on morality and respect.

Do you believe that there should be only one set of Christian principles across the board? Which ones?  Before you say, "All of them," remember that different Christians hold very different ideas of what Christian principles are.  Think long and hard about your own life and your own lifestyle.  What freedoms do you currently enjoy that might be considered sins by certain Christian groups?  Do you understand that drinking alcohol, dancing, having non-marital sex, or disobeying your husband are considered grievous sins by many Christian sects? Maybe you repent of those sins now, but do you believe it's your place to tell others that they can't commit those perceived sins? Do you believe it's up to the individual to make peace with God regarding their sins, or do you think the government needs to prevent them from sinning in the first place?

Once you have chosen that set of Christian standards how do you intend to enforce them?  Should Christian principles be law? Do we have one standard moral code across the entire country, according to one version of one religion? Should they be enforced by some kind of morals squad?

Such a culture already exists.  It's called The Taliban. Just because it's your religion that's being enforced doesn't mean such a culture is one you would wish to live in. Be careful what you wish for.

You can call the United States a Christian Nation because Christianity is the majority religion.  There is no doubt about that.  Should Christianity be enforced due to majority rule?  What exactly do you do with the other religions in the country?  I know George W. Bush once said that atheists should not be considered American citizens and don't deserve the same rights as religious Americans.  Should we force a conversion, or should all atheists just pack their bags?  Maybe they should be sent to prison or to some kind of re-education camps for not believing. How about they pay an "atheist tax"?  I know believers in a Christian nation do not think very highly of Islam.  I ask the same question.  Will Muslims be deported or just forced to convert in order to maintain Christian Nation status?  What about the Jews?  I assume Jews are allowed if the vote Republican and act as mainstream as possible (yarmulkes are forbidden and so is speaking Yiddish). How about Buddhists?  Pagans?  Satanists?  Santerians? Voodoo? Shintoists? You might not like their religions very much, but do they have a right to live in this country?

I'm serious.  Take a long look at what is to be done with the citizens who aren't Christian?  Do you force them to live by what you consider to be Christian values?  So many Christians talk of their fear that Muslims in this country will enforce Sharia law on everyone.  Why would American Muslims want to live under Christian law?  How would you like it if this were a Jewish nation?  Bacon is banned and you now need separate dishwashers for your meat and your dairy products.  Also your workweek starts on Sunday.  If you believe in the principle of "Do unto others..." then why would you want to impose your rules onto other religions when you would not want them doing that to you?

Do you have friends or relatives that aren't Christian?  Would you like to see them made miserable by a Christian rule?  Would you want them to leave the country because this is a Christian Nation?  If you're reading this and you are one of my friends or family members, how much do you like my husband and me?  I'm an unconventional humanist slightly irrational skeptic.  My husband is Jewish.  They would load us onto the boat first if non-Christians were being kicked out of the country.  Would you miss us?  Are we immoral?  Are we not nice people?  Do we commit crimes and torture puppies?  Do we deserve the same rights as any other American citizens?

Maybe we don't.  Maybe it really is time to ship off all non-believers and non-Christians off somewhere else. 

Let's let the Christians have the United States all to themselves.  You guys want this country back so badly?  Okay.  You can have it.  It's yours. Use your guns to run us all out.  Enjoy your happy little homogeneous society where everyone believes the same thing, where everyone has the exact same standard of behavior, and where no one has an original though that doesn't fall in line with the Christian code.   If you miss the rest of us, remember how much better the country is without the immoral non-Christians.  We won't be trying to take your religion from you.   We won't be telling you what you should believe.  We won't be interfering with your freedom of religion. Hang the Ten Commandments in front of every public building.  Never say "Happy Holidays" again.  Say a Christian prayer at every public event.  Remove science education from schools.  Go crazy.   Kick everyone else out and run the country exactly as you want it.

I'm sure that's what Jesus would have done. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Love,
Rachel