I confided to my psychiatrist that I’m obsessed  with  the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan and that I’ll be disappointed when they get it under control. I was shocked when he said he felt the same. “Of course.” he agreed, “We all crave this drama, it’s great. It lets us externalize all our feelings of anger and chaos.”   We both agreed that we weren’t actually hoping for something apocalyptic, although I am personally ready for the world to end.

A better way to distract myself has been tumblr, where I can scroll through images for hours.   I’ve learned to avoid the ones with the aggressively  teen-aged  nihilism: All those morbid photos of skinny kids with septum rings and animated gifs from horror films and topless hippies with guns in their mouths.

There is so much beauty out there. Visual stimulation excites some pleasure center in the brain, like eating chocolate or listening to an aria. Tonight my tumbler stopped working and it was horrifying to be cut off from my new addiction.   I have a lot of avoidance to accomplish. Max’s birthday is coming up at the end of the month.

Can we distract ourselves from everything serious with a focus on beauty products? I’ve always found them comforting, their promise of transforming us from ugly ducklings into  flawless  supermodels. Okay, so, what is your favorite beauty product that has surprised you by actually doing something good? I really want to know (remember: I’m desperate,)

My favorite product is Kate Sommerville Sunblock 55.   It’s light, greaseless, no fragrance, and leaves a dewy glow.   You don’t have to wear make up and you don’t have to get skin cancer.   I prosthelytize about it to  everyone.

Okay, what’s yours?

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51 Responses to “Distraction”

  1. sheri Says:

    Clinique’s “Even Better” — I used to be a blotchy mess, and my skin tone is now almost even enough that I can go out in public without makeup. (Almost).

    I also find shoes to be a worthy distraction — there was a pair of red Franco Sarto Mary Janes out there briefly, but not long enough for me to buy myself a pair, and I find the routine search for their counterpart quite comforting. Not sure if they would be as helpful to own and/or wear them, although I imagine it would help.

    Do shoes count as a “beauty product”? I think so.

  2. Dru Says:

    The Body Shop lip balm in Satsuma Shimmer, which tastes lovely and does a good job of keeping my lips from getting flakey.

    I have a tendency to pull at the dry skin on my lip when I get nervous or upset, so lip balm is essential if I don’t want to end up with a painful, bloody mouth and show the whole world evidence that I’m going to pieces.

  3. MelanieHick Says:

    Lucas pawpaw ointment = best lip balm evs.
    Alpha H microcleanse = best exfolliant evs.


  4. Cricket9 Says:

    Holy crap, people – you will be disappointed when/if they get the nuclear plant under control? I’m speechless, have to go away and recover.

  5. Molly Says:

    I think it’s easy for us to see what is happening in Japan as some kind of television plot unfolding before us. Because it doesn’t directly affect us (me anyway) it almost becomes fictional ! It is strange how we adapt to these things.

    I’m not very adventurous with beauty products but I love what a good tinted moisturiser does for me.

    And as for distractions I like reading through postsecrets (all the foreign ones too) and found.com as I am quite voyeuristic.

    Molly xo

  6. Kristen Says:

    Roc retinol correxion under eye creme. I’ve been using it for 5 yrs and it’s good stuff!
    and Lancome Hypnose mascara.

    I understand your sentiment about the reactor, and honestly have been feeling shades of the same thing- but more in terms of, what’s it going to take to scare humanity shitless, what will it take to stop this endless forward march (into…what?) and set the stage for a genuine change of the way we live and treat each other.
    What’s more likely: no matter how the events in Japan play out, they’ll be discussed, spun, blame will be placed, and it’s back in the van and on to the next one.

  7. Artful Lawyer Says:

    I vote for Ystheal emulsion (French retinoid, order from drugstore.com) which exfoliated me enough to clear up a lot of my skin and reduce wrinkles. Also, as I have a nasty head cold right now, Aquaphor, which unlike Vaseline actually mosturizes dry lips and keeps your nose from chapping. First cold ever (I just discovered this miracle salve) where my nose isn’t chapped and revolting.

  8. sharnek Says:

    Sister, I totally get your need to get absorbed by something other than what you’re living.

    I’ve become very interested in beauty products too, reading online reviews, comparing prices and putting products in and out of my shopping basket. I will say that Decleor Prolagene gel does help the appearance of the large pores around my face and chin and have less of an oily shine by mid day on the days I use it.

    For the past few months I had dedicated my time to arranging a first birthday tea party for my twin daughters who were still born a year ago. I searched the internet for days for the right sort of fancy paper doilies and sat for hours making cake boxes, so those who came could take away a pretty packaged slice of the cake I had baked. I lived out my fantasy, which my girls never died; I was doing it for them. My Mum said that it must have been incredibly hard for me to do those things. It wasn’t. Doing anything for them is easy, doing things without is where the difficulties lie. I had wondered if some of the sadness would lift once I’d lived a year of everything. That something would give and I’d feel differently. It hasn’t. I’m just left with another void where the birthday tea party was.

  9. unisa Says:

    B. Brown Corrector for dark circles. Use it over a line refiner and only where you need it. Don’t bother getting the concealer they insist you buy with it. Just dab a bit of your own foundation over it et voilà!

  10. Elaine Says:

    I feel exactly the same way about tumblr. It may not be the proper way to deal with my problems but it puts me in a state in I can handle (close to “happy” as I can manage) I’m so numb these days I can barely muster beyond a surface automatic reaction towards Japan.

    My beauty product is tea tree oil for pimples (some people may be allergic to it though) and Josie Maran lip stain.

  11. tartantreacly Says:

    I’ve been really liking Stila’s Hydrating Primer. It’s not the most powerful spackling paste out there, but it’s moisturizing and fairly light on silicones (or at least gives a decent impression that it is.)

    I’ve also just recently found my sine qua non lipstick in NARS’ Funny Face – really gives me that lovely English Rose (hahahaha) bloom!

  12. alicia Says:

    I don’t know how well this product will work on non-Asian skin, but I’ve recently become enamored with my Clinique B.B. Cream. I don’t know if they sell this product in the U.S., because I’ve never even heard of it until I moved to Seoul, but it’s fucking amazing. It covers up all blemishes and uneven patches and gives me a perfect, pale, dewy glow. 100% worth the $30.

  13. Erika Says:

    Mmmm, not with the doomsday crowd. I do appreciate your honesty though. You have a depth of self awareness that I am sure can be painful sometimes.
    It helps to not have a television, I would probably not be able to stop looking either. I need a distraction. I have quit drinking, casual sex, shopping, junk food and fashion. I got nothing.

    Beauty products. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum. It is a collagen booster and it is amazing. I used it , then ran out so used something else but recently went back again. It works like nothing else and I know because I am a product fiend. I use it as a moisturizer, that plus the vitamin c creme by the same company.

  14. Lara Says:

    You and me both. I had to take a break from it last night and become a vapid slug watching HGTV.

    My all-time favorite cosmetic is good old cheap drugstore brand Milani Infinite liquid eyeliner. I sleep in it and my cat eyes are still perfect. $6!

  15. Liz!! Says:

    The Body Shop lip sheer is AMAZING. The color is not too strong, it glides on like a dream (no priming with lip balm!), and it smells amazing. I picked it up for $1.97 on clearance and I didn’t anticipate how much I would actually love it. I always stash them in my purse for touch ups.

    It’s very strange, I share the two attributes you mentioned in this post: I have a penchant for really unnecessary drama (just discovered that recently…although I personally can’t wait for Japan to get it back together) and even though I am religious, praying and applying beauty products are the two things that calm me down. I never think that they can make me perfect, but I think of my face as an easel of sorts. Blank and waiting for my pen.

    Here’s my self aware moment: Sometimes when people tell me sad news, I’m not sad right away, and I find myself faking dramatic sadness just to fit the moment. Although I do become sad later (with some events), I always feel like it will be an insult if I don’t become solemn and/or cry at the moment. It’s such hypocritical behavior!

    Thanks for sharing your truth, sister, and I’m glad your therapist saw your feelings for what they really were.

  16. Ruth Johnston Says:

    Eve Lom cleanser.. and her kiss mix lip balm xx

  17. liz Says:

    la prairie foundation..it’s idiotically expensive but I don’t disgustingly break out from make up like a teenager anymore, and thus, worth it.

  18. Rackk and Ruin Says:

    Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer (SPF 15) It literally makes your skin change. Smooth, glowing. Thanks to the silicone i think. I’m fascinated by nuclear disasters. Radioactive materials. When i learned about “Operation Crossroads” in middle school (the nuclear weapons testing we did in the 1940s off the island off Bikini Atoll Island) i researched it on my own for weeks afterwards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Crossroads

  19. liz (the who cares girl) Says:

    I feel the same way about tumblr/inspiration (I love yours!). I’m an oldschool blogger but new to tumblr and it DOES freeze all the time, sending me into a (momentary) rage!

    I’m diggin’ plain old cetaphil lotion for my face. I love sunscreen and if I ever found one I could wear daily without it stinging my ultra-sensitive skin/eyeballs, I would be willing to pay…more than 10 bucks, say.

  20. Alicia Says:

    I have…issues…with hyperpigmentation, so I’ve been using epicuren 5% glycolic “lotion.” Stuff works wonders. WONDERS, I SAY!

    I love tumblr too. Great distraction.

  21. ali Says:

    im on spring break now…booked my flight to SF 2 days late without telling anyone and I have literally been alone, lying in bed, eating sorbet and watching the bachelor for 48 hours. I’d never watched the bachelor before about a week ago… and now I find its the only thing that is detached enough from reality so as to completely escape it. close to coma.

    YSL tinted moisturizer is my favorite beauty product…but I haven’t used it lately because its too expensive. Light and shimmery and sun protected.

    I also like oatmeal milk essential oils. spritz them on every morning. No. 37 “archipelago botanicals”

  22. patni Says:

    I like the idea of beauty products, but am usually to lazy to use them. Sunscreen I use due to the skin cancer thing, my pet peeve is when they smell like the beach. I tend to use aveeno or mac 50spf primer.

    This might distract you a little… vulva art, and what sounds like a predatory fucker for an artist.

  23. kt Says:

    I have been battling with ultra sensitive dry skin that still somehow overproduces oil for years now. I wear make up mostly everyday, which I’ve just come to accept as a part of my life. I was using the Benefit Playstick which is a really dense foundation in the form of a stick for years. It didn’t even work that great, only sometimes, yet I kept using it out of laziness and fear. I finally realized about six years later that the crap was only making things worse since it’s not actually oil-free. Wtf. And it’s expensive at 30 something dollars for a small-ish stick. More reasons to hate Benefit.

    Today I use many of Make Up For Ever’s products which have been amazing for me. Also I found a little pot of concelear called Time Balm that has been really great. It hasn’t made me break out, conceals really well, and is semi affordable at $18. I use a $10 drugstore face wash called Panoxyl that is magically keeping my face at bay. Though, it’s tricky because it pretty much sucks out the moisture out of your face once it’s dry. So, I have to quickly follow up with moisturizer (actually still on the hunt for one that works and doesn’t make my face feel like it’s burning). There’s just way too much shit out there that I’d be willing to try if I knew it would be effective. And this is how they continue to prey on us!

  24. Ann Says:

    I cannot take the horror in Japan. It is beyond what my mind can comfortably contain. I felt the same way throughout Katrina and its aftermath.

    Of all the beauty products I use, the one I love the most is Burt’s Bees Milk and Honey lotion. I’m an easy win.

  25. Jill Says:

    Palmers cocoa butter lotion. Incredibly hydrating and smells delicious.

  26. Make Do Style Says:

    Well I would say this because I peddle its wares in support of my writing but Arbonne and specifically the RE9 serum and eye cream – oh and I love the FC5 hydrating body lotion

    SW you can be distracted by my skin care website!


  27. Sister Wolf Says:

    Cricket9 – I’m sorry! I have become pretty ruthless in my role as Truth Police. Since my stance to others is “JUST ADMIT IT!” I must apply that harsh imperative on myself too. I am not in any way enjoying the suffering and trauma of Japan’s people. I have cried and donated just like a normal person.

    Rackk and RUin – I LOVE that primer! It is the shit! I made my bff buy it last week. I have a lifelong phobia of “tidal waves” as they were called in California.

  28. Cricket9 Says:

    I lived in the area getting the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl. Foe three full days we didn’t know that we are exposed to radiation. No action was taken until it was too late. My experience and all the cancer cases are just small potatoes, comparing.
    if I would have even a sliver of belief that my prayers would help, I’d pray day and night. Sadly, I don’t have the belief.
    Sorry, can’t understand your approach or the talk about beauty products in this context. If this is all OK and I’m missing something here, then why was Jane of Shoes chastised for being insensitive?
    I’ll come back when it’s all over.

  29. Sister Wolf Says:

    Lizz! – It’s hard to absorb things sometimes. I know it is not uncommon for people to burst out laughing when they hear something sad. It’s just malfunctioning of the nervous system – not your character.

    ali – I’ve never watched the bachelor but god knows I have watched those fucking Housewives. Maybe I will try him, or It.

    SHarnek – Oh my heart. So much to bear, What a beautiful idea you had. Perhaps I will follow your lead on that. Thank you for being here – I don’t know how else to put it. xoxo

  30. Sister Wolf Says:

    CRicket9 – Jesus, how terrible! I’m so sorry for sounding cavalier. It’s just my momentary response to despair. It’s how I operate a lot of the time. In this case, I am using nuclear meltdown as external metaphor for my suicidal condition.

    I’m pretty sure I’m nothing like Jane, although that would be a cruel cosmic joke if I were.

    I’m so so sorry about what you had to experience & hope you can forgive. xo

  31. Sister Wolf Says:

    Elaine- Where do you get the lip stain? Never seen this brand in real life.

  32. Kimberley Says:

    I love Derma e DMAE – “Alpha Lipoic – C-Ester Retexturizing Crème”
    It works and its cheap.


    Aveeno positvely radient SPF 30 -very nice, now comes in tinted.

  33. Liz!! Says:

    “Lizz! — It’s hard to absorb things sometimes. I know it is not uncommon for people to burst out laughing when they hear something sad. It’s just malfunctioning of the nervous system — not your character.”

    Wow, Sister Wolf! Exactly! Sometimes I start laughing when I need to give someone bad news and I never know why. I feel so cruel, even though I don’t, in any way, rejoice at the bad news. Huh. I need to look that up.

  34. Witch Moma Says:

    Lately, I’m really liking Argan Face Oil w/bronzer by Josie Maran. Instantly absorbed & so light, in northern Indiana I need the shot of color.
    Meltdown is one of the ultimate “serious situations.” No amount of $, influence or power can stop it. Yesterday, I heard that it was 4 years before they could even get a camera down into the Three Mile Island Reactor after it melted down. So disturbing. Not the first time I’ve been fixated on a meltdown. Probably has to do with the nuclear bomb drills we had @ my elementary school. When the nuclear particles drift over my house I’ll be under my desk w/dog, safe & sound.

  35. Aja Says:

    I’ve been obsessed/terrified of nuclear warfare/nuclear explosions since I was a child. Living so close to DC, I always imagined if anything bad would happen, it would happen right here. It still effects me to this day. I live right under the major flight path for Dulles Airport. Every couple of weeks, I’ll wake up in utter panic, terror and shock from the sound of an extremely loud plane engine and in my REM state, assume that we are under attack or something bad has happened. I should probably work this out with a therapist. I hope to hell they come up with a solution for the reactor.

  36. Hammie Says:

    Try Bollywood, real issues with a Boy meets girl twist and always time for a song. And the fact that I can’t really understand what they are saying is even better – reading subtitles relaxes me.

    I love Asian whitening skincare and am delighted with Dior Snow factor 50 – bought on airplane. xx

  37. Hammie Says:

    Ps: Liam is loving “The Iron Giant” again and his party piece is singing “Duck & Cover” – particularly on Long Haul flight to and from Aus. If only hiding under a school desk could save Japan.

  38. Sister Wolf Says:

    Witch Momma – Yep, I remember that to. We’d get under the desks and we were supposed to cover our eyes from “broken glass.”

    Aja -You’d think I’d have the sense to live in fear of earthquakes since I’m in Los Angeles, but the odds are so real you just have to live in denial – or move somewhere else.

    Hammie – Oooh, I’ll bet that Dior stuff is nice. I love a high SPF.

  39. Iron Chic Says:

    Have you seen this uplifting video of Japanese earthquake survivor dogs?


    There is a particularily touching moment near the end…

    I’ve given up on hormone-disrupting paraben-filled beauty products and only use creams from the health food store. I dab vitamin E oil on the parts of my face I expect to start aging soon.
    Also, I have really fine hair and have never been able to put product in my hair but that Moroccon Oil stuff is a really nice moisturizer for dry ends.

  40. Cricket9 Says:

    Sister Wolf, after calming down I thought so – that it’s your personal despair speaking; for me, it hit a bit too close to home (although I really don’t want to sound like some kind of a martyr – in all the crap I’ve been through I was always EXTREMELY lucky). I’m worried about the level of your despair…wish I could help!
    As you see, I couldn’t “stay away” for too long…:-)

  41. Ashley Says:

    My favourite distraction lately is “intothegloss.com”. It’s a beauty blog, and though she doesn’t update very often I absolutely love it. Very addicting.

    When I need a change, I love getting a hair cut. I naturally have very dark hair (I’m Asian), so I never dye it, but hair cuts are so refreshing. I’ve also really been into fragrances lately. Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere is what I’m wearing right now but I would love to try Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.

  42. Audi Says:

    I can understand the need to absorb yourself in the situation in Japan; it’s terrible and horrifying but from an ocean away it’s also somewhat intangible. Grief and loss also connects us as humans in a way that few other things really can; perhaps in some way the massive scale of the destruction makes you feel less alone in your suffering. I’m sure that from your perspective it would require a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown to even begin to equal your grief at losing Max.

    I recently picked up a Chanel Rouge Allure red lipstick that I love for daytime wear — it’s the #10 shade, Attitude. The case has this great popout mechanism that makes it seem like a tiny weapon. It makes me feel powerful.

  43. Desiree Says:

    Sister, you introduced me to Mac’s Russian Red and I’m an addict now. I discovered a decent mascara last week – Maybelline Colossal gives me super-fat lashes.

  44. mimi Says:

    lucas’ paw paw ointment is the stuff of miracles. this will make the driest of lips (or anything.. feet, face, elbows etc) smooth overnight.

    benefit benetint. best lip/cheek stain ever! pity you’ve had such a horrid time with the brand.

  45. candy Says:

    I like beauty products too. I understand SW about wanting to think about something beautiful when this world is turning into something ugly. I think about nature when I am down. We all need a garden, we need to plant flowers and see them grow and experience the magic of life, because the life we created, us humans, for ourselves IS NOT beautiful. I like art (fashion, music, poetry, painting…), that’s the only think we are good at.

  46. Hortense Says:

    My brother is currently stuck in Japan but is calm and just working to help his friends and neighbors. On the other hand, people here in the Pacific Northwest are freaking out about possibly getting windswept radiation. Priorities.

    Cheap, no longer available in the US, enriched with skin-soothing vitamins, and no longer supporting the family rapist as he has been disowned:

    Max Factor Panstik! They have a wider array of darker shades than many other cheap brands and incredibly light shades for the pallored. The foundation/powder/concealer in one has been around in some form since the 50s (the only good thing about that decade was the makeup). It perfects the face to offset colorful lips.

  47. marie Says:

    Hello Sister,
    have you heard of embryoliise creme? cheap French product you find at all pharmacies over here but i hear you can find it in the US as well. i recommend!

  48. Aly Says:

    Olive oil soap from Greece. It’s billed as, “Aphrodite’s Secret to Beauty.” While it hasn’t made me more beautiful it has helped to heal my acne from my hormone-ravaged body. And I tried eeeeverything: Proactiv, Murad, etc., etc.

    That and I moisturize religiously which helps.

    I think disasters bring us back to the basis of life: just living each moment because the next isn’t promised. In a way, reminds us what life is about.

  49. Marmalade Wombat Says:

    On nuclear fallouts…

    I really appreciated this animated short film: Chernokids

  50. Carrie Says:

    I’ve been having a slightly different response to the ‘reactor watch’ feeling…it is really making me turn inward and scrutinize the reasons I have so much to value – and the unusually disconnected way that we as Americans enjoy our abundance without much understanding of what it could mean to have it suddenly wrenched away. Washed away. Torn away. Burned away. My conclusion is that we here do not have ANY concept of what we really have, much less what we really have to loose.

    That said, when I want to retreat it tends to be into the world of images as well. I can burrow entire evenings into Tumblr + the internet/blogosphere, like many here…as well as into my own sketchbook with a pencil, maybe a cocktail or a hit (ok, several) of weed, and hours alone with my own imagination. I find that process to be renewing almost every time…

    As for beauty products, I’m a bit of a novice and was going to reveal my big discovery of the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer….but I’m coming late to the party and this wonder product has already been extolled in the comments!

    My second nomination would have to be my Sisley eyebrow pencil. I’ve always been a very minimal plucker so my brows are ‘strong’ let’s say…but until I discovered the joys of the eyebrow pencil (I was already 30 by this time – I know, VERY late to the makeup game I come!) my brows were a crazy rat’s nest. I was always under this weird anxiety about ‘what my eyebrows were doing’ at any given moment, and rightfully so because photo evidence reveals all sorts of insane brow situations over the course of many years. Here’s to a dark and obedient ‘strong’ brow!!

  51. Leanne Says:

    I like beauty products, too. My recommendation is a product called Boomstick Color from Cindy Joseph’s line. It’s a tiny bit gimmicky (marketed to mature women) but Jesus, this stuff is Miracle In A Stick.

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