Confessions of an Infomercial Shopaholic

Once in a blue moon, your local team wins a hockey championship and your lousy drunk neighbors feel it’s okay to scream and whoop into the wee hours of the morning. Work be damned. Sometimes, anxiety prevents you from getting a fitful sleep. Sometimes, it’s too hot or you’re too sick, and you spend the night tossing, turning, fidgeting, until the alarm jars you into consciousness and you begrudgingly drag yourself out of bed to face another day.

Whatever the reason, I’m prone to bouts of insomnia. Many times, I would fall asleep on the couch while watching TV and wake up between 2-4 AM. I used to burn time smoking and/or playing Galaga and Ms. Pacman until the sun came up or when I finally felt sleepy again. Whichever came first.

Sometimes when I’m lucky, I wake up to the same episode of  “Cold Case” over and over again. You know the one: in which the kid from “The Nanny” plays a recovering junkie who thought she lost her baby in a fire only to realize someone stole her child and set fire to the apartment building. (It makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.)

Every now and then, I have the misfortune of waking up to Joel Osteen. Hideous, just hideous.

But more often than not, I wake up to an infomercial. And more times than I care to admit, I’ve found myself grabbing the phone or logging online to snatch up whatever it is that they are pushing. I don’t even reach for the credit card anymore… I know all the numbers by heart.

I’m an infomercialholic. You name it, I have it.

It started out innocently enough. One of the first items I ever bought was some “miracle” product that wiped scratches off glasses without dissolving the tint on sunglasses. (I never tried it, it’s still in the box.) Then there was that laser leveling thing that was supposed to help you put up paintings and shit evenly. (Never used it. Except to fuck with the neighbor’s cat.)

Then came the plethora of workout/diet stuff: Kathy Smith’s yoga (still plastic-wrapped), pilates (used a few times), Zumba (still in the box), Gunnar Peterson’s core secrets (the ball’s been gathering dust since 2010), Food Lovers for Life (I gave up after day one), a pole dancing workout (declined the pole option as I had 15-foot ceilings at the time).

I even bought the Tracy Anderson method. We oughta know that anything endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow should be completely dismissed. I’ll be posting this up on ebay soon.

I also have “Debt Cures” though I have yet to read it (I’m several months behind on my Food & Wine subscription, you think I have time to for this? Besides, there’s only one cure for debt: pay it off as soon as you can.)

There are some pretty neat and useful stuff though. Tai Bo was pretty darn awesome until I got rid of my VHS player and eventually gave up the tapes. The pilates and Hip Hop Abs DVDs got some use and I do plan on working out with Zumba fitness. As soon as I clear the clutter in my apartment and am able to move around.

I have the space-saving Swivel Store spice rack (two, actually) which is only useful for bottles that are small enough (but my good stuff comes in jars too big to fit.) The rub (pun intended) is that I couldn’t fit them into my cabinets, so they’re sitting out on the kitchen counter. I bought the Smart Spin tupperware set but, ironically, the carousel took up too much room and had to be chucked eventually. (And yes, I got the second set for free, only paid shipping and handling, because one can never have enough tupperware.)

I love Total Pillow but I wish I had discovered this when my tailbone was broken and sitting down was a pain for eight excruciating months.

The Magic Bullet has proven to be a nifty little gadget. It’s mostly used for grinding spices as I own a Vitamix, food processor and immersion blender, which individually accomplish their specific tasks magnificently. (I am, after all, addicted to kitchen gadgetry.)

No infomercial shopaholic is worth his/her salt if he/she doesn’t own a Snuggie (I have three. One for the office, one for the car, and one for home.) Be very careful ordering this online, by the way. Those Snuggie purveyors are sneaky bastards. Rather than take you to a confirmation page before putting your order through, you are taken to a “Wait, but there’s more…” offer page in which they tempt you into buying another two-for-one deal. The submit button takes you to a new page that looks just like the one you were on, tricking you into thinking that the order didn’t go through. You think you’ll have a chance to review your order before submitting it, but you don’t and before you know it, you’re paying $100 in shipping and handling fees and left wondering what to do with a shitload of Snuggies. (Merry f***ing Christmas, family!)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I bought the Genie Bra (several, actually.) I didn’t realize how much weight I had put on at the time and discovered that my underwire bras were bruising my skin. This was a welcome addition to my, uh, intimates drawer.

Then there are the beauty products. I’m the proud owner of the NoNo hair removal system but I still get waxed. Couldn’t bring myself to cheat on my long-time waxer Tamara. (No one should accuse me of being disloyal.)

I’ve even tried Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty. It’s that skin care regimen formulated with extracts from the wonder melon from France that keeps your skin looking young.Allegedly. I really should know better than to buy a product being hawked by a supermodel whose face once evidenced a botched plastic surgery job. Have you seen my mother? Genetics will do more for me than hundreds of dollars’ worth of skin care products.

I tried my hand – correction: head – at Wen. That’s the shampoo/conditioner all-in-one that’s supposed to unfrizz frizzy hair. Which is bullshit, as photos from my week in Mexico show. It does a good job of preserving my highlights; however, I’m in love with the usually-discounted Suave shampoo and conditioner. (The smell of apple in my hair is intoxicating.)

But the most helpful of all the products I’ve bought and tried (or not tried) over the years is ProActiv. Jessica Simpson and other celebrities might be paid handsomely for their testimonials, but I’ll give one for free. I’ve been on ProActiv for ten years and it has done wonders for my acne. I still get the occasional breakout but I don’t think any product on earth can totally prevent it (maybe the Martians have something better.) Since you can now buy this from vending machines (there’s a dispenser at the Century City mall by the chair massage), I believe it has transcended infomercial mockery into legit status.

But I don’t believe I’m completely ill. I never felt the need to get the thighmaster (though in the spirit of full disclosure, an old roommate had one and I borrowed it occasionally.) So give me a little credit: I have successfully avoided buying the Sham-wow and the shake weight, and until I buckle, there’s no need for an intervention. And heaven strike me if I ever buy the pajama jean.


Let’s Get (Meta)physical

I had a long, honest conversation with a dear friend last night, which led to a restless night of sleep (or lack thereof), which then prompted me to shoot off  a 5 a.m. e-mail to my favorite astrologer declaring, “By golly you might be right!” Which then prompted the writing of this post, which will, in some parts, scream crazy talk to those of you who might actually care about this topic enough to read on. So, please, bear with me.
See, I have a mild fascination with astrology. And before we go further, let me disclaim now that it’s more a curiosity than a steadfast belief. I know it has no basis in fact. But I have also considered that cultures across time and geography have been studying the stars. Since some of their hypotheses have preserved this long, let’s just consider the possibility that maybe they were on to something. For shits and giggles?
Regardless if it’s all hogwash or not, it gives me something to chew on when introspection is called for, when I talk to and argue with myself.  (No, I am NOT crazy. You want to be a fly on the wall for these conversations, trust me. You could learn something.)
What I do is read my annual and monthly forecasts, make a mental note of the big-ticket items, then go on about my business. Then next month/year when I’m ready for the new forecast, review the previous write-up to check if anything was on point. Note that we are not using the word “prediction” here. Like when a weatherman says there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow, you plan your wardrobe based on the chance that it will probably rain. But if those warm clothes are dirty and smelly, you could take a chance on a less appropriate outfit on the 20% chance that it won’t rain.
And when I find myself soaked in my mini-skirt and my toes freezing from wearing flip-flops, I understand it was my choice to against the odds on this one. But what the heck do the weathermen know anyway? That Doppler is a flighty prick.
That said, there is a lot of cosmic shit in the air and whether or not it has a bearing on us mere mortals and the trivialities of our lives, who knows. All I know is that my annual forecast said the first half of this year was going to be shit, with better days in the second half and a better 2013.
I’m just now coming to accept that it’s a letdown year after having a banner 2011. Akin to an athlete’s sophomore slump after having a kickass rookie season. Can I really top a year that saw me run a marathon, win huge on a game show, open my own business, leave the country three times (on holiday), and play the World Series of Poker? The answer, it seems, is a resounding NO. If I had known then what I know now, perhaps I would have paced myself.
This year, according to the charts, I am – correction, we are – dealing with Mars retrograde (blahblahblah shitty forward-progress stuff), Venus retrograde (blahblahblah shitty love stuff), Mercury retrograde (shitty stuff, period). I believe Saturn and Neptune take a turn at retrograde too. Anyway, the gist of it all means it’s not a year for smooth sailing, lots of hurdles.
Right now, we’re coming out of back-to-back eclipses (which mean good/bad news) coinciding with a Venus retrograde that also includes her marching across the face of the sun in a once-in-a-lifetime event called the Transit of Venus (though what this means for astrology is anybody’s guess. It hasn’t happened enough for anyone to make out a pattern.)
Of all these, the thorn in my side is Monday’s full moon lunar eclipse – which supposedly means the end of something – touching on my career sector. Thought maybe this had a bearing on my freelance gig, but on further examination looks like it has more to do with my business.
Which sort of explains the overall feeling of over-it-ness I’ve been feeling toward the biz the past few weeks.
I worked my ass off to change course, to get away from what I felt was sucking my soul and to find my way to something I felt passionate about. In short, I worked very hard to get something I wanted, and now that I have it, I’m over it.
This depresses the living hell out of me because I thought this was the answer!
I’ve been trying to work out the issues and what to do to fix. And while I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel, I may very well get there soon and no one ought to be surprised if/when that day comes.
I never set any expectations for this whole being-a-business-owner business. I only expected it to be hard. Other than that, my attitude was: [***cliché alert***] Let’s give this thing a shot and let the chips fall wherever they may. It’ll all turn out okay in the end.
There’s no guarantee for that last part, by the way. First, my definition of “okay” will differ from your definition of “okay.” And if we want to get metaphysical about it, “the end” is a sliding scale too. Could mean the end of this phase (whatever “this phase” is), or this year, maybe the next decade. Could mean when I finally bite the dust. Could mean when YOU finally bite the dust. Oh, my head is starting to hurt. (You know, it’s been hurting every day for a few days now. I might be doing too much thinking. Or drinking too heavily. Or not enough drinking. Oh, I don’t know. Jury’s out.)
Now, even though this career sector is highlighted, it is suggested to look back eight years ago to this day and recall any themes going on then.
Uh, let’s see. Eight years ago, around this time, I went through the worst breakup of my life. What lesson did I learn from that eclipse period? Not sure I learned anything really because I haven’t looked at love  the same way since. And while I’ve repeatedly said I’ve given up, we know I’m full of shit because at my core, I’m  an optimist (despite my bitching)  and I’m a Pisces, which means I’m a hopeless romantic. (Which means I’m just totally screwed.)
So it’s not a big surprise that this eclipse season has brought bewilderment and disappointment in the love department in addition to turning my career prospects topsy-turvy.
Curiously enough, a career shift got me out of the heartache-induced slump from eight years ago. Is it possible for things to work out the other way around this time? Eh, only time will tell. (This actually speaks to one of the more complicated concepts that astrologers like to call ‘mutual reception’ – it makes my head spin so I won’t go there.)
All of this is my long-winded way of saying, those of you with a passing fancy for astrology and feeling some kind of weird vibrations lately may want to check your forecasts. It’s ugly out there, and I think I’d feel better knowing it isn’t just me getting fucked by the stars.
After I wrote this and was getting ready to post, I re-read my forecast. There was a tiny mention of some planetary aspect offering a sliver of hope. Interestingly, received some good news this afternoon. So far, the forecast has been on point.