You. You. But not you. You don’t deserve any love.

felist

I learned how to pronounce “corrugated” two days ago. A lot of people think that learning stops after you leave school, but just look at me, constantly improving and smartering myself. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to say it again, but not that many people want to talk about cardboard or metal.

The more I learn, both about myself and my surroundings, the more I start to question everything I already know- beliefs I’ve accumulated through personal experiences or because I just assumed they were the truth.

We went to church on Sunday, mostly because Cal had been asking to go for weeks and I finally relented out of guilt. I’ve been trying to incorporate more of what she wants to do into our plans. For a while, the simple task of driving Cal somewhere was overwhelming. It must be difficult and shitty to be a 14-year-old with a myriad of interests and a parent who says “no.” I feel so much anxiety about leaving the safety of my house sometimes, but I’ve worked out a pretty solid system to keep my fears in check. I allow myself to act like a little bitch until 3:15 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and then I just have to get my shit straight and be a functional human being until Cal goes to bed. My desire to be the kind of mom Cal deserves trumps my issues.

During service, I started thinking about the lessons I learned as a kid during Sunday School. My biggest takeaway was that Christians really like felt boards and activities that involve cotton balls. From the very first Sunday, I also learned that God is merciful and that Jesus loves without exclusion.

I want to talk about Jesus loving everybody. I don’t want Jesus to love everybody.

I almost never share this thought with anyone because I think it’s really telling about my true character. There’s just no way to say that I want him and him and her to suffer and suffer deeply without sounding small. Maybe that’s why I never grew any taller. Hate is heavy, and it pushes you down.

I believe that some people are defective and malicious and broken beyond repair. When I think about these people receiving God’s love and mercy, it makes me question my faith. It makes me angry to know that the worst AND the best of the bunch still receive goodness and grace, and the wayward often get more compassion. When I am confronted with a person who has caused me immense pain and an opportunity to be forgiving, I choose the other end of the spectrum.

I once told someone (a man that I was dating) that I thought he should kill himself. It is, by far, the most heinous thing I have ever said, not just because the sentiment itself was cruel and evil, but because I really, really meant it.

I hated him because I felt like he took everything away from me, and I hated myself because I let him. He wanted to be #1 in my life, first and best in every category. He resented the love I had for my daughter and the time I spent with anyone else.

By the time I said that fucked-up thing to him, I realized that he had carefully executed a plan to cut off everyone in my life. Because he was violent and because he would not “let” me leave, I sent Cal away for more than a year because it was the only way I knew to protect her.

I tried to keep the most shameful and volatile moments as late-night affairs because Cal would be sleeping then, and she wouldn’t have to witness her mother doing degrading things, like getting on her knees and begging for forgiveness for an offense she wasn’t even sure she had committed.

But Cal overheard us. I know this because recently, out of the blue, she turned to me and said, “Do you remember when he said that you were stupid and you cried? I don’t think you’re stupid.”

I want to turn away from my faith during these moments. I don’t want to be loved by the same God that loves that man. Coupled with that hard-to-stomach truth is the knowledge that the dude is still alive. Let this be a lesson that no one gets everything they want in life.

It gives me pause to think about him reading this one day. But I’m not sure if prisons have internet access or if he knows how to spell “flourish.” Not only do I know how to spell “flourish,” I can also correctly pronounce “corrugated,” so it’s pretty obvious that we’re unmatched. Checkmate, bitch.

Maybe God sent Harv soon after this man to show that for every badness, the goodness that exists is so overwhelmingly bright. Light always overpowers darkness. Always.

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P.S. Mommyonthespot, you are the winner of last week’s giveaway. Please holler at me (flourishinprogress at gmail) with your mailing address.

P.P.S. Pics from our Fam Jam over the weekend on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress):

famjamdvfI love you first. I love you best.

The Budget/Baller Series: Face Favorites (Notes on How I Keep My Face from Sliding Off after Years of Bad Behavior) & GIVEAWAY

ejlsansmakeup(no makeup via flourishinprogress on Instagram)

Like everything I touch, this series has devolved very quickly. I wanted to keep it classy and share my favorite products and ladylike tips, but then in my first post about Hood+Good Lips, I admitted that when my Tom Ford lipstick broke off and fell to the floor, I just mashed the stick back into the tube and continued to use it. In the Thugnificent Coif edition, I changed the name of the series from Dope Shit for (T)hugs to Budget/Baller because the original name reminded me of a dope dealer I recently met. One day, I want to live a life where no one I know is on parole, evading arrest, or incarcerated, and they will all be employed in fields that are unlikely to lead to the aforementioned possibilities. Maybe my dreams are too big. 

In this Face Favorites edition, I’m going to share exactly why I’m now so meticulous about skincare and none of the reasons are classy or ladylike.

A lot of people think I get some kind of “Asian genes boost.” These people have obviously never met my parents. Both sides of my family are riddled with poor genes and everything that goes along with it. I smoked on and off for 18 years (mostly on). I abused drugs for 9 years. I hate wearing sunscreen. I frequented tanning salons until my early 20′s. My diet is mostly hydrogenated fats and artificial coloring. I lost my Fitbit, so fuck exercise. And I certainly can’t depend on inner calm and peace for a healthy glow. I’m not even sure what those feel like.

I heavily depend on products in hopes of counteracting or reducing the visible effects of the damage I’ve caused. And since I rarely take pictures without any makeup, I decided to take one this morning. So you could see what I really look like.  I felt very self-conscious about it which is weird because my selfie habit on Instagram is pretty strong. Why all this sudden shyness? I don’t try to figure myself out anymore. It’s exhausting.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I forrealz use this shit and I forrealz like em.

bbffave1Original/Plain Organic Instant Oatmeal ($5ish for a box-I prefer boxes of individual packets over a large canister): I believe in exfoliation. And Jesus. The two aren’t related, but I’m not afraid to rep good skin AND the Lord. For the past 7 years, I’ve been using my Clarisonic brush as my staple and mixing in new products here and there. Last year, when my skin was too sensitive even for the Clarisonic, I started exfoliating with oatmeal. It seemed like a bullshit tip at first, but after using it 3x a week for a month, my face was noticeably calmer and less red.

Pour 1/4 of a packet into your hand and close your fist under a gentle flow of warm water in the sink for about 15 seconds. Take your fist out of the flow and mash the oatmeal in your hands, creating a paste. Add a little more water if it seems too thick to spread easily on your face. Wet your face and gently rub the oatmeal around the entire face (avoid the eye area), adding more water if needed. Rinse thoroughly and check to see if that shit got in your hair.

Note 1: Place a paper towel over the drain to catch the oatmeal. Note 2: I’m not recommending any particular brand. I just used the above picture because it was the clearest non-angled image I could find on Google. Most were fuzzy. I guess people don’t give a fuck about making oatmeal look good.

ReVive Les Yeux Presse ($185.00/0.5 oz.): I have fallen prey to katrillions of gimmicky face potions and wasted a shitload of money. I guess everyone has their own rules about how they will and will not spend their money. For me, my budget for a phone case is $3. I saw a pretty fly case at Target a while back. It was on sale for $18, and I walked around the store with it, but I eventually put it back. That ain’t me. I ain’t about that life.

I will, however, spend $185 on a 0.5 oz. eye cream. Every time I go to the ReVive counter to buy another Les Yeux Presse, the sales associates try to push a second eye cream, one that has “lasting reparative benefits.” LYP is a quick pick-me-up, and the bulk of its effects only last a few hours. But the effects are MAGICAL. Within a few minutes of applying it under my eye, fines lines are gone, darkness fades, and puffiness disappears.

bbffave2

KYPRIS Antioxidant Dew ($55/2 oz.) and
KYPRIS Beauty Elixir III- Prismatic Array ($150/2 oz.): Since my late teens, my skin has gradually become more sensitive, and for years, I had varying degrees of redness or peeling, coupled with bumps and rashes and breakouts. While I’m still excited about trying new products, I’m also cautious because I know that once my skin becomes irritated, it can sometimes takes weeks or even months to calm down. I heard about KYPRIS Beauty through my homie, Bennett, and because I’ve become somewhat adept at sorting through all the bullshit flowery language and checking ingredient lists for potential irritants, I spent time on their site before trying two of their products.

This shit is off the chain.

Travel is always the biggest test for my skin. Recirculated air on airplanes, time zone changes, restless sleep in strange beds…my skin looks horrible when I get home. The biggest benefit to the Dew coupled with Elixir III is the consistent glow/lack of irritation. I’ve had almost no peeling (my chin is always super dry) which makes makeup application so much easier.

Just before I started using these two KYPRIS products last year, I stocked up on 6 bottles of my favorite moisturizer during a rare promotion. Each 1 oz. bottle would last me, on average, a month, so I took advantage of the sale. I just gifted all 6 bottles to my mom. And in the time it would have taken me to go through 4 of those bottles, I’ve barely used half a bottle of the Antioxidant Dew.

I think it’s pretty baller that the entire line currently consists of only 3 serums and 3 elixirs. You know that shit is serious business.

Giveaway: KYPRIS Antioxidant Dew

antidew

I eventually connected with KYPRIS founder, Chase Polan, after becoming a huge fan of her products. Initially, I just wanted to give her a fist bump and rave about her line, but I found myself asking if she would be open to giving away a bottle of Antioxidant Dew ($55). Some people might hesitate before asking for things from people they’ve never met, but luckily, I’m not bogged down with nonsense like manners. Chase didn’t even hesitate before saying yes. She seems real gracious. If I hang out with her, will some of that rub off on me?

I was drawn to the Antioxidant Dew because it’s suitable for most skin types and meant to calm environmentally stressed and imbalanced skin. I just pat in four or five drops before I apply any of my other face products, and it’s really helped with hydration.

To enter: Leave a comment below with your best or most uncommon/unexpected beauty tip. Only comments left on this post will qualify. Giveaway entry period ends Monday, April 7, at 11:59 p.m. PT. I’ll pick a winner and announce it in next week’s post.

Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook, @flourishinprogress on Instagram, @ElizabethJLiu on Twitter
So much not-seen-on-this-blog stuff. An excellent way to waste time for absolutely free.

Daddy Issues (aka: Girl, Why You So Typical)

wanted
One of my most…no, my #1 MOST FAVORITE activity is to devote large blocks of time making up complicated hypothetical dilemmas and then challenging myself to find an efficient solution that still has a little bit of panache. I don’t like it when people walk around with their chest puffed out because they performed an act of kindness. Questions form. Did they do it for the accolades? Is he going to write a Facebook status update about his bravery and pray for at least 15 likes? But I also don’t like it when heroes act like it’s NBD. I tread a fine line. I never ask for a parade or anything extravagant at the end of my make-believe dramas, but will I turn down an edible fruit bouquet? That’s just stupid. Fruit is a wonderful source of vitamins.

Once in a while, I allow myself a happy scenario. A place or a situation that could never actually exist in real life but I can’t help wanting anyway. My father is in most of these moments. Sometimes I pretend that he stayed for my entire high school graduation. I erase all the shame I used to feel when my friends saw my father in his industrial coveralls and Volt sneakers from Wal-Mart.

I don’t talk about my father a lot, but it’s not because I dislike him or because there aren’t any stories about him. He’s been absent for so long that I just don’t think about him that much anymore. At least I think I don’t. But my behavior seems to indicate that I have daddy issues.

I never wanted my badness to be the result of anyone else. I refused to accept that other people influenced my choices and my outlook on life. I didn’t want it to be about other people because I can’t control other people. I can only control me. And I’m not even good at that. Ask me about the entire bag of wasabi peas I just ate. Lord Jesus, my esophagus is on fire.

My father was rarely at home as I was growing up. He worked odd hours as a government employee, and on his free days, he spent most of his time in the garage, tinkering with cars in various stages of crisis. I only went out to the garage once before I left home permanently at the age of 17. He preferred solitude, but he let me stay just this one time.

As I sat on the hood of his car, he showed me pictures of tools that he wanted. They were some brand called Snap-on. He said those tools were serious business and very, very expensive. One day when I grow up, I thought, I’m going to be a millionaire and then I’ll buy my dad the whole entire set of Snap-on tools. Even the little accessory parts and a red Craftsmen chest to store them. The rolling kind.

To this day, every time I see a Snap-on company truck drive by, I think about my father and my unfulfilled promise.

But maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. Maybe he’s the one that was supposed to give me tools. Tools so that I could navigate adulthood. Tools for me to repair the cracks in my relationships and seal the leaks in my friendships and tighten up those loose ends that happen when you focus on one area of your life for too long and let everything else slide. 

I spent four months locating my father in 2012. We hadn’t seen each other since he divorced my mother in 2000. When I found him, I flew to Texas and we met for lunch. I didn’t have anything in particular that I wanted to say. I just wanted to see my father. And I thought he might want to see me all grown up.

I told him that I turned out okay. You know, in case he was worried about me. I always feel better when I know Cal is safe. That doesn’t mean I coddle her or anything though. She’s on spring break right now and when she asked about the activities I had planned, I told her that she would be building me some Ikea furniture. Nothing crazy. Just a bookcase and a rolling cart. Some people are really sensitive when it comes to child labor, but I’m not one of those people.

Ironically, on the day that I was in Texas having lunch with him, this Huffington Post piece about the absence of my father came out. We exchanged phone numbers after lunch. He wanted to plan a get-together for the summer with my aunts and uncles. He said he would call me. I don’t know why I believed him because he made that exact same statement years before.

I haven’t heard from him since. I think my father needs to work on follow-through.

Sometimes I think about what that phone call would be like. You know how you talk to someone on the phone and there’s not one awkward or dull moment? And in that giant expanse of all those words, there isn’t one tiny moment of stupid? And then you want to talk to that person again?

It would be just like that.

“This is what I know: People’s hopes go on forever.” -Junot Diaz
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Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook (I post a lot of quotes and thug shit here. Pretty decent way to waste time.) Instagram @flourishinprogress (evidence of child labor, that lap dance I gave a panda at SXSW, me and some rappers) Twitter @ElizabethJLiu (I complain a lot here.)

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