Thug Office (Notes on DIY: The Nightmare That Never Ends)

thugofficeafter3

Even though it’s been almost seven years since I married Harv and stopped working two or three part-time jobs, the privilege of freedom still feels foreign to me. It blows my mind that I can do as I please during the hours that suit me.

And now that I have this freedom (from: poverty, addiction, other shady shit), I no longer list every good idea in the Someday category because I can devote time to fulfilling my dreams. Last Wednesday morning I really had a hankering for the chicken teriyaki special with a fried rice upgrade at the mall food court. Guess what I ate for lunch that day? I set a goal. I make it happen.

In January, I slipped on a spray of greeting cards as I walked into my office. As I laid on the floor, I contemplated my two choices: A.) Tear the greeting cards into tiny pieces and then ask Harv how to work the fireplace or B.) Clean/clear the junk from my office. I picked choice A first, but Harv said that choice B would set a better example for Cal. Caring about your kid creates so much extra work.

What began as a weekend project to pack away a few boxes of clutter turned into a complete workspace overhaul. Today is Day 96. My ideas and expenses notebook turned into a rage DIY journal. Some of the legible notes are below.

Day 2 {January 18, 2014}
I’ve been saving this Moleskine notebook for five years. They seem to be very popular with white people. 

Day 2b
Harv saw my last entry and he said it’s not ok to typify only white people as Moleskine users. Maybe I’m racist. But I can’t be racist because I like Eminem.

Day 4
I just packed my 24th box of craft supplies and random junk. The boxes take up the length of the hallway and it seems impossible that so much came out of one room. Harv keeps asking me why there are so many unopened packages of stickers. I just said they came from a big value pack. Can his wallet be considered a value pack? I want to brighten up the space. Maybe new curtains or some wallpaper. The beige blinds are starting to bring me down. They don’t reflect my real personality. I want my new curtains to say, “I look like a Hallmark ornament collector on the outside, but I’m ghetto as fuck on the inside.” What says that? Silk dupioni? 

Day 5
Goddamn. I forgot how expensive curtains are. Maybe I’ll do wallpaper.

Day 5b
Wallpaper is fucking expensive. From now on, if I walk into a house and it has wallpaper AND curtains, MAD RESPECT. That’s the real kind of rich. Not hood rich like all those people that got everything in their mama’s name because they got bad credit.

Day 5c
Harv said he would help me paint if I don’t call him at work for the rest of the day.

stripes1

Day 10
I think I have to make my own glitter paint. Every article I’ve read so far says I need special paint crystals formulated for house paint but I mixed in three packages and it’s not very glittery. I need Trinidad James level bling.

Day 11
I bought every bottle of Martha Stewart florentine gold glitter at Michaels. Wallpaper would have been 1/3 of the total cost for the paint and glitter.

stripesprocess

 

Day 19
Painting looks so easy on TV. Harv says if I call HGTV “fuckin liars” one more time then I have to stop this project because it makes the vein in my right temple really pop out, and I think he doesn’t want to lose me.

Day 19b
Painting has been very therapeutic for me. I’m not that good at it, but I’m extremely decent. If the room is a little bit dark then it looks perfect. I’m no Bob Ross. I’m more of a Rick Ross.

nobobross

Day 27
Harv bought me some custom pillows. Actually, I ordered them and just sent them to his office. Now that the glitter wall looks so pimp, I’m not liking the off-white on the rest of the walls. Maybe I need to paint those too.

customgold

 

Day 28
Pinterest told me that gray looks good with pink and gold. I bought 5 different Benjamin Moore grays today. Meh. 

Day 29
Testing out 6 more grays.

bmoore

Day 29b
I don’t really like gray now that I think about it. Harv asked me if I regret starting this project and I just let the sunken look in my eyes be my answer. Sometimes words aren’t necessary if the emotion is powerful enough. 

Day 30
I went to the hardware store 4 times today and the young paint guy was there. He suggested white. This is all new to me but, apparently, there are a fuckload of whites. A lot a lot a lot of whites. This is reminding me of the gray swatching.

Day 31
I asked Harv if we could just move and he said no. Also, I Urban Dictionary-ed “pimp” and “thug” to see which one fit me best because that’s going to be my room’s theme, but it looks like I’m both.

Day 65
Picked the whitest white available- no pink, no yellow, no green, no blue, no gray tints at all. Still no curtains so I had to cover my windows with 7 pillowcases and 1 brown paper bag because I just realized that I hate sunlight. It sort of looks like a crack house window now. I’m glad I don’t smoke crack anymore. Crack is whack. I wish I came up with that.

crackwindow

Day 70
I want to run away from home but the main thing keeping me here is that I have no marketable skills. I can’t do anything well except talk on the phone. :(

Day 81
I cut my finger on cardboard while I was looking at frames for the dozen gold foil art prints I ordered. There was a lot of blood. It was a finger murder.

Day 82
:(

Day 86
I spent 7 hours hand sanding an Ikea console because the first coat of paint had a lot of bubbles and dried all fucked-up looking. I got the surface smooth again, This second coat seems to be drying in streaks. Fuck this shit.

Day 93
The console has been sitting in the middle of the dining room for over a week and I don’t know what to do with it. I pushed it over when no one was home. DIY is not good for people with a lot of anger in their heart. Those people need to just go to a store and buy everything already made and painted. Even if it costs full price.

I found a new spot to work. For the past three weeks, I spread out a thick comforter in the hallway outside my office. That’s my new office. I’m asking everybody to please respect my space and not step into or onto my office without my permission, but it’s a queen size comforter and it takes up the width of the hallway. Cal can’t get to her bedroom, but I think a little bit of hardship is good for kids. Harv keeps on forgetting to knock and he says he won’t do it because I don’t have a door, but why can’t he just knock on the wall? I’m going to pretend I don’t see him until he knocks. People really need to learn manners.

Day 94
Damn.

Before:

EJLofficebefore
After:

thugofficeafter
Before:

thugofficebefore2
After:

thugofficeafter2
I think I lost a lot of brain cells spray painting everything gold. NBD. I am Thug Midas.

I’m really not racist, so don’t be shy. Holler at me:
Flourish in Progress on Facebook: FB is my fave.
Instagram (@flourishinprogress): Pictures with white people. Also pictures of some poor life choices but nothing illegal because I don’t fuck with felonies.
Google+ (Elizabeth Jayne Liu): I forgot I even had a profile, but I’m going to start using it probably.

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.

__
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.