Walking in L.A. (Notes on That One Time I Didn’t Die) Also, GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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I’ve been feeling unwell lately, and I really thought it was because my body missed smoking so much (Today is my 50th day of being cigarette-free. Cold turkey after 18 years.), but I went to the doctor this morning, and now I have to go get a scan or some shit. Also, they told me I can’t eat or drink anything until then, and as I have shared on multiple occasions, one of my biggest fears in life is dehydrating to death. I’m trying not to engage in conversation because I don’t want to open my mouth and allow air to touch what little moisture I have in there.

I really wanted to make this an extremely long, self-congratulatory post about how I walked the streets of L.A. and didn’t die, but I’m thirsty and I just want to use what little brain power I have left to think about my favorite beverages (Cactus Cooler: #1).

Water is wonderful. I love it. Please drink some. I am so thirsty.
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Even though I’ve moved more than 20 times, I’ve never lived in a city that required a lot of walking except for Boston. Walking requires a basic level of caution. Balance. Agility. Attention. It seems like a pretty difficult activity once you break it down like that, but a lot of people do it and do it well. I don’t. That’s why I live in L.A.

A few weeks ago, I dropped Cal off at school and then headed to a service center because my car was making a “noise.” When asked to describe the noise, I was not able to provide a satisfactory response, so I had to leave the car. It seemed like more of a hassle to get a loaner for just a few hours than to get a ride home.

It’s so hard to get into a home without a garage opener or house keys. :( That sounds like an excuse because burglars do it all of the time, but I’ve never robbed a home before. Did I ever think that not violating CA Penal Code 459 would one day come back to bite me in the ass? No, I did not. I don’t fuck with felonies. Once you become a parent, you can’t really go beyond misdemeanors. Think about your kids.

I also did not have my wallet. Or any loose change. My phone was about to die. Luckily, I had an unopened package of Pez and several high-end lip balms in my purse.

My first priority was charging my phone since the service center would call when my car was ready. My garage opener is programmed into my car, so that phone call would set everything right. I decided to walk to Best Buy, where I could use one of the phone chargers they already had out for the display models.

Have you ever tried walking the streets of Los Angeles? I probably walked, like, 12 miles. I don’t know. Is one average-length block about one mile? Maybe I walked 17 miles. I never knew that the walkman/stophand sign made little tweeting noises. Is that noise for the visually-challenged? I don’t think you should be walking the streets of Hell Ay if you’re blind. I’m not blind, but if I took out my contact lenses, I would not walk down Wilshire or San Vicente because I don’t want to die right now. I have too much unfinished business. I just ordered so many things from Etsy, and I want to at least see those items in person before I go meet the Lord.

Anyways, I walked about 35 miles to the closest Best Buy. It was a good day for my FitBit. One important aside: If you drive a Bentley, stoplights still apply to you. Even though my phone was dead and I had no money and I was temporarily homeless, I felt really good about myself for coming up with a solution, deciding on a course of action, and following through with it.

I couldn’t get into Best Buy. It was still closed. For 57 more minutes.

I sat on the curb but I didn’t cry because I had no way of buying water to replenish the fluids I lost. I never let my stupid emotions fuck with the delicate balance of my body’s hydration. I closed my eyes and thought about the younger me and how she always wanted to be an adult because adults had it so, so easy. That younger me was very stupid, and I wish there was a way to go back in time and tell her to sit down and shut up.

I heard someone call my name in the distance. My immediate reaction was “this is how I’m going to die,” but then I opened my eyes and looked towards the voice because most murderers would not have that level of affection or sincerity in their voice. It was one of my best homegirls, Trace, who lives NOWHERE NEAR me or that Best Buy. She just happened to be in that parking lot at that exact moment because….this is for real….she was meeting a friend who had her phone charger.

I’ve thought about that moment every day since then. Sometimes, what we need most is to hear the beloved and familiar voice of a friend. And also, her phone charger.

GIVEAWAY: Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names Print

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Even though my little “I’ll just pack up some junk” office project has somehow turned into a whole room makeover, Harv has been patient and supportive. I’ve been eyeing this Pop Chart Lab Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names print for a long time, and after we spent nearly a week glittering the fuck out of some walls, he gave me the print “for my new Thug Office.”  Due to a shipping mix-up, we ended up receiving two of these posters. When I hollered at Pop Chart Lab about the extra poster, they very kindly told me to keep it. So I’m giving one away. This sensational and extremely educational 18″ x 24″ print is perfect for a Thug Office/ Thuglet Nursery/ Gangster Living Room….basically, any room that is important to you is the perfect place for it.

To enter: Leave a comment below with your favorite lyrics from a rap song. Only comments left on this post qualify. Giveaway closes Sunday, February 23, 11:59 p.m. PT. I’ll announce a winner in next week’s post.

My favorite lyrics:

Cop lights, flash lights
Spot lights, strobe lights
Street lights
Fast life, drug life 
Thug life, rock life
Every night

Kanye West- “All of the Lights”

The Budget/Baller Series: Thugnificent Coif Edition

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My first post in the Dope Shit for (T)hugs series was all about Hood + Good Lips. I liked the concept (and according to hundreds of Flourish in Progress Reader Surveys, so did you) but I didn’t like the name. Why? Because I recently met a big time d-boy (dope dealer) and now, every time I think about the word “dope, ” I just picture that homie. And his bodyguards.

Hence, Budget/Baller. In each edition, I’ll focus on one category and share products that I love and personally use on a regular basis. Some editions will focus on my budget favorites, while others (like this one) will be decidedly baller status.

P.S. I was not given any of these products for free or at a discount. All of these were purchased with my husband’s hard-earned money.

THUGNIFICENT COIF

I kept my hair pretty short until my 20′s. I liked the idea of long hair, but I knew that if I ever grew it out, my go-to hairstyle would be a wet bun right out of the shower. Unlike 99.9% of Asian women, I do not have sleek, straight hair. It’s wavy and poufy. I can’t just throw a little bit of product in while my hair is wet and have it dry into fun, beachy waves. Instead, it looks real electrocuted-like. See:

ejlnatural

I use the tools listed below to achieve this:

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TOOLS
ejlhaircare

(clockwise)
Parlux 3800 Hair Dryer ($235): I love this bitch so much, but I almost didn’t include it because buying one here in the U.S. was a pain and it colored my opinion of the hair dryer when I initially got it. Parlux is an Italian brand, and while it is sold through several different online retailers including Amazon, I wasn’t going to purchase a $200+ hair dryer without handling it in person first. If you purchase a Parlux online, please make sure the retailer is reputable. And use some sense, folks. If it seems too good to be true, there’s probably a reason why.

I’m wary of buying beauty tools on Amazon after discovering that two (possibly three) Clarisonics I purchased from the site were counterfeit. I don’t buy items sold through third parties on Amazon. I will only buy products that are sold directly by the site or “sold by ____, fulfilled by Amazon,” which means that it comes from one of Amazon’s warehouses even if an outside business technically owns the merchandise. Amazon was totally cool about offering refunds for the two counterfeit Clarisonics I still had (I threw another one away after it stopped working), even though one of them was more than a year old. Because of their customer service, I’m still shopping on their site, but I now only buy expensive beauty tools from a brand’s authorized retailers. These can usually be found on the brand’s website. Most companies no longer honor a warranty if the product was purchased on Amazon or eBay. The more you know, motherfuckers. 

I purchased the hair dryer from a brick and mortar store, but I’m not going to name it because they quoted a price for the dryer that was $70 HIGHER than the listed price on their own website. I confronted the owner about this discrepancy because I don’t fuck around when someone is trying to take a grip of my dolla bills that don’t even belong to them. She matched the online price and acted like she was doing me a favor. Bitch, please. I shoulda just walked out with my head held high, but that dryer was way more important than my pride. Before I even opened the box, I decided to hate the Parlux 3800 and call it ugly names.

I am, however, finding it extremely difficult to hate on this hair dryer. It started off at such a disadvantage that it could have spun my hair into gold which I would cut off and sell for katrillions of dollars and it STILL would only end up at point zero on the scale. But the Parlux 3800 has cut my drying time in half and I no longer have those random ornery hairs that stick out. It’s so much lighter than other models comparable in size. And it’s pretty quiet. I can’t hate it…cuz I love it.

Jilbere Instant Heat 12 Roller Ceramic Hair Setter ($39.99, but I got mine for less cuz…coupon): I used to buy a lot of hair care products when I was poor at Sally Beauty because it was real cheap but still decent. I never got the hang of curling irons (it takes too long, and also, this one time, my friend Ginna burned herself near the eye and she looked stupid). I’ve purchased and returned countless other hot roller sets, both budget and baller, but I always come back to Jilbere. The above picture is for the 6 roller travel set because I could not find a clear picture of the 12 roller set. Super ghetto but works super good. I’ve never replaced a set because they stopped working. The lid is pretty flimsy so it cracks easily. I occasionally buy myself a new set because I don’t like cracks and I’m worth it.

Acca Kappa Professional Pneumatic Nylon and Boar Bristle, Oval ($42.00): I do enjoy me a nice Mason Pearson nylon and boar bristle brush, and it’s the one I keep in my purse, but the Italian brand, Acca Kappa, is legit as fuck. The only brick and mortar Acca Kappa store in the U.S. is in The Venetian Grande Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas. They used to have a store in L.A. I tried to keep it open by buying a lot of shit, but the task was too great for one lone thug. The oval pneumatic brush is good for brushing after styling. I also use the Acca Kappa beechwood comb ($30) to detangle my hair after bathing. The first gift I ever gave Harv was an Acca Kappa hairbrush. He’s hard to shop for, so the rest of his gifts have been kind of shitty, but that brush was on point.

Olivia Garden NanoThermic Ceramic+Ion 2.125 inch ($19.99): I blow dry my hair level by level and section by section (I can’t explain this good in writing but I will show you in person if we meet). I own four of these brushes so that I can leave them in after I’ve dried a section. If they won’t stay on their own accord, I use the hot roller clips to keep them in place. Each level of hair is usually four sections for me. When I am done drying all four sections, I take out the brushes, and not to brag or anything, but that shit looks sensational.
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Now you now all of my hair secrets. For more Budget/Baller editions in the future, subscribe to Flourish in Progress through Feedly or Bloglovin.

Also, I can help you waste time at work. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Or….Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu). But I don’t really give a fuck about Twitter so don’t worry about that one.

ADVISE THE IGNORANT: I’m not very computer savvy, so I used an app on my phone to make the tools collage picture above. Do you have any recommendations for phone apps or computer programs (is that what they’re called?) that are simple and easy-to-use for adding text to images, creating collages, creating graphics, and other stuff I don’t even know about but should? Nobody suggest Photoshop. I said EASY. Thank you for your help and thank you for being smarter than me.

Basic Rules For Good Living #1: Move More Than A Dead Person

understandstupidI haven’t confirmed this by actually asking anybody, but I get the sense that a lot of people think I’m fierce and emotionless. These people might use labels like “scary” and “thugnificent” if you mention my name in conversation, but I want to dispel those myths right now. I would agree that, yes, my general appearance is menacing, but take a minute to look past my gruff exterior.

I feel many feelings. When a baby smiles at me, I am thrilled for a moment but then I am sad because my own baby is growing up. When I rescue a 20% off one single item Bed Bath & Beyond coupon from my neighbor’s recycle bin and it doesn’t even have any food stains, I am happy. And whole. When I check my Fitbit every few minutes for an updated daily step count, I feel devastated. Sometimes I am able to push down my bitter anger because I just breathe and remind myself that I didn’t move for the last 5 minutes so of course the number is going to stay the same.

The Fitbit came into my life by accident. I didn’t really care about any of its functionalities. It reminded me of the black pager I had in 1994. Ninth grade was a pretty good year for me.

Shortly after I got it, I read somewhere that the average person takes 6,000 steps per day. The base level for good health is supposedly 10,000 steps. I smirked when I saw those numbers. When I am extremely thirsty and no one hears my repeated requests, I go downstairs to get my own beverages. It takes me at least 3 trips to move all of the groceries from my car to the kitchen. Obviously, I’m a very active individual. I pitied the fool who could only manage 10,000 steps a day. What a stupid dummy.

I allowed two weeks to pass before I averaged out my step count data because I planned to humblebrag about my number a lot so I needed a decent sample size. Daily average: 1700. Since one of the new things I’m trying is not lying to myself, I devoted an afternoon to sitting with the truth that I move about as much as a dead person. I stared out my window a lot that day. And then I decided to live a good life. My list of Basic Rules For Good Living sprouted from that belief and I knew what the first Rule had to be: Move more than a dead person.

I wasn’t sure I could do it but January proved otherwise. My daily average has bumped up to 9,000 steps per day. It helps that I’m Groupon-ing my way to fitness. I bought two exercise class packages and I alternate between them each day.

The only problem is that exercise is stupid. I hate it. What I’ve gathered over the last month is that, basically, you move your body for no real reason. Suspicious elements of exercise: 1. Forced to look at myself in mirrors for extended periods, 2. Salty sweat stinging my delicate eyes, 3. Burning hot physical pain and/or nausea, 4. Ok for strangers to yell at me through microphone headset, 5. Lululemon prices.

2014 isn’t about lofty goals or wow value for me. I’m just trying to get used to the fundamentals of what it means to be a decent, functioning adult. I have never been that before, but if I can follow my Basic Rules, maybe I’ll know a little about Good Living. Join me if you want. Real friends suffer together.
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P.S. I’ll be sharing my other Basic Rules for Good Living throughout the year. Watch me get real good at adult-ing. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page or follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress).

image via blueq.com