Sunday-Funday: The Macy’s Flower Show

Spring has sprung!

Ok, not really. Only sort of, as Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind, at least in the Mid-Atlantic.

Thank goodness no one told Macy’s!

I love me some Macy’s.

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Now, first of all, I have to make a differentiation: There is Macy’s, like the one you go to at your local mall, and then there is Macy’s. The flagship stores. These are a big deal and are modeled after the original Macy’s in New York City. Let me tell you, you will know it if you are in a flagship store. It’s not your every-day Macy’s; often they are housed in historical buildings that boast incredible architecture. Nothing says, “That Betsy Johnson bright purple sheath dress with beaded pearl collar looks FABULOUS on you, dahhhling,” like marbled pillars holding up the dressing room mirror.

Flagship stores also boast the best events.

Case in point, the annual Macy’s Flower Show.

A long time ago, when my great-grandmother was still alive, we used to pile into our car for every major holiday outside of Christmas and New Year’s to go visit her in Brooklyn, New York. One year out of pure chance, we happened to go into Manhattan around Easter time, and I witnessed my first Macy’s Flower Show. It was so beautiful. First, nothing beats the main floor of the Macy’s on 34th St. It’s all glass counters and perfume spritzer-girls, everything a Manhattan department store should be. But then you fill it with flowers? Ugh, break my heart why don’t you, Macy’s?

These aren’t just prim bouquets on countertops. No, these flower arrangements are works of art, so, so beautiful. Don’t get me started on the smell- so delicate (perfume spritzer-girls notwithstanding), so fresh, so odd in the middle of the crowded chaos that is a department store in the city.

Sigh.

I get all googly-eyed just thinking of it.

Anyway, the point is that it is a wonderful, happy, blossoming (see what I did there?) announcement that the Spring season is finally here.

I didn’t know that this floral statement occurred anywhere outside the Tri-State area.

Oh, but it does!

Thanks to the Today Show, a few weeks ago I learned that the Flower Show actually takes place in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco, in addition to Manhattan.

And hey, wouldn’t you know that Philadelphia happens to be a hop-skip-and-a-2-hour-drive from me?

Not to bury the lead, but can you guess what I did Sunday?

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I have only ever just passed through Philadelphia before, so it was a fun little adventure to go in general. I will say that it is crowded-though oddly not in people, but in buildings. It seems as if tall modern buildings are squished into every available square inch, in odd contrast to the numerous historically-protected, short-in-stature buildings that are also everywhere.

For example, this is the historic City Hall:

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Macy’s itself is squeezed in there, and from the outside, it doesn’t look like much:

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But once you go inside…

Housed in the historic Wanamaker Building, Macy’s is such a lovely and unexpected surprise on the inside. The building happens to house one of the largest working organs (as in the musical instrument) in the US, and it is a sight:

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Macy’s flagship stores tend to lean toward housing mostly designer items, and amidst all that luxury, the first floor was all done up in flower arrangements.

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The tagline of the show is “Art in Bloom” and they mean it. There were displays I wanted to take home and hang on the wall in my living room:

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It’s such a fun thing. I’m a sucker for making everyday things imaginative and special in some way, and Macy’s really does that- not just for this show, but for whatever event they are a part of.

I loved that on the brochure for the event, they have a list of flowers and what they symbolize culturally. Did you know that flowers have meanings? Tell that to your significant other the next time they bring you a slightly wilted bunch of striped carnations from the grocery store (they may be interesting to look at, but they mean “refusal” which I wouldn’t want in any part of in a romance). Better to go with a bright bunch of daffodils instead (they mean chivalry and new beginnings-a good combination!). My favorite flowers are oriental Poppies, which I was pleased to find mean beauty, fertility, and everlasting life.

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All that flower gazing (and sticker shock on that Betsy Johnson sheath dress #FullPrice) might make you a bit hungry, so head on over to Zio’s, an Italian pizzeria around the corner (take the Chesnut street exit) for some really, really good (so I was told) rice balls and cheesesteaks. This place was not celiac friendly, but I chanced it on a plain burger (nothing breaded goes on their grills, ask for no bun) and was so glad I did, because sometimes some burgers just taste so.much.better than the ones you make at home on your George Forman grill.

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Altogether, spending a few hours at the Flower Show was a fun and relaxing way to spend my Sunday. If you live near Philly, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Fran, or Manhattan, I definitely suggest a trip- and I’d love to see pictures from the other stores if you have them! Post them to my facebook page: www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell. Each city has its own unique set-up, which makes it just a little bit more fun and special. Maybe someday I will spend the 2 weeks prior to Easter going traveling to each one- or maybe not. But a girl can have her rose-colored dreams, can’t she?

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Shop your (sister’s) closet.

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*Nic Note: This is my official 100th post! I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who has read any or all of blog posts #1-99. I appreciate you so, so, much! If you’ve ever left me a comment, thank you doubly! I appreciate you reaching out, and of course now believe that we are best friends. (#NotReally, #UnlessWeAre, #BloggingBuddies)

So let’s get down to business, shall we?

I have some Really Important Thoughts about spring cleaning and recycling, such as this one:

Shop your sister’s closet.

I mean it.

She’s got good stuff.

Don’t have a sister?

You should totally get one. They come highly recommended. (At least when they are not hogging the bathroom, or all the attention…)

My sister, Sissy (#NotHerRealName #ItMightAsWellBe), is older than me, but only by 18 months. When we were little, people thought we were twins. That lasted about 1 millisecond in the grand scheme of things, as we became separate individuals, both physically and stylistically, pretty quickly.

Here’s the thing: I am taller than her by a solid 2 inches (I say 3 but she says 2) and wear a shoe 3 sizes bigger than her (she agrees she has the smallest feet EVER). My pant size is usually 1-2 sizes up from hers, but her top size is usually 1-2 sizes up from mine.

You wouldn’t necessarily think we’d be able to share clothing.

Except we do.

Here’s another thing: Clothes are weird. Bodies are weird, too, for that matter.

Clothes may stay the same size and shape forever (barring any horrible laundry accidents, of which I am guilty of many), but bodies don’t. It’s not a bad thing, just a thing. You can sit around and be bummed out about it, buying all new clothes every time you decide to resume your Squat&Lunge gym routine, or you can do like I said before and go get yourself a sister…and her closet.

I spend a lot of money on jeans. I like nice jeans, and I will either get them tailored or will hem them myself so that they fit perfectly.

Then I resume said Squat&Lunge gym routine. (Translation: “Is my body too bootylicious for you, babe?” #ThanksBeyonce #SheGetsIt)

My sister spends a lot of money on dresses. Her job is the kind you wear dresses to. She has a rainbow of them, in various styles, each bought when it fits perfectly.

Then she resumes her gym routine on the Elliptical. (Translation: “She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.” #SkinnyMinny)

The result is that, roughly twice a year, we have a mutual meltdown about how nothing fits anymore and go about cleaning out our closets. We each throw the offenders in a pile on the floor and then drop the pile on the other sister’s bedroom doorstep.

She gets perfectly hemmed jeans whose gapping waistbands have been taken in (#TheWorst #1JeanProblem) and I get last year’s New York & Company’s Spring Dress Collection.

Win-win!

The rules of exchange are very simple:

You cannot throw anything away without the other’s permission. If it is something especially nice, it might need to sit in a closet for a season or two before it fits someone again (it always ends up fitting someone again). Sometimes it will never fit its original owner again and the other has to keep it anyway, so the original owner can live vicariously through the other wearing it. Ok, this only happens when I am the original owner. Sigh. This is why my sister has a pair of designer skinny jeans in her closet still, even though she isn’t much of a fan of their very trendy high waist and super dark wash. Jeans like those deserve to be worn! They need to go out and party every once and a while! Only she can give them that now! Darn you, squats!

If the original owner wants it back, give it to her. Now. This is a tricky rule because with so much back and forth it can be hard for my sister- I mean, us– to remember what belongs to whom. There will be a time, every year, where 1 back-and-forth item will fit both of us at the same time. It can get ugly (and by ugly, I mean, I make one heck of an ugly face when my sister doesn’t give me back my jeans already). It’s best to keep track of especially special items, so arguing does not ensue.

Don’t keep score. Really. Just Don’t. I am under the impression that 1 pair of (not-on-sale) tailored White House Black Market jeans = 3 TJ Maxx-price designer dresses. I just am. Sissy is more of a “1 for you, 1 for me” kind of gal. So we don’t keep score. Period. Sometimes I get more dresses. Technically, she has more clothes than me in general. It’s not my fault. It just happened that way.

I am always happy to help the environment by recycling. I am always much happier when doing so means that the only effort I have to put into my Spring wardrobe is to go visit the closet (and the sister who goes with it!) down the hall.

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Do you have a sister or sister-friend with whom you share, swap, or otherwise up-cycle clothing with? What’s the best thing you’ve ever traded? I am pretty psyched for one particular lilac Calvin Klein number that has “Never Get Rid of This” written all over it…

My Jam Monday…on a Tuesday

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My favorite TV show is Dancing with Stars. I simply cannot get enough of it, so I am super psyched that I only ever have to wait just about 4 months to get a new season and a new crop of dancers. The last few seasons, they have really put a lot of effort into creating themes for each week.

Last night was My Jam Monday.

Each contestant chose their favorite song to dance to, which resulted in such epic wonderfulness as Patti LaBelle salsa dancing to “In Da Club” by 50 Cent (“Go Shorty, it’s your birthday, we’re gonna party like it’s your birthday”… you know you know it).

So. Much. Fun.

Eeeee!

Anyway, so some people had slightly less epic, yet still lovely, song choices and it made me think about what I’ve been listening to lately.

What would be My Jam (if it were still Monday and I was slightly famous enough to qualify for Star-dom according to ABC…)?

Well, I have been doing a lot of squats lately, so “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child? Classic, and always a crowd pleaser. Cha-cha or salsa worthy, definitely.

Go for the sentimental and choose “Survivor”, also a timeless Destiny’s Child pick? Not sure what would work for that…I’d probably have to wait till “Freestyle” at the end of the season to do this Jam justice.

Maybe something more recent like “Heartbeat Song” by Kelly Clarkson? I can envision a well-played Cha-Cha or even a modernized Foxtrot to that one.

I have to admit to having Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” stuck in my head (they play it on repeat on my local radio stations), but Rumor Willis already rocked an intense Foxtrot to that last week.

Hmmmm…

So many choices.

I have been scrolling through my saved artists on Spotify, and I don’t really have a music “type”. I’ve got everybody on there, from Billy Joel to Blink-182 (Not really sure what sort of ballroom would go to “All the Small Things,” but I have a feeling Mark Ballas would figure it out…), Demi Lovato to Donna Summer (“She works hard for the money, so hard for it honey, so you better treat her righttttttt…”), and Earth, Wind and Fire to Ed Sheeran (Nastia Lukin danced wonderfully to “Thinking Out Loud”, also a favorite).

I recently downloaded (uploaded?) everything sung by this girl I’d never heard of named Jasmine Thompson. She sings slow, beautiful covers of pop songs. I would rumba to her version of Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” any day. Look her up, you’ll be glad you did.

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…

Aha!

I’ve got it!
The very best pick for My Jam Monday…

“I Want to Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Yep, I would dance to that, anyway, anywhere, with anyone…as long as it was “…with somebody who loves me” of course ❤

 

What’s your Jam?

Farewell Glee!

In high school, I took everything way too seriously.

I hadn’t yet been correctly diagnosed with POTS, and all that extra adrenaline and cortisol running through my veins (as a result of not being medically managed) made me incredibly high-strung and (even more) type-A.

For instance, I remember one particular incident in a weekly staff meeting of the high school newspaper, of which I was editor my junior and senior years. My friends who served as the photography team would not stop talking while I was trying to get everyone involved in coming up with ideas about what to write for the next issue. I yelled at them.

Friend 1’s very mature reaction to this was to say, “God! Why do you take everything so <flippin’> seriously?”

To which I replied: “This might just be some dumb school club to you, but this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.

They shut up for the rest of the meeting, but boy did it get around what a “serious” (here meaning “crazy”) person I was.

It’s amazing that I never ended up with a Slushie to the face.

Glee debuted in 2009, not long after I had finished high school in 2007. I was still reeling from my new POTSie diagnosis (which also debuted in 2009), and was at that yucky stage in the process where you can’t help but fixate on what would have happened if you had only known—and therefore had been able to do something about it—sooner.

Watching Glee, with its merry band of misfit glee club performers, was just what I needed.

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The main character, Rachel Berry, is not always an easy character to watch. She takes everything about glee club way too seriously, because to others it might just be some dumb school club, but to her, this is what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

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So, you know, I get her.

The Glee club is at the bottom of the social totem pole at the fictional McKinley high school, and as such, they are tortured by the popular kids by being decked in the face with Slushies from the local convenience store. At the beginning, it’s really just Rachel who gets a face full of flavored ice melt. But it doesn’t stop her. She has dreams of Broadway and she is going to get there no matter what!

Rachel, in full-on survivalist mode (so familiar!), is a singular character. She doesn’t have friends. She has ambition.

However, through the Glee club and the magic of television, Rachel eventually evolves into a more well-rounded character, capable of having relationships and learning important life lessons along the road to super stardom. Don’t get me wrong, she never loses her ambition; rather, she just learns that it doesn’t have to be the only thing in her life.

Glee officially ends its run on the FOX network tomorrow night at 8/7c in a 2-hour finale. I’m bummed.

The last few seasons following the death of male lead Corey Monteith (in 2013) were not very good. It feels like the writers lost their direction, and it has spiraled downwards into a vortex of jokes that aren’t really funny and pop culture references that are too obscure to catch half the time. It is time for it to end.

Still, though, for all its faults, Glee really meant something to me. It helped me work out my hanging-on high school angst. It helped me realize that even Rachel Berrys can grow up and be likeable characters without sacrificing their true ambitious selves.

Plus, there was that episode where they all dressed up in Lady Gaga outfits and sang Bad Romance.

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Coincidentally, the final episodes of this season have been about Rachel finally (finally!) letting go of high school (she graduated a few seasons ago, but came back to coach the glee club herself after a series of poor choices in New York City). It has really made me think about how much I hold onto as well. High school has a weird way of burning itself into your brain in uncomfortable ways, and even still, I sometimes get what can only be described as trippy flashbacks. I think a lot of people do. (I hope a lot of people do, and it’s not just me…) It makes me slightly nauseous—I mean, nostalgic.

To borrow from another get-over-your-high-school-self heroine, from the movie Never Been Kissed, it’s about time I once and for all declare, “I’m not Josie Grosie anymore!”

But, I think, I will always be just a little bit of a Rachel Berry. ❤

 

If you are a Gleek! like me, are you bummed that the show is ending? What was your favorite episode?

Never watched Glee? If you haven’t, go out and watch Season 1 on Netflix, right now- it’s wonderful. Season 2 is pretty good too. After that though, I forgive you for letting it go.

Feeling emotional? There’s an X-Man for that!

The other day, I was talking to someone about how I’ve been feeling lately, and the only way I could think to describe it was this (more or less):

“I’m finally starting to feel like the Angel…you know, when he decides to stop hiding his wings? And there’s that big moment where he takes off the straps that have been holding them down and his wings break free, and they are so broad and strong and beautiful, and he just jumps through the window and soars into the air? It’s such a relief since I’ve been stuck in such a Jean Grey/Phoenix funk for so long.”

To which I got the reply of:

See, it would make my life so much easier if everyone knew as much about Marvel’s X-Men as I do, so that when the only way to describe my physical/emotional state is through the parallel story lines of one or more of the characters, you will all know what the heck I am talking about.

My first Marvel love was the X-Men.

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I had a vague knowledge of these mutant superheroes from Saturday morning cartoons when I was little, but it wasn’t until the first movie came out in 2000 that I really delved into this magical universe.

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Quick backstory on the X-Men: X-men are so named because they are born with an eXtra power that humans don’t possess. A mutation causes them to have a “difference,” whether that difference is the incredible power to self-heal, to turn to fire or ice, or to have wings. Some mutations are obvious- the Beast is bright blue and furry, Toad is, well, toad-like. Others, not so much, as in the case of Rogue who will literally suck the life from your pores if you touch her, but looks totally normal.

When I fell head-first into acute chronic illness in 2002-2003, the X-men started to mean something special to me. If I think of my illness as a mutation, then doesn’t that qualify me as an X-(wo)man? Doesn’t that make me special?

I wish I could say that I had immediate, self-righteous acceptance of my “gift” a la Pyro, who can control fire and really should have been named Cockatiel for all the strutting and pruning he does.

No, at first, I felt more like Jean Grey/the Phoenix (as mentioned above).

Jean has always been my favorite of all the X-men. I like her because she has one of the most complicated stories, and I felt/feel complicated too. Jean is also one of the most powerful mutants and sometimes has to deal with her powers taking on a life of their own where she is not in control. (Ditto. I get you, Jean!) Jean can move things with her mind, read your thoughts, and talk to you inside your head. But she also has something more inside her- an alter-ego known as the Phoenix. In the comic books, Jean is overtaken by the “Phoenix force” while on a mission in outer space- it’s some weird cloud of fire that looks like a bird that gives the power of life and death to the one it inhabits. Jean absorbs the ability to destroy worlds. In the movies, it is explained that Jean has always had this darker, more powerful force inside her and that as a young girl, head X-man Professor Xavier had to put up a mental blockade in her psyche in order to keep the Phoenix from getting out. If you want to find out what happens when the Phoenix takes over, check out the third installment of the movie franchise: X-men The Last Stand.

So pretty much, Jean Grey/the Phoenix is this:

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Which is a feeling I am familiar with. Sometimes with POTS, you look perfectly fine on the outside, but your insides are boiling (lack of temperature control), your heart is racing (tachycardia), your thoughts don’t make any sense (brain fog), and you are trying so. flippin. hard. to just do whatever it is you are doing. Again, I get you, Jean.

But Jean does not have a monopoly on varying emotional states.

Take Storm, for instance. This Glamazon (she’s an African princess!) can control the weather. She’s the girl you reference when you are having the sort of day where one minute it is sunshine and a cool breeze and the next it’s storm clouds and thunderclaps.

Feeling invincible? You are having a Wolverine Day, my friend, good for you! Unless you are being reckless and not thinking through the consequences of your actions, in which case you are also having a Wolverine Day, just in a different way. (With the power to heal himself, Wolverine can never die, and pretty much never ages, so he gets himself into quite a few jams. Played with much bravado by Hugh Jackman in the movies, he’s a fan favorite.)

Sometimes in life, you might do a little bit of shape shifting in order to fit in with your surroundings. This is when you channel the power of Mystique, who, while blue and scale-y in her natural form, can adopt the form of any other person. Sample reference: “I wasn’t feeling that great today, but I had to go to <InsertImportantEvent>, so I pulled a Mystique and masqueraded as a non-Chronic for a few hours.”

Other times, you don’t need to shape shift, you just have to be yourself. Coming back around full-circle, this is where we bring in the Angel Attitude. Angel’s true identity is Warren Worthington III, the son of millionaires who don’t get the whole mutant thing. Angel has wings (duh!) and they try to make him hide them. In the comic books, Warren is simply ditched by his parents, who sign over his guardianship to Professor Xavier at the first possible moment. In the movies, Angel’s dad is the guy who tries to develop a “cure” for the mutations. In an effort for his son to be “normal” or “just like everyone else,” his dad completely misses 1) the fact that his son’s mutation doesn’t have to be a bad thing and 2) that his son is a independent person who doesn’t need to be fixed, just loved. At the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT), Angel realizes that making his dad happy at the expense of his own happiness is not worth it (so it goes for Chronics too!) and chooses to become fully himself, ripping off the literal and figurative chains that bind him and jumping from the window only to then soar triumphantly over the city, his wings out in their full glory. (See the end of X-Men: The Last Stand for this moment! I tried to find it on youtube, and just ended up with weird fan videos that don’t actually show the scene. It’s beautiful and wonderful and everything I want for all of my readers and myself in Chronic-Life-Acceptance. Below is what it looks like in the comics.)

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So, yes, there is an X-Men reference for every emotion (I could keep going-there are approximately 9 million X-men) and a Marvel-ous explanation for every life situation. Why shouldn’t there be? We are all the heroes of our own stories, aren’t we?

Have an Angel Day, Chronic Readers! Or a Wolverine Day, or an Iceman Day, or a Cyclops Day…whatever floats your boat, you know?

Bipity Bopity Boo!

When I was little, my favorite boardgame was called Pretty Pretty Princess (yes, this is a real thing!). The object of the game was incredibly simple- as your piece moved around the board, you collected (plastic) jewelry- rings, necklaces, clip-on earrings. The first one to make it to the end got to wear the crown and was dubbed the—you guessed it—Pretty Pretty Princess.

There was no side story about Prince Charming, no wicked witch or evil step-parent, no singing sidekick. It was just a simple game about a princess and her dress-up accessories.

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#1993 #Winner

Sigh.

I like pretty things.

I can’t help it.

So, when I heard that in addition to the usual dolls, toddler dresses, and other various “kid” stuff, Disney would be rolling out a whole bunch of “grown up” items to celebrate its release of a new live-action Cinderella movie, I got really excited.

Now, I was a little bit behind. I did not read the original press release months ago and have a countdown calendar. By the time I realized that MAC, that glorious multicolor wonderland of grown-up make-believe, would be selling a Cinderella line, it was already sold out (in 4 hours!) online. I hit up the Macy’s website, but didn’t click quickly enough, and while the item was in my shopping cart, by the time I hit the check out button, it said, “Sorry, this item is no longer available.”

In slight desperation (only slight, I try to keep perspective), I called my local Macy’s store and was delighted to learn that the full line would be available in store on Thursday, March 5. I totally fist-pumped the air when I got off the phone- I had 2 whole days to wait.

And then it snowed.

I am not talking like rainy-sleety-this-is-yucky-but-it’s-fine snow. We had a full-on blizzard that covered the roads in inches before Macy’s even opened at 10am.

I’m not going to lie, I totally still wanted to go.

My mom, ever the voice of reason (and the one who’d have to drive me there #NotLicensed #WorkingOnIt), promised we’d go as soon as the snow plow came through, since you know, it’s kind of hard to drive through 6 inches of packed, solid, frozen water.

Lipstick < Snow Emergency.

At least I thought so.

Apparently, the people (or for all I know 1 single person) who fought their way to the MAC counter and bought EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CINDERELLA MAKEUP IN STOCK did not think so.

A visit to the MAC counter the following morning, a mere 24-hours post-release, revealed that in the entire country, only 8 Macy’s stores still had items in stock.

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There are apparently quite a few Pretty Pretty Princesses out there.

Luckily, one of those remaining stores happened to be located a mere hour from me. I called, and convinced the MAC lady on the other end to let me buy a lipstick over the phone (even though they are Not Supposed To Do That), with the promise to pick it up before closing.

Even luckier, my sister was meeting a friend for dinner in the area and didn’t mind taking a 20-minute detour to pick up my purchase. (She’s the best sister ever!!)

The store had more than 1 lipstick still available, and had I realized the insanity- I mean, dedication- of Disney Princess Wannabes on the Internet and had a moment of foresight in my blind excitement, I would have bought another and sold it on eBay.

One lipstick is $17.50 from MAC.

They are selling for upwards of $40 on resell sites.

Seriously.

Is it worth it?

I think so.

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The color I purchased is called Royal Ball, and I only wish that I had an actual Royal Ball to wear it to. I would describe the color as a shimmery, pale pinky-nude.

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Warning: Wearing this product will make you want to take a ½ dozen pucker-lip selfies in order to capture how pretty pretty princess-like this lipstick is.

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YAY!

The Disney-Cinderella merchandise tie-in is so over the top that it has been the subject of numerous articles online and in print. MAC is just the tip of the Cinderella product iceberg.

There’s the Lauren Conrad line for Kohl’s:

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Which is really lovely in person, and I wish so much that I could pull off a ballerina skirt with a castle on it in my Every Day Life. I settled for the sweater with the sequined shoe, though I got it in blue online! (Its arrival was delayed by snow at the fulfillment center otherwise I’d have a picture of it as well).

Then there is a line of (*cough* overpriced *cough*) jewelry from the Home Shopping Network and a fine-china tea set at the Disney store.

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The true jewel (the Pretty Pretty Princess crown, if you will) of the whole thing is this:

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A custom made Jimmy Choo “Glass” Slipper. Order now and it will be delivered to your doorstep in October.

Oh to have $4,595 of expendable income.

One article I read made a good point about how women in general want more from their Disney movies than the usual damsel-in-distress/Handsome-Prince script that we are used to. I want that too. I am absolutely a feminist, and I absolutely agree that the stories we tell little girls teach them what they can become (anything and everything!). As such, we need to be careful which stories we glamorize.

At the same time, I’m a grown-up and I can separate the fact that I’ve never really liked the narrative of Cinderella from the fact that she has the best potential for product placement EVER.

Sometimes, you don’t need the story. Sometimes you just want to collect the dress-up accessories. Sometimes, it’s ok to just be the Pretty Pretty Princess, knowing that you’ve also got a kick-ass superhero cape in your dress-up box too.

You can even wear it altogether if you want to:

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Disney Princesses as Super Heroes CosPlay!

I just realized I barely even mentioned the movie itself. I am excited to see it if only for the role reversal of Downton Abbey kitchen maid Daisy as a wicked step-sister and Cousin Rose as Cinderella, and you know, Cate Blanchett (#BestActressEver).

I had a dream I ate a Pop-tart…

“And…?”

“No, that was it. I just dreamed I ate a Pop-tart and it didn’t make me sick.”

#CeliacProblems

Happy Going-Gluten-Free Anniversary to me!

This year marks my 6th anniversary of no wheat and no gluten.

I haven’t had a decent piece of pie, or a Pop-tart, since.

Sigh.

The price I pay for health and wellness.

I have always been a skinny, skinny person.

Vanity-wise, I can’t say that I minded.

Health-wise, not so much.

It’s hard to be fragile.

I never had to do anything to be skinny- I ate anything and everything and rarely exercised.

Want to know my secret?

Undiagnosed celiac disease.

Yep, the more I ate, the more malnourished I became because when people with celiac disease eat gluten—so all those Little Debbie snack cakes and McDonald’s fries I was inhaling—it damages the lining of their intestines, which causes an inability to absorb nutrients. Since I didn’t figure that out until I was 20, I had two decades worth of damage going on.

Sure I was skinny. But I was also starving.

Literally.

Yuck.

Now I know better, so I do better.

There is only one treatment for celiac disease, and so you have to take it seriously: No more gluten. Not even a little bit.

P.S. That little bit hides out in everything from Chapstick brand lip balm to chicken broth.

Once I figured out where all the gluten was lurking in my diet and cut it out, something else happened too: I’m not the same kind of skinny anymore, but I don’t care.

In fact, I’m really glad not to be.

Weight is such a hard thing to talk about with pretty much anyone, so I’m not going to talk about this in terms of the scale or the size on my jeans.

When I was celiac-skinny, I was breakable.

Malnourishment is no joke. Everything about you becomes brittle. You feel tired and like a strong gust of wind will blow you over.

It’s awful.

Now that I know what is safe for me to eat, I know what it’s like to not feel that way. I know what it is like to feel full, to feel satisfied, to feel nourished.

Eating food that my body can use as fuel makes me feel alive.

It’s a weird thing to say, but I didn’t feel that way—alive—so much before.

Now I eat grilled chicken on salad and my head feels clear and awake and ready to put coherent sentences together.

I get my burger lettuce-wrapped, eat actual potatoes cut into fries, and think twice about dipping it all in BBQ sauce (#HiddenGluten).

Some part of me will never, ever get over not being able to eat Toaster Strudels any more. (Someone needs to invent good gluten free pastry dough STAT.)

But the majority of me is perfectly ok with it.

I am really happy that Gluten-Free living has skyrocketed in popularity recently. I know some celiacs get cranky because when it’s treated like a fad and not a serious medical condition, accidental gluten-izing can occur. (DO NOT JUST PICK THE CRUTON BITS OUT OF MY SALAD. I need a new, non-contaminated one, please & thank you.) I am cranky about that too, and don’t eat out much (or ever) for that reason.

But I am super glad that the regular grocery store started stocking crackers I can eat.

I’m also super glad that someone invented this, so that I don’t have to continue pining for my Little Debbie snack cake days of yore:

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Although, beware, this sucker has THREE TIMES more sugar per serving than the “real thing.”

Eating gluten-free, being a celiac, has become just as much a part of my identity the last 6 years as anything else. Just like some people are “foodies” because they eat squid ink served over a delicate sampling of blowfish (#TotallyJustMadeThatUp), I am a “foodie” because I have developed a cultured palate of all things gluten-free. I’m a gluten-free pasta snob. I make my own salad dressing. I have Deep Thoughts and Strong Opinions about which gluten-free cake mixes are edible and which ones taste like sawdust.

Happily, taking care of my celiac-diseased insides has meant good things for me healthwise all around. Now that I am properly fueled, the rest of my bodily systems have decided to perk up and start working. It’s like I was stuck in one of those “You’re not you when you’re hungry” Snickers commercials and I’m finally free.

9fbe78bdce11f0255dfdcd960b242423Definitely something to celebrate 🙂

Are you gluten-free, Chronic reader? If so, don’t you feel better now? Me too ❤

Want to hear from someone else about what it’s like to be gluten-free? Check out my friend Brittany’s blog! She’s A Southern Celiac: http://asouthernceliac.com/category/gluten-free-2/ 

A lot of snow and some Downton Abbey mixed in.

Somewhere between the never-ending snow (8 inches yesterday!) and my media-fast, I have lost all track of space and time.

Apparently it is Friday.

Already.

I would say Yay, but for me, chronic life makes me feel more akin to the Dowager Countess than Matthew Crawley:

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The only difference a weekend makes is that I can’t call my doctor’s office for refills or appointments, which is super annoying.

Speaking of Downton Abbey, can we just chat about it for a minute? Season/Series 5 has successfully aired in both the UK and US in its entirety, so I can gab about my most favorite television show without spoiling anything.

I loved that no one died this season, don’t you?

Well, I guess Mr. Gregson did, but only in the official sense. We knew he was a goner the moment he started hanging out with Edith.

AmIRight?

I’m right.

I’m going to put my cards out on the table and let you know that I am not just a casual viewer of this wonder of Edwardian drama. I am a Downton Abbey superfan. I have a T-shirt that says, “I’m a Mary” on it and everything.

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#Christmas2012 (It’s funny ‘cause it’s TRUE)

Some people have told me that they think that Downton Abbey is “slow,” and I will agree that nothing ever blows up, there are no car chases, and it takes about 9 episodes for them to figure out that no actual murder took place (RIP The 1st Mrs. Bates).

However, if you are patient enough, you will be privy to the glory that is the Cousin Violet/Cousin Isobel comeback-feud, the razor sharp tongue of Lady Mary, and the incredible satisfaction of Sibyl finally, finally, finally running off with the chauffeur. Plus, Season 3 is practically guaranteed to break your heart at one point or another.

Oh, and the clothes they wear! My vintage-loving heart has died and gone to heaven, and it’s a beaded, bejeweled land of plenty. The Downton Abbey wardrobe department has me convinced that Americans do not wear hats often enough (or, um, ever?) and we need to rectify this situation immediately. Gloves, too, if only so I can look pretty and avoid germs at the same time. Win-win!

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Things I love that happen at Downton Abbey that I wish happened more often in real life:

~Dinner Parties: Don’t you just love a good party? I do. It looks like a lot of work if done Edwardian style (anyone know where one can rent a butler and some footmen?) but I feel like a simplistic version could be doable. Fancy dress a must!

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~Trips to London (a.k.a Big City): I am not much of a big city person. Manhattan makes me feel confused, lost, and a little nauseous. Smaller-sized big cities like Nashville and Washington, D.C. on the other hand are much more my style, and I love to take trips into “town.” For some reason, everything feels more special when it comes from the City.

~Manners: Really, people, this does not have to remain in the Land of Pretend.

~Country walks: Everything is greener in Yorkshire. Why wouldn’t you want to traipse all around all day, every day? I need to find myself a bit of green to go walking through.

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~Tom Branson: Just because.

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Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? What do you think of the Edwardian time period? Is there anything from the world of Downton that you wished happened in your real life? I’d love to hear about it here or on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell!

The Great Media Fast of 2015

I keep up with the Kardashians more than I would like to admit.

I have very serious Thoughts about conscious uncoupling.

I know my crazy celebrity baby names from Sparrow to Moxie Crimefighter (yes, that is an actual little girl).

I can name more “facts” about politicians’ personal lives (read: salacious gossip) than I can name things they have actually done professionally. (This one may be a fluke…)

My name is Nic, and I am a media addict.

Hi Nic.

Here’s the deal: March is a time of preparation for Spring. It’s not really spring just yet—it is sleeting outside as I write this—but we know it’s coming. Spring is good for being fresh and new and full of possibilities. I want to be ready to ride the wave of good springtime karma, as Spring/Summer are my best seasons medically.

What’s standing in my (mental) way?

Waaaaaay too much media.

It’s clouding my “All things fresh and new” springtime vibes.

I’m really glad that I was born when I was, because had I been born just a few years later, I don’t think I would have the media-clarity I do. I can recognize that life is sustainable without it.

See, if you were born before like, 1992/3 ish time, you got to grow up with a very different kind of media, in that it wasn’t surrounding you like a suffocating cocoon all the time. You turned the TV or the radio (!!!) off and it was gone. It didn’t follow you around like some creepy stalker. I feel like a zillion years old when I mention that there was a time not too long ago when billboards were not digital, and ONE picture sat up there for months, maybe even years.

I have had a front row seat to the rise of the Internet, and with it, Internet culture. I’ve watched Facebook develop from a “thing for college kids only” to the monstrosity that is responsible for people using the words “Like” and “Follow” in ways they had not been previously (plus, you know, changing our society as a whole). I can no longer keep up with what the newest, latest, most fashionable Internet “It” Thing is. I lost track around Instagram.

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Oh, but I am guilty, so, so guilty of getting caught up in it all anyway.

I can sit here and tell you about the great special I watched on PBS about Edwardian era manners, but does that 1 hour cancel out the fact that I watched the whole E! Red Carpet special for each and every award show this season? I knew Guiliana Rancic was mean-girl-ing everyone (Amal Clooney’s gloves at the Golden Globes-anyone?) before she got in trouble for it.

It’s kind of ridiculous, but I indulge anyway.

Afterwards I feel kind of like one does when they eat half the container of ice cream when they didn’t intend to (not that I do that either…).

There is only one thing to be done.

I must cut myself off.

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Cold turkey.

No more US Weekly, no more People.com. I’m quite sure the E! Network will continue to march on without my unwavering attention.

I’m only checking Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I post my blog stuff.

The plan is to do this for at least the month of March. I’ll reevaluate come April, but I have a sneaking suspicion that once I get used to doing things differently, I might be more inclined to keep it that way.

What do I hope to gain from this media fast?

Well, it’d be nice to regain control of my own brain cells.

Just in the last few days I have been doing this, I have spent more time reading and working on my transcriptionist class.

You know, doing stuff that uses brain cells and doesn’t just lull them into a Technicolor stupor.

Apparently I missed some seemingly huge debate about what color a dress was.

Let me tell you: When you are on the outside, and have no idea what someone is talking about, it sounds completely far-out and incredibly odd that something like that would get enough attention to go “viral.”

I am not alone on my quest to be media-free. Type in “media fast” in Google (ironic, I know) and 1, 230, 000, 000 results pop up. One of them is a great article by a fellow millennial about doing a social media fast: http://greatist.com/happiness/social-media-fast-week-zero-introduction

What I find the most –Comical? Bizarre? Frustrating?— thing about media fasts is this: There will be withdrawal.

Yep. I walked around yesterday feeling like I was forgetting something important, when really, I just hadn’t checked in to see what Facebook did over the weekend.

If there is withdrawal, one can convincingly determine that there is in fact some sort of reliance or addiction going on. Depending on your level of Internet intoxication, you may feel slightly “off” for a few days, or you may go full on Gollum:

81a6387d_SmeagolMyPreciousFunnyShoesJust so you know, in case you decide to join me on this noble quest.

Thankfully, my eyes have yet to bug out of their sockets, so I think I am safe.

Eventually, it gets easier, promise.

 

Have you ever done a media fast? How did it go? If you haven’t, want to try it with me? I’m not going completely dark-screen (obviously); instead I’m working on limiting my media intake. Baby steps, right?