Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Making Do

What is it about Hawaii that when you arrive it’s just that feeling of ahhh… I was so happy to be here even if there was no one to greet me, and no chance of the hotel sending a house car. They are on a skeleton’s skeleton staff. Gone too was the taxi dispatcher, the skycap and the cruise director herding midwesterners for a seven-day cruise around the Islands. One tiny Prius cab and a big “Aloha" from the driver, and we were off. En route we passed a gas station with prices just above the $2 mark?? How could this be? Do they save on transportation costs? No wait—never mind—there’s never any oil in places with volcanoes. Must investigate.

The upside of the end of the world proved to be the suite of rooms I was forced to take as they are technically closed and only private “apartment homes” were available. I’ll take my lumps as they come.

I cracked open my computer to get straight to your letters, dear readers. Stress and captivity are clearly taking their toll. It seems all this mask-wearing is causing break-outs when none of us can get to an aesthetician. Do not despair! We can solve this with things you already have on hand. Take equal parts of vodka and baking soda, mix together and apply as a mask directly on blemishes. For minor irritation take three bags of chamomile tea to one cup of water, steep for one hour and then use as a toner. But better yet, if you can, just avoid the mask altogether and use the vodka for its intended purpose.

One particularly galling aspect of this lockdown is celebs who can’t stop themselves from telling us “we are all in this together”. Firstly, most of us have only one home, and not a spare that boasts stables and a pool and a gym and an infrared sauna. For my part I certainly didn’t grow up wanting, but I also didn’t send out video blasts telling the masses I understood their plight atop an antique silk Louis XVI settee. And second, isolation by definition means we are most certainly not all in this together. I have only unkind words for these prats. Can’t imagine anything worse than getting seated next to one of them at a dinner, banging on about their great compassion. Equally offensive, and yes, I’ll leave her name out as well, is a friend of my mother’s—posting daily videos of her girls cutting up every measure of designer clothes from which to make crafts. Oh aren’t they absolutely brilliant to use only what they have in quarantine? Yes, brilliant. Absolutely.

Catching up on other emails, I was disappointed to see that coronavirus killed Earth Day, or at least the Earth Day climate protests in Washington. And I was especially distressed to read the very, very sad tweets of one of my clients—whose very existence is linked to fighting climate change. I’d just tweeted my heartfelt condolences when I realised how stupid I sounded lamenting the fact that a billion climate-change activists didn’t travel to lament climate change. So I took down the tweet and it will stay down until I can sort through the correct response, but it rather reminded me of the days when I questioned Al Gore’s globe-trotting crusade against his fellow man’s carbon footprint. Maybe my part in all this should be promoting virtual-only events? Thinking.  

Thinking (and drinking) is about all I’ve been doing under Corona’s scorching umbrella,  which doesn’t make for the clearest head but what else would I be doing in the land of blue cocktails? I was trying to work out whether there's more fruit in sangria or a pineapple flirtini. Conclusion: Americans are very confused about the purpose of a cocktail.

As for other confusions… I don’t know where to start on the beach closures…The department of land or some such thing said, “It’s currently against the law to walk or run on state beaches.” But only five beaches are state beaches. Except then the Governor said “all beaches are closed” and made it clear he “did not say no walking or running!” (on the very beaches he already said were closed). But state officials clarified that walking and running on beaches is illegal, even though the Governor made clear he didn’t say no walking or running. And then further explained this to mean “no sitting, no standing, no lounging, no sunbathing, and no loitering on beaches and sandbars”. Is a sandbar also a beach?

And then I read “You can walk across the beach to get into the ocean”, (no explanation if you can run across the beach to get to the ocean), “but you cannot run or walk along the beach.” Luckily if one still finds this confusing, every imaginable department is “patrolling beaches and educating people” while writing some 2,800 citations. That's some aloha...

It’s just as well I stay off the sand… not like I can get a pedicure anyway. So my fitness of choice is dancing around the suite to Katie Earl’s 'Tongue Tied', with no one above me and no one below me; no complaints, and no citations. Mahalo!


Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Isolation

Quarantine: Day Number icantevenremember. First and foremost, ladies, and really for the love of humanity— stop posting your home workouts! That, and pictures from the market.

And speaking of the market -- I’m in trouble with the plastic police again. Thing is, the reusable plastic bags can hold the coronavirus for days—and spread it.  And so, I bought about ten new reusables and wisely threw them away when I got home. YES I KNOW! But we are being forced to accept that this is a crisis so at the risk of furthering the crisis the planet is just going to have to wait. At least until spring. I’ll figure out some carbon offset something.

Which reminds me: I’m headed to Florida whence most of my clients have absconded, only to find that the governor wants everyone to self-quarantine -- presumably in one of the hotels that are closed? Madness! And it’s making my client nuts, just when we had her on track. She is literally days away from making a presentation about the risks of fracking to Kentucky songbirds, and the thing is they’ve already been endangered for DECADES, so time is running out, and it makes her tear up every time.

Air travel, as it turns out, provides ample opportunity to isolate. Sadly, no one was curbside to take my bag so I had to go all the way in and plop it on the scale myself, but on the upside -- no one breathing in my face asking if I’ve packed any spare lithium batteries or e-cigarettes. Once inside, there aren’t the usual hordes of polite Asians who seem to have bought up all the face masks in the first place — and really not much of anyone else at all. I did the retinal scan instead of two fingers at security and away I went having touched nothing and managing to keep my trusty spray bottle of alcohol and essential oil. (It really is essential!)

All well until I came upon a single sheet of paper decreeing the airline lounge closed. Just FLAT CLOSED when I really expected to be given a travel kit of airline-branded gloves and masks and cocktails brimming with vitamin C. They really do have some cheek deserting us in a crisis. The airlines are clearly not taking this coronavirus seriously if now, of all times, they expect us to be out among everyone else—so irresponsible!

Next stop: Water. (Obvi!) Fiji has the highest PH of anything you can get at the airport and I have to assume since it ships in boxes that the plastic doesn’t get exposed to the light. I try not to think about whether it makes the trip all the way from Fiji in the cargo hold.

Next tip: No sugar during flu season. Your body’s ability to fight off a virus is reduced by 50 percent for 2-4 hours after consuming a sugary snack.  If you must, chips are better. To be on the safe side I doused the Fiji with my spray and wiped it down before slipping it into my tote. The clerk said “she needs to see it to ring it up”. I opened the bag wider for her to see but of course she meant she needs to scan it. “Couldn't you just scan one of the bottles you have stacked next to your register?” I asked. And she did after making some snicking noise. Undeniably easier to get water in the lounge!

Once on board -- yet another chance to isolate, as there was only one other person in first, and two in the back. Like an idiot, the one (40-something gentleman) passenger moves closer to me and asks, “Do you mind?” motioning to the seat beside me. Before I got a chance to say something clever I noticed the handset shoulder and hand pick stitching of his bespoke suit and “Umm no” was all I got out. “But in the seat across the aisle,” I added. He laughed and did as he was bade.

Turns out he had been sick three weeks ago, very sick, didn’t test but is quite sure he can’t be a carrier of anything now. He also said he doesn’t usually fly commercial but his pilot is out sick -- standard flu. Obviously I don’t know if anything he says is true, I just know I’m not on the receiving end of a carbon-footprint lecture, and am grateful for it. Several hours later I woke up to my neck smarting from having slept sideways with the headset on. Bathroom was the only thing I could think of as I’d drunk most of my water but naturally the pilot was in the bathroom as they always are when I want to be.

We landed to sunny skies but, naturally, we can’t get to the gate. Somewhere, nearby, the pilot assures us—there are lightning strikes. I open my phone’s my radar app which shows absolutely nothing. I’ll never understand why they just don’t make lightning-grounded hats and suits for these people. I mean, how hard could it be when you consider the inconvenience to absolutely everybody?

Having not spoken to Mr. Bespoke since I awoke, I see he’s on his phone texting, he still looks like a million bucks. I fish inside my bag for a piece of gum and apply some lipgloss. “Dinner?” he asks. “OH!—I’ve got to work” I reply. “Breakfast, then?” “Work still” I answer.  He is quiet. “Lift home then?” He finally asks, handing me his card.

“In…your plane?” Is the only thing I can think to say but of course he means in his plane.

“Yes”, he says sweetly.

“Um, maybe—thank you” I say, fully keeping my cool but realising it’s not exactly the carbon offset I was seeking. It would decrease his if I joined…except actually no—it wouldn’t. But it’s not any worse if he’s already going right?

Oh, planet, you don’t make this easy.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty

Arrived at Annabel’s country house, or should I say estate -- having committed one of the world’s most egregious sins. I was, I admit, drinking from a single-use plastic water bottle I’d purchased after customs. And while I was still being introduced, the bottle made a large plastic crinkling noise—the crinkling noise heard round the world. Every head turned toward me—the girl who was single-handedly going to take down the planet. I waited for someone to shout check her bag for plastic straws but it didn’t happen. Now in full panic mode, I was grateful for the aluminum chlorohydrate in my deodorant. I might die of cancer, but I was going to die hydrated and smelling great.

With barely time to pop into a tub, cocktails were being served in a room filled with animal heads and skins and even a wildebeest rug. I said nothing. Mostly because, well, what does one say? And because surely there was some free pass for things procured prior to 1992. Like my water bottle. Okay, maybe not my water bottle, but you get the idea.

A plain woman with a disapproving face sauntered up to me before I had a chance to get my first gulp of champagne. “How long have you known Annabel?” she snapped. To which I replied, “Since the golden age of aerosol hairspray.” (Jeez, it was a joke!) She wasn’t sure. She didn’t laugh. And three agonising minutes later she was gone but right then I decided we can never be like them, those shrew-faced harpy green police—devoid of humour AND reason. This was going to be a long night! And yes dear reader, I know I have to get to the beauty blog but all of this I have to share.

I’m pretty sure it was no coincidence that I was seated next to Trevor – just starting to grey, totally gorgeous and totally fun. But better than that—his job: he sells rain-forest wood. I thought he was joking or that the joke was on me (Miss BPA) but it really IS his job. Fascinating actually, I’m sure in some way necessary and TOTALLY UN-PC. Freedom at last! Obviously we could (and soon would) talk about ANYTHING. It was kind of like being naked—well you know—the foreplay to being naked.

Soon enough things got trop chaude between us and we realised we needed to rejoin the dinner party, boring as it was, so we decided to count the number of times someone guilted, or expressed guilt, over anything remotely climate-related. Absolute torture. Like counting hats in church and they seemed to want only to find more ways to torment themselves. I wanted to say, you know there’s Catholicism or Judaism for that… but I didn’t, because I’d had quite a lot of wine, and I was already in the plastic doghouse.

But making the guilt comparison got me to thinking: what if? (No I know it’s not even an if) but if we get married in churches and baptise our babies whether or not we believe in an afterlife, then why not take the safe route with the climate? You know, only show up for Palm Sunday and take on a 10 percent commitment to live like it just might happen? I’m not talking about going all Vanessa Branson and living on an island with no cars, no plastic, and with everyone having to drink peaty water from sustainable jugs, I just mean let’s approach this logically.

Stress, ladies, is our biggest beauty concern, and what brings us stress? People forcing their unfounded and illogical demands on us and calling us “deniers” if we don’t comply. So rather than fight, I’m embracing the peace that comes from living in harmony with the disharmony they create. And I’m going to look gorgeous doing it.

So here it is. First and foremost: water. We must have water, when we want it and as much as we want. That’s not negotiable. So if you find yourself arriving at the house of a newly minted green-nik, remember to tear the label off your bottle before you arrive (which suggests you’ve used it more than once) and immediately ask: where can I fill this up? Now you’re part of the solution. Oh, and try to recycle the label—there’s your 10 percent.

Day Two: exfoliation. Pop into your hostess’s kitchen and ask for a potato. Peel just the skin leaving most of the white and place strips on your face for 10-15 minutes or until it gets tingly. Word will get back to your hostess and your response will be, “I can’t see the need for unnecessary products when nature gives us such gifts”. I caught Trevor’s eye when I said this and yes he stifled a laugh. And then complimented me on my dewy skin. I don’t know if one of Annabel’s seven gardeners composted the rest of the potato but I’m just assuming they did. And that they walk to work and use ladybugs as pesticide.