My First Easter Service

For a self-professed (and, well, baptised) Orthodox Christian, I really haven’t been an active participant in church life. This Easter I had my first full service. I came a little late, after The Holy Fire had arrived and was shared amongst the believers. Stayed until the very end, though admittedly I wanted to go home somewhere close to 3 a.m., because my very comfortable yet still heeled boots were causing me pain.

lampada

This picture, taken in the low light of the church, may fool you into thinking that it’s got four lampada candles in it. In reality it’s just one. It’s standing in the corner and reflecting off of the church’s walls.

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Aside from staying awake for the service itself, I also kept vigil over the candle holder above. During big services people come and go, and many of them want to light a candle, so candle holders get filled really quickly. The are women, workers of the church, who keep an eye on these candle holders and take out the candles that are close to burning out. I’ve been asked by one such lady to keep an eye on this candle holder – I stood right next to it. It sounds like an easy enough job, and I’m not saying I was overwhelmed, but it was a new experience. I needed to make sure that all the candles were upright, or at least not melting the nearby candles nor dropping wax on the floor. And as mentioned above, I needed to make sure that the ‘older’ candles were taken out to make space for the new prayers.

Closer to the end the lady who asked me to help her took care of me as well as she could. She gave me a piece of cloth to wipe my hands with – the candle holders are heavily oiled to ease the cleaning of them, so my hands were covered in oil. She also made sure that I didn’t leave the church without a burning lampada. It’s a tradition to take the Holy Fire back home with you.

As I exited the church, I saw the amazing view of hundreds of people with candles and lanterns and baskets standing in front of it, waiting for their kuliches (special Paschal baked goods) and Easter eggs to be blessed by the bishop. Unfortunately, my battery was giving up by that point, and my phone wouldn’t let me take a picture.

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I didn’t buy a kulich this year, nor did I dye any eggs, so my Easter breakfast looked like that. Two sandwiches with butter, cheese, and marmalade, a cup of black tea, and a tiny cup of cottage cheese. And, well, some sweets.

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My “proper” Easter breakfast came eight days later – today, actually. I finally bought a kulich, and I had a chocolate egg remaining. Still no dyed eggs, though. I’m sure this oversight isn’t as gross as my other ones, so the merciful Lord will forgive me.

Christ is Risen!

What Would You Write If No One Read?

sauron

I don’t have that big of an audience. Some of you probably subscribe through some RSS reader, a couple of people visit the site, and there’s almost 60 subscribers on Bloglovin, who probably hit ‘mark as read’ more often than not.

I’m not whining.

The other day I wondered how an audience affects what I do. Here, there, on Instagram, at work, in life. It used to not affect me much – or perhaps I was blissfully unaware that it affected me in any way. As a result I wrote better, I wrote more often, I wrote about a variety of themes. I took endless photographs and shared them in a timely manner. I wore things that I liked and put on eye shadows that I liked without constantly looking over my shoulder.

A blank page never scared me before.

My opinions never scared me before.

Or is it – my own blankness never scared me before?

Let’s not get philosophical.

Whenever I sit down to write these days, I write with an audience in mind. And I’m not thinking about people who come here because they, the poor souls, love what I do for some reason, no matter how rarely and how poorly I do it these days. No, I’m thinking about people who come here to dig some shit on my existence. Who want to look into my pants, into my plates, have a laugh at my wrinkled shirt, my hot water bottle, my overcooked boiled egg. I’m not making this list up, I can’t make this list up, this list is so ridiculous, I want to spit in their faces and step on their necks, and forgive me, Father, for I have sinned, and I am sinning right now.

Back when my main blog was on alexandrabrovco.com, I was much angrier, much more closed off, but on the other hand much more vocal. Nowadays I am not as angry, maybe a bit more open – but also much more depressed and much more silent.

What would I write if no one read this shit? What would I write if I were not afraid for my paycheck? If I didn’t care for an intrusive colleague? If I didn’t care to tread carefully, to conform, to comply?

There’s nothing new in my identity crisis. Corporations and open space have ruined us all.

I’ve been writing on the internets since before it was profitable. I think it was 1996 when I first started some odd-arse online diary. I know that in 1999 I’ve been writing daily, and Blogger and I have been in separable since February 2002. My first domain, homo-urbanicus.com, will turn 12 this year. So I’m old, and weathered, and should know better.

This current incarnation of my blog was started on consumerism, and I am not sure it’s where I want it to go. I still want to write about beauty and make-up. I still entertain the idea of having an outfit diary – even though the last time I’ve been clothes shopping was almost exactly a year ago. It’s not for the lack of wanting to do it, though. I need a new pair of pants (and I mean underpants, not trousers) like five months ago. I just can’t set my finances straight, and shit keeps piling up, and I try to not spend any money on non-essentials until I pay off at least some of my debts.

Cheers to that.

You have no idea how many times I sat down and opened a post-new.php, a blank Evernote, a Notepad, a Google Drive Doc, or even an email draft in my inbox to– I don’t even know to do what exactly. To write? To convey? To unblock? To get some ideas? To straighten my thoughts? To crawl out of depression?

What have I become? I resolved, long time ago, to either write the truth or not write at all. Is the truth so daft empty useless blank pointless incomplete tiring busy old untruthful that I chose not to write at all?

Red Lipsticks in My Collection

… the helluva dated edition.

Some time last year, I let go of the two products mentioned in this post. They are featured here, because I still wanted to mention them to give you my two cents on the matter.

(Plus I can’t find my camera’s battery to reshoot the photos properly.)

red lipsticks

L’Oreal Color Riche Serum in True Red S502

Pictured third in the photo above, I suppose this is the same as the classic True Red, the only difference being a balm added in the core of the lipstick. It’s a classic red with blue undertones. Feels comfortable on the lips, including dry lips, and seems to glide over the imperfections easily. However, it begins to dry out your lips over time, and if that’s what it did with the addition of the serum, then I have no idea how it feels without it. L’Oreal Color Riche in True Red does not exactly migrate outside the lines, but I did prefer to use a pencil with this. Mine’s a cheapish Flormar (see below), which did the job just fine.

The colour transfers easily, and though it will survive a snack and a cup of tea, it will not live through a meal. It’s a hard lipstick to eat in. Looks rather messy. It was one of the reasons I let it go. I love wearing a bold colour when I go out, and constantly checking the state of my lipstick is just not worth it.

Top Shop Red Lippy

My first and, so far, the only foray into Top Shop make-up. I’ll be honest – I bought Top Shop Red Lippy for the makeup bag (and the charity), which I ultimately did not get. Suppose the stocks ran out on me. This has a slight orange undertone, but nothing too drastic. The formula is creamy, but not greasy. Has a vanilla-ish scent to it. I preferred to use this one with a pencil as well, though it could be fine without it. As with the L’Oreal red lipstick above, the application of Top Shop Red Lippy is quite easy directly from the bullet.

Eventually I let it go as well, again for the reason of it not staying put enough for my liking.

So there you have it, I just went and let go of two ‘cult’ red lip products. Eh.

Be a … Bombshell Hollywood

Not pictured in the photo above – my apologies. You can see the lipstick in the bullet here, and a swatch of it here, both from the time I did a post about a Lip Monthly bag that it came with.

I’ve got a couple of terms for this one – autumn red, everyday red, and retro red. It’s not as in-your-face red as the two above and quite easy to wear daily. Comfortable on the lips – I forget that it’s there. Does not need a pencil, easily applies directly from the bullet. While the formula is nowhere near being sheer, it’s just a touch lighter than full-coverage, which just adds to this lipstick’s wearability. It’s got just a bit of a brick undertone to it, which I suppose makes me want to name it ‘autumn’ and ‘retro’. If your lips are dry, it might stain. But then that’s true about any colour.

I can understand why it’s named ‘Hollywood‘. I do think of it as this timeless red that one might see in vintage ads.

red lipstick swatches

Left to right: Mirabella, Nouba, L’Oreal, Top Shop

Nouba Millebaci Lip Color in 7

A matte liquid lipstick. A gorgeous deep red – or should I say, classic red. The packaging is heavy plastic that feels almost like glass to the touch, except it’s warmer. The brush, a doe-foot applicator, picks up the right amount of product to cover your lips and stick within the edges. The application can be messy, but it’s easily avoided by figuring out exactly how much product you need. Once it sets, it won’t budge. The finish is almost powdery. Nouba Millebaci Lip Color in 7 survives even the oily meals, but with some damage. The reapplication is pretty easy. The product will not flake, however, the second and third coat will not look as even and fresh as the first one. Nouba Millebaci doesn’t need a pencil, but – I realise I begin to sound like a broken record here – I still prefer to use one, yeah. I just find it easier to line my lips and correct any asymmetry that I find, and then go in with lipstick.

This is a brilliant product with a very durable formula, however it is quite drying. Not that even – it not so much dries out your lips, as it just feels dry. Then again, it is more comfortable than some of the regular lipsticks I have tried (Oriflame Pure Colour and Melkior, I’m looking at you). I’m absolutely in love with this colour, and want to pick up another red from Nouba Millebaci line – a darker shade, I think it’s number 11.

Mirabella Red Velvet Lip Pencil

This was a bit of a ‘surprise’ product – I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. The formula is just the right amount of creamy. Once on, you don’t feel it. The colour payoff is amazing, and the application (and reapplication) is a breeze. Indeed, you will need to reapply, as the product does transfer, but it doesn’t make claims that it wouldn’t. The colour of Mirabella Velvet Lip Pencil in Red is a beautiful deep red, a little less in your face than the Nouba Millebaci one above. A very welcome addition to my red lipstick stash.

flormar red lip pencils

Flormar Lip Pencils

And two words on the pencils that I use with the above lipsticks interchangeably. One of them has blue undertones, the other one orange, so I mix and match accordingly. I suppose the ideal match of these two would be the ones I let go of – L’Oreal and the Top Shop lipsticks. I bought the pencils specifically to use with these two lipsticks, so no surprise there. The product is a bit on the dry side, but I suppose in the case of lip pencils I welcome it – after all, I use them to line with precision and to ensure that the lipstick doesn’t get away. My only gripe with these two would, randomly, be the quality of wood used for the body of the pencil. It’s hard to get a smooth edge when sharpening them. But for their price (around… $2, by today’s rates, I think) Flormar Waterproof Lipliners do a great job.

Not sure why they’re called ‘waterproof’ though.

What’s in your red lipstick collection?