everyday minutiae

The process of packing requires you to examine your stuff, not stuff like DVDs or books or t-shirts, though I've re-discovered some of those, but stuff like the everyday stuff that fills your bathroom and linen closet. I'm talking about the stuff you don't normally think about even as you use it. Megan Frank talks about this in her column on Soul Pancake. She says, "We think no one will ever see our sock drawers or cleaning products, but the items we have—and the way we keep them—actually add up to a pretty solid picture of the human who owns them." Perhaps that's why we all want to sneak a peek at other's medicine cabinets and drawers. I'm reading one of my favorite kinds of books to read, non-fiction that makes me think, called Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. I just started it though it's been on my nightstand for weeks. Last week someone tweeted about this article in Psychology Today about how our identity is connected to our stuff, and specifically talked about taste: our taste in music, books, etc. These ideas played a big part in my dissertation research and they're ideas which still fascinate me. But what I'm talking about here is not the kinds of stuff we choose to read or listen to but rather the stuff we use more frequently, the stuff that maybe we don't want to admit we have or need like puffy eye reducer or acne spot treatment. Can you cultivate taste in the health/beauty arena the same way you do with music? How much of our identity is connected to this everyday minutiae? What does my choice in shampoo say about who I am?

In the apartment I"m moving out of we have two bathrooms which means we have multiple places for this everyday stuff, which, of course, means you have two or three of everything and you wonder later why you didn't remember that you already had hairspray and now you've got three different kinds and you don't remember which one you liked best until you use the wrong one.

Taking stock of my everyday minutiae, I'm not quite sure what all of this says about me but here goes:


1. I use three different kinds of shampoo for various purposes. When my scalp is really dry, which is most of the winter and a good part of the summer I use Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp at least once a week. You'd be surprised at how soft it makes my hair. Most everyday I use L'Oreal Everpure Moisture shampoo & conditioner, which smells fantastic. Sometimes when I feel like changing it up, I use Catwalk Oatmeal & Honey, which also smells really good and does a nice job of moisturizing your hair without feeling oily.

I guess what these say about me is that I like variety, that I'll try things out to find the perfect combination. Or maybe it says I care about my hair, or that I'm indecisive which is also true.

2. For shower gel I use Aveeno Active Naturals Hydrating Fig & Shea Butter Body Wash and Oil of Olay Body Wash with ribbons, (the one pictured is creme ribbons but I've used the moisture ribbons and body butter ribbons, both of which I liked).

Again, I need variety.

3. My toothbrush is a Sonicare FlexCare R910 and I use Crest Herbal Mint Whitening Expressions Liquid Gel toothpaste which I suppose suggests that I pay attention to my teeth but it might also suggest that I'm lazy. For example, I can set a feature on the toothbrush that tells me when to stop brushing and the toothpaste does the whitening for me so I don't have to mess with white strips or bleaching or any other kind of effort.

4. I wash my face with Oil of Olay Sensitive Skin Foaming Face Wash in combination with Oil of Olay Mascara and Makeup Remover (on the rare occasion I wear makeup). I also like Garnier's skin regimen and use the Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eyeroller nightly.

I use Oil of Olay because my Granny Jones who died at 91 used Oil of Olay lotion every single day and looked much younger than a woman in her nineties when she died. My grandmother swears by it and also does not look her age. So, I'm invested in the brand due to tradition but also because I have tried other face washes and makeup removers, especially those that cater to sensitive skin, and don't like the way my skin feels afterward. I do like a lot of Garnier's skin products and have used the Skin Renew Brusher which does a nice job of not drying out the skin while exfoliating or smoothing it. However, the design of the brusher leaves something to be desired and I got water all over the counter while trying to use it. I'm clumsy; what can I say ? Having to twist and push the bottle was a bit complicated for me.

5. I really like Dove deodorant because it doesn't rub off on my clothes. It isn't fussy; it gets the job done. I like the cucumber and green tea scent of the Dove Ultimate Go Fresh .

6. I use Bedhead Manipulator to spike my hair. I like this gel because it works. It doesn't smell terrible nor does it leave a residue like mousse or hairspray.

7. I wear minimal makeup. I like it to feel natural and light. I hate feeling like I'm wearing a mask. I particularly like mineral makeup and have pretty good luck with Maybelline mineral power Natural Perfecting Liquid Foundation. I have used the matte and loose powder, which work nicely. I also really like L'Oreal's Bare Natural Powder and sometimes use it without foundation, at all. For eyeshadow I will use any and every brand and color combination, depending on my purpose. Right now I've been fond of Wet-n-Wild's Color Icon Trio but I also like Rimmel's Colour Rush Trio and have several of their shades. I'm picky about mascara and recently discovered L'Oreal's Extra Volume Collagen Volumizing Mascara . The first time I wore it, someone asked if I was wearing fake eyelashes, so it seems to work pretty well, though I think the person was surprised I was wearing makeup at all. I usually wear lip gloss and I really like L'Oreal's Colour Juice which I hear they are discontinuing just like they discontinued the last lip gloss I liked that I don't even remember the name of now.

8. I love perfume and I have several favorites that I move between, depending on the occasion. My most recent favorite is Escada S which I got in one of those sample packs with other Escada perfume and while I like many of the scents, this one is by far my favorite. It isn't overpowering or incredibly sweet. You could probably wear it as an everyday perfume. It reminds me of something but I don't know what; I do know that when I wear it, I feel happy and light. If I'm feeling more daring I use Burberry Brit Red. I have loved Burberry perfume since my very first bottle acquired in London. For Christmas, a friend gave me Burberry Brit which I loved even more than the original Burberry. Since then, I discovered Brit Red, which puts that extra "kick-ass" feeling in my step when I wear it. I don't know if places like Macy's are carrying Brit Red anymore but I saw some new Burberry scents there recently like Burberry Summer and Burberry Sheer which make me want to try them. I told you I love perfume.

9. I have a lot of lotion meant for moisturizing my ridiculously dry and sensitive skin. M brought me this amazing stuff back from South Africa a few years ago which is a Roobois and Oatmeal lotion; it's amazing but I don't want to use it all up. So I supplement with Aveeno Active Naturals Intense Relief Repair Cream which I use once a week because I'm afraid my skin would be too oily otherwise.

10. I am addicted to lip balm and chapstick. The amount of tubes I own is staggering. I end up losing them or putting them in winter coats and forgetting them, never having one when I need it. My favorite is Burt's Bees. I like the Radiance Lip Shimmer because I get a lip gloss and chapstick in one. At Christmas, someone gave me a 3 pack of EOS lip balm. It looks totally weird but totally worth the looks people give you. It's also a good conversation starter because someone is going to ask you, "What is that?"

After looking at all of this stuff, I see that most of it is about addressing my needs. My skin is sensitive, dry. I try to take care of it by using products geared to protecting it. I can buy almost everything listed at Walgreen's. I don't know that I'm convinced that moisturizer that costs twice what I pay is worth it and yet the hair gel I use is almost 20 dollars. I suppose we all choose what's important, what meets our needs best. It's about trial and error, figuring out what works and what doesn't. But it's interesting that I know almost immediately if I'm going to like a song or book or TV show whereas it may take a few weeks to decide if a face wash or shampoo is worth it.

I also recognize something I was of which I was already but perhaps forgot: I am a contradiction. Maybe we all are. I think that if we were always the same it would be boring. So somedays we like to be dressy, made up, a new take on ourselves, other days, it's all about comfort. It's our prerogative to be changeable, right?

This list of all my everyday stuff makes me feel like I'm high maintenance, and I guess I kind of am, especially in comparison to M who pretty much uses whatever I buy her and is only picky about her face wash and toothpaste and who doesn't wear makeup or worry about her hair.

I would describe myself as enjoying comfort over trends. Before this I would not have described myself as girly, though I love jewelry and enjoy getting manis and pedis. I wax my eyebrows and like to get dressed up every once in a while. But at my heart I'm a jeans and t-shirts, comfy, flip-flops and running out the door kind of girl. And even when I do dress up, I still want to feel like me. So I have all this stuff, of varying kinds and brands, but it's not always put to use. It's there waiting for me when I need it.

What stories are behind your everyday stuff? Why do you use the brands you do? What do you think your everyday minutiae says about you? What do you think this stuff says about me?