because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

My New & Improved Eyebrows: My Experience with Microblading

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I know y’all will say I looked fine, but before microblading my brows were very fine. Practically invisible, and it bothered me.

Over the last few years, my eyebrows have become a little sparse – okay, a lot sparse – and in the summer they get so blonde they practically disappear. The missing ends made me look angry, and I just didn’t like it.

Recently, my morning routine started to involve wax and powder, pencils, two different brushes and lots of time.

“You should try microblading,” suggested my friend, turning her head to show me her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.

At the time, I’d never heard of it, but after doing a little research, I learned that microblading is a treatment where a technician tattoos tiny lines that look like eyebrows onto your face using a small tool with nine tiny blades. It takes two visits under the knife (and roughly $400-$500), but the promise is that you’ll wake up with perfect eyebrows every morning for one to three years.

THE PROCESS

Before I ever went under the knife, I had a loooooong telephone conversation with Noelia Contreras, a microblading technician at Madonna OBGYN in Rochester, New York.

I know what you’re thinking: You went to a gynecologist to get your eyebrows done? And the answer is…kind of. Over the last few years, Madonna OBGYN has expanded her practice to include all kinds of specialized services for women including therapeutic massage, cosmetic procedures like Botox, Rejuviderm, and more.

Anyway, I asked Noelia seventeen bazillion questions and told her that my goal was fuller eyebrows that wouldn’t need any upkeep in the morning.

After she answered all my questions, I felt confident about booking my first appointment during which time Noelia mapped out my eyebrows with ink, which allowed her to see where they needed the most work.

Many people opt for lidocaine at this point, but I pressed on without any numbing agent at all. (Keep in mind: I have a very high tolerance for physical pain. In seventh grade, I pierced my own ear with a needle. I’ve had laser hair removal and sat thru extensive, complicated dental work without Novocain. My son was born via vacuum extraction without any pain medication; and, not for nothing, but I endured thirty months of benzodiazepine withdrawal. 

So anyway, I’m lying on my back with my eyes closed, and Noelia is sitting to my right. We’re listening to an Oldies Station on Pandora, and she’s tearing up my face with a tiny blade. And all this is consensual.

And while I didn’t experience any physical pain, I will say it was kinda weird hearing Noelia scraping the lines into my eyebrows. It felt like she was making ridiculously long, random marks on my face when, in fact, she was in complete control of the procedure the whole time and was basically coloring in the lines.

Once the incisions were made, Noelia applied a dye she’d created to match my brow color. After a few minutes of allowing it to settle into my skin, she wiped the excess away and I was free to go about my day with new and improved eyebrows.

(NOTE: You have to go back one month later to repeat all this again — and the second appointment is just like the first.)

AFTERWARDS

Taking care of the microbladed area is similar to tattoo care, if a bit more intensive. I was supposed to:

  • Avoid getting the area wet for up to 10 days, which includes keeping your face dry during a shower. (I absolutely failed at this. I have no idea if this negatively impacted the results.)
  • Avoid makeup for at least two weeks because the pigments are still settling into the shallow cuts. (Easy peasy. I don’t wear a lot of makeup in the first place.)
  • Avoid picking at scabs, tugging, or itching the eyebrow area. (No problem.)
  • Avoid sunshine, saunas, swimming, and excessive sweating until the area is completely healed and you have a follow-up appointment. (Check.)
  • Keep your hair away from your brow line and be careful how you sleep on your pillow. (That’s what barrettes are for.)
  • Apply the special serum provided by your technician twice a day. (I actually loved the stuff my technician provided, and I would have slathered it all over my face. I have to find out what it was.)

THE VERDICT

Two weeks after the second session, I have to say, I’m very happy with the results.

I have eyebrows!

I would definitely recommend microblading to someone who has sparse hair and spends a lot of time filling in her eyebrows. That being said, microblading is expensive, so if you only spend a few minutes each day touching up your brows and you have a low tolerance for pain, you might do better to stick with makeup.

If you’d like to talk to Noelia, you can reach her at Madonna OBGYN at 585-698-7077.

{DISCLAIMER: I did not receive any free products or services in exchange for this post. I was intrigued about microblading and decided to write something about the experience on my own volition.}

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for beauty’s sake?

 

 

SHE REMEMBERED WHO SHE WAS AND THE GAME CHANGED

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Prints available at www.rasjacobson.store

 

‘When boys hit girls, it means they like you,” she told me,

and it all went downhill from there

because slowly

over time, i learned my place

much as any dog learns the rules

i did what was expected every time

reached inside his pants pocket to retrieve the money he owed me for babysitting,

let him touch my legs in exchange for a few extra bonus points on a quiz

gave him that blowjob so he wouldn’t break up with me.

I didn’t know what to say or do back then,

when he told me he’d put something in my drink to help me relax

and another he pushed himself inside me even though i told him to stop.

and years later

when he said the length of my skirt gave him the impression i wanted to have sex

and he groped me in the kitchen while his wife was in the other room

and he sent pictures of his penis before i knew his last name

i automatically lowered my eyes, like a puppy who just shit the rug

as if i’d done something wrong

because i accepted all of this as normal

until

another he

different from all the hes before him

brought me to an isolated place by the water

a romantic gesture, i thought

until he casually mentioned

his ex girlfriend’s body

had been found

in the exact spot

we were sitting

and i knew he was going to kill me, too

unless i figured something out pretty damn fast

and in that moment

I remembered

who I was

& the game changed.

I realized

my silence made me complicit

made the hes think

I was saying yes when what I meant was

No.

Hell no.

FUCK NO.

&

GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!

so I fought for my

self

in a way that I never did before

because my pain should not be linked to anyone’s pleasure

(especially not his)

and what the hell kind of madness is that?

steeping our daughters

in shame

from the moment we are old enough to walk.

Cross your legs, that’s not ladylike, girls don’t act that way, stop embarrassing me.

We take on the burden of being a woman, the guilt

we carry when our hips curve too much, when our skin

is too soft, when our eyes hold too much light

and our voice is louder than the softest timber. We teach our daughters

the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they hold themselves

are the things that could offend the kind of men who will violate them.

We teach them to gussy up and subdue themselves

until they fit into a box.

And then we teach them that girls who do not fit in that box

are the kind of girls that men like to hurt.

We use words like slut, and whore and tramp to teach our daughters

what could happen to them if they are too wild, too free, too spirited.

We teach them to treat their bodies like a crime scene before a crime has even been committed.

We teach them we live in the best country, a fair country, a country with equal rights for all.

We teach them they are lucky to live with such wonderful freedoms.

We teach them this is Truth.

But these are lies.

And none of it is harmless.

And all of it leaves a mark.

 

• • •

I was brought up to believe that men and women are equal, that all of us are as strong or as weak as we believe ourselves to be. The thing is it’s not true. Not yet, anyways. As women, it’s easy to feel powerless. (Nearly all of our institutions are designed to make us feel that way.)

It’s hard standing up on the daily for what is right. It’s downright exhausting.

Women, remember who you are are.

Who you were born to be.

Stop being a doormat.

Speak up.

And keep speaking up until you get what you want.

What were you brought up to believe about men and women? If you leave a comment, I promise I’ll respond to you. Eventually.

2017: Professional Goals In Review

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Confession

I’ve never been a particularly “goal oriented” person.

Don’t get me wrong. I get shit done.

But it’s not always intentional.

It’s always been more like: I want this and I go after it.

(I usually get it, too.)

This last year, I decided to be more intentional about everything.

Partially born out of a need to track my progress after an iatrogenic brain injury, I’ve found that writing things down has helped me to realize that I accomplished a lot of personal and professional goals this year.

I set quite a few goals for myself this year, and I’m pleased to see that I’ve met every single one.

2017 Goals In Review

Make 200 sales. In 2017, I sold more than 400 pieces of art to 207 individual people, including over 50 original paintings.

Grow my social media engagement. I’ve increased my presence on Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Facebook is still my preferred site. I started the year with just under 300 followers on my RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS FACEBOOK PAGE, and I’ve grown to 690 followers as of today. More important than the numbers, my followers are quite interactive: helping me create titles for new artwork, giving me opinions, and helping to gauge general interest of particular products. I started producing short videos and have taken a liking to painting LIVE thanks to everyone’s kind comments and sense of humor about my lack of professionalism when things don’t go as planned.

Develop a website with a user-friendly interface. Did it and it changed everything. Sales increased 200%. People really want to see and buy in the fewest number of clicks possible.

Have a curated gallery show. In September, I showed at Whitman Works Company. It was well attended, and I felt validated. Owner, Derek Darling, went the extra mile to help me realize my vision for the opening.

Participate in First Fridays at The Hungerford Building. I was in attendance for 11 out of 12 of them, when I couldn’t be there one of the women with whom I share space handled my sales. The Collective in Studio 254 is comprised of eight deliciously collaborative women, and I feel lucky to know each of them.

Get featured in traditional media. I made it into CITY NEWS in print and online, right before my gallery opening. I’d still like to be interviewed for Rochester Women Magazine and I’m hoping that one day artist Cordell Cordaro will notice me and feature me in his beautiful magazine ARTHOUSE PRESS, available now in Barnes & Noble stores all over the country.

Post one blog a month. Phew. (((wipes brow))) I did it, but it wasn’t easy. Not all my posts were art related, but that’s not all I’m about. I mean, I live in this frickin’ crazy-ass world so how can I not comment on what’s going on right now. Oy.

Use my art to raise attention to the dangers of benzodiazepines. The side effects associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal are horrifying and hard to articulate. At 52 months off, I’m grateful to have improved. I don’t know what the mechanism is with these drugs, but when a person takes Valium or Klonopin or Ativan or Xanax, that person behaves much as a functional alcoholic would. Initially, you’re productive enough so no one says much. But after a while, the drugs stop working, and then you have a secondary problem on top of whatever reason you started the drugs in the first place. And that is everything that is wrong with the world today.

(I could go on and on about this. And I will. In 2018. )

Outside of my artwork, I’ve continued teaching memoir classes at Writers & Books; organized & hosted several public readings ~ there’s one tonight at Writers & Books at 7pm-9pm; and I’ve continued to help people edit and publish their own stories and prepare them for publication.

I joined a gym. What? I eat eat right. I work out.

What I Didn’t Do

I said I wanted to find a boyfriend  join a networking group. I did. I attended two meetings. And then I fell off the wagon. That being said, I connected with so many local artists in real life and folks online, too. So technically, I was networking…just in a different way. This is one of the things I plan to be more diligent about in 2018. I’ve even rescheduled my art classes so that I can attend Marketing Mondays.

Thank you all from sticking with me as I figure out my new normal.

For celebrating my successes and helping me remember everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen. Slowly, organically.

That I don’t have to know everything right now.

That the sky isn’t falling.

That I’m going to be better than okay.

What’s ONE thing you accomplished in 2017?

Want to see my work, click HERE

ME TOO: WE MUST CONTINUE TO TELL OUR STORIES

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Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Louie C.K., Matt Lauer, Donald Trump. . .

We, women, have been too quiet for too long, laughing when we should have been shouting. We dismissed inappropriate behavior and in doing so, we inadvertently allowed it. Now we see how important it is to confront bad behavior.

And the only way to make change is to speak up.

I’ve done it before, and I’m doing it again now.

Because it’s important.

In 1985, a man I cared about forced me to have sex.

It was not consensual.

“He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to stop,” I told my friends.

But no one knew what to say.

My own mother told me I’d “asked” for it.

Here’s what I needed to hear: That is terrible! It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. He was only thinking of himself. You’re not alone. You’re going to be okay. What do you need? How can I help you?

The entire trajectory of my life was altered by that single event.

I wish I could say that that night was the only incidence in which I was encouraged to dismiss inappropriate behavior of the men around me.

But it was not.

We live in a culture that has allowed men to behave badly.

We have tolerated discrimination, assault, rape.

We are seeing it now, how our silence has protected our perpetrators.

Being “nice” has not served us well.

Yesterday, a friend suggested I create a piece of art that says “ME TOO” on it. Inspired, I shared the idea with another friend and together we collaborated to create this image.

Because we’re all in this together.

There’s one helluva planetary correction happening, people.

Change is coming.

Keep sharing your stories.

People are finally listening.

If you’d like to pre-order a 12×18 print for $10 + S&H, leave a comment or message me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com. 

If you relate to this post, please type ME TOO in the comments.

Never Too Late To Make a Wish Come True

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A few weeks ago, I traveled to New York City and had the opportunity to catch up with an old college friend. We lose touch with each other from time to time, but she always makes it easy to reconnect. So I’m sitting in this little cafe sipping artisanal hot chocolate, when JD shows up carrying this bundle.

“Sorry I’m late,” she says setting the bundle on the chair. “You been here long?”

I reassure her that she’s not late. She isn’t looking at me. She’s unwrapping and unzipping. And she’s kind of doing this sing-songy thing that I’ve never heard her do before, but y’know, we haven’t seen each other in a while, so what do I know. But then the bundle turns out to have arms and legs and a precious face. And I learn that my friend has adopted this baby. At fifty years old, my friend is finally a mother.

JD lets me hold her daughter.

Y’all, it’s been forever since I’ve held a baby.

And she smells sooooo good.

And she falls asleep in my arms.

When my friend goes to the bathroom, I take several million photos of her daughter and I just know that eventually I will paint something to honor this amazing thing that my friend has done.

Inspired by the visit with my friend and her new daughter, I’ve been working on something since Thanksgiving and this morning I woke up early to finish it. and I wanted to share it with you. The writing in the background is an excerpt of a poem that I wrote while JD and I were students together in college. I think it was written in response to something I’d read by Lucille Clifton or bell hooks or some other feminist poet. It reads:

dandelions

stand proud & tall

cover the lawn

when they come

stand tall.

dandelions be proud flowers

stubborn too

dandelions

always grow back.

Some See Wish is a 24×36″ multimedia piece featuring acrylic paint, oil pastels, colored pencils, vintage papers, antique stamps, and a few strategically placed gemstones. If you’re interested in this piece andwould like to see it in greater detail (or if you’d like to see any of my work), you can find me on my website at RASJACOBSON  or shoot me a message. (Prints are just $10 + S&H.)

It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

In 10 words or less, tell me what baby-step you’ve taken to keep moving in the direction of your dreams?

***Help me to continue my work as an independent artist by sharing this post!***

 

Coming Clean About My Age

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My birthday is coming up, y’all.

Yup, this summer girl was born in November.

You know what that means.

Yes, my parents got busy around Valentine’s Day.

But it also means this year I turn 55.

Whaaat?

Well, kind of.

Lucille Ball once said:

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.”

How much do I Love Lucy?

Here’s the 411.

When I first started teaching, I was just a few years older than some of my 12th grade students!

When I introduced myself, I made a point of tacking on a few extra years.

I said I was 25.

(Seven extra years seemed like the right amount of padding.)

When I moved to New Orleans, I maintained this tradition. I felt I needed the cushion, so parents would nod and smile instead of raise disapproving eyebrows. Also, so my students would believe I was seasoned and complete my assignments without giving me grief.

I never lied to my employers. The Headmaster and English Department Chair at Metairie Park Country day School knew precisely how green old I was when I was hired.

This year, I realized I’ve been in my 40’s for nearly twenty years.

And that made me remember my grandmother who told people she was 29.

For decades.

After she stopped wearing wigs and wore her thinning hair in loose ponytails wrapped in twine, she was 29. After her eyes dulled and her skin wrinkled, she was 29. After her toenails yellowed and her remaining teeth fell out of her mouth, she was 29.

It was ridiculous.

No-one bought it. It was silly and a little pitiful.

I vowed to go the other way.

So I padded.

This year, I could tell people that I’m 55.

Because if you tack on five extra years…well, I look pretty good for 55, right?

And yet.

I feel I’ve kind of caught up with myself.

These days, I am grateful for this body that continues to get me where it needs to go – even if I sometimes have headaches and get dizzy and fall down. I am grateful for my eyes, which still appreciate all the beauty around me – even if the view is a little blurry. I’ll never have pretty model’s hands, but I have four fingers that help me to tap out what I want to say. Fingers that help me punch buttons on the phone to speak to old friends and new. Fingers that are attached to hands that reach out to offer assistance, to squeeze shoulders. Hands that are attached to arms which can swallow people up in hugs. And even if my vocal cords are toasted, I realized I have these things called ears that work really well, too.

So the jig is up.

Lucy, we’re back to living honestly.

Tomorrow, I’ll be 50 years old.

Right where I’m supposed to be.

A daughter.

A sister.

A mother.

A friend.

An artist, writer & teacher.

A contestant on Survivor.

Just kidding about Survivor.

But a girl can hold onto her dreams, right?

Have you ever lied about your age? How are you doing with this growing older thing? 

RASJACOBSON $20 ART GIVEAWAY 2017

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I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of my website! Seems like a good time for a giveaway!

To receive $20 in credit towards any inventory currently in my shop ~ and, believe me, I’m stocked for the holidays, just follow these simple instructions:

To enter:

1) LIKE RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS on Facebook or FOLLOW me on Instagram at @rasjacobson
2) On either/both pages, LIKE this photo
3) TAG 2 friends

Giveaway ends November 25, 2017 at 11:59PM PST. Winner will be announced by November 26th on IG, Facebook and on this blog. Winner will be chosen at random. Fake or giveaway accounts will not be considered. Giveaway open to residents of the continental US & Canada only.

This giveaway is not sponsored, administered, endorsed or associated with Facebook or Instagram. By entering you confirm that you are 18+ years old, releasing Facebook and Instagram of any and all responsibility & agree to Facebook and Instagram’s terms of use. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary.

 Have fun!
Every time you share my post, you help me spread my reach! I’m so grateful to all of you!

Raising Awareness About The Dangers of Benzodiazepines

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I’ve been consulting with people in benzodiazepine withdrawal for nearly a year now. It’s something I do quietly, privately. Right now, I have four or five people who call me regularly for emotional support. Each of them shares a similar story.

They were going through a difficult time in their lives – usually involving profound loss or grief – when they started to experience somatic symptoms. Rather than being sent to therapy to discuss their life experiences, these individuals were sent down the psychiatry route.

After a short meeting with a psychiatrist, their behavior was determined to be pathological or disordered, and they were told to take was medication which would help alleviate their symptoms.

In each case, they were prescribed benzodiazepines which, they were assured, would work for them like magic. And for a time, they did. However, just like any drug, these drugs lose their efficacy and individuals find themselves needing to take more to achieve the same results. Some people become tolerant more quickly than others, for whom reaching tolerance may take years.

It doesn’t matter.

The end result is the same.

Once you hit tolerance, you’re in trouble because you can’t stay on the drug, but you cannot get off without scads of horrifying side effects.

Today, I received this message via email (shared with permission):

I had a severe seizure in the late afternoon yesterday. My eyes spasmed and blinked uncontrollably. My mouth twisted and stuck in a contorted position. As my jaw moved with violent force from left to right, my bottom lip moved up and down up and down. I felt dizzy and sick. My eyebrows went up and down, my neck convulsed, along with my lips. My teeth chattered nonstop. I feel violated by my own brain and body.

This has been going on since for over a year!

I am hopeless and in despair.

My primary doctor has destroyed my life and murdered me.

I am suicidal & asked for a closed casket.

I don’t think I will make it. The stress is slowly killing me.

I don’t know what to do.

If you are having an adverse reaction to a drug that can’t be stopped, how do you get off of it? How?

This woman is a warrior.

Her brain is zapping her; her body is betraying her. She cannot walk or talk or watch television or listen to music. She cannot enjoy a casual lunch with a girlfriend or go to the beach. She’s homebound and isolated, having to endure thousands of horrifying symptoms.

The fact that people are continuing to suffer is unacceptable.

Pharmaceutical companies have known about the dangers of benzodiazepines since the 1970s and ill-informed physicians continue to prescribe benzodiazepines longterm without understanding their efficacy, and patients continue to be harmed.

Up until now, I’ve used my art work and my blog as vehicles to bring attention to this travesty.

Moving forward, I’m offering education and individual case consulting for medical personnel.

I’d like to visit medical schools and speak to future doctors about my experience and the experience of so many people who have been harmed by psychiatrists who have mistakenly deemed certain drugs as “safe” and “tried and true.”

For more information on how I can help you better help you, your loved ones, or your patients, please contact me HERE.

Show Your Teacher Appreciation

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Teachers LURVE this one!

I loved teaching at Metairie Park Country Day School.

Especially in November.

By November, my students had finished reading the first novel of the year. They’d written their first five-paragraph essays and finished their first creative projects, (which were always amazing). By then, they had a pretty good understanding of my expectations, and I knew enough about their individual personalities to feel a wonderful kind of connectedness in the classroom.

CONFESSION: The other reason I loved November in New Orleans is a little more selfish.

Starting around Thanksgiving, MPCDS parents and students started leaving gifts for me on my desk.

Pies and brownies, cookies and baked hams. Gifts cards. Once, I even received a handmade sweater!

These shows of appreciation really mattered to me, especially since my salary was a little light on the green back in the day.

My fave gifts were always the ones that paired a little yummy somethin’ along with somethin’ that came from the heart.

When I became a parent myself, I remembered the generosity of my students and their parents. And while I was committed to giving my son’s teachers great gifts, I often found myself scrambling to get something at the last minute… and not loving the gifts that I gave.

Teachers LURVE this one, too!

Sound familiar?

I have the perfect solution.

The teacher gift bundle.

Let me hook you up with SEVEN of my most popular 6×6 reproductions… paired with fabulous high quality chocolates, all carefully packaged. (I’ll even include handwritten notes, if you tell me what you’d like me to write!)

And did I mention FREE SHIPPING?

All for $120.

Click here to place your order and take the stress out of holiday gift giving for the teachers in your life.

Order by November 30, 2016 to receive this offer.

You’ll be glad you did.

 

XORASJ

Obviously, my 6×6 wall art can be given to anyone, not just teachers. They also make great gifts for mothers, sisters, wives & daughters! Collect them all!

Permission to Feel Sadness Leads to Joy

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Last night, I shared with a new friend how someone hurt my heart this weekend.

I explained how I’d been dancing on the beach, basking in the sunrise, grateful for the opportunity to plant my feet firmly in the sand and be so close to the ocean. “I selected the spot carefully,” I said. “Off to the left of the only sunbather on the beach.”

I told him how I’d popped in my headphones, so I could tune out the world and tune into my body.

Fifty months ago, in the throes of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal, my body was in continuous pain. Unable to walk or talk, or take care of any of my most basic needs, I was confined indoors (mostly) for over a year.

I never thought I’d heal.

So there I am, quietly expressing gratitude to the Universe when this woman ~ this stranger ~ tells me to move myself down the beach. She tells me I’m distracting her.

“Your ass is in my face,” she says.

Obviously, she didn’t know about what I’d been through ~ but it felt terrible to be shamed for feeling being myself, for expressing my joy.

“Aw babe,” my friend said. “Don’t cry. All that’s over now.”

The rabbis teach that to truly know another person, we must not know only their pleasures and their successes but also the sorrows they bear.

Burying my face in my friend’s shoulder, he stroked my back. “If you need to cry, it’s okay,” he said. “Cry long and hard.”

The moment he gave me permission to share my sadness, my burden was cut in half, and I didn’t feel like crying any more.

I don’t know if he realizes the gift he gave me, but I do know these tiny interactions are what life is all about.

And I believe it is our charge to remember to do that for someone else every day.

Be on the lookout for someone to help today.

Who/what helps you feel better when you’re feeling low?