The Sound Of Rebellion

People always remember Chicago as a 1980's soundtrack band, but there's more to the story.

People I meet always seem to think of Chicago as a 1980’s soundtrack band, but there’s more to the story.

Dear Chicago,

I still remember the first time I heard you guys play. I was 15, and my father and I were on a mission to avoid my grandmother for as long as possible. When I was growing up, on the day after Christmas, the whole family – Mum and Daddy and I – would drive the two and a half hours from Belhaven to Newport to visit with Mum’s parents. They didn’t like my father, and at the time they didn’t seem to be that keen on me, either, so generally Daddy and I would leave at some point in the visit to go make our rounds of the local thrift stores and pawn shops. We’ve always bonded over bargain shopping opportunities.

At the first pawn shop, I bought two CDs – two compilations of 60’s & 70’s pop hits that get light radio play. We hopped back into Daddy’s truck to drive to the next shop, and I gleefully examined the CDs, imagining what the songs would sound like. I still have both compilations today – songs include Green Tambourine (The Lemon Pipers), Laugh Laugh (The Beau Brummels), Hello Hello (Sopwith Camel), Stoned Soul Picnic (The Fifth Dimension), Do You Believe in Magic (The Lovin’ Spoonful), Brandy (Looking Glass), Mama Told Me Not to Come (Three Dog Night), and a lot more. It was a great day for me, musically.

As I gloated over my excellent purchases, my father popped a cassette into the truck’s tape deck. The first notes hit. I was confused. I’d never heard anything like it before. Rich background vocals, soulful lyrics, great horn section, and a tune that I wanted to immediately sing along to. We stopped in at a few more pawn shops that afternoon, but between each, the tape continued. By the time we got back to my grandparents’ house, I was hooked. My dad never got to keep that tape – I took it home to my stereo, and played it on repeat until I found the vinyl version.

That cassette was Chicago 19, and it opened up a new world to me. Sure, it’s a world that no one my age seems to understand. Yes, I tend to get confused stares when I tell people I really like Chicago, and go on to explain that it’s not an ironic infatuation. I genuinely like music that features a big brass section (even though 19 is notorious for having a much lighter horn section than their other albums), and I love a lot of your lyrics. Most people only know the overplayed radio greats, but there are other great tunes that never get radio play. My favorite off of Chicago 19 is Victorious, and I’ve never heard it on FM. It’s one of my favorite romantic songs; for a long time, I had this silly thought that I’d know my future husband because he’d play me Victorious without ever knowing I liked it. I guess maybe my level of optimism is just about perfect to be a diehard Chicago fan in today’s cynical age.

Not long after discovering the band, I raided my dad’s record collection and found out that he had a few earlier records from the late 60s and early 70s. That’s how I found out that most of your albums are branded, almost like magazine covers. Not that you need to see it, but Album Cover Gallery has a great post that compares images of all of the albums. For instance, Chicago II, which is my favorite (and the first created after you changed your name from Chicago Transit Authority to Chicago), looks like brushed sheet metal, maybe meant to be the close up of a high hat cymbal, I’ve never been completely sure. Other album covers are wood grain, or an unwrapped bar of chocolate. I fell in love with the branding, and started to collect them for the covers, as well.

chicagoII

Chicago II was one of my teenage rebellion albums. When I’d get supremely pissed at my parents, I’d run to my room, throw the record on, and blast it. My parents never told me to turn my music down, but it’s probably because from the other end of the house, they were probably enjoying listening to the same tunes. I wasn’t very good at being rebellious, I guess, but to this day, the album helps me blow off steam when I’m angry. I used to sing along to the horn parts, which in retrospect was probably great preparation for singing a cappella in college.

Anyway, Chicago, I know I’m probably boring you, but I just wanted to let you know that you’re important to me. I’m keeping the love alive. I’ve always wanted to see you in concert, and hopefully one day I’ll get the opportunity. Back in college, you once played in New Orleans on my birthday. It would have been the perfect time to go, but I didn’t have money for the ticket. Last year, you played Gretna Fest, a music festival just 20 minutes down the road, and I didn’t find out that you were in town until the day after the event; I was heartbroken. But one day I’ll be in the crowd, singing along (even when there aren’t lyrics). In the mean time, thanks for nurturing my inner sap, and for rocking the hell out of those horns all these years.

Yours truly,

Anna

Thank You Loopy Brain

I’m having the worst time trying to write today. There’s a lot of random crap circling around in my brain, and none of it will shut up long enough to let me concentrate on just one thing. I’m feeling like there’s so much work to get done that doing something for pleasure is out of the question. However, the part of me that’s still sane is like, “It’s Saturday! Loosen up! Enjoy yourself – it’s your day off!” Right now, both of those voices are just yelling at each other while I type away, trying to get just one small written work out before I lose my train of thought again. Too late, it’s already happening. Ugh.

Meanwhile, the toddler next door is wailing at the top of his tiny-yet-powerful lungs, which certainly isn’t helping things any. I live in a six flat of 450 sq. ft. studio apartments. Each one is good for one person – two if the couple isn’t prone to bickering. The guy next door has a live-in girlfriend, and on the weekend his two young sons come to visit. They’re cute kids, but by the time night rolls around, one or both is usually losing his shit and screaming like a banshee. Whether it’s the threat of bedtime or bathtime, or if dad’s just feeding them junk food and they end up crashing by 7pm, I’m not sure, but the walls aren’t that thin and I’m still presently hearing every guttural howl emanating from my neighbor’s apartment. Ugh.

Also, my cat’s been farting next to me for the last ten minutes, so there’s that. Little squeaky farts, a tad bit bubbly. But if he’s sleeping, it means he’s not trying to pet me, which he does the entire time he’s awake. He’s one of those cats that tell you they’re ready to receive a petting by dabbing at you with their paw. He’s constantly looking for love, typically by gently scraping his paw (claws extended, of course, because why not) across my face or arm. It was adorable for the first couple of years. Now, not so much. Most days he gets about a solid hour and a half of massage time, begs for more for another hour or so, then resorts to annoying his sister for another hour or so before passing out on or near my lap. And apparently farting. Yay.

The apartment is really messy. Even when it’s totally clean, it still feels messy. I just feel like there’s too much stuff in here. Ideally, I’d love to minimize my belongings to the point where there was still some character, but not as much crap laying about. I’m just not sure how to achieve it. Maybe I’ll spend some solid time tomorrow just taking more stuff out to the street corner. My street corner has magical powers. Anything at all that I take out to the street corner will be gone within an hour. Of course, I’ve left some juicy tidbits out there – books, workout equipment, random knickknacks – but some of the stuff I’ve left out there is just utter crap, one step up from the junk pile. But no matter what, it ends up disappeared within the hour. I even left the remains of my old air conditioner out there once, and by remains, I mean that the thing was in many pieces after we had to dismantle it to get it out of my window. It wasn’t working, and some of the pieces were obviously broken/missing. It was carted away within the hour. Who takes the things? It’s not the trash collector. It’s someone that also thinks I have a magic street corner. They think that they’re just in luck, that this street corner always seems to be accumulating rare goodies every time they pass.

Still haven’t painted my St. Francis statue, and I also really want to paint this little side table that I bought at a yard sale a few years ago. I think maybe tomorrow I’ll try checking out the local hardware store to see what paint colors they have in stock. It’s a small store, so I’m sure the collection won’t be as nice as it would be at a bigger place, but who knows – maybe they have the shade of magenta I’ve been dreaming of.

I paid off another credit card, but had to sign up for health insurance soon after, and of course I didn’t have that amount of money in my bank account, so it went right back on the stupid credit card again. I hate that. What I don’t hate is that starting January 1st, I’ll be able to go to the doctor again. I can’t wait to go and get my first decent checkup since college. I’m going to get a full health exam, all the trimmings. Yes, I’m excited about going to the doctor. Guess I’m getting old. Plus, I’m really ready to get this thyroid thing figured out and get on meds. Especially since I seem to be growing out of my current size jeans. Last time I checked my weight I was up by a lot. Part of me is horrified by the amount of weight I’ve been putting on, but I can’t help but also think it’s kind of funny. I guess I’m also just relieved, in a way. I’ve always hated my body. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been grossed out by how fat I was, and the way my cellulite looked, etc, etc. Now, my real self is starting to match the mirror self that I’ve always seen. It’s weirdly comforting. I’m not saying that I want to stay this way. It’s just that suddenly I’m finding it exhausting to keep hating myself. I think maybe I needed to just break myself in order to figure out what it was that needed to be done to get put back together properly once and for all.

Speaking of changes, I’ve also started to play my first real video game. I’m playing Portal. So far I’m finding myself utterly incompetent, and having trouble not getting aggressive with the computer when I screw up. I think that might be what guys like about gaming, though? I’m not entirely sure. There are other games out there that I’d probably understand a little better – story-driven games, more likely. But I really like puzzles, typically, so I’m starting with the game that everybody and their brother has assured me I’d love. I’m trying to get past years of fear and confusion, and get around to a point where I’ll be comfortable. Gaming seems uniquely masculine to me, though. I’m not sure I get it. But that’s what I thought about comic books, and I just went to a comic book convention today for the first time ever, so things change, right?

OK, I’m pulling the plug on this drivel-y post. My guilty pleasure is inane chit-chat. I like to empty out my brain a bit from time to time. It gives me enough space up in the old brainpan to do something relaxing, like watch terrible horror movies or do a little bit of origami. Or maybe just go to bed early. Mmmm, that sounds lovely.

The Oldest Cousin

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When people find out that I’m an only child, they’ll often make some kind of comment about how lucky I was to not have to share my belongings, or to have my parents “all to myself.” Logically, I can see how this might look like it’s the case, but it’s not exactly true. I grew up in a house in the middle of the woods, about a mile outside of town. Most of the time, there were no other kids around to play with. My parents didn’t have a lot of friends, so we didn’t have company often. My mom was/is a stay-at-home mom, so I had her, but my dad was always working, often not making it home until after I’d already gone to bed in the evening. I was lonely. I was also introverted, which back then just came across as shy and weird, so I didn’t make friends easily. Mostly, I just sat in my hammock out in the yard and read a lot.

My father is the oldest of three boys, and though both of my uncles also had children, their oldest kids are seven years younger than I am. Now that I’m in my 30’s, having cousins in their mid-20’s doesn’t seem like such a huge age gap. When you’re 15 and your closest relation is 8, it’s a little difficult to relate. Also, my mother’s only sibling, a sister, decided not to have children, so I’m the only kid on that side. Summer vacations at my maternal grandmother’s house felt lonely because I was drastically younger than everyone else, while trips to my paternal grandmother’s house felt lonely because I was drastically older than everyone else. On top of all that, from kindergarten through sixth grade I was sent to a private Christian school, and I was the poorest kid in class. My bookish behavior, worn-out Kmart clothes, and complete lack of understanding of pop culture did not earn me friends, let’s just put it that way.

So childhood was uncomfortable. As I got older, I started to focus more and more on just getting the hell out of dodge, and starting over again. The focus for my family was always that I get a great education, so I excelled in high school and applied to good colleges. I was excited to get into Tulane for undergrad, and once I moved away things got a lot better. Though I didn’t become a new person, I did find different ways to express myself. I pushed myself to be more outgoing. I found friends, and eventually those friendships built a family structure. Now, my friend family feels more real to me than my actual family.

It doesn’t help my relationships with folks back home that as I grew and explored, my life experiences began to shape my understanding of the world. My life in a small town in the country paled in comparison to my new experiences in New Orleans, Chicago, and across the world as I traveled and met people from all walks of life. My education level began to set me apart from my family, as well. I have a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, while most of my family members went to work right after high school, or else got bachelor’s degrees from smaller local colleges and then jumped into the workforce. It doesn’t matter much to me, but at home, people tend to mention my school career to me in a condescending way pretty often, like getting an education is a negative trait. I’ve given up trying to figure out what that means.

Also, I found that as I got more and more into modern tech and gadgetry, both for work and for kicks, I started finding that I had even less to talk to my mother and father about. Eventually, there couldn’t help but be this huge divide between us. All of the things that I take for granted about the way the world works are just not part of the world that they see every day. Their views are also often shuttered and prejudiced, so I find myself having to ignore a lot of things, while picking and choosing what “battles” to undertake, what ideas to gently attempt to instill to try to negate the prejudice (and sometimes, complete ignorance). It’s not easy. It’s not fun. I hate it. Luckily, both of my parents love me very much, and try their hardest to relate to me. It’s obvious when we’re talking to each other that we’re all doing our best to figure out how to talk to each other and keep the bond strong; it’s just nothing like what I know/see/experience happening with my friends and their families, so sometimes it gets me down.

The one bright spot in my family is my cousin Crystal, who’s my oldest female cousin. She’s almost eight years younger than me, but we’ve always been close-ish. When she was a tiny, chubby thing with a huge smile, she’d always follow me around everywhere, and as she got older we bonded over being the outsiders in the family. We’re the only members of the family to move away from North Carolina, and with me being pagan and her being an atheist, we’re both damned for all eternity as far as our family is concerned. So there’s that to bond over, lol! Plus, we’re both pretty geeky, which doesn’t hurt. But there’s still enough of a gap in our ages that we aren’t buddy-buddy or anything. It’s just nice to know I have one family member that gets me, and I think she feels the same way. We talk on Facebook every couple of weeks, so that’s nice.

Either way, here I am – the black sheep of the family, even though I’ve done everything “right”. An adult who hasn’t seen her parents in three years, and tries never to go home to North Carolina if she can avoid it. Someone who wants desperately to connect with her family, but mostly feels like she has nothing at all in common with them. Someone who convinces herself that feeling like an outsider is just in her imagination, only to have it proven over and over again that she has never fit in, and never will. If I felt like I didn’t belong there as a child, it’s definite that I actually don’t belong there now, as a grown woman. I don’t feel like I have an extended family, most of the time. I love my parents, but I’m often exasperated with them, and they with me. All I want is a big family that laughs together and could be counted on in a pinch. It makes me sad that I might never have that. But I guess that’s just what happens to some of us.

Weekly Goals: 11/17 to 11/24

Workout x 5 @ Iron Tribe

Workout x 5 w/ Lumosity

Stick to the paleo diet – no junk & no alcohol

Pay rest of the month’s bills

Sign up for health insurance

Price out Lasik, braces, car and create budget

Clean out closet – anything that makes me feel bad or doesn’t fit must go

Give away all books that I’m not using

Get 8 hours of sleep a night

Drink plenty of water

Make a date to get Pantone colors read at Sephora

Get a massage, facial, hair cut & mani/pedi

Marketing plan for Contraflow

Set all upcoming social media posts for clients

Research creating outline

Get quote for recovering couch

Make AirBnB reservations for next trip to Chicago

Remember those great stackable coffee cups/bowls at World Market. Those were great :-)

Stop Wasting Your Time

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us to discuss the concept that “good things come to those that wait.” As I start to cobble together my thoughts on this subject, I can say for sure that the first thing happening in my mind is a general feeling of disgust and irritation. It’s not that I don’t like to wait, or that I don’t see the benefits of taking your time and thinking through your choices. I’ve been known to let people cut in front of me in traffic without batting an eyelash, and I often read hundreds of reviews before pulling the trigger on making an important purchase. OK, “often” is an understatement – I feel a compulsion to read all of the reviews I can get my hands on, to have a handle on positive and negative potential outcomes – but that’s not what we’re talking about.

Overall, I am completely certain that in the past, one of my largest and most outstanding personality flaws has been my weird mix of patience, cowardice, and stoicism when confronting personal changes. It’s a deadly cocktail that’s kept me in place for far too long, waiting for just the right conditions to strike so I can finally make my moves. While the last bout of waiting hasn’t caused my life irreparable damage (at least that I can see right now – who knows what cracks are hiding under the slightly-banged-up surface?), it hasn’t done me any favors, either.

Throughout my life, all of the best things that have ever happened to me did so when I just went with my gut and took that leap of faith.

People with kids often say that that if you’re waiting to have a baby until the time is “right,” you’ll keep waiting forever. There’s never a right time. I think that’s something that those of us who’re more cautious, planning types should keep in mind. There will never be a perfect time to end a long term relationship, or move to a new city, or blow all of your money on that vacation you’ve always wanted to go on. But you’ll know when the time is decent enough. Take that chance. You might never have it again. In fact, you won’t ever have that particular chance again. Sure, there might be another opening that’s just as good, but really, you should be utilizing them all. Why have just one adventure? Why do just one thing that excites you, and expands your horizons? Why not aim for them all (or as many as you can, anyway)?

I just spent almost a quarter of my life waiting for life to begin. I let someone else tell me what I should be planning for, and what dreams I should just tuck back into my imagination and let wither and die. I should be saving all of my money for a house and children. I should be working a regular 9 to 5 job, to have time to spend with my family after work. I should learn how to cook because it’s something that everyone loves. Trips to Europe without money for nice hotels every night of the stay were a ridiculous expenditure for only half of a vacation. Trips anywhere at all were a ridiculous expenditure when I should be concentrating on saving for weddings and kids and mortgages. Spending money on nice meals in restaurants was utter stupidity when the same money would cook a week’s worth of food. Going to the movies was a waste of time and money when a DVD was the price of one ticket. Working for a non-profit wouldn’t make enough money to pay for a house, so helping people was probably out of the question. Why stop at being a marketing coordinator when I could run a department one day and be respected and make money to pay for a house? A house. Kids. A mortgage. A car. All things that I could want one day, but didn’t want then and don’t really care about now. (Although I’m getting tired of walking everywhere, so maybe a car might be cool sometime soon, I don’t know yet.)

Bottom line: I like to travel. I like living light. I don’t really care about money. I like having it, but I only like having it because it’s fun to spend. Sure, paying off bills and saving for retirement is smart, but putting a hold on your travel plans for the next 30 YEARS because it’s expensive to have children????? I’d rather go to London every year and just not have babies, thanks.

Good things can come to those who wait, yeah. But it’s a big fucking chance you’re taking at sitting back and hoping for the best, while ignoring all of the beauty and opportunity laid out before you. TAKE A CHANCE! LIVE! STOP WAITING FOR THINGS TO GET BETTER AND GO MAKE THEM BETTER NOW.

Stop wasting your time. It’s finite, you know. We’re all dying. We’re in a race to the end, but the end point is invisible. Live a little before you hit the finish line.

It’s Not At All What You’d Hoped

Anna at 23. A selfie taken back with the hashtag was just a pound sign. Vienna, November 2004.

Anna at 23. A selfie taken back when the hashtag was just a pound sign. I’m wearing my favorite hat (lost during Katrina), and my favorite earrings. If you’ve seen my tattoo before, you might recognize the design. Vienna, November 2004.

Hello me. We probably shouldn’t be meeting like this, if certain 1980’s time travel movies are to be believed. Given that I’ll always take Spock’s explanations over Doc Brown’s, though, I guess we’ll be fine. Of course, you’ll have no clue what I’m talking about. It will be another five years before the new movie comes out, and at the moment (provided I remember you correctly) you’re still trying to pretend that you aren’t as excited about Federation matters as you obviously are. Yeah, you still admit your love of Star Wars if asked, since no one seems to look down on it as much as they do Star Trek, but seriously lady, come out of the geek closet already. It’s going to be OK. No one is going to shun you for getting a little googly-eyed over the cool costumes and the concept of an entire planet full of people working towards peace. No one that matters, anyway.

I’d offer you some coffee, but you don’t like it. Oh, you will, though. But listen up – don’t go down that dark path towards over-caffeination. It’s pretty much the devil. I’m just now weaning myself off of the stuff after a good five-year dependency. It’s really not worth the effort. Plus, there are even some studies now that say too much coffee can make you gain weight – and yeah, you notice than I’m about forty pounds heavier than you are at 23. So maybe just don’t get into a steady relationship with the java anytime soon, OK? And stop with the diet pills. Just stop.

So about this summer. The decision you made was a tough one, and yeah, you’re going to be replaying it for the rest of your life. It’s always going to be about the math, really. You’ll think “what if” forever. Every year you’ll invent a new scenario to adjust for the time that’s passed. But it’s OK. You had it easier than a lot of people, and I know that you are about 95% fine with how everything went down. Believe me when I say that you’ll continue to be OK with it. From where I’m sitting, 10 years later, I’m nearing the 100% point. There are some very tiny regrets, but not about the way it happened. It was the right choice.

You know why? Because that trip you’re currently on in Vienna, to visit Katie and celebrate your birthday – that’s going to be one of the happiest memories of your life. At your darkest points, you’ll remember the Riesenrad, and missing that stupid flight to Berlin. You’ll be simultaneously horrified and highly amused that you hallucinated Snow White’s evil stepmother. And you’ll be grateful for every second spent in the presence of your beloved friend. Even more important, you’ll come to realize that the moment you decided to book that trip was the moment you chose to pick yourself up and put yourself back together, and to live every single day to the fullest. And the effects of that decision have continued to ripple through your life, making you such a full and interesting person. No, you’ll still never be able to admit that to yourself without feeling guilty and stupid, but as Jean LeLoup says, “…et j’ai des grands instants de lucididité”.

You’re so resilient, Anna. I know it feels right now like he just spent the last year and a half slowly tearing your heart out, and that this summer was the culmination of some horror show that you, the master masochist, willingly signed up for. I know you’re blaming yourself. But believe me – in 10 years time, you will have traveled the world. You will be getting ready for the biggest adventure of your life, finally, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. And he’ll be balding, and spouting worn out platitudes via social media (don’t worry, you’ll find out more about that later), and generally annoying you every time he happens to cross your mind. The love stays. But reality breaks in, and it brings a hell of a lot of peace with it.

I suppose I should give you some hints about what’s coming up for you. This next year is going to be great, until it isn’t. You’re going to have a lot of fun hanging out with your new friends, and working at K-Paul’s. And you’re going to get into grad school, and go back to Vienna and Paris and London again this summer. It’s going to be an amazing dream of a year, the best you’ve ever had, and the best you’ll have for some time to come. Once you come home, though, there’s going to be a hurricane. You’ll lose everything you own, be disowned by your family, and will have to move across the country to start over again from scratch. But you’ll meet a ton of new friends, and that new strength, the strength that you found on your trip to Vienna, that’s going to get you through it all. You will rise to the occasion, and it will mold you into something different. The phoenix. Me.

I wish I could tell you now that you shouldn’t go back to New Orleans when your heart starts yearning for home that winter, but then you wouldn’t meet your next serious boyfriend. And you’ll want to meet him. It will be an interesting time. He’ll teach you a lot about yourself. But he’ll make you forget a lot about yourself, too. Make your decisions carefully, my love. I wish I could give you some guidance, but you already know that your major problem is always going to be your self esteem, paired with a near pathological need to be of service to those you love. The challenge is going to be figuring out when to jump ship. If I were you, I’d talk to that guy at the end of the bar on our 30th birthday. Yeah, I know that’s seven years from now in your world, but keep it in mind. You’ll know who I’m talking about when you get there.

Oh 23-year old Anna, I love you. More importantly, other people do, too. I wish that 33-year old Anna could keep that in focus more often. Am I rambling? Is anything I’m saying even making sense to you? I guess more than anything, all I want to say is to pay attention, enjoy the little things, stop placing so much weight on other people’s needs, and place a little more on your own. Just follow your intuition. Take the lesson you learned from that one leap of faith and multiply it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how things turn out – how YOU turn out. It’s not at all what you’d hoped.

It’s much better.

Green Beauty Review: Pachy by Rustic Maka (Part 2)

Patchy Deodorant by Rustic Maka (sample sizes)

Keep reading to get 15% off from now through December 10th, 2014!

If you were reading on Tuesday, I posted Part 1 of this Green Beauty review on Pachy Deodorant by Rustic Maka. I promised to post again yesterday, but I have a head cold that’s been getting the better of me this week, so I’m running a day behind – sorry. It might be a good thing to be running late, though, because I found out something so cool about Pachy in the mean time! It turns out that Pachy is pronounced something like “Pax-y”, and actually means “armpit” in Polish. If you’re a lingo geek like me, you’ll probably find this endearing. If not, well, keep reading to find out more about why you should love Pachy :-)

So you guys know that my typical go-to brand is Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant, though during the summer, there’s no natural product out there (that I’ve found) that can keep me staying dry enough to not get a rash within a few weeks of constant use. Most of the year, I use a natural deodorant and carry a jar of cornstarch or arrowroot powder with me to dust my underarms periodically throughout the day, and coconut oil to soothe skin irritations. However, by late August, when I received the samples of Pachy, I’d already returned to my yearly summertime habit of over-the-counter antiperspirant use (I know, I’m awful, but if it’s the choice between maybe getting cancer one day and definitely having red, burning, achey, and insanely itchy armpits today, I’m going to take the gamble).

Then it occurred to me: Let’s use this as a chance to do an experiment! I’d try Pachy in New Orleans’ hottest and most humid conditions, then try it again when the weather had cooled a bit and I wasn’t sweating buckets.

Trial #1: August 20th through 27th
Temperatures ranged from 94 degrees Fahrenheit down to a lovely, cool, 88 degrees (that’s a joke, btw), with average daily humidity levels in the 80% range. My daily activity level is pretty high – I walk about 2.5 miles to work every morning along a route that doesn’t offer much shade, walk another 2.5 miles back home in the evening, plus go to the gym for a few more miles’ run, weight lifting, etc. I also spend my day working in an un-airconditioned building. In other words, summer is an extremely sweaty affair.

Trial #2: October 20th through 27th
Temperatures ranged from 83 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, down to around 62 degrees at night. Humidity dropped a bit, too (thank goodness) – to only around 50% most days. My activity level didn’t change, but due to not feeling like I was trying to run a marathon under a heat lamp, I was sweating a bit less.

The results? I loved the way Pachy smoothed onto my skin. It’s not crumbly or dry, and it also wasn’t sticky and waxy the way a lot of natural deodorants tend to be. I love to be able to just put my deo on and go – no holding my arms up to let my pits dry out for a minute, like with a roll on deo, and no worrying about getting it all over your clothes if you’re getting ready to put a shirt on, etc. Pachy is perfect in that regard. I could easily put a bit on and walk out the door, and I loved it.

As far as smelliness on my part went, I found that the active ingredients in Pachy kept me from getting stinky for a long time. I’d put some on before leaving the house, get super sweaty on the way to the gym/work, then wash up a little and put on some more. I wouldn’t be stinky at all when I was reapplying, just sweaty (and sweaty to me means getting an underarm rash, so I always like to wash up, get dry, and reapply after an hour or so of constant sweating). Once the weather got cooler, I found that especially if I wasn’t doing anything strenuous, I could apply once and not have to “treat” for stinkyness for 24 hours or so. In other words, this stuff really works for odor prevention.

Pachy only fell short for me in two highly-personal regards. My personal preference is for spicy, musky scents. I prefer a scent profile that some might find more manly – sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, balsam – and though Pachy smells lovely and clean, I like to be a little spicier. It’s wonderful if you’re looking more for a “fresh out of the shower” scent, though. My favorite of all of the scents was the Rough Rivers scent, which is sold as the men’s version of the deodorant. I’d recommend that if you want to try Pachy out and you’re also into something stronger/spicier, take Rough Rivers for a spin.

Secondly, as I’ve already mentioned, I tend to get armpit rashes if I’m not really careful about keeping them dry and protected from chafing. For me, it felt like once the product soaked into my skin, it didn’t leave enough of a creamy barrier to protect my armpits from rubbing and creating a rash. Like I said before, though, I always carry around cornstarch or arrowroot powder for that, so it wasn’t that big of a deal – I just dusted some on. It’s just something to keep in mind if you’re also a delicate flower who has to pay way more attention to her armpits that she’d like :-D

Overall, I loved Pachy. I wish that they had a few more scents in the roundup, but the product itself was effective for long periods of time and generally felt great on. If you’re in the market for something new for your pits, try them out! Here’s an even bigger incentive – from now until 12/10/14, my readers can use code PACHY2014 to receive 15% off your orders at RusticMaka.com. Pretty awesome, right?