Posts Tagged ‘massage’

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It’s been a particularly drab December here in Utah, where an atypical lack of snowfall has failed to make a winter wonderland of the otherwise lifeless inversion-bogged post-Autumn mountains of the Wasatch Front.

So I wanted to go somewhere pretty. Somewhere like the spa at the Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City’s largest and only AAA rated 5-diamond hotel. This is the big daddy of Utah’s hotel industry. When U.S. presidents visit the Beehive State, this is where they stay.

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As far as the actual Treat Yo Self experience, I was intrigued by the Sugar Body Polish offered by the spa, which promised a “sweet treat to pamper deprived skin” through a blend of sugar exfoliate and moisturizing coconut and safflower oil, rich in Vitamins B-6and E.

I love vitamin B-6, it’s my favorite of the Bs! (Note: I don’t actually know the difference between B vitamins). I was sold, and I invited my friend Liz to come along.

I met Liz in February during the Legislative session. She’s a southerner who likes Mexican food. She’s my polar opposite. Literally. We have the Myers Briggs test results to prove it.

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She’s ok.

We checked in at the Grand Spa and were promptly shown to our locker rooms, which were located on separate floors and which included their own gender specific lounges. I can’t speak for the women’s lounge, but mine had two large plasma screens, a shoe polisher and complimentary tea, pretzels and granola.

I was shown to my locker by an attendant, where I found a very comfortable robe (pictured above) and a pair of Jesus sandals waiting for me. There was also a dry sauna and steam room and a row of showers, including the “experience” shower, a behemoth monstrosity advertized as having 17 separate shower heads (I counted 18).

FullSizeRender(14)After a few minutes in the lounge, I was picked up by my — masseuse? scrubber? — the person who would be performing my body scrub, who led me upstairs to my treatment room, which included its very own experience shower.

She gave me an option of scents to choose from, from which I selected a eucalyptus grapefruit blend. I was also a little congested from a cold so she added some essential oils to help me breathe better.

The scrub itself was very similar to a massage: I lied down on a bed covered by a sheet and she proceeded to pass her sugar-coated hands around my body. But instead of the pressured kneading of a massage, she moved in a back and forth motion similar to what I imagine my teeth feel when I brush them.

After the sugar was applied, she stepped out of the room while I went and rinsed off in the experience shower. I was really excited for this but the shower itself turned out to be mildly terrifying, a disorienting onslaught of scalding hot water coming from all directions with no escape.

I rinsed and toweled and laid back down. She returned to the room, applied some moisturizing oil and that was that. I met back up with Liz in the lobby and we picked up our to-go bottles of sugar scrub for an at-home sequel.

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Properly pampered, we skipped over to Simply Sushi to conduct our interview over some miso soup and tuna rolls.

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Wood’s Stock: Who are you and what do you do?

Elizabeth Converse: My name is Elizabeth and I work in politics.

WS: What did you think of the body scrub today?

EC: It was weird.

WS: How so?

EC: It was like a massage that was cut in half and instead you were scrubbed for the first half.

WS: Did you like it though?

EC: Yeah it was fun.

WS: Have you ever had a scrub before?

EC: No

WS: Walk me through it, what it was.

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EC: You get naked and you get on a table and instead of a massage they rub you down with exfoliates and things that smell good.

WS: What does it feel like?

EC: Tingly. I enjoyed it. A lot.

WS: I’ve had a massage, it’s very smooth. But this was scratchy.

EC: It didn’t feel scratchy to me. It didn’t hurt.

WS: I don’t mean that it hurt but it was scratchy, kind of sandy.

EC: Yeah

WS: Like someone with sandy hands was rubbing my body.

EC: Yeah. You and I define words differently. Scratchy to me has a negative connotation. It was awesome.

WS: So then what?

EC: You jump into this really weird shower with a million shower heads and light reflectors.

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WS: What did you think of that?

EC: I was completely overwhelmed.

WS: Right?

EC: I told her that after I got out. She laughed and said she always has to turn have the heads off, it’s over-stimulation.

WS: It was too much. She turned it on for me and she turned it on way too hot.

EC: With mine some of them were cold and some of them were hot and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust them so they were all warm. I just kept turning awkwardly and making sure all the sugar was off of me. And that’s another thing. Sugar gets places.

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WS: Sugar gets places?

EC: Yeah and I didn’t…

WS: Should we just leave it at that?

EC: Yeah let’s leave it at that.

WS: So after shower what then?

EC: You lay back down on a clean set of sheets. That’s another thing, it was weird laying in sheets with food in them. I haven’t done that in a long time.

WS: You mean the sugar?

EC: Yeah, it’s gross. No eating in bed.

WS: So how does it finish out?

EC: You lay down on the clean sheets. They rub you down with oil, like a mini massage and that was pleasant. I enjoyed both sides of that, really it was just the shower that was weird. She did my stomach, which was really nice and felt interesting.

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WS: When you say she did you stomach, you were laying there topless?

EC: No she covered me with a towel. She just rolled the sheet down and I had a towel.

WS: I’m just mad that I didn’t get my stomach.

EC: It was kind of awesome.

WS: I mean, it’s easy to scrub my stomach.

EC: It was really fun and super relaxing. It’s one of those body parts that people don’t often rub so it was quite pleasant.

WS: How does your skin feel?

EC: I don’t know yet. I kind of want to go home and get naked and test it out. Putting my clothes back on was weird. They were dirty and I was all clean and soft. The hair on my legs is super soft right now.

WS: You’re a sports fan yes?

EC: Yeah

WS: Who do you cheer for?

EC: NBA is Oklahoma City Thunder. I currently do not have an NFL team. I’m looking.

WS: You’re in the market?

EC: I’m in the market for an NFL team. I love Peyton but the Broncos are just a raging disappointment. And then of course college ball, Oklahoma State for life and most SEC teams when they’re not playing someone I care about.

WS: Are you more of a collegiate level fan or professional?

EC: Growing up in Oklahoma there weren’t professional teams so college ball is life.

WS: I don’t know a lot of women who are big sports fans. Where you grew up is it just sports everywhere, every day, everything?

EC: Yeah during the season its just part of life. The only season that I wasn’t invested in was baseball but down there baseball is still pretty huge. It just depends on where you live and what the major sport was in the town you grew up in and for us that was football.

WS: Is it weird to you if someone doesn’t’ like sports?

EC: Yes.

WS: Why? Let’s say, hypothetically of course, that right now you were speaking to someone who didn’t care about sports.

EC: Hypothetically.

WS: What would be your argument to why they’re wrong?

EC: I don’t necessarily think they’re wrong it’s just odd to me. That’s what you do in high school and college, it’s how you show collegiate pride. One thing I loved about my high school experience was that we had players in our drama department. There was no divide there. The directors worked hard to make sure everyone was well-rounded so you became friends with people. You wanted to support them in their careers.

WS: I’m a huge film fan and people are often dismissive of entertainment and I have a speech that I sometimes give as to why I think it’s important. So why is sports important. Why does it matter?

EC: It’s the alternative to modern warfare. I don’t know how to explain that. It allows for a healthy level of competition and aggression where other people might not have an outlet at that time. I think people and young adulthood is a very stressful time and sports and sports fandom allows people that outlet.

WS: What about people who argue that it heightens and fosters aggression?

EC: I think they’ve never seen a bunch of bored teenagers in a neighborhood with nothing else to do breaking stuff. You put those same teenagers who want to break stuff on a football field and they might get to go to college because of it.

WS: It’s bowl season. Are any of your teams still in the running?

EC: Oklahoma State. I don’t know what bowl they’re in.

WS: Would you recommend a body scrub to someone who has never had one?

EC: No.

WS: Why not?

EC: I think it’s something that can be done at home and I’d rather spend the entire time being massaged.

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WS: I can see that. I liked the variety of two experiences. Felt like I was getting a lot out of my trip to the spa. Are you on twitter?

EC: No.

WS: Anything you want to promote.

EC: No.

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Normally, that would be the end of this post. But seeing as how this was the final Treat Yo Self I thought I’d check in with some of our friends from adventures throughout the year.

I asked them a few questions and then invited them to turn the tables and interview me. Here’s what they had to say.

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Adam Blair, from Treat Yo Self: Barbershop Shave

Wood’s Stock: Have you repeated your Treat Yo Self activity? Or have you had any other Treat Yo Self experiences this year?

Adam Blair: Yes, I got a mani-pedi with some friends. And it so happens that I booked a straight razor shave yesterday at Ray’s.

WS: Now that it’s not so fresh, would you still recommend/not recommend your activity?

AB: Absolutely. Straight razor shaves make you feel real classy.

WS: Any questions for me?

AB: Would you rather have rackets for hands or flippers for feet?

WS: Flipper feet would only be useful in an aquatic scenario, but racket hands would interfere with more of my day-to-day activities. I choose flipper feet.

AB: How do you feel about ugly sweater parties?

WS: I support themed parties but I don’t believe in intentionally wearing ugly clothing.

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Cody Titmus, from Treat Yo Self: Chest Wax

Wood’s stock: Have you repeated your Treat Yo Self activity? Or have you had any other Treat Yo Self experiences this year?

Cody Titmus: I think I am going to limit myself to just the one waxing this year.

WS: Now that it’s not so fresh, would you still recommend/not recommend your activity to others?

CT: That’s a hard ‘No!’

WS: Any questions for me?

CT: Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?

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Neil Schiffman, from Treat Yo Self: Spray Tan

Wood’s Stock: Have you had any other Treat Yo Self  experiences this year?

Neil Schiffman: The only treating myself I’ve ever really ever done was a pedicure. That was heavenly.  No headaches, crazy soft feet, and crazy Asian ladies making fun of me added up to a delightful experience.

WS: Any questions for me?

NS: When you read Ayn Rand what was your initial reaction and how do you view her writings now?

WS: I still consider myself a Rand fan, much like I consider myself an Upton Sinclair fan. I don’t think either author’s work should be the sole foundation of society or an individual’s philosophy, but I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and think there’s valuable nuggets in there, particularly about inter-personal relationships. I even gave Atlas Shrugged a shout-out in my novel Committing.

NS: With this Rolling Stone article blowing up in their face, what, in your opinion does this story do to the cause of raising rape awareness? Do people respond “told you rape like that doesn’t happen” or completely ignore any discrepancies and continue to see men as pigs?

WS: I think we’re seeing both reactions, and I worry about this controversy setting the conversation back several years. But many universities, including UVA, continue to be under investigation by the Department of Education for their handling of campus sexual assault and a lot of schools are moving forward with their reviews of campus policies even though the article has been (at least partly) discredited. TIME had an interesting article about the post-Rolling Stone landscape that suggested the conversation is still moving forward.

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Emily Milam, from Treat Yo Self: Hot Stone Massage

Wood’s Stock: Have you repeated your activity or treated yo self in other ways?

Emily Milam:  Probably once a day since February I have thought to myself “I need to get another hot stone message,” but sadly, I haven’t gone back for another. However, this year I went skydiving (which was definitely a treat for me) and I got a couple facials which were awesome.

WS: Any questions for me?

EM: If you had to pick 3 movies that were the only three movies you could watch for the rest of your life, what would they be?

WS: Casablanca, Jurassic Park, Silver Linings Playbook.

EM: Your escorts excluded, which Treat Yo Self was your favorite?

WS: The hot stone massage was the most enjoyable and probably the one that I’m most looking forward to doing again. But in the sense of discovering new and interesting things, I would say the sensory deprivation tank was the most memorable.

Float tank at Salt City Float Spa

EM: What is the most importation news item people should be aware of at this time?

WS: The American diet is a joke, setting us on a trajectory for widespread diabetes in the coming decades. While we were all enjoying our diet Coke, they stopped referring to Type 2 as “adult-onset” diabetes because people are getting it at younger and younger ages. Big sugar is the new big tobacco and common sense reform efforts, like listing added sugar on nutrition labels, are being blocked by very powerful and well-funded lobbying groups. Stop. Drinking. Soda. And watch ‘Fed Up.’

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Chelsey Gensel, from Treat Yo Self: European Facial

Wood’s Stock: Have you repeated your activity or treated yo self in other ways this year?

Chelsey Gensel:  I have not repeated my activity but only because new york is so damn expensive. I have thought about treating myself a few times after reading your blog posts, but I’ve always put it off because of timing or cost – maybe I’ll make a list of my own for 2015.

WS: Would you still recommend getting a facial?

CG: I would recommend trying it at least once, especially if you have problems with your skin. Find a treatment suited to that specifically.

WS: Any questions for me?

CG: Do you feel like you were “successful” with the project?

WS: I do. I like to say that “I fear the life un-lived” and this project really gave me the push I needed to open myself up to new experiences. Most of the things on this list were things I’ve been curious about for a while, but I never had the right motivation to pull the trigger.

CG: Is there any treat you wish you had or hadn’t done?

WS: I don’t regret any of the activities, even though some of them were horrible. Liz and I were supposed to end it with a hot air balloon ride over the Wasatch Front but the pilots cancelled at the last moment because of inclement weather. That was a bummer. I had also hoped to do acupuncture but everywhere I looked sold service packages instead of single visits, which was just too cost prohibitive.

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Milk Bath

Last month’s Treat Yo Self was, to put it mildly, unpleasant. It’s been an entire month and my torso still has not fully recovered (or regrown, which I do admit is impressive).

So for this month’s adventure I was adamant that the activity in question be on the relaxing side of the Treat Yo Self spectrum.

Since the beginning of this project I’ve had the idea for some form of bath on my list of ideas. When I lived in New York I remember people talking about the weird Turkish Bath Houses, and pop culture is rife with references to mud baths, but as you can imagine Utah isn’t exactly a hotbed of holistic diversity.

But in my search, I did happen upon the Beyond Spa in Layton, which offers a Coconut Milk Bath either as an add-on to a massage or as a standalone service and which is apparently excellent for your skin.

To be honest, my only frame of reference for a milk bath was that scene from Snow White and the Huntsman so I didn’t really know what to expect. But intrigued, I booked it.

Milk BAthFirst things first, a milk bath (at least at Beyond Spa) is not a bath tub full of milk. Instead it is a typical bath mixed with a coconut milk powder, which is added to the water with a reaction akin to dropping a bocce ball-sized Alka-Seltzer into a really large glass.

The tub itself was a little smaller than I would have liked, requiring me to either sit with my torso out of the water or go diamond legs to slide my shoulders down. I also expected it to be in a bathroom-esque location, with tile or something, but instead was just tucked into the corner of a two-bed massage suite.

photo(22)The friendly staff at Beyond Spa showed me to my room and set a timer for 30 minutes. They had also set up a pitcher of ice water, towels, and a small package of coconut M&Ms, which actually turned out to be the perfect snack to compliment  a coconut milk bath.

photo 1(3)For this month’s Treat Yo Self I invited along my brother Jake, who longtime Wood’s Stock readers may recognize from our occasional Two Wood Uke music videos.

Jake is 9 years older than me and, as I’ve written before, is often described as my elder, wiser, more successful and more charismatic duplicate. (“Your brother had so many friends in high school,” my mother said to me once, “You should be more like him.”). In a past life he was lead-singer in the band Dishwoody and the Burritos and after a short stint as an architect (or drafter, whatever) he pivoted into sales.

He’s the original model, as it were, and I’m the off-brand imitator with cheap parts from Kuwait.

He’s OK.

photo 3(2)Properly pampered, we made our way over to the Cantina Southwestern Grill to conduct our interview over tacos and a particularly robust amount of chips and salsa.

photo 4(2)Wood Stock: Who are you and what do you do?

Jake Wood: I am Jake Wood, I am 36, I sell professional beauty supplies and I have done that for 10 years now.

WS: Have you ever had a milk bath before?

JW: No

WS: What did you think?

JW: It was pretty relaxing and I don’t know if it was that I was exhausted before I got there but when I left I was about ready to get into a coma.

WS: Walk me through the experience. Paint me a word picture.

JW: I rinsed off reel quick in the shower, hopped in the bath, threw in some coconut..what was it, salts? Crystals?

WS: It was like a powder.

Milk Bath coconutJW: Yeah, like a powdered coconut crystal. Dumped that in there. It started fizzing like Pop Rocks and then I just sat there and soaked it in for half an hour and got my relax on.

WS: What was the actual bath like and was it different than what you expected?

JW: I don’t bathe much. I mean I shower but I don’t take baths, ever, so I’m not sure what my expectations were but it definitely exceeded them. It was far more relaxing than I would have thought. The water was nice and hot, I was kind of sweating if off like sitting in a hot tub.

WS: But without the chlorine.

JW: Yeah without the chlorine because instead of that chlorine coming off of the water it was coconut coming off the water and it smelled really good.

WS: Could you tell there was something in the water as far as milkiness or was it just water?

JW: I couldn’t really tell as far as consistency of the milk but I could tell they’d added something. It wasn’t creamy but you could tell they added something.

WS: It wasn’t soapy, but it was like a non-soapy soap.

JW: Yeah it was slick, likely slippery water. Does that make sense?

WS: How does your skin feel, can you tell?

JW: Oh yeah. I played sand volleyball for six hours before so I exfoliated the crap out of my skin and now I’m soft as a baby’s butt.

WS: So you are a music fan.

JW: I am.

WS: You were born in the late 70s so you’ve lived through several decades of music.

JW: That’s messed up.

WS: Walk me through your musical life. What was your favorite band when you were 15, 25 and 35.

JW: My first favorite band that I remember was Counting Crows. Their debut album was one of my first albums. I was probably a sophomore in high school when the first album came out. I had been exposed to some U2, some stuff that was on the radio. I really at the time liked a lot of early 80’s alternative like Oingo Boingo and Violent Femmes and Midnight Oil. I wasn’t big into radio bands but I did like REM and U2 but early REM and U2, they still had some respect back then.

WS: Yeah I still love Automatic for the People.

JW: And Out of Time was fantastic and Document and the eponymous album. Their early work was fantastic.

WS: Let’s flash forward to your mid-20s.

JW: Mid-20s was all about Jack Johnson. (My wife) Becca was just saying the other night, we used to just sit there and turn on some Jack Johnson and that was our jam and just…

WS: And just what Jake?

JW: None of your business. But that was our jam. I liked a little more Emo, I liked Jimmy Eat World and crap like that. I would say now I’m more into indie rock but I don’t think at that point I really was. I was just leaving the radio land but hadn’t completely left it so I was more in alternative world.

WS: And now your mid-30s?

JW: I don’t turn on the radio ever. We were driving last night with some couples and that song “All about that bass, bout that bass…”

WS: I hate that song.

JW: I had never heard it before 2 days ago and in a 20 minute car ride I heard it 7 times. I’m not kidding. He was bouncing stations a little bit so he’d bounce and it would be on but they kept listening to it because everyone in the car loved it. Then some song called, what is it, Fancy?

WS: Yeah, Iggy Azalea.

JW: He cracks a joke about something being Fancy and I didn’t know what he was talking about. I’d never heard that song in my life and apparently everyone  else has.

WS: Yeah, it’s out there.

JW: So I’m a little off the grid right now. Top 40 means nothing to me. I feel like the best music right now, no one knows about. I feel like in 20 years when people talk about music from right now, they’ll be talking about people that right now nobody even knows exists. I mean Jeff Tweedy, Jack White, the people who are influencing music right now, nobody listens to. And 20 years ago nobody listened to them either: the Velvet Underground, bands that really influenced music 20-30 years ago…

WS: They weren’t necessarily the ones that were on the TV shows.

JW: But they were the ones influencing the people writing music. No band says, “Man, I want to be like One Direction.”

WS: Musically no, but I’m sure there’s 12 year old kids right now that wish they were in One Direction.

JW: Yeah but it’s different. It’s different than saying “this artist pushed music.”

WS: Yeah, and no one is going to say “My music was inspired by Justin Bieber. He was  a real influence in my musical evolution.”

JW: People want to be the next Justin Bieber because he makes millions of dollars. But that’s what they aspire to be, the Millionaire.

WS: Not the musician.

JW: Yeah.

WS: It often seems to me that radio really sucks now more than it used to but I’m young and haven’t been around the block. Does it suck now or has it always sucked?

JW: It sucks more than it used to, I swear it does. One of the couples last night had never heard of the bands I grew up listening to. Those bands were on the radio but they deserved to be. It’s still music. What was on the radio when I was younger was REM, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Radiohead, but those bands all deserved to be on the radio and deserved to be bands.

WS: I think Radiohead is a good example because you hear a lot of bands today talk about how they grew up listening to Radiohead. They’re not going to be saying that about T. Swift.

JW: Nobody that matters musically. Maybe matters to the charts but nobody that matters musically is going  to say “Man, Taylor Swift, that’s what got me into music. I picked up a guitar because of her.”

WS: So the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the millennium and now the millennium teens. Of the 5 decades that’s you’ve had some living awareness of, what’s the best decade of music?

JW: The best or the best to me? Like Arcade Fire. When Arcade Fire puts out an album it’s fantastic, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to it. It’s not my favorite album, it never is. They have what, 4 albums now? They’re all fantastic. I don’t need to listen to them but if you’re just breaking down musical ability and skill and songwriting, they put out a fantastic album. They’re album should be the best album of the year every time they put out an album.

WS: And it was once.

JW: Yeah. But that doesn’t mean I want to listen to it. So when you say best are you asking me best or are you asking what entertained me the most.

WS: However you want to answer it.

JW: That’s hard. In the 90s I listened to 80s music. Right now I listen to music that comes out now. I feel like, as far as skill and songwriting and ability, the music that’s coming out now is fantastic.

WS: Assuming you’re able to find it.

JW: Yeah. The sub-genres are fantastic. Your alt-folk and your freak-folk and your beard-rock.

WS: I’ve got a friend who’s really into Baby Metal.

JW: I don’t know what that means.

WS: I don’t know exactly either. He tried to explain it to me and it was bizarre.

JW: Like babies playing metal?

WS: No like Japanese pop stars playing metal. It sounds so weird. Look it up.

JW: But that kind of makes my point in that there’s so many sub-genres that are mixing elements. Like, I hate country music, but I love country elements.

WS: Yeah, I love bluegrass, I love folk, I love Americana.

JW: Exactly. If somebody wants to pick up a banjo or mandolin and start twanging something, I love it. But I’d rather die than listening to country music radio music.

WS: I can handle Top 40 way easier than I can handle pop country.

JW: Which is funny because I remember one time having a conversation with a coworker and I cracked a joke how no country singer writers their own music — granted pop singers don’t either – but she says “Whatever, George Strait does, Garth Brooks does.” No they don’t. We opened the album and they didn’t write a single song. I don’t know why to me that diminished the value of the music if they can’t write it themselves.

WS: It absolutely does. I’m the movie guy and a lot of times people want to give the actor credit for what the writer wrote and it’s not the same thing. There’s good actors and there’s good writers and there’s a good blend. But some things are well-written and some things are well-acted. In music if you’re not writing your own music all you’re doing is karaoke to someone’s song.

JW: I respect a good voice, but I’d rather have some lyrics that are emotionally tied to the artist. It meant something at one point, that’s why it was written. I’ve been known to write a song here and there and…

WS: Should we get into that era?

JW: We could.

WS: Are we announcing a Dishwoody and the Burritoes reunion tour on this blog post?

JW: We are not. Not yet.

WS: It would be fun one day for you guys to get together and play a gig for the families.

JW: Oh it would be a riot. It would be an absolute riot.

WS: Back to the milk bath, would you recommend one to someone?

JW: Yeah. I’m sitting there soaking, milk-bathing, and I’m thinking Becca would kill for this, she’d love it. Just to be able to sit there and soak it up and enjoy that.

WS: With some Enya playing.

JW: The only thing I probably would’ve changed was substituting their music for mine. I would probably throw on some The National. Something moody.

WS: Not sitar music form the Mediterranean?

JW: Well I do love me a lute-like instrument, the sitar being one of my favorites.

WS: Anything you want to promote?

JW: I have to promote it now or forever hold my peace?

WS: Just if there’s anything you want to give a shout out to, or if you’ve got an album dropping.

JW: My personal album? Dishwoody’s Greatest Hits that is coming out any day now?

WS: You are not on Twitter correct?

JW: Nope.

WS: Well, I guess no one will ever find you.

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European Facial

Last month’s Treat Yo’ Self was not entirely pleasant, so as a new month rolled in I was ready to get back to an activity of a more relaxing nature. I briefly considered doing something patriotic to coincide with Independence Day, but then it occurred to me that I spend the bulk of July with a persistent sunburn and my skin could use a little TLC.

So I settled on a European Facial, which combines a deep cleansing with steam, exfoliation, and an upper body massage before culminating in a chemical mask that hydrates the skin, and I invited my friend Chelsey Gensel to come along.

Chelsey and I met in the journalism program at Utah State University, and more specifically at USU’s independent student newspaper, The Utah Statesman.

When I was named editor in chief I hired Chelsey as my second-in-command, meaning that she made sure everything was spelled correctly while I engaged in ill-advised spitting contests with the school’s student government and Greek Row (which were pretty much one and the same).

In 2011, we both moved to New York City and were basically neighbors in that we were separated by a couple subway stops and were two of the only seven white people in Queens. She’s an extremely loyal and supportive friend and is passionate about the things she loves.

She’s OK.

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We checked in at Skinworks School of Advanced Skincare for our 2 p.m. appointment and had a few minutes to fill out a questionnaire in an phenomenally-aromatic lobby. The sun is really bad, guys, as our pages made clear by repeated inquiries into our regular levels of exposure and warnings against venturing out into the cruel harsh light except for the most exigent of circumstances.

From there we were taken into our private rooms, Chelsey by a woman and myself by a nice man named Mike who reminded me of Little Richard without the mustache.

My preconception of facials was largely based on television comedies, where groups of women sit together and gossip about their love lives with a green paste on their skin and cucumbers over their eyes. I assume that option is out there, but my facial was a very matter-of-fact affair, with the first 30 minutes or so consisting of the applications of various creams during a dialogue with Mike about my individual skincare needs and then 30 minutes of quiet relaxation while Mike applied a translucent mask and massaged my face, neck, shoulders, arms and back.

Mike told me I have great skin (I bet he says that to all the guys) and warned me repeatedly about wearing SPF since I’m a “Fitzpatrick II,” which is skin-industry-speak for “Pasty white Irish boy.”

Properly pampered, Chelsey and I headed to Oh Mai to conduct our interview over some Báhn Mì sandwiches and toasted coconut water.

Oh Mai Salt Lake City

Wood’s Stock: Who are you and what do you do?

Chelsey Gensel: I am Chelsey and I am a nanny in New York.

WS: Have you ever had a European facial?

CG: I’ve never had a facial of any kind before today.

WS: What did you think?

CG: I was pleasantly surprised with what a process it was. I thought you would just sit in a chair and they would put some gunk on your face and then wipe it off and moisturize you. But it was kind of like getting a massage. You’re in there for an hour, you have a bed and it was quite involved. And the mask was clear, I was not expecting that.

WS: Neither was I.

CG: You expect it to be like green or blue or mud colored or whatever.

WS: Walk me through it. What was it they did, you did, and so on.

CG: They had a lovely terry cloth dressing gown. A massage table bed. A warm toasty blanket, which was good because it may be summer and you think you’re not going to be cold but when they’re taking hot and cold washcloths off your face for an hour you get a little bit of a chill.

European Facial

They started with some kind of a cleanser, lotion-y stuff. They wiped that off. Exfoliant – wiped that off. Mask, moisturizer, whatever the last one was. Toner? I think. And then a sort of upper body massage in between. Oh and the lamp, the check-your-skin-to-make-sure-you’re-healthy lamp.

WS: With my guy, the first half was a lot of questions and conversation and then the last half was mostly massage. Is that how yours went?

CG: Actually no, she was not talkative at all at first. I explained to her that I had my freshly-inked tattoo so I couldn’t have my arm rubbing against the blankets and moved around. The questions were very business-like, just about what was going to be happening. She asked what scent I wanted. But she never asked what I did, where I was from, anything like that. It was very little conversation.

WS: Do you remember which scent you chose?

CG: Lemongrass

WS: Mine was an East Indian Patchouli Oil and he said I had good taste.

CG: Patchouli Oil is nasty.

WS: I agree, but this was apparently differently.

CG: Yeah it was that or lavender or lemongrass. It was a toss up between lemongrass and lavender but there was no way I was going Patchouli.

WS: Was there anything else that surprised you or that you didn’t expect?

CG: No I don’t think so. I’ve been to salons before. I’ve read the service menus and kind of knew what to expect from a facial. I just didn’t know that it was like an hour-long process.

WS: How does your skin feel?

CG: Refreshed and glow-y, although a little bit wet. I keep waiting for the moisturizer to all soak in but every time I touch my face it feels a little oily.

European Facial

WS: So let’s talk a little bit about New York.

CG: It’s still there.

WS: You’re a nanny there, how long have you been doing that?

CG: Three years.

WS: How do you like it?

CG: I still like it most of the time. I figure it has its challenges like any job but it’s something I generally enjoy doing and can still learn from doing and let’s me live the way I would like to and be comfortable and do the things I like to do.

WS: What was the motivation behind New York. Why that place?

CG: New York is my mistress. I’m just in love with it. I can’t explain it, it’s like it’s own little universe. I hated Salt Lake City growing up and I never would have figured myself for a city girl but I was nannying in Pennsylvania after my freshman year of college and visited New York on a weekend and just from the second I stepped off the subway I wanted to come back.

WS: I think most everybody, whether they vocalize it or not, wants to live in New York. Or they at least want to be able to. Do you ever find yourself surprised that you’re actually there?

CG: No, not really.

WS: You never have that moment where you realize “Oh right, I live in New York”

CG: I guess sometimes I do take a step back and think “aren’t I lucky to live in a place where I have all these opportunities and can do all the things I want to do, basically when I want to do them.” But that’s not happenstance, I did it on purpose, so it’s not like it’s a surprise to me. I picked New York because I wanted to be in New York for those reasons: to be able to do those things and go those places and have those experiences.

People always say “You’re so brave” or “You’re so adventurous.” It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I went where I wanted to go to do what I wanted to do.

WS: So you don’t automatically feel cooler than the rest of us because you live in the Big Apple.

CG: Oh yeah. I totally do. But it’s not for everybody and I get that. I’m not like a New York missionary.

WS: What’s the best thing and what’s the worst thing about living in New York?

CG: I’ll probably have a different answer in a few months but right now it’s the smell.

WS: Yeah, the summertime…

CG: Summer in New York, it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s smells like hot garbage and body odor. That’s just the way it is. It’s hot and you think like you’re never going to be dry again. It’s like in Harry Potter when they play that quidditch match in the rain and Fred and George say “We haven’t been properly dry since August.” That’s how I feel starting in about May in new york.

WS: What about the best thing?

CG: (Takes a sip of toasted coconut water) I don’t like it. Not New York, I don’t like the coconut juice.

Bahn Mi

WS: You don’t like the coconut?

CG: It’s got chunks in it.

WS: Yeah it does! I love it. I absolutely love it.

CG: Texturally that’s not a thing that I am interested in doing. I’ll sip it. You should have told me there were chunks.

WS: You wouldn’t have gotten it if I had.

CG: That’s true.

WS: You need to be a more adventurous eater.

CG: That is totally untrue.

WS: OK I take that back, you still do like ethnic food and all sorts of things.

CG: As evidenced, I’ll try almost anything. Usually taste is not bothersome to me, it’s texture.

WS: Well I do feel like you put too much of a dealbreaker status on texture.

CG: I can’t help my brain chemistry. I’m sorry.

WS: You were born this way, is that what you’re saying?

CG: Yes I was. Actually I may have been born this way but I’m probably more adventurous than I would otherwise have been if I didn’t spend four years as a vegetarian.

WS: Yeah, that makes you experiment with food.

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CG: What was the question?

WS: Best thing about New York?

CG: My head is swimming, I don’t know how to define it. If I get asked this question in a conversational setting I’ll either give a stock answer that makes no sense or I’ll wax philosophical for days because I love it so much.

It sounds super corny, but it always amazes me that as a city that is so connected to everywhere else in the world it can be so isolated. I feel like it has it’s own heartbeat. You can be isolated and find your niche and never leave or you can go 100 different directions and experience anything you want to experience and never see the same person twice for 10 years if you don’t want to.

WS: I know what you mean. I remember when I was living there I would tell people how I felt kind of alone and isolated and people would say “how is that possible?” but there’s so many people that you are just in a sea.

CG: And it can be really hard to meet people because it’s not like you just go to the park or it can be kind of an ordeal to go anywhere you’re going to go so you have to be purposeful about it. So if you’re not part of an office culture where you meet people at work or a church group where you meet people of your faith or you’re going to school and you meet people in class, it can be very difficult because not everyone wants to necessarily meet the people they would meet at a bar on a night out.

WS: And without those groups there’s just millions of people…

CG: …who never really intersect. Although you see dog walkers and dog owners pass each other on the street and strike up a conversation. I have started talking to people on the subway because I notice they’re listening to a band I like or reading a book I know.

A couple weeks ago I started hanging out with these four kids on the subway who were playing a word game where you start with the last letter of the previous person’s answer. This one kid kept using World Cup players and I caught on to it 3 or 4 rounds in so I interrupted on his turn and said “another World Cup player?” He was like “Dang, I’m caught” and I joined their game. For 20 minutes on the subway I played a game with these four strangers and will never see them again. But you can put yourself into wherever and whoever and whatever you want or remove yourself just as easily.

WS: I do miss that, that is a cool aspect of the city.

CG: And a simplistic one but I really like being in proximity to everything I want to do like concerts and stuff.

WS: Is there anything you miss about Utah?

CG: The mountains and my family and friends who are still here. When I come back it’s nice for about 3 days but everywhere I go I run into someone I know and can catch up and don’t really have to put effort into it. But then after a little while I’m over it and ready to go back to the city.

I’ve seen enough plaid cargo shorts, tank tops over t-shirts and crocs to last me a lifetime. I don’t claim to be high fashion or anything but I’ve had about enough.

European Facial

WS: Would you recommend a European facial to others?

CG: I would say “provisionally.” It’s very nice but I imagine it can be quite pricey depending on where you go and unless you have skincare needs or issues I don’t know whether it would be worth it to do often. It’s certainly worth trying once, but I’m not sure it would be cost effective to do just for fun.

WS: Anything you want to promote?

CG: Ed Sheeran’s new album just came out. Go listen to it.

WS: Are you on Twitter?

CG: Yes, @ChelseyJane

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photo(28)Is that picture inappropriate? On the one hand, there’s nothing erotic about my neck and shoulders (or that face I’m making), but on the other hand it is technically a nude selfie. It’s about intent though, right? Al Roker and Matt Lauer had prostate exams live on TODAY.

I think we’re ok. Good talk everybody.

A little context: For February I decided to Treat Myself to a Hot Stone Massage. I’ve never had a massage before – with the exception of those tacky chairs people buy from the Home Shopping Network – so I have no idea what the culture entails.

I found a nice deal on Groupon (TYS tip: there’s ALWAYS massages on Groupon) for a 70-minute hot stone at All Around The Town Massage, a small but charming spa in West Valley City and invited my friend Emily to come along.

Emily and I met in college under the customarily-convoluted nature of academic friendships: she was the co-worker of a friend of a pseudo-roommate and we bonded over a mutual love for film, music, ultimate frisbee and (now) ukulele. She’s ok.

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But back to the massage. I told my masseuse Corleigh that I was a first-timer and she informed me that people either remove all their clothes or remain in their underwear. It’s all the same to her.

Natually, when placed in a scenario where those are my options, I choose the buff. And did so.

The massage itself was great. I’m a high-stress person so it was great to just lie back, Yoga-breathe and be soothed. Corleigh mostly massaged with her fingers, but would use a stone before moving onto the next arm, leg, shoulder, etc.

Properly pampered, Emily and I headed to Bruges Waffles and Frites to conduct our interview over some speculoos and sliced strawberries.

Wood’s Stock: Who are you and what do you do

Emily Milam: My name is Emily Milam. I’m a tax assistant for an accounting firm downtown.

WS: How are you feeling right now?

EM: I feel extremely relaxed and very lovely.

WS: And lovely?

EM: Something about the oils, it just makes me feel smooth.

WS: My masseuse said people either undress completely or leave their underwear on. I got naked. What was your choice?

EM: Panties only

WS: You’ve had a massage before?

EM: Once

WS: But not hot stone?

EM: Not it was a half-hour free massage. I still stripped down, but it was a half hour on just the back. No stones.

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WS: What did you think of the stones?

EM: I loved the stones. Ermaghersh. It was nice, I liked that there was a combination of a regular massage as well as a hot stone massage because the warmth of the stone after a regular massage felt especially relaxing.

WS: I got a little nervous not knowing how hot the stones would be on my naked flesh. Did you feel any anxiety?

EM: No because at first I thought that her hand was a stone and thought “this isn’t hot at all! It’s like room temperature at best.” Then she pulled out the actual stones and she did this thing where, I don’t want to use the word stroke, but she would stroke the part of me she was massaging and then use the stone.

WS: Walk me through the massage.

EM: I started on my front, she did one leg at a time and just went slowly up and down the leg. She’d ask me questions about where I hold my tension and how the pressure was, things like that. Apparently I hold tension in my calves and my hands.

WS: You guys had a nice chat.

EM: Just a little, like a couple words. She asked me if I ran.

WS: When she was working on your legs, how close did she get to the goods?

EM: Never close enough that I was like [unintelligible sound of surprise and discomfort]. But, I’ve gotten a Brazilian so…

WS: Really? We’ll come back to that. Were you hoping for a male or female masseuse?

EM: I was glad that she was female. I feel like I would have been holding my tension more if it had been a man. I don’t know if it would be worse with a good looking man or a not good looking man. I already felt self-conscious.

WS: I don’t think anyone wants to be massaged by an ugly man.

EM: Especially not a hairy one.

WS: Well my masseuse was not shy downstairs, particularly on my backside.

EM: Oh yeah, she got real close to the butt. Did she full-on touch your butt?

WS: There was some touching. Some caressing and general massaging.

EM: The actual butt?

WS: See that’s a problem. How do we define actual butt?

EM: Below the…

WS: What is below? I’m laying down. What is up and down?

EM: So when she was upper-thighing you feel like she got close to the butt?

WS: I feel like most of the regions of the area in question where massaged at some point.

EM: Really? Maybe because I was wearing panties…

WS: Maybe. I wondered that actually. I wondered if by going nude, that was a subtle queue that said ‘go for it. Massage me.”

EM: Did it feel nice?

WS: Oh, it was amazing. So you started on your front, arms, legs, then flipped you over?

EM: Yeah, did the back. I could’ve done with more back.

WS: Did they give you the stone spine?

EM: No! Did she give you the stone spine?

WS: Yeah, I got the stone spine.

EM: I did not get that. She did all the stone stuff moving. None of it was just sitting on me.

WS: I enjoyed the stone spine, it was nice. And the stone palm was quite pleasant. The whole last half of my massage was stone palm.

EM:  Was she doing other things while you had stone palm?

WS: Yeah, she just set a stone in my palms while she worked on my back, shoulders and legs from behind, and I just kind of forgot that I even had stones in my hands.

EM: Yeah I never had any stones just set on me. She was always working me.

WS: Any part where you felt uncomfortable?

EM: Not from the actual massage. My room was right next to the washer and dryer. It wasn’t particularly super distracting, there was just the sound of a cylinder spinning.

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WS: Now, back to the Brazilian. Why?

EM: My friend A—- was getting married and she didn’t want to go alone and it was before our cruise so…

WS: Before our cruise? I was a part of this?

EM: You weren’t. I promise you, you were not.

WS: So that implies that A—- was an abstinent person?

EM: Yes

WS: Granted I don’t know much about a woman’s first sexual experience, but she chose to have a Brazilian?

EM: She and her fiancé had talked about it. It’s what he wanted.

WS: Don’t you think for your first time you’d want to experience how it’s going to be normally?

EM: Unless he’s going to pay for a Brazilian all the time, that’s maybe how it’s going to be.

WS: I think you’re setting a bar that you might not want to set. I think you should go into your wedding night in a comfortable and, I don’t want to say “standard,” but comfortable scenario. Then in the future you can do special things like that. But I digress. On a scale of 1 to Death, how painful was it?

EM: The actual ripping, for lack of a better word, doesn’t hurt as much as the repetition. They do it little by little so it takes a really long time. If it were just three quick pulls it would be fine, it would be doable, it would be bearable. And they’re very thorough.

WS: Well, yeah.

EM: After they’re done with the waxing, there’s still some hair and they pluck. I would say on a scale of 1 to kidney stones it’s probably a 4. On a scale of 1 to plucking your eyebrows it’s a 50.

WS: This is just you and one person in a room?

EM: Yes.  Me and a lady in her 40s.

WS: I had a hernia, so I’ve been shaved by a man. I would imagine the emotional context is similar, but this seems particularly intimate. In my mind I see the old repairman from Toy Story 2 with his magnifying glasses and his fine instruments.

EM: No, it’s more like your cool aunt who does this for a living. It doesn’t even matter.

WS: Would you recommend that someone get a hot stone massage?

EM: Yes, definitely, for sure.

WS: Are you on twitter?

EM: I am on twitter, I think I have 3 followers. @EmilyRMilam

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