Why I don’t wear lipstick anymore

I have no less than ten shades of red lipstick in my makeup arsenal. My all-time favorite is Lady Danger by MAC. At one point, you could say I was into makeup. I loved going to Sephora or to the MAC counter and play a game with myself (this is such a designer thing), where I’d try and guess the name of each shade of eyeshadow or lipstick, flip it over, and see if I was right (I usually was 😏). I would do people’s faces for important events. I usually wore makeup to work or school. I love old Hollywood, cine de oro, and red lipstick was my signature look.

Eventually, I stopped. First gradually, then suddenly. There was the time where, the president of the agency asked the new female hires to attend a meetup we were sponsoring. He introduced us as, “see, I told you I’d bring some women” to his friend. There were the side-eye ogles that I tried to ignore during meetings. The groping on the metro. The complaint I made that HR recommended I not pursue, because I would probably lose (even though the person was a repeat offender). The one time I gave a visiting group of executives a tour of the studio, and one of them (drunk) tried to kiss me. Thankfully, my colleague stepped in and had my back.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t take a job at a distributed company partly because of the reduced risk of these things happening. With the reduced pressure to dress up for work, going to and from the yoga studio or gym straight into the second shift at home with young children, red lipstick, and makeup altogether, is something I can forget ever existed. Except it’s also partly choosing a path of isolation.

The last time I wore Lady Danger was in Paris, when I was six months pregnant, and some of us were doing a thing with the LVMH folks. I figured being around folks who work in fashion, in a large group at all times, and being visibly enceinte, would make me less of a target.

I miss dressing up. It makes me feel confident and creative. But I like feeling safe more.

Edit: for all the makeup geeks out there 🖤
MAC Lady Danger, MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Russian Red, NYX Alabama (Go Irish!), NYX Perfect Red, NYX Pure Red, NYX Indie Flick, NARS Cruella, NARS Red Square, NARS Dragon Girl. My makeup tastes effortlessly range from ghetto to booj (just like me).


I had a professor in college who would always start off class on a tangent. He’d march down to the front of the lecture hall and write down a word on the board, and then draw a line through the middle of it, splitting it into its root elements. More often than not, the word was of Ancient Greek origin. Metanoia comes to mind–I can see him writing it out, slashing it, turning around, taking in a deep breath–


Oh boy, classic Fagerberg, I thought. That’s unfortunately all I remember about that lecture though. I don’t quite remember what metanoia really means, but since that memory at least let me remember how it’s spelled, I suppose I can suss it out. From the introduction of one puzzling word at the start of the hour, by the end of lecture, our minds were blown. In this way, it was like good jazz.

Not all words are this elegant in the land of etymology. Take for instance, the word “dashboard.” At some point or another, the bane of a designer’s existence–have you ever tried to explain what a dashboard is in one sentence? Charitably?

In this case, it is history more than language that has the answers:

“Originally, the word dashboard applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris “dashed up” (thrown up) by the horses’ hooves.” (scholarly source)

Looks like even back then it was that thing with a bunch of crap thrown onto it that you always had to see 😀.

A Simple Note

Simplenote is a lightweight note-taking application made by Automattic. The first time I used it was about eight years ago, at a rave at the DC Armory. There was a group of deaf people there–hearing is not a requirement for raving, one can use different objects to feel the vibrations of the music. In this case, balloons. I had never seen people experience music this way though, and it permanently changed my perspective on what it means to feel music.

There was a guy there who started harassing them, knowing that they were deaf, trying to get them to move out of the way so he could make his way to the front of the show. I can’t stand this type of crap. If raves lower inhibitions, in my case it boosted my confidence, because I went up to him, shoved him and told him off–fully knowing that this person was much bigger than me and I was at the show alone.

Well, I didn’t expect the group to notice, but they did. They asked me to join their group at the front of the show. I don’t know any ASL, so I scrambled to figure out a way to communicate. Hey, what about that app my friend told me to try? I’ve refused to delete this note in Simplenote ever since:

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 8.09.33 PM

While I am very much a hardass, I’m also a very sentimental person. I mean, I’m on version 32 of my blog! But I think there’s something in the memories I have, where Simplenote happened to be, that specific phase of my life, and now working at Automattic. I keep coming back to this theme of connecting the dots backwards on my career, and holding onto certain things about the earlier internet that I feel a sense of duty to preserve. Simplenote, like me, hasn’t really changed much since then, in the essence. We remain, compared to most others, subdued, but ready.