Monday, July 11, 2016


"You have to systematically create confusion, it sets creativity free. Everything that is contradictory creates life." 
-Salvador Dalí 1904-1989

Now Playing: "Stay Late" by Elektrik People

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls", The Bachelor S20 E9 Recap

 After a week-long hiatus to take in everything that wasn't was The Women Tell Nothing The Women Tell All, I'm back with another recap. Let's turn the clock back as opposed to forward (ugh!) and recall all of the steamy details from Week 9- AKA "The Fantasy Suites."

Caila, JoJo, Lauren
 Ben is in Jamaica and ready for three back-to-back nights of ecstasy with his three remaining bachelorettes. He reminds us who is still around:

  • Caila: One of the most beautiful women he's been around with a smile that lights up a room.
  • Lauren: Seeing her for the first time was the closest thing he's ever experienced to love at first sight. Could it be too good to be true?
  • JoJo: Outgoing, fun and brings out a new side to him to that's more confident and playful.
 The first date is with Caila. The couple is happy to see each other. They spend a leisurely afternoon floating along the Martha Brae River. Conversation is lacking. Awkward silences. Caila is anxious just thinking about the other two women who will also have fantasy dates with her boyfriend this week. Ben can sense the tension and asks what's wrong. "Melancholy" is the seventh grade vocabulary term he feeds to a producer type when describing Caila's mood. The day hasn't been what Ben had expected.

 The couple retreat to an island bar where a few coconut drinks provide enough liquid courage and dopamine for Caila to swing to the happy side of her personality. By the time that dinner rolls around, she's once again in a manic state good spirits. She doesn't want to have any regrets. She attributes her depressive episode from earlier to being nervous to tell Ben that she loves him. Riiiight. Caila attempts to spin and manipulate the truth by telling Ben that she "appreciates" him for noticing that she was "off." Who thanks someone for noticing they're in a bad mood? She finally tells Ben she loves him to make up for her lack of charisma from earlier and he buys it hook, line, and sinker.

  The first FANTASY SUITE card arrives. 
"Should you choose to forgo your individual rooms, please use this key to stay as a couple in the fantasy suite. Love, Chris Harrison"
  20 Seasons, 15 years and that damn card always reads exactly the same (as it should to keep with tradition!)... but the handwriting is always different. Chris Harrison has so many different styles of cursive that he would perplex even the savviest of handwriting analysts. Either that or a lowly production assistant is given the grand honor of writing out the fantasy suite cards each year. I appreciate a classic, handwritten note. I like that there isn't a printed card accompanied with sexual innuendo emojis attached.

  Ben and Caila have a late night swim in the ocean as they watch fireworks. Caila says that she could "live in this moment forever." 

 "I could wake up in the morning and know for certain that Caila is the woman for me." It's good to know what Ben is basing his decision on.

  The next morning, Caila is optimistic. "I can see myself waking up next to him for the rest of my life. We woke up as a couple. He didn't have to say he loved me back. I felt it." 

 After Ben leaves Caila, he meets up with his other girlfriend, Lauren (hopefully after a very long shower). Lauren is her usual bubbly self. "There's something about the water and sunshine." Spoken like a girl who grew up in the Portland but moved to California for brighter days. 

 Ben and Lauren will be spending their day releasing baby turtles into the wild. "We're helping turtles SURVIVE!" exclaims our bachelor. As I watch the couple bathe the adorable little turtles, I wonder if it would be possible to take one home as a pet. Calm down, PETA! This would be the ultimate souvenir. Would the turtle require a makeshift pool for its habitat- how large? Would it be suitable for city dwelling? If the turtle outlives both Ben and Lauren, will they bequeath the amphibian to the local zoo?

 Ben and Lauren both say that they've missed each other. Ben tells Lauren how much he loved her perfect family. "You're too good for me," Ben says. Lauren feels the same way. She wants to tell Ben that she loves him but the other relationships are still on her mind. 

 Ben and Lauren wind up at a local beach bar with a fantastic Jamaican band playing a song with the lyrics, "so in love with you." The synchronicity is not lost on Lauren as she smirks toward the camera. Ben is having "an incredibly fun day with Lauren. She's so good to be around." 

 During dinner, Lauren opens up more to Ben. She tells him that she's invested and feels good about what they have but doesn't know where he stands with the other women. Lauren says that all of this is very real for her and tells Ben, "You're the man of my dreams." 

 Cue the second fantasy suite card. Lauren says that she needs time alone with Ben away from the camera crew distractions. Ben tells a producer that he's "head over heels" for Lauren.

 Lauren has her own chat with a producer type. "This is the night to do us." "Put it all out there." "Let all the walls down." "Open up." "All or nothing." Maybe there was an emoji memo attached to that fantasy suite card, after all. ;)

 Lauren tells Ben that she's "completely in love" with him but these aren't new feelings. Ben breaks The Bachelor code of conduct and admits "I've known I'm in love with you for awhile as well." 

 You'd think that if the bachelor told you he loved you on a show where he's not supposed to admit his feelings that you would be the guaranteed choice but don't count your roses before they bloom. 

 Lauren says that waking up next to Ben is "a dream" and something that she wants to do for the rest of her life. Ben reaffirms his love for my pick from night one as he departs for a date with his final contender. 

 Another day, another woman. JoJo will be joining Ben for a tropical adventure. Ben admits that his heart is with Lauren but he has to sleep with JoJo "explore things" with JoJo to know for sure. 

 JoJo is ecstatic to be spending the day with her boyfriend in a serenely remote locale. After the helicopter drops them off in their own private oasis, Ben leads her to the beautiful YS Falls. I love the name because it reminds me of one of my favorite designers. As JoJo and Ben leap from a cliff (with JoJo looking smoking hot in an adorable bikini, might I add), she says it was "an incredible moment" and that she "feels safe with Ben." 

Is that a bottle of Red Stripe in your swim trunks or are you just happy to see me?
 As the couple spend time on a rock overlooking the Jamaican waterfalls, Ben probes JoJo for further insight into their relationship. "There's not a doubt in my mind that I want to spend my future with you," she says. "I do love you."  Ben shocks JoJo when he shares that he loves her as well. "What?! Are you allowed to say that?" Nope. He's technically not supposed to say anything. After 15 years, the producers have finally figured out that this is sort of a critical thing to hear in order to accept someone's proposal. Through the magic of editing, it's completely okay for the bachelor to say back those three magic words. Duh! 

 Ben doesn't know what to do. He's in love with both JoJo and Lauren but neither woman is none the wiser. I wonder why none of the finalists on the show have ever spied on the other fantasy dates. The producers stupidly seclude each of the women. That's where they're making a mistake. Think of all the drama that could ensue with a pair of binoculars and a sonic sleuth listening device.

 When dinner rolls around, Ben admits that in the back of his mind, he's having flashbacks to sleeping with two other women the previous nights before the other things he did this week. 

 JoJo is feeling confident and safe with Ben. "It was the best day of my life!" It really is tragic when you think about the fact that for part of that day, Ben was "with" someone else. 

 Ben is feeling hesitant about JoJo's brothers who weren't exactly welcoming. "If they don't support our relationship then that's a concern." JoJo says that her brothers were just being protective and that the entire situation was surreal. She thanks Ben for not running away. 

 When the third and final fantasy suite card arrives, JoJo tells Ben she would love nothing more than to spend the night with him. The couple enjoy champagne in their private hot tub before exchanging "I love yous" in the bedroom. 

 The next morning, kisses and snuggles are exchanged. Ben tells JoJo how cute she is and that they're "on the same page." JoJo is a user of the term of endearment "baaaabe."

 Ben seems to have really enjoyed himself with the exuberant brunette. "Last night with JoJo was one of the best nights of my life." And this, ladies and gentleman, is why the fantasy suites are crucial. You gotta test drive each model before you decide which is the best fit

 Despite Ben's perfect date with JoJo, he's still reflecting on the other women. When Lauren is brought up, he has this to say. "I've been enthralled by her since the moment I met her." 

 As for Caila? "For some reason, I can't get there with Caila." Hmmm. Very interesting choice of words post-fantasy suite, Ben. Caila, on the other hand, has no clue of the reality of the situation. Someone must have slipped her some uppers because she heads to surprise Ben. As she scours the hotel suite with her hands giddily over her mouth in steeple position, I can't help but remember Rebecca Sealfon, the 1997 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion (bitch stole my title). 

 I can't handle the forced perkiness. I read Caila like a book. She's not the burst of sunshine she wants you to think she is. As she surprises Ben, he's taken aback. He tells Caila that he's glad she came over. She immediately senses the discourse is not headed in the right direction. 

 Ben tells Caila that he's in love with two women but she's not either of them. Ouch. He attempts to sugarcoat. "I just couldn't say it (I love you) back to you and I don't know why." He goes on to basically tell Caila that she's his perfect wife on paper but it's not there for him. Caila's mood quickly swings and tells Ben it sounds like he's feeding her a line. That sounds familiar. Maybe she should date one of JoJo's brothers who shared the same exact sentiment. Ben tells Caila that he really will miss her... but not before she jumps out of her escorted vehicle to ask one final question. "Did you know you were going to let me go before you slept with me?" "So, did you know this week?" Ben skates around the issue. I have a feeling Ben's not being able to get there might have had something to do with the break-up. But not really. He simply liked the other women more.

 Caila realizes that slamming Ben will only make her look like a fool (and lessen her chances at being selected as the next bachelorette!). She has a manic mood swing and goes from tears to smiles and back to tears again. I just don't trust this girl. Ben is emotionally exhausted with her as well.

 Caila shares with a producer how she's feeling. "I thought I'd be getting engaged in a week and a half. I was ready to be his wife." At 24-years-old, Caila doesn't know why she hasn't found love yet. Through tears (she's an adorable crier) she says, "I thought this was it! I didn't see this coming! I still love him!" 

 The unnecessary rose ceremony (two women, two roses) resembles a scene from Sister Wives. JoJo and Lauren seemed friendly enough throughout the season but their energy has shifted. They're now the only ones remaining, competing against each other, for the man they both love. JoJo is on a bit of a confidence trip, unbeknownst to her, Lauren is as well. Thinking that she's the only one who Ben told he loved, JoJo asks her competitor "Are you the most anxious you've ever been?" Lauren keeps a poker face and isn't really giving in to any of it. "Um, no. He told me he loved me, you hussy," Lauren thinks to herself. 

 Ben awards the first rose to JoJo and the last to Lauren. The order could be read from two different perspectives but I'll withhold judgment until after the final rose. Ben tells a producer "I could picture both being my wife." My money is still on my original pick, Lauren. We shall soon find out! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Recent Beauty Favorites, Winter/Spring 2016

Beauty Favorites Winter 2016

 It has been quite a while since I shared some of my favorite beauty products. After working in cosmetic sales and artistry for the past few years, I have skillfully navigated the land of luxury makeup and skincare. Through trial and error, I have discovered what's worth the splurge and what can be better substituted at your local drugstore. Here are a few of the products that I have been recently loving:

  • Lancome My Parisian Pastels Shimmer Cube: An adorably packaged product with a unique design. Can be used as highlighter, blush, eyeshadow or finishing powder.
  • OPI Hello Kitty and New Orleans Collections: My favorite brand of polish delivers once again with a wide range of beautiful colors including Kitty White (a shimmering white with a silvery finish), Charmmy & Sugar (a standout shade of metallic pale pink with sparkles), She's A Bad Muffuletta! (a strawberry red with pink undertones), Rich Girls & Po-Boys (a beautiful, boyish shade of blue that's somehow still very feminine).
  • Clarins Lip Oil (01 Honey), Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, & Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector (07 Toffee Pink Shimmer): I've been fixated with keeping my lips hydrated with oil, balm and a moisturizing product. The newest shade from the Instant Light collection is my favorite out of all of them- the most beautifully natural shade of pink.
  • YSL Gypsy Opale Face Palette: The dynamite packaging is what sold me but the product itself keeps me reaching for more. A wonderful color correcting finishing powder. 
  • Shiseido Future Solution Night Cream: A steep price tag but worth every penny. The Future Solution range of skincare products has been my guilty pleasure for several years. It truly keeps fine lines in-check and hydrates beyond belief.
  • Bioderma Cleansing Water: Many brands are attempting to knock off this cult-favorite product (Simple, Garnier, etc...) that was once only available for purchase in Europe but thanks to sites like Beautylish, Bioderma is accessible to the masses and at a fantastic price. Nothing beats the original! Perfect for dry, sensitive skin. Takes makeup off and leaves the skin clean. 
  • ColourPop Eyeshadows: This brand has been one of my favorite discoveries. I adore everything about their range- affordable, cutting edge, on-trend, fun and good quality. I love all of their products but every girl needs to own at least one of their eyeshadows.
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer (Ivory): I don't like to wear heavy foundation and prefer light coverage on my face. This BB/tinted moisturizer hybrid is phenomenal at delivering just enough hydration and coverage to even out my complexion without masking my natural skin beneath. 
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer (Fair): I have tried plenty of high-end concealers but this drugstore find is still my favorite. I recently turned 30 but am just now starting to need coverage under the eyes. This concealer has been a go-to. 
  • Etude House Sheet Masks: A few times a year (when the Korean beauty site offers sales and free shipping), I place an order for my favorite Asian cosmetic items. These sheet masks are affordable and a wonderful addition to your skincare routine. 
  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Eyeliner (Gold): My eyeliner collection is obscene. There are a lot of terrific pencil liners on the market but this formula and color from Estee Lauder has been my favorite.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water: I thought this was a gimmick when I first purchased it. "Diamond water? Riiight." It turns out that this primer is everything. If you have dry skin that rejects foundation, this formula will agree with anything you place on top of it. It helps with the application of your makeup but more importantly, it truly prolongs its wear-time. If they ever discontinue this baby, I will be buying a lifetime supply.
  • Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream: This is terrific for day or night and a must-have before prepping for concealer. 
  • Lancome Miracle Cushion Compact Foundation (Alternate: L'Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation): My love for Asian-inspired skincare and beauty products has found its way into my foundation routine. When I need a bit more coverage than a BB cream or tinted moisturizer, I reach for these. They're still light-medium coverage and very comfortable on the skin. The downside? You don't get a lot of product for what you pay but the finish is gorgeous. 
  • Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons Eyeshadow Palette: Too Faced is one of my favorite brands- so feminine, fun and flirty. I have so many of their products and love of all of them. If Peggy Bundy ever designed an eyeshadow palette, it might look like this. 
  • Clinique Cheek Pop Blush (Nude Pop): I'm not much of a Clinique girl but this blush's cutesy floral and acrylic packaging lured me in. The formula and shade is also incredible. 
  • Chanel Nail Polish (683 Sunrise Trip): From the Spring 2016 LA Sunrise Collection, this shade looks nearly black in the bottle but on the nail, it's an original shade of royal purple with navy undertones. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect, bright, neutral-yet-wearable, neon purple (that's not asking too much is it?) but this shade will be fine until that polish is discovered invented.

Monday, February 29, 2016

"Hometowns", The Bachelor S20 E8 Recap

 Week 8 of The Bachelor takes us away for the storied hometown dates. Ben is "excited about this group" and hopes that the women are feeling excited for him as well. He loves that word. Hometowns are always my favorite week. I'll be like Ben and admit that, I, too, am excited.

 The first stop for hometown dates is just south of The Bachelor mansion. Ben joins Momma Amanda and her adorable little girls in Laguna Beach. Amanda says that she's falling for Ben but won't know for sure until she sees the way he interacts with her children. Ben is sweet with the kids as the group plays in the sand and chases each other along the beach. It's an uneventful afternoon.

 After the day at the beach, the gang heads to meet Amanda's parents. Ben's facial expression says it all. He is exhausted and doesn't want to be there. I think he knows that Amanda is going to be staying home after this week. This unnecessary introduction to her parents is very taxing. Amanda's Dad notices Ben's lack of energy and describes him as a "deer caught in the headlights." 

 Watching Amanda and her Mom talk is somewhat unusual. There seems to be a distance between them. It's as if they're strangers. Maybe it's the camera crew capturing their heart-to-heart. Amanda's Mom is hesitant about the relationship. She likes Ben but has her doubts. She's serious about examining her daughter's choice in men because in the past, it wasn't always on the mark.

 Amanda's Dad and Ben also have a chat that's serious in tone. He's very firm about making sure that Ben grasps the severity of becoming "an instant Dad." He warns Ben that kids always have to come first and that he won't always be able to do the things he wants. Ben is clearly having second thoughts.

 Amanda is hopeful. I, personally, have never seen what these two have together. It just doesn't seem to be there. She disagrees. "After today, I feel like I am in love with him. I can 100 percent see him being a great Dad to my kids, being a great husband." 

 The next stop takes us to Lauren's hometown of Portland, Oregon. Lauren is my pick from week 1 so I am admittedly rooting for the bubbly blonde. She has the smarts to plan a date that centers around things that Ben would appreciate in PDX- food trucks, Voodoo donuts, and whiskey. The girl gets her man.

 Lauren shares with Ben that Portland is "the city of roses." He better be giving her one after she provides a tour of the hipster capital of the world.

 While Lauren and Ben are devouring a buttery concoction, Ben points out the health risks but says that he couldn't think of a better way to die than standing next to her.

 After lunch, Lauren takes Ben to a place that she refers to as the Whiskey "Li-berry." For clarification, it's called the Whiskey Library and it's phenomenal. Dimly lit, books, drinks, a massive fireplace. I'm moving to Portland. I'm still disappointed that I didn't make it there on my Pacific Northwest trip earlier this fall. I could have been there at the same time as The Bachelor! Missed opportunities. I am living vicariously through every moment of this hometown date.

 Later in the evening, Lauren takes Ben to her childhood home to introduce him to her seemingly perfect family. It's like the Cleaver household. Everyone acts normal and looks well-coiffed. Lauren's sister is also beautiful. Skeptical but warm and openhearted, she asks Ben all of the right questions. "There's something about your sister.... I feel really lucky," he shares as he holds back a few tears of gratitude. He wins the sister over rather quickly.

 Lauren privately tells her sister "I feel like Ben's my person. I was meant to meet Ben. I am definitely in love with him." Her sister says that she really likes Ben and that the couple has her full blessing.

 Lauren's Dad, Dave (same name as Ben's father), has an honest, serious chat with Ben to find out where he stands. Ben says that Lauren is special. "When I saw her for the first time, the world stopped." Heart. Melts. These are the things they say on The Bachelor that has distorted my sense of reality and kept me tuning in for the past two decades.

 Lauren's Dad likes Ben but he's worried that "his baby Lo Lo"  will get hurt because there are three other women still in the picture.

 Lauren knows that she wants to tell Ben that she loves him but she holds back as they make-out in front of his escorted vehicle.

 Ben's next hometown date is in Hudson, Ohio. He will be spending the day with Caila, with whom he describes as the girl that he "has the deepest relationship." 

 The finalists on The Bachelor are always loaded and Caila is no exception. I don't know if the show casts people who are wealthy simply because they're the only ones who can financially step away from their jobs to appear on TV or if it has something to do with the wardrobe thing (styling yourself for an entire season on the show costs money). I need to know if there is a provided stylist on the set at all times (or any of the time for that matter). I might reach out to Michelle Money via YouTube. But I digress.

 Caila gives Ben a tour of her prep school because she knows that Ben gets hard just thinking about high school. Caila is smart like a fox. She knows that she doesn't have "deep roots" so she is trying to lure Ben in by playing her cards strategically right. I don't believe anything she says. I want to see her transcripts.

 Caila is aware that sitting in the quad of her alleged high school is not going to get her an engagement ring. She takes Ben to her Dad's company to plug the newest toy to tell him that she's ready to build a house together. It's a plastic house but it symbolizes their future- artificial and built over the span of about an hour. Drawing upon what little Caila knows about Ben, she remembers that he told her his favorite color was blue. The roof will be blue. Something borrowed...

 Per usual, Caila is giddy and spilling her heart out to a producer type. "I know that Ben is the one. I know I'm gonna marry him and we're going to have the happily-ever-after I've been looking for."

 Caila's parents make total sense. I can see how she is bipolar so multi-faceted. She is the perfect blend of both of them. Her Mother is Filipino and fila-fabulous. Her Dad is a typical CEO but he reminds me of someone. I can't quite put my finger on it. A mix between George Bush and someone completely blonde and very obscure. An actor, perhaps? It's driving me crazy!

 When Ben and Caila's Mom have time to chat privately, he shares that one thing he appreciates is that "Caila doesn't say the right thing but the real thing." Caila's Mom is impressed that Ben seems to be attracted to the way her daughter's mind works rather than just her looks. This is what Caila has been searching for. Isn't that what everyone wants? Probably not. Most people are super shallow.

 Caila tells her Dad that she knows this is it. "This is what I've been looking for all of my life." Her Dad is surprised that his daughter is in love and fears that she might end up crushed.

 Caila still refers to her parents as "Mommy" and "Daddy." She keeps saying that she knows he's the one. Her Mom gives her what seems like obvious advice but it's much easier said than done. "Tell him how you feel." 

 Caila wants to tell Ben that she's in love with him per her Mom's suggestion but the side of her personality that favors her Dad's genes keeps her silent. She's still scared to trust Ben because he has three other girlfriends. The tally? Two women who love Ben but are afraid to tell him.

 Ben bounces from Ohio and heads to Dallas to meet up with JoJo and her Texan clan. JoJo is surprised to see red roses and a note in front of her house. When she reads the letter, she quickly realizes that it's not from Ben but her ex-boyfriend, Chad. I don't know a lot of Chads. All of them are TV-related. There's Chad Michael Murray; Chad, the son of Kim Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; and Chad from Scream Queens. I need a visual of Chad, the ex-boyfriend from The Bachelor. 

 JoJo is upset that Chad is just now realizing that he doesn't want to lose her. Perfect timing. She calls to tell him that it's supposedly over. She's in tears. Ben will be arriving at any moment. Way to go, Chad.

 When Ben does show up, he is confused. Today was supposed to be happy but JoJo is sad. Ben says that he is "very uncomfortable" with JoJo's ex-boyfriend drama because a similar situation happened to him in the past. JoJo's mood doesn't seem to spoil any plans because she apparently didn't schedule anything for the two of them to do together. I'm sure this is just an editing/timing issue but the couple is seen doing nothing around Dallas.

 Later, JoJo takes Ben to her parents' mansion to meet her family. Her protective older brothers are ecstatic to see her. I thought for sure that one of the brothers was "on the spectrum" from the way that he greeted his sister but I think that was just the alcohol talking screeching. Most of the family seems to already have a good buzz going. Rich, good-looking people who drink too much, are my type of crowd. It's all very Dallas.

 The brothers have a chance to sit down with Ben. They're concerned that JoJo could get hurt. They grill the bachelor. Ben looks terrified. He's honest and says that he's not sure yet what the outcome will be. This isn't good enough, ya'll. The brothers aren't having any of it.

 JoJo is feeling the same hesitations as her brothers. She tells her Mother that she's scared she's going to get hurt because there are three other women still involved. JoJo's Mom says that she won't get hurt because she's beautiful. Hot people are exempt from pain.

  JoJo's Mom may or may not be completely inebriated (she's drinking rosé straight from the bottle, attagirl!) but she offers the most sound advice, "Have faith and give the relationship 150 percent." 

 I feel like Ben and JoJo are just not right for each other. I could be totally wrong. Perhaps opposites truly do attract. If I were playing matchmaker, I just wouldn't pair these two together. One of JoJo's hot brothers (also named Ben) is skeptical. "How can you fall in  love with someone that you've only been on two dates with?" 

 The brothers confront Ben. "You've brainwashed these women. (She's) too emotional after only two dates." It's a confusing scene and a hard one to watch. I wonder if they're going to get out firearms from a fancy gun cabinet. For once, I am speechless. I can't make heads or tails of this introduction. It's obviously a mess but I don't know if JoJo's family were too tough on Ben or right in their convictions. Probably a combination of both.

 Ben is disappointed. "It wasn't the hometown that I would have liked." JoJo knows that Ben has everything that she's looking for but she's scared that she might lose him.

 The rose ceremony takes place back in LA at the mansion. The women all seem happy to see each other. I don't recall the last time that the final four appeared to be this close. It's nice to see women getting along with each other. Each woman says that she's in love with Ben but someone will be going home.

 Ben thanks the ladies for introducing him to their families. He eventually awards Lauren, Caila and JoJo with roses. Momma Amanda will be taking the 1 back to Laguna Beach. She's saddened by his decision but holds her composure. Before she departs, she asks why he made her come back to LA only to be let go in a rose ceremony. Listen, Amanda, at least you had the shortest trip home (if you don't count Lauren's LA pad).

 It's reality TV, folks. If everyone were given the gift of being spared the embarrassment and heartbreak of being dumped during a rose ceremony, the show would not still be on the air.

 The couple says their goodbyes and that "they'll miss each other." On the drive back to the OC, Amanda tells a producer that she's "shocked" and "at a loss for words." Just an hour ago, she said she was ready to accept a hypothetical proposal from Ben; now, she's single and left wondering if she will ever find a good man. Welcome to the club, lady.

  Until next week...

Monday, February 22, 2016

"Validation", The Bachelor S20 E7 Recap

 Week 7 begins where the season initially started off, Ben's hometown of Warsaw, Indiana. It's a quaint Midwestern town- "the perfect place to raise a family." Ben is seen driving around in, surprise, a classic red pickup truck... because you can't possibly cruise the streets of Warsaw in something basic like a Chevy Suburban. I grew up around classic cars and can appreciate the imagery of nostalgia but the producers have really taken this old timey car thing to another level.

 Ben arrives at a local diner with a sign outside that reads, "No, we do not have Wi-Fi, talk to each other!" Ah, those Midwestern values run deep. Momma and Poppa Higgins are waiting inside. Ben greets his parents and catches them up on the remaining women.

 Becca- She has a good side that Ben can't get enough of but last week she came across as standoffish during the piggie island excursion.

 JoJo- Described by Ben as unbelievably beautiful. He's able to be himself around her more than any of the others.

 Emily- The identical twin who he still has questions about.

 Lauren- There's something about her that has stood out to Ben since the beginning. He's interested to see how their relationship will progress this week.

 Caila- Beautiful but has a fear of being unable to fall in love.

 Amanda- Ben says that she is "shockingly" beautiful with 2 little girls from a past marriage. Momma Higgins doesn't seem thrilled by the news but Ben assures her that Amanda is an incredible woman.

 When Ben's time with his parents elapses, he heads out on the lake to greet the women who are waiting for him on a nearby dock. Caila can't contain her excitement as she nearly kills herself by lunging toward the boat. Maybe she is so overcome by her fear of falling in love that this was actually a cry for help.

 Inside the lakeside rental, Ben tells the women that Lauren will be the recipient of the first 1-on-1 date. With "hometowns" looming, Lauren is relieved as she feels that she needs more reassurance before introducing Ben to her family. She only has 30 minutes to get ready; that's half the amount of time that they're usually given. Things are getting serious! Lauren looks like she's already dressed and ready to go but she tells the other women that she might need help primping. Hmmm... would you trust the 5 other women who are vying for your boyfriend to do your makeup before a big date?

 Ben takes Lauren in the red pickup truck around his Indiana hometown. Maybe it's the lighting but I swear one of her eyes has makeup that is darker than the other. Ben is quick to show her all of his favorite places. He's still talking about high school and how he was the star player on his football team. We get it, Al.

 The tour culminates at a youth center where Ben used to work. The kids are all sweet and well-behaved. They seem genuinely happy to have Ben and Lauren join them for their after-school activities. Lauren is "starstruck" when the Indiana Pacers show up to entertain the group. The pro-ballers and mascot are all fine and dandy but one of the kids in the program, Ronnie, a basketball savant, locally referred to as "The Half-Court King", is the real star of the show. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a GIF of Ronnie sinking his big half-court shot.

 Ben comforts a smaller kid who is crying. Ben is always going out of his way to show America how wholesome and respectful he is. If he were a Republican Presidential candidate, you'd expect some explicit photos to leak at any moment. A scandal is never far away from someone who tries so hard to come across as good. Lauren says her cheeks hurt from smiling. She's swooning over Ben and can see that he'd make the best Dad ever.

 Back at the lake house, JoJo learns that she will be getting the next 1-on-1 with Ben. "Let's find love in the windy city." She's relieved as this indicates she's most likely in second place.

 As evening sets, Ben takes Lauren back to his place. It's unclear whether this is a temporary residence that the show staged or if he really has a home in both Denver and Warsaw. Ben never really mentions his career but the show lists him as some sort of software sales dude. The two discuss trust and seem to grow closer. They end up at a local dive bar and hang out with what is presumed to be Ben's friends from his hometown. Lauren is happy and says that she has experienced a relationship breakthrough. "I learned today that I'm not in love with Ben the bachelor. I'm in love with Ben from Warsaw, Indiana." 

 The next day, Ben is ready to meet one of his other girlfriends in Chicago. "It's endearing to me that JoJo doesn't know how much I like her." I wonder if it's endearing that Lauren doesn't realize it either. The producers have set up the couple with a date at one of Ben's favorite places, Wrigley Field. When Ben and JoJo get inside the baseball stadium, they are met with a pair of Cubs' jerseys with a very premature embroidery stitched on the back, "Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Higgins." If Ben doesn't plan to propose to JoJo, that's a pretty cruel thing to do but I wouldn't put it past this batch of producers.

 The sky over Chicago is grey and rain is approaching. I have a flashback to the Lollapalooza storm of 2012. As JoJo frolics on the field with Ben, she says that she needs to feel safe in a relationship. As for feeling safe, maybe avoid getting struck by lightning? She tells a producer type that she's terrified of falling in love because she likes Ben so much. After the inevitable storm passes, dinner is had on the field. Ben questions "to what extent" JoJo's feelings actually are. She says that she's "scared but not too scared to fall." They playfully refer to each other by their jersey monikers, "Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Higgins." 

 A new day. A new batch of women. Caila, Becca and Amanda will be joining Ben on an awkward 3-on-1 date. The group will be spending the afternoon on a farm. They row boats on a pond. Caila, who has already had two solo dates, including one on another type of boat, gets to be with Ben. Becca and Amanda are left witnessing a real life scene from The Notebook. When the rowing loses its appeal, the trio flies kites. Amanda, thinking that she left her kids back home to avoid these types of activities, is bored and hoping for more. The group makes their way to a well-decorated barn where a single rose sits on a barrel of hay makeshift table. The rose will not only indicate that the woman will progress to hometown dates next week but she will also get to stay alone with Ben for the remainder of the date night.

 Each woman has time to chat with Ben. Caila worries that because she moved 17 times before college that she doesn't have the stability roots to keep Ben interested. That explains the Cleveland thing and so much more about Caila. Becca fears that she likes Ben more than he is into her. She asks that whatever he decides, that he doesn't throw her any curve balls.

 Ultimately, Ben gives the rose to Amanda. He feels that she needs the extra reassurance before introducing him to her children. Becca, the virgin, who definitely does not have any kids back home, thinks it's not fair to bestow someone with a rose just because they are a parent. She says that her family is important, too. It really isn't fair but neither is life. I finally agree with Becca on something.

 When Becca and Caila arrive back to the lake house, they inform the other women that Amanda is spending the rest of the date with Ben and will be moving on to hometowns. Becca is in tears and crying about not getting enough validation. JoJo drops the v word as well. "How can you give someone that much validation?" Validation. Validation. Validation. Everyone wants it. No one is getting enough.

 For the evening portion of their date, Ben takes Amanda to McDonald's in what should easily qualify as the most obvious plug in reality television history. Amanda feigns interest as her date escorts her behind the velvet ropes of the golden arches to work the drive-thru. What a dream come true. But in all seriousness, if you're with someone you're falling for, any date is magical.

 After Ben and Amanda serve enough breakfasts as dinners (gotta push that new menu!), the bachelor escorts his lady to a carnival being held, presumably, in his honor. Everyone in small-town Warsaw has come out to catch their 15 minutes of fame. It looks like a fun time. I love festival games and carnival rides. I can totally get behind this part of the date. Amanda says that being in this environment makes her miss her kids. She wishes they were with her. She says that she could see herself leaving sunny southern California to live in cloudy Warsaw, Indiana. She's "close to falling in love" with Ben and is anxious to see how he interacts with her little girls. Mmmhmm...

 If you're doing the math at home, someone still hasn't had a date and that lucky lady is Emily. Ben will be taking her on a very special 1-on-1 date to meet his parents. It's only fair since she introduced him to her Mom back in Las Vegas. Emily (23-years-old with 0 life experience) says that she's ready to forget about her twin sister move from Vegas to small-town Indiana to "start making babies" with Ben.

 Emily is overcome with joy as Ben takes her out on the boat. She asks if the large birds in the water are swans. Emily's invitation to join Mensa must have been lost in the mail. When the couple arrive at the Higgins house, Emily is all over the place. She's anxious, bubbly and talkative. Em goes on and on about not traveling at all in her life and being so impressed by Warsaw, Indiana. "We don't have ducks in Las Vegas." She already forgot that they were swans. Ben's Mom, Amy, pulls Emily aside for a private chat to learn about her deepest desires and hopes for the future.

 Emily shares that her greatest ambition is to be an NFL cheerleader. Listen, I cheered for over 10 years and I still miss it but there comes a time when you should maybe aim for something more ambitious long-term. She thinks further down the road. "I know that I'd be an above-average wife and mother." Ben's Mom hates her. "She's a young, fun, excited individual," she relays to a producer.

 When Dave Higgins has time to speak with Emily, she truly shines. When asked what she'd like to do with her life, she says with a coy smile that she'd like to sit around and watch movies all day. "Okay," says Ben's Dad.

  Amy and Dave can't believe that Ben has brought this girl home. His Mom is in tears at the mere thought of this woman raising her future grandchildren. "Is she mature enough?" Amy is one of those people who pronounces the word "mature" as ma-tour so you know that she's serious.

 As the meeting wraps up, Emily is shocked that the boat appears to be heading toward the lake house. It's only been about an hour. "You're not taking me home are you?" Emily asks, worried. She was hoping for a magical fantasy date like the other women but there will be no Wrigley Field or McDonald's in her future. Ben is honest and firm with the twin. "I don't think I could see you being my wife." Ouch. "I don't see the next step for us." Emily is in tears as she says her goodbyes to the bachelor. When she makes her way into house, she tells the other women that her date ended prematurely and she will be going home. "I'll always wonder what he didn't see in me."

 The rose ceremony takes place in the town square. Ben says that he doesn't know what he's going to do. He figures it out rather quickly.

 Lauren, JoJo and Caila are given roses which symbolize an invite for the ladies to introduce Ben to their families.

 Becca's only request was not met. She is blindsided. She didn't want to be put through the embarrassment of a rose ceremony if Ben knew that they weren't suited for each other. Ben claims he didn't know what to do until the very last moment. Mmmhmm... Becca hears Ben out and finally agrees that she'd rather he end it now before families get involved and things become more intense.

 Without Olivia running around, there really was a noticeable lack of excitement this week. Here's to hoping that hometowns provide some quality material! Until next time...

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm 30 and living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. My ambition is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!