I can’t pinpoint exactly when or how I first heard about Birchbox, but the minute I did, it became nothing short of an all-consuming obsession.
For those of you who don’t spend an inordinate amount of time playing with makeup, the Birchbox concept is simple but brilliant: Subscribers pay $10 per month, which includes shipping, for a box of deluxe (often larger-than-normal) samples of premium-brand beauty products. Think Nars, Stila, Philosophy and Benefit.
In sum, it’s an idea made of pure, uncut, Colombian-grade KELLY. Birchbox couldn’t be any more perfect for me if it was made of non-conflict diamonds and tasted like Halloween Oreos and booze.
It was a complete no-brainer that I HAD to have a subscription. Debit card in hand, I went to the website and clicked “JOIN.”
“Birchbox subscriptions are sold on a first come, first served basis. Join our mailing list, and we’ll let you know when it’s your turn to sign up. Subscriptions are released regularly!”
“WHAT THE FIIIIIIIIG*?!” I screamed.
*FIIIIIG = Something way more prurient than “fig.”
But…but…it’s…made for me, you know? What do you mean, I’m going to have to wait? But I don’t want to wait! PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME WAIT! PLEASE!
I clicked on “Monthly Member” about 800 more times just to be sure it wasn’t testing my level of desire to have a Birchbox subscription. You know, to make sure the people who have them REALLY want them.
So I had to wait.
But then, lo! The magical day finally came! In my email inbox: “The Wait Is Over! Join Birchbox Now.”
DON’T MIND IF I DO!
And that, my friends, is when The Guy’s Month of Misery began.
See, as the mother of a new baby, your days tend to go one of two ways, with no in-between: They’re either really good or really, really, REALLY bad. Now, don’t get me wrong; my worst day with Harper in my life is still better than my best day without her, but those bad days, man…they’ll eat your lunch. Some days, I swear she engages every single one of her infant brain cells in a pursuit she calls “State-Run Psychiatric Hospital: Let Us Drive Mother to It.”
She’s currently going through a bit of a stage. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but she’s been struggling with reflux and a fussy phase that babies her age often experience, and for a few weeks there, the evenings, in particular, were extremely rough. The Guy would come home to find me and Harper both crying our eyes out, with neither of us able to do a single thing to console the other.
The worst part was it didn’t get much better after The Guy came home. I could hand her off to him for a little while, but our house is so small that no matter where I go, I can hear her crying like she’s sitting right next to me. And this is going to sound kind of weird to the non-moms among us, but Harper’s crying bothers me. Really, REALLY bothers me. Like, it’s physically painful in a way. Which makes sense, if you think about it – I’m biologically programmed for her crying to bother me. But the point is, going in another room and trying to ignore it and let The Guy handle it is pretty much pointless, because as long as she’s crying, I can’t rest. My brain knows she’s just irritable and over-tired, but my body reacts like she’s being systematically attacked and tortured by squirrels.
So my Birchbox constituted something to look forward to. When I was single, I looked forward to Friday or payday or date night, and those days are still pretty cool, but they’re no longer fundamentally different from any other day. The arrival of the Birchbox would make that day totally different from all the ones before it.
Essentially, my Birchbox became a shining beacon of hope.
Finally, I got the email that it had shipped! I anxiously awaited its arrival.
All the while getting more and more upset. I was seriously ready to throttle the postman. The wait for my Birchbox became a totem of sorts for all my frustrations.
ALL my frustrations.
You know where I’m going with this, right? My anticipation for my Birchbox got blown way, way out of proportion, because it became like, “WHY ISN’T MY G@$#!*& BIRCHBOX HERE YET I AM SO SICK OF WAITING FOR S@*% OUR HOUSE WON’T SELL AND THE BABY WON’T STOP CRYING AND SPITTING UP IN MY HAIR AND I WANT TO WEAR MY SKINNY JEANS THIS WEEKEND AND WHY HATH MY GOD FORSAKEN MEEEEEEEE.”
Reminder: We’re talking about a box filled with MAKEUP SAMPLES, people. Maybe that state-run-psych-hospital business isn’t such a bad idea after all, is my point here.
The Guy, not really having much of an idea what this Birchbox business was, naturally assumed that we were waiting on a box made of actual birch wood that was filled with…I’m not sure he was even prepared to hazard a guess. Maybe something to do with perfume? A pygmy marmoset? Henry Rollins himself? Illicit drugs?
Finally, finally, FINALLY it arrived!!
The Guy, Harper and I went to lunch and, with much fanfare, I opened it.
Contents: Tea Forté Skin-Smart Teas (3 samples), Harvey Prince Ageless perfume, Color Club Neon Nail Polish in Age of Aquarius, Lulu Organics Lavender + Clary Sage Hair Powder, One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm and Supergoop! Sunscreen Swipes (2)
Was it everything I hoped it would be?
Eh…you know. Pretty much.
It was definitely more about the anticipation than the actual contents, but all in all, I was pleased. I mean, they’re certainly better and more useful than the samples you get at the mall (I actually use most of these items, though I’ve never tried any of these brands), and you spend a heck of a lot more than $10 to get those. No, it didn’t magically cure the baby’s reflux, and 10 pounds didn’t evaporate the moment I lifted the lid, but waiting for it did give me more time to come to terms with those things.
The Guy, on the other hand, was very disappointed. Not only was the box cardboard and not wood, it was filled with…samples?
“It’s like you got a box full of samples,” he said incredulously.
“Exactly!” I said.
(As much as we have in common, there are some areas where we will never, ever understand each other. His is the fact that he can quote Shakespeare to me, then sit down to watch NASCAR and drink domestic beer. Mine is clearly the Birchbox.)
However, we both tried this stuff (me around my eyes, him on his lips) and agreed that it’s super awesome and worth $10 all by itself, although I’m not sure he’d be down with me spending $68 on a full-sized jar of it.
And here is a picture of Lola Mowis cleaning herself just because:
So have you ever gotten just, like, disproportionately excited about something?
Did it live up to your expectations?
Was it makeup?
Your moisturized, sun-blocked, shiny-haired