Essay: Hope in a Jar

Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85 is the author of the memoir This is How I Speak (Impassio Press) for which she was named a 2002 Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Her short stories and essays have appeared in more than 30 literary magazines and anthologies. “Hope in a Jar” was originally published in 2008 by the literary zine: Mr. Bellers’ Neighborhood.  Sandi is the Managing Editor of The Lyon Review.


I’ve become obsessed by wrinkles. Particularly the ones surrounding my eyes and across the map of my forehead that extend like arid rivers across my skin’s terrain. About a year ago, I purchased my first wrinkle cream, Oil of Olay Anti-Aging Eye Gel ($12.99) from the local Duane Reade. This was followed by Olay’s Regenerist Microdermabrasion Treatment and Peel Activator Serum with Lactic Acid ($26.99) which I had to apply twice a week to my face and neck.

Next I turned to Lush’s Sacred Truth, a green mud mask made of Kaolin, Ginkgo Biloba, Linseed Extract, Talc, Papaya, Yogurt and Free Range Eggs, which required refrigeration, and at $32.99, had a shelf life of just ten days. According to the saleswoman, for maximum effectiveness Sacred Truth was to be used in conjunction with Lush’s Breath of Fresh Air Toner ($14.99) and Skin Drink Rehydrating Moisturizer ($22.99) that smelled slightly like wet cement.

When the gingery freckles that playfully dotted my cheeks and my sunkissed arms and legs evolved into age spots (and you can be sure that some Madison Avenue hack in the 1960s looking to score it big with Avon or Elizabeth Arden decided that “age spots” would sell far more skin care products than “liver spots,” “lentigos” or “hyperpigmentation”), I tried Missha’s Illuminating XL 100 ($33.95), which involved my placing opaque latex-thin circles treated with a transparent gel directly on to the spots and letting the gel absorb into my skin for twenty minutes each evening before bed. Continue reading