Dear Raiah

I was putting highlight on my cheekbones the other day, and whenever I wear it I think of a tweet I saw once (wish I could remember who tweeted it) that said something like “oh I get it, wearing makeup is about making only the CORRECT parts of your face shiny”. When this happens I feel momentarily conflicted about makeup, but in the end, decide that a) I like wearing it, b) highlight is fun, and c) who gives a care. Even though I’m not going to stop wearing makeup any time soon, I’ve been doing some critical thinking about the way I use and think about makeup.

My usual makeup routine is pretty simple: fill in eyebrows, put on mascara, apply tinted chapstick or lipliner. Or I just forgo makeup altogether. When I have a little extra time I put on a bit of eyeliner, lipstick, and apply some highlight, when I’m feeling fancy I wear winged eyeliner, or I put gold eyeshadow onto the inner corners of my eyelids. I recently decided to wear as little cover-up, powder, and foundation as possible. This wasn’t an ideological decision, as much as it would be comforting to say so, so much as part of my Good Skin Project.

Ah, the Good Skin Project. This also started on twitter. Someone I follow posted a tweet about how she hadn’t worn powder or foundation in so long, and how she appreciated having good skin, and I thought, “Her skin is amazing. I want to have good skin like that.” And so was born the Good Skin Project. It is going okay. After some trial and error I think I’ve found a skincare combo that minimizes my acne (WHY do I have adult acne), which involves a face wash from Lush, tea tree essential oil (or a tea tree oil based serum, also from Lush), and lotion meant for babies, used in that order in the morning and the evening, and a charcoal and sugar exfoliating face wash I use about twice a week, along with every-once-in-awhile sheet masks. I’ve also included biotin in my vitamin regime even though I have basically no idea what it is.

When I say “some trial and error,” I mean that I have about five soaps and face washes in my medicine cabinet and shower that I don’t really use because they don’t work for my skin, and I have only just used up a couple tubes of lotion I originally thought to use on my face but which soon entered the ranks of body-only-face-never lotions, and I have another of these lotions sitting on my nightstand. I also mean that every time I break out, my first thought is “maybe I need to change up my skin care regime” or “maybe I need to think more about what I eat”. Basically what I’m trying to get across here is that even if I never wore makeup there’d be absolutely no reason for me to be smug about it because I put a LOT of effort into my skin.

Over Christmas I stayed at my sister’s house, and I wish I had thought about how to talk to my nieces about makeup before I went. A couple times, when I was in the downstairs bathroom doing my makeup, a niece or two would come watch me and ask questions. “What’s that, Auntie Glynis?” “What does this do, Auntie Glynis?” “Why are you putting that on your eyes, Auntie Glynis?”

I hope my response to them was good, and undamaging. Here it is, boiled down to a few key points:

  • I wear makeup because I find it fun and I like it;
  • I like the all the different colours;
  • Sometimes I feel like wearing makeup and sometimes I don’t;
  • Makeup is a creative venture; and,
  • The extreme basics of application (e.g. “this goes on my eyelids like this”).

I’ve been known to say things like “if I’ve been wearing makeup a lot and then don’t for a day, I feel like I look a bit like a ghost. My facial features disappear.” I wonder if that kind of statement goes along with the things I tell my nieces. I hope I don’t contribute to any kind of harmful thinking regarding looks and makeup in my nieces. I’m doing my best, but is my best good enough? I’m not sure, but I hope so.

A night shift adventure, or, my week of being sick but dancy.

I was going to do a topic from the list, but instead I just need to give you a little summary of my week. I told you a bit about it already. But I just want to lay it out because it was a ridiculous week.

As you know, they put me on to night shift again, which is kind of sucky. But in retrospect it is not as bad as where I am going next week. Back to the sawmill basement and the rotten sawdust, hooray. Anyways, back to last week. I was not trained on night shift work (not technically anyways, I spent a couple days on it back in the summer, but I was with someone who mostly knew what they were doing) and the regular night shift guy is on a different shift and doesn’t come in until Wednesday. When I pointed that out to management they got a little bit flustered. The next day I got a call from the Superintendent asking what I had been trained on and then he told me to work the shift anyways because the only day I would really be on my own would be Sunday night. On Monday the afternoon shift would be there when I got there. He was like, “Just sweep some floors and don’t go in anywhere you have to lock out.”

Skip ahead to Sunday. I woke up with that scratchy throat feeling. I don’t know if you get that before you get sick. But for me there is a specific dry, scratchy throat feeling that is basically a guarantee that I am coming down with a doozy of a cold. I tired to sleep in the afternoon, but I could not at all.

I was not sick enough to call in. Also the whole thing where I kind of put up a fight about going on the shift and multiple bosses knew that I DID NOT want to be on night shift. Kind of made calling in a bad move, even if I was sick. Luckily there is a bus that runs for that shift, so I didn’t have to drive out (small silver lining). They dropped me off at the planer just before midnight and the parking lot was completely empty. I was literally the only one there.

I sat in the lunchroom until my shift started. Then got my stuff and went for a walk to see what was up and where I should start. I didn’t see anyone, I knew there was at least one planerman on the shift at some point, but everything was looking pretty empty. So of course I thought what every normal person thinks when they are alone in a empty planer mill at midnight on a Sunday night: DANCE PARTY!

I already told you this part cause it’s hilarious. But it’s the next part of the overall story. So there I was, music blaring, dancing/walking through the planer. I took a detour through the warehouse and who should be there sleepily putting his boots on but the nightshift planerman. I’m not sure he even noticed really. He looked pretty tired.

What followed was a shift of half dancing half sweeping. The dancing was a bit on the conservative side as I was keeping an eye out for the planerman who came and went most of the night. I didn’t really fancy what I figured would be a pretty awkward and embarrassing encounter for me if he were to come across me really rocking out.

I managed to stay on that weird ‘I’m kind of sick but not too bad yet and also I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours’ high for basically the whole night. I had just downloaded the new Chainsmokers song before work and I was GOOD TO GO. For about 6 hours anyways. But the end of the shift I was feeling like a giant pile of trash. My throat was sore and my neck/throat felt swollen and my head was aching. I almost told the day shift boss to expect me to call in that night. When I got on the bus in the morning I instantly fell asleep. You know that awkward car sleeping where your head collapses at a weird angle and your neck is killing you when you wake up? Yeah, it was like that. My head was like lead and I could not pick it back up.

I got home and literally slept all day. Literally all day. And I woke up in the evening feeling kind of alright and not sick enough to call in. And thus began a week long pattern. Feel good around midnight, get to work and rockout while I worked alone. Feel like garbage when the sun comes up and it is time to go home. Collapse into heavy headed, sore neck car sleeping in the van. Get home and sleep all day. Wake up and feel not sick enough to call in.

That makes it sound like it was a horrible week, but it actually wasn’t that bad. It was kind of nice getting to do my own thing and not be on production for a week. Also, after working 10.5 hour shifts, 8 hour shifts go by SO FAST. It was also very nice having at least 3.5 hours every night where it was only me and one or two others. It would have been nicer if I hadn’t been sick, but it was still alright.

On my second to last shift the nightshift planerman couldn’t make it to work because there was a car accident on the edge of Fernie that shut down a bridge for a few hours. I was super jealous. But that’s not the point, the point is that it meant the afternoon shift planerman stayed late. I was talking with him (we were on the same shift all the time when I worked at the mill before I went to Australia) and I asked him to do me a favour. I asked if the next day (Thursday) he would break something that would need to be welded on night shift. That way the nightshift planerman would need fire watch and I would get an easy last night. He said no, obviously. He also told me that one of the other cleanup people would probably bump me out if there was fire watch (hooray for a seniority based system).

I am telling you about this conversation because it makes the events of the next night slightly greater. When I got to my first break on the next night I came to the lunchroom into a conversation between the other cleanup guy and the nightshift planerman. They were talking about how there was a welding job that needed to be done in the between shift downtime and how I could do fire watch. It was the greatest moment of my life. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it was a great moment. You know how nothing ever works out the way you want it to in your mind.

A little while later the afternoon shift supervisor came in and asked about the job. The nightshift planerman said he was going to take me to do fire watch (he actually said, “I’m going to take smiles over there” because, as stated above, I was in shock that my dream scenario was playing out and it was the straight up middle of the night) and the supervisor was like, “I don’t know if she can do it, there are some people coming in to do OT cleanup who have more seniority than her so they’ll probably take the fire watch.” The nightshift planerman was like, “Fire watch isn’t a bid job, they can’t take it. I’m going to take her.” And the supervisor was like, “Well, I mean, they can take it if they want to. I guess just don’t advertise that your taking her for the job.” And they both looked at me and were like, “Did you get that? Is that all good with you?” And I was like, “Yup, I just won’t tell them where I’m going and wait until they are working.” Then I went and found the other clean up guy and told him not to tell the OT guys that I was doing a fire watch job. And that is the story of how we launched a scheme to get me out of cleanup. A small and unimpressive scheme, but a scheme nonetheless. I sat there in the lunchroom with everyone while they talked about the cleanup jobs they were doing. I waited until they got ready to go and then snuck out the side door.

The funny thing is that the welding job took about 5 minutes. Maybe 10 if you count set up and take down. But company rules are that there needs to be continuous fire watch for a full hour after the hot work is done. So I did get to sit by myself on the floor by the sorter for an hour, so it was still a win.

When I finished on Friday morning, I once again fell into a completely comatose sleep on the bus. But when I got home I wasn’t feeling super tired so I decided that instead of sleeping a few hours and then having to force myself to wake up so that I could sleep again that night I would just stay awake all day. I know, great idea for a sick person. But I wasn’t feeling that sick. I figured I would go to bed early and then wake up early on Saturday and have a full and fully rested day. When I went to sleep it was about 9pm and I had been awake for at least a full 24 hours. You know when you sleep like you are dead? Like no movement whatsoever. And none of that in and out of sleep cycle stuff where you kind of wake up and then fall back to sleep. Well, I slept like that for 15 hours. I didn’t even move until noon today.

That is my story. If you want a soundtrack for this story, go with Paris by the Chainsmokers and Starboy by the Weeknd. I think I listened to those songs at least 50 times each over the course of the week.


What I Listened to in 2016

Hello Raiah,

Okay, so I meant to do something other than music for this post, since you just did it, but it was the anniversary of David Bowie’s death this week and so I have music on my mind. But when I was thinking through what albums or songs I’d talk about, I also kept thinking of other things I started listening to in 2016 that aren’t music: podcasts, audiobooks, etc. And so this post is more of a Best Audio of 2016 rather than a Best Music of 2016.

First off, clearly, we have Blackstar, Bowie’s final album. I’m not sure what to say about it beyond that it is poignant and beautiful and it’s a farewell from him before we knew he was dying. Lazarus is my favorite song on the album; the music video is haunting. (I have a Spotify playlist of some of my favourite Bowie songs to serve as an introduction to Bowie if you want to take a listen).

I started listening to Lemonade WAY after it was released, and proceeded to listen to it non-stop for weeks. It’s a triumph. You’d think that I would have been more on the ball with this one. I mean, Beyonce releases an album about marriage, grief, power, and forgiveness, and I wait months to listen to it? Ridiculous.

I also somehow listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Bring It On: The Musical enough that it appeared in my Top 25 Most Played playlist on iTunes for this year (I usually erase my listening history sometime in the beginning of the year so that it sort of represents my listening over the year, although Spotify makes it much less accurate). What can I say, Lin-Manuel Miranda worked on it and it’s hella catchy.

Okay, podcasts.

There are three standouts from the year, although I’ve been listening to one of them for longer. The three are: My Favorite MurderFriendshipping, and The Adventure Zone.

My Favorite Murder is NOT FOR EVERYONE. Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff are both big true crime readers/watchers, and they each bring a true crime murder story to the podcast every week and tell the other one about it. There is LOTS OF MURDER, but it is still somehow hilarious and is listed as a comedy podcast.  AND it’s insightful. AND it makes me very excitedly tell Josh about murder stories which he definitely doesn’t want to hear, he’s very long-suffering.

Friendshipping has been around for about two years and I love it. Gentle and compassionate friendship advice, with plenty of laffs. This podcast has made me a better person.

The Adventure Zone is a podcast about Dungeons & Dragons. The McElroy brothers of podcasting fame and their dad play D&D and it’s endlessly delightful. It makes me want to play D&D. I listen to it with Josh, and we sometimes can’t hear it because we’re laughing so hard.

Here at the end of my letter I’d like to include a general recommendation for audiobooks of all stripes, but especially for World War Z / Max Brooks which, yes, is a zombie book and zombies are kinda overdone (in more ways than one, am I right), BUT it’s a full-cast recording and I’ve listened through it probably three times since the beginning of 2016. It is excellent. Also a sort-of recommendation for the audiobook of The Witches / Stacy Schiff, which enabled me to FINALLY and AT LAST get through a giant, kinda boring tome about the Salem Witch Trials. I’ll talk more about audiobooks when I tell you about my reading in 2016, probably.

Best Album of 2016


I need to preface this post by saying that this is simply the album I enjoyed listening to most in 2016. Not necessarily the best album of 2016. In fact, the album I enjoyed most this year was not released in 2016 at all. It was released in 2008.

When I was in Australia in 2014 I found William Fitzsimmons’ Goodnight. I had heard some songs from it before, but I got the whole album and listened all the way through. That album became something like a close friend. It was my comfort while I was away from home. I don’t know how many nights I fell asleep to it, but it was no small number. See, I’m not usually a whole album person. I’m more of a few songs here and there type. It is very rare that I enjoy listening to an album all the way through unless it is a first listen. But even then I often have a hard time. I find a couple songs I like best and I listen to only those songs over and over and the rest of the album gets lost and forgotten. But I loved Goodnight in its entirety.

I have listened to a lot of William Fitzsimmons. I like him a lot. The Sparrow and the Crow was a more elusive album (by that I mean you can’t get it on iTunes) so it was one of the last I listened to. I love William Fitzsimmons, but none of his other music was as good as Goodnight. I had this feeling though, that The Sparrow and the Crow might be. Goodnight was about his parent’s divorce. I think I love it because it is pure emotion. It makes me feel. It is beautiful and significant somehow because it feels real. The Sparrow and the Crow is about his own divorce, so I thought that maybe it would be similar in its depth of emotion.

I found a used copy of it for sale online through a slightly sketchy used music store. I payed about $3.00 and honestly, I didn’t think it would actually come. But $3.00 wasn’t a big loss, so I took a chance and believe it or not, a month or two later, it showed up at my door.

I was a bit nervous. I had built my hopes up and was worried it wouldn’t be as good as I had made it in my mind. The first listen was reassuring. It was good. Maybe not Goodnight good, but still good. After Afterall caught me right away. The part where he is singing “please don’t keep me” while she is singing “please don’t leave me” was that same emotional feel as Goodnight. The more I listened to the album, the more I loved it. It is definitely as good as Goodnight, I actually think I might like it more.

So I have to say that it was my favourite album of 2016. I have listened to it over and over. My favourite song on the album is They’ll never take the good years. Every time it comes on when my music is on shuffle I smile and make a “mmmm” noise. But there is not a bad track on the whole thing. Seriously, just put it on and don’t skip anything.


So in conclusion, who wants to take me to a William Fitzsimmons show?