Garden

I have many things to write to you about – mostly my convocation and Xavier Rudd – but here we are with another garden update.

Josh and I have been digging, digging, digging in the front, and on Canada Day we planted a small and promising tree. Before driving out to the garden centre to get our tree, we made as much room as we could in the car, and concluded that we could get a tree eight feet tall and still be able to close the back of the car and therefore drive safely home. We looked at all the trees and decided that we wanted a Japanese lilac, which will grow to about 15 feet tall and wide, and has lovely white flowers in late spring but which doesn’t set seed, so there’s no concern with it spreading itself around.  We planted it in the end of the new bed we’ve been painstakingly digging out (it is so much easier to say “this year we’ll dig out all this turf and then build up the soil to extend the front bed” than to actually do it), and every time I look at it I feel joyful. It’s a very small tree, and will take a long time to grow, but I love it. We staked it to give it support against the wind, and have bee keeping it well watered, and it seems to be feeling healthy and happy.

I’m slowly finishing and filling the rest of the front bed. I’ve added several wheelbarrows full of better soil, and done a great deal of soil loosening and quack grass root removing, and am trying to make the garden inhospitable to ants. Josh’s parents came for a visit this past weekend, and they brought a wealth of plants (irises! day lilies! sweet woodruff! false spirea! so much more!), which in addition to my giant goats beard, peony, scabia, globe thistle, lavender, and spurge makes for a well-stoked garden bed. At the moment it’s looking sparse and freshly planted, but I’m confident it’ll fill itself out. In September there’s a perennial swap in my community, and I’m hoping to get some good plants from there as well.

My veg patch is thriving, and things are going nicely in the raised bed we built, and of course the weeds are loving it too even though I feel like I’m constantly weeding.  I’ve got tiny, adorable cucumelons growing, despite my not giving them something proper to climb and them just clambering up the neighbouring tomatilla instead. I’m learning about what each plant needs, and how to better care for all of them, and I’m being rewarded by things like seeing my goji berry bush finally beginning to thrive, or adding things from the garden into our meals. It’s still early in the season for most of the veggies, but we’ve been eating a modest amount of strawberries, radishes, and tomatoes. It’s not all going perfectly however, I’ve pulled up some radishes that were going to seed, only to discover the evidence of cabbage/radish fly larva, and went on to discover that all the root crops in the main veg patch were toast. It was discouraging to pull up plant after plant, but I also know the other plants will be happy to have some extra space. I underestimated how large everything would get when I planted out the babies in the spring. The tomatoes could do with more breathing room (and more support, oops), and the sunflowers are slowly taking over. But now that I’ve pulled the ruined root crops out, there’s more space for everyone else.

The raised bed is pretty crowded, and I’ve found root maggots in there as well. Next year I’m thinking I’ll plant more things like chard and fennel (which are both doing splendidly) and I won’t do as many radishes, turnips, and rutabaga. I have a very tiny squash on one of the plants in there, and while I know that a single squash won’t exactly keep us fed through the winter, I’m very glad to see it there. In the main bed my peas are continuously producing, my pumpkins vines both have small pumpkins growing on them, and I keep finding more and more tomatoes.

I’ve found myself thinking of what I can do next year: what to plant, what to do differently, new things to try, on and on and on. The pumpkins I planted this year keep getting dirty and weighed down, I’ll mulch them nicely next season so they don’t get so splashed with mud. The strawberries are growing well but the berries keep getting icky before I pick them, next year I also need to mulch them with straw before they start to fruit. The tomatoes in the ground are doing much better than the tomatoes in pots, maybe I’ll dedicate a whole corner of the garden or build a new raised bed for them next year, and grow something else in the pots. The hanging baskets are looking so great, even if they’re a bit behind the rest of the garden; next year I’ll make sure to plant them up a bit before the last frost so the seeds germinate sooner. I’ve been looking at grow lights and figuring out my plan for starting things in the spring, I’ve been adding things to the compost and turning it regularly, we’ve built a turf stack and are waiting for it to become loamy and lovely, I’ve bought plants and soil additives that I didn’t know existed until the last couple of years, and my heart is soaring. I have lilies and poppies and delphinium blooming in full force, and it makes me so happy.

The indoor plant collection has also grown, and now includes a fig tree, a banana plant, a small tropical terrarium, a couple different kinds of pilea, and – most exciting of all – two lithops/living stone plants. I hope to coax them both into flowering, so that I can pollinate them and hopefully end up with some seeds. My spider plants are once again sending out as many babies as they can muster, so anytime you want a new plant, just let me know.

 

 

Two Healthcare Anecdotes

I have had recurring shoulder pain for about five years now, to the degree that, when it’s really bad, I have to screw my courage to the sticking place and grit my teeth to do things like open car doors, change my shirt, or do any kind of reaching/pushing/pulling. It’s not always that bad, sometimes it pretty much goes away, and sometimes it’s just a dull ache, and sometimes it only hurts when I make a big, sudden motion, but when it’s bad it’s awful. Recently it has been bad all the time. There wasn’t a big injury that started all of this off, I think my joints were just fatigued.

When it first started, I was confused and in pain for about a week before making a short-notice appointment at my doctor’s office, and since they don’t do walk-in appointments the receptionist asked if I wanted to see a doctor other than my usual doctor, as she was booked pretty solid. My shoulder hurt so much that I would gasp and almost cry every time I had to use it to get out of my car, so I said yes. On the day of my appointment, the (male) doctor moved my arms around, but didn’t do tests other than looking at my range of motion. I explained that it didn’t hurt when he moved my arm in circle, it hurt when I moved it in an outward motion, but he didn’t ask me to show him the painful motion, and didn’t feel my shoulder joint, and he seemed annoyed with me that I had come in and had an alright range of motion. He said, “it’s inflamed, take an ibuprofen,” and left the exam room.

On Thursday I went to the doctor again. Between my first appointment and my second one, the shoulder pain had escaped the bounds of my left shoulder and had begun to affect my right shoulder as well. If my left started hurting, I knew it was only a matter of time before my right started hurting just as the left eased up. It was an unpleasant cycle of shoulder distress. In the past year or so, my right shoulder got worse and worse and worse while my left remained at about the same level of bad. On the day of my appointment, my (female) doctor felt my shoulder joints, asked about the nature of the pain, asked me to show her the painful movements, demonstrated where I had weakness in my arms by having me push against her arms, had me show her my range of motion beyond doing arm circles, and when I said “that hurt right here,” pointing at a spot on my shoulder joint, she said, “it’s your bursa in your joint that’s causing you trouble, you pointed right at it.” She told me that I have tendinitis in my left shoulder and bursitis in my right shoulder. And then, she said that for the bursitis she recommended a steroid injection, and if I went down to the pharmacy to get it, she could do the shot right now. I left my appointment with two actual diagnoses, and a freshly jabbed shoulder joint, and an exhortation to go the physio.

When women talk about not being believed by healthcare professionals, it extends beyond reproductive health and into the rest of the body. I was so hurt and upset by the first appointment and the irritated “it’s inflamed” comment, so anxious that I had overreacted to my own pain, so put off by the interaction, that it took me five years to talk to a doctor about it again. I decided that I must just be being a baby, and the doctor made it pretty clear that I had just wasted his time, so it seemed better to me to just live with severe shoulder pain which has affected my life in a myriad of ways rather than hear another “you have inflammation, take an ibuprofen” from a doctor who didn’t care about me or believe me.

It took a long time (and a traumatic IUD experience) to build enough trust with my doctor to ask her about my shoulders. It had to get to the point where my right shoulder hurt all the time, and I would be icing it and taking painkillers multiple times a week. I played down how much it hurt to myself and to Josh, and didn’t mention it to many other people. I broke down crying Thursday night, overwhelmed by the feeling of being believed and being told that I was right, there is a serious problem, and that I know my body well enough to say “this is where it hurts, and this is how”. I’m imagining my life with a shoulder that isn’t constantly in pain, and it’s a marked improvement.

The thing is, this isn’t the only pair of healthcare stories I have where a male doctor dismissed my knowledge of my own body and didn’t believe me, and where I had to build up trust for years to even mention the same, continuing issue to my doctor. I know I’m not the only woman who has these stories, and while I also understand that having a doctor who is a woman when you’re a woman isn’t a universal cure-all, still, if you have a uterus, I cannot recommend finding and going to a doctor who also has a uterus highly enough.

I rejoice to see my children walking in the truth

I can feel myself slowly recovering since finishing school, and it’s finally time to write to you here.

This past weekend was the last frost date, and I have been outside in the garden every day this week. Yesterday I forgot to wear sunscreen and so now I’m sporting an extremely ridiculous sunburn, and I’m the one constantly raving about SPF and sun safety. Oops. Well, I got my peas in the ground, so sunburn or no, I’m calling it a win. And now: some projects I’m working on/have completed.

My main goal for the growing season was to get our veg bed in order, dug over, and planted up. First, I had to clear it of the weeds that I neglected to pull last year before they set seed, which means that I also had to keep on top of ten zillion weedy seedlings as I was digging the bed over, and that Josh had to reassure me that no, I’m not a horrible gardener or a failure, I was just busy last summer.

The first picture doesn’t look like much, but it’s what I started with, and I knew that I had a bed of good soil beneath it. It took several days to dig it out, and after I overworked my shoulders and made my recurring inflammation flare up, I hied to Canadian Tire and bought a garden fork which, omg, is amazing. It works so much better than a shovel for digging a bed over and getting the weeds out. This particular patch was on the verge of becoming absolutely choked with quack grass (a curse which haunts my life) and had a lot of half-rotted wood in it, and the fork was the perfect tool for getting it all out. The second picture is partway through the process (along with the beautiful fork), and the third is the prepared bed complete with little path. The paving stones came from our old firepit setup, which was located right beneath a tree (????) directly next to the fence (???) below the power line (??????) and in general not in an ideal spot so we’re moving it.

Now I’ve planted things out BUT we’re in a bit of a heatwave (or maybe this is just what summer is like now?) so it’s all looking somewhat droopy and sad BUT I care about you so here’s a couple pictures.

I planted three pumpkin plants (overkill? tell that to my sixteen tomatoes, wow) and the two in the back veg plot are probably the happiest of all the plants in there right now. Everything is a bit small at the moment so it’s looking a little sparse, but I’ve actually crowded everything in and am hoping for a edible jungle a few weeks down the line. It’s nice to finally have the plant outside rather than indoors where they were taking up more and more space as they grew and I potted things on. Most of the tomatoes are now happily situated by the back door, where I initially moved all the plants outside to harden off. I love plants.

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In the veg bed I’ve planted sunflowers, pumpkins, a goji berry bush (suffering), peas, tomatoes, turnips, carrots, two kinds of radishes, tomatillos, and cucumbers (or maybe they’re zucchini, I don’t actually remember), and put in a little border of marigold seedlings in the hopes that they’ll grow up strong and keep unwanted visitors away. Near the strawberries by the garage (which I don’t have a pic of but which already have one tiny berry) I planted more sunflowers and a bunch of ornamental gourds which may or may not germinate, they are old seeds. What will I do with ornamental gourds?? Hell if I know.

I’ve also seeded three hanging baskets, and have to keep reminding myself that it is perfectly fine that they aren’t super filled out yet and just have small plants or seedlings in them; it is May, after all. In (many) pots by the back door I have the wealth of tomatoes, a cucumelon (grape-sized melons that taste limey/cucumbery and look like wee lil watermelons), tomatillos, and a pumpkin. I’ve got two electric daisies by the front door which kind of zap and then numb your mouth when you eat them. I’m going to hang two more baskets, I need to get one more and fill it, and we need to put up the rest of the hooks on the side of the carport. And this is mostly all just the edible stuff. I’ve done heaps of weeding and digging and planning and plant-adding for the rest of the garden as well.

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The birds have finally found the birdfeeder I’ve had up since the beginning of winter, and last night we hung up the hummingbird feeder in a new spot. I haven’t seen hummingbirds in the neighbourhood yet, but I’m hoping that they come around. This year we’re going to plant a tree and drastically extend the front garden bed (as you can see the lawn is not great, nor do we really like lawns, so more proper garden it is), and I’m planning on adding another feeder and a birdbath and then maybe a couple bird houses. I love birds. We also picked up a bee hotel and attached it to the fence at the back of the side garden, and are thinking about putting in a pond, so really we’ve just gone buck wild for wildlife in the yard.

I love working in the garden, and I love planning out new things to change or add or takeaway, and every time Josh and I look outside and say things like “let’s put the fireplace over there instead” or “hanging baskets would be nice” or “let’s change the look of the front yard” the house feels more like home. I’m a big fan of this house. Today I submitted  ticket to Call Before You Dig, and I’m going to mark out a place for a tree, a pond, and a firepit. I’m going to water the veg bed, and then not do too much else outside because of this sunburn.

Of course, Barney has been visiting again, and I love it. He’s a great cat, and gets more comfortable and friendly with us all the time. I’ll leave you with a picture of my favourite neighbour:

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Book Shelves

This is going to be a a bit rambly, and about a kind of niche, specific thing, which has, possibly, been eclipsed on the internet by newer or more important things. Here’s what I want to say: people can shelve their books however they please. This #hot #take is brought to you by the virulent reaction to the “shelve your books spine in” decor suggestion that swept the internet a month-ish ago. If you haven’t heard of this backlash, honestly that’s probably for the best. Basically, there was a large reaction on twitter that boils down to “it is morally vacant to shelve your books with the spines facing in” or “if you have books shelved spine in, it means you never actually read”.

I’m going to be a full-fledged Master Librarian in  few short weeks (God help me), so I have some expertise in the world of books, and I want to tell the world that there is no morally superior way to shelve your personal book collection. I’ve been thinking too much a lot about this lately, and I have some thoughts around my larger “shelve your books however you please” admonition.

Book shelves are performative. Choosing where to shelve what books and how they are displayed is a performance of all of the things we associate with books. This goes beyond performing “well-read” to include how knowledgeable and wise a person is and beyond that to all the stuff you see in those “date a reader”-esque memes. Readers are empathetic! Readers have an active inner life! Readers love to curl up with a book on a rainy day! While this is a monolithic view of what reading “is”, it still has an impact on how we choose to shelve our books. Along with this, interior decoration in general is performative, and taken in combination with book-performance, it can easily become a sensitive and value-laden subject.

Considering the ideas that are attached to book-performance, it makes sense that seeing books shelved in a way I consider “bad” or “wrong” would cause a reaction. I feel like – and this is especially applicable on twitter – there is often not time on the internet to take an intervening meta-thinking (you thinking about your thinking) step in between an initial reaction and a contribution to the conversation. Here’s an example of what I mean: for a very long time I was vocally opposed to people shelving their books by colour. I would say that it was a bad way to shelve books, which implies that I thought the shelver wasn’t a “serious reader”. Of course, I shelved my books in a different way, and so I was “better” than the by-colour shelver. It took literally years for me to take a step back, examine the deeper implications of what I was saying, and realize that a) it is none of my business how people shelve their books, b) if books are findable, the shelving system is working, even if I don’t like it, and c) the way I shelve my books is just as much of a performance as shelving them by colour is. I needed to think about my thinking before I could realize that I was in the wrong.

It is important to question everything and hold on to the good, and I don’t think the idea that shelving books a certain way is morally better than shelving them another way is a good thing to hold on to. When my books were shelved basically willy-nilly with no discernible order, I could still find the book I wanted. If I shelved books spine-in, I’m sure I could adapt and be able to find the book I wanted without too much trouble.

I’ve been talking about shelving as a finding strategy, but there’s a pretty obvious other use of shelving, which is decoration. I have two bookshelves, one in the guest room and one in the living room. The guest room shelf has the bulk of my books on it, and they are shelved alphabetically by author last name because that’s the way that makes the most sense to me for finding the book I want. The shelf in the living room has my pretty books and pretty bookends on it, arranged for their looks rather than function. I’m performing literacy in different ways on each shelf, just like I’m performing it differently through the books scattered around my nightstand. What’s the difference between me choosing fancy cloth-bound books for my living room shelf and another person choosing spine-in shelving for their display area?

Basically, for a personal collection, the Dewey Decimal system is not better than shelving your books spine-in, and vice versa. And I should know. I’m a Librarian.

What I Read in February

This last semester of my degree is in full swing, and so, clearly, other projects are falling by the wayside. It’s an unfortunate side effect, and I’m very Very excited for school to be over so I can relearn how to prioritize things in a non-school-focused life. What will it be like???? I’ve been doing school pretty much full-time going on six years now, and good gracious I am so close to the end. My classes will be over mid-April, and convocation is in June, and I’m not sure how my brain will react to the prospect of not having school to do or prepare for. Last summer I wasn’t working and I was between semesters, and I still would wake up thinking “I need to work on that paper today and get it submitted” only to remember I didn’t have any papers to write; I have a feeling that this residual school impetus will stick around for awhile after I graduate.

In January I read 14 books, mostly due to being stricken with the head cold of the century in the week before classes started, and I knew that I wouldn’t read nearly that many in February once under the influence of academia. I finished reading four books in February, and I’m quite pleased with the total. Here they are:

PaperGirls

Paper Girls, vol. 1 / Brain K. Vaughan et al.

Someone described this book as “Stranger Things, but with girls” and we all know I love Stranger Things, so how could I resist? It follows a group of paper delivery girls as a time-travel and alien threat descends on their town. People are disappearing, there are giant dinosaurs flying around, and thieves stealing radios. The colours and art are perfect, and the girls rely on loyal friendships and grit. It’s very good.

TheRules

The Rules Do Not Apply / Ariel Levy

I read this for book club. It’s a memoir, and tells the story of Ariel Levy’s marriage and pregnancy, and the loss of both over a short period of time. It’s a fast and heavy read, and while it left me feeling tired and sad, it was still a very good book. Ariel Levy has some trouble identifying and confronting her own privilege in many ways, but that, of course, doesn’t diminish her grief or make the things that happened to her less terrible. It’s a good book.

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Book of a Thousand Days / Shannon Hale

This is probably my number one comfort read. I’ve listened to the audiobook I don’t know how many times, and I have no doubt that I’ll continue to get it from the library and listen to it over and over. It’s a retelling of a fairy tale, and follows Dashti and Lady Saren as they are locked in a tower for seven years, and what happens once they get out of the tower. Sometimes when Josh is out of town for work, I’ll set this to play for 45 minutes when I go to bed, and I’ll fall asleep to the story. The book is written as a journal, which I love.

Attachments

Attachments / Rainbow Rowell

This is the only Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read, and it’s another comfort read. Listen: school and anxiety have been rough in the last bit and so I fall back on familiar, comfortable stories. This story is set in 1999, and has a premise which sounds weird when I try to explain it. Lincoln is hired to patrol inter-office email at a newsroom, ends up reading emails sent between Beth and Jennifer, two friends who work there, and develops feelings for Beth. It’s a nice book with a cute story, what more can I say.

THERE YOU GO, the four books I read in Feb, half of which were re-reads. It was a pretty light and unchallenging reading month, but it suited me just fine. I’m currently in the middle of listening to another comfort read, World War Z, and I just want to add an extra recommendation here at the end of this post: read World War Z at your soonest opportunity. It is waaaaaay better than you think it is, I promise. I know we all got tired of zombies around the same time we got tired of bacon-reverence, but TRUST ME, World War Z is 100% worth your time.

Skincare

Let’s take a break from talking about big life events to talk about how I changed my skincare routine this past year. I moved from a pretty simple routine (Lush face wash, Aveeno baby lotion with tea tree oil mixed in, charcoal sugar scrub, occasional sheet mask) to a “10 Step” Asian skincare regime. I think for many people, myself included, the “10 Step” part of this is mostly just a gimmick. It’s more like “more steps than you used to have, with more specific goals, and products tailored to those goals”. And today I am going to tell you all about it, here we go.

Keep in mind throughout this post: I am not a dermatologist. I’m also still figuring out my skin!

OKAY SO the first thing to know is you cannot introduce a million new products all at once and think that your skin is going to be pleased about it. NO, you must be so patient, and bring in one new thing, use it for a couple weeks to see if your skin reacts badly, and then add the next thing. If I went ahead and tossed all my new, exciting things on my face all at once then I would have had no way of knowing that my vitamin C serum was truly detrimental to my poor face and probably would have scrapped the whole project. As it is, there have only been a couple of products that haven’t worked for me and I was able to identify and stop using them pretty quickly.

The second thing to know is that you have to wear sunscreen every single day on your face. Listen, you know about my struggle with the sun and the sunscreen and let me tell you: I have tried a LOT of different brands and formulas and all of them felt gross on my face UNTIL:

BioreSunscreen

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen SPF50 PA+++

This stuff is an absolute life saver. I’ve heard rave reviews for Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++, but it doesn’t feel as nice on my face as the Biore sunscreen does. Try to think of a sunscreen that is the absolute opposite of the weirdly chalky goopy white ooze that we’ve had to smother our faces in for our whole lives and you’ll have a pretty close idea of what these sunscreens are like. They absorb quickly! They don’t leave a ghostly impression! They don’t feel like you just covered your face in gravy that makes your eyes sting! If there’s one thing people take away from this post I hope it is this: if you get better sunscreen you are more likely to wear it and prevent sun damage and skin cancer.

Sunscreen goes on your face last; I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s get down to business.

The things I want to focus on for my skincare are acne prevention, hydration/dryness, smooth/uniform texture (think “plump”), and general health. Edmonton is VERY DRY, and the winter is EVEN DRYER, so keeping my skin moisturized and hydrated is a Daily Struggle. Turns out the answer to this specific trouble is Literally Goop From Snails, but we’ll get into that in a moment. I’m gonna go through the steps I take when I’m washing my face, and it’s going to seem excessive, but stick with me and we’ll get through this together. I’ll link the products I’m currently using.

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1. First Cleanse – DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with over the years is finding a good cleanser. I have quite a few acne-fighting cleansers in my bathroom which I’ve tried and ended up not using because they stripped everything good out of my poor skin and left my face dry and tight, sometimes to the point where my nose was constantly peeling. Here’s the key words you want for cleansers: 1) mild, 2) gentle, 3) MILD, and 4) GENTLE. Oil cleansers gently wash your makeup and other products off without stripping any moisture out of your skin. This specific cleanser is made primarily from olive oil, and I want to take this opportunity to urge everyone to avoid putting coconut oil on their faces. It doesn’t emulsify and it’s comedogenic, it’s a good-for-body-not-for-face item. Also, I only use this cleanser when I’ve worn makeup or have reapplied sunscreen a few times throughout the day.

EggCleanser2. Second Cleanse – Skinfood Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam
Listen. I double cleanse my face. Oil first, then water-soluble foaming cleanser. UNLESS I didn’t wear any makeup that day, or don’t feel like I have a lot of stuff on my face, in which case I skip the oil cleanse and head straight to the (gentle and mild) foam cleanser. You’re supposed to wash your face against the grain of your skin and wtf, skin has a grain??? I use an egg-based product, and omgosh, it has worked wonders upon my countenance. I just replaced a used-up tube of this, which is significant in that there are So Many Options in Asian skincare, and it’s so fun to try new ones, but this one has worked so well for me that I’m gonna be loyal for at least a little bit longer. I’m getting to the bottom of my oil cleanser, and I’m gonna replace with a different kind of oil cleanser and LISTEN, I love skincare. Also I cannot emphasize enough that this cleanser DOES NOT smell like eggs. I use a Norwex cloth to pat not wipe my face dry but I also kinda feel like Norwex is a scam, so. At this point I sometimes use the Skinfood Egg White Pore Mask, if I have some extra time. Also I just want to point out here that part of washing your face is regularly washing your makeup brushes. Those things get grimy.

 

3. Exfoliation – Missha Super Aqua Mild Peeling Gel, Supracor Spacells Facial Sponge

First off: you can’t scrub away acne. I wish you could. If that were the case I would go back to using my teenage fave St Ives apricot scrub with its little jagged pieces of apricot shell and I would scour the acne from my face. Second, omg let me TELL you about this peeling gel I recently started using; it is a miracle. It’s a clear gel and it chemically exfoliates your face, but not in a burny way, because the old adage “if it hurts it’s working” is UNTRUE. You rub it around on your face and voila: you get these little balls of stuff and it’s your dead skin cells coming off your face. I don’t know how it works, but it’s some kind of acid – a good acid, don’t worry. I use the gel once a week or two, and then use the sponge (it’s made of silicone and is very gentle) on my face when I wash it in the shower. As a fun bonus I have also basically eradicated ingrown hairs from my pits with the coarser side of the facial sponge. Soft side on the face, rough side on the pits, can’t lose. I also sometimes use a konjac sponge on my face.

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4. Toner – Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater

Toners in Asian skincare are not the same as toners you can buy in drugstores here, in that they are not alcohol based. Alcohol dries your skin out and we are all about MOISTURE now, so we use toners that will prep our freshly cleaned faces for all the stuff we are about to apply to them, because we are only getting STARTED. I’m currently using the Mario Badescu spray and it’s fine but I think when I’m done I’ll switch it up, it’s artificially coloured pink and very frangranced and I’m not super pumped on that. I used to use CosRX Centella Water Alcohol Free Toner, which tbh was so mild and gentle that I didn’t feel like it did much of anything for my skin. Oh also! Spray toner is key: no more dragging cotton pads across my face. And also again: there’s a lot of stuff about pH balancing in Asian skincare that makes my eyes glaze over because numbers are witchcraft.

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5. Actives (BHA/AHA) – CosRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol

This is an area that I am still working out. I went through a bottle of the linked CosRX BHA, and it was good but also I think I’ll try a different one. CosRX makes an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid)and a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) which both get consistently good reviews, so I’ll probably add them to my routine at some point. T&T Supermarket has Asian skincare products, I’m going to see if they have any AHAs and BHAs in stock soon. This is where I would use any prescription products if I had them. Also!! AHAs are photo-sensitive and you must wear sunscreen. This is also the point in this whole thing where vitamin C serum goes; I had a vitamin C serum which absolutely did not work for me, and I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to include a different one. Probably, because I luv 2 care 4 my skin, but not yet.

 

6. Serums, Ampoules, Sheet Masks – linked below

THE FUN STUFF, AT LAST. Let’s get INTO IT. All of these go on in order of thinnest-to-thickest consistency, and sometimes I give each one a little bit of time to sink in, otherwise I just tap tap tap them into my face one after another.

  • I have one serum which is an absolute Holy Grail product for me, and it is ArtNaturals Anti-Acne Serum. I found this by literally searching “acne serum” on amazon and it’s made a giant difference in my face. My skin is clearer and smoother, it’s amazing. I’m on my second bottle and let’s be honest, I might just subscribe to it on prime and keep it coming.
  • Nature Republic Real Nature Rose Ampoule not only smells amazing but also makes my face feel like it has been pumped full of moisture. I used up the last of my bottle a couple days ago, but fear not, I have a replacement lined up that is by the same company but is slightly different. I’ve moved from the rose ampoule to the Real Nature Lotus Ampoule and I’ll let you know how my face skin fares once I get it into my routine.
  • I got Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule in the mail a bit ago, and I am excited to use it on my face, partially because propolis was used by Ancient Egyptians to embalm mummies and what a wild ride. This stuff goes on my face??? I GUESS SO. It’s antibacterial! It’s in such a pretty bottle! I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and last week someone complimented me on my skin, so I’m calling this one a WIN. And it smells so nice!
  • I have a set of Babor purifying ampoules, which are ampoules proper in that they are those little glass bottle things that you have to snap open, that are supposed to be *hella potent* and guess what: they totes are. I once used them three days in a row and my skin was like “what the fresh hell are you doing” (and, potential tmi here, it made Josh’s lips a lil numb, which was, to be entirely honest, concerning) so now I only bust (literally) one of these out a day or so before my period starts just to give me a leg up on the ol’ hormonal acne. I didn’t get this online, hence the non-linking. I may or may not restock my supply of these, I haven’t decided yet.
  • I sometimes use a sheet mask at this point and tbh I just use whatever I got at Winners most recently. Winners sells a ton of sheet masks these days, and it’s like seven dollars for five of them. The sheet mask will hold in all the stuff you just put on and help it absorb! Or something! I’m not a skin scientist! I also sometimes use a sheet mask directly after the washing portion of this whole thing and THEN move on to the rest of the various goops and glops I put on my face, because I am no bird and no net ensnares me.

 

7. Emulsions, Creams – 3W Clinic Snail Mucus Moisture Lotion, CosRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, and a heavier cream that I haven’t settled on yet get off my CASE

IT’S SNAIL TIME. Listen, if you’ve made it this far you know I put all kinds of stuff on my face including stuff used by The Ancients in mummification, so should snail goop really be that surprising? At the same time, Josh for sure laughed out loud at my giant bottle of lotion that says “SNAIL MUCUS” on it in all caps, so maybe I’m the one living in a skincare fever dream. I think the CosRX snail essence technically falls into the category above this one, but I wanted to put the snails together. At this point I cannot emphasize enough how little I know about snails and how little science-ish reading I have done about them. All I know is they have been actually studied and it’s not a snake oil, and the goop is ethically harvested (??) from the snails. AND I know that it works FREAKING WONDERS on my face. Snails! Snails! Snails! Snails! Oh also. Once again you work from thinnest to thickest, and apply things by tapping or with gentle swiping motions, not by vigorously dragging your fingers all over your face. Awhile ago I ran out of CosRX’s Ceramide (this is not a type of snail, alas) Full Moisture Cream and wanted to try something new even though it was good, and found a dud, and am still in the process of returning it to Amazon, and I’m on the hunt for a good final cream. I’m thinking it’s gonna be another snail lotion because damn I love snails. I ordered Mizon Black Snail All-In-One Cream, and I think it’s gonna do the trick nicely.

 

 

8. Eye Cream and Lip Care – Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream, TonyMoly Kiss Kiss Lip Balm SPF15, Skinfood Avocado & Sugar Lip Scrub

Okay, yes, this is possibly getting out of hand, but we are almost done and this step Is So Worth It. Eye cream! My eye skin has benefited so much from applying eye cream every day, I can’t even tell you how much. I use my middle or ring finger to tap this into my under eye area and then from my crease to my brow bone. It’s made a difference in the tone and texture of the skin around my eyes, and now eyeshadow goes on and stays on so much better. The Tonymoly lip balm has the cutest packaging and I love it, AND it makes my lips feel soft and moisturized and delightful. I don’t use the lip scrub very often, because it leaves a kind of film? on my lips? but when my lips are so dry they’re flaky (ew) I give them a nice gentle scrub and then Load Up on the balm. At this point you may be asking yourself “does Glynis sometimes buy products because they have cute packaging?” and the answer is: OF COURSE, what do you think I am, an emotionless automaton?

9. LAST BUT NOT LEAST

SUNSCREEN. Sometimes I use a BB cream that has SPF 50 (and more snail goop) in place of sunscreen proper. Obviously you needn’t use sunscreen at night. If it’s bedtime and I’ve got a particularly annoying zit I’ll put a Nexcare Acne Absorbing Cover on it and it’ll usually be flat by morning, which reminds me, I am down to my last two pimple patches. Gotta order more.

Okay, that’s the conclusion of the steps, and I know this post is extremely long, and this routine may seem overwhelming or excessive but I promise it’s not. In the morning I cleanse, tone, apply serums, snail goop x2, sunscreen, and makeup when I feel like wearing makeup. I don’t always use eye cream in the morning, just because it’s pretty thick. In the evening I oil cleanse, foam cleanse, maybe exfoliate, tone, serums, snail goop x2, other lotion, eye cream. It takes like 15/20 minutes, and it’s a really nice evening wind down/day preparation activity. If I don’t have a ton of time I do a truncated routine which is foam cleanse, acne serum, snail lotion. When I go to bed my face feels happy and hydrated instead of dry and tight. My face doesn’t peel anymore (praise God) and my acne has been calming down and I can’t express how good this feels. It is also just fun to look at skincare, you can ask Josh for confirmation on my skincare browsing ways. I have a long wishlist on Amazon of skincare stuff I want to try sometime, and I get packages of skincare from Korea every so often, and my face is so much better off for the attention I’m pouring into it. Now if only I can get myself to stop picking at my face all the time; the final boss battle of my skincare life will be resisting the temptation to constantly pick at my acne.

If you’re intrigued by this kind of skincare regimen/routine/system/whatever, here is the advice I will offer on getting into it: start by adding a good sunscreen into your routine, and next add a gentle cleanser. I feel like it would be fine to entirely scrap a drying/unhelpful skincare routine and replace it with a pair of gentle cleansers and a sunscreen and then go from there. Once again! I am not any kind of doctor. If you want to add something new to your skincare routine and aren’t sure where in the routine it should go: here is a handy guide. I will openly admit here that I am often guilty of just following my heart for when to apply what, and sometimes when I look at guides like the one I just posted I say in my heart “this is all pure malarky” BUT my skin posits otherwise Good GRACIOUs this post is long.

2017

I share your feelings of anger and disappointment, and your revulsion towards the president. I’m also going to keep the angry portion of this post short. It is exhausting to even try to keep up with all of the ways that the president and his ilk are using power to benefit themselves while grinding the poor, the marginalized, and those in need under their feet. Here is my question for the portion of the Christian community that rallies around hateful men because they are “pro-life”: how can you support someone who takes away funding for children’s healthcare, who makes it more difficult for mothers to access help, who separates children from their parents because of their undocumented status, who ignores the suffering of citizens because they are on a far-away island, or who refuses entry to refugees? Are any of those things “pro-life”? Take the plank out of your eye and then maybe take another look at the gospels and at statistics on abortion. Surprise: the easier it is for women to access birth control and health care, and the better sex education is, the fewer abortions there are.

I am very aware that I am writing this from a place of privilege, and that my ideology and theology are not flawless. I also know that 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and you know what? Maybe it’s time for round two.

Okay. The year.

February was a very weird month. I wrote about it earlier, but here’s a run-down: I had a delightful trip to California, Josh and I got engaged, and my grandma passed away. Those three are the most memorable events of the month, but I can remember feeling like everything was happening all at once, that I was on a very fast rollercoaster that I had no control over, and growing more and more exhausted. The courses I was taking were good and interesting, but I was struggling to get through the semester. It set a tone of anxiety for the rest of the year and left me very tired. ETA: Turns out my memory of the first part of the year is faulty. My grandma died in the beginning of March, not in February. 

Near the end of the semester and at the very end of March there was a small fire in the basement of my house, and there followed a strange time of air-mattress sleeping, and a great deal of laundering. In the end the smoke smell and then the strong cleaner smell gave me very bad headaches, and I had to move out earlier than I had planned.

Josh and I bought a house. It was built in 1956, and is very cute, and has an absolutely giant yard. The only things we’ve done to the house are paint one room and replace the front door, and I’m glad we didn’t move into a project house. I don’t know how we would’ve handled renovating along with everything else. I didn’t work in the summer, because my sister was getting married, Josh’s sister was getting married, we had a ton of wedding planning to do, and then we were getting married so really: I did not have time. What I did have time for was a great deal of gardening, and let me tell you, I have already started making plans for what I’m going to work on in the spring. I’m going to plant sunflowers and a couple goji berry bushes, and more lavender, and I’m going to attack the creeping bellflower and grass that are invading the garden, and I’m going to do my utmost to weed out the bed with the strawberries in it. I also made friends with Barney the neighbourhood cat, which may not seem like a large event BUT he’s a great cat.

2017 was also the year that I started on hormonal birth control, and it’s been…a journey. Long story short is that I had to go through getting an IUD inserted twice in the space of a month and a half, because it was sitting incorrectly the first time. It was a traumatic experience, and honestly I’m still working through it. I’ll probably write the full account here someday, but it is not this day.

Bronwyn got married and Christina got married, and both of their weddings were lovely and I’m very happy for them. They got married a week apart, and then two weeks later we went to another wedding. June and July were both a bit of a whirlwind.

I got married! This was, obviously, the biggest event and change in my life this year. Our wedding was an extremely beautiful day, and I was so happy, even with a small moment of feeling hangry because I hadn’t eaten enough. It’s hard to explain exactly how that day felt. Josh and I had done so much planning and preparing, I had been constantly thinking about it for months, and by the time the day came around I was very ready to not be thinking about wedding planning anymore. I’m very glad we had a shortish engagement.

I was so happy on our wedding day. The weather was good, we were surrounded by people we love and who love us, there was just enough smoke to make the light gorgeous but not enough to cause too much coughing, your speech was amazing (I go back to reread it regularly), the whole day was beautiful and I’m so glad I’m married to Josh. I tried to pick a couple photos to share and surprise: I picked a lot of them. You, of course, looked great, and I’m glad you reminded me of the “f*ck this hair” moment because I had somehow forgotten it, and it is hilarious.

 

The last portion of the year was taken up by school, and, of course, school-related anxiety. 2017 was the year I kept telling myself “no, really, you need to go to counselling” and then never making the time or taking the necessary steps. In one of my classes I designed and then carried out a modestly sized research project, and it was gratifying to be finished. I might edit the paper a LOT and then submit it to be published. I also wrote a paper about Coptic bookbinding – specifically about the Nag Hammadi Codices and the St Cuthbert Gospel – and my professor said I should flesh out the paper and then consider trying to get it published as well. It is very weird for me to look at my work and say “this is valuable enough for me to try to get an academic journal to publish it”.

By the end of the semester I was once again exhausted, and I am very glad that I am nearly done this degree. I’m very excited to graduate and be done school, although the now-I-have-to-find-work aspect of finishing my MLIS is less exciting. I might take some time off before looking for work, or I might try to find some part-time work, or I might have to start looking right away. The other day Josh and I drove by the huge Labatt brewery in Edmonton, and I said, “how hilarious would it be for me to work as a librarian at Labatt” but apparently it isn’t a good idea to work somewhere as a joke, so I guess I’ll have to keep looking elsewhere.

Books in 2017

This wasn’t a great reading year quantity-wise, and I place the blame firmly on the shoulders of grad school and seasonal anxiety. But I did get some good books in, and here they are.

This year I discovered that Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher is available as an audiobook through Edmonton Public Library, it’s ~three hours long, and therefore it’s perfect for a drive alone down to Calgary. Carrie Fisher read the audiobook, and it’s very good. I saw The Last Jedi at the tail end of 2017, and seeing Carrie Fisher onscreen being badass was bittersweet. Wishful Drinking is funny and sincere and straightforward, and I loved it. I highly recommend listening to it straight through on a three hour drive. The Last Jedi was also good.

I had a class on Canadian Chlidren’s Literature and read several books about residential schools and inter-generational trauma in the space of two heavy but important weeks.  Four of them that I highly encourage everyone to read are:

  • The Outside Circle / Patti Laboucane-Benson – this is a comic book following a young man as he goes through the healing program at Stan Daniels Healing Center in Edmonton.
  • When We Were Alone / David Alexander Robertson – in the TRC calls to action, there is a call for educational materials for all ages, and David Alexander Robertson sought to fill the void when it came to talking to very young children about Canada’s past and residential schools. This book is gentle and loving, and is a conversation between a grandmother and grandchild.
  • I Am Not a Number / Jenny Kay Dupuis – this is the story of Dupuis’ grandmother’s experience in a residential school.
  • Secret Path / Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire – this is the book that goes along with Gord Downie’s solo album, and tells the story of Chanie Wenjack. It is difficult to read. There’s a Heritage Minute about Chanie Wenjack.

Some other favorites from the year were

  • I’m Judging You / Luvvie Ajayi – this book DOES IT ALL, from making me want to moisturize to making me think about ways to confront racism in my life. It is funny and challenging, and Luvvie Ajayi is a good follow on twitter.
  • Vengeance Road / Erin Bowman – this is a western in the spirit of True Grit, and it is very good. I love a good revenge story.
  • Spill Zone, vol. 1 / Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland, Hillary Sycamore – this collects the first few issues of a comic book about a paranormal dystopia with a good mystery. The next volume doesn’t come out for months and this is why I normally keep myself behind on reading comics.

So far my reading in 2018 has been going at a feverish pace. I was sick for a while after Christmas, and school starts tomorrow, so I had a lot of down time. I’ve finished six books since the New Year, and I’m hoping to be better at keeping up regular reading throughout the semester. I feel better when I’m reading; I need stories to keep me going.

Intrusive Thoughts

Every once in awhile Josh and I go through an exercise where I state all of the things I’m scared of or worried about. It usually takes awhile (because that’s my secret, I’m always worried) but at the end I’m usually laughing. When I say things out loud that in my brain are “RED ALERT STATUS, THIS FOR SURE WILL HAPPEN OR IS ALREADY HAPPENING” they sometimes lose some power over me and I realize that they are a bit ridiculous. Of course, saying things out loud isn’t a magical sure for anxiety and depression; if it was I wouldn’t be anxious anymore. But it makes things slightly better for me and helps me fight my bad-brain, so I’ll keep doing it.

A by-no-means-exhaustive list of some of the things I’ve been anxious about lately:

I’m worried that I never have had and never will have any interesting ideas ever. Very dramatic, I know. I’ve been thinking about this one, and I think it’s connected to a childhood fear that by the time I grew up every possible combination of words would be already written by others and there would be nothing left for me.

I’m constantly anxious about school. I often tell Josh that I am probably going to fail my courses, and by extension my degree, and that all of my professors think I don’t belong in the MLIS program. I got one of my grades back already for this semester and got an A- in the class, and instead of easing my anxiety it just made me think, “I don’t deserve this mark, it must be a mistake.”

I’m worried that I don’t deserve to go to a massage therapist, and I feel guilty when I go, because I’ve never had a back injury. It doesn’t matter that sometimes it’s painful to lie down/sit/stand, that my shoulders are regularly very painful, that my hips are always sore, that it hurts to put any kind of direct pressure on my IT bands, or that I often have three-day long tension headaches.

I’m scared that people don’t actually like me, they are just tolerating my presence. (You’re well acquainted with this long-standing fear of mine.) I’m pretty sure this fear is never going to go away, I’m learning to ignore it, but ignoring intrusive thoughts is hard to do when things in general are stressful.

I’m often worried that I’ve inadvertently hurt or upset Josh. Fortunately we’ve established a precedent in our relationship where when I start feeling like I’ve hurt him I just ask him if that’s the case, and he assures me either way. I’m so grateful for the truth, every time.

I’m constantly in dread of money. Have I spent too much? Do we have enough? Am I needlessly extravagant? Are we going to be poor and will it be my fault? Am I wasteful? We’re destitute, aren’t we? Should I be learning to hunt and gather?

I’ve been anxious about my reading habits the past couple of years; I feel like I must be a hypocrite if I talk about loving reading and then don’t actually read a lot. My anxiety tells me that I am a faker and a liar if I tell people I love books and reading, because I’ve read a below-average number of books lately.

To conclude this cheery post, I am anxious about saying I have anxiety. I haven’t been formally diagnosed, and what if I’m just an anxiety-poser? What if my thoughts patterns are normal and I’m just blowing them out of proportion?

Me Too

So. Harvey Weinstein. We know what happened and how he is now trying to run away and claim that he is a “sex addict” (he is not), and people on the internet are parading out the “Billy Graham Rule” for interacting with women and saying “if he had never been alone with a woman none of this would have happened”. Which is 100% absolute bullshit. Here’s the thing: he often wasn’t alone with the women he sexually harassed. Also, here’s a suggestion, just a thought I had, instead of never meeting alone with women, maybe he should’ve just not masturbated in front of them, not told them to sleep with him or he wouldn’t hire them, not been a serial sexual predator. I’ve been in charge of people and here’s the thing: it was extremely easy not to masturbate in front of them. So easy! I just: didn’t do it.

For those who don’t know what the Billy Graham Rule is, here it is: a man who abides by this rule won’t ever meet alone with a woman other than his wife. Here’s why I hate this bullshit rule: it posits that men are insatiable sexual predators who don’t understand boundaries or morality, and frames women as causing sexual assault. Know who causes sexual assault? People who commit sexual assault. Know who is capable of controlling themselves? Men. Know who isn’t responsible for someone else assaulting them? Women.

And guess what else! The times in my life that I have been the most afraid of someone who was sexually harassing me were all times when there were at least four people present. That didn’t stop men from leering at me, propositioning me, invading my personal space, and making me afraid that this time would be the time that he would follow me off the train platform and would end with me having a rape kit that would,  of course, never get tested because the world hates women. Fun fact: there have been police forces that have thrown out untested rape kits because they were taking up space.

Here’s the thing. Men who harass or assault women shouldn’t have any friends. Their social circles should fall apart. Women are human beings, these men make a habit of attacking them, and they should not have the social license to do so. Here’s how I know this ideal friendlessness doesn’t happen: my own life experience. Let me tell a story from when I was working at the Jubilee. I was going to start this next sentence by describing what I was wearing when this incident occurred, but guess what, it absolutely does not matter what I was wearing, because what I wear does not control the actions of others. It also does not matter that I was polite when this happened, because politeness is a protective measure, and is not an invite, nor is it consent.

I was working at the Jubilee, and a group of men came up to my bar. There were about four of them, but two stood out. One of them was somewhat tipsy and proceeded to make suggestive comments, to try to get closer to me across the bar, to imply that I should have sex with him later, and to leer at my chest. I was polite as well as clearly uncomfortable. When their drinks were made and they were leaving, his friend gave me a twenty dollar tip and an apology for the behaviour of his friend. Here is a man who saw his friend sexually harassing a woman who could not escape and did the sum total of jack shit to stop him, and then gave her money to soothe away his own guilt. I know he knew the actions of his friend were wrong because he apologized: so why didn’t he say something in the moment?

Pop quiz:

Who were the guilty parties in this scenario? Was it a) me, because I’m a lady, b) the man who did the sexual harassing, or c) the man who stood quietly by and watched as something he knew was wrong happened and did nothing to stop it? If you answered “b and c”, you are correct. If you answered “a”, you might still be mad that women in Canada are now considered Persons and not Chattel.

What on earth possesses people to excuse or ignore sexual harassment while it is happening? What is the excuse for that? The man who sexually harassed me faced zero consequences, social or otherwise. In fact, I was the one who suffered because of his actions! Me! I was just doing my job and some asshole thinks it’s okay to sexually harass me, to make me afraid to go clean up later because what if he’s out there? But whyever would he think that?!? Maybe because his friends stand right there and do NOTHING TO STOP HIM AND THEN CONDONE HIS ACTIONS BY THINKING THAT A TWENTY DOLLAR BILL WILL MAKE THINGS RIGHT. Here’s what should have happened: nothing. It should have been a smooth transaction in which goods and services are exchanged for money and no one is made afraid because a man who sexually harasses women shouldn’t have any friends to go to the theatre with in the first place. Barring that, the man’s three friends should have immediately stepped in, rebuked and stopped him, and then promptly left the theatre with him and in so doing removed the threat.

One of the reasons that women don’t come forward about sexual assault is because they have had experiences where men dismiss what has happened and defend their friends. Oh, he didn’t mean it. He was just drunk. He thinks it’s funny. He’s really quite harmless. Women’s experiences are brushed off, and then women blamed for what happened: “well, she shouldn’t have been alone with him.” But what if she wasn’t alone with him? What if his pals were there? What then? Since apparently having other people there is barely a deterrent for sexual predators, it is clear to me that we need to examine the social structures that sexual predators exploit in order to carry on harassing and assaulting women.

You have two choices.

  1. Commit to immediately calling out and rebuking sexual harassment and misogyny when you see it or hear it. I am fully aware that this is awkward and uncomfortable and might kill the vibe at the party. I’ve sat and repeated to a man “I just don’t think jokes about beating women are funny” while shaking and turning red and wishing none of this had happened. After you call someone out, warn your female friends about him, and exhort your male friends to rebuke harassment when they see it.
  2. Stop being friends with men who harass or assault women. Stop silently standing by while men attack women. It may not be as easy as avoiding masturbating in front of people (again, SO EASY), but you can do this. You can cut him out of your life. If he asks you why, here’s a script: “I cannot hang out with you or be your friend because you sexually harass and assault women, and I cannot condone that in any way. Get help. Goodbye.” And then warn your female friends about him, and exhort your male friends to shun his company.