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.

OilCleanser

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.

MarioToner

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.

CosRXASol

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.

Old Books

This is going to be a photo-heavy post, because as I was going through my phone looking for the 4-5 photos I imagined attaching, I ended up with more like 20. Basically, I’ve been taking a class on the history of the book, and each week I kinda have to keep myself from crying a little bit. Last Friday we went to see a master bookbinder’s workshop, the week before we talked about printing and got to hold a first edition of Nicholas Nickleby / Charles Dickens and then go to the print lab at the U of A, AND we get to look at the copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle  that the special collections has, and on the FIRST DAY of this course we got to hold and touch with our bare hands a book of hours from the 1400s. It’s illuminated, it’s beautiful.

I don’t know if I can properly explain to you how this class makes me feel. It barely feels like school. I mean, I’m learning a great deal and I’ve still got assignments (some of which are onerous), but I’m just enjoying myself so much and we have more field trips in the next few weeks. We’re going to a paper making studio! I kept putting this post off because I wanted to show you more of what I’m doing, but maybe I’ll just tell you about paper-making after we go, and this post is already spectacularly late.

On to the photos!

IMG_5901

When printing became popular after the printing press was developed in the late 1400s, people had less use and regard for manuscripts. Manuscripts were also written on parchment or vellum rather than paper, and people would recycle the manuscripts into covers for their printed, paper books. Listen, this makes me suffer a little bit but not nearly as much as seeing LAMP SHADES made out of manuscripts in Hearst Castle. LOOK, WE GET IT, HEARST: YOU’RE TOO RICH.

IMG_5902

This is the Tinctor manuscript, which is a treatise about witchcraft. It predates the Malleus Maleficarum WHICH I REALIZE doesn’t mean much to non-nerds, but the MM was extensively drawn from by the people who led the witch hunts in places like Salem. This book is: a big deal.

IMG_5905

This is the book of hours which is like a fancy weird calendar that rich people had in the middle ages. I do not know wtf is going on in this painting, BUT check out the intricacy of that illumination. This is done by hand, probably by monks but maybe not, on parchment which is stretched cow skin. This was painted sometime in the 1400s and it’s still bright and beautiful, also the gold parts are gold leaf, not paint. As you can see, we got to touch and hold this book and carefully turn the pages. After this class someone was saying how a person cried over a first edition of a Jane Austen and caused some damage to the book and I was like, “OH YEAH NO ONE WOULD EVER CRY OVER BOOKS, ESPECIALLY NOT ME.”

IMG_5907

This is a closer view of the Tinctor, just to show you how the original velvet is still going strong. Here’s the thing: this book was 100 years old when Shakespeare was born and THE VELVET IS STILL GOING STRONG. The book has the plastic around it to keep the binding in place, because this book is v old and while the velvet still looks great, the binding is quite fragile. The pages inside, however, are still beautifully pristine. We weren’t allowed to touch this one. If you want to see a complete digitization of the book, you can do so HERE. It’s in whatever version of French they spoke in ~1460 so good luck reading it.

IMG_5921

SPEAKING OF OLD BOOKS. Hello, this is a complete cuneiform tablet from 4000 years ago. That’s my hand holding it. The librarian at the special collections joked that it was an example of “one of the first miniature books”. Somebody wrote on this FOUR THOUSAND YEARS AGO. Sometimes when I get home from this class I need to lie down for awhile.

IMG_5924

Let’s take a break from the constant astonishment to enjoy some lovely marbling. It’s very pretty! It’s in a book from one of the most prominent early printers.

IMG_5930

This little doodle was repeated a few times throughout this book, and I cannot get over it. It’s hilarious. Also: sometimes things happen or I learn things that make me feel connected to the past, and make me feel like humans have always been humans and share a lot of similar experiences. Things like this lil doodle make me feel that way. Also, monks used to add a line or two to the end of a manuscript when they were done writing it and they were things like “Thank God it will soon be dark” and “oh, my hand” and good gracious if I haven’t felt the same way. Complaining: connecting me with medieval monks.

IMG_5938

These three woodcuts are found in the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is basically a history of the world. These pictures are interesting because they are all popes. But wait! That’s a lady at the bottom! Yes, friend, that is Pope Joan and no one knew she was a woman until she had a baby during a parade. I’m pretty sure she was killed very soon after that but still: a Lady Pope. Some people in my class were like “but isn’t the pope not allowed to have sex” and I was like “uh………since when did that stop the pope.” There is a possibility that Pope Joan is apocryphal, but the fun thing about possibly-true history is that you get to decide if you believe it or not and guess what? There was a female pope.

IMG_5973

On the day we were learning about printing we got to see a lot of the library’s collection of early printing, and this one is from 1481. People moved from manuscripts-only in the early 1400’s to printing mania in the late 1400s. It’s the kind of shift in technology and information dissemination that we’ve seen with the internet, although the computer age moves even faster.

IMG_5984

We also learned about woodcuts! This is a slapdash woodcut done on a cheap lil pamphlet of songs.

IMG_5988

This is a much better woodcut! Also: I am very mature and had to stifle a guffaw at the name “bustard”.

IMG_5991

OKAY now this is also a woodcut but clearly it is the wood part and not the printed part. There is something special about this woodcut and it is this: this is a woodcut from early editions of Dickens. I don’t know which book because I forgot to ask but geez louise, I love this class. This is a piece of literary history and I just get to HOLD IT?

IMG_5994

Woodcuts are lovely and can get very detailed, blah blah blah.

IMG_5996

This is a first edition Nicholas Nickleby. Dickens’ books were published as serials, hence the number of volumes here, and also why his books are so damn long. Fun fact: people will tell you that Dickens was paid by the word and this is just as false as the “frogs will stay in hot water until the die if you turn the heat up slowly” thing, which is to say: it’s false.  He was paid by the installment. (Also false is the notion that we only use 10% of our brains.) I like the idea of people waiting impatiently for the next part of a Dickens story. It’s like waiting for a new season or new episode of a tv show. Oh hey, guess what, humans across the ages are all connected, I’m going to cry forever. Like I watched the Bleak House miniseries and couldn’t wait for the next episodes and people felt that same way about the book when it was being published! Crazy! I read the book all in one (very long) go, so it’s not quite the same experience there.

IMG_6002

These two pictures are both illustrations from Nicholas Nickleby, and would have been made with a woodcut like the one up above. Look at the detail! I haven’t read this book but I have watched the movie and while Bleak House is roughly 100 times better it’s not half bad AND I know what’s going on in these scenes and once again: connection to the past.

IMG_6003

IMG_6022

Moving on from books to a book binder! This is SALMON LEATHER????????? IT’S POSSIBLE.

IMG_6023

Here’s where I started feeling overwhelmed and awestruck at the book binder’s. These are all for tooling the leather on the binding of a book. There are: so many of them.

IMG_6026

For making long patterns on bindings. These two pictures represent a mere fraction of the tools this guy had. How do I become a book binder???????????

IMG_6030

Examples of different types of binding as well as a pile of books to show us what different leathers look like once they’ve been stretched and tooled and made into a binding. One of these (I think the big one in the middle under the little one but I could be wrong) is bound with leather from a reindeer. You can still buy the leather made by the same people at the same time – the 1700s – because a ship that was carrying it sank in the English channel and when people dived down to it in 1973, they found rolls of leather that had been bound so tightly that the leather a few layers down was perfectly preserved. They’ve stopped diving for it because of the currents where the ship wreck is, so clearly this leather is a) very expensive, and b) hard to get. And the book binder had a piece of it! SHIP WRECK LEATHER.

IMG_6031

At one point the book binder went through the history of binding from how it was done when monks were the ones copying manuscripts to when it moved into mass-production. This book is an example of an early bind: wooden cover, raised straps, hand-sewn headbands incorporated in the binding, EXTREMELY STURDY. Hence why books like these still survive while books that we make now are COMPLETE SHIT (sorry mom, I’m very fired up).

I didn’t even scratch the surface on all the things this course is teaching me and allowing me to do. Like we got to run a letter press a couple weeks ago, and there are so many other books I’ve been able to hold and exclaim over, and I just feel so privileged to be able to take this class. When I registered for classes back in March there was a SITUATION and I wasn’t able to register in time to get into this class (there’s only 16 spots), and it wasn’t until a few days before the semester started that a place opened up. I debated whether or not to switch into it because it’s on Friday mornings and can you imagine the heaps of regret I would be experiencing if I hadn’t?

I’ll tell you all about paper-making in a couple of weeks.

Classes

I’ve started school again, and had my first classes for every course, and I’m already in the midst of a stress break-out. School! I love to learn. I hate being graded. I recently learned that med school at the U of A is pass-fail and you know what? Everything should be pass-fail (Obviously the standard for med school students is still VERY HIGH don’t worry). My life would be vastly improved if I didn’t know if I got an 80 or a 90 and only knew I passed. I am an anxious person and good gracious, the difference of effect between an A and a B on my psyche is extreme.

BUT I thought I’d tell you about the classes I’m taking.

Instructional Practices

The main assignment in this class is a 30-35 minute long instructional session where I teach my classmates how to do something. My ideas so far are: how to coptic bind a book, how to go into the woods without dying, how to tell how old a house is (extreme basics of architecture), or how to make sure your friendships last (e.g. making friendship bracelets).

Advanced Scholarship & Research

This is my most intense class this semester; it’ll probably involve me trying to use and understand data-scraping software and might include me presenting at a conference and will for sure involve a lot of original research, which I haven’t done before. I’m feeling daunted.

Canadian Children’s Literature

For this class I am reading so many picture books and middle-grade literature. I think it’s going to be great. I’m going to do a presentation on Ryan North, Canadian Author, which means I get to talk about choose-your-own-adventure versions of Shakespeare.

History of the Book

I switched out of a Wednesday night class into this Friday morning class and I am so glad I did. We are going on a field trip to a book binder and to a paper maker. During our first class I got to hold and flip the pages of a book of hours from the 1400s. The special collections at the UofA has an original manuscript of a treatise on witchcraft that predates the Malleus Maleficarum (written in 1486).

Celebrity Dreams

So I was for sure supposed to post on Sunday and it is now Friday BUT I was on my honeymoon so I’m going to go ahead and say I get a free pass.

I was trying to decide what to post and thought to myself, “I could tell Raiah about how my lack of spatial awareness caused me to hit myself in the eye so hard that I got a small cut and bruise,” and then I realized that that’s the whole story right there and wow: boring. So I was at a loss. But then I saw you tweet something so I knew you were near your phone and I remembered that I finally had a celebrity dream on par with your celebrity dreams and I was THIS CLOSE to texting you when it hit me: blog post time.

Here’s how the dream went.

I was at a track meet of some kind, in a big field on a hill, having a grand ol’ time. I put my arms up to cheer or something when, oh no, a piece of my wedding ring came off my finger and fell in the long grass. In my dream my ring was extremely ornate.

My dream self immediately went into panic mode and searched the ground around me, only to find about 5 other rings but not the piece of my ring that I absolutely must find. So of course I holler for my brother Elias to stand on the spot while I run to the car and get the metal detector so that I can find my ring. I need someone trustworthy to stand there and mark the spot but Elias won’t cooperate and it is a disaster. My dream self is so mad and distraught. Yelling! Screaming! Crying! Elias is running around like he can’t even hear me! He’s not going to help!

In this moment of distress and need I hear a calm, reassuring, kind voice behind me that says, “I can stand and mark the spot for you.” I turn around and behold: Justin Trudeau has volunteered to help me. At last I can find my ring. Justin Trudeau gives me a warm, respectful hug while Sophie smiles, and I am immediately at peace and wake up.

I know you have had a bad week of the highest order, and I hope that Justin Trudeau and I have brought a glimmer of joy to your day. Before writing this I sat down and read your wedding speech to me, and it once again made me feel loved, cherished, and like I am capable of being a good person. I’m probably going to go back and reread it a bunch in the depths of winter when the dark has got its claws in me. You are such a beautiful and good friend to me, and I want all of the best things in life for you. It’s mushy, but I stand by it: the world is full of love, and I love it. I love you lots.

Written Ahead of Time

It is currently the 24th of July, about three weeks before my wedding (?!?!?!!!!), and I realized that it’ll be my turn to write a post the day after I get married (?!?!?!!!!!?!!!?!). My brain has gone into overdrive re: getting used to the idea of being married, and sometimes I feel a bit stunned, but not in a negative way. We started working on our vows, and I had tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. So it goes.

I’ll schedule this post ahead of time, because I’m not going to write something whilst driving to BC with my husband (!!!!!). I’m so glad I get to marry Josh. He is good to me and good for me, and being with him has made me a better person.

On an unrelated note, Kesha has started releasing new songs and videos, and I adore them. I’ve been listening to Praying multiple times a day, and I want everyone to love it as much as I do. Here’s the video (cw for talk of suicide at the beginning, if you don’t want to hear it you can skip to 0:58 when the song starts proper).

Books

After feeling like a fraud for many months, I’ve finally started reading again. I’m still extremely behind my goal of finishing 52 books this year, but I finished a book today (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane) and a book yesterday (My Friend Dahmer), and I’m well into an audiobook which I have 12 days left to finish (Uprooted). Sometimes when I’ve been in an extended slump and need to learn how to pay attention again I’ll glom on to a subject and blaze through a few page turners. This time it’s been witches, although My Friend Dahmer is VERY MUCH not about witches.

A word of advice here. DO NOT finish My Friend Dahmer and then go read Jeffrey Dahmer’s wikipedia page right before you go to sleep. It’s a bad idea! To be honest it’s probably a bad idea to read his wikipedia page at all. It is very detailed and very scary.

I’ve started actually using Goodreads again, and found the cord for my kobo so that I can charge it and load library books onto it, and I’ve been doing all kinds of listening to audiobooks. It’s weird how something I love, reading, can feel like a major chore and a drag. I’ve barely been able to read ten pages at a time for quite awhile, but I think it’s turning around. I’m a bit concerned about actually typing this out, because what if I jinx myself? What if saying “I think I’m finally enjoying reading again” will dump me straight back into the slough of reading-despondency? I’m hopeful that I’m back to a better reading pattern, but I want to be gentle with myself. I’m not going to assign myself War and Peace or something like that. I’ll read about witches for as long as I have to.

I don’t think I’ll have to much longer. The Edmonton Public Library is a positive boon and I have been all over ebooks lately (if any of you reading this don’t have a library card please EXPLAIN YOUR LIFE CHOICES TO ME) and today I added three to my kobo. And none of them are about witches! I may or may not actually read any of them all the way through but I’m feeling good about having them readily available to me. I checked out a YA western, one of JK Rowling’s mystery books that she wrote as Robert Galbraith, and Carrie / Stephen King. I read The Shining a couple years ago and surprisingly did not hate it and maybe a scary book will propel me forward. That’s the idea, anyways.

I’m trying to be very forgiving towards myself with regards to my book choices and whether or not I finish things. I tried to shake myself out of this rut awhile ago by buying The Stranger Beside Me and guess what? An in depth look at Ted Bundy was not the thing to get me reading again. How strange.

Anyways, here’s to reading and to enjoying reading. In the fall I have a class on Canadian children’s literature, so I’ve got a pile of 14 books to read on Josh and my honeymoon, and like half of them are about residential schools. I feel daunted but I also feel that it’s important for me to read about. Anyways, I’ve got a bit longer to read whatever I want without guilt, so bring on the witches.