Back on my Bullshit: Autumn Edition

Or I should say, I'm very much trying to get back on my bullshit. But holy hell it's been a tough few weeks. And, guys? I'm so tired of being a humorless angry feminist shrew harpy, but times demand it, unfortunately. Talk about a couple of triggering weeks, I mean if we're being honest here there isn't a woman on the planet who hasn't been harassed or assaulted to some degree. I don't need to rehash all the same stuff everyone's been saying these past few days — people far more eloquent than I have been handling it beautifully. But man, it's felt like a fucking apocalyptic minefield to be a woman recently and I am o v e r i t.

I'm tired of women needing to share their traumas to be believed and bare their souls so people understand the scope of the problem of assault and harassment. I'm sick to death of hearing, "as the father of daughters" — as if just trusting that women are humans who are worthy of respect isn't enough without having to contextualize your relationship to a woman to understand the severity of the situation. I'm sick of reading and talking about it so let's take a break. Anyways, like I said, I am o v e r i t. 

Hence, my attempts at getting back on my bullshit. And by that I mean buying perfume and new fall clothes I can't necessarily afford, eating pastries for breakfast two days in a row, spending an inordinate amount of time staring at the lines on my forehead, devouring books like they're feeding my life force, playing Candy Crush when I should be sleeping, and complaining about Maeby's dog hair all over my apartment. You know, the usual — but with a fall twist! 

For the curious, my perfume acquisitions include Le Labo's Labdanum 18 and Chanel's newest perfume, Gabrielle. Labdanum is a bit of a departure for me fragrance-wise, it's much warmer and muskier than my usual white florals, and I am really enjoying it. The Wing sent me the Chanel fragrance and I screamed with actual delight when I saw the package arrive. I grew up smelling Chanel No. 5 on my grandma and mother and always loved it. Gabrielle feels like No. 5's younger sister. It's a bit lighter and more romantic, but still has that really elegant, upscale feel to it that No. 5 has. I recommend it if you want to dabble in a more mature, heavy scent that doesn't feel matronly. They're both perfect for fall in entirely different ways. Gabrielle is what I want to wear window-shopping on a rainy day while wearing a trench coat and boots. Labdanum 18 is a cozy sweater, leather jacket, and spiced cider on a rowboat in Central Park kind of scent. 

For fellow bookworms, I can't recommend Carmen Maria Machado's new book, Her Body and Other Parties, enough. It's basically a grown-up version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but gorgeously written. They are haunting, thought-provoking short stories that really speak to the truth of what it's like to be a woman. It was nominated for the National Book Award before it was even released, and with good reason! It's the perfect October book, if you ask me. Each story is spooky in an entirely different way, and it has freaked me out multiple times. I keep trying to read it before bed but I get uneasy and have to wait until morning, so it's become my train book. 

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

I have a confession to make: curiosity overtook me and I tried Starbucks' new Maple Pecan Latte and I kind of love it. I've been treating myself to one every week (decaf, of course) and it looks like there's no turning back. I've never been a huge fan of the mega-brand since for the most part I think their coffee tastes burnt, their snacks are bland, and I'd much rather support a local, small coffeehouse. And normally I do! But temptation did me in and now I'm sneaking into the Starbucks by my office and gulping this sugary confection down weekly. It doesn't have the chemically taste that the Pumpkin Spice Latte does in my mind, and since I only get a tiny, decaf one I figure it can't be tooooo bad, right? And in my defense, I always bring a reusable coffee cup. So even though I'm being basic no one else needs to know AND I'm helping the environment. Have you tried it? It's so tasty. And yes, I always get it with whipped cream and sprinkles. If you're gonna go for it, you might as well GO FOR IT, you know?

Are you dressing up for Halloween? I've been indifferent to Halloween for as long as I can remember, which means I rarely dress up anymore. For such an imaginative child, I rarely had creative costume ideas (mainly because I just could not be bothered.) I was definitely not one of those kids who planned months in advance. I had lots of last minute poodle skirts and and a blue Alice in Wonderland dress that I wore for about three years straight.

This year, my book club is having a literary-themed costume party, which is just about the only costume party I can be bothered to care to go to. Naturally I'm looking for an easy-to-create, cheap costume (that I can promptly return to Goodwill) featuring one literature's OG goths. Mary Shelley? Ophelia? Miss Havisham? Jane Eyre? (Though, truth be told, I'd much prefer to go as the much-maligned goth queen Mrs. Rochester.) We shall see what my creative limits and what I'm sure will be some harried trips to Goodwill turn out.

Other than this, I am completely uninterested in Halloween, though I love the spooky season. Crunchy leaves and chunky sweaters have me feeling almost hopeful. It's easier to live out my Nora Ephron fantasies when there's a chill in the air. (Not that it's been a very cold October, much to my sweaty chagrin.) Aside from my usual gourds and various candles, you'll be proud to hear that I purchased a brass spider for my one creepy Halloween decoration. That's as far as I'm willing to go. Baby steps. I would say that in general I tend to love holiday seasons, but not so much the actual holidays themselves. 

I have succumbed to two horror films this month — courtesy of Theo, of course. A few weeks back we watched Friday the 13th, because it was Friday the 13th. It was...bad, you guys. Aside from the fact that it was very unintentionally funny and I'll take young Kevin Bacon in a speedo any day, the story was...not good. I can't believe it's such a successful franchise. Basura! 

Last week Theo got me to watch The Village and I really don't think it qualifies as a horror film at all. It was actually kind of lovely, in a creepy way. I loved the visuals and the tone, though it needed more young Michael Pitt, in my honest (albeit pervy) opinion. Where is Michael Pitt these days? I will start a GoFundMe to get his crazy ass back in another movie or TV show. The last thing I saw him in was Boardwalk Empire, where he was a total hunk. But I'm pretty sure he was fired for being a mess. Paz de la Huerta was also fired for being a disaster on Boardwalk, remember? And if you ever seen me on the street ask me to tell you why, because it's a DOOZY. 

Theo is trying to convince me to watch The Witch, though I really don't think I could handle it. He claims I'll love the feminist bent and the time period, but I don't know if I can handle those kinds of scares. We'll see. I really think it's his turn to watch some of my favorite Halloween movies, like The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Witches. You know, children's fare. 

Despite my yearly efforts to stay inside and hide from the insanity on Halloween, we'll be venturing out to Brooklyn to go trick-or-treating with Theo's niece this year. Literally the only way to get me out of the house on this dreaded holiday is to go see that adorable little nugget. I just don't like the general Halloween vibe — it gives people a pass to act like total assholes. It makes me feel unsafe and uneasy. It's just not for me. Hopefully since we'll be on kid time we'll get home before the true crazies are out terrorizing the city.

The last time I went to a true Halloween party I was dressed as Winona Ryder's character from Beetlejuice, Lydia Deetz. A friend from college was throwing a party as his place just a few blocks away from my apartment in Los Feliz, so I figured I could put a little effort in and show up. It was definitely the last time I planned out a costume in advance and was actually mildly excited — I even chopped my bangs short in a show of commitment to the part. I was dressed just like this photo: long black skirt, black long-sleeved top, and black shawl and in full goth makeup. 

Image via The Geffen Company

Image via The Geffen Company

A short while after arriving I was walking through the relatively crowded house when I felt two hands grab my ass, hard. I spun around expecting to see one of my girlfriends trying to freak me out and instead saw a man, whom I'd never seen before, staring blankly at me. My immediate reaction was of outrage and disgust, and to this day I can still feel my face burning up with anger and embarrassment. "WHAT THE FUCK???" I shouted and I shoved him as hard as I could with both hands. He just stood there with an expressionless face, as if I wasn't even registering to him as a person. 

I turned around to walk away and find my friends and as I got closer to the doorway I once again felt two hands on me, grabbing my ass hard. I whirled around and it was him again, staring at me blankly, but this time with a smile on his face. Did he think he was flirting? This time his back was to a wall, so I pushed him into it as hard as I could and holding his shoulders yelled, "DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN. STOP IT. GET AWAY FROM ME." And the entire time he had this placid look on his face, like I was overreacting and being completely insane. I felt insane, like I was yelling into a void and no one could hear me. I could feel hot, stinging tears in my eyes and was completely mortified that I was being humiliated while wearing full goth makeup. 

Almost as bad as this was when I walked up to a group of my friends and I told them what happened. A couple of them halfheartedly looked around, and I think one of them said, "That sucks," and that was it. No further inquiry, no kicking this guy out; just everyone moving on and expecting me to do so as well. It was treated like it wasn't a big deal, and being young, embarrassed, and afraid of making a scene, I acted like it wasn't a big deal either. But as we all know, especially in light of recent events, it was a big deal. It affected me profoundly and still does to this very day. I think about it often — every aspect of it. How I reacted, how my friends reacted, what I could have done differently. But what would I have done? Called the cops and busted up a Halloween party? Confront him again? I know there are no right answers.

This is far from the only time I've been sexually harassed or assaulted, it just feels timely, given the season. And I know I said at the beginning that we wouldn't talk about it anymore but oops, it just came up. Sorry about that. I guess we can't really escape it no matter the topic since it's so enmeshed in our daily lives. Or at least, it is in mine. But perhaps we've solved the mystery of why I hate Halloween!



The Death of Autumn

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes, 
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like agèd warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak, 
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek, 
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die, 
And will be born again,but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky! 
Oh, Autumn ! Autumn !What is the Spring to me?

--Edna St. Vincent Millay




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All the Good Things That I Love


As I'm sure you are too, I'm still reeling from the events of this weekend; though as any person of color will tell you, I'm not particularly surprised. In the weeks leading up the the election and the months thereafter, I spent hours weeping on my therapist's couch about the state of the world. Of how afraid I was to have a leader who emboldened and coddled racists, whose own ignorance made him incapable of leading diplomatic discussions and would put us in danger. My therapist kept assuring me that we had checks and balances, that nothing dramatic would happen, that little would change, that I was catastrophizing. And maybe I was, but I guess I really wasn't since it's all playing out pretty much exactly as I predicted. My petty heart wants nothing more than to go pop my head into her office and serve her up with an, "I told you so!"

But that isn't very productive, is it. We're all very much in need of something non-news related, and I've been finding so much peace in the various subjects that I'm interested in that I figured I'd share them with you too. I keep coming across articles that I want to share with you and forget to write them down! After the election I had a really hard time reading anything but the news. To be honest, I'm still drowning in it;  gulping down my Twitter feed like it's a cool apricot La Croix on a hot summer day — but like, terrible. Luckily, I've been finding solace in so much of the beautiful lifestyle writing that is happening right now. Everyone has seriously stepped up their game, and I am the greedy recipient taking it all in. I'm drowning in books and articles about all the things that enchant me and I am feeling enriched by it all, there aren't enough hours in the day. So let's all eek out a bit of peace during these painful times, shall we? 


I've become an absolute fragrance nut in the past few months. Blame it on The Dry Down, the need to give my summertime natural deodorant a helping hand, getting older, or a desire to lean even more into my own personal fancy-lady aesthetic, but I am OBSESSED. I have been hoarding perfume samples like it's my business, and luckily for me, since I can write about  all my beauty hobbies, it kind of is my business. I've always been into heavy white florals like jasmine with a hint of musk, but I'm finding myself being all about rose scents lately. They're having a total moment in the beauty world right now, so it's everywhere. I'm hoping that I can train my olfactory senses to become more attuned to heavier, more masculine scents like sandalwood and tobacco come fall and winter, but try as I might they always give me a headache. I need to baby-step my way into that a thing? Who can train me in this endeavor?

I came across this article in the NY Times last week and was completely besotted with the entire idea of being a perfumer in France. One this I know for sure is that I am LONG OVERDUE for a trip to the French countryside. You better believe I've spent every night looking at flights and Airbnbs to Grasse. The author, Colleen Creamer, immediately had my attention with her first sentences. 

"Before I became a perfume devotee a dozen years ago, my lexicon for describing scent was limited to words like “woodsy” or “flowery.” Later I found myself craving the dexterity of language that could match the increasingly complex perfumes arriving at my house in tiny decanted samples."

That's kind of exactly how I feel now. I've been reading just about everything I can get my hands on about perfumes and scents, and I'm excited to expand my knowledge on the subject, both for my work and my own life. It's been incredibly soothing to allow myself to fall into the study of something so totally new and peaceful. My next endeavor will be to read Alyssa Harad's book: Coming to My Senses.

sn't the cover beautiful? Comme c'est romantique! I think I need make a list of all the book covers that I love. There are so many out there that just immediately grab me, like the cover of Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton or Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett. Can you sense the theme? 

My fragrance internet wanderings also led me to this old article from Vanity Fair about Marie Antoinette's last scent. I am enchanted by it. Apparently, when Marie Antoinette was trying to escape from Versailles, she was recognized by the mob because they knew only royalty could wear such an expensive perfume and that's when they captured her. Poor thing. Did you know you can actually buy the very same perfume? That's just incredible to me. You better believe I have ordered a sample. I am so obsessed.


Speaking of the French countryside, is everyone following photographer Jamie Beck on her adventures in Provence? Good grief what a stunning locale. It helps that she is a truly gifted photographer — she invented the Cinemagraph app that makes everything look like gauzy a dream. You can follow her on her blog, Ann Street Studio and on her Instagram, where she not only posts gorgeous photos but also breaks down how she takes them in her Instagram stories.

As someone who has only ever merely dabbled in photography, I find it fascinating and enlightening. What I would do for an artistic eye like hers! Her self-portrait series is the most beautiful I've seen in decades. She's wildly creative and plays with light in a way I could never dream of. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a follow. Every time she pops up in my timeline I stop to study the photograph. Next time someone rags on Insta, point them to her feed. 


I've been a big fan of Ashley Ford's writing and was frankly surprised (but delighted) to see that she moved to Refinery29 earlier in the year. Given the caliber of her work I always figured that the Times or Vanity Fair would scoop her up as quick as can be. Luckily, Refinery has given her the space to write about subjects that are meaningful to her that run the gamut of different subjects. The article she wrote a few months ago on seeing her father for the first time after his incarceration was incredibly moving and eye-opening for someone who has never experienced anything remotely like that.

But it was her piece on plus-sized fashion in NY Mag's The Cut last week that gave me excited butterflies for her.  While her essays are brilliant, I find her writing on fashion to be completely groundbreaking and disruptive. It's so exciting to me that she's working at one of the most popular fashion sites in existence and fearlessly writing about all the issues that the industry faces and calling them out to their faces. This particular article was featured in The Cut and includes interviews with people like Aidy Bryant and Christian Siriano, and discusses the origins of plus-sized fashion houses like Lane Bryant.

So much of what I love about my work is that I get to be a part of a movement to change the definition of what beauty is. The only way to challenge traditional beauty standards is from within, and I love that we are moving towards a space that is more inclusive of body types, skin tones, genders, and more. Thanks to the kind of work that Ashley is doing, the call is coming from inside the house.


Have you ever watched the HBO show, Enlightened? I often say that it's what I watch when I need to crack my heart wide open, and if there's ever a time for that it's now. If you haven't ever checked it out, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's like drinking a cool, tall drink of water on a sweltering day. Laura Dern is absolutely incandescent as a woman re-building her life after suffering a public breakdown. It's an exploration of hope, love, and all of life's challenges in a beautiful, quiet and introspective package.

Mike White created and wrote it based on his own experiences with mental illness, and you can really feel the rawness of that experience pulsating from the screen. And if this sounds depressing, let me assure you that it's not. The central theme of the show is hope, and how to hold onto it when things are as bad as they could possibly be. Yes, it's tinged with a continual sadness, but I've always found it beautiful and comforting (that probably says a lot about me.)

I often turn to this show during troubled times, and ended up binging it last week. The episodes are all short and sweet, so if you've got some time, do yourself a favor and check it out.


The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

-- Ellen Bass



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A Rose By Any Other Name

I'm the kind of person who has had a list of potential baby names locked and loaded and ready to go since I was child. In the early-mid '90s, my favorite names were the ones that felt flowery, romantic, and princess-like. Isabella, Anastasia, Violette, Josephine. These days, I tend to favor unisex names, or at least names that can be easily shortened into a nickname that is unisex. And if you are someone who knows how I feel about my own name, you might be surprised to hear that lately I am actually favoring Spanish names. Though I'm still a big fan of Josephine, and that's Ms. Alcott's fault. (If you think I'm sharing any of them you are straight nuts — there are baby name thieves everywhere, no one is safe. )

When I was a kid, my favorite part of imaginative play was always coming up with the name of my particular  persona; and to this day I adore coming up with names for my characters when I'm writing stories. The name carries so much weight, means so much. 

So it seems like this article on baby names in last week's New Yorker was tailor-made for me! If you're a name fanatic you have to dive in and enjoy. I've been reading and re-reading it all week, trying to absorb all the fascinating-to-me information on all things baby names. Why we name babies the way we do and how our names affect us throughout our lives, how they shape our identity, is absolutely thrilling to me. It's something I've been meditating on literally for as long as I had the cognitive ability to do so. 

Anytime I hear that someone has had a baby, I immediately need to know what they've  been called. Doesn't matter if it's the lady down the street or Beyonce. I've even been known to actually get anxious when too much time passes and I don't know a new baby's name. It's a sickness. Back in the days of the Yellow Pages, I would spend afternoons flipping through it to see if I could find a unique name that I'd never heard and see if it spoke to my soul. 

I hate to admit it, but I think the reason I've long been obsessed with names is because I kind of hate mine. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that it's unique, (at least it is in the US) but it's been a source of much consternation since I was a kid. Back then, I hated it because it was different; because I yearned to be a Tiffany, Brittany, or even Annie. Literally pretty much anything easy to pronounce in English, white-as-hell, and spunky. 

Looking back, I can understand that so much of the pain from having an unusual, difficult-to-pronounce name came from the fact that I was dodging racist micro-aggressions on a daily basis — I just didn't know it! When my sixth grade science teacher pronounced my name incorrectly for an ENTIRE FULL YEAR despite the fact that my classmates and I corrected her every single time, I wanted to melt into the carpet. Every day for a year I went on a roller coaster of anxiety and embarrassment because this woman could not be bothered to say my name properly. 

And it was like that every first day of the school year, and every time we had a substitute teacher. I would feel my heart race as they got farther down the alphabet and closer to my name, cringing through their butchered attempts to pronounce it. You have to remember, this was pre-Madonna naming her daughter Lourdes. People had literally never heard the name before. I definitely owe Madonna a high-five for making my life just a little bit easier.

Studies have found that it is actually a really big deal when teachers don't make the effort to learn their students name — that it has profound, lasting impact. I can certainly attest to that. There are now organizations like My Name, My Identity dedicated to educating teachers on the importance of taking the time to learn how to properly pronounce their student's names and being respectful about it.

And it's not just that I'm traumatized from a childhood of micro-aggressions aimed at my name, I just don't find it to be particularly pretty. The combination of letters is grating to my sensibilities, and don't even get me started on the fact that Lourdes the city is basically Catholic Disneyland. Or that "lourd" means "heavy" in French. LIke, how truly, hilariously awful. 

I don't mean to rag on my name too much — I swear I'm not too bitter about it. (Though the fact that I literally just wrote an essay about it might prove otherwise.) I understand why my parents gave me this name, and why it was meaningful to our family. I can appreciate that. There are currently four living Lourdes' in my family, so my name is unique everywhere but in the Avila-Uribe clan. Go figure. 

All that said, I would never go so far as to actually change my name, though I completely understand why some people would. If your name feels like it doesn't fit, it's really oppressive! Do I think my name fits me? Not necessarily, but it's mine and I do feel pretty stuck with it. I wouldn't even change it if I got married one day, because it's just who I am. For better or worse, my name is a part of me. But deep down, in the quiet, secret recesses of my heart, maybe I'm a Natalia? 




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Will I ever get over "French Girl Beauty?"

I actually can't remember a time when French women weren't aspirational to me in just about every way. It started with Madeline and her jaunty straw hat, blue coat, and fearless personality and over time morphed into Jane Birkin, Francoise Hardy and most recently, Jeanne Damas. I've been trying to find that special je ne sais quoi for years, and the search for that famous French effortlessness has been at the hands of much effort, indeed. 

I'd like to say this fascination with all things French is a result of how the beauty and fashion industries have long-worshipped the French girl aesthetic and turned it into a bonafide industry, but I have to admit that this is something I fomented in myself when I was quite young, and without much outside influence. But when I take a long, hard look at myself and the never-ending quest to understand the depths of my own identity, it makes sense. 

I was the only person of color in my grade up until about fifth grade.  And while I am aware of my white-passing privilege, I still felt strongly like an "other" — probably because the other kids in my class would never let me forget it. Outside of my own family, I had absolutely zero Latinx role models — no teachers, friends' parents, neighbors, etc. And while I did have plenty of family and friends in Mexico, I saw them rarely, and it did little to help me understand my own identity since they lived in a completely different world with different social norms, I couldn't relate. (And let's not even get into the serious issues of colorism and classism that Mexicans need to contend with.) All this to say, I spent every night praying that I'd wake up with blue eyes and blonde hair, only to be disappointed every morning and count the days until I was old enough to dye my hair. 

So, I went searching — something that was very easy to do at a young age given what a voracious reader I was — and very quickly fell in love. The romantic French aesthetic appealed strongly to my sensibilities, and for once it actually felt attainable. Much easier than praying to a god I didn't believe in to give me blonde ringlets! It helped that since I was very little my Grandmother, who is half-French, would tell me stories about her shopping trips to Paris, spending summers in the countryside, and all about how one day she would take me there. My imagination ran wild: I could see my future plant- and light-filled studio in the Marais, the vanity topped with expensive perfumes, my long, shaggy brown hair and bangs, a closet full of oh-so-chic clothing that fit just right. 

I have indulged my French girl fantasies at every possible turn — and nowhere more than when it comes to beauty. The hair tousled just so, the "simple" — yet refined — skincare routine that combines high-low products in the hopes of achieving flawless skin, perfecting the barely-there makeup for the everyday and the statement makeup for going out that's glamorous, not gaudy. And I love every bit of it.

And still, I can't help but often reflect on the more problematic aspects of the French girl style obsession. It's a historically narrow view of what French women look like, to the exclusion of pretty much anyone who isn't white, tall, and thin. I don't like that. Feeling excluded from the wider physical aesthetic that I saw in my own childhood is what led me to seek out the French look in the first place, and here it is doing the same for so many other women.  It's no surprise that there's been a backlash of sort in recent years, and to be honest I think it's perfectly warranted. This incredibly thorough piece in Racked does a great job of parsing through not just why French girl beauty is a myth, but how it can be damaging. 

But even with people turning against all that French girl beauty entails, it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Look at your favorite magazines, whether they be online or print, they're all still dishing it out on a near weekly basis. And we're still eating it up! Just a few weeks ago Harpers Bazaar published an article on yet another way that we can strive to be like French women — by doing the tech industry like them. And funnily enough it highlighted the work of one of my very own French muses, Fanny Péchiodat, the creator of My Little Paris — my go-to reference guide for years. So despite all it's problems, it's here to stay. 

What do you think about all of this? I think this is an interesting conversation for people within the beauty industry to continue having with each other and exploring in the hopes of widening the definition of what we refer to as "French Girl beauty" while still being able to enjoy aspects of the aesthetic. I appreciate that there are dissenting voices out there pushing this dialogue forward and helping to redefine what beauty is in the hopes of making it more inclusive for all people. Because really, whether it's French girl, California girl, New York girl, Harajuku girl, London girl beauty, or WHATEVER, all of these are narrow and potentially damaging beauty standards that do not include those who are poor, dark skinned, fat, LGBTQ, disabled, or otherwise disenfranchised into the very small box of established beauty norms.

Like all of us, I will just keep doing me and indulging in it while pushing myself to reflect on the ways that I can make beauty more inclusive. And in case you're interested in what my favorite, go-to products are for achieving that French look, well here they are!

Bioderma Sensibio H2O for makeup removal and skin cleansing.

Ouai Finishing Creme for the perfect rumpled waves. 

Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in Gabrielle for the perfect red lip.

Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil for soft, glowing, ageless skin.

Hi Wildflower Dusty Rose Perfume for the deeply nostalgic and sexy scent of dusty roses, cedar closets, Moroccan oud and spice. 

Stowaway Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm for flawless, glowing, natural looking skin.

Tata Harper Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint for a natural, rosy flush.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rose for an everyday soft lip.

Et voila!




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Everyone loves a re-brand, right?

I know, I know. I disappeared straight off the face of this blog this past winter, and it looked like I would never be seen again. But here I am! In all honesty, I found it near impossible to write about my work or life when I was drowning in the despair of the current political situation. And in some ways, I am still struggling. It's difficult to reconcile writing about makeup and clothes when it feels like so much of the world is collapsing around you. Being a lifestyle writer in times of turmoil caused somewhat of a reckoning within, but in many ways also affirmed that I love the work I do and want to move forward with it. 

I have always been a politically-minded and active person, and that is never going to go away. But I am working hard to not be so consumed by the news or allow our current climate to cause self-doubt. I value the kind of work that I do, and I don't need to justify it when times are tough. Though, admittedly, it has taken me a while to get here. Lifestyle writing is valid and has meaning because, like all art, it provides an escape and distraction, and I think we can all agree that we can DEFINITELY use a distraction. So here I am, attempting to carry on. 

All this said, Light in the Heart no longer really serves the purpose I really need it to anymore. I am now paid to write about beauty and style on other websites — something I am thrilled about and eternally grateful for — and now need something ... else. I need a place to check in, work on my writing, and ruminate on all the topics that interest me. I've always been reticent to have a personal blog because I am a pretty private person, so don't expect any salacious diary-esque entries, but I do want a bit more wiggle room in terms of the topics that I tackle. 

I will obviously still cover beauty and babies here to a certain extent, though perhaps not in the way I had previously. If you want shopping roundups and recommendations, just check out my work at HelloGiggles! I may veer ever-so-slightly away from the topic of babies and nannying for a bit, because that chapter feels a bit behind me now. Also, I'm really enjoying leaning into my spinsterhood. That said, OF COURSE it'll come up sometimes! I love kids and babies and still have lots of stories to share about my time as a nanny — it shaped who I am and informed so much of how I see the world. It just won't be a specific, main focus. I hope that those of you who were here for the kid content stick around and see what you think. 

I'm super excited to have a little more breathing room in terms of the topics I cover here, especially all the things I'm passionate about like what books I'm reading, the places I want to travel to, the music I love, and so much more. And with that comes an official re-brand! I might be in the minority here, but I LOVE switching things up. I want my blog, and it's title, to reflect who I am and the work I'm doing. As you probably noticed, Light in the Heart is now officially called Mistress of Myself. For the time being, you can visit and it'll take you here, but is up and running (spoiler alert: it's this exact same site) so don't panic about missing anything. I'll phase out the Light in the Heart URL eventually, but for now you'll just get re-directed here. You might see some funky new design changes in the coming weeks, but nothing too jarring, I promise. You know me, I like things simple and clean. 

And in case you were wondering, I got my new title from one of my favorite Jane Austen novels — Sense and Sensibility. It will come as a shock to no one that I am a life-long Austen devotee. (Has anyone else noticed that Jane is strongly back in the zeitgeist right now? Girl is having a moment.) And while I'm that person who re-reads Pride and Prejudice every December and watching the movie every time it's on TV, Sense and Sensibility has always had a special place in my heart. My dad took me to see the movie when it came out and it was my first introduction to Austen (and exciting new feelings, thanks to Alan Rickman.) After that I never turned back, devouring all her books and making my dad take me to see every new film adaption. It obviously contributed to the development of my extremely problematic views on romance. (WHY has no one EVER carried me through the rain?!?) But this quote is particularly fitting, especially when I'm feeling like it's more important than ever to have a strong hold on myself.

"I will be calm. I will be mistress of myself."

And with that, I hope to chat soon. 

In the Deep Mid-Winter


Can you believe it's the end of February? Time is passing in such a discombobulated way. Days seem to last weeks as bad news rolls in seemingly with no end, and somehow it still seems improbable that it's almost March. What a weird time we are living in. I think a lot about how it must have felt to be experience the unrest of 1968 or 1931, and I wonder if the collective trauma we feel now is reminiscent of what people felt then as well. There's an energy wafting through the air that I've never felt before. What a unique situation to be in, to see the crumbling of a government you thought would always be steadfast. I should say, unique for us. (And if you don't see that that is exactly what's happening, you need to read some books!) This is nothing that the world hasn't seen over and over again through history. Which is mainly why so many of us are so alarmed. I'm fucking alarmed because I know what comes next! And it ain't good.

For those who are still looking for more newsletters to sign up for that give you daily calls to action and methods of resistance, a la ActionNow, Jessica Valenti has a great one called "This Week in Patriarchy" that she just started and I just started following Resistable, which has info on marches, protests, and other ways to resist.

Instagram has also been a really awesome way to stay informed and learn from women who are wonderful activists and teachers. I find that Instagram is much less daunting than Facebook or Twitter when it comes to staying in the loop, so if that's more your thing, check out Sarah Sophie Flicker, Janet Mock, Carmen Perez, Paola Mendoza, Mikki Kendall, and Dee Poku, to get started! I'm also so grateful for my dear friend Alexa Arnold, whose thoughtful and informative posts have really inspired me to rethink the way we get our food.

I've been thinking a lot about how in order to be able to stay active in the long run I need to pace myself and protect myself from the news at certain times. And I've definitely started getting better at seeking out literature that helps me feel a bit of respite, whether it's online or in print. In regards to my own work, I have been feeling slightly conflicted about not being able to provide that respite here, myself. I know that you might come here searching for a bit of peace yourself, wanting beauty tips or stories about childcare, and I don't blame you. I'm looking for the same. But I can't not acknowledge the world we are living in and what's going on. And please know that I do feel sorry about that! I know I've lost a few readers as a result, and I certainly don't blame anyone for needing to tune out the political.

But after lots of reflection and research, I know I can't just go on as if nothing has changed. I look to my own favorite bloggers, and I have so much more respect for those who aren't going about business as usual, who are keeping the conversation alive and finding ways to infuse activism with their work. I wouldn't feel true to myself if I didn't do the same. This election and resulting political climate rocked me to my core, and when in the past I kept my activism to myself, or at least limited to my Twitter account, it's now become all encompassing. I just hope you'll stick with me as we live through this time, and hopefully feel inspired to get involved in some way, no matter how big or small! I've just gotta keep it real with you all.

I keep thinking about the poor children who were being held in airports or are separated from their parents right now as all this bullshit gets figured out. I can't imagine the terror and the trauma. Most of us know how important our early developmental years are, and when they're imprinted with fear it gets ingrained deep in their DNA. I mean, think of your worst childhood trauma and how it fucked with you. Being bullied, getting injured, fights with parents, it all gets buried so deep in our psyches and affects the choices we make and the way we relate to the world for the rest of our lives. I can't even imagine being a child and having to endure collective trauma on this scale and processing it.

I can't even deal with the recent news affecting trans kids. It boggles my mind that adults would want to take protections away from the most vulnerable among us. I don't understand the logic, it's disgusting. There is no logic, I suppose. It's pure hatefulness. Did you know that almost 50% of trans kids seriously contemplate suicide? That's absolutely horrifying. Why would we make any aspect of their lives more difficult. It's abhorrent. I do want to add, though, that that statistic drops drastically when trans kids have parents who are supportive of them. What more clear way can we know how important it is to love and support our kids no matter what?

It makes me just want to remind everyone to be so, so gentle with their babies. I've definitely been missing my daily baby snuggles now that I am not babysitting anymore. I could really use some if you'd like to send a baby my way! Tenderness is just so important for children to feel and learn. Maybe some time this week you can play for a little longer on the floor with your kid, even if your back is starting to get sore. Or you can listen, really listen, next time they're telling you an inane story. We all need to establish even deeper connections with our children now, and develop and nurture that sense of security and safety that the world at large is lacking.

Nothing has ever brought me as much peace as reading does, even as a small child. So since it's Black History Month, I figured I'd make a list of my favorite children's books about or by Black people! (Yes, I know February is basically over, but that doesn't mean it's not still important to read these!)

Bookworm: Black History Month

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams

Happy to be Nappy by bell hooks

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Last Stop on Market St. by Matt de la Pena

Trombone Shorty by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews

Emmanuel's Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

March by John Lewis

Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renee Watson

I've read all of these books and absolutely adore them. They're a must-have for every kid's library! It's so important for children of color to see themselves represented in books, and it's just as important that white children read stories about people of color.

Things keeping me happy:

This month's Literary Ladies' Club Book Selection: The Witches. I've been wanting to read this books since it came out and it couldn't be timelier! Thank goodness for good books and the lovely women in my life.


Sneakily listening to Theo make silly voices while he records audio for his work in the bathroom.

Kissing the corners of Maeby's mouth.

Eating blood oranges.

One Love Organic's Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum that is making my usually scaly winter skin super soft and making me smell exactly how I've always wanted to smell my whole life. FANCY!

These tulips and the accompanying Valentine's Day candy and perfume gifts from my sweetie! It's such a silly/fake holiday, but it really is uplifting to stick some homemade paper hearts on the wall, eat some chocolate, and tell people you love them.

The trailer for Julie Andrews' new Netflix show for kids. It made me happy cry, because we need kids falling in love with the arts now more than ever before. If you have a kid over 2or 3, maybe they can watch it during their allotted screen time! (And you know how strict I am about screen time for kids!)

My workouts at Pop Physique! Guys, no one hates to exercise more than myself, so I really hate to admit this, but it has really helped with my anxiety and depression. The trick is to find a workout you really love. The gym would only make me more depressed, but these classes are so fun and the vibe is just up my alley so I'm really motivated to go and work hard. I always leave feeling stronger and clear headed, which is the goal these days!

This weather! But also, I'm enjoying it VERYYYYY cautiously. I know March is gonna kick me in the butt, but you know what? I said that about February after our mild January. So who knows, either way our earth is fucked! This tweet summed it up pretty perfectly:

Well, I leave you now with some links for your eyeballs and a little ditty for your hearts. Hope you're well!

A lovely interview with Alana Massey about her new book.

Modern etiquette.

Trump's nightmare.

This breaks my heart.

Troll him, ladies!

This is unequivocally false and rude.

What are we doing to our children of color?

Talking about respites, if you haven't watched Fleabag yet, DO IT. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is my muse.

Love while on the autistic spectrum.

The children of bad memories.

Madewell is really making me regret not picking a profession where I make more money with this and this. How will I get through winter without them? Is it socially acceptable to start a Kickstarter for my shopping needs?

Young people get trans rights.

Just a few of the many reasons good Christian girls need Planned Parenthood.


If you haven't already, sign up to receive my posts directly into your inbox, here!


Hi friends!

I know we're three weeks in, but happy new year! It's already been a weird one, don't you think? The impending sense of doom feels like a heavy fog weighing down on us. I wanted to get a note out to you all before the inauguration because, quite frankly, I feel so daunted by the future. And it's a weird kind of dread too, because I just have no earthly clue how this shit is gonna go down. How bad is it going to get? I have no idea. I just have a feeling it's going to be quite bad, if these past few weeks have been any indication. Every morning I wake up and peer through fingers at my phone to see what latest horrifying news there is to suck the air out of my lungs.

I think the Women's March in Washington this Saturday will be a cathartic and powerful moment for those of us who are in pain over the state of the world. My friends and I are going down to DC, and knowing that I'll be participating in an historic march is helping to ease my day to day anxieties. I know that when I look back on the course of my life that it'll have been important for me to be there. If you are going to DC as well, I strongly recommend looking at their website and familiarizing yourself with the route, the schedule, the rules, (no large bags, backpacks, or signs on sticks) and transportation options. I went to a meeting with several organizers of the march last week and the level of organization, thought, and care that has gone into planning this and making it extremely safe and accessible to everyone is inspiring. Their progressive, intersectional platform is everything that is going to make this world a better place and lead us forward during these dark times ahead. If you aren't able to make it to DC, I hope you're going to one of the many sister marches happening around the world!

The best gif I've ever seen by Libby Vanderploeg.

The best gif I've ever seen by Libby Vanderploeg.

I kind of love that this is what I'll be doing my first time in DC. Guess I'll just have to go back in the spring to see the cherry blossoms! (If it's still standing.)

The organizers stressed that if you are comfortable with bringing your kids to the march that you should definitely do so. They are all bringing their kids, and it's a great way for them to learn about peaceful civil disobedience, how to make their voices heard, and support those who are less privileged. As organizer Sarah Sophie Flicker said last week, "There are age appropriate conversations you can have with any children that can talk." And I firmly believe that! I've been politically active and aware for as long as I can remember, and that's because my parents never shied away from having conversations with us about politics, and encouraged us to do our research, share our opinions, and have lively debates. (Yes, they often ended in screaming matches, but you gotta learn to argue your point in a healthy way somehow!)

I've been hearing from both people I know and from reading online that so many children are feeling the trauma of having a notorious bully ascending to the office of the presidency. It's important to remember that it's just as much of a nightmare for them as for the rest of us. One thing I've been doing to temper my anxieties and focus on the good has been to look back on the Obamas' legacy and find comfort in their dignity, class, and leadership. Try as hard as Trump and his administration might, they can never undo what it has meant for children to have him and his family in the White House.

What else can we do other than resist while also going on with our lives as best we can. I've (unsurprisingly) been masking up a storm, taking long showers, and torturing myself with barre classes that are so hard it takes my mind off the fact that the world is going to end. Last week I reached a new level of ridiculousness when my arm muscles decided that I pushed them too hard and decided to SWELL UP TWICE THEIR NORMAL SIZE leaving me looking like The Rock and feeling like someone had just ripped my arms off. It was highly unpleasant.


Here are some other things keeping me sane:

A turmeric mask by YLLO that makes me look like I have hepatitis A and makes my skin feel like actual silk. I don't want to hear about htat study that came out saying that turmeric is basically useless. Lies! It's all lies, I tell you. I use it in everything and I know it makes me happy and healthy. End of discussion.

A new newsletter by Rachel Syme and Helena Fitzgerald, The Dry Down. I'm a big fan of both of their work independently, and it's been a treat to get their insights into the world of perfumes!

The insanely huge book pile next to my bed. Just finished this and this. Currently reading this. Gearing up to start this. I finally got my first Carrie Fisher book, Wishful Drinking and will crack it open when Theo's done with it too. I feel about Carrie's books the same way I did about Nora Ephron's: deeply regretful that I didn't get into them while they were still on earth. I didn't read any of Nora's books until her death, and it gave such beautiful insight into such a smart, bitingly funny person that I was sad that I hadn't figured it out and appreciated it while she was still here. I've always loved Carrie Fisher, but just never got around to reading her books. I'll be doing a deep dive now.

My new Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil. I love using it before Glossier Boy Brow to get a much more defined and filled in brow look. That said, my brows are an actual hate crime right now. I've given up seeing as I'm stuck in my glasses and my bangs are so long right now, but I need to come correct with my brows, and SOON. They're a disgrace to all mankind. It's just so hard to reconcile paying for someone to rip them out when I have so few to begin with! Why is life so hard? Who will send me a prescription for Latisse?

Well, I suppose it's time to get ready for whatever tomorrow brings. We'll get through it somehow. Here are some links to tide you over and a little ditty for your heart: this link


Been needing lots of Edna, lately.

A little inspo for Saturday.

It's your parents' fault.

We are on a scary train to a world with no reproductive rights.

Bey and Solange know the value of being a control freak.

My newest fave website and Instagram page.

Don't talk to me until you've watched Happy Valley on Netflix.

My president was black. A month old but still relevant.

I think this would feel creepy to me.

This nightmare woman is an IRL Lucille Bluth.

Something to look forward to if you happen to love children's books like I do.

Mari Andrew's illustrations make me happy every damn day.

Getting involved in local politics is paramount to winning in two years.

I have a really hard time cooking chicken but these recipes make me wanna give it another shot.


And don't forget, if you're interested in getting my posts delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here!

A New Beginning

Hello, my dear readers. How I've missed you!

Forgive my radio silence, it's truly been a month of new challenges over here, both good and bad. I haven't really known how to address everything that's been going on in my personal and political sphere at the moment. I did know that whatever it is I said on here, I wanted it to be purposeful and thoughtful. And though I did write out an immediate, painful, raw, heartbroken rant just following the results of the election, I've chosen to keep it private for the time being and focus on my reflections over the past month instead.

The results of the election have been soul-shattering, to say the least, and I could go on and on about why it's so fucked up, and why it's so terrifying to be a woman of color right now, but I'm not going to. I know that you know these things. I know that by now you know better than to tell me it's going to be okay, and I have felt uplifted by the strong outpouring of charitable giving, activism, and commitment to progress that I've seen around me. So I've been trying to focus on that. There is no real, tangible way to grapple with this kind of long-term grief, this weight that I feel, other than to take it one step at a time and try the best I can to take care of myself and my loved ones.

It's hard to explain this feeling of "otherness" that so man of us feel to people who haven't experienced it. I feel vulnerable, raw and exposed, literally all of the time. I have a target on my back, and it's only a matter of time before someone uses it. It's really frightening and overwhelming. 

So there are lots of things I've been doing in order to move THROUGH these feelings, as opposed to PAST them. I think it's really important that we feel the same anger/passion we did on Nov. 9th every day and to never normalize what is happening. Staying active and informed while protecting our hearts and souls is absolutely possible. Find out what your community is doing to resist this wave of hate and fascism that is headed our way. Women everywhere are mobilizing, checking in, taking care of each other. They are ready to fight this. We are ready. The first thing you can do is donate! I know these lists have been going around but I figure why not add one more handy place for you to check them out. I've set up a small monthly donation to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and it made me feel so much better!

Set up monthly donations (however small) to the organizations that are going to be spending the next four years fighting for our rights. Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Everytown for Gun Safety, Human Rights Campaign, Center for Reproductive Rights, Earth Justice, National Immigration Law Center, Council on American Islamic Relations, Citizens Climate Lobby, The Movement for Black Lives, Union of Concerned Scientists, National LGBTQ Task Force.

Money isn't the only way to help, get on mailing lists so you can stay informed and look out for volunteer opportunities. Each of these organizations has a "Take Action" page for you to read.

Facebook is an irritating nightmare most of the time, and in the days after the election was actually quite triggering for me because it became overwhelming to have this onslaught of information and reactions. But there is so much information on marches, community meetings, lectures and more that you can find out about in your own community. Don't sit on your bum bums. Get out there and talk to each other. Make your voice heard!

As an example, last Tuesday I attended a Women's Circle with Women Moving Millions, Third Wave Fund and Agnes Gund. It also happens to be in a space where Annie Leibovitz is showcasing her Women's portrait series which was co-curated by Gloria Steinem. It was held at the Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan, and if you don't know about this building I highly recommend you head to their wiki page. It was a place of rampant and horrific sex abuse up until it was closed down after Hurricane Sandy. Luckily, in a surprising and inspiring turn, the building is now being turned into the Women's Building and will house foundations dedicated women and girls. It's going to be a beautiful transformation for a place that has held so much pain. We spoke at length about ways to get active and feel safe, including taking self-defense classes, looking for ways to reach out to the disenfranchised in our communities, and how to practice resistance in our daily lives. Find your people and do the same! You can organize it, even it it's just hosting a potluck with those you know and putting your heads together and talking about what you're feeling. Also, sign up for the Action Now newsletter for concrete examples of what you can be doing every day to remain active.

Now, aside from all that, which has taken up A LOT of mental energy and space the past month, there's the business of my business. I'm sure it's clear that I've been busy elsewhere lately, and I'm so happy to say it's for a good reason. My work over at HG has taken up the majority of my time, to the point where it looks like I'll finally be moving on from babysitting as a day job. Which is CRAZY and sad and scary, but I'm ready. I've been so, so lucky throughout my nanny career to have worked with incredible families and I am so grateful for all their trust and love and support.

I'll be spending the majority of my time writing for HelloGiggles, as well as freelancing for a number of other publications. I'll be sure to let you know when I have new articles coming out so you can check them out! Now that doesn't mean that I won't have time to write here, I will probably have more time to do so, but it won't be as regularly as it was in the past year. And I'll still be writing about childcare, even if I'm not doing it as my day job anymore, because I love kids and still have so much to share that I've learned over the past decade and a half.

I've been hearing from a lot of readers who are wondering when my posts will be coming, and let me tell you that I hear you when you say that it's annoying to check the blog every day. I feel the same way with blogs I follow when they go dark for a while. So I've come up with what feels like could be a solution. I'm re-formatting as a TinyLetter. For those who aren't familiar, TinyLetter is a newsletter that you get directly in your inbox as soon as I send it. So, instead of checking the blog every day to see if I've written anything, you'll get my latest post delivered straight to your inbox! I will of course continue to update the blog every time I send one with the exact same content, if you prefer to check it that way! This way, you'll know when I've got a new post up, immediately!

You can sign up for my TinyLetter by subscribing here, or sharing your email address below:

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How exciting!

As for now, let's proceed as usual.

It has been really hard to get out of the dredges of my fear and anxiety these past few weeks, and the first few days it was impossible. I allowed myself to feel everything that was going on inside me, even if it was negative. It's part of grieving and processing. Sometimes you can't start with self-care right away. But slowly I've gotten to a place where I am able to unplug when I need to, and really take care of myself. I hope you are all doing the same. We can't effectively mobilize and fight if we aren't well-rested and taking time to breathe. Lately, I've been surrounding myself with rose-scented and themed products to take a second and float away from my troubles.

Both the Gourmand Macaron Rose hand creme and the Kocostar Rose Petals face mask are from Urban Outfitters, which has one of the best beauty sections of any mainstream shop I've ever seen. They've got indie products, big name lines, natural makeup, and all of super reasonably priced. I've written about my love for the UO beauty shop at HG a couple times here and here. I really want the Macaron Rose perfume, but I'm worried that might take me to a level of basic that I may never be able to rebound from. Luckily, my friend Haley got me an incredible Le Labo sampler for my birthday that included their Rose 31 scent that is TO DIE FOR. I'm being so greedy with it and trying not to use it all up too fast. And you know I've still all about my Glossier Rose Balm Dot Com, but I keep it in my purse for the day so at night and at home I use my good, old-fashioned Smith's Rosebud Salve.

The rose petals face mask was hilarious. Theo said I looked like I had pepperoni all over my face, which is undeniably true. I can't say it did anything truly spectacular for my skin, other than being nice and hydrating, but it did give us a good laugh!

A literal pizza face.

A literal pizza face.

Now more than ever, let's really revel in our self-care as an act of resistance. The patriarchy wants us all, men, women, trans, and gender queer to be tired and beaten down. They want us weak, impressionable, and too exhausted to fight. So let's take the time we need to make ourselves feel good. Whatever that may mean to you. A few weeks ago a well known editor of a women's site went on a Twitter rant about how all this talk of "self-care" was infantilizing, as if women couldn't handle bad news or process things in an adult way. I found it to be extremely dismissive and marginalizing. So many people rely on self-care rituals to feel healthy and whole. Some may have come upon these rituals while battling mental illness or as a coping mechanism for the daily beat downs that women of color have faced for centuries. It sucks to have the importance of self-care reduced to a childish, eye-roll inducing fad. It's just a fact that when we take care of our bodies and spirits, that we can do our work better, whatever it may be.

I've always been a devout Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie fan, from her books to her articles, she's a brilliant writer and truly one of the main feminist leaders of our time. Not only did she have one of the most thought-provoking pieces in the New Yorker this week, (read it if you haven't yet!) but she's also representing beauty brand No.7 as a spokesmodel. She's a walking example that the power of an individual is not diminished when they take care of themselves or value makeup or beauty. Read this wonderful interview she gave to the NY Times.

I hope your kids are doing okay. It's hard for me to think about how difficult it must be for children to be living during such a frightening time. I'm so worried about the escalating violence, as you know it trickles down to the schoolyard. I do think it's important to keep an active, open conversation going with your kids about what's going on in the world — just keep it age appropriate! There will always be events that they can participate in, whether it's baking cookies for the ACLU, or attending vigils or rallies. Kids will feel safer knowing they are on the same side as the good guys.

Luckily, kids have the distraction of the holidays to keep them occupied, and while I'm sure they've got tons of presents headed their way, maybe you can find a way to include some activities into their present pile. Going to the Nutcracker or to a fancy neighborhood to look at nights can be a wonderful way to create memories that will last forever, and you won't be cluttering up your house with more stuff!

I know I mentioned this last year, and don't kill me because I know we all have a ton on our plates, but the holidays are an excellent time to encourage kids to give to those who are less fortunate, and the easiest way to do that is to have them round up old toys they don't play with and donate them! All it takes is an hour or so, and it teaches them to let go of things in a healthy way and helps to instill a giving nature in them. But you know me, I love any opportunity to get stuff out of my house! I know it's easier said than done for others.

I can't leave you without some links to keep you busy and a song for your heart, so here you are my lovelies. Thanks for sticking with me, and please sign up for the TinyLetter! I'll be coming at you that way next time, so keep your eyes peeled!

Books to help kids find hope and strength in stressful times.

Two articles about one how one of my favorite publications, Teen Vogue, is changing the game. Subscriptions are only 5$ for the teen inyour life!

Case in point.

I want all this swag.

You can get this for me for the holidays if you want.

A lovely and thoughtful piece on the wonderful Adrienne Shelly.

If you aren't already reading everything Rebecca Solnit writes, start now. Her book, Hope in the Dark, has sold out since the election so if you can't get your hands on that check out her other books and articles.

My friend Erin has done an incredible job over the past few weeks of compiling ways to be politically active in the weeks since the election, big and small. She imbues this thoughtfulness and resistance into every single one of her articles, and it's truly admirable.

I met Cleo Wade at the Hester Street Fair event they mention in the article — she is one of those people who can see straight into your soul.

What I would give to have the Toast during times like these. Here's an oldie.

This made me LOL, I bet Theo wishes he could order the "My Girlfriend Won't Do The Dishes."

I've been waiting for the right time to treat my soul to this movie but I haven't found the time and I really hope I don't miss it.

Don't forget! Sign up for my newsletter so you get posts delivered directly to your inbox, here!


Concealers, Playgrounds, and Weekend Links for You and Me

Holy shit, hello, hi! Here I am, alive and well, and despite the fact that I've been slaving away on other corners of the Internet, I promise you I'm still here! Fall is now full-on here and I've been delighting in it completely. It's truly worth dealing with the disgusting summers and never-ending winters to experience Autumn in New York. I've been running around like a bat out of hell lately, but I wanted to let you know about some of my latest obsessions.

First things first though, does everyone hate Uber as much as I do? Besides the fact that the company itself seems suuuuuper shady, I have the worst fucking luck with it and I'm so over it! Case in point: Wednesday morning I had a press event to get to and got offered me a free code so I could Uber over for free! I was like oooh, I've made it world, here I come, I am fancy as shit! But of course when it actually came time to use it, Uber didn't recognize my account and kept trying to send me codes to reactivate it, none of which worked, and all of which took insanely long to get to me. This ended with me in the subway about to get on the train when the app started working. So, like a total fool, I darted up to the street to get into my car, only to be stuck in traffic and jump out and run two avenues over and still be late to my event. Oh also, had a bloody nose the whole time. Like, what? Who does this happen to? When will I be glamorous?

Other than that, I've mainly just been watching lots of Black Mirror, which has been surprisingly emotional! The end of San Junipero gutted me, what a freaking beautiful episode! Don't worry, I'm ignoring all the messages about the perils of the Internet and social media and writing a style piece on this season over on HG next week, so stay tuned! But all this crying while watching TV has put my new concealer to the test, and OMG, you guys need to get on this. 

I am a concealer fanatic because I have some serious under-eye circles. Like, we're talking Serge Gainsbourg on a bender type dark circles, and that's after a full night's sleep! They've been there since I was 12, and they're a part of me that I've done my absolute best to embrace and not always feel like I need to cover up. Since I stopped pretty much altogether wearing makeup during the week, it's helped me feel comfortable in my own skin and they don't bother me as much! I'm sure there are some people out there who think I look like shit, but I don't actually give a flying fuck anymore. Not wearing makeup has actually helped me feel less self conscious about them when I do wear makeup, because I'm less obsessed with re-touching my concealer every 5 mins and I can just live my life.


I heard, like, literally years ago that Kevyn Aucoin's concealer was the best in the biz, but was always super put off by the 48$ price tag and I just kept searching. But I decided to treat myself for my birthday earlier this month and splurged on my very own Sensual Skin Enhancer and OMG YOU GUYS THE RUMORS ARE TRUEEEEEEE. This shit is waterproof and budge-proof. I mean this does not leave your face all day long! And it blends so so so nicely there are no awkward lines. There are tons of shades to pick from so you can get an exact match, just make sure you try a sample at Sephora first. Also, this shit is foundation! It's so insanely thick, you can take the tiniest of dabs and mix with either an oil, moisturizer, or lighter skin tint for some really great, even coverage. I can't stress enough how little of this you need to use. I am truly living my best life with this concealer. It's so worth the price tag because it's going to live forever, like the kids in Fame.


In other news, I've been doing lots of playground strolling as it's starting to become apparent that our outdoor days are numbered. And is it just me or is this year's version of helicopter parenting even more intense than before? Like, it's bad enough when parents are standing directly next to their kids and narrating their playtime for them, but lately it seems everywhere I turn there are parents actively interfering with their children's and other kids playtime. Like, I get playing with your kid if no one else is around, or if your kid asks you to play with him, but what I've been seeing lately is more than that. Parents are interrupting kids who are talking and playing and trying to get in on the action and participate. Like, guys? Maybe take a step back and let your kid socialize, since it's very apparent that this is what he is trying to do! It's good for them to talk to other kids! And work out how they're playing together without adult input! It's been driving me nuts! We're at the point where we can't even let kids who are actively playing and having a good time do so without interference? Guys. Step back, sit on a bench, enjoy your coffee. Isn't it a million times more rewarding for both you and your child if you sit back and watch them having a wonderful time with another child?

Anyways, that's what I've been thinking about lately. Does everyone have a Halloween costume yet? I love children in costumes, there's just nothing sweeter! And bonus points if they pick something not TV related, you know? But either way, it's so cute. I'll never get used to the fact that kids in NYC go trick-or-treating in bars and shops and bodegas as opposed to knocking on doors, but I do find it supremely charming. I'll be hunkering down and staying away from the crazies, as much as I can! I'm such a grump when it comes to Halloween, the energy is just too much for me. The last few years when I've needed a last minute costume I've just thrown on the old Joan Crawford face and it's worked well enough!

I guess today's post is a bit more newsletter-like, and maybe it'll be that way for a while as I sort out my schedule. At least I can pop over and say hi and maybe give ya some links! Have a good one!

Well, this is horrifying.

Surviving a Tiger Mom.

Self-esteem and teen girls.

All I want is to eat mussels every day, but I'm too chicken to make them myself!

Running in heels.

What a nightmare scenario.

The only thing getting me through til the election. Plus therapy. And lots of wine.

A real life she-ro. She was interviewed on Lenny this morning as well.

If you're not already reading everything Ann Friedman writes, start with her newsletter.

Old news that still makes me tear up.

Always looking for career advice these days.

Thrilled to be a new member here.

Buy my friend Jinnie's book!

My favorite thing I wrote this week.

So glad my book club is reading Maria Semple's latest this month!

Oh, Botox, I just don't know.

Really gonna do my best to not just live in black clothing all fall and winter long.


All Natural

Hope everyone had an absolutely lovely weekend. I must confess: it was my birthday yesterday and I was utterly spoiled by Theo and my friends. I'm one of those I'm-grateful-to-be-alive-another-year-but-let-me-revel-in-the-turmoil-of-feeling-the-acute-passage-of-time-birthday types, and would prefer to stay holed up and contemplating my own mortality while staring at my aging hands all weekend. Luckily, I have my people who make me do things, and I had the smallest of birthday gatherings at one of my favorite spots in my neighborhood and it was absolutely lovely. So there's that! 32! I hope it's a good one!

One of the things I love about my birthday season is I get to really pamper myself; and that usually means a new haircut and color. I decided to get my hair cut by my beloved stylist, Robyn, back when I was home in LA, and made the decision for the first time in many years to not color my hair. I tend to go dark in the Fall and Winter, as my natural color tends to fade to a very light, reddish brown with blonde streaks. Which is lovely for the summer, but generally I prefer to go a bit more goth in the winter. But, I just wasn't feeling it this year.

A v embarrassing selfie of my current hair color situation.

A v embarrassing selfie of my current hair color situation.

For one thing, I'm totally loving my grey hairs. There's a lot of them, and I think they're cute and they add a nice shimmer to my hair. I love having that contrast without having to get highlights! Nature's highlights, I suppose. I've always wanted a shock of grey hair like Stacy London's or Claire in Outlander once the show reaches the 1960s, but it's highly unlikely that I'll ever go grey like that. I'll just always have a random smattering.

Starz / Outlander

Starz / Outlander

Grey's aside, my hair has somewhat resisted turning the icky orange-y, bronze-y color it usually is by the end of summer which is what usually propels me to dye it dark again. Though it does still have a couple blonde tips from last year.  I'm really feeling how natural and soft it is these days. It's obviously super healthy because I'm not putting any harsh chemicals on it, which means less split ends and lots of shine.

I revisted Man Repeller's article on how natural hair color is in, and I just have to completely agree on every front! Even with my greys abounding, there's a sweetness and a youthfulness to sporting your natural color that I'm really digging. And it's a definite trend that I've been noticing in NYC these past few months. I'm seeing more and more natural hair colors out everywhere (praise hands emoji let the crazy colors be on their way out!) Even women who are committed life-long blondes are tending to skew more to a natural looking baby blonde than to strong platinum or bright yellow color. It's so soft and pretty! I'm loving it! It's empowering to see women of all ages just rocking what they got! I mean, is there anyone on this planet for whom Linda Rodin isn't total goals anyways?



For You and Me

Hope you guys all had a lovely week! I am LIVING for this cozy fall weather, and am super excited to hole up this rainy weekend. I've been listening to lots of Billie Holliday and Edith Piaf Pandora stations this week, while consuming copious amounts of Trader Joe's Fall Harvest Tea. Have you ever tried it? It's my favorite tea in the world, it's so delicious and soothing. I'm at like three or four cups a day right now. It's a seasonal flavor so I just try to get as much in me as I possibly can while TJ's is still stocking it. I buy like three boxes a week, it's absurd.

I know I've been kind of absent around here, I hope no one is upset about it (though most likely, I'm being a total narcissist and no one gives a shit.) But I've been spending basically every spare moment that I am not babysitting writing for Hello Giggles. I'm super excited about it, but it means I have pretty much not a second free in my day. I wake up early and write, go babysit, write while my Lamb naps, then I come home and write some more until my eyes feel like they're gonna bleed. Basically, it's awesome and I'm so happy to be writing for them. But it's a lot. If you're ever missing me here just wander over there! I'll do my best to keep it up here, but sometimes it may be a bit spotty. At the moment, my priorities are taking good care of my little Lamb and keeping up with my workload on HG. So far, so good!

Other than the fact that my eye allergies are killing me and I've been in glasses all week, I think it'll be a good weekend! Have fun and stay cozy, my friends! Here's some links for your eyeballs and a little ditty for your heart!

What would you do?

Loved this unexpectedly sweet story about a father, son, and Paris Fashion Week.

Stories like these are frighteningly common.

As someone who loves thinking and talking about death, watching Six Feet Under was a great morbid release.

How was school?

Families vs. autism.

Parenting as a full-time job, and why that's bad for women.

Never forget the neck!


Here we go

Hi! I'm back! Technically I've been back for a week, but, guys? It seriously took a while to get back in the groove. Between the jet lag and catching up on all the work I had fallen behind on, I've been an actual madwoman these past few days. Luckily, things are evening out again, for the first time since I got back I was able to fall asleep at an appropriate time last night (despite the fact that I was up late watching the debates) and woke up feeling like an almost-human.

My time in California was lovely, if a bit of a whirlwind. I'm very happy to be home though. And right in time for the best season of the year! I've been rocking my mom jeans every day and I couldn't be more pleased. The downside is that my allergies have kicked back in so it's been glasses central over here. So since makeup and contacts are out of the picture for a few days, I've been stepping up my skin game. THIS COMES AS A SURPRISE TO NO ONE. My vanity knows no bounds. But if I'm going to have puffy, red eyes and glasses the size of Jupiter sliding off my face all week, you better believe my skin is gonna be shimmering like a fucking star.

I'm now 100% devoted to the TonyMoly sheet masks that Urban Outfitters is carrying. I wrote an article last week about how Urban is a surprisingly great beauty resource, despite all their issues. And these TonyMoly sheets are just SUCH a good deal. They're significantly better than the Sephora sheet masks and much cheaper. You can get 4 for 10$, which is a steal in my opinion. I've been using them every other day for the past week or so and my skin is in really bright, glowy, and clear.

I also FINALLY got my backordered Glossier Haloscope highlighter after months of waiting. I was concerned that it'd be oily on my skin since it has coconut oil in it, but luckily my skin totally took to it and it really was as glowy as advertised. Would really have come in handy during the summertime, but oh well! I love how smooth it is and I can't feel it on my skin when it's there, which is a plus. It also blends really easily so I don't have to worry about looking streaky.

You know I'm a Glossier ride-or-die, but to be honest, I do think the majority of their products are manufactured for people with perfect skin. I can't imagine having oily skin and being able to use the Haloscope or skin tint. That said, I do think their new line of serums, The Supers, are really great. I was really skeptical about these serums, mainly because I'm like, why didn't you just make one fucking powerful serum instead of making three separate ones? That still kind of boggles my mind.

The three serums are called Super Pure, Super Glow, and Super Bounce, and each have different vitamins that help boost your skin depending on what it needs that day. This is frustrating to me because rarely do I have just one skin need a day, so I have absolutely been blending them together. Usually just two at a time, though I doubt there'd be any harm in using all three at once. At night I've been using two at a time and then putting my Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate on over it, and waking up like a glowy angel baby.

All in all, I do think the serums work and have been giving my skin a really nice boost that is leaving it super soft and baby-like, even despite the fact that I've been scratching my eyeballs out and acting like a crazed tiger any time Theo comes near me with my medicated eye drops. The embarrassing selfie below is me after a couple days of using the serum and I have the Haloscope on my cheeks as well.

Color corrected for my scarf and lipstick, but left my skin alone.

Color corrected for my scarf and lipstick, but left my skin alone.

If you've never used a serum before or can't afford to get your dream serum quite yet, these are a really affordable alternative, comparatively. I would imagine that it's especially ideal for people in their early/mid twenties, who are just starting to take their next steps with taking care of their skin. But again, as I said, I've seen benefits on my craggy old 32 year-old (as of this coming Sunday, barf) and it's definitely better for my wallet than say, my dream Aesop stuff.

What do you think? Have you tried them out? I'll post a picture of the Haloscope when I get home from babysitting tonight. If you want to try out the Glossier stuff, click here for 20% off your first purchase!

Littles Fall Fashions

I'll have you know that it takes just the most tremendous amount of self-control to stop myself from purchasing baby clothes for my fictional future children. I love love loveeeeeee baby clothes. There is just nothing sweeter in the world. So you'll just have to deal while I indulge myself in some of my favorite fall fashion picks for wee ones. I gravitate towards gender neutral clothes and colors in general, though I can't resist a tiny baby dress when I see one! The Hanna Andersson jumper is giving me major Heidi on the mountain vibes and I LOVE IT. I would 100% wear it in my size. I'm loving the prevalence of rust in these kids' lines, and you put a baby in stripes and I am DONE. Take advantage of these Labor Day sales that are cropping up and snag some of these adorable little outfits for your babbies, fictional or no!


How is it Monday already? I need so many more sleeps! It's just never enough, am I right? I went out of town with my girlfriends this weekend and as always it was wonderful to get out of the city. The traffic on the way out there was brutal though, I'm definitely not used to being in cars anymore! Why do they go so fast? You'll be happy to know that despite being the most nauseous and carsick person on the planet I did not barf during our journey.

Speaking of being nauseous, if you know me you might be surprised to see the title of today's post as I am a vehement opponent of milk. No, I'm not vegan; cheese courses through my veins and I would bathe in milkshakes if I could. I just hate the taste and consistency and smell of regular, plain milk. I truly don't understand why anyone over the age of 16 drinks it, it actually horrifies me. Take a calcium pill and get a grip! Even as a child I'd have to put tons of chocolate in my milk to get it down, and, you guys? I don't really even like chocolate. It was just the only thing that made it palatable. When adults drink milk for pleasure, it truly boggles my mind. When I lived with my sister in Los Angeles, I came home from work one evening to find her and Theo sitting on the couch quietly watching TV and drinking milk in near total darkness. It was like walking in on a horror film, I'm sorry I didn't include a trigger warning just then.

So, it's funny that the new, trendy, supposedly cool girl makeup is a brand called Milk Makeup and I think that I love it. You can get it at Sephora, Urban Outfitters and very soon it'll be available at Birchbox as well. They're going down a similar marketing route that Glossier did, harnessing the power of social media and the appeal of the cool girl to get their products out to the masses. They're all about being "high concept, low maintenance." I was skeptical at first that it would be a low quality product, but I must admit to being pleasantly surprised! Not only are their products manufactured in an eco-friendly facility, but they're also cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, and made of high quality oils and natural ingredients.

I've yet to actually purchase any Milk products, but they've become my go-to makeup when I stop into Sephora to freshen up before going out after work. What? Everyone does it. I have to try stuff before I buy it! I am especially impressed with their highlighters, because I really thought they would be too oily and over the top for me. But I liked them so much that I even took a picture of their Holographic Stick next to their Highlighter on my arm so that you could see what they look like. I'm super into how highly pigmented the Holographic stick, it's so fun! And the lavender tint makes it extra space-agey. I was initially worried the highlighter would be too dark for my face skin, but it actually blends really beautifully and is the perfect subtle glow. I usually lean towards pearly highlighters, but the Milk highlighter made me look super dewy in a perfectly natural way. I was very pleased!

Left, Holographic Stick. Right, Highlighter.

Left, Holographic Stick. Right, Highlighter.

I also tried their Coverage Duo, thinking as I always do that it would do nothing for my insane under eye circles. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that not only is the actual coverage great, but the consistency of both the little marshmellow puff side and the pot side are really creamy without creasing. It was long lasting, hydrating, and blended beautifully. I will definitely be investing in this guy.

If you're interested in the brand I definitely recommend checking out their site before heading to Sephora, their concept is really interesting and I appreciate their commitment to their aesthetic. I also love the minimalist packaging. I also appreciate that they have videos of people trying their products on the site. It's just so helpful when trying to determine if they're worth buying! I'll be really interested to see where this company goes and what kind of products they roll out in the future. Would you try it out? Do you like drinking milk? Are you a monster or a child?

Re-Calibrating My Self-Care Routine

As I've mentioned before, my love of beauty is rooted in my belief in the importance of self-care. Do I love how pretty my nails look when I get a manicure? Yes, of course, duh, I'm a Libra and aesthetics are important to me. But the best part is that I get an hour all to myself, where I'm not pushing around a stroller, or answering emails on my phone, and I don't have a baby or a dog's hot, sweaty body pressed up against mine at all times. It's the same any time I take a moment to do something for myself, like masking, or getting my eyebrows and 'stache threaded (as much as it hurts!) It's a chance to exhale and briefly escape from the daily grind. For the most part, staying on top of my self-care routine is a priority and I am able to successfully incorporate it into my daily and weekly routines. But as with all things, it's easy to slip off it and get in a rut.

I'm super lucky that I get sent lots of products to test and write about for this blog as well as the various other sites I freelance for. You'd think with a relatively constant influx of beauty products that need to be tested and reviewed that I'd constantly be working on my beauty and taking care of myself, but to be honest, a lot of the time it just feels like work. So even though for the past few weeks I've been (thankfully) very busy working on lots of great projects and trying out awesome products, (which explains my absence here) I haven't exactly been taking care of myself, and it's shown in my anxiety levels and moods. A lot of it has to do with the time of year. August is gross; it's hot and humid, it's depressing because it's the end of summer, and I'm starting to feel all the impending weight of the end of the year beginning to bear down on me. I have been in serious need of a reboot.

First things first, I caved and got an air conditioner this weekend, which if you know me is almost unimaginable. I've always been highly resistant to air conditioners, firstly because I am sensitive to the dry air and to the cold, which sounds ridiculous but what can I do, I am who I am. Secondly, it kills me to know how bad air conditioners are for the environment. Even the so-called energy saving ones are such a drain, not to mention the flow of horrible shit it's expelling out into the air. It gives me the shivers just to think about. A lot of my anxiety is based in how we are harming the environment, and not having an AC has really helped me feel like I'm doing my part in staving off the inevitable apocalypse and calm those fears a bit. (In addition to a whole bunch of other hippie shit I partake in to assuage my guilt.) That said, the last few weeks have really taken a toll on me physically and emotionally. I'm fairly certain that I've had heat exhaustion with basically no relief. When I'm hot and melting and in a bad mood, I'm certainly not bothering to take care of my appearance in the slightest. And if I think I look like hot garbage, I'm most likely also feeling like hot garbage.

I've had the first good night's sleep in weeks since we got the AC on Sunday, and today I woke up feeling more like myself and less like a swamp demon from hell. I had a little (large) splurge at Glossier, and I can't wait to slap those masks on my face and finally try their Gen G lipstick, which I ordered it in Jam. I am in serious need of some exfoliation before I hit the beach on Thursday, and now that I can finally take a hot shower again I'm ready to scrub my skin til I'm as soft as a baby.

I highly encourage everyone to work on their self-care routines. For some people it includes working out, or meditating, or staying on top of flossing! It's easy to let the grind start to wear you down and not realize that you're slipping when it comes to taking care of your basic needs. And yes, I think self-care is part of our basic needs. Sometimes you just need to re-evaluate, try to figure out what's making you feel out of sorts, and try to make gentle, slight adjustments to bring yourself back to an even keel. It doesn't have to be some radical thing!

If you're needing a bit of a splurge to re-calibrate, click this link for 20% off at Glossier, those masks are perfect for taking a bit of time for yourself. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for taking care of yourself when you're starting to feel a bit out of whack! And when all else fails, swipe on some lipsticks and get thee to a giant, cold tiki cocktail!


For You and Me

Is there anything more unpleasant than a nasty summer cold? I am so glad it's behind me now, for the most part. I spent the entirety of yesterday laying in bed and it worked wonders. It's easy to forget how important it actually is to rest when you're sick; seems easy enough to remember logically, but in practice it's much harder. Even if you do have a day to rest it's so difficult to not turn it into a day of errands, or try to do something at night. But spending 24 hours doing absolutely nothing while laying in bed or on my couch kicked the cold out faster than all the zinc and turmeric and lemon juice in the world could have. I am reborn! Oh, has anyone seen The Night Of? It's a new procedural on HBO and thanks to my illness-induced couch laying I started it yesterday and it's so great and so stressful. Which apparently is all that TV is these days. Great and stressful.

I'm so excited that the Olympics are finally starting! As much as I loathe sports and sports culture, I am a huge fan of the Olympics and I await them excitedly every two years. I can't even decide if I love the winter games or the summer games more, they're all so great! I hope that there aren't too many infrastructure issues or safety issues that get in the way of them. It's such a shame that there is so much corruption and exploitation amid what should be a celebration of human accomplishment.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of joy and love. Don't forget to watch Simone Biles kick butt this weekend! Here's some links for your eyeballs and a little ditty for your heart.

Cosplay revenge.

Nicole Cliffe is hilarious and a national treasure and also a werewolf.

If only I lived in the country so I could really see this.

Love this kid.

I will never understand the urge to compliment someone's thinness.

Still having the same conversations, almost 40 years later.

"Do not lose hope. We found new hope. There is no hope..."

A cute cartoon about manners.

Our sad reality.

This article made me realize I had the same internalized misogyny as a child as well.

Revisiting A Love of Sentences.

I hope this is true because I am in the midst of my truest awkward hair phase.

I would like to eat this please.