Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Well-Edited Life (Living with Less Series)

I'm working at Panera most of today on my (thank you tiny baby jesus) last comp.

American cinematic masterpiece. For sure.

But I like to start my mornings with something inspirational - a song I love, a quote, a short article - and this morning I found this, from one of my favorite sites, The Minimalists.

Their basic premise here is that when you edit your life, or your writing, or your belongings, or your relationships consciously and down to what truly matters, you give those things more meaning.

This isn't to say that a 900-page book is full of superfluous writing, but that a 200-page book can be just as meaningful, and perhaps easier to get the full meaning.

This line in particular really spoke to me:

"Sure there’s an infinite amount of materials with which to build our lives, but sometimes the best way to build is to subtract. The best lives are often well-edited, carefully curated lives."

There are infinite "things" in life, but often the best way to really enjoy life to the fullest is to subtract.

So I started thinking about my writing, which is a HUGE part of my life. I mean, I basically, in the next 3 years, have to finish this comp, present my research to the department and...oh yeah...write a book. And I write on the side here, and write conference papers, and write book chapters, and basically just write and read the vast majority of the time I'm awake.

I'm that kid who reads the cereal box at breakfast. I can't help it.

But when I got to thinking about it, I realized that I write like I live. I physically and mentally can't write a 5-page paper...unless it was supposed to be a 2-page one. My comps are supposed to be about 35 pages each, and so far I've turned in a 35-page one (for the professor who made me cut out so much stuff in every paper for him, and has improved my writing exponentially), a 55-page one, a 42-page one (for the professor who told me, after the fact, that 10 or 15 pages would have been fine...), and the last one is shaping up to be around 45.

I tend to make an outline, and get really organized...and then just kind of lose focus until I panic and, luckily, churn out relatively good stuff.

When I write anything, it's filled with information, with page-long footnotes, with more than is required, with good work but a lot of it, an almost overwhelming amount.

Does this make me an overachiever?

Or too cluttered?

I have a bad habit of using 10 words when 3 would suffice. Although at this point I'm really just writing words down and hoping they make sense, since I have to be done with this last one in 15 days and I just want to start on my own research, and it's pass/fail so it doesn't have to be my masterpiece, but I think I'm going to try to start writing more selectively, or at least more consciously.

This entire year has been about evaluating my life. When you're in your 20's, things you do are just things you do - but I feel like the closer I get to 30, the more those things aren't just habits, they're a part of who I am.

I've been editing my friends. Which sounds really awful, but I want, and deserve, to be surrounded by people who add something to my life and who I can do the same for.

I've been editing my possessions.

I've been editing my experiences, trying to commit only to the things I really want to, while at the same time not hermit-ing up.

I've been editing my health, adding in things that make me feel better (running, walking, eating healthier, skin care) and subtracting things that don't (junk food, lack of sleep, excess drinking, sleeping with my makeup on).

**I'm only marginally ashamed at the vast number of fitness quotes I've pinned and look at daily for inspiration. I am not an inspirational quote kind of girl, but I'm also not a running without being chased by zombies kind of girl, so I guess it works. 

And now I need to edit my writing, which is my profession for all intents and purposes. The better I get at writing now, the more capable of a writer and researcher and teacher I am now, the better chance I have of getting that job that makes me happy and allows me to do what I love.

I'm not perfect (oh boy), and I don't want to be, but I do want to try to focus on what's important, both personally and doing the thing I love most of all (no matter how much I bitch about it) - writing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eating Consciously - An Experiment

So I've been thinking a lot about eating lately.

Not in the "I want to eat all the foodz!" way so much, but the "How can I change my eating to be healthier for both me and the environment?" way.

My brother is thinking about becoming a pescetarian, and that's an awesome plan. The more I learn about farming in this country, the more disturbed I am by the ways animals are treated and the resources we're using and depleting.

I read an article about de-beaking the other day. Go look it up. You'll hate me, but you'll hate big chicken farmers even more.

Then I saw this on Facebook this morning:

Chickens actually are evil, but the point is pretty clear. 

That said, I don't think I can totally give up meat. Partially for health reasons - I have really low iron, and I don't eat beans or a lot of other plant-based protein foods, so a certain amount of animal protein is kind of necessary for me. Maybe not medically, but to feel okay, I need to have a little bit. 

I also HATE fake meat. Like, beyond the fact that it's processed within an inch of its (plant) life, it just skeeves me out. More than killing Hitler hating chickens does. 

And I would never be vegan. I do think most people get too much dairy, but I don't think that, assuming you buy milk, eggs, and cheese from local, ethical farmers, that those products hurt animals in the same way murdering them does. And I like leather. 

But I want to change something. 

I need to eat more vegetables and fruits, and meat is really expensive. 

So I'm going to stop buying meat, except fish, for the month of August. I can eat whatever I want out, since there's no way I'm going to be able to eat salad while everyone else has bacon and steak and all that. 

I don't even know that this is really an ethical thing, honestly, as much as it is a money/experimental/can I do this? thing. 

Eventually, I would like to switch to a totally pescetarian diet at home, with only occasional indulgences out. 

I think it will be cheaper, let me see if I can/want to give up most meat, and be a kind of fun social experiment.

Or you'll find me at 3 am eating bacon and snarling in the middle of my kitchen floor. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


The Dalai Lama absolutely did not say this. He may think it,* but he didn't say it. 

(It's actually from a book called Life's Little Instruction Book by Jackson Brown. I hate when people misattribute quotes, but I like this image, and I'm telling you not to believe it, because most things on the internet are lies.)

I'm not sure if it's my intense distaste for my comps, which have taken longer than I think they should have, or if it's just the weird weather in Memphis, or if it's not having any money and therefore not being able to do what I want all the time, or if it's just that I haven't traveled much this summer, but wow, I've got the travel bug bad.

I always kind of do. I love to travel.

I don't really like flying, but I like going out and seeing the world, and I love road trips.

I've been a lot of places, especially for a girl who grew up insanely poor in small-town Arkansas.





Raleigh, NC.

Little Rock, AR.

Salt Lake City, UT.

New Orleans, LA.

Madison, WI.

Branson, MO.

Memphis, TN.

And a ton of other little places.

But lately, the past few weeks, I've really NEEDED to go somewhere.

Anywhere really.

I'd love to go back to Europe, but it's so expensive, and I really need to save some money this year so I can do a bigger, extended research trip to England and Germany next year.

I'd love to go back to any most of the places I've been.

But I think I need to follow the advice the Dalai Lama didn't give me and go someplace new.

New York?



Atlanta? (Actually I may go there for a conference in the fall...)

Anyone have a good city suggestion to satisfy my travel urges?

And a couch I can crash on? :)

*I saw the Dalai Lama speak one time, and I absolutely think he would encourage people to travel and see the world. He's a funny guy, and his book (that he actually did write) is one of my favorites.

**All the pics of places I haven't been are from wikipedia. Don't sue me. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bastille Day

For the past two years, I've had an annual Bastille Day party.

Because, really, everyone has Fourth of July parties. Why not have a Bastille Day party?

Well, and, I was supposed to get married on Bastille Day, and having a giant party with all my friends prevents me from sitting around being sad/bitter/angry, and allows me to be thankful that my life is awesome.

It's basically a lot of wine, a lot of cheese, and some great people.

And a hell of a lot of fun.

Grocery shopping, French style. Small basket, crusty bread, buttery croissants, cheese, and flowers. And my red toenails! Also, a shout out to the super nice new Kroger on Highland. 

 Basically one of my favorite cheeses ever. Like, this spread on a croissant or some bread or my fingers = heaven. 

The flowers I got, in a Phi Mu vase from my big, Allyn! Also the cow cream holder - even though I've had cream in my coffee once in my life, and that was in London. He's cute. Oh, and the lovely tablecloth my mom picked out for me. 

 Fridge O' Beer. This is the initial stocking - my roommate had to go get a couple more cases. Don't you wish you had a swank fridge like me? :(
I made little flags for the cheese. None of this was left at the end of the night. I don't know why there's a can opener on the counter. 
Side note: The can opener seems to be out a lot. Is someone using it as a bottle opener, because I feel like we have about 12 of those, so it's not really necessary. 

The carb-y side of things. I also had little chocolate cookies, but someone moved them out from under the light, but didn't move the sign I made describing what they were. I'm not totally sure why I try to be classy anymore. Also pictured, Kyra's amazing butter cookies. And the Penguin!

Troy's koozie that lived at our house for a few days. You classy people and your koozies. 

Playing a party game. In the background there are a lot of wine bottles and my great Paris print. I don't know what this game was (I'm not sure the person running it knew honestly) but it was fun, and after we played my favorite, the one where you write down a famous person's name, pass it to the right, and they put it on their forehead, and have to guess who they are. I was Curious George. 

Bastille Day Twins! And the owner of the koozie. Come get your koozie bro! Also, in case you can't tell, it was a million degrees in my apartment, and that's about 10 minutes after I straightened my hair. Curly girl problems. 

The house was absolutely not trashed the next day, but these two (and Campbell) were worn out. Oliver is an introvert, and Petunia wanted to jump on everyone and beg, so she had to watch from her crate. I know how they felt!

So Bastille Day was a success. Next year I want to do a few things different, but the number of people who come every year grows, so I must be doing something right. Our new neighbors, who are awesome, came down (they had just moved in that day!), and a bunch of people I didn't know came as friends of friends, and everyone seemed to have a good time, so success!

Mark your calendars for the Third Annual Bastille Day Party, July 12th, 2014!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beauty Review: How to Look the Best at Everything by Benefit

I am constantly searching for the right face makeup.

My skin is pretty light, but kind of uneven, and, no matter how much I take care of it, and I do take really good care of my skin, it still gets dry in patches and shiny in others.

I talked about my Clinique compact that I bought, and I still like it and keep it in my purse, but I'm not sure my skin likes it. Plus I think it's a little heavy for this insane humidity we're having.

Basically it slides right off.

So a few weeks ago (before my insane poverty...ugh, come on fall!) I went to Sephora looking for some good concealer.

I used Murad treatment concealer for a long time, and I like it, but I don't really have much acne, or at least not as much as I just have general unevenness. And it's a great treatment, but the colors aren't great for me and it's not as concealing as I'd like.

The sales girl steered me towards Stila, which is fine, but it's a little oily for me.

I know I'm sounding a little Goldilocks right now.

*Yes, that's a Goldilocks My Little Pony. I have a TON of MLPs and my brother is a brony. This was too perfect. Via

So I looked around for a bit, trying to find something I liked. I recently got the Benefit "Bad Gal" mascara as a free gift and really liked it, so I decided to look at the Benefit stuff, even though I've never worn it. 

Basically, I'm in love. 

I looked at the concealers by themselves, and the pore minimizing "POREfessional," but wasn't sure, and I definitely wasn't sure on the color of the concealer. And then I saw this beauty:

*Via Sephora.

Beyond the fact that I'm a sucker for fun names (seriously - I buy nail polishes mostly based on the name. That weird purple color looks a lot cuter when it has a funny name.) this was the perfect way to try a ton of products, and have the ability to mix concealer colors, for way cheaper than I could have any other way. 

This whole kit was $30. 

Let's break it down: 

- 0.25 oz The POREfessional
- 0.23 oz Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow SPF 25 PA+++ in "Cheers To Me" Champagne (light kit); "I'm so Money!" Honey (medium kit); "I'm so Glamber" Amber (deep kit)
- 2 x 0.05 oz Boi-ing in 01 and 02 (light kit); 03 and 04 (medium kit); 04 and 05 (deep kit)
- 0.14 oz "Hello Flawless!" in "Me, Vain?" Champagne (light kit); "I’m Cute as a Bunny" Honey (medium kit); "I'm Haute for Sure” Amber (deep kit)

So they're small sizes, but let's compare to the full-sizes, with reviews of each:

The POREfessional full size is 0.75 oz. That's 3 times what you get in the kit, but this guy alone is $30. And absolutely well-worth it - it's like a miracle cream. But I would probably not spend $30 on some, admittedly, kind of gimmicky thing without trying it first. VOILA! Problem solved. But seriously, this stuff is amazing. It looks tinted, but I don't see a tint on my fingers when I put it on. 

Here's about how much I use:

*I had some wine last night, and since I'm old, I'm super dehydrated. I need two coffees. Don't judge.

Here's my face with NOTHING.

*Super dry skin, kind of blotchy, and the fluorescent lights don't help. Oh, the office.

So let's start adding!

First I put the POREfesssional on, then a little of this:

The Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Brightening Makeup is 1 oz in the full size, and is $36. So about 4 times the size, but, again, would I really buy $36 foundation? Especially when so much foundation out there is...not good? 
I really like this. It's not a miracle worker like the POREfessionial, but I absolutely feel like I get coverage, sunscreen, and moisture without too much of anything and without feeling like I have cake makeup on. My only complaint is the bottle is a disaster - I think I've gotten more foundation on the inside of the lid than I have on myself. But it's absolutely worth it, especially if you have combination skin. 

So I didn't really get the "boi-ing" name at first. Now I do. This is, by far, the best, springiest, least likely to give you raccoon eyes or settle in your (my) wrinkles, concealer I've ever used. It's like a weird combination between concealer and one of my other favorite products, Soap & Glory's Fill Monty:

*Via Soap & Glory
I love this stuff too (and can I please move to the UK where S&G stuff is way cheaper and sold everywhere? Thanks.), and it's kind of a pastier cream texture. So take this plus a stick concealer and that's the boi-ing concealer. 

I use the lighter color, 01, most of the time, but sometimes if I have an especially large bit to cover, the ability to blend 02 in really helps. And I definitely get all day coverage. I have to reapply the powder once or twice if I want to go all day and evening, but I've never had to reapply the concealer. 

You get two .05 oz. portions in the kit, and the full size is .1 oz. The full size is $20, and you get two smaller ones in the kit, so it's especially good to figure out what color you need. 

There's also this:

This is thHello Flawless!" in "Me, Vain?" Champagne, with SPF 15. The sample is .14 oz, and the full size, which is $34, is .25 oz. 

I love this powder, and it honestly feels better on my skin than the Clinique. Maybe it's just summer, but I feel like this is both less heavy and has better coverage. This is absolutely a case where I needed to try the color, since I would probably have gone one lighter, but this is perfect. 

Here's with POREfessional, foundation, concealer, and powder, but no eye or lip makeup, and no highlighter/blush:

*Stumpy blonde eyelashes and all. You can see the huge difference in shine, tone, and especially evenness. 

I honestly feel like this gives me that flawless, almost airbrushed face I've seen on girls my whole life but never been able to get. Highly recommend, especially if you don't want to reapply constantly. 

Seriously, it's hot in Memphis. The fact that I made it til about 2 today without thinking, huh, I'm kind of shiny is a miracle. 

Here's with everything - face kit, "Bad Gal" mascara, no eyeshadow (lazy...), and Benefit's "Sugarbomb" lip gloss:

*I look a little paler here, but it's just the light really. SO MUCH BETTER than the first one, even if I'm still forced to work under these lighting conditions. :)

So let's do some math. Anyone who knows me knows I never do math, so this is a real sacrifice people. I'm assuming that each piece in the kit is $6, since, ya know, $30 divided by 5 is $6: 

Powder - $34 full size, $6 half size
Concealer 01- $20 full size, $6 half size
Concealer 02 - $20 full size, $6 half size
Foundation - $36 full size, $6 quarter size 
POREfessional - $30 full size, $6 third size

If you bought all of those in full sizes, you'd pay $140. I'm absolutely sure I'd use all of these products, but, honestly, if you didn't like a color, or didn't use one as much, that would be so much money wasted! 

Basically, by buying the kit, you pay $30 for $56 worth of products. So you're still saving money.  


*My best friend from college (Hi Courtney!) and I used to watch Sandra Lee ALL. THE. TIME. We're both obsessed and horrified. 



In the kit, you also get a little "how to use this stuff" guide, which, yeah, I know how to use powder, but wouldn't this be a cute gift for like a teenage cousin? And I didn't know what to do with the pore minimizer, so it was really helpful. It also has a little mirror in the lid. And it looks like a book. 

So here's my plan. I'm going to use this kit and then when I make money again (again, come on fall!) I'm going to buy another one and the full size products, since I love them. 

And then I'm going to put the kit in my purse. 

Because sometimes you need to touch up.

Sometimes you need to do your makeup at work. 

Sometimes you go out and intend to come home and just don't make it back before work/other things where you have to see people not looking awful. 

Sometimes you stay out

And how perfect would this little, book shaped kit be to just keep in  your purse? 

Super perfect. 


*Oh Cougar Town. 

*One of my favorite movies. Also, I clearly identify with blondes. This has me rethinking my "I'm going red!" hair decision...

There are a few other Benefit products I want to try. Kate at The Small Things Blog reviewed the Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer, and loved it, so I'd like to try that. Their cream eyeshadows look like they would be a good introduction to creams for me. And the tinted moisturizer with SPF would be really nice for going out on the lake or lounging by the pool - when you want to look good but don't want a bunch of makeup + sunscreen on. 

Days like this: 

*Pool day!

One of the best things about Benefit is that they're likable as a company. They don't test on animals, but they don't say they're not cruelty free, which I actually like, because, honestly, that's super hard to guarantee. They can't absolutely guarantee that none of the products in their products haven't been tested on animals, and they don't want to mislead anyone. Which is really transparent and honest to me. Hopefully at some point nothing will be tested on animals, ever, but until then we can be educated consumers and trust companies like Benefit that stand behind their products while admitting the problems in the cosmetics industry. 

So if you like products, and like trying new stuff but have commitment issues like I do (don't let the tattoos fool you), I would try this kit. It comes in 3 shades, and is available for sure at Sephora, probably at Ulta, on Amazon, and it looks like, for my UK readers, at Boots


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living with Less - Update

So last week, I wrote about Living with Less, both literally less stuff and emotionally making room for the important experiences and people I want to have in my life.

This week, two people have made that decision easier for me and gone ahead and removed themselves.

I don't like losing people. If I had it my way, I'd love and smoosh the people I care about forever.

But sometimes people make that really hard.

The first person was actually the one I talked about in the last post. Just through not communicating in any way with me, he's basically gone from my life. I don't dislike him, we just, like I said, want different things.

The real killer though is the second person, who is also, sadly, family.

I love my family. My mom is my best friend (Mater Woccasin!), my brother is the coolest "kid" I know, my sister is amazing, my stepdad is the best a girl could ask for. (Seriously, the man fixes my car and makes me patty melts at 2 am. Just sayin'.) My extended family is great, even the ones I don't agree with, and there are a ton of them.

But most of my family I can either ignore their political and moral views (your standard conservatism - dislike marriage equality, really zealously preach-y Christian, anti-choice, Obama hate, racially biased, etc) because you can't change people. Me telling my relatives that it's morally wrong for us to treat people like second class citizens just based on their bits or who they love (and that god made them that way...) isn't going to convince them to change. I just have to love them anyway. Or, like my cousin Sam, who does not fall into those categories but is certainly more conservative than I am, I want to have a fair, fun conversation that actually leads to both of us learning more about the other, and opens up some interesting political debates.

So basically I'm an ignore (and point out flagrant fallacies when I see them, cause, sorry, y'all, snopes isn't hard to use) or debate intelligently kind of girl.

But sometimes that just can't happen.

Yesterday, on my Facebook page (so yes, this is FB drama) I posted a story about the royal baby. I care quite a bit, since, ya know, I study the British monarchy. And my thought is that, first, I'm glad Americans realize that the rest of the world exists* and, second, that we can have happy news that, even if you don't like the monarchy or Britain or colonialism or mushy peas or whatever, you can't blame a baby for, or Will and Kate personally. So it's happy news. Let's be happy, because I'm sure the rest of the news is generally awful.

And I want the internet to stop judging me for it.

*I had a student ask me before I went to London in the spring how I would respond to emails since, basically, he didn't think Europe had the internet. Yeah.

99% of the comments were "yeah, happy news is great," or, "I don't particularly care about this, but you're right." Or "Hooray Prince Shinylocks!"

And then one of my relatives commented.

This person used to be one of my favorite people. And even now, although i find their political views to be morally and practically wrong, I still think they are a genuinely good person who is stubborn, and, to me, wrong, and absolutely acting in a way that makes their claim to be Christian laughable, but I still love them.

They said, on a post about how we should celebrate happy news and not get bogged down by politics because BABIES!, something along the lines of, "AREN'T YOU GLAD THEY WERE PRO-LIFE."

What the fuck.

Beyond the fact that that statement just doesn't make any sense, since I can't think of any pro-choice person who thinks abortions should happen all the time or in a circumstance where people want a baby, and have said, many times, that they would like children, and the child is healthy, and the parents have the means and desire to care for it, that's completely going against the spirit of what I was trying to do.

I just wanted to look at the cute baby and Kate's beautiful hair.

And be happy for a minute before some other member of society does something stupid and horrible.

So I deleted the comment and sent the standard form email from FB that's like "I didn't like your comment, yo."

And then this person emailed me, basically saying that I shouldn't have sent that because I don't "own Facebook."

Which is true.

I wish I did own Facebook.

But I don't.

However, I feel like I have a right to monitor what people say on my wall, and to tell people when I disagree with them.

Long story short, this person, who I thought once cared about me quite a bit, said that they would make it easy for me, and then unfriended me.

Getting unfriended isn't a crisis. But I feel like I got punished for standing up for myself. And that pisses me off.

This person has implied that I'm mooching off the government for going to school still. Like I'm taking a billion years on purpose, or like I don't have a scholarship that I won.

They continually make me feel bad about my life choices and beliefs.

And now they can't even engage in grown-up conversation.


I'm upset, because losing people sucks.

But I can't keep people who are emotionally abusive and destructive in my life.

Especially when they remove themselves.

And this isn't the first time this person has been like this to me or someone I love.

I still care about them. And anytime they want to build our relationship back up, I'm here.

But I'm done feeling like I did something wrong. Like I'm the bad guy.

I'm just the girl who won't be a doormat anymore.

That doesn't mean I don't care about what people think,* or that I won't take a certain amount of silliness from people I care about. But when people make it clear that they don't want to try, or to have anything to do with me, I'm going to quit trying so damn hard.

*Anyone who got a "I rearranged the living room and I'm afraid my roommate (who is literally the most laid-back person I've ever met) won't like it!" freak out texts from me yesterday can attest to the fact that I absolutely still care about what people think.

My mom may have said it best:

"When you stand up for yourself, some people just aren't going to like it."

In other news, the stack of physical stuff I'm getting rid of is also growing. Which my roommate will like. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historical Research

It's rarely glamorous.

Yeah, I get to go to London, and Paris, and Prague, and all kinds of fun and exciting places.

And I absolutely love what I do. Most of the time.

And it's fun to find new things, and have intellectual conversations about them.

But then there's this:

And that's a lot less glamorous. 

But I still love it. 

My best advice to people who want to go to grad school? 

Love this: 

And this: 

As much as you love this:

*The British Library, which, yeah, it's cool, but it's also my own personal research hell.

Because, no matter how cool your topic, or how interesting your research, much more of your time is spent reading, researching, and digging through piles of papers. Sometimes you get to do that in London, but it's still tedious, no matter where you are. 

And today I'm holed up at Panera working my little fingers to the bone typing up my last comp. 

Good thing I love being a history nerd. :)