There’s always this strange feeling for me that comes with the beginning of September. It’s bittersweet, it’s sad, it’s something that gives me this empty anxiety feeling. In a way that people get Seasonal Affective Disorder, I just chalked it up to being that – my mind not jiving well with diminished daylight and the existential knowledge that time is running out.
I tried to think about it more though, why does this affect me so deeply and personally? Why do I have that sad ache when the calendar changes and I get that first cool breath of wind on my skin as it’s still being warmed by a bright sun? It’s a muscle memory thing, it’s the way you’re reminded by a scent of someone long gone. The aching for a simpler time when I put on my crisp new clothes for the first day back at school. I was the kid that really enjoyed going back to school. New clothes, fresh notebooks, a clean slate for a new year… all of those things brought out an excited optimism within me. I miss that.
I miss the days when the whole family would spend chilly autumn days at the football field. I was a cheerleader for one solid year, my brother played football regularly and my dad was a coach while my mom was either volunteering in the concessions stand or sitting on the chilly metal bleachers with her mom squad. When I was in high school, Saturday mornings were spent sitting on those same bleachers freezing my literal ass with the rest of the marching band. Every other morning of the fall was spent early before school started practicing our routines out on the dewy and sometimes frosted football field. I hated it then, but I wish at this moment I could revisit it. You never know when the good old days are until you’re out of them.
It’s hard not to think about September 11th when this rolls around. When I have those bright, warm & clear autumn September days, it’s hard not to think “this is just like that day…” How I remember on a whim I went to NYC on September 4, 2001 just to be there, and would be the second and final time I’d visited the WTC.
The first of September simultaneously makes me mourn the end of another summer gone and be excited for the fun autumn activities that are to come. As my daughter gets bigger we can do more things with her that she can enjoy as well. I’m looking forward to going to the farm, pumpkin picking, baking, hay rides and hikes through crunchy leaves together this year.
As the calendar changes from August to September with intermittent crisp and warmer days, I take this time to acknowledge my nostalgia for days passed, and put my foot forward to embracing all the great things that are to come in the next few months. Load me up with that pumpkin spice, get me a hot cup of mulled cider and a fresh donut at the farm, and let’s get hella spoopy as Halloween arrives. I’m ready for you, Fall.
I get lots of whims. If you’re my friend, whenever I get really excited about something, I am giving you all the details about it and telling you how wonderful and life-changing it is. It’s as though I am your in-person resource for reviews on anything, whether you asked me or not. That’s also why I always review my purchases on Amazon. Because if I’m out there relying on other people’s reviews, my opinion needs to get in there as well. For the people.
The latest thing I’ve been on about for like a year now is a Korean Skin Care Regimen. I started getting interested in different Korean skin care products after I’d been visiting a local Korean sauna spa, known as a Jjimjilbang 찜질방. This spa is amazing, I spend the whole day there and leave with all my tension and worries gone, my skin softer than ever, and smelling like heaven. Initially I had some reservations about going here, because the “wet” part of the spa with the different therapeutic hot tubs, pools & body scrubs is completely naked. The naked areas are gendered so you’re not in mixed company. Once you’re in, it’s completely not even awkward. It’s just a bunch of ladies hanging out. This is where I first saw someone using a sheet mask, that they sold there for like $3. This was my initiation into the world of Korean beauty indulgences.
So after a year of dabbling and trying to figure out what works best for me, what my skin needs, and how I can really cultivate My Best Skin Ever, I feel pretty good about the products I’m using. It seems like a lot, or too many steps, or it will take a lot of time, but honestly I can do my routine in 5-10 minutes, more or less depending on how many extras I’m adding in that day. All in all, the only time in my life that my skin has looked better is when I was pregnant. I’ve had acne prone skin since I was 12 years old, and I finally feel like I am at a comfortable place where I can be makeup-free and feel confident about my bare skin.
The first part of my skin care routine is cleansing. More specifically, double-cleansing. I’d always been warned against too much face washing will strip your skin and cause breakouts even further, but this process is actually better for deep cleansing and keeping your skin balanced.
The first cleanser is an oil-cleanser. This part gets all the gunk off your face, makeup and skin oils. Oil attracts oil. I use Mamonde oil cleanser that I purchased at H-Mart. Initially, I only used oil cleanser at the end of the day if I’d worn makeup. However after reading some other people’s experience and recommendations, I started oil cleansing twice a day, every day, and it has helped my skin become less oily (surprise!) and my pores appear smaller.
The next step is a water-based cleanser. I have a few that I use depending on the day or what I feel like my skin needs. Nooni whipping cleanser I like because it’s fun to whip up the marshmallow-like fluff. Though it’s not a K-beauty product, I like Kiehl’s blue herbal gel when I feel like I might be getting a zit. Mizon Snail Cushion cleanser is a good foam cleanser, with the added benefits of snail mucin (more about that later).
Another part that has helped get my face extra clean is using a brush. Either a soft manual brush that is great during the rinsing stage, or once a day (in the evenings), a Clinique sonic brush, that is similar to the Clarisonic. I feel like this has really helped in getting all the gunk out of my pores, which has reduced the appearance of the pores.
After double-washing and drying my face comes the toner. I used to think toner was just a thing you used to further clean the junk out of your pores, as the stuff I’d been used to was astringent and a little stinging. Now, toner is gentle and moisturizing, and helps balance the pH of your skin. Skin with a balanced pH is less likely to break out, and helps the rest of your products work to their full potential. So far I have tried Mizon Moisture Barrier Toner, Oolu Jasmine Moisture Liquid and SkinFood Peach Sake Toner. The Jasmine and the Peach smell absolutely amazing, very light and the scent doesn’t really linger more than 2 minutes after applying. I don’t like heavy fragrances whatsoever, they will end up giving me a headache before long. Anything that smells too much gets the boot.
Essence, Ampoule, Gels, Serums
This is where it gets interesting. There are so many specific skin care concern products you can customize to what is bothering you from acne, hydration, anti-aging or lightening dark marks. I’m currently using a Snail Mucin Ampoule and a Recovery Snail Gel. Snail secretion is great for your skin. It sounds a little yucky and people might be grossed out by the thought of putting snail slime on their face, but we use a lot of weird ingredients for all sorts of things. Think about eggs. You eat a chicken failed pregnancy, basically. So why not put some snail goo on your face? It promotes healing, collagen and cell renewal, and keeps your skin hydrated & supple. From my own experience, it definitely helps fade acne marks more quickly than anything else. It has no scent and does not feel any more slimy than other serums you might consider using.
I’m also using a SkinFood Peach Sake Pore Serum, but because of it’s consistency, I’m using it closer towards the end of my routine. The rule of thumb for applying skin care products is light to heavy. So use the most watery thing first and use the creamiest thing last.
Yaaaaasss! This is probably my favorite part. If you’re friends with me on SnapChat (add me: an.alien), you have 100% gotten a weird photo of me in a sheet mask. These masks are a great way to get an intense dose of a specific serum all over your face. You put it on and leave it for about 20 minutes. Afterwards you rub in in and absorb all the rest of it’s juicy goodness. I’ll even rub the used mask on my chest and arms and not waste a single drop of its serum. There are a LOT of options to choose from, and range in price from $1 and up. I bought a big pack of 20 assorted masks at H-Mart one day that had things like lemon (brightening), green tea (soothing), collagen, aloe, royal jelly, placenta, ginseng and much more. I’ve bought a bunch at a Sheet Mask Store in Manhattan (in Korea Town, after having dinner at a really fun Korean BBQ place Jongro BBQ) and gotten anti-aging, acne, brightening and soothing from several different brands and some with fun animal-face prints on them. A popular brand is Tony Moly, it’s all over Amazon and in stores like Ulta, and is priced right for you to try a variety of them. Sheet masks are not something I use every day, maybe one or two nights a week depending if I have time to treat myself. Hollika Hollika has the fun animal masks, while Innisfree focuses more on clinical, adult-geared packaging & descriptions.
Thicker more hydrating creams go in here. I bought Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream from Amazon after reading it is a cult favorite. I’m almost finished with my jar of cream, and I gotta be honest, I don’t know if it’s really good for me. I can’t tell a difference good or bad, and I only use that one in the evening since it makes my skin look shinier if I use it during the day. I’m walking a fine line of needing to have moisturized, soft skin and trying to not get oily skin. I’ve found that the SkinFood Peach Sake Emulsion helps, my skin is soft and matte after using this, so it works day or night. If my skin is extra dry, at night, I use Clinique Moisture Surge cream.
I’m on the lookout for a good eye cream right now. I had a bad reaction to one I was using, made my eyes itchy. There’s a lot of good options out there for anti-aging and dark circle concerns, and I’m leaning towards another Mizon product. What can I say, I like the brand. Though I have read that the Snail Essence Ampoule is good enough on it’s own to use under the eyes. So I’m not sure what I’ll get yet.
About once a week, I use a mild exfoliant, Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel. I use this in the morning, in the shower, after I wash my face. It’s very gentle and visibly effective.
I like clay masks for purifying my pores … I just ordered a carbonated clay mask that bubbles, so I’m interested in seeing how that turns out! It’s been mentioned on a lot of must-try lists lately.
The proof is in the pudding though, so here is a photo comparing me in April and June. It was to show off my hair, but it is of note I am wearing minimal makeup (only eye) in one photo and no makeup in the other. My skin really is in a good place right now, I feel good leaving the house without makeup, without waking up with the dread of “having” to do a full face.
Eye contact. It can be used to convey messages, or simply to express “yes, I am listening.”
I’ve been encountering so many idiots that I’ve got to wonder “is it me?” Am I the problem? Am I not doing enough with my verbal or non-verbal communication to actually relay things to people?
The other day some weirdo came into my office soliciting some shit. I have no idea what though, since I couldn’t understand what he was saying with his thick accent. Because of my desk, I couldn’t really see him from the knees down, and someone I work with was passing through the hall and saw me talking to this guy. She informed me later that she had to stop herself from bursting out laughing because he was wearing these:
I get it’s cultural attire. I wouldn’t have laughed at him if I saw it. I might have been surprised, surely, being that they didn’t exactly coordinate with the rest of the suit. Elves tend to wear something a little more At least it’s not sandals. There is a large Indian population where I live and work, and they will wear sandals until the snow is falling on their toesies. I don’t know how they do it. Anyways, I was doing the polite “Thank you for stopping by, but we’re not interested.” And he was just not getting it. Just giving me this intense look and then “well we can open an account real quick.” And I’m just like Oh no. I don’t want to do that. But have a good day. Cue some more weird eye contact. Like…. “have a good day” is your dismissal. You can go now.
This morning I go to Dunkin Donuts on my way to work. The drive-thru line looks long so I figure I will go inside. Even though it’s hella cold, getting out of the car also gives me a chance to dispose of accumulated car trash as well. So I get in, and there is one lady ordering in front of me and it seems like A Hassle. Her order is finally complete and I’m up and this young guy kind of wanders away… first behind a door next to the register, then he yells something over to the other workers. He comes back to the register and after a weird pause where he’s just looking at me he goes “how can I help you?” Like ok maybe I didn’t just start blabbing my order out before you spoke because you are not giving any indication that you are at all prepared for this interaction. So I start saying what I want, and he cuts me off two words in, and begins yelling at the other workers again. So I’m like “uh ok…” out loud. And then he’s like ok what can I get you, and that repeats once more with me getting cut off so he can yell something. At this point I’m visibly annoyed, because then he starts apologizing and I’m like OK ARE YOU READY NOW??? And then I hear a manager come out and she yells at everyone to get their shit together because it’s a different problem every 5 minutes and this is Dunkin Donuts, not NASA. I laughed.
Anyways, I’m trying to have significant eye contact with people because we live in A Society, but since Trump’s been elected all forms of human normalcy are slowly eroding away so I guess this is just life now.
There, I said it. I. Am. A. Sucker. Sell me something and I’m buying it. I see a commercial and I want the thing. I am susceptible to limited-time only foods (I ate the hot dog from Burger King and you won’t believe what happened! [diarhhea]) and as-seen-on-tv items in a serious way.
Things I’ve Bought from As-Seen-On-TV
Oxy Clean (before it got popular)
U Glu Adhesive Strips
Rapid Defrosting Tray
Shark Rotator Vacuum (this is actually a really good vacuum 10/10 would buy again)
and many more!
Emails about sales at stores I like, they know my soul. But the one that gets me on a daily friggin basis is clickbait articles. I hate myself as I’m clicking on them to see “what happens next will amaze you” headlines. I know it’s going to be stupid, underwhelming or schmaltzy but I do it.
Then I thought …. wait a second…. those clicks…. could be MY clicks!
What if people were clicking on MY blog?
So I set out to do a thing. I was pretty vague. I see a lot of “I ______ for a week, and here’s what happened” articles. They intrigue and annoy me in equal parts. I’m also still fat so I’m like ok let’s do some kind of weight loss thing for a week and then blog about it.
“I ate like my infant daughter for a week…. and here’s what happened.”
Go on a diet based on only foods that I would feed to my baby! Long story short, she now eats McDonald’s because of my dedication to the story.
She eats very healthy. When I was doing this project, she ate mostly purees, which I made at home myself (#humblebrag) – applesauce, pears, peaches, carrots, peas, squash, oatmeal, yogurt. She ate some baby crackers, puffs and yogurt melts as she was starting out on finger foods.
But the fact of the matter is, I can’t stick to a diet under normal circumstances. So I also got my BFF to go in on this with me, and we vowed to snapchat each other pictures of everything we ate. Here are some of my photos….
I ate things like applesauce, yogurt, salad, fruit, hummus, oatmeal, cous cous, chicken, vegetables and crackers.
What happened? I lost like 10 pounds in a week. No joke.
Now I’m over here lamenting “waaaaah I need to lose weight” as though I don’t know how. I clearly CAN when I put my mind to it. I. Just. Don’t. Like. It. Eating healthy sucks, getting my food ready sucks, having to think about things in advance and plan meals sucks. I didn’t even last the whole week on this diet, only 5 days-ish. And I LOST 10 POUNDS. What the fuck self, maybe if you apply yourself to trying just a little bit every day instead of trying to do some weird click-bait article, magical things will happen.
I’ve gotten to that point where I’ve tried too many weird diets that I don’t even remember how to eat the health. Are apples still good? Do I eat carbs? Don’t talk to people who eat gluten? What’s a quinoa? And Dear Sweet Lord Please God No Kale.
clothes look good
I just got an ice cream maker for my birthday
I really like ice cream
Brownies go good with ice cream
Worried about decreasing breastmilk supply
All in all, my week-ish of eating basic, healthy foods that I’d let my baby eat taught me that I can eat better but I just don’t.
So when you go to the hospital to have that uterine-dweller make their grand entrance into the world, you’re going to need some things. Technically, you don’t need anything because ladies can pop one out on the freeway or in the elevator or parking lot of the hospital and never once cry about not having their stupid chapstick. I can be an over-packer for any vacation and I didn’t want to be that way for a hospital stay that would be 2-4 days max. So, here is my real life list of what to pack and what to ditch.
1. A Bag
Some checklists have you pack a small bag for labor and a larger bag for your hospital stay. I didn’t do that. I just packed one bag. I did not get a fancy bag or bring my suitcase. It was one of those quilted duffle bags from the craft store that they always have a giant bin of next to the entrance. I think they’re supposed to look like Vera Bradley. And honestly I have no frickin clue why you’d spend $100+ on a Vera Bradley ugly print bag when you can have an AC Moore ugly print bag for less than $20. I got the black and white one from the photo above.
2. A Robe
A robe was nice to have after delivery. Your hormones will be wacked the fuck out for a while which will make your body temperature fluctuate. Couple that with the hospital being freezing cold at times. They kept L&D very chilly because laboring moms are muy caliente. This robe comes in handy at home too and is good for opening up a flap and breastfeeding.
3. Lip Balm
Chapstick. Specifically EOS is the one I’m in love with. This isn’t specifically related to labor I guess, but I always want chapstick around because when I don’t have it, I sorely miss it.
The hospital will give you the weird non-skid prison socks, but when you’re walking the halls trying to move labor along, slippers are nice. I got the ballet ones shown above, and the slip on ones as well from Kohl’s.
5. Fuzzy Socks
Uh I got these really good socks from Christmas Tree Shop. They have the non-skid bottoms and they’re longer than regular socks. They were big too, which is good. If you have a c-section, they pump you full of fluids before hand. I was more bloated and swollen AFTER birth than before. I couldn’t wear regular shoes and the smaller socks I had didn’t fit. So get some comfy fuzzy socks.
Maybe don’t bring it because I left mine at the hospital by accident. But it was nice to have one big nice pillow instead of trying to make a bunch of shitty hospital pillows work.
What I used: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, moisturizer, deodorant, travel hair dryer. That’s it, just the basics. You don’t need to get fancy. You just crapped out a baby, you don’t need to be a hero.
8. Clothes to go Home
Don’t fuck around like you’re gonna look good. See above, re: crapping out a baby. Yoga pants and a maternity t-shirt and flip flops is how I cruised on out of the hospital. You might think “a maxi dress” would work well, but you would be wrong, because you need some real pants to hold up the industrial sized maxi pad that you’re riding like a pony.
9. Clothes for the baby to go Home
I had my baby when it was warm out so we put her in some footie pajamas and put a blanket around her in the car seat and she was good to go. Don’t get too fancy. Baby needs to be warm, and you’re going to need to change them often, so easy-open pj’s are best. Dresses don’t do that great in a car seat.
10. Extra long phone charger
Hospitals don’t have a lot of outlets for you to use. Get a 10 foot phone charger, it has come in handy a lot.
11. Nursing Pillow
I did not bring this with me but wished I had. It is far superior to Boppy, first of all. Second of all, trying to use the hospital pillows in assisting with breastfeeding positions was useless. Buy My Breastfriend nursing pillow and bring it with you.
12. Nipple Cream
Your nipples will be on fire for a few weeks, not gonna lie. Use this before you even have discomfort, after every feeding, starting at the hospital. My lactation consultant recommended this at the breastfeeding class I took before I even gave birth and it was a lifesaver. BoobEase Organic Nipple Balm
What I did not need/bring
Makeup. I know some women like makeup a lot more than I do, but I had bigger problems than my under-eye circles and knew well in advance I’d not be assed to give one flying fuck about putting makeup on. Once I was showered and dressed, that was enough of a happy transformation for me. I was not going to win any beauty.
Pads. I knew the hospital would have them, and was told to take as many freebies as I could.
What I brought that I ended up not needing
Those tennis balls to help with back pain during labor. I ended up having a c-section so it was a moot point.
Nightgowns… I just wore my hospital gown. Even more WTF in my mind is the women who order fancy custom-made hospital gowns. Really why? Does a chevron-print blood and milk stained hospital gown enhance the birthing experience somehow?
Change: all the lists said bring change for the vending machine but that wasn’t really a concern. Plus my hospital had an Au Bon Pain and was within a block of a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks.
Snacks. I know, surprise right? Me, the queen of snacks, did not need snacks. I ate what the hospital provided and didn’t have the time or appetite to be lounging around and eating much more. On the plus side, I had those Nutella snack packs to bring home and eat for a few weeks.