DIY Pore Strips: Getting To Know Your Ingredients

Pore strips: the most entertaining grossness-based bathroom activity this side of the neti pot.  Also?  Not cheap.  A while back I came across Michelle Phan’s video for pore strips and thought “huh, that seems neat,” and then forgot about it for about a year and a half, obviously.  Listen, The Lucy just told me she took my advice on Makeup Forever’s HD Foundation after two years, therefore two years is an acceptable and standard unit of procrastination BE IT SO ORDERED.

Anyway, to make your own pore strips, you take a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin and a tablespoon of milk, mix them up, nuke ’em for 10 seconds, then slop it on your nose (or wherever) and let it dry.  Here’s Michelle’s video.
I tried this today, and I have to say I’m kind of lukewarm on the result.  It may be that I pulled it off a little early, because I’m not good at being patient about pore strips in the best circumstances, but I didn’t find the experience as thrilling as the storebought version.  That said, it did take a bunch of the oil off my face, and that’s a plus.  Here are the pros and cons of my personal experience with this method.


  • Not as effective at dredging stuff out of your pores.  While oil came off easily (yay!) I got a minimum of those creepy plugs that come up with the Biore strips. 
  • You have to find Knox gelatin.  If you can’t find it on your own, you will have to ask a teenager at the supermarket.  They will not know what it is.  
  • It smells like a foot.  Oh my sweet jalopy does it smell like a foot.  This would be less of a concern if you were applying this to, for instance, your own foot, but since it’s likely going on your nose, it’s kind of an issue.  If you’re sensitive to smells, this is probably not a great option for you.
  • It will look like you have gross boogers all over your face.  
  • WAY cheaper.  Knox gelatin costs about $1.86 for a box of five packets (each packet a tablespoon).  Biore strips are $6.89 for six strips on  That box of Knox is at least five uses per box, and maybe more…I didn’t try saving and reheating the goop, so it’s possible you could get more than one use out of each packet, and you could certainly get a greater area out of each one than the strips allow.  
  • It’s much easier on the skin.  Sometimes the Biore strips can be a little aggressive, but this method peeled off easily and without yanking my skin.  It was also minimally drying and either absorbed or removed a lot of excess oil from my face.  
  • Easier on the environment.  With Biore strips you have a cardboard box, foil packet, plastic backing and a cloth or paper strip.  With the gelatin you have a box and a paper packet; less materials and all the way recyclable.  Fight your wasteful American ways!!
  • It will look like you have gross boogers all over your face.  I list this here because it is hilarious and I am four.
I’d say this is worth a try, especially if you’re a little light on the funds, but I did not find the results to be equivalent.  It’s possible that with time I will get better at it, but I have to say this isn’t the top of my DIY successes, unlike the use of olive oil for cleansing or apple cider vinegar and baking soda to clean my hair.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!

I Have Some Thoughts on This Sandra Fluke Thing

1. Hormonal birth control does not increase in volume per fuck.  If I don’t fuck anyone, birth control requires 28 pills, one ring or one patch per month.  If I fuck ALL the people, birth control requires 28 pills, one ring, or one patch per month.

2. Not everyone takes hormonal birth control for birth control.  I know this sounds crazy to people who don’t have vaginas but that is indeed the case. I was one of them.

3. The above point, which has been raised in the media, is none of your fucking business.  It is the business of the owner of the vagina in question and the doctor said vagina-owner chooses.

4. None of the above points, nor anything about anyone’s medical history, tells you a damn thing about their sexual history nor gives you license to comment on it.

5.  Ignoring point #4 makes you an outrageous misogynistic asshole.

6. As desperately as I would like to not have to think about point #5, it’s a little bit hilarious to watch you – and obviously here I mean Rush Limbaugh specifically, but most of the right-wing media personalities generally – show just how ignorant and gross you are, several months before an election, by being all “HERP A DERP DERP, HOW DO LADY PARTS WORK” from inside your own ass.  Keep it you, you slut-shaming assholes.  Looking forward to November.

Land of the Free

On Monday, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Sa’ud appeared at the National Press Club, and journalist Sam Husseini asked him a question that I’m sure was extremely uncomfortable, to wit: 

There’s been a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture detention of activist, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does you regime have — other than billions of dollars and weapons?

After some dancing around and several inquiries about whether or not Husseini had been to Saudi Arabia (…?), Prince Turki finally did respond, sort of:

Anyway ladies and gentlemen I advise anybody who has these questions to come to the kingdom and see for themselves. I don’t need to justify my country’s legitimacy. We’re participants in all of the international organizations and we contribute to the welfare of people through aid program not just directly from Saudi Arabia but through all the international agencies that are working throughout the world to provide help and support for people. We admit this, as I said that we have many challenges inside our country and those challenges we are hoping to address and be reformed by evolution, as I said, and not by revolution. So that is the way that we are leading, by admitting that we have shortcomings. Not only do we recognize the shortcomings, but hopefully put in place actions and programs that would overcome these shortcomings. I have mentioned the fact that when you call Saudi Arabia a misogynistic country that women in Saudi Arabia can now not only vote, but also participate as candidates in elections and be members of the Shura Council. And I just refer you to your own experience to your women’s rights, when did your women get right to vote? After how many years since the establishment of the United States did women get to vote in the United States? Does that mean that before they got the vote that United States was an illegitimate country? According to his definition, obviously. So, until, when was it — 1910 when women got to vote — from 1789 to 1910 United States was illegitimate? This is how you should measure things, by how people recognize their faults and try to overcome them.

Husseini raises an excellent point in his post about the incident, and his commentary explains why he is both a better man and a better journalist than I ever can or will possibly be: 

I was very glad to get the question in and and I was happy that Turki responded. I think his response opens the door to a lot more serious reporting. For example, Turki’s response that Saudi Arabia gets legitimacy because of its aid programs is an interesting notion. Is he arguing that by giving aid to other countries and to international organizations that the Saudi regime has somehow purchased legitimacy, and perhaps immunity from criticism, that it would otherwise not have received? This is worth journalists and independent organizations pursuing.

Oh…it might seem like I’m giving him too much praise for being open minded about Turki’s response.  I give him an extra measure because the same day, Husseini was suspended from the National Press Club for his question.

Here’s the thing.

The United States has allied itself with Saudi Arabia for decades because we need two things: their oil and their oasis of reasonable calm in a turbulent region.  I am not one to immediately brush off alliances made for economic resources.  While we Americans refuse to work towards a less oil-dependent nation, we need to get oil from somewhere, and right now that means either from nations of problematic politics in the MENA region or from Canada via the proposed affront to the environment that is the Keystone XL pipeline.  It sucks, but here we are.  If you need things and someone else has them, you trade for them.  That said, it is incumbent on a nation that prides itself on its moral stature to occasionally say “this nation’s human rights violations are too much to bear,” and to at the very least separate the diplomatic fawning from the economic transaction.  There are plenty of countries we do trade with – serious, big time trade worth significant chunks of GDP – that do not receive nearly the endorsement, defense or encouragement that we lend to Saudi Arabia.  It is frankly unseemly for us to be castigating other nations in the region to act right and stop oppressing their people while shoveling money and support into Saudi Arabia as they commit the same sins.

Saudi Arabia has some serious shit to answer to, and so do we.

What worries me, though, isn’t even Saudi Arabia’s behavior or the fact that they send members of the royal family to the National Press Club to answer soft questions and lie to the world, but rather that the National Press Club, which despite its name is not an organ of the US government, but a private club for journalists, would suspend a member for asking a question that is extremely relevant to US foreign policy and also raises an important point about legitimacy of rulers and sovereignty generally.  This is precisely the kind of soft despotism that so concerned Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835.  Tocqueville was concerned that in a democracy, one would find not the despotism that jailed you or beat you or tortured you, but an even more insidious form, which would trick you into policing yourself.  He feared that citizens in democracies would become so brainwashed by the conventions of their societies that they would suppress their own freedom, without any prodding from the state.  This kind of incident seems to prove Tocqueville’s concerns valid, and that is a really worrying proposition for America’s present and future.

The Unfuckening

I’ve been following this tumblr, Unfuck Your Habitat (…hee), which is a string of somewhat violent exhortations to clean interspersed with GIF-based praise for follow through.  The idea is that cleaning in small chunks is much more productive and long-lasting than cleaning marathons that make you hate yourself and everything you own.  It’s SO TRUE YOU GUYS.  The author suggests going in rounds of 20/10…20 minutes cleaning, 10 minutes of planned break.  Here’s a before shot:

Shit everywhere, hasn’t seen the business end of a vaccuum in ages, nine thousand projects going on at once.  Here’s what it looked like after two rounds of 20/10s:

Vacuumed, organized, cleared.

As you can see, it didn’t take me just an hour, because I had a couple non-great-room 20/10s thrown in.  For instance, I took the shoes you see under the chairs in to my closet and did a 20 in there organizing my shoes and closet (more on that in a bit).  But the planned breaks made everything a million times easier, and I feel super accomplished!!  I highly recommend following UFYH and following the directives.  Love it!

This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

                          Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

My friend Kym and I seem to be creating quite a little echo chamber of sentiment this week.  She incorporated my recent post on the Tragically Hip into her thinking about her life and where it would and should take her.  She  is in the process of thinking more about who she is and who she wants to be, and this, I think, is when you really know you’re going to be okay: when you’re able to look at the good and bad of your life and face it all with an understanding of who your past makes you and just how much freedom you have to choose who you will be.  I loved how Kym understood my babbling about nostalgia, and the way she was able to use it as a lens through which to consider herself.  It can be hard to figure out how to balance a longing for former glories with the need to direct your life forward.

Kym’s considerations of her life and future reminded me of something my Mom did for me.  When I was young, I was really freaked out by going to the bathroom at my elementary school, and this meant that I would often come home having walked a mile while desperately having to go to the bathroom.  Mom had a talk with me about listening to my body (presumably while thinking “this is just great, my child is going to make her bladder actually explode. Why did I have children, again?”), and the next day I opened my lunchbox and found a note that read “This above all: to thine own self be true” and this:

That’s a little cat from a Red Rose Tea box.  Red Rose has been including these little things – called whimsies, adorably – in their tea for decades, and we used to have a lot of them.  I’ve kept this little cat since then, and it’s probably the possession I’ve held onto the longest; I’ve had it since I was 6 or 7.  It reminds me of several things, first, of course, being of how amazingly lucky I am to have a mom who not only thought it was appropriate to counsel her elementary school daughter via Hamlet, but also knew she was correct to do so, since my reading level was such that I could figure out that older diction and not get thrown by “thine.”  It also reminds me that listening to myself is what will keep me on the right path, and that it takes continual reflection.

I bring this little cat with me whenever I’m feeling nervous or trying something new.  It was with me at my high school and college graduations, with me at American University and Assumption College.  It was with me at orientation when I started my Ph.D at Boston University.  It was with me when I debated the Cambridge Union Society and when I sang the National Anthem for the first time at the DCU Center.  It was with me when I went to Obama’s Inauguration and when I was inducted into Phi Sigma Tau, the Philosophy honor society.  I was with me at my book release parties, at opera recitals, and next to my computer when I sent articles off to journals and conferences.  It will be with me at many other key intersections of my life, because it will never stop being the most useful reminder I have.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

You’ll Never Walk Aloooooooooooneeeeeeeee

Sometimes I have bad days and I’m cranky or sad or fighty, but I know in the end that I’ll be okay.  I know this because every now and then one of my friends will text me something like this:

And the text “Hi! What is new? I miss you and this reminded me of you haha”

My friends rule.

"Are You Tenderheaded?"

I just finished Baratunde Thurston’s How To Be Black, which was hilarious, poignant and biting, and is officially the first book I actively regretted not buying in hardcopy, because the cover just says “HOW TO BE BLACK,” and I feel like I’d get a lot of mileage out of my white ass reading that on the T.  I’ve been thinking a lot about race, not only because of Thurston’s book, but because I am a political scientist and political wonk, and if you’re thinking about politics in the age of Barack Obama’s Presidency, you are thinking about race.  Race has been so visible in the past several years; it’s always been there, obviously, but it feels like racism has really edged its way back into active, visible political discourse since Obama was elected, and I find that supremely disappointing.  Maybe this is my liberal elitist white girl perception, but I thought we’d reached a place where, despite having what I believe is referred to in very professional academic circles as “a metric fuckton” of work to do, a majority of people kind of got that racism was not acceptable and that you should at least attempt to keep that shit to yourself.  Not that racism was fixed, mind you, or even close to being fixed, but that we were at least moving vaguely in a positive direction.

I’ve also been reading the very funny “Yo, Is This Racist” tumblr, which does exactly as advertised – you ask if things are racist, and the tumblr tells you what’s up (hint: usually the answer is “yes”).  There was one person who asked “are peas racist,” and just got a straight “No.” which had me laughing uncontrollably for some reason.  I mean…peas. It occurred to someone to ask if peas were racist.  That is magical.  Anyway, some of them are funny and some of them take a turn for the serious, and some are both, like this one from today:

If you read around about race a bit, you’ll run into this idea, which is…really something.  Basically, this person is saying that by identifying racism, you are the real racist, because you are insisting on defining things by race.  I…look, this is a stupid argument.  You cannot will racism out of being.  Moreover, this is a variant of the “we should all just be colorblind!” concept.  For those who might not have thought about this, that’s a nice idea that is completely unrealistic and misses the point.  Regardless of whether we feel like race should be a factor in our judgments of individuals or groups, race to this point has translated into enormous social inequities.  These things need to be addressed, not just magicked away.  Ignoring them ignores now fundamental inequalities and is a further injustice.  It would be lovely if racism was merely a matter of people thinking bigoted thoughts, but those thoughts have manifested in very real physical, political, social and economic injuries to people and communities of color.

This is also an idea that can only come from people who are able to opt out of racial considerations.  I don’t think it’s exclusively limited to white people, because I think there are people of color who have reached different places of privilege that allow them to shed some of the weight of racism, but I’m comfortable saying it’s mostly white people.  The word “privilege” gets tossed around a lot here, and it’s accurate, though I think some people use it as an insult, and that’s not quite right.  Having privilege doesn’t mean you are somehow bad, but is instead an understanding that your particular experience as a member of a certain group gives you a certain limited perspective even as it gives you an elevated stature in society.  There’s nothing you can do about it, just like there isn’t anything you can do about being born without privilege, but you can acknowledge it and work to see what you might be missing in your consideration and arguments as a result of your privilege.    It comes down to this: a straight, cisgendered white girl from Massachusetts like me doesn’t need to think about race unless she decides to.  The first time I heard about the concept of privilege, I thought immediately of one particular incident, and I thought of it again today when I read the comment from Yo, Is This Racist? today.  Here’s the story.

When I was living in DC and attending American University, I was on my own for the first time.  I needed a haircut and I was over by the Metro; I needed to meet someone on Wisconsin Avenue, I think.  I remembered seeing a hair salon in the area, and being in an adventurey kind of mood, I wanted to try it out.  I walked down to Brandywine and strolled into the salon…which specialized in black hair.  I cannot remember a time when I felt more visible and out of place in my life.  All at once, I realized how fucking white my life was, and how reliably I could count on at least some other white people being in any group I was a part of, because there was not a single white person in there, and the place was packed.  A super nice lady asked me what she could help me with, and she was able to get me in for a haircut, which was sweet.  I went over to the shampoo place, where this giant, awesome guy asked me in this mumbly, quiet voice, if I was tenderheaded.  Well, first he asked me, “‘r’you tndhrphmmer?” which I didn’t quite catch, but when I asked him to repeat it, I still didn’t know what the shit “tenderheaded” was, so that didn’t really resolve anything.  I went with “not really,” figuring I could hedge my bets, and then quickly learned that he’d asked basically to figure out how hard he could yank my hair around and how hard he could massage my scalp.  (Note: I am, in fact, tenderheaded as hell.)  After that, I went over to the chair and got a great haircut.  It was actually a great experience for a variety of reasons, but I was never unaware of being white.

That’s why I feel like it’s my job to be aware of race and to listen to people of color and work to resolve racial conflict in our society; for me, that was one haircut’s worth of continually being aware of my race, but for people of color, that’s continual.  My race, in that shop, was my defining characteristic, and I had no say over that.  It wasn’t that way because I’d come in and been all “CAN A WHITE GIRL GET A HAIRCUT, BLACK PEOPLE??” or something I did to call attention to it – it was the simple, visual context for me by dint of everyone else being another way.  When I left that shop, I could return to my white world.  It’s worth noting that everyone there was super nice, and my being white carried no particular penalty, but this, as we know, is not always the case for people of color.  The project is NOT to make sure everyone can go to their white world, their black world, their brown world, etc., but rather to create one world that is devoid of racial penalty.  This means accepting that people look different, and their appearances call up certain cultural contexts.  It means recognizing those cultural connotations and adjusting our worldview so we can eventually take people as they are.  But we cannot get to that place without recognizing and considering race.