29 September 2016

speechless

i don't know what i was expecting from the candidates' debate monday night, but i'm pretty certain i wasn't expecting that. i spent a lot of time during the debate reminding myself that i was deeply biased and that i was probably just getting an exaggerated idea of how uneven things truly were. and yes, there was a lot of noise on twitter, but that's like an echo chamber, since i mostly follow people who land somewhere along the same political continuum as i do. even afterward, watching msnbc, i repeated to myself that the hosts were both liberal and pro-clinton, but, gradually, and after careful consideration, i had to admit what i had already known to be the fact: donald trump was so awful it defied belief.

howard fineman, global editorial director of the huffington post, proclaimed trump's performance to be the worst he'd ever seen, and while many will point out that hp isn't exactly an unbiased source, fineman has seen some things in the political sphere. but there's no need to take his word for it, because there has been no shortage in the last few days of republicans heading to america's national news stations to publicly headdesk.

there are lots of reasons why trump's performance could be said to be objectively terrible: he was unable to string together answers on fairly basic questions about cyber-security and nuclear armaments; many of his answers were so grammatically tortured that they bordered on word salad [something that journalists and comedians alike have skewered by reading his quotes verbatim]; he seemed to take perverse pride in the idea that he might not have paid taxes; he repeatedly made assertions about his past behaviour that were so easy to debunk one wonders if he was even conscious of what he was saying [or, as dom put it, "does he know how recording works?"]; and in one glorious trainwreck-within-trainwreck moment, he seemed to be claiming that he had done barack obama and black people in america a favour by being the public face of the birther movement.

what's truly shocking is that, if anything, trump's reaction to the debate fallout has been even worse. from doubling down on some pretty vile insults about a former miss universe [the sort of comments that will alienate college-educated, white-collar women, the group that he absolutely must win over in key states like pennsylvania] to complaining that his mic wasn't working, despite the fact that more than 80 million people heard him loud and clear to painting himself as noble for not using bill clinton's infidelities to bait hillary.

in a way, trump may have done himself a favour by calling in to fox news to defend his questionable honour in the case of the former miss universe, because talk of his always-hovering sexism has  been diverted to her and away from another fact that was floating around quite a bit in the immediate aftermath of the debate: trump interrupted secretary clinton more than fifty times during the debate. this is a man with no political experience [aside from the birther movement], who faces a serious deficit with women voters, and yet he still couldn't stop from shouting over her [often just to deny he'd said or done something, so that the rest of us could check on how many nanoseconds elapsed before someone had their hands on the proof he was lying], or from implying that he was a gentleman because he didn't bring up her husband's infidelities. so great was his confidence and so profound his disrespect for the person he was debating that he didn't even bother preparing to debate her.

she, on the other hand, spent days preparing to debate him. she ran through scenarios, did mock debates, crammed her head so full of facts that she could probably have talked for the entire 90 minutes herself without slowing down, even brought in a psychological profiler to help come up with tactics. [oh, how everyone laughed when they heard that. and oh, how little they are laughing now. the reason why clinton was so particularly devastating against trump was that she simply knew how to push his proverbial buttons. that's one of the uses of psychology people don't talk about very often.]

during the debate, during his rambling, lying responses, during the half-century of interruptions, the former secretary of state retained a kind of calm that would draw applause from a devout yogi. i got convinced that she was able to induce a sort of self-hypnosis by focusing entirely on her own blinking, because there is no way that a woman that smart and that experienced would have been able to stomach the thought of this orange buffoon being her equal. she smiled fairly often [for which she was criticized by bush speechwriter david frum, the guy who invented the phrase "axis of evil" to goad people into supporting a war in iraq, as opposed to in an earlier town hall event where she was criticized by republican national chairman reince priebus for not smiling enough]. she didn't roll her eyes like al gore, or get impatient with his ignorance like barack obama did with mitt romney, or make faces and interject the way that trump was doing to her.

and some of those who have commented on the debate have noted that she handled herself that way not just because it was classy or calm, but because, if she'd handled herself any other way, she'd have been eaten alive. even telling trump that he lived in his own world was slipping dangerously close to "offensive" territory. as this piece notes, it's a situation that's all too familiar to a lot of women in the workplace. the standards are different for the ladies. no matter how much of a bully, how much of an ignoramus, or how much of a liar you're up against, you can't really fight back. you have to demure and nod and go about things politely, in ways that men just don't. and then, a lot of the time, you get to have people like donald trump equate that sort of behaviour with weakness, with being "a loser". what is trump's bizarre fixation with hillary clinton's health and stamina if not a desperate attempt to paint her as frail and ineffective in comparison with his boisterousness? and yet she's criticized for shouting if she raises her voice at a rally.

the fact that trump felt that hillary clinton was unkind to him, that he'd done her a favour by not using her husband's philandering to build his case against her, is indicative, more than anything, of the fact that he is incapable seeing the double standard that is applied. she hit him repeatedly with actual statements that he'd made. she engaged in some speculation about his reasons for not releasing his tax returns. and we're supposed to believe that the proper response to this is to do whatever it takes to humiliate and hurt this woman. that's fair game.

trump hasn't exactly shied away from taking personal shots at his male rivals, but not one of them was ever expected to stand there and just take the abuse. when he has gone after the wives of his opponents [most notably heidi cruz], the media has made no secret of its disgust. but i don't hear any of that disgust now. because hillary is a candidate, not a political wife, everything is fair game. sure, there are voices that say bringing bill clinton's affairs into the debates could backfire as a strategy [and remember, trump literally tried to bring one of the women with whom bill clinton had an affair as a guest to the debate on monday]. but there aren't any media voices that are digging in and looking at what these threats say about the mindset of the candidate and, one presumes, the people running his campaign.

well, there is one voice.

i realise that not everyone enjoys msnbc's monday- thursday "irish block" of evening programming. i do. i know that their focus is narrow, i know that they are part of the mainstream media and i know that they are beholden to corporate owners. but in an age where news is about splashy visuals and breaking news, i like the fact that the hosts are generally allowed to go at their own pace, have their own personalities and to speak without getting hung up on moving to the next segment.

last night, laurence o'donnell, who hosts their 10-11 show "the last word" opened his show with what was expected to be a 6-7 minute monologue. it ended up running nearly 20 minutes, but i'm guessing that not a lot of people noticed until it was over. he's an engaging speaker, to be sure [and a good writer- he worked on the first few seasons of the west wing] and his charming, lightly humorous interpretation of hillary vs donald as the class president vs the class clown is easy to listen to. and then the monologue took a turn, one that left me feeling like i'd been punched in the chest. that's all i'm going to say about it, because i hope that you'll take the time to watch it. view video. [i apologise, but i could not get the embed function to work and it's two in the morning.]

and there, my friends, is the rotten core behind the orange hide and behind many of the faces who support him. the debates and the campaign will continue to unfold and, if trump gets desperate, there's no telling what he'll become willing to do. but rest assured that, whatever he does, whatever he's allowed to get away with, it will be predicated on that one idea.

p.s. :: i shied away from posting both the o'donnell video and the linked article above earlier on my personal facebook page, because every time i post something with a feminist lean on either facebook or twitter, it amounts to chumming the waters. i don't get that sort of reaction for other political posts, but pretty much every post about women unleashes an epic shit-storm. it's not that there are a lot of people who respond with vitriol, but they tend to respond passionately and become enraged if i question them. instead, i posted something to the effect that i had intended to post something that was a little feminist, but didn't feel up to the torrent of rage it was likely to unleash, even if my only reaction was to delete the posts. a lot of people encouraged me to do so anyway, all of them people who've never made my life difficult in any way... so if you're reading this and you're one of the people who encouraged me, thank you very much.

26 September 2016

mental health mondays :: sadly, it does happen

one of the worst things that a person with a mental disorder can hear from friends and loved ones is that what they're going through isn't real, or the close cousin of that accusation, that it isn't serious. the fear that they might be disbelieved, or the idea that they're somehow weaker or less capable people are among the chief reasons why people who have disorders seek help to begin with. but here's the bad news: some people do exaggerate or outright fake mental illness. the reasons behind this can vary, but it happens, and it's one of the hardest things for even a seasoned professional to diagnose.

the official term for faking/ exaggerating an illness [mental or otherwise] is malingering, a word of old french origin that, as you might have guessed, also gives us the english word malign. the reasons for malingering range from gaining financial benefit to avoiding legal responsibility to mental illness. wait, what? yes, you read that right. people who are faking mental illness can be suffering from a mental illness. we'll get to that shortly.

to meet the official definition of malingering, there needs to be some tangible benefit to doing so. one of the most obvious is to gain disability benefits. a one year study conducted by the american board of clinical neuropsychology found that cases of malingering constituted up to 30% of mental health claims. that's a horrifying statistic, but it does warrant a further breakdown of the numbers: the areas where faking illness was most prominent were the ones with the highest financial rewards, i.e., coverage from private insurance plans. it's also worth considering that that's where psychiatric evaluators are most prone to suspect malingering, especially those who are employed by insurance companies, which means that the number of cases may be exaggerated by findings biased against patients. the second highest percentage of fake or exaggerated illness [about 19%] was in legal context, where, again, there is a clear and tangible benefit to be gained. looking at cases of people hospitalised for mental illness, and the figure drops to an average of 8%. that's a lot less than 30% but, at just under 1 in 10, still a bit disturbing.

what should be equally disturbing, however, is the idea that 1 in 10 people with mental illness will fake or exaggerate symptoms to such an extent that they will allow themselves to be hospitalised, without any other marked benefit to them. yes, you could argue, it gives them free room and board, access to free food and access to some pretty funky drugs, but in return, they have to consent to be cut off from everything else and to allow themselves to be completely controlled by others.

this is where we enter a fuzzy area between pure malingering [where the individual is fully aware of the fact that they're putting on a show] and something called factitious disorder. this is the mental disorder that i mentioned earlier.

people who have a factitious disorder are partially unaware that they are being disingenuous, but may believe that they need to embellish in order to get what they need. the benefits they derive from their feigned illness are generally more abstract, or less valuable, than those who engage in pure malingering. for instance, someone with a factitious disorder may seek to be perceived as a victim in order to elicit sympathy or to be treated as helpless. the reasons behind the disorder aren't understood, although they can be related to past trauma. the important thing to note is that a factitious disorder is not the same as malingering; people with factitious disorders can and will harm themselves, sometimes severely, in order to perpetuate the narrative of their illness.

detecting either malingering or factitious disorder is a clinical nightmare. many doctors shy away from it out of fear of making a legitimate disorder even worse, or because they might be wrong. and if it's a difficult call for a professional to make, it's nigh on impossible for the rest of us. and parsing between the two conditions is as complicated as... well, brain surgery.

both malingering and factitious disorders share some features that can serve as red flags:


  • bizarre or inconsistent symptoms. mental disease, like any other, may not be completely predictable, but the group of symptoms and the course of the disease is roughly consistent. 
  • too-consistent symptoms. on the other hand, we all have access to wikipedia and webmd, so if a person's list of symptoms conforms exactly to the ones that are given on popular websites, that's surprising as well. [malingerers in particular are known to be much too precise and detailed in their evaluation of symptoms.]
  • adapting or adopting symptoms to suit a diagnosis. i'm guessing that's pretty clear.
  • failure to show any improvement. neither malingerers nor those with factitious disorders want to get better. malingerers may show improvement if it suits their needs ["i was legally insane when i committed that crime, but i'm fine now!"], but a person with a factitious disorder will not only refuse to admit improvement, but will go to some lengths [such as skipping medication or engaging in activity they've been advised can be harmful to their condition] in order to keep up their story. 
  • sudden onset of symptoms. a tricky area, because there are lots of people who have a mental disorder, but who only come to realise it, much less talk about it, after a long time. nonetheless, there should be some evidence of symptoms being present well before diagnosis. 

the key driving factor with malingerers is tangible gain. there is a reason why they are behaving in a certain way, and the reason is usually pretty obvious.

factitious disorders are also characterised by a dramatic, but inconsistent, medical history. these people can seem like the unluckiest people in the world, because they've had kidney stones, bone cancer, and heart problems in the last two years. when one diagnosis doesn't "work out", they move on to get another, or their symptoms shift in order to point doctors in another direction. in fact, it's fairly common for people with this disorder [or from this spectrum of disorders, since there's a considerable range] to have switched doctors often, even going to see doctors in other cities in order to avoid "detection".

the above paragraph can make people with factitious disorders seem quite devious, and there is a certain element of that, but it's important to keep in mind that these people are really sick, just not in the way[s] that they think they are. even between factitious disorder and malingering, there's room for confusion. some will act to gain advantages most people would find unworthy, and can make themselves quite miserable in the process. that sort of person can fall on either side of the "line", or shift from one side to the other.

so what to do if you suspect someone is malingering or has a factitious disorder? well, for starters, remember that identifying mental disorders is always tricky business. it's not like cancer or hiv, where there's a diagnostic test [yet], so, just as doctors fear they could be wrong, so should you. straight up confrontation a recipe for disaster more often than not and, in the case of a belligerent malingerer, could possibly put you in danger yourself.

in the case of malingering, keep in mind that the problem may well resolve itself over time. insurance companies are aggressive about weeding out such cases, and even public health care plans require significant clinical evidence and regular updates in cases of disabilities claimed for mental health. legal defenses of insanity in the united states have a success rate of under 1%, which, given the prevalence of serious mental illness in the general population, is not too high, but alarmingly low.

if you suspect someone you care about is suffering from a factitious disorder, assuming you don't mind engaging in a little deception, your best course might be to try to talk to their doctor[s] about your concerns. be prepared for the fact that the doctor may not agree with you; just as you see things the doctor doesn't, the doctor sees things you don't. no matter how confident you are, there are parts of the story you don't possess and parts of the path to a cure that you might not be aware of.

none of this makes you any less of an arsehead if your first inclination to someone telling you they have a mental illness is to say that it's not real, that they're playing it up, or that it's not that serious. take the time yourself to look at what the illness is, how it's dealt with, what the prognosis is, and what the best things you can do as a non-professional observer are. if you still think that there's reason to be suspicious, think about it and study it some more, then talk to someone who knows more about it than you do. 

24 September 2016

colour analysis is more than red, white and blue

best faces forward?
a few years back, i took an interest in the sci/ art system of personal colour analysis, an extension of the old "find your season" colour typing that took into account not just the temperature of colours that are suited to certain people, but also the level of saturation [how far the colour lies from grey] and tone [how light or dark it is]. i like this three-dimensional system because i find that it neatly encapsulates the ways in which we perceive colour. i also like the fact that it's based on how the skin reacts to different colours, rather than hair and eye colour, or just guessing based on skin tone. one of the first things that i learned looking into this world was that it is very, very possible to be surprised by what looks good on me. [yellow? rust? not things i would have expected.]

in these past years, i've experimented with colour-analysing my husband and my cats. i've dressed myself up and made myself up as every season and i've picked lipsticks i found appropriate to each season. some of those posts frustrate me now, because, as i've learned more, i can see where i was off the mark in my early attempts. but i don't have the energy to sit and wrap myself in all different colours again, so i'll just have to let those be.

although i'm no expert [as in, i haven't received training], my first hand experiences have been a lot of fun and the posts about them continue to attract a lot of views. so this week, i've linked one of the earliest posts on the subject as the "featured post. typical of me, i dove into the analysis without ever doing a proper introduction to the subject. that post has all the permutations in one place, but the most comprehensive description of colour analysis was given here. you can rummage through the history of posts by clicking the sci-art tag from the link cloud on the right, or just by clicking here.

i have this subject in mind for a wholly inappropriate reason, which is that i'm curious to see the effects of colour when the two candidates for president of the united states line up on stage monday. don't kid yourself: you notice it whether you want to or not, because something strikes you as relaxing or invigorating, or because something strikes you as uncomfortable. i've found that, since i started down this road, i can't stop noticing those subtle differences on both men and women, especially when watching news broadcasts, where there's often nothing to look at except long people on screen. i can't always guess what their perfect match would be, but i definitely notice when they get things very wrong or very right. those who wear colours that harmonise well with their own tones seem instantly more authoritative and more interesting. those who don't achieve that always seem to look either tired or sloppy to me. it's not going to convince me to believe things i wouldn't normally be inclined to believe, but it does have a slight effect on how i think about the person.

for the most part, i've found that whoever is styling hillary clinton for this campaign is doing a pretty good job. some of her "people" [i'm guessing she doesn't do this herself, but i can't be sure] have a bad tendency to put her either in black, because that's what's supposed to pass as serious and presidential, or in very bold shades, which should convey strength and authority. neither works on her very well at all. both tend to overwhelm her, make her look small and diminished. at the same time, when you put her in neutrals, she looks washed out.

i'm personally of the opinion that secretary clinton's colouring falls into the category of "light summer", meaning she benefits most from shades that are cooler, with a bit of warmth, somewhat saturated, but most of all, light rather than dark.

observe:

where are you, hillary?
that huge black block right under her face is just suffocating her. she looks ill and there isn't a bit of colour in her face, save the lipstick and eye liner.


that's a bit better, but she still looks a bit washed out. that ivory is a neutral shade, and it's light enough to work, but it feels hard. that's a good near-white for a bright season. hers would be a little softer.


definitely getting there. that jacket is a bit too saturated, but not by a lot. because of the presence of spring, which can take brighter colours, a light summer palette can look pretty lively. i do think the lipstick is too warm. i'd love to see the colour from the previous shot used here.


that grey probably wouldn't read as very dark on others, but it's plenty dark for her. the coral lipstick adds a nice hint of colour to a conservative ensemble. way better than black on her.


probably a little too energetic for a presidential debate, but i had to include this because i think that light summer people are the only ones on earth who can wear this colour and not look like they fell in a vat of cheap birthday cake frosting. the walls of my office were this colour when i moved in and i spent every moment hating whoever had chosen the paint. but everything clicks here.


this is a really nice neutral combination for a light summer. that blue-grey shade tends to work on all summer [cool, muted and light], but the jewelry keeps things from becoming too sombre.

now... the other candidate...

i'll say up front that i think that men get the short shrift in general with this sort of thing. they have an incredibly narrow range of acceptable colours available to them and only one available arrangement- the suit and tie. it's extremely restricting, which is why, even when people [me] try to talk about how men look at big moments, it's usually pretty boring. they look more or less the same and it's the luck of the draw whether a dark suit and stark white shirt looks good on them. cnn host anderson cooper, with his stereotypically bright winter colouring, looks like he was born for suits:


but does the same look work for donald j. trump? no, it really doesn't.


much like secretary clinton, he seems encumbered by black. everything about what he's wearing here is in a shouting match with him, and it's winning. that should tell you something about how wrong it all is.


we've got some of the same problems here, but i find this one just slightly better. yes, it's clearly a professionally taken photo where the previous one is not, but you would not believe how difficult it is to get off-the-cuff photos of donald trump where he isn't pulling a weird, distracting face. i still feel like all i'm seeing at first glance is the tie and the bright white shirt, but the navy seems a bit more forgiving on him than the black.


this one seems even better. that softer blue is taking down the orange in the skin and the brassy tones in the hair are less evident. he looks more human.

but all this is avoiding the main point that needs to be addressed: what the hell does donald trump actually look like?

he's often mocked for his eerie orange skin and strange cornsilk hair because they look fake and garish. if you look at the pictures of hillary clinton above, there's no doubt that she's wearing makeup and that her blonde hair is dyed, but they blend so easily with her natural colouring that it's nowhere near as noticeable. whatever donald trump actually looks like, it isn't what we're seeing now.

so to get some idea of what lurks behind his cheetos crust, i pulled a few photos from his younger days.


not the same colouring at all. first of all, that tie is way better suited to him than anything in the above photos. and while the suit is dark, it looks more like a deep, cool grey and it's not nearly as harsh. but what strikes me is how cool-toned he looks. the colour in his face is very pink, not red. also, his colouring seems quite muted.


i'm cheating a little, because that photo is old and a bit overexposed, but i stand by my evaluation: trump looks much more comfortable in colours that are cool, muted and somewhat lighter. that's the equation for the "true summer", although i couldn't find enough photos to be really conclusive.

the thing is, if that's his natural colouring, everything that trump is doing to himself, from the orangey fake tan to the too-bold power suits is precisely the opposite of what would work. i'm sure he thinks that blues and greys are much too wimpy and beta-male for him, but, even if you factor in his aging, i fully believe he'd be more presidential in that palette than the one he's chosen. all the decisions that he's made, and that are being made for him by his stylists [oh yes, men have them too] are dooming him to look like a clown.

now, as i've said before, all of the careful image tweaking in the world isn't going to help if what's coming out of your mouth makes you sound like a clown, but, hey, give yourself a fighting chance.

i will, of course, be watching on monday [you've been warned, twitter followers] and paying attention to the words. but if you do the same, when you see the two aspirant world leaders walk out onto the stage, ask yourself if you aren't just a little affected by how they're presenting themselves: how at ease do they look? how natural a fit do they seem to be to the job they're interviewing for? yes, it's mostly in the words and the ideas, but image matters and every advantage you can get is important. 

20 September 2016

mental health mondays :: trigger tuesday

actual trigger
in the last year or so, i've received a lot of requests to cover the topic of 'triggers' for mental health mondays. in fact, i did cover part of the topic back in 2011, but the fact is that that post is out of date considering how the use of the term has grown. when i wrote the piece originally, it was an attempt to explain how the term was related to panic attacks because i felt like it was a term that was misunderstood. four years later, i still think that it's a term that's misunderstood, but for different reasons. now, it's not merely necessary to understand what triggers are, but to understand what they aren't, because the term has gone from being misunderstood to being abused. so today, i present, trigger 2- the misunderstanding.

first of all, i want to make something clear: triggers are 100% real and not uncommon. they are reactions to past trauma that are uncontrolled and which may or may not seem related to the trauma itself. for instance, a survivor of domestic abuse who sees another person being abused can have a crippling, uncontrollable reaction to that. alternately, that person might have that same reaction to the sound of someone taking out the trash, because abuse often occurred around the time that this was done in the past. no one can predict what is going to constitute a trigger and many people are unable to identify that something is a trigger, particularly if it's unrelated. our abuse victim who is triggered by the clatter of garbage cans and the grunts of someone struggling to get bags of stinking waste to the curb might just think they are getting angry about the noise. identifying triggers is something that psychotherapy can help with. so, yes, triggers are real things, and they can be complex and unexpected. [if you want to know more of my thoughts on that, you can read the old blog post linked above.]

the problem with terms like this is that they have a tendency to tumble willy-nilly into common parlance, where their meaning gets diluted. we talked about this before with reference to people saying that they have "ocd". obsessive compulsive disorder is a serious mental illness with damaging consequences for those who suffer from it. but in common usage, it's used as a synonym for a quirky dedication to order and organisation. likewise, the term trigger, which is specifically related to trauma, becomes a synonym for feelings of anger, repulsion or sadness when certain topics are raised, because a person associates them with past bad memories.

those things might sound similar, and there is a grey area in determining when things are harmful and when they're not, but that should be taken as a red flag to leave diagnosing triggers and a condition like ptsd to professionals. never diagnose yourself or people you know as having triggers caused by ptsd unless you're a qualified professional in the field. [and even then, you probably want to get a second opinion on self-diagnosis.] the process can be daunting even for professionals, so as an amateur, you have to admit that you just don't get it. [and fyi, i don't get it. i'm an interested amateur who can understand some of the writing on the subject, enough to render it for the general public.]

one of the biggest problems with expanding the meaning of any specific term to include more than was originally intended is that it dilutes the true meaning, which is harmful to those who are really suffering. it puts the idea in the public imagination that the condition is something that's relatively common, the sort of thing that lots of people deal with every day. claiming certain things as triggers, therefore, seems less an appeal for help and more a demand for sympathy. this is complicated by the fact that not everyone who has survived trauma develops disordered  thought patterns related to it. no one quite knows why, but some brains recover differently from trauma than others. science is working on that and will get back to us.

probably the most inflammatory discussions about triggers and their validity, however, comes from their use in academia. we've all heard the horror stories about professors living in fear of students reporting them for teaching material that triggers a traumatic reaction, of literary classics being removed from syllabi because they could cause significant upset. now, as a caution, i would remind readers that universities have always been a crucible for these sorts of battles over language. they're where we see the extreme end of demands to conform to certain codes, but it's nearly impossible to document any effect they have in the real world. the political correctness movement of the 80s and early 90s was touted as the end of the world by those who disapproved of it, but the net result of all the talk was that courses covered a wider variety of voices and that it became expected that both students and professors would question accepted narratives of history written entirely by dominant cultures. it's the end of the world, i tells ya.

the topic of trigger warnings in academia is a big deal now, because it's going to end the world and turn us all into weak, floppy, incapable victims or frustrated alpha peeps and, of course, that will mean the end of the world. but chances are it won't, any more than political correctness did twenty years ago and such heated rhetoric helps absolutely nothing. what's more important is the tacit belief that goes along with it, which will not end the world, but is nonetheless a problem, that we need to be protected from that which is painful to us. of course, there are painful experiences from which we should be protected, and from which we should protect ourselves; no one needs to blow their hand off experimenting with chemicals at home or, to take an emotional example, no one should be forced by friends to discuss past instances of abuse if they don't want to. but to try to shut ourselves off from all pain is futile, and to equate all pain with the psychological term "trigger" is ignorant.

for starters, general things like the themes of books or topics of discussion are rarely triggers to begin with. rather, triggers tend to be highly specific and sensory rather than cerebral [see the psych central article linked earlier]. so even suggesting that material taught in classes is likely to act as a trigger to those who suffered past trauma shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept. to repeat what i said earlier, amateurs accomplish little by trying to interpret terms like this out of context, even when their intentions are good.

some have linked the desire for protection from perceived harmful elements to the culture of protection among parents that emerged in the early eighties [for instance]. faced with rising crime rates, and increasingly violent crimes, parents were forced to crack down on the amount of freedom they allowed their children and took sometimes extreme steps to block anything that might be harmful. [remember, the eighties were also the decade when record companies were forced to label music that had content that could be considered offensive, with the argument that such things could be harmful to children.] so the much-discussed "millennials" grew up with the understanding that protection from everything from violence to language was good [and that it was the responsibility of other people]. so this method of thinking did not emerge in a vacuum, nor is it purely the product of millennial thinking.

the other bad message that underlines the current obsession with triggering and sheltering is that this sort of avoidance is actually considered a symptom of ptsd- something that needs to be fixed. now, no one in their right mind is claiming that the way to overcome a trigger is to just expose yourself to it until you don't feel it anymore. but structured or limited exposure is desirable, because it will help the sufferer deal with their trauma and to overcome the irrational fears that disrupt their lives. learning to recognise that something is a trigger, that it is linked to deeper problems, and that it is not threatening in and of itself is part of the healing process. encouraging traumatised people to avoid triggers at all costs is like recommending someone who's been stabbed should get their wound cleaned, but not stitched shut.

and to complicate things still further, there's no proof attaching trigger warnings to posts or images online is helpful to anyone. in fact, it may encourage people who are depressed to seek out those images as affirmation of their hopeless world view.

so what's the meaning of all this?

tl;dr :: triggers are real and they are terrifying to those who suffer from them. but the term trigger is abused by non-experts in ways that can cause more harm than good. learn what you can, but leave diagnosis to people who've learned more.

sneak preview :: next week, i'll be covering the most frightening and most horrible topic yet on mhm. i'll leave you to imagine all the possibilities.

15 September 2016

making faces :: more scary stuff




i'm naked!!
i've ventured into uncharted cosmetic waters on this blog a few times; i dipped into the worlds of pastel blue eyeshadow and nude lips, neither of which is something i wear under normal circumstances. but today it occurred to me that there was one very obvious thing that's always been scary to me that i hadn't tried. and i don't mean that i hadn't tried it on the blog; i mean that i hadn't tried it ever. today, i put on makeup, but i didn't wear mascara.

now, i've gone mascara-less before, many times, but it's always been on days when i just eschewed makeup entirely [there are more of those than you'd think]. i literally cannot recall a single time when i've put on makeup but passed on the lashes. lashes are kind of my thing. when i was born, my mother tells me that the first thing she noticed about me was that i had long, curly lashes, so i guess that made me a bit vain and protective about them. they're somewhat sparser than they used to be [although, luckily for me, not a lot], but i still take care of them and do everything i can to show them off.

one of the reasons that i never go without mascara is that my lashes are also very light blonde. and since they remain fairly long on their own, leaving them in their natural state can make it look like i have cobwebs on my eyes.

but i'm supposed to be taking chances, dammit, and that's the biggest chance i could get myself to take. so damn the torpedoes and forward march!



i apologise for the fact that i have to do an extremely un-beautyblogger type thing and use pictures from my phone, but unfortunately my camera was dead today. [it wasn't dead. you drained the battery and, despite receiving warnings the last three times you've used the camera, you forgot to recharge it. -ed.]

here's what you're looking at

base ::
marcelle flawless skin fusion foundation
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
guerlain pressed meteorites 02 "clair"
nyx colour correcting palette [pink + yellow combination]

eyes ::
rouge bunny rouge e/s "papyrus canary"
rouge bunny rouge e/s "unforgettable oriole"
anastasia e/s "suede"
anastasia e/s "sangria"
anastasia e/s "chocolate crumble"
urban decay 24/7 e/l "desperation"
urban decay 24/7 e/l "perversion"

cheeks ::
nars blush "seduction"
nars blush "nico"
nyx wonder stick highlight/ contour "light"

lips ::
ysl gloss volupté "bordeaux sarouel"

i'm not totally put off by the results of the experiment, but it just did not feel like me. if the light hit me the right [or wrong] way, it did indeed look like i had cobwebs around my eyes, but i wasn't totally put off the idea of ever trying this again. now, a great deal of the reason it works at all is because i spent a lot more time than i usually would creating a halo of colour around my eyes. even more important, i put liner on my upper lash line ["desperation", a cool dark brown] and then i used the inky black "perversion" on my upper and lower water lines. so at least, i have a decent frame going. but i still feel like the windows to my soul are in need of some curtains. maybe some nice roman shades.

now that i've done this, i feel like i've conquered fear. skydiving has nothing on facing the world without eyelashes. [but just in case, i'm going to stay on solid ground for the time being.] 

12 September 2016

mental health mondays :: laugh it off

so not depressed
in the history of mental health mondays, we've covered some pretty novel and controversial treatments for various disorders: crystal meth for adhd, lsd for addiction, ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. but this latest one really takes the crazy cake for me, because it turns out that those sanctimonious assholes who tell people to just laugh off their depression may not have been so very wrong after all: there is an increasing body of science that indicates nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, may offer at least short-term relief from the notorious treatment-resistant depression.

this is still very much something that's "under exploration". a preliminary study that looked at a number of methods of treating resilient depression showed very promising results, in that those who took nitrous oxide felt happier both two and twenty-four hours later- indicating that the effect lasted much longer than the immediate high. some patients continued to show an improved mood even a week after treatment, which is pretty amazing when you consider that the other methods tested had basically accomplished nothing. also, unlike ketamine, a controlled amount of nitrous oxide does not have the side effect of making you trip balls, which makes it a more appropriate medication for people with mental disorders. that study was promising enough that washington university is now recruiting for a much bigger study, which will look at its efficacy over the long term and at possible side effects like bursting out laughing at your father's funeral or something.

the thing is, people take nitrous oxide for fun. they inhale it out of bags or balloons [just to give that extra bit of hilarity]. it's known as "hippy crack" in some quarters. and since people are using it to get happy, the scientific establishment has dedicated itself to convincing us all that it's incredibly bad for us, potentially making us all bald, blind and depressed. huh? yes, that's right: doctors have been telling curious teens that nitrous oxide will make them feel a lot worse afterwards, while at the same time other doctors have been testing out the theory that it might make you feel happier than you have in years.

surely, you'd think those doctors would want to talk to each other, since their findings seem on the one hand contradictory [it can't make you both happy and sad in the medium term] and on the other hand complementary. [why do we have to wait for new research when it seems the information is already out there?] but before you start to weigh the relative advantages of happiness and sight, i should probably clarify that they aren't using each other's data to come up with those results. as is usually the case when investigating the medicinal possibilities of recreational drugs, the purity and quality of what's being used is not the same. for the most part, the amounts used for treatment are much lower than those used for fun, and the supply is much more closely monitored. it is very possible that the mixture used to treat depression is not nearly intense enough to cause such a great drop in your b12 levels that it leaves you bald and blind. that's just something we'll have to wait a little longer to find out.

nonetheless, it's another intriguing area in the struggle to treat mental illness, and another indication that our ideas about recreational drugs, and about the possibility that some solutions may already be under or up our own noses. i'll be following developments and, in the meantime, when people tell me they're particularly depressed, i'm going to tell them to go sniff gas. 

11 September 2016

the blessings of boring

sometimes it's hard for me to think that the entire universe isn't organised around my thoughts. it's difficult for each and every one of us to think that, because there are moments when everything seems to come into focus around us. and this morning, i had one of those moments.

i was trying to figure out how to wrap up "boring week" [in case you hadn't noticed the general boredom that's been going through all my posts], and sipping my coffee late in the morning, when suddenly the power went out. that's actually pretty boring in itself, because the power goes out in our building way more often than it should. i should probably worry about that. this time, though, it turns out that there were major blackouts over several sections of the city, and hydro quebec was indicating that it could be as long as six or seven hours until they had everyone back online. so there i was, contemplating boredom, when all of my access to the things that normally entertain me suddenly went kaput.

and i enjoyed it.

it took four hours for the power to come back, and during that time, i sat and felt a bit thrilled by the utter silence. even for a sunday, there was very little traffic. although it's been grossly hot and sticky this week, a spell of thunder, lightning and wind swept that away and left us with a beautiful day in the mid-teens. the sun was stumbling around the clouds, i had sleepy cats around me and it was rather lovely.

i didn't want to drain the battery on my phone, so i didn't even use it to go through the things that could have entertained me. i just sat by the window and sipped coffee and let the bored wash over me like a gentle wave.

we're socialised from a young age to think that our time should be spent productively, that leisure is a luxury that we should earn through hard work. people who look at the work they've done and think "this is good, this is enough" are thought to be unambitious or outright lazy. the more technology has developed, the more we internalize the idea that time spent unengaged in any way is wasted. if we're not working, we need at least to be plugged in, to be absorbed in something. even our leisure time needs to be primarily about something on the outside, be it the television, the computer or a mobile device.

as i sat there, mind dangerously unoccupied, mind turned inward in a moment of perfect, pointless solitariness. i eventually started to write, working on a something i'd started months ago but hadn't touched in some time. i wasn't burning to do this, but i figured i might as well and, as the pen and the hand kept moving, i did start to think of things i could add to it.

then the power came back on. as soon as it did, i knew that i didn't have an excuse for doing nothing, or rather for doing nothing productive. i was supposed to respond to emails, and get some real, paying work done, and i was supposed to go out and run errands once the stores had had a chance to reopen. the racket of machines at work- fans, appliances, improperly shut down computers- filled up the space around me and dom was relieved to be active again because he had video work to do and he hates being unoccupied.

even if i'd tried to continue in my boring bubble, there was too much going on around me and boredom, as it turns out, is quite fragile. but this morning reminded me that it's also quite important. if there is one thing that we've accomplished through all the trappings of civilisation, through everything that we've built and mechanised and backed up and learned and recorded, the one great thing we've given ourselves is the ability to be bored. our ancestors, huddled in caves and praying something three times their sizes with huge teeth and claws didn't come over for dinner, wouldn't have understood the concept. millions of people in the world, displaced by war and natural disasters, would welcome a little less excitement in their lives. but we protect ourselves from it like it's a hybrid of the bubonic plague and herpes.

of course, the sort of boredom that imposes itself on us day in day out is damaging. and boredom can be a bottomless pit of detail that we're struggling to make sense of. and it can be those moments when you have to think about the very normal, unexceptional things that form part of our everyday routine. or it can be the curse of endless predictability. but just occasionally, it's a breath of freedom and the chance to realise that we don't have to be, and shouldn't be, engaged all the time. so down with boredom. and hurrah for boredom.

so ends boring week on more like space. you can wake up now. 

10 September 2016

armchair centre back :: is the premier league going to be boring this year?

and somehow the glasses stayed on
well, we all knew that it was going to be difficult to top last year, what with the cinderella story of leicester, the battle to the wire with tottenham hotspur, chelsea's epic meltdown and the ousting of their antichrist manager jose mourinho, the bumbling and stumbling of manchester united, the struggle between northern rivals newcastle and sunderland to stay in the nation's top league... basically, yes, this year was always going to be boring.

and over the summer, it became obvious that the powers that be, or at least the powers that be rich, were going to do whatever they could to make sure everything stayed nice and predictable. the two manchesters and chelsea opened their pocketbooks wide and almost literally threw money at their problems, signing players at such a speed that i'm not even sure who all they bought. manchester united made the first €100 million signing in paul pogba, which was kind of news except that everyone was spending so much money, it barely registered. even arsenal spent over £80 million. arsenal spent money.

so with all those new players, it pretty much has to be interesting, right? well, shit, it turns out that the players are so interesting that people are hardly talking about them. because this year, the hotness is managers. it's like someone organised this entire season around the theme of making #wengerout arsenal fans feel even worse about their lives.

but does all this movement mean that things will be not boring? the two manchesters and chelsea have thus far reaped the rewards of spending, which is exactly what you'd expect. leicester have struggled to regain their fine form, which is exactly what you'd expect. arsenal have an important player injured [aaron ramsey] which, sadly, is exactly what you'd expect. four matches into the season and things look unsurprisingly unsurprising. oh, the ennui of it all...

however, based on what i've seen thus far, i have compiled a small list of things i think could happen that would be decidedly not boring:

the scariest part is that he's still hot
1. hull city could stay in the premier league. no sooner had the team booked their return to the top flight when they seemed to have the sporting equivalent of a simultaneous four-tire blowout. literally every pundit's predictions said that they were headed straight back down to the championship, except that they started the season by beating leicester and then [sobs] swansea. they've since registered a loss [to manchester united, which should really only count as half a loss, given the difference in budgets] and a draw, which is a better start than most teams have made. oh, and did i mention that they don't have a manager? that's right. probably the most un-boring thing about their start has been that they don't have someone manning the ship. they have a caretaker, but basically he's just making sure they practice and show up for the games on time. i'm not saying they'll pull it together over the course of the season, but it would be kind of hilarious, in the year of the superstar manager, to see a team do well without one.

2. liverpool could just keep doing whatever they're doing. they've beaten arsenal and leicester and they've lost to minnows burnley. there's been a celebratory piggyback ride. they have a newly expanded stadium and a newly signed striker in sadio mane who's off to an almost literally flying start. defender dejan lovren somehow sustained an injury in training that's left him looking like an ill-fated character in a lucio fulci movie i hope that someone thought to install seat belts in those new chairs at anfield, because i don't think jurgen klopp even knows how to be boring.

3. manchester city could realise they're a team. for the last several years, whether they've done well or faltered, the thing that's been shockingly evident about the citizens is that they look like a bunch of players scraped together for some sort of all-star team. this year, they seem a bit different and earlier today, against their crosstown rivals united, they looked really different. whatever the media-anointed best manager in the world pep guardiola has been doing with them, it seems like they actually like each other for once. and people who like each other have a tendency to play well together. with the amount they spend on wages, it's not surprising that they're winning, but watching them this morning in the derby, it seemed like they were winning differently than they used to.

4. arsenal could miss qualifying for the champions league. sorry, gooners [and i count myself among you], it's true. if you consider the fact that both manchesters and chelsea look like they're just going to steamroll over everyone except each other, thus locking down the top three spots, that leaves just one place for everyone else to fight for in order to get into the champions league. one of the greatest defenses of arsène wenger has been that while their rivals have gone up and down like some sort of muscular, money-encrusted yo-yo, they've held steady, losing the premier league title but qualifying to get into the champions league every year. but this year, expect some of the other teams to put up a hell of a fight. arsenal have balanced on the head of a pin for the last few years, benefiting from the fact that at least one of their big rivals [or, in the case of last year, all of them] had a shitty season. take that away from them and they're on very thin ice.

at least come to the games, so we can see you.
5. jose mourinho could get fired for the second season in a row. of course, there is one path to champion's league glory that didn't seem open until this morning, which is that manchester united might not be that shit hot after all. it's very early to say this, because they've been decisive in their wins thus far, but their loss this morning sent mourinho on one of his tantrums, blaming everyone other than himself. the fact is that no one likes him when he does that, but he gets away with it when he's winning. but, in the season of the epic manager, he's not as likely to win and, with the money he's spent, his team better damn well go the rest of the season without conceding a goal.

6. everton could be a surprise package. if the last few seasons have taught us fans anything, it's that we underestimate manager ronald koeman at our peril. the man worked miracles with a southampton team that was routinely raided for their outstanding players and everton, the oldest club in england [how can there be only one oldest club? who were they playing before the second oldest club came along? -ed.], is able to offer him a bigger budget and basically all the control he wants. his capture of wales and now former swansea captain ashley williams [weeps bitterly into beer] is a genius move for a team that's struggled with defense, and it's also just a wee bit of a poke in the eye to the big-name managers that none of them noticed that williams might be available. the fact that he managed to keep striker romelu lukaku, who was being scouted by the best teams in the world, from leaving says a lot about how he's viewed by players. he might not be a marquee managerial signing, but it's quite possible that by the end of the season, they'll be calling themselves "cleverton" for having landed him.

7. a manager is going to murder an official on the pitch. we've already seen stoke manager mark hughes get sent off, and he's far from the hottest temper around. but the combination of the money at stake, the egos of the men in charge, the tougher rules about arguing with the refs mean it's only a matter of time before one of those gentlemen on the touchline blows a gasket and decides that if they're getting sent off, they're going to make sure they really earn it. if it were to be really shocking, the murderer would have to be nicest man in the world claudio ranieri, but my money is on dead-eyed chelsea manager antonio conte.

no way is the recipient of that stare still breathing.

so yes, right now it looks like the league is just the usual parade of perfectly sculpted bodies and breathtaking goals, which is so very, very boring, and the teams you would expect to win everything are winning everything, which is even boringer. [spellcheck is accepting "boringer" as a word. abandon the language ship. -ed.] but not all is lost. there can still be little surprises. we can hope.

08 September 2016

making faces :: boring reviews

if someone were to ask me where to start with makeup, how to build up confidence wearing it, it's likely that the last thing i'd recommend would be a really dramatic lipstick. after all, that's just the sort of thing that will be noticeable, even on complexions that are well-suited to bold colours [hello my bright-season sisters!], if you're not used to wearing makeup regularly. playing around with soft, neutral eyeshadows is an option, but quite honestly, visible shadow on its own looks a bit weird to me. instead, i'd tell people that their best bet would be to start with mascara and foundation.

yet, when you look at the products i've talked about on this blog, there is an overwhelming bias towards colour cosmetics- lipstick, shadow, blush- and barely any attention to those basics. and that is because reviewing those things, despite their relative importance, is boring. it's boring for me to write about and, i assume, boring for you to read. in both cases, the effectiveness of both depends on your starting point, so reading about what works for someone else isn't particularly helpful. if i tell you that an eyeshadow is a deep, muted blue-grey, it's probably going to be a deep blue-grey on you too, and what differences there are you can estimate by looking at photos. but if i tell you that a foundation has exactly the right level of pink undertone for my skin, or that a mascara makes a difference in how curled my eyelashes look, you have to wonder whether our undertones [hard to determine in photos] are similar or different, if the product will wear the same way on both of us, or if it will change colour more on one than the other, or how curly my lashes were to begin with, etc. i can tell you that i have regular skin with somewhat visible pores on the cheeks and that i'm prone to dry patches next to my nose, or that my lashes are quite long and noticeably curled on their own, but not especially thick, but chances are that doesn't give you the same sort of confidence in imagining how a product will look on you as when you see pictures of my proud self monitoring a red lipstick.

but today, i've decided to buckle down and review boring stuff, because there are some thoughts i want to share on them. so let's all be bored together, shall we?

mascara 

in fact, mascara is a sort of thing with me. i've talked before about how i think it's the last makeup product i'd give up and that i try as many as my budget allows in the search for one that's absolutely perfect. here are three i've tried lately:

joe fresh hydra lash nourishing mascara with argan oil :: it's exhausting just getting to the end of that name... i think it's pretty obvious that i'm not a huge consumer of drugstore products, but i'm trying to be less of a snob where that's concerned and the brand new joe fresh makeup displays that have appeared in the shoppers drug mart [pharmaprix] stores around me just look so clean and happy and modern that i had to give something a try.

the main selling point of this mascara is that it is healthy for your lashes, which is a nice thing if you're going to be wearing mascara on them every day. i'm not quite sure how much i believe the claim, because my lashes are pretty soft anyway, as most people's are. i did find that this left them feeling particularly soft while it was on, which is always nice, and despite the addition of argan oil, didn't smudge or spread during the day. it could be a little messy when applied, but cleaned up easily enough.

it's a soft black colour and very natural looking, very much the kind of thing to wear when you want a very understated effect. i'm much more of a drama girl, but it's hard to argue with the price and, while it doesn't build much on its own, it makes a nice primer/ base if you want to layer a more dramatic formula on top of it.

marc jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara :: ok, we definitely have to just start calling these things "george" or "barney", because there's no way i'm remembering all these words. apparently the "velvet" in the name comes from marc's memories of seeing his mother shave fibres from velvet ribbons to make her own dramatic mascara and this is definitely one that falls into the dramatic category. it promises an ultra black formula and instantly fuller lashes and i have to say that in doing so, it sells itself short. this is one of the best mascaras i've ever tried. it does have a rich colour payoff [important to me because my lashes are very blonde] and gives volume, but it also covers lashes from base to tip for the maximum impression of length and emphasises curl, which makes me look wider awake. a light coat will look somewhat less "night on the town", but, as with all "ultra black" mascaras, it's not something you want for a natural look.

it lasted well, without smudging and leaves my lashes feeling pretty nice while it's on there. love love love.

urban decay perversion mascara :: what. the. actual. fuck? ok, i will say flat out that this is not the worst mascara i've ever tried. it's not even all that close to the worst. but considering the price and the ability of the brand to do so many eye products so well [eyeshadow, base, eye liner], this is absolutely the most disappointing. for starters, it's a goopy mess coming out of the tube and it gets everywhere. it smudged under my eyes, it got on my eyelids, it somehow transferred to my nose, although i swear the brush didn't touch it. i've dealt with messy, because i adore yves st. laurent's mascaras more than anything, so i'll forgive them that one flaw and just be extra careful. but i felt like this was somehow finding ways to run across my face. normally, that sort of thing gets better after a few days, as the formula becomes a little drier, but this one has continued to cause me problems for over a month.

what's weirder still is that, when i was finally able to look at my handiwork, i realised that the mascara had gotten everywhere except my eyelashes. ok, it was there, but for the intensity of the colour [which is considerable], i expected my lashes to be huge. instead, i'd say they were a little more than natural, but far from dramatic. now, one thing that i should say is that this mascara layers very well, much better than a lot of other formulas i've tried, even hours later, in case you wanted to pump up the volume between work and a night out. that's undoubtedly its strongest point.

its weakest point was that it's very irritating. i don't mean that in the "i'm annoyed about the mess" way, either. i mean it literally irritates my eyes. i often feel like there's bits of grit in my eyes when i use this [although i can't see them] and i often have to clean the tip of the wand before use, because there seem to be these fibrous strings attached right out of the tube. and with a formula this prone to dispersing itself, it's pretty much a given that, sooner or later, some of it is going to end up in your eye. agony. it's happened a couple of times and the pain and irritation was literally incapacitating. as in, i had to stop what i was doing and apply a cold compress to my face and eyes for ten or fifteen minutes. so on top of everything else, i'm afraid of the mascara. i do not want to spend good money on cosmetics only to live in fear of them.

foundations

i'm constantly fretting over whether or not i've found the perfect foundation, which i know must be out there. as with mascara, there are several i quite like: nars all-day luminous weightless foundation, ysl encre de peau and urban decay naked skin are all winners for me. but i can't help wondering if there's something out there that's even more perfect for me. so i've been doing a little experimentation.

tarte rainforest of the sea water foundation :: launched at the same time as their gorgeous rainforest of the sea palette, i saw this foundation getting a lot of love just at the time when i was needing another bottle. so, in the interest of newness and science, i took the plunge. a few months later, i'm kind of befuddled, because it's made very little impression on me, with one exception. it has good coverage, although the formula is thick for my tastes and quite different than other water-based foundations i've tried. the colour range is somewhat limited and even with my summer "tan", which takes me from about a mac nc15 to a mac nc18, the lightest shade is a bit dark for me. i also find that the undertone of all the shades seems orange, which is the strange compromise brands seem to make when they don't want to split their colour offering between cool [pink] and warm [gold] undertones.

it does give nice enough coverage, although i find that my freckles have a habit of poking through even a heavier application. it lasts quite well, although it can turn patchy in hot, humid weather [something most foundations do]. it gives a smooth finish, but not like the three favourites i listed above. i'm inclined to think that it might be best applied over a primer, but while i'm a daily user of shadow primer, i generally don't bother with face primer, unless it's a special occasion.

but the big question that i recommend asking yourself before springing for this is: how do i feel about the smell of latex?

i personally loathe it and this foundation has a noticeable rubbery, latex-like scent that does not ever fade. when i wear it, i'm constantly aware of the smell and i worry that others are too, like i'm suddenly their giant condom friend. that alone will stop me from repurchasing this, but if the scent doesn't bother you [and keep in mind that i'm probably more aware of it because i hate it] then it's a good product.

marcelle flawless skin fusion foundation :: of any of the drugstore brands i've tried, marcelle is my favourite. i find that their products come close to those of a lot of higher end products at a much lower price. plus they're hypoallergenic, which is nice for someone who's allergic to summer. i tried this foundation on in-store and was really impressed at the soft natural matte finish it gave and that just a tiny bit lasted from late afternoon until i washed my face before bed. the idea that i might have found a perfect foundation for less than half the price of any of my favourites was kind of thrilling, so i really wanted to love it.

unfortunately, i don't. it's not a bad foundation, not by any means. i'd even say that it's a damn good foundation for the price. but it's not what i'd hoped from that initial application. the fairest shade is a decent match for my skin and it feels lovely and light. but, applied over cream and sunscreen, even when i give them lots of time to sink in/ set, my skin, especially my nose, gets very shiny. and the colour fades way too quickly. i'm surprised at how little there is left when i wash my face at the end of the day- barely a smudge on my makeup removing wipe. aside from wondering where the hell it goes, i wonder why my pre-purchase test seemed so much more promising.

marc jacobs re[marc]able full coverage foundation concentrate :: the young woman at sephora warned me that it took just a tiny bit of product- one or two drops- to get full coverage. i thought that sounded like an exaggeration, but no; applied on its own, anything more than a pinprick makes it look like you're wearing a mask. that's because this is a concentrate, sort of like frozen orange juice you put on your face. you're supposed to mix it with primer or lotion rather than apply it "straight".

that's good, because applied directly, i could not blend this with an industrial buffer. it absolutely needs something to lend it viscosity, because on its own, it grabs on to skin and sets like paint. i mean, i know i've liked makeup to theatrical paint or warpaint before, but i don't want what i put on my face to have the properties of actual fucking paint.

combined with lotion, it's much easier to spread, although it is quite tricky getting the right ratio. too much foundation and it still looks like a mask. too little and the foundation just pools or slides away. when you do get the ratio correct, this is a really nice, light product that offers very good coverage. unfortunately, using lotion rather than primer greatly cuts its wear time, especially if you have spots that are oily.

considering that the finish is never quite as nice as what i get from my regular favourites and that there is an extremely steep learning curve, this isn't something i'll be restocking either. i think it's a product that's better placed in the hands of professionals, or at least those with skills a lot greater than mine.

in total, that's six products and only one sure winner. i have never gone through a stretch where i bought six lipsticks and didn't really like at least five of them. so aside from being dull, these products are much more frustrating, even though they're probably the most important things you can put on. life is woe. 

07 September 2016

worldwide wednesdays :: news of no interest

because it's boring week, i thought i would regale you with a few completely uninteresting things that have been happening in the world we live in. there are lots of reasons why you don't generally hear about these things through the north american media, but the most important one is that they're just boring and have no real consequence for anyone. but hey, this isn't where you come for hard news [i hope].

1. hong kong had an election :: of course, there's no reason you need to care about this unless you live in hong kong, or possibly china. who pays attention to state elections like that anyway? well, ok, it turns out china is kind of paying attention, because the election saw pro-democracy parties increase the number of seats it holds, strengthening its power to veto important pieces of legislation. however, that doesn't represent a radical shift. sure, those parties now have 30 out of 70 seats, but they had 27 before, so the increase is pretty marginal. so there's nothing even mildly curious about any of this, with the possible exception that six of the new members of the legislature are younger folk, some of whom are affiliated with the hong kong occupy movement, who don't just advocate democracy, but separatism. for some reason, china seems to take a lot of interest in the idea that their predominant financial and business hub could just decide to sever ties and ride off into the capitalist/ democratic sunset.

2. bolivia's deputy interior minister was murdered :: surely, getting beaten to death by miners is just one of the risks of being a politician in south america, right? well, maybe there's something just a little interesting in this story, because the deputy minister was actually part of the socialist government of evo morales, which came to power through a coalition of miners, coca growers and other workers, promising to reform the country so that the working class and poor could benefit from the country's resource-driven wealth. in fact, morales was part of the "pink tide", a wave of left-wing governments elected across south america, starting with the late hugo chavez. lately, the pink tide seems to have gone out, with protesters crowding the streets of caracas demanding the resignation of chavez's successor and brazil's dilma rousseff impeached and on trial for corruption and also, just possibly, for not being fast or harsh enough in the implementation of austerity measures. and if you're thinking, "sure, but clearly the murder in bolivia, if it was committed by striking miners, was due to a sentiment that morales and his government had abandoned the working man and embraced global capitalism", i have some shocking news: the miners in bolivia are striking for, among other things, reduced regulations on which private companies they can work for and a loosening of environmental regulations that are slowing the development of new mines. but i'm sure that nothing interesting will come of any of this. it's not like big business or western governments have ever meddled in the affairs of sovereign governments in central and south america in order to increase their own profits.

3. the imf made a little austerity goof :: it's not a big deal, but all that stuff where the european central bank and the international monetary fund got greece to do to prove that they could slash government services to the poor and elderly and force the increasingly squeezed middle class there while the robber barons who'd gotten rich exploiting loopholes or just cheating on taxes shrugged their shoulders and moseyed off into the sunset? yeah, turns out the imf did a report on itself and managed to come up with a failing grade. because whoever was writing the report apparently recalled their first year economics course, where they learned tearing away social programs and safeguards like jack the ripper going at a victim's intestines causes people to stop spending money, which in turn brings the economy to a screeching halt. and the report did pose a few rhetorical questions like "if you knew they couldn't pay you back, why did you keep loaning them money?" or ""what did you think was going to happen?" and of course "how did you get your job if you never passed first year economics?" this isn't really interesting, of course, because it's something we've been hearing for a long time from people the imf doesn't like to listen to, like former greek finance minister and thinking girl's man candy yanis varoufakis. since this is clearly of such little interest, the imf has decided to just forget the whole thing ever happened, kind of like it went on a drunken bender, stole and crashed a car, but it wasn't a car belonging to any of their friends, so no harm done.

so there you have it, three things that have happened recently that are totally boring to everyone. there's nothing to worry about. none of this stuff is important. 
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