creation consumes

I haven't written anything for so long, now.

That's not true. I have written lots of things. 18,422 words in the last two weeks of the semester alone, in fact. But that's not what I meant - I meant that I had not written here, or anywhere, for myself, for a long time.

Little bits of things keep bubbling up. Tiny scraps of not very good poetry, mostly. But even that is remarkable; I used to get words in my head all the time, but it hasn't happened for years. A decade, really. Which is sobering.

The problem is that when one has intensely given oneself over to a particular creative endeavor, there isn't much room left for anything else. It consumes.

But I have no creative endeavor imminent, and no school or job to suck all of that energy away (which is where most of it has been the last ten years, let's be honest). And so I find myself drawn back to this blog, and to my scraps of poetry, and to the 83,000 word first draft novel that's been gathering dust in my hard drives for five years. (Had a heck of a time finding it. I had named the files, unhelpfully, 2010 and Book 2.)

So I guess I'm reviving the blog, and maybe even finally editing the book. We'll see. But I'm almost excited about it, regardless.


first snow

(would have been more appropriate a week ago, but since it's still on the ground I can justify it.)

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how, whence such beauty and what the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain—not a single
answer has been found—
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.
–Mary Oliver



If you decide to be an actor, stick to your decision. The folks you meet in supposed positions of authoritycritics, teachers, casting directorswill, in the main, be your intellectual and moral inferiors. They will lack your imagination, which is why they became bureaucrats rather than artists; and they will lack your fortitude, having elected institutional support over a life of self-reliance. They spend their lives learning lessons very different from the ones you learn, and many or most of them will envy you and this envy will express itself as contempt. It's a cheap trick of unhappy people, and if you understand it for what it is, you need not adopt or be overly saddened by their view of you. It is the view of the folks on the verandah talking about the lazy slaves.
There is nothing contemptible in the effort to learn and to practice the art of the actorirrespective of the success of such effortsand anyone who suggests there is, who tries to control through scorn, contempt, condescension, and supposed (though undemonstrated) superior knowledge is a shameful exploiter. 
  David Mamet, True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor

I haven't had to deal with this in awhile, but I will again, and it is a good reminder regardless. And it is applicable to all the arts (sub your own field in for "actor" at will).

Emphasis is my own.


skin care

I am mildly obsessed with skincare.

Some of this is not my fault - it turns out my skin has gotten progressively more sensitive as I've grown up. In middle and high school I got away with a cheap oil-free moisturizer with SPF 15 and a salicylic acid based overnight gel from the Clear Pore line. When those got discontinued I used the Biore Skin Preservation line, which then also got discontinued . . . and then I spent almost a year finding stuff that didn't break me out. I had pretty clear skin as a teenager, but my acne got progressively worse through my 20s, and I eventually figured out that it was because I was reacting to products.

There were a few clear turning points in my skin care. The first was finally caving to buying La Roche Posay's Toleraine Riche, which had been so universally loved on Into the Gloss that I risked the price tag (at that point, the most I'd ever spent on a product). A large portion of my skincare now comes from LRP, and even when something of theirs doesn't fit my skin, it doesn't make me react. The second was a facialist (Karen at L Spa, if you're interested - she's wonderful) telling me that my skin seemed more dry than combo like I'd always assumed from my shiny nose and acne, which lead to me trying out the Josie Maran Argan Oil. My skin looked better that first day; my acne immediately calmed down and I stopped getting a shiny nose. I think some of why I was breaking out all those years just because my skin was over-producing oil to try to compensate for the dryness. Plus I seem to have an issue with cheap oil in cosmetics - that and certain fragrances.

The third and fourth turning points are quicker to explain: washing my face better due to the Isabelle Bellis videos on ITG (here and here); and regular masking, specifically with Korean sheet masks.

I've basically gotten my routine down, and when I break out now it's usually because I'm trying something new out.


  • LRP Physiological Cleansing Gel - I used the Toleriane wash for a long time, but was never quite happy with how it smeared my eye make up around. This is better, and smells pretty, too. 
  • Almay Oil-free Eye Makeup Remover - to get the rest. 
  • Dermologica Antioxidant Hydromist - as a toner - until it runs out, at least. I managed to get it on serious discount through Amazon, and it's lasted forever. 
  • LRP Daily Renovating Salicylic Acne Treatment - benzoyl peroxide has never worked well on me; this does.
  • Argan Oil - right now I'm using this one because it's the cheapest I could find, and it's also one of the best I've used, texture-wise. I stopped using the Josie Maran pretty quickly once I found other organic options - even Target has some, now. 
  • LRP Hydrophase Intense Eyes - for now. I prefer a cream to a gel, but its hard to find one that isn't super expensive, super fragranced, or super good at smearing makeup. I got this one very on sale. If I can't find a cream I like, I'll go back to my Oil of Olay gel standby. 
  • LRP Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer - I've been using this for ages, now. The texture is great and the SPF wonderful. I can wear it swimming in full sun and it does fine. The packaging sucks, but I cut it open at the end and transfer it to a jar, and then I have another 6 week supply. (I always do that, by the way - although this primer is the worst about it, it's amazing how much product is left when you can't get any more out of the tube. This thingamajig helps, too.)
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm: Shea Butter & Vitamin E - if there is only one product you consider trying after reading this, make it this one. I hate chapped lips, and I've probably tried thousands of different lip balms. This one is perfect. It doesn't have petroleum, so it sinks into your lips instead of sitting on top of them. I put it on once after my shower in the morning, once at night, and maybe once more during the day, and I'm good. Plus SPF again! 
Night - Same as above without the primer, plus:
  • ROC Retinol Deep Wrinkle Correction Serum - it took me a while to find a retinol that I could use without my skin freaking out. I've been using this for a couple of months and am pretty sure I see a difference in my forehead wrinkles, though I'm not sold on the cheap-shampoo fragrance.
  • Leftover serum from the most recent sheet mask (see below)
  • LRP Toleriane Riche - to seal everything in. I could go on about this moisturizer even more than I already have, but Into the Gloss has done it for me. When/if my skin gets more dry as the winter progresses, I'll add this in during the day, too. 
Two to three times a week, some variation of a masking ritual:
  • LRP Physiological Scrub - I used to be good at doing this before a mask, but now it's just sort of whenever I remember.
  • Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack - clay masks tend to freak my skin out (I think because they pull too much moisture), but I still want the pore-sucking powers to get the grossness out. This one is super gentle and I love it. Once a week I'll follow it with a Biore Pore Strip, which works so much better than the strip alone. 
  • A Korean Sheet Mask - so these are my favorite things. You can buy them all over now for exorbitant prices, but TJ Maxx or Marshalls always has good ones for cheap, you just have to be discerning. I only buy ones made in Korea (which is renowned for its skincare, by the way), and I'll usually search the internet to see how reputable the brand is before I buy one I don't know. Masqueology, BioMiracle, Karuna, and Leaders Insolution are all great and show up at TJ Maxx fairly often. I also bought a pack from Dermal Korea off Amazon and loved them. Their primary function is moisturizing, but they can be infused with all sorts of things, so you can choose what you want based on whatever your skin happens to be doing that day. They also come with the added benefit of making you look like a serial killer while using them. I always save the extra serum in a little jar so I can use it later, and while I have the mask on I spread the excess on my neck, decolletage, and the backs of my hands. I leave them on as long as I can, rub the serum in, and put the Toleriane Riche over it to seal it in (and leave out the rest of the stuff I usually use at night).
  • Freeman Rose Brightening Facial Mask - every once in awhile I'll use one of these if my skin is feeling lackluster. It's a mild (and cheap) AHA. 
  • Likas Papaya Whitening Soap - it's won all sorts of awards overseas. It seems to reduce the random pigmentation I get when I get razor burn or something, but mostly I use it because I like the smell. Tucson's Lee Lee Import Market had it for cheap, but somehow I doubt I'll find a supplier in Montana. Otherwise I just use Dove Sensitive Skin.
  • Curel Daily Moisture Fragrance Free - yay simple stand-bys. 
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF - I put it on my neck, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands - anywhere that might see sun. Trying to avoid that premature aging thing. Arizona has trained me well. 
So if you add all this up, it appears I spend a shitload of money on it. Which is true, but I don't spend as much as it looks - I never, ever buy stuff full price. CVS has great, stackable coupons, so I can often get La Roche Posay stuff for nearly half price (or at least I could, when the location near me stocked it - the one in Missoula doesn't, so now I have to factor in shipping). I price compare across several websites (Sephora, Dermstore, Ulta, CVS, Target, Amazon) to figure out the best deal, and I'll wait until a good coupon comes up and stock up when I find something particularly cheap. I got my next bottle of primer two months ago on clearance at Target for $10 - a quarter of what it usually retails for. I end up spending about $30-40 a month or so, since I don't run out of everything all at once.

And if you've gotten all the way to the end of this and think I'm nuts, you're probably right - but keep in mind if I were Korean, I'd probably have at least three more steps


two billion beats

I wondered how many rooms there were inside me that I'd yet to explore, how many doors still clicked closed, how many palindromes, how many people, how many worlds, and whether they would all be as beautiful as the stone in the sky we call earth: this planet holding oceans and fields and so many human hearts, each with two billion beats in a lifetime. That's what we get, two billion beats, not much more and sometimes much less. All humans, our hearts hammering on until one day they stop, and the body gets buried, and we go back to being atoms with their spinning centers, microscopic flecks of enormous energy and light, as though packed with all our lifetime love--its curves and caresses, its sudden surprises, its real revelations, its long-gone losses, its mourning melodies, its coconut-soup comfort--all of it happening in two billion beats of the human heart turning on our stone in the sky. 

-- Lauren Slater, "Her Over Him," Elle