Ghost Story (A Response to “Cat Person”)

I know it’s a bit of a hot topic right now, and therefore probably being talked about to death, I have some thoughts about Kristen Roupenian’s short story called “Cat Person” that was published by The New Yorker recently. It’s about a young woman named Margot who meets and eventually goes on a date with a man named Robert, before cutting off contact with him. The two characters are actually quite unlikeable in a number of ways (she’s fatphobic and unable to be straightforward and he is in some ways the worst stereotype of a fedora bro, just for starters). Roupenian has taken these two characters and made quite a compelling story about them; they feel human in their flaws. I’m simplifying the premise quite a bit because I really do think you should read it (especially before you read this blog post as there naturally may be spoilers).

I’ve already read through it twice, and could see myself reading it again. It’s a piece of writing that’s got its hooks into my mind in a way unlike anything else I’ve read recently. I think it’s because there’s a certain universal quality to “Cat Person,” particularly for women, particularly for young women, particularly for young women who want to date men. I happen to fall into all three of those categories so the story resonated with me quite a bit.

I haven’t been in Margot’s exact shoes, but I’ve been in similar ones many times. After reading “Cat Person” I couldn’t help but think how if maybe I was more outgoing, or more conventionally pretty, then I could be another Margot. It definitely also made me consider all of the potential Roberts that I have dodged. For instance, every man on every dating site who has responded to me in abhorrent ways when politely turned down.

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A screenshot of an actual OKCupid interaction of mine. I know that maybe I shouldn’t have continued responding, but I was in A Mood this day.
I have a few different stories I could tell (and originally did tell before I made substantial edits to this post), but probably the place in my dating life where my experience most intersects with Margot’s is with a person that my friends and I call The Ghost. He earned this nickname by ghosting me in the summer of 2016. We’d been on a few dates and hung out a few times before he disappeared. The last time I saw him that summer was when I went over his house after being sent a dick pick that I’d indicated I didn’t want via a gentle joke (“Let’s just wait until we see each other in real life to show all that~~ ; )”) and then telling him that he shouldn’t get too excited because I was on my period (a lie texted to him in a state of mild panic about being out of my depth in this situation, as his actions to that point had left me unsure if he was actually romantically interested until he offered me the dick pic).

Up in his bedroom he gave me a backrub that evolved into him touching my breasts and kissing my neck while I reacted awkwardly and stiffly because it was the first time I’d gotten any kind of action in three years. It wasn’t that I didn’t want it, I was just out of practice and nervous. We texted a little after that, but when he finally fully dropped off the map it wasn’t a surprise; I figured he’d lost interest because of the way the whole backrub thing went down. It was disappointing because he was smart and funny and cute, but life went on and I thought I’d never speak to him again.

But in the spring of 2017, we wound up reconnecting. I’d been dating someone between December and April, before my then-boyfriend ended the relationship seemingly out of nowhere. I’d deactivated OKCupid when I was in the relationship (duh), but after a few weeks back in Single Land I reactivated it, figuring that by the time I’d glued my shattered heart back together and was actually ready to properly date again, I’d be comfortable with the idea of talking to new people again. The first night of my reactivation I spotted The Ghost’s profile and thought that maybe I’d send him a message, just to say hey and see how he was doing, because in our last few texts he didn’t seem like he was doing too mentally well. But I was on the fence considering the way things had turned out the year before, so I decided to sleep on it. Lo and behold, in the morning I woke up to a message from him.

We got caught up with each other and decided to meet up again, starting from scratch with a coffee date (or in my case, a smoothie). The solid banter between us was still there. He made me laugh, a lot, which was something I desperately needed in my life at that point, as I was experiencing deep depression because losing my boyfriend had made me realized how generally dissatisfying much of the rest of my life was. I figured that if I was going to do the rebound thing, that it might as well be with someone I already knew. I needed a distraction from my troubles, and I saw how The Ghost could provide one for me, even if it didn’t work out long term. Which, who knew, maybe this time it would?

So eventually I went to his house again. He offered me another backrub, but I said something like, “Well, shouldn’t you actually kiss me sometime?” Because despite everything that had happened the year before, the damn guy still hadn’t tried to kiss me at all. So I got to finally actually make out with him. It happened standing up, which was kind of weird to me, and also he cut it short when he started to get hard. Maybe he figured I wouldn’t be willing to do anything about it that day? Or maybe it was because his parents were just downstairs. I don’t know, I didn’t ask. Regardless, I was disappointed because I love making out, and have quite happily done it for extended periods of time with happy willing partners even in situations where sex hasn’t been on the table for whatever reason.

But there was one more disappointment: kissing him had brought the discovery that he was actually a pretty terrible kisser. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on kissing, but I’ve never had complaints from any of the six guys that I’ve properly made out with. The Ghost kissed very hard, without ever varying the amount of pressure he used, without varying the angle too much, and he didn’t try anything even slightly saucy like biting my lip or slipping me tongue. And he also completely neglected my neck, which is a Very Important Location for me. But I thought that he could perhaps be teachable, that next time if I just showed him how I wanted to be kissed by kissing him that way, then he would adjust his methods accordingly. So I invited him over my house the next time my mom was out of town. I knew that I didn’t want to have sex with him yet, but figured that the absence of a parental figure might open up some other spicy opportunities.

So we’re making out on my bed. Tops come off, a bit of groping is happening, but pants (trousers for you Brits) are still on. My eyes are closed, my mouth is focused on varying my kissing in the hopes that he’ll mirror me. (Fun fact: he doesn’t.) I feel him adjusting something around his waistline; I figure he’s getting hard and trying to make himself more comfortable. I happen to open my eyes and glance down and that’s when I realize that, no, he’s actually taken out his penis.

I experience a moment of hesitation and mild annoyance. (Note to all men: ask if it’s okay before you whip it out, for god’s sake. Never assume that willingness to see your penis is implied.) There’s a quote from “Cat Person” that when I read it, it felt so strongly connected to this story I’m telling you now: “…the thought of what it would take to stop what she had set in motion was overwhelming; it would require an amount of tact and gentleness that she felt was impossible to summon.” At this point I could’ve told The Ghost to put himself away, but I figured it was easier, less complicated to just roll with it.

So I summon my inner flirt from the depths of my soul (she’d gone to sleep because the kissing was so bad) and I say, “Do you want me to do something about that?”

He says, “With what?”

I reply, “With my hands?”

He consents, and I’ve just barely begun to execute the handjob when he says, “It’s dry.”

I hesitate, brain scrambling for an idea, and hitting on, “I’ll spit on it?” But before I can say the words, he starts kissing me again and jerking himself off.

I am baffled, because his penis is STILL DRY no matter who is jerking it and why would he not prefer the woman who gave him the erection in the first place to do the tugging?????? And yet, I say nothing and just let it all happen, hoping he will come quickly so this can all be over with. I try to facilitate his orgasm via little caresses and a whole variety of kissing styles that he responds to with the same kiss over and over. He doesn’t use his free hand to caress any part of me at all. I feel a deep, painful longing for my ex.

When The Ghost finally comes, some of his semen gets on my blanket despite my best efforts to keep it clean by keeping him on his back. I give him some tissues so he can clean himself up. He gets dressed without offering me an orgasm too. I’m so turned off at that point that I wouldn’t have accepted, but the fact that he doesn’t even offer frustrates me and seems unfair. However, I say nothing to show my displeasure, because I don’t want to make a big deal of the situation. I firmly believe that if somebody manages to give you an orgasm, making a proper enthusiastic attempt at reciprocation is the polite thing to do (even if an orgasm doesn’t actually happen, because although lady parts can be finicky sometimes, it’ll still probably at least be pleasurable for your partner). He may have done the work for himself, but I would have totally done it for him if he hadn’t gone off on his own strange little path. As I discovered for the first time in the relationship I’d just gotten out of, I enjoy the odd sort of power that I feel when I give a handjob, the weird joy of being the boss of my partner’s orgasm, and The Ghost had robbed even that small bit of pleasure from me.

After he went home and I thought about the encounter, I realized I was frustrated (in more ways than one), confused as fuck, and like I was owed something. The physical aspect of a relationship isn’t the most important part to me, but I do need to be compatible with my partners in that way, so knew it would never work with The Ghost because his kissing was just so terrible it was basically anti-arousing. But I didn’t have the heart to tell him that, so when I texted him goodbye I used the good old standby, “I don’t want to lead you on, so I need to tell you that it’s just not clicking for me the way I need it to.”

He responded, “Ok, well thank you. I hope I wasn’t an ass.” And I reassured him that he wasn’t an ass, because he wasn’t. The Ghost did treat me well as a human being. He had some quirks that I could have lived with if we had continued to date (like his repeated applications of hand sanitizer in situations where he hadn’t even gotten his hands dirty?). However, his bedside manner was just too fucking terrible to tolerate. But I’m non-confrontational by nature, and also don’t like to hurt people who don’t deserve it, so I took an easy, vague way out of the situation. And thankfully, he easily accepted it and hasn’t contacted me since.

When I tell the story of The Ghost’s visit to my house in real life, using my vocal chords instead of dozens of typed out words, it’s a comedic tale. But “Cat Person” made me consider this situation more seriously. I identify with Margot, but because she is unlikeable, I worry that I am unlikeable, even though many of her actions are ones that woman do all the time to survive encounters with men, and also to avoid further unwanted ones. I do, in a way, feel bad for not being more honest with The Ghost, but if I’m just following the patterns of all the female ancestors in my DNA, who did what they had to in order to survive with as much of themselves as intact as they could, am I really so bad? Because at the end of the day, I want to survive as intact as I can.

Visting NYC!

I took my last two vacation days this year right after Thanksgiving, to give myself a longer weekend, and keep me out of the office for a total of just about a week. I decided that I would spend one of those days in New York City. I live just a short 40-ish minute train ride from the city, but only go maybe once or twice a year because I don’t know my way around very well, have a slight anxiety about the potential of crime happening to me there, and while I usually have a good adventure in NYC, it’s just such an exhausting hassle.

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I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, where I knew I’d also be getting blood drawn for labwork, so I didn’t have breakfast until just before catching the train. I popped into the locally owned bakery under the train tracks for a hot cocoa and a bagel. The cocoa was kind of meh, but the bagel was real and fantastic. (If you’re from out of state and ever visit me, I will take you for a real Jersey bagel, because they’re just not as good anywhere else!)

After I ate, I bought my train tickets and went up to wait on the platform. While I waited for the train, I popped in my earbuds and did not take them out until I got off the train when I came home. I usually only kept them in one ear, and didn’t play the music too loud so I could still hear things around me, but honestly, it was so nice to be in the big grey city with pleasant music playing, and it actually made for a few somewhat funny juxtapositions during the day (like Lady Gaga’s “Judas” coming on while I was looking at religious art).

My goal for the day was to explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka, The Met). The last time I’d been there, and the last time I’d been in the city in general, was in late February. It was a good day, which eventually has become a bit of a painful memory. And one of the great things about my brain is that sometimes it has trouble letting go of pleasant-turned-painful memories of a place unless I’m able to sort of cover up those associations with new memories It’s weird and kind of dumb, I know, but I’d been fixated for some time on making a trip out to The Met to do a memory replacement of that day. However, the need was not so great that I wanted to deal with weekend crowds, which is why I was devoting one of my two weekdays off to the endeavor.

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I don’t understand how city buses work (although I learned this year that you can use your Metrocard on them!), so after I got off the train in the city, I rode the subway up to the Museum of Natural History and wandered through Central Park, as The Met is just on the other side of the park. Along the way I found this lake, which I think is not The Lake with the Alice in Wonderland statues and stuff, but if there’s anything I love it’s a good water feature.

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I also found this beautiful tree. I love trees with bright yellow leaves like this.

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The line to get into the museum was mercifully short (where on the weekend you might wait half an hour or more). This selfie with the Temple of Dendur is my proof that I actually went on this day trip and didn’t just pull these pictures off of Google, lol. When I was at The Met in February we wound up looking only at historical artifacts and it wasn’t until we got home that I realized that we hadn’t actually looked at any paintings or anything like that, so viewing actual art was my main goal. But I still had to stop and visit the Temple.

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For those unfamiliar, the Temple of Dendur is an actual ancient Egyptian structure that was brought to the museum and rebuilt brick by brick. It’s amazing to me that something like this can still exist and still look so nice! Thank god for curators.

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It turned out The Met was running a big exhibition about Michelangelo’s whole life, featuring a lot of his drawings. The big showpiece for me was this one-quarter scale display of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Around this room were little displays where you could see sketches that actually corresponded to parts of this painting.

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The exhibition also featured work by Michelangelo’s teachers, students, and contemporaries. This statue wasn’t particularly well marked as to who made it, but look at that hair! That is such a beautifully detailed piece of rock!

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I didn’t look at paintings as well, naturally. I saw people walking through the rooms, taking pictures of every single painting (you’re allowed as long as you don’t use flash). But this is the only picture I took. It’s a Van Gogh, and I snapped it because of the texture of the brush strokes and how they made me feel really bad and sad for Van Gogh. Poor Van Gogh.

After I left The Met, I took another walk back across Central Park, again, because I don’t understand city buses. When I’d been in the city in February, I’d spotted the top of some castle-y looking thing through the tree tops, and was curious about it, but sort of forgot until I accidentally came across it months later during a Wikipedia binge.

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Welcome to Belvedere Castle. On my walk back to the subway, I followed the signage that would lead me to it, because I really wanted to see it. Belvedere Castle is an architectural thing known as a “folly,” AKA a structure built for decoration, but appearing like it might be something more grand and important. It’s really just a mostly empty building — there was a visitors’ center on the ground floor, and then VERY narrow stairs that led up to the two observation decks. (So narrow that they’re only wide enough for one person — if you’re claustrophobic this may not be an attraction for you, friends.)

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The view from the Castle’s observation decks was amazing, though. Look at this picture postcard view!

I took the subway back to Penn Station, but did not hop on a train home just yet because I had one more mission I wanted to accomplish. But because I don’t understand city buses, I figured it was easier to take the subway back to Penn and then do the fifteen minute walk to the place I wanted to go.

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My route actually accidentally took me past the famous Macy’s Herald Square. If you watch the Thanksgiving Parade as religiously as I do, you’ll recognize this street. It definitely doesn’t seem like a wide enough street for all those massive balloons, but I guess everything probably seems bigger on television.

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This is the Empire State Building, viewed from the base. I’ve never been up it because it costs approximately a bajillion dollars (aka, $36 for the most basic ticket package, all that just to go up a goddamn elevator, fuck that). Regardless of the price gauging, it’s a nice building to look at!

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The is the Flatiron Building! Ever since I was introduced to Wagamama on trip to Boston in 2014 it’s been a place that I need to hit up when I go to visits there, because we didn’t have any down here. Until recently, that is. When I was in Boston in March, looking up the addresses on my phone, I’d noticed that they’d opened a couple of NYC locations! One is inside the door covered by that black booth on the lower right (I forgot to take a picture of the front, because I am an A+ blogger). When I was thinking about going to The Met, I knew I wanted to hit up Wagamama if it wasn’t too much of a pain to get to.

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I always get the chili squid. The spice on the squid is great, and the dipping sauce has a sort of hard to describe spicy, savory, sweetness. I love this stuff! They also used to have little servings of pickled vegetables that you could order as a side (the pieces were so small I had no idea what they were), but they’re apparently discontinued? Which is a bummer, because I love the taste of Asian style pickling, definitely a way better flavor than your typical Western dill, bread-and-butter, etc.

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And then I always get ramen, different kinds depending on what I feel like that day. It’s not as good as the small local place my friends and I frequent, but it’s still very tasty! And warm soup hit the spot after walking through the chilly, windy city (and also considering I was three hours overdue for lunch). This is the pork belly variety, and it was great. I need to try making the sort of semi-soft boiled egg they put in ramen, because I love the texture of it.

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After eating, I hiked back to Penn Station and hopped on the next train home. My goal was to be on a train home before 5pm, so I wouldn’t be smushed in with as many commuters, and could maybe actually get a nice seat — I met that guideline by about an hour. So it was a little crowded,  but not too bad. I took this picture from inside of the train, so it’s a little blurry, but I think it’s still pretty. (If you’re one of those people that makes fun of New Jersey for being ugly, I will assume you’ve only ever been on the highways and promptly email you dozens of the photographs I’ve taken over the course of my life as a way of proving you wrong, lol.)

All in all I had a great day! Although because I went from zero physical activity to two-thousand all at once I had sore legs and hip joints for days afterward. Well worth it, though. I should figure out how to get to more places in the city, so I can go on more different adventures!

–Krys

My Skincare Routine

A few weeks ago my buddy Sam over at the blog Pretty Thoughtful posted her skincare routine and I was shocked. Somehow she really only uses 4 or 5 products to keep her skin nice! But I’m sure it could go both ways, and she’ll wind up shocked by the extensive list I’m about to detail below. But first, let’s have a little chat about my skin and its history.

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This is my skin, plain and clean. It’s not perfect (check out that red mark on my cheek from where I picked at a zit!) but lately I’ve honestly been having the best skin I’ve had since I hit puberty. Ever since my lovely female hormones first kicked into gear when I was in middle school, I’ve struggled with oily skin and breakouts. For contrast/reference, here’s a photo of me from summer 2009, just after graduating high school. It’s pretty representative of my most common acne locations over my life, although now the breakouts mostly just hangout around my chin.

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At this point in my life I had at least some vague concept of skincare — I do recall using an actual acne facewash from the drugstore and not just plain soap, but I didn’t moisturize yet, and when I did start doing that, I just used body lotion, which surely did not help either the acne or oil situations. But even once I started to get my head on straight when it came to my skin, it was still often a battle (although I know there are people with waaay bigger acne struggles than me).

However, this past year my skin has been SO well behaved (although still oilier than I’d like). I know this is partly because of some good habits I’ve developed, like drinking more water or washing my pillowcase when I wash clothes every week since I only change my sheets about once a month. But I know those two little things probably can’t have done it on their own, so I have a few other ideas how this might have happened:

  1. I’ll be 27 in January so maybe I’m finally aging out? (Please, please, please.)
  2. I take a hormonal birth control pill, and this spring I switched to a new one because the one I was on had been giving me problems. After my doctor put me on Apri, I looked up reviews, and saw people saying it had really helped their skin, so maybe that’s happened here?
  3. Or have I finally put together a skincare routine that actually works?

So now after that very long preamble, let’s actually get into the nitty gritty of what I’ve been doing for my skin!

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Let’s start with washing! I wash my face twice a day — once when I first get up, and again at some point in the evening. If I’ve been wearing makeup, I do a two step cleanse, first with the Dissolve Gel to Oil Cleanser from Sonia Kashuk. It comes out of the tube as a gel,  then when you rub it onto your skin it turns into an oil, and then when you add water, it emulsifies and washes everything away. I can hear you all now saying, “But Krys, you just said you have oily skin? And yet you put an oil on it?” Yes, but I also put a lot of waterproof makeup on my eyes, and heavy powder to keep my makeup matte, and this stuff breaks it down way more gently than makeup wipes do. Although try not to open your eyes if you’re using it, because it will sting a bit. (Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm is also just as nice for makeup removal, and doesn’t sting the eyes, but it’s twice as expensive as this Sonia Kashuk gel. So.)

My general cleanser is the Noxzema Classic Clean (and this is also the second step of my two step makeup removal cleanse). Whenever I’d complained about my acne over the years my aunt said, “Well have you tried Noxzema?” and I kind of brushed her off. But finally last October I said fuck it, and gave it a try, and I quite like it! It doesn’t make my skin feel tight afterwards like other cleansers I’ve tried, and it’s got menthol so it feels refreshing and tingly. I like that you can apply it to a wet or dry face — I’ll usually start rubbing it into my face while I’m waiting for the sink water to get warm. And it’s kind of solid, so it’s easy to put into a little travel pot and bring on a trip without worrying about it spilling everywhere. I found out this summer that it does kind of break down and get more liquid-y in the heat, but it doesn’t ruin the cleansing power.

Garnier’s Micellar Water is my “lazy” cleanser (and also great on a q-tip for fixing little makeup mistakes). I most frequently use this if I come home very late on a no makeup day, and know that I should wash my face before going to bed, but don’t have the energy. I’ll put some on a cotton pad and apply it to my face. It’s amazing how much stuff it picks up off of a bare face! Also, make sure you shake this before you use it or only the oil on top will come out. When I first bought it, I didn’t like it because I thought it was more oily than the only other micellar water I’d tried, but it grew on me once I realized it needed to be shaken.

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Behold! My morning skincare! First up, we have toner — I’m not actually using Lush’s Tea Tree Toner right now (although I do like it a lot). That bottle’s actually filled with Thayer’s Witch Hazel toner in the Rose variety. I don’t have the actual bottle for it anymore, because I like using it better with this spray bottle. I just spray it on a cotton pad and swipe it over my skin. I haven’t tried too many toners, because the ones I had tried were really drying and I just assumed that’s how they all were (but it’s probably because I’d somehow only tried ones with alcohol in them, which is a big no-no for happy skin). But years ago Joseph Birdsong did a video about his skincare routine, and Thayer’s toner was in it. Joe has killer skin, so I figured it was worth a try, and even though I keep trying other things, I always come back to this. Witch Hazel is good for keeping skin clear, and Rose is soothing, so it’s a no brainer why this works. I definitely find my skin isn’t as good if I stop using toner.

Next we have my one single nod to the overly elaborate Korean skincare trend: Origins’ Original Skin Essence Lotion with Dual Ferment Complex. I’m pretty sure the whole essence lotion thing started with K-beauty and then migrated to Western brands. This product from Origins is supposed to hydrate the skin and help with pores and uneven texture. I think that this is one of the things that’s behind my acne clearing up faster than it used to once it’s appears. I’m not sure how much it’s actually doing all of the things it says it should be, but I like the way my skin is when I use this, versus when I use something else, or use nothing for this step, so you know, that’s good enough for me.

And then for my moisturizer — Garnier’s Moisture Bomb from their SkinActive range. I tend to stick to gel cream / water based moisturizers because using an oil based facial moisturizer is just asking for trouble with my oily skin. My go-to is the Ginzing moisturizer from Origins, but the last time I ran low, I picked this up because YouTuber Laura Lee suggested it. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, but I’m not sure I’d repurchase it once I finish it because yes, it does make my skin feel nice and soft and isn’t overly moisturizing, but it’s got a fragrance I’m not too crazy about.

Also, if I apply too much by accident or rub too hard when I put it on, it kind of pills up like some silicone based makeup primers I’ve tried (Dr. Brandt’s Pores No More or Benefit’s Porefessional, for instance). I’ve just looked it up, because I was curious and had a hunch, and dimethicone (which is in the silicone family) is the third ingredient in it! So that explains why it does almost feel like I’ve applied one of those primers when I put it on, and why it acts like them. (Although for the record, I did just check on the ingredients of the Ginzing as well, and it’s got one of those pesky “-cone”s in it, but it doesn’t feel like it when I use it, and that’s what matters to me.)

At this point I can hear the record scratch to a halt in your head — “Again, I thought you had oily skin? Why are you going on about all this moisturizing stuff?” Well, there’s this weird thing with skin where if it thinks it’s not receiving enough moisture, it will produce more oil to kind of compensate for its dryness. So even if you have oily skin, you still have to moisturize! Very important thing to know and do!

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And finally for this post, my evening skincare. At night instead of the rose toner, I use one of these Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads. I just swipe one of these bad boys over my face after I wash it at night. I’m awful at remembering to use physical exfoliators, so using a chemical/acidic one like this is very helpful to my skin. These pads have Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids in them (and salicylic, lactic, hyaluronic, and glycolic acids as well [Or are those the AHAs and BHAs? Not fully sure.]). Basically the acids weaken the bonds between your skin cells to speed up the natural exfoliation / renewal of the skin. I’m pretty sure these bad boys have been instrumental in my acne not sticking around as long as it used to, and also for the marks clearing up more quickly after I pick at them (which I know you shouldn’t do, but I often can’t help myself).

Since the pads are pretty well-saturated with product, when I use one I also swipe it over my upper chest area (aka, the decolletage) and also the backs of my arms (because I’ve got those pesky little bumps known as keratosis pilaris) to get the same benefits there. I’m not sure I should be using these every night, but nothing really bad has happened and I’ve been using them for months. So. These are kind of a pain for me to get my hands on — in my area I basically have to go out of my way to stop CVS or Ulta, neither of which are stores I go to often. So if I’m running low, and I’m making my weekly-ish trip to Target I’ll pick up a bottle of the Pixi Glow Tonic to use instead. But I don’t like it as much, mainly because of the scent. (I’m very particular about scents).

Anyway, so after I use a Nip + Fab pad, I use the Origins Essence Lotion from my morning routine. And then instead of my moisturizer, we have the pièce de résistance, my one item of truly luxury skincare, the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask. I spotted this one day in the K-beauty section of Sephora, and what drew me to it at first was the scent — it straight up smells like watermelon candy. And the gel texture was kind of cool and fun. But it’s $45 so instead of buying it right off the bat, I went home and did research and when I still wanted it, I splurged. I knew I’d made a good pick / felt super validated in my life choices when one of the Sephora employees spotted me picking it off the shelf to buy it and told me how much she loved it.

Its main ingredients are watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and AHAs, so it gently chemically exfoliates the skin while you sleep and also provide hydration. And yes, it is a little pricey, but they give you a tiny little spoon in the box it comes in, and you’re only supposed to use one or two scoops at a time, so one jar really lasts quite awhile. I bought my first jar sometime in late spring and only bought my second jar in October. This is another one that I’m not sure I’m meant to be using every night but that, again, hasn’t hurt me yet.

So that’s the end of this post! Thanks for sticking along to the end! I was going to include face scrubs as well, but then this post got quite out of control because I felt the need to explain each item in such detail, so I’ll do another post of scrubs (and also masks!) at some point in the future.

Tell me about your skincare routines in the comments! I always get super curious and nosy about that kind of stuff. I’d love to hear what you do.

–Krys

Thankfulness

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I had planned to write a post about something else this week, but then I remembered that Thursday, the day I usually set my posts to go live, is Thanksgiving here in America. I knew it was coming, and yet at the same time completely forgot that it was anything other than a few free days off of work. I think I kind of forgot about Thanksgiving in the sense of it being a holiday spent with family because while I know I have many many things to be thankful for, I feel pretty bitter about how this year has gone and haven’t felt fully positive and optimistic in months. I’ll go into more detail later, in an “end of year wrap-up” post in December maybe, or around my birthday in January. But right now all you need to know is that I feel like if this year was a big, sports-arena type scoreboard, it would read something like “2017: a bajillion, Krys: 0.”

 

I’ve tried writing this post from several different approaches, and all of them feel kind of strange and stilted and forced to me, so let me just leave it at this: happy Thanksgiving to you if you’re in the US like I am. And if you’re not, I hope you’re enjoying your holiday season so far.

Let us all do our best to keep in mind the blessings the universe has seen fit to give us, even when that is difficult because we are not feeling mentally or physically well. After all, I firmly believe we get what we give, so if we put positivity out into the world, even if it’s just in the form of inwardly appreciating the good things we have, hopefully we will be rewarded with more of the good things we want and/or need. That’s my two cents anyway.

–Krys

 

 

“When are you due?”

It was Saturday afternoon, and I was stuck at the car dealership, as not only was my regular maintenance being done, they were also dealing with a flat tire that had turned up on my car the day before. One other woman was waiting at the same time as me and, as happens sometimes, small talk sprouted.

I misheard her at first. “I’m a receptionist,” I replied, thinking she’d asked, “What do you do?” And then she repeated herself.

“No, I asked, when are you due?”

I felt blood rush to my face. “Oh, no, I’m not pregnant,” I told her.

The woman I shared the car dealership waiting room with turned into a fountain of apologies, which I in my shocked state quickly accepted, eager to end the interaction.

In my surprise I didn’t have it in me to be offended or mad at her. I carry a lot of my weight in my stomach and when I sit/slouch it kind of gets all pushed together and forward in a way that could perhaps look like there’s a baby inside, especially in certain clothes. This is what I was wearing at the time (the picture is from last year).

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This dress used to be a favorite of mine, before some shit happened this spring and the happy memories attached to it became painful. I still bust it out from time to time, because it’s still cute, and also work appropriate. But that empire waist cuts me off under the bust and emphasizes my stomach, again, especially when I’m sitting down.

Thankfully, I wasn’t trapped in waiting room purgatory with that woman for much longer. When I left the dealership, the first thing I did was park in the lot of the Home Depot next door to return a phone call from my mom. And then when I got off the phone I was hit with a wave of emotion, now that I no longer had to put on composed front for strangers. I’m not too proud to say that I started crying in my car.

I had occasionally joked to myself and others about the chance that someone might mistake me for a pregnant person. But now that such a thing had happened to me, embarrassment and shame overrode my “crack a joke to lighten the mood” reflex. I texted my friends about it and they reassured me, but I still felt pretty terrible.

I’m not a fucking idiot. I know I’m fat, but very rarely do I feel bad about it. I’ve reached a place in my life where I feel good about my body just the way it is, and think that anyone who has anything negative to say about all 240-ish pounds of me can fuck right the fuck off. (Although I do keep health concerns in the back of my head and try to make good choices as best I can, naturally, because while I love my body, I know obesity is not healthy.)

But somehow this one woman’s inquiry about a baby that doesn’t (and hopefully will never) exist turned my self-esteem on its ear. I felt incredibly self-conscious. I wondered how many other people had ever looked at me and though the same thing she did. I thought about how there were probably a number of people out there who had probably talked smack about me, at least in their own heads, because of how much space I take up.

I felt fat, in the most disgusting way.

I don’t know why people feel the right to ask about the bodies of people that are strangers, or who they don’t really know well personally. I have one coworker who will occasionally ask me if I’ve lost weight, phrasing it in a kindly “you’re looking really great” kind of way. I know that I haven’t; whatever I happen to be wearing on the days that she asks must just be particularly flattering. It just makes me feel kind of awkward, because I’m receiving praise for something I haven’t even done or really have any serious plan for pursuing.

And it seems that with pregnant people it’s twofold. The coworker I’m closest to is pregnant with her second child right now, and she was showing me pictures from the baby shower the office threw for her first child and in one of them basically all the other secretaries were crowded around touching her stomach. From my outside perspective watching her pregnancy, it feels like once you’ve got a baby in you everyone is so excited that you’re continuing the human race that they feel entitled to ask you invasive questions.

What if I had been pregnant but I’d miscarried? Or I’d recently carried to term, but then the baby was stillborn, or born with medical issues? Or if I was just fat, but trying desperately to conceive without success? She’s lucky she asked me if I was expecting, someone who’s only overweight and not interested in starting a ruckus, instead of someone who might’ve had a larger reaction.

But anyway, I digress. Let’s just discuss the rest of my day.

I had originally planned to grab an early dinner from one of the restaurants up by the dealership, but considering crying had made my face all red and awful that was out of the question, even at the shitty diner, because what if I ran into someone I knew? And besides I was suddenly torn between two competing urges: order and eat a whole pizza or not eat anything for the whole rest of the night.

I settled on something in between. I drove home, crying on and off along the way. I changed my clothes and washed my face, browsed the internet a little bit to calm myself down. And then I went to my favorite local burrito place and got my usual shrimp burrito, which is only just slightly too much food for me. I still felt emotionally wrecked, but not as emotionally wrecked as I knew I would’ve been if I’d just stayed home and dwelled on my thoughts.

After dinner, I had a really specific craving for rice pudding, so I went to the nearest grocery store, feeling every feeling from Sabrina Benaim’s poem “The Loneliest Sweet Potato” as I wandered the aisles.

 

The trouble with rice pudding is that only one brand really makes it, and they only sell it in a giant tub, or in packets of 6 pudding cups, which really is more rice pudding than I ever want during my weird, occasional rice pudding craving times. Basically after I eat a little, then I’m good, and then I’m left with way too much extra. But then I spotted it.

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Single serving rice pudding. It wasn’t great, to be honest. The grains were bigger and harder than I would’ve liked. But it was good enough for what I needed in that moment.

I don’t really have a good moral or anything to wrap this up with. Just…please think before you speak. Don’t ask people weird questions that aren’t any of your business. That’s all.

–Krys

Forest Green Torrid Haul

As a plus size woman, it can be tough to find clothes that I like. For the past couple of years Torrid has seriously been my jam, ever since I got a job that allowed me to have some free money after my bills. Because let’s face it, quality clothing costs more money, but also plus size women also pay a sort of “fat tax” in the sense that many of our options cost more money than similar straight size options. I’m assuming this is because companies know they can get away with it because of our overall lack of options. For instance, one time a few years ago, I was looking at plus size jeans on Old Navy’s website (because like many retailers they don’t carry their extended sizes in physical stores) and I realized they cost TWICE AS MUCH as as the straight size jeans. To say I was livid is an understatement.

But I digress. This is a post about some of my recent Torrid purchases. I had some Haute Cash coupons so I treated myself to a few things. It wasn’t until I started to receive my items in the mail that I realized that I had accidentally only purchased items that were forest green. I’m not complaining — I like the color, and it looks good on me, especially because my hair is usually some reddish color. But I just thought it was a funny coincidence! So here’s what I got!

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First up we have the Plaid Print Embroidered Tunic Top! I had concerns about the neck being too low to wear to work, but it’s not. I also had concerns that the elastic under the bust wouldn’t be flattering on me, because sometimes a detail like that isn’t, but it turned out fine! For reference, I bought this top in Torrid’s size 2, which is supposedly somewhere around the average 2X. I’d say the fit is pretty good, not too large.

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The back dips a little as well, but not as low as some other tops I’ve seen from Torrid. I styled this with one of my favorite pairs of jeans (also from Torrid) and some flats, which you can’t see, because I’m still figuring out how to photograph outfits by myself. My office allows us to wear jeans, so this would definitely be a good work outfit for me! But the top covers my butt, so I’d definitely feel comfortable wearing it with a pair of leggings on the weekend as well.

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If you’re wondering where the “embroidery” part of the name comes from, look no further than the little bit of lacy nonsense along the collar and next to the buttons.

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Next we have the Olive Cinched Front Jersey Fluted Skater Dress. God I’m glad this isn’t a video, that’d be a real mouthful! This is another one that I got in size 2, and it’s a little loose, but also sometimes Torrid’s clothes in this material shrink a little in the wash. We’ve got another v-neck here, but once again, it’s not too low to wear to work without a tank top underneath. I’ve paired it with a pair of my favorite basic Forever 21+ leggings, but I’d say it’s almost too long to wear with leggings without looking a little weird. But, again, I’m expecting this to shrink a little, and also if I want to get any wear out of this before spring, I’m gonna need leggings under it (assuming NJ actually gets to have winter this year with all this damn global warming).

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Speaking of wearing things with this dress — I definitely would wanna wear a cardigan with this for work. That cutout in the back isn’t low enough to show my bra, but it’s still big enough to feel a little risky for a professional setting. A lot of Torrid’s clothes seem to have this problem where the front will look totally nice, and then the back is super low, or cutout, or made of strings or lace, which I’m super not into, because for the most part I prefer for my bra to not show in my clothes.

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You can’t see it in any of the other pictures, but I paired this dress with a gold headband I have that I got at Icing awhile ago. I just really love green and gold together!

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This is probably my favorite thing I got — they call it the Olive Green Jersey Knit Button Front Shirt Dress. I’ve bought and loved a bunch of tops from Torrid in a style similar to this (they usually call it a babydoll top) so naturally I jumped on this when I saw it, especially in this color! I picked this up in a 2, but probably wear a 1 because the neckline is kind of scoop-y and the fabric is kind of loose. I kept wearing it for the rest of the day after I photographed this haul and repeatedly noticed my bra was sticking out a little because it had slid around / down. I’d forgotten that this was an issue with 1 or 2 of the babydoll tops I own, or else I probably would’ve sized down when I purchased this. But it’s not really that bad, and still cute, so I’m not sending it back!

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I think this would be a cute dress for a date! It’s nice and flowy, and not too over the top. I matched it with some tights and my favorite pair of boots. I pulled my hair into a half ponytail, because it’s a cute style on me. (But you can’t see it because, again, I didn’t frame my photos that great. I’ll do better next time!)

Lastly I bought a couple of things that you won’t get to see me try on (unless you are a cute, nice guy from northeastern NJ, in that case, hit me up and let’s be friends and maybe date).

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First up we have this Microfiber Mesh Back Hipster Panty. Ever since I discovered them this spring, I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of different colors of these to use for my “sexy” underwear. Previously I did have underwear that I felt okay about guys seeing, but nothing that I felt was really flirty or sexy. Not being in the Victoria’s Secret demographic really has cut me out of a lot of what I would consider lingerie and not just underwear. But on a whim I bought a couple of pairs of Torrid’s stretchy lacy hipster panties in the spring when I had a coupon just to try them, because I was in a relationship and wanted something new and nice to show off, and to my surprise I liked them. And then I got dumped, so no man has actually seen me in a pair of these, but who cares. I still wear them once or twice a week just to do a little something nice for myself.

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This is a lot of talk about a pair of underwear, but hear me out. I thought the lace or the see- through mesh back might be scratchy, but they’re not, just soft and stretchy. I thought the microfiber might feel weird on my parts, but it doesn’t because these are actually lined with cotton. I still don’t wear them more than a day in a row, because there’s microfiber on the other side of that lining and lady parts need cotton to breathe and be healthy. They do sometimes ride up the butt a little, probably because of that ruching you can see in the middle there, but it’s not too bad. I love this style of underwear and when I saw it in this color, I had to snatch it up. I wear a 3 in these, if you were wondering.

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And finally, the last item, a bra to match that underwear. Say hello to my favorite bra, Torrid’s Lace and Microfiber Sexy T-Shirt Bra! I don’t usually wear matching underwear — it just feels weird somehow so I tend to mix and match. So I may not ever wear this with the matching bottoms. But again, it’s a thing that I like in a color that I like, so I wanted to have it. Plus, this spring I was faced with the fact that I had mysteriously lost 10 pounds since the previous spring and as a result my bras were fitting horribly. I’m still slowly replacing my bras with ones that actually fit when there’s sales or I have coupons. (Why are bras so expensive???)

I tend to prefer a “t-shirt” style bra, because the cups are generally smoother under shirts. But a lot of t-shirt bras are freaking boring! I used to buy bras at Lane Bryant and yes their t-shirt bras came in patterns (which I usually thought were ugly anyway), but they never had any frills or lace or anything (and their bras that had that stuff were not a good fit for my boob shape). So I love Torrid’s t-shirt bras because I get to have my smooth cup, but there’s still a little bit of lace for fun!

So that’s it! I didn’t mean to buy all of these green clothes, but I’m excited to wear them out and about. Thanks for reading!

— Krys

(None of the links are affiliate links [obviously]. I just wanted to share where you could get this stuff if you were interested!)

Halloween 2017!

I know I’m a few days (almost a week!) late on this, but I wanted to do a write-up on my Halloween anyway, because this one was a good one!

The Saturday before Halloween, I hosted a little Halloween party for my friends at my house — I affectionately titled this “Friendoween.” My friend T was going to host, but our friend S has cat allergies, and T has two cats and a small apartment. S’s allergies aren’t too severe, but it’s still more comfortable for her to not be around cats, so since my mom was going to be away, I volunteered to play host. My friends brought the food, and I was in charge of decorating / general supplies like cups and plates.

I’ve hosted two of our friend parties before, and in the past my decorations have been kind of elaborate (balloons taped everywhere, tons of streamers and other odds and ends), but this time I went a little more subtle. When I saw what decorations and supplies were still available at Target, the them I settled on was “sort of witchy.”

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I pulled one of my family’s tablecloths onto the table, and covered our dining chairs with fake spiderweb. From the doorways I just hung gentle, graceful loops of streamers. This was more difficult than you’d think because I am short, lol.

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(Don’t mind the black boxes, just covered up my family’s faces for privacy’s sake!)

This area was kind of my piece de resistance. This party happened during a weird period of time where we had two sofas in the living room. This one had a funny little stain on the cushions, so to make it nicer, I took this starry curtain that I used to use to cover the scarred ugly top of my old desk and tucked it over the cushions. We had that owl and spider in a box of Halloween decorations, so I set them out and then twisted some little lights around a length of streamer to make a garland over the fireplace.

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Once everyone arrived, we wound up with quite a varied spread. And we also ordered pizza to have a “proper” dinner. It was so. much. food. But all so good! And then once we’d chatted and snacked a little, we went out in my backyard to photograph our costumes!

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In September I was casually browsing Torrid’s website and noticed they had their Halloween section up, and that this dress was in it. Ariel is my favorite Disney princess, and I’d wanted to cosplay her for awhile, but I have no skill with sewing and it can be hard to find the right clothing to build a costume when you’re plus size. So this dress was an exciting find! It’s nice and soft and holds up well in the washing machine. I wish I had got it a size smaller, but it’s really not that big a deal.

Torrid doesn’t have it up on their website anymore, but you can still grab it at Hot Topic, in straight sizes as well! (Pro-tip for my fellow plus size girls: Torrid and Hot Topic have the same parent company, and sometimes carry the same merchandise, so if something you want is sold out on Torrid, check Hot Topic!)

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My wig is the Ferrari Classic from Arda Wigs in Apple Red. A lot of people told me it looked really good on me, but it was kind of frustrating. I’d like to trim the bangs so I don’t have to pin them back, but I’m also terrified of ruining this nice wig, so pinning it is! My bow came from Tita’s Hiding Place on Etsy.

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All in all, I’m super pleased with how this came out, and now I have a solid cosplay for any future cons I go to!

My friends did some good costumes too, so I asked permission to post pictures of them and they said yes!

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L’s costume is an homage to Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance. She was listening to them a lot to get in the right mindset for drawing one of her characters, and the costume was originally going to be kind of a joke on the stereotype of an emo kid, but then she researched a bit about Gerard and MCR and grew to respect them a lot. I think she did really well with this!

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T dressed as the extreme stereotype of a disgruntled art student. T knows all about this because they commuted to college at one of the big famous art schools in the city. This costume meant lots of plaid, fingerless gloves, scarves and beanies, and large amounts of Starbucks coffee.

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Since I graduated a semester early, I was home while T was working on their last projects for school and I can attest to the accuracy of this portrayal, lol.

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S and her girlfriend M both dressed as Rey from Star Wars. M (not pictured in this post) was Force Awakens Rey and S was Last Jedi Rey.

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Didn’t you know a lightsaber makes a great guitar?

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Then we went back inside and watched this Japanese horror movie that is nowhere near as scary as its box. House (sometimes known as Hausu) is a movie from the 70’s that’s mainly known for being kind of goofy, kitschy, and somewhat surreal. Maybe I’ll do a write-up in a blog post sometime! I found a trailer for it on YouTube, and it makes the movie look scarier than it really is. And I hope you like that song at the start of the trailer, because different versions of it are basically the entire soundtrack of the movie, lol.

Then after the movie we played some spooky video games for awhile until gradually everyone started to fall asleep on the couches and we decided to call it a night. Everyone had a great time, and I couldn’t have asked to have more fun, or better company. I’m very glad to have the friends that I do.

What did you guys do for Halloween? Did you dress up?

— Krys