Why “The Handmaid’s Tale” Speaks to Me

I started The Handmaid’s Tale series on Hulu on the recommendation of my husband because, in his words, “you like weird shows like that”. Dystopian shows are some of my favorite because they at least attempt to show the seedy underbelly of human behavior that we so often try to gloss over and hide. So I began the first episode on an early spring Saturday morning and I was not at all prepared for how it would affect me.

Growing up, my mom would always tell me I had to be better than the best because, unfairly, some people would think my best was only half as good as a boy’s mediocre. I shrugged her words off as only the young and innocent can. If I tried my hardest then I’d surely succeed in all that I took on. Oh, young Samantha. Fast forward to senior year of high school and me sitting in a classroom at Berea College in an upper level women’s studies course. Students at my high school could take college classes at Berea or EKU if our schedules and parents allowed. I ended up taking intro to women’s studies my last semester of junior year and continuing down the path until I was two classes short of a minor. On this particular day, the mall group of women and our professor were talking about whether or not one person could change the world. Everyone else had said they couldn’t, but my 17 year old self said that, indeed, one person could change the world. The others laughed and said I’d change my mind once I knew more of the world. In a way, they were right.

As a freshman at a small college in an even smaller town in Southeastern Kentucky, I wasn’t at all prepared for the attention I would garner. Freshmen women, I would come to find out, were a source of intense interest because they represented new romantic possibilities. Fresh meat entering the market with little to no idea of the environment we were walking into. I remember the first full day on campus when other students had moved in. I was walking from my dorm to the chapel for a meeting and a group of men were sitting on the sidewalk next to the student center. They began sucking their teeth and calling out to me as I neared. This was my first cat calling experience and it occurred right in broad daylight next to campus safety’s office. That should’ve told me all I needed to know about how women were viewed and treated.

Junior year, I’m a resident assistant in the freshman dorm and finishing my rounds for the night. It’s a weeknight so my shift is over at midnight. I’m tired ad have class early the next morning, I’m deep into my course load for my two majors and studying for the GRE. I turned my radio off right before there’s a knock at my door. I open it to find one of my residents visibly shaken, wide eyed, and crying. Once I get her into my room and close the door she tells me she’s been raped by one of the football players. I know the guy she’s talking about, it’s a small school so I’ve had a class with him and I remember getting the warning vibe we learn to develop early. I offer to drive her to the hospital for a rape exam, assuring her they’re free and that I won’t leave her side. She refuses. I know better than to offer to radio anyone or alert any authorities. We both know it won’t do any good and would only be harder on her. So we sit. I still feel her tears soaking into my shirt and my tears soaking into her hair.

I’m in graduate school and trying to learn how to juggle my classes, graduate assistant position, a personal life, and the never ending pile of homework on my desk. This campus is way larger than my undergrad college’s and I still get lost if I’m not paying attention every second. I’ve already been warned by other women that I need to tone my personality down. I’m too loud, too crude, and just too much. Their words hurt. I thought I could spread my wings here, and I can, but only a little bit further. There is still a cage and I still very much feel it.

I have a bunch of letters after my name and I’m working on more, but a man maybe 10 years older than I am addresses myself and a coworker as “girls”. I don’t think he’s even aware of the implications behind what he just said. Does he know that rings in my ears as it would a black man’s if you called him “boy”? Probably not. A friend, meaning well, says maybe I should tomboy it up to be taken a little more seriously. I decline. I love my full 50s style skirts, heels, pearls, and elaborate makeup. I feel pretty and most myself like this and don’t want to change.

When Offred is living her hellish nightmare of a life, I feel her pain because it doesn’t seem that far away to me. My body is seen as a social commentary. Too big, too small, too this, too that. My level of education is easily wiped away with one word. Why don’t I have a baby yet? We’ve been married almost 2 years and my husband has a steady job. I am a threat because everything I am and have accomplished lives inside of a female body. I am both Eve and Mary; the temptress and the mother. If I could crawl outside of my body, I would. What would they hold against me then?

Oh, she boujee?

You all know I’m a drugstore queen. A lot of my favorite makeup is from the drugstore, including al but three of my foundations (I have 9 total) and my favorite highligher. With that being said though, I have found some high end products that made me do a death drop (where all my drag fans out there?!). I cancelled my Birchbox back in February because all of the products were super expensive and I didn’t feel my samples were being chosen well for me. I did keep my Ipsy bag, though, and haven’t been disappointed yet. Recently, I recieved a sample size of Urban Decay’s Primer Potion (the original), Urban Decay Afterglow highlight in Sin, and Grande Mascara in black (full size!) and was blown away by each one. The Primer Potion is an eyeshadow primer and I loved it so much that I went and bought the full size at Sephora. It really makes for a smooth base that lets my eyeshadow colors be as vibrant as they were made to be and keeps them from creasing even after a long day. I chaperoned prom with this as my eyeshadow base and I still looked fly when I go home at 2am. The Afterglow highlight in Sin is a bright, almost metallic, silver and POPS on my cheekbones and nose! A little goes a long way and I was so impressed it gave my Wetn’Wild Megaglow highlighter a run for its money. The Grande Mascara…this stuff is beyond amazing. It makes my lashes look longer, fuller, and it doesn’t flake or transfer. I’m in love.

Thomas does a Passover box for me since he gets an Easter basket. This year, one of the surprises in it was a Beauty Blender! I’ve been using a cheap knockoff makeup sponge I got from Sephora in a four pack and it did a decent job, but this Beauty Blender makes me look airbrushed. I have dry skin (as we know since I say it all the time) and I feel like the damp Beauty Blender really helps to keep my foundation from sticking to any lizard patches that my moisturizers and oils might’ve missed. I’ve noticed that the Beauty Blender washes easier and more thoroughly than my Sephora sponge as well. Another gift from my sweet baboo was the Anastasia of Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance eyeshadow palette. Normally, I’m a neutral eye look with a back cat eye liner kind of girl but this palette has me loving the warm toned oranges, reds, pinks, and browns in it. The formula is so creamy and crazy easy to blend as well as extremely pigmented. I can do an entire eye look out of this palette alone and that is something that’s super important to me. When we travel, I don’t like taking a bunch of makeup with me. I usually pack just pack the basics and worry more about clothes since I don’t mind going bare faced but going bare butt is illegal and awkward. The final high end it for me lately is definitely the Quick Fix Hydracharged Complexion Prep Priming Spray from Urban Decay. I use this over my pore filling primers for a little extra hydration as well as a setting spray. With dry skin, I’ve noticed normal setting sprays dry me out and make my makeup crack where my skin is thirty. This spray hydrates my skin as it sets my makeup so the two mesh perfectly together and stay flawless for hours. Plus, it smells like coconut!

I still absolutely adore my drugstore makeup, but these are a few high end products that I feel are worth the investment. Everything I just listed lasts a long time and has results that I feel are worth the extra money you pay for them.

Musings

There are points in our lives that we only see as crossroads years after they pass. At the ripe old age of 26, I can clearly see five in my own life: 1) the day Berea College rejected me because my mom made “too much money” thus causing me to apply and ultimately attend Union College, 2) when I applied to EKU for grad school, 3) the day the thirst to teach finally overcame me and I applied to begin my MAT degree, 4) when I first laid eyes on my now husband, and 5) when a great love story ended before it could begin. Choices lead us down a road uniquely our own. We can never know how our path might’ve been altered if we had made difference decisions in those crossroads moments. If Berea had accepted me would I have ended up pursuing a women’s studies degree like I had planned? What if I hadn’t done grad school at EKU? What would I be doing right now if I had never started my MAT and started teaching? Would I have met and married someone else if I had never said yes when my husband asked me out on our first date? Choices. Decisions.

Sometimes I think of life as a Monet painting: lots of tiny brushstrokes that only make a complete picture when you step back and look at them as a whole. Each choice is a brushstroke and the painting is yet to be revealed. I, like everyone else, am a deeply flawed human being. I have a temper, strange quirks (like my movie theater rituals), pet peeves (never chew with your mouth open around me), and things that make me illogically happy (Athena dog snoring in my face, a warm furry cat belly to rub, the sound of my wedding rings clinking on a coffee mug, Gerber daisies, and babies). We’re all just cosmic beings inside of earthly bodies trying to do the best we can day by day, minute by minute, and second by second.

Function of Beauty: Custom Shampoo and Conditioner

I love watching YouTube beauty videos (guilty pleasure) and one day I was watching one from a former Buzzfeed employee about a custom shampoo and conditioner. A little tidbit about me: I LOVE custom beauty products. My skin is very dry and sensitive and my hair/scalp are also dry and tend to lean toward sensitive. This makes finding skincare and haircare at the store a long and difficult process for me. I’ve listed my skincare routine on here a few different times and you all know that it leans more toward the natural side with a few key products (looking at you Clarisonic) that help make the difference. My haircare routine though…that has proven a far more elusive project. Washing my hair only once a week has helped solve some of the issues such as oily scalp, dry/fluffy ends, and dandruff. However, my hair was still too frizzy and difficult to comb for my liking. I have wavy hair that tends to be more on the curly side, split ends, dry ends, and my roots usually hate conditioner on them at all. My routine became: wash with Head and Shoulders (dandruff fighting and clarifying), rinse, wash with Curly Wurly from lush (moisturizing since Head and Shoulders strips my hair), rinse, apply conditioner to just the ends of my hair, finish my shower, then rinse right before getting out. This routine was managing my hair, but it wasn’t doing anything spectacular and I was at a loss for other ideas.

Back to me watching a video about this custom shampoo and conditioner from a company called Function of Beauty. I went to their website to “just look” and see what it was all about. The first step is filling out a hair profile about your hair type, hair structure, scalp moisture, and what 5 hair goals you have. Here’s my profile:

Hair type: wavy

Hair structure: fine

Scalp Moisture: normal (washing once a week has made my scalp not too dry or oily)

Goals: 1) replenish hair, 2) fix split ends, 3) lengthen, 4) ant-frizz, and 5) soothe scalp (anti-dandruff)

You then get to choose the color of your shampoo and conditioner (the two don’t have the match), the scent, scent strength, and the size options. I chose:

Dye free for both

Sandalwood violet sent

Strong scent

16oz shampoo (I use more shampoo typically)

8 oz conditioner (I haven’t finished a conditioner in years so I went with the smallest size)

The total for both of these products came to $42 and shipping is always free from Function of Beauty, a benefit I used to help justify buying $42 shampoo and conditioner. When my order finally came in I couldn’t wait to try it! Even though it was a Wednesday (hair wash day is Sunday), I got straight in the shower and gave this stuff a spin. The smell is AMAZING! Not too floral and not too sandalwood, almost an androgynous scent, and it was strong as per my request. Since I only wash once a week I like a strong smelling product that will last between washes. The instructions recommend washing twice with the shampoo and I typically do that anyway so I gave it  shot. I kid you not, I could tell a difference in my hair just after the first shampooing. The instructions recommended using the conditioner all the way from my ends to my roots. I was skeptical to say the least, we know I don’t have a good history with conditioner going anywhere near my roots. But the shampoo had worked so well that I decided to follow the instructions for this step as well. I applied the conditioner to my ends and worked my way to my roots then went about my shower. When it was time to rinse, I was blown away. My hair didn’t feel heavy at all and was so soft that I could run my fingers through it without snagging on a tangle.

The true test came at school the next day. My hair was still super soft and was hanging in the most lovely loose curls without any prompting. I usually don’t brush my hair (my mom says she raised the weirdest hippy child), just run my fingers through it to tame the wildness and hope for the best. My classroom tends to get pretty warm (34 bodies in one small room will have that affect) and my hair grows as the day goes on. That day was different! my hair has a minimum of frizz and most of that was from me repeatedly running my hands through it to feel the softness. One of my students stopped me to comment on how nice my hair looked and how pretty the curls were. When a 7th grader notices differences in your hair, you know it’s big!

I re-upped my henna yesterday and rinsed it out with water and American Cream conditioner from Lush. My hair felt awful. Super unmanageable and dry, probably because I added red wine to the henna mixture for an increased red hue (it works really well!) and the red wine didn’t like my dry hair. Since today is hair washing day, I decided to see if my expensive custom shampoo and conditioner could handle the henna job. After washing with the shampoo my hair felt completely back to normal. I used two pumps of conditioner instead of one and worked it from  ends to roots and left it for about 5 minutes before rinsing and getting out of the shower. My comb glided through my hair and it felt like spun silk! no frizz, my color is vibrant, curls are present and bouncy, and the smell is a strong spicy floral scent.

I had my doubts since these products are 100% natural, vegan, and cruelty free but they really do work!! The $42 price tag is doable for me since I only wash my hair once a week, but if you wash more often than that the price tag might be a concern for you. Would I purchase these again? YES. I already plan place another order when I get about halfway through the bottles I have now. I think I might up the size of the conditioner to the 16oz ($46 would be the new price for the set if both were 16oz) if I use it faster than I normally do. You can also purchase one product or the other if you like one better. I want to try the essential oils scent next time, but that and the size of the conditioner would be the only changes I make right now. The cutest part? When the package comes in, it’s a cute mint color and says “Function of Samantha” or whatever name you want and the bottles also have Function of Samantha printed on them! Is it expensive? Yes, there’s no sugarcoating that. Is it worth it? For me, very much so. Would I recommend it to you all? Yes!

If you want to explore the world of custom hair products, here’s my referral link: https://functionofbeauty.com/?ref=58cdd68239d4e

Reflections of a First Year Teacher

As I hurry through the halls of my school, heels of my red shoes announcing my presence long before anyone can see me, another teacher smiles and asks how it’s going. My pace hardly slows as I reply “It’s going” before continuing my rush to accomplish 3,000 things during my 50 minute planning period. I walk my 4th period class to the lunchroom before once again assuming my frantic pace to make copies, get their PowerPoint up and running, fill my water bottle, inhale one or two bites of avocado, pee, all in 25 minutes before going to pick them back up to head to my room and begin class.

I arrive at school about 6:45 in the morning and leave about 5 or 5:30 (on an early night, usually I’m there until 6). I walk into my room while the sky is still dark and turn on my lights. Grabbing my coffee mug, I turn on the pumpkin shaped scented wax warmer (lavender for calm and communication) and make my way to the teacher’s room that has coffee. I visit with some teacher friends, laughing and sharing stories. They’re amazing people and make me happy to be where I’m at. I get back to my room and wipe drawings from desks, write the quote of the day on one of the whiteboards, put bellringers up for each class, move desks back where they belong, put books up, start my computer up for the day, and scroll through my emails. The bell rings at 8:15 and students begin flooding into my room. I’m happy to see my kids.

My room after the afternoon bell at 3:10 is a flurry of students coming in to ask questions, make up assignments, or visit with me for a few before various practices and/or games. My desk is littered with papers that are waiting to be graded, papers already graded and waiting to be handed back, a coffee mug still half filled with now cold coffee I didn’t have time to finish that morning, pens, and notes from my kids. I stop and visit with some other teachers on my way out, often receiving “the look”. This is the look experienced teachers give those trying to survive their first year; a look that says “I’ve been there and I know it’s hard, but you will survive and your kids will be okay”.

Once home, I FaceTime my husband because he’s usually already left for work by the time I get home. I make myself a small dinner because I know I’ll be too tired to stay awake for the prep, cooking, and eating of a larger one. My feet hurt very badly and my shoulders are so tight from stress that they feel as though they might snap. I’m worried about my kids. Did that one have  good rest of her day? She was crying when I last saw her in the hall. Did my collab class follow the lesson for today? Did I make it too confusing? How did the baseball game go that some of my boys travelled to Somerset for? Did they win? I hope that one gets to bed at a decent time tonight. He’s been falling asleep in my class a lot lately and we’ve talked about it.

I change into pajamas and take my makeup off before I sit down to dinner because I know once I sit that I’ll start falling asleep. It’s only 7:30 and I make my way to the bedroom to watch a little TV and scroll through my Facebook and Instagram while snuggling with my cats and dogs. By 8:30 I’m asleep, snuggled between two snoring dogs with three cats standing guard around the room. My clothes are laid out for in the morning, breakfast and lunch are prepped, and my teaching bag is by the door stocked with everything I’ll need for another day.

Wetn’Wild: Round 2!

I wrote about my first Wetn’Wild haul and how amazing all of the products were on a previous post. Well, they were such a great experience that I decided to purchase some more products and a few brushes. Wetn’Wild is super affordable so even I, a broke teacher, can afford a good sized order every once in awhile. Once I got onto their website and saw how cheap the brushes were ($0.99 for small ones and $2 for large ones!) I decided to get almost a whole new set of brushes, two photofocus face powders (one my actual color and one two shades darker to contour with), and the other shade of their megaglow highlight. The entire order of 9 items, after $5 shipping, was $29!

The order came in yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised to find a free gift of their 1 Step Gel nail polish! I used it on my toes last night and it’s great  definitely a huge bonus! The powders are AMAZING  my makeup looked absolutely flawless today and the only thing I did differently was use the Photofocus powders  Wetn’Wild definitely has my heart

 

 

Korean Beauty Routine: Worth it?

Since I don’t live under a rock, I have heard about the Korean beauty routine that is sweeping the beauty scene in the U.S. I decided to do some research on it and see what made it so different from my normal routine and if I could benefit from switching things up. Here is my current routine:

Morning-

Cleanse with water and my Clarisonic

Use colloidal silver toning spray

Apply pea size amount of hyaluronic acid to face/neck

Apply eye cream

Rub Ole Henrikson Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil into face and neck

Apply tiny amount of Sunday Riley Good Genes to face and neck where my smile lines are (this was a sample from a Birchbox and is $105 for a bottle…I won’t be purchasing one anytime soon)

Gently rub about 3 drops of raw unfiltered rosehip oil into face and neck (this stuff really does amazing things for my skin texture and appearance!)

Moisturizer, I have some Ole Henrikson stuff I really like and an organic rose kind from Target

Sunscreen!!!!!!!

My night routine looks much the same exact I oil cleanse to remove my makeup, use a gentle moisturizing cleanser with my Clarisonic, swap a nighttime resurfacer for the Youth Activating Oil, increase my rosehip oil to about 5-6 drops, and use a nighttime sleep mask. Face masks make an appearance Sunday and Wednesday with sheet masks on the nights in between when I feel my skin needs it. After a lot of research, I found that the Korean skincare routine is 10 steps:

Oil cleanse

Water-based cleanser

Exfoliation

Toner

Essence

Serums, boosters, and ampoules

Sheet masks

Eye cream

Moisturizer

Sunscreen

I was surprised to find the only aspect of this I didn’t do was the essence! The sheet mask and exfoliation are not meant to be included in the routine everyday, sheet masks can be used everyday but exfoliating everyday will stress the skin. I’m very interested to invest in an essence and see if I enjoy any benefits from adding it into my routine. My current routine looks almost identical to the Korean beauty regime and my thoughts are: it definitely did improve my skin. I only get the lone minor pimple during my period, the texture of my skin has greatly improved, I have noticed a decrease in the deepness of my fine lines, and I glow thanks to rosehip oil generously applied twice a day.