Social Media and Blogging
What's up with that "two braids" hairstyle you wear to bed?
Okay, I had to show you guys this, because I usually go to bed with these two braids, and it's just so dippy looking. That said, I've been braiding my hair before bed for years because it prevents tangles. I let my hair air dry, brush it out, braid it, sleep, and wake up with easy-to-brush out locks. Because I started getting my hair cut in layers, though, it's impossible to get the shorter strands braided unless I separate them. Hence, one braid for the short layers, one braid for the long layers.
Did...did you cut the top off of that potato chip bag?
I always do this when I get toward the bottom of a bag of chips. I hate having to reach way down in to the bag to get a handful; it crinkles too much and it makes my hand super greasy. #firstworldproblems
What makes a review compelling for you? What are the things you want to know and find useful?
Before I answer, let me make it clear that I'm not trying to call out any particular person or shit on somebody else's blogging style. I know my overly-sharpened product photos and close-up shots of my nose hairs are not to everybody's taste, and that's totally fine. You do you! Like anybody else, I just have my personal preferences.
First, I am attracted to nice photos. They don't necessarily have to be SUPAH AMAZING HD; they just have to be thoughtful and interesting. Second, I like blog posts that are helpful. If you're reviewing a foundation, but the only photos in your review are a picture of the bottle and a super-far-away-from-your-skin model-type shot of you on a windowsill, I mean...that doesn't help me much. I need a before-and-after, or some swatches, or a close-up of the texture on your skin. I need to see how the product performs. Third, I need to see some attempt to find the good in a product you hate or the bad in a product you love. I think that's my job influencing me: I'm very big on teaching students that 99% of viewpoints will always have a logical counter-argument. Sure, some products just outright suck, but I find those are few and far between. And yeah, you love that foundation or that lipstick, but who might dislike it? What could be some possible downsides?
HOW IS YOUR SKIN SO PERFECT?!
It's not. It's very good skin, I will not deny it, and that's a mixture of genetics, being as careful with skincare and makeup products as I can be, and trying to have a decent diet. But my face is not perfect. Remember that most of my selfies on Instagram are showing my skin at its absolute best (if I'm makeup-less) or are me wearing makeup. I deal with chronic hives, my skin is regularly itchy or reactive, and I do break out. Nobody's skin is perfect. (Well, almost nobody. We all know that one unicorn who treats their body like shit and still looks like a porcelain doll.)
I've realized, though, that when people say this, they're often referring to the texture of my skin. It's relatively smooth and my pores are not visible. Two things contribute to this:
1. Exfoliation: I use 10% AHA once every two weeks and a gentle physical exfoliant once or twice a week.
2. My skin is dry as a bone. The pores are so tiny because nothing comes out of them. You win some, you lose some!
What subject do you teach?
In broad terms: "English" and "Humanities." More specifically, I teach writing and rhetoric 95% of the time. I've taught literature once, which was really fun, and I've been scheduled to teach speech, though the classes have never filled up. I've also offered to teach classes like "Critical Thinking," which just seems like the most amazing opportunity to instruct a class subtitled "Miss Renee's Random Class of Cool Shit." But believe it or not, teaching composition is my favorite.
Do you plan on staying in academia and being a professor for life?
This answer will upset or depress some of you, so I apologize in advance. My only intention is to answer you honestly. A few people asked this and specifically mentioned that they want to be academics, too, and I want to say that I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.
Yes, my goal was to be a professor. I love teaching young adults and helping them improve their writing; I love showing them how to conduct research properly, carefully consider their viewpoints, and engage in constructive dialogues with others. As corny as it sounds, I've always felt that teaching wasn't just my job, but my vocation--I was born to do it.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that higher education is becoming adjunctified, especially with regards to the arts and humanities. College costs are rising, but the number of full-time positions is declining. With a few exceptions, adjuncts are paid very little, have no job security, are almost powerless to enact change in their departments, and do not receive benefits. I don't receive any sick days, for example, despite the fact that I'm a professional, and I do not receive health insurance or the guarantee of work. Opportunities to advance and obtain a full-time position are rare, and as someone who stopped at her MA and focused more on teaching than research, I'm at the bottom of the pile when candidates are reviewed. As much as I love teaching, and as valuable as I think it is, I simply cannot continue living this way. Hence, I've been trying to find work in other fields.
What's the biggest misconception people have about professors?
Oh, God, I could pick a dozen, ranging from "Professors love to flunk students" (you earn your grade and I hate typing that 'F' in to my gradebook) to "Professors take forever to grade because they're lazy" (100 papers x 25 minutes per paper = 2500 minutes, or ~41.7 hours of grading). If I had to pick the biggest one, though, it's "Professors are all uber-elite snobs living luxe lives on fat paychecks."
I think people get this misconception from two things. One, many of the most visible academics are people existing in the top 50% of the field. The experts you see on CNN, the ones who are quoted in NPR articles, the guys recruited for Big Think videos? They're usually the rockstars, and they make good money. Two, people see six figure salaries listed on sites like Glassdoor. They don't realize that these numbers generally include almost all colleges, including schools like Harvard and Columbia that pay big bucks, and they often include all types of higher education faculty or exclude adjuncts. Adjuncts are separate on Glassdoor, for instance, and the data is really sparse.
It's also a little misleading: they list "hourly" wages, but in my experience, most adjunct positions are paid by the credit hour, not actual working hours. For instance: if adjuncts are paid $700 per credit hour, and you teach two 3 credit classes, you're making $4200 before taxes for the entire semester's work. You are not getting paid $700 per hour.
You talked about Basquiat, and it seems you love art. Who are your favorite artists?
Yayoi Kusama on the left, Leonora Carrington on the right.
THIS IS A VERY CRUEL QUESTION.
I really do love art; going to the free galleries in Pittsburgh and eating Millie's Ice Cream is my idea of a hot date. But if I had to pick one living artist and one deceased artist, I'd go with Yayoi Kusama and Leonora Carrington. Kusama's pieces always feel so dream-like to me, and Carrington had that perfect mix of surrealism, fairytales, and creepy shit that I love.
PS: If you got to see Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors" in person, I envy you.
Coffee or tea?
99% of the time, I am all about coffee. I drink a cup every morning, I make my own cold-brew in a mason jar cause Just Hipster Things, and I am honestly a little perturbed when I can't have my morning coffee for some reason. I'm very routine-oriented and coffee-addicted.
BUT! I stick to decaf green tea with loads of honey when I have any kind of cold, flu, or sinus infection, and I have recently become addicted to the Dunkin' Donuts iced berry hibiscus tea. I am forever pissed that Dunkin' Donuts doesn't have a product page for it on their website.
Favorite makeup item ever?
Ahahaha, I so want to cheat on this one and pick an entire category of makeup, like, "If I could only have one piece of makeup for the rest of my life, it'd be a great concealer!" But I know that's cheating.
Instead, I'm going to list the products I have depended on for years and would immediately repurchase if they spontaneously combusted or fell out of my bag or whatever. If you've been here for a while, you're going to recognize pretty much all of these, so I apologize in advance.
- Shu Uemura Hard Formula Brow Pencil in Seal Brown. There is no pencil more perfect in all this world, seriously. It's pretty much impossible to overdo, so you can get a natural look with a few strokes or layer it for fuller brows. Also, this shit lasts forever because it's such a hard formula. I have decided that if it outlives me, I'll pass it down to my niece. (I'm not joking.)
- MAC Face & Body Foundation. No matter how many other foundations I try, I always come back to Face & Body. I always get compliments on my skin, not my makeup, when I wear this one. The only thing that sucks? How fussy it is. I have to mix in the White shade to get a good color match, you really want to pat it in to your skin, it takes a few minutes to set, etc.
- MAC Strobe Cream. It was tough for me to pick just one highlighter, believe me, but I think this is the one I'd miss the most. That's probably because I don't just use it as a cheek highlight: I also use it under my brows, under my foundation, mixed in to my foundation, on my shoulders for date night...honestly, there are probably 50 other ways I could use this stuff, so I'm going to stop.
Once again, this is a dirty question. I can't pick just one, and I don't even think I'd say, "Oh, these are my favorites." But I will say these books occupy a special place in my heart.
- "Memoirs of a Geisha," by Arthur Golden. I know it's a big cringey, but I've read this book about a dozen times, and I've enjoyed it every time. The main character, Sayuri, lives a fascinating life, but the rivalry between Hatsumomo and Mameha is what makes the novel. Don't take this book as a 100% accurate account of how geisha live(d), though, and read some non-fiction for more context.
- "House of Leaves," by Mark Z. Danielewski. I originally read this book because Danielewski is Poe's brother. Then I read it because it was an absolutely wonderful mixture of horror, humor, and romance. It's also full of wonky pages that pissed off my friend when I selected it for our "Modern Gothic Literature" independent study, which is a funny bonus.
- "Madeleine is Sleeping," by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. I first read this book when I was in highschool because the title intrigued me and I like almost anything that deals with the circus. It quickly became one of my favorite pieces of magical realism.
- "In a Grove," by Ryonusuke Akutagawa. This is technically a short story, but whatevah, I do what I want. If I had to recommend just one short story to people, it'd be this masterpiece, which forces readers to consider what is truth, why humans lie, and why we believe some people more than others. As a funny sidenote, I assign this one to my students, and trying to figure out who committed the murder drives them nuts.
- "We Should All Be Feminists," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Again, this is technically an essay that's printed in a 50 page book with large font and big paragraph breaks. However, it's a truly wonderful essay. My favorite part is where she breaks down negative reactions to feminism, like "Women can get what they want by using their sexuality." The essay comes from this amazing Ted Talk.
For the past few years, it's been a tie between Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" and Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat." I swear, I'm actually an upbeat, generally positive person in real life. I just like depressing music.
How does life outside of a big city affect your purchasing and usage habits?
I'm just now realizing that I may have misunderstood this question. I thought it meant, "How does not living in a city impact your makeup habits?", but now I realize it could be, "How does living close to a city impact your makeup habits?"
Just to clarify, I live in the suburbs, less than 30 miles away from Pittsburgh. Hence, the city is convenient enough for me to visit regularly, but not convenient enough for me to just pop in for an hour or two on a daily basis. Bus rides usually take less than an hour due to traffic and multiple stops, and I'm fine with that.
I think there are two main ways this has impacted me. For one, when I go to the city with friends, I often make beauty products part of the day. There are multiple freestanding Sephoras in Pittsburgh, for instance, which I don't have in my suburb. So when we go to the city to see a show, or visit another friend, or eat dinner, we like to take an hour just walking around Sephora and playing with products. If I really want a product and it's only available in the city, I can get it; I just have to plan a bit.
It's also made me more keen to shop online. I can be very socially awkward, and I like to brood over my purchases, which I think makes sales associates nervous, especially in a busy environment where they're watching dozens of customers at once. And of course, with very few large beauty retailers next to my hometown, there are a lot of products that are only available to me online. This includes my Verb hair mist and my Glossier products: Verb isn't sold in my Sephora in JCP, and unlike a few of my friends in NYC, I can't catch a Lyft to the Glossier showroom. (When I go to NYC, though, I definitely browse the many beauty offerings and make a purchase or two. Make glittery hay while the sun is shining on your boutique sunscreen, or whatever.)
In your experience, have the different areas you've lived in or visited had different makeup cultures?
Oh, absolutely. For instance, when I visited Hawaii, I was struck by the differences. You'd see a Caucasian woman who was tanned as much as possible and wearing warm, bronzey makeup, and right next to her would be an Asian woman holding a UV umbrella with some pale, dewy foundation and little else visible. It was weirdly cool.
The biggest difference for me, though, was when I moved to the upper midwest for a few years. Almost nobody wore visible makeup, and if they did, it was just eyeliner and mascara unless they were going out for a night. A few of my students wore more full-on stuff, like foundation and highlighter, but it was pretty rare. Meanwhile, my friend from California and I would walk around with bright red lipstick, multi-colored eyeshadow, glittery cheeks...we kind of stuck out. I'm not saying we were the only ones who wore a lot of obvious makeup on the regular, but at least where we were living, we were some of the few.
What's something you're looking forward to?
Well, eventually, I'm gonna marry this guy:
So that's pretty cool.
I'm also damn excited for my niece to start talking. She's in the babbling stage and I'm trying to teach her to say "Dump Trump," but it's more likely her first word will be "mum" or "dance." Eh, I'll take what I can get.