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Some more thoughts on skincare in airplanes

While looking for ways to tweak my airplane routine in prep for my trip to New York, I was surprised at the number of people google told me about who don’t do anything for their skin before getting on a plane. I’m definitely not a barbie girl, still pretty low-maintenance, but just hopping on the plane I don’t get, it can really mess up your skin for a couple of weeks.  For those of you who have met me, y’all I’m definitely not a person who cares about looks and clothes, but for me, skincare and light makeup is about overall maintenance and how we present, regardless of weight or “fashion” issues. 

Anyway my usual routine goes a little like this:

1. Overall Hydration: you should start this a few days before you get on the plane. Drinking five liters of water on the plane is just going to make you pee a lot and do very little for your skin. I up my water around three days before- that is what will make the difference for your skin, not loading up on the plane.  This also means cutting out the salt and the alcohol (for those who do that) a few days before.  The night before I also do a mask and shovel on the night cream and usually have some coconut water for the magnesium. 

2. Sunscreen: A lot of blogs say you should sunscreen while you are on the plane. While it is true that you can catch UV in the plane, sunscreen is bad for your skin- it clogs pores and doesn’t let your skin breathe.  As anal retentive as I am about sunscreen (every day of every month of every year), I never wear it on planes. It just isn’t worth the irritation and big pores from having 12-18 hours of it sitting on top of your skin in a compromised environment.

3. Cleansing in the plane: I don’t want to know where the plane water comes from.  So I am not a big fan of using that water on my face, and I don’t think wipes do the type of cleansing you need in that environment.  So what I do is take my shower and wash my face as close to leaving as possible, then slather on what I would use as a night treatment, regardless of it being a day or a night flight. Then I don’t touch my face, except to put on more eye cream, until I get to the lounge (why yes that is how i roll). I think wipes are good to have on you if you are dealing with delays or accidents, but I don’t think they should be your main cleaning situation because they won’t go as deep as you need for 12 hours of plane funk on your face.

4. Makeup on the plane: I don’t, not at all. Like sunscreen, some products are bad for your skin in certain environments. And don’t give me the crap about mineral makeup if you don’t want to hear the story about the woman who used Bare Minerals and never washed her face ever again, because it was “natural.” This is where wipes have an admitted benefit- if you absolutely must be somewhere when you get off the plane and don’t have a lounge, then by all means wipe off your night cream and throw on some TM and mascara before landing. I’ve also found that in business class people are more worried about getting their sleep on or finishing that presentation they need, so no one is going to be looking at you. 

5. Lip balm etc: you want the richest, heaviest, thickest lip balm you can find. Personally, straight up lanolin is your best bet, but plain shea butter or cocoa butter can work too. Then throw something on top of it like vaseline to seal it.  I generally use a cuticle cream on airplanes too, because the hand sanitizers rip my skin like my mofo. 

6. What do I carry for the plane:  because i do my skincare and hydration before, those items get packed and ziploc bag gets what I take for when I land.  Before getting on the plane, I use  my beloved nuxe oil on my entire body, including face and hair, then touch up my face with  clarins flash balm and the “matching” eye balm. For when I land, I wash my face at the first clean bathroom without a dubious water source with whatever is on hand (this trip will probs be Shiseido Perfect Whip in the tube), then moisturize with whatever LRP moisturizer I am using lately (right now Rosaliac) or some DDML.  The two or three days around flying are not the time to do harsh scrubs or retinols or any moisturizer with “weird” ingredients- wait until day two or so after landing when your skin has adjusted to your new climate.  Keep loading up on eye cream for a couple of days as well.

And please, unless you want to hear the NSFL Bare Minerals Lady story, wash your face before you get on the plane. 


Reforming Islam

*rant from phone at lunch so forgive formatting issues*

I’ve gotten a lot of crap lately, bordering on harassment at times, regarding my points of view on religious freedom and what it means to be a practicing Muslim.


Beyond the old classics like “Muslims don’t condemn terrorism/violence against women/skittles” arguments, I think my favorite trope of them all is “But so-and-so disagrees with you and she’s a feminist and a Muslim did you read what she wrote!” Well good whoever this week’s reformer or so-called Muslim feminist is.  While some public Muslims are doing very good jobs at building bridges and raising the dialogue, some of them are out there to get a paycheck. Money talks so pay attention to who is paying them and why.


I’ve said it before in a number of fora but it bears repeating: One of the criticisms the “Muslim community” has raised (why yes I will speak for Teh Islamz since everyone else does) is that no one listens when “normal Muslims” condemn terrorism/violence against women/bad stuff.  Now flip that coin. When the MSM “listens” to a “Muslim”, ask yourself why? Are MSM outlets really interested in what Muslims of all walks have to say, or are they interested in points of view that feed their tired stereotypes about what it means to be a Muslim woman?


That’s my answer to those who pull my feminist card or my Islam card. Your reality is not mine and you don’t speak for me.


Why yes, I do think the French model of laïcité is bullshit and no, you won’t change my mind by insulting my intelligence

A good article in the blogosphere lately  (HT Stephanie) got me thinking again about laïcité , the form of legal Islamophobia the French want to pretend has been part of their culture and society since time immemorial.  I’m not buying what the French are selling, laïcité is a giant load of crap, and nothing anyone can ever say in defense of the subject will change my mind about how utterly horrible, misguided and wrong laïcité is as it is practiced in France.  I don’t care if you call me stupid, you should care that you are a bigot if you think laïcité is awesome and I am publicly judging you. Why don’t I like it?

1. I think it is veiled (tee hee, a hijab joke, I’m so punny) “racism” masking as Islamophobia. It’s not pc any more to say you don’t like Arabs or Black people, but you can attack the religion of some of them and still feel smug in your white mainstreamness. I’m not the only one who says this.  Laïcité now is what the “integration” arguments were in the 80s and 90s. Same discourse, but this time it is about attacking Islam.

2. A lot of people equate laïcité with being anti-hijab and anti-Islam insofar as DERP ISLAM HATES WOMEN or something. I   think people who call themselves feminists should accept that their sisters in “womanity” have different ways of practicing feminism and that just because one of your sisters doesn’t agree with you 100% of the time, you still don’t have a reason to pull her feminist card.  I think it is intellectually irresponsible to base your logical argument on either the assumption that a woman who choses to veil is misguided, or that a woman can only call herself a Muslim feminist if she doesn’t wear one.

3. Laïcité doesn’t make people more equal, the only thing equal about it is all believers are at the same level when it comes to state-enforced atheism.  Muslim women suffer under it the most but in reality anyone who chooses to practice a religion gets screwed.  Again, a lot of proponents of anti-veil discourse try to say that not having a veil means women are liberated and don’t have to listen to men any more, but they discount choices freely made by women. It is demeaning to think that everyone who wears a veil is either “misguided as to the true nature of Islam because [insert pundit here] said it wasn’t necessary” in the book you read or because her father or brother made her do it.

My favorite is when the trolls come out and say Muslims disrespect other believers as if that is a reason to sign on to laïcité .  I believe in freedom for all religions. Dude wants to wear a pasta strainer on his head? LOVE IT. My Christian friend wants to homeschool her kids? When can she teach me?  Sikh dude needs his knife? Bring it. Don’t ascribe to me feelings towards other religions.  A close second to that is being told that I haven’t read enough shite French “intellectuals” have put out to truly have the knowledge necessary to have an opinion.  I don’t need to pick up and touch a steaming pile of cow dung to know that it is, in fact, cow dung.

I’m a proponent of secularism, when it means secularism is the only way to give each religion equal footing. When I was in high school- a state-funded public high school in the state of Lousiana- our principal at the time “got saved” and decided we needed to have a moment of prayer each morning.  I would have been cool with that except for the fact that around Ramadan time, one of the sole Muslim students there (who wasn’t practicing but wanted to test what Principal Jerkwad would say) asked if he could have ten minutes out of class to pray asr.  OF COURSE NOT. But we could spend ten minutes in the morning doing Christian stuff in our public school.

The problem with French laïcité however, is that it creates inequality. You aren’t allowed to believe anything, but Christmas is still holiday, no one can touch all the ponts in May, and oh noes, not Pentecost or Assumption. Meanwhile Muslim women can’t even walk in the street, much less work or go to school.  You can twist that all you want, but Muslim women are the ones who suffer under laïcité and to maintain the fiction that laïcité  actually protects them or anyone else is foolish and dangerous.

But of course, far be it from any Muslim to say that. Any time any Muslim says anything about laïcité , it turns into an argument about how we want to create a khalifah in Europe, how we aren’t intellectually sophisticated enough to understand what laïcité  REALLY means, or that we are stuck in a victim cycle where we think everything is about us.

What is really going on is that I am absolutely tired- tired of the Caroline Fourests and the Manuel Valls of this world, tired of being treated like a demented child for choosing a religion, tired of having to constantly listen to the same old trite memes about Islam from ignorant bigots who think they are smart.

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Makeup blogging and indulgent narcissism

One of my other side hobbies is makeup and on Sundays I usually indulge in reading my makeup blogs. The one thing that never ceases to amaze me are the amount of people who will post a Face of the Day with only the smallest bit of makeup. After seeing one today where someone had slapped on some tinted moisturizer and mascara then asked what we thought of her look, I had to rant.  There are a couple of reasons why such adventures in narcissism bother me:

1. We all know, even the most makeup hopeless, how to put on mascara and TM.  The only time I am going to think your “simple” FOTD is going to rock my world is if you have crappy skin (before pic as proof) and are wearing false lashes or did something hecka awesome on your waterline, etc. Otherwise, you aren’t doing anything the average woman does on her way out of the house.

2. FOTDs are there to educate. You pulled off a major smokey eye with some orange eyeshadow? Get out the camera, I want the play-by-play.  You’re wearing red blush? Awesome sauce. You don’t have any makeup on and you are asking girls who wear makeup all day and have makeup rooms what they think of your two-product look? I’m going to think you are cheesing for the cameras and trolling for compliments.

3. There is only one case where I can find this acceptable: when someone is testing a foundation or a TM and puts that and only that on his/her face to show the level of coverage, how it oxidizes, etc. Then again, before pic. Don’t troll then expect everyone to play along  (although many do) with the “oooh honey, you have great skin” and the “wow, no clumps in your mascara”… Really?

I feel better.


This smackdown on being the Other Woman from Feministe

This article from Femininste says it better than I could ever say it.

Of course, there are caveats in the relative lack of morality in sleeping with married men- it could be an open marriage, it could be a French divorce. But when a woman has proof in the form of an email or a letter that neither of these options are the case, the only thing I think is appropriate for the other woman to say or feel is “I’m sorry.”  Anger towards the wife? No way. Pissed off that the wife called you out? Just desserts. Anything other than “I’m sorry”  is arrogant and pretty rich and smacks of poor character.

Or, in the words of the OP, “If you show zero remorse for being involved in something that hurts someone else, you have a problem.”  When you are with a married man, it is never innocent, justified fun- someone is getting hurt. As such, I have a very, very tiny violin I can play for any woman who tries to make excuses for her actions.  I do think, however  that it’s ok to sleep with someone before you know the deal, but once you know what is going on, you owe it to yourself and his wife to GTFO. This comment, especially, nails everything I could ever say about how the wife feels: “Know who defines cheating in a relationship? The person being cheated on.” You shouldn’t get mad at her for calling you and her husband out for being deceptive POS- she is the one coming from a position of pain. Accept your (admittedly shared) role in destroying a marriage, apologize, and try to do better for yourself and for another human being the next time. You might actually grow.

Finally, and this is the crux of the matter for me, cheating is a public health issue. As I have always said, and as this comment on the OP so eloquently states, if you are in what is supposed to be a monogamous relationship and having condom-free sex, and your man is not telling you about his side piece(s) out of “discretion” and “not hurting your feelings”, you are unwittingly being exposed to STDs.  I remember one sister whose husband didn’t get an STD but got staph because her husband’s new piece had suspicious boils that he, in the heat of passion didn’t care about. Men are generally asymptomatic when it comes to yeast infections- sometimes his girlfriend gives you one.  I can dig poly relationships and open relationships, but personally I care too much about my health to “share” a man, and being forced to do so out of deception is unjust and unfair.

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Let’s try to vote again

So my campaign to actually be registered to vote and really vote has started again.

Every election cycle is the same, I have to chase their asses and then I finally get the wrong ballot or get it too late.  

It must be because I am a Democrat.  Yes I am looking at you Harrison County Clerk. Y’all have enough absentee ballots to send to know what and when y’all need to send.

Anyway. I need to sign a power of attorney over to my Dad at the rate this is going. My brother would get that ballot and be all “Mitt Romney cha ching cha ching” with a flourish.

Speaking of Mitt Romney, people asked me the other day why I am voting for Obama.  I’m not an Obama fangirl by any stretch, but he has two things going for him:

-Obama is so far protecting a woman’s right to an abortion. I am a single-issue voter and this is my single issue. If you are not 100% pro-choice, if you say you are pro-choice but qualify it or otherwise question or try to put conditions on access to abortion, I will not vote for you.  There is a war on women in the United States and it goes a little like this: they want to make abortion illegal, they want us to pay for birth control, they want to repeal Obamacare and they are closing women’s clinics.  So essentially your choices as an American woman, if the Republican tea baggers have their way, are to have children you can’t afford or just not have sex.  I don’t think so. 


-The second thing is that Mitt Romney is a multibagzillionaire. He has no idea how I live or what keeps me up at night. Regardless of Obama’s current financial situation, I can relate to him. Why? Because he too had an essentially single mother. He too had to live with his grandparents. He too probably knew what it was like to choose between groceries and rent. Like Bill Clinton, Obama knows what it is like to be poor or struggling even if he isn’t any more and I believe his willingness to push Obamacare through against all odds reflects that. Mitt Romney? His most difficult financial situation was whether to put his gazillions in the Caymans or Switzerland. I have to deal with rich people like him every day and that ish is getting old. The Romneys of this world have different values.  

Oh and people who are “anti big government” but want to legislate the hell out of my vagina… I can’t do that either. 


Debrief on the DALF C1

As promised IRL to a few people, I wanted to write a debrief on the DALF C1 which I took last month.  My advice can be summed up in one phrase: Just showing up is 80% of the battle. One you have hit a certain level in French, the only thing you need for the DALF is to learn the strategies on how to take the test and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  I was in class two hours a week and probably worked two to four hours a week on homework on top of it.

The test is in four parts:

1. Oral comprehension: If you don’t have this on lock, this is the hardest part of the test. You either have it or you don’t, and the only way to get better at it is to listen to the radio and tv or podcasts.  Some of the review books (I will list the ones I used below) also give CDs with audio portions done in the style of the test. I’m lucky that I have lived in French-speaking countries for the better part of the last ten years so this was the portion of the test I studied for the least and was the most confident about after the test.

2. Written comprehension: Again, if you are used to reading in French, this part of the exam should not be major drama. Here, more than any part of the test, it is important to know “how” to take the test.  My mistake in the practice test was writing too much- for example, my high school French teacher made us respond always in complete sentences.  On this test is isn’t absolutely necessary as long as you get the information correct.  In other words, spend time learning from the books or from you teacher what the format of a correct answer on this section looks like.

3. Essai and Synthèse: These were the hardest for me and my prediction is that this is the section I will get the lowest note on.  This used to be what I was strongest at in university but since I have been working, I really have only used my speaking skills because at work most of the stuff I wrote in French was always the same thing (business letters, accounting stuff…). I always say that this part of the test is the most “francofrançais” because their format is very picky and particularly French (I am not sure that kids in Romandie have to do synthèses in school). You need to be comfortable writing in French, and you need to know how to follow the format and identify what they are asking for. For example, in the exam, they could ask you to write an article, a letter, an essay…but it won’t be spelled out and the clue will be in how they assign the subject. For example, my essay in this exam was meant to be an article. These subtle differences are outlined in the reference books and by the teacher if you take a prep class. For the synthèse, it is one of those things where you don’t know how to do it unless you have written twenty.

4. Oral expression: You have a topic for which you have one hour of prep, then 10 minutes of talking followed by ten or fifteen minutes of a discussion with the jury. I had two ladies and one mainly took notes while the other did the talking. What people may not realize before the exam is that the jury is not there to play bad cop- their goal is to put you at ease and see how much you can talk. During this part of the exam, you have the right to a French-French dictionary (a Larousse for example) which they provided for us in the exam. Bring a watch and practice timing yourself to hit that 10 minute mark, and whatever happens, don’t stop talking. Talk about your cat, talk about your life, but just keep talking even if you run out of things to say on the topic.  The questions after the talk are meant to challenge you and see how you speak on the fly.  Remember than in our second and third languages it is always easier to talk about ourselves and our personal lives, so if you run out of things to say, talk about yourself. For example, my topic was e-books. If I ran out of stuff to say about e-books, I would have just started talking about what I like to read.

Prep classes and books: I took the prep class from Zurich’s Alliance Française.  I recommend taking the prep class because the hardest part of the exam really is knowing how to take the test- unless you spent some time in the France-French school system, walking in to the test freestyle is kind of a crapshoot. I spent a year in a French university (taking regular classes not “foreigner classes”) and I still had a hard time with the formatting stuff.  My teacher was awesome and gave us all of the reference materials we needed in class. I was the exception because I am one of those people who needs to have books around, so I got three books and used them all- some of the exercises our teacher gave us in class came from these books.  I had Réussir le DALF C1 – C2  from Didier without the CDs (but some of the CD stuff we did in class). I mainly used that book as a reference to understand what was going on.  A book I reached for more frequently was Cadre commun activités pour le CECR C1-C2 from CLE. This book has a lot of exercises that prep you for the level you need to take the test- a lot of vocabulary and culture générale. Because of the background prep it offers, if you are thinking of taking the test, I would recommend flipping through this book to see if it seems too hard or just right for you before committing to the test or the class.  If it is too hard, you might want to spend more time studying for the test. Finally, for the written parts of the exam because I had no effing clue how to proceed, I loved Réussir le nouveau DALF C1-C2 La production écrite from Tegos (warning: website best viewed with Netscape Navigator).  This book gives you 24 dossiers similar to the written parts of the exam with step-by-step examples of how to write them. This was important to me because I know it is my weakest area, but like all the books, unless you are into books I don’t think you need them if you are taking the prep class. Finally, the website Passe ton DALF was full of useful information.

The final piece of advice I have is that the content of the test is hard, but the bar is set very low. You only need 50 points out of 100 with 5 points minimum in each of the four sections. If you have a section or two you are strong at, then all you have to do really is write your name on the other ones, so you don’t have to stress for the exam.


While I am ranting

Can I rant about Egypt for a second? 

Of course anything I say is with a grain of salt, I’m just some white girl in Switzerland, but I am really tired of people getting their panties in a wad about ZOMGS THE CREEPING SHARIA THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WHY EGYPT GOING TO BE HAMAS etc etc and the stupid Friedman-likequestions that go along with it like “Is Islam compatible with democracy”  *gags self*

Here is how I see it, with the usual disclaimers of dumb white girl in ivory tower etc. Let’s assume for the purposes of this exercise that the elections were free and fair, which I think they were to the extent that they could be. We can’t even have fair elections without voter fraud in the US so how can you expect a country having its first democratic election ever to get it perfectly right?  Morsi doesn’t have a very strong mandate if he only got like 24 or 25 percent in the first round. You had voters in the second round who thus had to choose between the military or the MB. Considering the lovely legacy the military has had during its reign the past year, I think a lot of people probs held their noses and voted MB.  So no, stupid MSM, I don’t think this is some sort of “Egyptian voters want Sharia” vote but rather a “anything but scaf” vote. 

Another point about the MB that people are missing out on is that for a long time they were the only opposition with any real organization.  Political participation involves money and logistics, and the MB was the only group “organized” enough for many years. This legacy is shown in the election results. it isn’t the whole answer, of course, but it is a relevant part IMO. And since people are talking about Hamas, I feel the same way about Hamas that I do about the MB, if you want to go out on the pan Arab conspiracy theory tip. Namely, When you have a single group in power, that group also decides who will be “allowed” to organize in opposition.  It is no coincidence that Hamas was “allowed” to organize itself, and when you go back to the idea that political organization involves logistics and money- who was better organized than Hamas? 

Finally, I don’t think the revolution is over just because this dude got elected. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Egypt isn’t done yet. I like to think, and hope I am right, that this is just the beginning.


Since when did Enge get seedy?

Today was the second time I was almost robbed in Enge.

“Almost” because I am from New Orleans and the only way you are going to get my wallet is by pulling a knife or a gun on me.  You will not get one of my personal items by deception, and if you do, well, you’re so slick you should keep it as a consolation prize because I DO NOT EFF AROUND.  Plus the whole hypervigilance stuff means people up in my biznass need to have a good reason to be up in my personal space. I do kick people who get within breathing distance. Anyway.

The first time was a couple of months ago when a guy was walking in my blind spot.  Y’all know what I am talking about- you can feel the person but can’t see them.  My bag, as usual, was strapped across me.  When I realized that this dude was being a little too specific about where he wanted to walk (it can’t be my looks), I pushed my bag to the other side of my body, next to the wall where no one could walk comfortably, and he audibly sighed and moved on.  Like he could have got in there anyway.

Then today, I was walking down the street in front of the Jewish Community Center, which has like El Al type security but none today, whatevers, and these two dudes accost me with the whole sign my petition thing.  The Sign My Fake Petition game can go one of two ways:  1. they make you sign then make you pay a “donation”: 2. Mutt distracts you with their spiel about how to sign and then Jeff goes through your bag.  Another  less frequent variation is 3. stealing your phone or other valuables while you are fooling with your wallet to give them the two francs to make them STFU and GTF away.

So yeah, when did Enge become Oerlikon or Langstrasse, eh? I’ve now moved my Purse Vigipirate Alert Level up a notch to “WTF AM I IN PARIS NOW OR SOMETHING?” Now no more walking around with my phone in my hands, am going to keep the headphones for the commute, wallet way down in the main compartment of the bag across my body and under my hands, not pushed to the back.  I can’t believe I have to have my New Orleans game on in Switzerland.