The Price of Being a Female

It’s 7:00AM on a Tuesday. You roll out of bed after turning off the blaring sound of your alarm and shuffle to the bathroom. As you start brushing your teeth, you rub your tired, crusty eyes and glance up at the mirror. WHAT THE HELL? You move closer to the mirror and zoom in on the patch of brand new zits on your forehead. You quickly rinse and spit, so you’re able to use both hands on the demolition task you’ve just been assigned.

After successfully making your skin red and blotchy, you mosey back into your bedroom to get dressed for work. WHY DON’T I LOOK GOOD IN ANYTHING I OWN? You think to yourself as you throw another fitted dress onto the floor. You settle on something baggy enough to cover up the apparent 10 pounds you gained overnight. Flustered and feeling disgusted at yourself, you make your way out the door just in time to catch the bus.

Fast forward 6 days. You feel less disgusting and more like yourself. It’s lunch time and you find yourself eating dessert first. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, RIGHT? About an hour later, you’re hit with a stabbing feeling in your gut. It’s almost like someone with sharp, french-tipped nails is using your insides as a stress ball. DAMMIT. You know this feeling all too well. You’re too busy at your desk to run to the restroom, plus cramps usually start awhile before you bleed. You dig out some Midol from your purse and swallow a couple down with your iced coffee.

1 hour later and you feel that dreaded ooze downstairs. SHIT! As you run down the hall to the restroom, you realize that you’ve forgotten a tampon. Luckily, you have 75 cents in your pants pocket to get one from the machine. After assessing the damage (on your favorite pair of underwear, of course) you glance into the mirror as you wash your hands. THAT EXPLAINS THE BREAKOUTS AND LOW SELF-ESTEEM. DUH.

If you were born with a uterus, you can probably relate to this chain of events. Every month, we wonder why we are so disgusted with ourselves and then one week later, like clockwork, we are reminded again that it’s all caused by hormones. Every month we shell out an excessive amount of money on tampons, pads, panty liners and pain killers. Why is it so expensive to simply exist as a female?

Let’s have a little run-down, shall we? On average, this is how much we spend on period products:

-1 box of 36 tampons, $7

-1 package of 44 pads, $6

-1 package of 100 panty liners, $6

-1 bottle of Midol (40 count), $7

-1 bottle of Pamprin (40 count), $7

According to Pandia Health, a lifetime supply of tampons at the price listed above would cost $1,773.33. Let’s say you work full-time at a minimum wage job. You’d make around $15,000 a year, according to USA Facts, so my calculator says that’s $1,250 a month. That means you’re spending more than a month’s wages on something you NEED, that males don’t have to buy. On that note, there’s actually nothing that males HAVE TO buy on a regular basis. Razors? Not a necessity. Deodorant? Toothpaste? Ok, but women need to buy that stuff too. Also, you can argue that those things aren’t exactly a NECESSITY.

Let’s look further into that dollar amount. What can $1,773.33 buy you today?

  • 1 brand new Apple Macbook Pro AND a brand new Ipad AND an Apple Pencil
  • A decent used car
  • 14 monthly unlimited subway cards in NYC
  • 3 8-day passes to Burning Man WITH parking passes
  • A first-class plane ticket from NYC to Bangkok with only one layover
  • 7,092 rolls of Cottonelle toilet paper

Need I go on? I could, but I think I’ve made my point.

Today I read an article that Scotland has unanimously voted to make all period products free for all those who need them. Schools and universities will provide tampons and pads for free in the restrooms, and the government will provide those things for free elsewhere.

Don’t you think the whole world should follow Scotland’s example? I think free period products are a right. Period.

Ice Queen Vibes

UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: Winter is better than Summer.

Actually, I’ll go even further. Winter is better than all other seasons! Winter could take on any other season in a fight, even with one hand tied behind her back. I said it.

Before you completely dismiss this article AND Winter, check out the list of reasons I give to support my argument below:

1. Colder Temperatures = Less Sweat

Look, I know that this sounds like a prissy, annoying and superficially “girly” reason to dislike summer. But be honest, who actually enjoys sweating, other than satan himself? Summer is great, until the temperature goes above 75 degrees. Once it’s 76 and over, it is GAME OVER for the armpits of your favorite shirts, your perfectly coiffed hairstyle, the shower that you just took that morning and the skin on the back of your legs as you rip yourself off the leather seats of your car. No thanks, I’ll pass.

2. No Flowering Trees in Bloom = No Incessant Allergies

“But what about indoor allerg–” SHUT UP LINDA, THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. Personally, I suffer from pollen allergies. Every childhood summer I had was spent avoiding my siblings pleas to play outside with them. I didn’t know why I hated it out there until high school when my doctor told me for the fourth year in a row that I wasn’t sick, I just had allergies. Finally it all made sense! I figured out that the sore throat, the runny nose and the itchy eyes (actually the itching all over) had a cause. That cause was warm weather. Therefore, God bless buttoned-up coats and bare-naked trees!

3. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

HELLO WINTER HOLIDAYS! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you know you’re going to have a killer family (or friend) celebration during the Winter months. Even if you don’t celebrate any religious holidays, there’s probably still a New Years Eve party to boogie with your friends at on December 31st. I can’t lie, I love getting fancy and festive! Oh, let’s not forget the fact that even as an adult, you normally get time off from stress for these celebrations. Sign me up!

4. Cold Weather Fashion is the “Coolest”

Dresses with tights, blazers, sweaters, beanies, boots and scarves…need I say more? Much cuter than a pair of sweaty jean shorts…just sayin’.

5. The Cozier, the Better

There’s really nothing better than being wrapped up in soft blankets on a cold night, hot tea or hot chocolate in hand. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a fireplace, cuddle up next to that bad boy and read a good book! Go get yourself a hot peppermint mocha latte and sip your cares away. In the summer, all you get is sweat-soaked sheets and an angry walk in the heat to the coffee shop. Which sounds better to you? I sure know what I’d prefer.


There are some good things about warm weather. I love bonfires and beaches as much as anyone! I also can see why one might dislike Winter, like driving on icy roads (but hey, snow days!) and having to carry your coat all around the bar. However, I’ve weighed the pros and cons of all four seasons and Winter always seems to come out on top. You can try to convince me otherwise, but meanwhile I’m content with being the ice queen I am.

Why “Seinfeld” is the Most Relatable Sitcom

The 90’s was the best decade for sitcoms, with Friends, Full House, Frasier, Roseanne and many other classic t.v. shows we all know and love. The best of the 90’s sitcoms though, in my opinion, is Seinfeld.

Seinfeld is centered around a group of friends in New York City, whose main character is a professional comedian (Jerry Seinfeld). Not only has Seinfeld influenced the comedy of dozens of subsequent shows, it also reveals many character traits that we all have and can relate to, even if we’re unwilling to admit it.

Let’s all look at some ways that Seinfeld relates to the worst parts of ourselves and makes us laugh at how terrible we truly are.

1. When We’re a Bit Too Cocky for Our Own Good

I’m likable, what can I say?
Can we just talk about me from now on?
No way, I’m beautiful. If someone can’t see that, it’s THEIR loss.

2. When We Take Pleasure Loathing in Self-Pity

Don’t worry, I won’t forgive myself either.
I don’t understand why I’m not rich and carefree yet.
Please don’t let there be another me out there. If so, just put them out of their misery.
Any other pain? How much time do you have? This might take awhile.

3. When We Do or Say Inexplicably Weird Things

I wonder what flies think about all day. Do they have hopes and dreams?
How many times am I going to embarrass myself this week?
I once kept a Mcdonald’s chicken nugget as a pet. Seemed normal to me.
These plates are for eating, those plates are for decoration and DO NOT TOUCH those plates over there because they’re too pretty to touch.

4. When Our Hatred for Humanity is Palpable and Inescapable

Please don’t set me up on a blind date. I already hate them, I know it.
Why is everyone in the world so annoying and stupid?
I am so much more civilized than everyone in this city. Ever heard of manners? Don’t answer that, I already know you haven’t.
I’d rather not go anywhere or see anyone but if I MUST, please do not talk to me.

5. When We’re All-Around Terrible People

I also cry to get out of speeding tickets. Do what you gotta do.
Hit ’em where it hurts!
My favorite past time is stealing things from bars.
At least I got a good story out of it, right?

Let’s be honest, no one is a saint. We all kind of suck. We may as well laugh about it! Seinfeld is the best show to help you do just that.

Witchcraft for October 2020

Double, double, toil and trouble!

Spooky season is upon us. What better time to connect with your inner witch??

NO, witchcraft is not satanism or flying on broomsticks or cursing your enemies (although, you could, but the most important rule of Magick is “harm none” because karma is a B*tch!) However, witchcraft IS connecting to the powers of nature and grounding your spirit in the ways of the universe. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

October is a HUGE month, so I’m not going into everything. In fact, I’m only going to write about two major days in this article.

If you’re afraid to read about witches because of a stereotype you hold with you…then run along, nothing to see here. If you’re curious about ways you can enhance your natural gifts with the help of Magick this month, then take a seat on my broom and away we fly!

October 16: New Moon

Right in the middle of month this year is our October new moon! The new moon is the very first phase of a new lunar cycle, and the moon is barely visible at this time. Since the day of a new moon is the beginning of the moon’s cycle, it’s a great time to set goals, intentions and projects for the following month. The evening of a new moon is also considerably darker, since the light of the moon is mostly hidden. Therefore, this is the best time to reflect on your “dark side” and how you can either improve it, or put it to good use. To summarize, the new moon is a time of reflection, intentionality and purpose.

Crystals to meditate with:

  1. Moonstone (for comfort during times of change)
  2. Tourmalinated Quartz (for cutting ties or freeing yourself from restrictive situations or relationships)
  3. Amethyst (for planning ahead)

Incense to burn:

  1. Rosemary (for clarity)
  2. Myrrh (for balance and wisdom)
  3. White Sage (for protection and purification)

October 31: Samhain/Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. The favorite holiday of all the spooky souls out there. Costumes, candy, jack-o-lanterns and killer parties (pun somewhat intended) are some things that come to mind. However, to practicing witches out there, October 31st is the festival of Samhain (a celtic word, pronounced sow-win). This is not only a harvest festival, but also marks the beginning of the darker seasons. In autumn and winter, when nights are longer, the veil between the living and spirit realms is thinner, making communication to those who have passed on much simpler. On Samhain, though, the veil is at its thinnest! Therefore, Samhain is celebrated by honoring your ancestors…and maybe getting to communicate with them too!

If you’re interested in partaking in some Samhain festivities, don’t worry! You don’t have to be a witch to honor your ancestors. You also don’t have to hold a seance or play with a ouija board in a graveyard. Here’s a simple ritual you can hold on your own, no matter what religion you may practice.

Go outside at night on Halloween (i.e. your porch or backyard) or if you don’t want to venture out, just shut out all the lights in your bedroom. Turn off your phone/television/computer to eliminate from distractions. Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable and hold something that is a family heirloom of some kind. If you don’t have any of those, hold a family photo! Close your eyes and begin meditation by recounting your family tree (either mother’s side or father’s side, or both). I’ll write out the start of my mom’s side so you know what I mean:

I am Zoë C., daughter of Jill C. who teaches and paints

She is the daughter of Woody & Cathy C., a carpenter and a writer.

He is the son of Woodrow and Mary-Louise C., a carpenter and a mother. She is the daughter of David and Marjorie J., a teacher who fought in WWII and a hardworking secretary.

Continue as far back as you can go until you can’t remember the names, then say “and those whose blood runs in my veins that I haven’t met and cannot name.”

This simple meditation is beautiful way to honor your ancestors, and since the veil is thinnest on Samhain, you can be certain that they’ll hear you!

Crystals to meditate with:

  1. Rhodonite (for grounding/reconnecting with Mother Earth)
  2. Citrine (for gratitude)
  3. Black Obsidian (for clear negativity and unblock chakras)

Incense to burn:

  1. Myrrh (for balance and wisdom)
  2. Patchouli (for spiritual growth and nostalgia)
  3. Lotus (to open the mind’s eye)

All Month

Meditate regularly.

The dark seasons are here, and this is often when people suffer more from anxiety and depression. Meditating (with or without crystals) keeps you grounded and sane. If you haven’t tried meditating yet, it can be daunting! So try out 5 minutes of sitting in silence with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath, and then gradually you’ll be able to meditate deeper and for longer!

Burn sage often.

Since the veil is getting thinner, what is a better time to keep your home pure of unwanted spirit or energy than by burning some sage? Focus on areas you spend most of your time in or areas that feel…off. It’s all about trusting your gut (and your ancestors)!

Get a fern or an aloe plant for your home.

Both of these plants are great to have in your house all year, but they’re even better in October! Ferns protect your home from negative energies as well as aid in cleansing the negative energy that might be hanging around. Aloe Vera also helps absorb bad energy and bring luck and prosperity your way. Can’t beat that!

I hope you found this article helpful for your practice or at least learned something new.

An’ it harm none, do what ye will.

What Biphobia Looks Like

Bisexuality: romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender.



I grew up thinking I had a firm grasp on my own sexual identity.

I didn’t really know much about sexuality in the first place. I did know (or thought I knew) that a person was either straight or gay. I also knew that I wasn’t a lesbian, because I was attracted to boys.


I was also attracted to girls.

I won’t go into detail about my coming out journey, but it took many, many years of denial and swearing up and down that I was totally straight to finally give up and come out as bi when I was 23.

The feelings of confidence and liberation I was given after coming out seemed to be endless. Then, I realized how many people were so deeply biphobic that they couldn’t even realize it. Biphobia can appear in so many different ways, and just because you aren’t homophobic does not mean that you aren’t biphobic!

Here are some offensive biphobic opinions that I’ve encountered:

  1. You’re bisexual?? No you’re just (insert shitty opinion).

I have heard different variations of this so many times in the last 3 years of my life. When I tell someone I’m bi, it’s difficult and uncomfortable. THEN, just to spice up my already awkward, honest and vulnerable state, I’m told by the other person that I’m “probably not bisexual.”

Some reasons people give me to talk me back into the closet are:

“you’re just sick of dealing with men.” I hate the bullshit that men throw into my life as much as the next woman, but first of all, women suck just as much as men do! It’s not the gender of the person you’re dating that sucks. It’s dating in general that sucks. Secondly, let me ask you this: if you were SO fed up with men that you could no longer take it, would YOU (as the 100% heterosexual being you say that you are) decide to solve that problem by sleeping with women? If your answer is yes…you might be bi too.

“you just want to be different.” Look, I’m very happy as a bisexual woman, but this happiness has nothing to do with what other people think about me. In fact, the reactions I get from most people about my sexuality is what makes me unhappy. Sure, who doesn’t want to let their freak flag fly? But also, who would come out of the closet to be judged and questioned for “attention” alone? Ridiculous!

“you’re not different from anyone else. All women are attracted to other women!” This one is favorite because it’s actually comical. Just in case you were wondering…no, not all women are interested in women the same way that they’re interested in men. Again, if you are, you’re possibly batting for both teams, like myself.

2. If you’re bisexual, you’re more likely to cheat on your partner.

This is another biphobic stereotype. Since bisexual women and men are interested in either gender, they’re unfortunately assumed to be hyper-sexual creatures. Just because we can be attracted to a man or a woman, doesn’t mean that we are attracted to all men and women. It also doesn’t mean that we are destined to a life of infidelity.

3. Bisexuality isn’t real.

It’s not only aggravating to be told by someone else that your own sexual identity isn’t correct (see #1), it’s even more frustrating to be told that your sexual identity doesn’t even exist. Yes, there are many people out there that believe it is completely impossible to be attracted to men AND women. These people also consider bisexuality to be made up for attention (also, see #1). Oddly enough, this seems to apply more to bisexual men. I assume this stems from the same homophobia that tells people that lesbians are hot, but gay men are terrifying (I grew up in a red state, so these opinions are ones I’ve heard far too much).

Anyway, for those of you who still sort of think bisexuality is made up, remember that sexuality is a SPECTRUM. There’s even an online quiz to see where you fall on the scale. Also–just because YOU identify as only seeing one sex as a potential mate, does not mean that everyone else feels the same way. Thanks for attending my Ted Talk.


In summation, wherever you land on the Kinsey Scale is 100% acceptable and it’s what makes you, YOU. Anyone who considers themselves a part of the LGBTQIA community can tell you horror stories of their encounters with stereotypes, confused straight people and even downright bigots. However, 2020 is already bad enough! Now’s the time to be comfortable with yourself and just allow the haters to do their jobs.

Let yo freak flag fly.

A Guide to the Ten-Step Korean Skincare Routine

My complexion has always been a huge influence on my self-esteem. I have oily, acne prone skin with enlarged pores (and apparently that means I’ll wrinkle much later in life, but today, that isn’t my concern), and every time I look in a mirror with good lighting, I spiral into negative self-talk.

Going through puberty sucks for a lot of different reasons, but the main issue I struggled with as a pubescent pre-teen was acne. From around age 10 to 13, my forehead was completely covered in zits! I remember caking on liquid and powder foundation to try and hide my spots, but it didn’t do much.

Today, my forehead is actually the part of my face that isn’t affected by acne (besides a few pimples here and there). I’m out of my hormonal, pubescent stage, but I still have excess oil and breakouts on my cheeks and chin. Will breakouts ever go away?? (sigh)

When I lived in Ireland the year I went to grad school, one of my flatmates introduced me to the 10-step Korean skincare routine, which completely changed my skin for the better (as long as I stay on top of it). I know what you’re thinking: “TEN steps? I barely have time for ONE step! This article isn’t for me.”

However, it’s not as bad as you would expect. If you are dealing with skin imperfections that you can’t seem to shake, read on! Remember, I have oily and acne-prone skin, so the products I show will mostly be for that skin type, but products for dry or combination skin are included too!


1. Oil-based cleanser

The reason behind using an oil-based cleanser first is to wash away your excess sebum while not stripping away the healthy oils you need to keep. This step is also perfect for makeup-wearers! It’s the healthier version of using a makeup wipe. However, this is a step that I often skip for that same reason. I rarely wear makeup, therefore I don’t find it necessary for me to do everyday. Below are some oil-based cleansers that I recommend:

Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil | Skin Care | Beautycounter
Beauty Counter: Countertime Lipid Defense Cleaning Oil $49

This oil-based cleanser is a new product of mine and I absolutely love it! It contains vitamin E and retinatural complex, which is great for dry skin and anti-aging.

Farmacy: Green Clean Cleansing Balm $34

This cleansing balm is incredible for a first step to your skincare routine, especially if you wear makeup, as it melts it all away! This product has sunflower oil, ginger root and papaya extract. It’s so refreshing and calming and leaves your skin feeling soft and clean! This is another great product for any skin type.

2. Water-based cleanser

Now that you’ve removed your makeup and/or any excess sebum that’s secreted and built up throughout the day, you need to balance your skin with a water-based cleanser. Any gel, foam cleanser or micellar water counts as a water-based cleanser! These products simply wash away whatever is still left behind after your oil cleanse and focus on removing water-based impurities. Below are some water-based cleansers that I love:

Dr. Brandt: Pores No More Pore Purifying Cleanser $36

The doctor is in! This is my current favorite gel face wash. It’s a miracle worker for my skin type, with salicylic acid, tea tree and willow bark. If you have dry skin, you can still use this product a couple times a week to manage breakouts without over-drying your beautiful face! Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, For All Skin  Types, 13.5 Fl Oz: Beauty
Garnier SkinActive: Micellar Cleansing Water $9

For a cheaper water cleanser, reach for a bottle of micellar water! The Garnier line of micellar waters are incredible and for a great price! Remember though, don’t be fooled by the “All-in-1” label. It’s a great addition to your skincare routine, but it can’t be your entire routine!

3. Exfoliation

This is my favorite step of all time! Your face is now fresh from steps 1 & 2 and ready to be scrubbed! I have way too many exfoliating products, but I’m choosing my top three to show you all below.

**Depending on the day, I’ll use a clay mask or any other exfoliating mask instead of a face wash and then skip step 7. I won’t be adding any of my favorite masks in this article, though!**

Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser - Beautycounter | Sephora
Beauty Counter: Counter Control Clear Pore Cleanser $26

Yes, this is the second Beauty Counter product that I’m sharing with you. No, I’m not an annoying sales rep and will not message you on Instagram about joining my team. (Apologies to BC sales reps, but you know you’re annoying. Clearly it works, though. So keep up the hustle! No shame in your game).

Anyway, I really do love Beauty Counter products because they have lines of skincare for every type of complexion. This is the scrub that I use everyday! It not only leaves my skin feeling clean with exfoliating jojoba beads and fights breakouts with salicylic acid, but it also contains aloe vera which makes this scrub very gentle and soothing. 10/10.

FIRMx™ Exfoliating Peel Gel - Peter Thomas Roth | Sephora
Peter Thomas Roth: FirmX Peeling Gel $48

Sometimes there are days where you need a little more of an extreme exfoliation, and this type of product will give you just that! Let me first name that this specific product is rather expensive, and there are definitely cheaper options. However, if you wanted to spend the $48 on this bottle, it will last you ages! These exfoliating peels are so cathartic to use. When you apply it on dry skin and rub in circular motions, you genuinely see and feel the dead skin peeling off. Maybe that’s gross to some people, but I’m a cuticle cutting, blackhead popping type of person who finds this VERY satisfying. Please try it out.

Here’s a list of similar products for lower prices:

-Dr. G: Brightening Peeling Gel $13

-Secret Key: Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel $10

-Ekel: Natural Clean Peeling Gel $11 (actually my favorite option for a low price)

4. Tone

Who doesn’t love a good toner? I’m always team tone. I’ll show a couple of toners that I personally adore, but don’t forget about good old witch hazel! Witch hazel is a couple of bucks at any drugstore, and I know that some brands even make witch hazel with rose, vitamin E or other properties for sensitive or dry skin. Aside from that cheap and magical potion, here a couple of other toners that I love:

CLEAN & CLEAR Lemon Juice Toner
Clean & Clear: Lemon Juice Toner $6

Depending on where you go, this will cost you around 5 to 8 dollars, and it’s well worth it! Lemon juice sounds harsh, but this product is alcohol free, therefore it is not over-drying. The vitamin C from the lemon juice helps to balance and brighten your skin on days that you feel a little dull. Pour a bit on a cotton ball, swipe it over your face and take over the damn world.

NassifMD Detox Pads - FabFitFun
NassifMD: Detox Pads $45

You know that show, “Botched”? This product is actually made by the dark-haired plastic surgeon on that show, Dr. Nassif. Weird, right? However, he did a fabulous job. These toning “detox” pads really leave you feeling refreshed, and using them daily or every other day as your toning step actually does reveal improvements in your complexion, specifically in minimizing breakouts. Pricy, but amazing.

5. Essence

This was the most confusing step to me, because you don’t normally see bottles of essence on the drugstore shelves. To put it simply, essence is basically a liquid lotion.

I’ll be honest with you guys, I never do this step. I know that I shouldn’t skip it, but I feel like my oily skin doesn’t need an EXTRA moisturizer. This isn’t true, though, because adding healthy moisture to oily skin helps to lessen the excess of grease you naturally create. But, I don’t do this step anymore. However, I did it for about a year and will show the essence that I really liked.

The Body Shop's Drops of Youth Essence Lotion.
Body Shop: Drops of Youth Essence Lotion $24

Essence is used mainly to fight aging and wrinkles. I was excited to see that Body Shop came out with an essence lotion in their Drops of Youth line. This line is great overall, but this essence is a perfect addition to any skincare routine!

6. Serums

Guys, serums! There’s a serum for every skin issue you can think of and I honestly think I might own all of them. I don’t want to flood this article with 28 photos of amazing serums to try, so I’ll only show you two that I cannot live without. Valjean Labs Facial Serum, Restore, Niacinamide + Zinc: Beauty
Valjean Labs: Restore Serum $18

This serum contains Niacinamide and Zinc. Niacinamide aids in calming redness in your skin and purifying your pores. Zinc is a magical property that I adore. Zinc helps with a lot of things in your body, but on your skin, it fights acne and soothes angry breakouts. When my skin is going through a period of genuinely being pissed off at me, I use this serum everyday until it chills out. It really does make a huge difference in only a few days! If you can’t find this specific serum, look for other products containing these ingredients!

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum Reviews | Beautypedia
Drunk Elephant: TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum $90

Guys…I hate how much I love this serum. I’ve heard a lot about Drunk Elephant, but never wanted to spend the money that their products cost. It’s an expensive brand. I saw a sample of this serum and a face cream at Sephora for $20 and I just said, “f*** it” and bought it. I don’t regret it because this serum is genuinely amazing, but I sort of regret it because now that my sample is running out, I have to buy the $90 bottle. I just have to.

Anyway, if you’re thinking of spending a lot of dough on your skin, (which honestly, why not spend money on keeping your skin healthy?) then this serum should be on your shopping list. I LOVE glycolic acid, and here’s why: it’s anti-aging, it removes excess sebum and minimizes pores, it exfoliates and fights acne AND it overall evens out your skin tone. This serum ALSO contains a blend of BHA and AHA– these are natural fruit acids that help speed up the process of skin cell renewal.

I know that this sounds like a sales rep list of mumbo jumbo, but it truly works. After using this product ONCE, I woke up with zero redness and my skin has never been so soft. For a person with oily skin, waking up with a soft, matte face is unbelievable.

But enough about Drunk Elephant. Serums are such an important part of a good skincare routine and what’s cool is that there’s really no limit to how many serums you want to put on. I’ll usually use two serums in the morning and two different serums in the evening, but by all means…go at it.

7. Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are such lovely creations! I’m actually wearing one as I type this. However, even being the skincare enthusiast that I am (you could also call it an obsession), I do not do this step everyday. I’m lucky if I do it once a week. We all have lives and jobs and deadlines to tend to, and it’s hard to get yourself to do a mask in the midst of it all. However, the improvements in my skin that I can see and feel after doing one a few days in a row prove to me that this step shouldn’t be removed entirely from your skincare routine.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, a sheet mask is just what you think it is. It’s a sheet of material with holes cut out for your eyes and mouth that is soaked in some sort of combination of essences or serums. (Yes, you look terrifying and hilarious with a sheet mask on). After you apply your serums in step 6, lay the sheet mask on your face for 15-20 minutes, remove it and rub in the excess liquid.

**DO NOT RINSE YOUR FACE!!!!** A lot of people I know will immediately rinse their faces after removing a sheet mask as one would when washing off a clay mask. This is NOT the right thing to do. When you wear your sheet mask, you’re allowing the serum from the mask and the serums from earlier to sit and slowly sink into your skin. The excess when you remove it needs to be rubbed in. If you rinse it off, you’ve just erased the work you’ve done from steps 5-7! I know it seems like a lot to put on your skin at once, but I promise you it will not feel like you have a lot on your face. Trust me and try it out!

Again, I have dozens of favorite sheets masks, but I’m going to show you my top two.

Esfolio Pure Skin Mask Box, Egg Essence, 11.8 Ounce
Esfolio: Egg Essence Mask Sheet $11 for 10 masks

This sheet mask is actually best for dry skin, but there are days where I feel like I need it. Egg yolk moisturizes and nourishes while also tightening your pores. It’s a refreshing mask and honestly, quite a bang for your buck! (If you were curious, this is the mask I’m currently wearing, although it’s about time to remove it now).

Coconut Gel Sheet Masks | Farmacy Beauty
Farmacy: Brightening Coconut Gel Sheet Mask $6 for 1

Six dollars for one mask is pretty steep, I know. But this mask is worth it to me. This is a gel sheet mask, and whatever gel/fabric they use to create it is kind of revolutionary. Unlike regular sheet masks, this one actually forms to and sticks to your face. It doesn’t slide around all weird or sag off of your chin. It’s comfortable to wear! I haven’t found one like this elsewhere, but if you know of other brands making gel sheet masks, please tell me about them in the comments.

Aside from the material it’s made from, the ingredients are spot on for every skin type. It has coconut water and broccoli and other plant based collagen, which softens, brightens and fights aging. When you take it off you feel like a new woman (or man).

**Farmacy also makes gel sheet masks for hydration, which I haven’t tried, but I’d recommend trying those out if you suffer from dry skin!**

8. Eye Cream

Don’t forget to give love to those dark circles or puffy bags under your gorgeous eyes. Using eye cream everyday is the best way to kick your need for concealer. Finding a good eye cream can be hard, as they are usually expensive, but once you get yours, it lasts a long time. Only use a very small amount a day and apply it under your eyes by patting it in. Do not rub your eye cream in! I’ve tried a lot of different products, but below I’ll show you my absolute, all-time favorite eye cream.

Origins GinZing™ Refreshing Eye Cream (15ml) | Harrods US
Origins: Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream $32

It’s called Refreshing Eye Cream, and the name really fits! With ginseng and coffee, this cream wakes up your eyes by brightening dark circles and de-puffing those bags. Not to mention, it smells great!

9. Moisturizer

I hope that all of you already have a go-to moisturizer. I have several that I switch around depending on what skin issues I’m dealing with, but it is essential to moisturize your face everyday, no matter what skin type you have! I’ll show you my current favorite, which I got a sample of years ago and finally forced myself to buy the full size jar of.

REVIEW] Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturising & Brightening Cream | Cosme  Perks
Korres: Wold Rose Brightening Moisturizer $36

This moisturizer is another brightening product, which I love, because the vitamin C evens your skin tone. That means any redness or dark spots are faded and blended into your beautiful complexion. This product really does keep your skin moisturized all day and smells like you rubbed your face in a rose bouquet. It’s a moisturizer to die for!

10. SPF or Night Cream

We’ve made it to the final step of the Korean skincare routine! Since this routine is supposed to be done twice a day, the last step is different for morning and night. I know, doing ten steps twice is day is not always feasible! If you complete it once, just make sure to choose your step ten accordingly. In the morning, choose your favorite sunscreen or product with SPF (if your foundation contains SPF, I’d say it’s fine to just use that). Before bed, apply a good overnight mask or night cream that fights the skin issues you want to target!

Below, I’ll show you one fabulous sunscreen and one of my favorite night creams.

Mineral Face Organic Matte Finish Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – COOLA
Coola: Matte Finish Mineral Face Sunscreen $36

Now, considering the situation we are in because of COVID, I personally don’t leave my apartment everyday. On days that I know I won’t be seeing the light of day, I skip this step. However, sunscreen is a step that cannot be skipped if you know you’ll be outside at all! Remember that UV rays can affect you whether it’s sunny or cloudy outside, so don’t forget to protect your face!

This sunscreen is one of my favorites because it really does leave your face matte. Most sunscreens are greasy and on top of an already oily face, make you shine like a light bulb…and not in a good way. The texture of this Coola sunscreen is almost powdery, if that makes any sense, and makes your face as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Plus, if you wear makeup this product doubles as a great primer!

Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel: Product that changed my skin
Beauty Counter: Overnight Resurfacing Peel $63

This is an amazing night cream for any skin type! It’s rather expensive, but I actually got it free from Beauty Counter for spending a certain amount on an order. You also only need one pump for your face and neck, so it’s lasting me a very long time!

I love a good peel, and this one contains tons of incredible ingredients that I love too! This citrus-scented overnight peel is packed full of AHA/BHA, glycolic, lactic and malic acids. It’s designed to speed up skin cell renewal which leads to softer, more evenly-toned skin with tighter pores and a youthful glow! I wouldn’t recommend this product if I didn’t see results from it, and even after one night of use, I wake up looking refreshed and feeling smoother!


In conclusion, the 10-step Korean skincare routine sounds daunting and impossible to commit to. The only way to really make it a true routine is to take little steps and build onto it every week or so. For example, if you already have a water-based cleanser and an exfoliator you love, start using steps 2 and 3 everyday and go pick up some cheap witch hazel to add on step 4.

Start off by doing only the steps you already own and when you have the money to buy a new product, buy one for the step you think is most important for your skin! Building up a skincare kit that you love takes a lot of time, money and dedication to trying new things. I didn’t get all of my products overnight, because that would be impossible based on my finances.

**If you’re interested in finding certain products like the ones I recommended but for cheap, search the name of the product and type “dupe” on the end (i.e. “Beauty Counter overnight peel dupe”). The internet is incredible, guys!**

The 10-step Korean Skincare routine has changed the way I see myself for the better. As long as I’m allowing myself time everyday to care for my complexion, I can count on my face not being a negative impact on my self-esteem. Try it out and let me know what you think!



  1. Oil-based Cleanser
  2. Water-based Cleanser
  3. Exfoliation
  4. Toner
  5. Essence
  6. Serums
  7. Sheet Mask
  8. Eye Cream
  9. Moisturizer
  10. SPF or Night Cream

Being Ms. Cardinal

“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” -Rita Pierson

On August 31, I’ll be starting my third year of being Ms. Cardinal. In July of 2018, I was hired by Uncommon Schools Inc. to be a 2nd grade teacher.

Uncommon Schools Inc. is a chain of charter schools across Brooklyn, Newark and Boston that caters to low-income areas. Their mission is to get children who are born into the poverty cycle to get to and through college in order to break that cycle. Uncommon Schools Inc. truly is a chain of unordinary (or uncommmon) schools. Their teachers use very strict, though effective, methods in their classrooms in order to give structure to their students’ educational experience. Learning to teach in such a specific way is oftentimes a stressful, but usually rewarding, experience.

My first year of teaching was interesting and very, very challenging. I loved being a teacher, but I didn’t feel like working in an elementary school was the right fit for me. Fortunately, Uncommon Schools allowed me to transfer to Brownsville Collegiate Middle School, where I currently teach 7th grade English. Teaching middle school sounds terrible to most people, but I actually love working with moody pre-teens!

Over the summer, a new Instagram account was created where past Uncommon teachers or students could publicly express their issues with the charter school chain. I read all of them. I sadly agreed with a lot of the complaints that were posted, and it made me question whether or not my position was right for me. After reflection, I decided that teaching with Uncommon Schools was still the best place I could be, and so I chose to continue teaching at BVC.

Why did I choose to stay? Below is my “why.”

My Background:

I’m from a small, suburban town in Indiana. The population of my hometown consists mostly of white families. My relatively large graduating class only had a handful of students that were POC. As a child, my father was an OBGYN. I never wanted for anything. Even my friends were considered to be in upper-middle class families. I never truly saw or felt poverty.

After my parents got divorced, my mom went to college and eventually went on to get her Master’s degree in education. After my mom finished schooling, I didn’t know many people in my family that hadn’t gotten a college degree. Going to college was expected for my family and for most families in my hometown.

Since I was raised in a very white, mostly christian atmosphere, going away to college and studying abroad introduced me to different cultures, religions and ethnicities, which I believe was a very important time in my life.

Why I’m an English Teacher:

At a very young age, I expressed interest in writing stories and poetry, which my family encouraged. My mother used to buy me blank hard-cover books to write stories and draw illustrations in. Writing and reading were always passions of mine. I also was known amongst my group of friends as being the “grammar police.” I’m surprised that they stuck it out and stayed friends with me after all of the times I corrected their speech!

Along with my overall interest in the English language, I’ve always loved to learn anything I could. I also did well in school. I could honestly be a student forever if that were a possibility. School has been a place of joy for me 90% of the time. I know that I’m a minority here, but I hope to one day change a student’s mindset about school. I want to show my students that reading, writing and learning in general can be fun!

My great grandad Jackson has been an inspiration to me as well.  He spoke fluent French, taught French and AP English at the high school in my hometown, ran the high school newspaper and even worked for the local newspaper. Almost every idea I came up with for future careers was influenced by him in some way: author, French translator, journalist, editor and more of the like. However, I always refused to say that I would be a teacher. Along with grandad Jackson, most of my family members are teachers or work in education. I didn’t want to be like everyone else, until I stumbled upon a job application for Uncommon Schools.

Why I Chose Uncommon Schools:

Being an Uncommon teacher gives me a sense a purpose. Teaching anywhere is important work, but teaching at schools in low-income communities is even more crucial. My first year with Uncommon opened my eyes to the reality of poverty and the social divide between whites and people of color. I felt the necessity of creating change in the education system and the urgency to do so. I am aware of the privilege I have as white woman and I want to use that privilege to make a difference, no matter how small. I see how much the kids in these schools need a stable teacher, or simply even another stable adult outside of home, that shows them love and respect and raises their confidence so they can succeed.

Why I’m still Teaching at Uncommon:

After reading the Instagram posts that I mentioned earlier over the summer, I questioned if the work I was doing actually was good work.  One day while I scrolling through these posts, I was interrupted by a phone call from a student: Dawein. He called me just to talk and to ask me a couple of questions, and after we hung up I realized how important our work at Uncommon truly is.

Dawein came into BVC in 6th grade from a public school, at a pre-k reading level. I still cannot understand how a child can get by in elementary school without the ability to read, or more importantly, how a teacher can let that slide. Because of my experience teaching reading mastery, I got the opportunity to work with him all year on his decoding and comprehension skills. By the end of January, Dawein had mastered his first grade sight words. The day he passed the quiz, I broke out in tears in front of him and he hugged me with a huge smile on his face. Afterward, his confidence grew so much that he volunteered to read aloud in his performing arts class. He never would have chosen to read in front of his classmates before.

I’m still Dawein’s main reading teacher. Dawein keeps me grounded in Uncommon’s mission: to get kids to and through college and to do our part to end the poverty cycle. I want to continue to help our kids like I’m helping Dawein. I know that these kids have the potential to grow, learn and succeed, despite the cards they have been dealt in life.

Dawein called me again today. Knowing that he trusts me and is comfortable being honest with me is one of the greatest feelings I’ve known. I want my students to remember me as a teacher who showed that she cared about them, pushed them, loved them and did everything she could for them.

I want to be a champion for my students.

Cat Mom Problems

Where my cat people at??

Seriously, I believe that cats are the greatest animals and pets on this planet. I know, some of you reading this might be “dog people” but just to clarify: although I think cats are the best, this doesn’t mean that I hate dogs. Dogs are adorable, stupid and obedient little fur babies. On the other hand, cats are independent, snuggly and sneaky tufts of love. Some people click better with dogs, and others with cats, but let’s agree that all animals are beautiful creatures, yea?

Anyway, I’m the type of person that clicks better with cats. I mean, at one point in my childhood, a rather promiscuous Calico of mine named Snickers had so many kittens that we couldn’t give them all away fast enough. We had 12 cats roaming around our yard and bringing us dead birds for quite some time, and I loved it! This is part of what shaped me into the cat lady I am today. However, since felines are sassier and harder to train, there are issues that come along with being a cat parent. Most of these things are irritating in the moment, but man, they sure do some hilarious stuff when you replay their actions after the fact.

Here are some annoying but comical problems that may arise if you have a cat:

  1. Cats are clumsy goobers.

My cat, Ted Meowsby, seems to have zero awareness of his surroundings. It’s either that, or he just doesn’t give a hoot about what’s around him! Ted is a big boy– he’s part Maine Coon– and his tail is a giant force to be reckoned with. Often times, Ted will knock stuff off of tables just from flipping his tail from one side to the other. The best part about it, is when he accidentally topples a glass of water on the ground, he does not react at all. It’s like he pretends it didn’t even happen…or maybe he doesn’t even know it was him?

Ted is also what you’d call a “tree dweller.” I have these very high cabinets in my kitchen that he can swiftly jump onto by going from the counter, to the fridge and up to the very top. Usually, this acrobatic feat is done seamlessly. Except I learned that if I move anything on top of the fridge, it throws off his rhythm and it ends badly. If he can’t get his footing right, he slides all the way down the side of my refrigerator with his arms up, trying to grab onto something. As he slides, all of my magnets and pictures come crashing down with him! One time, I had just finished sweeping and mopping my floors and Ted lost his balance trying to jump up to the top of the cabinets. He slid all the way down my fridge, and along down with him, my magnets and photos came my new, full, glass salt shaker. Of course it shattered and salt was everywhere. He walked away as if nothing happened. Typical Ted move.

2. Cats are ferocious beasts.

When I picked out Ted from the litter, I knew he’d be a rambunctious monster. He was the kitten that was crawling all over and biting at his sound-sleeping brothers and sisters. He did not care. He wanted attention! I saw that fuzzy rascal and thought, “this little guy is mine!”

All kittens are little monsters, but Ted was a different kind, and still is. As a kitten, if I wore a maxi skirt, he’d latch on to the bottom of it with his front paws and slide around on the floor behind me as I walked. To this day, I can’t hang long curtains in my windows because he consistently would climb up them until they fell down. He even pulled down the entire shower curtain and its rod a of couple times, which was infuriating, but luckily he hasn’t tried that in over a year.

My cat is a true hunter. When he doesn’t have a bug to chase, sometimes he decides to hunt me. He will swat at and pounce on my feet until he grabs ahold of them. Then, the biting commences. It’s not pleasant, but I know he’s having fun, so I let him do it until it really starts to hurt.

As Ted gets older (he’ll be 3 on August 11!) he gets much less playful, which is honestly amazing. Even though he’s getting better, he still does a lot of crazy stuff that cause many a cat-scratch on my body. For example, his new favorite thing to do around February this year was to pounce on my head while I was sleeping! Sweet, right? He hasn’t done that in a few months, though and I’m praying for that phase to be over forever.

3. Cats are territorial and bossy.

Cat haters, I knot that you think all cats are mean and just like to hiss at you. However, most cats barely hiss once in their lifetime! Cats will only hiss if they feel threatened, and only very territorial cats are prone to hissing.

Ted Meowsby, though a sweet and lovable guy to all humans he meets, is incredibly territorial when it comes to meeting other cats. He thinks he’s the only cat around that matters (and maybe that’s because I’ve spoiled him so much) but this ego of his makes him very mean to other kitties who cross his path! When Ted and I go to my mom’s house for holidays, she has to put her cat away in a separate room so a fight won’t break loose. They take turns being shut in a bedroom for a few hours with food and litter, then switch places. It isn’t ideal, but Ted could probably kill my mom’s tiny female Snow Shoe. My cat is the boss.

Another funny example of my cat being bossy is how he claims certain spots on the bed or couch as his own. If I dare to sit in his spot on the couch, he will sit really close to me and then try to push me off the couch with his back legs! Also, as soon as I get up to do something, he immediately takes my seat. Don’t mess with the emperor of Apt. 28.


There are so many other examples of how being a cat mom can be pain in the tail, that going into detail would take hours. Here are a few more things cats do that annoy their parents:

-sitting on your laptop or right in front of your laptop when you’re using it

-only eating a certain type of food and going on a hunger strike if it’s unavailable

-opening up cabinets to find the hidden bag of treats and then ripping it open to eat them ALL

-deciding to cuddle right when you have to get out of bed

-stepping right on your bladder any time they walk across you

-putting their paws in your water glasses

-making ANYTHING a toy (I had to take down my xmas lights because he wouldn’t stop swatting)


With all said and done, being a parent to a cat is one of the best parts of my life! They’re annoying as all get out, but they’re also great companions. They’re amazing bug hunters (seriously, I trained Ted to kill roaches for treats). They know when you’re sad or sick or simply in need of a little more love. They show their adoration for you by kneading on you or rubbing their little furry faces on you. Their human caregivers are their world, and even though they may piss us off sometimes, they’re honestly too cute to be mad at.

Immaculate Conception

Hail Mary

Filled with disgrace,

That man was with you.

Never letting tears roll down your face,

You wished to weep

As his hands touched your thigh,

But you must be his fragile sheep

As his fingers go inside

Your holy vessel.


Holy Mary

You pray to God

That a fertilized egg won’t nestle

In the sheets of your womb.

You can’t bear the child of a sinner,

But as he thrusts

You must

Lay silent in your room.

Your duvets wraps like a cocoon.

You shrivel from his hot breath


And at the hour of your death.


Hail Mary

Just in case,

You take a test.

You fear

That little pink plus sign

And as the time comes near

Your heart

Beats out of your chest.

Ten more seconds.

Wait and see.

His child is with thee.


Holy Mary

A mother, by god

Of a bastard baby, leeching.

Outside, you wear a smile

As the lamb of god has gifted you with child.

But inside your soul is screeching,

Your faith is in shambles.

How could the lord let this man take your innocence and pride?

You pray for the sinner,

But you hope that he breaks

Under the weight of his sins,

Like the cracks in your over-stretched skin.

You hope his conscience makes him sick

Just like his child makes you

Every morning at six.

You hope he suffers, just like you


And at the hour of his death.

My Sobriety Story

I wasn’t sure if writing this article would be too taboo. I’m still unsure if it’s a great idea to share such a personal story to the world. However if I had been able to find and article like this one 3 years ago, I could have recognized my need for a change sooner. I could have done less damage to my body. I could have saved myself from countless nights of panic attacks and depression. I could have stopped myself from ruining friendships and lowering my own standards. I could have, but I also might not have even opened that article.

You see, addiction is not easy to admit to. It’s even harder to recognize how helpless you are when you’re using. If you aren’t ready to accept it and start making changes, you won’t. I hope that my story can reach those who were struggling like me: in between acceptance of having a problem and readiness to make a change.

My story begins in high school. I was new to the public school, a transfer from the Catholic middle school in my town. I have zero bad blood with my Catholic school classmates, but I never felt like I fit in with them. I got “yellow slips” and lunch detention for wearing zip-up band hoodies or too many bracelets to school. I’d skip class to go to pop/punk concerts and I wore way too much eyeliner. I was the only “emo” kid in my grade! Although I had some friends, I hated feeling left out. But hey, middle school sucks no matter what, right?

Anyway, at the public high school I only had one friend to begin with (Hannah-still my best friend today) who then introduced me to her group of friends. I fit in with them even though they didn’t go to concerts or shop at Hot Topic. It felt so incredible to find friends who liked me for ME, behind all the eyeliner and under my long, straight bangs. These were the people who gave me confidence. They were also the people who introduced me to whiskey.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all placing blame on my friends for my drinking problem! I didn’t have to drink with them. I never felt pressured to do it. I wanted to drink. This new world of social opportunity was at my feet. If I drank, I no longer felt uncomfortable to meet new people, to make more friends. If I drank, I was invited to parties and could create many hilarious stories with people that I never would have spoken to without alcohol involved. Liquor was my savior. It was my solution to feeling outcasted. Until it wasn’t.

In high school, I drank every weekend, but so did everyone else! I blacked out and vomited the entire contents of my stomach more times than I could count. I got into several fights with my friends, all of which were instigated by me (sorry, guys). This was destructive behavior, but I was young and carefree! I didn’t think I had a problem.

In college, I joined a sorority to make friends (hello again, social anxiety), which brought me to fraternity parties and “keggers” almost every Thursday through Sunday. On week nights, it was Margarita Mondays or Twisted Tuesdays or Wasted Wednesdays. Any celebration, loss or heartbreak was a reason to drink. I didn’t think I had a problem.

My Junior year, I studied abroad in the South of France. This was when my drinking started to escalate. I was only 20 for half of the year, but I was legal in France! I remember my first night there. I arrived in Aix-en-Provence around 10 A.M., had a panic attack immediately in my teeny tiny dorm and fell asleep. I woke up to a knock on my door. A friend that I met while getting my visa in Chicago was standing outside of my dorm! He coincidentally was placed in the dorm right above mine, and asked our program coordinator if I had arrived yet. I couldn’t believe he found me! Then he said those magic words, “wanna go get a drink?” I was elated! Again, alcohol had been my savior. He and I found what later became our favorite happy hour spot, La Grenouille. In our classes, we made more amazing friends and our nights were always spent out on the town, drinking. At one point, we started getting large bottles of cheap whiskey, sharing them, then smashing the empty bottles on a fountain. Later on, I got a large bottle of whiskey for myself to finish and smash (although I was never strong enough to really smash it and had to have one of my guy friends do it for me). Blacking out became the norm for me. I always wondered why my friends didn’t black out every time we went out, but I assumed it’s “because I’m smaller” or “I don’t eat enough” or “maybe their tolerance is better than mine.” I’ve come to realize now that I was out-drinking most of them every night. I started to think that I had a problem, because I had gotten myself in many awful situations while blacked out (i.e. getting very close to being arrested in Prague for peeing in the middle of a street and then arguing with the cops) and I started feeling worse and worse after every binge. However, I still made excuses for my drinking habits. I didn’t think I had too bad of a problem yet.

In 2016, I graduated with my BA and had no idea what to do next. I interviewed for one job, didn’t get it, then decided that graduate school was my step. I got accepted into Trinity College Dublin, and off I went to live in Ireland for a year. Some of you may not know this about Dublin, but it’s pretty well centered around “pub life.” God, did I love pub life. For the first 6 months, my life was centered around getting my school work done and when I could drink next. Every trip I went on had drinking tied into the itinerary: sangrias in Spain, winery tours in Italy and France, brewery visits literally anywhere. I made sure I did a pub crawl in every country I traveled to, and of course, I blacked out in all of them.

The latter half of my time in Dublin, I was incredibly depressed. I didn’t feel homesick, per se, but something in Dublin didn’t feel right. I made incredible friends there, who I still talk to today, and enjoyed my graduate classes and loved writing my dissertation. Dublin had everything I could need to make me happy, yet I was so broken and sad. I decided to try to drink less. The hangovers were terrible and the “hangxiety” was insurmountable. So I tried to quit drinking. However, when I didn’t go out drinking, I felt lonely and as if I couldn’t hang out with anyone. So I started binge drinking again. My blackouts were so terrible during that last half of my year that I did and said things to my closest friends that I never would have done if I were sober. My drunk alter-ego had it out for me and seemed to want to ruin my life. I realized that year that I could not just have a drink or two with my friends. If I had one drink, it was game over. My solution had become my enemy. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

After I finished my dissertation, I knew I had to leave Dublin. I was too depressed and wanted a fresh start. I moved to New York City because, why the hell not? Unfortunately for me, I didn’t think that my problems would follow me wherever I went.

My first year in NYC, I made a friend who drank like me. She’s still one of my best friends today. I loved that she also went out on the weekends with a mission: to get fucked up. The first night I went out with her, I blacked out, fell in the middle of a busy street, and woke up in her bed in China Town. She didn’t judge me! We ordered food and I got a cab home that evening. The difference between her and I though, is that she doesn’t really black out. She can tell when it’s time to slow down, drink water, eat something, or stop drinking for the night. I, on the other hand, simply cannot. That year, I consistently depended on her to take care of me, whether I realized it or not. She got me cabs home, ordered me food, took drinks away from me…I’m sure she even had to lug my dead weight around a few times. She saved my ass too many times, and even though our friendship began with drinking, I’m incredibly grateful that it didn’t end there.

In that same year, I got a job teaching English to speakers of other languages. I was so excited to teach and came prepared with lesson plans on hand for the first two weeks. Then I realized, my students didn’t really care to learn about grammar. They already knew how to speak enough English they needed and were only taking the course as a requirement from the state. So I stopped caring. I started showing a lot of movies and reading articles from the NY Times. Eventually, I started letting my students out of class earlier and earlier so I could meet friends at a whiskey bar around the corner and get drunk. It got to the point where I would let let them leave after 2 hours, get a six pack of tall boys from the bodega downstairs, and drink and them in my classroom. I felt defeated. My job was useless. I wasn’t using my degrees or any of my skills. My brain hadn’t been stimulated for at least 6 months. I figured, why not just get drunk every night? I knew I had a problem, but I admitted defeat and didn’t want to change. I assumed that drinking defined me, and I couldn’t fathom my life without alcohol.

For some reason, in the midst of my depression, I thought that getting a new job, an important job, would fix it all. I got hired as a second grade teacher. I never wanted to teach elementary school, but I knew it was important, so I took the job and threw myself into it. My pay raise allowed me to move to a one bedroom apartment in the East Village. The first night I stayed in my new place, a Wednesday, I had a friend come over to drink wine to celebrate. I had to teach a bunch of 7-year-olds in the morning, but I assumed I’d stop after 2 or 3 glasses. Like always, I didn’t stop. I drank 2 bottles of wine and blacked out in my bed. My alarm went off at 5 A.M and I rolled into the school with the worst hangover ever (actually, let’s be real, all hangovers are the worst) and still smelling like alcohol. After that day, I knew I couldn’t drink anymore on weeknights and needed to try to control or limit my drinking.

Remember that friend of mine that drinks like me? Well, she told me one night after that incident, at a bar, that I needed to try to cut myself off. We gave me a limit of 4 drinks. After the third drink, I always said “fuck it” and would sneak a shot or two away from her so she didn’t know I was over my “limit.” Since the 4 drink thing didn’t work, I tried many other ideas: only drink beer or wine, only drink dark liquors, only drink light liquors, drink a glass of water after every alcoholic drink, eat A LOT before going out, cut off drinking at midnight. None of these ideas worked. I was back into my depression and I had panic attacks every morning like clockwork. I was paranoid that everyone hated me. Then, I started hallucinating when I drank. One morning after a night out where I planned to stay sober, I woke up in my own bed with no recollection of how or when I got there and I realized I had had enough.

This was December of 2018. I joined a program for addicts and alcoholics. I had my first sober christmas since I was 14. It was horrible, but I felt proud. I relapsed on NYE back in New York City, but that champagne toast was my last drink.

My sober date is January 2nd, 2019. I have over a year and a half of sobriety under my belt. I hated being sober for the first 9 months or so, struggling to socialize and deal with emotions that I never let surface before. I have a therapist now that I love and I’ve been working on how to be myself, my best self, without alcohol. I still crave a drink sometimes, but I know that drinking again will be my downfall. I feel so lucky to have gotten the chance at a sober life at such a young age, and I never want to go back to my old ways.

Alcoholism doesn’t always look the way you picture it: homeless, jobless, dirty and panhandling with a bottle in a paper bag in hand. Alcoholism can look like a harmless 20-year-old going to brunch or having a night out with friends. If you suspect that you might have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. The sooner you realize it and make a change, the better. However, it’s never too late to start over and drop the bottle for good.

Here’s to being sober at 26.



Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things that I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Winnie’s Story: Young and Diagnosed

On the outside, Winnie H. looks like any 27-year-old woman: beautiful, thin, tan and well put together. She works two jobs, like any other twenty-something, tries to go to the gym as often as possible, has an enormous library on her kindle and is completing a job certification. However, on the inside, she is in constant pain. Winnie has Fibromyalgia.

I met Winnie at the age of 14. I, like most other teenagers, was full of energy and eager to do anything for fun. I knew that Winnie had some sort of illness, but I never fully understood why she hated giving me hugs or why some days she felt like she couldn’t get out of bed. As I got older and talked more with her, I learned more about the “disease” Winnie had and why it affected her the way it did.

Today, I sat down with Winnie to ask her more questions about what Fibromyalgia was and how it affected her.


How old were you when you realized something was wrong? What kind of symptoms were you feeling?

I was 10 years old. It was after I had my appendix taken out and I figured all of the pain I felt was because of that, but then it started to get worse. The pain got to be unbearable. I didn’t like the feeling of my clothes on my body. I couldn’t let anyone touch me at all. Even when family would try to hug me, it hurt too much, so I’d run away from them. I pretty much avoided “goodbyes” at family gatherings.

To describe the pain…on good days it feels sort of like body aches from the flu. On bad days, it feels like pins and needles, like when you sit on your foot for too long and it falls asleep– that numbness and needle-prick feeling. My legs were the worst back then. Sometimes they’d randomly give out on me.

The pain all over my body would get so bad that it made me vomit or would send me into panic attacks. I didn’t know what was happening or how to handle it!

How long did it take for doctors to diagnose you with Fibromyalgia? Were you wrongfully diagnosed at first?

Before they figured it out, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, really anything mental because they thought the pain was all in my head or I was faking it. One doctor would say it was one thing and the next doctor disagreed and said it was something else! I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 13, almost 14, years old.

What different kinds of tests or treatments have you tried over the years?

I went to many different therapists, like VERY different. One was super peppy and was all like “LET’S COLOR,” and another was just like, “here’s your meds, ma’am.”

I also tried these breathing treatments for awhile at the children’s hospital. It was actually kind of fun though, like a video game. They hooked me up to this heart monitor that was attached to a screen and I’d stare at a tree or build a bridge with my breathing patterns and heart rate.

In middle school, I had to wear a heart monitor for a week because apparently I had a heart murmur too, so that’s really cool. They had me wear this helmet thing too to measure my brain waves or something.

My back doctor wanted to try giving me shots in my spine but I was like, “HELL NAH!” That’s kind of funny though because now my back is where my worst pain is.

I tried a lot of physical therapy and massage therapy. Massage Therapy was my favorite. I also tried hydro-therapy where they change it from really cold to really hot but that was the worst! Extreme cold makes my muscles tense up. I can’t handle temperature changes very well.

What about medications? Did you experience any bad side effects?

Once I was on an antidepressant that made me hallucinate! I saw all kinds of weird stuff. I saw a glowing, blue, f***ing bird everywhere! It swooped down at me once at Walmart and I looked like a lunatic trying to dodge that damn bird. I always tried to laugh it off though.

The thing about medication is that if it has possible side effects, I’m probably going to get them. I guess I’m really sensitive to meds. Even the antidepressant I’m on now makes me so nauseated that I’ll usually throw up once a day. I just have to try a lot of things to see what works.

The biggest problem I had though, was that I went to like 5 different doctors at once and they never talked to each other. I took so many medications at once that I had these things I’d call “mini overdoses.” I’d be awake but lying there, unable to move or speak, and it was really hard to breathe! Those were the scariest moments of my life. As soon as I came out of them I’d run down to my mom, freaking out about how something was NOT right.

What kinds of medications or treatments do you use today?

By the time I was 18, I was on 22 different pills a day. My boyfriend at the time cheated on me and our breakup gave some sort of wake up call. I decided to go cold turkey on all my meds at once. I was withdrawing so bad that I was hugging the toilet and shaking for what seemed like forever. After that, I chose my own medications.

Now I’m taking a new antidepressant. There’s no “happy pill,” but this one really helps. I honestly didn’t plan on living past 18 years old. I had plans to kill myself. I still have some passive suicidal idealizations, but I want to live now.

Aside from that, I’m now taking Vyvanse, which is usually for ADHD, so it seems weird that I’d take it with Fibromyalgia. It helps with the brain fog, I call it “fibro fog.” I can sort of handle the pain nowadays, but I can’t deal with the fog. I literally have fallen asleep from it, standing up, at work!

“Fibro fog” is where you can’t think clearly or remember anything. It’s like my thoughts are moving through oil in my head. Answering simple questions like “What did you have for breakfast today?” are too difficult. I’d be like, “did I even eat today?” The fog is the hardest thing for me, even though my pain is still at an all time high. I hate it because I need to work; I need to study and think. It’s all too hard to do with the fog.

I also occasionally will take a muscle relaxer. My spine swells and locks sometimes at night and the pain keeps me from sleeping, so a muscle relaxer helps me get to sleep.

How does Fibromyalgia affect your mental health?

For so many years, people told me my disease wasn’t real and people still think that today. It really f***s with me. Even doctors who are educated on the disease have written me off like I was faking it.

I have severe depression. If I go into a bad swing of depression, my fibromyalgia flares up, because my mental health and physical symptoms tie into each other.

I used to have panic attacks that were so bad I’d black out at school and my mom had to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. My anxiety is still very present in my life today, but I struggle more with depression.

Has Fibromyalgia ever affected your ability to live a “normal life?”

I couldn’t get my driver’s license when everyone else did because I was having absent seizures. When my seizures got better and I got the OK to get my license, I too afraid to get it. I was worried that I’d have a seizure while driving and kill a whole family! Fibromyalgia has made me fearful of so many things.

I used to drink a lot to numb the pain. In middle school and high school I’d drink a vodka and orange juice before school even! I continued to take my meds when I drank too. Alongside alcohol, I used to smoke pot a lot to ease the pain I felt.

Maybe this is TMI, but sex is very difficult with Fibromyalgia! Having sex on your bad days is nearly impossible. On your good days, you’re in a lot of pain, but you can still orgasm. Don’t get me wrong, I love sex and still do it! It’s just very difficult to enjoy it as much as you could without Fibromyalgia.

Tell me about why you decided to pursue massage therapy.

I had a massage therapist in middle school and high school named Nina. She helped me through SO much. When she first got me, I would tense up and squeal every time she touched me. She helped me build up a tolerance for physical contact. She also truly listened to me when I told her I was in pain and really worked with me.

One day on her massage table, I looked up and told her I wanted to do what she does and she told me that I could. All of my doctors shot down my dreams and said I wouldn’t be able to do anything. They said I’d be in a wheel chair by the time I was 45. Nina believed in me.

I want to help people that are like me or even older people. One time I got to help a special needs girl who was ready to live on her own and get a job, but she’d never been touched!

I want to help people the way that Nina helped me.

What advice do you have for anyone dealing with Fibromyalgia?

Cry as much as you need to, but make sure to laugh it off.

F*** the people who say your disease is just in your head. It’s real. Don’t let them make you second guess yourself. No one truly knows what you’re feeling except for you. Fight for yourself.

I think the the most important piece of advice I have is to find your support group and hold on tight. If I didn’t have my mom who did anything and everything she could to make me feel better, I don’t know where I’d be. If I didn’t have such understanding friends who supported me and never let me be alone when I was sad, I don’t think I’d be here today. Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is not lucky, but being blessed with my support group was the luckiest thing that happened to me.


Winnie H. has been through so many trials and tribulations due to her early diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Her mother did everything she could for her, but still worried that one day she’d come home to find her daughter dead. Thanks to Winnie’s strong soul, determined mind and loving support system, this inspirational young woman is on her way to change lives. She has overcome the odds and will continue to do so throughout her entire life.

Those of you who are reading this and suffering from Fibromyalgia, know that you are not alone. Your pain is REAL.

anxiety attack

Everything feels wrong.

When you notice the sound that the air makes And how round the sky is, fitting perfectly on top of our fish bowl of An atmosphere we swim on and float on and think on and breathe on. And nothing and everything makes sense When you realize your brain is just a dense formation of tiny living things. It’s like your mind is as solid as a bird’s wings But as abstract and surreal as nameless other things. And your breath is moving up to speed. And your heart pumps so fast, like it’s trying to scream But your head won’t allow it. Society says it’s wrong and you say it doesn’t matter But you’re trapped in a song thats been playing for hours. Repeating and repeating for days on end And you wish it would stop. Please, please, let it end. I think that I’m dying and no one believes me. I can’t breathe anymore and no one can see me. What have I done to deserve such despair? These hands won’t stop shaking and pulling my hair. Why does nobody care That the air isn’t still And my lungs and my heart move by their own will? How can we explain this strange place where we live? Heart is slowing now. Something’s gotta give.

I just need to sleep. I’ll feel better tomorrow. Until next time, Anxiety. It’s your turn now, Sorrow.