Sunday, 12 February 2017

Optometry of a photograph: The lies we tell

I come home for Christmas, fresh from the airport. My mother throws a party, and everyone is seated, laughing. First emotion: dread. Not another one of these. Another night smiling and nodding. Another night feeling alone in the crowd; overly conspicuous.
Something internal warns me, and I duck and sweep. There's a man behind me, and I know him. Frustrated I start swinging as soon as he regains his feet. Jab, cross, another jab, right hook. "What the hell are you doing here?!", I growl at him. Dodging, then faking right and sending his feet flying out from under him again. He doesn't say anything (I like to think i'm keeping him too busy to be loquacious), but I hear someone at a table on the far side of the driveway burst out laughing. I know him too. "Like he can talk Ace!", he says. "Ugh, you better both start talking you ass!". More laughter.
We fight our way across the stone tile, going for broke. Play fighting isn't in me. Apparently it isn't in him either. I catch glimpses of faces comically frozen in shock or horror or surprise; mostly some combination of the three. There is no time to explain, and I wouldn't know how, regardless. So we fight. The sweat is dripping, the moves are becoming more desperate, but i'm getting angry. Raging, actually. Where have they been, I think? For years and years, where have they been?! It starts to feel like Candid Camera. Or This is Your Life!. Or hell, America's Funniest Home Videos. Only as usual the joke is on me. As I said before, play fighting isn't in me. I start digging into my bag of tricks. It's a bit of an "undetectable extension charm". Only.. not nearly as charming. And minus the Dittany. I stop street fighting, and start Street Fighter-ing. I pull out a series of moves I've had down in my mind for years, but have never tried. They land. He is spending a lot of time sprawled out on the floor. I land, and break for air, just for a second.
"Nush! nush! nush! nush!", sounds out from the top of the stairs behind me. I turn my head and I feel some of the red start bleeding  and feathering away from my eyes. "Hey Deaks!... who ya running from?", I ask the baby rapidly motoring out the front door. She turns to look back with a grin, and at first all I see is a hulking shadow fall from inside the door. A deep voice (one my mother would call a "true bass") calmly calls out "Hey Ace". The body attached to said bass saunters out the front door; tall, sexy without being 'handsome' or 'cute', and built like a brick shithouse.
"Yum" is about all I manage, sending my sprawling friend back to the ground with a flip and a now seriously distracted kick. The baby continues to giggle and gurgle and wait for me to finish. She's seen this sort of thing before. "Not you too", I grumble at the man now standing with the baby on her belly at his feet. "We couldn't help it! yells someone fairly high-pitched from inside the house. Unfortunately I know her too. "Oh good grief". When the fighting breaks next, I run up the stairs and jump with both feet into the man's arms and spend a couple of minutes kissing the living daylights out of him (or perhaps it's the other way around. It's probably definitely the other way around). "Need a hand?" he asks when we come up for air. "Of course not", I say, disengaging myself and turning back to the idiot getting to his feet. Again. I turn my head back slightly, and say quietly, "but i'd like one".
To the right of me is a table of men. For some reason at parties here genders seem to occupy different spaces whenever possible even when everyone is attending the same thing. My father, uncles, random ones I don't know (as is the case during such things). A man sits at the table, and as you've probably guessed, I know him too. I don't look at him, but I say, again quietly, "Call it. If you don't I will, and you will not like how I do". More confused stares. The man finally answers "Ok. fine. No breaking anything, speed is a plus, bonus points if the ceiling comes into play". The stares shift back to surprise; heads bobbing and weaving between the man and myself.
What happens next is something I absolutely stole from M Bison. I flip back, get a boost from the man with the baby, push off the ceiling, and execute a perfect 520 roundhouse. He's not getting back up for some time. "Nice. You're done." comes from the men's table. "Nush! nush! nush! nush!" sounds from behind me again, and I turn and pick up the little loudmouth, and lean on the man. Mine.

Of course there are explanations to be told and heard and rejected and belaboured and eventually grudgingly accepted. More and more people I know come out of the woodwork. It is such a change from...everything and every year that has gone before. There is a party at my house, at which I know people. At which there are people who know me. Who don't know the version of me that my brother thinks he knows, or his friends have been told, or my parents and their friends assume they know. People who see beyond the wreckage left behind by medication and disorder and side effects. Who do more than smile and nod back. Or who do anything at all. 

As I sit there, as I have for years: my hair so thin I bleach it for volume; my red raw skin poorly covered in layers of powder; the tags in my clothing carefully cut away so even I no longer have to face the size I've become... it's nice to dream. Sometimes the smiles and nods hide terrible rage, crushing sadness, and a loneliness I have no adjectives for.
That's when the lies we tell protect not just us, but all those people we don't know.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Optometry of a Photograph: The Holidays and Bipolar Disorder (2016 Edition)

Hi Guys,

I can't actually remember the last time I posted something here. Then again, memory, mostly bad, was kind of the theme of the year. I swear if a red panda with a ponytail showed up at my door calling himself my Master Shifu and claiming he could "make me not me", i'd follow his ass 100%. I can't quantify the amount of time I spent this year feeling awful for being me. I suppose a lot of people turn to blogs or vlogs at this time of year, especially those of us with mental illnesses on top of everything else, because the holidays force us to face certain facts, and to look back at the the past year (decade, etc) gone by. But where to begin....?
Reckon i'll start with what triggered this post today. It was going to come out anyway, but today is the day because of a dress. Not just any dress, but a beautiful dark red chiffon dress I had bought in the hope of NOT being the dumpy little sister/daughter/stranger in the corner trying to fade into the furnishings at Christmas. Did I mention i'll be in Sydney this Christmas? With family and their family and etcs? I have no illusions given all the side effects my medicines have had this year (more on this in a second) of looking or feeling pretty or attractive or anything, but for once, I wanted to be wearing something festive that made me feel just that little bit more confident. I thought that if I could find something that'd do that, i'd be able to converse more easily, and relax a little, and ...yeah. Anyway it came in the mail just now.

Ever pictured what an "i" cup breast looks like? It's not cute, or sexy, or attractive in any way. In fact it's awful. If Frodo had to carry one (let alone two) of these to Mordor Sauron would be sitting here blogging right now. Bras are expensive and tough to find, and they pretty much only come in grandma styles. You can't sleep properly because they interfere with your breathing when you're lying down, good luck finding a sports bra (let alone exercising with them), your back both upper and lower are in constant, chronic pain. And you can forget just about 90% of all clothing. It is not going to fit over them until you go up like 4 sizes, and then most things drape wrong so it looks (if you shove yourself in there) like you're about to give birth to octuplets. So my very pretty Christmas dress... yeah. Got it on, and everything else fit fine. Of course the breasts didn't and it fell like a tent. I got my Ma to try it, and she loved it so it's now her Christmas dress (which i'm happy about, know? I waited like 2-3 weeks for the delivery and then to just be so disappointed...
I did say i'd touch on side effects, that was one. I went from a G cup to and i this year. Other side effects: My hair started to fall out in a ridiculous way, handfuls and handfuls. I have very little left. I cut it down short, and had a Keratin treatment to keep it soft and plump, but there are some very bald areas. I developed acne, of the lovely cystic variety, and of the bumps all over the forehead variety. A medical interaction caused my Thyroid hormones to go nuts, so i'm on extra medication for that. A doctor in Melbourne prescribed me a medication that threw me and my system even further for a loop, and being on it, and the subsequent process of getting off of it again was awful. The one i am concerned with right now is that my resting pulse rate is literally DOUBLE most people's. At rest yesterday it was 120. So, shortness of breath, lack of's just not a good feeling. As of a week ago i'm trialing another new medication that's supposed to induce nausea and sometimes all-day vomiting in the "getting your system used to it" phase. Joy. So far I've been on a 1/2 dose, but i'm supposed to start the full when i'm in Sydney, so fingers crossed I don't go full-on Exorcist. The biggest side effect, of course was the weight gain and that was despite being on Jenny Craig for half the year, and typically walking about 5km everyday. I honestly had to stop the Jenny Craig at that point because each weekly weigh in was so disheartening. I ate the food, I did the recommended exercise, why am putting on weight every week?! Like I said, disheartening.
Naturally all of this blew back to Uni and studies and making friends and enjoying myself. As usual it was another year of being alone 99% of the time. Waaaay too much time to think. My lows were very very low this year and the one place all of that kept taking me back to was Queensland and the farm (see previous Optometry post on 2009 if you have no idea what i'm talking about). That's just where the majority of my post traumatic stress comes from, and for some reason every bad patch triggered back there. The one thing I was absolutely grateful for were the RMIT counselling and photography staff. Pauline, Jeremy, Jerry, Rebecca- absolute standouts. They were beyond supportive, beyond helpful, and just amazing. I had to withdraw from half my semester papers in the 2nd half of the year and Pauline and Jerry made that so seamless and easy for me. One of my Uncle's friends helped out a lot with location scouting and even posed as my model once, thankful thankful thankful. Also my Ma flew down to Melbourne and stayed with me for 3 weeks at my lowest point, which I am beyond thankful for. I hate that she always has to deal with all my shit. You know? Like I said before, if someone could make me not me, that would be great, thanks.
Oh god my room...and roommate...and roommate's boyfriend. My living situation at the RMIT Village just made matters worse. I was "sharing" a "room". It was one room with a partial partition in the middle and a bathroom, all of which could probably have fit into our pantry here at home. Asleep in our beds we were maybe 2 meters away from each other, if that. The bathroom flooded with every shower, and when aforementioned roommate and boyfriend had one, I would often open the room door and platsch ankle deep into the flooded kitchenette area. The internet was right around dialup quality, and only usable on a single device at once (no phone wifi and laptop emailing for you, nein!), and the only place you could "air" the room was via the glass door at the opposite end of the rooms, so anything you heated up or cooked- the smell remained for days. However, the worst point came when the boyfriend pretty much moved in. And blasting Rage Against the Machine, via noise-cancelling headphones, while playing a game on the computer, and having the microwave going, I learnt really quickly that even all of that, was not enough to drown out the two of them having sex. I could pretty much accurately call when they switched positions, and even if I was on the phone trying to talk at my max volume? didn't stop them. Even my Ma heard them getting off when we were on the phone at one point. I left when I could, but where was I gonna go at 3am? I could not move out of there quickly enough and get back home. My friend Rob, from high school, helped me pack and stored all my shit for me over the summer- couldn't have done it without him.
In and amongst all of that, my baby passed away. Buffy was 17, and it was her time, but i still hurt to think I wasn't there for/with her. I was at Melbourne Central and decided to just call my Ma, and she told me that they were waiting for the vet to come. I could not have run into the cinema fast enough. I was watching Bridget Jones's Baby when Buffs was put to sleep. You can cry in cinemas, especially empty ones. I knew if I wanted to cry in my room i'd have to wait to be alone, and once I started that i'd be hard pressed to stop if someone came home, so... quiet cry in Hoyts. Then lots and lots of quiet cries in the room in the weeks and months following. Since I've been back I forget at least once a day and go and check the patio where her mat was to see what she's up to. I have a few little recordings of her from the past few years, and a few pictures, but it's only afterwards that you realize how much you missed out on. Puppy pictures, longer and better quality videos...everything. I just miss her, and the 101 things she did that made all of us laugh and be happy on a daily basis.
 And finally, we are (Ma and I) both missing Oma.
I think that's y'all caught up on a lot of what went on so far this year. The dress just kind of summarized the rest of 2016 perfectly.
As I always say in my inevitable end-of-year posts, i'm here for you. If you're reading and you want to vent? go for it. If you're feeling down and want to talk about it? go for it. Whether you're alone, or in a crowd this holiday season, if you're suffering, mental illness or not, feel free to share your own yearly roundup if you want to. I'm here to listen, and I love to talk to you guys. It helps me too.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all, and I hope everyone (myself included) has a better 2017.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

WARNING: DO NOT USE THE Rival De Loop Eye Mask/ Rival de Loop Hydro

Hi Guys,
Just wanted to come on here quickly and warn y'all about a product. It's not widely available (thank goodness), but especially in Germany, and anywhere they have the Rossmann brand of drugstore, watch out for them. Correctly they are called the Rival de Loop Hydro
Abschwellende Augenkonturenpads; like water-based swelling control pads (yeaaaah not my finest translatory moment). They're supposed to be cooling, to help tackle fine lines immediately, and help with dry skin. The packaging- I wish I had saved mine but I didn't know what was going to happen- looks like:
Now for some photo time. Let's go to my ipod photos first:

do y'all see that? Please tell me you can see that. I know the photos aren't the best quality, but still. A drunk rhino could see that.
More photos, about 24 hours later:

those little gel strips, BURNT their way across my undereye area. Literally burnt. The skin in that area is so tight right now, and it's preparing to start peeling. It was painful to have on, and I didn't have them on very long. They were painful to take off.. rather like one of those pore strips for your nose. They continue to be painful, long after both strips and box are thankfully in the trash where they can't burn anyone else.
Disclaimers: i'm just telling you what my experience was. I don't usually do that kind of thing, but this was serious enough. I'm not saying everyone is going to have the same reaction. It might work well for some people. All i'm is? approach with caution.
Now i'm off to schmear Tepez cream all over my eyes.

Nush puts together: THE TOP 5 EYESHADOWS OF 2015 (or of all time if you're dramatic) this may be the last installment of this BEST OF series for this year

Hi guys!
I hope everyone is having a great day. I'm here to bring you the last installment of my TOP 5/ BEST OF series for 2015. And ya know what we've missed? eyeshadows! I've been having this ultra-geeky back and forth with myself as to what the shadows would be, and the format.. like would we be talking about shadow pencils, or loose shadows, or just palettes, or what .. it's all been brooding away in my mind for weeks now (i'm really good at the mental brooding). So I decided we'd go a bit old-school, and skip pencils and other delivery methods entirely. So we'd focus on shadows, be they loose, in palettes, or in singles. I think I've come up with a few old faithfuls, and a couple of new surprises. I've also ranked them, which I know y'all like hehe, so let's get started.
5. Catrice Liquid Metal eyeshadows

I'd love to include all Catrice shadows in here, but as with most ranges, theirs are a bit hit and miss. That said I do use the Velvet Matt shadow Vanillaty Fair every single day, so clearly i'm a fan. These liquid metals though? I have yet to find a bum shade. They are stunning dry, stunning wet, stunning on the lid, stunning in the outer V ... you get it, they're stunning. There's barely any fallout as well, but they're richly pigmented- usually the two don't go together. These are also offered at a ridiculous pricepoint; i think about 5 bucks each in the states, around 4 euros in Europe, maybe cheaper still in Germany. It's all some Catrice voodoo, and it's got me under its spell.
4. Femme Fatale Pigments ... AND Naked Cosmetics pigments (we have a tie bitches!).  

 Two sets of pigments/ mineral eyeshadows stole my heart this year, and that is saying something. I bought about 60 loose pigments and glitters in a set about 2 years ago, and that's been all I've used since then in that format. Then these two products came into my life, and i'm the happier for it. Let's talk Femme Fatale first. If I've done my research right they are an Aussie company, and i'm not sure if or where they are offered in store. I ordered mine online off their website (they sell a lot of other branded items, but I only bought from their own brand). I was attracted to it mostly on account of al their duo/multi-chrome mineral shadows and nail polishes (you can get lost on their site just going through colour descriptions and so on). Anyway, I believe I got a set of slightly smaller pots, for a discounted price (you can choose a "mini" size with each colour purchase, which I greatly appreciate). I chose a lot of purples, but that was my doing. The shadows themselves are lovely. The pots have sifters (though that can get annoying), and are as mess free as loose shadows can get. Again, the shade range is what won the day here.

I stumbled upon Naked Cosmetics completely by accident. I was visiting my brother in Sydney, when I walked by a professional makeup store. Being from a land where there basically are no professional makeup stores, I was awestruck and spent a shitload of both time and money there. I wanted to go back for more of these, but I didn't have time. I believe they're an American company, and they sell mostly mica pigments in collection format. The powders can be used in all sorts of ways. The three I have are beautiful. They catch the light nicely. They go on smoothly. The pots don't have sifters, so you have to be a little bit careful, but I actually prefer it. They're not cheap (it can be about 15 USD per colour), but a little goes a long way.
3. Coastal Scents Shadows

Y'all had to know this was coming. At number three, Coastal Scents Shadow Pots. I did a Top 20 post on these recently, you can find it if you go back a bit. I find it hard to find new things to say. I feel kinda redundant right now. They're smooth. They're pigmented. Most have about as much fallout as a MUG/MUFE shadow does. They have a whole host of colours and finishes to choose from. Their website is really easy to navigate. They're 1.95 USD a piece (you cannot argue with that). My one gripe? they have a little boast on their site that they ship "worldwide". They don't. Not where I live, for example. I hate that companies can advertise something like that; such bold statement, and have it be BS. That aside, I love these shadows, and I would order more if I could.
2. Makeup Geek shadows

My apologies. I did not realize most of my beauty things were in such shambles. Powder everywhere and shadows flaking and packaging slowly disintegrating. Well loved y'all, well loved is what it is. Honestly I don't think I have to sell ANYONE on the awesomeness of Makeup Geek shadows. People with a lot more fame/credibility/talent/power/creativity have done so for ages. For me though, this little 9 piece was a huge investment. I'm not sure if I did a full post on these shadows, but it did set me back a pretty penny. So I waited and waited, and eventually caved. When choosing shades I only bought ones that were tried and true and that i'd seen used over and over again (plus Blacklight, but who couldn't see the potential in that right away?!). They didn't disappoint. I regret Peach Smoothie, as it is just too light for me, but everything else from Cosmopolitan to Cocoa Bear is a hit. It's a palette that I pull from a lot, so I really rate it highly.
1. (no you will not have guessed this) Qianyu Shadows

Right about now, you're going "what the what now?!", and you will be right to do so. Lol. Qianyu was a find for me. I was studying at the time, and couldn't afford much, and this crapstore .. well, I say crapstore in the best sense .. sold all kinds of off-brand makeup. I saw these two palettes, and thought, 5 bucks each, why not? and SHAKABUIY! My life was changed. No, not really. Just my eyeshadow game. These are .. these are ... these are .. oh bloody hell.. they are what I imagine MUG Foiled Shadows to be like, only much cheaper, and with a much greater variety of colours. Like pressed pigments, but not that entirely either. I can't explain what it feels like to stick your fingers into one of these shadows to try and swatch it. It's a bit messy, because it's so soft you know, but the pay-off is insane. Every colour is just true to form and punchy and opaque and magnificent. I had to throw out those old palettes, but I found a crapstore here that sells variations of them which you see in the photo. So ... I have no idea what they'll be price-wise if you find them. If you do though, make a flying tackle and get yourself one.
And that is that. Wow. We've come to the end of this series. What on earth am I going to post next beauty/makeup-wise???? if y'all have suggestions, please let me know. If there's something you'd like to see, again, let me know.
For now, imma clean all this shadows off myself, and my bed, and my couch, and put everything away again. Then see what 2016 has to offer.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Nush puts together: The BEST Budget/Drugstore/Highstreet/Affordable Coloured Eyeliners of 2015 (or of all time if you're feeling dramatic). TOP 10

Hi Guys,
today we are tackling coloured eyeliners. There are always a million reviews on black ones, but a lot of people do not use black (too harsh, too overpowering, doesn't fit their style- whatever). This post isn't about liquid liners, just pencils. I tried to get a mix of colours, but in the end I had to just pick the BEST formulas, irrespective of colour. This is also my only favourites list that follows a ranking system. Top 10 liners, with 1 being the absolute cherry on top.
Here they all are (yes I removed the in2it one):
Let's get started.
10. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Bronze

This is probably your best bet at the drugstore if you need a good neutral brown shade. The "Brown" shade is good too. They both apply smoothly, they're pigmented, very easy to use. Ultimately this one made the cut over brown because it is just that little bit more unique shade-wise.
9. Maybelline Colorshow Crayon Kohl in Matita Occhi

This colour was surprising. I picked it up thinking I was going to find a million dupes for it, and I found none. It is a perfect hybrid between silver and grey. The longer I looked at it the more I started to think of the opening scene of the 50 Shades movie where he's pulling open his tie drawer. But that's neither here nor there. It's a silvery dove-grey, is what we're going with. It's also smooth, and comfortable to wear, though not as smooth as say the Silkygirl pencils.
8. Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in 'In The Nude'

I am used to buying the Scandaleyes nude pencil from Rimmel, but they were all out the last time I made it to an Australian pharmacy (the don't sell rimmel here), so I saw this and picked it up. I'm happy I did. This stays just as well on the waterline, which is my primary use for liners like this. It's smooth, but not too much so (so it doesn't just go sliding off once you've applied it). It's a bit soft for use in the tropics, is all i'll say. That's the case with a lot of liners and this kind of humidity. If you're looking for your Scandaleyes pencil, don't be afraid to try this one.  
7. BYS Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in Wine

I would have put money on the Zoeva pencil (it's an almost duo-chrome light purple) beating this one. On shutting this one down in fact. This BYS pencil came out of nowhere. Now i'm actually wearing it more because it's like a rediscovery . It's smooth, it's pigmented, it's not too soft and breakable, and the colour is beautiful. It was also dirt cheap, as I recall.
6.Zoeva Graphic Eyes in Nude Reflection

What an unusual colour. It's a taupey nude. Such a great all over the lid colour, or just a one-stop liner colour. It's smooth and pigmented and just as rich as the other colours in the line, but as you can probably see, it's a little bit too soft. What I mean by that is that it can ball up a little if you use too much pressure. You have to have a light hand with it. Otherwise? lovely.
5. Yves Rocher Botanical Colour Eye Pencil in Citron

Matte yellow loveliness. Unlike the vast majority of coloured pencil liners, especially in colours like yellow and orange and so on, this one isn't A-dry, B-glittery, C-sheer, D-difficult to work with. It is just as creamy as the other top liners I reviewed, with the same tiny price tag. In Frankfurt, on the Zeil there is an Yves Rocher store. We has always dismissed it because it looks way too fancy for the likes of us (lol, do y'all ever feel that way?), but I saw these liners advertised in the window, so we went in and BAM! coloured liner heaven. This takes the cake.
4. Silkygirl Funky Eyelights Pencil in Electric Blue

Another one makes the cut! So after realizing how amazing these were, we went back a newer store (please let there be testers), and these were testers. However, we tried all the other colours, and these two remained in a class of their own. Even, weirdly, formula-wise. Just look at that colour and bask in it's loveliness. The formula is smooth, creamy, pigmented etc. Just all around a great pencil.
3. Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Taupe

Before I even compliled this list, I knew this pencil would be on it. Not just say on my list, but on my mom's, and my best friend's and etc etc. It's such a widely used pencil (blondes can use it in their brows, for example), and is a great alternative to black or brown liner. It's a colour that looks different in different lights, and pulls differently on different skin tones. It's just great.
2. Silkygirl Funky Eyelights Pencil in Frosty Silver

another wow product for me, and even more unexpected than the last one. Silkygirl is a REALLY affordable brand. I tried this liner on a whim (they didn't even have testers in store.. well they had at one point, but y'al know how it goes with drugstore testers), and BAM. One shot= magic. If ever there was a "fairy dust" silver, this would be it. Ithas so much shine and sparkle without being chunky or glittery... I don't know how they do it. I put it up against other silver liners and products I own, but nothing compared at all.
1. Zoeva Graphic Eyes in Blue Lotus

 my notes on this liner are super helpful. They just say "wow". No seriously. That's it. After like a year of wearing this liner, every time I put it on I still think "wow". Which says a lot, in and of itself, but doesn't do jack shit for your impression of my linguistic prowess. This liner is soft. It is creamy. It glides on smoothly. Full opacity is a given. It is just "wow".
and now....
you may have noticed that I didn't mention lasting power with any of these, which is because i'm dedicating this little field test to that section. I can easily say that these all last, like you would want them to. But, if you say .. fell asleep with them on, or had a 16 hour day due to some other circumstance, how would they do? Let's have a look, shall we?
so this is the before picture. I sleep on my stomach, so I did the swatches above my knees where they would constantly be in contact with the sheet and rubbing against pillows and etc. So after a night of sleep, and a total of 18 hours of wear time, we were left with this:
Tell me that's not ridiculously impressive. A couple of colours, Wine most notably, have faded to an extent, but in general? knowing how I sleep? i'm impressed.
Anyway, that was it! I hope it helped, or was useful for you in some way. If you have requests, or suggestions of what I should do next, don't hesitate to let me know.
As always, stay strong and know that if something is up, and you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me.