Mar 14, 2012

The Dramatic Soap Opera that is: My Skin

If you would have asked me a year ago if I have sensitive skin, I would have said, "Absolutely not!"

I only recently learned that I do, in fact, have exceptionally sensitive skin.  But instead of manifesting itself in the form of itching, burning, dryness, or redness-- I get acne.  I get horrible acne.  Everything from your run-of-the-mill whiteheads to big, painful cysts.  Gross, eh?

For years, I tried a great variety of treatments-- just about anything you can name-- from those awful stingy pads, to Proactiv, to about a half dozen different prescription treatments (both oral and topical).  I had the best results with the oral antibiotic, but I took it for so long that I began to develop a tolerance to it and it stopped working about a year ago.  I went back to using Proactiv but had mixed results at best.

Being a northerner transplanted to Florida, I spend a lot of time sweating, and I attributed much of my increased acne woes to constantly being covered in that film you get when sweat dries on your face.  You know what I'm talking about-- and don't you dare pretend that you don't.

It wasn't until this past August that I finally figured out the mysteries of my acne.  I joined a site called and it changed my life.  Er... that's a bit dramatic... let's just say it changed my face!  And it also changed my chest and my back.

From, I started following the Dan Kern Regimen (or, DKR) for acne treatment and goshdarnit if it isn't the only thing I've tried that actually works consistently.  I bought his whole line of products.  They aren't, what you would call, "cheap".  But they're worth it.

I currently get the Regimen Kit Plus mailed to me every 6 weeks.  Since I started using the regimen, it now takes nearly two hours for me to get ready in the morning, which is a bummer.  But applying each step of the regimen takes time because you have to do it so slowly and gently, and then each step must dry completely before applying the next one.  That takes about 10-15 minutes per step:

  • Cleanse/shower
  • Wait 10 minutes
  • Apply Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Wait 15 minutes
  • Apply moisturizer
  • Wait 10-15 minutes
  • Apply makeup  

So that's 35-40 minutes just waiting for the stuff to dry.

BUT I have not had skin that looked this clear since well before puberty.

I'm now almost 8 months into the regimen and am completely clear.  All of the side effects of using such a large amount of benzoyl peroxide have also cleared up.

I used to think that no amount of benzoyl peroxide could touch me.  I'd been using it for years, in various forms.  It's the active ingredient in Proactiv but is tough to find in drugstores.  The amount used in the regimen causes ALL users to experience extreme flaking and peeling of the skin for weeks or months into the treatment.  The skin around my mouth looked like the cracked ground of a desert.  I was afraid to smile, laugh, yawn, or eat anything in public for fear of my skin cracking and flaking off.  Needless to say, it was super gross and embarrassing.  But after about three months, it finally began to subside.

What I learned from reading the articles on is that acne isn't caused from dirt or grease on your skin.  It's caused by irritation.  Dirt and grease can clog pores, but those pores don't produce acne unless they are clogged AND irritated.  So eliminating irritation is the key.

This means I have to be super careful about the products that I use on my skin.  For the most part, I use the products, but I also need things like soap and a lotion to keep in my purse, etc.  So I have to avoid products with Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Myristate and sunscreens with an Avobenzone base.

Which brings me back to Florida.

I like to be in the sun as much as the next gal, and Tommy and I spend a lot of our free time at the pool, which is great, except that the sunscreens I have been using are not compatible with the regimen.

The only SPF recommended by is Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer - Sensitive Skin.  But this is really a daily moisturizer and not a beach-worthy sunscreen.

Dan ( founder) offers this video as a guide to shopping for regimen compatible sunscreens:

So these are the things I am looking for in a sunscreen:
1.) Avobenzone free
2.) Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Myristate free
3.) SPF 30 (Any lower and I can't stay out all day-- any higher is just a scam)
4.) Water resistant (at least), but preferably waterproof

These are the products that, upon first inspection, meet those minimum requirements:





California Baby SPF 30+ Sunblock Stick Super Sensitive - Fragrance Free
In the coming weeks, I'm going to be testing and reviewing these sunscreens.  Am I missing any gems?  

I'll post again with my findings!

Sep 5, 2011

Objects and Memory

On September 11, 2001 I was 16 years old.  Two days earlier was my birthday and I got a car.  An aptly named “patriot red” PT Cruiser.  It was in our driveway with a big white bow on it.

On Tuesday, at the time of the attacks, I was in school.  I was a junior in Mrs. Weinert’s world literature class.  I am almost certain that I was writing a note to my friend Rachel, who sat behind me.  As is common in a Catholic school, a girl in the back of the class asked if she could offer a prayer of intention before we started class.  Mrs. Weinert agreed and this girl took the floor and asked us to pray for the plane crash in New York.  And that was how 35 teenage girls found out that our country had changed.

I was nowhere near New York, D.C., or Pennsylvania.  No one I knew was flying anywhere that day.  My relatives in New York live well outside the city.  And I don’t have any friends or acquaintances who work or have ever worked at the Pentagon (Could I even tell you if I did?).

In the grand scheme of things, I was pretty far removed from the events of September 11.  But like most Americans, I grieved— largely affected by the images on TV.  After several days, I would ask to leave the room (or just lie and say I had to use the bathroom) when we watched Channel One during second period.  I hated having to watch the news in school.  Reading Richard III was bad enough.

I can’t say that I fully processed such a monumental tragedy until the following summer, upon the release of Bruce Springsteen’s album, The Rising.

To this day, when I hear songs from this album—when they catch me off guard when my iPod is on shuffle—they always bring me back to being 16 years old, driving to Powderpuff football practice, and trying to make sense of what was happening in the world.  Without fail, when I listen to any song from this album, I can smell mud (football practice, after all), vividly remember the look and feel of that PT cruiser, and I can remember staring blankly, waiting for Bruce to say something profound.

So that’s my object and those are my memories.


Those in the museum profession should not be surprised that one object can bring a flood of vivid memories and sharp emotions to a viewer (or, in my case, listener).  A major reason people visit museums is to have these kinds of experiences, provoked by objects that carry some kind of cultural significance.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the museum experience—responding to objects in such an intense way—and September 11.  The news media (and almost every other media) will not let us forget that we are nearly upon the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.  There has been much talk of how to remember and what can be done to ensure that we “never forget” these events.

To me, it seems only natural that a museum should be involved.  After all, museums exist so that we may remember and learn from past events.  I wasn’t acutely aware of any 9/11 museums or even exhibitions that were happening but it seemed like a good idea.

Then, the other night, I was channel surfing in bed when I came across a PBS documentary called, "Objects and Memory"

It turned out to be a spectacularly engaging look at the physical objects surrounding the 9/11 disasters and others, such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.  I had to get out of bed to get a notebook and pen to take notes. 

A few themes jumped out at me right away:

1.)    Objects left at memorials are left by the living for the dead.  The documentary explored this sentiment and I found it interesting to examine the question of what happens to these objects.  My first question is, when people leave objects at a memorial site, what do they think will happen to them?  What are their expectations?  Site staff will often collect these objects after a period, but who determines the appropriate amount of time for a small plastic flag to be left at the Vietnam Memorial? 

2.)    The variety of ways these objects can be interpreted is overwhelming and downright daunting.  Even for someone who loves education—I’m really that this wasn’t my job.  The objects themselves are exceptionally diverse.  At The World Trade Center, objects from the same site can both humanize and dehumanize the same event.  The photos left by family members, firefighters’ helmets, vigil candles, etc. all have a very emotional and very obviously human connection.  Yet, the massive steel beams, many twisted like paperclips, and clumps of steel melted into what are being called “meteorites” from the sheer heat of the explosion have nothing human about them and represent the awesome size and power of the devastation.

3.)    There is a lack of nostalgia connected to objects from the 9/11 sites.  It was mentioned several times in the documentary that the attitude is less of nostalgia and more of “this is what is left”.

4.)    These objects are responsible for bringing closure. After the towers collapsed, debris was carted away to the “Fresh Kills” landfill (yes, that’s what it’s really called) on Staten Island where it was combed through by a slew of people looking for objects to return to families of the deceased.  It seems that the collection of almost every object at this site was for that very purpose.

I very highly recommend this film—especially to those with interest in exhibitions or museum education.

Not more than a few days after I watched this great documentary that seemed to sufficiently address my thoughts about the objects of 9/11 did my new issue of Museum Magazine come in the mail*.  In it, is a great article called, “Memories in Steel” which talks about the collection and storage of so many steel beams from the World Trade Center.  Generally, the article is about the collection and subsequent dissemination of these beams to various museums and memorials around the country.

Beams marked "SAVE", stored in hangar 17 at JFK airport.

But the most interesting part of this article was this bit, 
“ Museums and history organizations—includioong the New York State Historical Society, Smithsonian Institution, and state museums of New York and New Jersey—all sent representatives…to Ground Zero and Fresh Kills to conduct informal surveys of artifacts that might later be collected”.
Yes, in the days after a massive terrorist attack, museum professionals were sent to that very site to survey objects that might be collected.

To me, this is an extremely powerful notion.  As a museum professional myself, I can only imagine what such a task must have been like. Certainly, it was devastating to be in such close proximity to a wreckage of that magnitude; but to then be asked to survey that wreckage and determine what parts of it are culturally significant—that blows me away.

Imagine if similar action had been taken at every significant historical event in the United States.  Imagine if someone had said, “Oh, yeah, we’d better send that guy from The Smithsonian down to Seneca Falls to pick up some stuff from that ladies convention!” or “Sounds like the Union and the Confederacy are really getting into it.  Let’s get down in the trenches and collect some objects!”

This kind of attitude gives me the tiniest spark of hope that museums will continue to be recognized by the public as institutions of cultural stewardship that can be highly emotional and participatory while still maintaining an accurate record of the events of our time.  I also hope that such institutions may continue to act as a source of comfort and closure to those who were so deeply affected by tragic events in our history.  If that is possible, it makes me proud to work within a profession that can not only preserve and display objects can also keep and preserve the memories those objects represent.


Some great resources I've found since watching "Objects and Memory":

Until recently, I hadn't heard much about the museum that is part of the 9/11 Memorial.  But it looks really well done.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum did a really nice job with their education materials so far.  And they also have an iPhone and iPad app.

The Objects and Memory Project also has an education initiative, but it's a little vague in the description.

I really wasn't aware of any 9/11 exhibitions, but apparently The Smithsonian opened one in 2002 and has (maybe?) added to it since then for a special series running from 9/3/11 to 9/11/11.  And apparently they now have Rudy Giuliani's cell phone.

*For those of you who now only receive the electronic version of Museum
As of 9/4/11, this issue is not yet online.  (But I'm happy to scan it if anyone is interested.)

Oct 6, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, the person that's going to come up now has a limited amount of time ... His name is Bob Dylan

There's no getting around it, so I'm just going to come out and say it:

I'm a music snob. 

Yes, it's true.  And this coming Friday is going to be a great day for my fellow music snobs in Gainesville.  That's right-- Bob Dylan is coming to town.

My friend Misti and I shirked our on-campus responsibilities one day a few weeks ago, to spend the afternoon in line for tickets.  So now we have them.  They look like good seats, I'll be accompanied by a bunch of great friends, and Tom managed to get the day off work!  It seemed like concert-going perfection... until I realized something-- my date knows very little about Bob Dylan.

My boyfriend has countless wonderful qualities.  For example, he is willing to kill moths-- even big scary ones!  He's also fiercely brilliant, smells nice, can dress himself without female intervention, and is sweeter, kinder and more thoughtful than most.  But on the other hand, he prefers music by guys who scream about pogo sticks and look like this:


Don't get me wrong... I love men in eyeliner:


Mmmm... tell me again what lies in the shadow of the statue.

But that doesn't mean I want them anywhere near my music (Though Jack Sparrow may be granted an exception, as he is based largely on Keith Richards).

So now, I feel it is my responsibility, both as an uber cool girlfriend and a self-respecting music snob, to skool (yeah, with a "k") Tom and the rest of the Internet about the finer points of Dylan appreciation. 

You're welcome. 


Ok, let's get started.

The complete listing of Bob Dylan Songs can be found here:
It's a great website, and you can play multiple versions of some songs.  I highly recommend browsing around there, if just to watch the record spin.
If I had to cite my favorite thing about Bob Dylan, it would have to be something my dad said to me many years ago, "He's not afraid of his own voice".   Well that's good, because other people are.

I mean, let's be honest-- he's got a face for radio and a voice for silent film.  My mother won't even pay money to see him in concert anymore, she hates the sound of his gravely voice so much.  But still, for me, something about it is hypnotic. 

His voice was not always so... harsh.  Comparing some earlier recordings to today's, it's easy to tell the difference.

Bob Dylan- The Times They Are A-Changin'
Uploaded by BabaORiley. - See the latest featured music videos.

His voice isn't the only thing that has evolved throughout the years. 

Good old Wikipedia explains it better than I can:
Having become synonymous with acoustic folk music and having performed as a professional musician with little instrumentation prior to the incident in question, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was the subject of much controversy at Newport Folk Festival on Sunday July 25, 1965. During his performance Dylan "went electric", by playing with an electric blues band in concert for the first time. This seeming rejection of what had gone before made Dylan unpopular in parts of the folk community, alienating some fans, and is considered to have deeply affected both folk and rock 'n' roll.
Was this the birth of folk rock?  I really don't know... but it seems as likely an origin as any.

Bob dylan - maggie's farm
Uploaded by bobichou007. - Explore more music videos.

Maggie's Farm was one of Bob's first electric songs, and it also happens to be one of my favorites.

Speaking of firsts-- let's talk about one of the first music videos.

I would even venture to say that this was the first "viral" video.  I have no real basis for that statement, but it sounded good and I do know that the video was wildly popular.  So much so, that my dad was doing a parody of this giant flashcard routine at a college show (not a Dylan show) the night he met my mother.  My mom thought he was weird.  Cute, right?

In all of my education and interpretation classes, we've discussed the value of making new information seem relevant by relating it to existing knowledge.  For example, I used to tell kids at the Michigan Historical Museum that beaver pelt hats were like Crocs-- everyone had them, and it meant you were really in fashion (every kid to come through the museum that year had on a pair).

So, in an effort to make Dylan relevant to my dear sweet boyfriend, I will now present a song that was emo before emo was emo:

While I was googling around, I also found this John Mayer version... which I actually really like.

I don't want anyone to read too much into this... but... Don't Think Twice is probably the greatest breakup song ever written. 

Now, because so many Bob Dylan songs are on the more low-key, acoustic end of the musical spectrum, it can be hard to find one that is appropriate for singing in the shower.  So, I will offer two rockin' suggestions:

1.) Changing of the Guards
My dad turned me on to this gem a few years ago.  Just try not to sing along with the backup singers.  Come on... try!

I don't have a video for this one, which is a bummer.  I could only find crappy acoustic covers, as played by lonely old men alone in their rooms.  But a chunk of the original can be heard here:

2.) Rainy Day Women No. 12 &35
If there were ever a great sing-along song, this is it.  I love the sound of the party going on in that studio and the part where Bob just cracks up while singing.  Seriously though, everybody must get stoned.

Still kickin' and still putting out new music...
Bob Dylan 2006 - Somebodys Baby (Modern Times Album)

Kern ( I Want to Be Dylan ) Little

Someday Baby has a decidedly electric blues feel to it, as does the rest of the Modern Times album from which it comes. I remember hearing this song in a commercial of some kind for a while and was a little irked... but I still dig it. In fact, this is what I stuck in my ears on the bus today, to drown out the sounds of squealing sorority girls.

And just when you think you know him... Bob will pop up as some kind of (gentile?) Tom Petty impersonating polka singer.

So, with all of that being said... if someone were twisting my arm, asking me to make a list of my TOP 5 favorite Zimmy tunes, this is what I would tell them (After "ow, ow, you're hurting my arm!"):

1.) It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
2.) Tangled Up in Blue
3.) If You Gotta Go, Go Now
4.) Like a Rolling Stone
5.) Visions of Johanna

Needless to say, it's impossible to cover more than 40 years of music history in a single blog post.  But, I think this is about all of the relevant Bob Dylan knowledge one could hope to accrue in three days time.

Class dismissed.

UPDATE: In the short time since this post went live last night... I have been retaliated against!  So now, it's only fair that I post a link to Tom's emo lovefest.

May 17, 2010

Home, sweet H.O.M.E.S.

So I'm back in the great white north!

It was a loooong 18 hour drive from Gainesville to Grosse Pointe, but I made it just in time for Mother's Day dinner on Sunday. 

The drive was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I expected to be painfully bored after about 3 hours, but I had some audio-books, my iPod, and the satellite radio, so I was all set.

However, to keep myself entertained, I threw a little party at every state border.  This "party" involved dipping into the box of Cheez-Its that I was keeping (buckled up) in the passenger seat, and blasting a song that I felt suited each new stretch of I-75.

Thus, I present to you, my roadtrip playlist:

1.) Leaving Gainesville

2.) Georgia

3.) Tennessee... and Tennessee
(I actually kind of like the Toots version better.  And I know that neither versions mentions "Tennessee" exactly... but they talk about the mountains.  Tennessee has lot of mountains.)

4.) Kentucky
(Why?  Because of the line around 22 seconds.)

5.) Ohio
(Ok, so I wasn't anywhere near Cleveland... but Cincinnati is close enough, right?)

6.) Michigan... Michigan... Michigan... Michigan
(I couldn't pick just one Michigan song.  I'm not a big country music fan, but I love that Hello Dave song.  Mostly just because I love Michigan.)

May 8, 2010

The Intern Diaries

Did you know that I have a new blog? Well, you do now!

If you want to hear me rant about tactless blockbuster exhibitions and chronicle my 320 to 400 hours of interning at the DIA, then The Intern Diaries is for you!

PS, I have seen TWO Pure Michigan commercials since I've been at my hotel in Knoxville this evening.  I'm super happy about it.

Apr 16, 2010

My mom is cooler that yours.

My mom was on TV (again!) today and my dad just sent me the link to the video.
For those of you know don't know my beautiful mother, she's the one on the left. And the lovely lady to the right is Michelle, our manager at the Roma-- who might as well be my second mom.

I think Food Network should offer her a show. She'd be fantastic, don't ya think?

Apr 10, 2010

Publish or Perish

This is probably the best thing I could have found to lift my spirits during such a stressful week...
My article finally went online!

It will be in print, too... but I don't know a lot of (any) people who subscribe to the Journal of Museum Anthropology.

(Click for larger images)

PS- If anyone finds a typo, grammatical error, or spelling mistake... please keep it to yourself. There's nothing I can do about it now-- so I don't want to know.

Apr 3, 2010

I live in The South: Part II

On Thursday night, I was sitting at home, watching a movie and relaxing after a looooong day of paper writing. All of a sudden, I got a text from my buddy, Steve-O (a long-time friend who lives in Gainesville, yet whom I hardly ever see). He asked if I wanted to meet up with him and our friend Kayla (a long-time friend who lives in Orlando, yet whom I hardly ever see) for a drink.

Of course I do!

So I went to Steve's apartment and chatted with him and Kayla for a while about old college times and the things we miss most about Michigan. Faygo, Vernors, Bell's Oberon and Meijer were all on the list.
When we started to think of places to go for a drink, it came up that a certain Gainesville bar happens to carry Oberon. So off we went.

After a few hours at the bar, reminiscing about old times, Steve's wife, Jacki, came by and mentioned that she wanted to go dancing. Yes, dancing. At 11:30 on a Thursday night, no less! What can I say? I'm old now.

But eventually, I was convinced. So off we went! Little did I know that we would end up in one of the most surreal places I have ever been.

Immediately, I was greeted by bouncers in cowboy hats. Not so much in a this-place-has-a-theme-so-I-wear-a-cowboy-hat kind of way... but more of a I-wear-a-cowboy-hat-all-the-time-and-won't-even-take-it-off-at-my-bouncer-job kind of way.

Then they did this to my arm and hand:

It looks like I was on MTV Spring Break, does it not? I asked the bouncer if the stamp on my hand said, "Too damn old to be out on a Thursday". He replied in a very southern accent, "No Ma'am. It says you're 24."

Same thing.

So then the four of us went inside to find this:

I don't recall what song was playing when we got there, but there were people line dancing. But after a few minutes, the music shifted to an interesting amalgamation of country, western, and old school rap. Yes, really.

This was about the time I turned to Steve-O and said, "I think I might be the blackest person here."

And this:

(Not making this up: The flag was placed in front of an air vent... so it would wave. Couldn't make this up if I tried.)

And this:
Yup. Good 'ol SKOAL. Now, this was not my first run-in with Skoal. Though I've never touched the stuff, I am familiar with the product. After all, I did spend a significant amount of time in mid-Michigan. But here, there was a gigantic back lit SKOAL sign, under which one could receive free samples of chew. Again: this is all real.

At one point, I went to the second level of the bar to find the bathroom. When I came out, I realized that I had no idea where my friends were in the giant sea of camo and cowboy hats on the dance floor. So I took a moment to scan the crowd from the balcony on the second floor. There was a giant bouncer next to me, also scanning the crowd. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Excuse me. Hi. While you've been looking down there, did you happen to see a girl in a blue tank top... or a guy in an argyle sweater with glasses and...

Him: Wuts he dun to ya?

Me: What?

Him: Did he hurt ya? Wuts he dun to ya?

Me: Oh gosh! Nothing, nothing! He's my friend! I'm just looking for my friends!

Him: Ma'am-- unless he dun sumthin to ya, I can't help ya. I got five other assholes I'm keepin my eye on right nah... (*points to the crowd below*)

Me: Well... ok! Thank so much!

Eventually, I found everyone-- and we took off right before the place closed.

When I got back home, I wished I hadn't worn long pants. Why? Because I had taken home with me a lovely cocktail of Coors Light and Skoal spit-- absorbed into the bottom of my pants.

Yee Haw!

It's not just a shoe horn... it's a shoe horn on a STICK!

I was on the phone with my dad this morning while he was watching this commercial:

He neglected to tell me that it was narrated by Gilbert Gottfried (which may be the best part of the whole thing). Dad did, however, suggest that we buy this for my grandpa... who has several shoe horns. "Now all the old people can put on their shoes without breaking their hips!" I guess dad was sold.

After all, it's not just a shoe horn...

EDIT: I just ordered a set of two Shoedinis for my Grandpa Hector!

Mar 30, 2010

I live in the South

Some days, Florida seems comfortably like home. Other days, I am reminded that I'm not in Mid-Michigan anymore...

Every morning, while watching The Today Show, I see this commerical for Dixie Cabinets at least three times:
(My favorite scene starts around 22 seconds.)

Yup. Soak it in. That's where I live now.

It makes me long for the soothing acoustic guitar stylings of "It's Quality Dairy time... it's Quality Dairy time..."