What I do, what I live through

uhhhh…………………………….. im a really vain feminist. I swear I’m smart.

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Yeah! The routine seems lain though it heightens brickIMG_3221 by brick. Masonry metaphor. I’ve been cooking with Aiman regularly, studying, and more regular on social media. Today’s the first of the three days in which I live alone in the apartment, so I get to type up on my neat white desk and glance over to the bouquet of wilting roses he brought me on Friday. I don’t really care for flowers unless its a special occasion. Flowers are an important part of me feeling serene with the world aesthetically. They are developmental magic. But! They can terrorize the home with the aroma of rot until someone remembers that the damn water needs changed. I remember coming back home from Lebanon after three weeks and being appalled at my house. I panicked and poured bleach down our sink since I thought there was food residue. Nope! It was flower water. Left for almost a month. My older brother (the housekeeper for the vacation) has despicably low standards of nest hygiene.

Anyway, Aiman and I have satisfactorily stocked my kitchen. The apartment is finished, too. All that needs doing is the de-mite-ing of that ancient couch that apparently isn’t going anywhere before we are. Besides that, most everything is neat and adorned with the warm, autumn scents from melting wax contraptions. Very cozy.

We also went to the gym yesterday (finally). I have to admit that I inhibited a lot of activity since I was uncomfortable with everything. I don’t have the muscle for a lot of the basic exercises and it embarrasses me. However, I really want to build my confidence in the gym as I build my body. Goals. ha.

I really don’t enjoy the emptiness of my days without Aiman, especially since all of my classes end well before the evening. I have a lot of empty space and I get cabin fever fairly rapidly. So I get anxious, I pick fights over the phone, I binge eat, and my studying is way less productive. I’m hoping to regulate that by blogging in the meantime. What sucks worst is that I have severe social anxiety so I don’t have friends that I can go with. The people in my circle are very distant from me and our interactions are shallow and brief. I really like them all, but I don’t see them as naturally occupying the same space as me. Yikes.

A cool thing I started doing: I’m reserving veggie scraps to make vegetable broth out of. Because broth is way more expensive than it should be (2.79 a pop) and I go through a lot. So why not collect otherwise discarded pieces and recycle them? I know I like to recycle. It’s mostly just fun to collect scraps from veggies since it feels important. Reserving those mushroom stems, garlic/onion skins- I just feel that it honors the vegetable. We all should honor the vegetable.

Make-up Update:

So I’ve tried some of the products spoken about earlier in my Pretty Bunny post where I share details about a beauty box I ordered from Vegancuts. I haven’t tried most of them yet, but I have determined the quality of the few I’ve tried.

Nails

The nail polish remover I bought is amazing. It works better than my acetone based on removing the polish without replacing the cotton ball, and its very kind to my skin and nose. The polish smells strong, sure, but it’s a lavender scent and not a chemical one. It’s cool that our ancestral olfactory associations find spoiled food repulsive but we don’t have that intensity of disgust when smelling chemical products that are at least as toxic/dangerous. They’re unpleasant, but they’re tolerable. Find the remover here.

Unfortunately, the nail polish I received is not recommendable. Its pigment is pretty, but you’ll find it to be difficultly thin and that it doesn’t dry well. The worst of it is that it stains skin and isn’t effectively removed by nail polish remover. Instead, the liquid just thins out more and spreads across the first segment of your finger. It’s messy and time-consuming to fix.

Face

I managed to use the alba botanical moisturizer for a few days and it worked well, except my skin did feel sheened with grease. That may be attributable to the weather, so I’ll try again once perspiration is long behind us.

Instead, I’ve been using a Garnier moisturizer that is part of their vegan line. It’s a three in one and it works very well. My only bump is that my skin is peelable, but that could also indicate that my skin needs a better exfoliation routine. See it here.

Make-up

I’ve also begun using a white powder on my face and I’m very pleased with it. I’ve always had oily skin and managed it with face wipes. However, face wipes don’t mattify but smooth the distribution of liquid on my face. Face wipes are also expensive. This powder doesn’t add pigment to my face (which is good because I have light olive skin that just doesn’t improve with tint) and it does the job really well. Wet and Wild is my first-choice of any makeup since everything is affordable and very good quality.

ps: I’m listening to this. 

the Happy Me, the Tangible Me

It’s been quite a hiatus and a few neglected intentions. I mean, I don’t even know where to start. Just kidding, I am a dangerously capable woman when it comes to this stuff.

To summarize, I moved back into my parent’s house for August. On the 11th, I had my engagement party which was wrongfully and terribly conducted. I felt for the first time in Dearborn that I was being “put in place” as a woman and that my shedding of the hijab wasn’t going to be my ticket out of obedience. It was an Islamic event and it was heavily segregated, and despite it being my party, I was relegated to waiting on the men who stayed upstairs. I was angry and it will not be happening again.

Anyway, I wore a cute dress, ate extremely poorly while there, and quit both my A2 obligations. It was very freeing.

Then, on September 2nd, I moved into my new apartment with Aiman and have since been living a domestic dream. I cook from cookbooks every night, we go grocery shopping at my whim, we share cleaning duties (and I get to be the Creative- take that gendered society!), and my home looks pridefully warm and personalized. It is feminine and assertively decorated with the season and whatever appealing thing I like. My cat is also much more pleased in this living situation since there is no human-tension and no rooms to be locked out of. Aiman has also installed me a television set that I can broadcast my phone and laptop onto. It has been amazing and wonderful.

This is also my first time really cooking and performing willful and self-gratifying domestic tasks. I love it. Domestic is never degrading and would be regarded differently in history and economics if it were a compensated labor. Class in gender theory, y’all.

Speaking of which, I am taking Organic Chemistry 1, Developmental Biology, Critical Reasoning, and Women’s studies. I am also planning on getting more involved in the PVC (pre-veterinary club) and other activities. Maybe a cooking club? I really love to cook (from the book).

The books I am abiding by are vegan or ethnic; right now, I’m all over Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction, which is almost a diet book but it’s more a low-fat cookbook that’s all about grains, veggies, and beans. I’m hoping to lean out over time while feeding Aiman regularly so that he can build muscle. We recently had an emotional fight about how I feel sexually. It was messy but… that’s it. I’m emotionally unstable and poorly adjusted to loving relationships. No lying here.

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Anyway, I’ve been frequenting stores that will help us save money. We are serious about getting an apartment/home together next year, and to do that we need funds. So we’ve been using Aldi and a local bulk store and I gotta say… holy freaking wow. I am very impressed and super in love with these places. Aldi is like a low budget Trader Joe’s while having all the fundamentals of a well-stocked kitchen. By the Pound is so exciting to visit, particularly their spice rack. I have never enjoyed cooking this much before, especially now that it serves a family unit of myself, Aiman, and Pepita smelling my cheeks as a swoop stew into my mouth, thanks to her cat tree at face-level when sitting at the table. She’s sneezed on my neck.

We’ll also be getting our Planet Fitness accounts soon. The weather has been fluctuating by thirty degrees for the past week so we’ve decided to commit to a gym before a pool.

I sooo want to use my mustard seeds and Hungarian Paprika…..

Wait for details,

Serena

PS: my brother in law and his gf are in the UP, which we were invited to some time ago, but alas, my classes need my devout attention and Aiman still deals with bureaucratic incompetence from his nursing school. It’s cringe-inducing at the discrimination when it comes to service. I want to dangerously state my opinions to the offices and let them know that there is someone listening in on the vinegar notes in their voice as they listen to his accent.

Picking out the shoes to step forward (aka plans bc epiphany)

This weekend was different than usual. Saturdays are usually reserved for Aiman and I time, but because of school obligations, he couldn’t make it until Saturday night. I took the opportunity to collect much needed hours from the lab, which I did (6!).

Actually, the daIMG_2984y was super disorganized. Firstly, Aiman was supposed to arrive at 4, which is when I would finish my workday. This was because the dress I was wearing happened to be severely transparent, and my polka-dotted panties literally turned heads. I made it very clear to Aiman that I would not be making the mile trip home through campus AGAIN. Being the unironic- chivalrous man he is (thank you, mother in law), he insisted I stay in the lab and wait for him to drive me home. He arrived by 7:30, passing on the info that he would be returning home to fulfill those aforementioned obligations, then return home to me tonight. My jaw dropped, he took me to buy greasy food from Detroit Street, then dropped me off with my heart-burn grenade of jalapeno poppers (spice!) and a chicken parm sandwich (which sucked this time, yikes).

 

True to his word, he came back and brought me my Oreos. I proceeded to inhale them, plus the other new release (pb chocolate pie). I actually ate so many that my back began to ache by this evening. We also went out for brunch and split a carb-y English muffin sandwich. No pictures of that, but look at my plumpy self, looking all cute and attractive to Aiman!

Which brought me to my epiphany. Why do I keep breaking my vows to avoid food that triggers my muscle pain? And why do I break when it comes to Oreos? Especially when I am wrestling with the palm oil in them and increasingly believe that palm oil is a vegan issue and that those who say it is an environmentalist issue use labels as a way to fucking-drop-the-ball. And it is grossly similar to white feminism being anti-feminism. Nothing but harm is accomplished by the end of the week.

So, why in the hell do I fantasize about quality dessert flavored cheap desserts? It may be a get around to my ban of quality desserts. meaning no more bakery items. From here on, I will eat the damn dessert I am trying to find in a shitty Oreo cookie. I am very excited about this.

Also, Aiman and I are looking into local exercise facilities, and I’m really eyeing an indoor pool facility. I very much want to return to swimming, majorly because of the pride I had when my stamina could kick ass. Like 3 straight hours of anaerobic exercise. I also miss having a functioning metabolism, and honestly, I need a sport that matches my eye for dessert.

Because Aiman is more interested in weights, I agreed that I’d go with him to the gym for accessory and strength exercises alongside swimming. I understand that “lift heavy, get thick” aesthetic for women these days seems radically fit, but in reality, their cardio and stamina is for shit. A dirty potato lasts longer than some women when it comes to practical sport. Exercise isn’t all anabolic…

SO, I HAVE LISTED HABITS THAT WE WILL PRACTICE IN OUR SOON TO BE SHARED HOUSEHOLD:

1.) NO BOTTLED HANDSOAP; why waste plastic packaging when you could use bar soap? I can’t believe we as a society got hooked into foaming and liquid handsoap. That’s what I use in my bathroom currently.

2.) REDUCE PALM OIL; that means taking a serious knock to processed treats, namely cookies and candy. But the orangutans are more fucked than we ever will be (unless fascism really sticks and starts coming for Middle Easterners before we elope to Canada).

3.) NO NON-VEGAN COSMETICS; I replaced my nail polish remover and have taken a hard stance against buying new nail polish. I also picked a vegan hairspray versus the cheaper Pantene brand. I also have a replacement for the Simple moisturizer I’ve been using for the past five years; it’s an alba botanical one and I hope it works.

4.) LIMIT NEW HOUSEWARE; that means no buying things from primary sellers; instead, we’re getting them from secondary retailers like TJ Maxx, thrift stores, and Overstock. You know, places where things that don’t get sold and will stop being manufactured anyway end up. Yay for reduced demand readings.

uhhhh, that’s all for now, the manifesto will continue soon. Also, Aiman and I are going to buy my dowry gold (LMAO) next weekend, so await my description of Arab-Islamic marital traditions.

PS: Aiman’s Persian mother has arranged for me to do customary engagement party things like henna, cardamom play?, and other stuff I don’t know because I’m Lebanese and we’re a special breed of secular. Did I mention my family’s also no-frills when it comes to culture?

Ps, my father is leaving for Lebanon for a week and I so envy him. The beach? The ocean? The mountain? Adoring family? NO OBLIGATION?????

Augh my neck is starting to hurt badly….

A break from the world midweek

Today, I celebrated the Fourth with Aiman. We had decided earlier to watch a communal fireworks show, which we haven’t really done before. Due to our shared experience of being in war zones (him during the Libyan Revolution and myself in the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon), neither of us are very fond of lighting explosives for fun or having them near our homes. We found a spectacular one in a nearby city and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was so amazing, we plan on making it a tradition, seeing as home-fireworks disrupt more animals, are expensive, and encourage trash production.

Since the show started at 9 (more like 10), I spent the former part of the day watching Total Drama Island (still good!) and waiting on Aiman. Due to car circumstances, he ended up coming with his brother’s car, leaving his brother (who I didn’t really know that well) as a guest.

I’m PMSing bad, so I insisted that we chase down the newest limited edition Oreos so that I could slut all over the artificial flavors. The Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream bars tasted like their inspiration but were cloyingly sweet and the cookie was too hard. However, until there is a vegan alternative that includes cookie pieces all over it, I will take to whatever incarnation I can get. It was literally last night I swore off Oreos and HFCS since they super aggravate my fibro, but I gave in. As I write this, my dorsal and ventral neck are throbbing (my most sensitive trigger point). I’m also supposed to be swearing off desserts since I’m trying to fit into my dress for our engagement party, especially since I’ve gained fifteen pounds since February thanks to birth control, stress, and abundant yummies to entertain my hormone-induced cravings.

But, despite no longer being my alarmingly waif-y self, I am not so malcontent with my fuller figure. Aiman loves my normal size body and has never disparaged it, even when I weighed 114 lbs versus 140. But that doesn’t speak to the value of self-love; I don’t need approval for my body, which is what my disorder is rooted in. But it certainly is eye-opening to be loved by someone who does not pressure my body to be any sort of way. Sadly, I never tried to teach myself that I would ever deserve that when I was younger.

 

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I’m really glad for today. Sometimes I feel that the ratio of leisure to work is tragic, but holidays really prove to me why we scramble for the holidays the way we do. Oh, what working teaches a privileged young lady.

Treasure Chest of the American/Immigrant Sweetheart

I don’t mean artistic or aesthetic love when I talk about my love. I mean the biological/pressure/reward that is felt by the psyche. I catch myself zooming in and out of my feelings for Aiman, feeling both present and observant, but not in a weird layering but as a compound experience. I’m saying feeling white, not the rainbow.

With myself being an immigrant’s daughter, I feel conflicted about my closeness to Aiman. He is a recent immigrant- refugee, actually. And it confronts my perception of immigrant/ethnic status being conflatable, at least since it felt like there was little (or an unpleasant) difference between the two in my first generation-immigrant community. That community spans three cities, so it is verifiably a culture.

What’s more, I’ve always been an imposter in the ethnic/non-white status, even as I wore a scarf. My house was not full of Arabic, Arab community/socialization, or domestic culture. My father was not close to his culture or he just didn’t bother to pass it on. I always had a hurtful suspicion it was because we were half-white and therefore our mother’s children. There was certainly cultural and racial tension in our home, which doesn’t bid well for three mixed children. It always felt like a purgatory between disownment and spiteful possession.

The rituals and roles of my American-Arab culture gave me plenty to grasp in imitation. I even romantically prefer Arab/ Middle Eastern men because I get the old kick of “I’m NOT white” while maintaining an Arabian and Western approved physical and social appearance. I’m different enough for both standards to be a fetish intellectually and sexually. And to my great hypocrisy, I have fed off of it in my adulthood, for friendships and romantic relationships.

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Aiman likes that I’m mixed. He likes the treasure hunt for the blatant European and Middle Eastern features of me, personality wise and physically. He likes the red in my hair and the width of my face. And am I complaining? I can’t. I like being looked at. I like being acknowledged as my mixing being something ornamental because that’s the only way I’ve ever acknowledged it.

I feel more salted about it than bitter. I crave in the most defeated parts to be pretty without wrestling with the significance of why it is that way. Being in a mixed home didn’t give me anything but an existential loneliness and a greediness to have single ownership over my mixed-ness.

When I’m with Aiman and he showers me with flattery and praise, orating how beautiful I am (public and private), it is a peach pit grinding briefly with the flat of two front teeth because I know this fetish for fascinating faces won’t leave my mind. He could love me and want me forever and I’d still pay humiliating homage to that.

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IN REAL LIFE: He and I had a very close weekend together. We spent Saturday per usual, then went to Cedar Point with my family.

 

 

 

 

Pretty Bunny

After my stint with BBW and their non-cruelty free status, I decided to dive into the advancing world of vegan cosmetics. I mentioned earlier that I abide by routines, following as: wash, moisturize, (then apply acne cream nightly).

Because of this regimen, the pill, and genetics, I only have minor acne. But, my skin is sensitive and I know that I won’t be treating acne ten years into the future. I use very mild cleansers and moisturizers that are admittedly not cruetly-free. I use generic Cetaphil and Simple moisturizer, the latter saying it doesn’t use animal ingredients but we know that’s a red herring for HEY WE USE ANIMALS THEY’RE JUST NOT IN THE BOTTLE. When I was living with my parents, vegan facial products were just not in Kroger yet. But, I’m ready to transition to a routine with animal-friendly facial products (all my make up is vegan though). I also read a persuasive, passive-aggressive spiel on a self-care blog on Instagram about neutral face products being pathetic compared to their vitamin enriched, botanical competitors. And with all the products on the market, I’m ready to be convinced that toner spray is worth it.

I bought a discounted sample box from vegancuts this week and it arrived today. It contains all sorts of items, some I already have vegan versions of (lip balm, lotion, makeup), some I wanted vegan replacements to (nail polish, nail polish remover), and stuff I’d never tried before (toner spray, body oils). Will establish opinions soon!