Why I Love Comics: Part Two

by lauren atkinson


Of course I must write about The Sandman. . . 

There is a cathartic feeling you get from watching someone else experience what you've been through and might not have dealt with the emotions of that situation just yet. And that exists not only in support groups or counseling. You don't have to go to emotional rehab to find people that are thinking and feeling the way that you are. Sometimes when you need to battle emotions, it takes opening a book and thinking that you are outside of yourself. Once you are in someone else's story and mind, you might start seeing things from the outside.

My counseling came from the pages of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. If you've read it and talked to other people about it, you might have learned that everyone takes away something different from this series. There are parts that stand out to one person and not to another, and then if you read through it another time different arcs of the story mean something else. That is probably my favorite part about this series, but also about comics in general. Comics can be personal with raw, overwhelming emotions.

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The series does this amazing thing. It opens up an entire new world yet there is something unbelievably universal about the story: a man is struggling with reclaiming his identity and seeking to square wrongs that might have happened while he was lost. Without giving too much away, the story rides on a theme of change: how to deal with changes that have occurred within oneself as well as adjusting and flowing with the changes that go on in life and your environment. 

"Omnia mutantur nihil interit" 

When I read this quote from The Sandman, it instantly felt familiar. The quote is originally from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Here's where another part of my world was colliding with comics and nurturing my love: Neil Gaiman knows his shit. One of my favorite things about comics is that it draws influence from the past and from literature. These aren't just silly stories about superheroes and god-like beings. These are stories about humanity.

But that quote wasn't familiar only due to it's source, it was familiar because of the meaning. "Omnia mutantur nihil interit" meaning "All things change nothing perishes." Life is constantly changing. Everything around us is changing. No one thing is stagnant. The relief of this thought is that any bad in our life is probably temporary. We may be mourning over the bad, but it is changing. Things pass and die from the form we recognize them, but they still exist in other ways: in memories.

 As a young adult, this made me extremely emotional. Whatever I was going through then has shaped me into who I am now but I am no longer battling those emotions. Sometimes what is needed to heal is to recognize the world changing around you and realize that you initiate change as well. All things are a catalyst of change in one form or another.

That sounds incredibly complicated, but it's not. 

The Sandman brought about powerful emotions inside of me and I knew that it had for others as well. After completing the series I took to reading message boards, articles on the series and sought out others that had read it to discuss. Every person that I encountered seemed to have their own personal attachment to The Sandman. I had never experienced this before. At first, I felt odd saying that a comic book helped me through some pretty dark times, emotionally, but looking back it's not weird at all. Comics can nurture and mend emotions. They can support change. 

 


Makeup Monday: My Beauty Bag Essentials

by lauren atkinson


"If trapped on a deserted island and you can bring only one makeup-related thing, what would it be?" It'd be a tough call: I love all of these items, so can we just say "My Beauty Bag!"?

I have had many favorites over the years, but there are a few products that I keep returning to the makeup counter to repurchase. I love the thrill of trying out new products that others are raving about, but sometimes a favorite can't be beat.  

Because my makeup most days is pretty simple, some of the products I'm sharing are more skincare products or makeup products that I use every single day. These are the items that I use even when it might not look like I have any makeup on at all! 

Also be on the look-out for some of these items as possible stocking-stuffers! The holidays approach!

1. Celestial Moisturizer, LUSH cosmetics, $24.95 2. Makeup Finishing Spray, Skindinavia, $29 3. Blush in "Deep Throat," NARS, $29 4. Gimme Brow, Benefit Cosmetics, $22 5. Herbalism cleanser, LUSH cosmetics, $13.95 6. BAD gal Lash mascara, Benefit cosmetics, $19

1. Celestial Moisturizer, LUSH cosmetics, $24.95
2. Makeup Finishing Spray, Skindinavia, $29
3. Blush in "Deep Throat," NARS, $29
4. Gimme Brow, Benefit Cosmetics, $22
5. Herbalism cleanser, LUSH cosmetics, $13.95
6. BAD gal Lash mascara, Benefit cosmetics, $19

 

1. Celestial Moisturizer by LUSH Cosmetics This stuff is a favorite on so many levels. The scent of this moisturizer is heavenly! It's got a soft almond scent that is rich but not too overpowering. And with many LUSH products, a little goes a long way! I bought this product as it is advertised as working well with sensitive skin. In the winter, my skin becomes quite dry and gets irritated easily. This stuff is the perfect balance between moisturizing and fresh. I'd recommend this as a stocking-stuffer as it has such a beautiful scent and would work well for most skin-types!
2. Makeup Finishing Spray by Skindinavia I cannot imagine a better product. The formula is light-weight, dries fast and shows no sign of itself sitting on your face, other than holding your makeup to your skin longer! I go through so many bottles of this stuff and absolutely cannot imagine wearing makeup without it.
3. NARS Blush in "Deep Throat" This color is a favorite for many women: It is a soft pinky-peach that gives cheeks a natural glow. I love putting this on with just about every look because it is never over-powering and is the perfect shade of pink!
4. Gimme Brow by Benefit Cosmetics I have the patchiest eyebrows. They grow in dark in some spots, are non-existent in others and have an odd shape. It doesn't matter whether I wax, pluck or shape those bad boys: they always look insane without filling them in. I've battled with finding a product that works perfectly AND is the right shade, which in the past led to a lengthy process of multiple products. Using Gimme Brow, that's all I have to use. The formula is the right weight and color: Perfect for blondes and light brunettes. It dries fast and stays all day! It not only fills in the spots I'm lacking growth, it also shapes the unruly hairs that don't sit straight!
5. Herbalism Cleanser by LUSH I love LUSH cosmetics and at this point, I'm sure that's no secret! This cleanser is perfect for combination skin, in my opinion. It gets into the spots that are oily and fully cleanses them while being sensitive enough for drier parts of the face. It's herb-y and fresh smelling. This product is great because you only need a pinch! 
6. BAD Gal Lash by Benefit Cosmetics This brand is another favorite of mine. Evenings out with crazy long lashes I tend to use their Lash Injection. But BAD Gal Lash is my everyday mascara that gives both length and volume. When choosing a mascara, I like the formula to be drier and the brush to be full of soft bristles. This mascara offers both. 
 
I cannot more highly recommend all of these products. If trapped on a deserted island with only one beauty product, I'd have a tough time. I'd love to hear whether any of these products are favorites for you as well! And do tell me, what's in your beauty bag consistently?


Why I love Comics: Part one

by lauren atkinson


Prior to falling in love with comics, I had a mixed perception of what the comic world was. I thought that everyone that read comics had to be extremely flawed: They were reading floppy backed serials with pictures, for goodness sake. I pictured everyone that read comics as being basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing, dirty t-shirt wearing nerds. And because I'm judgmental, that turned me off to an entire art form. 

That's really unfortunate. But I don't think I was alone.  

And then fell in my hands "Blankets" by Craig Thompson. A friend kept insisting that I read it so I obliged. (Somewhat of a mega-nerd in my mind, but at this point I'm not far behind him.) At first it felt as though I was being given homework ("Blankets" is a heavy book: in physical weight and emotional.) and the book sat on my shelf for a week or two before I actually touched it.

A panel from "Blankets" by Craig Thompson, 2003.

A panel from "Blankets" by Craig Thompson, 2003.


Then I opened the pages. The art was not what I had thought comics were about. I thought that every comic in existence involved bright, primary colors, cartoon-y speech bubbles and superheroes. Now I think all those things are great, but at the time it didn't relate. I was barely out of high school and knew it all. I was too high-brow for picture books. But this, this just wasn't a picture book. This was a masterpiece. "This guy drawing and writing, he must know me!" And to an extent, he did. 
 "Blankets" was dreamy. Like I had dreamt it and it came alive on paper. The art was a black and white reel of things I had experienced. The doubt of your upbringing as a young adult, the mixed emotions of falling for a person for the first time, the struggle with finding yourself. Craig Thompson, how did you get inside my brain?
 
 That was enough for me: I was hooked. 

 

For the first time in all my reading, I was narrating a story internally and feeling the emotion, all the while seeing the story in film-like style. Before, I could read a book and create my own world around it, but somehow I was not those people. I was never the great storytellers I was reading. I could watch movies and realize, I'm a fly on the wall: never putting myself inside the film. Movies and literature were a safe place. This, this was dangerous and new. I was reading and seeing and feeling, all at once. 

There are many ways to tell a story. It can be an epic poem with grandiose phrasing and gods and mysticism and adventure: and at the time that was great to me. It could be a novel, with simple words yet detailed and elegantly delivered: accessible. A story can be told by mouth where the emotion is on the actor's face, on a screen. At that time in my life classic literature and film were my loves. I could lose myself and find myself and see the world, without having to actually encounter others or experience leaving my bed. But picture books? 

I had learned: they're a story too. 

And because they were a story just like other medias I loved, it didn't matter who read them. If I was feeling something from reading them, and I was now a part of that culture. I was sharing emotions with others. Guess what I found out about that culture? It was nothing like I thought. Sure, there are a lot of nerds. But there are some amazing people in the comic world. Ones that are fashionable and intelligent. Ones that loved film and literature just as I do. Ones that cook and run and lift weights. I had stuck the art form in a box. Never again. 

I love comics because they continually surprise me. The world surrounding comics is the most accepting world I've have ever been a part of. The artists involved are that: they're artists and insanely talented. The fans? The fans are the best. 

I love comics and I will continue to tell you how much I love comics. Even if it annoys you. Even if you think that I'm a geek. I will continue to tell you about my love for comics until I convince those that don't read comics, to read comics. And I will continue to tell you about my love for comics so that I can talk to those of you that agree. You ready?

 


My Partner in Crime

by lauren atkinson


I'm the worst at sharing beds. No, I don't mean that sexually (I said we'd get personal, but you're not my OBGYN so don't flatter yourself.) I am terrible at sleeping next to someone else. My whole life I've done this thing where I tap my feet until I pass out. Then once I sleep I roll the blankets into a cocoon or cave (depending on the night) and more than likely, I wake up half outside the sheets. I'm not sure what happens. But that's not all. I also wake up in panic states some nights. I cry in my sleep. Talk. But heaven forbid I remember any of it.

But through all of it, my husband sleeps. Like, corpse-stillness sleeping. The only time he wakes up in the night is when I am talking or crying. It's like an X-man sense. A force. I don't know, but whatever the case my husband is the best at gauging when things aren't right. And even when I'm being unreasonable, he indulges it. He wakes up to my stammering about an intruder climbing the balcony, and flicks on all the lights in the apartment until my sleepy brain is satisfied. (This statement is sincere. My husband doesn't get up out of the manly-caveman Idea of "need. Protect. Wife" no, it's because I'm the scaredy-cat of the relationship. If for some reason I was the brave one, I'd do the same for him.)

My marriage works because we like each other and want the best for EACH OTHER. 

I brag about my husband a lot but there's some things about our marriage that I really do think are pretty rare. Other cultures and religions talk about marriage as being spiritual and two souls combining; a unit. They blame it on gods or outside forces. With my husband, I'd like to think we are separate individuals that figured out we could do things together as equals and partners. We met. Liked each other, were honest about it, did something about it and continued to work on it and continued to like each other. Honest. From the second I met the guy, I knew we could do damage on the world: a force to be reckoned.

Many people before they're married like to dream of the perfect relationship. If they're single, they set expectations that sometimes are never lived up to. They think it's magic: prince charming woos the lady and birds are chirping all around them with fairy dust constantly in the air. With people in relationships, they look to outside influence of how they're supposed to function as a couple. I'm not saying everyone does this, but I will say it happens more often than not. What's so rare, and most beautiful is when those ideals happen organically and when people admit: Marriage takes fucking work even if you're great at being a couple.

A lot of people in marriages enjoy making excuses for their failures or build up their spouse without taking any credit. What I'm going to tell you is this: a marriage or relationship takes two people. The best relationships take two extraordinary individuals that found each other and made shit work. It's not really about being soulmates or finding the puzzle piece that matches yours: It's about finding the person you want to do life with and enjoy doing life with, then making it work. Where one fails, the other doesn't, and it works in reverse. If you start something together, you finish it together. "Partner in crime," because we can totally get in trouble together, but would completely take the fall for one another. 

I read a "love letter" recently that was masked as selfless. The writer said marriage wasn't "for him." And went on to tell a story about how great his wife was and that his marriage wasn't for him, it was for the future and for the other person. It's "for a family." My husband and I don't intend on ever having children, does that mean we married for the wrong reasons? Absolutely not. I also didn't get married to make my husband happy.  Marriage is for me. I would not be the person I am without my husband. As cliche as that sounds, he keeps me sane. I got married because I found my partner in crime and decided I wanted to do my entire life with him by my side. No matter what happens, my husband is my support. 

I'm a whole person without him, sure, but he allows me to be fully me. The weird, emotional, nerdy sides of me. And again, that's not to say we are both easy. We just really somehow know each other. I'd be myself and figure things out, but I wouldn't function the same. Bonnie without Clyde.

I think all marriages work differently. And the good ones don't compare themselves to other people.  

So to get back to my bragging, my husband isn't the one that messes up. Society often likes to paint the picture of the male being the one to do that. No, generally if we fight (which is I think twice in our relationship...) or argue (which happens but our arguments are always silly) the issue is resolved pretty fast. Like, minutes fast. I'm generally the one causing the argument and it's usually about me suddenly becoming emotional about something I never have before and taking it out on my wonderful husband. And guess what, he takes it. Like a fucking pro. And instead of getting mad, he talks it out. He talks me down. He understands when I'm crying out of stress and not about him. (Let's be real, it's always stress and never him.)

Before you make assumptions about relationship dynamics, don't. Men aren't always insensitive: sometimes women are. Men aren't always irrational and self-motivated. Women do that too.

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 Maybe we are just the rare, completely honest types. Maybe we just function so well because we don't take ourselves too seriously. Or maybe it's something bigger. But I do know that he's seen the parts of me no one else has. (Again, not dirty. Serious) Marriage isn't always about selflessness. It's not. It's give AND take: It's a partnership. A badass one: Batman and Robin. Jules and Vincent. Skully and Mulder. (Or whatever the heck badass team you want to put in there.) I know that if I robbed a bank, my husband would be in the getaway car waiting. If I decided I wanted to eat some crazy diet or to only eat doritos for the rest of my life, he'd probably join me.  

I could go on-and-on about my opinions on marriage, but I don't even know if that's why I am writing this post. I think I just wanted to brag about my partner-in-crime. We work together. We belong together. And I don't mean in the weird spiritual-universy-way. We just work. And we work best when we aren't comparing ourselves to other people.

If you want my only relationship advice on how to function as a couple: stop asking me for advice. If you want to work it out then make it happen and find the way for yourselves. What works for us might not work for you. Find your own sappiness and stick to it. 

 


Cream of Potato and Cauliflower Soup

by lauren atkinson


This recipe came about as I had found beautiful cauliflower in the grocery store. Carnival Cauliflower comes in many varieties. Bright oranges, fluorescent greens, and purples. I love the way that it looks but it also develops a beautiful color once cooked with other foods. I thought that using it in a soup would create a contrast of color, instead of having the normal cream to beige color of soup.
Something about late fall and moving into the holiday season gets me inspired with my cooking. I enjoy switching out the usual ingredients for warmer colors, brighter tastes, and higher temperatures. This soup has a great peppery taste and the consistency of a comfort food.
When I whipped out this soup the other day, I had every intention of only eating 1 bowl and saving the rest for later in the week. However, the soup was so good and I had some heavy workouts which resulted in extra hunger, that my husband and I ended up eating the entire pot over the course of the day! That's what happens when you feel trapped indoors due to Bay Area Fog!

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Yields 6-8 bowls of soup
 
Ingredients: 
1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed, chopped into smallest florets. (As mentioned above, I used carnival cauliflower, giving the soup a greenish hue!)
4 large golden yukon potatoes, cubed
1 medium red onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp Black Truffle Oil (or fragrant oil of your choice)
6 cups vegetable broth
3 cups unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
 a pinch of salt, to taste

 Kitchenware:
Food Processor or Blender
Small saucepan to boil cauliflower
Large pot for soup
Colander
Wire Mesh Strainer

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Method: 
In a large pot on medium heat, bring onion and garlic to temperature over the truffle oil, stirring frequently. Onions should be translucent and garlic, fragrant. At this point, reduce heat to low and add cubed potatoes and spices. Cook the potatoes about five minutes, until slightly golden and softer. Then add vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, boil a smaller pot of water with the cauliflower. Once the water and cauliflower is brought to a boil, the cauliflower should be soft and yield to pressure without mushing. At this point, remove from heat and drain in the colander. 

Add the cauliflower to the large pot containing onions, garlic, potato, spices and broth. Boil for 10 minutes. Once potatoes are soft, remove the pot from heat. Here is where a mess can happen so be careful! Using a wire mesh strainer, removed all solid food from the broth and add to a blender or food processor. Pour almond milk into blender and pulse on low until smooth. Transfer this mixture back into the broth and bring the soup back to a low boil. Add salt, to taste.

Soup is now ready to enjoy! Garnish with feta cheese or nothing at all!  

 


My Favorite Red

by lauren atkinson


Red lipstick has always been an institute in glamour and sex appeal. There is nothing more standout than a pout that is the perfect shade of red.  

I've worn a lot of shades of red in my day, but there is one favorite that will always be around for me. I mourned the loss of my last tube of it last year and am ecstatic that it is available again: MAC Viva Glam I. 

Image compliments of MAC

Image compliments of MAC

Now despite already being in love with MAC lipsticks, I have to say this original shade is top notch. There's definitely a reason I keep coming back to it. It's a sultry deep red with blueish undertones. What is great about this lipstick is that despite it being matte, it is a dynamic color: I've noticed it looks different based on the makeup you are wearing and in what light you are standing.  Sometimes it looks more vibrant and bright red, other times the blue really stands out making it look more deep and burgundy. 

Top photos are in bright light, bottom are in natural lighting. 

Top photos are in bright light, bottom are in natural lighting. 

If you don't already know about the Viva Glam line, there's more than just great shades behind it. For every lipstick purchased from this line, MAC donates the selling price of that tube of lipstick to the MAC AIDS Fund. What happens next is awesome: They use the proceeds to help those with AIDS and AIDS related groups, with a dedication of education on HIV/AIDS for the prevention of the disease. 

So there's not just looking great: there is looking great and feeling great, too.  

 

So tell me, what's the red you can't live without? Any other great beauty finds that make you feel great buying them? 

 


Trend Tuesday: contest!

by lauren atkinson


Want to win this random assortment of accessories?

Head on over to Instagram and post a picture of your favorite fall trend or accessory and tag it with "lalfall13" for your chance to win!

Winner will be chosen at random!

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