To Do List For 2016

I don’t want to call these resolutions because I hate that word and no one ever follows them anyway, but rather these are the things to cross off my list this year.

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Turn 24

Blog once a week

Start the book that I’ve been wanting to write for three years

Go to London and Ireland

Buy nicer jeans

Figure out how to get paid to travel

Read 50 (new!) books

Minimize my wardrobe

Move to France

Get a massage

Finish translating Anna Gavalda’s collection of short stories

Figure out…things because life is too complicated to try and tackle

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Side Effects of STLFW

Four days. One tired girl. Saint Louis Fashion Week was one to remember. I spent too much money. Drank a bit too much. Met people who have more money than I’ll ever make in my whole life. Fainted. Ate in passing. Met the woman who created New York Fashion Week and had beef with Kanye West (!). Sat across from Iris Apfel with my knickers showing. Was inspired by so many people. Cried every day, most especially in the shower where I sobbed and sobbed. Said “is this real life?” more than 30 times. Held hands with someone I haven’t seen in months. Drank lots of champagne and acted like I was a lot cleverer than I am. Took too many photos of myself and of others. Learned how to SnapChat better. Had the most quotable week of my life. “Ugh, my straw fell into my champagne.” Touched art with teeth and not sure if I was allowed to do that. Saw a lot of boobs. Saw more of St. Louis than I have in my whole life. Drank 27 coffees in the span of four days. Laughed harder than I have in over a year. Fell in love harder with all the people around me.

  
  


The morning after the night before

  
  
  
  

Photo by Suzy Gorman

Dear July // A Time Capsule

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Dear July,

I have a video for you somewhere in my computer, but I’m much too lazy and frankly too nervous to put the footage together. It’s 11:59 on your last day and I feel as if you didn’t really happen. Were you really even here? You must have been, but it seems as if every time you are here, you go by much too quickly. You were…really great, July. I’m talking to you as if you are a person because all the memories that happened inside these 31 days are enough to make a person. I left my job of four years, my comfort job for something that makes me so excited while at the same time so nervous. It was a leap for me and one that I’m anxious about, but I know it was the correct, best and most thrilling move I could make. I have loved the people I met this month and knowing that these people believe and see something in me that I can’t quite see yet makes me want to work so much harder. I’m really happy, July. I inspired people this month and let my voice finally be heard that I kept quiet and hidden for a very long time. Because I was afraid of what would happen if I did let my opinions be known. Because I was much too young or too naive to have an opinion, or so they say, yet after a week, they are still talking and my desire to spark a conversation has turned into a full fledged forest fire. So, thank you, July. You were here much too quickly, the year is half over, but you made me realize I have a voice. That my opinions can matter. That, although the world can be a scary and daunting place, sometimes you just need to jump. I can’t wait to see what happens in August.

Dear June // A Timecapsule

My very first vlog is up online for the whole world to see and judge me quite harshly on. I’ve never done any type of videos before, so it’s not very good at all. But, I enjoyed making it and trying something different that I can hopefully get better at.

Dear June,

So far this month, I have painted my nails thirty-one times. I haven’t brushed my hair. I ate six pints of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. And only cried twenty-two times. Mostly during TV shows, four times during HeyClaire’s video to her mom.

I started off the month by falling out of love and hiding it quite intensely. I didn’t realize it would take me three months and not responding to texts to finally get over someone. But, I stopped answering phone calls and text messages and left things to the last minute before canceling again. It’s still something I’m continuing to work on, but not very well.

June is always lonely for me. I used to love the summer as a kid, but the older I get the more I long for the Fall and new beginnings instead of the excessive heat of summer and my clothes sticking to the backs of my legs. Yet, this month was about rain, and more rain, and the continuous monotonous rain.

But then it became about the starts of projects and songs and books and movies and TV shows and candles and lots and lots of candles and friends. Actual friends. Which is strange for me to not have everyone I want to hang out with spread across the globe, but a small group I can call and go to a movie and dinner with. It became about learning new things and juggling three jobs and slowly trying not to lose my mind in the process.

June, you’ve been about learning to take chances and not be so scared to take the next step. I have been so scared lately. Scared to make the wrong step and ruin my life forever, but JK Rowling didn’t have her life figured out by 23 and I’ll figure it out one day. I hope. Maybe in July.

*went off on a different course whilst speaking, but this was the main idea.

Friendly Advice // Alex

This month’s “Friendly Advice” comes from the lovely Alex, whom I met in London a couple years ago.

Name: Alexandra (Alex) Wong Tuai (2-E)

Where do you rest your head at night? On a pillow I stole from my younger sister. In my bed. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Is that where you’re originally from? Nope, I’m from Seattle, WA.

Best thing about the city you live? Some of the people that are closest to my heart and soul live in the same city right now.

If you’re not originally from the city you currently reside, what is the best thing about your hometown? The best thing about Seattle is the harmony of nature and city.

What’s one thing that tourists do that you wish they didn’t? Stop in the middle of the street/subway/anywhere to take pictures/check their phones.

Best places to eat? This dumpling place hidden away in Brooklyn by my old university. Anywhere that can feed me quickly if I’m hangry.

Where all have you traveled? Hahaha oh jeez. China, France, Spain, Great Britain, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Morocco, South Africa, Wales, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Turkey, Portugal, South Africa, and I’ll be heading to Australia and New Zealand in the next couple of years. 

What is your favorite place that you have traveled? South Africa without a doubt.

List five places you want to travel to: South America, South East Asia, all of the United States I haven’t seen, the Scandinavian countries, the rest of the African continent, the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. 

Insert one of your favorite photos you’ve taken on your travels:

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Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Alex Tuai is a recent graduate of Long Island University in New York City, where she studied was a global studies undergrad. She loves to watch countless episodes of Doctor Who and beauty vloggers on YouTube.

Summer Fun [Art Hill]

What’s better than watching one of your all time favorite films with a bunch of friends? Watching that same film in the middle of one of the largest parks in the United States with food trucks from all over St. Louis. My favorite event in St. Louis, Art Hill Film Series, is back this summer with one of my all time favorite films, Clueless! It was like they knew I just finished Emma by Jane Austen.

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Saint Louis Art Museum hosts one of the most popular summer events that is free and available to the public. Yes, you read that correctly: free.

The annual event starts on Friday, July 10 running until Friday, July 31. Whether you are in love with classic thrillers, science fiction, or “as-if!” types of movies, there will be something for everyone to watch this summer.

The event starts at 6pm with food trucks, a DJ on deck, and (of course) art-making activities. Picnic baskets and coolers are allowed on the hill, so if you don’t want to and/or don’t have the funds to shell out on food trucks and drinks, you’re more than welcome to bring your own!

The films typically start at 9pm, so make sure you get there early enough to get a nice spot on the soft grass. 

For more information and a full list of films, visit slam.org/filmseries

“What the hell is that?”

“A dress!”

“Says who?!”

“Calvin Klein.”

Being Skin Safe

I am weird about my skin. Maybe not weird, but very protective. The number of products I have collected under the sink in my bathroom could fill up two pharmacies and a whole Lush store. I make sure to moisturize my skin at least three times a day, since it is so dry. I use eye-creams, lip scrubs, face masks (charcoal and mint are my favorites), and pore strips every week. But the thing I am most meticulous about is making sure my products have SPF.

This, I am the strictest on.

I was fourteen when I began Acutane. Before the medication, I tanned easily and (unfortunately) would go outside without putting sunscreen on my shoulders or face. That all changed when I started Acutane. My skin went under a severe change. Although my acne went away like magic, replaced by extremely dry skin and peeling, I burned every time I went out in the sun. My dermatologist warned me of the side effect and said that I probably won’t be able to tan as easily as I once did, and instead burn.

Two years later, when I was sixteen, my mom had pieces of her skin cut out to remove cancerous cells. She had many spots on her chest and a couple areas on her face that needed to be monitored over the next few months since they looked to be cancerous as well. I was told to get checked out as well, just in case, because I was 50% more likely to develop skin cancer because my mom had it. 50%! More! Likely!

To me, this was a massive wake up call. Before, I didn’t care that I burned, I wanted to have color. People always told me I looked better when I had some sun because being pale, I looked “ill” and “unhealthy.” I began researching products that would help protect my skin, not just for my face but for my body as well.

Seven years later, I am proud to say, I have taken really good care of my skin. I don’t tan. My lotions all have SPF. And I make sure, that if I am outside, I carry sunscreen in my bag and make sure to reapply at least every couple hours. I may be a little crazy about my skin, but it is for good reason. 50% more likely! And, now, I love my pale skin. 

Last year my mom had even more cancerous cells and had to undergo chemo. However, she still goes in the sun without protection and even went into a tanning bed the other day before her week long trip to Mexico. Apparently, there is a new tanning bed on the market that is supposed to be “safe.” I call it false advertising because there is no way that a bed that fakes UVA and UVB rays will be safe. While I can yell at her all I want about making sure she is making smart choices about her skin, she needs to be the one who chooses to do it. I just hope it doesn’t get worse than it is.

If you’re wanting to be tan or be out in the sun, just please be smart about it. Yes, the sun and the heat and the beach are all great, but what is better is that your skin is healthy. Seeing my mom go through what she did last year was hard and it’s so much easier to put on sunscreen starting at a younger age, then getting skin removed when you’re older. Plus, you will look so much younger when you’re older without all those wrinkles and age spots!

Also, make sure that once a year you go to the dermatologist. It’s so important to make sure to take care of your skin and check out any moles or other spots that are causing you some concern. 1 in 5 Americans develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime. Let’s not let that number increase.

If you’re looking to be tan and not damage your skin, here are some options that will make you look darker without damaging your skin.

St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse: This baby is one of the only tanning mousse’s that I have used that does not streak or turn you orange. I recommend the Express Bronzing Mousse. I’ll admit, it’s a bit pricey, but so worth it if you really are desperate for a tan. Leave it on for about an hour and you will get a nice glow.

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Tarte’s Brazilliance: Another nice (and slightly pricey) tanner. It smells kind of strange and takes a bit longer than the St. Tropez to dry, but it gives a really nice color. Don’t apply it more than once a week though! You might turn a color you don’t want to turn (bright orange).

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If you’re looking for a great sunscreen, below are a couple of my favorite products:

Tarteguard: Are you sensing a theme with my products? I love Tarte. They are so good to my very sensitive skin and their newest product is my newest obsession. Tarteguard smells really nice and isn’t greasy or oily on my face. I tend to put this on before my BB Cream so I know I am protected throughout the day.

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Neutrogena Dry-Touch: Again, this product isn’t greasy or oily. It definitely has that sunscreen smell, but hey, it’s summer that’s what your skin is supposed to smell like, right?

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Also, if you’re in the St. Louis area, Miles Against Melanoma is a great organization that helps raise money and awareness around skin cancer! June 7th is their annual 5K race, so get involved!