As long as I can remember, my skin has been prone to redness. Exercise turns my face into a blotchy tomato. Cold and wind burnish my skin to a ruddy shine. Even washing my face, no matter how gently, leaves it pink. And there’s a good reason I apply SPF 50 daily—UV rays and I are not friends!
I’ve dealt with acne and/or rosacea (dermatologists can’t agree which is the underlying issue) most of my adult life and have tried just about everything to fix it. Cutting out dairy. Limiting processed sugar. Applying expensive creams. Buying celeb-endorsed treatment systems (Proactiv was both ineffective and bleached my pillowcases). Using prescription ointments. Attempting hormonal intervention (so thankful to be off the pill!). Taking antibiotics… then different antibiotics… and even more kinds of antibiotics. And now retinoids, which at least deliver moderate improvement.
Being a student usually means getting involved in campus life; joining clubs, attending social events, creating friendships with fellow students. That’s tough to do with an online program (like the PGDip I’m doing at the University of York), but the pandemic pushing activities online has been a tremendous boon!
I’ve joined the Graduate Students Association for Zoom with a Zoo (so much fun!), signed up for virtual pub quizzes, and become a member of the UoY Feminist Society—all without leaving home. FemSoc members are welcome to contribute to the society’s blog and I wrote a post reviewing Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The long-distance friendship angle makes the book even more relevant, but don’t be fooled that it’s a manual for making new friends or maintaining platonic relationships. And the authors aren’t suggesting any shortcuts for the time, energy, and affection necessary to nurture good friendships, whether they’re in-person or over video chat.
Earlier this week my mum mentioned that it would have been her father’s 104th birthday. It shocked me to realise how long ago he passed away… more than a decade and a half. Despite not having many memories of my younger years (I’m told I had a happy childhood and the photos certainly support that!), I’ve retained strong impressions of my grampa. They’re mostly fleeting images or smells or a remembered turn of phrase or tone of voice; often comforting and rarely complete. And sometimes those memories arise at strange times.
Keeping entertained during the novel coronavirus crisis is a balancing act.
I’m torn between wanting to stay informed about the current state of the world (physically distant, begrudgingly hyper-local with an undercurrent of pervasive anxiety) and the desire to dig my head in the sand. I don’t want to numb myself to reality, but I also know that too much awareness about the number of infections, the dangerous absurdities unfolding in the US, and the prognostications on when we’ll return to ‘normal’ (ha!) are bad for my mental health.
I used to think “How many rooms is your place?” had an easy answer. But living in Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland has made differing approaches on room calculus abundantly clear. And the lockdown in Switzerland to flatten the COVID-19 curve has changed the equation again.
I’m part of the Impromptue Community in Zürich, which is a platform for materialising women’s ideas into projects. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, the group nominated a handful of inspirational women. I collected their suggestions and transformed them into the blog post below.