How did I end up with three cats

Dude, I don't even know. Yes, husband & I rescued and care for three cats. Because today is a National Pet Day (but isn’t that every day tho?) I am dedicating this post to them: Pepper, Whitey & Lucky. I am a huge dog person, so it was natural to rescue & adopt…cats.

I’m still trying to figure out what happened there. One summer we had some strays roaming around, and by the time harsh Chicago winter came, those little furry assholes have infiltrated our house and our lives. Humans have this natural predisposition for attachment and its incredibly easy to get attached to animals. That's exactly what happened to husband & I. Pepper started coming around my deck in Summer of 2014, a year we planned our wedding. He didn't act like a scared feral and enjoyed being pet and played with. I'd sit on my deck (as I usually do the moment it hits 50,60 degrees outside) and he would come, lay around my feet and I'd play with him and hold him.

September 2014

I'd give him some food and while later, his "sister" started to follow, but was far more feral than he was.She'd poke her head on my deck and run away. This went on for months and months, after the wedding festivities in September wrapped up and well into Fall & Winter. Fall of 2014 was fairly wet and rainy season. One night, I let Pepper inside and husband naturally freaked out and told me to kick him out. At first, I did. Then he started showing up more often and I'd let him roam around the house to dry off and warm up. At night, we'd kick him out and this went on until it got REALLY cold. I'm trying to recall the exact moment when we decided we'd keep him in permanently. I just know that in our mind, all of this shit with cats was supposed to be "temporary". It was supposed to be until Spring came and here were are, four years later and I can't imagine my life without them.

Month later, we had him neutered.

Pepper's first time in the house, October of 2014

He quickly made himself at home.

 His "sister" (litter-mate) Whitey remained outside, gnawing at the glass deck door. We had separated them. 

They clearly missed each other. How heartless can one be to separate them??

After a month or so watching her yearn for her brother, we let her roam around the house and hang out with him. January was just around the corner and once again, we made a "TEMPORARY" decision to keep her in until it warmed up. Meanwhile, she got a really bad eye infection. I took her to vet and a month later, we had her spayed. At this point, both of the cats were healthy & fixed and decision was made to keep them.

But our cat woes do not end here. End of December of 2014, another small white kitten showed up. Feral and hungry, I had set up a shelter with heated pad for him on the deck. Around January, the poor thing got REALLY sick and quit eating. Within few days, this little raggedy looking thing (which we called RatBoy for a while) became emaciated and deathly ill.

Dying...:(

We had a dying kitten on the deck and decision had to be made: watch  him die slowly and painfully in the cold...or trap him  and take him to vet for either treatment or to be put down. Later than night, Slavisa went to Home Depot and purchased a humane trap. Took us 2 hours to lure him in. Usually, the food will guide them right in, but the poor thing was so sick, he couldn't smell the food, therefore he quit eating. I grabbed a small laser (yes, stereotypes about cats and lasers is VERY TRUE) and with it, I managed to get him going. Once he got trapped, I immediately drove us to emergency vet where he received an antibiotic shot. Vet told us its gonna take few weeks for him to be cured. Again, we didn't have the heart to let a sick, ailing kitten out in the snow while he was trying to get better. 

At the vet's office. We had to cover the trap so he could calm down.

For the third time, a "temporary" decision was made to help a kitten in need. We told ourselves, if Ratboy survives this, we will call him Lucky. Few weeks later, once a dying kitten on my deck, began to thrive but now a tough decision had to be made. I realized that in less than 3 months, we had rescued and took in THREE stray cats into our home without a plan or a serious conversation. I did not have the heart to let Lucky go once he got better. I told my husband "

you will open that deck door and YOU will let him out because I physically and emotionally can't."

I dare you to resist this face

I think we all know how that went and that's because my husband has the biggest heart and he is attached to them as much as I am. No matter how hard he tries to pretend otherwise.

4 years later, we have 3 cats in our house. Our parents still give us a hard time (its frowned upon indoor animals in our culture), I constantly have to vacuum and clean up hair, I spend hundreds a month on their (premium) food, toys, furniture and litter, I have to worry and prepare in advance every time we travel to Kansas City, arrange a long term solution for longer trips, be ready for anything that may come up, watch their weight constantly etc.

I wouldn't even call this "hard" work. Its become second nature to both of us.

Do I still like dogs better? Definitely. Do I want a dog? Oh for sure. Am I gonna get a dog? Probably. Animals have brought joy to my life, eased off anxiety and gave me a sense of purpose. I feel less depressed. They seem to soak up edge off me. Its hard to explain. I miss them when they're not around.

So that's the story behind my kitties. Nothing unusual or crazy dramatic. Just a bunch of strays and my soft-for-animals heart.

Happy National Pets Day to my furry monsters.

My method to clean & disinfect makeup sponges

I am a HUGE proponent of using sponges to apply...basically everything on my face: liquid foundation, loose powder, putty highlighter, primers, and all other creams (blush, contour etc.) I love this system because brush bristles tend to scratch my face and my skin is so damn sensitive, a butterfly can fart in my direction and I will break out or have inflammation. Acne and enlarged pores have always been an issue and I also have combo-dry skin that's usually very dehydrated. With all that said,  damp makeup sponge for me is a way to go. I can press the product in, bounce it against my face, add bit of hydrating from its dampness and sheer out some of the product for more natural look.

Big downfall is the cleanliness. Sponges attract A LOT of bacteria. These sponges get dirty like a mofo even after one use. Usually, you can keep on using the sponge for weeks at the time, but with my skin sensitivity, I use a different sponge every day and on Sunday nights, I clean them ALL. Its a routine and a habit I created for myself. You do NOT have to go to this extreme. This works for me. How do you clean these sponges since they soak up so much oil & foundation? Well, I have a bulletproof system for you.

Disclaimer: if you've been using your sponge for a month and not cleaning it, the problem is you and not my system. Clean your brush otherwise you are pressing PURE bacteria against your face.

What you need:

1. Any soap. Liquid or bar. I use bars that are infused with TEA TREE OIL because tea tree is a natural antiseptic. It has a STRONG scent. I buy these soaps at Amazon, Target or TJ Maxx.
2. Cooking Oil. Not a joke I swear. Oil will break down foundation. My preferred choice is Viva Natural Coconut oil but you can use anything you like. I like using coconut oil because I don't wanna waste my delicious olive oil. Its too expensive. This is important step. Oil is what helps soap do its job.
3. Hot water (comfortable enough for you to handle.)


Steps:
1. Run your sponge in hot water until its completely soaked and enlarged.
2. Take coconut oil and rub it all over the sponge, especially on the dirtiest spots, gently squeezing and rubbing it in your palms. Coconut oil will get to work immediately and start breaking down the product. Do this for a minute or two.

3. Rinse the sponge. Hot water will usually get the oil off.
4. Take your bar of soap and rub the saturated sponge against until its nicely coated.

5. Massage the sponge for a minute. Makeup will literally pour out of it.
6. Rinse well.
7. Usually I repeat this soap step but you don't have to.
8. Leave overnight to dry.

The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes. If you do this often, your sponge will last longer (especially if you're using $20 Beauty Blender) and you wont be using a dirty sponge on your face. It seems like a chore but your face is the only one you got. Treat it well.

Before & After

 Tip: if you are not using tea tree oil or any other type of anti-septic, put your sponge in a bowl with water and microwave for a minute. That kills the bacteria as well. 

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to reach out, ask questions, tell me what you do...

Enigma & Tragedy of Nabokov’s “Lolita” - a Story not of Love & Passion but of Corrupted Youth & Crime

I read “Lolita” back in my early twenties when I was finally done being brainwashed by Jane Austen’s perfect, nearly flawless people. Took me a few years to finally understand the flaws in Austen's heroes and heroines. Lets be real, Darcy can be a real dickhole. This isn’t a jab against Jane, whom I consider somewhat a personal hero. Dissenting into darker fiction and meeting Humbert Humbert, I had finally quit fetishizing and romanticizing shitty men in “romance” novels.  “Lolita” is one of the more difficult, disturbing books I had ever read in my lifetime. There is no gore, no clowns with red balloons, no fire-breathing dragons, no Red Weddings…there is only a criminal who uses and abuses a child under pretext of “love.”

Not only is “Lolita” one of the darkest works of fiction, it is also the most misunderstood. Many people cannot and refuse to stomach it and I completely understand them. To read it, is to be responsible about it. To view it through a romantic lens is to disservice it and discredit Nabokov’s dark narrative that exposes corruption of youth through satire. Real life crime from 1948 is what inspired him. He explicitly asked the publisher NOT to feature young girls on the cover design. 
“I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls.”
“And no girls.”
Yet, five decades later, a google search of Lolita will bring up images of teenage seductresses in red lips and heart shaped glasses. No American landscape…
Image result for lolita book covers
These images will sway you to view Lolita as the sex symbol who seduced her much older lover…not as the child he kidnapped and raped. It’s amazing how a book cover can shape the narrative, isn’t it?
If you ever decide to read this book, keep in mind that you will be reading it from Humbert Humbert’s point of view, which means he will attempt to trick you. HH is intelligent, well-spoken, funny…a master manipulator. He will bend the reality to shape a narrative you will find yourself almost pitying him. Do not fall for it. That is what abusers do. They victimize themselves. "She made me do it. She seduced me. I couldn't help it. She asked for it, Did you see what she was wearing? You make me hit you!" Nabokov even starts the book by calling the reader JURY…it is your job to maneuver around a charming rapist. You have a role while reading this book and it will make you laugh, cry and vomit. Do not let HH or Nabokov's writing sway you. The writing is absolutely gorgeous. Nabokov is the master of language and this book is the living proof of it.
I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her –after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred–I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever–for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)–and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness
This sentence is so gorgeous and despicable, it makes me vomit and awe at the same time. That juxtaposition alone makes the book one of the best written pieces in English language, and English wasn't even Nabokov's first language. Two movies were made about it. Two movies you need to avoid like a plague because neither director really "got it" (captured its dark essence.) Its an incredibly hard thing to capture inner dialogue of a perverted criminal while he lusts after a child. Especially when both directors hire older, attractive actresses to play Lolita and completely miss the point. One would think Stanley Kubrick wouldn't be so gutless, and even he couldn't help but be a coward towards this novel. 

This book is not a tale of ill-fated, forbidden romance. Its a cautionary tale of stolen life and corrupted youth. It gives a voice to a pathological abuser and a rapist. It is YOUR job to judge him harshly. Humbert stole Dolores's life. He shaped it in his own twisted way, took away her choice, her life, her decisions, her childhood, her youth, her mother, school, friends, home....his perversion corrupted her in every shape and form, until nothing but a shadow was left. It is your job as the Jury (the reader) to navigate past Humbert's unreliable narration and not fall into his trap of internalized victimhood. He is a rapist and a pedophile. Dolores "Lolita" Haze is the victim - a CHILD he victimized and destroyed. If you can stomach this type of content, if you can bare to read thoughts of a pedophile, all the excuses men give for sexually abusing their victims...you will come out of this experience disgusted. Or at least that's what I hope for. Fester in your own disgust, in your own literary vomit...I don't care, just evolve from it. I did and have never felt more furious and awake.

Going Animal Cruelty Free - personal manifesto.

Ever since I rescued my 3 cats, I've become more conscious about animal welfare. Not that I wasn't aware of animal cruelty before, I just never spoke as loudly as I do these days. And also, ignorance is bliss. I chose to ignore certain things because I like certain items. In terms of animal welfare, I sadly admit that I am nowhere near perfect. I still eat meat, for example. Not as much as I used to, but I do. I do imagine and see the future for myself that is free of animal flesh & fur. My conscience won't allow much longer for it. I know what the corporate farming does to cows, pigs and chickens. Do not google it....or do, maybe we can go vegan together. Cats and dogs might be considered pets, but the farm animals are just as sentient as the "cute," "fluffy" ones. Because I still eat meat, I can't judge anyone else who does. This post is not meant to be preachy or judgmental. I'm fully aware of the fact that veganism and vegetarianism are FIRST world choice. People across the planet cannot afford such luxury. I try to keep my privilege in check. This post is simply a reflection on a lifestyle I want to change & lead. Lifestyle free of animal, products, torture & cruelty. Those are the key words to keep in mind. It's not a change I can make over night but I'm willing to work on it.

Animal cruelty, with CRUELTY being the key word here, it does nothing to benefit a human. You can eat an animal without torturing it or experimenting on it.

Bottom line:

It's cruel to hunt for sport & fun.
It's cruel to test make-up on animals.
It's cruel to wear leather and fur.
It's cruel to buy animals.

I want to contribute somehow. I want to curb the cruelty in any way I can. I wish I can be more radical and bold and just say "fuck it all" but there is nuance to this. Its not as black and white and as simple as some may make it out to be. Hunting for food and population control, I get it. Testing medications on animals for cancer treatments, I get it. Testing for make up? Fuck no. Its absolutely unnecessary. Wearing leather and fur? The sheer cruelty these poor animals go through is unbearable. Technology and process has evolved so much that vegan leather and fake fur look as good as the real thing, but its a personal choice and you chose to be a fucking asshole. (The fur thing infuriates me.) Now, let me step back for a moment. I own a leather jacket, shoes and boots. All from Zara. Haven't bought real leather in years & don't intend to anymore. I find solace in Zara's ethically obtained leather though. but even this is highly questionable due to the environmental impact and collection of carcasses from slaughterhouses....I mean....I don't know. At least they are not killing these poor animals just to strip them off their skin, so I find SOME, completely bare minimum justification in that. Its not good enough though.

Ethical Consumer is a fantastic source if you are looking to make changes to your purchasing and life habits.

I have never bought or worn fur. I refuse to buy silk.  I'm trying to abstain from polyester as well, due to environmental impact. Cotton, linen and soy based fabrics such as cashmere and silk are all sustainable and biodegradable. Does polyester sneak into my closet? Sure. I'm trying to curb it as much as I can. 

For about a year, I've been changing up my skin and make-up routine and products to cruelty-free. 99% of my make up is cruelty free. 100% of my skin care is cruelty free. Hair care? This is my worst offence. Pretty much all of my hair products have been tested on animals. After make up and skin care, that's my next level of cruelty free I'd like to achieve. If it has the word L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, & Shiseido, I am NOT buying it. There are so many great make up  brands that are NOT sold in China (this is major indicate) and are cruelty free. My favorites are Hourglass. Marc Jacobs Beauty (separate company from the perfumes which DO test on animals) Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Becca, Cover FX - and TONS of other affordable & indie brands. There are thousands of fantastic companies NOT testing on animals and their products are TOP NOTCH. You can spend $13 on Loreal Infallible....or you can spend $5.00 on Wet'nWild which is far superior, cheaper and CRUELTY FREE. Its not just rats and rabbits that go through this process. Cats, dogs, monkeys....I mean. I didn't want to share any disturbing photos but...


I don't want this on my conscience. I already do enough damage by eating meat & eggs....but to contribute to this because of a fucking lipstick? I can do better.

So yeah. I've been ranting, facebooking, snap-chatting and discussing cruelty free for a while now. Its something I take seriously & other people's opinions on this matter are absolutely irrelevant to me. My goal is not to preach or tell you "go vegan"...I just want to discuss alternatives. I can't judge because I'm so far from where I want to be. I hope to start a conversation with this.

I want my lifestyle to reflect my conscience. Maybe not right now at this moment or even tomorrow, but I'm more than willing to make changes & raise my own humans one day to be aware of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Cruelty Free Kitty website is a FANTASTIC source for all things cruelty-free & vegan. Suzi updates her blog regularly with new products and ways. She also alerts when a company sells their soul to China (looking at you NARS.)
Resources are out there, products and ways are out there...they just need to be looked up, reached and researched. Ignorance is no longer a bliss for me. I'm not that boring anymore. And as always, TNR your neighborhood cats and ALWAYS ADOPT DO NOT SHOP. 

"13 Reasons Why" - glamorizing suicide or bringing awareness?

I binged it in two days. One night, I just didn't even bother to sleep. Whenever you have sensitive topics such as suicide and rape, told by teenagers, its bound to be coated in layers of controversy. I see schools putting up trigger signs and warning parents. I see people criticizing the subject matter and the way it was portrayed. I haven't read Jay Asher's book. I've seen it on Goodreads and Amazon with excellent reviews, but my interest in Young Adult genre at the time was specific to medieval fantasy, science fiction & dystopia. I guess I just wasn't attracted to real-life, sensitive topics. With all that said, I'm no longer interested in just...escaping.

The buzz over 13 Reasons Why is REAL. I can't remember last time I saw something that was on exact same spectrum of love & hate. And I'm right there with it: I love it...and I hate it at the same time.

If you haven't seen the show, beware: this post will be spoiler heavy

Before I express my thoughts on a show about suicide, here are some real facts about suicide:
*38,000 people die of suicide every year in US. 
*Depression is the leading cause.
*80 to 90% of people who sought treatment are treated successfully. (This number is HUGE and telling of how important mental health and available resources are.)
*More males commit suicide while more females experience suicidal thoughts and episodes.
*Its a THIRD leading cause of death for young people between 15 and 24. (This is terrifying to me.)

There are more facts and numbers out there for you to research. I wanna dig into the show itself. More often than not, when someone commits suicide, the big question is WHY. Why would someone do that? What drove them to that? Why? Why? What were the signs? Why? 13 Reasons Why gives you just that. And I think its what shocked the people the most. You can always speculate, judge, make guesses, assume...never really know what exactly happened. Hannah Baker tells you: here are 13 reasons that drove me to that bathtub. Do not for ONE second think that the subject matter is watered down and diluted for "sensitive" eyes and minds. Hannah slitting her wrists was by far one of the most disturbing, heart wrenching things I ever watched. I caught myself looking away because its so graphic and devastating. That doesn't even include the emotional and physical abuse, rape, slutshaming, bullying, drug & alcohol abuse, poverty, homelessness, male privilege, internalized misogyny, sports worship over human beings, parental ignorance ("my special, perfect snowflake could never do such thing" - kind of bullshit), cyber bullying, etc. 13 Reasons Why covers all those bases. 

On the surface (and maybe the main reason I "hate" the show) its just that its too simple. Boys are mean to the pretty white girl and she can't have any friends since she's so pretty, other girls ignore her. So she kills herself. Please bare with me for a moment. 

Personally, I know what depression feels like. I know how badly it can alter your world view and how it can make you feel hopeless, lonely, isolated and worthless. I've been there and for a long time too. High school was a living nightmare for me. But a quiet sort of nightmare. Right at the brink of technological evolution, my high school generation was probably the last one that was cell phone free. My misery ended the moment I left that godforsaken property. Teenagers today don't stand a chance. Bullying does not end with exiting the school property. The world is brutal and it will do whatever it can to rip you to pieces. As much as I love technology, I see the deadly side of it as well, so yes younglings of today: I empathize and sympathize with you more than you can image. And no, I will not dwell into the specifics of my youth and every factor that plagued it. Just know that I was too invisible to be harassed...and please take that with a grain of salt.

I do think 13 Reasons Why is not complex enough. 

The issue of rape, suicide, depression and bullying is not to be taken and treated lightly. But maybe its not meant to be in this case. Maybe it is supposed to represent teenage fragility and cruelty down to its most basic definitions. After all, its from a POV of a teenager. I'm not saying teenagers are not complex creatures (quite opposite) but in terms of storytelling, it would be unrealistic to expect teenage mind frame on an adult level. That was one of the main issues I have with writers like John Green. His teenagers are 40 year old wise men. I don't believe in them or that they exist. I do, however, believe in girls like Hannah, Jessica, Courtney and boys like Clay, Alex and Bryce. While the show lacks complexity, it makes up for it with very cruel and real reality:  Bullying was and IS attributed to suicide.

For Hannah, it wasn't just slam to the locker room, dunk your head in the toilet - your corny cartoon type of bullying. She was sexually harassed, slutshamed, abused emotionally and brutally raped.


Is the show triggering? Potentially yes. I do feel like it made light of Hannah's tapes. I think that a suicidal person might follow this step and take the tapes to heart. Because the focus wasn't so much Hannah's mental health, but rather "This is all your faults" (which, don't get me wrong, it most certainly was) too many teens contemplate suicide out of "I'll kill myself, that'll show em!" reasons and that is problematic as fuck. I got the vibe that if you leave tapes or notes behind, people you left behind would come together in a kumbaya everyone-hold-their-hands and realize how much they've grown from someones suicide. Its bullshit. Its no longer Hannah's story, but a story of Clay - average, shy, awkward boy finally learns how to express himself. When he approached Sky in the conclusion of the story, I got the "white savior" vibe from the whole scene. Am I supposed to forget Hannah and her dead body in a tub? Motherfucker no. I feel like the balance shifted away from her, from her mental health...from her ordeal into super cheesy drive off to sunset category and rest of the teens.

I 101% agree that parents & teens really need to approach this show with an open mind and extreme caution. Its powerful story telling but its also very triggering. Some of the suicide parts may be glamorized - such as the mix of Hannah's blood with water in the tub, the way it spilled. That image CAN be construed as romantic. But then its followed by the mind and body numbing pain and her parents finding her. That anguish took breath from my lungs while watching. I've never seen anything more devastating than that particular scene.

Yes, 13 Reasons Why is FULL of flaws. Number one being the oversimplification of a complex issue. Second, the triggering aspects behind the tapes and her motivations. Third, the romantic imagery of some of the darkest moments and fourth, slew of minor characters whose overall character development was either non existent or so minor, it contributed truly nothing to the overall story. Why have them there in the first place? Why waste time?

But it also has some truly valuable lessons to be learned. When I was done with it I told my husband how important words are. How you NEVER know what's going on with someone and just how little can it take to push them over the edge. I mean, this is not something new. Don't be a fucking asshole to people - its really that simple. Also, if it took a problematic show on television for you to realize that: you are the problem and its time to re-evaluate because WORDS MATTER. Whatever you might think of 13 Reasons Why, one thing is certain: We are finally having a conversation about suicide & mental health.

To conclude: 

To find a support group, visit this website



Not ready or unable to attend a support group in person? Consider these online support groups:

http://www.pos-ffos.com/
http://www.solossurvivorsoflovedonestosuicide.com/online-groups.html

If you are a victim of sexual assault, please visit RAINN website for all the resources.
https://centers.rainn.org/

If you are a victim of bullying, please call the LIFELINE at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Suicide is never ever ever evvvvvvvver an answer. NEVER. Please seek help. Someone out there cares for you.