AM/PM: Nothing But The Morning

Welcome to AM/PM, where Autostraddle team members share our morning and evening rituals.

Sometimes you’re living your life and then something happens that makes living your life much, much harder.

So then what’s left?

Sometimes, my mornings are about tasks, accomplishments, making my own dreams come true by waking up anywhere that whim or fate or the dog needing to pee dictates between 5 am and 9 am, morning sex or not, getting dressed or not, drinking coffee or definitely drinking coffee, murdering my to-do list or not, reveling in all the freedoms of being a self-employed person who also has shit to do.

But lately, my mornings are a structure to control, before all the things I can’t control pop back up. I can’t figure out my life, but I can figure out what I’m doing this morning, this hour, this minute. I haven’t been in this place before. I don’t know how long I’ll be here or where I’m going next. But right now, this is what my mornings look like.

why yes I do wake up with eyeliner that perfectly applied itself in the middle of the night, how kind of you to notice

I’ve been waking up and getting up immediately. I’m definitely not impatient for my days to start, but there’s something in “I woke up, so I got up” that is very reassuring to me. Is it because I am also reassured that the dog usually waking me will not be peeing on the floor? Who can say?

On nights I sleep in my own bed, she wakes me up, and I pee and splash water on my face and take her out for her first walk immediately. I’ve been trying to run outside in the “away from panic attacks” sort of way, so the first clothes I put on are running clothes, mostly so that later in the morning I can start to feel embarrassed that I’ve just been wearing my dorky shorts around and maybe I should run so I can take them off finally. I used to put on my day of makeup before taking the dog out the first time. I used to have a lot more fucks to give.

On nights I sleep elsewhere, I do perfunctory makeup — drugstore concealer and eyeliner, from a stash in a jacket pocket. I used to give more fucks about that, too.

I try to enjoy the quiet.

Then, coffee and whatever work needs immediate attention, and then more coffee, and then if I’m going to run, the running, for which my benchmark of success is “did not pass out or injure myself,” and then actually getting showered and dressed for the day.

in truth I run in shorts + sports bra because why dirty a shirt

For a while, I had this really intense and involved morning skincare routine that took between one and five hours to complete (not that I was intensely focusing on it for all that time, that’s just when it started and ended). The steps included but were not limited to light chemical exfoliation with Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel, every so often an Aztec Clay and apple cider vinegar mask, an essence that probably had snails in it like Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, at least one sheetmask, and sometimes an under-eye patch. It felt good to try to intentionally direct positive energy toward my body, when I am so used to directing negative energy toward it instead. But lately, I don’t want to direct all that much energy toward it at all. I want it to do its job and also look good, whatever that even means, but mostly I want to stop worrying so much about it.

Now, my routine takes about five minutes, plus however long makeup takes that day. It’s oil-based cleansing with Banila Clean It Zero, water-based cleansing with Milky Jelly, Milk Cooling Water to depuff, sometimes Belif Moisturizing Bomb but not every day if I’m being honest, and Shiseido sunscreen.

When I get to makeup, it looks like: drugstore concealerbareMinerals powder if it’s hot out, Boy Brow after an eyebrow pencil which maybe defeats the purpose of Boy Brow but I don’t care, Clio eyeliner, and now that I know what they are a blush and a highlighter, which I will never again be without. (Ugh sorry for all the Glossier, I am a millennial and easily attracted to clean typography-forward packaging and a certain shade of pink, what do you want from me.)

ugh so millennial ugh

Generally I try to wait as long as possible before breakfast because we all have our damage, but once I have it it’s normally two to four soft scrambled eggs in coconut oil or ghee or avocado oil or something, with tea or coffee. My frying pan died recently because frying pans that cost three dollars have a short life expectancy, but I have high hopes for the new one I ordered on Amazon.

For the past two years, I’ve started my day by pulling a tarot card, reading a few interpretations of what that card means, and journalling about it in a notebook. I can tell when my mental health or life is about to take a dive because when it does I do not give a shit about this practice, or feel out of sync with my tarot decks (I’m into The Wild Unknown and the classic Rider-Waite), or resentful of the time a meditative morning activity takes out of all of the feeling sad or frustrated I have to do, and who do you think you are The Wild Unknown tarot deck, you’re not my real mom. Otherwise this activity makes me feel very centred and focused and, even when it takes like twenty minutes, makes the rest of my day feel focused. I already dealt with the fact I had feelings so after that handling deadlines and solving work problems and moving through the world seems easier.

Carolyn Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Carolyn has written 1047 articles for us.


  1. the girl who makes the wild unknown tarot deck was the girl in my high school that made every other girl in my high school question her sexuality and she was a great writer and a great artist and also played ani on her guitar and she told me i had nice legs and her nose was pierced and she always held hands with her best friends but she’s straight and lives in portland now and it’s fine but also nobody will ever wear a tank top like she wore a tank top

  2. I’m so excited about this column, thank you AS and Carolyn! This was exactly what I needed right now, and tbh always, because I suck at routine and remembering why keeping any semblance of schedule is important/helpful/actually a thing at all. My morning routine most of this summer has been “force myself awake when my alarms have been blaring for hours; scroll on the internet on my phone until i see something that makes me feel the need to get out of bed; change into a different pair of shorts and maybe acquire food,” but i have a lot of morning classes and shifts next semester and I need to get out of the depression/anxiety slump, so I am definitely looking forward to some idea of what other people do for rituals and routines.

  3. I am starting a new job on Monday that will require a long commute, so my morning routine is going to have to shift drastically – I used to leave the house around 8:15 and now I’ll have to leave at 6:30. I may have to cut myself off from the snooze button entirely in order to get my butt out of the house. Thanks for the inspiration and I look forward to this series!

  4. Yes yes yes to all of this! + especially,

    + “intentionally direct positive energy toward my body, when I am so used to directing negative energy toward it instead.” MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    + the oil cleansing method

    + tarot practice as a mental health check

    + your dorky shorts that are very cool indeed!

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