I am going back to school.
I don’t know when I’ll finish. By the normal four-year trajectory, spring 2015 was supposed to be my last semester, and I’ve only (barely) got junior standing. If I get my diploma before I’m 25, I’ll count myself lucky. My family doesn’t do normal, though. My mother just got her BS last year at the age of [a lady never tells]. It’s never too late.
I have always been ambivalent about formal education. In high school, all I wanted was to get the (*&$% out as soon as possible and become a novelist/mystic/woodland sprite. My only real anchors to the high-school experience were the Latin department (I love the language, and I won eleven awards before I graduated) and the girls’ madrigal choir I sang in. I graduated in three years instead of four, and because I was still a minor and could not yet join any worthwhile cabarets, I enrolled in UVM to study Latin.
I did have a good time. I joined the mock trial team and traveled out of state for meets. I made a lot of friends I’m still close to. I discovered binge drinking and thrift shops, in that order. But I think I always knew college was not where I belonged. As “that kid” who’s able to get A’s without trying, I do not have a very good work ethic. I admit this. Even after I switched my major to religion (a subject I’ve always been ineffably drawn to), I still found myself coasting. I decided that as long as I was skating by without trying and spending more of my time on personal pursuits, college was a waste of money.
So I dropped out after my sophomore year. I got serious about blogging and photography, and I’ve experienced decent success with this blog and with freelance writing. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on haunted houses, which I’ve been doing since middle school. I met the man I’m going to marry. Make no mistake: I have had a really good time. Which is exactly why I think it’s time to try school again.
So many cultures treat higher education as mandatory rather than, well, higher. A college degree is a big deal. Four years of study is a big deal. So many kids shuffle right from high school to college because it’s expected of them. They have nary a clue who they actually are and what they actually want to learn. And I roundly reject that. When I was seventeen, my brain was hardly ready to actually buckle down. I had not yet earned a place in anything that can honestly be called higher education. Today, I like to think that my head’s in a more elevated place.
I will be studying religion, with a focus on spiritual writing and art. I want to be Courtney Brooke and Flannery O’Connor in one. With a side of Mae West.
I took half of these photos in front of my apartment while Josh revved the metaphorical engine at me, and the other half once we arrived at his parents’ house in Connecticut. I’m sure I’ll rue these words in a few months when my pipes burst and I’m hauling firewood at 2 am, but my god does a New England snowfall make me believe in magic.
This year I am thankful for an Italian boyfriend whose mother serves lasagna at Thanksgiving, for good hair dye, and for the continued existence of ferrets. (And, y’know, love, shelter, and abundance. But I can take or leave those. 😉 )
Josh got me this dress from Rusty Zipper Vintage for Christmas last year, but I don’t think I’ve ever worn it on the blog. It has always been, and will always be, my Velma dress. Not that Velma Dinkley herself has ever worn any such thing, but I prefer conceptual costumes to literal ones anyway. Essence of.
In googling Velma, I went on a minor Scooby-Doo wiki-walk. Apparently the show’s creators never intended to make Shaggy a ginormous stoner, and they “took umbrage” that anyone would interpret his character that way. Really? He’s explicitly a hippie, he’s constantly hungry, and HIS FAVORITE NAME IS MARY JANE. Maybe all that’s just a coincidence and the creators really are the thickest people on the face of the planet, but why would you “take umbrage” at a perfectly reasonable, canon-supported interpretation?
Something something death of the author blah blah.
…speaking of “death of the author”, this is a good time to mention that I’m enrolled in an advanced writing course for the spring semester! I’m officially a schoolgirl again. As though I needed an excuse to wear moar Peter Pan collars.
Okay, so. So. Let me first stipulate that I’m not in love with how these photos turned out. I’d meant to do a full kitchen/razor/rolling-pin thing, but the walls in my kitchen capture light in a grainy way that gives photos that “taken with a webcam” look. The outdoor ones turned out fine, but they weren’t as true to the spirit of the character. Oh fucking well. Someday soon I’ll find a better kitchen backdrop and make Josh play my Sweeney Todd, because…
…even though the photos are mediocre, I LOOOVE this costume. For real. I don’t remember the last time I felt sexier. Post-shoot, I kept the corset laced until my lungs cried mercy. I just…I love this outfit, okay? It’s Victori-goth, but it’s got that unquestionable rockabilly something-something. Plus, I mean, corset.
This is my first actual bona-fide NOT-A-BUSTIER corset. $12 at Battery Street Jeans, baby. It was the last piece I needed to play my favorite theatrical leading lady. And play her I did. (One day, mark my words, I’ll play Mrs. Lovett for real. Just you wait. I know all her songs anyway.)
I have two things to say today. One is that Green Mountain Cabaret’s fairy-tale burlesque coincides with the ONLY night my favorite band is in town. I’d been looking forward to both events for months, and now I want to break things. I ultimately picked Carbon Leaf – they come to Burlington about once a year, but cabarets happen every month. (Not fairy-tale ones, though, dammit. And this girl loves her fairy tales.)
Buuuut I joined this program where I can get into the show free if I hang posters and promote the band on social media, so watch out for upcoming spam. I promise I haven’t been hacked.
The second thing is that I am totally, completely, 100% done with manufactured outrage.
Every day it’s something else. Some poor sap’s transgression – maybe he tweeted something, or shared an article, or wore a shirt – gets blasted into the ether and becomes an excuse to harass him ad infinitum. If you take issue, no matter how small, with the Cause of the Moment, prepare to be told to kill yourself. It comes from people in all movements, on all sides, and I am sick to death of it no matter where it comes from. As someone who identifies as moderate in almost all things, I feel no avenue is safe. I see bullying wrapped in activist clothing, and I don’t want to see it anymore.
Who has the goddamn energy to care about every insensitive comment and internet faux pas? It is a privilege to put so much of yourself into rallying the twitter troops. Choosing the next person to dogpile isn’t noble. It isn’t activism. It’s unadulterated vengeance.
If I ever disagree with you, I promise never to resort to ad hominems. I will never tell you you’re wrong by association with a group you belong to, and I will never write an entire passive-aggressive article about how people like you are ruining the country.
And if I ever land a rover on a comet, I will wear whatever goddamn shirt I please.
First of all, let’s address the fact that my bag looks like a giant drooling face. Okay? It’s out of my system now, so we can all move on. It was gonna haunt me.
Second of all, I’ve gone, once again, full society dame. From twee to sinister to eccentric matron. Such is the circle of Skyfe.
In other news, I’ve been in kind of a funk lately: everyone wants to read good writing, but pitifully few are willing to pay for it. In the age of instant downloads, people feel entitled to art on demand. I am all for open source culture and expanding the marketplace of ideas, but that shouldn’t mean artists work for free. You wouldn’t believe how many journals/blogs/online magazines I submit to every month. Most of them are happy to print my work – in exchange for “exposure”. Fine, but I can’t eat exposure. Exposure doesn’t keep the heat on.
My partner Josh, who has a master’s degree in 3d printing and emerging technology, has the same problem. I suspect it’s because what we do looks deceptively easy. “Pff, anyone can write a short story. Anyone can press a few buttons and run a computer program.” I worked as a copy editor for two years, and the number of people who doubted the necessity of my position was ridiculous. “Why do we pay her to fix typos? Anyone can do that!” My imagined reply: okay, if you can, then WHY DON’T YOU?
I am actually – perish the thought – considering going back to school, if only to keep myself busy while I figure out what to do. And a few more credits to my still-unfinished degree can’t hurt.
In the meantime, I’ll keep tweeing up the place, flirting my way into burlesque shows, and having a lot of things to say.
…wherein I complete my transformation into a living, breathing, creeping doll. That might be the best way to articulate my style, I think: I dress like a doll. Sometimes played straight for maximum cuteness, other times subverted and turned just a little unsettling. Dolls will fuck you up, especially vaguely Ozian ones. I really enjoy presenting garish, almost juvenile femininity only to follow it up with an ass-kicking.
I’ve been reading a bit on the pervasiveness of “twee” fashion – ModCloth, saddle shoes, pigeon-toed posing. It’s often dismissed as “grown women dressing like little girls”, but I think there’s more to it than that. As one of those grown women you might consider “dressed like a little girl”, I can pretty safely say I am not sheltered or repressed. For me, the appeal (other than, y’know, straight-up liking the aesthetic) is in realizing that presentation and identity need not align 100%. Hyperfeminity doesn’t have to signal weakness. I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing and proud of it. It’s great fun to dress in a way that implies a certain personality and then dash those implications to bits, and I suspect a lot of other “twee” women find it so as well.
I don’t think it’s a regression. I think it’s many people simultaneously realizing that identity is way more mix-and-match than they’d ever thought. Traits don’t follow in a straight line; people are way more nuanced than that. I see a similar process in punk and goth styles seeping into the mainstream. It’s finally sinking in that the way you dress says jack shit about your character, so people feel freer to adopt styles with implications they’d otherwise consider scary.
I spend way too much time thinking about clothes.
…but it’s not all I’m thinking about! I’m working on three concurrent short stories at the moment. Still undecided whether to pitch them individually or save them until I have enough for my own collection. I would, however, like to start publishing more of them on this blog. I’d design thematic outfits and make the story a total-immersion experience. Would anyone be interested in that?
It’s just a basic day dress, your average McCardell-esque cotton shirtwaist, but this dress always feels ineffably fancy to me. There’s something so elegant in the soft swingy folds. I feel like a working-class wife dolling up her children for Sunday service: practical but far from plain. Forget aprons and rolled-up sleeves. The order of the day is pearls, plaid, and lace-up boots. And a really excellent hat, because of course. I should really learn to do finger waves.