ghost of christmas never

Finally something (*&%$ artsy. I was feeling terribly off my game. As uplifting as the Christmas story is supposed to be, there’s darkness embedded in it too. An omnipotent God, manifest in an undeniably Other human form, is actually pretty bone-chilling. Had we never heard of the Judeo-Christian tradition, were this just another obscure tribal myth, I’m certain it would unsettle us. 

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fiction

Writing is the thing I am best at. It’s also, by accident or design, the thing that frustrates me the most. I can take a hundred photos every day, but writing comes slower. Every word is a reflection of Who I Am As A Person; I don’t want to consign anything anything short of perfection to the page. So I plod along, dropping words here or there and fantasizing about the cigar I’ll smoke upon my first book deal.

I’m working on four stories right now. Here’s an excerpt from each one.

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Her name was Rachel, and I loved her. Before her, my loves were mild. Uninspired. I could take or leave those pale-eyed girls. Rachel was more. Her hips swelled into my hips and her hands belonged in mine. I loved Rachel. Let that be known.

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But in the fields I couldn’t keep my mind to myself. It lit harshly on other times, other Issachars. He was young and new, potential yet unwhittled. Were there rudiments of the future man in those unbidden smiles? He was twelve, and first felt God stroke his still-beardless face. He was twelve, and he knew.

He was fifteen and beginning to feel his truth. The bones that had carried him to manhood were filling now with a different kind of purpose. Beyond subsistence, beyond existing itself. His prayers dizzied and dazzled him. He was twenty and fervid, passion collecting itself in those bones he knew to be more than just his. He felt vocation down in the deep where boy becomes man becomes martyr. He was twenty and he was sure.

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“I am a peaceful woman,” Lizzy was fond of counseling herself, a rejoinder to that which implied otherwise. “It’s the rest of the world that’s mad.”

That night in front of the mirror, she counted out a hundred, two hundred strokes with the ivory-backed brush. Lizzy let her eyes go soft. Under midnight’s trickery, she was almost Lucy Allister. You could find the common blood in the tatty curls and permaflushed cheeks. But Lizzy’s Granny was gunning for matronhood even in her youth. Her breasts contained multitudes; her hips conquered life itself. Lizzy was Granny Lucy Allister’s colder, leaner successor.

She looked at her reflection and said “hello, Granny.”

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..but even surly and stern, she was still a woman. And he a man, no matter how awkwardly he wore his alien form. In the daylight hours, he was never to touch her. He knew this viscerally, and he had vowed to honor it. Even their shoulders, bowed together in conspiracy, would never brush. He had learned to compartmentalize on the nights when she leaned into him and begged.

(what I totally never write Maleficent fanfiction that was totally someone else and not me)
 
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all is not lost

I sure hopped on my soapbox yesterday. I carry one everywhere just to be safe. But I don’t like to identify a problem without doing something about it, so I want to highlight a few bloggers who break that “cupcakes and hipsters” mold. As much as I bitch and bemoan my loneliness, I am really not the only blogger trying to do something different.

A few things I look for in a really quality blogger:

  • First and foremost, uniqueness. Not to get all “I’m not like other girls” on you and sniff that popular interests are inherently bad. Not at all! But no matter how pedestrian your passions, I want to see them filtered through the lens of you. I want to see them come alive through your eyes. Few things bore me faster than someone with no opinions and no perspective.
  • Humility. I don’t think anyone is required to apologize for the things they have or the life they lead. I’m not expecting high-end bloggers to prostrate themselves at my feet. But hideously expensive items presented without context or commentary seems tone-deaf to me, particularly when they’re included in “gift guides” or “shop my closet” links. You don’t have to apologize, but I would like you to acknowledge your presence in the 1%. And maybe include a few cheaper alternatives.
  • In that vein,  I have become quite cynical about corporate sponsorships. Sometimes I really appreciate them: I always like seeing bloggers review products or sellers I’d been considering. Hey, I’ve done one myself. But there’s a point at which it stops seeming like a review and becomes blatant ass-kissing. As though the blogger is the new “face” of the product rather than just another discerning consumer. It feels really dishonest to me, and antithetical to what (I think) fashion blogging should be about: an independent take on style, not just another corporate extension. Bloggers dressed in head-to-toe c/o are a huge turn-off. If you’re relying on sponsors to dress you, you’ve lost touch with the “personal” element of personal style.
  • Artistry. This is probably the most important. I am forever endeared to any blogger who can describe her outfit beyond “it looked nice”. I’m sure it did, but what inspired you? What character are you playing? Do you feel like a Greek goddess or a riot grrl? Maybe both? Show me that you’re thinking here. Show me that you’re interested in style, the art, not just clothing, the acquisition.

Here are some favorites that break the mold.

Advanced Style

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I have a soft spot for anyone pushing the boundaries of who fashion is for. AS is full of older women (and a few men) who refuse to diminish. They wear exactly what they choose, and they have no patience for prudes half their age clucking “do”s and “don’t”s at them. Ari Seth Cohen’s photography is bright but down to earth; he’s trying to complement the glossies, not replace them. He even released a documentary this fall.

Downside: as I’ve gotten more invested in Advanced Style, I’ve spent a lot more time combing the obituaries.

Amy Flying a Kite

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Amy, admittedly, hits a lot of the marks I railed against yesterday (grainy pensiveness, lots of food photos). That said, her versions of them make clear that they come from within and not without. She’s a poet and a folk musician, and everything about her oozes the earnestness thereof. The way she writes about her life and her art and her style is just…the best word I have is reverent:

I told myself many years ago that I must learn to call every winter beautiful and find my own reasons for saying so. I will not spend a lick of December longing for the garden or trying to catch the fragrance of flowers. I will stay cozy and close to the fireplace while being dazzled by the kind of glitter you can only find in the snow. I will bake shortbread cookies and give them a hot cocoa bath. I will find one hundred reasons to love the season in which I was born.

I think the main difference between her and other “hipster” bloggers is that Amy doesn’t take a thing for granted. She’s about finding beauty in every mote of existence. She might seem maudlin, but nope: she’s just that sentimental. She can’t be pretentious, because there’s no pretense. This is who she is. And I love it.

Eccentric Owl

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Let’s be real; Kristina’s style is crazy similar to mine. We’ve both got the kooky/pinup/society dame thing going on. And we’re exactly the same size, so the fantasy of sharing her wardrobe is just that much closet to reality. More than that, though, she integrates her outfits into her world and shows off just how much can be done with clothing. She designs costumes for her husband’s short films and puts together outfits inspired by books she’s reading. And her makeup skills put me to shame.

She’s also just…real. I don’t know how else to put it. She writes simply and warmly but manages to avoid the cloying pseudo-intimacy I see in so many bloggers. She’s also very different from me spiritually and socially, but our disagreements are never anything but civil. For instance, she disagrees that sex work is empowering to women, but she’s supporting my Dressember campaign for the International Union of Sex Workers because she still believes their rights should be protected. I respect that.

As a person, she couldn’t be more down to earth; as an artist, she whisks me away. That’s a combination I always appreciate.

Helga Von Trollop

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Helga is the kind of bawdy older woman I can imagine stuffing a dollar in a Chippendale’s g-string. And then maybe rushing the stage, because you only live once. She reminds me of one of my mom’s friends: a squat, redheaded Kiwi prone to overuse of the word “fabulous”. Helga is everything I want to be when I grow up, and getting drunk with her is on my bucket list.

Kitsune-kun

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She’s an artist, plain and simple. She makes no distinction between “outfit” and “costume”: the whole world’s her stage, every photo a production. I deeply admire that.

Melodic, Thrifty, & Chic

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Anna is unbearably twee. And also cyberpunk, and also dapper as all hell. She remains the most genuinely chameleonic fashion blogger I’ve ever seen. It takes a sharp eye to wear so many distinct styles and look 100% at home in each one. She’s also awkward as fuck, in the most adorable way possible. She takes this self-deprecating tone that never comes off as grating, just honest.

Not only THAT, but she’s one of the few bloggers who does corporate sponsorship right. She gives honest reviews of the products in question. No fawning, no smarm. She also sees the free swag for what it is: a gift, not a given. So many bloggers seem all too blase about the free stuff. Anna never takes it for granted.

The Clothes Horse

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Disclaimer: Rebecca is pretty damn popular. Last I checked, she had >10k followers on Facebook. But you know what, I love her anyway. She’s the only capital-B blogger I really follow, but rest assured she deserves it. Her blog is its own universe, full of starched pleats and pre-Raphaelites. Her posts never feel like just collections of photos: they’re knit together with poetry, art history, or whatever else she’s inspired by that day. Here’s what she wrote about Carven’s pre-fall 2013 collection:

I envision the Carven Pre-fall 2013 girl as a real-life Margot Tennebaum of inherited furs and consanguineous neuroses. She’s supposedly getting a master’s degree in Art History, but due to her hermit-like tendencies she hasn’t managed to complete her course work, let alone start her required internship. She spends most days deep within the recesses of her ancestral home reading Anais Nin by a fireplace filled with candles and cooking pasta over a bunsen burner. When she ventures out her disheveled hair and the dark circles under her eyes always betray her more curious nature no matter how gentrified her outfits of vintage Ferragamos, Chanel jackets, and crocodile clutches.

The Leather Fanny Pack

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Because she’s the wacky society dame I desperately aspire to be. She’s obsessed with A Series of Unfortunate Events and dresses like the Esme Squalor of my headcanon. She is dark and arty (and just a wee bit insufferable) and completely fabulous.

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Picdump incoming: I really liked these photos. This outfit is just “not me” enough to be interesting – it’s slouchy and beige where I am usually fitted and bright. My cousin gave me this newsboy cap when I was about sixteen and he was cleaning out his basement. (He also offered me a bag of ancient, crumbly weed, found in the same crate as the hat. My cousin’s an odd duck.) This coat is for sale in my Etsy shop; these boots are the first decent winter pair I’ve had in a few years. Together, it all feels so prim and somehow reporter-ly, like I’m about to whip a Moleskine from my pocket and get to work taking your words out of context.

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I have been ambivalent about blogging culture lately. Make no mistake: blogging does have a culture, full of its own cliches and foibles. Some of it I enjoy, some of it I enjoy ironically, and some of it I reject. But it seems to be harder and harder to evolve as a blogger without necessarily evolving into tropes and away from yourself. I’m proud of how my photography has improved over the years. My shots look far more polished than they used to. But “polished”, in this context, too often means “identical”. I can’t help but find the charm of an earnest-but-shitty post more compelling than a magazine-quality spread. There’s more variety in spottiness. I want to be good at what I do. I want to make great sartorial art and tell epic stories with it. I also don’t want to become so Good(TM) that I lose any individual luster.

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Think about what the Good(TM) bloggers do. The kinds of shots they take, the kinds of lives they lead. Individually, each one is talented and ambitious and I wish her all the best. Collectively, they represent a world that desperately needs some fresh blood. I am sick of mason jars and manicures and pseudo-pensive close-ups. I am sick of lattes and wedding pictures and studio apartments. I don’t want any sweatshop-made c/o crap, and I will not refer to Josh as “hubby” or “the boy”. I started blogging to feed my helpless, hapless love of clothes. That’s it. I didn’t sign on for these bizarre cultural accretions. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to call myself a fashion blogger, and that makes me want to completely, totally revamp what “fashion blogger” means.

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Bloggers once threatened the status quo. Magazines were no longer the sole arbiter of taste; ordinary women (and men) could democratize the art of getting dressed and make fashion truly their own. Today, bloggers are the status quo. I’m disgusted by corporate shilling disguised as “gift guides”. By bloggers dressed in head to toe c/o. By the fact that the highest-profile bunch are still thin, white, and couture-clad, despite lip service to “diversity”. When did my beloved medium turn into this?

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It’s easy to be lazy. I know exactly the urbane, overbright tone to slip into when I need to seem relatable. I know a particularly well-foamed latte can net me a hundred hits. Sometimes it’s nicer to feel part of a community (no matter how grating I find that community) than sit alone in radio silence with my bloodstained nudes. But I started out in blogging as one of the capital-Q Weirdos. I intend to hold onto that mantle. No matter how twee I verge, I promise I’ll always be the blogger with the zillion hats and zombie makeup. I promise to always filter fashion blogging through the lens of being me, not the other way around.

Maybe I’m pretentious. In fact, I probably am. But at least I have something to say.

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his beardedness

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When Josh hasn’t trimmed in a while, as in these pictures, he tends more toward Chester A. Arthur than Simon Petrikov. Adorable nonetheless. The light on Saturday was criminally perfect, and he was wearing what he calls his “mad scientist vest”, so I couldn’t resist making him pose for me.

Also – how perfect would we be as Captain Hook and Tinkerbell? That’s right up there with Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett in “cosplays we were born to do”.

Side note: is anyone else annoyed by the snark directed at bloggers’ significant others? “Oh, he helps his girlfriend with photos – must be so whipped.” First of all, I take my own damn photos. Second of all, so what if Josh assists? God forbid partners support each other’s artistic endeavors. Note that the people who say these things are almost always the type to cultivate their girlfriends’ interest in sports or video games. Girls doing guy stuff = empowered. Guys doing girl stuff = henpecked. Pardon my vomit.

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CHAAAAAARGE!

dressember quickies

Lest you forgot that I live in Ver-fucking-Mont, it’s been really cold. I’m writing this in bed swaddled in six blankets and a lover, and my feet still can’t get warm. The low tonight is 5, with wind chills of -4. So you’ll forgive my recent dearth of outfit pictures, I’m sure.

I am, however, still participating in Dressember and still fundraising for the International Union of Sex Workers. And I’ve been photographing my daily dresses, with plans for weekly round-ups (rounds-up?). Hoping to share actual outfit shoots as soon as I can. I could also post the million photos I’ve taken of my Christmas decorations, but I feel that sort of thing oversaturates the blogosphere. I really have no interest in matchy-matchy Pinterest culture, and as much as it seems ingrained in fashion blogging, I want to resist its pull for as long as I can.

Feeling like a living doll (with Twiggy eyes) on Tuesday…

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Forest nymph on Wednesday…

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Belatedly autumnal on Thursday…

 

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Librarian as fuck on Friday…

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& playing the ’40s hostess on Saturday.

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my kingdom deposed

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It’s been a while since I’ve gone straight-up kook. Winter, for me, is furs, pearls, and unironic femininity. It’s far more elegance than quirk, and I like it that way. To everything there is a season. But I’ve been reading a lot of Helga von Trollop lately, and her whimsy seeps in. I just had to return to the circus, if only for one day.

I see this character as a slightly daffy dame, preening and twirling while her Rome crumbles.

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Also, my Indiegogo page for the International Union of Sex Workers is officially live! I’ll be including the link in every post from now until the end of the year, so you might as well donate sooner rather than later. 😉

 

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dressember, skye’s way

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I wear dresses 364 days of the day, so of course I’m wearing pants on the first day of a month dedicated to dresses. I’m nothing if not an obnoxious contrarienne.

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Seriously, though – today is the first day of Dressember, wherein participants wear dresses for a month to raise money for the International Justice Mission. A few of my blogger friends are really committed to this, and that’s great! I even did it myself last year. But this year I will be abstaining, and here’s why.

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The International Justice Mission stands against “the commercial sexual exploitation of children, forced labor slavery, illegal detention, police brutality, and illegal land seizure”.  I have nothing but respect for these goals, and police brutality is especially topical. If you consider donating to IJM, however, you should know that their anti-trafficking efforts often leave consensual sex workers caught in the crossfire. I do not doubt their good intentions, but they come from a perspective that sees sex work very differently than I do and too often conceptualizes all sex workers as victims.

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I do not begrudge anyone’s participation in Dressember. No charity is perfect, and everyone weighs their values differently. If ending trafficking, in the aggregate, is of higher priority to you than the protection of sex workers, that is okay. We all triage our activism. From my perspective, however, it’s not worth it.

That’s why this year I will be collecting funds for the International Union of Sex Workers. I’ll have a gofundme page up within a few days; please consider donating. No matter your moral position on sex work, I think we can all agree that the women and men engaged in it deserve their agency respected and equal protection under the law.

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If you wish to donate to Dressember, please direct your funds to my fellow blogger Kristina’s campaign. I plan to do so myself as well. I do believe that the IJM, on the whole, does important work. But it’s vital that we balance it out with attention to the populations they neglect.

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