writer in wred


One aspect of blogging I really struggle with is the urge to turn everything into a performance. I don’t want to calibrate everything I do and wear and eat for optimal clicks. I don’t want to take so many pictures of my food that I forget to eat it, and I refuse to turn Josh into an Instagram Husband.  I want my blog and my photos to serve my life, not the other way around. So a holiday break was just what the doctor ordered. I had a lovely Christmas in the woods with my family, and I didn’t take any pictures. Every artist should remember the difference between spectators and friends.

That said, I’ll be doing lots of posing and preening in the dresses I got for Christmas. Especially this vintage one from my mom. Would you believe I didn’t own a plain red dress before now? I’ve been such a loud dresser for so long that I’ve sorely neglected basics.


Dress: vintage, via The Art of Vintage Dressing

Cape: from a friend

Everything else: thrifted


In other news, as of a few days ago, I am officially three stories away from finishing the short-story collection I’ve been working on for…ever? (Probably.) It’s tentatively titled Watchers, it’s sort of New Weird/Flannery-O’Connor-meets-Toni-Morrison, and I am very proud of everything in it. The lineup:

  • The Undertaker’s Parasite (finished, my favorite story I’ve ever written)
  • He Called Himself Messiah (finished)
  • Regicide (finished but could use editing)
  • How to Leave a Cult (finished, previously published in an online magazine)
  • Orexia (unfinished)
  • Lolita the Second (finished)
  • Isolde (unfinished)
  • The Housewife’s Helpmeet (finished, a companion piece to The Undertaker’s Parasite)

Plus an untitled New England gothic project that’s rattling around in my head but that I haven’t actually started writing yet. It might go in this collection; it might not. But I’d like it to, because 9 is a better number than 8.

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Hoping against hope that I’ll have a book under my belt by this time next year!

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(The “no trespassing” sign refers to everything beyond the point of the brick wall, in case you’re a stickler for that sort of thing.)

dime-store sailor


You know the fruitless, frustrated rage you get when you see an adorable dress on ModCloth or Hell Bunny or one of its cheap Chinese sisters, and you are so tempted to add it to your cart but you know in your heart of hearts it just wouldn’t be worth the price? Well, I do. I will always prefer true vintage, but there are some hella cute “retro” dresses out there. It just chafes my Yankee sensibilities to pay over $60 for what is essentially fast fashion.

It’s for these reasons that ModCloth Buy/Sell/Trade is essentially the best thing in the entire world.

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It’s a Facebook group for…well, exactly what it says on the tin. Buying, selling, and swapping ModCloth (and similar) dresses. Which is how I ended up obtaining this sailor dress for $30, less than half of what it would run me directly from the source. Plus recycling, so yay!

I maaaaay or may not have two more dresses on their way. -.-


Dress: ModCloth, via swap group

Coat: boyfriend’s

Hat: old & beloved

Everything else: thrifted

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As of last week, I’m living every vintage lady’s dream: I officially own a piece of deadstock. Deadstock, or “new old stock” to the less morbid, is vintage that never sold. This particular dress still had its original Korell tags and $7.00 price tag, marked down from $11.95. It arrived in perfect condition from Daisy and Stella Vintage, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I’d wanted a piece of deadstock since I started collecting vintage, and now there’s one hanging in my closet. I know I already have a painfully similar dress, but this one is cotton to the other’s unforgiving rayon. It’s actually wearable for day, and boy oh boy do I plan on wearing it. Since it’s never been worn, it might – perish the thought – actually be sturdy. Merry Chrimbus to me!


My style is simpler lately, I think. More elegant. I don’t feel quite as comfortable in twee-ness as I once did. I would rather be a vintage lady than a modcloth darling. Given that I’m already routinely mistaken for younger – I have a young face and a high voice, and bartenders always look suspiciously at my ID – I should probably work on aging myself up a bit.

It’s not just fashion. I feel older lately in a lot of ways. I’m not as into the college house-party scene as I used to be. I don’t like staying up ’til 3 in the morning. French fries don’t agree with my stomach anymore. I sometimes wonder whether youth culture sort of…I want to say romanticizes not having your shit together. I mean, I get it – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll! Being a vagabond is sexy. But I’d prefer to leave that to fiction. I want to be in charge of my life, and I no longer have room for waking up on strangers’ couches. I don’t want to leave a beautiful corpse. I have bigger plans than that.


Dress: vintage, via Daisy and Stella

Coat: vintage, from Danica

Fascinator: from Kristina

Everything else: thrifted

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toni todd returns


I spent way more time coming up with “Toni Todd” puns than I did editing these photos. Not even gonna lie.


Dress: vintage, via theater sale

Hat: vintage, thrifted

Coat: hand-me-down

Everything else: thrifted


I don’t have a lot to say today, other than that I’ve been doing a lot of good writing over at my words blog, which you can check out here. I’m also working on my second article for Bustle, plus a short story. Here’s a bit of it:

Aurora took a long bath every night. Ostensibly to soothe her widening hips, but, really, to enjoy her phantom’s mien: the steam laced with motherlove; the fractions of face in silvery bubbles, spilling brilliance on every permeable surface. The bathroom was pink with mirth.


The phantom slid under Aurora’s breastbone, working the puckered scar from the inside. Its owner slid deeper into the bubbles, moaning. “You are magic itself,” she said, and she could swear the phantom blushed.


“I’m just doing my job.”


Soon Aurora was dozing. Her doze sank into a heavy snore, and the water grew tepid around her. Dr. Crowley stood above, unsmiling, too full of exactitude to be kind. Sweetness was wasted on the dying. His scalpels were ready, his gloves were snapped to tightness, and Aurora was timid again, callow with pubescence that might never come, sallow under blue light and surgical steel. Her body was bare; her body barely was.


Another rending, another cut-and-paste, stealing her future to forge a meager present.


She began to thrash, tipping water over ceramic lips.


She woke hard, all at once, and felt the damp salt on her cheekbones, in the corners of her dry, dry mouth. The door was rattling.

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Oh, and I’m having a Saturnalia party this weekend. Because that’s what you do when you’re a Latin major.

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ghost of christmas present & dressember thoughts


I thrifted this dress last March and promptly forgot I had it. I dug it out yesterday, and I’m glad I did – it’s basically the perfect holiday dress. These photos looked great when I edited them on my laptop, but on the computer I’m posting from – my work one, sue me – they look strange and over-sharp. Ah well. If they look terrible for you, you know what to blame.

Dressember started a few days ago, and, as usual, I have mixed feelings about it. For those who don’t know, Dressember participants wear only dresses for 31 days to raise money for the International Justice Mission. I discussed on my writing blog why I will not be participating, and I’ll quote myself here:

IJM’s stated goals:

IJM works to combat violence including sex trafficking, forced labor slavery, illegal property grabbing, police abuse of power, child sexual assault, and citizenship rights abuse.

While combating illegal property seizure, police violence, and citizenship rights abuse is incredibly important, anti-trafficking organizations are notoriously terrible on all those fronts. Claiming, simultaneously, to be against trafficking and against police brutality and the overreach of the state into marginalized people’s lives is an oxymoron.


Dress: vintage, thrifted

Coat: Sammydress

Shoes: from Kristina

Everything else: thrifted


Before you rebut that trafficking isn’t the same as consensual sex work, I’d recommend taking a look at the links above. “Trafficking” is a nebulous term and an even more nebulous concept. Spokeswoman Niki Adams for the English Collective of Prostitutes points out that immigrant women involved in the sex trade are often considered trafficked by mere dint of their migrant status. She writes:

Trafficking is used as an excuse and a justification for raids on premises and arrests of immigrant sex workers which are ultimately and actually just immigration raids. It’s a way of enforcing immigration controls in a very repressive and heavy-handed way, but with the veneer of an anti-trafficking initiative and the idea that you’re saving victims.

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I’m not shaming those who participate in Dressember. It’s better to donate to a flawed charity than not to donate at all. Lots of people I respect are participating in Dressember, and I know they’re doing so out of a desire to better the world. Vetting everything you support financially can be exhausting. Our money will always go, in part, to things we don’t support. That’s part of living in this world; far be it from me to demand purity of anyone.


That said, I would encourage anyone participating in Dressember, or donating to a friend who is, to donate an equivalent amount to a sex workers’ rights organization. SWAAY offers a great list of such organizations here. If you can’t afford more than one donation, I would recommend donating to a sex worker org instead. Dressember has enough participants that you probably won’t be missed; sex work orgs, by contrast, are often drastically underserved.


Read the whole post here.