plaid, petticoat, & an assault on the eyeballs

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I wore this outfit antiquing on Sunday, and the little old ladies were swooning. “Is that a petticoat? I haven’t seen one of those in years!” I like being their blast from a past they thought was dead and buried. I like the feeling of keeping something once-precious alive.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d rather be stuck in history than progressing for progress’s sake. I’d rather be rooted than erratic. I’d rather respect the past than barge blindly into the future.

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And during said day of antiquing, I found two of the shiniest treasures ever.

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The first was a 1950s wedding set. Dress, crown, train, purse, garter. In perfect condition, barely yellowed. For TWENTY DOLLARS. “When’s your wedding?” the shopkeeper asked in response to my hyperventilation. “Eventually,” I told her. The dress doesn’t even fit me, and I don’t want to get married in white anyway. But twenty dollars is a pittance for such a slice of history.

The second was an authentic Victorian embroidered coat. Also in perfect (well, almost perfect) condition. For…

TWELVE DOLLARS.

It’s black and ankle-length and fits like it was made for me. I am not sure I will ever wear it, because of course I would fall in the mud two steps out of the house if I ever tried. But it is the oldest thing I own, and I can practically feel the ghosts waking up.

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red polka dots & orange stripes

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I love, love, love square-dancing dresses. I’m not sure exactly how this particular style came to be called so, but I love the immediate association with soft twangs and towering hair. Frills and poufs forever, especially on the first day of spring.

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A very eager girl approached me as I was shooting and asked to help. She didn’t seem likely to steal my camera, so I handed it over and she took the above shot. Pretty nice! Strangers’ reactions to my photo shoots have always been positive. I hear horror stories about deliberate sabotage and snickering behind backs, but that’s never been the case for me. Lots of staring, sure. But I’m kind of asking for that.

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polka dots, purple, & pattern-clashing

clashIclashVII’m a creative nihilist. I capture light and pin words to paper because doing so satisfies some atavistic itch, not because I’ve convinced myself it means anything. It’s strange, watching friends and classmates hunt for meaning in my work. My writing process is a “what if?” exercise writ large. It’s pure exploration. The curtains aren’t blue because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed; they’re blue because I appreciate beauty, and who doesn’t like a nice cobalt in the kitchen?

clashIVI don’t think every work needs a deeper purpose. I think beauty is enough. I’m the sort of person who forgives plot holes for a lovely enough turn of phrase. And twisty turny sock-you-in-the-gut stories are the loveliest to me. Give me stumbling dream sequences and nonlinear plots and shambling, experimental prose. Give me an eldritch abomination in ink and paper.

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Give me inverted mythologies and the fabric of our world rent casually twain, for funsies. If all this is my oyster, I want every last slurp. Does eating oysters need meaning? Do you write theses on the significance of each sea-soaked pearl?

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No. You do it because you can.

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gingham, spring fluorescence, & freshly dyed hair

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From the delightful chancre on the backside of public discourse that is get-off-my-internets dot net:

“[T]he thing that drives me consistently crazy about [the bloggers we criticize] is that they think because we’re nasty or explicit that they can write us off as haters. Gurl this ain’t Vindication of the Rights of Women, we’re not going to be careful and eloquent. It’s a goddamn internet forum about dull as shit bloggers and none of us have the time or inclination to triple-check our phrasing. You can decide if GOMI’s a negative place or not but what do you expect, polite suggestions for improvement?

…yes, as a matter of fact. I do.

Your nastiness doesn’t make your statement wrong (actually a common fallacy!), but it makes it hella likely that I won’t want to stick around long enough to fully understand it. You cannot bombard someone with harassment and then sneer at them because they decided it wasn’t worth their time to stick around and find the gem in the pile of shit.

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GOMI users are big on personal responsibility – at least, for anyone who isn’t them. When called out for body snarking/name calling/needless speculation about bloggers’ private lives, the defense is invariably “well, she shouldn’t have posted that picture if she couldn’t handle being called ugly.” Which is a pretty impressive goalpost shift. Of course we know you have the RIGHT to say awful things. The point is that perhaps you shouldn’t. If you want to be vicious, then own it. But don’t act as though it’s the natural course of things and you ~just couldn’t help yourself~.

And if your party line is “once you put it out there, you deserve any response you get”, you really don’t get to complain that someone was too put off by your meanness to continue engaging with you. You put the malice out there. You got what was coming to you.

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I am afraid every day that I do not have the stones to be a storyteller. I want to change the world, but I want to do it gently. I’m so out of touch with the shouty self-righteous discourse that seems en vogue these days, and I have no desire to get in deeper touch. I’m not aggressive, I’m not militant, I’m not a radical of any kind, and I fundamentally disbelieve that any cause, any message, is worth abandoning kindness and empathy for.

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Writing is all I’ve ever really wanted to do. But I am deeply, truly afraid of becoming the next Laci Green, Justine Sacco, Matt Taylor, Dan Savage, or Iggy Azalea. Yes, I know I’ll get a dozen messages explaining why the aforementioned public figures are problematic, and no, that’s not the goddamn point. Of course I don’t endorse everything they do or say. But here’s the thing: driving them underground won’t change a thing. Flawed ideas and flawed people won’t go away because you shouted them down. Belittle a person, and they’ll come back in force. Present a reasoned critique, and you just might change a few minds.

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black polka dots, yellow florals, & way too much green

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You know that one Seinfeld episode where Elaine is thrilled to be called “breathtaking” by a potential suitor, only to discover that he applies that word to literally everything? No one wants to be categorized with scrambled eggs and an ugly baby, but saying so makes you the asshole. You’ve seen that one episode, right?

That’s how I feel about my writing class.

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It’s not that I think I’m the hottest shit around. But it’s hard to trust any critique when every. single. story is brilliant and amazing and a paragon of its genre. It’s hard to trust the eye of someone who has not proven any discernment whatsoever. I mean, I get it. We’re all terrified to be the class asshole. Better to keep criticisms light and praise flowing, lest your victims return the favor when it’s your turn. But there has got to be a middle ground between “this is perfect and you are a god” and “who told you you could write?”

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And even if the story is brilliant – what makes it so? What does it stir? Where does the passion hit you? It’s the same failure mode as “everyone is beautiful” rhetoric: when everyone is beautiful, then by god no one is.

I’m leading the charge toward more exacting adjectives. Tell me my work is transcendent and chilling and it hits you somewhere so painfully atavistic you need to lie down for a while. Or tell me it’s maudlin and derivative and you need to go lie down for a different reason. Either way. Your perspective is valid. Articulate it.

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houndstooth swing coat & muted vintage florals

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Cosplaying Madeleine today, though I’m not sure I’d enjoy having twelve of me. I’ve read too much Calvin & Hobbes not to understand the dangers of duplication.

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For the past three weeks, my views have tanked. TANKED. I’m talking, like, ~20 per day. Sometimes up to 70 if I’m lucky.  My stats have climbed steadily upward for the past year, but I think I might – perish the thought – have peaked. January clocked in at 4,095 views. February sank to 2,419. March is young yet, but I’ve had only 254 views, which averages out to ~40 per day. I don’t know what’s happening, and I’m kinda freaked out.

My content hasn’t changed. I mean, it’s evolved over the past almost-three years I’ve blogged here, but there’s been no jumping of the shark. Nothing so radical as to shrink my hits counter by a good third. It’s gotten better, I think. I get better at photography with every shoot. I refine my knowledge of vintage every time I get dressed.

Maybe this kind of thing isn’t up to me. Maybe the internet tells you when your expiration date has arrived, and you roll with the masses or risk total irrelevance.

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I’m not grubbing for views, I swear. I’d sooner gag on a spoon than be so publicly maudlin. But I would like to know if I’m alone in this. Has anyone else ever experienced this kind of drop-off, precipitated by basically nothing? Talk to me. Others’ stories just might alleviate my finger-chewing neuroses.

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magical girl: polka dots, bloody shoes, and a halloween sweater in march

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I’m not even an anime chick, but I totally felt the quirky!magical!girl! thing in this outfit. Which I liked so much I ended up wearing three days last week. Maybe my #magicalpower is perpetually fresh armpits. Either way, I will always love appliqued novelty sweaters. I want one for every holiday, and that includes the summer ones.

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Assorted updates:

  • I’m living for the song “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. I usually do my best not to link videos everyone has seen ad nauseam already, but this one is worth abandoning my principles for.
  • I’ve also been listening to Gaelic Storm’s Chicken Boxer album on consistent repeat for the past eight days.
  • I submitted to two literary contests today. One short story and one poem. This is my dream, the teleology of my entire life, and I don’t want to defer it any longer.
  • I updated my ModelMayhem account. Someone on tumblr made a terrible joke about a girl named Gloria with a cool car (“sick transit, Gloria Mundi”), and now I want to do an old-fashioned rockabilly hot rod shoot just to invoke it.
  • I tried horchata this weekend and now I never want to drink anything else ever again.
  • I made a really bitchin’ fondue.
  • Every time I make one of these lists, a disproportionate number of bullets end up being about food.

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teal polka dots, black button hat, & pink everything else

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I am so very fond of finding the kind of dresses that ModLoaf marks up for dozens of dollars at thrift stores for cheap. (And in better, sturdier fabrics, I might add.) This dress, plucked from the Classy Closet for $14, is almost a parody of the ModCloth aesthetic.

Sometimes it seems like ModCloth and co. are caricaturing the “retro” look. Actual vintage dresses, to that crowd, might not be recognizable as vintage, because they don’t hit all the tropes in one. Most dresses do not have polka dots and Peter Pan collars and froofy skirts (though how wonderful it would be if they did!).

And then I find dresses like this and go “I guess the stereotype had to come from somewhere.”

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anachronism

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This past November, we had one 67-degree day. One beautiful, damnable, climate-change-can’t-be-all-bad 67-degree day. I took these pictures and saved them for the next time I would crave the sun on my tattoos. A day like today, almost 3/4 through what I think we can all agree is the worst month of the year.

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gray chevron dress, red coat, & a short story

The story I’m currently working on.

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She knew the pace of these streets. The bread truck at nine, the garbage at nine-oh-six, the hospital shuttle at quarter after. Ruth could set her watch by each morning’s cadence. If she wasn’t out the door in time to cross the garbage truck down at Seventh and Peck, a scathing Look awaited her. Any later than that and Ruth was looking at a write-up. Maybe a pay dock to keep her in her place. Never mind that she had thirty years on the manager.

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She wasn’t prepared the morning the hospital shuttle came too late. Her daily grooves were carved too deep; her vision was tunneled. She was still mid-crosswalk when the driver’s foot screeched, his mouth shrieked, and Ruth went still, struck dumb by the impending splat.

Suddenly her fleshy knees met concrete. There were hands on her shoulders, inarticulate soothing in her ear. The shuttle had careened to the side. Its driver was practically hopping: “oh Jesus, oh Christ, fuck, that was way too close –”

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“She’ll be fine,” said the woman who had saved Ruth’s life. “It’s okay, you’re already late. I’ll get her on her way.”

The shuttle lumbered away, and Ruth’s savior helped her to her feet.

“Thank you,” Ruth said when she could speak. “You saved my life. I don’t even know what happened there – deer in the headlights, I guess.”

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“No problem. You weren’t supposed to die today.”

“No, but really –” Ruth felt herself welling up; goodwill and menopause could do that to a person. “You came out of nowhere, just for me. It’s like you’re my angel.”

The second woman’s eyes gleamed and her mouth twitched upward. “Yes,” she said. “I am.”

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