let down your hair (vintage florals & competing shades)

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Let down your hair to me,

I asked,

and watched the sly uncurling.

Silk-bound secrets shook their shackles

and I learned what morning meant.

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Let down your hair,

I asked, a tease –

golden secrets winking back.

I climbed her form and kissed her face.

I paused and watched

her bloom stretch on forever.

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Let down your hair

“I can’t tonight: the babe is wailing

something fierce, the floor’s unswept,

and don’t forget the winter’s on its way.”

Her face was drawn – not a challenge

but a law.

I shut my mouth and watched

the morning turn to noon.

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Let down your hair – “it’s too late for that now,

don’t you see these wrinkles,

these sags,

this much-too-softness,

these hollows where once I was firm.

Don’t you know evening

when it strokes your ragged face?”

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Let down your hair,

I whispered,

as though she could hear,

as though her hollows and softness and sags

hadn’t deafened her lovely ears.

As though midnight weren’t on our trail.

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My darling, my darling, let down your hair

That I might climb that (silver) stair.

 

philosophy (is the talk on a cereal box)

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I have been thinking a lot about rationality and utilitarianism, as well as where I, as someone who craves beauty, fit into those intellectual sectors. Let me tell you a secret: I used to be deeply ascetic. When I was 14 and fancied myself the World’s Youngest Buddhist, I wore giveaway t-shirts and practical shoes and tried to see how long I could go without eating. Finding the proportions of starvation vs. pure fuel was my utilitarian fetish drawn to its (possibly il)logical conclusion. Because I was 14 and therefore Practically an Adult, I decided sensory pursuits were best left to the plebes.

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Now I’m actually an adult, and I’ve grown into an unapologetic hedonist. I am polyamorous. I never turn down a cocktail. I love a pretty dress, a thick burger, and a lushly textured painting. I am also a rationalist whose love of logic borders fetishistic at times. I read Less Wrong and Slate Star Codex. And I still sometimes find myself informed by guilt: perhaps my love of frippery is, ultimately, jamming the metaphorical cogs. Perhaps it makes me less rational than I could be.

I’ve written before on the misogyny in deeming only feminine-coded things frivolous or demeaning, and I still believe that. To claim minimalism or utilitarianism to justify such a bias – well, let’s call a bigoted spade a spade. But I’m not talking about specifically feminine things here. I’m talking food and sex and art and heady, hoppy booze: things experienced mostly, or entirely, in the realm of subjectivity. I’m talking about what it means to be human with your whole body, not just your brain.

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It used to bother me constantly, simmering beneath any pleasure I mustered: how can I justify giving in to arbitrary chemical cravings? How can I, for instance, spend money on a bombshell dress when Walmart sweatpants accomplish the same objective (covering my ass) for less fiscal cost? Why should I cook an elaborate meal when bread and water will do? I ruminate this way much less than I used to, but I’ve always felt guilty indulging in silly pleasures while attempting to maximize rationality. I felt like the worst kind of hypocrite, and I’m not even Catholic. I felt powerless ceding even one mote of logic to something that made me happy: if I’m so irrational on the surface, imagine all the subconscious biases I can’t control for!

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There it is, though. I’ve grown up and learned to placate my neuroses, and I no longer wish to deny the necessity of happiness in the rationality movement. The urgent need to balance nonsensical joys with more balance pursuits. We forget – or at least I did – that even the most refined logic doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Refusing to balance human needs and desires with colder pursuits isn’t only lacking empathy – it’s also, dare I say, illogical. How can any version of utilitarianism possibly flourish when we ignore the elements, psychological or not, that help us reach full utility?

 

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Wearing pretty dresses and having lots of partners doesn’t further my pursuit of reason. But it furthers me. It puts some beauty on my back and some fire in my belly, without which I could not hope to pursue, well, anything.

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This is the kind of stuff I want to be writing about. These are the implications of fashion that I wish to explore. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s easy to fall into the groove of what gets you hits. But I’ve never been drawn to body-image affirmations and shallow, platitudinal feminism. Other women can do it justice, I’m sure. But in me it feels hollow. I’m a devil’s advocate in a pinup’s body, and I think I’ve always known that.

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the other holy grail

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Sometimes you’re killing time at Old Gold before work and you decide, because you’re an incorrigible masochist, that trying on the fit-and-flare with the Peter Pan collar might be a good idea. It’s just for fun, you keep lecturing yourself, knowing full well that the purse strings are already loosening.

And then you pay up front and walk out wearing the dress, because sometimes good vintage is a matter of imprinting, really. Would you abandon a duckling that decided to make you its mama?

This dress is my Christmas present to myself. (If you follow my Facebook, you’ll notice that I also received a 40-legged stuffed caterpillar as long as I am tall and that it is the light of my life. I am a simple creature, driven by good vintage and weird garish novelties.)

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my tacky manifesto

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I love ugly appliqued sweaters and other such monstrosities usually found on six- or sixty-year-olds, nothing in between. I love garish prints and clashing accessories. I love head-to-toe matching, I love it when my hair and my lipstick almost go together, and I love wearing ten shades of the same color. I love looking simultaneously like an eccentric matron and her prissy kindergarten granddaughter, and I especially love the private knowledge of my tattoos and slutty underwear beneath the Peter Pan collars. The assumption of reticence and sexual repression dogs twee femmes wherever we go, but I can hoot and holler with the best of ’em.

I love red lipstick and Disney villain eyebrows with every. single. outfit.

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I love bright tights that make my thick legs thicker and shoes that broaden my broad feet. Where others see lumps and stumpiness, I see bursts of triumphant color. I love bombshell vintage kitted out with gaudy Halloween-store jewelry. I love ratty flats peeking from under my petticoats, and I love it when they don’t even pretend to match. I am learning to love that I am more cute than sexy, that my round face is cheerful and droll. That my hair makes it only rounder, that my church-lady hats do not tamp it down. I love never having enough church-lady hats.

I am everything I am not supposed to be. I am Fashion’s worst and loudest nightmare, because I refuse to flatter my body at the expense of my soul.

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steam for a day

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Despite having always claimed not to like puns, I have a mother and a partner who both spout them ad nauseam, and I fear they’ve rubbed off irrevocably. So that’s how I’m ending up with titles like “steam for a day”. BLAME THEM.

On that note, my partner Josh has always been what we in the industry fondly dub “balls-deep in steampunk”. Seriously, it’s to the point where he’ll arrive at a party in his top hat and goggles and be told “dude, you were supposed to wear a costume.” It’s for that reason that I’m often a little skittish about wearing steampunk, despite its fanciful trappings. I’m not sure whether it’s our six-year age difference or just my own neuroses, but I have this hang-up about being seen as his sidekick or protégée. I’m nobody’s puppet. But that’s a pathetic reason to avoid something. It’s still being guided by others’ opinions, just in an inverse way.

I actually felt way more comfortable in this style than I thought I would. Steampunk is just so damn brown. I like color, color, and more eye-searing color. But I kind of love this rendition. I mean, I’m wearing a fit-and-flare dress with a petticoat, plus an enormous hat. Tell me again why I didn’t get into this sooner?

Outfit partially inspired by Abney Park’s “Throw Them Overboard“. At last month’s cabaret, one of the dancers performed a number to it, featuring a stuffed octopus glued to her ass. Because of course.

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jackie woah

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So as of June first, I’ve been living in the most rockabilly house ever. Some Stuff Happened and Josh and I had to get the %*^& out of our apartment on three days’ notice. Fortunately, we were able to find a summer sublet in this Levittown-esque house while we look for a new place of our own.

This house – which we call Pretty House, as opposed to  the old Shitty House – happens to be filled with a bunch of my college friends. I’m living in party central once again – which makes me hella nervous, given that this is a very nice neighborhood filled with Real People. Our next-door neighbor is a freaking surgeon. This house is far too good for a gaggle of 20somethings. Here’s hoping my attempts at housewifery will class up the joint.

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I miss weirdness. It’s been too damn hot to go all out with anything. In the fifteen minutes I spent on these photos, I was sweating so hard that beads of hair dye began rolling down my neck. I think I can be forgiven for preferring lighter, more whimsical shoots to anything complicated or heavy. But this blog can’t go without the eccentric for long. Provided the weather cooperates, I’m planning a few surreal pagan-tastic shoots over the next few weeks. Creepy dolls all around – and maybe Baroness Samedi will make another appearance.

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in sheep’s clothing

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My friend Danica is seven inches shorter than I am, probably thirty pounds lighter, but she could take me down any day of the week. She is a tiny spitfire (and by that I mean she literally spits fire) in heels and pearls. We both revel in such contrasts. As I shot these photos of her, we talked about claiming feminine semiotics for our own ends: using lipstick, heels, and the art of the tease to broadcast power. Why leave them to those who’d oppress us?

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Brilliant brains in sizzling bodies. If you try to tell me one negates the other, I have nothing to say to you. (Save for my zillion screeds on the topic. But y’know.)

In other news, I really enjoyed being behind the camera for once! Danica makes a gorgeous model; I promised to take all photos of her for the rest of eternity. “Be careful what you wish for,” she said.

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hollaback

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First of all, my HAIR, you guys! My garish, overprocessed, completely me hair! My mom and I got ours professionally done for Mother’s Day. If I didn’t look 100% like a j-pop star before, I sure as hell do now – even though I do not know a single j-pop song and my musical taste runs more in this direction. And, my god, do little girls love me. At least three of them grin and point on my typical daily walk. I’m even cooler than Elsa.

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Now that I’ve gotten my cuteness out of the way, though, I’m about to get ranty on you. I took these photos yesterday on my front porch in the span of eight minutes. In that time, I fell prey to three honkings and two shouted remarks. You could make the case that the honks weren’t directed at me, that they were a mere exhortation of another driver or a signal to a cat in the road. But when you’ve spent twenty years existing while female, you kind of know. You know when it’s an accident and when it’s flirting and when it’s domination. I’d like to hope that it’s just misguided flirtation. I sympathize enough with the socially awkward to understand such things. But it’s not flirting when you pull up beside me on the sidewalk to scream in my face. And I wish I could call five times in eight minutes an exaggeration or an exception. Spoiler: it isn’t.

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I refuse to accept that a barrage of objectification must come standard with being female and feminine. This is what objectification really is. It’s not about sexualization. It’s not about consenting to perform in media that some find degrading. At its core, it’s about refusal to acknowledge humanity. You can absolutely model nude and do porn and perform burlesque in settings that affirm your humanity. But there’s no way that screaming at a pretty girl out your car window affirms anyone’s dignity. I’m left startled and shaken, and you’re left looking like Captain Asshole.

By all means appreciate me. Mentally undress me to your heart’s content. But the minute you decide that your desires are more important than my personal boundaries, you are no longer worth my time.

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Yell back. Flip them off. Don’t shut up. And, by god, don’t let it change who you are. I’ve known women to mute their personal styles for fear of the constant unwanted attention. I’ve seen people become paranoid, afraid to engage with any stranger at all. I refuse to do that. I will dress colorfully and I will be a sunny person who gives the benefit of the doubt, because that is who I am. Douchebags don’t change that. If I let them, they win.

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Still not asking for it.

coulrophobes’ worst nightmare

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Clockwork children never sleep. We can afford patience, though: fear has no expiration date. Changing seasons bring us from the woodwork, from the corners, from all the places you forgot to check.

Think spring can’t spook you?

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Think again.

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Packed away again. Wait ’til next the winds change.

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decadent decades

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Josh and I turned ourselves up to 11 for Green Mountain Cabaret’s ’50s-themed show last Saturday. I did my usual pinup thing. Nothing too new to see here, except this godforsaken dress I picked up at Junktiques for EIGHT DOLLARS. One would assume Hell Bunny or ModCloth. Nope, just my neighborhood junk shop. God I love Junktiques. Its owner also operates a pay-what-you-can cafeteria called Psychedelicatessen, which I suspect is secretly some kind of speakeasy-cum-opium-den. I really enjoy Burlington.

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Josh, little shit that he is, insisted that “the century was never specified!” We ended up as “1950s meets 1850s”. I love these shots of us – not least because we both really, truly look like ourselves. The versions that live in our heads and occasionally get realized in the real world. Possibly my favorite thing about Josh is his understanding of that head-Skye. He knows who I want to be, and every day he helps me be her.

I’ll take the opportunity to mention that yesterday was our first anniversary, which makes today our year-and-a-day. Today is far worthier of celebration, fae that we are.

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All photos by Zinfandel Photography, official photographer for Green Mountain Cabaret.

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