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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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paraCon!!!11!1!!1!

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So this weekend Holly and I attended Ghostacular: Paranormal Convention. The event specified “costumes encouraged” – not that we need explicit encouragement to wear costumes. Not that we actually called these outfits “costumes”, either – they’re more or less our typical weekend ensembles.

ParaCon was fun. I bought some cute pumpkin soaps. Sometimes it scares me to be in the presence of so many people who all believe the same thing, though. I attended three talks at the con, and while they were all interesting, only one bothered to address the skeptical side of things. Regardless of my love for the supernatural, I am, at heart, a skeptic. I don’t think paranormal experiences exist outside of one’s brain. That doesn’t mean they aren’t valid experiences – romantic love is just chemicals, after all, and look how much of our society is devoted to its pursuit.

Maybe I wasn’t the demographic ParaCon was courting. I don’t want to impose my preferences on a group I don’t necessarily consider myself part of. But it does unnerve me on a visceral level to see people accept anything without questioning it.

All that said, though, I do love suspending my disbelief, and I do love soaking up lore. The con certainly wasn’t short on that. Methinks I need another Queen City Ghostwalk one of these nights.

Photos of me taken by Holly. Photos of Holly taken by me.

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My new soaps!

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honk the herald moose did sing

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What else would you expect from me, really?

My parents’ house is full of Greek pastries and wine. I’ve had the Celtic Woman Christmas album on obnoxious loop for the past several days. Tonight I’m going to church with my mother, which I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. I try to maintain a certain religiosity about the holidays, even though I don’t follow any particular denomination. The men are less enthused. They can stay home and compete for my honor over a game of Jeopardy!.

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My inner crackhead society dame emerges today. That’s the style I keep coming back to. It permeates most everything I wear and design. Queered elegance.

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I find myself becoming more and more religious. I’m increasingly able to feel comfortable in any service, regardless of whether the specific dogma appeals to me. Because it’s not about rules. It’s not about voting Republican and holding onto your virginity. It’s the search for transcendence, which can come in any damn form you choose to find it.

I’ve been reading Pastrix, by Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Weber. I want to marry this woman – and guess what, I can, because her church, House for All Sinners and Saints, not only performs queer marriages, it welcomes drag queens and refers to the pagan Goddess as “God’s aunt”. Her message is clear: you can choose to find God (or his aunt) just as you are, without conforming to any ideals. Because his acceptance is that radical. Because you can truly find transcendence in anything.

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In more prosaic news, I really need a haircut.

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Dress: Savers Turban, Necklace, & Bracelet: Old Gold Belt: Downtown Threads Pin: Battery Street Jeans Tights & Shoes: Gifted Cat: Pixel

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Don’t worry. This is what our relationship is like.

the elf in the self

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I went to Sunday Mass this morning. I wore my Buddhist prayer beads, because I’m syncretic that way. This evening, I holed up with curry and pagan friends for a Yule ritual. Bringing back the sun. I don’t know why I find such peace in religion, but if I did, Kate of Eat the Damn Cake would say it better than I could.

There’s this feeling I get, when I come out of services at the end of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. This sense of emerging from some other place, possibly underground, or underwater, but hidden, in any case, and darker and more secret. It’s so bright outside, and the world expands abruptly, and it’s filled with normal people who are just going about their day. But I have been in this secret other place, where the day was turned sacred and ancient rites were observed, and I am still vibrating where I’ve been rung and wrung out.

It’s not about God or anything. It’s about the act of setting things aside for recognition.

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There’s holiness in everything, even this monster of an ice storm that will probably strand us indoors (god forbid) tomorrow. Even the tackiness of my glorified elf costume.

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Coat: for sale hereDress: Tibetan craft fair Belt: Battery Street Jeans Tights, Hat, & Shoes: Gifted

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windy witch

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A storm was stirring around me as I took these photos. I decided to work with, not against, the wind. Being outside in gales and gusts always makes me feel even more a witch, like maybe my energy will turn indistinguishable from the maelstrom beyond. And maybe I’ll be really lucky and not get a house dropped on me. When the wind lifts my hair and hands, I like to pretend I’m summoning it myself.

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This outfit makes me feel like a vagabond. Like a delightful louche. Like a creaky soul who can’t wait to be old. Like the girl who sings along with her accordion on Church Street. Like someone with magic hidden in all her corners.

My kind of witchcraft is about communion. The alchemy of connection. Interaction with other people, with oneself, with philosophy, with the natural world. It’s the “je ne sais quoi” produced when beings collide. And that means it can be everywhere. I don’t need a church or a coven (as much as I love them). Just to listen. To find magic everywhere.

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Dress: The Classy Closet Coat: Handed down from Mom Vest & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat & Necklace: Old Gold Tights: Gifted

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baroness samedi’s in town

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Ever since I started reading Courtney Brooke‘s lightwitch, ideas for stark, spooky fall shoots have been rocketing around my sordid little brain. I finally got to act on one today.

These train tracks run directly behind Josh’s house. Armed with a bag of props we mined from Halloween stores on November first, I set up shop there and hammed for the camera until rain forced me inside.

This is my best attempt at an actual photo story. No words today. I’ll let these speak for themselves. I hope they have something worthwhile to say.

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the sacred in the profane

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Today my head is abuzz with religious symbols: I’m halfway through an essay on spirituality for the Prague Revue, and it’s got me thinking in loose, drunken hierophanies. There’s transcendence everywhere. More than that, there’s so much to say about it. Although my personal spiritual affiliations lean heavily pagan, I’ve always found a great deal of peace in religion in general. I am naturally drawn to houses of worship, and I’ll gladly sit through almost any service. The pursuit of transcendence and universal truth is a compelling one indeed. Though I didn’t go on to work in the field (let’s be real: who does?), I don’t regret a minute of my religious studies undergrad. It’s taught me to find symbols and sacredness everywhere. In the most mundane of acts. In something as aggressively modern and overtly narcissistic as taking selfies.

A few blocks from my apartment stands a lovely old church that I’ve been wanting to photograph for months. Today’s mindset, combined with four o’clock’s last blaze of light, made it the perfect place for today’s shoot.

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I felt vaguely blasphemous today, but that was the fun of this shoot. I was, after all, appropriating a holy site to produce my own graven images. Fashion photography is already considered one of the shallower crafts. But when it comes down to it, art is art, whether its medium is my body or the walls of the Vatican. Today’s shoot is the high and the low together. The sacred and the profane. The desperately superficial and the aggressively profound, united finally as just plain art.

I have the modern luxury of loving both fashion and religion. I can even frame my pursuit of beauty as glorification of the divine without getting burned at the stake. And if there’s anything in this world worth bowing down to, I think it’s creative force. I believe there’s room for every kind of art. For worship of everything that wants worshiping. Though it wasn’t this church’s stated aim, today I’m using it to aid my own supplication: to beauty, to art, to erudition, and to everything in between.

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Any art can be spiritual. Any act can be imbued with sacrality. This happens to be mine.

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Sweater, Skirt, & Belt: Replays Coat, Hat, & Tights: Old Gold Pearls: Battery Street Jeans Shoes: Savers

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