Band Camp

ikeaI’ve been caught up in life stuff. We all have it; I don’t have to explain, right? I’ve been figuring things out, getting things done, and Band Camp has been getting me through.

I actually have a friend who produces on Band Camp. She’s a great person, but her music is a bit bright and folksy for my taste. (Still, if bright and folksy is your thing, give it a listen!)

Me, I’ve always run towards metal and alternative, but lately I’m all about dark cabaret and dark ambient. If you’re not Evelyn Evelyn, Kim Boekbinder* Atrium Carceri, or Kammarheit, lately I’ve not much use for you.

I’m no expert in either genre, but dark cabaret cheers me up as much as anything can, and dark ambient is the bleak soundtrack to every soul-sucking thing I have to get done. Everything is more exciting with something like these in the background. And sometimes that’s what you get–a cool soundtrack to your boring, frustrating life.

Hope everyone’s life is going well. And if it’s not, I hope you at least have a good soundtrack to your troubles. Catch you soon.

*Kim Boekbinder came out of Vermillion Lies, which was more or less dark cabaret, but she’s more than that. As most of us are.

Bat and Butterfly: Keeping House with Non-Goths

I’ve been revamping our bathroom. It’s slow going because I’m fitting it around a bunch of other obligations, but it’s happening. Piece by piece, our bathroom plan is taking shape.

Mr. Robot is not goth. He loves and accepts me enough that if I really really needed to paint our walls black and perch gargoyles everywhere he would support me, but he wouldn’t really enjoy it. We compromise–some things are lighter than I’d like, some things are darker than he’d like, and on some things (taxidermy and fantasy/horror landscapes) we agree.

mysterious marshAs for the bathroom, we’ve agreed for ages that it looked boring and a bit shabby, and a few months ago I discovered that fantasy shower curtains exist and my plan began to take shape. I was tempted by the graveyard scenes and spooky woodland scenes, but that was too much for Robot and the kids, so we settled on a green “mysterious marsh.”

Putting that up inspired us to finally replace our faucet (very old and starting to fall apart) and finally buy a proper soap dispenser and a few other odds and ends. Mr. Robot and I usually agree when it comes to vintage looks, so I’m aiming for a cross between Plantation style (bright colors and dark accents) and “old farmhouse” style. Lucky for us, oiled bronze and antique touches seem popular right now so stuff we both liked was easy to find.

The next, and biggest, step was the painting. I finally found a Saturdafaucety to paint the walls “Simply Seafoam” green and one of these days I’ll get the doors painted “Churchill Hotel Vanilla.” We don’t have the time or money to replace the worn floor or ivory-and-blue countertop, so we picked the paint to work with those.

One of these days I’ll probably get a new light fixture and maybe some matching towel racks, and I already have a plan for decorating the walls. I want to put up some vintage black-and-white photos, with black frames and mattes to look like antique scrapbook pages. I was searching the internet for vintage photos to buy and then realized how silly it is to buy photos when I already have a bunch of antique photos of my actual ancestors I should use. I’m excited to get it done, but I won’t have time to start for at least a week. I’ll be sure to update with the final results.

The paint color changes with the light and my camera had a hard time deciding how to capture that shade. The bat was my touch–vynil sticker on the mirror–and the butterfly was Mr. Robot’s choice. I’m actually the one who bought it, years ago on a whim, and I didn’t know he even cared about it. As soon as the walls were dry, though, he was eager to get it back up where it’s always been. Now the butterfly and the bat are friends.

Darklings with Little Darklings

glamazon2My parents had strict standards for schoolwork, for church attendance, for what they considered good character, but they didn’t much care what their kids looked like. Their attitude was more or less “if you can get a good job looking like that, go ahead and look like that.” It’s worked pretty well for me and my siblings so far.

I raise my kids with much the same philosophy. I don’t care much for church attendance, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility and what I consider good character. As long as they meet those, I’m not too worried about what they look like or listen to or watch on TV.* My goal is to let my kids be themselves, but with enough drive and discipline to be the best versions of themselves.

halloween2016So far, my kids aren’t particularly goth. Sure, they’d look cute in all black, with stripy tights or little Wednesday Addams dresses, but they’re not into it. I guess as a parent I have every right to dress my kids in what I think is adorable–they have several friends whose mothers pick their outfits every day–but it goes against my principles. I impose a lot of things on my kids, but I draw the line at imposing a style on them. They know who I am and what I’m into, and once in a while our tastes agree, but they know they’re free to like what they like without judgment. Even if what they like is pastels and Taylor Swift.

That said, they do indulge mommy’s obsession with halloween fun. halloween2015

*They’re still pre-teens, so I do put some limits on this stuff, but I try to be as flexible as I reasonably can. 

Day 28: An Outfit I’m Ashamed Of?

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high school

I can’t think of one outfit I’m ashamed of or embarrassed by. I guess some people look back at old photos with a “what was I thinking?!!?!” attitude and some goth and alternative types are a bit embarrassed by their more “normal” pictures, but I don’t feel that way at all.

I, like most people, was really insecure about my looks when I was younger. I worried a lot that I wasn’t thin enough, not cool enough, didn’t fit in, didn’t stand out, whatever. I grew up before digital cameras so I don’t have a ton of pictures of those days, but when I look back now I wonder what I was so insecure about. I would still wear some of those outfits.

Since I don’t have any shame shots to post, I thought I’d show you

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college–I’m in the middle

what I looked like before I got so old and fat. Again, I came up before digital cameras, so these are pictures of actual photos I keep in a box in my basement. Apologies for the quality; these were the best I could do.

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I look like a hippie in this one. See my gothy looking friend? She’s all conservative and boring now. So sad.
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I kind of miss that jacket. And the hat. And my old Docs.

Plan Your Epitaph Day

headstone
publicdomainpictures.net

There are actually two international Plan Your Epitaph days, so if this one has caught you unprepared you’ll have another chance on November 2. It’s never too early to plan for your inevitable demise.

Goths have a reputation for being “obsessed with death” but in my experience we’re really not. It’s more that non-goths are so obsessed with avoiding death that they get weird the moment you bring it up. Even goths can be more interested in abstract death and dying than our own plans for the future, but it pays to be prepared.

If I didn’t believe that before, it became all too clear a few Aprils ago when a good friend died in surgery. She, like so many people, didn’t have much of a plan and would not have approved of all the decisions made in her name. Since then, every April my thoughts turn both to her and to my own future affairs.

To that end, Mr. Robot and I have bought life insurance and written wills. We’ve discussed organ donation (hell yes) and what point we want each other to stop live-saving measures. And we’ve made basic plans for our funerals and remains. I plan to be cremated and, if I die too long before Mr. Robot, to have my ashes put in a tasteful urn (red and black preferred) and prominently placed in the living room. Mr. Robot is hoping for a green burial–one where they plant a tree over your grave–and I’d like my ashes spread and buried with him. Our kids like the idea that we’d be “in the tree,” continuing the cycling and recycling of life.

This plan doesn’t really need an epitaph, but I wouldn’t mind a tasteful plaque near our tree. I’d quite like this quote from the Mahabharata:

What is the greatest wonder? Death strikes every day, yet we live as if we were immortal.

May you live long, die well, and leave timeless last words. In the meantime, perhaps these epitaphs will entertain and inspire you.

Day 19: All My Jewelry

 

I have a lot of jewelry. Buying jewelry is an affordable way to support local artisans and an indulgence for me. I also have trouble getting rid of things once I’ve grown attached, so once I have a piece I usually keep it forever. I feel like either a total packrat or a crass consumer showing y’all this, but if you can’t trust the internet to be kind and understanding, then who can you trust? 😉

Day 16: Someone Wearing Matching Clothes

This one was hard. All my friends and I are suburban housewives, and we pretty much dress like it. A couple have fantasy colors in their hair, and a couple wear the occasional stompy combat boot, but that’s about it.

Now I’m super sad because I just realized I’m by far the edgiest person in my circle of friends and I’m really not that edgy. For a long time I toned it way down to fit in and “be responsible,” but it just wasn’t me. Now that I’m ramping the black up to the level that makes me happy I stick out like a sore thumb (with black nailpolish on it). I don’t get shit from anyone, but no one’s jumping to dress like me either. Still, I’ve got something for you. I had to reach back a ways for these– they’re both about 4 years old–but they sort of fit the challenge.

The one on the left was my friend’s idea–the second lady from the left, with the necklace and the sunglasses on her head, wanted us all to wear “little black dresses” and come to her house for a party. It’s probably obvious, but I’m the one with the curly hair and the leopard print boobs.

The one on the right was my son’s idea. My kids are not goth in the slightest (I should write about that one of these days) but my boy is very into “scary” fantasy stuff like the Lord of the Rings. He decided that those were his “hobbit shorts” and insisted that I wear my “hobbit shorts” too so we could match. He looks like an adorable punk toddler here. I love it.

The Poe Toaster

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E. A. Poe, public domain via Wikipedia

Edgar Allan Poe is sort of the quintessential goth author. Not only did he write dark, romantic poetry and horror that holds up even today, but he also had a dark and tragic life and mysterious death. Talk about the whole gothic package.  Of course, some of his dark reputation is total slander, and some of his works have not worn well. (He may be the grandfather of sci fi, but his child has grown way beyond him.) But his writing style and his sheer inventiveness have left their mark not just on goths the world over, but on more general literary history as well.

I’ve read (more than) my fair share of Poe, but growing up it never occurred to me to carry him around for “goth points” or anything like that. I partly grew up about 20 minutes outside of Baltimore, a city so into Poe that we named our football team the Ravens. And dressed them in purple and black uniforms, because spooky. Where I grew up, it was weird if you didn’t read Poe for fun at least on Halloween.

Edgar Allan Poe isn’t really from Baltimore, but he died and was buried there so the city claims the hell out of him. He’s kind of got two headstones actually, both in the same churchyard. Poe’s grave was originally unmarked and not well tended, and eventually that sadness was kind of overcorrected–there’s a proper headstone at his grave and also a rather large monument stone at the corner of the churchyard.

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Poe Toaster, from Life Magazine. I think. 

The corner memorial was partly paid for by schoolchildren collecting pennies, and people still throw pennies in memory. But the more famous tradition is the Poe Toaster, who used to visit the grave on Poe’s birthday every year, toasting him with cognac and leaving three roses and the cognac’s remains in salute to the author. The original Toaster remains a mystery, and he (or his son–the tradition lasted a good 75 years) quit coming in 2010, but the Maryland Historical Society has recently started a sort of annual Poe Toaster reenactment.

I’ve been to Poe’s grave exactly once, ages ago, when my sister was sick in the hospital across the street. Appropriately sad circumstances for paying Poe a visit. My sister still lives near there and I’m planning to visit in June, so it might be time to once again pay my respects.

EdgarAllanPoeGrave
Public Domain, Andrew Horne via Wikipedia

Day 14: Cutest Socks

It’s a tie betweeen my Bride of Frankenstein socks and my alien landing socks. All my other socks are either “serious” blacks and grays or random skulls and stuff, so these are the clear winners. I’ve already worn Bride of Frankenstein this week, so I had to fish one out of the laundry basket to get a picture.