Archive of ‘deep thoughts’ category

Oh, Instagram (& tumblr & pinterest). Sigh.

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Last night I was laying in bed and checked my phone “one last time” (you know how it is) and damn, Instagram notifies me that I’ve got, like 100 new followers, with a new one popping up every two seconds.  Wow, I thought. They like me, they really like me!

But I can’t be content with the fact that I’ve got them, these likes and follows, these ultimately meaningless indicators of validation. I have to know why they are there, you know? So, I dig a little. In searching further back through the notifications, I see that I have been tagged in a post by a somewhat popular gothic home decor account. It’s an account that I got a little salty (albeit passive aggressively) with a few Friday nights ago, when I’d had a second, then a third glass of wine and saw all the uncredited imagery they post. And as soon as I looked at the post they had tagged me in last night, (an image similar to the above, but minus the user information in the top left) I knew what had happened.

There are several iterations of the username “ghoulnextdoor” on Instagram, and heck, all over the internet. I originally opened my ghoulnextdoor tumblr account in 2009 and thought I was the cleverest person in the world for coming up with it…so clever, in fact, that I was going to lock down the url ghoulnextdoor.com. Only to find out that it was already taken by the OG Ghoul Next Door–Kyra Schon! Kyra is the cellar dwelling, trowel wielding, mother stabbing, father’s arm eating little zombie girl Karen Cooper in the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead, if you recall. Anyway, my point is–apparently I’m not all that clever.

Back to Instagram. As I mentioned, as soon as I saw the bedroom photo I was tagged in, the mystery of the influx of followers solved itself. It was a popular account, people saw the photo, saw that it linked to me, and as a result, started following me. The only thing is, the photo was not mine! I knew right away that it must belong to another version of “ghoulnextdoor” and either the popular gothic home decor account didn’t remember where they saw it or mistyped the name, or whatever. Because I am nuts and this could not wait until morning, a reverse image search was in order, so I fumbled on my nightstand for my glasses, stumbled out of bed, and shuffled over to the computer.

After about ten minutes of squinting at uncredited imagery on pinterest and tumblr, I finally found an image that linked back to the instagram account! The only problem was, it linked back to the main page of the account–not the specific image above. That’s not enough for me. Just because someone links to something, are you going to believe that? That’s what got me all of these new followers in the first place–an incorrect link! I scrolled through the users account for a minute or two, et voilà, here is the original image!

So this photo that got me all of this attention actually belongs to ghoulnxtdoor, who, might I add, though I do not know her personally, looks as stylish and ghoulish and awesome as you might expect.

I guess the moral of the story is that just because someone on the internet gives you a piece of information, that doesn’t make it true. And…that no one actually likes me.
Oh well, at least I know the truth!

P.S. My bedroom looks nothing like this.
P.P.S. Aside from uncredited imagery, my biggest pet peeve is when someone pronounces voilà “wah-lah!”
P.P.P.S. I’m not naming name regarding this popular gothic home decor account on instagram, because I really don’t want to give them any more followers, but here’s an amusing anecdote. I was scrolling through their posts and found one that was uncredited. In searching out the creator of the item they featured, I was lead to a blog posting…about how to do a reverse image search to properly source and credit images. HA.

The complicated wallpapers of grief: The Midnight Swim

ms6Sometime last year  I became aware of a film which instantaneously piqued my interest…and, as unfortunately happens quite frequently with me, I promptly forgot about it. Later, in trying to recall the title or even what about it I found so compelling, I could only offer, “…well…it was about some sisters…and their dead mom. I think there was a lake.”

Scoff if you like, but I will have you know that was just enough vague information to find the film again. Directed by Sarah Adina Smith, The Midnight Swim is summarized thusly:  “When Dr. Amelia Brooks’ three daughters travel home to settle her affairs after she disappears in Spirit Lake, they find themselves drawn to the mysterious body of water.”

The Midnight Swim is told in found footage, faux-documentary style and takes place mostly at the estranged sister’s mother’s lake house in Iowa. I’ve seen it labeled everything from horror to fantasy to sci-fi, but I wouldn’t classify it as any of these, really.

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I suppose you could say it is a bit of a character study in the aftermath of a loss. Annie seems to be the oldest and the dependable one, Isa is a bit of a woo woo free-spirit, and June, the youngest, is mostly behind the camera, filming the sister’s homecoming and dealing with their mother’s disappearance (and death, we are to assume) for a documentary–one which I think is mostly in her head. June, as we find out later, is troubled, and suffers from unspecified mental issues.

You could perhaps also say that it is somewhat a mystery, for the mysterious atmosphere is pervasive throughout the film, and an ominous tension begins to build after the sisters, recalling a bit of local folklore, attempt to drunkenly conjure a spirit from the lake–one of the seven sisters who supposedly drowned within many years before, each unsuccessfully trying to save the other. Strange things begin to happen: dead birds turn up inexplicably on the doorstep every morning, time lapse footage of the lake is found on June’s camera with no one admitting to having filmed it, and throughout it all, the shadow of their absent mother looms uneasily and mostly unspoken.

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There’s not much in the way of a plot here, nor is there a conventionally satisfying resolution (which is not to say that I did not enjoy it.) What I did enjoy immensely was the sisters’ companionship and camaraderie. They rekindle their connection almost effortlessly, even though it’s obviously been some time since they have all been together, and if you have sisters whom you adore, this is a particular joy to see.  Even the uncomfortable moments, the sullen, weighty silences and the heated arguments–there’s such vulnerability and love there. This, to me, is the most enthralling and captivating aspect of the film.

There is a specific scene wherein the sisters and their neighbour (who seemed an unnecessary addition to the film, in my opinion) are playing in their mother’s clothes; dressing up as her and acting out her eccentricities and idiosyncracies.  Annie takes a “goodnight, children” scenario a bit too far–no doubt fueled by some traumatising memories and re-living that very situation from when she was a child–and the effect on the sisters is heartbreaking and no doubt triggering for many viewers. I have encountered and probably even instigated this moment with my own sisters in the wake of our complicated grief surrounding our own mother’s death, and no doubt we will re-live this scene again, and again, and again.

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What does any of this have to do with wallpaper patterns? To be honest, I don’t rightly know, but they caught my eye throughout the film and it somehow became entangled in my mind with the idea of absent mothers and complicated grief.  From the opening sequence, with June staring moodily in her childhood bed against that robin’s egg blue paper with the multicolor florals to that more modern feeling beige with white floral silhouettes–I don’t know, I just feel like it’s all there for a reason.

The film is currently streaming on netflix and is also on amazon, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find.

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Confession: I was not a teenage goth.

If you were to look at me now, except for the occasional black dress (or, well — ok… A LOT of black dresses); you would never think, hey, that lady was a teenage goth. I’m fairly “normal” looking, whatever that means.  I guess I mean I don’t much look like someone who is or has ever been into any sort of alternative lifestyle.  Maybe if you spent some time talking with me without ever having seen me, you might begin to form some sort of goth-y impression due to various interests or whatever.  But I’m not.

I’m really not.

I don’t have many photos of myself as a teen, but in them you would see a healthy looking 14 or 15 or 16 year girl old with frizzled, fried blonde hair, wearing a lot of heavy metal tee shirts.  The hair was thanks to my mother; I don’t know why she wanted us blonde (“us”, for my sisters underwent the same surreal afternoon Sun-In treatments), but this resulted in a brassy mop and a lot of damaged, split ends.

The heavy metal tee shirts were black —  that just goes with the territory, I suppose.

I read a lot of horror back then, as I do now.  Ghost stories. Weird tales, tales of the unknown. That sort of thing. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t gravitate toward those stories.  Ever since I saw Scooby Doo encounter his first vampire, I recall being fascinated by these things.

I was a loner and didn’t have any friends, really. At least any friends of my own.  If our lunch periods intersected, I would eat with my sister and her friends, or my boyfriend at the time, but for the most part I was alone. I would hunt out a secluded corner (even if it meant on the floor, right next to the girl’s bathroom), settle in, pull out a book, and eat my lunch while no doubt getting crumbs in the pages.

While never actually a goth, I have always been a slob.

Back to the heavy metal music. It felt like at that time there was a division between people who listened to {Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies} and those who listened to things like The Cure, or Depeche Mode.  As if you couldn’t listen to both, or all!  Well, that’s teenage-think for you, I guess.  I also remember thinking Morrissey was incredibly lame.  Confession: I still do.

Anyway, when people refer to me or my writing or whatever in any sort of goth-y way, I get really uncomfortable. I feel like a giant fraud.  I mean, I didn’t even listen to Disentegration until I was 35! (And to be honest, I really liked it.)  Maybe I am a late in life goth, I don’t know. Maybe I have a secret goth heart.

My secret goth heart looks like Holly Hobby, if she wore all black, by the way.

My secret goth heart loves cemetery strolls and melancholy piano tinklings and all poetry –even the “bad” stuff.  It loves thunderstorms and gloomy days and mossy castles and spooky tea parties and seances.  It loves gothic romance and horror novels and antiquated ghost stories and scary movies in dark houses.  It loves black lace and ruffles and sequins and dark florals and embellished bonnets and parasols. It loves dark art and darker music and the darkest humor.

20 years later it has still not unraveled the mystery of what makes Morrissey so great, though.

I need a word for I’m “really not goth at all but I am super into darkness”, just so I can set people straight.  If I’m going to be labeled, let’s figured this out.

Crash Helmet, or Things That Do Not Make Sense

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This was originally written for After Dark In The Playing Fields, back in 2010. I thought I would share it here today, as I recently saw this book again at my sister’s house and it has of late been in my thoughts.

I am really at a loss as to how to properly introduce the following item from my past.  There are some memories of beloved childhood belongings that just Make Sense – a cherished stuffed animal, for example: a once sweet-faced and shiny marble-eyed bunny rabbit, worn down to rags and nubs from time spent dragging it to and fro through sandboxes, bathtubs and brambles.

Not only did I love this Bunny  -I know she loved me too.  She loved me so much, I am absolutely certain that she did not mind when, 30 years later  – just this past May – I buried her under an old oak tree with my wonderful little cat who had just died.  They had both provided comfort and companionship and happiness for me for so many years, it only made Perfect Sense to me to keep them together.

It is fitting then, one should look back at these treasured keepsakes, these fond remembrances and feel a pleasant rush of happiness and harmony.  Of feeling safe and at peace.  Of the world Making Sense.

Crash Helmet is definitely not one of these items. Even as children, when presented with this book, I recall my sister and I wearing identical looks of abject horror while thumbing through it.   I am not sure who gifted it to us, but to this day I wonder what on earth they must have been thinking. I realize that most children’s books are full of crazy, nonsensical plots and unusual characters – that is what makes them so much fun for young people to read, and so memorable many years later.  This one however seems particularly demented, and two more wildly unattractive protagonists I have never seen.

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A story by Harry Allard and illustrated by Jean-Claude Suares, Crash Helmet follows Elmer, a suave and lonely vulture who runs a gas station in New Mexico who meets Violet, a 5000 year old mummy on a motorcycle.  Violet “is charmed by Elmer’s smooth dancing and Elmer is awed by Violet’s fearlessness.”  As the two of them try to eke out a living in the desert,  they discover “that what they lack in common sense they more than make up in imagination and daring”.

I am not sure it is often that one can trace back to the exact moment the world wobbled, tilted, and subsequently righted itself, but this is as close as it gets for me…. I believe that from that time on my perception of things were a bit skewed for it.  This is not all a bad thing, of course!  Obviously we had not encountered much weirdness in our lives up until this point, but after repeated, repulsed readings, we grew more and more appreciative of it and the absurdity contained within.  I think it probably contributed to our general eccentricities as we grew older!

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Of course, we had since lost the copy that we grew up with. I was recently lucky enough to track down another, and surprised myself by how excited I was to tear open the small package and hold the book in my hands again.  Having scanned the pages in (the rest you can find below), it is at this moment wrapped in brown paper and in the post on its way to my sister.  She is not expecting it, and I cannot imagine what she will think when she opens the package.

I hope though, she will smile and exclaim “This old thing!  This strange old thing!  How I loved it – how happy I am to see it again.”  I hope that after the unusual twists and unexpected turns our lives have taken since that time, she finds comfort in it, as perhaps A Thing That Now Makes Sense.

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More Stinkers and Duds

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Earlier in the year I wrote of my unfortunate experiences with a handful of cosmetics and beauty products, so that I might save you, dear friends, the misfortune of spending your money on them, or perhaps worse – applying them to your person.

As it turns out, there are quite a lot of really awful products out there! And as you can imagine, I like to ramble on extensively about such things, so I shall be featuring a quasi-regular Stinkers & Duds column to share with you these products that range from Mildly Offensive to Relatively Useless to Really Fucking Gross, Kill It With Fire.

On today’s list:

1. Caudalie Lip Conditioner $12: this has the consistency of a 1000 year old crayon – nay, a fossilized million year old crayon.  Perhaps carbon dating methods cannot even determine the exact age of the waxy substance which comprises this product. Combine this with all the healing properties of spiked lizard skin and scraping sandpaper and then imagine scouring this rough specimen across your poor, tender lips. Wonder at the bleeding mess you have made of your mouth because you have done this ill-advised thing.  Think about demanding your money back from Sephora but then never actually do it because you find the act of returning things to the store and dealing with customer service repugnant.  Stew fretfully for the rest of your life about it.

2. Nature Republic Bee Venom Cleansing Foam $12.98: I had read several good reviews about this product, the bee venom is supposedly good for neutralizing redness, and I have this problem on my cheeks and chin every now and then. I don’t quite understand what it is – i am not naturally ruddy-cheeked (I am actually rather sallow) and it’s not acne or blemishes.  Just sort of an…inflamed irritation?  I don’t know.  Anyway, this did not help at all.  Not only did it do nothing – I am still as red as a tomato most days – it smells a bit like hand cream that you’ve left in your pocketbook too long and which has gone off, and it was terribly drying. Nope.

3. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb $50: I hate Victor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb so much that I nearly fly into a rage. It smells petty and mean spirited and small-minded. Like bigoted small town pageant moms and the shitty popular girls in 80s movies. It simultaneously makes me want to cringe and cry.  It’s all the Heathers. Also: it’s an enormous lie. It smells nothing like any flower, ever. Unless, of course, there is a blossom that smells like Bongo jeans and hair-sprayed bangs and the wretched duo of Jennifer W. and Amanda P. in the 7th and 8th grade. How’s it feel to be the inspiration for the world’s worst fragrance, you dumb, hateful bitches?

4. Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner $26.50 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sulfates are bad, I get it.  Whatever – I LIKE sulfates!  They actually lather up and clean my hair and get the dang job done.  However, my stylist talked me into trying this stuff, and to be honest I only used it once. T

Me: nearly waist length, color treated hair. Slightly coarse, wavy. Frizzes up in the right conditions (ie 100% in Florida). I have a lot of hair and you can tell.

Me on Redken Color Extend Magnetics: Hair is lank, limp, greasy. I look like Samara, crawling out of the well and off of your teevee set to kill you. Guess you shouldn’t have watched that video when you knew your friends were dying one by one a week later. I now officially resemble a Japanese murder ghost and obviously someone has to pay.

Also when my sweet, thoughtful, always complimentary dude wrinkled up his nose as he sniffed my freshly washed head and remarked with a grimace “ugh, you smell like dog ears” – which, WTF does that even mean? –  I threw it out with out a backward glance.  Life’s too short to smell like dog’s ears, folks.

What’s had you wrinkling your nose lately?  Tell me all about your own stinkers and duds!  I’m all ears, as always.

Deep thoughts

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I don’t know that Adele’s really my cup of tea – which isn’t to say I actively dislike her or anything, it’s just sort of a “meh” situation. But that coat she’s wearing in her sepia toned, depressing as hell, windy autumn woodland video, ‘Hello‘? The coat that looks like it is comprised of several dozen fine muppet pelts? I am all about that dead muppet coat.

Also, why are there abandoned, vine-covered phone booths in the middle of the woods? Where’d they come from? What’s their story? Weird, right? If Adele sang more about phantom forest phone booths and less about boring broken-record broken heartedness, I might be more inclined to listen to her music.