Archive of ‘experiences’ category

Currently {1.16.17}

spiritsSomehow the last month, give or take a few days, feels several decades long. I suspect that has much to do with the upheaval of the holidays; we hosted my beau’s family for Christmas this year, so I believe there were at least two weeks alone which were lost to the commotion of getting our slovenly butts in gear to make the place look presentable and figure out how to cook a dang prime rib. (If you’re curious, we served prime rib with roasted asparagus, garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach, and if I don’t have to do that again for another year, that will be fine with me.)

Also, I have never had a holiday thing/event/whatever in my own home, so I was freaking out. Quite honestly, I had volunteered responsibility for the holiday dinners because I was tired of feeling awkward and out of place/in the way at someone else’s house. If I’m going to feel uncomfortable, I’d rather it be in the comfort of my own home, you know?

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cookies

Houses were lit, skeletons and bats were fitted with Santa hats, and a thousand star cookies were born, only to die bravely in several gulps. I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I made the world’s most amazing gingersnap cookies and that may never happen again because I don’t remember which recipe I used. At Jack’s suggestion, though, I under-baked them, which did away with the menace of the tooth-breaking “snap” and produced a cookie that was intensely chewy and full of delectable spices. I suspect under-baking any gingersnap recipe will yield a far superior result.

Bloodmilk

Cemetery

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This past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind.  On Friday night I ventured into Orlando for dinner at Dandelion Cafe with some like-minded lady friends (whom I both met through Death Cafe!) and a jaunt to Etoile Boutique in the Milk District for the bloodmilk trunk show. It was so nice to meet the incredibly lovely Jess, whom I’ve known online for years now, as well as her whirling dervish, effervescent right-hand gal, Jen. And of course it was pretty spectacular to see glittering stacks of bloodmilk talismans and amulets on display. I may have purchased a thing. Okay…maybe two!

The next day I tagged along with my brother-in-law on some errands, during which we took a quick drive through Greenwood Cemetery which is utterly gorgeous, and which I had somehow never visited. Afterward we visited South Seminole Farm and Nursery and I poked along, haunting the herb shelves and spying on all the blooms and blossoms, while he checked out the boring stuff, like native ground cover.

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On Sunday we went to Disney World. Though I am a FL resident now and have been for the better part of 30 years, I can count on one finger the times I have been to this theme park. When I was much younger, I was obsessed with it, and of course, with the various Disney princesses, but as I grew older I came to really resent it. Full disclosure: that was because I was a scumbag who was dating an even more horrible person who was married (with kids) and I grew to detest anything that smacked of Disney or children’s fantasy.

It took me several years to get over that. I’m still not super rah-rah jazzed about all things Disney, but I genuinely did have a wonderful time staying at the Polynesian resort, drinking all of the tiki drinks, watching spectacular night time fireworks across the water, and spending the next day eating too much sugar and going on all the rides with my Viking. I guess it all depends on who you spend your time with, right? And I have been spending time with this particularly excellent human for five years now (as of this Friday the 13th!) and that’s sort of what this trip was all about. I even got the sequined Minnie ears to commemorate the occasion! Although he’ll tell you it’s because he wanted to see robot-Obama speak before the Hall of Presidents is closed down for the next six months, but I know what’s what.

Blue Dahlia

BooksCurrently knitting: the German doily inspired Blue Dahlia shawl. I’ve been coasting on socks and mitts for the past six months, so I thought I would start of the year with something a little more challenging and infinitely more fiddly. So far so good!

Currently reading: all of the library books! There’s this problem with borrowing library books, though. You can’t really read them at your leisure, so you either race through them, trying to finish them before the due date that you’ve already extended two or three times already, or you just let them pile up because you get involved in other things and then you must return them unfinished.  There’s always one or two from my stacks that remains sadly unread and most likely not revisited.

I just finished The Magicians, which despite wanting to punch the main character in the face, I totally adored. There’s something about the magic of ordinary folks being transplanted into unfamiliar worlds that makes for some of my favorite storytelling. Unspeakable Things, though intensely edifying, is a bit of a slog, so I’ve been breaking it up with the equally feminist How To Be A Woman (which, while hilarious, it’s the sort of humor that might grate on one’s nerves after a while.) I also checked out every Carrie Fisher book that my local branch had to offer but so far I have only finished Wishful Drinking, which was a quick and wonderfully witty read. Note to self: still need to see her stand up version of this.

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And of course, some one word film reviews. I am not sure how I got in so much in the way of movie watching since the 13th of December, but somehow there are 20+ titles on this list!

Beyond the Gates Yes (but mostly for Barbara Crampton)
Krampus Maybe
The Greasy Strangler DearGodNo (I didn’t even finish it)
Antibirth Yes!
The Magnificent Seven Maybe
Ghostbusters Maybe (don’t kill me, I didn’t love it)
SiREN Skip
The Autopsy of Jane Doe YES
The Handmaiden OMGYES
Fury Road HELLYES
Gone Girl meh
The Girl On the Train Maybe
The Good Neighbor Probably (it’s on netflix)
I Am Not A Serial Killer Definitely! (it’s on netflix)
The Fearless Vampire Killers Wheee!
Rusalochka Pretty! (it’s on youtube, in six parts)
Train to Busan Intense!
The Skeleton Twins yesyesyes
The Happening meh
Zootopia yes!
Tangled um (if you have mother issues, this is a little triggering)
Goosebumps hrm

Weathering the storm

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When my brother in law called us on the evening of September 30th to warn of a hurricane headed our way that was predicted to be massive and deadly, I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t overly concerned. As someone who has lived the majority of their life in Florida, it seems that every time I hear this, it’s never as big a deal as the general public makes it out to be. It usually spins out at sea, or changes in direction, or lessens in intensity by the time it makes its way to our shores.

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Of course, once I moved to New Jersey, all of that changed. I lived in a flood zone and we were hit back to back two years in a row. The above photo is from hurricane Irene in 2011, on August 28th, taken around around noon (and a month before I was to move back home to Florida.)  At the height of the flooding, perhaps 4:00 or so, not even the top of this sign could be seen.  As a matter of fact, a rescue boat may have zoomed right over it. I watched, alone in my darkened home as the flood waters crept down the street, over the sidewalk, climbed the hill to my front porch stairs, and stopped, silently at the uppermost step. It was too late to rejoice, though, for my basement had already started to fill with water and ruined several hundreds of dollars worth of rare books, as well as a few nostalgic favorites.

So now I guess you could say that my attitude towards these things is not as cavalier as it once may have been…but I nonetheless found myself shrugging it off and thinking “eh, it probably won’t even touch us.”

And then I remembered my grandmother.  A 95 year old woman who is immobile and on oxygen and intermittent hospice care and utterly dependent upon those who care for her. Although my partner and I could hunker down and weather the storm, the same would not hold true for my grandmother and her caregiver, who lived seven minutes up the road from us.

I worried and fretted all week long about this. Hospice, though I appreciate the services they provide for her–free services, I might add–was absolutely useless as it related to providing a bed in a facility for her, or really, any sort of help or suggestions at all. I suppose you get what you pay for, right? My advice to you if you find yourself in a similar situation is this: do not wait for an emergency to find out what your hospice team’s emergency plan is for your loved one. You may find out, as we did, that there is no plan at all.

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We finally decided to bundle my grandmother into the car (no small feat with someone whose legs no longer work and who is considered “non weight-bearing”), packed up a caravan, and both myself and our capable caregiver/trusted friend Pam headed an hour west with the intent to beat the evacuation crowds and make our way toward my sister’s house. To be perfectly honest, I had all these visions of disaster and chaos on the road (at one point I was imagining a lava flow headed straight toward us), but we arrived without incident.

Poor Pam! While she was supposed to have been traveling this day, it was for lovely vacation birthday purposes; evacuation was not at all what she had in mind.

We were doing quite well for a while. Hurricane Matthew gusted and raged around us in Orlando, though of course not nearly so severe as on the coast. We had electricity the first evening there, and enjoyed air conditioning and cold water and movies and music in company that was only slightly cramped. On the second day, however, we lost power.

We had come prepared for this eventuality, and thanks to a back alley oxygen deal (it was a really weird thing; long story short– we procured a portable oxygen compressor from the back of some guy’s van in a sketchy apartment complex), my grandmother did not go without for very long. My brother-in-law had the foresight to purchase a generator earlier in the week, so we were even able to supply a fan and a light to her bedroom, where she could eat her chocolates and read her gossip magazines in relative comfort.

Me? I knit by the light of a light of a battery-powered mini lap desk lamp. Just like my ancestors did in the olden days, ha. I finished a shawl, as well as, a pair of socks. And three books. 

The power came back on a day and a half later and we celebrated Pam’s birthday with sandwiches, cupcakes, more movies, and the lowest setting that the AC could possibly handle.

If you’re curious:
Books read: The Girl With All the Gifts // The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 4 // Giant Days Vol. 3
Movies watched: The Legend of Hell House // The Haunted Palace
Knits finished: Charade socks // Chinquapin Wrap

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We headed home as soon as we received confirmation that the electricity was back on in both of our homes. Luckily, there was no damage to the houses, although a tree was nearly split in half in my grandmother’s back yard. My beloved Viking immediately suited up and got to work cleaning up the debris and detritus, while Pam tidied up and got my grandmother back in bed, and I restocked all the food we had to throw out. A day later we are exhausted zombie people, but immensely grateful. The storm could have been much worse than it was, and we had a comfortable safe place to hide out, amongst friends and family and folks who love us.

Also: it upped my productivity, and I am always thankful for that!

(The photo at the top of the page is from the yard of one of our neighbors. Yikes.)

 

Summertime Adventures And Going Home Again

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It’s been a strange summer, full of the sort of things that are done before you know they’ve started, as well as the hurry-up-and-wait type of scenarios. My grandmother pulled through her last health scare, but now she is totally bed-bound. She continues to perservere, however, and is generally cheery and good-natured about it all.  She’ll hang out until she’s ready to leave. I think we are all prepared, as much as one can be…so we are just going to enjoy her until she departs for her next Big Thing.

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soapwoman

Image credit: muttermuseum.org

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Image credit: muttermuseum.org

I took a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia to visit my darling Best Good Friend, who has been spending a great deal of time up there for work-related purposes. Unfortunately I did not get a lot of photos, but maybe that’s a good thing: enjoying time with a loved one without the constant compulsion and distraction of documenting everything.

It was a lovely, relaxing time of shopping and food and shopping and food and catching up–which I think is exactly what we needed. We visited the Reading Terminal Market and walked from there to the Mütter Museum (where they don’t allow photography anyway) and saw the soap lady and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, among other things. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Grimms’ Anatomy: Magic and Medicine, a special exhibit in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and which shows real-world examples of gruesome and grotesque fairy-tale bodies. Fascinating!

Of course we could not leave without a trip through the gift shop for all sorts of macabre goodies–the main goal of course was to snag a few bottles of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s “Umlaut“, which was created exclusively for the Mütter Museum. It’s a resinous, musky vanilla that BGF observes smells like a feminist bookstore, probably this one. Which is to say we think it smells pretty amazing.

We also stayed in and ate nearly an entire bag of Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers one night, which, if you don’t know, Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers are basically the best junk food ever.

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Speaking of junkfood, in July my sisters and our significant others met up for a trip that’s been a long time in the planning–a visit to our hometown in Milford Ohio, as well as a stop to see our baby sister’s new home in Indiana and visit with some other family in the area. It has been 30+ years since we moved from Ohio to Florida and I had never been back. I wasn’t quite ten years old when I left, so I was prepared to recognize absolutely nothing, as kids don’t really pay attention to much in the way of driving routes at that age.

After arriving at the airport and being picked up by my brother in law and my other traveling sister, we drove straight to Milford, stopping at a Skyline Chili to stuff cheese coneys in our faces. (I remember after having moved down to Florida and seeing chili dogs on the menu, my excitement rapidly turning to sadness–instead of the monstrous piles of shredded cheese that I was longing for…it was…squirty cheese! I had never been so offended in my young life.) The cheese coneys I had last month tasted exactly like I remembered them–cheesy and oniony, and the weird taste of the Cincinnati chili— and they were totally worth the issues they caused in my now 40 year old guts. NO REGRETS.

In driving to the house where I lived until I was 10 years old, a funny thing happened. The closer we got to it, the more I recognized little landmarks and certain traffic lights…the same used car lot with the funny multicolored triangle flags was still nested in the corner where we made the left-hand turn on our street, for example. It was so surreal. Stranger too, to see a car pull up in our old driveway as we walked toward the house. Two rambunctious young men exited the car and entered the house, so that was that as far as our pressing our faces against the windows to see inside. The driveway was so small!  I recall all the worms that would wriggle across its surface after a rainstorm in the spring…it seemed so immense at the time…

Afterwards we drove by our grandparent’s old place. It’s at the very end of the lane and it looks like developers have still not touched the woods beyond, which made me inordinately happy. It is still very much as I remember it, save for all of the junk in the front yard. Tools and toys and clothing and lawn chairs…it looked as if they might have been having a garage sale. Except…I don’t think they were selling anything. It was kind of weird, actually.

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We spent a good portion of the trip in Bloomington, at my uncle’s beautiful home, far out in the country. Like, far, faaaaar out in the country. The driveway was maybe a quarter mile long and I honestly did not even know where the next neighbor was. The back yard, such as it was, had been turned into a bit of a butterfly and hummingbird garden, and beyond that there was what looked to be miles and miles of wooded area. It was a little eerie at night, imagining the house lit up in the darkness, and someone in the trees watching us intently.

In between visiting folks and dining and chatting, I knit on a sock and I finished reading Kindred by Octavia Butler.I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to read any of her stories, but now I want to devour all of them

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We then: visited a cemetery beautiful old cemetery down the road // met up with our cousins for dinner at Bru Burger Bar in Indianapolis, where we waited two hours to be seated // got a driving tour and history from my baby sister of the beautiful homes of Broadripple // visited downtown Indianapolis // ate all the french fries and all the dipping sauce at Brugge // visited Half Price Books and found the art of Marci Washington for $8

That was a lot of stuff to do in the three days that we were there! And I have promised I will be back in fall of 2017 to do all of the Autumn Things with my sister, as for the past ten years she had been living in California, and had previously spent most of her life in Florida, and so she is going nuts at the prospect of fall activities. I can’t wait.

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A lonely flute is the new 40

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Next year I am going to look back and be utterly mortified that I chose this ridiculous photo to commemorate my turning 40, but you know what?  Get a grip, next-year-me. I liked my face on this particular day and was feeling goofy and fun, and what’s wrong with that, anyhow? I mean, you’d almost think that we live in a world where we are trained to hate the way we look and should feel ashamed to feel decent about ourselves every once in a blue moon, but, naaaahhh… that couldn’t possibly be true, could it?

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Oh–shit! There I am again!  “What’s with this broad?” you may be wondering.  “Can’t she keep her goddamned face to herself? HA and NO. Not today, face-haters. Not today.
And anyway, isn’t it great, this world we live in? Where we can look at our friend’s wonderful faces every day, even when we’re a million miles apart? I love all of your gorgeous, goofy mugs. Thanks for tolerating mine.

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In a fit of extravagance, I had ordered some birthday gifts for myself over a month and a half ago and I figured that would give them plenty of time to arrive, but one piece is custom & hand-made and the others were ordered during a highly anticipated sale, so I suppose I should have known better. Still, it was kind of a bummer, as I had hoped I would have them in time for a birthday weekend extravaganza where everyone could ooh and ahh over them and I could bask in the warm glow of strangers thinking I have exceptional taste. Ah, well. Such problems we should all have.

Instead, I received a very unexpected, thoroughly marvelous parcel from a dear friend, full of extraordinary magics.  First: a chocolate birthday Babka! Isn’t it gorgeous? I could have gazed rapturously upon its gently-spiced, sweetly-yeasted, chocolatey visage all day long, but I had to eat it eventually, you know.  I hope you’ll not think less of me for that.

And a piece of embroidery from YourGothicGranny! I nearly cried with laughter when I saw the phrase embroidered in those sweet, delicate stitches, “a lonely flute in the fog of yourself”.  This ridiculous translation of a French perfume’s description had us in stitches a few weeks ago, if you’ll pardon the pun, and I love that I will forever have a reminder of its absurdity! Even if the fragrance itself turned out to be completely unmemorable.

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And what’s this!  Some original art from my insanely talented parter-in-crime, Becky Munich (and rumor has it that you will see this piece–and others–in a highly anticipated, forthcoming Gothic zine!) And a tee-shirt that she designed for Sabbath Assembly, an unearthly, unsettling purveyor of dark, freaky sounds.

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Speaking of music, lovely Sasha gifted me a copy of her band’s new release, Emerald Posies! “With the mercurial force of an ancient spell, Suspirea burst into existence fully formed. Singer/guitarist Sasha Soukup & Cellist Bluebird Gaia rallied together & immediately started creating their own musical witches brew. The ingredients are simple: girl-group harmonies, gothic menace, traditional folk songs & a dash of progressive weirdness.”  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  I am so excited to give it a listen!

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And lastly: CATS. From my darling BGF. Because of course!

(…also: not pictured is the beautiful mortar and pestle set from my beloved for the grinding of spices and the making of garlic paste.  And a really cooler muddler/shaker for the creation of fancy cocktails!)

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On Friday night we drove into Orlando for a screening of Gothic at Carmine Boutique.  Ken Russell’s frenzied, hallucinatory depiction of that infamous night at the Villa Diodati is a film dear to my heart. That baby-faced Julian Sands!  Claire Claremont’s frizzy halo of hair! The outrageously diabolical Lord Byron!   I love all of it and it was such a treat to see it again, especially in what has become one of my favorite strange & unsual places to visit in central Florida!

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On Saturday night we attended the Florence + The Machine performance at the Amway Arena. Normally I avoid venues like this. Too many people, too crowded, parking is too much of a production, etc., etc. I don’t like asking anyone to go to that sort of trouble for me.  But I did this time around and I am very glad that I did. For such an enormous arena, it was a surprisingly intimate show…and what a whirling dervish she was! What a magical, transcendent voice.

I wept when she took the stage and opened with What The Water Gave Me. I remembered where I was when I heard it for the first time–6 years ago, still in NJ, trapped in a town that was flooded and under water for a week– and how miserable I was, but also how the song moved me, shook me, changed me. And this weekend I heard it performed live by Florence herself, in the company of those I love best in this world. And I rejoiced. I was resplendently happy, so much so, that I could not contain my happiness. It flowed down my cheeks and dripped off my chin and I was grateful for it.  For all of it, and everything.
For moving waters and changes and love. So much love.

Thanks everyone, for loving me so damn much.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I am gonna put it out there, anyhow–40 is going to be a fantastic year.

Currently {4.13.16}

car

This has been a strange month.

A few weekends ago, on a trip up to North Florida on a rainy Saturday morning, we ended up on the side of the highway, sinking into a ditch.  A massive white pickup truck (I have dreamed about this truck multiple times since then, and I always see it when I close my eyes now) began to merge into our middle lane without looking or realizing we were there. In avoiding a collision with him, we shifted back to an empty lane on the right, but began to hydroplane on the wet roads. At that point, I closed my eyes and began to brace myself for impact.  I don’t know exactly what happened after that, but we were basically all over the road–facing oncoming traffic at one point–and seconds later we ran into a small copse of trees and a swampy ditch in the median between the north and southbound traffic.

I remember looking at the branches scraping at the windshield, noticing our miraculously unspilled coffees and thinking How are we even still alive?

In some parallel universe where my partner keeps a less cool head, this situation could have ended quite differently. The alternate reality us may have ceased to exist that day.
I  don’t care to dwell on that overmuch.

Giles

Giles by Goblinfruit Studio

Kraiza

Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza

My art gallery is ever expanding.  I could lie and tell you that I purchased these things as balm for my fractured soul after the above-mentioned incident, but the truth is that I ordered these things before that. I have long admired Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio’s works–her curious creatures and aberrant animals have been delighting me for years!  I decided it was the right time to provide a home for one of them, and so in the top photo we have Giles in his jaunty blue waistcoat keeping company with other various treasures

In the second photo is Alholomesse by Robert Kraiza. I consider myself a person of hushed passions, silent desires, but I’ll admit, gazing upon these wildly ecstatic women whips me into a bit of a maelstrom. I am so thrilled to have these witches dancing on my walls! Well, eventually. We all know how long it will take for this to happen.

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It’s summer wardrobe time!  And summer wardrobes, as we all know, consist of interesting, dark-themed tee shirts. Right?  Well, that’s what mine consist of, anyhow. Much….like the rest of the year, I guess. Hm.

Black Sunday shirt $19 // Cat Coven Feminism shirt $25 // Vampirella shirt $23

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Reading:

The very excellent Sabbat Magazine’s Maiden Issue, which is full of magics from some of my favorite artists, writers and visionaries. A++ 5 stars would be ensorcelled again.

X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. This took a chapter or two to catch my attention, but I’m glad that I stuck with it, because X’s For Eyes is a lot of fun.  I am about two-thirds of the way through (it’s only about 100 pages or so) and it’s like…a pulp-cosmic-noir adventure with Hank and Dean Venture except less incompetent and more demented.

Giant Days Vol 2. I’ll just come out and say that I will always support anything John Allison has a hand in. His webcomic Bad Machinery (formerly Scary Go Round and Bobbins) is the only webcomic I still read…and it’s the one that I actually started reading many years ago that got me into webcomics in the first place.  I even got to interview him once! That was a total dream come true. And once he mentioned my polyvore stuff on his blog, or in the comments of his blog, as inspiration for some of his character’s fashions! Which…that makes me sound totally stalkery, so we’ll move on. Anyway, Giant Days is also a lot of fun, following Esther, Susan, and Daisy through weird, slice-of-life college life adventures.

The Beauty: I haven’t actually started this one yet, but doesn’t this sound intriguing? “Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away.”

Listening to Mamiffer’s The World Unseen. I’ve loved this experimental duo since discovering them quite by accident back in 2010 or so. This new effort flickers with loss and light and is described as an “exploration of subconscious and psychic bonds between the past and present” and an “eight-song aural lexicon that vacillates between Arvo Pärt’s delicate minimalist beauty, Thomas Köner’s narcotic pulses of noise, and Richard Pinhas’ sublime textural patterns.”

Watching: The Fly and Angel Heart.  Can you believe I had never seen either one of those movies?  I enjoyed them both immensely.  That was obviously the role Jeff Goldblum was born to play and it was nice to see Mickey Rourke looking like a dream boat before his face became the unfortunate plate of wet cat food that it is now.  (Sorry, Mickey Rourke).

Doing: Saw a live taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, attended a They Might Be Giant’s show, gardening, and knitting all of the things that gave me trouble last year.

What about you all?  What have you been up to lately? Seen anything fun? Reading anything interesting?  Had any near-death experiences?  Fill me in!

Long Live the New Foot Flesh* (a Baby Foot foot peel review)

IMG_1142*First, let me give credit to Ben, who made that foot flesh comment over on facebook.

I am going to lead into this review with an “after” photo.  Otherwise, I am afraid I might scare folks away before they’ve even read the first sentence.  Or perhaps I do not give you enough credit for your iron stomachs and your willingness to delve into the depths of disgusting foot molt with me?  Honestly, this kind of stuff doesn’t really gross me out, and in my postings of this process over on Instagram I’ve found that most people are actually more fascinated than repulsed (or perhaps a titillating combination of both) and so I will stop treating you with kid gloves and just get on with it!

I don’t think I had ever read up on foot peels, or the Baby Foot brand specifically, until I saw a brief mention of it over at EauMG (and let me forewarn you–I never, EVER, come away from Victoria’s blog without desperately coveting and usually ordering something she has mentioned over there.  This visit was no different, as you will see.)

Once the seed was planted, I could not NOT try it.  A disgusting corporeal transformation occurring right before my very eyes?  Body horror delights to photograph and document, with which to freak people out?  Oh, yes, please!  As an aside, I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I have a long history of being in love with grossing people out.  So, my apologies…sort of.  But not really.  At all.

You can find this stuff for about $20 a box, and it is a one use thing.  How does it work? Well, it’s a chemical peel for your feet. The ingredients list mainly fruit acids, but also the stuff you’d typically find in a chemical peel: glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as alcohol. According to Baby Foot, all you do is wash and soak your feet, apply the booties, wash off, then wait. In five to seven days, the peeling should begin.

A few tips from bloggers and reviews throughout the peel-o-sphere: set aside an evening for it.  Wash and clean your feet and soak them in warm water for a good, long time.  Set up a little area for yourself on the sofa or your desk or where ever, and make sure you’ve got everything you need within reach for at least the next hour or so, because you are kind of going to be stuck.Stick your feet into the gloopy, acid filled booties, tape them up, pull on a pair of house socks over them (just to keep everything warm and snug, I presume) and sit tight for the next 60 minutes while you knit or read or watch a movie or tweet your absurd thoughts on twitter or whatever it is you do to keep busy. Note: those are all of the things I did.

Some folks keep it on past the hour mark, but I did not.  To be honest at 45 minutes, things started feeling like they were heating up, in an almost uncomfortable way.  I de-booted myself after exactly one hour, rinsed and dried my feet thoroughly, put on a clean pair of socks, and went to bed.

day one

DAYS ONE AND TWO.  No change.  But you can see that my heel is kind of tough and calloused looking. When I stir and shift at night, in bed, I can hear it rassssssp against the sheets and it’s pretty mortifying. What you can’t see is the really tough patch of skin on the side of my big toes.  All in all, I guess my feet aren’t too jacked up…but I like to wear sandals, and it is my belief that one’s feet must be fantastic looking for those sorts of shoes.  Also note my terrible tattoo that a budding artist gave me when I was about 17.  Tattoo artist friends! I’d love to collaborate with you on a cover up one day. Let’s talk!

day two

DAY THREE. Many bloggers and reviewers note that they are soaking their feet every day during this process, and me, well.  I am not.  I am both lazy and yet I somehow do not have time for that.  And anyway, I figure that my feet are sitting in a shallow bit of water for 10-15 minutes every time I shower, so that’s going to have to be good enough. And truly, as you can see here, I am not certain it really matters all that much. By day three things are starting to happen, as evidenced by the action occuring just below my toes.

day three

DAY FOUR. The Cronenbergian Baby Foot experiment intensifies, slightly. The peeling has also begun to start on my toes and is creeping down the outside of my sole.

day 4

DAY FIVE. Shit is getting real and things are looking pretty leprous up in here.  I am wearing socks everywhere to avoid actively shedding my disgusting former foot skin all over the floor, everywhere that I walk. This just about kills me, as I like my toes to wiggle freely.

Day 5

DAY SIX. I had absolutely no idea I was so utterly, gloriously disgusting. Look at the molting majesty of my foot, gaze upon its vile splendor! IT IS SO GROSS AND I LOVE IT. Several folks at this point asked if it hurt at all, and I am being perfectly honest when I say that I didn’t feel a thing.  This all could have been happening to someone else’s body, for all the discomfort that it caused me (none). Also, many people exclaimed incredulously that they could not believe I was not picking at it.  Well, I did pick, a little bit.  When there was a long, delicious strip of ragged skin,  tattered and barely hanging on, I did give it a gentle tug to loosen it.  If it broke off, great. I threw it away.  If not, I left it alone and stuffed my repulsive appendage back in my sock.

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DAYS SEVEN AND EIGHT. By day seven, most of that rag-tag business had fallen off in my socks over night. The bottoms of my feet were mostly free of dead skin. Now there is some interesting business happening on the tops of my feet– they had gotten a bit flaky and ashy and my toe-knuckles (is there a word for this?) had started peeling.  There really was nothing awful about these parts of my feet to begin with, but curiously enough, I think this stage took the longest to cycle through.

AFTER

TWO(ISH) WEEKS LATER. My raspy heels are totally gone, along with my horned big toe. However, I know that this is going to require maintenance which, let’s face it, I will probably never keep up with. The bottoms of my feet are quite a bit smoother and the tops of my feet actually do feel like that proverbial baby’s bottom.

I am sad to report, that Baby Foot did not give me freakishly disproportionate, actual baby’s feet attached to my ankles, so I am afraid that the product name is a bit misleading.

However, if you desire soft, lovely feet that look like they’ve never done a day’s work and if you like disgusting science experiments coupled the unease of body horror as it relates to your own body–I cannot recommend this highly enough.  It satisfies on both the side of money well spent on a beauty product and the personal obsession with weird stuff and things to share with people. Win win!

It must be noted that you should purchase this from a seller or site you trust.  I have linked directly to the product I ordered and I had no problems with it whatsoever.  If you are the kind to get freaked out by Amazon’s one star reviews, though, you’ll find some doozies. The short answer is to order from where ever you feel most comfortable.

Have you used Baby Ffoot, or any chemical foot peel at all?  Feel free to weigh in with your experiences…and I am sure I don’t have to tell you…the more disgusting, the better!

Note: this is not I paid or sponsored or whatever-you-call-it review.  I purchased this product honestly with money that I stole from someone else.

 

Unresolved

I’ve been beating myself up about something for several years now and I honestly don’t know what to do about it.  Every atom in my body that loves its comfort zone and drama-free existence is screaming at me “LET IT BE, YOU MORON!” but I am feeling like a crappy human being for this decision.

I have some unresolved issues with a parental figure in my life.  I don’t want to get into all of the details because I am not always sure who is reading this, but I will say that he was there for my sister and I when we really needed him. He stepped up, as they say, in a really big way–and he did not have to do that. But he did. We had a roof over our heads and food to eat and the best bit of stability that he could provide while our lives were in a great deal of upheaval.

Later, he provided me with what would come to be the best job that I would ever have.  Of course at this time in my life if I were still working for him I would be an utter pauper, but at that time it was enough to pay for my small apartment and my few bills and it worked out quite nicely.  It was just the two of us working there, and most days it was really just me, and a storage facility of rare books.  I will never forget how happy I was amongst those musty old companions and how grateful I was to have that job.

I moved away and the business closed. After that, I am not exactly sure what happened. He made a series of (what I would perceive to be) bad choices in lifestyle and relationships and I don’t think things worked out very well for him. Well, to be honest, I think he had made some not-so-great decisions long before that–who knows, maybe he considers being involved with my mother one of them.

When I moved back to FL, he was 50+ years old and saddled with two twin babies; their mother, with whom he had been involved for a few years and who was my age (which honestly sort of freaked me out), had overdosed. At least I think that’s what happened, I am not entirely clear on that point. He was living in a crappy apartment in a shitty part of town and due to some health issues which I suspect were entirely lifestyle related, was in chronic pain.

My sister, her husband, and I visited him upon my return.  It was a strange, upsetting visit. He seemed strung out, not entirely all there. He pressed us, almost frantically, to go next door to the liquor store and pick him up some cheap booze.  It was a very uncomfortable, disconcerting visit, especially considering the small babies that he was taking care of on his own. Babies, which I thought at the time, looked small for their age and, in my memory of the event seemed underfed, but I think that’s probably just because I was upset.  I have seen photos of them since, and they looked just fine.

In any event, I walked out of that apartment that day and haven’t spoken with him again. Typing it out just now, that looks awfully cruel and unforgiving of me, I guess.  No one’s perfect. Everyone has their demons.  Am I punishing a loved one because I happened to witness him losing to his demon on a particular day?

This man was a huge part of my life growing up–in a good way–and I was so quick to shut him out.  Why have I been so hard-hearted about this? I know that both of my sisters still talk with him, so if they can get over it, why can’t I? He has expressed some hurt feelings over my reluctance to talk with him or see him, and I wish I could articulate to him exactly why I have felt this way.

I am starting to suspect it is as much to do with me as him.  I think, at that time, I was very vulnerable. I had just gotten out of a situation that was very bad for me; I had left New Jersey and arrived back in FL not two weeks before, and I immediately encountered him acting in a way that made me extremely uncomfortable. (And now I think about it, he was acting a lot like my mother when she was drunk and acting nuts – so that has something to do with it too, I am sure).

Over time, and in my memory ,this brief afternoon visit has become weirder and more distressing and I suppose I have chalked this up as a valid reason to end a relationship.

I think he’s gotten his act together since that day five years ago.  I see his photos on facebook; he’s a proud papa and always sharing pictures of his twins and what they are up to. I hope things are looking up for all of them. I really want the best for him.  I have never hated him. I think I was only terribly afraid. And not even afraid of him, but rather for him.

And I am left with this: that was an awful time to abandon someone.

I think I have waited so long because I am just so goddamned ashamed of myself, and at this point I just don’t even know what to do.

15+ things I did in 2015

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The Pilgrim’s Rest in Burma, circa 1900: A female Victorian traveler looks out with a telescope

This year saw a great deal of activity for me.  I suppose maybe I was trying to fit in everything I could during the last year of my 30s?  Well, that’s not quite true.  Some of these things were not adventures I had planned on, or even wanted.

Either way, I’ve come a long way from that 35 year old woman living in New Jersey, holed up in my terribly insulated house, missing my family, afraid to go anywhere or do anything, and just…stagnating. To the point of stagnation, as one of my sisters would say.

death-cafe-feature

In 2015 I hosted two Death Cafes: one in February and one in November.  The earlier one was covered by a local newspaper who had interviewed me beforehand and who were there on site during the event.  The second one was a little less nerve-wracking. Both were illuminating, enlightening experiences, and as with every Death Cafe I’ve hosted, I have walked away with wonderful new ideas and lovely new friends.

 

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In 2015 I saw the Acrocats! Which was weird and fun and I would totally recommend it to a friend, unless you have terrible cat allergies.

 

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In 2015, my sister, her husband, my man and I took a wee roadtrip to Atlanta, where we stayed for the weekend and saw the Decemberists perform. It was, I maintain, one of the best shows of my life.

 

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In 2015 I visited Portland (read part I and part II) for the second time.  Portland, OR has become one of our favorite cities, and this time we explored along with a group of friends. Food  – so much food -was consumed, sights were seen, monsters were vanquished! (We spent a day indoors playing D&D. As you do when there’s a whole city outside just begging to be seen.)

 

drink

In 2015 I traveled to NJ & NY for work and didn’t die of sadness. I’ll most likely be working for this company for awhile (I’ve already been here for 10 years), so I am sure this won’t be the last time I will make this trip. I also had my first drink alone in an airport bar while reading a really dumb book for which I overpaid because I was desperate for reading material.

 

rocks

Traveled to DC for a whirlwind weekend trip of museums and dumplings and German food and impromptu Santa conventions.  Immediately afterward, I traveled to Naples, FL for more work related stuff… but despite the anxiety from hobnobbing with super posh people, it was an interesting trip.  I rented a car and drove around a city by myself (granted, it’s a small city with lots of parking and super easy streets) had my first-ever visit with a massage therapist, and I visited a museum that had a fantastic Halston and Saint Laurent exhibit.

 

ladies

Met several someones! I have gotten to know so many people via the internet – you know, via the usual suspects -tumblr, instagram, twitter, facebook.  Every once in a while now, I actually meet these folks!  In Portland I met up with two amazing ladies for art and cocktails; later I met with a wonderfully special person whom I absolutely adore for tiki drinks. This past October I met up with a woman with whom I’ve been talking for years, she attended the Ghost show with us (which was the second best show I’ve ever seen), and she even sat through a later night viewing of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with us!  I met a fellow writer for coffee locally and we exchanged holiday DIY boozes, and most recently I met with one of my Death Cafe ladies for coffee and a chat.

I don’t know if that last one technically counts, since I already met her in person, like, three times, but hey – this is a big deal for me.  I am going out and doing things! WITH PEOPLE! And I didn’t freak out about it and I didn’t flake out at the last minute.  This is huge progress for me. This is one of the most important things I have been wanting to do for myself. This is huge.

Austin people! New York people!  San Francisco people! You just watch out – I’m going to want to meet with you all soon, too.

Miscellaneous:

Made a lemon meringue pieRead 54 books / Watched Crimson Peak /Got my head shrunk and benefited from it a little bit / Saw Heathers the musical / Mourned the loss of my grandfather / dressed like an adult / started waking up for 5am walks / got new glasses / started wearing lipstick more often / embraced my inner flying squirrel / hoarded yarn / wore some crazy dresses / wrote a lot

What about you? What did you do/think/see/accomplish in 2015?

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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Our favorite city: Portland (Part II)

Now it’s a week that I have been back from Portland and these experiences are not nearly as fresh in my mind …so I think this will be a massive photo dump along with some recommendations. Sound good? OK, let’s go!

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As with our stay in 2012, we paid Voodoo Doughnuts a visit.  I think a lot of the locals will tell you this place is over-hyped, and maybe waiting in line for a half an hour with a bunch of derpy tourists will certainly color your experiences a bit – but we were in and out of there in 5 minutes, so I still think it is a pretty okay spot for morning (or whenevertime) pastries. Pictured are the Maple Bacon bar, The Loop, and the Cock-n-Balls.  Which we group shared. Of course!

Other doughnut places visited:

Blue Star – these doughnuts seemed… little more high-brow? If you can even say that about doughnuts, I guess. We shared the blueberry bourbon basil, which was understated and lovely.

Pips – these guys are tiny fried bits of deliciousness. A member of our group took it upon himself and hunted them down at 6 in the morning to take advantage of a birthday special that they offer. I had the honey and sea salt, which was a sweet, salty, greasy revelation.

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After stuffing ourselves full of cheese samples and wine at The Wedge fest (watch the video at the top of that site and you’ll see two of my favorite beardos!) we wandered around the city looking for a proper meal. I am not sure how we ended up at the Bit House Saloon, but I am glad that circumstances led us there, for we had several rounds of wonderful cocktails between games of Fluxx. I used to feel sort of weird about showing up at a bar and playing card games, but now I find that I really enjoy it – how about you? My favorite cocktail of the afternoon was The Grandmaster Flowers: bourbon, nectarine, chamomile, grapefruit, lime, and dandelion & burdock bitters. Also, that punch bowl. Gimme!

Still not having put food in our bellies, we attempted to get seated at Katchka right across the street for “Russian food in a space that looks like your communist grandmother’s basement”, but once we heard about the 3-4 hour wait, we decided to hoof it down to Noraneko for some ramen. And who should we accidentally run into but our friend’s husband, with whom we had just shared drinks at Hale Pele the previous night! We all cozied up for noodles, but to be honest, it was the few light bites we enjoyed beforehand that really made me happy.  Who knew that dried squid could be so sweet and chewy and delicious? Paired with an oolong highball, I felt like Murasaki Wakkako in Wakakozake! Pshuuu….!

Powells

Kanye

I think we all can agree that no trip to Portland is complete without a trip to Powells, but what trip to Powells is complete without purchasing a copy of Kanye West – Reanimator? Ponder that, if you will.

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Tyler Thrasher

Early on I knew that I would want to make a sojourn to ALTAR which boasts a magical collection of “Northwest Alternative Handmade” objects and apparel, home goods and body care items. When she rung up my purchases, the lovely owner (whose name I sadly did not catch. Or even ask for. Whoops!) assured me that I had picked out one of all of the best things in the store. Among my favorites: dark, wild scents from lvnea, dreamy tees from Wolf Child, jewels from Morgaine Faye, and the gorgeously illustrated wooden tarot deck from Skullgarden. What I did not bring home with me, though I wish I could have, was one of Tyler Thrasher‘s beautiful crystal encrusted creatures. So exquisite! So delicate! So not going to make it home in one piece!  It was a treat though, to be able to see them in person and up close.

 

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The first place – and one of the last places -that I visited in Portland was my beloved Paxton Gate. A treasure trove of taxidermy, oddities, curiosities and natural wonders, I could spend hours upon hours in there taking in all of the delights and grotesqueries! I would then of course become bankrupt and have to live in a cardboard box…but these are just minor inconveniences, you see. Just look at those fancy mice! I would love to have them cavorting with me forever! And that raccoon – his face!  Ah, I love this place.  On my first visit, a silver tentacled ring wrapped its way around my finger, and upon my last, my heart was stolen by a wee mummified bat. Too many good things!

Oh, Portland. I already miss your weirdness and your fantastic happy hours and your wonderfully friendly folks.  We will be back again, mark my words!

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