Currently: July 2020

crepe myrtleOh, July. Dealer of fermenting heat fevers and the slow insensibility of sweat-death. Purveyor of seasonal ennui and summer malaise. July, my old nemesis. I see you have returned again.

I could do now what I have always done; ignore its presence and live in resentful unease until early autumn, when hurricane season begins in earnest. Cracked plastic blinds drawn weakly against the ruthless light of the sun, central AC cranked low and fans straining at their highest speeds to combat the boiling temperatures and ponderous humidity. Pretend it’s not there at all, none of it; if I don’t see July and all of its overheated, inflamed offerings, well then, perhaps July, in turn, does not see me.

I am not so certain that this is a strategy that’s been working very well for me. Though in the moment it might feel nice to root myself in the darkness like a pale, weak mushroom with a fondness for diet coke, crunchy snacks, and horror novels…after several weeks of this, I begin to feel unbalanced and generally unwell. And so, I have been considering the thought of meeting my brutal summer nemesis head-on…and deliberating on what such encounters might look like for me.

Into my daily-doings I am trying to incorporate  –without hemming or hawing or overthinking them– the implementation of those things that…while I might not love doing them…they are the things that benefit me and my overall wellness in the long term. Some people talk about that concept as being the ultimate form of self-care, but if you’re not into discussions of self-care, I suppose you could just look at it as being the responsible adult in your relationship with yourself and doing what’s best for yourself even when you just don’t wanna.

Exercising when I’d rather be cozy on the sofa reading, eating something nutritious when I’d rather be eating greasy junk, waking up early and having time to start the day on my own terms instead of sleeping in and rushing to be at my desk on time, making that appointment to get my mams grammed or my parts poked at, instead of putting it off because I feel fine and I really hate making phone calls. Doing the thing I am dreading RIGHT NOW and getting it out of the way so I can get on with my life, instead of ignoring it and letting the dread and doom build to unsustainable levels. I am not perfect and I don’t always get it right (and honestly sometimes four margaritas is a perfect amount, and I don’t care what future Sarah has to say about it) but this is one of the biggest changes I have been trying to make for myself.

crepe myrtle 2

So this year when summer-cellar-potato-sprout-me started to feel sickly and strangely heartsick in July, I met the month, halfway, under the sun and in the shade of the dusty, gingery spice of the riotous crepe myrtle blossoms and had a good think about it. While I hate being sticky and overheated and I really dislike the blinding glare of the bright summer sun in my eyes…what I do love is the lovely fresh air and moving myself through it. It makes me sad that I can’t throw the windows open and let the breeze in at this time of year, and I can’t take my evening walks around my neighborhood without coming back to my house tomato-faced and soaked through with my own sweat and stink. So the windows remain closed to the elements and I cease moving much at all. But I need those breezes and I need those walks to feel good. To feel like myself!

shorts

One thing I must constantly remind myself of is that I don’t need to suffer, needlessly. I do not have to be the conductor in my own choir of personal misery. I have written about this before, how discomfort and suffering are somehow wrapped up for me in my lifelong sense that I was somehow invisible. But I am here in this world, and a real person stares back at me every day from the mirror. And what I am saying here, is, that as a flesh and blood human going outside to parlay with the sun…I maybe need to stop being so stubborn and wear something appropriate instead of a suffocating swath of head-to-toe opaque material in the darkest shades of black.

So …as of last weekend, I began wearing shorts for the first time in over two decades. The pair pictured above was sent to me in a Stitch Fix box five years ago and I’m not sure why I kept them because they didn’t fit very well and I knew I wasn’t going to wear them.  I stuffed them into the furthest recesses of that one dresser drawer that I never rummage through, or really, even ever open at all, and forgot about them for several years.

It would be an extreme disservice to myself to say that these shorts now “miraculously” fit. Miracles and mystery have nothing to do with it. For a year and a half now I have been working quite hard at moving more, and really examining why I eat, what I eat, and how I eat, and though it is a slow process (and I wouldn’t have it any other way) my clothes are starting to fit better, and I am just feeling better in general. At any rate, these shorts are the Kut from the Kloth brand, and I know it is a stupid name, but I really do love them. I wore them outside to water our plants earlier this week, and I felt a breeze on my legs for the first time in a very long time. This is going to sound cheesy and melodramatic but that movement of air on a scrap of skin that usually never sees the light of day felt like an epiphany and I nearly wept.

lavender lime marigold sunflower tomatoes

Ever since the spiritualists in Cassadaga nudged me* this past January about exploring my interest in herbalism, I’ve been trying my hand at growing and gardening various things. I’m not one to do a lot of reading on a subject before I embark on things such as this; I know if I do, I will quickly become overwhelmed and then probably become too intimidated to even begin. Instead, I start with something small and try to learn as I go, reading and finding answers when I encounter a question, or when something doesn’t seem to be working.

Now, I feel compelled to share that this is not the first time I’ve ever had a little garden. But in the past whenever I grew frustrated, I usually just gave up and let things die. I didn’t really examine what I had done wrong, I didn’t try different techniques in attempting to right the issues, and I didn’t feel much of an attachment to what I was doing. I think this may be because I was not learning anything, and perhaps more importantly, I did not have any encouragement. I’m currently living with someone who is as delighted as I am by green and growth and gardening, and I am almost certain that having a partner in crime for such things increases the enjoyment as well as the possibility for success. Especially if that partner is more patient and persistent than you when it comes to finding solutions for garden problems. This is not to say that you need another person for success and enjoyment of your endeavors! You are quite capable, and quite enough. And I am too, I am sure. I just know that someone else to geek out with over your sprouting seedlings sure doesn’t hurt, either.

And so, I wore something comfortable and cool and I walked outside to do something I enjoy. It seems so simple when I say it like that, doesn’t it? The July sun doesn’t seem so vexing and villainous when I am enthralled, watching the traffic jam of sleepy-drunk bees in my sunflowers, or when I am held spellbound by the sweet scent of lavender on my fingertips. The sweat dripping into my eyes isn’t such an intensely personal affront when I am pruning mint and oregano to make something interesting with, or digging little holes to drop delicate basils cutting into, to hopefully take root and thrive. For a moment or two, I almost feel a sense of camaraderie with that brilliant blazing day-star, burning and boiling its path across the July sky. I guess in spending time now working in concert with something I’ve spent so long bitterly avoiding, I am learning that I, too, can grow.

porch 1 porch2 shelf 2 shelf 3

Fear not! All of this growth is not just confined to the back patio explorations and schmaltzy personal development! Our front porch is turning into a jungle and there are green things vining and growing (and probably wilting and rotting) on all of the indoor shelves, as well!

spice blends watermelon rind pickles

Of course, despite this seeming summer truce, I could never neglect the one space that has always been there for me, no matter what the weather out of doors or inside my heart is doing. Kitchen adventures are still happening!

I harvested and dried some mint, basil, oregano, for cooking purposes; as well as some thyme, which I added to a batch of creole seasoning; I picked some chive blossoms and made an infused vinegar; I pickled some watermelon rind last weekend (it’s kinda underwhelming) and I began a sourdough starter, which if I am being honest, smells a little disgusting. Like a belly button infection. And before you ask me how I know what that smells like, I will point you to the 17-year-old Sarah with the ill-advised bellybutton ring.

bread buffalo tofy reubens carbonara

I made Joshua Weissman’s sandwich bread (good); the buffalo tofu from Sarah’s Vegan Kitchen (excellent) and several recipes from the Southern Vegan cookbook, to mixed results. Typically everything I make by this cook (it’s the person who runs the Rabbit & Wolves blog!) is excellent, but the jury is still out on the Reuben sandwich and the kale carbonara pasta. They weren’t…bad? But they weren’t great? However, from this same book I also made the chili smashed potato salad and both myself and the person I fed it to while we watched the LotR trilogy for the eleventy-fifth time thought it was perhaps the finest potato salad we had ever eaten. I have no doubt that Samwise Gamgee would agree.

carlina

I do have to be real about my newfound positive relationship with the July sun. It’s still dreadfully hot. I do have to escape indoors from time to time! And strangely enough, it’s not so hot that I don’t want a pile of scratchy wool yarn on my lap?

A few weeks ago I was nearly this far in my progress on the Carlina sweater when I decided that I’d thread some yarn through the live stitches, take the work off the needles, and try it on. It was…enormous. I ripped it all back to just below the motifs, jettisoning weeks worth of work in the process, switched to smaller needles, incorporated matching decreases every few rows to hopefully reign in the girth as I worked my way down again, and just this evening I bound off the body and tried it on.

It is…still enormous. Are there lessons to be learned here? Yes? Will I learn them? Most assuredly not. I would not swatch again and I will continue to never swatch!

artists way books

For YEARS now, I have been meaning to dive into the Artist’s Way. I have begun the morning pages and the various tasks, but I’ll admit, I am not super consistent. Anyone else want to do this with me? We can check in on each other and gently try to hold each accountable? Let me know in the comments!

I am re-visiting Toni Morrison’s Beloved, because it’s been since my junior year of high school that I read it, and that was…a long time ago. As a teenager wrapped up in her own head and her own problems, I didn’t have the attention to give it that it deserved, and even if those mental spaces were functioning at 100%, I am not sure how much of it I would have really understood anyway. I also intend to dig into Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson because I just watched the deliciously savage Shirley a few weeks ago, and I believe it was supposed to have been set during the time she was writing this novel. Also this vintage paperback indicates it was at one point $1.50 and wow I think maybe I overpaid by a lot.

eves bayou

I finally got around to watching the incredibly interesting and remarkably insightful Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror; I’d heard it mentioned over and over in the last year or two by folx whose tastes and thoughts I really trust, and after watching it, my only regret is that I took so long to do so. One of the films mentioned immediately caught my interest– Eve’s Bayou, a southern gothic family drama with a plot incorporating magic and memory, and a moody atmosphere and aesthetic that could have been coaxed from a poem or a dream. To recommend it as a creepier Steel Magnolias with a Flowers In The Attic Vibe isn’t really fair, because at its core, it is a beautiful portrait of black identity and female awakening.

Two other things I recently watched and also recommend, but for very different reasons, are two series that are on Netflix right now. Both are short, with between 6-10 episodes, but that is where the similarities end. One is The Babysitter’s Club, and the other is Ju-on: Origins.

When I was 15 or 16 years old, I had for years been on a steady diet of Stephen King, Anne Rice, and multiple re-reads of The Exorcist. My youngest sister and subsequently our middle sister began reading The Babysitter’s Club series, and I suppose I must have started sneaking copies from their rooms at that time as well, perhaps in an unconscious effort to feel a bit closer to them. I have very fond memories of those books! This series is such a surprise and a comforting delight. I don’t know why I say “a surprise”–I watch and love things probably intended for younger folks all the time! It stays true to the spirit of the original, embracing friendship and empowerment of young women, but it’s also updated to be more diverse and inclusive. If the ending of the She-ra remake (which I also thoroughly ador(a)ed has left a hole in your heart, you could do worse than give The Babysitters Club a watch.

And Ju-on: Origins. Wow. Not much to say about that, but if you’re feeling nostalgic for what I think of as the Golden Age of Japanese horror, then do a binge of this. Think a slightly dialed down Takashi Miike plus a bit of David Lynch? Forbes called it the worst Netflix original series, but maybe they just don’t know genius when they see it. Maybe I don’t either! So as always, take my opinion with several grains of salt, but if you watch it, let me know what you think.

A Few Current Needful Things

ACS_0733Current Needful Things: For my summer (and forever) wardrobe, a Support Black Women Who Write Weird Shit tee shirt from Zin E. Rocklyn –whose fiercely exquisite story “The Night Sun” I am currently reading over at TOR– and which I have been wearing both night and day for two weeks straight now.

As well as two lovely new masks from Zephyr Line Workshop! I really adore both of these prints; one is a moody, dark floral with a sassy skellington hand, and the other is a tiny purple and orange star print that reminds me of those kawaii origami stars that I never quite got the hang of making.

ACS_0734
I am wearing a size medium (scroll to the second pic for glamorous mask modeling!) and the fit is spot on. AND shipping is super quick! FYI Zephyr Line Workshop has a 13% off discount code { BATTY } for goth potatoes until July 26th, so if you’re in need of an extra few masks for spooky and safe summer escapades, I highly recommend you grab a few. 🦇

ACS_0732

PS thank you, @bitwitchy for bringing the tee to my attention!

How to Wear Abandoned Spaces

Image: Thomas Nemcsek

Image: Thomas Nemcsek

What is it about the desolation of abandoned spaces that fascinates and captivates us so? The architectural corpses of feral homes, deserted temples, ghost towns, dilapidated castles, drifting shipwrecks–whether it’s run-down, ramshackle structures or their derelict surroundings, humans can’t seem get enough of their own oblivion.

There’s an eerie, inherent beauty in decay and abandonment, in the decrepit, ghostly aesthetics of what was once thriving and pristine, now fallen to ruin, suspended in time and place. So many things vanish, yet these decaying buildings, these vestiges of places that once existed, remain in the landscape, reassuring our minds that death might not be the end.

If that’s all just a little too deep to contemplate on an early morning, perhaps then, consider this: in the grim gloom, bleak debris, and phantom shadows we conjure of those who once populated these spaces, there is much in the way of unusual and thrilling imagery to be found.  Why not consider incorporating these spectral stories and eerie, distressed, decayed motifs into your seasonal wardrobe shifts?

Whether you’re a natty urban explorer poking about an abandoned asylum or a lounging quaintrelle with a penchant for tea parties in dusty turrets, no doubt you will find a bit of inspiration in the four ensembles I have compiled for you below.

Please note: This post was originally created in 2016 for Dirge Magazine, a site that no longer exists on the internet (except in some form or another at archive.org, probably.)  I have not included the items used for these ensembles because these were created four years ago and everything is most assuredly out of stock! If you have questions about anything though, please leave me a comment, and I will try to find the answers for you.

Danvers Asylum

 

danvers

Corfe Castle

corfe

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple

Roosevelt Smallpox Hospital

tumblr_o37wcn20eB1qaivtro1_500

 

Bonus! For your ears: ominous aural accompaniment to these ensembles in the form of a Spotify playlist , inspired by Roland Torpor’s The Tenant.

Links Of The Dead {June 2020}

Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck (c. 1665)

Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck (c. 1665)

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Previous Links Of The Dead: {June 2019} | {June 2018} | {June 2017} | {June 2016}

💀Graveyards as green getaways

💀Professional Mourners Laments From Quarantine

💀How do you foster ‘a good death in a racist society?’

💀Three Ways to Address Guilt When You’re Grieving

💀Alica Forneret‘s grief resources created by and for BIPOC

💀The first-ever human composting site will open in 2021 in Seattle

💀School apologises after children are told to plan own funeral as homework

💀How To Support Children Who Have Lost Their Fathers To Police Violence

💀The Lack of Mobilized Outrage For Police Killing Black Women Is An Injurious Erasure

💀Speaking Grief validates the experience of grievers and guides those wishing to support them.

💀A Wrench in the Gears of the Grief Machine: How do I mourn with members of my faith if I can’t be with them?

💀Kubo and the Two Strings is not only a samurai epic. It perfectly encapsulates the themes of Death, grief, and hair

More Sneak Peeks From The Art Of The Occult

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It feels super weird and maybe a little tacky to keep mentioning my forthcoming little book goblin, but part of my job of having written it is to occasionally promote it. Please don’t get annoyed with me!

In the vein of keeping updates brief and lively for your eyeballs, I thought I might share a peek at the table of contents. Hopefully, this is what it will all look like in the end, but if it’s not exactly as displayed in these photos and screenshots, it will be pretty close. I’m pretty thrilled that they included this image of Waterhouse’s Circe Indiviosa here, it’s an incredibly gorgeous work, and one of my very favorites by the artist. What do you think?

To anyone who has already preordered a copy, thank you so much! Preorders help with creating an early buzz about a book, and it’s a clear message to the publisher that there is a demand for the author’s work. So I appreciate all of you for sending that message–it means the world to me!

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy, all of the details on The Art Of The Occult can be found here. 

Table of contents

We Have Art In Order Not To Die Of The Truth (Pt. 2)

A few years ago I put together a blog post gathering of artwork that I had been gazing upon at that point in time, imagery that enraptured and entranced me, and that buoyed me and kept me afloat when life was feeling rough. Art, in this transportive and transcendent way, is a great balm for me. It always has been.

One thing I noticed about that little gallery, is that, though beautiful, it’s not very diverse, and to put it bluntly, it’s quite full of white faces. I know what my tastes and inclinations are, and I know what I personally find engaging and compelling (moody midnight feels and otherworldly splendor 4ever.) Without sounding too defensive (I hope) I will state unequivocally that I find beauty in all colors of faces and shades of people that inhabit the canvases of the art that I love. But. I’ve actively never examined where it is I am finding these works that I gravitate toward, and who it is creating them–and questioning myself as to why searches for the art I love are so exclusive and narrow.

Black art matters. And it isn’t that Black art is rare or that Black artists are in any way less talented, so why I am not seeing it? Well, the answer is that the onus is on me, as a passionate and enthusiastic admirer of the arts, to find it. To share it. To support it. And to that end, I have been making a daily habit of over the last few weeks, of actively seeking out art created by Black artists and makers of color.

We are living in strange and fraught times right now with this recent and unprecedented-in-our-lifetime pandemic calamity hanging over our heads and our homes, and the long-standing unjust, and, unchecked crisis of violence and oppression of Black people. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating, and  I have to believe that we can do better. I have to believe and push at our governing bodies to do better. I have to believe that we are on the precipice of a change.

And sometimes when doing and pushing and even believing is too much…I have to take a break and look at some art. Below are some articles and reading that I have found interesting, informative, and insightful, and below that, I have included a small but powerful gallery of incredible art created by brilliant Black artists.

🖤 Black Art Matters: Why Our Creative Visual Contributions Should Be Valued And Represented More Widely
🖤 The People Behind the Black Lives Matter Art Being Shared on Instagram
🖤 7 Prominent Artists Of The Harlem Renaissance In NYC
🖤 Here are 6 groundbreaking African American artists who have made history.
🖤 Culture Type Picks: 14 Best Black Art Books of 2019 (a few months old, but that’s ok!)
🖤 Young Black Artists Speak About the Role of Art in This Moment
🖤 6 Black artists to support during nationwide protests
🖤 Black-Owned Galleries to Support across the United States
🖤 15 Enlightening Books About Black Art
🖤 ‘Art Is Just A Language’: Dinah Poellnitz On Black Art And Protesting
🖤 10 Museums To Learn About Black Culture, Art, And Design In The US
🖤 Aaron Samuel Mulenga: The Power Of Black Art And Representation

How To Wear: The Art of the Occult

art of the occult

Well, you knew I was eventually going to do this sooner or later!

Also, this is a small announcement that the publish date for The Art of the Occult has been shifted from September 20, 2020 to October 6, 2020. With the world being in such a state right now, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if that shifted again, but if I find that out, I will update you immediately.

Mary Katrantzou Colour-Block Maxi Dress Aw19 // Nutsa Modebadze NM8087 boot // bralette and knickers from Journelle // Erie Basin Etrucan Revival Bracelet // Swarovski Dream Eye Clutch // Gucci The Voice of the Snake perfume, from The Alchemist’s Garden collection // Julie Nolan brass snake ring at Catbird NYC // Antique Amethyst and Opal Ring // Vint & York Rare Bird cat eye glasses // Bloodmilk jewels The Torch Bearer ritual strand // Sofia Zakia Medusa’s Veil Ring // Christian Louboutin Goldomania nail color  // The Art of the Occult preorder

Assumptions/Assertions And Using My Words

Image via shutterstock

Image via shutterstock user gerasimov_foto_174

I’ve been keeping quiet but I am not sure that serves anyone. That’s my MO when I don’t know what else to do. But I also know that passivity can’t play a part in activism, and this isn’t the time to indulge in my timid tendency to do behind-the-scenes work.

I’ve been assuming that my family, friends, followers, and fans (can I say “fans”? I might have a fan or two, I don’t know) know that I absolutely condemn racism and the institutionalized oppression and violence against Black people. A small part of me thinks that these words just go without saying. Except they don’t, do they? And it turns out that when it comes to me actually giving voice to these words– to assert them to you, instead of making you assume them of me–that I am not even sure that I am saying the words right.

I don’t kid myself into thinking that I have much of a platform here. But those who regularly read my words are noting a disappointing lack of of them addressing the subjects of social injustice and racial inequality, of unlearning white supremacy, of focusing on working toward current and systemic changes to a shitty system that you can’t even call broken because it’s operating exactly in the dreadful ways it was intended. I know I have to do better. What use are words even for, if not to use their energy and power in working for and creating these changes?

But I know words are not enough. And I am probably going to say some things wrong. I am probably going to do some things wrong. But I am going to fail better, and in the process, hopefully, do better.

What does that mean for me, though, beyond donating and signing petitions? These are both very good things to do and I will continue doing them, but I know there is a gap to be bridged between words and actions, and I need to figure out what that looks like for me.

I don’t know a thing about my local government. About our mayor or city commissioner or zoning laws or what’s going on in the local news. I didn’t even know that we had a Black Lives Matter protest across the Dunlawton Bridge last weekend. This is an admission that is embarrassing, at the very least, but really, it’s irresponsible and shameful. I don’t know what role I want to play in local politics other than being an informed citizen and voter, but that’s a good start.

Seek out and support Black artists. Prior to now, this is not something I have spent much time doing. If I happened to find a piece of dreamy or fantastical art or a spooky or speculative story, or an eerie piece of music or a terrifyingly impactful horror film that also happened to have a Black creator, that was mostly an accident, I guess. It wasn’t something I was paying attention to. I’m working on being much more intentional about seeking out, supporting, and sharing the works of these creators in my reading/watching/eyeball fodder practices –in order to listen, learn from, and lift up voices other than those emanating from the mouths of people who look like me.

Confront racism where I see it/hear it. Which includes addressing my own biases. This is going to be scary. I am scared of everything. Especially confrontation. But what if my skin color was just one more reason for me to be fearful in this world? That’s an ugly thought but more than that, it’s a sickening reality. One that I have never had to struggle with. That’s something to sit with and think about. It’s going to be uncomfortable.

I like to wrap things up neatly, when possible. But wrapping up implies that an end is near; that an end is even possible. Wrapping indicates a great deal of work has been done. I have barely begun. This, then, is not me wrapping up a one-off blog post. This is the messy beginnings of critical work that may not always even make it to this space for you to know about, but which I intend to work at regardless of who may be watching or not. I don’t know if any of these things are right or good or important, but they are practices that feel meaningful to me to start with, and so I have to trust in my gut that they will be beneficial beyond that.

I am sorry that I expected you to make assumptions. Assumptions about where I stand on matters of racism and inequality, what I stand for with regard to social injustice, and who I stand with, in terms of Black Lives Matter. Loudly, as loudly as I can proclaim here in these written words displayed on a screen, I am telling you, my readers; you the people just stumbling across my little spot here; you, the person who finds this space at some future time: Black Lives Matter. Today, tomorrow, and always.

I could not have written this post without the scores of Black writers and creators and bloggers who have given me the language and resources to even begin thinking about this, let alone commit my thoughts to words. If you’re not already, please check out the work and words of the following individuals:

 

Links of the Dead {April & May 2020}

"All the Flowers and Insects", Toru Kamei (2013)

“All the Flowers and Insects”, Toru Kamei (2013)

The intro for our monthly installment of Links Of The Dead typically reads as follows: “Some deathly reportings I have encountered in the past month or so– from somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have come across my radar with reference to matters of mortality.”

This month I think I am going with: here’s a bunch of mostly depressing news brimming with heartbreak and despair. But some of it may be helpful or heartening, too. Don’t lose hope, friends. We will get through this.

"All the Flowers and Insects" Toru Kamei (2016)

“All the Flowers and Insects” Toru Kamei (2016)

(This month’s featured artist is such a favorite that I am compelled to include two images.)

Previous Links Of The Dead: {May 2019} | {May 2018} | {May 2017} | {May 2016}

💀 People are finding new ways to say goodbye as the coronavirus pandemic limits ability to mourn
💀 Making Sense of Miscarriage During the Coronavirus Crisis
💀 Trouble Focusing? Not Sleeping? You May Be Grieving
💀 The Grief Cliché of the COVID Era
💀 A Course On Dying’s Claudia Crobatia on YouTube exploring the subject of mortality
💀 The Morgue Worker, the Body Bags and the Daffodils
💀 Playing Ophelia Helped Me Navigate My Own Grief
💀 A country-wide presentation of obituaries and death notices tries to frame incalculable loss.
💀 The unbearable grief of Black mothers

Ten Things: Spooky Nerd Necessities From Generally Gothic

generally gothic feature

On this month’s (?) (unidentified measure of time)’s installment of Ten Things, I am thrilled to share the spooky musings of Hannah, creator of the Generally Gothic blog.

Generally Gothic is a collection of content on broadly gothic themes; articles exploring the Gothic within art, literature, architecture, film and television, social history, and life in general.
Today Hannah shares the ten things she finds necessary to maintain these spooky endeavors!

Peek in on Generally Gothic : Instagram // Twitter // Tumblr // Goodreads

‘L'autoportrait Interdit’ | © Generally Gothic

‘L’autoportrait Interdit’ | © Generally Gothic

Bio:
Hello! My name’s Hannah and I’m a Master of the Gothic. You can find me online as Generally Gothic, where I blog and post about (you guessed it) the Gothic within the arts and humanities. I am currently exploring literary and historical witches under my current theme: Season of the Witch. You will also find me as Associate Editor of dark literary journal, Coffin Bell, and in the upcoming edition of YOGURT Culture Zine.

One of the questions I am most frequently asked at, and as, Generally Gothic is how I maintain my blog. I am grateful to have found a space in which I am no longer asked why, but still find it shocking because mine is a sporadic and not very present online presence…

Regardless, during this weird year of confinement and armchair adventures, I thought I would share ten of the things necessary for maintaining my spooky endeavours, which I hope you can apply to whatever it is you’re nerdy about online.

1. A Sincere Passion

Mine was born on the bathroom floor at the age of seven.

I grew up in a house that had books in every room. Amongst the clothbound volumes on the bathroom shelves was a collection of short stories. And amongst their number was Edgar Allan Poe with ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. I devoured most of the books on most of the shelves, but that moment with that story in that unlikely room was what can only be described as ‘formative’.

‘Library 1/n’ | © Generally Gothic

Library 1/n’ | © Generally Gothic

2. Inky Fingers

Just as gardening cannot be done without getting muddy, writing, for me, cannot be done without getting inky.

I find greater freedom in writing by hand ‒ that I cannot truly write without pen and ink. If you follow my posts closely, you will spot strong suggestions of my ecological beliefs. It should, therefore, be no surprise that I favour an ink pen that is refilled over and over again, without waste. Mine is very dear to me ‒ it was a graduation gift that I intend to collaborate with for the rest of my life.

I am sure that there are ways of refilling the cartridge without pouring ink into my pores, but I don’t think I want to know them…

3. So Many Papers

With inky fingers come papers… so many papers. Bound in books, and loose, ripped, recycled, and lost, and rediscovered in pockets once long forgotten.

I know that hoarding paper isn’t the most eco-friendly practice, but like inky fingers there is something in the physical, the tangible, that I cannot turn my back on.

Do you remember assessments in primary school to determine ‘what kind of learner’ you were? I am a note-taker. I don’t know that that’s even one of the options. I also don’t know that it works… but that’s what I am. And those notes are the seeds that develop into my blog posts, so I take it back; be a note-taker ‒ it does work, because it is the work. Or part of it, anyway.

‘A Different Pen & Ink’ | © Generally Gothic

‘A Different Pen & Ink’ | © Generally Gothic

4. An Internet Connection… Albeit a Terrible One Right Now

This post is consciously not about the whole Voldermorty (You-Know-What, or That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named) state of affairs, but I would like to ask just one related question.

The internet has undoubtedly been an invaluable tool in innumerable ways during this time, but has anyone else been surprised at how it’s struggled to cope with the increased traffic? Maybe it’s just the service offered by They-Who-I-Really-Want-To-Name-(and-shame-)But-Won’t…

Anyway, the internet, though fatigued at present, is obviously a spooky nerd essential. There were already so many incredible resources, and now an influx of services have digitised or temporarily waived fees, which is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Go forth and discover!

5. Open Eyes

Whilst memory is not a strong point of mine, I do have a spongey constitution.

Perhaps it’s an individual thing, but once I began to look for it however long ago, manifestations of the gothic in life around me became delightfully inescapable. Whatever it is that I am researching, reading, or writing about at any given time, I will find echoed in likely, and very unlikely, places. I suppose this synchronicity relates to passion. If you find what you love, you will seek it. Once it takes root, you will encourage it to grow wild, as I do.

‘Gardner’s Short Gallery’ | © Generally Gothic

‘Gardner’s Short Gallery’ | © Generally Gothic

6. Inspiring Surroundings

Though the world of natural and human invention is ripe with inspiration, it is undeniably more so in certain corners than others.

Just as the great poets and painters sought intellectual salons, country retreats, and dimly lit cafés, I find that connecting with the existing work of the world positively impacts my own output.

Personally, I have a soft spot for museums, galleries, and historical homes. I know I said I wouldn’t mention it again, but one of the greatest things to come out of the pandemic is level access to the arts. I honestly cannot say whether theatres, performers, workers, establishments, etc., are being supported sufficiently by governments and public donations, but I can say that I am hugely grateful for the resulting geographical and financial equality afforded to their expanding audiences.

7. Human Inspiration

Once again making an example of historical creatives, we know that, whilst many succeeded in isolation, with community as muse, art proliferates.

Through Instagram, I have found myself surrounded by a collection of companions with whom I can share and from whom I can learn about all sorts of interesting things that spark endless inspiration.

I remain open about the fact that I would be doing what I do whether anyone was listening or not. And, whilst it’s true that I began by whispering into the silent void, it would be entirely dishonest to discredit the impact that community has had on Generally Gothic. A discussion, rather than a lecture, allows for everyone to grow and, having just this year learnt that I am 3 inches shorter than I had previously believed myself to be, that sounds pretty appealing to me…

‘Giving Away du Maurier’ | © Generally Gothic

Giving Away du Maurier’ | © Generally Gothic

8. Tea, Coffee, and Cake…

…for I am human, and I need fuel. I can write without tea, coffee, and cake, but I’d rather not. It really is that simple.

9. Libraries

As you may have gathered, I feel very passionately about access to information and equality in education. I believe in books, and I believe in trees.
I am soon moving from the place that I have called home for the past 2 years. Amongst an assortment of wonderful organic things, such as people and landscapes, one of my favourite foreign discoveries has been the local network of Little Free Libraries. (Take a book, give a book whether back or forward.)

I vouch to build one of my own when I am a home-owner, but until then, I aim to share books online. I am currently giving away 2 vintage Daphne du Maurier hardbacks that I purchased from one of my favourite, virtual second-hand book shops. It is an ongoing attempt at practising what I have always vaguely known to be true: that books need people as much as people need books. And that I can exist without hoarding them all… particularly when my luggage allowance is limited.

I have scattered a selection of my library back around the Little Free Libraries I frequented. If you ever find a novel with a Generally Gothic stamp inside, let me know! I’d love to see how far they travel.

‘In Progress: The New Gothic Review Review’ | © Generally Gothic

‘In Progress: The New Gothic Review Review’ | © Generally Gothic

10. Embracing the Chaos, with Open Arms

I have a really strict schedule of expectations, and also a whole load of other commitments that are as demanding as they are unavoidable.

I have found that when I choose to cut a bigger slice of cake, take a break with a book, and shrug it off if I miss my self-imposed deadline for another formless week in a row, I create better.

Remember point 1? It’s a passion ‒ enjoy it!

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