It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these little life updates, and as we’re sliding past midsummer, it felt like the right time to share some thoughts and recommendations with you all.

It was almost a year ago that I learned of my father’s passing. It was complicated. But whomst among us doesn’t have a complicated relationship with a relative? Both of my parents were complicated situations for me. My father and I hadn’t spoken in two decades, but his influence on my younger self during one pivotal summer in Houston still echoes through my life in unexpected ways. From word games that sparked my love for language to a treasure trove of Heavy Metal magazines that forever altered my perception of art and storytelling, those memories have become a strange sort of inheritance.

As this anniversary approaches, I’ve found myself seeking comfort in the small rituals of everyday life – tending to my garden, discovering new scents, and losing myself in music. It’s funny how the things we surround ourselves with can become anchors in turbulent times, isn’t it?

So, I thought I’d share some of these anchors with you today. A bit of this, a dash of that – the odds and ends that have been keeping me grounded and inspired lately. Consider it a belated midsummer offering of sorts, from my strange little world to yours.


I’ve got a bit of a confession to make – and it might surprise you! Despite my love for all things dark and spooky, my absolute favorite flower is… the sunflower. Not very on-brand for someone who writes about gothic literature and horror, and dark fashion, I know, I know. And I know you know. I struggle with this disparity a lot, and it spills over into this blog quite frequently.

There’s something undeniably magical about these towering golden giants, these brazen yellow blooms, their faces turned unabashedly towards the light. They’re like nature’s own version of a Rorschach test – to some, they might represent pure, unadulterated joy. To others, they’re a reminder of the delicious contrast between light and dark, a symbol of life’s stubborn persistence in the face of entropy.

Plus, let’s not forget their slightly creepy ability to track the sun across the sky. It’s like they’re a botanical army of solar-powered sentinels, always watching, always turning. Sorry, had to make it weird. So there you have it, friends. My not-so-dark secret is out. Anyone else out there have any unexpected favorites that don’t quite fit their usual aesthetic?


So: two-ingredient bagels.  No, no, no, I have not joined the ranks of the protein-obsessed gym rats or the preservative-phobic crowd, nothing like that. Sometimes you just want a bagel. Not those sad, freezer-burned discs masquerading as bagels from the grocery store. And definitely not the overpriced, underwhelming attempts at bagels that Florida tries to pass off as the real deal. Sorry, Florida (Bagel) Man, but you’re no Local New Jersey (Bagel) Man when it comes to bagels. And sure, I could spend hours crafting an authentic, complicated bagel recipe. But sometimes, you want a bagel without feeling like you’re auditioning for a baking show.

Enter the two-ingredient bagel: just flour and Greek yogurt. And seasonings and toppings, so it is not technically two ingredients, I suppose. It’s not terrible! It’s not going to win any awards in New York, but when the bagel craving hits, and your options are limited, it’s a surprisingly satisfying solution. I make extra to slice and freeze, and it’s a nice treat when you find a bagel buried at the bottom of the freezer underneath the frozen peas and the dubious pork chops!


I’ve always scoffed at the notion of seasonal fragrances. I wear what I want when I want! You can’t tell me nothin! Resinous incense and mossy stone castles and suffocating spices year round, please!

…Yet here I am, a prisoner of the merciless Florida hellscape, finding myself yearning for fragrances that offer respite from the relentless heat.

It’s not so much about capturing a bottled atmosphere as it is about survival. Those earthy autumnal and woodsy winter perfumes that once brought such cozy comfort and delicious decadence now feel like a weighted blanket in this sweltering humidity. They cling, they smother, they overwhelm – much like the soupy miasma of these endless summer days.

Instead, I find myself drawn to the ephemeral and the ethereal. I reach for scents that evaporate almost as quickly as they’re applied, leaving behind only the ghost of a proper perfuming. Fizzy floral effervescence, a fleeting joy in the sticky air. Crisp, soapy musks offer the illusion of a fresh start, even as the humidity threatens to undo their work. Citrus and ginger provide zingy, zippy zhuzh, their bright notes cutting through the muggy haze. And those elusive spa-like fragrances – all gauzy lavender threads and misty eucalyptus veils – conjure a spectral coolness that’s more memory than matter.

These aren’t summer scents in the traditional sense, with their sunscreen notes and tropical fruit medleys. They’re more like… olfactory air conditioning. These subtle, refreshing fragrances I once overlooked now feel like small mercies, in a season that shows no mercy.

Elizabeth W. Té smells like a gorgeous glass of Southern sweet tea

Eris Parfums Green Spell smells like a mossy malachite pennywort nightmare angel

Initio Musk Therapy is an Abercrombie & Witch spell of hot people smelling hot (thanks to @eaumg for most of that description.)

Origins Ginger Essence smells like how the chorus in June Hymn by The Decemberists makes me feel

Blue Quartz from HauteMacabre x Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is a gentle summer lullaby of coconut milk, sandalwood, and lavender

Jones Road Shower is good mostly because it reminds me of BPAL’s discontinued Danube, which smells like sinking to the bottom of the coldest, bluest swimming pool on the hottest day of the year, and seeing the sun’s glimmer wavering through the rippling water and thinking ha ha ha, screw you, sun.

Kyoto from Comme des Garçons is actually my all-time favorite, number one, anytime, anyplace scent. It’s the scent everything has to measure up to, and so far, nothing has ever surpassed it. It smells like a cool shadowy prayer in a dark forest temple, and it is especially nice on brutal summer nights.


I recently traveled to Philly, where I spent a much-needed long weekend with my Best Good Friend. We, of course, did some urban exploration and perfume shopping and conveyor belt sushiing and some long drives in the countryside, and, weirdly enough, a surprise visit to Warby Parker for very gleefully ridiculous new glasses! (Ývan thinks I look like this guy in my new specs, but everyone else is pointing to her.) But the best part was just vegging out together, doing nothing. We basically barricaded ourselves in their living room for a solid 24 hours, binging the entire season of Loudermilk, decimating an unholy amount of Herr’s jalapeño popper cheese puffs in the process. My fingers are probably still slightly orange.

A blonde musician showed up in one of the later episodes, and it hit me: isn’t that the singer from the 2017 Twin Peaks: The Return? Isn’t that Lissie?! I was obsessed with that Wild West song, and then I was obsessed with her PERFECT cover of Danzig’s “Mother” forever, and now, thanks to this show about the misadventures of misfits in AA, I’m equally fixated on her song “When I’m Alone.” And also the beautiful kimono she is wearing in that scene!

The funny thing is, it’s over a decade old at this point. Isn’t it weird how you can re/discover music like that? One minute, you’re stuffing your face with cheesy puffs; the next, you’re having a moment with a song from 2011 that you never knew you missed out on way back when, but now you love it like you’ve loved it forever.

Anyway, I’ve been playing Lissie non-stop since I got back. It’s like my brain is trying to recreate that perfect moment of kinship, junk food, and unexpectedly poignant television.


In early 2020, the world is still blissfully unaware of what’s coming, and I am armed with a Google Docs spreadsheet and a mission. The goal? To immerse myself in the Stephen King universe – reading the unread, re-experiencing the familiar through audiobooks, and diving into television and film adaptations I’d somehow missed.

For 80s horror kids, he was practically a god. The master of terror, the guy who could make a clown in a storm drain or a voice in a closet the stuff of lifelong nightmares. But if I am being thoroughly, painfully honest – as an adult, reading him can sometimes feel like listening to your out-of-touch dad try to be “hip.” You love him, but occasionally, you just want to gently suggest he stop talking before he says something so embarrassing you could die.

That said, there’s still this undeniable magic to his work. It’s comfort food for the horror soul. When he eventually shuffles off this mortal coil, I’ll be devastated. More upset than when my own father passed. Stephen King’s been more of a constant presence in my life, for better or worse.

Anyway, I’ve been picking up the threads of this project lately, diving into the Mr. Mercedes books and related stories. It’s been… interesting. There’s still that undeniable King charm, the way he builds a world and populates it with characters that feel both wonderfully and uncomfortably real. I’ve always loved the way he writes the relationships–the interactions, the dialogue, the bonds– between siblings, for example. I first read IT thirty-seven summers ago, but I still get shivers when I think of Bill and Georgie Denbrough. But there are also moments where I find myself thinking, “Oh, Stephen King,  no…! When was the last time you talked to a 44-year-old woman? And have you EVER spoken with a Black teenager??”

So that’s where I’m at with the project right now. Detecting with Bill Hodges, solving crimes with Holly Gibney, and watching Stephen King try to navigate the modern world with varying degrees of success. It’s a strange experience, this literary time travel. Part nostalgic joy, part critical assessment, all wrapped up in the complicated emotions of revisiting a childhood hero with adult eyes.

As I sit here, writing these words, I’m acutely aware of the passage of time. It’s been a year since I learned of my father’s passing, a man I barely knew yet whose influence echoes through my life in unexpected ways. The games we played then shape the words I write now. The Heavy Metal magazines I pored over still influence my aesthetic sensibilities. And that tiny bird I cradled during the Harmonica Convention? Perhaps it was the first stirring of the caretaker in me, the same part that now tends to sunflowers and crafts imperfect bagels. Maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe I just like flowers and bread.

(Totally unrelated–I also like creepy antique dolls. The one above was a birthday gift to myself last month.)

As I navigate this midsummer, with its oppressive Florida heat and the bittersweet onslaught of memories, I find myself grateful for the small joys: the scent of lemon and ginger on my skin, the cackles shared over junk food and trash television, the rediscovery of a singer-songwriter that speaks to my soul. It’s funny, isn’t it? How life can be simultaneously mundane and profound, filled with both small pleasures and big questions. I’m learning that it’s okay to contradict myself sometimes, whether it’s in my fragrance choices or my relationship with authors I’ve loved since childhood.

As we head deeper into the feverish, overheated, and everlasting days, I’m looking forward to more unexpected discoveries. And Halloween! Always that.  Summer can fuck right off straight into the sun.

If you enjoy posts like these or if you have ever enjoyed or been inspired by something I have written, and you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

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