Wednesday, December 2

The Newest Girl's Guide to Portland

Ten months ago, I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Today, I live in Portland, Oregon.
People ask me, all the time now, about the differences between "the South" and here, and there are a few stories I love to tell. I love to inform my new co-workers that my previous co-workers didn't believe in evolution -- and I love the look on their faces, as if it's crazy to even suggest such a thing.
I love describing the ways that "southern hospitality" proves itself a myth, and how everyone here is so fucking nice I can't handle it. How it feels like that commercial where the guy thinks his gas station attendants are there to rob him, because gas station attendants here actually do some of that, and it surprises me so much that they're so helpful. Kids play in the street -- like, actually play, like they do on tv! -- and the department of Human Services actually treats you like a human -- as if helping you was their job, or something. People thank the bus driver.

Really, I love to badmouth my "home"state (i wasn't born there, so i don't have to completely claim it, you know?) because I never belonged there. I never fit there-- though I found something close in Greensboro (which is why I stayed there so long) --and I continually felt disappointed and outraged by so many of the ignorant, sexist, racist, biased, hateful people, religions, customs, and laws that were present in everything. The country is tearing itself apart out of sheer delusional, belligerent ignorance, and I won't shy away from my thought that it all bubbles and begins in the South. And, yes, it was my home for a very, very long time, and I didn't realize how much I hated it there until I entirely and completely gone. Don't get me wrong, I knew I didn't like it where I was, and that I hated my family's town, but the extent of that.. I didn't realize it until I didn't have to be there anymore-- didn't have to settle.
I love reminding people of how lucky they've been to have lived here-- whether their whole lives or a couple years -- by describing where I've lived, and what I've lacked because of it.
But I'll stop whining for a minute.

So let's talk about new life things.
Money is, so far, the biggest hindrance here. It's expensive to live here and I wasn't quite prepared for the very very high general living expense. I could get by with taking days off of work before, but here I need to work every day, sometimes at two different jobs, to make enough to maybepossibly pay my rent and car. And food... that Portland nice-ness was integral for my "food assistance" application, and thank the universe and the US government that foodstamps is pulling us through. Being able to buy food, at all, without worrying about which bill won't get paid, is a big deal -- being able to buy healthy food (and not-so-healthy snacks, too) is nothing short of a life-saver. While we indulged during our first month here, we now rarely eat out/take out food more than once a week, except when we're truly desperate or lazy. While the food trucks here are amazing, they're not any cheaper than a regular restaurant, and cheap eats aren't particularly common. And moving to any new place always comes with a pile of brand new bills, fees, and security deposits, on top of the ones I brought with me.

But it's beautiful here. With tree lined neighborhoods all over the place, and a tiny little metropolis in the center, volcanoes on the horizon and bridges in every direction. I even love the rain, when it's around.
Activities are plentiful to the point of confusion. There is always, always so much going on that it's hard to keep up with or afford. I've talked to a lot of people that grew up here, and they're always "there's nothing to do heeeere..." which blows my mind. (So I kind of feel like Weetzie, thinking about all the awesome LA things people don't notice.)  But there's fairs and festivals at least once a week somewhere in the city, sometimes every single day, especially during the weekends.
We try to do at least one interesting thing per week. Back in the fall it was Rose City Comic Con, before that it was my birthday so it was busier, with a street fair saturday and a trip to the nickel arcade. The weekend before was $2 day at the science museum so we went to a planetarium show. Before that was $3 movie theaters (with beer of course!) bands at people's houses, movies in the park, a variety of farmers markets several times a week. Fireworks for seemingly no reason. A haunted corn maze with a mini circus/cabaret in the center.  Friendsgiving with almost-strangers. Breweries. Street fairs. $2 happy hours. Shakespeare plays on top of a small mountain (volcano!).
There is so. much. stuff.

Here's a list of the basics to start you off: The things you will learn literally as soon as you get here.
» it's Will-Am-ette not will-ah-met. Think Willamette like Damnit
» Couch street is pronounced Cooch. Don't even ask why, there doesn't seem to be a reason.
» everyone drives slow. Traffic sucks here because nobody seems to know that they're supposed to go the speed limit.
» Oswego is pronounced Osweego for some reason.
» pick up a copy of This Is Portland: it's a quick read and crazy on point.
» it never seems to rain for more than an hour at a time. But it will drizzle for hours on the worst days, and winter is coming, so...
» there's four main districts; NW SW NE SE; depending on where they are in relation to the river. So any time you have an address, you know the area it's in. There's others, but not as big of a deal.
» Technically the cities on a grid system, but it's a convoluted lopsided grid. Streets curve in weird directions and stop randomly to pick back up blocks later. Google Maps is your friend.
» There are four main methods of transportation; the light rail (the max), the street car, the bus, and bikes. People love their bikes here.
» There are a lot of bridges. A lot. They're beautiful.
» people are weirdly, frighteningly nice. Not just polite, but nice, helpful, friendly, etc. It's weird.
» there's lots and lots of homeless people. Not just panhandlers but straight-up sleeping on the streets and pitching tents under bridges homeless. It's unpleasant and painful to see, but isn't usually harmful, safety-wise.
» this is a 21+ city that makes it kind of hard for minors to attend events. We're actually considering a fake ID for my sister just to get into shows or late night movies and restaurants.
» everything is expensive, get a good job. Seriously.
More Portland info to come.
“How I Live My Weetzie Way in Portland" coming soon, as well as my own photographic love letter to my new city.

Sunday, November 1

A Zine Review?

I don't read zines (because as far as I know they didn't exist in NC...) but where I intern, they love them. There's this huge zine scene (ha!) in Portland that blows me away.
At my internship, I offered to write descriptions for this zine because it needed them, and I like copy-writing, so sure! it's called dream whip by this guy (who lives in NC... crazy) bill brown. And... I loved it. Devoured it for hours at work (I didn't even finish two issues; they're dense).
And my text for the website came out more like a review, so.... I figured I'd share it here.
If you have a "zine scene" where you live, this might be worth checking out.

dream whip issue #11 
It's hard to describe the short, intricate glimpses of life Bill shares from his travels around the world. They're quick, careful sketches of single moments or entire days, acute and reflective like tiny windows into the world around us that we never even think about.
In this issue, Bill drives around the country before settling in New York City for a while, admiring and dreading the subway wind and contemplating tiny moments of silence and simplicity in a chaotic, beautiful city. "...that's how this city is, sometimes. Solemn and quiet. A place to buy a donut without saying a word, as if the world's running low on words, the way it runs low on pennies now again. How can you run low on something so worthless? That's what people want to know..."

With writing that is intensely visual ("Maybe a whole lawn would spring up, an Austin lawn in West Harlem, where my Dominican neighbors could dance and make-out while the music blares from their open windows.... The mayor would send in herbicide helicopters and flame throwers, but it'd be too late.), contemplative, and sensory ("'s furious and fast, like the piano player is trying hard to get to the end of the piece while the city comes crashing down around him. Seasons and cities and whole centuries smash through the ceiling, and all the pianist can do is play faster and faster."), Brown pulls you into his life in tiny snippets.

Before you know it, you're addicted, devouring page after page until you're swallowed into his gritty, expressive, hopeful words, following his days exploring the city, his trip to D.C. with Food Not Bombs, his tour of New York Coffee shops, and then, quite suddenly, you're left to flounder when it's all over and there isn't any more.
"Then the big departure sign is like a slot machine, and the times and the places blur, and you hold your breath. For a few dizzy seconds, you could be going anywhere."

Monday, September 7

Style Icon, Angel Edition

Angel Haze

Angel Haze is kind of my hero right now.

A trans/a-gender rap artist with a rocking body, badass style, and an attitude (but maybe not ego?) to match, with a musical sound that makes me want to close my eyes and disappear into the beat. Which is not typical for me when it comes to your everyday rap music.

But Angel's music is heart-achingly powerful. Whether it's strong and beautiful in Battle Cry or intense and vivid in Weapon, or aggressively honest in Black Dahlia and Impossible, I am repeatedly amazed and drawn in by their work.

"you the only one who holds the key to your healing"

I don't remember how I found their work this particular time (I'd heard of them before but didn't really pay attention) but I. fell. hard.

"sometimes it has to hurt for the cause to be reached

but one day you'll be stronger than all that you beat"

""When I listened back [to my music], I felt disgusted. I wanted everyone to feel that. It was good that they felt it, because it was fucking wrong. I want someone who's a father to listen to the song, and be like: 'No one had better ever fucking touch my daughter like that. And if they do, you can tell me.'"" - interview about one of their first songs.

Did I mention they speak Tsalagi-- a native tongue from her heritage? Self-taught, too. How fucking cool is that?

They also seem to share a little of my ridiculous obsession with love... ""I'm really obsessed with the idea of love. I have this desire to have this immaculate form of love that really doesn't exist, so my obsession goes on through life and I never find it and I end up miserable. But it makes me a better writer.""

Video links until I can embed them...

 Battle Cry 

Flapper Fizz

I have a mild obsession with the Roaring 20s. A romanticized, unrealistic obsession, of course, but... anyway.

Having said that, I've created a few random bits to share/spread my love :)


I made this myself! <3

Hair ideas



Saturday, September 5

Read Life/Real Life

So let's talk about books.
Obviously, I like books.
I like F.L. Block books. They move me and inspire me and make me want to be and be more.
And there are so many fantasy books I love, too.
The Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. So much adventure and strength and passion and love. The Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. Softer, but still epic and tragic and romantic and beautiful.
I have a fascination with Stephen King books and I recently fell in love with Horns, by King's son, Joe Hill, which I will absolutely write about later on, not to mention his first amazing book, Heart-Shaped Box (which is awesomely creepy), and N0S4A2; also brilliant.

I am aware, very much, that my obsession with fiction has led to a fairly skewed outlook on life.
Because I crave heart-aching romance and epic adventure and excitement, I'm particularly dulled to [what feels like] the lack-luster truths of reality.

Love is simple and can feel dull after long periods of time.
Pleasurable sex (for me) is rarely ever slow and "romantic."
Friends don't just float into your life then stick around without a lot of work.
Normal, everyday life doesn't feel magical.

At least
not when compared to books.

and I think this is where my version of the Mean Reds comes in.
My depression, which doesn't creep up on me slowly but pounces, throwing a shade over my eyes and a net around my thoughts before I even realize it's coming.
Even the beautiful sunsets and sunrises and skylines just don't... matter
when that shade comes down.
Then the dullness of my
drains me.
Even things I don't think are dull or bad at all, all sink into this pit of the Mean Reds.
I get angry and scared and miserable and desperate.
I get lonely.

It should make me want to run, but it actually freezes me. I curl up and become stagnant and bitter because of it. Because of my lust for a fantasy life I resent my real one. It hurts.

But still we read, right? Still we comb through bookshelves and review blogs and other people's recommendations. Still we search for something new to read, or something good enough to read again.

I've spent long chunks of my life trying to pull myself out of my real-life-induced bitterness, reminding myself that there is no main character in the real world, everyone exists in the same way and no-one is excitedly diving into our adventure (or lack thereof) and that's a really strange thing to do. It's something like the reverse of convincing yourself you're not crazy. Instead, I convince myself that I am crazy-- that I need to let my romanticized expectations go and appreciate what I have.
That's what all the stupid aphorisms say, right? It's not so much... "life is always greener" as... "you will never have grass as green because there's no such thing as that green..."
It's... really depressing just thinking about now...

But how do we fix that?
How do we, as artists, creatives, travelers, and -- most importantly -- readers deal with -- truly deal with -- the world we took to the pages to escape? We all get thrown back into it, after all; that's what growing up is; so how do we consolidate the adventure, passion, and excitement of our fictional retreats into the adult world we have no choice but to navigate?

I'm on a journey to find fiction that doesn't circumvent my enjoyment and understanding of my life but encourages it -- facilitates it.
I want fiction that brings life up and says -- it's okay to be simple! it's okay to be plain! the real world can be interesting to and you aren't missing out!
you don't have to be the main character in the world's story to have your own! Live your boring little life and enjoy and explore and love your life.

Monday, July 6

A Travel "Poem"

a journey

with trembling stomach
tingling fingers
we set off
i swear i'm not afraid
mountains pass
around naps and daydreams
the smiths play. and lana del rey. and low country blues.
and i watch the world go by
the country go by
one city at a time
one state at a time
but it's only a road trip, only a little while
and when people ask it's just a confident smile
a joke
manifest destiny
because we can
because why not.
so why say more?

no one really takes you serious
when you talk about depression
as a disease.
a disease you can't escape because it
it's hard being told
over and over and a lot
that moving won't change your life.
"everywhere you go; you will always be there!"
no, you can't escape yourself, but you can't do the same things over again in the same fucking place and expect change.
and they lied anyway
moving -- moving so very very far away-- changes everything
you are changed
from so so so many things. so many reasons.

i am changed.

if you're afraid to escape a place you hate.
don't be.

Friday, May 15

How My Abuser Still Haunts Me [2]

This is [part 2 of] a long article/memoir essay I wrote for SkirtCollective last month. It was hard to write, but once I started it just kept going and going until I had said everything I could. I had nightmares that night. 
Trigger warning here, I guess.

After a while, I said ‘no’ more often, hung up on him more often, went out of my way to spend time with my family or old friends instead of him. Eventually, I stopped picking up the phone altogether.
It’s extremely hard – and terrifying – to break up with an abuser. Especially one who’s known you for so long. After all, breaking up had happened before: over and over for years. This time I was determined, and after a week of angry phone calls, threats, insults, guilt and harassment, it seemed to stick.
I don’t remember how terrified I was. Maybe I blocked it out.
It was the end of the school year and I do remember him hovering near my classrooms and parking spot. There was one day, near the end, when I was waiting for my ride next to the school. He was standing by the entrance, eyes on me. I knew he would come closer when more people had left, but I didn’t know what he would do.

But for some reason, two boys I knew came out of nowhere to sit with me. One was a friend, the other an old friend’s brother. I didn’t know why they were there, suddenly on each side of me, making random, simple small talk about pretty much nothing. When my ride showed up, they left, and I’d made it through the day without a confrontation. I’ve never mentioned it to the one of them I still keep up with, but I’ve told the story a lot. I don’t know if this was intentional, to keep him away or just keep me company, but I couldn’t have been more grateful. It meant so much to me to feel protected, even in that small way.
After that, things were easier. Less angry phone calls to ignore, less days I stuck close to the few friends I still had, avoiding him in the halls. Then it was summer, and I could almost pretend he didn’t exist.
It didn’t occur to me at the time how much other people had my back in that time. Not only the boys after school, but old friends that seemed to conveniently intervene here and there. I have little doubt that everyone knew things were awful – though not how awful – and they seemed to accept me back pretty easily. It never felt like they judged me for distancing myself from everyone, and they seemed to take my side – even some that had once been his friends.
I wish I’d noticed that then, and appreciated that support more.
It’s been ten years, I suppose, since the summer I got out, but every once in a while he tries to contact me. We chatted once, not long after I started college – because I was stupid and thought it would be okay. He said I was crazy for still feeling bad about our relationship. That I must be really fucked up if it all bothered me so much.
He will never remember half of the things I will never forget.
I think that’s the only thing that still hurts.
He still tries to add me on Facebook sometimes, and once he contacted me via my tumblr page, violating a space I saw as my own. I don’t use it anymore.
There’s a special kind of pain that comes from sexual coercion. A very particular type of guilt that rots your insides. It hurts to think of all the things that were done to you and to think ‘I said yes.’
Now, years later, sex is an endless exercise in willful, selective memory. Exposed nipples remind me of the abandoned movie theater where he lifted my shirt to fondle me, barely hidden behind the building’s columns, pretending to be interested in it all and trying not to cry when a car drove past and might have seen. I have a strange relationship with my vagina as well, remembering his fingers, rough and forced, in my parent’s moldy, dingy basement, or his lips when he convinced me to lie to my mother, sneaking out of a movie to go to his empty bedroom.
Then there’s his hand pulling mine towards him under a blanket or table, moving my hand to stroke him while people around us talked. There’s a sense of hidden shame when my pubic hair grows out too much, remembering the time he sent me a series of instant messages that said ‘SHAVE THAT BUSH’ over and over again. Or the time he convinced me to go down on him for the first time, sitting on the floor in my bedroom with my parents in the next room. I have to be high to enjoy doing that now, to block out memories that make me want to curl up, shivering. I know this would legally be considered rape, and that there’s some kind of irony to it all, considering the context, but sometimes the only way I can have sex is to be able to let go – to focus on the sensations of my skin without the flashbacks. It isn’t fair, but it works.
Still, it leaves a sick, queasy feeling in the very core of me. Like it’s me that’s rotten. Sick. The days my depression hits hard and I can’t get all of these stupid moments out of my head, I feel broken.
But on my good days, when my husband is sweet and patient and caring, I feel free again. I remember how lucky I am. That I got out. That it didn’t get worse than it was.
That I am stronger and braver than he ever gave me credit for.
That it will never, ever, happen to me again.

Tuesday, May 12

How My Abuser Still Haunts Me [1]

This is [part 1 of] a long article/memoir essay I wrote for SkirtCollective last month. It was hard to write, but once I started it just kept going and going until I had said everything I could. I had nightmares that night.
Trigger warning here, I guess.

I talk about him openly: the abusive boyfriend I had for most of high school. I talk about how he separated me from my friends and family so well. My isolation was important to him. I talk about how he would “hug” me when he was angry in public; squeezing me so tight I felt like I might break. How he’d wrap his arm around my waist or shoulder in a similar way. From the outside it looked like affection, and if anyone could tell that his fingers were digging into my skin, they didn’t say anything. It made me feel so far away from everyone else. So alone.
I complain about the day he thought my jeans were too tight, so – when we were alone – he criticized me and grabbed the crotch of my jeans and squeezed so tight that I ached for the rest of the day. Or the time I visited my best friend at the beach and – because I’d mentioned that she was bi – he was certain I would end up in a threesome with her and her boyfriend.
He called me three times to make sure I wasn’t doing anything he didn’t want me to. He begged me to go back to my family at the hotel, to promise I wouldn’t spend time with her. He hissed insults through the phone line and, when I hung up on him, he called again. And again. And again. I turned off my cell phone, knowing I would regret it later.
Sometimes I laugh off the way he’d threatened me on the phone, or threatened to kill himself if we broke up. I always say I wish he had. It’s kind of true, but I know it would have made him a martyr to our teenage romance; our tragic love story. I also know he probably would have botched it on purpose – for sympathy and attention and to make me feel guilty. I vaguely remember him doing something like that. Still, it would have saved me a lot of pain, fear, and isolation.
It’s hard to ask an abuse victim of any kind why they stayed with their abuser, because it’s hard to answer. Love? Fear? Desperation? Guilt? It’s so hard to explain all of the bizarre feelings that come along with being someone who hurts you. The excuses I told myself so often were internalized over time, so I could almost convince myself that it was all true.
I can’t say I didn’t think I could do better, or that he was just misunderstood or needed love. I was a teenager. He said he loved me and that was important – that was what mattered. I still thought Romeo and Juliet was a love story. That fighting and persevering somehow made our relationship more real, as if it meant we care more, or something. It didn’t help that I thrive on emotional drama, though this all might have been how it started. I used to pick fights with my now-husband just because I could.
I think I also wanted to be saved. I wanted someone sweet and strong and brave to stand up for me. I wanted someone who would tell me I was brave and strong for living through it all. I wanted a hero.
I thought I got one, years into the wreck that my life had become. Three years of being pushed against walls, threatened, called a slut and a bitch then being coerced into activities that made me cringe. Three years of him being so very good at convincing me that these sexual activities I didn’t want a part of were about love. Three years of being made to feel guilty for anything I wanted that didn’t involve him. Three years of the kind of pain that never left a bruise or a bloody lip.
My so-called hero talked his way into my heart via online instant messaging. I was desperate for a savior and he was happy to oblige through text, though only in theory – never doing anything for me offline. But I didn’t see that he never really stood up for me, never tried to protect me, and I never questioned his claims or confessions. I have known a few mildly compulsive liars over time, but none were quite as damaging as this one. Eventually this would all lead to the most intense heartbreaks I would ever experience; one that lasted for too many years and too many nights feeling like such an idiot. But for now he was my reason for wanting more, for wanting out. I felt special – loved – in a beautiful, magical, safe way.

Weetzie Board

Did I ever mention that Francesca Lia Block has a Pinterest board dedicated to Weetzie Bat inspiration, particularly for her Weetzie Bat movie plans? She also has a bunch of other themed
boards for her novels, and they're all pretty awesome

Well, she does, and it's amazing, so check it out.

It's a public board that accepts pin submissions, but I've never figured out exactly how to do this, so I still just use my own Weetzie Bat & Love board for those kinds of things.

It's still very cool, so you should check it out.

Saturday, April 25

writing is hard.

tonight i've seen videos of police wrangling protestors in Baltimore, of people on the streets reacting to the death of a young man with irresponsible violence and fully justified anger.
i also watched a clip of the President of the US participating in one of my favorite comedy sketches (and, in the process, revealing some nice humanity).

these events happened very close to each other, physically. i enjoyed watching one and i needed to watch the other. but only one was really in the news. a lot. and the other i had to dig through social media to find information on beyond one or two articles.
guess which one's which.

this week my depression has been a hand on my shoulder. not trouble, exactly-- no raincloud following me around and ruining everything, no pit in the ground waiting to swallow me-- but there. present. heavy and just the tiniest bit threatening. i'm working two part-time jobs and one unpaid one, but there's -$1 in the bank, and i'm running through my newly acquired SNAP benefits faster than i'd like. we're not starving, though, so that part's working well. but my car payment is a week late and i don't get a paycheck from either of my jobs for a week and a half. and there's no way i'm going to make rent without using the very last of our savings.

i'm almost tempted to drive to Washington, find a dispensary, relax in a park in the sun, let it all go for a while. but that would take money, i don't think they take food stamps. and i have to be up at 6 for job #1.
i wouldn't anyways.

i miss my sister. and my best friend.
but, even then, in a distant (hand on my shoulder) kind of way. like seeing stars in the corner of your eye; not being able to see it when you're actually looking at it.

Wednesday, April 1

What It Feels Like to Leave My World Behind

I never question my wanderlust. That sudden need when I glance out of the window and see the sunlight and just need to go. To walk and run and drive and move.
This has led to picnics and sudden hikes, and occasional big trips. But more often than not – lately – jobs, laziness, student loans and chronic depression have put my traveling urges in their place.
So it's not very often that I indulge that desire anymore. Maybe what I'm about to say is really the overdue result of suppressing my internal need to wander for too long.
This weekend, I'm moving across the country.
This is not an exaggeration. My tiny family (my husband-to-be and two dogs) is packing up and driving from North Carolina to Portland.

Across the country.
Across. The. Country.

Before you ask: No.
No, I do not have a job waiting for me in Oregon.
I do not have family there.
My husband does not have a job, nor family, there.
There is no emergency or best friend waiting for us there.
And no, we've never been there.

But this week we are eloping, packing up our dogs, selling our shit, and driving across the country because we can.
Because North Carolina is too small, too southern, too religious, too traditional, too boring for us. Because Portland, Oregon is the food capitol of the world and there are few things we enjoy more than endless varieties of fun, delicious, authentic foods. Because I've been out of college for four years and still work at Old-fucking-Navy, and I'm never going to find a real job here, and his job can go anywhere, so why the hell not. Because even with all the hipsters, neck beards, and plaid, Portland feels like it could be us. Because manifest destiny. Because we don't have kids or commitments or anything to force us to stay here, so why stay? Because why not go on a crazy cross-country trip with two dogs in a tiny marshmallow car and start over completely fresh and new in a place that looks fantastic? Because life is short and the world is big and there is so much to do!

For the last week, the thought creeps up on me in the middle of the night of all the things we'll be leaving behind. It's a hollow pit opening up in my stomach to snap at me from the inside.
We're leaving our family here on the east coast, and 99% of our friends.
We are, in a very real sense, leaving our world behind. We are heading straight towards the unknown like a very hungry, terrified bullet train filled with comic books and puppies and maxed out credit cards.

This could be a huge mistake. Or it could be the best decision of our lives. Or... it could just be a really cool trip. I try to keep my mind on that possibility of complete normalcy. Maybe it will be just like any other move.

But what's pulling me back is the fear.
The long drive, the unpredictable weather, the strangers, the mountains, slippery roads, crazy drivers, medical emergencies. I'm a paranoid person. A trip this big is going to get to me. I'm still in the excited stage right now, but the night before the drive I'm going to be crying into my vacuum-packed pillow while I flip through Facebook photos of my life here.

Packing is hard for a move this big with so little money. I've packed the clothes I want to keep, the important little things, and I'm working hard to sell and give away everything else. But everything else are the things I use every day. Dishes, books, pillows, hair products, shelves. These things are scatter all over our studio, being used or waiting for someone to take. It's a mess and I don't think it's supposed to be like this.
It's somehow harder to pack things you don't want to keep than the things you love the most. Those were first. Favorite clothes, books, photos from the walls, small family heirlooms and both of our diplomas.

I bring home more and more boxes and try to categorize my life based on what I need and what I don't. What is important? What makes me happy? What is replaceable? What would I miss the most?

I told myself I'd spend more time with my family, while they're only an hour away and not three days. But I've only visited once. I'll see them once more to drop off a few things for storage, then again to celebrate my elopement. After that I will be sleeping on blankets on my apartment floor and waiting for the big day.
I've tried to see the friends I'll miss the most, but it's a weird time of year and everything's busy. But everyone promises to visit... as if we were only a day-trip away.

This – here – is my world. I'm leaving it behind. On purpose.
Who does that?

Right; I do.
I kind of have to keep reminding myself of that.
I do this.
I want to, and I am.
I force myself to take deep breathes and fight the urge to crawl into a ball under a pile of blankets. I really need to pack those.
I remind myself that I'm setting out on this journey because I want change. I want to live my simple, plain life somewhere that excites me. I don't want to just live where I live, I want to love where I live.
So I'm doing this. I feel it in my gut and in the tingling of my fingertips.

I feel my throat tighten and my nerves tremble, but I also feel my blood rush and my heart practical leap from my chest. Jack Kerouac said “the road is life.” I'm ready to live.

Friday, February 27

Cloudy Days, The Mean Reds, and S.A.D.

I go through a lot of depression in the winter. Well, it's usually mostly in the winter; the last two summers have been pretty bad...
But in the summer it's mostly driven by guilt-- I should be out enjoying the sunshine, I should be exercising, I should be going to the pool and going for wall's and feeling good and enjoying life. But when I want those things but can't push myself into action, I feel lazy and miserable and guilty.

But in the deep winter (which has only been around for the last month, to be fair) the dysphoria seems never-ending. Like a cold, relentless cloud wrapped around your heart and body. Like nothing is good enough or worth your time or even possible.

Holly Golightly describes the Mean Reds as when your scared and miserable and you don't know why, but you can feel something bad coming [I would add that that bad thing may our may not even be real].
S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) is a mood/mental condition in which one experiences depression only/particularly in the winter months.

I'd like to say it's easy to get over-- go outside! play a game! eat something delicious! Read Necklace of Kisses!-- but depression doesn't work that way (although those actions and more are important for the treatment of S.A.D.).

Depression isn't just feeling sad.
It's feeling miserable whether or not you actually have a reason to be.
It's compiling every bad thing in your life and being confronted with this massive wall of needs and wants and obligations and bills and your weight and your bank account and your lack of friends and your boredom and all the reasons your life (and you) aren't good enough.
It's lacking the motivation to make yourself do anything you know you need to do.
It's not enjoying the things you usually love.
It's crying for no reason.
It's a physical sensation like your chest is a black hole, pulling your body into itself. Like you're sinking into a deep, dark ocean and being pulled in by the tide. Like drowning.

Personally, I relate the Mean Reds, S.A.D. and depression as very similar, connected problems, one often leading to the other.

How do you combat something that is so very deep inside yourself?
Something that holds you down from the inside out?

I'd like to explore this a lot in the next few posts. It's important, and personal, and it never seems to really go away.

See you next time,
Stay amazing,


Thursday, February 26

wedding day possibilities

So. After seven years of people asking when we would get married (I'm not a big marriage person) it looks like it's going to happen.
It makes particular sense being that in two weeks we're driving across the country.

I can't exactly explain my general disapproval of marriage, but it mostly has to do with my own dislike of commitment, my deep antitheism (I don't need to feel connected or approved of by god), the constant modern use of marriage (our lack thereof) as a way to withhold basic human rights, and my dislike of a system that was created primarily to use women as a form of currency.

But, marriage being what it is nowadays (a bizarre mixture of religious and legal practices) I do acknowledge its legal usefulness and romantic sweetness.
I don't feel the need to prove or validate my relationship via marriage, but i see its usefulness nonetheless.
I know, I'm such a romantic... :)

But, after all of those mixed emotions, we're eloping.

And being that we are committing to this great big form of life-change, we are having parties and dinners to celebrate, and I bought an inexpensive dress for a reception of sorts because I've kind of always thought simple wedding dresses were pretty and I love any reason to celebrate.

So, since we're about to pack up to move across the country and start from scratch-- and a lot of people asked-- I set up a really cool wedding registry through Ikea to help us with our new home.
(I'm really, really excited)

Two people have bought us wedding gifts, which, personally, I find wonderful and heartfelt and amazing. I honestly didn't expect to be receiving anything.

Check out my Wedding registry at IKEA Portland, which I'm really impressed by (not my list, necessarily, but the way the site works, it's really cool, and local to Portland) (also, it has my real name; please don't stalk me)--

Friday, February 13

Interview with a Girl Goddess

I'm so, so excited to have this Q & A with Francesca Lia Block.
The last few questions are my favorite, and her answers are beautiful. I'm honored to have had this opportunity.
If you don't know what this is, read my quick Intro!

About Her Self

Ellie (me) : I've read a lot of things about the different kinds of work you do. What do you do in your spare time? Right now, I'm terribly obsessed with Almond croissants, Adventure Time, and the website JukePop; Do you have any crazy guilty pleasures?
via Instagram
Francesca : Let’s see…Vegan gluten free pizza, Ruben sandwiches and sushi rolls from Sage restaurant in Culver City, tarot readings from The Oracle of Los Angeles, black skinny jeans with pink metallic high top sneakers, Instagram (dangerousangelena) and Pinterest, collaborating on screenplays based on my work, (collaborating with Elgin James on Weetzie Bat screenplay and with Danishka Esterhazy on a short from The Rose And The Beast), dark faerie tales, The Principles Of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, having pot luck dance parties at the faerie cottage after my writing workshops, my dog, Elphi, and my beautiful, amazing children
E : I know that you are a big supporter of equal, human rights, which is fantastic. Are there any other causes you feel particularly strong about? 
F : Human rights covers a lot of it, but I also feel strongly about caring for the environment.
via Instagram
E : It [was] Christmas-time! Any big plans for the winter solstice holidays? What kinds of things do you celebrate? 
F : We celebrate a little Hanukkah, a little Christmas and a little pagan solstice. I mostly stayed at home watching movies  with my kids and my dog. I also had a little party with fairy lights, Indian food and some of my favorite friends.  I don’t make resolutions but I do work hard on a daily basis to take care of myself and my children, be a loving, peaceful person, do my work.
E : I've heard your books described in a million different ways by you and your readers -- almost always on point! -- but how would you describe yourself? Your life?
: My life? Well, it’s been very rich. I’ve had a lot of joy and a lot of loss.  A lot of magic and a lot of reality.  Dark and light.  So I’m a magical realist.  A punk faerie.  A mom and a lover and a writer and a teacher/mentor and a yogi and a dancer in my heart.  Love is my guide. 

About The Craft

E : What do you love about writing, and your writing career as a whole? Do you wish you'd done anything differently in your life, writing, or career?
Weetzie Bat Tee
F : I love being able to express my feelings in my work; it’s very cathartic.  And I love sharing my work with others.  I’ve made so many friends through my writing.  When I’ve reached out via social media (for readers, students, filmmakers or models for my T-shirt line) I’ve received responses from the most creative and wonderful people I could imagine.I do wish I’d gotten my MFA when I was younger but when I was coming in as a writer it wasn’t as essential in terms of getting published.Plus, I was very lucky to get published early and needed to focus on my writing at that time. But I’ve learned a lot from writing and especially from teaching, which I also love. I was fortunate to have a family who supported my work but I find that most of my students didn’t have that  (usually  parents understandably want security for their children) so I try to be that support for them.
E : As someone who's been in the industry for over two decades, what are a few aspects of the modern publishing world that you have had trouble with or wish were different? Have things changed for the better or worse since you started writing?
F : Things have become much more difficult. It’s very hard to get book deals these days.
The one good thing is that people can self publish and self promote using social media so it allows for more creativity in that sense, and more community. but to self publish successfully you need a strong following.
I recommend that writers who are considering self publishing start a blog and find unique ways to market themselves before they put out a book. 
E : One of the things I've always loved about your work is that so many of the important, complicated things in life are seen in a beautiful, magical way, but still so realistically complex. The relationships in The Elementals and Echo come to mind right away. The romance in these books are often deep and magical, while still being grounded in the very common complexities of issues like trust, abuse, layers of sexuality, and struggles with self-identity. I -- and many of your readers, I'm sure-- connect to the problems and complex desires in these relationships on a very personal level.
If it's not too personal of a question; when you're writing about love and sex what experiences, hopes, and/or desires do you pull from to make such vibrant portraits?
F : It’s not too personal! I take everything from my life and add to it to make it an interesting story, which usually means increasing the tension and conflict and developing the arc of the characters.
E : A big draw for me when I first started really getting into your books was the beautiful excess of sensory descriptions. Food caught my attention a lot and I've even made blog posts just about the types of food in each book. But all of the descriptions of sights, smells, and tastes are really fantastic and pull the reader into your worlds in very unique ways. Is that writing style -- so lush and sense-driven -- very intentional? Or is it more organic, happening pretty naturally as you write?
F : I tend to write in a sensory way naturally but in rewriting I always try to add more evocative moments.  I love using scent because that is the sense closest to the memory center of the brain and is perhaps the most affecting.
E : Writer's "blocks" and lack of motivation can be problems common to all artistic people. Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself to keep up with your work? How do you, personally, navigate problems like that? Do you have any ritual/process to encourage yourself?
via Facebook
F : I never use the term, because of my last name. If I don’t feel able to write I read, re-write or  try to fill up on art and music and film  for inspiration. I also talk to my writer friends for ideas.
E : I wrote a piece a while back about a friend I lent my copy of Girl Goddess #9 to. I forced him (now her) to read "Dragons in Manhattan" because it reminded me of him. He read it and felt it and loved it -- couldn't stop talking about it and how it made him feel. I never got that book back, now that I think of it...
And I've read plenty of stories from readers who connected deeply with the issues of sexuality in Baby-BeBop, among many other works.
I'm sure many fans come up to you with stories of how your books changed or affected their lives. Have you ever had a reader's story really affect you in return? Do you have any favorites?
F : That’s a pretty great one right there. The most touching stories have to do with readers who say that my writing helped them through some personal crisis—eating disorders, self harm, heart break, the death of a loved one.  I get these messages fairly often and I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to help someone through my stories.
E : I just started a simple series of graphics defining beautiful words, to post over the course of the next month. I really love how fantastic and strong words can be and I have a few favorites. Do you have a favorite word to contribute?
F : When I was a little girl I used to look up synonyms for the word light all the time.
i had to make this up real quick, of course...

About Life 

E : My boyfriend and I are about to pack up and move across the country, which is huge and terrifying. What huge events or experiences, good or bad, are you the most thankful for in your life? Are there any life experiences you think everyone should go through at some point?
l.a. skyline
F : For me it was the birth of my children and the death of my mother. The most joyous and the most painful but they were both truly beautiful and encompassed what life means to me.
E : Do you remember what the very first thing you fell in love with about L.A. was?
houdini's mansion
F : The lemon tree outside my window. My dad playing the piano with my toes when I was a baby.  Pink skies.  The ocean. The wild canyons.  Houdini’s mansion. 
E : Finally, what do you hope for in your future? What would you like to see, create, do, or experience?
F : I would like to expand my business so  that I have a beautiful space to hold writing workshops and salons with live music. I want publish a fiction journal of my students’ work, design and sell merchandise related to our work and produce films.  I also want to travel and do retreats  all around the world.
Thank you so much to Francesca Lia Block for this awesome opportunity!!
I can't explain how much I appreciate getting to know my favorite author.

If you've never read FLB's books (which would be crazy, since you're here!) check out her work at, and even check out her writing workshops (one day I will do this!).

happy reading,
stay lovely.

*images are hyper-linked to their original sources

Tuesday, February 10

A Chapter {The Selkie}

“Mommy, can you tell me a story before bed?”
Iris glanced at the small brown bookcase across the room. Now that she’d become aware of the cold, she was reluctant to leave the warmth of the bed.
“Sure,” she said after a moment. “What would you like?”
Ella seemed to hesitate. “Is daddy going to be home soon?”
Iris gave her a curious look and spoke slowly. “I don’t think so…”
Ella’s expression brightened in that way that only seems to happen when you feel delighted and mischievous. “Can we read one of the fairy stories?”
A laugh tickled at Iris’s throat, but she just smiled at the pleading green eyes with flecks of golden brown.

She reached over the edge of the bed and pulled out a small pink shoe-box decorated with plastic beads and glitter-glue from underneath it.
Ella had fallen in love with fairy tales as soon as she could understand them. But despite her grandmother’s insistence that she only watch the Disney versions, she’d always been fascinated with the much older, mature classics. The perfect gift for her was a new Grimm story, or one of the Andrew Lang Coloured Fairy collections.
Like his mother, Jon had never been impressed by the gruesome, tragic nature of many of the original tales, and refused to consider allowing Ella to read them. But Iris encouraged it.
They were darker than she’d like, for a six-year-old girl, but Ella’s favorites always seemed to be the ones where the frightening, depressing elements were somehow overcome in the end. Often this resolution was not what she expected, but she liked the surprise even more.

Iris liked to believe that, even at her age, Ella appreciated that you have to go through a lot of struggles before you can get to your happy endings. Maybe she even understood in some way that so-called “happy endings” weren’t ever what you expected them to be, too.
Sometimes she figured she was probably over-thinking it, or even that she was giving Ella too much credit. But other times, while she read to her, she saw a glint of quiet, patient understanding in her eyes, and Iris knew she that neither of those things were true. Ella was smart. Ella was amazing.
“Okay,” she said, sifting through the books in the box, “what do you want to hear?”
“Something… new.”
Iris nodded, searching. One book, near the bottom, still had a bookmark only a few pages into it. The cover was a faded green with Celtic knots around the edges. The pages were yellowed with age and Iris turned them carefully.
She hadn’t gone through the book of Irish tales to weed out the ones that were a little too mature, but the story right after the bookmark looked good enough.
“The Selkie,” she read, her voice soft but commanding, and she began to read.

Friday, February 6

Word of the Day

I made a big pile of these graphics of beautiful words (with an online program; I'm not that awesome) because I'm obsessed.
Words have power and should be known.
Please feel free to comment with your own favorite beautiful words for me to share!

Wednesday, February 4

Interview with a Girl Goddess {Introduction}

As is quite obvious, the primary source of inspiration and magic in my life is the work of Francesca Lia Block.

Weetzie Bat makes me want to find magic in every moment of my life
Echo drives me to explore and appreciate those around me
The Hanged Man reminds me to stay strong through conflict
Ecstasia whispers that I need to dance
Baby Be-Bop wraps its arms around me and tells me to love more
Primavera reminds me that I am loved, even when I forget
a chunk of my FLB library
Missing Angel Juan sends me on a journey to find myself when I'm lost and lonely
Necklace of Kisses reminds me that love is alive, even as time goes by
Teen Spirit helps me let go of loss and look ahead
Love in a Time of Global Warming feeds my sense of adventure
Roses & Bones shines the magic of fairy tales into real life
I Was A Teenage Fairy pushes me to live my own life, through its struggles and pain, and find beauty and love
The Elementals brings me back to my self, reminding me of my longing for magic and my need to hold on to reality, and to meld the two internal desires
...and... honestly... there's so much more!

So when the idea of interviewing the Girl Goddess herself became a sudden and unexpected possibility, I kind of freaked out.
And then it actually happened.
Our exchange was via email, so she couldn't see me fangirl-ing out like crazy, which is probably a good thing.

What's kind of extra neat is that this quickly became an exercise in understanding my appreciation of another person.
What do you ask a writer you've read and adored for fifteen years? With every book I've finished and poem I've devoured, what thoughts jumped out at me that I need to ask about?
It's actually a really hard thing to do...
Do you ask questions that might make them laugh? Questions about their writing (doesn't everyone do that?) or their process? Hard-hitting questions about the meaning of life? Their favorite color? How do you choose?
I tried to do research ahead of time, checking out as many previous interviews from sites and magazines. The last thing I wanted to do was ask the same questions other people ask over and over!

A lot of interviews I found seemed to focus on the themes of her books and how they came about, so I tried to focus more on her self, her life, and her outlook on the world around her.
via google search
I think I still ended up with a few cliche questions, but, as a whole... I can't even describe how excited this has made me. It's... kind of amazing.
Especially since she was extremely understanding and nice about the whole thing. Despite my degree, I'm a terrible journalist and get really flustered when I talk to people I see as famous/important/awesome and get really nervous. She was really nice and also seemed down-to-earth, and it made my day to read her emails.

So! Please continue on and read my Q & A with the girl goddess, dangerous angel herself, Francesca Lia Block!

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