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!

Word of the Day 1.0

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