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…so let’s be nice to them

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when i first discovered the work of svankmajer years ago, i felt he had sat in on my dreams, uncovered all my deepest secrets, and made beautifully uncanny art out of them in a way i’ll never be capable of. he’s all guts. “the ossuary” blew me away the first time i watched it – its mere existence both comforted and astounded me and i want very badly to one day view it with my own eyes. american culture, it seems to me, prefers to hide death. put it under ground. burn it. sterilize it.  but really, i much prefer something beautiful and strange be made out of such sadness.


on a separate note, it seems every blogger everywhere is talking about the emergence of fall and pumpkin lattes. so, i’m tempted to avoid the subject altogether. however, i have to mention that after living in texas for the last six years where seasons just do not exist (hot, hotter, and hottest do not count as seasons), i am beyond happy to be able to walk around like i did today in the crisp air and see that the leaves are changing and feel at home. austin is a great city, but it didn’t fully suit me. new england has my heart, and svankmajer has me convinced that the czech republic is my mecca. someday…
i don’t quite care for pumpkin spice lattes, but eggnog lattes? spiced eggnog coffee? yes, please. and while pittsburgh isn’t really new england, it’s close enough for now.
hello, autumn. i’ve missed you.

longing for: the maw of a moose

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behold, the moose bones:


these things fascinate me, and i have found myself coveting more. i traveled to maine again a couple of weeks ago and happened upon moosehead lake indian store at kamp kamp where they have baskets full of moose jaws for the taking (ten dollars!) as well as a plethora of  skulls. i contemplated investing in the maw of a moose for a great long while but decided against it; i foresaw a struggle in attempting to smuggle the jaw through airport security. also, buying skeletal remains sort of feels like cheating? the thrifter in me prefers the hunt, though i know not when i might stumble across a great jaw again.


considering how we found these treasures, we can only assume that the great old moose got stuck among the icy rocks of hog island after crossing the frozen lake in winter. i’m happy to have rescued what i could, and they are now proudly displayed on our bookcase.


the structure of the bones is so…precise. they bring to mind blake’s “the tiger” when i look at them, which pleases me to no end.

hog heaven

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in july we traveled to jackman, maine, where my sister and her family live, way up by the canadian border. while there, the whole family took kayaks out to hog island. the hogs were no longer, but while i was busy gallivanting through the woods, my seven-year-old niece discovered petrified moose bones among the rocks and boulders lining the island. all seemed pretty intact minus the skull (major disappointment). i left hog island with a vertebra, femur bone and metatarsal bone strapped to my kayak.


in attempting to learn more about the hog island in jackman, maine, i came to find that there are numerous “hog islands” all over the states. it seems that these islands were originally used to graze hogs, which were allowed to roam free with the island serving as a natural barrier. however, many of these islands went on to become something else entirely. the philadelphia hog island (where the philadelphia airport now sits) was converted into a shipyard. ships coined “hog islanders” were built for world war one but weren’t actually used until world war two.




there’s also this great mystery concerning hog island of virginia.


and hog island of new york, which functioned as a resort until it was quite literally swallowed up by a hurricane in 1893. “a few more brutal storms in the 1890s sealed its fate; the sea swallowed it back up in 1902.”




what’s a state without an obligatory, mysterious hog island and bones?


and this gem of a film featuring the hog island of tomales bay somehow exists, for which i am extremely bewildered and thankful.

people like to discover things

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i love everything about this project. the marriage of thrifting and poetry is so smart! and two of my favorite things.
i want to wear poetry always, please. i’d feel a bit better with a little shakespeare under my collar, wouldn’t you?



virginia woolf or betty grable

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sylvia plath’s relationship to fashion is an interesting one. while she partially mocks the fashion industry in her novel the bell jar when esther journeys to new york city for an internship with a magazine (an experience closely based on plath’s experience as guest editor at mademoiselle), plath is simultaneously guilty of finding genuine pleasure in and manipulating fashion,  both as an outlet for personal expression or even playfulness and as a way to gain acceptance. in a documentary on plath, critic sandra gilbert states that “even during the cambridge experience, she continued to be divided between a kind of deep commitment to intellectual, academic, aesthetic activity and on the other hand an urge toward being the popular all-american fulbright scholar abroad.” while studying in cambridge, plath wrote for the cambridge newspaper vanity. some of her articles focused on fashion, and in may 1956 she was featured in an article entitled “sylvia plath tours the stores and forecasts may week fashions.” in the spread, sylvia poses in outfits such as a ballgown and bathing suit, and sends copies to her mother signed “betty grable.” gilbert asks, “does she want to be virginia woolf … or does she want to be betty grable?” it is evident in plath’s journals that she struggles with this very question, the attempt to assert her intellect and her sexuality, to be a man’s equal while maintaining her femininity. why the split? plath’s ordeal is representative of the idea that a woman is told she must be one or the other while harboring the desire to be both (which, of course, she can be).
i find it problematic to refer to sylvia plath as a fashion icon, as some suggest. in doing so, they so easily overlook and simplify her more complex and interesting relationship with fashion, which raises questions concerning who we really dress for and why, as well as using clothes for self-expression versus a kind of self-veiling. still, her journal is full of little moments of pleasure and giddiness over mere dressing up, though it should be noted that the joy for her is, in many instances, a response to how others, especially men, are or will be pleased by the outfit or “mask” she is donning at the moment. as the reader, it is hard not to get caught up in the pleasure myself, attempt to envision the outfits she describes and wish that there were more images of plath to revel in than are readily accessible:
and the girl cool and brown, longlimbed, in a princess-styled white sharksin dress, circular full skirt rustling like stiff cream over a starched crinoline, laughing delightedly inside herself.

shaking I hurried to get dressed. I wanted to run down immediately to see him. I couldn’t find my black velvet skirt. damn. there it was. aqua cashmere, pearls, hair back demure behind ears. god, how kindled, how incandescent a man can make a starved woman!

this morning: I knew it would be this way: like before the old botany exams when I got a sudden obsession to write in here: anything to put it off, studying. oh, I was going to be a good girl and start studying yesterday, and go to the libe this morning. no soap; no sir. what do I do? secretly try on dresses of one-who-shall-be-nameless to see if I can work up a new combination this weekend. lovely!

sunlight raying ethereal through the white-net of the new formal bought splurgingly yesterday in a burst of ecstatic rightness, silver high heels are the next purchase – symbolizing my emancipation from walking flatfooted on the ground. silver-winged bodice of strapless floating-net gown: it is unbelievable that it could be so right! … I want to be silverly beautiful for him: a sylvan goddess.

“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

today i bought a raincoat – no, that was yesterday – yesterday i bought a raincoat with a frivolous pink lining that does good to my eyes because i have never ever had anything pink-colored, and it was much too expensive – i bought it with a month’s news office pay, and soon i will not have any money to do anything more with because i am buying clothes because i love them and they are exactly right, if i pay enough. and i feel dry and a bit sick whenever i say ‘i’ll take it’ and the smiling woman goes away with my money because she doesn’t know i really don’t have money at all at all. for three villanelles i have a blue-and-white pin-striped cotton cord suit dress, a black silk date dress and a grey raincoat with a frivolous pink lining.
that last bit is all too familiar too me…

vague seething desires

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Source: via Sarah on Pinterest


the irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.


– ernest becker, the denial of death


i’ve been reading the unabridged journals of sylvia plath lately. i could go on and on about her influence over me as a young girl, yada yada, but it would feel all too obvious and redundant, as would my simultaneous pleasure and guilt at reading the posthumously published journals, or how it has been good company in a time when i am quite isolated and lonely in a new place. however, what i am currently compelled by is the fact that my reading of her journals coincides with my reading of the denial of death by ernest becker. the coincidental timing of this pairing not only has infused plath’s journals with insights i’d otherwise lack, but her journals have, thus far, served to make becker’s theory more palpable and less extreme than i had originally thought.
the main thesis of becker’s book is that the basic human condition, the driving-force behind human action (or lack of action) is not the pursuit of happiness or the search for love, blah blah blah, but is instead the recognition and fear of death and, thus, the attempt throughout one’s life to repress this fear and overcome death itself. what has struck me the most, i suppose, is the section in which he discusses those who are consumed by the bubbling up up up of such anxiety in themselves with such intensity that they struggle with and often fail at attaining a state of denial that allows them to carry on in a manageable, socially acceptable way. throughout plath’s journals (so far), she seems to have this trouble – conscious of and even obsessive over these anxieties, aware of the “masks” people wear, including herself, in order to move through the world. such awareness makes it difficult for plath to sustain the kind of denial becker speaks of, allowing such anxieties and fear to essentially consume her.


reality is what i make it. that is what i have said i believed. then i look at the hell i am wallowing in, nerves paralyzed,  action nullified – fear, envy, hate: all the corrosive emotions of insecurity biting away at my sensitive guts. time, experience: the colossal wave, sweeping tidal over me, drowning, drowning. how can i ever find that permanence, that continuity with past and future, that communication with other human beings that i crave? can i ever honestly accept an artificial imposed solution: how can i justify, how can i rationalize the rest of my life away?
and there is the fallacy of existence: the idea that one would be happy forever and aye with a given situation or series of accomplishments. why did virginia woolf commit suicide? or sara teasdale – or the other brilliant women – neurotic? was their writing sublimation (oh horrible word) of deep, basic desires? if only i knew. if only i knew how high i could set my goals, my requirements for my life! i am in the position of a blind girl playing with a slide-ruler of values. i am now at the nadir of my calculating powers.
the future? god – will it get worse & worse? will i never travel, never integrate my life, never have purpose, meaning? never have time – long stretches, to investigate ideas, philosophy – to articulate the vague seething desires in me?
masks are the order of the day – and the least i can do is cultivate the illusion that i am gay, serene, not hollow and afraid. someday, god knows when, i will stop this absurd, self-pitying, idle, futile despair. i will begin to think again, and to act according to the way i think. attitude is a pitifully relative and capracious quality to base a faith on. like the proverbial sand, it slides, founders, sucks me down to hell.


the unabridged journals of sylvia plath


Sylvia Plath c. 1944

photo via beings akin

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i have moved from where i was to somewhere far and have never been before. it feels like a good time for beginnings. this post is much like all the unpacking i still have looming before me – so much to do (or say, or show) and not knowing where to start. this feels silly, but i’m going to do it anyway.