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Some personal thoughts on 2017…
Oh 2017, you were a very challenging and full year. In addition to all the weight, worry, and woe about current events, my personal life was fraught with stress, growing pains, and heartache, none of which was actually new to the year itself. But the tide well and truly turned for the better after I wrote and publicly shared my personal essay, “How Not To Be Seen: Unlearning Invisibility,” here on Haute Macabre over the summer. And ultimately, with just a matter of days remaining, the year concluded on an unexpected, but decidedly bright note.
I met so many wonderful people in 2017, some simply in person for the first time and others for the first time altogether. Death Salon Seattle was an unforgettable, life-altering experience. I had not one but two lovely visits with my dearest Spooders, Sonya and Sarah, first when Sarah came out to the PNW for her birthday and later in September when the three of us converged on Salem and Boston for the Blood Milk Night Market.
There seemingly countless amazing and inspiring people were met (which included meeting Sam and Erin in person for the first time!), group tattoos were received at Black Veil Tattoo (Thank you Ryan and Matt!), and the unveiling of Ashley Rose Couture’s “My Dearest Dust” collection was a singularly breathtaking experience.
But that’s not all. The Satanic Temple was visited, where Sonya performed their poetry reading and Baphomet’s lap was sat upon by all. And we explored Mount Auburn Cemetery, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and had our hilariously magical Witch Pix session with our lovely friend Jo, who I now feel like I’ve known for years. And, last but not least, 2017 was the year I finally got my first pet jumping spider, Mabon, with whom I’m utterly smitten (more about her here on Haute Macabre very soon).
And now, here are some of my favorite things from 2017…
Her Body and Other Parties – I quickly devoured this collection of intensely dark, strange, thoughtful, wonderfully queer, and often heart-rending short stories. I can’t wait for Carmen Maria Machado to write many more.
The Faraway Nearby – My second encounter with Rebecca Solnit. It’s now clear that have to read everything she’s written.
I Miss The World by Violet Le Voit – Some stories are so dark, clever, and thoughtful that you don’t actually finish reading them. Sure, you might read the last page, close the book and put it down. But you’ve also absorbed it into your very being and now continue on your way, forever altered.
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington – If you enjoy surrealist art, allow one of the world’s finest surrealist painters to lead you through her marvelous worlds, this time made of words instead of pigment.
FYI: Every movie on this list made me cry. Different sorts of tears for different reasons, but sleeves were dampened and tissues and/or movie theatre napkins were ruined each time.
The Shape of Water – To me this movie feels like both a culmination of Guillermo del Toro’s previous films and something altogether new, and possibly also a love letter to the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I loved every moment and every last little visual, aural, and emotional detail. I’ve seen it in the theatre twice now; it was even better the second time. I’d happily go see it again.
Blade Runner 2049 – “Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh…” The original Blade Runner is one of my all-time favorite films and this sequel took my breath away with its beauty and felt like an entirely faithful continuation of the tale. Nothing can supersede the original, but I dearly loved spending more time in that world.
Wonder Woman – I don’t know how to encapsulate what the triumphant awesomeness of this movie (and its subsequent box office success) means to me. It was glorious and I hope its success leads to more of its kind – and I don’t just mean more Wonder Woman movies – I mean more big shiny movies directed by all sorts of women and more superhero movies where women (and anyone besides a straight white dude) is the hero/lead. I haven’t got a maternal bone in my body, yet I rejoice for all the kids who get to grow up with this movie in their lives.
Logan – Brutal and tragic and so full of stubborn, resilient heart. The best X-Men movie by leaps and bounds, and easily one of the very best comic book adaptations and superhero movies to date.
Picking favorites is always terribly difficult for me. I love too many things and in too many ways. For nearly every category you see here, trust that I had at least twice, if not three times as many items that I could’ve shared. And when it comes to picking favorite artists I feel like I’m struggling to choose between pieces of my own heart. So instead I’m cheating a bit and offering up an Instagram hashtag I began using last year and now use almost nightly: #sweetdreamfuel. As someone who frequently has nightmares, I decided to start sending myself to sleep with a fair shot at more pleasant dreams by focusing on a piece of artwork created by a favorite artist of mine beforehand. The pieces I select are often also indicative of my mood at the time, because thank goodness for intense, resonant art feels.
While I’m bending the rules, I’ve also created a little subcategory for myselfl:
Favorite Original Art Acquired:
Confession: Considering how many fascinating podcasts people I know listen to, I know that I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I should. But my time spent listening to things that aren’t music I usually spend listening to audio books.
Welcome To Night Vale – I never tire of listening to Cecil report on the uncanny goings on in this singular desert town. I really should’ve seen the live show by now, but I’m still reluctant to make the leap from an audio, visualized in my own head experience to an in-person experience.
Dr Paul Koudounaris – So many beautiful bones, fascinating stories and cultural insights, pet graves and the moving tales behind them, and lots of cats (and sometimes stories about them too!). All of that with bonus photos and footage from art exhibits, performances, as well as cave exploration and midnight diner rendezvous with taxidermy in tow. What more could I ask for in an Instagram feed? By the way, if you don’t already own his books, The Empire of Death, Heavenly Bodies, and Memento Mori, your eyes, mind, worldliness, and appreciation of your own mortality are all seriously missing out.
W.I.T.C.H. PDX – Awareness, inclusivity, resistance, and activism.
lgbt_history – Though we still have so much to accomplish, it’s vital and nourishing to learn about/be reminded of those who struggled, fought, and loved before us. We’re gratefully in their debt.
Texts From Your Existentialist – Because yes.
Roxane Gay – Thank the moon for Roxane Gay and every word she sees fit to share with us. The world is a better place for her wisdom, wit, and candor.
Moon – I love this simple, yet beautiful interface that shares the current and next moon phases and the fact that every once in a while the moon speaks to me. You never know what the moon might have to say.
Kelly Link – It was only in late 2017 that I discovered that one of my favorite authors has a Tumblr presence that’s a fount of whimsy, strangeness, and wonder that I need in my life.
Nona Limmen – an endless source of beauty and inspiration
Fever Ray, Plunge – I’ve been waiting for more Fever Ray for 8 years and this album was worth every second. Track #8, “To the Moon and Back,” is one of the sexiest things I’ve heard in ages and its music video makes it even hotter.
Twin Peaks, Music from the Limited Event Series – With all the closing scenes set at the Roadhouse, music was an even more integral part of the new season of Twin Peaks. I’m still trying to put together my thoughts and feelings about the incredible experience that was Twin Peaks: The Return, but one thing I know for certain is that I loved the music, the musical performances, and how David Lynch used them to continue his tale.
Kat Von D Alchemist Holographic Palette – I really try to avoid saying this sort of thing, because it’s so cliché, but I am addicted to this iridescent palette. It enhances any eyeshadow(s) or lipstick beautifully.
Kat Von D Saint & Sinner Eyeshadow Palette – I don’t know which I like better, the numerous shades in this palette or the design of the palette itself, which is so lovely, it took me weeks to work up the courage to finally dig in and start using it.
The Jeweled Spider nail polish from Black Phoenix Trading Post – Part of BPTP’s American Gods-inspired series, I haven’t been able to find a photo online or take one myself that does justice to this dark, mercurial polish. It’s not shimmery black, it’s not green, it’s not gold, purple, or deep red. It’s all of those things at once and more.
Ovate – How did I ever live without linen dresses?
VAVA Lingerie – My new favorite designer and seamstress of oh-so-pretty (and very comfy) bras and undies. As an added bonus she’s right here in Portland, OR and she thoughtfully uses deadstock fabric and laces to create her marvelous undergarment. I’m in love.
Hag Club – I’ll admit it: I avoided full coverage panties for a long time because I thought they seemed unsexy (thank you, internalized misogyny). But not only are these witchy black undies cute, ridiculously comfortable, and adorned with beautiful, hand screen-printed designs – like VAVA Lingerie, they’re made by a one-woman company (this one’s in Tasmania) and supporting that makes me feel sexy as all get out.
(wearable in my dreams)