Or I should say, I'm very much trying to get back on my bullshit. But holy hell it's been a tough few weeks. And, guys? I'm so tired of being a humorless angry feminist shrew harpy, but times demand it, unfortunately. Talk about a couple of triggering weeks, I mean if we're being honest here there isn't a woman on the planet who hasn't been harassed or assaulted to some degree. I don't need to rehash all the same stuff everyone's been saying these past few days — people far more eloquent than I have been handling it beautifully. But man, it's felt like a fucking apocalyptic minefield to be a woman recently and I am o v e r i t.
I'm tired of women needing to share their traumas to be believed and bare their souls so people understand the scope of the problem of assault and harassment. I'm sick to death of hearing, "as the father of daughters" — as if just trusting that women are humans who are worthy of respect isn't enough without having to contextualize your relationship to a woman to understand the severity of the situation. I'm sick of reading and talking about it so let's take a break. Anyways, like I said, I am o v e r i t.
Hence, my attempts at getting back on my bullshit. And by that I mean buying perfume and new fall clothes I can't necessarily afford, eating pastries for breakfast two days in a row, spending an inordinate amount of time staring at the lines on my forehead, devouring books like they're feeding my life force, playing Candy Crush when I should be sleeping, and complaining about Maeby's dog hair all over my apartment. You know, the usual — but with a fall twist!
For the curious, my perfume acquisitions include Le Labo's Labdanum 18 and Chanel's newest perfume, Gabrielle. Labdanum is a bit of a departure for me fragrance-wise, it's much warmer and muskier than my usual white florals, and I am really enjoying it. The Wing sent me the Chanel fragrance and I screamed with actual delight when I saw the package arrive. I grew up smelling Chanel No. 5 on my grandma and mother and always loved it. Gabrielle feels like No. 5's younger sister. It's a bit lighter and more romantic, but still has that really elegant, upscale feel to it that No. 5 has. I recommend it if you want to dabble in a more mature, heavy scent that doesn't feel matronly. They're both perfect for fall in entirely different ways. Gabrielle is what I want to wear window-shopping on a rainy day while wearing a trench coat and boots. Labdanum 18 is a cozy sweater, leather jacket, and spiced cider on a rowboat in Central Park kind of scent.
For fellow bookworms, I can't recommend Carmen Maria Machado's new book, Her Body and Other Parties, enough. It's basically a grown-up version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but gorgeously written. They are haunting, thought-provoking short stories that really speak to the truth of what it's like to be a woman. It was nominated for the National Book Award before it was even released, and with good reason! It's the perfect October book, if you ask me. Each story is spooky in an entirely different way, and it has freaked me out multiple times. I keep trying to read it before bed but I get uneasy and have to wait until morning, so it's become my train book.
I have a confession to make: curiosity overtook me and I tried Starbucks' new Maple Pecan Latte and I kind of love it. I've been treating myself to one every week (decaf, of course) and it looks like there's no turning back. I've never been a huge fan of the mega-brand since for the most part I think their coffee tastes burnt, their snacks are bland, and I'd much rather support a local, small coffeehouse. And normally I do! But temptation did me in and now I'm sneaking into the Starbucks by my office and gulping this sugary confection down weekly. It doesn't have the chemically taste that the Pumpkin Spice Latte does in my mind, and since I only get a tiny, decaf one I figure it can't be tooooo bad, right? And in my defense, I always bring a reusable coffee cup. So even though I'm being basic no one else needs to know AND I'm helping the environment. Have you tried it? It's so tasty. And yes, I always get it with whipped cream and sprinkles. If you're gonna go for it, you might as well GO FOR IT, you know?
Are you dressing up for Halloween? I've been indifferent to Halloween for as long as I can remember, which means I rarely dress up anymore. For such an imaginative child, I rarely had creative costume ideas (mainly because I just could not be bothered.) I was definitely not one of those kids who planned months in advance. I had lots of last minute poodle skirts and and a blue Alice in Wonderland dress that I wore for about three years straight.
This year, my book club is having a literary-themed costume party, which is just about the only costume party I can be bothered to care to go to. Naturally I'm looking for an easy-to-create, cheap costume (that I can promptly return to Goodwill) featuring one literature's OG goths. Mary Shelley? Ophelia? Miss Havisham? Jane Eyre? (Though, truth be told, I'd much prefer to go as the much-maligned goth queen Mrs. Rochester.) We shall see what my creative limits and what I'm sure will be some harried trips to Goodwill turn out.
Other than this, I am completely uninterested in Halloween, though I love the spooky season. Crunchy leaves and chunky sweaters have me feeling almost hopeful. It's easier to live out my Nora Ephron fantasies when there's a chill in the air. (Not that it's been a very cold October, much to my sweaty chagrin.) Aside from my usual gourds and various candles, you'll be proud to hear that I purchased a brass spider for my one creepy Halloween decoration. That's as far as I'm willing to go. Baby steps. I would say that in general I tend to love holiday seasons, but not so much the actual holidays themselves.
I have succumbed to two horror films this month — courtesy of Theo, of course. A few weeks back we watched Friday the 13th, because it was Friday the 13th. It was...bad, you guys. Aside from the fact that it was very unintentionally funny and I'll take young Kevin Bacon in a speedo any day, the story was...not good. I can't believe it's such a successful franchise. Basura!
Last week Theo got me to watch The Village and I really don't think it qualifies as a horror film at all. It was actually kind of lovely, in a creepy way. I loved the visuals and the tone, though it needed more young Michael Pitt, in my honest (albeit pervy) opinion. Where is Michael Pitt these days? I will start a GoFundMe to get his crazy ass back in another movie or TV show. The last thing I saw him in was Boardwalk Empire, where he was a total hunk. But I'm pretty sure he was fired for being a mess. Paz de la Huerta was also fired for being a disaster on Boardwalk, remember? And if you ever seen me on the street ask me to tell you why, because it's a DOOZY.
Theo is trying to convince me to watch The Witch, though I really don't think I could handle it. He claims I'll love the feminist bent and the time period, but I don't know if I can handle those kinds of scares. We'll see. I really think it's his turn to watch some of my favorite Halloween movies, like The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Witches. You know, children's fare.
Despite my yearly efforts to stay inside and hide from the insanity on Halloween, we'll be venturing out to Brooklyn to go trick-or-treating with Theo's niece this year. Literally the only way to get me out of the house on this dreaded holiday is to go see that adorable little nugget. I just don't like the general Halloween vibe — it gives people a pass to act like total assholes. It makes me feel unsafe and uneasy. It's just not for me. Hopefully since we'll be on kid time we'll get home before the true crazies are out terrorizing the city.
The last time I went to a true Halloween party I was dressed as Winona Ryder's character from Beetlejuice, Lydia Deetz. A friend from college was throwing a party as his place just a few blocks away from my apartment in Los Feliz, so I figured I could put a little effort in and show up. It was definitely the last time I planned out a costume in advance and was actually mildly excited — I even chopped my bangs short in a show of commitment to the part. I was dressed just like this photo: long black skirt, black long-sleeved top, and black shawl and in full goth makeup.
A short while after arriving I was walking through the relatively crowded house when I felt two hands grab my ass, hard. I spun around expecting to see one of my girlfriends trying to freak me out and instead saw a man, whom I'd never seen before, staring blankly at me. My immediate reaction was of outrage and disgust, and to this day I can still feel my face burning up with anger and embarrassment. "WHAT THE FUCK???" I shouted and I shoved him as hard as I could with both hands. He just stood there with an expressionless face, as if I wasn't even registering to him as a person.
I turned around to walk away and find my friends and as I got closer to the doorway I once again felt two hands on me, grabbing my ass hard. I whirled around and it was him again, staring at me blankly, but this time with a smile on his face. Did he think he was flirting? This time his back was to a wall, so I pushed him into it as hard as I could and holding his shoulders yelled, "DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN. STOP IT. GET AWAY FROM ME." And the entire time he had this placid look on his face, like I was overreacting and being completely insane. I felt insane, like I was yelling into a void and no one could hear me. I could feel hot, stinging tears in my eyes and was completely mortified that I was being humiliated while wearing full goth makeup.
Almost as bad as this was when I walked up to a group of my friends and I told them what happened. A couple of them halfheartedly looked around, and I think one of them said, "That sucks," and that was it. No further inquiry, no kicking this guy out; just everyone moving on and expecting me to do so as well. It was treated like it wasn't a big deal, and being young, embarrassed, and afraid of making a scene, I acted like it wasn't a big deal either. But as we all know, especially in light of recent events, it was a big deal. It affected me profoundly and still does to this very day. I think about it often — every aspect of it. How I reacted, how my friends reacted, what I could have done differently. But what would I have done? Called the cops and busted up a Halloween party? Confront him again? I know there are no right answers.
This is far from the only time I've been sexually harassed or assaulted, it just feels timely, given the season. And I know I said at the beginning that we wouldn't talk about it anymore but oops, it just came up. Sorry about that. I guess we can't really escape it no matter the topic since it's so enmeshed in our daily lives. Or at least, it is in mine. But perhaps we've solved the mystery of why I hate Halloween!
The Death of Autumn
When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like agèd warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe, and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,–
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,–but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn ! Autumn !–What is the Spring to me?
--Edna St. Vincent Millay
Want to get Mistress of Myself posts delivered straight to your inbox? Click here.