Everyday is Halloween (unless you buy pants at Sears)

Working on the 10th floor means a couple of things. First, it means I have to watch my back when getting off the elevator in the morning since it’s dreadfully easy to step out on the wrong floor. Working on the 10th floor also means waiting for the elevator each afternoon when it’s time to leave. 

 
Today is Friday, casual Friday, and I’m standing at the elevator bank in a t-shirt, black skirt, high-top black Converse and knee socks. Knee socks that are gray and emblazoned with purple and orange argyle and bats. Bats with fangs. 
 
The man standing next to me is eying me top to bottom, looking down his nose in that way that old ladies sometimes do at Kroger. He is looking at me as though he’s sure I’m up to no good, I’m not really authorized to be in this building and I’m probably high.
 
“You’re a little late for Halloween.”
 
If I had been on my toes, I’d have pointed out how it’s not Halloween but it IS Friday the 13th, so my socks are technically still apropos. I was not on my toes. I generally not on my toes when people fill me with a cocktail of hate and embarrassment.
 
Fantasy response: “I’m sorry, I don’t take fashion advice from people wearing pleated pants.”
 
Actual response: “But they’re whimsical, no?”
 
What I’m feeling is silly. Working in the MIS department, it’s easy to forget what goes on outside. That people wear suits and have serious, adult meetings about serious, adult things like “accounts” and “clients.” We live in a bubble where everybody pretty much gets along. We don’t have office politics. Or maybe we do and I don’t notice because I have headphones on and I don’t have a beef with anybody. All I know is that this guy I don’t know is making me feel wrong and stupid in a place where I spend almost a third of my life, and that I kind of want to tell him to quit harshing my buzz. It’s casual Friday. Get off me.
 
I don’t tell him off, of course. Never tell anyone off unless you know who they are and whether they can fire you. I just get in the elevator and play with my phone, ears feeling sort of red and burny. It’s like being in high school, only you can’t put anyone up against a wall and yell at them.
 
I later told this story to a table of coworkers.
 
“Who was it?”
“I don’t know. People in pleated pants all look the same to me.”
“You should report him to HR for creating a hostile work environment. Seriously, who DOES that?”
 
Their reaction was one of offense, like how DARE that guy offer unsolicited fashion advice. Like what business is it of his? Like “please tell us his name, so we can make fun of him AND his Sears pants.”
 
And this is why I have no office drama with people in my own department. 
 
I still have no idea who the guy in the pleated pants was. He is a faceless mass of Random White Guy In Pleated Khaki Pants. Perhaps I’d remember him better if he’d worn something interesting. 
 
You know, like some argyle socks with bats.
Bats with fangs.

GSAD: Goth Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.
-PubMed Health

Goth Seasonal Affective Disorder (GSAD) episodes usually occur during summer.

In winter, the world falls into a kind of sleep, putting so much energy into keeping warm that projects and to-do lists get put on hold until spring. The world gets distracted by snow days, holidays, and the promise of lying in bed drinking cocoa. Nobody wants to leave the bed. Hell, if you accomplish ANYTHING, you’ve done a lot more than everybody else.

For me, it’s like cold wind hits my face and everything in me says, “yes, let’s do this. Let’s put on boots and run around in the cold. Let’s run around in the fall leaves like dumbass pixies. Let’s collect the gold and red leaves and tell ourselves that we’ll iron them between sheets of wax paper, even though we know we won’t. Let’s leave the house without sunblock. Let’s sit out back and drink tea.”

August is like torture.

Fall sits there, right on the tip of your tongue, just out of reach. You want the tea, the leaves, the boots, the jackets, and they sit behind a glass wall, waiting just beyond the back to school merchandise.

Instead of fall, what we get in August is more endless death heat. More sunglasses, more sunblock, more butt sweat, more places with insufficient air conditioning, more allergies, more lawn mowing, more car seats searing our flesh. Any fascination the warmth may have had back in May (“let’s say ‘fuck it’ and have a picnic!”) is gone. Long gone and dead, roasted to a shriveled crisp on concrete that would cook your feet like bacon.

Mmm, bacon.

No one else understands. They sit there with their tans, tube dresses and umbrella drinks and say “but it’s so nice and SUNNY out. Doesn’t it make you want to DO things?”

No. It makes me want to hide in my house and hold as still as possible to avoid sweating. It makes me want to slather myself in spf 100. It makes me want to stab you and then go hide in an underground bunker until October. Until the endless cross country death march of summer. Thanks for asking, though.

All any of us can think about is Halloween, the feel of velvet and the smell of crisp air laced with the smell of leaves. Cinnamon. Knee boots. Crinolines. Driving around on cold, cloudy days listening to Nick Cave. Coats that swish in the wind. Candles. Blankets. Wearing fingerless gloves as I work outside at some coffee shop, warming my fingers on my tea.

It’s all right there, behind the glass. Beyond the back to school stuff. We just have to wait for it.

It’s coming, you guys.
I promise.

A Life in Song: Wolfsheim

I’m sitting at the coffee shop, working and minding my business when Wolfsheim’s “Once In a Lifetime” comes up on the good old iTunes shuffle. Every time I hear this song, two things come to mind.

I can see him there, underneath an oscillating blue light in a crappy bar beneath Second Avenue. He is close enough to me for his ponytail to almost hit me, and that’s fine, partly because he and I are friends and partly because he is a rather fetching creature. In a few years, a movie of Lord of the Rings will be made and I will think Legolas looks just like him. We will later lose touch. Even later, I will sit in a room crowded with his friends and we will all miss him. This friendship ends as many friendships do.

But when this song plays, he’s there next to me, nearly hitting me with a long blond ponytail, dancing like the fae. We flail without hitting each other and I suspect he will be beautiful forever.

The second thing that comes to mind is another club, another oscillating blue light, just me, my feet, hands and heart. I am focusing on the song’s lyrics:


it’s getting dark too soon
a threatening silence
surrounding me
a wind comes up from the islands
when distance fades to stormy grey
washed out from the deep of the ocean
here I will stand to face your wrath
while all the others are praying

calm down my heart, don’t beat so fast
don’t be afraid, just once in a lifetime
no rain can wash away my tears
no wind can soothe my pain
you made me doubt, you made me fear
but now I’m not the same
you took my wife, my unborn son
torn into the deep of the ocean
I don’t pretend that I love you
’cause there is nothing left to lose

and when silence comes back to me
I find myself feeling lonely
standing here on the shores of destiny
I find myself feeling lonely
I had a life to give, many dreams to live
don’t you know that you’re losing so much this time
beyond the waves I will be free
while all the others are praying

the love in you, it does not burn
there is no lesson you can learn
and there are sounds you cannot hear,
and there are feelings you can’t feel

I don’t pretend that I love you
and this time I’m not scared of you

Not all of the lyrics apply, of course, but what that means to my little hands, considerable feet and frequently identically-racing heart is this:

You can look into the void and realize that, big as it may seem, it won’t take you. Not completely. You can look in the face of whatever is making your heart beat so fast, take your fighting stance, look out over your knuckles and whisper, “bring it.”

My giant wave, friends, is panic. “I will stand and face your wrath while all the others are praying.” “You made me doubt, you made me fear but now I’m not the same.” “And this time, I’m not scared of you.” When that song would play, for 3:40, I could face anything. It was like some German man knew what I needed to hear and handed it to me with a lovely little synth. Even in the height of my crazy, I got nearly four whole minutes of bliss. Nearly four minutes of not ONE thought screaming something stupid and scary at me.

I don’t want to turn this into EBM-bashing, but lyrics like that are why EBM makes me sad. I like when my goth night music is about something. A fun dance beat with a very solid underpinning. That’s what we DO. We were emo first. We come from Keats.

EBM, to me, is like lust. It’s lovely and fun, but it wears off so quickly and then it’s over. Good goth music is like love. Even when the song has been played 100 million times, you still find a reason to dance because the song means something to you. Nobody ever read the lyrics to “Get Your Body Beat” and cried, except maybe an English teacher.

Arguing with Myself and a Long Answer to a Simple Question

Last week, I ran into someone I don’t see much. This came at goth night, so it was pretty much the usual when he said to me, “so, how are you?”

Unfortunately, his timing kind of sucked. I was standing by the door at goth night, so a truthful answer would have been “I’m standing here waiting for 10 different awkward situations to walk through the door.” An even more truthful answer would have been “…and one of those awkward situations is happening right now.”

The last couple of months at goth night has been like some kind of twisted game show where you see whether the predicted awkward situations outnumber the brand new awkward situations. We’ve all been there: we’re dancing, mingling and more or less having a good time, but we’re also watching the door. If an awkward situation walks through the door, I at least don’t want to let it get the drop on me at the bar. You know how that is: you go to get some water, someone taps your shoulder from behind, you turn around and the little voice in your head goes “BUH!!!”

This would explain why, when this person asked how I’m doing, I opened my eyes kind of wide, said “good…” and made the same face that my sister made that time someone hit on her at goth night. No wonder my inquisitor questioned my sincerity. Half of my brain was watching the door. The other half of my brain was in a sensory overload “wtf” test pattern.

Awkward things have been afoot the last few months, mostly brought on by dating. Turns out when you lose 20 pounds and recover your self-esteem, people notice. I appreciate the attention, but that doesn’t mean I have any clue as to how to handle it. Thus, awkward situations happen, either by dating or avoiding dating. Leaving the house becomes an endless game of “oh hell, what’s going to happen NOW?”

So, what’s a girl to do?
Think about it later.
Dissect it.
Have a moment of clarity.

Like many moments of clarity, this one came days later in the shower:

“Why are you watching the door? Why are you letting other people dictate how you spend your night?”

“But…I don’t want to be overtly bitchy to people I’m probably going to keep seeing…”

“Excuse me, but didn’t they already do something bitchy, or at least awkward, to you?”

“well, yeah, but that’s no reason to stoop to…”

“Please. You told those people, as nicely as you could, as clearly as you could, how you felt. If your answers weren’t to their liking, that’s too bad. It’s not your job to keep feeling weird and crappy just because you don’t want to date those people.”

“But they’re going to show up here eventually and do I talk? Do I not talk? Nod from across the room…?”

“They are not the boss of us. WE are the boss of us. We dictate how our night goes. No one else. Do you WANT to say hi?”

“I most certainly don’t want to say hi.”

“So don’t.”

Getting back to the original question, “how are you?” the truthful response goes like this:

“I’m doing better right now than I have since…well, possibly since ever. I get to work from home, my boss doesn’t micromanage me, my cat is awesome, my car is almost paid off, my family relationships are improving slowly, I’ve met a whole gang of new friends, gotten closer with people I’d been meaning to see more, I have a 4.0 in my programming classes, I’m off my drugs, my girly parts are functioning in the way that they were apparently supposed to be functioning the whole time, I’m dangerously close to weighing what I weighed in college, and I can dance for a solid hour without passing out.”

Alas, that’s a long response, a run-on sentence and it sounds braggy. Not to mention that I’d have to do even MORE cardio to be able to get it out in one breath. Besides, it’s loud at goth night and, when people ask how you’re doing, they don’t really want your freaking life story. So I’m just like, “I’m fine…you?”

The Great Goth Fantasy

It is said that guys become goth because they just want to date goth chicks. Who, after all, can resist porcelain mounds of boobflesh peeking out from a strict corset? The bizarre, Victorian notion of unlacing such a thing like unwrapping a vacuum-packed Christmas present?

Or maybe that’s just the fantasy of goth chicks, imagining guys picturing them as coveted Christmas gifts. I can’t speak for the dating habits of goth dudes, as I have never been one, no matter what my frequent use of the expression “why don’t you eat my freakin dick” may imply. Hell, I can barely speak for the dating habits of goth women. Those habits vary from the very emo notion of Soulmates to the more modern idea of Maneating. Is she slutty, or just liberated? It’s exhausting. I can, however, bet that a lot of goth folk, male and female, have faced what I have begun to refer to as The Great Goth Fantasy.

If you date someone you meet at goth night, there are pretty good odds that you’ll eventually break up with that person rather than marry them. When that breakup happens, you will continue to see that person whenever you go to goth night. Eventually, you will end up seeing your ex kissing his or her new mate. I don’t care how adult you think you are, there’s no way that isn’t going to sting. I have friends who have gotten out of long relationships, only to spend years having to see their exes every Sunday. It’s awful to watch a friend go through it, and must be worse to be that friend. Without fail, the exes get back together or one of them just leaves town.

Why, then, would anyone ever, EVER open themselves up to this? Why not just meet some nice boy from a friend’s party, another bar, or work? (Yes, work. Even a job is less permanent than one’s subculture.) Why not try to date a guy who roams in a completely different circle?

Because, even in the most horribly cynical times, some little part of every single goth still believes in The Great Goth Fantasy. You know the one. Since I come from the old school, my fantasy goes like this:

Meeting a guy with a taste for top hats, pocket watches, sideburns and suits. A guy who cares about how we decorate our house, but agrees that the decorating should rely heavily on trolling antique stores. A guy who also fantasizes about one day having an armoire with figural carving. A guy who writes a good paragraph, doesn’t think “lots of good sunlight” is desirable in a room, and who doesn’t think incense smells like old hippies. A guy who understands the wonders of a bath by candlelight and who would have nag champa bubble bath custom mixed instead of using floral junk from Wal-Mart. A guy who bears in mind the difference between metal and plastic boning when picking out Christmas presents. A love for lavish costume dramas would be good, but let’s not get crazy. He does still have to be straight, after all.

Well, that got really specific really quickly. Let’s step back. Big picture time.

To sum up, the great fantasy is to meet a guy who “gets” you. Random guys from random places try, but they don’t automatically understand because their whole sense of aesthetics is out of whack. They’d break up with you for taking a picture of the sink after you have a particularly sweet nosebleed. They think that celebrating the first day chilly enough to wear boots by going to the cemetery is weird. They would want you to go outside when the sun is still up, and maybe even expect you to watch football (or worse, baseball). It would be INSANITY.

Yep, dating someone from goth night can have serious, incredibly awkward repercussions. Unfortunately, the only way to find the fantasy is to keep looking for it. The only way to get to Juno The Caseworker is to try the knob in the door you just drew, even if it seems crazy.

You might walk into the wall 100 times but, sooner or later, that door’s going to open.

Whitby Shore

If you live under a rock or think you’re too high-brow to watch any show sponsored by Flirty Girl Fitness, you may not have heard of Jersey Shore. The concept: a group of ridiculous Italian-American stereotypes (self-proclaimed Guidos and Guidettes) go to the Jersey Shore for the summer. Drunken fights, drunken sex, drunken application of fake hair, drunken cooking, and drunken sun tanning ensue. Also, there is some drinking.

As you can imagine, this is a stroke of genius on par with Rock of Love, except that Rock of Love never had a character who referred to his six-pack abs as “The Situation.” The question on my mind is whether the success of this show is going to lead to a series of caricature-based shows. More specifically, does this mean that MTV is going to offer up a show featuring ridiculous goth characters? People who answer only to Raven, Nightshade, and Lestat? Will the house be decorated in velvet and drippy black candles? Will episodes consist of the characters going on blind dates with other goths, discussing why New Order is (or isn’t) goth? Will Erzebet and Cullen hook up in Cullen’s coffin?

Well, probably not. Why?

1. It’s not 1988.
Back in the eighties, someone might have made a reality show about us. Now, we’ve been around so long that we’re seen as kind of a non-entity. Goth has gotten mushed together with emo and general rock. You and I know the difference, but the average person doesn’t. In fact, that average person probably thinks that goth ended twenty years ago and that anyone who is goth now is just some rebellious teenager or some person who’s stuck in the eighties. Nobody cares about us anymore . Thank God.

2. We’re too self-aware.
The fun of Jersey Shore is that none of the caricatures on the show seem to be aware of how ridiculous they are. The rest of us get to sit around and laugh at them, and they run around thinking that the amount of product in their hair is perfectly normal. Goth people would, most likely, spend half the show making fun of themselves (“Yeah, my name is actually Christy. WTF?!”) and spend the other half of the show making fun of each other (“Seriously, Cullen? A Coffin?”). It’s no fun to make fun of the fat kid when the fat kid beats you to the joke.

3. We’re not good tv.
OK, so we dance funny. We wear too much makeup. We don’t own sensible shoes. We carry parasols. But we would never be caught dead doing cartwheels in a bar, wearing just a thong (this actually happened on JS…and it was awesome). We would never get in a physical fight because someone accused us of being on steroids (roid rage!). And we would never, ever, wear a shirt made by Affliction.

4. We don’t get THAT drunk.
Goths are catty. A goth bar is so totally not the place to get sloppy drunk and make an ass of yourself, because you have to see those same people at that same bar forever. As a result, this helps us keep ourselves in check…or at least at helps our friends keep up in check.

It’s possible that producers could use their Santanic powers to find eight completely ridiculous people if they scoured the globe enough. They would do the usual prodcery things: pelt the cast with 24/7 bright lights, provide endless free booze, provide a script if things got too boring…but I think we’re safe. Remember, no matter what happens, there’s always someone more ridiculous than us. As long as Furries still exist.

Goths on TV: Castle

Ah, Halloween time, the time when shows that your mom would watch do Halloween-themed episodes. In years past, I was blissfully unaware of these things since I don’t watch said shows. Now, such things are snagged by my well-meaning Tivo and its “vampire” and “goth” playlists. In short, every episode with either of those two words gets recorded, for better or worse.

On a recent episode of “Castle,” which appears to be some sort of even-more-questionable version of CSI, Mr. Castle finds a body. In a cemetery. With a stake through its heart. Quick, everybody! To the Mockmobile!

The episode starts with Castle talking to some girl who apparently lives with him. She’s sitting on the couch reading a thick book prominently displaying the title “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Was “Twilight” to obvious, or not public domain enough? At any rate, that sucker has to be the longest version of Pit and the Pendulum to ever be published.

In order to track down the vampire stake killer, Castle and his partner go to a goth store to speak with the man who “made Brad Pitt’s veneers for Interview with the Vampire.” The informant gives them the name of the staking victim. Anyone care to hazard a guess at the victim’s “vampire name”? Give you three guesses. Vlad? Nope. Raven? Nope. Crow? Jackpot!

Crow’s name turns out to be Matthew, which Castle and his partner find out when the speak to his ladylady, who’s showing them around his apartment. Three guesses on decor. If you guessed “velvet, crosses and candles,” you win. Apparently, Crow learned everything he knew about vampirism from some InstaGoth web site…which may help explain his name.

The landlady says Crow’s girlfriend had “long, black hair to her tush.” Castle’s partner responds as though this is the most unpredictable description of a goth chick she’s ever heard. “Long black hair??” I’m envisioning a scene where Castle and partner arrive to the goth club, only to realize that description fits 80% of the girls in the room.

Surprise! The girlfriend (her name is Vixen) has a website called the Den of Iniquity. While checking out the web site, a policeman states that he used to date a vampire girl. They broke up because she wanted to have sex in a coffin.

Naturally, the guy gets the goth club info from this old girlfriend. Within the first 5 seconds of being in the club Castle and partner are hissed at (you heard me) by a guy in full Crow makeup. I’m not saying Crow makeup doesn’t happen…I’m just saying that it wouldn’t happen at a club exclusive enough to have a secret location.

Rule 1: Friends don’t let friends dress like The Crow.

Rule 2: Boots before corset.

As Castle and partner walk through the club, Castle is groped by several females. He’s a good-looking dude, but I’m betting those chicks are trashed. Goth chicks do not grope normal-looking strangers. Goth chicks stand in the corner and wonder why the frat boy is in their club, whether he’s going to pull out a camera and whether they’ll have to kick his ass.

Castle and partner go into the VIP room and meet Vixen, who is busily sucking on some girl’s wrist. The presence of that guy who looks like The Crow gets explained when we find that even VIP Vixen has shit drawn on her face.

Rule 3: Don’t draw shit on your face.

Castle and partner ask “do you know somebody named Crow?” As realistic response: “uh…which one?” or maybe “oh, that douche?” Vixen’s response: “sure.”

Castle, partner, and “Used to Date a Vampire Chick” Guy go to the home of a suspect. Do they find him sleeping in a coffin? But of course. Does he start smoking when sunlight hits him? Yep. Wait, what?

Forensic Lady ends up telling us that Suspect Guy (who bears a striking resemblance to Rob Zombie) has an allergy to sunlight…which apparently causes him to SMOKE when sun hits him? Don’t nitpick, internets.

We have a second victim! A werewolf! Looks light Allergic to Sunlight guy is innocent, since werewolf and Crow were killed by the same person during the day.

Turns out that Crow witnessed his mother’s murder and werewolf guy knew about it or his family knew or…oh, what the fuck.

Turns out it was Crow’s dad’s second wife who killed the first wife. Then, she killed Crow and werewolf guy because they were going to find out.

Castle (who may or may not be attempting a British accent) ends up going to a Halloween party as Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe people from Baltimore sounded British in the 19th century?