The Quiet Path to Peace

Father’s Day approaches, as it does every year, and as always, I am filled with both existential dread and riotous joy.

Rather odd how a greeting-card company creation can do that…

But I must say, this year, I’m more joy than dread.  And that has a great deal to do with my therapist, Jasmine, the task she set for me this last April, and the decision I came to as a result.

Jasmine, you see, asked me to celebrate Jon’s birthday in silence this year, to re-evaluate the depths of its meaning and his place in my life.  Her argument: To commemorate is sometimes to forget.  To speak at length is often to pull great loss into the shallows for public dissection.  She wanted to know how I felt about Jon when I was utterly alone with his memory.

At first, must say, I was a bit put off.  I’ve spent all this time reaching a point where I can talk about Jon without breaking down or, worse, fading out into vegetative depression consequent post-traumatic stress disorder.  And now I was supposed to be silent?  Had I not already adopted twice over?  Had I not conquered my guilt over Jon’s death to the extent that I perform well, and deservedly, as a father?  What was this?

But I did as she asked, because I knew she did not ask it lightly, and because I trust Jasmine immensely.  With both my life and my afterlife, quite frankly.

So, on Jon’s birthday—April 8th—I did not post to Facebook.  I did not decorate the house, buy a cake, go through my writings, or look at my recreated ‘photographic’ memories.  I sat, quietly, by myself, in my work shed, and about halfway through my day of silence I realised what Jasmine had wanted me to realise.

I am at peace with Jon.

I am at actual, quiet, exists-when-I-am-alone peace.

It’s not a peace without tears, without moments of crushing loss, without blips of fault.  It’s never perfect.  That’s not what peace is really about, is it? It’s not angels and trumpets; it’s acknowledging and turning down the devil.  It’s about hard emotional work becoming easier, and–for me–seeing that Jon would want me to have happiness.

My peace is Jon.

He is the constant tone—sometimes subtle and sometimes deafening—that underpins all the other melodies in my life.  A lynchpin in so many of my memories of Marion and Geoff.  A driving force in my own self-understanding and self-forgiveness.  A guide to my parenting.  A humbling reminder of what is important, what is superfluous, what is real, and what will pass.

At my next session, I walked straight into Jasmine’s office and right into her arms.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just hugged her for a while, hoping it would express gratitude.  She’s a let’s go running together, let’s have tea, let me hold your hand while you cry sort of therapist, so it worked.

We didn’t discuss it, really.  That was part of the exercise in quietude, the sharing of silent immensity.

I only talk about it now to share two things.

First, the exercise.  If you are in a similar place, do recommend.

Second, the decision.  The Junius-Smiths are going to actively pursue a third adoption.

Because, as it turns out, I am ready to do so.  I am prepared to process a shift in family dynamic.  I am prepared to welcome another little mind into my space, without feeling that I am pasting over Jon’s memory.  I am prepared for the search, the potential joys and heartbreaks, the possibility that this may take years, the necessary conversations.

The first conversation, of course, was with my husband.  If Jon is my pedal tone of peace, them Marc is my vibrant, dancing counterpoint. Yes, he said, of course he hasn’t changed his mind.  He wants another child.  He wants six hundred, with pets for all of them.

And then, of course, we talked to J and Mira, who’ve been asking for a sibling.  They were elated.  Serious about the process, but elated.

So, we begin our search this Sunday.  It’ll be a busy morning and afternoon with my administrative roles at JS Home for Children (always a popular visiting day).  But we’ve carved out time in our family supper and shindig for a slow start–familiarising J and Mira with traditional adoption processes, scheduling some visits at London- and Rome-based homes, planning our family video for adoption profiles.

God help us, three children…I already feel outnumbered.

But so excited.  So so so excited.

New Portrait: The Kiddos

My ever gracious alively host, Alexander, has produced a new portrait of my children:

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I adore it.  I adore everything about it.  Especially all the little touches that make it so extraordinarily specific to them and their relationship.

What’s that?  You want me to discuss the portrait?  You want me to go on at length about my children? How kind.

I’ll start with Mira, as she jumped off the page first.  I mean, of course she did.  Look at her.  That is the hair of a child who likes to be noticed.

She denies it, but it’s true.

Every once in a while, she lets me soothe it with relaxer into these utterly stunning waves, straight out of the 1920s.  Or she lets Popa braid it in intricate Roman fashion.  But on the whole, wild and unruly is her chosen style.

Likely, that’s on account of the fact that her entire person is wild and unruly.  She is the sort to run straight towards danger.  She has a knack for finding the jagged edges on the world, where transformations are most like to happen, and brazenly flinging herself through them catching her omnipresent tutus on the way by.  She subdues ordinary friction and drama with a glance, but only to create friction and drama that more suits her.  She exists for the unexpected, and when things are going as expected, she creates it.

It can be a bit exhausting keeping up with her.  I have more than once rolled my eyes in a parent-teacher sit down where she sullenly explains that ‘the vase was bound to break anyway’ or ‘he had it coming’.

But we’ve found outlets for her particular brand of crazy.  Modeling, for instance, has proved a brilliant success, as it suits her desire to be seen, to destroy for the sake of art, and to gallop through adult spaces and dare anyone to question her presence.  We also let her go on solo walkabouts at the end of the summer (although they have shortened in length, and she didn’t even go last year).  And we let her have the odd glass of wine or champagne, often in front of the fire, where we encourage her to start creating through-lines in her philosophies and settle some of her anxious spirit.

We’ve also placed strictures, of course.  Lately we insisted that she must learn to read, which engages her in the portrait.

Jeremy–J–already knows how to read.  In fact, his position in this portrait is that of silent support, with the occasional correction, as Mira tolerates his interventions over anyone else’s.

That’s likely on account of the fact that J is the most patient, gorgeous, efficacious empath I have ever met.  Ever.

I recently ran across an article that introduced me to the idea of ‘holding space’ for someone–existing on the periphery or centre of the lives around you, as needed, and swooping in or pulling back based on the requirements of others; providing support without judgement, advice, or didactic intention.

J holds all of us.

He holds you, even though you’ve never met, I swear to god.

He tells us that he was just made with an extra big heart, and that he chooses to fill it with love and kindness.  Truly, this child…

Actually, that brings me to another point.  Although J cannot remember how he died, Marcus and I suspect that it had something to do with his heart.  His vocabulary is very heart-centric.  He will tell us his heart is sad, when he’s upset.  When he’s happy, his heart is happy.  When he’s ecstatic, he often bursts into tears or falls asleep, because there’s not enough room in his heart for all his love.

He’s also rather small for his age–a suspected 4–and he sports ever-present circles under his eyes.  He moves carefully, without the wild abandon of most toddlers, and sometimes we catch him taking a deep breath, almost as if to prove that he can.

We presented these lingering symptoms and behaviours to a pediatric death doctor–literally a ghost who helps little ones sort through their departures–and he agreed that it was likely some sort of failing of the heart that took J out of the alively world.  A cardiomyopathy of some sort.

J seems utterly uninterested in diagnosing his death–Marc and I attended to this for our own edification and won’t be sharing the results with J unless he asks.

And that’s fine by us.  We are more than happy to let him be what he is–careful, considered, and yet ephemeral and liminal.  Almost otherworldly, at times, despite the warmth of his cuddles and his position as the flexible backbone of our family unit.

Other notes on the portrait:

The pets are Cozy–Lady Costanza of Motherfuck Island–and Earl Pink.

Those wings, J would want you to know, were a Christmas present last year–balsa wood reinforced with teak and embedded with jade.  I made them, with help from Delphi for the stone settings.  They’re one of a growing collection of faerie wings, which J hangs up around his room and selects each morning with the seriousness of a man selecting cufflinks for an interview.  A pair of puffy wings with safety straps hang on J’s frog bed, so that he can be a faerie prince as he sleeps.

Yes, we field a lot of comments–vicious and curious, alike–about J’s hair.  He said it best himself, when asked if he was a boy or a girl: Mostly I’m a faerie.  I’m also four. 

Yes, we also field a lot of comments about Mira’s hair.  Or she does.  With a reckless abandon for profanity.

(We tried to get her to swear less for a while, as seemed a befitting sort of thing for a parent to do.  But she reminded us that she was over a century old, and therefore our ‘children shouldn’t swear’ argument held as much water as a sieve.  She also challenged us to consider whether or not we would be so concerned about her filthy mouth if she were not a girl.  Chagrined, we decided, fuck it.  Fuck it, she agreed.)

Yes, I have the best children. Naturally.

Psychic Health for Alivelies

Been a while since I’ve addressed anything fully ghost-centric, right?

To that end, I applied to my mate Jacques, a brilliant addition to Ghost Club Admin, for information I could pass on to you regarding both protections against/contact from ghosts and energies.

I’ve spent some time reducing his answer, pulling out what I thought would be most useful, condensing things into easy category, prying apart as much jargon as possible.

Still a bit long…but what you’ll find below is a sort of guide for understanding and reacting to contact from ‘the other side’.  I’ve tried to arrange things in steps, from point of first contact through to closure.  I’ve also addressed sanctioned and unsanctioned contact, alike.  Hopefully this provides some peace of mind to the unwilling alively, and some grounding for those of you who have reached out to us ghosties.

Let me know if questions remain, or if I’ve spurred a new inquiry.  I may or may not be able to answer–rules, you know–but I’ll be honest with you, either way.

Step One: Interpreting First Contact

A) Is your visitor ephemeral–more of a feeling or disruption than a sense of human presence?  Then you’ve likely walked into a pocket of collected, formless energy.

B) Is your visitor humanoid and based on location?  As in, did you encounter this ghost at a historic site, at someone else’s house, in a natural setting?  If so, it is tied to a specific place, and the visit is not about you.  In fact, you are the visitor.

C) Is your visitor humanoid and following or attending to you?  As in, does the ghost seem to react to you specifically?  Is the ghost in your own home?  If so, then you are being either (i.) officially or (ii.) unofficially haunted.

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(iii.) or you’ve some tossers in the front garden.

If you are being (i.) officially haunted, you will know within the space of six months–that’s all the longer we are allowed to visit our targets.  So, the contact will initiate, build, and then immediately drop off.  If you’re looking for them, you’ll find indicators within that six month period that your visitor is following the rules and just having a bit of fun.  For instance, an official haunt can make noises, cause breezes, open doors, etc., but we may. not. touch. you.  We also come and go, because official haunting is a club-sanctioned, after-work sort of hobby.

If you are being (ii.) unofficially haunted, then the contact could last longer than six months.  Again, if you pay attention, you might know before the six-month threshold if your visitor is unofficial.  The activity will be sporadic in intensity and mood, but the presence will be constant.  It may also look as though someone else is living in your space–signs of kitchen use, lingering scents or temperatures in oft-used spaces like living rooms or dens, moved books, a temperamental telly.  And you may experience physical touch, although it is rare and generally unintentional, as in, not vicious in intent.

Step Two: Reacting Positively to First Contact

A) Ephemeral contact will likely dissipate, and rather quickly, so just enjoy the sensations while they last.  If you’re skilled at energy absorption, feel free to claim some of the ephemeral for yourself.  But be aware that you cannot change the character of energy you absorb–take on only that with which you intend to live.

B) Do not tamper with a ghost tied to a specific location.  They are not here for you, and your manipulations, even if well-intended, might disrupt their way of afterlife.  Trust us to take care of them, to meet their needs.  But do feel free to enjoy the way their presence deepens your experience of the space they occupy.

C)  You can choose to co-habitat with your official or unofficial visitor, particularly if you find their presence to be congenial.  If that’s your intention, see Step Four on returning contact. However, if you find you want your home back to yourself, then remain calm and follow Step Three.

Step Three: Severing Contact

A) Dissipation.

B) There is no need to sever contact for a ghost tied to location.  Please leave them be.

C) For hauntings specific to you, do exactly the opposite of literally anything they do on ghost hunting shows…

(i.) If you do not want to be officially haunted, simply say so.  That’s all it takes. We read salt-flinging, seances, and holy water as signs of returned contact and escalate our haunting accordingly.  We also think they are hilarious.

(ii.) If you find that your calm ‘cease and desist’ did not work, then you are dealing with an unofficial ghost and you must signal to the afterlife that you need help detaining them.  All you have to do is suggest to the unofficial visitor that perhaps they would like to pass on, and we will attend to the rest.

Note: I am not saying that you should try to take control.  You do not have the power to pass someone on.

Instead, you have the power to make a suggestion of a passing, written or spoken, directly after you experience some sort of contact.  Once the visitor hears you and begins to contemplate for themselves where they should like to spend their afterlives, we, on the other side, become much more aware of their existence.  If they find that they do wish to pass on, we have therapists who can help them take that step.  If they find that they don’t, we can help them integrate them more fully into our systems and away from yours.

Let us do our work.  And give us a week or so to respond.

Step Four: Returning Contact

A) Enjoy the sensation or absorb some energy.

B) Say hello, and leave it at that.

C) If you are certain you are being (i.) officially haunted, and you are certain you want to return contact, by all means, go absolutely completely nutter.  Leave us notes, hold a seance, set up a camera, call your mates, do a massive over-the-top cleansing.  Essentially, do act like those absurdist ghost shows.  We love a good sport, and if you wink at us, we’ll wink at you.  It’ll be grand.

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Q: Did…did the ghost just call us ‘wankers’?     A: Undoubtedly, yes.

However, on the off chance that you’re wrong, and you’re not being officially haunted, you risk offending your (ii.) unofficial visitor with such silliness.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to initiate contact with a simple ‘hullo’.  Ask a few questions to establish the strength of occupancy and level of awareness.  Essentially, err on the side of politeness and earnestness, to start.  From there, you can move to tongue-in-cheek if appropriate.

But do not be aggressive.  For an official ghost, it ruins the fun. For an unofficial ghost, it can lead to retaliation.

Step Five: Dealing with Threats

A)  Aggressive energies can be rather nasty, often ‘demonic’, which is to say, if you believe in demons, the energies will attune to that belief, and if you don’t, they’ll become something more poltergeist.

The best thing to do in this situation is a cleanse, first and foremost.  Move through your space, marking doorways and windows with sage or salt.  Then, bring in calm friends and family to diffuse the aggressive energy in the space.  Energy collections fall apart rather easily when their attachments multiply.

If you attracted an aggressive energy because you were attempting psychic work of any kind, momentarily abandon that work.  Review your notes and look for any signs of dominance, demands, or orders you may have given.  Rewrite and reconfigure so that you appear subservient and welcoming.  Take a few weeks off before returning to attempts.

If you can’t handle the idea of being subservient, then you should not be tampering with the psychical.

B)  Simply leave the space.

C)  If you’ve followed the above steps, neither an official nor an unofficial haunting should reach the point where you feel threatened.  Either you’re in on our game, you’re open to cohabitation, or you’ve alerted the proper ghostly authorities and we’re on our way to help.

If you haven’t followed the steps, you might feel threatened because you’ve initiated the threat.  If that’s the case, stop being an arsehole.

You might also feel threatened because you called in help from someone with their own psychical baggage, and they’ve brought that into your space.  So do be careful where you apply for help.

Or, you might feel threatened simply on account of the unfamiliarity of these things.  Hence my attempt at education.

Step Six: Optional: Welcoming Further Contact

A) If you enjoy the sensation of positive energy, or want to work on absorption, by all means, read up on such things.  I have no specific advice on the matter, other than to advise caution.

B) Mindfully visit haunted locations.  Be aware that you are the interloper.

C) If you loved being the target of an (i.) official haunting, let us know!  Either play along, or leave us a note stating that you enjoyed the interaction.

If you find that you are comfortable with your (ii.) unofficial haunt, be kind to them.  Map your own routines onto the ones you see them building–as in, leave the telly on their station once in a while, or ask before you turn on the lights in a space you know they tend to occupy.  Be sweet to the people you find, and be ready to part ways if they so choose to move on.  And be aware that unofficial ghosts are not your personal link to the afterlife.  They are not spirit guides or familiars–they are simply people gone before you who may need a friend.  If they choose to give you more information about planes of existence, that’s up to them.

About Those Spirit Guides

A) Learning to collect or absorb energies may alert afterlife entities to your presence.  If you’re looking to make a connexion, this is one way to go about it.  But you may not always make a connexion you like.  Again, I advise caution.  Close circles, groundings, prayers, meditations, etc.  Create a periphery for your home.  Don’t be stupid.

B) Nope, still not for you.

C) Friends and family members who have passed on get…uh…first dibs? on (i.) official haunting targets.  And in this case, the contact is almost always reciprocal, protective, and tending toward guardianship.  Family and friends may choose to make themselves your personal helpmates, and you are free to behave in such a way as deepens your connexion to them.   In this case, seance, salts, or personally/spiritually meaningful approaches will be taken with the utmost of seriousness.

There are also (ii.) unofficial ghosts and alivelies who form connexions for one reason or another, with the unofficial visitor taking on a guardian role, or with the alively acting as a researcher.  Famously, alivelies what can initiate these relationships call themselves mediums.  But a real medium is a rare thing.  Most people of minor talent have simply opened themselves up to neutral invasion, not actual reciprocity.

Finally, if you feel a deepening connexion, official or not, be aware that there are rules to Ghost World.  Many of your questions will go entirely unanswered, especially those you are asking on behalf of others.  We are only allowed to give out so much information, and instead, we will try to be comforting or warning, as the situation requires, and hope that you are strong enough to figure out the rest.

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My Husband Thinks I’m a Serial Killer

…and I’m not discouraging this belief.

I mean, really, I was going to write about an oratorio in which I recently performed–tenor soloist–but this is far more interesting.

It started, I think because Marcus and Alex and I had been listening to far too much First Podcast on the Left.  After a time, Marc begged the Facebook question, ‘Who is be more like be secret serial kill, Elias or me?  We are be talk about for four hour and can non decide.’

Alex declared, definitively, ‘Jesus you’re weird.  Also, 100% Elliot, how was this even a question’.

‘See, I am think so, too’, says the husband, ‘but then Elias is convince me I am be equal like to be serial kill.  Which is like…so serial kill thing to do, shit’.

That’s fine, I think to myself.  But curious.  I ask for clarification: ‘ I feel like Marc would be so much more successful in this endeavour—he’s charming, seductive, and lethal’.

‘I am mean, I am think you are be exact same.  AND you are coach young model for total murder.  AND you are be super nice so no one is expect.  AND you are be kind of creep sometime, #shrug.  Now we are need police name for’.

He thinks about it…

‘THE MODEL KILLER’

I admit, there was a split second where I was a bit miffed.  I would never, never in a thousand years, hurt anyone who wasn’t an immediate threat to me or my family.  And I take the mentoring of my models very seriously—in an industry where it is so easy to feel unsafe, unwanted, I think it is massively important to have established models looking out for your well-being and showing you the ropes.

But of course Marc and my mates know this, which is why the irritation only lasted a split second, quickly morphing into a desire to prank the Good Christ out of them all.

I spent the rest of the night and morning trying to google ‘Creepy Victorian’ to pick out a new serial killer profile picture without unnerving myself.  Jesus God, it really was an odd time.

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This was a trend. Fuck me…

Next evening, a mate texts Marcus—has Elliot killed you yet?

‘Non, but he is keep look at me weird’!

I sigh over his shoulder at the text. ‘This is my normal face. This is the face you see every day, you’ve just convinced yourself I’m a serial killer. You neurotic crazy person’.

‘Face of serial kill. IS BE SO FACE OF SERIAL KILL’.  He turns back to his mobile. ‘Elias is total have dead model in basement of townhouse’, he texts. ‘Like for take bath in blood for look young’.

‘That is absurd. I’m a ghost’.

‘So is be absurd because you are be ghost, non because you are non kill anyone’?

I take a sip of wine. ‘It’s absurd for both reasons’.

‘IS WHAT SERIAL KILL IS SAY’.  He’s texting furiously ‘…he is so serial kill me’.

Now was the time, I decided.  With that panicked set to Marc’s shoulders, the grimace on his lips while he texted, the wariness in his eyes as I slid down onto the couch beside him.  He was ripe for the pranking.

‘First of all, I can’t serial kill one man’, I explain.  ‘That would have to be a singular kill’.  He shakes his head, as if to say, you are not making this better.  Which is entirely the point.  ‘The name you came up with for me is enticing, I’ll admit’.

His fingers freeze up like claws around his mobile.  ‘OMG, you are total be kind of serial kill who is write police and be like, good show police cop, try again, here are be detail of where I am bury model and who they are wear at time of death’.

I laugh.  ‘And the police say, dear god, he dressed them in human skin suits’!

‘WHY YOU ARE EVEN THINK OF’

I blink at him, the very picture of calm reason.  ‘They’re police.  They wouldn’t be inclined to know the phrase ‘who are you wearing.’  They would assume I had skinned someone alive, and dressed someone else in that skin.  For Heaven’s sake, have a glass of wine, you’re so jumpy’.

The phone dings, and Marc starts and looks down at it in flashes, trying to keep an eye on me as he does.  ‘Does Elliot have any rooms you’re not allowed to go in’? he reads. ‘OMG at townhouse! There is be room’!

‘Oh for, that’s the boys’ common room! I told them I wouldn’t infringe upon it. I don’t go in there either’!

‘You can non spell serial kill without LIE’.

‘Profound’.  I fetch wine for Marcus, and slide it into his hand.  He doesn’t drink from it. ‘The fact that you find this even slightly possible is hilarious to me. You could murder me in your sleep, and have, in fact, tried to do so’.

He relents to my statement with a careful sip.  ‘Like one time, before I am be used to sleep by someone again and I am think you are be wild animal attack’.

‘Also the beheading, which wasn’t in your sleep.  And I think you’ve ‘accident killed’ me a third time’.

He thinks about it.  ‘Non, you are fall off roof’.

I nod sagely.  ‘Right.  Anyway. Come on, let’s have a bath.  I promise I won’t strangle and drown you’.

‘O.M.F.G.’

‘I said I won’t! I WON’T drag you under the water and watch the life leave your eyes, Jesus’.

The look on his face clearly states that he never expected me to say such a thing.

Naturally, I spent the next few days deepening his psychosis.  It’s actually not hard to do, once you have your significant other on eggshells.

Step One: Begin complimenting them in an entirely clinical fashion.  ‘What a nice torso you have,’ you say, running your hand across their shoulders.

Step Two: Calmly sit by the bed and wait for them to awake.  Smile wordlessly and walk from the room.  As though you watched them sleep all night.

Step Three:  Do chores, as usual, but make sure to pick the creepy ones—the ones that involve time spent in basements or sheds.  You must return from these chores with some small amount of blood on you, that’s key.

Step Four: Disappear entirely from time to time.  When you return, to flying accusation, recommend some yoga or meditation.  That goes over reaaaaal well.

Step Five: Decide on an M.O. and casually work it into conversation.

For instance, I suggested that a mate deal with a problem at work by making a bullet point list for her boss and then feeding it to her.  And when Marc gave me the up-and-down, I clarified, ‘Don’t worry, honey, I’m not recommending she murder her boss.  My modus operandi is to fill people’s lungs not their stomachs.  Although, I suppose I could buy up all those devices for soaking up industrial spills and just feed them to people until they exploded like seagulls’.

‘What. in. Fuck’.

‘Not you’.

Pat their leg reassuringly.

Step Six: Give in to cute aggression.  It reads entirely differently when your S.O. thinks you’re a serial killer.  And for that matter, act on all those smothering, squeezing, biting urges that would otherwise seem totally normal.  Offer to help cut up the vegetables for supper.  Decide that now is a good time to sharpen the knives.  Indoors.  Remark on the strength of your shoelaces or your new workout routine.  Do you keep a journal? Start keeping a journal.

Step Seven:  The caveat? You love your partner, or you wouldn’t be teasing them thusly.  So make sure to spread out the above steps over time so that they don’t toss you over for less serial killer infested waters.  And let a month go by here and there without any activity.  It’s about the long game.  And about the possibility of a love life during these trying, prank-filled times.

Quoz, I think I might be a horrible man?

But I won’t tell Marcus, as psychopaths don’t feel remorse.

Sword Eye

If you have indulged me with readership for any length of time, then you know, for certain fact, that my husband is absolutely insane.

It bears repeating.

Absolutely insane.

Most of the time, he’s a happy sort of nut.  He dresses up in costume–primarily as a dinosaur (dino), crocodile (croco), or godzilla (zilla).  He creates massively imaginative projects–as with his Dead Cartoon Network smash hit Adventures of Birds.  And he engages in purposely wild acts of eccentricity.

Most recently, he bought up a hundred model Rubicon jeeps and decimated them by drowning in a shallow stream, working out whatever angst he still harboured over Caesar’s crossing into treasonous territory.  And he filmed it all.  While wearing a zilla-tail and shouting like a newscaster about the humanity of the thing and oh the horror and dear god won’t someone please tend to the scene.

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Site of first European Godzilla encounter

But then there are other times where his crazy goes in the opposite direction.

He never means for this to happen, to be sure.  These are the moments that spring from misunderstandings over custom, modernity-inappropriate behaviour, or lingering militarised aggression and corresponding worldviews.  These moments require a lot of psychological untangling on his part, and a great deal of patience and support on mine.  Because they are often so tender and traumatic, at their core, I rarely mention them.  Marc is a man who requires context and consideration.

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Context

Two weeks ago, though, something happened that I believe expresses the depths of his occasional psychosis without creating him as some sort of monster.

Besides, he thinks it’s hilarious, and bid me share it…

The Scene:

It was the afternoon, and Marc was outdoors drilling.  He drills every day, and I go through periods when I observe (leather, thighs, shoulders, please) and when my pacifism overcomes me and I must refrain.  This particular afternoon, he was on his own, and I’d taken to the sofa with a book and a spot of tea.

The door opened.

And there was Marc with a SWORD THROUGH HIS EYE.

As in, his gladius somehow shattered, ricocheting the tip through his eye, and instead of ghostly magicking it away, as would have been sane, he determined it would be a better course of action to come into the house and show me.

‘Look Elias!’ he throws out his arms in weird triumph ‘is sword eye!’

I’m over the back of the couch in recoil at this point.  Tea’s on the floor, book’s in the air, heart’s in my throat.  My legs are taking me as far away from this madman as possible.

Then I remember that this madman–this creature dripping blood onto the rug from a SWORD WOUND IN HIS FACE–is my husband.  So, my brain catches up with my legs and reverts me back toward him.

I’m not squeamish.  I’m really not.  I don’t like when people vomit, but I can very well handle just about anything else.

But, you know, I’d never seen a man pull a sword out of his eye before, severing and popping the eye out along with it.

I hit the ground before I even knew I was fainting.

It was a quick faint.  Just a sort of temporary fog that ended in that vomit act I hate so much, and then I was working my way up the wall, with the intention of strangling the ever-loving-shit out of Marcus.

The eye.  The eye on the shard of sword.

He’s handing it to me, and for some unknown, shock-riddled reason, I take it from him while he casually unties my cravat and STUFFS IT IN HIS EYE SOCKET to stem the flow of blood.

I pitched forward again, caught the edge of the entry-way table, and landed in Marc’s arms.  I remember him looking down at me in surprise–with his good eye; the other waving blood-stained lawn as he shook his head–and then I was out for good.

When I woke up…Lord, twenty minutes later?, he’s perched on the edge of the bed holding my hand and wearing an eye patch.  Because of course he wouldn’t just fix the damn eye when he could pretend to be a pirate for a spell.

He grimaces at me, pats my chest, and says, ‘I am be sorry about sword eye.’

‘Really’, I say.  ‘You’re sorry for announcing a mortal wound like some sort of fucked up party trick.’

‘Sic.’

And later, when I checked my mobile and discovered a cascade of outrage, he was fake sorry for texting all of our mates a picture of the carnage, #swordeye.

I add my own apologies to the group text.

#Romancray #fuckinghell

Sexy-ennial

Last year, for our fifth, Marcus and I threw an enormous party full of friends and family, yes, but also photographers, acquaintances, fashionistas, and journalists.

As a consequence, this year we decided to dial things back as far as possible…

We spent our actual anniversary with the children–Mira made us a lovely salmon supper, which we ate off iron plates, imparting wisdom and strength into the next year of our marriage.  J made us dessert (a pile of marshmallows covered in chocolate syrup and sprinkles) and drew us a portrait.  After supper we cleared things away and snuggled the hell out of them both while Mira practiced her reading skills on a selection of love poems.  Perfection.

After that, Marc and I O. Henry’d each other.

We do this every. year. without. fail.  Our gifts always cancel each other out.

For instance, this year Marc made me the most beautiful dressing gown I’ve ever seen.  It’s grey and silver and charcoal with dusty rose quilted silk for an interior lining, and the whole geometric exterior is covered in the golden moons of Minerva, as our anniversary falls on Quinquatria.

But I, knowing my love hates to be cold, bought two days of privacy at the tropical resort we haunted back when we were fledgling, unknown ghosts, newly venturing from our host and learning the energetic joy of afterlife intimacy.

Not exactly the place for a dressing gown, the tropics…

Even though I had to leave the housecoat at home, though, we had a lovely time of it.  We paid off the staff at the resort, set up a security detail to keep telephoto lenses out of our business, and found our original slip of beach with the little cabin in the dunes.  We didn’t see a single soul for forty-eight hours.  Bliss.

After that we ventured into the nearby town, sunburnt…sandburnt…and exhausted, and had the most delicious coconut-laced meal.  Marc told everyone we were on vacation for our Sexy-ennial–*eyebrow waggle*–and yet I still love him.  In fact, I almost think it’s funny, such is his ridiculous influence on me.

…alright, it’s funny.

Now it’s back to the real world again, for another year hand in hand with my husband.  We sat down over wine and made out a list of relationship goals, things silly, sexy, and serious, and pinned them to the bedroom mantle.

I haven’t taken off my dressing gown since I arrived home…I’m torn between sleeping in the thing or hanging it and brushing it out every night like a valet.  I love it so much.

Marc says I look like a wizard in it.

And so goes the sixth anniversary.  On to year seven.

Fashion Recap: Spring 2017

There is nothing quite like coming down off of fashion week.  Marcus and I always take the kids to Paris for a night, followed by a night of our own, and then I gorge myself on cheesecake and ale whilst I watch the reviews come in and do my personal print/video assessments.

It was an odd year–political, on account of its American location and resistance from the arts.  Oscar de la Renta pulled his line last minute, and had all his models, Mira included, walk in black robes.  And Marie, who never participates in American fashion weeks (on account of her revolutionary era grudges), staged a competing couture show in France during the closing ceremonies.

I participated in the French show, of course, and I received especial praise for my role in the line, which Marie crafted around the life of a storm, from gathering clouds, to break, to reel, to clearing.  I represented the moment directly following the wrath, where the clouds depart, and the sun makes its reappearance–my courtly ensemble was black and purple with hints of gold and silver and lilac.  And apparently, I pulled off the transitional piece rather well, with ‘lingering truculence’ and ‘an expression half nostalgia, and half relief’.

I also…uh…I fell.  I finally fell.  Well, I wobbled.

Thankfully, it happened during Marc’s line.  Not that any of my designers are arseholes, but if I’m going to fall, I’d rather it happen in my husband’s show.

No worries, though–Ghost Buzzfeed polls determined the mishap to be ‘charmingly British’ with 75% of the vote.

So, what’s next?

Well, over the summer, Marcus is taking on at least one collaborative work–a partnership with a young designer, Lulu, who wants to create a pantheon of Roman gods and goddesses with a particularly modern, comedic flare.  We’ll also be doing a bit of travelling to check in on the JS franchise locations and nail down our fabrics for our next autumn line (to show in Spring 2018).  Marc wants to find the perfect pieces to line the coats he plans to make–long flippant dusters based on our daughter’s likes.

I shall be taking on two new models for mentorship–Chauncey and Jerome are successful in their own right, now, and happily taking on private rooms outside of the townhouse.  I’m thrilled for both for them, and I’m pleased as hell that my aid and instruction launched their careers. I definitely had concerns going into coaching, given that I was a bloody terrible voice teacher in life…

Gertie will be staying on at the house to act as a sort of manager of the space and voice of reason–models can be rather volatile, and Gertie’s combination of sweet androgyny, ephemeral calm, and sharp wit should keep everyone at peace while I’m away.  He’s taking on a small salary for the trouble, mostly to fund his own charitable efforts, as he, too, is perfectly successful on his own.  Rather my most successful protegee, I’d say.

I’ll also be co-starring in a promotional film for Richard’s line, to be filmed throughout July in the Mediterranean, and…I could not be more delighted, haha.

It’s going to be a romance story, with two narratives: a straight Don Juan gallivants his way through Italy, showing off Richard’s swaggering style; a queer side-kick of sorts, lounges about the beaches and villas oozing charm and giving Richard’s look a more laid-back air.

I’m to play the side-kick, hah!  And I’ll be wooing another model on Richard’s line, Lucius Fox (self-named after his favourite in the Batman franchise, despite looking nothing like the man).

Marc is so irritated by the whole thing.  On the one hand, he’ll get to spend plenty of time at our villa during filming. On the other hand, he knows that Lucius and I already flirt shamelessly, and now we’ll be snogging each other on white-sand beaches.  So, Marc’s convinced that he won’t be able to enjoy any of his time, brooding thing that he can be.

white-sand

Pictured: Infidelity

I argue that my husband is a nutter if he thinks I’d wreck our fabulous marriage over a crush, however lax my attitude toward monogamy may be.  I promised Marcus I’d be his alone, and despite my tendency to fall in love six times a day, that’s that.  If anything, this opportunity will be safe outlet for my amorous nature.  And besides, Lucius is terrified of Marc…mate won’t be trying anything funny.

Other than that, we’ll be resting and recuperating and seeing friends and snuggling the hell out of J and Mira.

And as for the rest of our fashion crew: our PAs, Danny and Fleur, shall be taking some highly deserved time off, as usual, and joining us for some of the time in the Mediterranean; Marc’s co-designer, John, will not be taking time off, as usual, and plans to spend his summer in the basement of the JS offices surrounded by leather and metalwork and polished wood, which is not nearly as exciting as it sounds; Lucas, Danny’s assistant, will be manning the offices while we’re all away, and hopefully either quit or develop a personality beyond ‘generally affronted.’

 

 

Updates to ‘The Players’

Just wanted to pop by to note that my work on the site these last weeks encompassed a complete overhaul of ‘The Players’ page.  You’ll now find that it’s divided between my Ghost World companions and compatriots and my Victorian, and that it’s completely filled in at this point.

Huzzah!

My next task will be to link each biography to posts I’ve written about its person-of-interest, creating a sort of clickable extension file for each of my friends and family.  I believe tags do something similar, but I like the idea of manually building out the biographies, and linking particular interests, adventures, and personality traits to their related posts.

But in the meantime, have a look.  Find some new friends.  Have fun.

Deja Vu and Baby Queens

You may have noticed a few internet memes, as of late, in which people seem to be comparing presidents, politicians, and social circumstances from the 19th century to those of today.  The memes point out the worst that happened in prior years as if to suggest that the world lived through it all once and can live through it again.  Or they argue that there is nothing new under the sun, and we should all just accept Trump’s administration as a conglomeration of things come before.

And I’ve really just about had it.

Making comparisons to the 19th century as a way of assuaging fear is a truly ridiculous coping mechanism.  Truly.  Because the 19th century was, by and large, rather terrible.

Bloody terrible.

Besides, we are supposed to be moving forward, folks, not pointing to the past for a sense of misplaced consolation.

Anyway, I started a whole rant about it, and then I deleted it because it really does no good to throw further vitriol out there, and also my host’s blood pressure, and then I went on a hunt for something to cheer me.  And I found this…

 

Good god, would you look at Millie Bobby Brown.  She is a fierce baby queen.  Her sneer could carve a man like a turkey.

If she decided to form a government of one and rule by sheer force of feminist potential the entire world would put on tuxedo pants and glitter shirts and march to the beat of her weird, lovely drum.

She is already so sick of everyone’s shit.

I know, because I’ve seen the same look on my daughter’s face.  That is the look of boredom with the status quo.  It is unapologetic ownership of personal successes and steel determination.  And it is not to be trifled with.

Young women are not to be trifled with.

Here’s to baby queens who refuse to put up with bullshit that belongs in the 19th century.

March on.

A Slight Refocussing

After some consideration, I’ve determined the central problem with my little blog here–missed posts, scrambles for topics–is not actually a problem.  It’s merely a symptom of my slightly-off-target original intention.

The original intention: to share with you the ins and outs of Ghost World and provide glimpses into my former life as a Victorian.

The new intention: to do more of the same…but not by picking discussions at random.  Instead, I shall be pulling more obviously from my day to day, with journal-like entries orbiting my family and friends, and with a heightened chronological or narrative feel.

The reason?

I was essentially doing this anyway…and then stopping myself at the pivotal moment.  Instead of owning up to my familial inspirations, letting you know what conversations and events stoked my topic choices, I edited heavily in the attempt to take the view-from-nowhere, to write brief essays on ghost world and Victoriana without locating them.

[This view-from-nowhere essay hodgepodge is undoubtedly consequent my training at Fraser’s Magazine in the 1840s.  I did a bit of digging and uncovered a set of issues I actually worked on (a  bit of a shock to see them again).  You can view them here, if you want to see what I mean about disjointed bits and bobs.]

But now, I shall be providing the map through my meanderings.  I’ll simply talk about what is important to me–my family, my friends, my work–and consequent such things being a part of Ghost World, you will learn about Ghost World.

Simple really.

And of course, I will continue to divest information in tangents on energy, ghost pets, ghost telly, Victoriana, the like, but I’ll do so when those topics are necessary to the conversation, not the whole of the conversation.

I hope this approach feels more holisitic and honest to you, as a reader.  I’m quite excited about it, because I am, in my heart of hearts, and unabashed family man with a mobile full of pictures of his children and husband and mates.

So, up next?  In two weeks? Probably something about preparations for fashion week and JS office dynamics.  But who knows; something more biting may come up.  And if so, I shall share it with you–guilt-free–instead of keeping to a predetermined schedule of posts.

Ahhhh….feels nice.

Hope you enjoy.