Host Guest Post

This isn’t really much of a guest post.

What actually happened is that Elliot messaged me while he was off  filming a commercial in Ghost World Rome and said, “please won’t you post an update about where I’ve been?? I feel bad. I don’t think I’ve missed a month of posting before.”

Turns out he has–November 2016.  But I’ll go ahead and post an update anyway, because I’m nice like that.

Nice enough to let Elliot (and Marc) run off to the Mediterranean, where Elliot has been wearing designer suits, eating at fancy restaurants, and kissing male models, while getting PAID to do that, and Marc has been accepting gifts from townsfolk as though he’s some sort of demi-god (he’s not…he’s just a priest…but he’s still collected a full flock of thirty-eight chickens, as well as a cow, enough braided altar cakes to feed an army, and six silk shawls to wear when he conducts state-religion ceremonies).

Nice enough to let them run off to New Zealand after that, to go ghost off-roading with Teddy (much more dangerous without the consequences) swim around in tide pools, and adventure in primordial forests with their darling children.

Nice enough, overall, to even enjoy the fact that they’re enjoying themselves…sigh…I suppose they deserve it.

But I’ll be glad to see them come home.

New posts from E in August.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Returning 2017

With November fashion week and December holidays, I’ve not had much time to post here.  I’m also reconsidering my intentions with this site, and I shall be back in 2017 with renewed vigour and purpose.

All best – E

On Religion and Romance

Fall comes early in the Pacific Northwest, and all the swirling leaves, dropping temperatures, and drizzly mornings have put me in a romantic state of mind.  Very much reminds me of my Geoffrey–those were his moods and colours.

And I’ve also been rendered more romantic than usual by my attendance at the vow renewal of two very good friends–Ben and John Smyth/e.

I have to say, I did not head into their renewal expecting to be romanced.   The men are Puritans, and I had an admittedly prejudiced vision of what their ceremony might look like.

But it was gorgeous, as is their story, and so I thought I’d share some of it here (with their permission) in the hopes of combating my own atheist tendency to write off all things religious.  My empathy for the church-going can always use a bit of sprucing up.  If they believe in a God who brought them together, then who am I to scoff?

In any case…

It turns out that the little wooden meeting house in the Toronto countryside, where the ceremony took place, has been John’s church home for just over 200 years.  He came to Canada from England in the early 19th century looking for a new start and he was taken with the quietude of the congregation and, more particularly, with the pastor, who goes simply by Christopher.

I can see why.  Christopher, is a truly lovely man who genuinely wants everyone around him to be happy–I could tell from the moment I shook his hand.  And he is always willing to test his own faith life, and the faith of his congregation, by creating inclusive spaces for “all manner of God’s children.”

He is, in fact, a liberal puritan.  Of all possible things.

And it turns out that inclusiveness really started to define his theology when John came to his congregation–a deadly handsome single man with a household and trade, who remained single year after year after year…

A few decades in, Christopher finally asked him why, and John admitted that he didn’t think he’d make a very good husband to a woman, and that he worried for his soul should he take up with a man, even though he knew that was the way of his heart.  He asked for penance for speaking the desire aloud, poor thing.

Christopher thought about it and decided that he liked John too much to uphold teachings that would force the man to continue to live alone or live a lie.  Instead of penance, he opened counselling with John, taught him self-compassion, and after a year or two, convinced him to broach the subject with the congregation and broaden his net of empathetic friends.

About a quarter of them left.  John still feels terrible about it.

But the three quarters who stayed opened their arms to John, and apparently started trying to set him up, to his utter embarrassment.  Puritans, he says, mean very well, but have a rather indelicate handle on what it means to be gay, haha.  I can only imagine.

So, anyway, John continued on in his single ways until one afternoon service, while he was administering a reading to the congregation, Ben wandered in and sat in the back of the church, looking forlorn and tired and six different kinds of overly modern–we’re talking late 1970s/early 1980s club culture.  He refuses to show me pictures. And John ‘for some reason known only to the Lord himself…’ fell in love at first sight.

Christopher apparently saw it on his face and sent him over after the service to invite Ben to attend a picnic they had coming up.  (Oh to have been a fly on that wall.)

Ben said he might show up.

The congregation took this to mean ‘yes, I will definitely be there, and you should all match-make the dickens out of John and I because obviously I am gay, I’m wearing eye liner for crying out loud’.

So they did, haha.  The congregation spent the next few months putting the two of them together in as many situations as possible.  Ben’s demeanor softened, John grew a bit bolder, and they finally went out for supper and were Committed within a year following–recognised in the congregation as a married couple.

Both of them talk about the first five years of their marriage as a time of massive growth.  John is staunchly 17th century in manner and dress, right down to the linen shirts and antiquated language.  Ben felt very comforted by that after years of wandering around the world looking for highs.  He stepped back into ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ at home, asked John to teach him to pray again, and purified his lifestyle.  But he also needed John to work on allowing pieces of modernity into his worldview.  Agreeing to disagree on some things, qualifying the occasional bottle of wine as ‘pure enough’, attending the country dances the congregation indulged in.

Obviously, though, they made it.

Ben is still the more outgoing of the two–it was his idea to publicly celebrate their 35th this last week, exemplifying Godly love to the LGBT youth they now minister to.  John is still the stalwart–he agreed to the ceremony, but only if it was quietly incorporated into a regular Wednesday night service and congregational supper.

But the strength of their bond–the way their differences support each other–is actually rather inspiring.  As John said, ‘When I look at thee I see an exploration.  I feel it keenly both in the planning and the execution.  Thou art a vast adventure. And I want to know thee better, as I also crave thy mystery.’

And the steps they have taken to live outwardly in a faith known for its restrictions are beyond courageous.  I am in such admiration of their bravery, and of the way they have reached out to other LGBT Puritans.  Simon, in attendance at the ceremony, has an apartment, a job, and a live in boyfriend because of their work with him.  And Prid, their newest boarder, is on his way.

So, the next time I find myself rolling my eyes heavenward over some such religious nonsense or another, I will remember that there are those in the world who fiercely believe there’s something up in those heavens, and who use that belief for good.

 

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A Note on Tea

I wouldn’t say I’m a technophobe.  I am typing this out on a lap top, after all.  I understand the necessity of having a mobile to take pictures of one’s children, and, I suppose, to make calls.  And in life, I was, among other things, a press mechanic.  Even after I moved into editorial roles, when the machine broke down, the boys came looking for me to get it back into sorts or summon the proper engineers.

However, there are some things that simply do not require technological advances.  That suffer under the weight of dials and knobs.

One of those things is tea.

Do you know how to make tea?  Boil water, pour it over a black tea bag or leaves, and let it sit until the water can stand up on its own? Add milk? Yes?

tea

Yes.

But apparently, the makers of the BKON (pronounced ‘beacon’, as though they are god’s light to the tea world) didn’t get the memo.

Let’s refer to the BKON as Mr. Vacuous, to dilute its apparent power.

I first met Mr. Vacuous when Alexander took a job at a local tea store.  He sat silent that first day—a black box glued to a paper-stone counter, staring at the front door to the store as if mentally preparing to inflict himself upon future customers.  I paid him no mind, overwhelmed as I was by the 101 flavours of tea in the store.

101 flavours!  Jesus ‘English’ Christ himself knows perfectly well that one needs a breakfast assam and an afternoon blend and nothing more.

And they make cold teas, too.  COLD TEA.

The second day, the owner of the store began to fit Mr. Vacuous with his component parts—rubber seals, a vacuum tube, a handled basket that fits underneath the tube.

The third day he turned it on…

…and thus unleashed the apocalypse.  If we are now making tea inside of a vacuum, the four horsemen cannot be far behind.

Mr. Vacuous sucked the tea leaves from the basket up into his tube.  He created a seal and removed the air from the tube.  And then he used some scientific algorithm to mix exact proportions of hot and cold water to hit the ‘proper’ temperature for an oolong, pushing the water into the leaves into the empty air spaces.  He brewed it in sixty seconds flat.

Where is the decency, I ask you?  Where are the black teas?  The five minute steep time? The spilled leaves on the counter, the cussing at the pilot light on the stove, the five a.m. blur, the desperate wait for the steep to finish?  Where goes the tradition when Mr. Vacuous sucks the air out of your tea?  Where goes the flavour of tar when he brews a ‘perfect’ cup?

I am appalled.

The damn thing brews white tea (fluff with a bit of flavour), green tea (grass), oolong (wanna be black tea), and herbals (caffeine free piles of uselessness) in addition to our Lord and Saviour’s Assam.  Cross pollution if you ask me.

And it brews so quickly you have no chance to watch the amber color sway into your cup.  No chance to forget you’ve made tea, happily resulting in a sludge-filled cuppa that begs you pray for absolution.  No chance to spill, to burn, to revel in the life that is tea.

Mr. Vacuous is just that—vacuous.  Absent.  Antiseptic. An exorbitantly priced erasure.

And so far, in the first three weeks of Alex’s job, only once has a customer stood up to his wiles and asked for a traditional steep.  A pot, an infuser, a bit of boiling water, and a good god-damn black tea.

A true hero, that one.

Mr. Vacuous even holds sway over Alex…it’s sad, so sad, but true.  He’s even considering the purchase of a programmable hot water heater to have at home now, having ‘discovered’ oolongs and greens.  It’s awful.

But…Mr. Vacuous will never sway me.  I shall continue to take my black and white cuppa straight off the stove, thank you very much.

I humbly implore you to behave likewise.

Brexit

If you prefer your blogs apolitical and vitriol-free, you might skip this post.  Because although I am calmer than I was when the vote came in, I am still upset.

I am upset because this vote is representative of the Britain I knew.   That is a massive problem, because I am from the 1830s—a time when London hated me for my Jewish ethnicity, actively blocked immigrants from anything other than back-breaking labour, and openly, violently attacked difference in the streets.

I am upset because this vote is isolationist.  The second England aggressively conquered half the world, subjugating people of color to our thirst for markets, raw materials, and free labour, we forfeit our right to isolationist policy.  No, the hospitals and railroads we built do not even the score.

I am upset because we left the empire in state of disarray, full of power vacuums, decimated populations, and depleted land, and then complained when those people we harmed wanted to come to our shores to heal and make lives for themselves.

I am upset because this vote is indicative of a wider, harder, scarier conservatism than I have ever seen—a backwards-looking, white-washing, opportunity-closing terror.

And most of all, I am upset because I thought that England would be better by now.  I thought it would be a place of apology, acceptance, and reassurance.  I thought it would be multi-cultural, unique, and expressive.  I thought if one good thing could come of the empire, it would be mobilisation and exploration of sameness.

But instead, I find myself faced with an England that is dying from within, expelling the very people who could give it life.  An England that rejects orders and aid from outside, while turning around and spewing rhetoric of control at Scotland and Ireland and Wales. An England that has lost its sense of self.

An England that is a fucking cruel joke at the expense of the people who voted to remain, the children who expected to have European mobility, the poor souls subject to deportation.

If any good can come of this, it is as a cautionary tale to America—your Boris, your Nigel, is running for president, and you must stop him.  You must stop him from turning your country into a hateful, exclusionary, and just…sad, sad place.

Please.

[Back to posts on ghosts, family, and fashion in two weeks, provided the world doesn’t further implode between now and then.]