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.

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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

Drugs after Death

Let’s say, hypothetically, there lived a Victorian man named Eliot Smyth.  He was a pleasant enough chap, but on the whole, rather subdued.  So, he took a shine to alcohol when out with friends, because it enhanced his extroversion, inspired conversation, and led to small adventures.

He may have climbed the statue of Queen Anne outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral and toasted her with a bottle of whiskey.  He may have streaked through St. James’ Park.  He may have targeted any number of other saints in his frolics, come to think of it…we’ll never know for sure.  Purely hypothetical, you know.

Let’s say this Mr. Smyth also discovered opium, laudanum, and hash along the way, because why not?

Let’s say this Mr. Smyth was, in fact, a recreational drug user with a penchant for seeking out safe but surely world-altering experiences.

Now…

Let’s also say that this Mr. Smyth died and became a ghost.  And once a ghost, he realised three rather important things:

First, when one is a ghost, the risk of death by misadventure decreases significantly.

Second, in the years after his death and prior to his manifestation, the alively world created a vast number of new substances.

Third, in order to experience these new substances, all one had to do was borrow the happy memories and best trips out of vast memory banks, find a suitable club, and summon up instant bliss, just prime for personal variation.  Instant legal bliss. (See realisation number one, and consider its applications to bodily autonomy.)

What would you do, if you were Mr. Smyth?

If you said that you would find yourself a fantastic club full of blinky lights, collect the memories to match little pills that make you feel like velvet houseplants are touching your eyes, and switch out your cravat for leather trousers, you’d be accurate in your estimations of Mr. Smyth’s character.

Now suppose, hypothetically, of course, that Mr. Smyth was having a rather excellent trip that resulted in the belief that he was, in fact, a mushroom.  Leather pants wouldn’t do at all for a mushroom, right?  So he locates another gent on the dance floor and suggests they should switch trousers on account of said gent wearing suede–much more mushroom suitable.  Gent says, by all means! I’m actually a snake! I think leather would be perfect!

Trousers are switched.

And let’s suppose that the following morning, Mr. Smyth watches footage of the trouser exchange on his husband’s mobile, shakes his head at himself, and giggles into his cereal.

But later in the day….more footage comes in.  Along with a memo from Mr. Smyth’s PR firm alerting him to the ongoing Twitter auction for a pair of his leather trousers worn home from the club by one @YASSLAYJOSE.

Mr. Smyth may have swaddled himself in Victorian attire at this point, picked out a stuffy book, and considered the merits of clean living.

AND LET’S SUPPOSE that this bloody Twitter auction ended at $80k Canadian for a pair of damn trousers.  And Mr. Smyth had to pony up for the quid, to keep the designer of said trousers happy.  Mr. Smyth also had to take meetings with his charitable board of investors, who allowed he should blow off steam on occasion, thank god.  And Mr. Smyth also had to contact each of his contractual designers and explain the situation to chortling fashionistas, as well as apologise to his mentored models, because while drugs are legal in Ghost World, they are still surrounded by bullshit moralistic tripe.

So…depending on the sort of person you are, and whether or not you become a ghost, these suppositions could read as either a cautionary or curious tale.  Choices between libertarian and sober lifestyle will be entirely up to you.

I think I shall keep my boots laced and my cravat tied for at least another little while, as dealing with hypotheticals can become rather time-consuming.  And I promised my PR consultant a vacation at the winter holidays…

It’s Just the Wind

Hail October! Ghost High Holidays! Mmmm…you can smell the haunting in the air.

Unless your name is Jacques, and then you’re buried under a pile of Haunting Club paperwork.

The story…

The haunt started as any other. Jacques selected his newest target–a sixty-three year old woman in an aging farmhouse–and filed the paperwork.  Everyone was quite envious of his target.  He has a knack for finding the perfect specimens while the rest of us scramble.

We swallowed our envy, though, and threw a Paperwork Party once everything processed.  After a roaring good barbeque, we sent Jacques off to begin his haunt.  And later on, when we were all well and truly drunk, he returned with tales from his first foray, and we laughed and laughed and passed him the bottle.

Things always quiet down after the initial contact.  As a haunt, you want to make yourself known, and then build psychological steam with a drop, about three months of small measures, and then a sharp incline toward the end of the six month haunting allotment.  So, for a while, Jacques was simply ‘the wind’.

jacques-window

Pictured: Jacques

At the change of seasons, early September, he picked up the pace and the presence.  He slipped breezes in between cracks in the walls, rustled rugs and bedclothes, and blew open the ties on a set of curtains in the kitchen.

And the woman–Sheila–took it all in with great and glorious hysterics, calling friends, setting up a camera, and notifying a local priest.

Jacques was delighted.

And then it all went south rather precipitously.

If one remembers no other rule of Haunting Club, then one remembers the rule set in stone: No haunt shall bodily harm the selected target.

Jacques didn’t, either.  Not really.  I mean, he didn’t touch her.  And how was he to know that blowing a window open at the top landing of the house would result in Sheila flailing and fainting and falling down the stairs?

Alright, fine, he might have suspected…

But the fact that he was building to a Halloween finish means that he certain didn’t intend for such a thing to happen.  And when he was called before the Haunting Club tribunal, his filed timeline proved as much.  That, in combination with the fact that Sheila only broke an arm, led them to slap Jacques with a temporary ban, instead of an after-lifetime cease and desist–essentially, six months of paperwork duty at the offices.

Now, Jacques is not an entirely unreasonable man.  If this had happened any other time of year, he might not have drown himself in a week of bad television and jaegermeister, the worst of all possible alcohols.

But it happened right before Halloween.

Oh god, the post-humanity!

So, while the rest of us (including his stubborn ‘I-told-you-the-window-was-too-much’ husband, Ed) continue with our selections, pick Halloween targets, and head out for a romp on the Queen of all days, poor, poor Jacques has to file all our paperwork and assist with the post-Halloween flush of contingency reports and damage control.

I do feel badly, but…nothing can keep me down in October.

More ghost posts to come!

 

 

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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Ghost Tourism

It’s been a bit crazy around the Junius-Smith household the past months.  Alexander (who we happily incorporate under the nomenclature) took a new job and has continued to pour himself into editing in the off hours.  Marcus had a wild streak of inspiration that launched him into many busy evenings with his staff and workshop.  And I’ve been coaching more often out of my London townhouse, and I selected a third model for residency back in June.

Hence my posts here have been a bit erratic.

But, I wanted to drop in and call halloo, because I just had the most wonderful birthday trip to Scotland, and it put me in the mind of sharing something about ghost world.

Namely: Yes, we have a bustling tourism sector; Yes, it overlaps with your “worlds most haunted places”.

Do you find this as hilarious as I do?

I don’t know why, exactly, but there’s something about this crossover that just tickles the hell out of me.  It’s the egoism, I think–the idea that while you alivelies are creeping about with ghost-hunting equipment, treating any and all apparations as though we are somber, scary, and hell bent on giving you the time of day, we’re just having a ripping good time and essentially ignoring you.

What was that!? says the ghost hunter.  Can you tap something if you’re here with us?

*ghost entirely by coincidence chooses that moment to slam a shot glass on the table and knock back Scottish whiskey with his mates*

OMG DID YOU HEAR THAT??? What is your name!? Can you give us your name?

*ghost’s mates proceed to sing a raucously off-key rendention of happy birthday*

Eli? says the ghost hunter. Elliot? Edward? Elsbeth? You poor, poor soul, Elsbeth, do you need release from this world!? BE GONE FROM THIS ESTABLISHMENT.

*ghosts take another shot and proceed down the road to the next pub.*

Our work here is done, says the ghost hunter.

And castles, my god, castles.  Ghosts *love* castles, because we know that they are always deserted at night, often secluded, and built for abuse.  And ghost-hunters love castles, because, quite frankly, they just look rather haunty, don’t they?

Although for the sake of the ghost hunters, I rather hope that no one was trying to set up equipment while Marc and I were racing about our rented fortress, knocking over the furniture, and snogging in all the corners.

Marc booked the place on account of its discretion, not its homey drafts…

Oh, and on the topic of tourism, you should know that your alively tourist traps, for the most part, have parallels in the ghostly realm.  We still visit the Great Wall, the pyramids, the Aztec ruins–although we can see more of these things than you can.  And our co-visitation is part of what lends your tourism that sense of awe and wonder–an amplification of on-site emotions.

For instance, if anyone was out Nessie-watching on August 18th, you might have encountered the ripples of ghostly vessels, or heard the shouts of Marcus Brutus as he hung off the side of the boat, sandwich in one hand and camera in the other, daring the sea-monster to hide from him.

For what it’s worth, reverse psychology doesn’t work on sea-monsters. Not even if you’re Brutus.  He was appalled.

So, next time you’re out on a pleasure cruise, or walking the corridors of an on-site museum, or traipsing about a “most haunted”…give us a wave.