Roman Escapades

Alex’s guest post makes it sound as though I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with nary a care.

That’s not entirely true.

I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with precisely one care, namely, the dearth of tea in Italy.  I was nearly forced to drink a cappuccino, the horror.

No, but really, it was a rollicking good time.  And I suppose I should explain a bit more fully what I was up to.

You might recall my mentioning, earlier in the summer, that I was slated to appear in a fashion film for Richard’s line, Cavalier.  Normally, we advertise by dressing as piratical gentleman and commandeering pleasure yachts in the Mediterranean.  (No, I know.) But Richard decided he would like to try his hand at land-based conquests, and so this film was born.

The script was…well there wasn’t really a script.  There was merely a scenario: two Lotharios, one gay, one straight, go to a party as each other’s wingmen where they end up meeting their objects of pursuit and proceed to chase them across the gorgeous Italian countryside until conquests are made and everyone falls in love.

The bloke playing the straight lead–this sort of vaguely rakish Ken-doll who insisted upon calling himself ‘Britain’–thought it was charming.

His counterpart–a spunky American model named Molly with hair straight from the 1930s and a queer girlfriend named Lamplight–thought it was horseshit.

And I, as well as my counterpart Fox, saw it for what it was–the absurdist theatre of Richard’s most tongue-in-cheek dreams.  We were able to convince Molly of this, with Lam’s help, and so filming began.

The first day of filming was a bit stressful, I must say.  I’m quite used to being dressed up and paraded about at this point, but moving cameras are quite different from stationary ones, and the pace was arduous.  Then there was the lack of tea.  And the fact that I can’t ride a damn bike let alone a Moped.  And the sheer weight of performing ‘macho’ all day, as Fox played the more effeminate role on account of his delightfully elfin appearance.

But I hit my stride fairly quickly, and ended up rather enjoying myself.  The countryside is truly magical, with all its rolling hills and climbing cypress.

roman countryside

Now imagine a warm breeze ruffling your hair…

Marc joined me on set at least once a day, as well, to giggle at my ‘sexy face’ and make eyes at me whilst I marched around in jodhpurs and jackets.  And Fox was a delightful companion once he overcame his nerves about playing opposite ‘Mr. Brutus’, as I’m known throughout ghost Italy.

Meanwhile, the kiddos took to Rome with renewed fervor.

J went about everywhere in his little tunica and bulla, accepting parcels from townsfolk with the seriousness of mind that becomes the son of a Roman priest.  He also quite bonded quite with Claudius this visit and spent a great deal of time in the barnyard, learning to corral animals and read weather.

Mira did a bit of solo wandering, getting to know the land and the landscapes.  She also spent some time on horseback, introducing Nox around–Marc’s sneaky method of drawing her out into the town and forcing her to socialise.

And in all, we managed to use the time away to check in with a number of other friends.

Marie and Girafe came down from France for a ‘picnic’, which I should have known wouldn’t be a mere picnic.  They arrived with a boatload of lavish pillows, which Marie flung about a clearing in the countryside while Girafe made mysterious calls on his feather-covered mobile.  All of a sudden we had an oddly poofy, organic gazebo effect happening, and a vast array of food trucks from which to choose.

Delphi came out from the city no fewer than three times a week for afternoons that bled into suppers that bled into cocktails.  He and Claudius are no longer hiding their item-hood. They were as cozy as could be, and utterly sweet besides.  My favourite detail of their relationship: as Claudius is prone to forgetting to clean his spectacles, Delphi wears a soft cloth as a pocket square these days.  My heart!

And at the end of the trip, yes, we did go laze about in New Zealand with Matiu and Teddy and their son Miri.  I was quite ready for the time away from cameras and back in nail polish and loose tees.  Marc was ready to shed the immediate responsibility of representing Rome back to itself.  Mira and J were greedy for our time after all the excitement–quite gratifying, hehe–and I scarcely went ten minutes without a tiny hand in mine or a sleepy little face on my shoulder.

Now all that remains for the end of the summer is Marc’s participation in the war games.  He didn’t ‘play’ last year on account of the WWII theme, and he’s actually not leading any troops this year, either, to give other generals a chance to enjoy their moment in the sun.  But he will be providing live commentary from the stands this weekend, which is bound to be both enlightening and hilarious.  It’s a sea-battle, and he’s hoping they provided for ghost sharks to eat the fallen, because of course he’s hoping for that.

sea battle

Oh shit is ghost shark get out! – Marc

Oh, and I suppose I also have a birthday coming up, but I’m not terribly anticipatory.  It’s 199 this year, and I begged for a small gathering since I know for a fact I’m not escaping some monstrosity for my 200th.

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Dinner Party Success!

(Marcus tried to make me name this post ‘Dinner Party is More Like Winner Party’)

So, May 1st was my big debut, and I am delighted to share that it went off without any major hitches.  In fact, I’d say it was a success!  A few of the most delicious details below…

I must start by saying that I am immensely proud of my family and grateful for their help in the matter.

Marcus was excellent moral support–every time I looked for him, he was at my arm, gracefully reentering conversation or just brushing shoulders long enough to remind me that he was watching out for me.  Also, the guests were obviously enamoured with the idea of a Roman in their midst, and he was more than happy to play the part.  He skulked about in a toga, sipping wine and looking ‘so mystery’.  And he only had to leave the room and giggle about it once or twice.

The children were also wonderful.  Mira gave a beautiful toast to Beltane over supper, and she looked absolutely smashing in a baby queen ball gown reminiscent of the 1920s–a sage green and lavender number she selected herself.  And J refused to move down table for a stodgy bastard who thought he should have been seated closer to me than my own son.  He just looked right up at this man and said ‘this seat is for faeries’ and continued to eat decorative parsley, and my heart soared.

I am also just thrilled with my two doorman/models who put on a good show.  Chauncey, shy and brilliant, worked the corners of the room, while Jerome, outgoing and…airy would be a nice way of putting it, charmed the milling centre.  And while their walks were still those of budding amateurs, that was really rather the point.  They’ll walk again when we open season in the winter, to demonstrate improvement.

And finally, I would be remiss as a ghost, Englishman, and moonlighting libertine, if I didn’t mention that Lord and Lady Rochester came to the party and left in incredibly high spirits.  That’s John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester of the court of Charles II, and his new wife/open-marriage-compatriot Drizell; Willy and Dizzy, known collectively as Lord and Lady Rooster, on account of them crowing gossip all through society.

John_Wilmot

I went to Elliot’s party.  Pinnacle moment of my afterlife, must say.

He wears less armour these days, but his hair is the same, as is his preference for satin.  He showed up in a tight-fitting blue satin suit with frothy, cream cravat and long black dress shoes with a bit of curl to the toe.  Very updated London.  And Drizell, a ghost from the 1940s, wore a gorgeous, ephemeral, glittering cream gown cut on the bias.  Both of them flirted shamelessly with Jerome.  And Lord Rochester invited me to one of his upcoming salons–he still writes unctuous poetry, which, while almost necessarily terrible, I cannot wait to hear.

And, in general, I would say people had a good time, myself included.  I was able to dispense with nerves as the supper progressed, falling totally into my role as society home owner and gentle eccentric.  Marc surprised me with a newly designed JS jacket for the occasion, which I debuted on the runway after dinner–russet leather lapels and pointillism grey wool.  And the house stood up to guests, with only one broken piece of pottery and a bit of spilled wine on the stairs.

Would I host again? Oddly enough, yes.

Am I looking forward to other society parties? Again, oddly enough, yes.

It’s a new age for Elliot, haha.

Society Debut

The bad news: Editing is taking my host far longer than he thought it might.

The good news: He’s restructured his approach to afford time to other endeavours, and I once again have leeway to keep up my blogging.  Huzzah!

And the timing could not be better, because, oh, do I have news…

The townhouse is appointed, the china is selected, the menu is set, and the invitations are sent:  I’m coming out, May 1st.

It’s a fashionably late coming out, to be sure. The season started with a bang round Christmas, and it’s only to run until the end of June.

But the London ton, as I have been informed by my realtor-cum-informant, Oli, feel quite a great deal of forgiveness toward my late entry, on account of my involvement with another season–that of fashion.

Were I simply lazy, or shy, or reticent, I wouldn’t have received a single invitation to turn down.  Since I am hard-working, philanthropic, and glamourous…they’ve been  gracious with my regrets, and willing to wait and gossip and RSVP to my dinner in the affirmative.

I suppose I am grateful?

But there was also some not-so-small part of me that hoped everyone would just throw up their hands and ignore me.  As it turns out, I’m painfully shy in personal settings, despite my time on stage and runway.  The thought of inviting perfect strangers into my home, with the goal of rendering them otherwise over the course of one dinner, terrifies me.

Two things keep me from turning tail.

First, as always, my husband.  Not only did Rome have its own sort of season, in which he was well-versed and well-known, but also…I’ll be damned before I run away from something while he watches.  The look on his face would be just too much.  And even if I bollocks something up, he’ll be there to smooth things over and redirect attention.  (To be sure, the ton is quite taken with the idea of a Roman in their midst.)

Second, Lord Akeldama.

I think I may have mentioned my obsession with this vampyre elsewhere on the site, or at least my obsession with Gail Carriger’s steampunk comedy of manners, which so delightfully skewers and celebrates the London season in turn.

But if not, you’re hearing it now.  I am so taken with Lord Akeldama, rove vampyre of steampunk London, that Alex had Miss Gail sign his portrait for me at a recent meet and greet event in Seattle.

akeldama

Akeldama on the right, in all his frilled and fluffy glory.  (Biffy, another of my paramours, on the left.)

I about died again.

And then, in a fit of confidence, I trussed myself up in a silk dressing gown, poured champagne, and opened a stack of new invitations to closing parties.  I even sent a few RSVPs–mostly to houses that seem like fun (Nell Gwyn, my god!), but also to a few conservative soirees, which I plan to attend in full velvet dress clutching my son’s teacup piglet.

I also finalised the details for my dinner, sent out one last round of looking-forwards, and reviewed my full guest list one last time without feeling like to climb under the table and cry.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what my coming out party will look like, in a nutshell:

5-8 pm: cocktails and crudites in the ground floor reception spaces (first floor to American readers).  These are done up rather Victorian, with dark wood, rich reds and blues, and pops of white and gold that draw attention to the windows and bookshelves.  I’ve hired a string quartet to play for this portion, as well as (handsome) doormen

8 pm: introductions.  Marcus and I come downstairs with the children, introduce ourselves around, and go up to dinner.  Traditionally, I would send the children to bed after introducing them, but I fear the wrath of Mira more than I fear the wrath of society, so they’ll be eating with us, and Mira, at least, will attend the first portion of dancing.

8:15-10: formal dinner in the first floor dining room (second floor,  Am.).  Menu items include Roman grain salads, a Roman-London hybrid fish plate, a London beef main (with beet option for the vegetarians, such as myself), and ices.  This portion of the home is lighter, with the reds and blues faded to rose and periwinkle, with pops of green and grey and the addition of Roman elements, such as ferns and columns.

10-2: dancing in the third floor ballroom (fourth floor, Am.), and open viewing from the rooftop terrace–both very modern spaces with clean lines, chrome, and glass. The string quartet will return for the first portion of the evening, and then round about midnight, I’ll re-introduce the two doormen as the first of my in-house modelling/runway clients and do a quick turn with them on the catwalk, finishing out the evening with a band and last rounds of cocktails.

Second floor of the home (third, Am.) is off limits.  This is our family space, divided between children’s bedrooms and the master suite.  And we’re also not utilising the garden floor, which is where my client-boarders reside–two at present, but five rooms total…more auditions over the summer.

And that’s it!  It’s all rather posh, but I’m becoming resigned to the idea that I am, in fact, a bit posh these days.  My blushes…

Will be sure to post how it goes.

NY Ghost Fashion Week Recap

Our host is on the road again this week, so I’ve only time for a short little post.  As it turns out, though, NY Fashion Week was rather low-key this year, so I needn’t go on at length.  Here’s a brief glimpse at our fashion forays:

Wednesday, February 10:  We arrived at fashion week and walked the first of many red carpets into the event.  J insisted on taking his new teacup pig to the opening events, on a glitter leash, and I must say Earl Pink made quite the splash.  We’ve quite the reputation at this point for doing eccentric rich-people things, but with children and charm.  In fact, one blogger has dubbed us the First Family of Fashion.  I suppose one must concede to ridiculous titles where required.

Thursday, February 11: I walked for Herschel, whose line of suits this season truly soared.  All Edwardian, as per usual, but with a great deal of country flair this time in rich red tweeds and plaids.

Friday, February 12: Meetings.  All bloody day.  Marcus was approached by commercial developers from ghost Egypt. They’ve requested he open his second African store (the first being in Cape Town) and commissioned a few new Egyptian/Roman pieces from him.  Fleur and John saw to JS business interests in Europe.  I spent my afternoon with Danny networking with models and gauging interest for my services as a London-based runway coach (interest is high).  And Mira had tea with Oscar de la Renta, acting as the charming face of his line.  J spent the day with Lucas, vascillating between Marc and I, cradling Earl Pink (who also wears faerie wings), and being quite adorable.

I walked for Georgie in the early evening, and then went on a bar crawl with Richard and the cavalier crew to show off his line in lieu of a runway appearance.  The man never does anything formally when he can do things with foppery. Not that I’m complaining…

Saturday, February 13: For the first time ever, Mira and I were scheduled at near simultaneous runway shows, and on opposite sides of the fashion events.  Marcus and I fought for a different time to no avail.  So, we checked Mira into her event with Lucas and Fleur (and J, to hold her hand backstage).  Blinked across the city to begin our runway.  Blinked back for a hot second to see Mira’s opening walk (with her kitten, Cozy, on her shoulder).  Popped back over to finish our show.  Disappeared again to watch Mira’s final walk with all the fetching looks, leaving Danny and poor, puritan John to handle the first rush of post-JS show interviews.  And then finally settled in at our after party for cocktails and conversation, occasionally spiriting away to check on Mira and J, who were tucked beside Oscar and Fleur, respectively.  The children were so very good for everyone, but Marcus and I were both heartbroken at giving them up for the evening.  It might mean taking a less coveted runway time slot or stage, in the future, but we’re never going to finagle things this way again.

Sunday, February 14: Lunches, followed by our closing ceremonies.  Herschel won a very much deserved afterlifetime achievement award–he’s been designing suits for 100 years–and he was oh so shy and sweet as he accepted the accolade.  The man really is a darling.  And the Junius-Smith’s, having made out like bandits in the Spring and Fall of last year, happily cheered on our mates and well-respected acquaintances as they picked up the other awards.

And that’s about it!  Rather exhausting, but managed with success.  I am looking forward to the Fall where Marcus will debut his first haute-couture line along with his usual runway, where Fleur and I will put forward our women’s line, and where Marie shall be back on scene.  (She boycotts American events in accordance with her French Revolutionary experience.  Rather feels they should have sent a ship to aid her Queen.)

Our next big event?  Marc and I are celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary on March 19, and of course I’ll tell all about those plans in my  next post.  Fabulous to be sure.

 

 

November Catch Up

I’ll be back to regular sorts of posts in December–short essays on ghost and family goings on and such—but I thought I would take the first day of the month to share a few retroactive highlights from my time away from the blog. Because goodness gracious, November. Never the busiest month for me in life, it has certainly become so in death…
Here’s what I was up to, whilst away.

Fashion Week (November 11-15)

Because ghosts are not bound by the same physical rules as humans, we can do our fashion weeks in rather inaccessible locales. So, this year’s fashion week took place deep with the forests of Japan.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Shiratani_Unsui_Gorge_17.jpg

But with fabulous hair for accoutrement.

It was just about as beautiful as could possibly be, with fireflies lighting up the nighttime runways and gorgeous sunsets illuminating the afternoon. And Marc’s line —menswear inspired by campfires, charcoal, and gleaming driftwood—worked incredibly well with the backdrop, adding an extra level of magic to something already quite magical.

But behind all the beauty, of course, are schedules, reservations, rehearsals, bitch-fits, and last-minute problem solving, all of which went from about a 5 to a 10 on the Stress Scale this year. Reason being…this was our first fashion week as independent designers.

In every previous year, we’ve had AMMA dealing with the majority of the nitty-gritty on our behalf. Our first assistants, Danny and Fleur, also had coordinating staff meetings to help them solidify our schedules and appearances. This left Marc and I to just design, execute, and walk.

But this year…well, Marc had to not only design his set but book the space, coordinate the build, schedule the rehearsals, etc. Danny and Fleur had to be incredibly discerning about our interview selection, jettisoning some of the old and bringing in new, and they had to work more time for networking into an already packed schedule. And I had to put on my most confident swagger and go…talk to people. *shudder*

But we managed it all, the show went off well, and I was able to amicably part ways with one of my designers whose brand I’ve outgrown, promising to send him some fresh faces for consideration.

And in the end, at the award banquet, we made out like Junius-Smith bandits…no brag, *ahem.*

Marcus won the overall independent designer category with takes into account new shops opened, sales, brand originality, and design. The man is a sexy, design machine. Also, one of the recipients of Marc’s Rufius Award, named after his late artistic husband, received the award for best new line—Xavvy—and thanked Marc for his mentorship in the speech.

And Mira, our baby queen, won best print advert second year in a row modelling miniaturized Oscar de la Renta. In the shot, she has on a gorgeous red dress with cream under skirts, and she’s coming out of a forest cave and stepping over a puddle while she looks at the sky with this ‘are you quite finished’ expression. Hah! And her walk much improved this year, as well.

I was out of the running this year after winning the top modelling award in 2014, so I was able to just sit and cuddle J-bird and celebrate Marc and Mira.

Then the rest of the month was also about celebrating them, haha.

Marc’s B-Day (November 22)

One of the greatest pleasures of my marriage is having a husband who is truly the easiest person for whom to buy gifts. I mean…it’s extraordinary. He loves anything animal-related, cute and fierce animals both. He loves jewelry, like leather or gold cuffs, thick rings, adornments for his toga. He loves anything he can add to his favourite spaces in the house—kitchen, pool, bath, stables. He loves family-related gifts, anything to do with Roma, things that are fast, photography gizmos, clothing, wine, you name it. And no matter what you give him, it is like watching Christmas unfold before your very eyes.

Ugh, I love it.

And this year for his birthday (which we relocated from June), I got him the most perfect thing—a full afternoon with a falconer, meeting birds, wearing gauntlets, watching raptor predators swoop and dive, and making a new friend, as it turns out the falconer also dabbles in swordplay.

He literally almost cried when I told him what his birthday present was, and he’s been printing out pictures of falcons and pinning them up in his study ever since.

Husband achievement unlocked.

Mira’s Adoption Anniversary and Thanksgiving (November 26-28)

Marcus and I are neither of us American, but our host is, and so we sort of took to this holiday over the years out of proximity more than anything else. We all rather think it’s ridiculous as a celebration of anything even remotely historical, but it does do a good job bringing folks together for moments of warm gratitude, so when we started living part-time in Canada, we rolled it out as a novelty for our mates up there.

They loved it. Ed and Jacques fight us for hosting rights now, haha.

And then in 2013, our (now) daughter Mirabelle stood up on her chair and grandly announced that she had decided to accept our adoption invitation, injecting a whole new level of meaning into the holiday. She makes a toast every year now, baby mimosa in hand. It’s fabulous.

Alexander’s NaNoWriMo (November 1-30)

Of course the other momentary diversion from regular blog posts happened on account of Alex successfully accomplishing NaNoWriMo with 50,206 words on his current historical-fantasy project. I’m madly in love with it, and terribly proud of him—just wanted to say that in public space. Good show, darling sir.

Salut! is Husband Guest Post Time

So, Elias is be like super cray busy after Halloween. Ghost fashion week is be November 11-15 this year, and he is have five show for walk in because he is be super model.

(How is like, Marcus, be marry to super model? Oh you know, is pretty fucking great, other Marcus.)

Two of show he is be lead model for, which is take lot of time and prepare for interview and thing. One of show is be like super high fashion 18th century with looooot of fit time. One of show is be first walk with—Richard pirate fashion—so he is still work on brand and do meet with. And other is be basic walk, but is still take time.

So anyway, he is be like, Mahhhhhhhhhhhcus, you are so best and always be done with work for line like month before fashion week so how about you are write guest post for November when I am be cray busy.

And I am be like, fine, but is be November 12 post and is Marion birthday so you are sure you are non want do?

And he is be like, non is fine, you are do. Is make sense for love of afterlife to write about love of life. I am like.

And I am be like, best, I am like too.

Problem: Every time I am sit down and start write, Elias is be like, oooooOOOOooooo what you are write about, I am see? And I am be like, I know you are excite about, but actual fuck off. And he is do for like six second or so and then be like, now I am see? So I am just stop write until he is be in middle of fashion week and non see, because I am want be surprise.

Right now Elias is be do pre-interview for Herschel line and then he is do eat and last minute fit and thing, so I am have time before show for write post.

Here I am go!

* * *

Happy Birthday for Marion! and Surprise Story for Elias

Once upon time there is be tiny pony name Marion Rose.

Unless you are live under rock you are know what tiny pony is look like.

In case you are live under rock, here is be tiny pony. OMG THEY ARE BEST.

In case you are live under rock, here is be tiny pony. OMG THEY ARE BEST.

Marion Rose is be tiny pony in Victoria time when all of England is live on eat smoke and cheese and sugar. And she is be like super mega tiny. Like, there are be lot of tiny pony in Victoria time, but she is be most tiny of all of. And she is have super shine chestnut coat and best tiny pony fashion, and she is TOTAL head kick you if she is non like what you are say.

Example: She is want head kick like all of parliament, all of time.

There is also be other tiny pony in Victoria time who is be more like mini-horse, because he is be so tall. He is be name Elliot and he is be so dark black like night and have curl mane and non fit in any of stable. Part because people are be like, gross…dark, curl pony, do non come in, and also because all of world is make for aaaaaaactual tut tut crumpet tiny pony, non for mini-horse.

Anyway, Elliot is be like super determine mini-horse, and he is end up go to school. And one day he is be eat grass by step of university stable with all of pony friend and he is look up and be like, holy shit…that is be most beauty tiny pony I am ever see.

And other tiny pony with speckle coat is be like, ummmmm you are know is lady tiny pony right?

And he is be like, sic, I know is weirdo, but I am total into.

So speckle pony—Geoff pony—is help make introduce, and Marion Rose is be like, OMG you are best mini-horse in all of world.

Problem is be, Elliot is hear like whole life that mini-horse are be worst, and he is have like no idea how talk to lady.

Now, most of tiny pony are probable non be up for deal with sad, mumble mini-horse. They are be like, wellllll, actual, I guess what I am really want is tiny pony with big stable and sword collect and dumb, boring life where we are just do season and then sit around hate each other all of winter time…tiny pony Victoria, living dream.

But Marion Rose pony is be like, Jesus Christus that is sound like worst thing I am ever think of, and so she is do lot of thing for show love for mini-horse.

She is do thing like, encourage when mini-horse is neigh with music. And she is non make fun of when he is non know spell pattern for word. And she is read with and non care if he is read slow. And she is take hoof on street and glare head kick thought at all of tiny pony who are look at and be like, gross. And she is say mini-horse is be handsome and love and smart.

Occasional, she is like…gentle head kick mini-horse and be like, for real, stop mumble and smile is non kill.

Then one day there is be tiny pony ball.

Marion Rose is definite go to, because she is be part of tiny pony society. And she is want dance with mini-horse like so bad, but he is non get invite.

So, for prove love, Elliot is ask one of tiny pony friend sign over invite for and then he is borrow tiny pony suit that is show too much hoof and try comb all of dark, black curl, and show up for ball.

He is be so nerve he is basic like almost throw up all of oat.

But then he is see Marion Rose at ball be so super mega tiny and feisty and he is be like, I am basic die if I am non dance with.

And she is see mini-horse and be like, everyone is shut up right now and hold champagne, I am go dance with mini-horse.

They are dance like whole night.

Then before ball is end, they are be so sneak and leave and Elliot is escort Marion Rose to house, and they are be like, welp, guess we are never ever want be apart now.

Is take like two more year and lot of work and head-kick, but eventual they are be marry. They are have pretty goddamn best colt name Jon who is have kind of dark, curl hair and kind of chestnut coat…and who is be kind of mini-horse tall, but definite tiny pony style…who is basic be best of both of.

And Elliot is be like, I am so happy I am probable just die of.

And Marion Rose is be like, I am know sic? I am best.

***
Now, in afterlife, mini-horse is be super model. He is be write, he is be parent, he is be act and sing and dance, and he is read all of time and be so smart.

Part of is be because tiny pony husband is be like preeeeetty fucking best and encourage.

But lot of is be because tiny pony name Marion Rose is work so hard for love mini-horse.

Amo, Marion. Gratias tibi ago.

THE END

Back to Work?

If there’s one thing that positively guts me, it’s change.  I can handle about two changes at a time, and anything more than that leaves me morose and exhausted–hence the late post.  It’s not a particularly charming personality trait, but there it is.

As it just so happens, there are approximately 6,000 changes in progress at AMMA, and, therefore, going back to work this week was quite difficult.

Primarily, I’m dealing with the burden, if you ask me, opportunity, if you ask Marc, of releasing my contract.  This is the four year contract I signed when I started at AMMA in 2011, and it has been nothing but gloriously comfortable and productive.  The fine print never came back to bite me, the staff writing position was never arduous, the ensemble modelling was terribly fun, and having AMMA on my side in negotiations with high-fashion runway folks was not only a relief but utterly necessary.

Now I’m being told–in the most complimentary fashion, I’m assured–that I’m too recognisable for ensemble work, too adroit for staff writing positions, and too independently successful to continue with agency representation.

I know.  I know it’s ridiculous to complain about such things, I do.  I’ve made good on my responsibilities, garnered opportunities, and become more coveted than I ever thought possible, and I should strike out on my own.  But I’ll be damned if I’m not just miserable over the idea of leaving AMMA.  They’ve been so wonderful, and I feel so ungrateful.

I expressed this opinion to Robert–CEO, general hardass, and good friend–and after he was finished calling me a number of rather unseemly things and raking me over the coals for naivety, he admitted he was happy to hear that they would be missed and that he’d keep me if he could.  But he had to stand by his decision.  I’ve done more than enough for the company.  I have outgrown the contract. He will not be setting me up with a new one.  It’s for my own good.

Recognising that I was pretty torn up about the whole thing, even if I was attempting a brave face, Marcus took me out to supper on Friday night.  We went to our favourite spot–a tiny Indian restaurant draped in silks and smothered in pillows–and sat in our favourite corner booth.  At the end of supper he folded his napkin and said, “Do non be mad.”  Then he pulled a key out of his pocket and slid it across the table to me.

As it turns out, Marcus, who has always been more of a shrewd and independent businessman than I, saw this contract release a mile away.  And since he had planned to give up his own contract when it expired due to personal and creative differences with the editorial board he secretly purchased new offices two years ago.

That’s right, he had decided to move out of AMMA and across the street into a three flat brownstone two years ago.

I was mad.  Then I was grateful.  Then I was mad that I was grateful.

Then I saw the look on his face, and I knew exactly what he was thinking.  I realised that it was actually a rather big deal for Marcus to recognize that he had trespassed on my autonomy, rather than thinking that he was a 100% unproblematic white knight and know-it-all.  In general, high-ranking priest/official/judge/generals of Ancient Rome were not taught to be apologetic.  And there he was looking apologetic.

It didn’t fix everything but it sure as hell helped…

So, we grabbed a bottle of Bordeaux to go and visited our new offices, wandering around together hand in hand while he explained his thought process and talked about the design plan that has been rattling around in his brain for two years.

Namely, I get the garden and the second floor of the brownstone for whatever fashion needs I have.  I can have an office with a window, or I can burrow into the back corner of the semi-basement and surround myself with books and lanterns, whatever I like.  From those spaces I can sell individual pieces of writing to AMMA as a guest contributor, I can schedule and spread my time more evenly among my high-fashion designers and participate more fully in their businesses, and I can hire myself out as a consultant and runway coach.

The main floor and the top floor, then, are Marc’s, with a flagship haute-couture boutique and tailoring suite on the main and a facsimile of his AMMA offices on the third in addition to a conference room.

Furthermore, I get to keep my staff.  My personal assistant, Danny, is coming with me, as is his new assistant Lucas.  That looks terribly extravagant in writing.  What it really boils down to is that Danny and his husband want to become foster parents and so he hired someone to answer the phones and make the copies so that he can focus on the more complex tasks from home with a baby on his knee.

Marc’s staff is coming, too: his wildly, joyfully aggressive PA, Fleur; his studious artisan of a first assistant and junior partner, John.

Conversations about changes we might make to his plan (which is, admittedly, a great one) turned into conversations about the opportunities the place might offer us.  And those conversations turned into reflections on how it really is rather swell to be able to share your work with your spouse…with minimal bloodshed…and won’t it be grand to go into work next week in our own JS Designs headquarters, to have the kids with us at work whenever we want, and to launch whatever comes next for us from a place of full independence.

And, yes, it will be grand.  A bit scary.  But grand.

There Goes the Neighbourhood

I believe it is fair to say that London is famous for its ghosts. And the ghosts for which it is famous are rather shocking in their behaviours. Bloody, screaming, running up and down halls at Hampton Court palace, stalking the Tower.

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This looks reputable.

But if you are a ghost in London, then you know that things are not nearly so unseemly.

Ghost London is actually divided into neatly demarcated segments. This wasn’t necessarily a purposely done thing, although we British do like things to be tidy and purposeful. It’s more so that like attracted like, era-enclaves settled and put down roots, generational (and temperamental) strongholds developed over time.

For instance, the most modern of London ghosts tend to live in up-and-coming Islington or Soho. The Victorian contingency have taken over Hyde Park and its surrounding streets and insist upon decorum and a schedule that follows ‘the season’. The countryside nearest the city belongs to squires and Civil War Royalists, who seem to engage in a great deal of publican culture. The West End is deliciously debauched and multi-generational. And so on.

You are welcome to try out any part of the city you wish, and live where you best fit (with a few stipulations). Sounds rather happy, right? And it is, in any many ways.

But for a ghost like me—a categorical oddity—it also means that finding a suitable address is a bit of a headache. Which is why I decided to contract with a realtor, rather than wandering about on my own.

I went with Kensington Ghost Realtors (KGR) solely for nostalgia’s sake. I think of Kensington and I think of a young and pretty-ish Victoria, and a bit of my own youth comes rushing back to me. I filled out a survey and they matched me with a young man named Oliver, whom I insist on calling ‘Oli’ much to his resignation.

They handed me over to Oli, it seems, because he deals with most of their categorical oddities.

What does this mean, to be a categorical oddity?

“Right. I’ve had just about this side of enough of that.” – The Platypus

Well, in this case, it meant the poor man had to find a home for a bloke who is openly gay (and a bit gender playful) but also well ensconced in ‘traditional’ institutions such as marriage and fatherhood; not quite Victorian but not quite anything else either; middle-class in life with no sort of name, but upper-class in death with a name and famous husband in spite of himself; creative but also introverted.

What the hell do you do with a ghost like me?

Well, we started with a long walk, chauncing about and ruling out a couple of neighbourhoods on feeling alone. And at the end of the day, much to my chagrin, I found that I was most attracted to the neighbourhoods that were on the fringes of the Victorian part of the city.

I do so hate to be predictable, but that’s only because I’m so predictable.

The second step, then, because of the stringent attention to social standing in these areas, was to calculate my entry point into their society, which would govern where I could (and would want) to buy.  Oli plugged all my information into a KGR system that tabulates your net social worth, balancing your alively achievements against those you’ve made in death

As I said, there are some stipulations.

I have to say, the discovery of this wretched system nearly threw me back out on the prowl. I spent enough of my goddamn alively existence climbing social ladders and eclipsing judgment to last me six afterlives, and I was not about to give the Victorian enclave the satisfaction.

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The way he holds his tea cup! He’d sooner murder you than eat quail, I’m sure of it.

But hold on, Oli said, think of who your husband is, your reputation as a model, your philanthropy, your net worth. I can almost guarantee, this print out is going to tell you to live wherever the hell you want, barring noble houses, and that you’ll be able to put everyone right out when you settle in the midst of their serenity.

Well, when you put it that way…

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Hold on, I’ve something for you right here inside my jacket. I think it’s…yes, yes it is my middle finger. Fancy that.

He hit enter.

And about three weeks later, I closed on an altogether far too large, far too expensive, Georgian-style home on Holland Park.

Now, this is going to be a sometime home base for me. I have no intention of moving away from Marcus and the children. (The very idea throws me into a panic.) But I do have some intention of re-entering London life, staying at the townhouse on and off during the season, and making my way into new circles, since so many of my memories of London are hideous at best.

I wish to use this home, in other words, to recapture some of the twinkling life and love that makes me feel close to the happier parts of my Victorian existence—the fashion of Geoffrey, the radicalism of Marion, the intellectual explorations of Jon. I want to make some new friends, be openly queer in a city that now allows for that possibility, perhaps even host some salons.

I’ve been none too reticent to air these wishes, either, which means that the invitations have been rolling in—curious, polite, and dangerous all.

As it’s the close of the season, most of the polite invitations will have to wait until spring, as will my opening dinner party. The rumours as to what such an event might look like build as I write…

And in the meantime, I have the winter to appoint the house, determine how and to whom I should like to rent rooms for those parts of the year that I am not in often attendance, and take up a few of the more interesting invitations.

Dear god I wish I had Geoffrey to help me make those selections—he would know exactly which houses I must attend to in order to build just such a persona.

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With no more than this much Byron.

As I re-enter this society, I will endeavour to keep you informed of the oddities it reveals and the ghosts I meet.

(For instance, I hear Walsingham controls new appointments of nobility, sending in his spies to infiltrate the season while he skulks about in the countryside. The raven on the edge of the duck pond.)

But for now, I think I shall take a turn about Kensington Gardens…in a fleur de lis frock coat…on the arm of a Roman.

Oh, this will all be so much fun.

Good Hair: 1840s Edition

A dear friend recently declared the following to be fact–“men had SUPER weird hair in the 1840s.”

In retrospect, I suspect she was goading me…she’s a professional costumer with a keen appreciation and respect for all past styles and modes and would never outright dismiss something as weird.

But in the moment, I took the bait.

Well what on earth do you mean by “weird” I asked.  I need some evidentiary proof, because I remember our hairstyles as being perfectly normal.

She responded with a series of pictures, and I said, still, I don’t understand what is so odd about these.  Other than the bloke who looks like a circus clown, these are perfectly dashing and well-suited for hats.

True, she says, hadn’t thought about the hat bit. But still…and then she threw down the gauntlet–“Half of them have Twilight hair.”

Oh no she didn’t.

So, in defence of the 1840s, I’ve elected to share the series of photos she sent my way, humanising each with reference to one of my mates, matching up hairstyles to indicative personalities to give a sense of who wore what and why.

*   *   *

Photos #1 & 2

young geoffolder geoff

These blokes remind me very much of my husband, Geoffrey–the one on the right, especially, as it was rare to find Geoff in an actual bad temper.  (Unless deeply disturbed, he only participated in dramatic bad tempers, worn like a cloak in a three-minute downpour.)  These men are also dressed to the height of upper-middle class fashion, whereas Geoffrey purposely had regency fashions made over to set himself aside from the herd.  All that said, the hair is just about perfect.  When I met Geoff in 1834, he was sporting something quite like Mr. Sulking.  And over the years he let his curls run a bit more wild, resulting in something alike to Mr. Happily Pensive.

And what about these styles is weird, I ask you!?  Shiny, coiffed, and obviously slicked with a light soap and extract of essential oil…probably rose or spearmint…mmmm.

Photo 3:

paul

This (admittedly handsome) devil reminds me of my mate Paul, with whom I had a love-hate relationship.  Paul was already well ensconced in the circle of friends I inherited once associated with Geoff, and therefore there was nothing I could do about his presence in my life.  How to describe the bastard…Well, his real name was Ambrose Anderson–The Honourable Ambrose Anderson–and we all called him Paul, anyway, for one of two reasons: half of us thought he was a right, cracking politician (PAUL-itician); half of us thought he cast a pall (PAUL) over the world wherever he went.

You can guess to which half I belonged…

This haughty style with painfully select clothing, diving lapels, and high hair shine achieved with the likely use of bear oil was one often sported by the aristocracy, particularly those who determined to make something of themselves, rather than coasting on name alone.  Paul achieved this look until he started to go bald at the deliciously young age of 25, and then he had to wear his hair more like the bloke below in the most obvious comb-over to ever comb over.

This style is also not weird.  Shave down the sides, and you have the modern hipster, for chrissake.

Photo 4:

theo

Aside from being the style for the balding, I also associate this style (but not the dour expression) with my dear mate Theodore, who had bone-straight hair and therefore couldn’t achieve the curled locks and pompadours of those with natural wave.  Theo wore this style a bit shorter, and instead of using oil, he used soap with a hint of jasmine.  The thing about soap, though, is that it doesn’t always hold straight hair, and so his fringe was always falling in his face, much to his annoyance.  It didn’t help that he wore a broad-brimmed hat associated with the traditional style of his German-Jewish family, and it was forever catching the wind and throwing things into disarray.

I happened to very much like his disarray and made every effort to cause it during the brief months we were together as a couple.  That’s all a terribly convoluted story, though.  The point here is, although this hair might look a bit odd now, it was meant to suit hats, peaking out around the ears and collar.  I find it charming on the right man, obviously.

Photo 5:

chris

This style, as you can likely see, was also meant for hats–curled at the ears and fluffed on top, while flattened at the temples, probably with macassar oil.  It was also the quintessential style of the solidly middle class, and therefore I associate it with my mate Christopher.  Chris was by far and above the most “normal” of all of us–he studied banking, wore a great deal of plaid and assertive muttonchops, played tennis and rugby and cricket and all that, and was straight as an arrow.  He was, to use a modern term, a “bro.”

That said, the man had depth.  He never once batted an eye at the rest of us and our collective inclinations, and he was a brilliant painter, rendering up strange pieces that I would now associate with the modernist style.  What’s this, I’d say.  Well it’s a bloody lake, he’d answer.  Then why is it so…squared off and hazy and purple?  And he’d blink at me and say some people just don’t understand art.

Photo 6:

jester

Aaaaand the circus clown.  No, I didn’t have a mate with this hair…”style.”  Who do you think I am?

However, the striped waistcoat and loud cravat do remind me of a partner Geoffrey had later in life–a chemist named Maxwell whose penchant for laboratory explosions transferred to his choices in neck ware.  Probably part of why they got on so well…

*   *   *

Twilight my arse…

Swash Swash, Buckle Buckle

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently signed with a new line that specialises in Cavalier fashions.  The process of signing, at my stage in the game, goes something like this:

First, my personal assistant–Danny–looks for open contracts and does some recon on the lines.  He checks for responsible designers with promising futures, overall sales numbers, Fashion Week reviews, and, if he likes what he sees, he sends my book around with my print ads and numbers.

When I first started, this was terribly worrisome–followed up by in person fittings, interview, and trial runway walks.  Now, it’s primarily a formality, expressing my interest in their designs.  Like a calling card.

After my “card” is sent off, we wait to hear back from the line.  If they feel I’d be a good fit for the line, then they send along my requested materials.  I always ask for clothing from the line, so I can see how I feel in it and check the fit, and I also ask for letters of recommendation from the current models, expressing the personality of the line and their experience as a part of it.  I also get a copy of a current contract, so I can get a sense of their requirements and policies.

Finally, if I like the clothes, the letters, the base-line contract, then my company enters into negotiations.  When I first started at AMMA (Afterlife Magazine and Modelling Agency), HR took care of this, but my heightened position within the company now leads to high profile negotiations, which the director of the company–Robert–likes to take care of himself.

Robert is loud, shrewd, and very willing to ask all of those “but what will you do for us?” and “can we add another zero?” sorts of questions.  He’s a businessman through and through, and his own sense of fashion–dad jeans and ill-fitting white button downs–requires a bit of sprucing when the negotiations exit the land of email and close in person.  His long-suffering PA attacks him with a suit, always some shade of green for some reason, and threatens to quit if he won’t put it on.

Robert always puts on the suit.

I am not actually involved in the negotiations.  I really couldn’t give a ruddy raincloud how much the contract ends up being worth–that’s Robert’s area of avarice.  And all my riders–primarily relating to family considerations–are clearly outlined and clearly required.  So I just wait for the contract to land on my desk, have Marc check it over, and then immediately begin planning my next charitable contributions.

I also immediately set up to meet the designer and shake hands with the models who sent along their letters.  Provided everything feels right, I sign the contract and leave a copy with the line.  This is also primarily formality.  I have never not signed a contract at this stage–my company (Danny, especially) does a brilliant job of setting me up with the right people.

However, I have never signed a contract quite so quickly as I did this one.  As soon as I met Richard, feet up on his enormous beat-to-hell scrolled desk, looking for all the world like a seventeenth-century Errol Flynn, I asked for a pen.

Literally the only man who can make that mustache look good.

But with boots, a gold-embroidered waistcoat, and a rapier.  No, I know.

He handed me a quill and grinned, and I about forgot how to write.

As I muddled my way through my own goddamn name, he airily commented that my riders were rather interesting, and that I must be the sort of bloke with thousands of pictures of his children.  I admitted as much and passed him my phone so he could flip through a few while I finished crossing Ts and dotting Is.  He giggled appreciatively a number of times, and I fell further in love.

Contract signed off, and phone back in my pocket, we chatted a bit about the line and its origin and direction.  It became known to me in the course of this conversation that Richard had dabbled in nearly everything under the sun–including piracy, women, and men–and that he could wear the hell out of an earring.  I was suddenly very glad that I had worn mine.  Made me feel more credible, haha.

I asked toward the end of the conversation why he had hired me, and he threw his hands behind his head and said, “well, you’ll have to forgive me if I hired you on account of you being a choice piece of finery.”

And then he eyed me up and down.

And smirked.

I managed to smirk back–quite proud of myself on that count–and told him no apology necessary.  He laughed and said, “but don’t worry, I know who your husband is,” and held his hands up to display their innocent intentions.

Flirtations finished, he took me down to the next level of his offices where I found a cloistered, smokey, velvet bar.  Truly, right on premise.  And at the bar were a number of devilishly handsome models, two of whom Richard introduced to me as the blokes who wrote recommendations.  Jeremiah, like Richard an actual cavalier, has cascading blonde curls and quite the reputation as a casanova.  And Lucius, a dandy from the 1920s, surveyed me akin to Richard and then reintroduced himself as Fox–he’s quite taken with the Batman films, you see.  I noted that he should drag as Luscious Fox, and he determined that we would be quite good friends.

And then…I learned how we advertise…

As it turns out, we engage in piracy.  We dress up to the nines, head out into the Mediterranean on Richard’s pleasure yacht, roll up to rich-boy party boats, forcibly board them, and then proceed to drink them dry, throwing a festivity using their own liquor and niceties and leaving business cards behind after we boisterously sell the brand.

I’m not sure I can even express how much I am in love with this.  I love pirates.  I love fashion.  I love drinking.  And now I get paid to be a drunken fashion pirate.

Like this, but with...well, with similar numbers of gay men, likely, but...no, similar amounts of liquor, too...newer boats. We'll have newer boats.

Like this, but with…well, with similar numbers of gay men, likely, but…no, similar amounts of liquor, too… Newer boats. We’ll have newer boats.

I just…

I can’t.  But I will.  But I can’t.

But I will.