fixing pretty

5.09.2016

Here are my nails, unpainted. My face, unprimed.

My hands are clean. My eyes are bleary, but shine. And yet

you find it less alluring than the smoky-look, the polish and

that damn red lipstick, smudging itself

ungracefully on my teeth.

I’m fixing it up. I’ve got paint.

I’ve got brushes for blush and concealer, mascara

that has not quite congealed, old pots of DIY kohl cat-eyes,

and I’ve got the napkin with your number on it.

Yeah. That’ll do.

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The List

4.09.2016

I have a little book.

It fits in well; it holds in my hands and on my lap, and it never tells my secrets. The clasp holds tight and hooks my pen. The time has come to open, words creeping out as magnets separate.


  • Grocery shopping.
  • Chores.
  • Clean out that bathroom grate.
  • Bathe the dogs and air the bedding!
  • You still have coursework on the couch.
  • Meditate and practice yoga; don’t get so relaxed, there are about a million more things to do.

I write the date, scrolling through lists past and gaze forlornly upon what I did that same day so long ago. What I didn’t do. What did I not do?

And I write. I write important things. Send that birthday present to her, do NOT forget, you have flaked on her so many times before. And I write mundane things. Laundry. Now. Your socks stink! And I write little, silly things. Play a game. Make a friend. Knit a mouse with a scarf.

Sometimes I cheat.

I write some things I have already done, to revel in the pleasure of crossing them out, to be immediately upon the finish line. I continue to write them, out of habit and not obsessive thought, to see the day when I can have no lingering feeling of something I did not do. Did not get to. Will not get to. Why should I bother?

And of the (hundreds? thousands?) of lists I have made, I have never finished a single day. There is always more to do. There is always a better way, more to be responsible about, more fun to be had than I am capable of having with this list-making, body-aching anxiety of forgetfulness and panic attacks. The falling and not getting up, not today, not now, I just can’t. The perception of failure each new day should be immense. And yet, when I am crawling into bed at night with my well-worn book, looking over what I have done, what has been accomplished despite the time constraints and mind breaks and body complaints feels like I am winning a gold medal for something.

Am I beholden to the list? Or is the list beholden to me?

Today as I clean house, I reflect on a tradition I think all young people are at some point accosted by; I speak, of course, of meeting with one’s relatives. Not for the first time, I will be put on a stand for my parents to talk about (and believe me, that speech will be brief indeed), and then taken off while my cousins are paraded around with notes about their good fortune and their good taste. This will happen tomorrow.

I have always tried to avoid these get-togethers. Not because I dislike my family; I love seeing them and talking to them as normal people would talk, but I always need an escape route before the eternal question of “What are you doing with your life” comes to their lips. It will, inevitably. It should be considered scientific fact. Put family members in a room together and eventually they will start asking one another questions about college, about jobs. About financial security. About your choice of partner. When I was younger (read: when I was in high school), I developed the goth-wardrobe-defense-mechanism. I wore black, entirely, to all family gatherings I did not wish to attend or be pestered during. This way, people would remark more to me about what I was wearing than to ask me how I was getting along. Either that, or I would be avoided entirely, and free to read in a corner or play the piano. Now, these relatives did not know that I never wore these clothes out of the house except when I was to see them. It almost became an acting exercise in restraining the smile and speaking in monotone. I bought the clothes from Hot Topic and hung them in my closet expectantly for the days in which my mother would tell me we were off to Wisconsin or downstate. I lamented the fact that this deprived me of their company entirely, so the clothing was sent to Goodwill. May some soul in my position find it and use it well.

I still have defense mechanisms, though they are more carefully employed. I always bake something, so that their comments may be directed towards the item they are eating and not myself. On days that I am to visit them, I make excuses almost immediately upon arrival that I cannot stay long. Previous engagement and all that, you know. Primp yourself up, waggle those well-manicured fingers and be so grateful when they buy the story.

It becomes much harder when your relatives visit you. Cleaning beforehand; cleaning afterward; the necessity of staying so that they *have someone to talk to*. What is a young girl to do when the questions about school (“Yeah, still working towards that Associate degree”) or plans (“No, I don’t really know what I want to do, but it’s great that your daughter got a full ride to university and is getting a job that pays $100,000 a year. I’m broke.”) come bursting forth? I realize these people are supposed to love me unconditionally, but it feels an awful lot like being run through the ringer and coming out badly bruised and beaten. I don’t know how my parents take it. Do they feel my mental illnesses and screw-ups are a reflection of their parenting in the eyes of our uncles and aunts? I feel guilty for them, because my messes are not their fault. Why can’t family just meet together and break bread without all these questions about life? Why is saying “I am getting along well, thank you” never enough?

But while I clean today in prep for their arrival, I am happy to be reminded of one fact.

I have to work ALL DAY tomorrow.

It is ridiculous to me that people still ask one another, “Oh, you read?” with an intonation as if they are asking one another if they know the most intricate rules of croquet. The question shouldn’t even have to be asked. Everyone who is able to read should be reading. Either that, or everyone should go around asking questions like “Oh, you like to eat?” or “Ah, I see you enjoy breathing!”.

above: an idiot

So here I am fighting through another unhappy winter. Sometimes when I feel like this, I force myself to surge energy through my body, propelling me (at least mentally) to a better place. Sometimes I don’t. I curl up in a nest and sleep a lot, read to distract  myself from the thoughts that scare me, and in general I do not like to speak to others or leave the comfort of my personal, protective space (this is usually my bed). I often wonder what I can do differently, or how I can make myself go out into the world when all I get is a panic attack in my chest and a head full of unwanted ruminations. It does not help that it is such a cold winter in the Midwest, and this limits my ability to take a walk in what I can consider a safe space. Not getting outside makes me feel lazy, which makes me depressed, which makes me feel unable to complete my school assignments, which stresses me out, which causes a panic attack, which makes me tired, which makes me not want to do anything, which leads to me looking out the window and wishing I could go outdoors for just a moment to catch my breath. And the cycle repeats.

I have been perusing my little zine library, because I have a few relating to depression (if you suffer like I do, pick up Maranda Elizabeth’s “Winter Survival Guide” zine. I hope they’re still selling it on Etsy….). But lately, reading about depression only serves to make matters worse. I used to love the winter. I don’t know what happened. I suppose that maybe it’s just that any season is no good without friends, and with the prospect of nothing going the way you want it to, and the feeling (however it may be misconstrued) of everybody breathing down your neck with a mouthful of flames.

I don’t know where I was going with this. I suppose just rambling for the sake of some peace of mind. I will hope that winter ends swiftly, and the grass turns green, and I will lose this unwelcome and sickening visitor like a shortening shadow.

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I got a new zine submission for the distro! It’s on my Etsy page! Submitted by Neo of Washington, this awesome 30-pager is full of short stories, self-described by the author as “short stories from a long wild life that I am excited to have lived and surprised to have survived.” It’s called I Know You Know My Heart #1, and it’s SO WORTH the $3.50. Plus, each cover is hand designed by the maker! And don’t forget to check out Neo’s blog at iknowyouknowmyheart!

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If you know anyone else who makes zines and is looking for a distro to host their work, tell them to contact me at paperdollcircusdistro[at]gmail.com

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On a less enthusiastic note, I’ve decided enough is enough, and I’m heading back to school. In the past, my record has been far from exemplary. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with learning. I love learning. I love reading, writing, participating, even math! (I will admit I hate doing group projects, though. This is COLLEGE, not a middle school book discussion. I don’t want to meet up with three strangers at a Starbucks and make a PowerPoint). What I DO have a problem with is anxiety. The….well, “episodes” I have are completely crippling. I finally went on medication this year that seems to be helping, at least in the short term, and I feel it’s now or never to return to class.

But how am I gonna pay for it? I don’t have a real job and of all the places I’ve applied, not a one has called or returned my call. I guess it’s just not a good market. I felt like I was pretty hire-able. I’m not a drug addict, a drinker, a no-show or an irresponsible worker. But people just aren’t hiring me. What else can I do?

Yeah, I know, loans. The thing is, even at 21 years of age, I’ve never gotten a credit card. Every time I apply, I am refused because, and I quote, “You don’t have enough credit.” Well no shit! I have also applied to FAFSA before but didn’t get anything. I’m trying again but I’m not optimistic.

I guess I never realized how expensive real life is. I feel sick recalling the day I spent $100 on new clothes at Forever 21. I wish I had been more money-conscious. Now I’m paying for it. Does anyone know where money can be made? And no, jokes about selling my body will not be laughed at or tolerated.

Luckily the candle business is steady enough that I have a couple hundred dollars saved up for the first month of my payment plan. But if I can’t come up with something more substantial by June….I just don’t know.

:[

When I find awesome stuff on the Internet, I HAVE to share it. It’s like a bug. I know things find their way around without me saying a word, but still! I like sharing! So here’s 5 things I looked up and/or found online this week.

1. The Lie page on Wikipedia. It’s not like anyone really needs to look up a definition of the word lie, but this page is pretty awesome. It has basically every “classification” of a lie, plus neat extras towards the bottom (always the best part of any Wikipedia article). For example, going into detail about Paul Ekman’s research into lie detection, which was the preface of the show Lie to Me. Probably my favorite is the link to Psuedologia fantastica……aka compulsive liars. Whenever I come to this site, I fall into a well.

2. This photo of a Pikachu kitty. Enough said.

so cuteness DOES still exist online!

so cuteness DOES still exist online!

3. For some reason, this gif of a guy hitting a panda mascot. And, for that matter, all the videos of mascots on YouTube completely biting it and/or making idiots of themselves. Especially this one.

panda hate will not be tolerated!

4. An article on another WordPress site, Cross Epoch, about a human transmutation circle. Some people won’t get this, but it’s a reference to an anime show called Fullmetal Alchemist, which if you haven’t seen you should. I was really surprised how much research this person did into the fundamentals and past of alchemy in the eastern world. I was also amazed to see how much work the author of the manga and inspiration for the show put into making these circles that look like complete abstract gibberish to me. Neat!

5. The Star Wars This Is Madness bracket has finally wound down to the top 2: Yoda vs. Vader! To be honest, I have no idea who’s going to cinch it, and I’d be okay with either (although I did vote Vader, because COME ON!) I got so mad watching this thing progress, though. SERIOUSLY, HOW did R2 make it that far? He has no legitimate lines and is essentially comic relief of a slightly higher caliber than 3PO (I’m at least grateful that he didn’t last past the first round)! Don’t get me wrong; I think R2 is essential to the series, but is he the best character? Is he even top 5? No.

Today on my Etsy I premiered my next candle, since the Lon Lon Milk ended up as such a success. It’s Chateau Romani! It’s a champagne-scented soy wax candle that looks like the real thing from the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask! Check it out:

chateau1

I’m actually fairly proud of it, and I hope it gets some publicity! If you know anyone who likes Zelda, pass the word on for me! :]

DISTRO NEWS

I’m looking for more contributions to our little zine distro! If anyone reads this who loves zines, makes zines, or knows of someone who makes them, please contact me at paperdollcircusdistro[AT]gmail.com! I’d love to work with you! I’m especially looking for any poets interested in collaborating on a poetry/prose mini zine with me. It’s something I’ve had on my mind for a long time and I want to put it into action! I have two ideas.

1. A general collaboration zine. You send me poems, I’ll compile them, and we put it to print! Yeah, there’s some legalese about you releasing your work for print, but it’s all in the name of getting it out there! I have some poems I want to print but it’s just not enough to make a zine’s worth on my own :[

2. A stream of consciousness-type zine. People send me in WORDS. Not poems, just phrases, like a line or two of prose. I compile it into one long flowing zine that will span 8-16 pages. I think this has the potential to be really really neat.

So there you have it. Anyone interested, contact me!

Happy New Year! Let’s start off with a skip in our step, and a whistle on our lips.

The Top Ten Whistling Songs

10. Goodbye, Stranger – Supertramp

Described as the “ultimate one-night stand” song, I couldn’t NOT include some classic Supertramp. A little 80s, a little campy, and awesome.

9. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

I doubt if anyone really knows what this song is about, but no one can deny it’s catchy tune. One of my absolute favorite songs, period. Unfortunately for me, when I saw Simon live in 2011, he did not play this song. I think he’s just gotten too old for the whistling bit. If I could’ve come to the rescue….. **sigh**

8. The Fishin’ Hole – Andy Griffith Show

Who DOESN’T get this song stuck in their head on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Most people can recognize the whistling bit that comes at the beginning of each episode, but what you might not have heard is the great full song sang by Andy Griffith himself! Classic.

7. Jealous Guy – John Lennon

All my friends can tell you that in general, I am NOT a Lennon fan. He just doesn’t mesh with me well. To each his own. But I do love this song. Mostly because Elliott Smith covered it once live and it blew me away (uh, pun not intended). Here’s the live Elliott version. I think he kills it, and even though it’s not perfect, I love everything about it.

6.  Sissyneck – Beck

A lot of people tell me they aren’t huge fans of Odelay. I don’t get it. It’s a phenomenal album, and this is definitely a track that stands out. It reminds me, weirdly, of driving around in the middle of a hot summer day.

5. Sweet Georgia Brown – Brother Bones

Man, they could realllly whistle. I think the song speaks for itself here!

4. Daydream – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Another cute one from the Lovin’ Spoonful! I found these guys only recently and have been loving everything I’ve heard so far, but this takes the cake.

3. (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

A sad story. This song came out a little while after Redding’s death in a plane crash, and went on to be his biggest success, winning two Grammy Awards. The carefree whistling at the end of this track is both uplifting and tragic when you think of the context of its release.

2. Life is Beautiful – Deadly Premonition (video game)

Recently, my boyfriend and I played a “horror/survival” video game called Deadly Premonition. While I can see why the game became a cult classic (by far one of the weirdest games I have ever played) there was a certain thing that totally stuck with me: the whistling theme that would come in at the most inappropriate times during cut-scenes. They would be talking about a murder or other sinister event and wham!, you’d be listening to this little ditty in no time.

1. Twisted Nerve

It’ll get in your head. And freak you out. Known for its inclusion in the Kill Bill movies, less well-known for the 60’s movie of the same name in which it first appeared. Check it out, it’s worth the watch.

Honourable Mentions:

Golden Years – David Bowie

Games Without Frontiers – Peter Gabriel

& I guess pretty much anything by Andrew Bird.

Let me know if you have a favorite I didn’t list! I always love to hear new songs with whistling, hand claps, or stomping feet! :]