October Mood: Ghoulish

Cover Image by American Ghoul

The fall months are when I feel most alive. To say that feels ironic as my corner of the world descends into a misty hibernation, replete with sepia-colored leaves and graying skies. Everything is turning inward as the veil between day and night becomes thinner and thinner, but I can’t help but feel this October season is an opportunity to discover new things about ourselves. We’re out of the warmth of summer, when we can brush aside duties in the pursuit of rest, and far enough past the beginning of the school year to have settled into a routine. Fall is our opportunity to confront ourselves in the most sedate of states to determine where to go next. Inward, it seems, is the answer I turn to most.

Now, why have I labeled this post as “ghoulish”? A ghoul is defined as an undead creature which torments the living with its flesh-eating and haunting. It comes from the Arabic word “ghul”, meaning “to seize”, but it has been expanded to include anyone who loves the macabre, dark, unseemly side of life. They are terrifying in tales of blood and night, but I think there’s something to be said for letting the ghoul out when need be. In modern terms, a ghoul can be defined as someone who stands beyond the boundaries of our normal lives. A ghoul is a little bit weird, a little dark, and a whole lot of unafraid. They straddle the line between acceptable and unacceptable in a way that is – dare I say – inspiring.

Therefore, this month’s mood is dedicated to the ghoulish tendencies in us all. Here’s to many days spent exploring the parts of ourselves that are bizarre, and to never giving into the temptation to be perfect. Enjoy!

 

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Home Is Where You Let Your Farts Linger

Farts will never not be funny to me. Perhaps it’s juvenile and uncouth, but when I hear the sound of flatulence and look to see the perpetrator turning red in indignation my heart warms. It’s as if we are bonded in the reality of the situation, that through bodily functions they are communicating to me their humanity. Also? It’s just plain hilarious that we can make sounds and smells that send people running as though they were going to be destroyed by funk.  It’s preposterous to me that we would shy from something so natural; if everyone poops, then, by logic, everyone farts, too.  I say all of this while also acknowledging that I feel ashamed when a toot escapes me in the company of strangers, or in public, or – worse – when I think I’m alone and release something so disturbingly loud that it elicits a gasp. Still, even those moments of horror are laughable once I’ve escaped them. 

Farts GIF

My parents are undoubtedly to blame for my affinity toward a loud, healthy fart. We used to compete to see whose could be the stinkiest and most impressive. If it made the room rumble? Double the points. We were safe in our green-tinged house to be as ridiculous and rank as possible. I used to imagine my parents at work, swelling up due to the unreleased gas, only to come home and blow the roof off, finally free. 

I was back in my childhood home last week, which was a strange yet calming experience. It feels odd even now to write about it as the home that was rather than the home that is. However, any distance I felt when I was there was instantly eradicated when my father walked by and farted on me. He hadn’t done it on purpose, but the effect was no less shocking. We all laughed about it and I felt like my childhood self all over again. For a sliver of time I was no longer adult LaKase doing very adult-like things, but the LaKase who always will be there just below the surface. If only just for a moment, I was home in two places at once.

What I love about farts is that they are proof of our imperfect humanity. They’re a grounding force that evens the playing field between us all. However, after being with my parents again after a long time apart, I started to think that maybe farts are a symbol of something deeper – maybe they’re the marker of what home really means.

Can we even truly define home? Is it a place, a feeling, a knowing? Is it where we rest, or a place where we are without calm, or can it be everywhere at once? Do we carry it with us, or must we leave it behind? Does it change based on culture? If there is no clear way to define home, then why not let it be a place where you can sit in the hazy mist of your stench and be at peace with yourself? There’s no pretension there. No fear.

Red & Howling GIF

Maybe – if you’re willing to grant me this – everywhere has the potential to be home. Perhaps when we cease delineating where we stop and others begin, we won’t have to walk around stuffed to bursting with the parts of us that make us feel ashamed. I think letting it all hang out, even the uncomfortable parts of ourselves, offers the opportunity to discover we are not in fact so far removed from where we belong. Loneliness comes when we take ourselves too seriously and when we forget that a little humility mixed with laughter goes a long way.

Did I just use farts as a very clunky (if not gross) metaphor for acceptance, home, and life? Yes, I did. But! I hope you’ll consider the logic behind it when you’re struggling to define home for yourself. We belong everywhere and should make sure others feel just as welcome, especially if they are predisposed to flatulence.

How to Take Care of Yourself After Finishing a Book or Any Major Project

When I started writing – like, seriously committing myself to getting the blasted thing done – I was armed with all the knowledge required to get from point A to point B. I spent hours researching the best times of day to work, how to craft a good hook for chapters, when to start each new draft, and how many words are deemed acceptable for each genre. In fact, I feel quite confident that I could write my own “how to” manifesto for first timers based on all of the tips and tricks I’ve acquired over the last year of my life. It was a wonderful experience, however time-intensive, and I’ve learned a great deal about not only the art of writing, but myself. I am in the debt of helpful authors who go out of their way to explain how lost souls like yours truly can arrive at the end of their manuscript with the hair on their heads intact.

However, the one thing no one thought to share with me was just how beaten up my body and mind would feel after completing the job. Most of the information I received went something like this:

“Write every day without rest, don’t over-think the first draft, and be sure to let someone you trust read through and give you notes before you dream of giving it to an editor. Oh, and once it’s done you’re going to feel wonderful! But don’t wait too long to start the next one.”

That’s a lot of information, right? But what’s missing is the piece that has got me bent out of shape, quite literally. You see, no one told me that after finishing my novel I would feel like someone took a baseball bat to my hips, or that I would feel as though a part of me was painfully exposed to the world. Those wonderfully helpful authors conveniently forget to inform me that I would be exhausted like never before – and I ran cross country! I suspect they knew I would back out of the endeavor if I knew what awaited me at the end. How many of us would do the thing if we knew said thing would make us cry? Luckily for you, I’m going to tell you what you need to know to bounce back from the writing, or any kind of major project, without going mad.

Stretch. Seriously!

We might have spent years at desks in school, but nothing can prepare you for sitting still for hours on end typing away with your eyes trained on a computer screen. Sure, I used to devote an unhealthy amount of time to chatting on AOL with my internet friends back in the day, but my post-20’s body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. My greatest physical complaints after finishing my book was how badly my back ached and the strain I felt in my wrists and fingers. I even had aches in my hip flexors and calves! It makes sense: your body is bent in one way for a long period of time that is unnatural for it. Your joints long for stretching and your muscles need a break. If I could do anything differently, it would be taking a rest every hour to two hours to stretch. I wouldn’t have needed to invest in massages and pain relief like I do now. Save yourself some money in the long run and go smell some flowers!

Isolation, like fear, is the mind killer.

Thanks to Henry David Thoreau, I thought it was mandatory for a writer, or serious artists (TM), to be cut-off from the world with only coffee and the agony of creation to keep one company. If I were to let people into my writing space surely I would be too distracted to complete my precious book. Well… that isn’t necessarily true. In fact, going to a writing workshop in Sacramento smack-dab  in the middle of finishing my final draft was exactly what I needed to keep me going and finish long before I would have on my own. Sometimes people suck, but sometimes people are what we need. By speaking with other writers I learned to put my process in perspective. A bonus: I learned how to take new chances with my writing.

You’re gonna need some TLC at the end.

I used to roll my eyes when people referred to their art as their children. I mean, there’s nothing like a living, breathing, crying, human coming out of you, right? Boy was I shocked when I was hit with a bout of depression that was unlike any previous episode I have hitherto experienced. Now, childbirth and writing are wildly different, but it made me rethink what people mean when they get defensive and protective of their creations. I went from joyous to fearful, then to resigned and grief-stricken. I felt like I had created a new piece of me only to put it into the hands of strangers with the power to destroy what I shared. I had several panic attacks as I inched closer to the final pages, even contemplating deleting the whole thing from my computer. It would be better, the shadow in my mind said, if no one ever got their hands on it. Thankfully, I didn’t listen.

You’re going to be all over the place once you’re done, so take care of your mind and body. Get in to see a therapist or counselor if you can afford it, speak with a beloved confidante, or write in your journal all those thoughts you dare not speak, because doing something of this magnitude is bound to have you discombobulated. You don’t have to fake joy when you might be feeling terror; this is a major step and major steps are difficult on the mind! Whatever you’re feeling, know that it will come in waves and eventually pass.

Embrace laziness!

Trust me, friend, you have earned a few extra hours of sleep and a blank mind. Our culture has a tendency to promote working ourselves to death like it’s an admirable quality, but your trusty aunt LaKase is here to put that misconception to rest. You have the right to put your mind to sleep. I’ve found that when I am immobile and without a pressing project the creativity naturally begins to spark. If you don’t give yourself space to just be a human without a plan you’re going to find yourself riddled with something worse than ulcers. Don’t believe me? Watch this video from the School of Life (my fave channel ever!) and see what you think.

That’s all from me this Monday, kids! Next week I will be back with more information about how to approach the creative process and media that is getting me excited about being a writer. Have a great week and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

September Mood: Creativity = Freedom

Hello my friends! It has been a shamefully long time since my last post, but I am back with some lovely images which I hope will garner me some forgiveness.

Life, while exciting and full of opportunities to grow and learn, is a doozy. I have been engaged in quite a few projects that I can not wait to share here! In the meantime, I’ll be back to my regular schedule of writing about how I take care of myself as a creator, what creating means to me, and how to stay well as you find inspiration in the world around you.

Today’s mood is inspired by the freeing nature of creation. In stretching our minds, bodies, and egos we are able (if we’re lucky) to extricate ourselves from the monotony of daily life – yes – BUT we also learn how to free ourselves from that which would keep us afraid. I was terrified of beginning my novel, this blog, my videos, and other endeavors. Yet, after taking those first tentative steps, I found that nothing bad came out of the trying. I didn’t die. No one who matters laughed at me, and I lost far less sleep than I thought I would. Creativity is the way our souls expand. It’s how we arrive at a higher understanding of what really matters: the exchange of goodness. I don’t think you have to be particularly good at one thing to deem yourself a creative spirit; you just have to try.

So, in honor of the freedom which accompanies creativity I have made a photo series of some pieces of art that have me excited for the coming season. As the weather cools and we begin to turn inward this is a wonderful time to look beyond our limitations. Enjoy!

 

passaxpassa: Then You Lost Me, 2013 source: Njideka Akunyili
Njideka Akunyili Crosby

 

Anya Ziourova

 

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autumn, candle, and fall image
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Iris van Herpen
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Illustration by Miranda Sofroniou
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For more inspiration please follow me on Pinterest at pinterest.com/lakasemarie/

 

A Comic-Con Love Note (and Giveaway!)

*Deep, guttural sigh*

What a ride! I’ve been going to San Diego Comic-Con since 2013, but the feeling of euphoria I get every year remains the same. Today, I wanted to share not only my deep love for the event and people who populate it, but you all! Comment below the video a character you would love to cosplay to be considered for the giveaway!