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.

Friday Media Prep: The Gift of Individuality

“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that in unacceptable.”

-Carrie Fisher

For the final (!) Friday Media Prep of 2018 – the year that seemed to last a decade – I thought I would keep it weird. I was attempting to wrangle up the articles I couldn’t get over, the books I couldn’t put down, the music that haunted my dreams, but nothing hit me in the way the video below has. I began this blog for two reasons: 1) to share my story so that others might be encouraged to take on their own healing and 2) I wanted to shine a light on the beauty of the world despite (or in spite) of the ugliness.  As we end this year, I’m looking forward to tackling new goals and allowing this little experiment in shameless honesty to grow. This video captures a little of the feeling I want to hold onto as we move forward.

This profile of Amy Sedaris and her home in NYC is so delightfully ridiculous that I couldn’t look away. She is a character, through and through, regardless of whether or not she is playing someone outrageous in front of the camera. Her space is so overstuffed that it would be a nightmare to clean, but looking at her joyfully sharing a ceramic hotdog she got in Tokyo, and the way she marvels at the perfect weight of her fake glass of wine eased my anxious mind into acceptance of her version of normal.  It’s easy to feel better about our own eccentricities when we see someone owning their lives with such ease, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. So, here she is in all her multi-colored glory! May she inspire you to find your you in the new year.

Redefining Beauty In Order To Heal

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

– Confucius

I’m drawn to pretty things like a shallow moth to a flame. Sunsets, shoes, dresses, Chris Pine –  we’ve all got our weaknesses, and things that sparkle are definitely mine. I often get lost in thought when I come across something that pleases my eye, and forget where I am or what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve offended plenty of people by zoning out over a pair of impressive earrings. My obsession is equal parts nature and nurture, as my parents regularly showered me with dolls in shiny dresses with matching houses and toy cars. In that regard, I am virtually blameless for my shallow nature, right?

I used to have a very narrow mindset about beauty. It was so narrow that I didn’t even fit into it. For things to be beautiful they had to be perfect, stainless, balanced and bright, just like the dolls I loved so much.  A thing had to be wholly good to be worthy of such an esteemed acknowledgement.  I aspired to be like the things I considered perfect, and I was disappointed time and again when I inevitable fell short. Beauty became something intangible for a young woman like me, so I settled for

The thing is, now that I’ve grown emotionally, what I consider beautiful has shifted. When I started down the path towards deliberate, dedicated healing I was finally able to shift ever so slightly toward a new definition of beauty that  made room for more.The shift wasn’t easy by any means. It required a lot of analysis of how culture shapes beauty ideals, confronting my own self-loathing, and TONS of therapy. Most importantly, it required that I take the time to rediscover the great things about myself. It’s been proven to me time and time again that self-love bleeds out into the world if we make it a priority.

These days I’m still drawn to all that glitters, but it doesn’t just have to be gold. As I grow to love myself, I’m learning how beautiful imperfections can be be. Now I know we don’t have to be delicate to be beautiful. We don’t have to be flawless, or look a certain way, or wear certain things. To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is a person embracing their freedom to be.

What makes you feel beautiful these days?

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Friday Media Prep: Black Girl In A Big Dress

Do you have any hobbies that you feel certain no one will understand? For lots of us, it’s common for people to think you shouldn’t, or can’t, like something based on your background. I remember my parents teasing me for liking Coldplay and singing along to every song on Parachutes for hours on end. I used to lay up in our old tree house, singing “Yellow” over and over until the neighborhood dogs had enough with the bellowing and started barking. I think it’s fair to say most of us have prejudicial feelings about who can like what, where we’re supposed to fit in, and why some things just aren’t cool.

What I love about “Black Girl in a Big Dress” is the way it confronts those notions. Because Adrienne,the heroine of the web series, is African American people think it’s odd for her to be enamored with dressing up like a Victorian lady and trotting off to tea parties. However, she is dedicated to enjoying her passion and gives into her heart’s desire. The show is so refreshing and riot! By watching her escapades, I’ve begun to question my right to joy even if it might seem a little crazy to the outside world. After all, who are we to deny our own hearts? Below is the first episode. Let me know in the comments what you think of “Black Girl in a Big Dress” and what hobbies you have that might be surprising!