Sunday, 21 July 2013

Nostalgia: Love Will Tear Us Apart

My housemate and I went to the Harry Wragg warehouse sale today. We were shown into the backroom where a pretty girl sat in a shin-high pile of old vintage clothes. We stuck to the fringes at first but suddenly I noticed I had progressed to the middle of the pile, crawling through satin shirts and patterns that never should have been born. Everything in the room was $3.50 and it was like being in a tale of op-shopping from one of the magazines I read, the ones where people who by now have had their turn at their 20's spurting nostalgia for the good old days of Lifeline ties for 50 cents and dead designers in bargain bins.

Imagine if the secondhand clothes we bought came with small brown envelopes with facts about their previous owners and one or two poorly developed photos of them wearing what you've bought. You wouldn't be allowed to open the envelope until you had brought the garment home and were alone in your room. It would be like opening up a secret. The Bargain Hunter's Reward.

Between the Edward Scissorhands negligees and paisley scarves were things which reminded me of my grandmother, who dressed like her art in globulous patterns of rich purples and greens.

The sun was out this morning, before the clouds scrabbled it back in again, eating up the blue to grow fat in its bilious grey cheeks. The wind is cutting through everything and spreading up the coast to where my family can sit in front of the fire. It smelled like sparklers in the street this evening.

I've been reading The Virgin Suicides and it affects me in a way not much else does. I don't get the melancholy with it I was expecting - though that could be due to post-period lack of emotional turmoil - and instead certain passages fill me with an intense momentary despair. The book must be a death sentence for anyone with depression because it is almost killing me, but it is so, so beautiful and one of those books I want to give to everyone I meet. Some bits make my skin crawl because he is a man writing about teenage girls, but not as many parts as I had thought.
I wonder what would have happened if I had read it as a teenager, if it would have altered the way I was back then. Now, it just makes me happy to read, to put down and pick up again. I want to re-read it at a time when I can devour it all in one sitting. It makes me want to write like poetry, and I make myself cat-like content with pale imitation because some things are meant to be perfect on their own.

The photo above was taken last year, when I was cutting my own hair. Things are so much better now, but I still miss that haircut. It was the closest I've come to looking like Karen O. I have too many style icons, too many heroes.

I'm seeing Tavi Gevinson in August, and Amanda Palmer the month after that. I am always inspired to do more, to do better. I feel in a good place now, like I'm always moving forward and getting closer to the life I want, so I can look back and say not just that I've changed, but that I am where I wanted to be. It's nice to look at myself and see a person I wanted to be, even if only for a little while, and not that long ago.

Friday, 12 July 2013

On Self-Indulgence and Becoming

I found an incense stick today in the record sleeve of a Fleetwood Mac album given to me by a close friend's boyfriend because he was clearing out his things and I couldn't take the desk with the map of the world. Bits of shrapnel from other peoples' exes worming their way into my life.
It makes me think of Stevie Nicks' dreamcatcher and the fact that Tavi Gevinson is coming to Melbourne. She's high on the list of reasons I wish I could rewrite my childhood into an amalgamation of '90s tv shows. I find things too late, when they're no longer educational guides for living my life and now just relics of a decade I wasn't cool enough for. I was the Lindsay Weir or the Angela Chase, straight-living kid from a good home hanging out with the freaks but I was still listening to Delta Goodrem instead of the Smashing Pumpkins, then trying to be emo when I want to go back and rewrite myself into Enid Colweslaw's 1977 original punk look.
I found all the good things too late because I didn't know where to look and we had dial-up for too many years. I grew up sheltered in a sweaty Queensland suburb and the best bits of the city were off-limits until I already knew I liked them, instead of wandering in and finding something new, a fresh paradise built from bootleg Twin Peaks videos and brown and orange floral mod dresses.
I blame Brisbane for my late blooming into cultural awareness. The city and its people kept things from me, and I let them. I was too  busy cultivating a well-adjusted morbidity to seek out the things which now curl up in my soul. I tried to hard and now I can laugh too loud at things I would probably have sniffed at then. Sometimes I think about what I would do at fourteen if I found out that the twenty-year-old me occasionally enjoys hip hop. Self-immolation comes to mind as a reasonable solution.
I feel I have grown so much since then, and yet I have always known myself. Some changes happen naturally the way faces shift with age and others have perhaps been more conscious but always I feel I have been moving away from false, from trying to be a different idea of 'cool' and into the truth of myself.
I still enjoy Die Hard and David Hasseflhoff's 'Hooked on a Feeling' more than is probably healthy so I feel reassured that the pretentiousness I know is in myself is well-balanced with an un-ironic love for truly terrible things. I've written before in defense of my love for the awful but I still wish I could look back on my teen years and that I, too, was sassy and cool and full of spunk as a spry young thing. The best characters for young girls and women exist in those films and I feel myself floundering now, looking for a guide and role model over the age of seventeen who is a projection of someone I would be comfortable becoming, and not someone I would have to bury parts of myself to be. I have been seeking such a woman in order to create a costume but the best female characters for the over-twenty set are rarely feminine. I write this now in a man's shirt and jeans that are washed intermittently after three-months' dirt but I still don't want to be anything but a woman.
I still wish more of my wardrobe was mod dresses and pleated skirts but I always end up with more T-shirts bearing pictures of David Bowie Jesus or pizza slices melting with cheese. I still try to construct truth upon truth from a seat of comfort - and comfort is underrated, for feeling like I am completely wearing my own skin is my greatest day-to-day accomplishment.
I wore foundation recently to costume myself and the flawless, painted look was eery. I did not know myself in that false skin. Girls who make their face up each day must feel as though they are deconstructing themselves when they spread on that first smooth coat, erasing each pore's point of difference. More likely they no longer notice, or perhaps never did. To overcome the insecurities of youth I had to become entirely certain that this is my face, and I must love it as it is and so to erase it and begin again is something to run from.
The incense is slowly burning through on the table. I imagine the scent is sandalwood, but I am making assumptions, and do not know for sure.