Tuesday, November 21, 2017

On Flamecon 2017 - Queerness Identity and Visibility - Self Worth & Confidence

Hello Everyone! It's been some time since I've posted here certainly, but I hope to begin to more frequently in the near future. Writing is therapeutic for me in so many ways, especially in these trying times, and even if these posts are just for me that is okay too. It's important to put oneself on a high shelf and keep your head up. Self care! I can't stress that enough right now.

Let's jump right into it. A few months ago, my dear Celinè and I attended Flamecon 2017. Flamecon, brought to us by the wonderful non-profit organization Geeks Out, is a two day convention dedicated to everything queer and nerdy from anime, to video games, comics, cartoons, table top games, and everything we as nerds hold dear to our hearts. The con features highly informative and entertaining panels by a wealth of insightful, intelligent, innovative, and moving individuals of many races, genders, and identities. It also has an amazing exhibitors hall that is a collective of amazing artists, crafters, and creators of all this queer media. There is also a game room to mingle and play with friends, and make new ones too. The cosplay is on point and everyone is so creative. The space is very inclusive, much more so than the dirge that is some of the other more large scale conventions, and though no con is perfect or truly without flaws, this one comes very close for me.

I can safely say that this was one of the best nerd conventions I ever been to in my entire life. I felt truly free. I was able to attend panels that gave me so much strength an validated me as a queer woman of color. I understand that true strength comes from self validation, but when you struggle with anxiety, oppressive environments, daily stress of not being fully "out" in all your social groups/professional life, pressure from society, and more, it tends to cloud your feelings about yourself and your identity.

Defining My Sexuality and Gender Identity

I currently identify most with pansexuality. In addition to that, I also identify with bisexuality and overall as queer. My personal definition of my sexuality has grown and changed over time, with a questioning point in high school, and a defining point in college. I won't get too much into specifics here in a public realm, but I'm always open to more private conversation on the matter if you seek that.

Pansexuality basically means an attraction to all regardless of gender identity. I ended up choosing this label to identify myself because I felt it fit best. Though bisexuality was fine for a long part of my younger years as a teen, and though it no longer necessarily implies a binary (that only two genders exist) in the queer community, I feel from an outsider perspective, bisexuality can often be labeled in a negative light. It's also an issue within the queer community too and can be alienating. That being said, I do still identify with bisexuality, but pansexuality personally makes the most sense for me so I use that most often.

I indeed fight back against those stigmas of bisexuality/pansexuality being a "phase", that eventually you choose a side. Regardless of if I am with a man, woman, non-binary, transgender, or any one else in between, I am and may always be pan/bi.

I identify as she/her/hers and I am cisgender, and that comes with it's fair share of privilege, as well as a fair share of invisibility or hyper visibility depending on what social circles I'm in, which I will get to later.

On top of all of this, I am a Black woman (of Afro-Caribbean descent) in her mid-Twenties. That also comes with some added stark implications when it comes to my sexuality and gender identity.

The Beauty of Flamecon VS. The Reality of Daily Life

As I said before, Flamecon 2017 was absolutely wonderful. We attended various panels that deeply discussed deeply nuanced topics on race and queerness to fun entertainment such as Yuri Manga. I'll list the specific panels below with a little bit of reflection on each:

The Future of Queer Media  
Superb panelists and an excellent conversation on queer voices in movies, television, books, and how to use our dollars to bolster or topple what we like and don't like coming out of the cis-het male capitalist domination of the media world.

Never Say Bi: Bisexual Erasure In Mainstream Geek Media
The title says it all. Joined by a group of bisexual identifying panelists we explored the ways in which bisexual erasure is so pervasive and how it negatively portrays and invalidates bisexual identity. This panel really resonated with me and the things I often feel as someone who is neither gay or straight, but falls in the spectrum in-between. Society and in turn the media it spawns has a way of emboldening that for the worst, and I see those predispositions creeping into how I'm viewed as a person on an interpersonal level. Bisexuality is real!

The Monstrous Queer
Featured guests Cecil Baldwin of the "Welcome to Nightvale" series and the infamous Mark Patton of "Nightmare on Elm Street" films, in addition to several other notable queer panelists discussed how queer people have always been a key part of the horror genre. How our stories were used, often negatively, to portray queerness as something to be feared, inherently evil, or damning to society. They also discussed how we could reclaim this territory for features that turn the old tropes on their heads the same way "Get Out" did with race based horror. I'm so ready to see the narratives change.

Into the Depths: Discovering the Best New Yuri Manga and Anime
An amazing panel by Erica Friedman of okazu.yuricon.com, which delved into the world of modern and classic yuri anime and manga alike! If you don't know what yuri is, it's basically "girls love", which can be from sweet and romantic to absolutely smutty and pornographic, but there is something for everyone's interests. Her entire presentation is available on her site for you to view of you are interested! She lists all the top Yuri gems available and please if you can support the official releases so they know it's in high demand. I thoroughly enjoyed this panel and I can't wait to dive head first into the world of immersive yuri media again. I particularly am interested in the ones that don't put the male gaze at the forefront, though that does have it's time and place even for me.

The Changing Face of Nerd Journalism
Similar to the first panel, moderated by Valerie Complex (link to her twitter) of "Black Girl Nerds" and several other amazing panelists such as Angelique Roche, they delved in an intersectional manner into the trials and obstructions of diversifying Nerd Journalism and Media for under-represented groups. I was very moved by this panel and so much truth was spoken that my head was spinning by the end of it, in a good way of course.

Graphic Sex: Comics, New Media, and the Queering of Sex Education
A topic that is very important to me. I feel that not only is proper sexual education severely lacking in this country, it's also bitterly heteronormative. Sex is stigmatized with so much shame for our youth which often leads to them partaking in risky sexual behavior due to a lack of proper education. The panel consisted of librarians, health practitioners, and health educators who are paving the way for a revolutionizing of sex education on a local and global level. Saiya Miller, author of the book "Not Your Mother's Meatloaf" was on the panel and had copies of her book available for purchase, which we did (and got it signed, yay!) Another book I highly recommend is "Oh Joy Sex Toy" (which I wrote a blog post about on my other blog, Speaking Me, you can read it here). Also on the panel was Youtuber Lindsey Amer of "Queer Kids Stuff", and though many people have very toxic an negative opinions of her approach to educating young children from an early age in a child friendly manner about sexuality, identity, and consent, Lindsey continues to persevere and we should all be in support of it.

So with that aside, need I say more? I was inundated with positive messages and information that will help to keep me moving forward. But the reality of it all is that it is sometimes really difficult to manage in a world that always finds some way to bring queer people down. Even people in my life that I carelessly deemed as tolerant individuals have gone on to show their true colors.

Such as the moments where supposed "allies" have an understanding for some of the people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum (mostly cis gay men and selected lesbian women) and complete disdain or even disgust for others (bisexuals and trans people for instance.) I've heard from my peers that bisexuality isn't real and that bisexual people are confused, as well as that trans people aren't real and no matter what they are still the gender they were born as and that they are afraid that a trans person could trick a cis person into thinking they were a "real" -insert identifying gender-. It's so awful and terrible, and I live and exist in places that masquerade as liberal spaces, but in reality people pick and choose what they want to be okay with coming from the LGBTQ+ community.

It's exhausting.

Being a cisgender woman, I'm not visibly queer. Even when with another woman, I get the "are you sisters/best friends?" question that is obviously coded. Often I get this question from men who are trying to size me up as a potential courting, and even once a would be sexual proposition for me and my partner both from a stranger at a rave who saw us dancing together (yes that happened).

With a man, I am inherently believed to be straight when I'm in fact not in the least. This happens to me constantly (also being polyamorous, I can find myself in different gender pairings and arrangements at any given time which adds another layer to this, but let's keep it simple for now) and though I know my identity is valid, others constantly invalidate it purposely or subconsciously.

At Flamecon and Pride, and other queer dominated spaces, these questions don't come up. These microaggressions don't exist. I can kiss, hug, and show affection to anyone I want to without repercussion. I don't need to second guess that kiss, that hand hold, of anyone - especially of my same gender identity. It simply does not matter.

Let's recall an incident that happened to me just last week. I was meeting up with my girlfriend in Harlem (for demographic perspective), and I hadn't seen her all week so I hugged her for a really long time.

Just a hug. A fucking hug.

I felt like, due to our environment and who was mulling around, we could not take it further. That, mind you, is stressful in of itself, having to mask your queerness, in this case as a woman who is feminine presenting dating another woman who is also feminine presenting. Our brand of love is branded for the male gaze in the media and pornography most often, so men often get the impression that our expressions of love are "for their viewing pleasure" at all times regardless of our consent (or lack thereof.)  This gives me sometimes painful anxiety in public (that I should probably seek professional help in dealing with, but again that's another story for another post on mental health and therapy), it also causes a lot of inner turmoil and puts a strain on all of my relationships.

Why is it ok when I show affection to a cis gender man as a cis gender woman, opposed to another woman?

I know why, we all know why, but does it have to be this way?

Going back to the hug, you best believe that some other cis men had to make sure they had a commentary for us, saying "Ooh, can my friend get a hug like that?" Implying, what I'm not sure, besides the fact that our expression of affection towards one another was something he and his friend could own, take part in, and ultimately ruin.

I hated that they felt they had that power.

I was very angry. Livid, to the point where I began mouthing off and had to eventually walk away before I lashed out and caused a scene. It may seem simple or not as severe to many, but to me this was an act of violence and oppression. A declaration of war so to speak.

I don't have to worry about these things in queer safe spaces, but the world is not by any means a safe space for queer people. So it's going to take a special brand of courage, confidence, strength, and endurance to keep moving forward and not let these trash people ruin my life and my love. They don't deserve to have that power over me or her.

If one of us were a man, those comments would have never been made.

Toxic masculinity at it's finest.

Not that men don't make comments about you as a woman when you are with a man. My favorite is the good old "Bro, is that you?" Of course I mean that sarcastically. I hate this most of all. It implies two toxic things, that firstly, I'm not my own person. That I am property of my male partner. That I'm a part of him. I belong to him. Secondly, it implies that my male partner is somehow inferior because I can't possibly be with him because of *insert shallow commentary steeped in gross male competition* It's disgusting, and I really despise any man who ever says this. Especially when they are confirming your belonging to another man which is the only reason he isn't going to continue to pursuit you if you peaked his interest.

He respects the other man more than he respects you and your autonomy. Yea, let that sink in.

This is why I prefer progressive queer spaces. There isn't much of that toxic patriarchy seeping in like it does in everyday society. Not that the queer community doesn't have it's flaws and bad apples, but it's definitely a much more comforting environment to exist in.

This is also why it's my goal to aid in the toppling of the patriarchy (namely the white cis-hetero capitalist patriarchy), which will ultimately give rise to a certain freedom and inclusiveness for all people. It always comes back to that you know? I can literally trace so many things wrong in our society to that, but that's a topic for another time.

But in more self controlled matters, it's important that I become more comfortable in my queerness being visible. That I own it and accept it. It's also important to be safe and stay aware of your personal boundaries. I'm not very comfortable with PDA generally, so I'm not going to force it to prove a point. What am I proving besides making myself feel uncomfortable? It doesn't really matter who I'm with either.

The majority of the time, no one really cares anyway. It's important, if you have the privilege to do so, to live your truth. Going forward I plan to move towards getting there, simply being more comfortable in my own skin as an openly pansexual woman.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

One Dress, Three Ways - Coordinate Series - Krad Lanrete "Le Retentissement de Versailles" JSK II + Review

So back in January I finally received the Krad Lanrete "Le Retentissement de Versailles" JSK II after months and months of waiting. It actually arrived on my birthday so that was a nice surprise! 

With all the bad stuff going on here in America, it took me awhile to just enjoy little gifts of life, so I felt it time to take a moment to do something I enjoyed again. In times like these, self care and personal happiness is important or burn out is inevitable. Do what you can do resist and fight, but not at the expense of your health and mental stability. Sometimes you just need a moment.

Anyway, this was my first piece from Krad Lanrete. I've wanted other items from them in the past, but I wasn't quick enough to get them. This time, I jumped when I first saw photos of the pieces and used Clobbao Online to purchase. This is my second time ordering using their service and so far so good. Their communication is excellent and they are good about mediating delays in production and shipment (this release ended up being delayed about 2-3 months, they were very gracious in dealing with it.)

So lets review quickly:

Design - 5/5

I ended up choosing the Dark Blue colorway in the Long length and high waist version, which is my preferred cut and style in lolita fashion at the moment. I feel as though it best suits me and my frame and is the most comfortable to wear. I really liked the black as well, but I preferred the cream colored center panel over the black. You can't see the ruffle detail as well on the black colorway. The pink was also very pretty, but I am not much of a pink person!

I also fell in love with the ruffle detail on the skirt portion right away. I really am a sucker for ruffle details! The print is also beautiful and very detailed. 

Quality - 3.5/5

Though the dress and print is beautifully designed, I was very disappointed with the quality of the printed fabric. It is very thin, and feels more like a lining quality than what I expect an outer layer should be. Initially when I bought it, I thought it was going to be made of a medium weight cotton sateen. It's actually made of a thin slightly textured polyester. It's probably okay for some people, but for me, I did not particularly like it. I prefer thicker fabric qualities in my lolita pieces, cotton based fabrics and textures, so I was a bit displeased to be honest. 

Fit - 4.5/5

The dress fits me rather well, but since it has no shirring or adjustability, there is no freedom of movement. I prefer my pieces to have shirring for those times where I layer a little more or a little less, or eat a little more! But I know some other people had fit issues with this dress (apparently it was a bit big on some people) but for me, it fit pretty exactly. If I were to get any bigger or smaller, it might be an issue. I bought it in Size M.

Now onto the coordinate series!

Coordinate I: "Crown Princess"

The most OTT of all the coordinates I put together. It's very hime lolita. Blouse is from the taobao brand Boguta, Tights are Grimoire, Parasol is Innocent World, Crown is VooDooDolly, and Rosary necklace is Moss Marchen.

To make this look perfect I still need perhaps an Ivory or Cream colored purse and some cream, light brown or navy shoes. For hair, a curled updo with bangs in my natural hair or a side swept ponytail with my honey brown wig would be quite lovely. 

Coordinate II: "Queen Mother"

Still relatively over the top, but a bit more mature. No blouse, just paired with an Innocent World bolero and OTK socks. I used the same VooDooDolly crown here, but I think if I had it, I'd pair it with a Triple Fortune styled bonnet, like this one below...

Maybe add in some of those burgundy roses to bring in more of the red. This is only a dream though, it would be very pretty but I'm not really a bonnet person so I couldn't justify buying one to fulfill one coordinate! So lets just use imagination. Perhaps serve as inspiration for someone else!

Coordinate III: "Royal Masquerade"

In my last look, I went the darker route, using this billowy sleeved blouse from Infanta, my black handmade by me rectangular headdress, Lily of the Valley Necklace, Evil Live purse, and Angelic Pretty Parasol. I forgot to put tights with this, but do imagine some black lace tights with this ensemble. 

To give that real Masquerade vibe, perhaps a black and gold mask to pair? 

And that's it! Which look is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! 

Did you happen to purchase this dress? How will you coordinate it? If you have any pictures, please share! If you are on Instagram, tag me on @dixmacabre so I can see your coordinates, if you would like!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Star Wars: Parallels, Legacy, and a Tragic Loss

Hello everyone! New Star Wars fan reporting in. I did not grow up with Star Wars. I have only seen up to now, Episodes IV-VII and now Rogue One. And this is as of just a year. So yes, I'm a serious newbie, but I fell in love with the story immediately.

If you're reading this post, you are most likely already familiar with the plot of Star Wars, so I'm not really going to go in depth on that, but I'm probably just going to ramble on about my feelings. This post will contain spoilers for Rogue One so if you haven't seen it yet, please proceed with extreme caution!

So I saw the movie about a week ago with my best friend Jen. She introduced me to the wonders of this amazing series and I thank her so much for allowing it to enrich my life. Other friends have also urged me to watch the series in the past too and I'm so glad I can join in the fandom with them.

The movie was completely amazing. It was crazy seeing how much went into retrieving the plans for the Death Star, and how much sacrifice was involved. I'm not really going to name drop characters too much or anything or talk about anything too specifically, but I can say that I was both devastated by the extreme losses and martyrdom that unfolded. Massive spoiler alert....everyone dies. Pretty much everybody. All the main characters that we grow to learn about and love, they all die. This is the ultimate sacrifice. All to retrieve a flaw in the mechanics of the Death Star that was purposefully engineered by Jyn's father, Galen Erso. Without this, the Empire would not have been defeated in the subsequent trilogy.

So after the movie came to it's tragic end with a silver lining, I began to think about the current state of things in America and in the world. I started thinking about how the upcoming President and his subordinates and eerily similar motives as the Empire. All policies that they say are there to keep the cosmos safe from peril and strong in the face of dissent, but in actuality, they are the largest threat to the well-being of the the galaxy. All power struggles, fight for control, meaningless slaughter and threats against of those who oppose their word. This may sound dramatic, over-arching, sure but this is really what is coming to pass and it's terrifying.

But then I thought about the side I'm on. I'm on the side of the light.

(I like to joke around that I'm on the Dark Side just to be "cool" but legit though, that is not the case at all)

Then I really thought, and I don't mean to be cryptic, but would I be willing to make unspeakable sacrifice for the sake of the well being of those I care about and to uphold my beliefs in the face of evil?

I really couldn't believe I was actually having these thoughts, legitimately. I began to feel extremely moved, yet also afraid of my own thoughts. I feel really strongly opposed to so many things going on in our world right now. I'm opposed to toxic masculinity, the absolution of the patriarchy, white supremacy and racism, homophobia, climate change deniers, classism and the rise of super elites, and ultimately the new Presidential regime.

Emphasis on regime.

The Rebel forces faced so much unsurmountable uncertainty. They took chances, shots in the dark, all because they held in their hearts a cause to be free from the tyranny and oppression of the Empire and the Dark Forces. They rejected it. They knew that they were fighting something bigger and more powerful than they were but yet they kept on fighting.

I tell myself, when I'm feeling really down about the current state of affairs, when I'm angry and I want to punch walls and fight for my rights and my friends and loved ones rights, that I have every right to be that way. I stand up and say to myself that I won't go down without a fight. I may not individually succeed in that moment in time, but I also didn't give up and let oppression crush me. I want everyone to know I fought until I no longer could, and even when I was on the ropes, I was still kicking and punching my way.

I have not faced anything in reality yet on a personal level. I've only looked at the threat in the distance, like Empire warships blocking out the sun and casting a shadow on my future. But here I am, weaponizing the gunships, fortifying the battlefield, and preparing for war. How will I personally fight them? That I do not know the answer to specifically, but I'm preparing for...something. Anything. Everything.

I know my rights and I know what I'm capable of.

And I'm not alone. I have millions of Rebel fighters backing me up. Millions of allies, ready to fight right along side me. I should feel strong and ready to take them on. I just have to be even if I'm not fully ready. There is no room for complete weakness. I might falter, might begin to lose hope, but I can't let the light burn out, and it won't.

This is a real threat that looms over us, and for all those people who just want to sit back and do nothing, and the others who want to join the oppressors out of fear or greed (screw you twice as hard by the way), I see you and I condemn you openly and loudly.

I will not back down.

And I must of course take a moment to speak about a tragic loss in the Star Wars community. We lost Carrie Fisher, our beloved Princess Leia, or rather General Organa. Inspirational inside of the Star Wars persona and outside in the real world. She battled so many personal hardships including alcohol and substance abuse and mental illness. She wasn't shy about admitting her downfalls and speaking openly about her struggles. I'm new to her legacy, but knowing about her and what she stood for could not have come at a better time. We need strong women as our role models. We need intersectionality. We need support from all angles and people who can uphold the importance of multiple beliefs. We need just morals and righteousness and those who can carry them despite their past mistakes and misgivings. Those people are so few and far between in this world, so when we lose one it's like a major blow.

Carrie Fisher's legacy will always live on in our hearts. I will never forget how much she was and still continues to be a feminist icon, and also an icon of humanity.

Let the force guide us on the right path as perilous times loom ahead. Do not let the darkness consume you. Do not forget those who have sacrificed for us to have achieved what we have accomplished today. Nothing can take those achievements away. No despot, demagogue, tyrant, oligarch, dictator. The fight to maintain freedom will never be easy, so never expect it to be. Do not fall into complacency, that is the first step to falling prey to the enemy.

We fought the Empire, and the New Order has risen from those ashes. The fight isn't over and it never was. It might never be, but we have to always fight. Always.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Morning Reflections: Lolita Fashion and Personal Happiness

Merry Christmas everyone! I bring you a reflective post this morning. I think I will begin to do these more often as getting my thoughts out there really helps me to focus my mind.

This year, and the past few months I have realized yet again, not that I didn't know this since day one, but it has fluctuated and changed a bit over the years but I wear lolita fashion first and foremost...


I could honestly care less about what other people think of me when I wear it. I love sharing pretty pictures online, though the likes and sweet comments on social media make me feel good, I think I get the most joy and happiness out of looking at how cute I am and wearing the frills and feeling really special. I also love creating frilly items and seeing them come to life.

Forget getting a bunch of new stuff, I'm realizing that I have not even maxed out the amount of combinations I can make out of my current wardrobe and I've been getting more and more creative with my coordinates all the time. I make a small purchase every now and then (like some socks or tights ever couple months), and this year I only acquired about 3-4 new main pieces (all from Chinese brands like Souffle Song, Krad Lanrette, and Inori) So basically I make a quarterly purchase of a single item and I'm good with it.

This is not to shame people who buy a lot of stuff, I'm just saying what is enough for me. I don't need much, and honestly I'm trying to make it less. I still have a couple things I haven't worn yet and some that I've only worn once.

I say it every year, but I hope to wear lolita more in the coming year. I think with all the horrible shit in the world right now, we have to try to keep ourselves happy. I, as an empath, have felt numbing pain and heartache from reading about so many awful things daily, and we all have to give ourselves recovery time. Lolita fashion is still a form of escapism for me.

It's becoming easier for me to wear lolita as more "everyday" wear. I still reserve it more for events by comparison, because I guess my mentality was always to make sure lots of people, especially fellow lolitas, see me in my coordinate so it's "worth it" to go out of my way to dress up, but then I realized...

"Hey, then you aren't really wearing it for yourself are you now?"

That's a problem for me.

So lately I'm opting for simpler outfits, more mature and streamlined. BUT I do still think my "simple" can still be a bit over the top because I can't help my personal style, and you know what, thats OK.

The last two times I wore lolita, being yesterday for Christmas Eve and Friday to hang out with a couple friends, I wore my natural hair. I loved it. I might be selling some of my wigs soon because I think wearing my natural hair is becoming easier. I'm not giving up wigs all together, but a lot of times they give me headaches and are uncomfortable (though they do serve as a "hair hat" in the winter!) I like them because if my hair isn't perfectly styled, I can throw on a wig and style that instead. I can also achieve other lengths and colors without damaging my natural hair with permanent colors or extensions.

I like the variety.

But I love my natural hair, and I think I should be flaunting it more with my daily lolita looks. I was thinking of coloring my natural hair, but if I do any unnatural colors I will probably opt for semi-permanent, even though it might be frowned upon to have purple highlights with an elegant classic lolita coordinate, but you know I'm not one to adhere perfectly to "rules", you know because they are more like guidelines, heh! Anyway, if an outfit requires a more natural colored hair, that's what the wigs are for, so I will still be keeping some but just the best ones. I'll probably sell some of the ones I don't really need or care for wearing anymore. I also realized its better to wear wigs without a wig cap, as I think thats what gives me the headaches. I just put my hair in soft twists and shove it under.

I think my point is again, it should be up to me and I should have choices. That's what fashion and self expression are all about!

My natural curls with frills.
So in the coming year, I'm going to do my best to choose happiness. Life isn't always easy, but hey it's not supposed to be. Bad things happen, we pick up the pieces. People do everything in their power to make things harder for you to succeed, you keep trying. I'm a determined person by nature, it's rare that I give up. Sometimes I'm hopeless, some times I cry. I was very sick most of 2016 (which I will write a reflective post about later when I'm ready to talk about it again) so I learned that sometimes your own body will turn against you, but you have to somehow continue to live your best life. I'm saying these things from a better place now, but even as I write this, nothing in life is promised. Everything is random, luck, a series of fortunate or unfortunate events, and as a human being on this Earth, this is the cards I am dealt. I'm here to play the game.

I remind myself, hey guess what you are? You are a tiny speck of dust floating in a huge vast universe with billions upon billions of insurmountable infinity. You are both completely insignificant and immensely significant all at once. But I, the tiny speck, will be the best tiny speck I can be for as long as I can be. I will help other specks, I will be a happy speck, I will do what I can. I won't destroy myself for what I can't accomplish. I was born imperfect, and so were all the other specks and we haphazardly bumble around without complete purpose or reason. When my speck is done existing as it's current state of matter, whenever that may be, I will become one with all the other billions and trillions of specks to create something new, somehow and some way, in the eternal vastness of the universe. The thought of that brings me peace, when everything seems overwhelming. Remember, you are just but a speck.

Channeling some Carl Sagan there.

So anyway, yea that got a bit beyond my original point, but really I have been doing a lot of reflection lately, and I'm not done either, so expect several more posts of this nature. Ultimately again, I write these for myself above anything or anyone else, but I hope I have somehow inspired your thinking or got you to do some personal reflection of your own.

Lastly, be happy, do what you can to help others, even if you happiness lasts but a single moment or second in time, just try. I know it can be difficult, I'm not saying that it is at all easy, but just try.

Until next time, fellow specks.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

"The Handmaiden" (2016) - A Fan Review

Last night I witnessed cinematic genius. An evoking erotic tale of passion, betrayal, perversion, and ultimately what it means when love knows no bounds. Below is my fan review. I'm no film critic and I'm also very easily impressed when it comes to movies. However this film majorly exceeded all my expectations. Also I speak remotely frankly about sexual content here, so if that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps sit this one out!

Very spoiler-ish! Proceed with caution!

Firstly, I was very happy to share this film experience with someone I knew would appreciate it as deeply as I would, someone very dear to me whom I love very much, Celinè. Its tale of forbidden love and tangled webs, yet in the end love will always prevail no matter what difficulty stands in your way. We saw the film at Sunshine Cinema in Soho, a humble little theater that carries indie and foreign films. It was really an evening never to forget.

Instead of giving a play-by-play of this film, I really want to speak about what really sets this movie apart from many others that have erotic themes that are centered on that of women's sexuality.

Not only was this movie absolutely stunning to watch, with its glorious scenery, amazing costumes, and spellbinding mixing of European and Asian (Korean and Japanese) aesthetics, it played against the tune that you usually see in a lot of Western films (and perhaps many other Eastern films) that use women as props of sexual fantasy. Women who have sexual relationships with other women usually are given no agency over their bodies, and their intimacy is often directed for the male gaze and for shock value. Like "look we are so edgy, women having sex!" types of things that are overdone and boring. For many years, I've sought out film, animation, manga, and other media that does not play into these selfish tropes that ignore how real it is for a woman to love another woman as deeply as she could a man.

The Handmaiden did just that. With its ultimate plot twist that had me on the edge of my seat, and worried for a moment that I had been queer-baited into yet another story of a lesbian woman losing out to a cruel and unloving man, watching the love of her life swept away forever, I was absolutely floored when this movie took all my expectations and blew them out of the water. It also eliminated any fears I had going in about halfway through the film. These women went against all odds and found themselves passionately involved with one another in a twist of fate that you won't see coming until the very end. 

We witnessed real love last night. Love that is timid at first, perhaps shameful and worrisome. Queer women often have to question their agency, question whether or not their love for another woman is real or allowed. Suppressing their feelings or having them suppressed by others around them. I know all these feelings firsthand, and this movie really spoke to my very soul. Though I personally identify as bi/pan, for many years I wondered if I had been broken and if my feelings were real or allowed. I've personally learned in many ways, that I can love any way that I so please. This movie really set those feelings into my heart.

There are very clear differences between heterosexual love and intimacy and homosexual love and intimacy, and besides the obvious physical differences that I'm sure I don't need to explain, I've found that it really does go far beyond that. Not that one is better than the other, I'm not here to make statements of division, but I think there is much to learn about passion and intimacy between all orientations and sexual expressions. The erotic scenes in this film were not your "classic" -look at these two beautiful women having sex- for all the men to watch, and to carelessly objectify them as if they are just bodies to consume. I always get that vibe and the wrenching in my stomach when lots of other media does this, including obviously pornography (which is primarily consumed by male viewers, and only small studios cater to the female gaze.) 

The scenes in this movie made you feel something completely different. Whether you are straight or somewhere in between, everything felt so real, not staged, not forced. You could feel true passion emanating from the movie screen. I never thought that this was possible, especially in a scene depicting two women. 

I was deeply moved to say the least. 

Then there were other moments of implied eroticism. Things that, perhaps those who may not be as "creative" to see it. There are things that can be experienced that go beyond that of sexual touch. There were scenes of light grazing on inherently non-sexual body parts, dressing and undressing, the way the two women looked at one another, so much to be said about how fantasy isn't as simple as many are led to believe. The anticipation and lingering of longing and desire are so much more enrapturing than the acts themselves. Not to make a blanket statement, but I think this is the clear difference between how different genders and individuals experience sexual fulfillment (if they so desire that from their partner.) The end game is not always as rewarding as what led up to it.

Sometimes, the odds against you only makes the end result that much more exciting.

This movie wasn't about in-your-face sex off the bat. That's what really made it so entrancing. You were left imagining and wondering how far things would go with every slow and provoking moment. 

Also the two leading ladies (Sook-Hee played by Kim Tae-Ri and and Lady Hideko played byKim Min-Hee) are just gorgeous to say the least! They are just the loveliest paring and their love felt so genuine I would swear to you they were real lovers (Are they? Because that would be amazing.) I was completely fixated on them. 

I loved how the both of them thought the other was innocent and naive, when in fact both ladies were remotely corrupted by those around them and their toxic influence. But in the end, it made them all the wiser to prevail and triumph, and realize that what they had for another was worth the ultimate risks.

They were caught up in an elaborate scheme of greed and perversion orchestrated by a money-loving con man and a lecherous old uncle. Boy, if this movie didn't make you distrusting of men, I don't know what would! Not that you should (#notallmen, haha), as both men depicted in this film were just downright skeevy! The creepy old uncle Kouzuki, forced young Hideko into erotic readings and displays for an underground "sex club" (like Fight Club, just a little more twisted.) And Sook-Hee was manipulated into conman Count Fujiwara's exploits to seduce and elope with the young heiress Hideko to have her fortune. 

Watch the movie to see how it all unfolds in detail, but I just have to say, these lovely ladies knew exactly what they were doing when it came to intimacy. 

Or perhaps they did not? 

I think they both surprised each other in how naturally things unfolded. That in of itself is the real beauty of it all. 

A woman knows how she wants to be loved, and in turn can easily love another with the same passion they would like to be loved themselves. This my friends, is the key to long lasting and satisfying encounters, regardless if they are long standing, exclusive, varied, or otherwise. 

Take notes. 

I was really astonished by this film and I beg everyone to see it, no matter if you have an alternative sexual expression or not, I think it's well worth it. We plan on purchasing the DVD as soon as it is released because this type of cinematic glory is rare and to be cherished deeply. 

We also are very interested in reading "Fingersmith" by Sara Waters, which this movie was roughly based upon. Any manner of media detailing and displaying the lives and inner workings of LGBTQA+ romance, and validating it without vulgarizing it or perverting it, please continue to create them and share! If anyone has suggestions of media that do this, feel free to drop them in the comments as we are very intrigued by them. 

Thank you all for reading, please support this film by going to see it in a specialty theater near you. Showings are limited and dwindling, so please hurry!

All photo credits to Magnolia Pictures

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'm Demisexual: What Does That Mean? My Experience

Recently (or not so recently) I've gotten to thinking about my sexuality. Sure, for me that is a multi faceted topic for more reasons than one, but today I'd like to focus in on a very specific aspect of mines.


It wasn't until recently that I ever even heard of this term. As I have "come of age", now at the near quarter century age of twenty four (frankly with more living to do), I have used many different words to describe my sexual preferences, but demisexual was a new one. When I finally read up on what that meant, I felt like I had a new clear cut answer for myself, well at least part of it!

Growing up, I had a hard time connecting with people. I had small groups of friends, and even then there was usually only one or two within the circle I truly had a bond with. I was, and still am, very introverted and being in social situations for too long exhausts me. Even in my romantic relationships, I really value the time I get to spend alone. For this reason, maintaining and sustaining connections can prove difficult.

In addition, as the definition of demisexual describes:

"A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It's more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being "halfway between" sexual and asexual."

I would have never thought that my feelings had fallen anywhere on the asexual spectrum, because I do feel sexual attraction, but the way that I do is definitely not conventional. When friends or classmates would shove celebrities in my face and ask if I found them attractive, I would be very confused by this, and also quite uncomfortable? Especially if they asked about men (usually very masculine men), because I find that I simply cannot find a man purely attractive unless I know them personally and also because I'm not really into men who are hyper masculine (as many women tend to be, not all but many.) With women I am attracted to aesthetic beauty, but I usually cannot see any further than that unless I really knew her.

I was never one to obsess over celebs and their looks. I was more attracted to talent, artists, musicians, they made me feel something, but even still it never really went that deep. It was very surface feelings, very fantasy, I knew they were not real. I always felt like there was something missing that did not allow me to pass the threshold of blatant sexual attraction. Looks are simply not enough for me to form those feelings?

Attraction is a spectrum. If I had to definitively describe mines, on a 1-10 scale of "masculine" to "feminine" it would be a 7. I love androgyny and hyper femininity. I like men who are less masculine, and women who are super feminine or androgynous. My sexuality not black and white.

Attraction for me is also not always (and not usually) sexual. I am attracted to people for purpose of friendship way more often than romantics. I also extend non-sexual intimacy to a few close friends. I hug, hold hands, and snuggle up with close friends whenever possible so long as they are comfortable with me doing so or offer. I have always been that way.

In romantic and intimate relationships, it has always been friendship first. Sure, I had your run of the mill crushes as a kid, but they were all unrequited, and now I know why.

I was never friends with them. They were arbitrary. Fleeting, non-existing, not real. Thus they never really went anywhere. Perhaps some of the attraction was forced. "I'm a girl, you have to have a crush, pick one and hold that to your heart for the semester" I would tell myself. Just boys then, even that felt half-hearted. Pen them in your secret diaries, make it seem real.

Then the crushing realization that it would never be, and now as an adult with a much less narrow and cut and dry sexual identity, and a new found understanding of myself, I embrace myself for who I am and I'm not afraid to show it.

I'm not broken. I shouldn't feel like an alien when I'm not "hot in here" attracted to some shirtless underwear ad of some random model or celeb. Because, who is that person? When you have that one friend who is literally shoving pictures in your face and yelling "So you think he's cute? Huh? Right!?" and you're just looking at them with confusion and disdain? I refuse to be shamed because of it. I don't experience attraction like she does, and I'm not going to let her make me seem like something is wrong with me.

It's not that I don't experience sexual attraction or desire sex, but those things are really exclusive feelings that I have not felt or experienced with many people and that is fine with me. There is nothing wrong with me.

I'm Demisexual.

Do share your thoughts in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

One Dress, Three Ways - Coordinate Series - Inori The Maiden of Versailles JSK

Hello Everyone! For today's post, I'm doing a new coordinate series called "One Dress, Three Ways" where I challenge myself to create three distinct outfits in different styles using one main lolita piece! 

I also challenge my other fellow Lolita bloggers to do it too! I'd love to see what you all come up with!

I bought this dress on a whim when I saw Jo Anna (@octavekitten) post it on her Instagram/Facebook that she received it. I never seen it before and I automatically fell in love with it and needed to have it. It reminds me so much of Searching for Baroque from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, which is one of my dream dresses. However, that dress is very hard to acquire and is very expensive second hand, so this was the next best thing. 

It also has a very JetJ feel to it, another brand I haven't been able to acquire main pieces from due to the fact that they can be so expensive. 

I purchased mines form Clobba Online, here's the link, they still have some available however in the black colorway only. I received my piece in about 2 weeks after purchasing. 

A quick review: The piece is extremely good quality for it's price. I was really astonished when I received it. The fabric is a very lightweight polyester and should be easy to clean and maintain. The bows are all detachable and so is the pearl chain, which makes it very versatile. I really can't say anything bad about this dress. It features gorgeously printed images of classic Rococo painting and artwork, and I love this theme! I will be purchasing from the brand Inori again!

As a side note, I keep saying it but I am so impressed by the Chinese Lolita Brands lately and I hope that they continue to go strong. Their quality in many ways rivals even that of the Japanese brands, and the designs are very unique and interesting many times. I'm itching to own a piece from Krad Lanrette, whom I would say is the leading Chinese Brand design and quality wise based on what I've heard from others, their only downfall is wait times and shipping complications. 

Anyway, on to the coordinates!

Coordinate I: Purely Classic

JSK: Inori The Maiden of Versailles
Blouse: Innocent World
Socks: Juliette et Justine
Bag: Evil Live
Crown: Voodoodolly

This is a very simple purely classic coordinate that fits with the Classic Lolita "trend" of gaudy accessories and prints. I paired the JSK with JetJ's Grimm's Fairytale socks which also has gilded frame motifs. It seems a bit out there, but it's my style and what I like. To take this outfit a step further, I would perhaps add an ivory lace trimmed veil and a long ivory lace underskirt (something that I'm waiting to add to my wardrobe!) 

Coordinate II: Dark Elegance

JSK: Inori The Maiden of Versailles
Blouse: Pumpkin Cat
Tights: Juliette et Justine
Bag: Evil Live
Necklace: Moss Marchen
Headdress & Veil: Made by Me

For the second look, I wanted to coordinate this JSK in a more Classic Gothic way. I love true Classic Lolita but I think I love Classic Gothic just a bit more (being a true Gothic Lolita at heart.) And yes, I did pair frames on frames again! It's a bit matchy matchy, but I don't know, I dig it! I could even do lace tights instead if the frames on frames is too much. 

Coordinate III: Subdued Romance

JSK: Inori The Maiden of Versailles
Blouse: Ancoco
Tights: Grimoire
Bag: Modcloth
Hat: Offbrand

Here is a more simplistic Otome styled outfit. I imagine wearing this outfit for a casual picnic or stroll on the boardwalk. Perhaps with an Ivory parasol. Instead of the tights, I could even pair this with ivory lace topped ankle socks. This is one of my favorite looks with this dress. It's the most wearable and comfortable!

Which coordinate is your favorite and why? Let me know in the comments!

And I challenge you all to do this coordinate series for yourself and see how many different outfits you can create using one main piece! It's so much fun to do. 

Until next time!