Thursday, December 30, 2021

goodbye, 2021

This is usually around the time I do my year-in-review sort of posts, sometimes more detailed, sometimes less, but I had a hard time motivating myself to sit down and do it this week.  Not that there weren't good things that happened in terms of writing and art, but more that so much else has happened that those things seem tiny to talk about.  In fact, when I think back, much of the early part seems like a decade ago, so it's hard to capture any of it in a nutshell. On a personal front there was the anxiety before vaccination, then a moment of relief and hope we'd be back to something like normal that lasted a few brief seconds in June or July, but then went from creeping anxiety again to full blown as Omicron moved in this last month or so. Also creeping dissastifaction with my day job and plans to remedy it in the new year.  I've had a lot in my head since early October, and it has made me distracted and absent-minded and not really in a creative zone.  Still despite that, there have been a few weeks growing in the cracks. A couple spooky short stories.  The art advent project all the creatures, stirring in December. Things still can bloom, even here.

As the year began, I was working on getting feed close to publication-ready, my first book going it alone without the support and work of publisher, and it was a little grueling in the layout process last December,. But shortly after the new year, I had a proof copy in hand.  It, it of course, would have taken a little less time to finalize had there not been racists and idiots swarming into The Capitol on the news the same day it arrived. So it took a little longer, but I had a book by the end of February and it sold really well, better than expected, especially since it feels like such a personal book. I didn't submit a thing, but I published a couple poems in journals, Pretty Owl Poetry and talking about strawberries all the time.  A poem in Masks, edited by our library artist-in-residence. I also did my first ever zoom reading with The Poetry Foundation.  Then a couple more.   I issued numerous little zine projects throughout the year, mostly electronically. The rest of spring is split between my feelings before vaccination (anxiety, dread) and after. It was short-lived of course as other places were still on fire, but for a moment, Chicago was faring well.  I did napowrimo, at least most of it, finishing a little series on Walter Potter's strange taxidermy, and another short spooky little series called the bird artist. We launched our Urban Legends exhibit at work, in which I had some pieces from my conspiracy theories zine project. 

By summer, I finally was back full force in terms of dancing girl press releases., after a year where my heart was hardly in it. I went to Rockford a couple times, and even got back inside a thrift store again. Without a mask, no less, in June.  I worked on poems about spells that became the working girl's grimoire, and plotted the layout for the 2nd book I planned to release in 2021, dark country. I used vacation days to create shorter weeks that made the summer feel a little more liesurely.  On those days off, I edited and wrote and drank coffee all day. I would arrive back at the Library on Wednesday with a boatload of work that never went away and I was poorly paid for. I began to feel listless.

By fall, I was ready for the semester to begin, despite creeping numbers.  In the first couple months, we were brave enough to have some in-person things like screenings and collage sessions and workshops. I did a couple virtual professional presentations on zines & libraries. I visited a class to talk about dancing girl press.  I began curating the Bad Art exhibit. I also began thinking about different trajectories that might ease some of my bandwidth problems-- the feeling that I've worked 20 years in a job, 40 hours a week, and am only making $100 more per paycheck than I was a decade ago, while at the same time, my job duties have tripled. That I've also been working another full-time job (if you take the hours devoted to  my own writing and art + editing and the press)  all done in the off hours and weekends, and I feel like I never have anything under control or enjoy things the way I should.  Also the feeling that the creative life was failing me. Or that I was failing it. I tried to shake things up by writing some fiction, the quality of which remains to be seen, but it was nice to switch up genres. I was also looking to ramp up my income streams and fiction occasionally pays in a way poetry does not. (obv. not a steady income stream, but a possible one nevertheless...)

I also started scanning job pages in my most discontented hours.  Began to feel that personal loyalty to people I consider friends is no reason to stay in a job you have begun to hate and are woefully undervalued. Also that the last thing I need is a full-time job, even a well-paid one, which wouldn't necessarily solve my bandwidth issues.  I explored a couple freelance contract things and started writing for  one, which opened a door and offered a little bit of the stability I was lacking when I considered going it alone.  Things are shaping up that I may be able to leave working full-time in the next couple of months, the logistics of which we are hammering out, but there is some hope on the horizon.  I finished the year out with this vision in my mind and the possibility to create something new from my days. Not only in terms of my own writing and art (which makes no money), but devoting more time and expanding press projects (which makes a little money) and running the shop and having the time to fill it with prints, paper goods, and accessories, possibly some vintage,  in a way I haven't been able to in about a decade (which will hopefully make more money and eek out a living). And of course, a back-up plan with a handful freelance work and design/editing projects I may take on for others. Maybe some workshops. It's terrifying to envision it, but also wonderful.  

So that  is where my head is at these days. The pandemic rages on. I still haven't really been able to get back to reading for pleasure. The news is, as per usual, alarming. I distract myself with youtube fashion videos and instagram reels, with trashy televsion shows, since i feel like I don't have the bandwidth for things I have to think about.  I go nowhere I don't absolutely have to and don't plan to change that anytime soon. Since my boyfirend is DJ-ing as per usual at a a bar on NYE (which is terrifying me, btw) I will be spending midnight in my pajamas and may be asleep by the time 2022 rolls in. It seems appropriate.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

new year, new planner

Today I undertook one of my favorite and also least favorite projects of the year--transferring all my random slips of paper and no-longer sticky post-its into a new sketchbook/planner for 2022.  Good because it's bright white blank pages are sort of exciting, least because it just makes me remember all the things I never got a chance to get to.  I started the post-it system after years of lost to-do lists and actual planners and trying to understand bullet journaling and a million things that did not work to keep my mind organized.  The premise was simple..the front pages sort the days of the week, the coming weeks, the coming month, the coming year.  As things arise, I write them on the 1 inch post-its and stick them to the corresponding day.  Obviously stuff gets moved and transferred to coming weeks and I suppose gets done eventually if if ever does. 

I have spreads for dgp projects in the works, including columns--layout-cover designs--proofing--so that I can see at a glance what is happening with each book. I have a section for monthly goals, though as the year goes on, I usually lose track of filling these pages out, but occasionally they help me finish up things. The worst, though, is a section titled "PROJECTS' where every idea I have --for poems, for art projects, for shop lovelies--usually just sort of go to die, only to be moved to the next planner every late December. I also have pages for the library and things happening there. Admittedly, I didn't even change books between 2020 and 2021, since so much was just lingering from the previous year. There are ideas for art & design projects that I've been moving from book to book since 2013.  Also writing projects.  Occasionally, like unusual creatures, I finish them eventually, but more often not. I might seem productive on occasion, but not half as productive as I'd like.

As I make plans for this year and organize things and layout the planner, I am both terrified at what this year will look like and excited.  Will I get to all those things, finally?  Or at least some of them?  For sure, much of my days will be filled with freelance projects and shop business and editing projects, which I plan to amp up considerably, but even still I will have hours I don't currently have that get eaten up by working 40 hours/ week and commuting ( another 10 hours total).   Running a business is a lot of work and sometimes 24/7, but not doing with another full-time job (that's actually like 3 jobs) will be refreshing.  Not to mention bandwidth eaten up by that job, which was a lot in all sorts of ways.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

notes & things | 12/28/21

 We've now entered that strange, bottomless, formless week that comes between Christmas and New Years in which  I never quite know what to make of myself.  There is much to do, of course, battling with my intentions to do absolutely fucking nothing because its supposed to be a break.  In reality,  I fall about halfway on the scale between productive and not productive at all. While yesterday I arrived home and spent the evening unpacking holiday gifts and watching some bleakness in the form of Don't Look Up and Station Eleven (and then more bleak comedy in Death to 2021) it was weirdly only the first one that had me feeling panicky and not the one pulled from the pages of a pandemic novel. I read Station Eleven when it was  sort of new (I was on a YA novel kick and someone I worked with recommended it as a fave.) The fact that I ever used to read books for pleasure seems an impossibility, but luckily, I only remember bits and pieces, so it's kinda all new to me now. Today, I did some freelance work and packed up some book orders, as well as plotted out the plans on what I'd like to get under wraps before I plunge back into the fray.

Christmas was small and quiet with only immediate family and a raging shitstorm of a pandemic all around.  We had takeout Chinese and watched some movies before opening gifts. I came away with quite a haul, including art supplies, new bath towels, and assorted loveliness and edibles (the extra fun kind.)  And of course, I have a tendency to buy for myself way too generously, this year of which included a khaki wool coat (entirely different from my other camel coat, of course) and some new notebooks and sketchbooks to try to organize my life (which will hopefully soon be much less overwheming.)  

It snowed pretty heavily today, and it was nice to have nowhere to go and nowhere to be. It was also dark as hell in my apartment though. We've been lucky with a pretty light-ish winter that I would love to hold through January. Meanwhile, its the least mother nature can do while she insists on trying to kill us.  There are more covid cases in my social media feeds than ever and Illinois has soared up to Florida levels, despite mask mandates and impending vax requirements (that probably should have kicked in weeks ago.)  It's mostly because we are all vulnerable now apparently--as warnings of new variants predicted we would be. They lowered the number of days of quarantine and at the back of my head I know it's not because its safer, but because its necessary to keep the world humming, veering disastrously along. Flights in the air and people serving you at restaurants you really shouldn't be in. As other countries lock down strictly, it's a start contrast to the US and I know its more about bottom lines than safety.  We may die, but as long as we work, work, work, we'll keep going. 


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

all the creatures, stirring

 You can get an advance sneak peek at the remaining days of the advent project over on my youtube channel.  

You can still follow along for the daily unveiling at instagram through Christmas Day...

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

the ghosts of bookish obsessions past

In my effort to make some good changes in my bandwidth after the new year, I mentioned a couple times I've been doing some freelance copywriting/editing work to bridge the gap. One of which is writing & researching lesson plans and SEO optimized class content for an online learning site.  My domain, obviously,  is in the  humanities topics (I've written on lit, of course, some mythology, but also art and theater.) It's not only had me learning about some things I knew very little about before research (cycloramas, who knew?) but also revisiting some texts that I have't read in years like The Great Gatsby and Frankenstein.  I laughed when I realized there was a certain bent (barring Gatsby) to my selections (darker Kate Chopin Faulkner, Mary Shelley, The Scarlet Letter, Poe, Wuthering Heights.  There is also a whole bunch of Toni Morrrison in there I want to snag,)  

I get to choose the jobs I work on, so of course you'd find me orienting to the most horror-like offerings. It's also cool to go back and revisit some things I haven't read since undergrad or grad school.  As I was rooting around in all these darker things--revenge plots, science gone bad, southern gothicism, it of course got me thinking about how much many of these things, even though I haven't looked at them in years, probably formed the bed rock of my own aesthetic tastes. I mean, it was there before, in the form of horror movies and  my love of Stephen King and his ilk, but I was so ecstatic as a lit major to find things in my classes that scratched that same itch.  While there is a lot of literature that leaves me cold, these were the things I was most excited about in my classes..the things I devoured and wrote papers on and wanted to talk about constantly. I think about the end of my teens and the beginning of my twenties, a time when one might wander what one does as an adult with a lit major,  Not only that, but an MA in Lit where I spent two years in the thick of it. 

I was, of course, planning to teach, before I realized I don't have the required patience or people skills,  Also, mad social anxiety that would have left me a mess always having to be on. But the subject matter, I loved, and it's what made me a writer and is probably what makes me excited going back to all these bits of past fascinations.  It's strange, this life of books.  I still have not, with the exception of some poetry volumes, which I beasted for the Sealey challenge in August, and of course dgp manuscripts, really gotten my reading desires back in the pandemic. I've tried reading new fiction and I lose my way a few pages in, especially now as the doomscroll returns and I have a million things clicking in my head.  I've had better luck WRITING fiction lately than being able to immerse myself in the world of a novel.  It was easy to go back and page through Frankenstein or The Scarlet Letter because I know them well from before. (interestingly, though I had a class in my MA that was a whole lot of Hawthorne, I don't think I'd read Mary Shelley since high school, so my late 40's self probably got so much more than my 17 year old self. I also read The Scarlet Letter at 16 and was probably one of the only people in the class that loved it (it was doomed romance with very dark themes, what's not to love?)  

The reader I was, even then, informed the books I write myself now. You go from talking about and obsessing about books to writing them and I suppose that's the inevitable path.  As someone who hasn't gone the traditional teaching route, this feels new and a little exciting to me. I even like the editing back and forth process to hammer out the finish product, which I am usually on the other side of.  I love that this has afforded me time (and I'm actually getting paid a little) to think about the work that formed my young writer brain all those years ago with a new vantage point. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

notes & things | 12/19/2021

Yesterday was dark, as in dark all morning with rain and then just dark.  These days around the solstice are usually not just literally the darkest, but also heavy somehow in a way I never feel in other parts of the year. I slept very late, spent both days in my pajamas, working on various things through most of the weekend.  My past couple of weeks have been pretty busy, finishing up batches of chaps to get out before the holiday and  taking on more freelance copy work to get a feel for how well it will make going it alone should I decide to do it.  

Which is of course a lie because I have already mostly decided to do it, at least in my heart, if not having worked out all the logistics just yet.  I've been thinking about it probably since early  October, but only in the last few weeks has it become a safe enough and desirable endeavor to make happen. Once the decision was made, there was this rush of relief and happiness I don't think I've felt in years, and that feeling alone is perhaps my answer. There are times when I don't want to leave, but it's gotten to the point where I can't--for financial reasons, for burnout reasons--afford to stay. Not even figuring in potential increased shop offerings and income (which will happen when I'm not working 40+ hours a week elsewhere) the freelance work devotes half as many hours for twice the pay. And its actually kind of fun.  Or at least a sort of work-fun,  It gives me hope for days that can be half spent working on that stuff, half spent on the shop and the press. The ability to dial back and take on less if things get crazy. Not all day spent at the library and off hours, late nights weekends spent on other things, which is how it has always been since the beginning. 

I can't even imagine having time to put into action all the projects and ideas I want to do without having to always work around the giant hulking beast of a full-time job that grants stability, but drains your energy. I don't dare think it will be easy or without sacrifices (financially), but at this point, it hurts more not to try to make it happen. I keep telling myself this is what I've been preparing for all these years. Now I just need to take that step. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

notes & things | 12/12/21


 Today feels like a magical number of some sort, even if I am in the usual December dolldrums where everything mostly, at best is sad and anxiety-producing.   This year, like last year, a bit more than usual as cases rise and the general fuckery of people, even the ones who were careful in the past, increases with parties and gatherings and I have to check myself daily to ask if we are still, in fact, in a dangerous pandemic?  Or is it less dangerous?  Are we just tossing our hands and our cards up and taking chances? Despite the headlines, the nearing 800K death toll, numerous break through infections happening in my social media timelines and the content creators I watch, the world marches on as much as ever, though I am not sure I want to march with it.  

I have a gorgeous new green velvet dress, bought on a whim, but when my boyfriend asks if I want to attend the holiday party at the acting school he works at, I hesitate. I get invited to readings and outings and I say no.   I think, are you really sure you should be doing that?  Watch people attend concerts and plays and sporting events. Really? We've hosted in person things in the library, but I get cagey and away when it seems like too many people are there breathing on each other, even within the capacity limits on campus. I weather the bus, but get super anxious when it seems too full.  Is it me?  Am I crazy? Is this just me and my anxiety inhabiting the world that felt always dangerous for whatever reason pre-covid and now seems even moreso and at every turn. I think about June, when things seemed safe and even then I hesitated. I no longer feel like I might die, but I also just hate being sick, something which I always weathered and pushed through, but now seems more dire--even of its just manifesting as a cold. And there is still so much we don't know.  I personally was taken by surprise in March of 2020.  I won't be again. 

In other news, I've been greatly enjoying the bit of freelance work I've been dipping my toes in.  Last week, I got to write about installation art, this week, a short story I had not read previously by Kate Chopin.  Next up, fashion in the Great Gatsby. I don't know what next year will bring, but a little extra money around the holidays is a great help. I've been doing these other types of writing instead of poems in the morning, along with some more work on some short fiction, but I am getting itchy to get back to poems after the new year (or possibly during the brief holiday break. Tonight, I attended the release reading for Carla Sameth's WHAT IS LEFT, and her work and the guest readers left me incredibly inspired to get back to it.  This week brings much assembling the last round of releases and new layouts on the very last chaps of 2021. I will also be finalizing details on next year's selections, sending out agreements, and getting started on some other little bits I have planned. I am also in-deep on my advent project, which develops a little more each day. 

It gets dark so early, especially on weekends when I tend to sleep in and then have only a few hours before the night descends.  I light my small tree and the faux candles and try to do cozy things like make cookies and soup. Last night, a feast of stuffed pasta shells and garlic bread and holiday romance movies. I try to be festive while also still being anxious. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

the perfect life

A few weeks ago, I was filling out a job questionnaire for some freelance writing work and it asked you to describe your perfect life. A decade ago, I might have conceded that i was living it. A decade ago, I had just left etsy to focus more on growing the press (instead of the other things that sold better there..vintage, soap, jewelry--all fun to make and a necessary income stream paying rent on the studio, but not what I wanted eating up my time.) I also was getting back to writing after a couple years away in a way that felt good. While things were hopping in the shop and every holiday season more successful than the last, I realized I was getting further and further away from what I wanted dancing girl press to really be.  (chaps were a part of it, but also my own zines and projects and mostly papery things.) I was succeeding but maybe not where I wanted to. I still had that idle dream that I could one day swing all of it full time--if not the press & writing (poetry always being dismal in that sense.), at least the art bits--selling more originals and prints and paper goods. But at the same time, I was also happy in my day job and it was one of my sole ways of actually connecting with other people and working toward something good.  So I would keep building the press and keep working at the library and come what may...

It did not pay very well, but it was steady for the past  21 years.  I initially was willing to endure dismal pay since my friends were all there, I liked the campus community, and i had flexibility in working my desired shifts in the evening. My health insurance was covered, I could get free tuition and had access to any book at any time. The skills I grew as a writer and artist sometimes fed that job.  Sometimes that job fed them.  More good things happened, but then sometimes those wound up having downsides.  I took on a huge amount of programming work--exhibits, panels, workshops yes, but then steadily more and more was added to responsibilities (in addition to my regular workload.)  I readily did these things because I liked them,--always with a certain administrative carrot dangling that maybe eventually those things might comprise my job. Good work just became more work.  Job descriptions were drawn up and revised. Departments restructured.  My supervisors tried valiantly, but the college itself  threw up roadblocks.    There was the carrot of more money and a sexier title (esp as I moved about in conferences and professional publications.) I knew, at heart, it probably wasn't tenable.  There is a weird caste system in libraries between the degreed and the not degreed.  Perhaps I was overly optimistic--having decided way back in 2003 that instead of  going to library school, which didn't seem all that necessary beyond a couple letters, to use that impulse to get my MFA. Ie..if I was going to do another round of grad school, it should be in something I was passionate about.  This means that I am seen mostly as a clerk--not a terrible thing to be--but as I strived to do work that was a little more in depth..some people were very quick to try to put me back in my place. I never saw my career as being a librarian--maybe in libraries, yes, since I knew nothing else, but I goals have always been art-focused.  

But which also means I am paid like a clerk.  Badly, at that.  The big realization this fall was that in ten years, even my regular salary was a mere $100 more than it was a decade ago (while my rent for example is 25% more.)  This alone was alarming, but add in all that extra best-intentioned programming and the taking on of what not only used to be a whole position, but also it's own department with ILL for the past three years.  (a position that was almost filled, then pulled back after covid.)  Which means, now, about 50 percent of my work hours are doing that, with everything else jammed in around it.  The time would be do-able, but, as with most things, it's the band-width that kills me.  The amount of things, added with everything else. that I have to keep straight and keep running drains me more. 

And then there is the press and my own work, which is easily a full-time job in and of itself, especially when things are hopping.  Again, my own doing--taking on projects, making up my own, and of course the kind of rewarding work we want to be doing. But I am burned out, and scattered, and not living my best version.  I am also angry--randomly in fits and just  under the surface. I don't see things changing in the next year--anywhere--and it makes me want to find another way, another life, where I am not resentful and so tired all the time. There are things I want to be able to do--for the press, for my own work, that time and bandwidth prevents. I'm working on moving past the fear of uncertainty, of going it on my own. I don't know if I'm there yet, but there's been some progress. 

Becuase what I really need to do is fairly obvious.  For reals, even at it's most successful publishing and poetry will never turn enough of a profit to go it alone.  Maybe if every book was a best-seller success  and guaranteed to move at least a 100 copies.  (Maybe one book out of 50 gets there and sometimes it takes time.) Even without studio overhead, there are printing and material and shipping costs. Ditto on my own zines & books mostly. I am happy to break even there, with an option, someday of being able to pay authors. I do turn a profit on artwork and paper goods--esp. when I do craft shows and such (which haven't been as easy to do working full-time.) Some of the other doodads I like to sell in the shop--accessories, mugs, etc bring in some more income, and the more I put into it, the more it yeilds. But it's not guaranteed, especially if I don't hustle--but then maybe that's exactly what I need to do. Also, add in more paid design work and mss. consulting projects to make things interesting. 

As I've sort of idly scanned job listings, there are a lot out there--this being the great resignation--not just other academic gigs,  marketing and programming at cultural places or library-adjacent bodies that seem really exciting.  None of them require an MLS.  Maybe I would be qualified for them--maybe not--but then again maybe I'm not looking for a high-demand, possible 60 hour a week kind of job (which a lot of these seem like they might be just given their nature.). Would I be paid better?  Obv. yes.  Better respected. Oh yeeah. Would I be happier and better able to balance it with the rest of what I have going on?. Where my passions lie? Maybe not really. '

So then maybe the goal would be to not necessarily work MORE, but SMARTER.  I've been seeking out and taking on some freelance copywriting work. I am not taking on as much as I could just yet in the off hours, but it's paying me, per hour, about twice what I make at the library. That dream life?  Obv since I've cast my lot with poetry, it will never get me there entirely. But I can work to trim that work that I do to help foot the bills to something I am getting paid more to do--work less hours to free up time for all those other things I feel I should be doing--could be doing--if things were different.  But I never get there. So many people post-lockdown are reevaluating where and how they work and I am probably no different.  Maybe it's just this weird place called mid-life and this is my own crisis. I feel like I've spent years devaluing my own skills and abilities and perhaps its time for a change. 

Saturday, December 04, 2021

art, audience, and distance

This week has had a couple things dovetail very nicely into each other and it has me thinking about the purpose and approach of the things we make. On Tuesday, we had our panel discussion with Bad Art: Kitsch, Camp, & Craft artists, many of whom wander in installation pieces and non-traditional forms--ie the screeprinted underwear on the 2nd Floor, or the giant dog made out of recycled plastic bags.  It came up a couple of times the idea of being able to watch how audiences interract with such installations and when presented with such work.  I was, at the same time, working on my first freelance lesson writing project--for which I had chosen installation art as the subject. (out of many different options in the arts and humanities.) But I spent a few hours doing some research and looking up good examples, and writing about the ways we experience installations, particularly outside gallery/museum settings. A friend talks often how she likes to make the sort of work that is part social experiment--to see what lathers, to witness how the viewer responds.  

As writers, it seems a very different thing.  I get super awkward when people start talking about my work and how they respond to it.  There's a distance that the page allows between artist and audience.  When they creep too close, I just get weird. But we do still like to hear something make contact, just maybe from a distance.  A new dgp author told me this week that she had one of my older poems tacked to her wall and it made me so happy on a day that was feeling especially hopeless in terms of feeling like anyone actually reads what I, in poems, in books, on social media. But at readings, I usually tried to get away as quickly as I could after reading. When I used to do craft shows, people paging through my zines, my collages, my prints, similarly made me uncomfortable and I wanted to run away, even though I wanted them to look and buy of course.  I usually don't go to the openings of the shows I'm in. When we used to do Library general shows and I kind of had to, I was especially skittish and spent a lot of time hiding in the bathroom and escaping downstairs with my plate of snacks.   And we all want to feel like their is an audience and interest in our work. Even at the panel this week, though I had my black velvet pieces in the show, I was more comfortable just being moderator than talking much about my practice.  

I guess, moreso, I love building worlds, but how and when you encounter them is up to you. 

Thursday, December 02, 2021



At some point in grad school, I learned with delight that during Victorian times, Christmas & the solstice  was known almost as much for it's ghosts as it was for it's santas and reindeer.  For all it's jolly, it was always the darker side of the holiday that charmed me, whether it was a the horror of A Christmas Carol, or a penchant for sad and maudlin things.  The Grinch stealing Christmas, sobbing while Frosty melted in the greenhouse. When I was 5, apparently my favorite past time was making my mother play a song about a sad little neglected christmas tree over and over on vinyl while I cried in the middle of the room. Just to make it hurt good enough. As an adult of course, I still have a penchant for sadder Christmas songs--"Hard Candy Christmas" and "Baby, Please Come Home" are annual favorites. And let's not forget Robert Downey Jr.s cover of "River" from the Ally McBeal Christmas CD which is on perpetual rotation in my playlist.   

I am also a fan of holiday horror. Some faves include the original Black Christmas and a couple anthologies I streamed in previous years--All the Creatures Were Stirring and A Christmas Horror Story My favorite holiday movie of all time is One Magic Christmas which may be one of the saddest movies ever.  The best horror,  of course, comes from the ordinary.  Poverty. Loss. The father shot down in the bank robbery purely to teach his wife a lesson about Christmas.  I still remember the shock to my system at 9 y.o. when Phoebe Cate's character tells the story of her father dead in the chimney smack in the middle of Gremlins. 

Nothing, after all, could be more gothic than such early dark and creeping cold. The Nutcracker, when I actually saw a whole performance,  was dark  & creepy as hell. Winter solstice, moreso even than Halloween, seems like a time when the veil would seem to  be very thin,. It's why we light candles and reach for the lamp --there is so much time in darkness.  Not to mention the punishment and reward of something like Krampus legends. And Christmas seems a perfect time for ghosts, rising up out of the past in the form of memories and lost loved ones. Dickens knew what he was doing. 

So with all this in mind, I decided to create this year's #artadvent project as a haunted dollhouse of sorts, each collage a room or section of a creepy holiday house taking all it's inspiration from the darker sides of December.  I will be posting collages and reels daily over on my instagram,. so you can follow it there through the 25th..