Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FANGIRLING, fashion, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

CUT! Costumes & the Cinema

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(dress worn by Lara Flynn Boyle in the movie Land of the Blind)

Last month, Tyler & I went for our second visit to the Columbia Museum of Art in, you guessed it, Columbia! Man oh man, what a gorgeous place with so much to offer. Seriously – you’ve absolutely got to check it out.

The first time we visited was in November of last year, and I gotta give major props to them – for a pretty quick return trip, there were already a lot of new and exciting things to see and explore that had popped up in just that short amount of time.

Most new & notable: the CUT! Costumes & the Cinema exhibit, which was expansive and luscious and overwhelming and absolutely more beautiful than you could believe. The artistry that goes into costuming for theatre and cinema has long since been an interest of mine, and to get to see these exquisite works of art virtually in my own backyard was a true gift. Fortunately they did let us take photos, so I took some to share with all of you! If I get some of the movies or actors/actresses wrong, please correct me – I am only one fool who forgot to take notes.

Read on for more pictures!

Continue reading “CUT! Costumes & the Cinema”

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, relationships, writing

A Public Apology

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It was brought to my attention the other day that I have been somewhat of a hypocrite, as far as relationships go.

Rewind about five months ago. A classmate (and now friend) of mine was asked if she had any plans to start looking for an apprentice funeral director/embalmer position, and she answered no. She was going to finish school and then see what her boyfriend wanted to do, as far as his career and his location plans were. She looked right at me.

“Don’t judge me.” She said.

I scoffed.

“Too late,” I replied back.

Fast forward. With the same classmate/friend in tow at the Midwinter convention that we attended as a class last week, I found myself saying shades of the same. “I don’t have any plans to look for an apprenticeship right now. I want to really focus on school and then see where my boyfriend is at at that point, because one of us may move if a job opportunity comes up.”

Erika called me right out, and rightfully so.

Continue reading “A Public Apology”

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, LIVE MUSIC, PHOTOGRAPHY, POP CULTURE, travel

IF YOU AIN’T FIRST, YOU’RE LAST!

So, I went on a road trip last week to see Melanie Martinez in Memphis, and that was really exciting and wonderful and I love her dear little Cry Baby heart infinitely – but there is something else a liiiiittle more important to do in Memphis that I’ve been wanting to do since I was a zygote.

Like, DUH! You go to see the King! People – after years and years and years of begging for what seemed like a trillion times to a trillion people, the stars aligned and I finally got to go walking in Memphis and see G-R-A-C-E-L-A-N-D! BUT! More on all that later.

Now that I have gotten better about flying, I was totally willing to fly in and out of Memphis so that we would have a little bit more time to vacation. There was one small fly in the ointment of my travels, however – if I drove, I would get to go to Mississippi and Arkansas. Two previously unchartered terrains on my growing list of states that I’ve visited.

So drive we did.

Ugh.

Driving.

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(This is me doing really well at being in the car for what turned out to be a nearly 12 hour stretch)

Continue reading “IF YOU AIN’T FIRST, YOU’RE LAST!”

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, turning 30, writing

Every stumble & each misfire

Oddly enough, I have been surprisingly calm about turning 30 – maybe even a little excited, dare I say? In all honesty, my calmness has been entirely shocking to me. Typically by the time September rolls around, I start to get that metallic, anxious taste at the back of my throat because I start thinking about aging and lost opportunities and all of the societal terrors that are ever so kindly imposed on women. In the week before my birthday, I am at my worst – crying, panicking, and most of all, in an endless cycle of self-loathing and self-criticizing. I have never handled birthdays well, no matter what the age – any mention or reference to aging has always been enough to make me clench my buttcheeks hard enough to suck an entire chair up my ass, legs and all – but somehow, when it comes to this one, I feel cool. Seriously. I feel pretty cool. This tells me that I’m either growing up or about to have an absolute mental breakdown – is there even really a difference between the two?

Continue reading “Every stumble & each misfire”

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FANGIRLING, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, LIVE MUSIC, PHOTOGRAPHY, POP CULTURE

HAIM TIME

feel free to click on the photos for larger sizes/a better view!

Ciera & I saw HAIM last night at The Orange Peel in Asheville. It was SO GOOD. You know how you leave a show and you’re like, “hey, that was good.” and then you don’t think so much about it again – not this. THIS WAS SO GOOD. There was so much girl power in the room, I could barely catch my breath. Those gals are TALENTED, I’m serious – youtube some of their live performances or download some of their tunes (recommendations: “Send Me Down”, “My Song 5”, and “If I Could Change Your Mind”). I’ve been waiting to see them for YEARS, and we scored close parking and a decent spot at the show – I don’t really know how much more you could ask for. Well, a diet pepsi would have been great, but whatever.

(Side note: MAJOR PROPS to The Orange Peel for fighting NC’s stupid beyond belief bathroom laws for trans individuals – they posted signs on the bathrooms telling you to choose the bathroom you wanted to use, and if you wanted somewhere safer, there was a private bathroom available. SO many kudos to them for that.)

Highlights of the night: Alana’s bad ass drumming, Este’s Prince cover (one of my favorites – “I Would Die 4 U”), and Danielle’s voice is just literally siren song. Ugh. I loved it. I had so much fun. And no panic attacks! That’s a huge plus. I can’t remember the last time I was in a big crowd and didn’t have a panic attack.

My pictures aren’t great, but I’m sharing the few that turned out to be semi-decent. Annnnnd that’s pretty much it. I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with every Haim sister simultaneously, so if someone could get a message to them ASAP so we can work something out, that would be absolutely great.

 

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FUNERAL SERVICE, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, turning 30, writing

FORTUNATE

I’ll be thirty soon. In just a little over 3 months.

It feels hard to believe and also just right, you know? Like, wow. I can’t believe I’m not 11 and listening to Hanson and waiting for Taylor Hanson to eventually deflower me. And also like wow, I can’t believe I’m 29 and listening to Hanson and still wish it had been Taylor Hanson who deflowered me. Somewhere in between all that.

I’ve become quite introspective as my twenties have gradually started to draw to a close, which I feel is probably very normal – sometimes I look back at the last decade and ask myself “what the hell did you waste all that marvelous, youth-laden time for? You should have done so much more!” And other times, I look back and I laugh and cry and thank God Almighty that I have seen and done so many of the things that I have, because life moves so quickly that sometimes I forgot how great it has been – and truly, life has been kind of wild.

Though I’m reaching this milestone birthday that (to me, at least) is supposed to really signify the crossover into full blown adulthood, this place where I should be totally together and everything everyone expects of me – there are times where I feel less sure of who I am than ever before. Truth be told, I never really know what to think of myself.  Do any of us? Perhaps this is the last great hang up of my twenties – perhaps it will take much, much longer to figure out. I recognize that I get caught up a lot in living a social media life. I want my life to look pretty and I want you all to think that I’m interesting and fun and worthy of love, and I want to be someone that you want to know. I am very lonely a lot of the time, many times when surrounded by people I love – but I don’t want you all to think of me as lonely. I want to talk to you about my mental health problems, but I worry that I’ll do or say something and you’ll think I’m just “crazy”. And most of all, I worry that you think something must be wrong with me because I am single. That’s the greatest worry of all. Sometimes I want to show up on the internet performing tricks, juggling fire, belting arias, anything just to distract you from the fact that I’m single – because it makes me feel different. And feeling different makes me feel bad.

So I worry. And that’s silly, isn’t it? To worry about what people MIGHT be thinking of you. But boy, I am the queen of it.

There are many days where I struggle with who I am and with my life’s path, because let’s face it – three months won’t make me a together kind of girl. I won’t magic myself into adulthood just because the calendar says so. And I feel like a lot of times, I don’t have many people to turn to for guidance – I just don’t know any other morbidly obese, lipstick fiending, bipolar morticians who burst into tears at even the thought of Elton John… I’m kind of my own species, it feels like. I envy those who are excitedly getting married and having children right now, because that is so very, very adult. No one could ever question those people because they are doing typical adult things, and that makes them official adults, right? It is ridiculous to feel this way, because I’m literally envious of people who are getting things that I don’t want – but what I do want is to feel normal, and there are a lot more save the dates and baby bumps out there than there are morbidly obese, lipstick fiending, bipolar morticians. I’m not kidding when I say that sometimes it is my biggest shame that I am not another wife in a Lilly Pulitzer dress getting excited over flatware – I wish I had that in me, but it’s like a synapse that is misfiring – I can’t will myself to be her. I constantly try to cover up my life like a cat turd, because somehow I’ve convinced myself I should be ashamed of it. I still catch myself willing life to fast forward to the “good part” where I magically become some normal person who isn’t always so very, very, THIS.

But on good days, on days where I haven’t sunk too low into my worries, I try to grab ahold of myself, shake myself by the shoulders and remind myself that what I constantly  fail to acknowledge is that this IS the good part. It’s MY good part. And it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s good part.

Like I said, on a good day, when there are no triggers or setbacks or tensions, I love my life with such ferocity that my heart could burst. I feel gifted, truly, with the one thing that shames me the most: being single. If the perfect man or woman comes along for me, that’s bitchin, and I’ll be stoked – but that relationship could never be more valuable than the one that I’ve been building with myself as I am forcibly dragged into adulthood. There’s a reason I’m single,  and I’m not ashamed of it (at least not today – it’s a good day) – I’VE GOT MORE TO LEARN FIRST. I’ve got further to journey before someone else can come along, because I am, for some reason, lucky enough to be given both the gift of self knowledge, and the time required to truly learn who you are. I know that by society’s standards, I’m supposed to be a wife and a mom by now, and growing up, I never really thought either way about what would happen to me when I got older, but I assumed it would look like everyone else’s life – and the moment I realized that it didn’t and that it wouldn’t, well, I have been scrambling to camouflage my oddities ever since.

But really – when you divorce yourself from what you think your life should look like and focus on what actually makes you happy and who you want to be (and not who you want people to think you are), there is this freedom that you would have never ever been able to dream of. My grasp of this concept ebbs and flows, depending on the day. There is sadness, too, when you align yourself with this line of thinking, because with that acceptance also comes a certain type of goodbye to a person you’ll never be – goodbye, Ashley in a Lilly Pulitzer dress, picking out shades of paint for the guest bedroom – but the pain feels worth it, somehow. Like that girl had to die so I could truly live. I mean, that’s sort of harsh, but you feel me. I’ll never know (well, I guess I will, I’ll ask Jesus about it after I die, right after I ask him who really killed Jon Benet Ramsey) why I’m meant to be eternally marching to the beat of my own drum, but who knows – maybe I’ll magically figure it out when I turn 30. For now, I’ll just keep wondering and marching. Well, maybe I’ll march more towards October – it’s getting hot outside here and I’d like to avoid boob sweat.

What I wish I could stop being ashamed of is simply just being who I am and feeling the need to explain away all of the things that I see as flaws – how the hell did I get to be this way?! Why am I the rudest person my self has ever encountered? And what I need to constantly remember is to STOP COMPARING MY LIFE TO OTHER PEOPLE!! We can all be happy and different and it doesn’t make me less to be just one person and not part of a pair. If the greatest relationship I ever have is with myself, then that’s awesome. If I find someone else who is a match for me, that’s awesome, too. But this mentality of thinking that I’m not enough or not on the same level as my peers because I don’t have a baby or a husband/wife – I hope that toxic thinking is the first damn thing to go when I turn 30. Because I’m more than enough. Hell, I’m too much – and not even in a braggy way. Just literally. I’m exhausting.

Above all things, I just want to  be grateful for this season of MY life – all seasons, really. Things seem so difficult and meaningless and frustrating all of the time, and I complain the days away and bitch about what is and what isn’t – but if I had to be honest and sum my life up with one word (other than “lipstick”), the first thing that comes to mind is “fortunate”, and that kind of blows me away, you know? I was so surprised, when it appeared, quite taken aback – but then  I nodded to myself. Yeah. Fortunate. Sounds about right.  

 

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, disney, FANGIRLING, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY, POP CULTURE, writing

DISNEY DAY 2 (pt 2) – MARCH 2016

So, like I said in my last post, this one is going to be dedicated to the Festival of Fantasy parade … because it’s the FESTIVAL OF FANTASSSSSSSYYYYYY! Tom and I routinely sing the soundtrack to this parade throughout the funeral home on any given day, it is very magical.

This was my third time seeing FoF – it accidentally happened to me for the first time when I was sitting outside languidly eating a cheeseburger slathered in nacho cheese (don’t you dare judge me) at Pecos Bill’s in November of 2014, which is the short story of how I got to see Flynn Rider for the first time with a cheeseburger clamped in my fist, staring up at him in dumbstruck awe. The second time was in March of 2015 (sadly, no cheeseburger was present) – we stood off to the side of the castle and watched the parade come around. This last time, we happened to be at the train station and ran off the train to watch when we realized it was time. They had the majority of the train station roped off for people who aren’t poor like us, so we had to stand all cramped to the side like sad little peons, so these aren’t the best pictures, but hey, whatever. Enjoy!

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So this was our vantage point, what a nasty, ugly view, right?

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I am about 80% certain that the Prince Charming in this situation here was formerly the Peter Pan that was so mean to me that I had a weeping breakdown that could only be cured with a Dole Whip.

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I looOooooOove the dress on this float, bless it.

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FROZEN BABIES

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QUEEN OF ALL THINGS.

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This picture of Rapunzel is SOoOoO bad, but it was the only one that I snapped so IM SORRY.

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This should make up for it tho

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Legendary mer-goddess, queen of my heart and forever my ultimate icon

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I LOVE the detail in the Peter Pan float.

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These bratty sweeties

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Speaking of bratty sweeties! ❤

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MerMer!

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This is another favorite float – DISNEY GOES STEAMPUNK!

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That weird child

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My favorite part of the whole parade ❤

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I NEED ONE OF THESE COSTUMES NOW

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❤ ❤

 

Okay, I think next up will be Animal Kingdom, so stay tuned! I’m really trying to get these posted before I go back next week :X Fortunately Universal Studios broke my camera (full story later) and it’ll be hotter than a witch’s tit, so I doubt I’ll be taking many photos anyway. BUT STILL. Trying to be efficient!

Posted in FANGIRLING, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, LIVE MUSIC, POP CULTURE

SO PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE YOU WANT TO

On Saturday night, Tom & I met up with Stephanie in Athens to see Third Eye Blind. It was amazing, but it always is, when Third Eye Blind is concerned. Their music is honestly poetry to a melody, I can’t think of many other artists or groups that I find so lyrically impressive and impactful.

The older I get, the more special it is for me to see and experience the music that I have grown up with live. It’s just such a surreal thing – almost like you get to see a glimpse of your younger self, who you used to be, for just the tiniest of split seconds. At the show on Saturday, I was both 16 years old remembering how I used to bellow along to “Wounded” and bellyache about Taylor Hanson getting married, and 29 years old, present day, now having grown up to know what “Wounded” really means.

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“The only people who will ever know what this is like is us, man.”

Anyway, it was a great night. I could hardly see the band for the majority of the show because of the screaming drunk women taking snapchat photos, but that’s okay. I got to hear it all, and that is what matters. Also, there is a video of Stephan singing “Dopamine”, my favorite song, into my camera, and if I was smarter and knew how to upload videos from my camera, I would show that to you. Alas, earwax.

In close, as a special bonus, here are some glamour shots of Stephanie & I, because we looked like damn 90s supermodels, and basically these are my favorite pictures of us ever.

Posted in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, writing

BLUE MY MIND

Since the moment you started coming around, I kept a bottle of nail polish (OPI’s “Blue My Mind”) on the top right corner of my shower, for emergencies. The idea of you catching me with chipped fingernail polish could be likened to the horror that I would feel upon facing a firing squad, and it just wouldn’t do. So many nights I have jumped in for a quick shower before you came over & grabbed that bottle to touch up an imperfection while the steam clung to my body in the heat of the bathroom. It was exciting. It was thrilling. The act and art of readying myself for you was a ritual and routine that l always loved performing.

The polish remained long after you stopped coming around, but it was familiar to me, I didn’t want to take it down. I remembered the thrill, the excitement, it was a token of a time in my life that felt like being shot into space without warning – the thrill and the fear were delicious and always present. I looked at that bottle every day and thought of you and felt sad because I kind of missed the fear and the thrill. And that became routine, missing you quietly in the shower every day of my life.

I guess if I’m honest, I used to think that if I did take the polish down, if I did anything with it at all, it would mean something, would suggest something – would maybe even jinx something. I never know from morning to night what state of grace you and I are hanging in, if I’ll get a call tomorrow and be summoned to your side or if we won’t talk for six months – and though it was unhealthy to linger in that space with a fragile heart and a cluttered mind, I clung on to the hope that you would come around and I used this bottle of nail polish like a little life raft –  a bat signal, or a beacon or sorts – some little symbol that meant we existed, once, and that maybe you would find your way back if I left the light on (or the polish in the shower).

I have spent so much time in my life trying to fix what was meant to stay broken. For so long, I looked at my inability to reconstruct the ruined as a character flaw: it was wasted time, a failure on my part, I missed a bigger picture because I wasn’t smart enough to see it when it was right in front of my face. And I punish myself so hard for what I can’t control or change. You have been one of my greatest worries, right from the start. The way I felt around you at all times was like a human Jenga tower that was one block away from falling to pieces – and by God, was I determined to stay standing for as long as I possibly could, no matter the strain and effort. Because to care about someone so much, to feel that gross way your actual heart constricts when you watch them sleep and know that you love them so damn madly – to hurt for them and to go through hell with and for them – and then to shake hands and walk away from one another … it doesn’t feel real. It feels inhumane. You once knew all of my secrets and now we don’t even speak regularly. How can I let go of something so massive in my life? Doesn’t it HAVE to be something bigger than this?

It came to me the other day, as I was staring up at that little blue bottle –  maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe all we had is really just that. Had. Past tense. The realization was like finally exhaling when I didn’t even realize that I had been holding my breath. Somewhere between the shampoo and the conditioner, I realized that you might be my past, but that I also deserve to have a future that doesn’t necessarily involve you … and that’s okay.  It can all be just exactly as big as it was. We don’t have to talk about it or fight about it or try to reconcile it or make any big promises about doing better this time – we don’t have to do anything at all except just go on.

Just go on.

Somewhere, in another lifetime, perhaps, you and I are together, but we are different there. Maybe better, depending on how you look at it. Maybe I’m not afraid and maybe you aren’t selfish. Maybe I’m better at all of this, and maybe you are, too. Maybe we live together, or are married, or are just best friends. Whatever we are, wherever we are, it is fun and we laugh a lot. There is always blue nail polish in the top corner of the shower. That I know for certain. And this place is where we will stay, you & I. Never a waste of time, never a failure – just another lifetime.

I took the nail polish down today.

I may put it back up tomorrow. I don’t know. I don’t know. One day at a time.

You blue my mind once, it’s true – but maybe one day I’ll be ready to let someone else have a shot at it.

 

(also, please never read this, because I would actually die)