Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Costume for Halloween 2015

I have never had a year (as far as I can remember) when I haven't dressed up for Halloween. When I was a kid, my mom would help me put together costumes. We'd look through her closet, do some crafting, or even stop off at the Halloween store to put my costumes together. Perhaps I can find some of my childhood Halloween photos to post one day. This year, I came pretty damn close to not dressing up for Halloween. My Ryan and I took a train ride in the Blue Ridge for Halloween and then walked around town and stopped for some muscadine wine. We didn't get back until somewhat late, but neither of us had actually gotten a costume together because of our schedules. Regardless, I didn't want to make this the first year I didn't dress up, so I pulled something together before a Halloween get-together. The result: Carnival Fortune Teller complete with third eye.


 Above, notice the "orbs" and face-like reflection on the mini fridge in the background. It really completes the look.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Halloween 2015 Costume Inspiration

I've been low on ideas this year, but I recently browsed the Google to see if I could find any inspiration, and I did! I think that this year, I am going to plan on doing a vintage Halloween costume. Here's some examples of the photos that inspire me:

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I'm not exactly sure yet about the details, but I do think I'd like to do a vintage-style animal mask costume. Let's see if I stick to that...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Halloween Tag!

It's certainly been a while since I've posted anything worth reading on here, hasn't it? Even though it is midterm time at my university, I will do this tag. The assignment for this tag is to answer the 13 questions and tag 5 more bloggers. I'm declining to tag anyone specifically, but if you want to do the tag, feel free! Here we go!

Questions:
1. Favorite Halloween song?
2. Witch or Vampire?
3. Favorite thing about Halloween?
4. Halloween party or scary movie marathon?
5. Skeletons or Zombies?
6. Favorite Halloween candy?
7. Favorite Halloween movie?
8. Favorite Halloween costume?
9. Favorite Halloween store?
10. Jack-o-lanterns, yes or no?
11. Bats or Black Cats?
12. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?
13. Pumpkin spice latte or hot chocolate?

1. Favorite Halloween Song?

I listen to a variety of music, but around Halloween, I listen to more Goth Rock than normal. Fields of the Nephilim has been playing on my stereo and in my head recently. 
There's also this song I just found which is really neat:


2. Witch or Vampire?

Vampire. Ever since I was little, vampire myths have captivated my interests. I loved watching Buffy, and when I got a little older, I read Dracula, which then led to reading some of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novels. I love that vampires are often misunderstood souls who are trapped, unchanged, in a rapidly changing and monstrous world. They are in the world but of another, disconnected from humanity.

3. Favorite thing about Halloween?

It would be difficult to pick a favorite thing. I love the ambiance--the falling leaves, wind, clouds, cooler weather. It's a very ethereal time in North Georgia. The obvious, of course, is the costuming. I love the creative process of building a character piece by piece and becoming that character for a night. 

4. Halloween party or scary movie marathon?

Scary movie marathon. It's nice to dress up, hand out candy, and then wind down with a drink, snacks, and a few scary movies. Although, I think my companion and I will be taking a train ride through the Blue Ridge mountains this year. 

5. Skeletons or Zombies?

Definitely skeletons! Perhaps it's because of my love of history and interest in archeology. I could also attribute it to my own creative process as a writer. When I look at a skeleton, a real skeleton, I think about the life that was once attached to that skeleton. I also have a love of Day of the Dead imagery. I feel like being a Spanish-speaker and a Catholic intensifies my connection to this time of the year. Halloween for me does not end on October 31st. Aside from being everyday according to Ministry, it also takes place during All Saints and All Souls days. 


6. Favorite Halloween Candy?

I have fond memories of dumping my pillowcase full of candy out onto the floor and scouring the pile for Reese's Cups. I still love the chocolate and peanut butter combination.

7. Favorite Halloween Movie?

Hocus Pocus. It's not Halloween without Hocus Pocus.

8. Favorite Halloween Costume?

Probably my Jareth costume, but my Day of the Dead costume is a close second.


9. Favorite Halloween store?

Goodwill and Jo-Ann Fabrics are the only things I need to work my magic. Occasionally though, I'll pop my head into one of those pop-up Halloween stores if I'm low on ideas. 

10. Jack-o-lanterns, yes or no?

Yes, definitely yes. They're frustrating to carve, but I love digging my hands into the pumpkin's gooey insides and roasting the seeds.


11. Bats or Black cats?

Black cats. I am a cat person through and through. My mother has a black cat named Zorro, and he is a big, affectionate goof-ball.  

12. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?

It had been my favorite holiday for a long time. It's still one of my favorites, but it's tied with Holy Week. It's a dream of mine to see Holy Week in Seville, Spain (and Cusco, Peru).

13. Pumpkin spice latte or hot chocolate? 

I'd say Mexican hot chocolate. There's a whole different process to making it, and it's rich and spiced!

Friday, August 21, 2015

I'm Engaged!

My lovely astronomer, Ryan, flew over to Peru to visit me. Despite us both being sick, we had many adventures traveling to Cusco, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, and finally Lima.

Ryan proposed to me in Machu Picchu Pueblo, also known as Aguas Calientes. It is the little tourist town at the bottom of the Machu Picchu archaeological site. There is a beautiful little church there that I had entered the time before when I visited the town. It was quiet and had beautiful religious art. I loved it for the life-sized crucifix of the "black Christ" in the style of Spanish Realism. The statue had real hair and a painful expression.


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I wanted to show Ryan this church, which had no name posted, and we walked up the aisle and knelt down to pray. We both prayed and reflected until he leaned over to me and asked to be my life companion. It was a beautiful moment that I will cherish my entire life.

Now, we're both back in the US. It feels strange to be home and about to start school. All of my adventures have ceased, and I feel as if I've awaken from a dream. When I look down at the ring on my finger, I know that it was all real, and I think fondly of what the future could bring.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

After a Month of Minimalism...

I have been living in Cusco, Peru for over a month now. When I packed my bag, since I only had so much space and wanted room for souvenirs, I made sure that all the clothing I packed was practical and matched with everything else I had. For this reason, I brought hiking boots, running shoes, and flats, a few t-shirts and plain sweaters, jeans, and a couple of skirts. Oh, and I brought one necklace and only a few earrings. It's been a month of me wearing plain clothing, recycling the same outfits over and over. Because the air is so cold and dry here, it's harder to wear a lot of make-up. I also haven't used a hair dryer or styling products in a long time.

This is how I look most days. Not bad! I just miss alternative clothing.
On the Machu Picchu excursion- taken from Wayna Picchu.

I love Cusco! It's a city with so much personality, history, and culture, and there's quite a lot to do here. However, after doing a month of the minimalist look (2 and a half months by the time it's over), I really miss being creative.

Things that I miss and will be sure to wear the shit out of when I get back:

  • Doc Marten combat boots
  • Creepers
  • Black skinny jeans
  • fancy leggings (cheetah, galaxy, velvet)
  • Fishnet tights
  • Flowy things
  • Any jewelry
  • Black eye shadow
  • Wearing lipstick at all
I'm also thinking about doing my hair a little differently when I get back. I've really been wanting to put some emerald in it for a long time, so I think I'll finally do it! I might even get a tattoo I've been wanting...?

And I'll promptly buy these on arrival:

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By the way, if you're curious about my Peru adventures, my other blog is http://www.compartimoselmismosol.blogspot.com/.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I'm Still Alive!

Although I do have a new blog, El mismo sol, I haven't forgotten this one. As an update, I have made it to  Peru. I definitely felt the altitude the first and second days: headache, stomach ache, slight nausea, runny nose, etc., but I'm starting to feel better. I've been really enjoying it so far, and I even got to  hold a baby llama yesterday!


Friday, April 24, 2015

New Blog!

I have created a new blog, El mismo sol, so I hope you all get the chance to follow! I have created this blog to document my Summer adventures in Peru. I will try to post videos, updates, and information. If you're curious, the URL is www.compartimoselmismosol.blogspot.com.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Study Abroad Update

Hey, everyone! I just got news this weekend after doing my phone interview that I was accepted into my Study abroad and service-learning program in Cusco, Peru this coming Summer. I will be gone for over two months! I will most likely do some study abroad updates if anything interesting happens between now and then, but I do plan on making a separate blog to post about my adventures.

For now, I'm still figuring out my budget and waiting on scholarship decisions to come in. The cost of the program is expensive, so I made a go fund me at this URL: http://www.gofundme.com/k11txc
If you can donate and/or share this link, it would be much appreciated!

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Here's what I plan on doing while I'm in Peru:

  • Visiting Ollantaytambo, a beautiful city with palace ruins from the old Incan stronghold during Spanish conquest. It's also one of the first stops on the Inca Trail
  • I would really like to do the full Inca Trail Hike, which lasts four days, but I will definitely be doing a partial hike.
  • I know I will be going to Machu Picchu at least once and maybe even a second time after the program officially ends. 
  • Trips to Puno, the Sacred Valley, and Puerto Maldonado are on the itinerary.
  • I'd love to go to other places like Nazca or Cajamarca, but It's more likely that I'll visit Lima on the way back home. Hopefully, I can take the scenic train from Huancayo to Lima. 
  • There's so much food and drink to try! Chicha, chicha morada, Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian), Papas rellenas, Papas a la Huancaína, tallarines verdes (special Peru pesto), and I will probably try guinea pig at some point...
I'm still planning where I can go and what I can do, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Rise of Victorian Spiritualism and a Crisis of Evidence

*Taken from a paper of mine in 2014

          The Victorian Era, which took place during the mid-nineteenth century until the twentieth century, is a period characterized by societal change. The Industrial Revolution and clearer class divisions had taken hold, and there was an “increased ordering of leisure pursuits” especially amongst the middle and upper classes who had extra time and money (Lamont 903). Innovations in entertainment abounded, as seen through the burgeoning of cinematography, and Victorians were especially taken with “spectacles,” or shows that shocked or mesmerized audiences. In addition to new advancements in entertainment, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution forced many to re-evaluate their orthodox religious beliefs, creating a mass crisis of faith. Caught in the middle of the revolution in entertainment and this popular crisis of belief was a uniquely Victorian situation: the emerging Spiritualist movement which challenged both conventional religious and scientific beliefs through the meaning of “evidence.” These widespread crises in both belief and evidence allowed for the movement’s strong endurance.
          The Spiritualist movement officially started in New York in 1848 with two girls, the Fox sisters, who were famous for their mediumship that manifested itself through alleged “spirit-rapping,” or taps that communicated messages (Gregory). Shortly after, similar “phenomena” were popularized in Great Britain. In addition to spirit-rapping, Victorians enjoyed table tipping, spirit boards, and séances as past-times. As Victorians became more involved, convinced by the activity during séances, this form of entertainment became a full-fledged spiritualist movement, which “was an attempt by the late Victorians to communicate with the spirits of the dead, hoping to prove continued existence after physical death and to gather some information on first hand experiences of it” (Gregory). “Countless respectable professionals,” including aristocrats, renowned journalists, and even scientists, unable to disprove the phenomena, joined the movement (Lamont 898). The use of expert testimony as evidence shows that “scientific knowledge and authority could be negotiated in the mid-Victorian Period” (909). There were enough seemingly-legitimate mediums to cause the non-believing scientific community to start to question the previously undoubted reliability of observation, hence a crisis of evidence. This is where Spiritualism emerges as a middle ground between Sentimentalism and Materialist philosophy as an approach to seeking evidence.
            Sentimentalism is based on subjectivity and personal experience as evidence, which is characteristic of the spiritualist movement. Meanwhile, Materialism champions “the nature of the world as entirely dependent on matter,” which may at first seem in opposition to a movement based entirely on the paranormal (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). However, Materialism’s common ground with Spiritualism is that they both sought more solid evidence for beliefs and are both reactions to orthodox religion, mainly Christianity. There existed a dichotomy between faith and physical evidence during the period, and Spiritualism permeated both (Gregory). Spiritualists agreed that their séance phenomena and expert testimonies thereof formed more of a basis for belief than claims to religious “miracles” seen in the Bible. Physical occurrences were material enough for believers, many of whom eventually blended the paranormal with the Scientific Method in order to investigate ghostly experiences in the hopes of finding proof. In the Victorian era, there were disagreements on what counted as “evidence.” Expert testimony and the fact that scientists and séance participants were not always able to disprove their experiences allowed testimony and lack of critical evidence to be common standards for proof.
          Many modern people, including academics, are quick to dismiss the Spiritualist movement as either disingenuous or foolish, but this view, aside from being insulting, does not attest to such widespread embrace and endurance of Victorian Spiritualism, especially among the educated classes. What passed for evidence in the Victorian era still widely passes today. The scientific value of observation (especially by that of an expert) is still a vital part of the Scientific Method and had never previously been questioned as much as when renowned scientists started to hold Spiritualist sympathies. Eyewitness testimony that was cited as a basis for Spiritualist beliefs, while faulty, still holds true in a court of law as damning evidence, enough for capital punishment. Additionally, the popularity of Spiritualism continues to be seen through horror movies, psychic-mediums on television, and the modern popularity of paranormal investigation. Both our modern meaning of what counts for proof and the current popularity of the supernatural makes one wonder if Victorian Spiritualism ever really died.
           

Works Cited
Gregory, Candace. “A Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Victorian Reactions to the Spiritualist Phenomena.” Loyno.edu. Loyola University New Orleans, n.d. Web. 9 July, 2014.
Lamont, Peter. “Spiritualism and a Mid-Victorian Crisis of Evidence.” The Historical Journal. 47.4 (2004): 897-920. Print.

“Materialism.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2013. Web. 9 July, 2014. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's Brewing for me in 2015

I see it's been over a month since I've last posted, which is actually less time than I thought. It's probably no surprise that I've been busier than ever. In fact, I've been in a perpetual state of busyness for as long as I can recall. I thought it'd be considerate to give an update because a lot of things are happening this year.

The most exciting are my plans for Summer. For two months, from May through July, I will be visiting Cusco, Peru! This will be my first time abroad and the longest amount of time away from home. I will be studying and doing some service work (probably a teacher's assistant at a primary school). I'm going to take a Spanish literature class and a Quechua class. Both will be taught in Spanish. I'll be staying with a host family too! Hopefully, this will be the push I need to finally gain fluency in Spanish. Fluency is a really ambiguous concept anyway. I've been taking Spanish on and off for about seven years, and only recently, I can consider myself a high-intermediate learner. 

I'm really looking forward to exploring the Andes and walking among the beautiful mix of Spanish and Inca architecture, trying the traditional foods, petting the llamas, seeing Machu Picchu, and even visiting the Amazon. I have my language interview this Friday so they can place me. After that, they can officially accept me into the program. 

As far as concerts go, my boyfriend took me to see Saint-Saen's "organ symphony," and we're going next month to see The Church.


Speaking of The Church, Easter is approaching, and I am going to be received into the one holy and apostolic catholic church with a capital 'C'. You read correctly! I'm becoming Catholic. It's a lengthy and interesting story, and I may post about it sometime soon.

On a side note, did you know the Catholic church is the most Gothic religion ever? It invented "Gothic," actually. We have all kinds of Gothic things like the architecture (of course), exorcisms, drinking blood every Sunday, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and these other reasons listed at this webpage that I found, "Top Ten Reasons why Catholicism is so Goth."

That's really it for me right now! It's going to be an interesting year filled with life-changes. I hope everyone is thriving and continues to do so throughout the year.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

My First Attempt at Iconography

I have a fascination and love for iconography, particularly iconography from Eastern Christianity. What draws me to Orthodox iconography, besides the unique style and mesmerizing imagery, is the complete dedication it takes to create one. There are many elements that an artist does to create an authentic, holy icon. For example, it has to be a true representation of anything "holy" by traditional Christian standards. The work and care that goes in to creating such an image is awe-inspiring. The artist must fast for forty days  and live in an ascetic manner, allowing the artist to be in a prayerful state. During the process and after the icon is finished, there are special prayers to be read, and the icon should be blessed. With all this in mind, I decided to try painting a Theotokos icon for my love's family. Even though I knew that any icon of mine would not be authentic, I tried my best to make due with the time and materials that I could afford such a painting.

As far as materials go, wood panels are traditional. They are primed with gesso, and egg tempera is used. Egg tempera requires an egg (yolk only), pigment, and a little water. I used this wooden plaque that I had sitting around my house, and I primed it with a hi-gloss spray. After it dried completely, I sanded down the bumps and sprayed it over again. I then waited until I could paint on the image with acrylic paint and liquid gold leaf (Jesus' robes used tempera, the only orange I had). After I got the base, I worked on shading, then highlights, and then leaf. I decided to keep the wood grain background because it was so beautiful, and looked golden in the light. I maintained a prayerful state through most of the process, and I figured that since I am a vegetarian anyway, that counted as fasting. When I was done, I breathed on the painting in reference to Pentecost, and I asked God to bless the icon.




I am so glad that I finished it in time. I carried it on the plane with me in a paper bag because the coat of gloss that I finished it with was still drying. This was a meditative process for me, more so than with other art I have done, so I don't plan on this being the last icon I create.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Hair for the New Year

After some dedication to growing out my last haircut, I resolved that it was again time to just "cut it all off" when it started to grow into an unruly mullet. I decided to go with a simple and classic pixie. I really liked the one that Anne Hathaway had after filming Les Miserables, so I printed it and took it to the stylist.

The results: