women in a garden

what if medusa was a real woman. i mean: what if the woman with snakes in her hair was once a tiny girl with beautiful braids in her black hair.

what if the stories came from her smooth hands. when she was six she could make pottery that looked like flowers blooming in your palms. could carefully create replicas of any plant she saw.

and medusa was smart. ran from home, tucked up her hair so it looked short, made herself into a little boy. besides, they liked pretty boys. medusa at school with top grades, sending her unknowable stares at the other men. because the whole time she’s learning the planes of their faces, the way they look while they’re thinking, the slight twist of their hand that meant they were lying. 

medusa going home to sketch every little figure. comes to school in the morning with her hands caked in pottery clay. medusa learns. scrubs dirt on her face to mimic their planes. tilts her head the right way when she’s thinking. doesn’t twist her hand when she’s lying.

in her back yard, a little garden grows. statues of ceramic boys only three feet tall. at first, she can’t quite get the faces right. men are not the same as plants. there is something weird about the proportions she uses. medusa frowns.

she starts making animals instead for a bit, annoyed and disheartened. she’d always just been naturally good at it, and the fact she couldn’t just make something felt as if she’d lost her gift.

she makes cats and dogs and her neighbor’s birds and keeps going.

the snake wasn’t her favorite. he just wouldn’t leave her alone, so she gave up and let him sleep on her in the cold nights. besides, he was a small garden snake, couldn’t even bite her hard, just wanted a place of warmth. she let him rest on the angles of her shoulders, right near her neck, even if he sometimes forgot and held her too hard. that was okay. when she was little, she forgot too, sometimes, and shattered the slim walls of her pottery. the snake had a lot of growing up to do.

she loved no one. not because she was cold-hearted. just because it wasn’t something she wanted. she was busy with her artwork.

she chose an apprenticeship under a master craftsman. his sculptures made her breath stop. she was careful in the workshop, kept her things simple, kept her mouth shut. he called her stupid often. she would duck her head. sometimes she would make mistakes on purpose. all the while he only made sculptures of men. said there was no beauty in women. often made savage remarks about those they saw in the market.

and all the while, she watched him. she watched him and she went home and sketched. this is how his hands were when he made a vine. this is how they were when shaping a nose.

and her back yard garden would grow. little boys became her master, over and over and over, until she could get his jaw right. ceramic became sculpture.

he was who took her to athena’s temple. who shouted at her about how beautiful the statues were against her own. every week he’d come back and shame her. asked how the women there were smarter than the man she was supposed to be. medusa ducked her head and grit her teeth.

in her back yard, she made them. she made every god and goddess she’d seen in the city. her favorite was athena. she ached over her features. had spent so long in the world of men, was blinded by the beauty of women.

it was a black night. and medusa thought her master had left the temple before her. she loosened all the bindings that kept her from breathing. took her hair out. worshiped in peace. placed on athena’s alter a small and beautiful thing. the goddess, head tilted, thinking.

when he found medusa, what made him angry was not her small frame. it was the statute. a delicate thing. much better than the ones he had ever made.

he took it and snapped it in half. threw it deep in the temple’s well to rot. pulled her by her hair. demanded to know where it had come from.

medusa, angry, tired of hiding, tired of late nights and being a boy and pretending: medusa, athena-mad, spat on him. “I did it,” her voice is strong and full of hatred, “A woman made something better than a man could.”

He meant to kill her. To bash her head into the temple steps, claim it was an accident - or better yet, the spite of a god made flesh.

when he grabs her hair, the goddess bites back. athena, patron of creators, patron of the arts, patron of girls and those who are smart - she turns medusa’s hair into snakes. 

it is a quick little thing, darts out and draws blood, almost falls from her hair as a result. she catches the creature and runs, runs until she feels numb.

and what if - while her master is making up a story about poseidon and athena’s rage, explaining medusa’s back yard full of frozen men as being evidence of her evilness - what if medusa finds friends in blind women. and they teach her how to feel what she is seeing. how to use her hands with her eyes closed to make maps of whatever she holds. she starts with plants again. her snake is big now, and has babies. she moves on to their little wiggling forms, amused when they make tiny rings around her fingers. she does not live in a cave. she dresses as a man again, goes to market, sells her roses and vines and beautiful (simple) things. buys herself and the women a nice house out beyond all the noise of it. fills their garden with frozen men.

when the men come to kill her - because now her name is known, it is whispered, sticks in the throat - they don’t find her. they find a tall man who tells them: look in the mountains. when they don’t come back, it’s no fault of medusa’s. frankly, she thinks they should have brought more supplies than their swords into the deep woods. she’s not cruel. when they leave, she makes a statue of them, as her version of a memorial.

but one man is not like the others. he finds her with her hair down, humming, dancing around a marble stone. her snakes are warming in the sun.

medusa? he asks her. it’s a name she hasn’t heard in a long while.

she is tired of being hunted. she just wants to make art. she waits for the sword point. but he hesitates. looks at her full in her face.

strikes a bargain. if she makes him a head for his shield, he will tell the others that she is good and dead. and he will sell her art to better patrons when he could - although he suggests at least hiding the signature she has with maybe a little less snake-like scrawl - he would make her name known.

but medusa knows men. knows they will chomp down on a horror story faster than that of the artist. she is already permanent. she says: no, here’s what happens.

after many months, he has his shield. she wouldn’t let him leave with the first nine hundred versions, always found something wrong with them. he grows fond of her in this time, agrees to her terms. even he can’t really look at the shield head-on. she has captured a scream, a rage, too much. it is so utterly human and at once not that it makes his skin crawl.

where medusa’s blood drops, serpents sprawl. or at least, that’s the code she uses. when he finds little girls who can make art, he sends them to her. 

medusa does not expect to be known for the school that she starts. she is a women artist in a time of men, and her name is already dead to them. but i know medusa. i know her. she is known for her work.

after all, who can speak about medusa without mentioning how she froze the world?

AU MASTER LIST

So here is a bunch of AU’s that I’ve collected over…. a long time. Enjoy

Awkward Meetings

  • I broke your nose in a mosh pit, sorry
  • I hit you with my car and was the only one to visit you in the hospital, this is sort of awkward, are you okay?
  • You’re getting chased by the police and you just jumped in my car and yelled drive, wtf man
  • You just punched me in the face while gesturing wildly to a friend, your friend can’t stop laughing and im too shocked to respond to your apologies
  • You laughed in a restaurant, but your laugh is really weird and I thought you were choking so I’m awkwardly humping you while attempting to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre and why isn’t this working, you’re just choking harder now this is aweful
  • We met on a Sunday morning, both doing our walk of shame
  • I get really sick on roller-coasters and you are sitting in front of me, im so sorry
  • You’re the bastard who keeps parking in front of my house and you just caught me drawing a dick on your window with a permanent marker… ugh, oops.
  • I work at a department store and if you take out and unfold another fucking shirt and just leave it, I’m going to fucking shove it down your throat
  • You broke into my apartment drunk thinking it was your friends place and I should call the cops by my cat likes you so????
  • You’re my new dealer and you just friended me on Facebook and idk how to react to that
  • You saw me reading the same book you are and now we are arguing about the motives of the antagonist
  • This is a five-hour-long plane ride, we’re sitting together and  you’re deathly afraid of flying. 
  • I got into a cab to find someone already inside
  • You thought I was your friend/sister
  • Holy shit, im in the wrong car.
  • I was walking by a roller coaster and your shoe flew off and hit me in the head and now I’m on the floor trying not to fall unconscious.
  • It’s 2am and I’m drunk and I need some salt for my fries and I know your awake so OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR
  • You fell asleep on me in the subway and I should probably wake you up and its my stop next stop but it’s okay, I can always just catch the subway back…
  • I know nothing about camping and all my friends left me at the site. Please, help me, I think I just heard a bear
  • This has been a shitty week and you just grabbed the last box of my favourite comfort food from the shelf, do you really want to fight me rn?
  • We met in a movie theatre and now you’re clinging to me because your terrified and I’m okay with that because it means I get your popcorn.
  • You had a party and I got really drunk and stole your microwave, so now I’m at your place and your super hungover so here, I made breakfast?

Neighbour/Roomate

  • The guy living below me has a really loud alarm clock that always wakes me up at the crack of dawn
  • I went to investigate a scream and found my neighbour standing on a chair to avoid a rat/mouse/cricket (etc.)
  • My neighbour has a really squeaky bed and my bedroom is below theirs
  • You keep stealing my doormat and HAH, I’ve got you this time thief!
  • The apartment above me has left their tap on or something and water is leaking through my ceiling
  • My neighbour’s sibling got the wrong house number and barged into my apartment on accident.
  • My roommate keeps stealing my coffee so now I make extra 
  • You’re my new neighbour and wow man, you have some really weird habits.
  • You’re my neighbour and you are stealing my wifi to watch porn and can you not?
  • You locked yourself outside of your apartment and there’s a storm rolling in and I pity you so please come into my apartment I’ll make you hot chocolate?
  • I heard you singing at 3 am and joined in and now you’re at my door and wtf mate I think your drunk but your voice is really nice so?
  • I just set the fire alarm in our building off again… sorry. I know its like the fourth time this week…
  • You keep mowing your lawn when I’m trying to sleep and seriously FUCK YOU
  • My new neighbour is really hot and wow I didn’t even like women until now? And now she is in the garden planting flowers in her bikini wow… im in too deep
  • It’s 3 am and you’re blasting off classic rock at full volume and your music taste might be awesome but soME PEOPLE are trying to sLEEP
  • We’ve never met but we shower at the same time and our showers are on opposite sides of the same apartment wall so sometimes we start duets?

Pets

  • I’m out walking and my dog started chasing your dog. 
  • My cat/dog ran away and you just found it but refuse to accept the reward. 
  • We are neighbours and your cat got my cat pregnant… so, wanna raise this little kitty family?
  • My pet tarantula/snake (etc) escaped and I forgot to warn the guy below me who is terrified of snakes/spiders
  • I need you to pet sit my pet for a while and I forgot to mention it’s a snake, the mice are in the freezer. Thanks, bye
  • My cat really hates you cat and that’s the third time this week I’ve had to pry them apart.
  • My cat keeps breaking into your apartment and it ate all your plants… dinner to make up for it?
  • My cat sneaked out on the balcony and into your open window and he has this habit of destroying furniture and pissing everywhere so I followed him inside and you cam home earlier than I expected and found me in the middle of your living room and honestly I’m not a burglar
  • Your dog likes me a thousand times better than she likes your partner and sorry not sorry I love this dog
  • You were walking your dog when you found me passed out on a park bench and thank you for waking me up and buying coffee instead of stealing my wallet

Music

  • I’m on a bus and wow, you’re singing really loudly and everyone is giving you weird looks, hey bud, tone it down, also great choice in music
  • You play Double Bass/Cello and I play 1st chair Violin and we keep making eye contact and damn your super cute.
  • You play in an orchestra and I love these songs so much, plus you’re really cute. Shit man, you’ll never notice me in the huge crowd…
  • Music is kinda illegal and my friend just died and apparently he wrote music and wow I want to know what it sounds like and to play it at his funeral but I don’t know how to. You’re a well-known music dealer, do you happen to understand these notes? Can you help me?
  • I tried to act cool at this concert and I thought I was leaning on a wall but apparently it was a speaker and now it’s on the ground in pieces and everyone’s glaring at me… sorry?

Supernatural

  • I’m a wizard and I just accidently apparated into your house. Oops.
  • I died over 2000 years ago and you’ve been dead for like 2 hours, man, damn it now I have to explain this shit to you. Great.
  • I’m immortal and you’re mortal and I don’t know how to explain this to you and soon enough you’re going to realise that I’m not aging… shiiittt
  • You’re a greek god and I’m the roman counterpart. 
  • I’m a ghost and your alive and I think I’m in love with you…. Fuck. 
  • You’re a faun and I’m a Satry
  • I’m half demon and people often judge me based on my looks, but your blind and wow you actually like me? 
  • I’m a time traveller and I went back in time and wow I think I’m in love with you, fuck this isn’t good, I just faked being George Washington… wait what? George Washington doesn’t exist here? Shit… I actually am George Washington.
  • I’m a writer and your my character and wtf how the heck did you just literally climb out of my first draft? 
  • I’m a werewolf but I don’t want to tell you because my wolf form might be that really small chihuahua you keep mentioning you see when I go out…
  • I’m an android and you’re a human and wow what is that warmth I feel when I see you?
  • I’m a homesick telepath and you’re the poor soul who is receiving all these emotions, sorry
  • Somehow I’m in your body and you’re in mine and shit man being this close to the ground is fucked up.
  • I’m a genie an d you rubbed my lamp so congrats you get three wishes but you can’t seem to think of shit and why the fuck do I have to be stuck with you? Hurry up and think of some wishes okay?
  • I was an awful angel and as punishment I have to be your guardian angel and wow your super cute and nice but I still hate you
  • You keep having strange dreams that turn out to be us in a past life and you’re determined to fine me again but in this life I’m already dead.
  • We live in the year 3090, you’re a scientist and I’m your assistant. Unfortunately and experiment goes wrong and I die. Now you’re trying to put my brain into a robot but its not the same
  • I’m a vampire and I have a moment of weakness, you’re nearby and lets just say it doesn’t end well
  • I’m a dragon and you’re a really hot prince, that’s right, they locked up the wrong royalty.
  • You’re a pirate and I’m a siren and woah… are you asexual? That’s so cool, hey wait, don’t go I just want to talk
  • Your mirror is a doorway into my dimension and I can see everything…. 
  • Listen I am genetically modified and you WILL let me hide in your house
  • Ok, so I panicked and kissed this human so he wouldn’t drown. And I know you don’t want me to keep him, and we can’t let him leave if he knows about us mere people so what do you want to do?

School/College

  • I just got partnered with you in dance class and I can’t dance for shit
  • You’re my science lab partner and how the fuck did you just explode that beaker?
  • I’m an art student and you just found my sketchbook and you’re going through it. Shit man can you give that back, I don’t care how good you think they are just don’t turn that page…
  • You’re the school dork and I’m the school jock and fuck you can see where this is going
  • We are the only two kids who ride this school bus, maybe we should carpool?
  • I thought you were my roomies new boyfriend so I invited you in but your actually the RA of the dorm and now you think I want to have sex with you
  • I accidently flooded the laundry room and you really need to do laundry
  • You’re sitting in my seat in this lecture and who even are you? I’ve never seen you before… wait what, stop checking me out!
  • We argued so much during a class discussion that we both got kicked out and we’re still arguing outside the class
  • You left your USB in the library computer and I had to go through your files to figure out who you are and in the end I read the entirety of this book you’re working on and wow you’re really good?
  • I’m a traditional painter who has to take a basic Photoshop class, you’re a graphic design major sitting next to me and getting sucked into helping me out because Im so shitty at this
  • My pottery bowl exploded in the kiln and I feel like a failure, you found me crying about it in the hallway and are now trying to comfort me and your sweater is really soft wow sorry
  • You and your friends have been playing the penis game in the library for the last five minutes and none of you have gotten above a quiet yell and fuck it I’m trying to study over her so fuck you I’m going to put an end to this game by winning 
  • We are both teachers and at the end of the year we compare how many gifts we’ve received from student and you’ve won for the past three years
  • Romeo and Juliet of the math and English departments 
  • I want to get along with you roomie… but I like star wars… and you like star trek… this isn’t going to work.
  • I usually talk to my friends through morse code in class but… apparently you know morse too… and now you know I think your butt is cute
  • I got cursed and turned into an animal and taken to the shelter and now I’m being adopted by someone who is really hot OH FUCKING NO

Near Death Experiences

  • Wow I was just in a fatal accident and who the hell are you? What is this I’m I dying? Wait no, I don’t want this, how do I get out of it? A deal you say, I’ll take it.
  • You’re an executioner and I’m about to be executed but you can’t seem to run the guillotine, wait what, why are we running away, man you’re my favourite executioner
  • Our plane/boat crashed and now it’s just us on this island. 
  • I just took a super dangerous job and your trying to talk me out of it, but we really need the money
  • It’s the middle of a war and I’m on a ship that you’re ship just torpedoed. Now I’m a prisoner and wow why can’t I feel my legs. I’m not cooperating until I can feel them again. What the fuck do you mean I’m paralysed?
  • I’m addicted to ____ (drugs/alcohol etc) and you found me in an alleyway due to after effects of my addiction (beat up, overdose etc) and decide to take me in.
  • I sold my soul to bring you back to life and I don’t have long left please make this time count

Mistaken and Secret Identities

  • I’m  a thief/hacker/murder and you’ve found out my identity and have been bugging me for days to take you on as your partner
  • I’m a superhero and you want to be like me but in doing so become a supervillain, what do you mean you don’t understand why I’m punching you?
  • I’m a superhero, you’re a supervillain, but we don’t know each other’s identities and we are actually best friends
  • I’m runaway royalty and you’re a commoner, fuck I’m so screwed I need your help, I’ll explain later
  • You think I’m a celebrity and you’re talking too much for me to explain I am defintely not… that dude. What was his name again?
  • You’re a superhero and I’m your best friend and what the fuck man? Why the hell didn’t you tell me? If you had maybe I would be fucking caught with this stupid ass monologue-ing villain
  • I have a very cute neighbour and very thin walls and one day I call you and err… your moans are very synchronised with my neighbour's…
  • I’m a superhero and you’re a supervillain and I saw you visiting kids at the children’s hospital and letting them act like they defeated you and now it’s really hard to punch you in the face

Profession Based

  • Your my mailman and I can’t help but notice that you linger at my door slightly longer than you need to ever since you saw me that one time. Do you want to come inside?
  • I’m a private detective and your my client and fuck man you’re in some deep shit
  • You’re a protester and I’m a police officer. Seriously can you please calm down a little bit, this is my job not my  beliefs.
  • I’m a make-up artist/hair stylist and I you’re an actor/model and are you flirting or???
  • You’re a celebrity and sorry mate, I have to take pictures to pay rent, I know its invasive seriously, sorry
  • You’re a store clerk and fuck, is that my ex? Can I please hide behind this counter?
  • You’re a lifeguard at my kid’s swimming competition and I fell in the pool with all my clothes on and you awkwardly tried to save me even though I didn’t need it.
  • You work at a pet store and I came in to look at tarantulas but somehow we lost the biggest one and its loose somewhere in the store and it really doesn’t help that you’re terrified of spiders
  • I’m a firefighter and you started a fire in your kitchen but you’re still flirting with me even though you’re not wearing pants and I’m carrying you down a ladder. Stop complimenting my muscles for fucks sake
  • We work at the same company and I kind of had a crush on you until I noticed that you’re the asshole stealing my lunch from the office fridge.
  • I’m a firefighter and you live near the station I work at and we talk/flirt with each other a lot. One day me and my team get called to put out a fire and it’s your home ablaze. You don’t make it.
  • I work at a fruit store and you come in almost every day and rearrange stuff on the shelves and then leave. Today you made the apples spell ‘call me’
  • It’s 2am and I was just trying to get home but I left my sunroof open all day and now there’s a squirrel in my car and it scared me and I drove into a pole - stop laughing! You’re a cop, aren’t you supposed to be helping?
  • You’re drunk and want my name tattooed on your ass.
  • You always bring your dates to the restaurant I wait at and now you’re here alone… you okay mate?

Winter Times

  • It’s snowing and I usually walk to work but that’s not happening, hey roomie, can you please drive me? Yes I know its 4am
  • I accidently gave all my winter clothes to charity over the summer and not its not so much summer, but I’m broke and hey… could you give me your old winter clothes… maybe?
  • I love the cold, but I promised to visit you for a good 4 months and wow, why did I do this? There isn’t snow here?
  • I don’t know you, but you just threw a snowball at my face, mate, its on.
  • I don’t know who the hell you are, but my roommate has someone over and It’s really cold outside…. Can I come in? Or like, have a blanket, or even a towel?

Old Friends

  • I knew you in high school and I ran into you at a renaissance fair wearing full knight regalia
  • I met you once when I was 12, we started a pen-pal relationship across the world and haven’t stopped even though we are a lot older now. 
  • You were my best friend when we were younger but your family moved to the other side of the world, and we haven’t talked in years. But now your back and wow how did you recognise me when I can’t even remember your name?

Fake Dating

  • I hired you to be my date for a wedding but your super cute, maybe we cannot fake-date? 
  • I’m fake dating you to have someone to vent to on family gatherings while also pissing off my conservative uncle that I never liked and wow… have your eyes always been this nice?
  • We’re both cosplayers and we somehow always manage to meet each other at cons dressed as a popular ship and people always want photos of us in compromising positions and so we always end up fake-dating the entire day but you’re actually really hot and I’m head over heels for you
  • My friend dragged me to this party and I just saw my ex, quick make out with me, I’ll pay you.

Miscellaneous

  • I’m blind and wow your voice is absolutely beautiful can you just keep talking? Forever? Please?
  • My younger sibling is besties with your sibling and even though we hate each other I guess we’ve got to start hanging out a little
  • We are both at a grocery store at am and you offered to arm wrestle me for the last box of cereal, its on!
  • You’re sleeping on my best friend’s couch while your house is being renovated and you have really weird habits like attempting to sing opera in the shower and you keep eating all my Nutigrain 
  • We bump into each other every Friday at the supermarket to buy the same ice-cream and maybe we should eat it together?
  • Our parents are dating and thank god I’m not the only one pissed off about this
  • I went to museum to get some inspiration and then I saw you staring at one of the paintings in awe and wow you just noticed me drawing you and this is awkward
  • I decide to take a shortcut home that involves crawling through a really tight hole in a fence and I end up getting stuck and you just happened to pass by and now you’re laughing at me
  • I took a bunch of free condoms from health services just because I could and they all fell out of my bag at once and now you’re staring at me weirdly
  • We are trapped in a bank during a robbery
  • Your country is trying to take over mine and I might be a little attracted to you and stop this it’s really hard to retaliate okay?
  • I was on my balcony and you started loudly quoting romeo and juliet at me

badass alto songs [x]
a long list of songs that don’t go higher than a c. because who needs high notes? (requested by getdrunk-singshowtunes and longlivenightvale)

maybe this time (cabaret) // buddie beware (anything goes) // hold on (the secret garden) // i want to go to hollywood (grand hotel) // a trip to the library (she loves me) // the ladies who lunch (company) // day by day (godspell) // always true to you in my fashion (kiss me kate) // i’m going back (bells are ringing) // he’s the wizard (the wiz) // muqin (thoroughly modern millie) // last midnight (into the woods) // days of plenty (little women) // a little less conversation (all shook up) // as we stumble along (the drowsy chaperone) // there are worse things i could do (grease) // calm (ordinary days) // ireland (legally blonde) // send in the clowns (a little night music) // like it was (merrily we roll along) // no time at all (pippin) // stepsister’s lament (cinderella)

soprano | tenor | bass
Top 11 Filthy Beauty Secrets for Youths

1.      Don’t rub at the delicate skin underneath your eyes while frantically trying to clean the dregs of last night’s maddened house party make-up out of your skin before going out into the world. This will cause the infinitesimal fibres of your body to tear, releasing the inexpressible self-loathing that is the unnecessary but gross counter-balance to the wild egotism of your drunken self, causing you to age faster than your teetotaller best friend.

2.      Stretch every night in a dark room. This releases the tensions of the day and relaxes your sinews for the troubled sleep and worrisome dreams to come, so that you can wake springing, without physical soreness, and amaze friends and colleagues with your youthful, swinging stride. The effect is almost more psychological than physical, and comes from knowing that even if your mind could not truly be at rest, at least your hamstrings slept in peace.

3.      Once a month, after midnight, restless: spend hours meditatively examining every inch of your body on the bathroom floor, and trialling the strength of your ability to do no harm. Consider, then refrain from pressing down with the weight of the universe on blocked pores, read the stories of missed opportunities and sliding door moments in the split ends of your hair, see the faded lightning bolts of your growth into your place in the world in the stretch marks and scars, smell the uneasy brine of your hidden parts, and layer cream upon cream on top of yourself, as if you are the ocean crashing white and fresh at the high tide mark. Wake up, and wonder where your time has gone.

4.      Get new sunglasses. Stare.

5.      You know how your skin always looks perfectly airbrushed in your early morning blurry bathroom visit (before your eyes have adjusted into the daytime and the realities of the day ahead have set in, accompanied with the dread and knowledge that you will be constantly observed, analysed and responsible for an array of unnatural and finicky tasks, while always maintaining a presentable surface impression despite a roaring need to run under your cool surface)? To fix this, let yourself roll heavy with sleep back into bed, alone all day, periodically going to the bathroom as needed. Within weeks, you will see all the damage of years in the sun and human company magically reverse.

6.      Go and see a doctor about what’s bothering you, even if you feel stupid or like it’s such a tiny thing. Worlds of relief and solutions open when you ask for scientific, rather than propagandised, help about those little bumps on your arms, these terrible recurring pains in your gut that nobody will speak of, or tell them how much trouble you are having with acne.

7.      When you have a big party to go to, or even a small one, or even a date in a bar, reserve half your Saturday to prep time. When I say that, I don’t mean reserve it for the motions of styling your hair, your eyes, your body, your lips and your fighting teeth and nails, though these acts may be integrated. Reserve half your day to become slow and seductive in anticipation, drawing yourself baths, or lighting up conversations in with your friends, reading half a chapter of that book you always mean to read, then five chapters of an online story you are addicted to, play beats on as loud as they will go and fling open all the doors while you roam like a wild creature from the last millennia around the rooms of your house. Prepare your own soul for the face you want to wear tonight.

8.      If you are having trouble with your sensitive, skin, particularly in gross sensitive places, try going commando for a while. Start with just in bed if this makes you uncomfortable, then if it’s working, graduate to day time. This may mean learning the art of the midi, the long camisole or the flowing pant. As a bonus, you learn how so much of what took for granted is not even necessary at all. The resulting look in your eyes will scare old friends and attract strangers with new ideas.

9.      Exfoliate with a scrap of muslin cloth and the sense of scrappy, sloughing peace that you found in the garden of a woman who is either your mother, or who you wish were your mother. Tell her you love her, even though maybe you don’t particularly feel the truth of love in that moment, because you will eventually feel it at a time when it is impossible to say out loud. The sense of security from having expressed love in this future-oriented way will give you a glow the following night. Replace the dead skin cells with a muddy mixture of expensive dirt and chemicals marketed by a company founded by a woman you are moderately sure is actually a hedge witch from 1605 in disguise. When you start looking, you will soon realise there are many such companies. Don’t let this stress you out. Choose the one you can afford best, with the smell that best lines up with that one time you fell in love with your best friend, and the packaging that looks best in your bathroom trash.

10.   Realise that when someone gives you a physical compliment, this is a fairly rude thing to do, and is usually a reflection of that person’s surprise at something about you that does not line up with their pre-conceived idea about you. In fact, many times the person is using the compliment as a Trojan horse to comment on the change, and does not even mean that new lipstick looks particularly nice, just that it is different from the nude lips you wear every other day. As a result, learn to style yourself in the way that you have road-tested through the process of catching your reflection in shop windows and realising how good you look, or noticing someone copying a particular element of your style, or the amount of pleasure looking at a particular Instagram post of yourself gives you. These are much better indicators of what physical choices suit you. Note that this type of road-testing usually requires refreshing when either you experience a change in climate, city, career or level of irony about being a warm body in an exploding universe where the only truth is entropy.

11.   Adapt or die. Die eventually anyway. Contribute the creative crumbling of your beauty to the garden of the women you love.