Adventures of the Charmingly Odd

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”

— Virginia Woolf

Boy, I am hitting the pandemic fatigue hard the last couple of weeks. I go into more detail on my Patreon (it’s only $1 a month to subscribe!) but basically being cooped up in this house for almost a year and the constant worry about something/anything/literally everything being on fire is breaking nearly everyone I know. Even people who were super creative during lockdown (*raises hand*) are facing inspiration droughts.

My personal breakdown is manifesting in sleeping all day and staying up all night reading Harry Potter fanfiction (I don’t even like HP! But my sister is currently obsessed) or rewatching ‘Peaky Blinders’ episodes. It just hit me over the weekend that I will have spent the entirety of my my 30th year of life in quarantine.  Fuck. Not how I planned to start my 30s but the concept of age truly doesn’t mean anything to me right now. Last year I planned to stay in a castle in upstate New York for my birthday – this year we booked a Getaway House cabin in the Catskills. Doesn’t it seem beautiful and relaxing? Plus it’s very secluded and COVID safe. Just hope I don’t get murdered in the wood.

 

Currently Reading

                  

These days I am elbows deep in doing research reading for my novel. My stack of books I need to read to enhance my work-in-progress manuscript is overwhelming and I’ve felt a lot of anxiety over it. However this week I finally sat down and created a simple schedule for myself: Read 2 chapters of these three books (roughly 50 pages each) every day. This way I feel like I’m getting more done than just dragging my way through only one book.

In spite of all that, I am loving all the research I get to do on several different topics. I didn’t plan to write a novel that incorporated so many topics I didn’t know a lot about but as everyone says – the book writes itself. I’m just along for the ride, trying to make it the best, most accurate story possible.

Currently Watching

Besides sneaking in ‘Peaky Blinders’ episodes here and there, I’m spending a lot of time on Zoom (like everyone else). A great break was a webinar called ‘Nikola Tesla: The Man Who Sparked the Electrical Revolution’ by Prowler NYC Walking Tours by Deborah Zelcer. Deb was extremely informative during the two hours, providing a live lecture on the Futurist and the places in Manhattan and Long Island that he inhabited using Google Earth. A writer colleague, Allison, spotting it on The New York Adventure Club website. Now, if only it was safe to reopen the city because I’m dying to visit a lot of these places in person. I hope you guys are hanging in there!

Currently Listening To

I’ve finally joined the team of LoFi Beats! All of the videos by ChilledCow on YouTube are the perfect background noise for when I’m writing and reading. I mentioned this on Twitter and so many folks gave me recommendations for other stations! I love that the LoFi Girl isn’t just a picture but she’s studying along with me – it’s so cute! I hope you guys are hanging in there and I’ll see you on Twitter and Instagram!



“I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

Last week was a rough one for my family. It’s all very so I won’t put it on here but HOLY HELL it was a punch in the gut from multiple directions. But a gift from the Universe – The Lord of the Rings Blu-ray 4K set I was on the waitlist for and wasn’t expecting to come until the end of February – arrived on Saturday. Poor Steve has already seen The Fellowship of the Ring twice times but never the sequels. (1st time was when we first started dating and 2nd was at the live orchestra accompaniment at Lincoln Center in NYC). A blizzard was coming and we stocked up on snacks and I went full on mopey mode, sitting on couch crying about the people of Middle-earth – as one does.

Saturday we watched The Fellowship of the Ring, as the blizzard started Sunday night we watched The Two Towers, and about 10 inches deep in snow on Monday we watched The Return of the King. All extended editions, of course, I get annoyed when the theatrical versions are on TV. Finally at the end I asked Steve if the films were what he thought they were going to be after all these years.

He replied with a simple, “Yeah. There was a lot of walking and fighting.” Ha! He’s not wrong but I know it captivated him more than he was willing to admit. I joked on Twitter that it only took a pandemic and a blizzard for him to finally watch the movies after 6 1/2 years together.

Currently Watching

‘Dickinson’

Even with all my sleeping pills, I’m still having bad insomnia. One night I stayed up until 4am binging season 2 of ‘Dickinson’ on Apple TV+. Listen – you guys are swooning over ‘Bridgerton’? GET OUT OF HERE! Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson is the real home historical home runner.

 

‘Sylvie’s Love’

I also watched ‘Sylvie’s Love’ (2021) on Amazon Prime last night! The movie stars Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha as two young lovers in the summer of 1957 in New York City. The movie is beautifully shot with an incredible jazz soundtrack. The script is pretty meager – but to be fair, that’s exactly how romance movies such as this were written in the late 50s & early 60s. I’d also recommend this one to watch, especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner already.

 

Currently Reading

‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab

I’m only about 60 pages into this one but I’ve never read Schwab’s work before despite the fact that I love following her on Twitter! I’m already captivated and I want a color changing coat ASAP.

‘Winter of the World’ by Ken Follett

This is the second book in the Century Trilogy by Follett. I loved the first one ‘Fall of Giants’ and I’m already fully immersed into this next one. I’ll be a Follett fan for life – his ability to seamlessly weave characters in and out of different historic settings is astonishing.

 

 

Currently Listening To

‘Piano Chill’ Playlist on Apple Music Classical

I haven’t been listening to much this past week – just good background music while reading, crying, or in bed with a headache. I came across this playlist earlier this week and I’m so thankful I did – it’s going to be a staple in my musical habits for sure.

 

I hope you guys have a great weekend and I look forward to talking to you on Twitter!

“This Is Such a Bad Town For Such A Pretty Face”

A year ago around this time Steve and I had COVID-19. Of course back then we had no idea what it was other than a miserable time. On a Friday I picked Steve up from a weeklong work trip in Miami and when he got into the passenger seat of my Mini Cooper, he didn’t even say hello. His skin was gray and he asked if I had any water. By Monday I woke up with a vicious sore throat and  Tuesday morning I was full blown sick. I took a week off of work – which I have never done. I slept for days and couldn’t seem to catch my breath. It was a horrible cold but didn’t have the sinus headaches I’m prone to. My bosses at work (ER docs) said they couldn’t explain what it was but it was viral so antibiotics wouldn’t work on me.

The fatigue lingered for weeks.

A year later I’m sick again – IT’S JUST A STOMACH BUG I’M TOTALLY OKAY – but I wonder how long it will be, if ever, that I start to feel sick and don’t immediately panic that I have the virus that has killed over 386,000 Americans. The cases in NJ are at an all time high. The sitting president is being impeached after the attack on the Capitol last week. NJ Unemployment computer system is down and isn’t expected to be working again for weeks.

In the middle of all this and more, the rest of us are expected to live and keep living as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Still go to work, still go to class, cook dinner, shower, and repeat. For me this also includes writing a novel.

Really exciting things are happening with my novel and my fellow writers in our collective. We are laying the groundwork for something truly special and this is the most passionate I’ve felt about a company in years. But fuck is it hard to be a creative in this environment. To all of you still getting out of bed in the morning and doing what needs to be done – I see you and appreciate you.

As people have said on Twitter: ‘The West Wing’ didn’t prepare me for anyone of this. 

Since I’ve been sick the past week, I’ve been consuming other people’s fiction. During my process of writing this novel, I’ve been trying to only intake content that is somehow related to my own work. Luckily there are plenty of books and tv shows that inspire me.

Currently Watching

‘Peaky Blinders’ season 1 starts out right after WWI in Birmingham, England. Its about gangsters in the 1920s and the show is a masterpiece! People have been recommending this show to me for a long time but I kept having to rewatch episodes if I felt I was missing little tidbits due to the different accents. However this past week I turned on the subtitles and boom! it’s been so easy to follow along now. I’ve done a lot of research on life in Europe during the 1910s –  1930s so watching a show featuring people of all different nationalities and how they interact has been very helpful for my own work.

Currently Reading

Image from hookedtobookscad.wordpress.com

Another one of those things I just never got around to checking out until this year – “Fall of Giants” by Ken Follett. This book ticks off nearly all my book needs: 1,000+ pages, ensemble cast of characters, religion, politics, classism, and sprawling settings. I’ve read Follett’s other Kingsbridge series several times – I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up his Century Trilogy until now but the timing is perfect! “Fall of Giants” starts right before WWI and deals with a lot of the same topics mentioned in ‘Peaky Blinders’ as well as correlates back to my own work. Follett is able to tell these grand stories without too much prose and an insane number of characters and yet still be reader friendly. That is something I aspire to accomplish one day.

Currently Listening To

A New Zealand angsty rock girl? Sign me the hell up. I had never heard of Gin Wigmore until I looked up what song I kept playing from Apple’s ‘Umbrella Academy’ Playlist. (It’s the perfect playlist for when you want to crawl into bed and cry over writing or politics or generally anything these days).) Wigmore’s song ‘Kill of the Night’ was featured on the tv show and good lord it’s exactly what I need when I need to dance in my office and clear my head. (The title of this blog is from the song as well.) Her whole ‘Gin & Wine’ album from 2011 is excellent and I highly recommend it.

 

I hope all of you are hanging in there as we figure out what the hell is going on in 2021.

Books of 2019

My goal this year was to read 25 books. This was a very low number for me but in 2018 my migraines were so bad that I hardly read. That year I devoured true crime podcasts an arguably unhealthy amount. In 2019 I wanted to cut down on the gory murder and instead signed up for an Audible subscription. If I wasn’t going to read read books, I might as well spend my time listening to them. 

Now I fully understand that the majority of people who listen to audiobooks consider it to be the same thing as reading them, especially if you have a disability. For me, I don’t find myself putting in as much effort to take in a story while I listen to it as when I do while reading one. Along the same lines, I could arguably also count the hundreds of hours I spent listening to podcasts, right? Or the weird YouTube obsession I started around May where I couldn’t do my makeup or take a shower without listening to Tana Mongeau or Shane Dawson ramble. 

So my own prosperity’s sake, I’ve divided my list into two lists.

Books I Read in 2019

  1. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain (432 pages)
  2. Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton (211 pages)
  3. The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes (400 pages)
  4. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Marino Tamaki (289 pages)
  5. New Plant Parent: Learning the Ways of Plant Parenthood by Darryl Cheng (208 pages)
  6. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold (336 pages)
  7. Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill (368 pages)
  8. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon (992 pages)
  9. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (355 pages)
  10. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (496 pages)
  11. Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family (304 pages)
  12. The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman  (784 pages)
  13. Wicca: A Modern Guide to Witchcraft and Magic by Harmony Nice (240 pages)
  14. The Institute by Stephen King (576 pages)
  15. A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbiltsby Theresa Anne Fowler (560 pages)
  16. Clara’s Soldier: A Retelling of the Nutcracker by Brittany Fichter (164 pages)
  17. Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within by Juliet Diaz (243 pages)
  18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (516 pages)
  19. Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge by Sheila Weller (416 pages)

Total Pages Read: 7,890

 

Books I Listened to in 2019

  1. Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards
  2. Outlander by Diana Galbadon*
  3. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
  4. Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma
  5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King*
  6. 11/22/63 by Stephen King*
  7. Darling Days: A Memoir by iO Tillet Wright
  8. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashmir*
  9. The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcee Who Became the Duchess of Windsor
  10. They Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In A Storeby Cait Flanders
  11. The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Balock
  12. The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan
  13. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern*
  14. On Writing by Stephen King (a second time) 

 

*means that I’ve already read these books in previous years but wanted to experience the audiobook.

 

As you can tell, this was the year of non-fiction, especially biographies. I lucked out and loved 95% of this list, mostly because I started and abandoned a lot of books this year. How did anyone keep track of what they read before GoodReads??

My goal for 2020 is to read 10,000 pages. I got into a year long writing program at a writing institute in Red Bank, NJ where the goal is to write a 50,000+ completed 1st draft of a new novel. Since the class requires 14 hours of writing per week on top of my regular 40 hours a week job, I’m not sure how much actual reading I’ll get done. I did join a book club though! So I’ll at least have to read 1 book a month. 

I have a stack of books I received as a gift or bought this year that haven’t been read yet and I plan on devouring them. The January book club pick was one I suggested actually, “The Ten Thousand Doors of January” by Alex E. Harrow so that will be the first read of 2020. After that I have “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern, “The Secrets We Kept” by Lara Prescott, and “David Bowie: A Life” by Dylan Jones taunting me from my nightstand. 

Here’s to good books and lots of writing in 2020!

Pietro Filipponi: 2 Years Later

It’s been 2 years since I published my first piece on the rapist, thief, sociopath Pietro Filipponi known as @Poni_Boy across the internet. You can read the post here

That post was a catalyst for many victims and former acquaintances of his to reach out to me and share their story. Looking back on it, I have never regretted posting it but I do wish that I had written it with a more technical point of view instead of an emotional one. The cathartic release was what I needed at the time but most of the details are vague and I wish I had elaborated on some of the points.

I’m returning to this topic because I receive a large amount of messages from young women, reaching out to me still to this day, thanking me for warning them against going out with him. Filipponi preys upon these women in New York City via Tinder & Instagram, as his Twitter account has gone radio silent since the day I published that first post. 

With therapy, communicating with other people he has hurt, and time I have learned to forgive myself for letting this monster haunt me. My main change to the narrative is that I never considered myself as his girlfriend, it was a title he forced upon me. The truth is that he was my boss and if I wanted to keep my job as a journalist, I had to put up the facade of a relationship and sleep with him. 

I once referred to him as my ex boyfriend in therapy and it was the first time I saw my therapist upset. “That man does not deserve that title,” my therapist said. “Did he care for you? Did he treat you with respect? Would you have stayed in this situation if your job wasn’t on the line?”

The answer is no.

Filipponi found me on Twitter after I filmed the two reality shows and after I had already worked at Midtown Comics in Times Square for over a year. He saw an outgoing, cute, newly 21 year old girl with a following on the Internet and wanted to use that to his advantage. He was an amateur journalist living in Virginia that desperately wanted to be famous.

Filipponi claimed to be divorced from his wife, that he served two tours in Iraq, and was wounded while in service. He only served one tour and was not wounded. He was not part of the Air Force as he claimed, nor worked in the Pentagon afterwards. He was also not divorced until 3 years into my knowing him.

 In the first few months of our interaction, when he would sense that I was trying to break ties with him, he would suddenly say that he was going to be deployed the following week on a suicide mission. Being 21 and empathetic, I stuck around because I felt that veterans of this country were treated poorly and he deserved compassion. This man, as a sociopath, does not comprehend the meaning of compassion. He was only capable of telling manipulative lies to coerce me to stay. 

I have heard horror stories from the women he dated after me. He told C, a beautiful & strong woman whom he dated immediately after me, that I was just a crazy ex of his and to ignore my stories of him that I tweeted online. He abused her, gaslight her, made her life hell. He cheated on this woman with another incredible woman, L, whom I also befriended. From her, he stole $40,000. The list goes on and on. Several young women messaged me saying that they were currently dating him at the same time of my post. He has been cheating & abusing women and new victims for the last 10+ years and shows no sign of remorse.

One young woman I spoke with secretly videotaped him at a bar in lower Manhattan and sent it to me. She had met Filipponi him via Tinder some months prior. In the video he claimed that his father was a famous Ad Man in the 60s (a la Mad Men) and did the paintings on the wall of the bar. (Not true.) He apologized for ghosting on her months prior but did so because he “was intimidated by how mature and beautiful she was.” That she had her shit together and he didn’t, so he was afraid that he wasn’t good enough for her. (A classic sociopathic technique to lure victims in.) He also claimed that his father had suddenly died back in the fall when they had just met. (Also not true, his father did not die for over 6 months later the following April). 

In this 4 minute long video you also see Filipponi interrupting this young woman with whom he is on a date with (she in her early 20s and he was then 35) to flirt with other women at the bar. He tells the other women that this pool table he’s playing on once belonged to Hugh Hefner and came from the Playboy Mansion. (What the fuck?) It’s a clear tactic on his end to seem vulnerable to his date while also making her feel insecure by flirting with other women in front of her. Needless to say, she never went out with him again.

Since I left him in 2014, Filipponi’s pop culture website has been deleted. When I worked with him, the only reason he and I were able to get the high profile interviews we did is because he changed the name of his site from “The Daily Blam!” to the vague “Gotham News” so that PR companies would often confuse us with a real, print magazine. He would often steal photos from other Instagram accounts or just straight up Google to post on social pretending that he was on some luxurious PR trip, when really he just sat on the couch in his pajamas, never being productive. At that point, I avoided all confrontation with him, knowing he would manipulate the conversation to turn the blame on me. The blame for everything wrong in his life was always me: a 23 year old. 

In the last several years Filipponi has worked at a series of bars in lower Manhattan. These jobs have all been under the table because he does not have a valid driver’s license and if he tries to leave the country he will be arrested for not paying over $100,000 in child support. Workers at these bars in New York have shared their experiences with me, including a post to a Facebook community page for NYC bartenders issuing a warning about him:

Pietro Filipponi is a pathological liar who used to claim he was a journalist to get free admission into brand events and press events that had free alcohol. He is on a few black lists from event organizers and PR companies including MBooth for his fake credentials and his tendency to run up a crazy tab at these events mainly to give shots to women he is trying to get blackout drunk and assault. He then parlayed his loose connections to our industry into working at Ethyl’s then Sanatorium and Mr. Jones even though he had no previous history of hospitality or bartending employment. He lies constantly about his employment history, background, connections, and even claimed to be an owner of several bars amongst even wilder claims. He basically lied his way into this industry as a way to befriend bartenders, get invited to events with access to free drinks and drunk women. He owes money to several industry people who he befriended and gained their trust before they caught on. And his history of repeated sexual assault or attempted sexual assault has been confirmed to me by both industry and non-industry women. I’ve known him for almost 3 years now since he was a regular at Seamstress and I know basically nothing about him other than not to trust anything he says or let him alone around women.

 

Now why rehash this 2 years later? 

If you have been stolen from, abused, or manipulated by Pietro Filipponi it is not your fault. 

If you are considering to start a relationship with him be it casual, professional, or romantic – think it through before engaging with him further. 

 

    The more messages I continue to receive, the more I have felt like an update to my story is necessary. If a young woman he meets online Googles him and finds my original post, she might chalk it up to just sordid past events. This is to remind everyone of his continued psychotic nature that cannot be changed. He has raped, stolen, bamboozled, attacked, and manipulated people everywhere he goes. One day he will receive what he deserves, but in the mean time – stay far away.

– Zoë Gulliksen

12.30.2019

2018 in Review: WTF

Whew.

2018 was a hazy blur of a year for me. I spent most of it sort of wallowing that I was wasting so much time being physically sick as well as dealing with the lowest bout of depression I’ve had in years. However, in the last few weeks I’ve been able to reflect on everything that has happened and realize that though I was in pain and often sad, I also had very high highs to accompany those lowest of the low moments.

The best parts of 2018, and my life in general, were the days where I got to spend it at the beach with my boyfriend Steve and our two dogs. We are very fortunate to live less than a mile from the ocean and it does wonders for the soul. 

photo by Zoe Gulliksen

But, here is a little recap for posterity’s sake. I mean, that’s what blogs and diaries are for, right?

Personal

In fall of 2017 I had found out that the nerve disorder I have, Fibromyalgia, was not caused by a fall on an escalator in 2013 as I’ve always believed- but from a neck injury caused by an abusive ex boyfriend. I had long buried all my memories of that piece of shit human, but this diagnosis caused a lot of mental stress, most of all anger, that the pain I feel on a daily basis is his fucking fault.

I also learned that this ex of mine, Pietro Filipponi, had recently raped a young woman named April. This broke my heart & infuriated me, which is why I wrote the blog post “April Told Me to Write” on January 25th, 2018. It was terrifying and liberating to finally admit all the abuse I had received from this sociopath.  

The unexpected result of that post was that nearly a dozen woman have reached out to me in the last 12 months since that post was published. They filled my inbox with stories of assault, abuse, theft, and other unimaginable damage. Young women who had met Filipponi recently on Tinder and Googled him after they began dating him. Plus men who had witnessed him stealing from bars in Lower Manhattan or attempting to assault their female friends.

As cathartic and empowering it was to form a bond, this Girl Gang of sorts with these women who had been hurt by him – it was also left me emotionally drained. It made me feel incredibly guilty that I had not said anything when I finally was able to escape him in April 2014. That because I did nothing, said nothing, all of these people were hurt. This notion (along with having an abusive, unstable, maniac of a boss) sent me into a depression that lasted from February to July.

But another blog post in the upcoming weeks will focus more on the follow up to that now notorious blog post.

In July I started seeing a therapist and had my psychiatrist change my anti depressants. I found a new job in October at a medical spa not far from my home and I fucking love it. My type A personality thrives in the organization and endless Excel sheets. I have so much self pride in helping to run a medical office.

Steve has also proved countless times that he is indeed the perfect partner for me and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better person to spend the rest of my life with. (We aren’t getting engaged/married at this point basically to just annoy everyone around us hahaha. We have a house, are secure in our relationship, and don’t want kids. What’s the big deal?)

Music

Holy crap I saw SO MUCH LIVE MUSIC THIS YEAR! Even while I was depressed, I went to a ridiculous amount of music concerts in 2018. Mostly because it took zero effort- everything was within 1 square mile of my house. As a homebody, it’s hard for me to want to do anything that involved leaving my house and being in a crowd of people.

There’s too many shows to list them all but the highlights are:

Seeing The Gaslight Anthem on their reunion tour three nights in a row down the street at the historic venue, The Stone Pony.  The first concert Steve and I ever went to together was a Gaslight show in September 2014 and it has been the band that we have bonded over the most. All 3 nights we shoved our way right up to the front of the stage and it was a mosh pit of craziness that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 

photo by Pat Gilrane Photo (@njpatg)

I also saw the Queen tribute band, Almost Queen, three times this year! Since I can’t see Freddie Mercury live (RIP<3), this band is a remarkable second choice. I plan on seeing them again this February. As a life long Queen fan, seeing this band is much better money spent than seeing that infuriating movie that came out recently. (I could rant for hours on how inaccurate and horrible Bohemian Rhapsody was.) 

photo from AlmostQueen.com 

This was year of 3! I also saw the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, perform solo shows three times in 2018 (I can be obsessive, I know). The best of the 3 was the show at The Count Basie Theater that happened to fall on Steve’s birthday! It was one of the best shows of my lifetime. Fallon played stripped down version of Gaslight songs as well as songs from his solo albums.

But most of all he played an old Gaslight song “She Loves You” that I had never heard live before and never thought I would ever get the chance to because it was on a b-sides album. As soon as he played the first notes on the piano, I burst into tears like a lunatic. Plus a couple of weeks later my younger brother was able to see the same show out in California, and it meant a lot to us to be able to experience the same tour of one of our favorite musicians.

photo by Russ DeSantis for the Asbury Park Press

In September, the first annual Sear.Hear.Now music festival on the beach was held in our city, Asbury Park. Steve and I aren’t “musical festival” people so we opted to get tickets to an after party show at The Stone Pony the Saturday of the festival. This happened to be one of the greatest decisions we could have ever fucking made. Instead of paying a ton of money to stand is a packed crowd far from a stage, the headliners of the festival showed up as this tiny venue and all jammed together at midnight!

Steve nearly shit himself when Jack Johnson showed up on stage to play a few songs with The Preservation Hall jazz band. Then Brandi Carlile showed up to sing a few duets with The Tangiers Blues Band, which I also sobbed through, hahaha. Carlile’s music means so much to me and I felt honored to be able to see her perform live in such close proximity. (We’ve seen her once before, at Radio City Music Hall in NYC but that was a much different experience.) It was just an unforgettable night and will top our list of best shows we will ever see.

Brandi Carlile on stage with The Tangiers Blues Band, photo by Zoe Gulliksen
Photo: Noah K. Murray

Podcasts

In the first few weeks of 2018, New Jersey was hit with quite a few snowstorms. For the first storm, I remember layering up and realizing I was going to be shoveling snow for the next 8 hours so I needed something to keep me busy. The only podcasts I had listened to before this point was “Guys We Fucked” by Corrine Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson and “The Bailey Jay Show” with Bailey Jay and Matthew Terhune.

Thus, with a shovel in hand and the longest driveway full of snow up to my waist, I began my descent into the world of True Crime Podcasts. Like most, I started with the first season of Serial. Then S-Town. And a few others.

But then, My Favorite Murder.

Oh how I wish I could brag that I was a Murderino since Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark began their podcast in 2016, but I did devour every single episode published within weeks. I couldn’t get enough. They are still my favorite women to listen to twice a week and being a fan has truly made an impact on my life. I’m now part of several fan groups on Facebook: NJ Murderinos, Monmouth County Murderinos, etc and my personal favorite- Witcherinos (for the witches who also enjoy discussing true crime hahaha)

Once I was caught up with MFM, I tore through every series I could get my hands on: Hollywood & Crime, Dirty John, Dr. Death, Homecoming, The Teacher’s Pet, Up and Vanished, Unobscured, and more. I did listen to non-murder type of shows like The NYTimes’s Modern Love and The Jenna & Julien Podcast.

The thing is, I was so anxious and depressed that I couldn’t sit still long enough to read. My entire life I’ve been notorious for continuously having my nose in a book but in 2018 I was lucky if I got through 10 novels. Podcasts became my constant companion: I never had to be alone with my thoughts. Good or bad, it was a coping method that kept me sane. 

My mom and Steve began to get slightly worried though. Why this sudden obsession with something so horribly morbid? I eventually brought it up to my therapist, who said:

I mean, he wasn’t wrong.

Listening to stories about murder and mystery was so compelling, so fascinating, that they were able to keep my attention and distract me from my own demons. I’m going to make a conscious effort to go back to reading more in 2019. But I for sure will not give up my murder podcasts, goddamnit!

Major Events

I got to meet one of my favorite authors! Jojo Moyes who wrote “Me Before You”, came out with the third book in the series: “Still Me” in February. To kick off her book tour, the first book signing was at the Barnes and Nobles in New York City that I used to work at! It was so meaningful to meet a writer whose work has brought me comfort. Plus getting to meet her during a period this year when hardly anything made me excited. A few weeks later I finally got my bumblebee tattoo as a homage to one of her books as well as my yellow Mini Cooper (the other love of my life<3).

my bee tattoo done by Karissa Anne at Ninth Wave Tattoo, Asbury Park NJ


Something else I did in the midst of being depressed was get my nose pierced on a whim – which I actually fucking love and see myself with it for the rest of my life.

photo by Steven Shulze

But the biggest thing I did this year was RESCUE A DOG ON A WHIM.

Steve told me over and over again that a dog would not magically make me happy. But when your brain is chemically unbalanced, you’re willing to do anything to chase that sense of happiness again. Including getting a fucking dog. I mean, Carrie Fischer had her therapy french bulldog Gary. Why wouldn’t that work for me too?

Oh honey.

French Bulldog are fucking expensive and the breed is so sought after that they are never available from a rescue organization. But some backyard breeder on CraigsList in south Jersey was getting rid of his dogs because he was relocating to California. On a random Wednesday in June I told Steve I was going to come home with a dog. He said he would never tell me no, but he thought I should wait until I was feeling more myself. Psssh, reasonability was not my forte during this time.

photo by Zoe Gulliksen

So I met some random ass dude at a PetSmart parking lot, forked over $400 bucks, and came home with this sweet, crazy as fuck, cute Frenchie. Steve and I tried for weeks to find a suitable name for him, but he’s so goofy and clumsy and weird that I called him Bug and it just stuck.

And so my internet followers have been graced with this silly face ever since.

photo by Zoe Gulliksen

A dog did not fucking fix my depression, only hard work and new antidepressants did. But it certainly didn’t hurt =)

Overall, 2018 really kicked my ass. My fibromyalgia pain was the worst it had ever been, I had a migraine every other week, and I was just done. But Steve was there for every meltdown, for every day I spent curled up in bed from my whole body being in pain. He made me feel loved when I was certain that I was unlovable.

Getting professional medical help, changing jobs, and putting in the hard work on myself helped to close out 2018 on a very positive note. I’m no where near being physically better but I’m in a MUCH better mental place.

In 2019 my main goal is to take active steps towards my health. I’m in pain every day and that is no way to live a full life. So goodbye forever to 2018, a messy but adventurous year and onwards to healthier things!

photo by Zoe Gulliksen


“Most of the Sparks Are Just Sweet Little Cherry Bombs”

Hello hello!

Tuesdays are my day off and I’m going to plan having that as my update day of the week. 

Last week was rough but I still managed to do a lot, in spite of the migraine I was stuck in bed with all day Tuesday. I’ve lost so much of 2018 to migraines and staying in bed because of Fibromyalgia pain.

The one I had last week left a lingering dull ache behind my eyes until I woke up to no pain for once today! That’s a huge deal in my world these days. But even with the headache all week I still managed to check out a bunch of stuff, especially music. 

Wednesday Steve and I went to one of the local venues in Asbury Park, The House of Independents, to see Brian Fallon perform as a thank you to members of Brookdale 90.5 The Night, a local college radio station. Fallon is a local and the lead singer of the miraculous band The Gaslight Anthem. I’ve half jokingly mentioned before online that I only listen to ‘Gaslight’ and ‘Queen’ and it’s not exactly an exaggeration. Fallon is playing at another venue in New Jersey in December and including that show, Steve and Iwill have seen him play 6 shows this year (three of them were 3 shows in a row that Gaslight did as part of their reunion tour this past summer at The Stone Pony right in town). 

Fallon played a short acoustic set, mostly from his newest solo album “Sleepwalkers”. Below is a video from his first solo album “Painkillers” and most of this was shot in Asbury!


Sunday early afternoon another New Jersey native, Cranston Dean, was playing at a place at the boardwalk called Langosta Lounge. I had yet to see him live before, but Steve and my parents have and they are all big fans. It was so lovely to sit and have lunch with the ocean on one side and live music on the other. Dean is slightly gritty singer songwriter, very talented, and put on a great set!

Then Sunday night my dad didn’t get out of work on time to go see a show at House of Independents with my mom and she asked if I wanted to tag along. I’m such a homebody and leaving my house isn’t at the top of my To Do List, but living in Asbury has changed that for me. In a city that’s only one square mile, there’s 3 major concert venues and a ton of little famous bars that musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, The Clash, and more.With everything so close, I’m much more open to seeing live music than I’ve ever had been before.

The musician my mom had bought tickets for was Allen Stone, from Washington State. Stone is this kooky, hippie, goofy guy with a fucking knack for soul. I was really impressed by his vocal range and how vulnerable he was during his performance. It’s also really funny that my filipino mom is such a huge fan of his hahah. She even bought a signed poster afterwards!

Otherwise I’m just working a lot at my new job I started at in October, which I love tremendously. I’m also currently reading “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara for the Murderino Book Club I’m a part of. A real, in person, bring an appetizer of a bottle of wine, hang out with strangers you’ve never met before, book club

I go see live music multiple times a week? I love my job? I do things with people not on the Internet?

Things are certainly changing around here. 

Full Moon March Giveaway

Tonight, Thursday, is the first of two full moons this month. What better way to celebrate than to do a giveaway with 3 of my favorite companies!

Necklace from Ophelia Moon

I met Ophelia Moon at a local holiday bazar at the Asbury Park Convention Center. I fell in love with a necklace and I’m so excited to be able to giveaway one to a lucky reader! Here is their shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/opheliamoonjewelry

 

 

 Candle & Shower Melts from Houss Freya

I came across Houss Freya’s goods at a local witchery shop in town. The shower melts are to die for because who the hell has time to take a bath to use a bath bomb these days?! Not me. Once I posted about my melts on Instagram, a bunch of my friends placed orders and have also fallen in love with these incredibly well made products. The candles even come with crystals! Here is the link to her shop as well: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HoussFreya

 

Below are all the ways that you can enter to win all of these wonderful things!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Trust the Process”

Doing the daily grind, nothing too exciting (just yet) but here are a few random things:

Life

Last week I was run over the sick bus. I haven’t gotten bronchitis in years but suddenly I couldn’t breathe and I went to the doctor right away. It kicked my ass so hard for a full 7 days and I’m just now starting to feel like a human being again. Good vibes to everyone out there fighting this brutal flu plague going on right now!

While I was sick I couldn’t go to yoga and I’m actually pleased how much I hated NOT going. I went for the first time last night since feeling better and it’s just so good for my soul. Its a workout and mental therapy all wrapped up in one hippie package.

Steve and I play the “What would we do if we won the lottery” game all the time. (How else does one not get lost in the mundane daily grind of adult life?) I would get my beloved Mini Cooper restored to pristine condition, buy a vintage Austin Mini Cooper, and then buy a vintage Porsche. But other than cars- I would spend all of my time and money taking care of myself.

I would do yoga four hours a day, go see every single goddamn doctor to figure out how the hell to treat my nerve damage, eat organic healthy foods, etc. I just want the time and money to take care of myself.

Reading

I feel like I’m currently reading every single book in my house. My mind has been very restless and as a result I’ll read a few chapters of one book and then move on to a few others. I end up carrying 3 books plus my kindle in my bag because I won’t know what mood I’ll be in to read. But the main titles are:

  • “One Thousand White Women” by Jim Fergus
  • “Witch: Unleased. Untamed. Unapologetic.” by Lisa Lister
  • “A Witch Alone” by Marian Green
  • “Chakras For Beginners” by David Pond

With the exception of the first novel (which is historical fiction), I’m still very focused on my witchcraft studies.

 

Watching

When I was sick last week, I needed full on guilty pleasure trash tv – which is funny because I never watch this stuff! But I’ve always followed nerdy girl Adrienne Curry online and her Instagram inspired me to check out the very first season of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ from 2003 that she won. I binged that and then just kept watching onto the next season. It would have been so easy to keep watching but I want to focus on consuming quality media. So yesterday I started ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (LATE TO THE PARTY I KNOW). It’s amazing (duh) and I can’t wait to continue watching it.

 

Listening To

Even though I live in the musical capital of New Jersey, Asbury Park, I don’t know that much about music. My passions have always been books and movies where as my music tastes are influenced heavily by my parents. My go to’s are singer song writers of the 70s (Fleetwood Mac & James Taylor), Amy Winehouse, and Queen. BUT my favorite band would have to be Gaslight Anthem because I relate to their angsty rock plus they started in college at Rutgers, where I also graduated from.

Their lead singer Brian Fallon just released a new album and its on constant repeat in our house right now. He’s coming to play a bunch of shows nearby this summer and we are planning on going to ALL OF THEM.

 

Things otherwise are in the middle of a big change and I can’t wait to announce them soon!

The Books I Read in 2017

This was the first year that I kept track of all the books that I read all year. This was inspired by GoodRead’s yearly challenge. I took a shot in the dark and aimed for 40 books. I ended up reading 35- just short of 5, but I don’t feel any disappointment. (One of the books I even read twice but I’m not counting that one.) Some of those books were extremely long! And I lived a lot of life this year! I also started a bunch of books but put them down a few chapters in. But here are the books I did finish in 2017. My favorites have an asterisk next to them:

 

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by  Marie Kondō (224 pages)
  2. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifest  by Chuck Klosterman (272 pages)

  3. *Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (432 pages)

  4. *The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio (402 pages)

  5. Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner (400 pages)

  6. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams (432 pages)
  7. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (272 pages)

  8. *The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay (336 pages)

  9. *The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon (1,456 pages)

  10. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho (273 pages)

  11. *11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages)
  12. She Made Me Laugh: My Friend Nora Ephron by Richard Cohen (320 pages)

  13. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel (416 pages)

  14. Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison (355 pages)

  15. After the War Is Over: A Novel  by Jennifer Robson (384 pages)

  16. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger (544 pages)

  17. The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin (473 pages)

  18. Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio (334 pages)

  19. Kitchen Table Tarot: Pull Up a Chair, Shuffle the Cards, and Let’s Talk Tarot by Melissa Cynova (271 pages)

  20. When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney (298 pages)

  21. A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams (336 pages)

  22. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (435 pages)

  23. *The Witches of New York by Ami McKay (320 pages)

  24. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (564 pages)

  25. *The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (371 pages)

  26. Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson (352 pages)

  27. The Address by Fiona Davis (354 pages)

  28. *A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (928 pages)

  29. *La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman (464 pages)

  30. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (366 pages)

  31. F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed by Corinne Fisher, Krystyna Hutchinson (256)

  32. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (416 pages)

  33. Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor (384 pages)

  34. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (448 pages)

  35. The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?: Adventures and Agonies in Fashion by Brittany Gibbons (240 pages)

Total number of pages read: 14,977

That’s not bad at all! I like that I mostly stuck with WWII pieces with the odd one thrown in. For 2018 I have set my goal to 50 books! Maybe this motivate me to step up my reading habits and totally conquer it this year.