Of Book Recommendations, Depression, And What Is In Your Purse.

Hello Snarklings! This installment of Gothic Charm School is another mixed selection of things, with book recommendations, helpful information from other readers, a question about depression, and some musings on what essentials should be in one’s handbag or backpack?

Firstly, the book recommendations! Remember the plight of Amanda, who wanted suggestions for gothic reading that didn’t have supernatural themes? Gothic Charm School readers sent in enough suggestions to fill a room full of bookcases; many of the suggestions caused the Lady of the Manners to slap her forehead and exclaim, “Of COURSE! Why didn’t I remember that one?” So! In no particular order, a non-supernatural Gothic Reading List:

There are the classics, of course. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James ”¦ in other words, Amanda (and other readers looking for interesting, dark fiction) should investigate 19th century Gothic literature.

But what about modern day works? One suggestion that came up time and time again was A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket. (A series that the Lady of the Manners herself has not finished reading, but is always amused by the books every time she indulges in one.) Another reader reminded the Lady of the Manners of the works of Angela Carter, such as The Magic Toyshop or Nights At The Circus. We Have Always Lived At The Castle by Shirley Jackson is a masterpiece of creepy writing, but without the ghosts that are in her The Haunting of Hill House (a book that leaves the Lady of the Manners twitching with dread every time she reads it).

Another reader suggested the Flowers in the Attic series by V. C. Andrews; while the Lady of the Manners must agree that those books are full of horrific things and just plain wrongness without a hint of supernatural influences, she’s not entirely sure she feels comfortable suggesting them.

The final suggestion the Lady of the Manners is going to offer came from a very clever reader, who pointed out that Anne Rice is no longer writing novels of the supernatural, but is now writing books about the life of Jesus Christ. While the Lady of the Manners hasn’t read any of them, she feels it is safe to assume that Anne Rice has not turned away from her classic bombastic and lurid writing style. (Of which, to be perfectly clear, the Lady of the Manners is a big fan.)

So there you are, Amanda (and other Snarklings)! Get to the library, and start reading!

Another Gothic Charm School reader wrote in with some very good advice for Pixie, the young lady starting work at an elderly care home:

Gracious Madam,

I write to you regarding the letter from Pixie that you answered recently. I am a charge nurse at a very lovely nursing home in Wyoming. Expressing my Gothic elegance has never been very difficult, and I have some suggestions that you may pass on to her.

Scrubs come in a variety of colors and styles, including black. If she were to buy them close to Halloween there are lots of neat prints to choose from. Also, being designed for people in the health professions, scrubs can be found in prints with bones and other organs printed on them year round.
I usually buy black ones that have draw string waist bands under the bust. They look great over a corset.

Many of the elderly have low vision, and I have found that many of the residents appreciate my makeup. The contrast allows them to differentiate the features of my face. instead of a peach colored blob surrounded by a dark brown haze, they also get to see a red blob where my mouth is and two darker spots where my eyes are. I do tone it down a little but it is darker than anybody else wears their make up. On days that I don’t have time to do my face before work I actually get complaints.

I only dye the bottom 6 inches of my hair unnatural colors(it is past my waist), so that I can tuck it unnoticeably into a bun.

I would not recommend jewelry ever. A confused elderly person can exert more strength than they may appear to have, and if they become combative they may rip our earrings, or break necklaces. Rings are Ok as long as you think that they will hold up to frequent hand washing.

The elderly appreciate good manners and if she gets them on her side and proves herself to be a consistently hard worker, polite, friendly and happy to do her job without complaining, she will probably be allowed to get away with more self expression.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter,

China (last name removed) RN

China, thank you so much for sharing your insights about being a Goth working in the health care field. Your letter was very thoughtful; the Lady of the Manners was delighted to receive it and to share it with the readers of Gothic Charm School. Again, thank you.

A Snarkling named Jessica wrote in with a very serious question:

Dear Lady of the Manners, I hope you are not too busy to offer your advice on a dilemma of mine. You see, I suspect I suffer from depression but I refrain from talking to anybody about it for fear they may blame my being a goth for it or not believe me thinking I am merely being gloomy on purpose to boost my gothy image or something silly of that sort. Thank you for reading my letter and I hope you can help.

Oh Jessica, the Lady of the Manners’ heart goes out to you, for that is a difficult situation to be in. But the Lady of the Manners wants to encourage you to talk to people about your concern that you could be dealing with depression, especially a counsellor or therapist of some sort, because staying locked inside a cage your brain is making for you won’t make things any better.

The trick to talking about depression and being a Goth is to make it clear to people that being a Goth has nothing to do with being depressed. It isn’t a requirement, and it certainly isn’t a state that Goths aspire to. As the Lady of the Manners has said before, Goth is about finding beauty in darkness and in the unexpected, about acknowledging that the world isn’t always a good place, and still finding things of interest in those less-than-pleasant instances. Gracious, there are many, many people in the world struggling with depression who aren’t gothy in the slightest.

The best thing the Lady of the Manners can think of for you to do is to sit down and write out what Goth means to you; why you’re interested in all of the dark and spooky things, and why it’s important to you. Because once you have figured that out, then making it clear to people that Goth is separate from the depression you’re battling will be easier. At least, that’s what the Lady of the Manners hopes.

The Lady does know that, no matter what they might be, dealing with people’s misconceptions is difficult. Doing so with the insidious whispers of depression also weighing on your mind takes even more effort.

Also, the Lady of the Manners wants to congratulate you for recognizing that there might be something amiss and for looking for help. That is no small task, and the Lady of the Manners wishes the best of luck to you.

The final question in this installment of Gothic Charm School comes from Bloodysyren, who asks:

I know that this is a purely subjective question, but what do you think are essentials that every Goth should carry in their handbag, backpack, tote bag, or coffin-shaped carry on? Things that no Goth should be without?

Oh goodness. The Lady of the Manners has been known to keep small children entertained for ages by playing the What’s In The Purse? game, but she also knows that not everyone wants to have a magical (hand)bag of holding. However, what the Lady of the Manners considers to be the Gothy Essentials are as follows. (Not including such basic essentials as house keys, ID, a phone, and emergency money for a bus or taxi home, because she assumes all of you would carry those things if you have them.)

  • A few safety pins. (Well actually, the Lady of the Manners thinks you should carry a tiny sewing kit, but three or four safety pins will temporarily fix most wardrobe mishaps.)
  • Facial blotting papers or tissues, to deal with a shiny nose or forehead.
  • A small mirror, whether it’s part of a powder compact or not.
  • An eyeliner pencil. (You could carry liquid liner, but for on-the-go cosmetic fixes, pencil tends to be simpler.)
  • Lipstick or lip balm. (The Lady of the Manners prefers lipstick, but that’s because she feels oddly naked if she leaves the house without coloring her lips the hue of blood wine.)
  • A handkerchief, because you never know when you need to deal with something untidy. (The Lady of the Manners would also suggest some individually-wrapped wet wipes, but insists that you promise never to attempt to use them to correct another’s makeup without their explicit permission. No matter how often the Lady of the Manners has joked about taking a wet-nap to some creature’s ”¦ haphazard attempt at eyeliner, she hasn’t ever done so.)
  • A pen and paper, in case you need to write anything down.
  • Earplugs, in case of spontaneous club or concert -going.
  • Whatever sort of music player you have, and whatever headphones fit in your bag. (The Lady of the Manners gets a bit twitchy if she doesn’t have music with her.)

And finally, something to read. (The Lady of the Manners considers herself very lucky, as she has an iPhone and thus has her favorite books, music, and music videos with her at all times.)

Coming soon (well, eventually) to Gothic Charm School: a review of clothing (oh, wonderful clothing!) from Spin Doctor, a write-up of the Vampire Masquerade Ball, a write-up of Wave Gotik Treffen from Special Correspondant Marc17 , a letter asking why Goths feel the need to be snippy and snarky at non-Goths (a very good letter, that makes some very important points!), and perhaps some more book recommendations. But for now, the Lady of the Manners is going to go have some rose and violet chocolate cremes (thank you again, MoonMelody!), and finish watching The Lost Boys for the umpteen-billionth time. As always, Snarklings, feel free to browse the archives here at Gothic Charm School, and oh, perhaps send a letter if you feel like it …

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