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Rad Gals

Rad Gal Inspiration: Amber Tamblyn

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Amber Tamblyn Poetry Collection

Amber Tamblyn is a force of nature. She is fierce and feminist, passionate and intelligent, a contemporary poet who gives me strength, inspiration, and hope.

I first fell in love with Amber Tamblyn at the age of fourteen, when I saw her portray Tibby in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films. I adored the series in middle school, and Tibby was always my favorite character: cynical, a little angsty, but also full of love for her friends. I fell out of touch with what Amber Tamblyn was up to after the movies, only vaguely aware that she was still plenty active–but aware nonetheless. However, it wasn’t until college that she was fully on my radar again, when I discovered that she had written not one but two collections of poetry, her second having just been released. As excited as I was, though, they sat on my Amazon wishlist for years; I only just ordered my copy of Free Stallion, the first of her collections and the last to add to my shelves, last month. Still, from the moment I opened up Dark Sparkler, which I rushed to Barnes & Noble and specially asked if they had in stock shortly before I went to a reading in Boston, I was in love all over again.

Amber wasn’t just the actress to embody cool, punk-ish Tibby to me anymore. She was Amber Tamblyn, awe-inspiring poet. She was doing something that I admired and that I dreamed of doing myself. Finally encountering her work pulled me out of a writing slump of which I hadn’t realized the extent, and in the months following, I wrote and released my first chapbook. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading my way through her work once again and have since started on my second collection. You’d be hard pressed to convince me there wasn’t some correlation between the two.

Her work is intense, and her use of words is striking; she does not mince them. There may be fear there–is anyone truly fearless?–but she doesn’t let it stop her, whether it’s in telling a story of tragedy (as in a number of Dark Sparkler pieces) or making a political statement. While I believe everyone should try their hand at poetry, not everyone has the sense to use the medium quite like she does, with the perfect melding of adroitness, ferocity, and raw honesty. She tells her truth, whatever it is, and it resonates with me in a way that not all other poetry does. I can admire myriad other poets and other work, but that doesn’t mean that it hits me in the gut like hers does.

To be honest, there’s not much else for me to say. Amber Tamblyn’s work is something that makes me want to do better in my writing, to work harder and keep learning, in the hope that someday I can love my own words even a fraction as much as I do hers.

April 24, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Kat von D

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If you follow my bookstagram, you’ve probably seen me gush about one of my favorite bad ass babes Kat von D a little bit. Well, dude, here’s the extended cut.

My mom inadvertently introduced me to KvD by simply mentioning LA Ink at one time or another, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I started watching it and fell head over heels. This was the first year that I started using Netflix, and while the streaming options weren’t what they are now, LA Ink was one of the first shows to introduce me to binge watching.

It should go without saying that, as with most reality television, much of the drama of the series was manufactured purely for entertainment, but if you watch the series and read between the cleverly edited lines, you can see an incredibly smart, passionate, and intelligent woman.

She’s built up a number of businesses, from a renowned tattoo shop to a popular makeup brand, all based on one uniting love–art–and turned that into her life. She’s put everything together with so much love and kindness, so much respect for the people she works with. A glance at both her personal and beauty Instagram accounts shows her affection for her teammates, from personalized gifts to just voicing her support. She wants people to be her family, not just her employees, and it sounds like such a beautiful community to have built around herself.

As someone who loves tattoos and makeup, I can’t help falling in love with Kat.  As someone who wants to build her own life around her art, I find Kat to be a huge contemporary inspiration, even if her medium of choice is different. I look at the way she holds herself, with conviction for her beliefs, courage in what she does, and an endless well of creativity, and I can’t help but try to model some part of myself after her. She’s obviously doing something right, and if she can do it with respect for others and herself, it’s worth emulating.

I think about what her daily life might look like, what it looked like when she was starting out, and I find ways to adapt that to my own dreams. (Spoiler: It’s a lot of hard work.) She obviously devotes time to her craft, so naturally I do that. She’s always trying to improve her already amazing art skills, always learning how to be even better, finding time to do even a few sketches here or there as practice. Similarly, I make sure to make time nearly every day now to read and write, even if only for ten minutes in my journal.

She also takes the time to meet and collaborate with others, even those who might be considered competition. The Too FacedxKat von D makeup collection is arguably groundbreaking in the fact that makeup production can be such a competitive industry, but the fact that these two teams came together to make something great is inspiring. While I haven’t done a collaboration of my own yet, I’d like to start swapping writing with others for critiquing and perhaps work on a writing project with another person in the future. I’d like to believe in the power of being better together.

And finally, Kat takes the time to indulge in other hobbies, such as music. I think we can all forget to take that important break once in a while where we don’t take a break from our work, even if it’s work we love. My own outlets are photography, baking, and makeup. I’ve dabbled in other things that still come up once in a while, like ukulele or drawing, but those three are the most relaxing to me, the ones in which I’m most willing to invest time and money.

Overall, Kat von D just takes care of herself and takes care of her soul. She works hard and gives herself playtime. She surrounds herself with people who inspire and support her just as she does them.

She just gives me such warm fuzzies, dude.

Who’s inspiring you lately?

February 27, 2017

Rad Gal Inspiration: Amanda Palmer

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When I was fifteen, I got tickets to see a fresh-faced band named Panic! at the Disco out by the seacoast with my then-best friend. To prepare, I looked into the opening acts: The Hush Sound and this weird as hell band The Dresden Dolls. It was a time before anything and everything you could ever want to investigate was on YouTube, so my Google searches had to be a little more thought out, taking time and clicking just the right links. Most likely, I found them both on MySpace with their songs available for streaming, though I can’t be sure after all these years. I investigated, and The Hush Sound were great–a little funky, ethereal at times, yet sweet in their sound of pianos, guitars, and vocals far beyond my range. They were catchy.

But the Dresden Dolls would not leave my brain. Their toy sounds and intoxicating, rough vocals kept repeating in my head and, after buying their first album, my Discman. There was a discordance to their sound that I could connect with, as if something inside of their music was, to my surprise, inside of me too.

These days I don’t listen quite as much as I did then, even though I’m often telling myself I should, but Amanda Palmer’s strength both as a performer and as a person strikes me as inspirational. She’s often on my mind, especially with my recent dive into Patreon.

As with probably every woman I end up writing about as an inspiration, Amanda has not been exempt from controversy, from claims that she wasn’t paying her band to the suggestion that her Patreon funds shouldn’t go towards her child. She is bold and outspoken, an ardent feminist who is open to criticism and acknowledges it. Just a few weeks ago she shared on Facebook a post from her Patreon group page that raised the idea that her fan space is predominately white, and instead of an argument, cordial (for the most part) discussion arose.

She also doesn’t shy away from her emotions, and she especially doesn’t take any shit from anyone. So often women are told to be quiet, not to talk about what upsets them or how they’re feeling, or else they’re “crazy feminsts” or “overemotional” or whatever other ridiculousness people want to use to shut us up. Amanda, however, is a force to reckoned with–and respected if not admired. She doesn’t let fear and judgement stop her from putting herself out there for her art and her passions, even if she still grapples with those things like the rest of us mortals.

If you’ve read her book or watched her TED Talk, you’ll have heard of The Bride, Amanda’s eight-foot-tall street performer persona in which she covered herself in white stage makeup, donned a long, vintage white bridal gown, and stood on a crate on the sidewalk. Through jeers of “Get a job!” and objects thrown at her–mixed among the quiet observers and people stopping to drop money into her can–she literally put herself on display, making herself vulnerable but pushing through because it was her job.

It’s also no wonder why she has a loyal, supportive following. She keeps engaged with them and lets them know how much she appreciates their love. She’s been a huge advocate of Twitter for years, using it as one of her main ways to connect with her fans. That kind of commitment to the people who support her is something not often seen among famous people, but she makes it a part of her day to let us know what she’s thinking, to respond to our comments, and to share bits from around the internet that she thinks we would enjoy or should know. Recently, I’ve tried to make this a part of my own routine, and while I don’t always have the same amount of time to allot to this, I have felt a marked improvement in my internet use by engaging rather than only observing.

Whereas other women role models make me feel amused or happy by their inspiring actions, Amanda Palmer makes me feel strong, capable. She makes me feel like maybe I can do anything, too, or at least that it’s worth trying.

January 30, 2017