Deteriorating is a Becoming Event

Photos by Yuhan Cheng

Words by Carly McGoldrick


The last few weeks have felt particularly heavy. There’s a certain bleakness, now, as the city turns colder and old snow accumulates along the sidewalks. Puddles are getting cloudier, and I haven’t been able to go outside for more than ten minutes without freezing. Time is moving more slowly. I wish the sun didn’t set so early in the day.

I’ve been spending a lot of time swaying in the darkness of my room, blinds closed, half-comatose. I clutch my arms so tightly to my torso to contend with the cold, and also to avoid letting any important pieces of myself fall out.

There’s a nervousness and a fear, for whatever reason, that as the seasons change, and the snow freezes, and then melts and then falls again, that some piece of my identity is getting lost along the way.

It’s sort of indescribable, the feeling of deterioration. If nature is collapsing in on itself, why can’t I?

I exist in many forms.

It’s taken me awhile to believe that.

For years, I’ve suppressed my multitudes as a means of becoming

more digestible by other people.

It’s frightening to come to the realization

That I had been shaping myself so exhaustively

To satisfy the likes of others,

Rather than developing my own identity.

To instead become a shell of expectations, rather than a whole person.

I‘ve always liked to see myself reflected in my environment.

Now, instead of changing myself,

I change the things I see.

I go on walks.

I admire the water as it freezes and thaws,

Allowing its smooth form to run alongside its more jagged one,

Not fearful of the way in which its two versions are different.

Like that water,

I coexist with myself.

I am not fully one thing, but rather, I am many,

And I am transforming constantly.

I remember speaking to my mother on the phone in the airport terminal a month or two ago, before my flight home to Ohio. I had tears streaming down my face. At that time in my life, even the temporary change of a location, like the one from Massachusetts to Ohio, was disorienting. I didn’t want to go. I’m currently learning to adapt to that kind of infinitesimal change.

It was raining that day, and I remember how the raindrops framed the grime on the terminal windows, illuminating the planes and the runways and the workers and the luggage, all battling the storm outside. It’s funny how something so normal and so harmless, like water, can be such a nuisance.

When I got to Ohio that evening, it was snowing. I missed the rain in Massachusetts, but I would imagine I was glad to be see that Midwestern snow I had known and loved my whole life.

I’ve learned, or am currently learning, that there’s much to be learned from water, in all its forms. There’s power in deteriorating, in the ability to break oneself down, to then build oneself back up in another form. Like rain in one place, turning cold in another, I seek to become more comfortable with change. There lies much power in fluidity, and I’m learning to embrace that.

How Did We Get Here

by Leah Heath

They step up and close their eyes, pulling their entire selves into this moment. Complete and totally. Anticipating the final resurgence for the crowd. They begin by first moving their arms. Bones moving smoothly under their skin, shoulder blades moving…IN…OUT.

The crowd wonders what they’ve seen to get to this point. What memories flash through these women’s eyes to make them move the way they do. They create these images for the crowds as well though. One man thinks of his wife’s arm, sliding across the cream bedsheet. A woman sees her mom slam a stick near her feet in a heated act to prompt removal of one’s presence from the room.

Breathe in so loud, everyone can hear you. Hands skyrocket. Make sure not to point your toes. This is not ballet and life is not so graceful a dance as to be thought so. Snap into position, noting positions of yourself and those around the room, as well as a moment for the audience to think about that one movement, and continue.. Open lungs meet with open ribs. We make sure to put our entire selves into this dance. Giving ourselves to these strangers, who will then go home to sleep with these memories we make for them.

A man in the hall just outside finds a sharp piece of mirror. He picks it up and wraps it into his hand. Sliding the shard into his pocket but make sure to keep its grip. Slide into the crowd and experience this bewitchment first-hand. Crazy, right! You feel the rhythm. How is this not creating a chain reaction with the audience? The man with the mirror piece decides to be the first of the chain.

Stepping out of the audience and up to the edge of the stage. He stands up there with his fist raised, and within it a shard of the mirror. Everyone stops and stares. The dancers stand straight backed with hands at their sides waiting to see what he’ll do. He stands, still with all eyes on him, and slams the shard to the ground. Bursting ethereally across the dance floor. Oh no! They’ll cut their feet now, he thinks. He looks at the main dancer, inhales and steps onto the shattered mirror bits, creating a sheering sound against the ground. He starts his own dance to invoke them all. This…this is how it is supposed to be done.

Enticing the rest of the crowd, they get up and start in this flowing dance. Individually they figure out how to move their bodies in this chaotic way. Feeling the rhythm, one woman crouches low to the ground and picks up one of the mirror shards and laughs. Laughing, everyone continues, as the dancers watch. We’ve ruined this game for them, unable to dance; they could, of course, make a choice. Stay outside of what was once their box, or mar their feet forever to be a part of this one beautiful and unrelenting night full of the movement in their bones. The choice is yours.

Illustration by Queenn Mckend

Illustration by Queenn Mckend

Goth Glam on Instagram

You probably already know of Josephine Lee, model and artist of @princessgollum fame. Josephine is currently serving as a Dazed Beauty Player, representing the “future of beauty” on Dazed Magazine’s new beauty platform.

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motherfucker im i’ll

A post shared by J•E•THЯEE (@darkwebhorsegirl) on

“Not a girl but a horse girl” (They/Them)

Jay gives us CONSISTENT intricate goth makeup looks with spiders, barbed wire, centipedes and more. They have beautiful pet rats and frequently change the color of their mullet. They also share about their journey of recover and sobriety which is EXTREMELY bad ass and goth! Follow for vulnerability, honestly, inspiration, looks and RATS.

art by Enne Goldstein

art by Enne Goldstein

Jay told em, “My account isn’t a dedicated makeup page, or health food page, or any type of account that I could see people wanting to follow. It’s literally just my life, and I guess 18,000 people take interest in that. I feel like people recognize that I try to be honest about the fact that while social media only shows your audience what you want them to see, my life isn’t perfect. I work a minimum wage job and live paycheck to paycheck. I’m in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. I watch too much WWE and I’ve found that many people find that inspiring—that’s important to me. If I can use the slight following that I have (saying that makes me feel weird and icky but I guess it’s the case) to be a positive influence of some sort and of service to others, then I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing.”

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frizzy hair madness

A post shared by louis (@slaytrixx) on

Here at em Magazine we LOVE to see local Bostonians lighting up the Instagram feed with goth glamour. Louis of @slaytrixx frequently sports studs, chains and leather but isn’t limited to one look. His Instagram also frequently features art, with details from paintings, sculptures and photographs for a bit of macabre inspiration. Louis told em Mag, “I would describe my style as glamour mixed with gritty, raw punk and goth influences. Many of which include Lou reed, Nico from the Velvet Underground, Rozz Williams and the British punk rock movement. Androgyne is a huge aspect of my style, I like to alter my form and appearance every single day, I never leave the house looking the same as I did before, almost taking on the form of someone else, it’s very invigorating for me.”

I Know A Place

Why are we dissatisfied? Everyone I know seems to feel cripplingly inadequate. We compare ourselves to each other, and to what we perceive as greatness.

Why am I not a published writer? Why don’t I work at a production company? Why don’t I have a robust online following of adoring teen fans? When will I get invited to Fashion Week?

I know I am not the only one with seemingly ridiculous dreams and aspirations, coupled with a serious tendency to disparage myself and my achievements.  

I cannot deny within myself a desire to change‒to be satisfied here. With all my heart, I wish that I could relish the present and take joy in working hard, right here where I am. It seems, at times, the scope of my dreams is crippling‒the fear of not achieving them, even more so.

Will I be able to make myself even a fraction of the person I want to be?

Great women are my biggest inspiration. Recently, I’ve been inspired by the girls in the up and coming pop band MUNA. They’re three confident, queer women whose lyrics offer raw honesty and empowerment.

While observing the success of young women, I often find myself caught between two opposing feelings. I compare myself to them, feeling jealous of their achievements that contrast with my mountains of confusion and perceived failure. At the same time, there is nothing more exciting to me than seeing women being empowered and celebrated for their abilities.

In MUNA’s song “I Know A Place,” the lead singer Katie sings, “I can tell / When you get nervous / You think being yourself / Means being unworthy / And it’s hard to love / With a heart that’s hurting / But if you want to go out dancing /  I know a place /  I know a place we can go / Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon.” I recently saw the band play at Brighton Music Hall and those simple lyrics struck me. Why do we constantly fall into a cycle of focusing on our own unworthiness‒whether it’s at work, at school, or in romantic relationships?

The band wrote the song for the post-Trump era to empower the LGBTQ community, as a source of liberation and celebration in the face of so much pain and even violence. In addition to physical weapons, the weapons of hate and political oppression have also been used against queer people for far too long, and the lack of relief is staggering. The lyrics speak to that as well as to broader issues of shame and self-loathing within and outside the community.

Greatness is not objective. There is no peak of achievement I need to reach in order to be happy. No accolades, fame, or financial success will make me love myself.

After seeing MUNA’s Lay Down Your Weapons tour, I feel the need to lay down the weapons I use against myself: comparison, discouragement, shame. I want to use my inexhaustible dreams, not to attack myself, but to motivate myself to work harder and create more. I’m tired of letting my hopes and dreams become a shadow hanging over my head. I want them to become goals I am motivated towards, rather than reasons to beat myself to a pulp whenever I think I fall short.

Text by Abigail Baldwin


The blazing reds and neon yellows of the restaurant and store signs radiated off the gray and brown bricks of the Chinatown buildings. They looked like dozens of individual flames from where we stood, stories above the sidewalk. People scurried between them, buzzing and rushing, their words torn apart by the wind. The rooftop was a glowing turquoise-blue, almost as dazzling as the view of the city’s skyline. It rested on top of an eight-story building, and, standing there, we seemed to tower over Boston and all of the lives, information, and urgency contained in its limits.

It had been a journey to get there — consisting of a scavenger hunt through the streets of Chinatown, a ride in a cramped elevator, a sprint up a flight of stairs, a scaling of a chain-link fence, and a precarious crawl over a ledge. There was no denying that we were searching for something — something we couldn’t find during our daily routines— that resided high above reality. We seemed to be pushing up and out toward something fresh and new. Surrounding us were only windows, rooftops, and horizontal light.

It was author Paulo Coelho who said, “The adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days.” There’s something about a little power shooting through our veins that gives the feeling of being truly alive. According to science-and-technology journalist Jeff Wise, “When we find ourselves under intense pressure, fear unleashes reserves of energy that normally remain inaccessible. We become, in effect, superhuman.” This natural superpower causes not only “hysterical strength”—as in cases of emergency that allow an approximately average person to lift up a car and save someone trapped underneath—but also acute awareness and a heightened state of mental ability. This heightened sense of living can “help you achieve and overcome whatever adversity you’re facing in that moment,” as noted by the fear-seeking and world-record-holding big-wave surfer Chris Bertish.

It seems to be no coincidence that we found ourselves 80 feet above the ground at the beginning of this new year. With the constant bombardments of breaking news in the form of politics, trends, and disappointments, as well as the numbness that seemed to accompany 2016, there was an intense need for a new sense of being. In this case, it came in the form of literal heightened living. It pushed us into both a new crispness, a sharp unknown, as well as a quiet outlook, worthy of tranquil reflection.

It’s too easy to say we were searching for perspective; instead, we were searching for a little adrenaline to help us overcome this ever-present adversity. It was like a burst of life that had the ability to unlock our stored energy, hidden away for moments of emergency. Now is the time to unleash those reserves of energy, that superhuman ability. There is something important in the feeling of your heart beating in your ears and your stomach dropping to your knees. This is what we found, standing over the world.

Text by Hannah McKennett

Photos by Goldmon Fong