Making a Killjoy Jacket Part One

Good afternoon!

In a non-corona world, I’d be headed to Milton Keynes today to see My Chemical Romance for the first time since 2011. Instead I am at home, looking up what happens when you accidentally swallow a cherry pit. I suppose I could conceivably do both.

Anyway, I wanted to commemorate the day, partly as a reminder to myself that I have one year until MCR actually play in Milton Keynes (and therefore one year to get fit enough to dance through a 90-minute set, as thanks to lockdown inactivity I am knackered after a forty minute walk). The other reason is that I think I mentioned in a video back in May that I’ve been customising a jacket for the show?

It’s not finished, and probably wouldn’t have been finished even if corona hadn’t happened… but on the plus side, I now have a year to make it look Very Cool. In fact, even though I’ve only done a couple of embellishments, I think it could be legitimately considered a killkoy jacket.

Before I show you it, I think it deserves some back story: towards the end of last year (or maybe the beginning of this one; I feel like 2020 has gone on for a decade), I came across an initiative by Southend council to encourage clothes swapping. It was in one of the shopping malls, with two council workers plus a couple of racks and bin bags of clothes that people had donated through the recycling system. I’m assuming your council has something similar: you fill a plastic sack clearly marked TEXTILES (our textiles sacks are grey) and leave it on your curb with the other assorted rubbish.

I always wondered what happened to the clothes – I usually only put in garments that are damaged past fixing or donating to that scheme where they give you 50p per kilogram of clothes and ship them to disadvantaged people in eastern Europe. I assumed the fabrics were sorted out and broken down for recycling to be turned into pencils or something. None of my grey textiles sack clothing would be suitable for a clothes swap, but the ones on this stall were in really good nick – some even had tags. Naturally, I stopped for a rummage and found… a military jacket. Not that type of military jacket, MCR fans. The modern-ish type.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a big dark camouflage-y jacket with big pockets, but I am suspicious of anything beige or taupe, which rules out most of them. This jacket, though, was pretty cool. It was originally from New Look, had huge pockets and smelt a bit like cigarettes.

The whole point of the clothes swap was to exchange goods, but as I’d just wandered over with nothing to swap, the ladies on the stall were kind enough to let me take it. I promised I’d be back with my old clothes, but then corona happened, so I might have to wait to fulfill my debt to the universe.

Okay, story’s done, here it is:

green khaki New Look jacket with MCR and Raven Cycle patches
back of dark green New Look jacket
I did wash it before doing anything

I should add that originally, it was just the jacket plus the star patch on the front pocket and the Route 66 badge on the sleeve. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture until after I’d started adding bits.

I already had a Fun Ghoul patch from MCR’s killjoys era that I’d originally planned to put onto a bag but had, inevitably, sat in my sewing box for eight years. To the uninitiated, that’s the yellow patch, it was part of Frank Iero’s killjoy jacket. They don’t sell the jacket or the patch any more but someone put it on Pinterest for posterity if you fancy an eyeball. I thought it might be fun to put the patch on my jacket where it sat on the original.

Earlier this year I snaffled an Aglionby Academy patch which begged to go on something ostentatious. To the uninitiated, that’s the blue patch, a fan-designed logo of the school in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. I highly recommend you check out the artist, Caroline Dougherty. She helped produce The Major Arcana, a very cool Raven Cycle illustration anthology, as well as being a fantastic artist in her own right. The Algionby patch was actually the first thing I put on the jacket, but it’s a) not centred and b) is peeling a little, so I might redo the whole thing.

In terms of finished design, I want to add a mourning armband that came with the May Death Never Stop You CD, that greatest hits album that Warner Bros put out when MCR ended. It says ‘MCR 2001-2013’ so feels fitting to wear it to an MCR show no one expected to happen. According to the internet, mourning armbands are traditionally worn on the left arm, so I’ve unpicked the Route 66 patch and might pop it elsewhere later:

green jacket with unpicked Route 66 patch and unpicker

The armband is going to take forever to attach because it’s made to fit the Average Man Arm and I have Quite Small Lady Arms, as does the jacket. There’s far more armband than sleeve, but I’ll figure something out. There’s time.

To conclude – because this is reminding me of a proper craft article, haha – the jacket is beginning to feel a lot like something the killjoys would wear on down days. I think Gerard might have worn something green and camo-esque at their return show last year, so it feels fitting to add bits and pieces to mine until Milton Keynes next year. I’m fully planning to wear it around and about, too, because I am not one to look a pocket horse in the mouth. It’s quite nice denim-y material, too, not too heavy for warmer months but not too light to be useful.

I don’t know what I’ll add to the back. My two great artistic loves, MCR and The Raven Cycle, are fully repped, so maybe something mythology-related? Or tarot-related? There are some fantastic patches on Folksy and Etsy, and I have a good collection of enamel pins to add. But first I need to fix the Aglionby patch!

Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas and I will strive to keep you updated.

Look after yourselves!

I Had an MCR Listening Party, Come Join Me

Frank Iero fuck off gif

This evening I posted on social media about MCR, which is not unusual, but I guess listening to MCR is becoming less and less everyday for me. This is partly because I have a couple of jobs that require a communal radio and/or relative silence and partly because there are other demands on my ears these days. Troye Sivan. Lorde. The sound of my conscience as it reminds me I haven’t worked on that giant writing project I want to finish drafting by spring. But My Chemical Romance is My Chemical Romance and the world is better with My Chemical Romance in it, so as I wrote this I had a little listening party at my desk. And as a My Chem listening party is a rock ‘n’ roll Wednesday night pursuit, I thought I’d make it into a helpful step-by-step guide so you too can mosh on a weekday!

Step 1: Compile MCR’s discography into Random.org

Hit ‘randomise’!

Step 2: Pick the first 5 songs that appear

  • “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
  • “The End.”
  • “Sing”
  • “Mama” (featuring Liza Minnelli)
  • “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Deathwish” (listed as “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish” in the album liner notes)

Step 3: Youtube that shit, even though you have every song legally on a disc somewhere

Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Until I looked for the official Eyeball Records video and couldn’t find it, I hadn’t realised I’d never sat through the entire video for Vampires (although I think I have it on about 3 DVDs, so). Anyway it is here it is courtesy of some kindly soul:

I had never considered what Ray Toro might look like with no hair, and I am discomfited to realise he looks exactly like Ray Toro, except if Ray Toro was in a choir. Frank, man, I am so glad you got rid of those dreads. You remind me of the stoner kids I see in Southend. The Way brothers are, of course, changeless. Musically I have never had a clue what Vampires is about other than vampires – death? Rebirth? Betrayal? Time running out? – but I feel a short story coming on. Also I have a feeling the ‘like ghosts in the snow bit’ is gonna be way more fun if I do this exercise again after a couple of drinks.

The End

Fortunately when I entered the discography into Random.org, I included the track numbers. The End in this case was Track 1, thus the first song on The Black Parade, not to be confused with To The End, track three on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Easy mistake to make though, and I have made it approximately 8000 times in my 11 years as an MCR fan.

Fun fact: the first time I heard this was on an iPod shuffle (look it was 11 years ago) and when it ended abruptly I thought I’d hit a button and went back to play it again. I still love the bleep-bleep-bleep intro, and harbour a dream that if I’m ever unlucky enough to be on a heart monitor, I’ll just think it’s an MCR song and sit back happily while doctors panic over the rate of the bleeps. I also feel fond of the line ‘when I grow up I want to be nothing at all’ because in my old age that has become a comforting thought.

SING

The song that inspired the name for The Webways. The song that infuriated that FOX News man. The pop song that’s kind of a punk song?

Other than the greatly improved haircuts, my favourite thing about this video is the number of Mindless Self Indulgence members who make an appearance. I’d forgotten how rich the storytelling is: the wall projections, the posters, the freedom-fighters-versus-the-powerful narrative. It’s kind of ironic that Danger Days was set in 2019 – nuclear war and brightly coloured kids protesting the government was kind of novel in 2010. Now it’s the news.

Mama

No one in the universe is currently making music as interesting as this song. That is all.

It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish

When I was 16 I did an intricate art project in which I worked MCR lyrics from every song into a giant ‘MCR’. With boarder. I did not photograph it well; the end result did not reflect the work I put in. The lyric I chose for Deathwish was ‘you get what everyone else gets/you get a lifetime’ as those lines are as close as I have come to finding a mantra to live by. How can I feel spiritually enlightened by a song that also makes me want to throw red paint at a church altar?

Ugh, to be 16 again and have the time for leisurely listens and fansites. I love the new music I listen to now, but 5 years ago I did not go near pop because pop was not substantial. MCR was substantial. These days I feel like pop might be one of the only substantial things around. I read an entire article the other day about how Hayley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan kinda-sorta made queer/pop history by releasing their videos on the same day. No one had previously normalised same sex attraction in such a way, apparently (I can hear George Michael’s ghost rolling his eyes though). MCR broke new ground every time they released an album, because every album took what was expected of them and rolled it on its head… I don’t really get those vibes from rock any more, but maybe that’s because I stopped reading Kerrang! when they started comparing MCR’s drummer situation to that of Spinal Tap’s. Or maybe I have responsibilities now and need soft lil pop sounds to ease me into my mid-twenties. Who knows. I might weave some MCR into that project I’m working on. I might spend my next wages on an overpriced MCR shirt. I might go to California in 2019.

Probably can’t afford the shirt and the plane ticket though, ha.

The Three Types of New Year’s Resolution

Gerard Way fist pump I'm Not Okay I Promise video by My Chemical Romance

I got a pitch email earlier from an SEO company saying ‘your Instagram is great and deserves to be seen by more than 186 people!’ I nearly replied with ‘actually that’s 185 people, get with the programme – some new bookstagram account followed me yesterday and has since disappeared back to the Instasphere. Thanks for the encouragement though!’

It’s funny that should happen today though, as I was already going to talk about goals and growth. 2017 is drawing to a close, thank god, and although 2018 will probably be another tyre fire of bullshit, I would like to start it off with good intentions. Case in point: new year’s resolutions. I didn’t have any last year, because I had already resolved to get the hell out of England and did so in the first week of January, but twelve months on I have the itch to resolve… something. I also know that I’m more likely to keep to the resolution if I talk about it publicly, so I thought I would talk about different types of resolutions and the things I’d like to do in 2018.

Resolution 1: The Vague Gesture

My resolution: learn to do my hair? A bit?

I think I may have mentioned my hair is sometimes-often-frequently partially purple. It’s also getting really long, because I enjoy the illusion that I’m a princess in a kingdom with favourable tax laws, but I do nothing to it. Literally nothing. I wash it twice a week, comb out the knots with a tangle teezer and tie it in a bun or ponytail if I’m working. Then I ignore it until it needs another wash. I read somewhere that the longer your hair is, the less you do with it and I want to call bullshit on that. I also want to channel Daenerys Targaryen wherever possible, so in 2018 I resolve to learn how to, like, braid my hair or something. That’s not a huge commitment, and if someone says ‘hey Francesca nice fishtail plait’ I’m going to know it’s working. It’s also not the end of the world if life gets in the way and I don’t learn a fishtail plait, because my hair looks great they way I wear it already (there’s a reason I never brush it dry and that reason is frizz).

So in theory, the Vague Gesture is a good resolution to have. There’s no pressure and I won’t feel bad if I get to June and realise I’ve forgotten it. I suppose a similar one would be something like ‘eat less processed sugar’, because instead of saying ‘eat no processed sugar’, there’s no line to cross, no crushing disappointment of one’s self esteem. It’s  something that would be nice to do in the long run but no one cares if you don’t do it, including you.

BELOW AVERAGE from The Perks of Being a Wallflower from taylorbtw.tumblr.com
from taylorbtw.tumblr.com (if I don’t use this gif once a year assume I’ve died)

Resolution 2: The SMART Goal

My resolution: Look after myself  better? Look after myself more? Practise self care a day a week until I achieve nirvana?

I looked at a bad website today – not bad as in broken links but bad as in the two thirds of the page was bright pink and white diagonal stripes. My eyes hurt. I’m not even going to link it, it was so hard to look at. Good for marketing, bad for retinas. Especially bad for retinas that already require glasses. And since I am heading into my 23rd year of life and already have to run a bath to get my bones to stop aching when it rains, it’s about time I sopped complaining about my ailments and found a form of exercise that wasn’t physiotherapy. It’s about time I got some sort of blue light blocker on my computer. It’s about time I stopped overriding the Freedom app to check Twitter at 10pm. My 185 followers clearly do not care if I am tweeting at 10pm, so I probably shouldn’t either.

The problem with the resolution to ‘look after myself better’ is that there’s no qualifier. How do I know if I’m looking after myself? I will never not need glasses and I’ll never not ache when it rains. Realistically I will need stronger glasses and more baths year on year. So maybe I should take a leaf out of every business blog’s book and set specific goals I can measure in an achievable, realistic time frame. Something like ‘I will download a blue light blocker to my PC by January and I will sign up to a running club that requires payment in advance because the only thing I hate more than running is wasting money.’ (I actually don’t hate running. I hate that feeling that I’m about to puke up my lungs while I run. Aren’t lungs supposed to keep calm and carry on in those situations?)

I’m going to sleep on the running club, but this type of resolution sounds like one of those you should set if you want to get to December and think ‘fuck yeah I want to high five myself for SMASHING IT’. I kind of think everyone deserves that ‘fuck yeah’ thought.

Gerard Way fist pump I'm Not Okay I Promise video by My Chemical Romance
look this came from Google all credit to G Way and Warner Bros

Resolution 3: The This Has to Work and I’m Going to Make it Work Come Hell or High Water

My resolution: earn more money from my work? Earn increased amounts of money? Don’t sell a kidney to support a hobby?

This is the hardest type of resolution, because it’s a mix of the other two. Saying ‘I want to earn more money’ could just be another way of saying ‘I earned some money this year and would like to continue earning next year’. Realistically I will; my stationery and accessories will still be for sale and I will still crowdfund my writing. There will be money! But I don’t just want to continue, I want to expand. I need to expand if I’m going to continue to justify putting time into both those things. I know the numbers I have to hit if I’m to continue publishing writing with no upfront fees (about $10 a month would cover my website expenses, and $30+ would cover some writing time contribute to my bills). I know I need to double my stationery sales – and grow those follower counts, damn it – to justify using prime space in my bedroom to store stock and to justify spending my evenings and weekends thinking up jokes about Greek gods.

I also can’t ask people for anything other than moral support, because most of the people I know – in real life and online – are as broke as I am. A short story or a funny print is a luxury and if people won’t buy or pledge, there’s nothing I can really do about it except plug away until they go up a wage packet or change their priorities. So going into 2018 I know that, if I don’t get more sales or pledges, I will be shutting up shop eventually – and that’s shutting my Etsy shop, my stories blog and possibly even this place because my spare time will only ever decrease and my bills will only ever increase. I’m not 14 anymore and I have to be pragmatic about where I put my energy – especially if I want to look after my health, because running a shop is eighty per cent adrenaline and twenty per cent pure relief when something goes right. There’s a reason most successful entrepreneurs retire early. They want to spend as much time as they can with their remaining nerves… There’s also reason most novelists have day jobs and eke out books on the weekend – statistically I am not playing a winning game.

So although my resolution is to make my work fucking work, I also know that ‘hell or high water’ will come in the form of a bill I can’t pay in my current status as an intern/freelancer/stationery designer/storyteller. Or in a final argument with one of my parents. Or when I finally decide to trade following what teenage me wanted for adult me and start following what other adults want for adult me.

That took a dark turn there, I didn’t actually mean for it to. I want to know about your resolutions! Tell me the ones you’ve succeeded in keeping, the ones you stopped caring about, the ones that didn’t make it past 1st January. Tell me what you want for 2018, what you don’t want for 2018. Tell me what you did in 2017. Other than swear at the news and drink a lot, presumably…

Proof 2016 Wasn’t One Hundred Per Cent Shite.

Let’s not pretend that 2016 won’t go down in history as utterly awful. But amongst all the death and elections and heartbreak, there were a few shining – or at least weakly glowing – lights. Here’s a few I could remember… help me out and suggest some more to get me through the next few days?

  • Leonardo diCaprio won an Oscar.
  • I decided to go to Asia I am about to pack up my belongings in a rucksack, finish my final shift at my final job and spend three months on a continent I’ve never seen. LET’S DO IT.
  • Beyonce released this:
  • I met Maggie Stiefvater And embarrassed myself, obvs.
  • Gravitational waves got discovered (proven? I am not a science person but I think it means that Albert Einstein was definitely quite clever).
  • I passed my driving test! I started learning to drive in summer 2014, took a ten-ish month break, took it back up about 18 months ago and passed first time. None of that really conveys how terrified of driving I was when I started versus how not-terrified I am now. Maybe one day I will write about it in relation to facing fear or whatever but right now I CAN DRIVE MYSELF PLACES and deal with Southend’s ridiculous car park charges.
  • Science people (seriously, help me out) are making leaps and bounds in cancer treatment research, like this.
  • Prep is coming to the NHS
  • Despite everything, we do still have an NHS.
  • Choreography on Strictly like this and this and, most of all, this.
  • #Parade10 I love MCR, but sometimes I think I might love the MCRmy more.
  • Planet Earth II.

  • Rio 2016 Give the British some green sludge to fall into and they start acing contests what a metaphor. But seriously if there hadn’t been a break in actual news coverage this year I think the year might have lost the plot… also, can we please take a minute to hero worship the Refugee Team and the life guards at the aquatics centre? This year did not deserve you.

  • The Raven King came out Look it might be my favourite book I’ve ever read.
  • I wrote something that got attention in a good way My school is going to fuckin haunt me.
  • MCRX.
  • Joe Biden memes.

https://twitter.com/Thomas_A_Moore/status/797584838983303168

I have to go and look at pictures of Carrie Fisher flipping people off now, so I will leave this here. What have your not-completely-shite moments been? TELL ME. SPREAD THE DREGS OF LOVE.

All I Want for Christmas is Eight Hours Sleep, Peace of Mind & An MCR Singalong

Indifferent Ignorance has started snowing, so it’s time my darlings for this classic carol.

And this one.

Honestly if I don’t post these somewhere at this time of year, assume I’ve died. Anyway now I am actually feeling quite Christmassy. The sun sets at 4pm; the shop I work part time in is full to the brim with stockings, cinnamon candles and novelty bedspreads; my freelance work is nearly done and I have even managed most of my shopping. I accidentally bankrupted myself in the process, because my brother and I are getting presents between us but I went a bit overboard with my debit card before he gave me any cash, but still. Christmas is nearly here and I’m not completely immune to the odd Micheal Bubble song.

That being said, I am worried (and by worried I mean ‘just fending off panic’) about the following:

  • Getting visas in time for Asia
  • Getting cash for petrol so my mum can use my car when I’m in Asia, thus making my extortionate insurance worth having
  • Selling as many notebooks as possible this side of Christmas because they take up valuable wardrobe space (minimum orders of 100 units always seem like a great idea)
  • Selling as much from my shop as possible this side of Christmas because although my mum has offered to send things out while I’m away, I’d rather clear as many of those 100 units as I can while I’m in the country because I have an irrational inability to delegate tasks and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to cope watching someone else parcel up my precious merchandise
  • I’m on overtime at the shop next week (so byeee Christmas spirit) but because I’m leaving at New Year and I’m almost done freelancing I’m going to probably be broke as a joke when I’m back from Asia
  • I’ve already eaten too much chocolate and it’s only the 14th.

I have control over roughly two-thirds of that list, so I’m going to nip back to freelancing, text my brother about visas and work on holiday promotion. And by work on holiday promotion I mean remind you all that UK customers can get free postage on orders over £8 with the coupon SNOWFLAKE16 until 3rd January, and that shipping will be UK-only from January through April so if you’re overseas and you like something, get a move on.

Happy holidays!

‘Fuck Australia’ and Other Things I Might Regret Putting on the Internet (ft. #Parade10)

If you’ve followed this blog more more than about six months, you’ll have noticed that I can’t commit. To anything. Blog wise, I mean (whether or not I can commit to anything else is going to take another post). And if you were here before about three hours ago, you’ll have noticed that I’ve changed the layout. Again. Sort of. It’s brighter than it was. I got fed up with the overbearing header so I changed it to… a stock photo of a city that came with the WordPress theme. I’m not sure which city it is. It might not even be a city. The marketing person in me wants to go and make a branded header right now, but I like that it’s kind of anonymous. I might replace it tomorrow… I might not. NOTHING IS FIXED IN THIS WORLD EXCEPT MY DESIRE TO LISTEN TO MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE.

Speaking of.

Sunday was #Parade10, aka Lots of People I’ve Known for Years on the Internet Hung Out and Nearly Cried Watching Old Footage of a Semi-Vintage Band. I met up with people I saw at #Revenge10 and have actually tried to stay in touch this time. I met entirely new people and will try to stay in touch this time. Coincidentally Sunday was also six years since this happened. Six entire years since MCR debuted Danger Days at the Hammersmith Apollo and I heard The Kids From Yesterday and thought  ‘I think that makes me a kid of today’. Since I’m not quite at the age MCR were when they wrote Kids, I refuse to acknowledge that I’m not still, like, the youth, even though I feel fucking old when I look at the top 40 (is it still actually called that). But I guess the youth don’t partake in videos saying ‘fuck Australia’, so.

Heart Palpitations on One, Two-

It’s been another week, Francesca. Where have you been, Francesca.

On a first aid course, that’s where. Now I know what angina is, and why the recovery position is important (do not let your drunk friends fall asleep on their back or front if they haven’t puked yet). I’ve also been writing, which is more draining than I had remembered. I need a short nap every five hundred words.

Anyway. Remember this?

My order has arrived.

I’m not ready.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I first heard Welcome to the Black Parade.

There’s a flag in my bedroom and I might remove a wardrobe to make room for it.

I might have to put myself in the recovery position if the music hurts.

Things You Can Get Me for My Birthday

I’ll be 21 soon, which is basically the last giant birthday I’ll ever have where I can ask for things without being a dick. Also, I’ve been clearing out some cupboards recently and noticed that I own a lot of shit. I own too much shit. Emphasis on ‘shit’. So I thought I’d make a little list for my loved ones to refer to when scratching your heads in the Yankee Candle aisle. If you’re unsure as to whether a potential gift could also be shit, put it back and write a cheque for a leishmania charity. (Please do not ever buy me a Yankee Candle.)

My 21st Birthday Gift List

  • Car insurance. As in, mine.
  • Patreon support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, pledge that much over however many months you like. Then I get to upgrade my blog and you get art and no one has to clean their cupboards out
  • Etsy support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, spend that much in my shop then send your friends everything you bought (for the love of God please do not give it back to me)
  • A book shop gift card. Not Amazon. Not iBook. Something for a shop where I can smell the products before I buy. I fully intend on contributing books to said shops, and I won’t be able to do that if they’ve all been put out of business by tax-avoiding conglomerates amirite
  • Get me an Etsy gift card or a Society6 gift card so I can buy weird fan art and afford the shipping charges
  • Pretend you’re listening when I talk about my job(s). Just for five minutes, pretend you want to know about professional hashtagging
  • Okay you’re going to give me stuff, declare that £5 to be spent in the MCR store. I do in fact always need MCR shit and I don’t think Warner do gift cards.

Is it possible to do one of those wedding list things for birthdays? Because I might have lots of marriages, but 21 only comes around once.

Gerard Way from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com