By: Dani Kessel
When I grew up, I wasn’t allowed to hang things on the walls. The military base housing wouldn’t allow it. Ever since getting married and moving into an apartment, I have enjoyed covering the walls with things expressing who I am as a person. (My partner isn’t much into hanging stuff for himself.) Yes I have pictures of my family and spouse hanging up, but I also have nerdy paraphernalia, things signifying major life moments, and just things I like.
Since many of us are on quarantine right now, I thought I would share some photographs and stories of the fun things hanging up around me.
I hope you enjoy this little break from stress!
I’ve been through so many bad things in my life, and most of it occurred when I was powerless. Growing into myself, I never wanted that to happen again. As a result, for a long time, I would absolutely panic if I wasn’t in control. That caused me more stress though. Eventually, I learned balance. Messy is okay. There’s power in letting go sometimes. I don’t have to accept toxicity and negativity, but not all chaos is bad.
I LOVE coffee. I hate the system. And I am stubborn as hell. This tracks.
My sisters are some of my absolute favorite people in the world. This plaque was a gift from one of them. I hang it next to pictures of all of us. It’s precious to me since family isn’t necessarily blood. Family is who we choose. They just happen to be both.
I have a wall full of Harry Potter pictures, signatures, a framed puzzle, artwork, etc. These are only some of the many Harry Potter things I have around my apartment. My love for Harry Potter runs deep. Despite hating JK Rowling (down with TERFs!), the Harry Potter books and movies saved my life. They helped me through traumas, emotional abuse, bullying, suicidal thoughts, and mental illnesses. They helped me embrace my identities and taught me how to love myself and others for our differences.
Superheroes and Supervillains
Back before it was mainstream to be a part of nerd culture, I was the person reading them in my bedroom alone because being a girl into comic books would get you beaten up or mocked. I’m excited that comics are now more mainstream and embraced by others! My two pieces of artwork came from Denver Pop Culture Con (previously Denver Comic Con). I’ve loved Harley Quinn since the 90s Batman animated series. She and Poison Ivy became icons for me as I learned to embrace my sexuality. And, Miles Morales is the best! The year before Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, I went to every single art booth at DCC trying to find anything Miles Morales. That framed print was the only one I could find, but it looks so great. I also have my signed photo of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It was my favorite thing to come out of the ‘07-’08 screenwriters’ strike. Lastly, I got the wall stickers for my birthday. YAY COMICS!
I fell in love with Disney at a very young age. Some of my happiest memories are going to the Disney parks, singing Disney songs, and watching the movies with my siblings. I was in awe of the fireworks shows. Disney let me escape from the really bad things in my life. To this day, Disney has kept magic in my life. The princesses have taught me strength, ambition, tenacity, wonder, and love. Kuzco, Pacha, and Kronk (voiced by the lovely Patrick Warburton who signed the picture on the bottom right) taught me that we can be wrong, grow, and change. Mickey & the gang taught me how to be a good friend. Robin Hood taught me to protect the vulnerable. The list goes on and on. Disney has truly shaped me as a person.
What’s not to love about a quirky, hilarious, fast-talking, women-centric television show? My sisters and I used to watch Charmed and Gilmore Girls together almost every week. When I was younger, I connected with Rory Gilmore. I cared about learning, reading, and friends. I was an intellect. Now, I’m basically Lorelai Gilmore. My wit, coffee-obsession, and difficult relationship with my mother mirror that of Lorelai. Read that second quote. Anyone who knows me knows I would say something like that. No matter who I’ve connected with over the years though, one thing has stayed the same. Kirk is FANTASTIC!
I bought the holographic framed picture and the unicorn magnet at Denver Pop Culture Con (previously Denver Comic Con). A group of artists made all queer-centric art. The artists included less visible identities like bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals, nonbinary people, transfolk. They had humorous graphics (like the magnet) and glittery stuff. Though some pop culture is starting to show us, the LGBTQ+ community is still mostly underrepresented. Approaching this booth at the convention, I finally felt seen. Plus, I was able to support queer creators!
My sister gave me this for my birthday. When she gifted it to me, it was all white with just the black lettering. I struggled for a long time to accept my gender and sexuality. I decided that this “prove them wrong” message would help me push through the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes. So, I took out my Sharpies. I colored the rainbow background and highlighted it with some metallic gold.
My partner and I got married almost exactly two years ago. (Our anniversary is at the beginning of April.) About two months later, we went on our honeymoon to Kauai, Hawaii. At a local crafts fair, my partner picked out this postcard photographed by the man selling it. It is up with our engagement photo, our wedding photos, a photo booth printout, and a bunch of other “us” stuff. It’s a great memento of our honeymoon.
This painting makes me smile. My close friend Abbey painted this for my birthday two years ago. I like that it’s unique. It kind of looks like scales of a reptile or the inside of a cell. Very abstract and original.
University was difficult for me. About a year and a half into my degree, I went through a medical accident at work. I became disabled. I had to attend constant doctors appointments. I walked on crutches and, very shortly before graduation, with a cane. I finished half of my degree with online classes. They are a lot more difficult than they seem! My graduation from college was one of the biggest successes in my entire life. I considered dropping out many, many times over the 5 years it took. For my graduation, I decorated my cap with washi tape, sheet music roses (some of which have fallen off since then), and the words I’ve said my whole life: “dream big.” I hang it on my wall as a reminder that I’m more capable than I will ever believe.
Now you’ve seen some of the things hanging on my wall and heard what they represent. These photos, canvases, stickers, and plaques are an expression of who I am. (I have even more stuff to hang on my walls too. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.) I’m a pop-culture loving, quirky, opinionated, queer nerd. And, I’m happy I can finally decorate my own space.
I hope you had fun reading this article. If you enjoyed it, give it a like. Let me know if you want me to do more photoessays. And feel free to comment down below. What are you doing to avoid boredom during social isolation and quarantine?