Dead Things, Part 5: Framing Dead People.



Author: Kara Mae Adamo.

Okay. I’m coming out of retirement.

Here we go…Dead Things No. 5: Framing Dead People.

I have tattoos.

I love them. Contrary to everything every bigotted “how things are supposed to be” naysayer has said, I have never once regretted a single solitary drop of ink on my skin.

Now, I’m not covered head-to-toe. I will actually be getting my third and fourth tattoos at the end of this month and, with the exception of the sizable daisy dripping its way down my rib cage, none of them are very big. They are, however, very personal. They are small bits of art that allow me to exist as a walking canvas and that notion alone is poetic enough to make me eager to continue gathering them here and there.

Right now I have two: one of them is a small [used to be yellow] rose on the right side of my neck just under my ear. That tattoo is symbolic of my love for my mother. I was always a daddy’s girl and I was unfair about it when I was younger. I claimed my Sicilian heritage and sort of disregarded the other half of my ethnicity. By 19, I realized that I had become hurtful. The yellow rose was my mother’s father’s favorite flower and, after his death, it became the family’s flower. It shows up at weddings and funerals and holidays…and so that tattoo is for her. It’s my tip-of-the-hat to a wonderful person that, for the first nearly 20 years of my life, I was unfair to.

The second is that giant daisy. My mother, my sister, and I all have the same daisy. They put theirs on their foot but, since I have a sort of psychological block about people touching my feet, I put mine on my ribs. They are, with the exception of stem placement, identical.

My third will be a semicolon turned into a butterfly and my fourth will be a scripted phase reading, “Dance in the Chaos.”

All things I will always cherish.

But, as with my initial Dead Things posts so many years ago, I still must beg you all: please, for the love of all that is holy or sacred or whatever, Don’t keep my tattoos.

Burn them with me.

A question for those interested in this…er…practice: Do you keep your scabs?

Are you that guy? The one that took Goldmember’s habits to heart and thought, “yanno…I bet that makes a wicked collection”?

Because, if you are, please tell me…so I can delete you from my Facebook…or my twitter…or my phone…wherever we are connected.

I find it creepy enough when people collect butterflies and pin them behind a frame. Like…that thing used to fly around. It saw stuff and probably had little fluttering opinions about things…and now it matches your wallpaper.

For realzies: stop it.

Obviously, I am bringing this up for one reason and one reason always: people are already doing this.

Let me put this in perspective for you.

When I first got my rose tattoo, I lived at home with my parents.

As it was healing, it would scab over and them the scab would fall off. As you could imagine, since my skin was permanently dyed in that particular area, the scabs were colorful.

One day, to my sadistic delight, an entire green leaf scabbed over and came off intact. It was even in the shape of the leaf and had the line work and everything!!

My dad jumped about three feet when I showed him.

I giggled with glee.

Flaying a dead person and fitting their tattoo behind glass is exactly the same thing. You are torturing them after death and then preserving them. It’s worse than a wax museum.

Although, the notion does beg some questions.

Alternative Textiles

I am curious about the opacity.

Do you cut out a full layer so that the colors are vibrant, or do you only shave them off like the dermatologist does when he’s removing questionable moles? If that’s the case, does that mean that they are transparent and, as such, that light shines through? Could you turn them into little stained glass ornaments? I bet you could make a solid lampshade out of your loved ones after enough of them have passed.

Tiffany Lamps may have met their match.

The former PETA member in me is wondering if some crazy person is willing to make them into cool patches for a jacket or jeans. It’s sort of the same as wearing leather, right? It’s just pre-decorated.

But enough of that: let’s focus on the current trend: fitting them behind glass against a black background as if they are fine art.


In order to preserve my tattoos (which, in case I needed to specify, are on my living skin), I generally use unscented lotion. Technically, when I go out into the sun, I am supposed to use baby suntan lotion because it offers extra protection and prevents the ink from fading out compared to the rest of my skin. If you are keeping the dead person’s skin, do you continue to, (pardon me, but I can’t help the reference) put the lotion on the skin? Do you use Aveeno? If you’re about to move and you’re transporting the skin during daylight hours, do you apply Coppertone? What SPF is recommended for dead skin? What if it shrivels up like the old people at the beach?

Which brings me to the next topic:


Recently, my parents came to visit me. While we ate dinner, they tuned into The Antique’s Road Show. Some of the stuff on there looks like complete garbage, but it’s worth a lot of money. A lot of different things go into such an appraisal. For one thing, if the piece is in good shape, it is worth a lot more. If the Scab Art is shriveled up, does that mean it’s worth less money, or does that mean it’s older and thus worth more? I assume that, provided said Scab Art is from a famous person, it would be worth more…but what if the tattoo was in bad shape at the time of death? Does that prove authenticity and then, converse to any original train of thought, raise the price? Do they run DNA tests?

Many tattoos are garbage artistically speaking. If the image was not a part of your loved one’s skin, would you still frame it? If the answer is no, then I need you to rethink your reasoning. What you are really doing is keeping their skin.

Look up the episode of Dexter called Finding Freebo. It’s from the third season…I think it’s like the second episode or something. You, skin collector, are Freebo. And you’re Goldmember. All of that.

But, then again, despite being a professional artist, I seldom have any grasp on current market trends. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a prerequisite for the job. Perhaps there will be Dead People Tattoo exhibits soon…in which case a whole other topic comes into play:


Do you offer a small index card off to the side detailing the artist, the skin’s former owner, and the date of death?

What if you don’t know the meaning behind the tattoo? Is it up to interpretation? Do you place a quote from the dead person?

There are so many genres. I could open a whole museum. Can you imagine curating the show?

Do tattoo screw-ups have their own category?

Will tramp stamps and arm bands of fake tribal crap and Koi fish on arms be less in-demand because they are so popular?

What about those terrible attempts at portraits? Will they be considered kitchy in that B-movie way and, thus, more sought-after? If you can provide the original photograph, will that up the price the way a signature does? Or is it like when I write a note in the books I sign…making the tattoo too personal and, thus, lowering the value?

Here I thought I would just have to live with my tattoos until I drop. Now I really am a walking canvas…fresh and ready for me to kick it so I can be hung on a wall.

Ooo! I know!! I’ll get realistic looking butterfly tattoos. Then, when my future children have them cut out of my arm or whatever, they can put them behind glass and can just tell people they collect butterflies. Now they won’t seem like such complete and utter creepers.

There. I fixed it.

As always, in case you guys think I’m full of it, here is the link:


Ladies’ Night II


Story time with Kara.

So, last night (after my event), I went out with my publisher and some of our friends.

This is how the night goes:

We drink wine.

At some point, the driver takes us to Rocco’s Taco’s.

Rita (one of our girlfriends) wants to talk to some guys that are sitting at one of the tables. These men (who are in their forties) are arm wrestling.

Rita drags me away from my happy place (my food) and makes me come with her.

The men are laughing. I once read in a Chuck Palahniuk that you should mimic people’s body language and actions when you don’t know what else to do or you are trying to size them up. For some reason (I’m assuming that reason was Chardonnay), I recall this.

I decide to smile and laugh with them.

It backfires. They think that we are friends now.

We are not friends yet.

One of the arm wrestlers puts his hand on my back. I decide that this is stupid. Before I can react, he wraps his arms around my waist into a giant intimate hug.

I–shocked–stare at him with eyes wider than the moon…my mouth ajar.


I shriek.

I squirm out of his arms and run away.

I decide that I’m not done.

I return. He turns around, still smiling.

I scold him like a three year old in the middle of the bar. I explain that I am a grown woman and that he is not a 24 year old frat boy. He says he was joking. I say he doesn’t even know my name and is never EVER to touch a woman or put her on his lap like that. I inform him that I am an adult and don’t have to put up with strange stupid men touching me or picking me up just because I’m small and they think it’s funny.

I storm off. Other men at the bar stop me and inform me that I am right and that he’s an ass. They buy me a drink.

Triumphantly, I return to my girlfriends and clink glasses.

Because to hell with that guy.

The end.

Why I hate the “Real Women Have Curves” Movement


Author: Kara Adamo.

We have a problem, ladies…and it’s not the men.

There is an idea that has been leaching its way through computer screens, tablets and phone browsers that has gone unchecked for far too long.

Looking back, I suppose I can pin-point the first signs of it easily. It began in my parent’s generation: the 1970’s-1980’s period where “Thin was In” and people began going to insane extremes to get there.

We’re all familiar with it: the stories of women and men wasting away with any number or combination of eating disorders that left them emaciated and filled with a nearly incurable self-hatred that was then passed on to my own generation.

Even now, after all of the published personal stories and all of the attention aneorexia and its bretheren have gotten from the media, people are still starving themselves with this evasive idealist perfection in mind.

Celebrities probably get it the worst. They’re in the public eye and, as with every moment that lapses from the perfection we like to associate them with, that public eye zooms in and judges loftily from its self-imposed moral high-ground. We find our strength in numbers because these people lead lives that the “average Joe” could only ever dream of.

We’re really just jealous and resentful, but they’re the minority, so we can shrug it off and shoot them a “you asked for it” glare.

It makes us feel good about it for five seconds and is, in all honesty, a sign of our collective ethical degradation.

We all do it and they probably do, too.

Forever struggling with pressures from the media to maintain a perfectly composed, perfectly thin, perfectly groomed image, these celebrities starve themselves in the hopes that the negative publicity will cease.

And then, when we see them getting thinner, we copy them.

Men do this a bit, but it’s no secret that women are the worst. We like to point fingers at guys and scream to the high-heavens that it’s their judgmental pickiness that drives us to do it, but for the most part we’re full of it.

We do it.

We’ve always done it. There is a reason the movie “Mean Girls” did so well: it speaks to all of us because it’s based, on some level, in an unfortunate truth about our society.

Girls are, well, mean.

Now, my long-winded griping about anorexia and the “Thin is In” motif that pervasively plagues our culture has done nothing to warm me to the other equally evil notion, this piece’s title phrase: “Real Women Have Curves.”

You see, when I was in high school, I graduated at 149 pounds.

This seems fine, except that I am a tiny little pixie of a thing. At 27 years old, I measure a full 4-feet, 10-1/4 inches tall.

That’s it.

So, when you spread 149 pounds throughout that small of a frame, you can get a rough mental image of what I looked like: I wasn’t huge, but I was certainly “big boned.”

I did a lot of stupid things to lose the weight. I starved myself, resulting in the aggravation of a then-dormant condition called Diabetic Hypoglycemia which now affects me severely every single day.

I hated myself. Looking back on all of the pictures, I realize that, while the weight wasn’t healthy, I didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I thought I did. But you could have never told 17-year-old Kara that.

Then I started skim-boarding and I managed to lose twenty pounds in a four month period. I started eating again and then continued to lose weight until I was 21.

A number of issues that year resulted in my falling below 93 pounds. I couldn’t tell you what the final weight was because I stopped checking. It was too painful to find out. Nothing fit me and I was too ashamed of my financial situation to ask for help. I had bruises on the skin over my rib cage from sleeping on my stomach and my skin had very little color.

Because I wasn’t being honest about things, people thought that I was starving myself again—but this time successfully.

Six years later, I am at a healthy—albeit still unknown—weight. I run on a near-regular basis and I survive on fresh fish and veggies. I’m no longer nauseous after I eat and I finally feel good about my image.

I’m sharing this because I need people to realize that I have actually been on both sides of the track: I have been heavier and ridiculed for it and I’ve been called “anorexic” and a “skinny-mini,” too.

And I’m going to clear something up right here…right now: both suck.

I actually discussed this with a girlfriend of mine yesterday over coffee.

This girl is stunning. She has beautiful dark blonde hair, piercing catlike blue eyes, and long legs I would kill for. She’s that pretty, slender-but-athletic build that healthy-minded models would dream of and the wardrobe to match.

At any moment, this girl looks like she stepped out of a high-fashion magazine.

And yet, this girl has body image issues…just like the rest of us.

She doesn’t have big breasts or a curvy bottom: she’s taller than she wants to be and she sometimes wishes her complexion was clearer.

She’s confident, but she’s a woman: and that means that, no matter what, she will manage to find fault with herself.

Now to be clear on this: men love her.

And they love me—we’ve actually dated the same guy before (at different times, of course)—and we look completely opposite of one another.

This is important: the issue, overall, isn’t men. My weight fluctuates just as much as the next girl and I can always manage to find a date or someone to flirt with. I’ve dated when thin and when heavier and I was called beautiful regardless.

The issue is women.

This friend—we’ll call her Lucy—made an amazing point that I think needs to be addressed on a larger social scale: real women don’t have to have curves.

Lucy is a real woman. I was a real woman when I was scrawny.

Real women have vaginas. That’s what they have.

Some have curves…some have thin waists. Some are short and some are tall.

The issue is not that we are opening the door to social acceptance when it comes to curvier and even heavier women. I’m all for that.

The issue is that we are shutting that door on other women—thinner women—who have feelings and who are just as beautiful. And the reason we’re doing it is the same reason we ridicule celebrities: many of us are jealous and many of us have this misplaced misconception that thinner women have it easier.

To be honest, after having been thin and big and everything in between, I would venture to say that it was harder to be underweight and the reason behind that claim actually has virtually nothing to do with physical size.

It has to do with the emotional support I had from women.

When I was larger, I was told by my friends that I was pretty. I was encouraged to feel good about myself and I was told that my inner beauty was what mattered, anyway.

But when I was thin, that went away. I was scolded for having eating disorders I actually didn’t have and I was called “gaunt” and “thin” with a derogatory tone.

And that, pardon my French, is bullshit.

Lucy said it best at coffee: “All women are real women…women need love from women!”

And she’s 100% right.

We need to lift one another up. And we’re not doing it. We’re failing miserably.

It speaks poorly of our self-image (both internal and external) when the most popular weight-based slogan involves lifting up one group at the expense of another.

We don’t need to imply an exclusion to a group that has historically been complimented in photography and in the media. We just need to include everyone else.

Real women have skin. They have tears and they have humor and they generally have people in their lives that wouldn’t change them for the world…thin or heavy…short or tall.

This idea that we have to cut one another down to lift ourselves up is just as lethal as the notion that you have to starve yourself to be pretty. Some girls won’t ever put on weight. They’ll have to buy breasts if they ever want to fill an A cup and they’ll never have “dat base” everyone keeps singing at (to the peril of my eardrums.)

They’re just as “real” as the girl who fills a larger pant size and who can’t seem to drop the pounds. And we need to love both of them.

It’s a hate campaign disguised as a message of love and acceptance…and that’s what I can’t stand about it. Words mean things and they affect everyone.

So, the next time that you blurt out, “Real Women Have Curves,” think about the sweet girl off to your left that feels awkward about her thin frame and feels like she’s treated like a little kid by people who should be building her up. Think about how you feel whenever someone makes you feel bad about yourself.

And then shut-up.

Turn the phrase around in your head, and change it. Because what you really mean is that curvier girls and heavier girls are pretty too.

So just say that. It includes us all and it builds us up. We need each other, ladies. If we were nicer to one another, maybe we would all stop hurting ourselves to fulfill this unobtainable image of perfection we seem to perpetuate.

And, for the love of god, eat a cupcake. No matter what weight you are, cupcakes rule.

To the Eagles…


I’m not a football fan.

It’s not that I’m against the game…my family just never watched sports when I was a kid and I found it hard to follow as an adult.

So, when I say this, please remember that it is in no way, shape or form, a slam against the sport, most of the fans, or even most of the players…it is simply about people treating people with dignity and respect.

When I grew up, we were taught to open doors for people, to say thank you, and that good sportsmanship is important. I was taught that being a sore winner is even worse than being a sore loser…and I was certainly taught that, if someone is injured, you see of they’re okay. You care about them and who they are as people.

Team affiliation has its merit…and cheering for your team is half the fun of watching a game. I don’t need to be a sports fan to get that.

What I don’t get…and what I refuse to condone as a citizen…is how a team like the Eagles can show such lack of compassion in the wake of what may be a career-ending injury for a man who worked is whole life to get to play on that field.

When he was writhing in pain on that stretcher, you should have taken a knee and tweeted good wishes for his health and recovery…not made fun of it, thrown yourselves a cyber party over it, and acted like classless fools.

You’re a disgrace to the profession and to the very nature of sportsmanship. And anyone (athlete or not) who conducts themselves that way should be utterly ashamed.

21 Terrible 90s Songs That Everyone Secretly Loves

21 Terrible 90s Songs That Everyone Secretly Loves


Thought Catalog

1. ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ by The Backstreet Boys

I feel like it’s only fitting to start with this little ditty, as it was also the Boys’ first real single and they spent a great deal of time proclaiming they were “back.” From what? Back again from where? And while I have to admit bias because I am and always will be Team *N Sync, you kind of have to question the quality of a song in which Nick (because of course I can tell their voices apart, STILL, after all these years) asks his fellow boys if he’s sexual and they all agree without so much as missing a beat.

Props to the killer Halloween-inspired music video, though.

2. ‘Men In Black’ by Will Smith

Because when historians look back at the 90s, we are all going to have to explain why we made this song a hit — and…

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My Ridiculous Girl-Crush on Jennifer Lawrence


ImageAuthor Kara Adamo.

I have just spent the better part of the last two hours e-stalking a celebrity.

I know that there are a million things I could be doing with that time–including 8 out of the 9 items on my to-do-list for the day–but I fell into a crazy zen-like trance akin to the one people go into when they find stuff on Reddit. It was out of my control.

To be clear, I usually do not bother all that much with people like Snookie, the Kardashian Wenches or the talented but sadly-still-a-train-wreck Miley Cyrus. They take up very little of my mental focus throughout the year, and unless somebody brings them up, I generally create a happy little bubble for myself where they hold little sway over anything.

It isn’t that I am immune to the addicting practice of star-gazing. I’m human; it’s what we do. But, true to my rather particular nature, I am choosy in which celebrities I care to pay attention to.

In recent months, Jennifer Lawrence made that short list.

I will be perfectly honest. This was an entirely bandwagon-based process. I had no idea who the girl was until a couple of months ago. I did see the Hunger Games last year, but I never really cared about who was playing Katniss. I just loved the books and enjoyed the film. I did, however, know who she was when I watched the second movie that just came out. I found her talented and beautiful and appropriately casted…

…none of which mattered to me at all.

It wasn’t until later that week, when I was watching the Daily Show, that I paid any attention to who her whatsoever.

And I am enamored.

Contrary to the popular trend of becoming famous and instantly losing all sense of personal identity, she comes off utterly genuine. She has a charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor that makes you want to be her best friend and her intelligent, bubbly mannerisms make her wildly entertaining in interviews.

Plus, the girl is wicked-talented. Her character in Silver Linings Playbook was complex and layered. It may be one of my all-time-favorite performances by a young female actress.

This is all wonderful, but it really has nothing to do with why I would like her enough to write a blog about it.

I am writing a blog about her because I respect her.

We are in the wake of a revolution and it is rooted in social media. There are videos that show the process involved in digitally altering already beautiful women and these videos are going viral. Finally, at long-last, my gender is waking up. We are realizing that even famous women do not actually look like famous women. The first-world-problems intellectual war on women is starting to lose some footing. We are realizing that we not only can be as beautiful as the women we see in magazines…but that we are. 

This ties into Jennifer Lawrence because, standing dead-center in the middle of her rise to incredible fame, she is championing this cause. She stands among the few stunning but very healthy, very real female celebrities who eats. She exudes a confidence in herself that makes her a wonderful role model to little girls and that will hopefully bring some balance to the damage done by the opposition.

Best of all, she is outspoken. This is a girl who recognizes the platform she has been given and, instead of twerking on live television, uses it to instill a message that a healthy body-image is far more important than slinky, swanky glamour. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, she chastises open-criticism over other people’s body weight issues, deliberately pointing out that young girls are learning to talk and be cool by watching these shows.

It is a shame that she stands in the minority in Hollywood, but it is refreshing. I like that intelligence and actual talent is being encouraged.

Here is the link to the Barbara Walters Interview.