Dark Dreams: A Teen Goth Grows Up

Life as a teen goth was dark. How dark, you ask?
Approximately this dark:


Yes. That dark. Damn I miss those boots.

When I was a teen I felt completely awkward and alone (shocking news). I was uncomfortable in the skin that contained me, uncomfortable in town that kept me, and angry. I was angry at everyone and everything – everything that I felt kept me from living the glamorous life I was supposed to be living somewhere far, far away from Princeton, Ontario. I found a hero in Marilyn Manson and groomed myself into a picture-perfect teen goth: no eyebrows (I drew them on, which was a drag at pool parties), hair jet black or white blonde, black eyeliner, red lips, rings on every finger and as much Tripp and Lip Service clothing as my part-time serving job would afford me. This makeup was a mask and this clothing was my armor. I was ready to do battle against the world. I was convinced I was superior to my peers – the ones clad in their coordinating Campus Crew hooded sweatshirts and asking if they could draw on my eyebrows for me in English class. My diary pages were full of aggressive rants – “how could she not know what the Pentagon is?” No one understood anything, not in high school, and I was bursting at my jet-black seams to escape to the life I knew was waiting for me on the other side of 18.

I don’t want to be here anymore. I need to leave, but I can’t and that’s the most frustrating thing. I hate being 15. I want to be 19, 20, just not 15. I need so much more than this. I need to get out there and live. I need to meet Twiggy [Ramirez, Manson’s lead guitarist] and Manson, but every time I get like this the facts are too blatantly clear. It’s not going to happen – I know it. But I want it so bad.” – January 2002

I moved to Toronto at 17, the moment I was done my final grade 12 exams, and forced my way into adulthood with fierce determination. I became a regular at the Rock and Roll bar of the time, I drank almost every night, I went to rock shows, I spent money on drugs instead of groceries and I made the decision to drop out of college as I lay in bed beside a Canadian frontman I’d dreamed of marrying since I was ten years old (I later discovered that the wife he told me he didn’t have was pregnant… via the radio). Yes, my new grown up life was really glamorous – sex, drugs, rock’n’roll – check, check and check, but in the wise words of Sheryl Crow, I had to ask myself “if it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?” I cleaned up my act in a lot of ways (drugs and I were not meant to be, thank goodness), but I’ve been hired, fired, picked up, let down, loved and left. I’m still not living that perfect life I pictured in those tortured days of youth, and the idea of what that life should look like has undergone a million and one makeovers over the years. I’m still a drama queen and like to stomp my feet when I don’t get my way, but every now and again (and, in fact, quite often), I am reminded that I have somehow managed to wind up on a pretty magical journey, full of great adventures.

It’s June 2013. I’m 26 now and in an homage to my teen goth days I’m clad in a flowing black maxi-dress, sandals covered in gun-metal buckles and far more makeup than I would normally wear these days. I’m sitting in Buffalo, New York on a tour bus. Twiggy Ramirez sits across from me. He’s doing an incredibly good Sylvester Stallone impression and we’re all laughing. I did not wait by a backstage door or claw my way through mass of screaming fans to get here (though I am covered in metallic silver confetti which I’m shedding all over the carpeted floors). I am a guest. I smile to myself, thinking of the 15 year old girl who cried to her diary about how she’d never get her wish.

The moral of the story? Dream big and don’t settle. You will fuck up, you will fall down, but life can be extraordinary if you let it. These cliches don’t just apply to the honor students and the star football players. Even teen goth dreams come true.

Allison Dunnings is a singer/songwriter, dreamweaver and storyteller with penchant for beards and bad decisions. You can hear her music here, read her fledgling blog here and tweet her here: @AllisonDunnings.

Bon Appétit


At first I didn’t think so, but it was the best compliment to the chef I’ve ever received. “You’re like the rat!” I was told.


“The rat! Remi! In [the Disney film] Ratatouille!” exclaimed my lovely boyfriend. It was the first time I was preparing dinner for him. He was quite proud of his observation.

I hadn’t yet seen this animated film, so we watched it together after dinner. “Ah, I see,” I said, realizing (and appreciating) my similarity to the charming cartoon rat. We both smell ingredients to figure out if and how they’ll work together in a dish, making the recipes up as we go. It’s wonderful.

I read cookbooks for inspiration. I am honestly terrible at following recipes. I can roughly follow a recipe, sure. But I’m not the math and science type at all. Baking? Forget it. I cook with ingredients, approximations, a heap of hope, a splash of trust and a glass of wine.

I’ve recently forayed into the world of soup-making. My first victims: a butternut squash soup followed by a potato leek soup. I should really purchase an immersion blender, rather than put my archaic magic bullet through its paces; but as fun as fancy gadgets are, I don’t need them (except for my silicon spatulas, those are essential). What do I enjoy the most about cooking? It’s the aromas and that first taste of the finished meal. I feel so proud.

For the butternut squash soup, I sautéed the white part of finely (and ruggedly) chopped green onions in white wine and minced garlic. Um, hello!?! SMELLS AMAZING. I baked the butternut squash pieces in the oven until they were soft and able to be easily pierced, heavily drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, himalayan rock salt (the pink stuff) and a mixture of fresh and dried sage. Instead of milk or water, I used almond milk to thin my soup out. It tasted okay, but it need something… what… a kick? What did I have in the fridge that might work as a “topper”? I chopped up the rest of the green onions–the green part–and added those along with crumbled goat cheese and, my weakness, broken pieces of crispy bacon. FAN.TAS.TIC.

So how did I make that again?

butternut squash soup

The following week, I made another batch. It tasted even better this time. Now, I’ll forever remember how to make my butternut squash soup. Most at-home cooks actually measure the ingredients used and record them, on a recipe card. I should do this too.


The potato leek soup? Same idea as the butternut squash soup. Boiled potatoes. Leeks lightly sautéed in some butter and then steamed until they’re soft. Mash it all together. Tarragon. Salt. Pepper. Almond milk. Blend. Reheat in pot on stovetop. Top with tiny, crispy pieces of bacon, shredded old cheddar cheese, and freshly chopped chives. Yes. Amazing. Everything in moderation (unless it makes you fart a lot… er… girls don’t fart).

potato leek soup

My soups were almost as amazing as the first time I barbequed cedar plank salmon with basil pesto and lemon. It was perfection. Pure perfection. Most of us are busy. Work, School. Kids maybe. Pets. Work. Social drama. Work. Traffic. Sleep deprivation. We rarely take the time to really savour the little things, like the taste of falls-apart, tender, juicy, actually-melts-in-your-mouth, healthy cedar plank salmon. Seriously. For just a succulent moment, the world is perfect.

Stop and smell the flowers? Stop and smell the herbs and spices. Stop and taste the food. We have to eat to live, so why not enjoy the experience?

How can I describe it? Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savour it.” ~ Chef Auguste GusteauRatatouille


Trellawny has been teaching herself to cook for the past few years. She claims neither to be a chef nor a cook, just a girl who makes the most of making meals. You can check her out on YouTube, Instagram and www.distancedish.com