Grubby Lil Raccoon
She's been known to laugh ‘til her stomach hurts and then burst into ridiculous giggles for another ten minutes or so. Why? Because the image of a clown “absolutely annihilating a burrito in the backseat of a smart car" keeps popping into her head.
One time she had a school assignment to write about her favourite place in nature. Somewhere in nature where she felt completely safe. She chose…. the default Windows desktop background. Why? "Fewer bugs.”
It's this wacky sense of humour that drew me to @ghoulphilia on Twitter. When she's not staring at "short phrases that don't really make that much sense," she can be found retweeting Gofundmes or things drawn in MS Paint.
"My Twitter is a hot mess," she admits. "But I think that's a good thing."
Her handle is a reference to a character’s dating profile on the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie is asked to describe his likes and he responds simply with "ghouls.”
Known to her friends as Meredith, the Omaha native tells me she is a grubby lil racoon in more ways than one. "The concept of me is very adorable, but in reality I HAVE eaten a McChicken crouched in the shadow of a dumpster.”
"Why did you do that?"
"I didn't want the host to think I was too good for his party and then he saw us out there and came outside and I couldn't shake his hand 'cause there was mayo on it. An entire ordeal."
The twenty four year old loves that our generation has largely accepted the "gross girl" persona on the internet. "It's really freeing, she says." "Worrisome, in that sometimes I just go 'fuck it' when I probably shouldn't, but freeing."
She recently bought a mannequin on a whim. "Now every time I open the front door I see her there in her backwards baseball cap and it scares the shit out of me," she laughs.
Never one to employ flowery language, Meredith says her favourite film is The Fall (dir. Tarsem Singh) because it’s “disgustingly beautiful and criminally under-appreciated.” She likes Wayne Brady in Whose Line Is It Anyway? and TV shows about “people who are terrible people and refuse to change. When everything goes wrong and there's no other option but to laugh.”
It’s no secret that Meredith revels in ‘outrageousness.’ She tells me the scariest thing she's ever done was fly 762 miles to see her long-distance boyfriend for the first time. They met on Twitter in 2016. She'd never been on a plane alone before, and not at all in years. She was in a state she’d never been to, where the only person she knew “could have been a murderer.”
When Meredith first met her boyfriend, she thought he'd be, in person, perhaps different from his Twitter persona. “He is not,” she informed me. “He really does lose his shit for half an hour at a time imagining a cat named Chudley."
I am left with that mental image.
"Strange man,” she muses. “Doesn't retweet me enough."
Keep reading to learn more about @ghoulphilia. ///
RS: What are some things people might not expect about Nebraska?
@ghoulphilia: There's a lot of bro-y tech startups here. That's probably the big thing. We have electricity. Too many people ask that for me to think they're all joking. It's extraordinarily flat, which doesn't seem surprising until you realize HOW FLAT. Like. Really flat. The other thing about Nebraska is that it's really split. There's "western" Nebraska and "eastern" Nebraska. Eastern Nebraska is just Omaha and Lincoln and the surrounding areas. So like maybe 5% of the state. Blue dots in a very red state. Omaha has a great indie music scene (everyone always brags that Conor Oberst is from here). I don't know. There's more cool shit than you think, but there also really is a lot of corn. Way out west people say "warsh" instead of "wash." That's sorta weird.
RS: Do you leave a lot?
@ghoulphilia: I don't go anywhere, dude. This is going to sound really stupid, but my family took a nineteen hour road trip to Asheville, North Carolina a couple years ago. That actually really affected my political philosophy and views - that town is extremely left-leaning. Very artsy. And this was in the middle of the trans bathroom ban laws. And there were so many signs all over that said anyone was welcome in any bathroom. I'm from Nebraska, so you would think that "There are decent people in areas that are largely shitty" wouldn't be something I needed a revelation for, but there we were.
RS: What did you study?
@ghoulphilia: I have a degree in English Lit! Brit Lit, if you wanna get specific. I almost did Linguistics, but then I took a class that I needed to pass and you had to give a speech EVERY SINGLE WEEK and my over-the-top anxiety was still unmedicated so I dropped it.
RS: Tell me about your jobs.
@ghoulphilia: I've had extremely good luck and have been extremely privileged to work jobs I love. I was previously working as a grant writer and then a Certified Nursing Assistant for a nonprofit. It's funny how much you realize about yourself doing something you are really terrified to do. I adore people, no matter the job.
RS: Empathy is definitely your strong point!
@ghoulphilia: And I think that's why I always gravitated toward writing and performance.
RS: You seem to really like helping people solve problems.
@ghoulphilia: Failure is my inability to solve something. It can be interpersonal, intrapersonal, or the last word jumble in the newspaper.
RS: And now you're a content strategist?
@ghoulphilia: Yes. Figuring out search engine optimization for local businesses and writing their websites. The best part about that job is that it's always different. I'm learning something new constantly, and then I can be DONE with it.
RS: What websites do you visit regularly besides social media?
@ghoulphilia: Interior design/decor websites. Bright colors and millennial pink soothe me. Oh! And Rent the Runway to sigh about big fancy dresses for which I have no occasion.
RS: What kind of visual artists do you enjoy?
@ghoulphilia: Francisco Goya has my heart. Also every Matisse painting that doesn't have naked people in it. Oh! Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly, of course. I'm all over the place.
RS: What is your personal philosophy in life?
@ghoulphilia: "Can it please stop happening," mostly. I am working hard to care a little bit less. I remember in high school writing, "People keep telling me that this won't matter in five years. But it isn't five years from now. This is happening now, and it is the worst thing that has happened to me in my life." I still agree with that sentiment, and I try really hard not to pull the age card or tell people that time will heal, even though that's often accurate. But in my own life, it's helpful to take a step back and remember how much a boy asking some other girl to a dance when he said he WASN'T EVEN GOING hurt me - and how now I could not care less. Well. Mostly.
RS: What are the most important elements of your creative expression?
@ghoulphilia: I need to explain things. There's a sense of rhythm and urgency in passionate description, and that comes out in most of what I'm proud of. I perform slam poetry sometimes, and I'm good at it. It's about being genuine and vulnerable and not always using the tools you're given to do so. Some sentences have punctuation; some don't. I believe everyone can understand something if they tilt their head the right way. I need glasses to see the world. Some people need to hear, "imagine if you were xyz." Then they get it. I want everyone to get it - whatever "it" is.
RS: How do you get out of a funk?
@ghoulphilia: Usually spending time with other people is extremely good for my mental health. It can kind of be a double-edged sword, since it makes me way more likely to drink, but not just sulking and stewing in my feelings is always a good decision.
RS: What kind of people do you hang out with?
@ghoulphilia: Bad influences, mostly.
RS: How did your Catholic upbringing affect you?
@ghoulphilia: Lots of relativity and a lot of conservatism. That's equal parts "Family is extremely important and your parents have never been wrong," "Nothing is more frightening than the concept of hell," and "Feel guilty for anything you enjoy. Just, all of it.”
RS: What do you wish you were exposed to at a younger age?
@ghoulphilia: My cousin told me when I was in elementary school that he would still like me even if I turned out to be gay. And at the time, I thought that was the bravest, nicest thing anyone had ever said. I probably could have saved a lot of time if "Everybody isn't the same, and that's okay" was a bigger part of my upbringing.
RS: How are you different from other people? What’s something that people never believe when you tell them?
@ghoulphilia: People pretty much believe whatever I tell them. Except for that I don't experience sexual attraction. It's interesting to be in the relationship I'm in, with a cis guy, and still hold onto that part of my identity. My sister asked me "So like.... how does that WORK? Are you not ace anymore?"
RS: As an asexual, it must be frustrating to consistently encounter such questions.
@ghoulphilia: My love/sex life is none of her business. But I want to educate! It's a delicate balance.
RS: I definitely understand. What else is your interest in sexual identity/attraction the basis for?
@ghoulphilia: A sci-fi novel I'm working on! As sex dolls/bots become more and more commonplace and are being used for (particularly) men to act out violent and disturbing fantasies, consumers get bored knowing that their "partners" aren't actually experiencing pain, fear, or trauma - and so they make ones that do.
RS: What parts of physical intimacy do you enjoy best?
@ghoulphilia: I feel most comfortable physically when I'm lying on someone's chest and they are stroking my hair or rubbing my back a little bit. That's my absolute favorite, but I tend to stab my partner with my earrings. My other favorite is being the big spoon! It's wildly overrated. You can give them shoulder kisses and there's no way for them to reach around and getcha. You Hold The Power.
RS: How do you find the idea of romance deceiving?
@ghoulphilia: Tying it inextricably to sex, acting like it's the end-all, be-all of life, and that it somehow creates a "happily ever after" that doesn't really exist. People suck, in general. I suck. You suck. Nobody is a perfect person. And even if they were, anyone dating them would find something that drove them bonkers after a couple months. There's a balance between "you deserve better" and "you need to lower your expectations and remember if you're dating, it's probably another human and humans aren't perfect."
RS: How have you learned to focus on "just doing you?"
@ghoulphilia: It doesn't really matter what it is you're doing, you have to work really hard to just do what you like. YOU are an audience. You're not the only person in the world to have your opinion (probably). If you're writing so that your mom will like it, great. If you're writing so your neighbor's daughter will like it, fantastic. Don't get caught in the trap of worrying about that big, amorphous EVERYONE. EVERYONE will never like you. You've just got to worry about the people that do.
When she's not in bed, near water, with a dog, or behind a dumpster, you can find Meredith raging on Twitter dot com @ghoulphilia.