Mental Health

Here’s what you need to know about the Johari Window, and why you should value authenticity over being ‘right’

Photo by Dawn Armfield on Unsplash

“I never make the same mistake twice. I make it five or six times, just to be sure.”

Making mistakes is my jam. If I had a collection of all the terrible dates I’ve endured, all the job applications I’ve bungled, and all the courses I’ve struggled to finish, I’d have a menagerie of mistakes fit for the Queen of England. I’d never run out of material; the archive never stops growing.

My social anxiety makes it difficult for me to feel at ease among friends, but I’m learning to accept my social faux pas in stride. My over-idealistic worldview…

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash


Here’s what you need to know about ‘rebel consumers,’ gentrification and why Americans hate the ‘hipster’ label

Indie musicians. Vagabonds. Corporate art aficionados.

Hipsters are complicated members of America’s more recent alternative movements, but not for the reasons non-hipsters might assume. The meaning of the word ‘hipster’ has changed over time. It’s quite humbling to realize that this influential rebel culture isn’t actually as revolutionary as so-called hipsters would like to believe.

Hipsters can be both incredibly progressive and scathingly insensitive to other cultures depending on how they express their style to others.

Hipsters are a sign of changing times.

But is this change necessarily a movement in the right direction?

Who Were the First Hipsters?

First thing’s first: hipsters aren’t hippies. They aren’t members of the 1950s…


Too hazy to make out, this cryptid might be closer than it seems.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Nestled within California’s Santa Lucia Mountains and nearby foggy peaks, 10-foot-tall shadows spooked the Chumash, Spanish colonists and author John Steinbeck

What are these mysterious Dark Watchers?

Researchers have a few theories — the first is that this phenomenon is an example of pareidolia, or when people believe they see familiar objects in random images. Pareidolia explains why some people believe they see a man in the moon.

Another theory is that Dark Watchers are similar to the Brocken Specter — what the wary traveler sees is his own shadow reflected on the surrounding fog!

If you’re hoping to encounter a Dark Watcher, set out in the late afternoon and bring fruit or another offering.

Unearth more local lore at Enigmatic Planet. Happy galivanting!


Changing headstones, Duffy’s Cut and podcast recommendations for understanding the importance of ghost legends at home and abroad

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A town’s foundations lain around the bones of Irish victims.
A procession of corpses.
Shifting headstones, and lingering ghost stories.

Humans create folklore especially in times of great uncertainty. Liminal periods or in-between times spook us. We need stories to get us through the frightening hours of the morning, changing seasons, and the time before a corpse is laid in the ground. These times are scary because they signal a change. This in-between time is not easily labeled, and that makes all humans — no matter your ethnic background — uncomfortable.

How do we deal with this uncertainty?

We tell…


Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

The Nature Collective offers detailed information about the life cycle and uses of these plants. The Luisaño ate poppy greens. Spanish settlers called the plant Dormidera, “to fall asleep” because the petals close at night.

Others use California poppy in folk cures for insomnia, bladder issues and liver pain.

In Chumash legends, poppies are fallen sunlight. Spaniards took one look at Californian poppy fields, stunned that they had entered “the land of fire.”

One Plant Lore archive entry says smoking whole California poppies create a ‘euphoric’ feeling.

Many Californians believe that it is illegal to pick poppies if they are growing in a local garden, but this is not a rule specific to poppies. It is illegal to steal flowers that aren’t yours!

Unearth more local lore at Enigmatic Planet. Happy galivanting!

Los Angeles

Get ready for 45 seconds of glittering introspection

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

With the Edith and Eli Broad Museum reopening on May 26th, visitors will once again enter Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room, a glittering artistic experience that puts the viewer inside the artist’s world — for only 45 seconds.

The Infinity Room represents Kusama’s hallucinations and the ‘Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.’ It leaves visitors suspended in a world between abstraction and reality.

To see this exhibit, visitors must reserve free Broad tickets and follow the museum’s instructions upon arrival to reserve a chance to see the Infinity Mirror Room as early as possible. This exhibit is currently closed, but individuals who subscribe to the Broad museum newsletter will get the latest updates about the May 26th reopening.

Unearth more local lore at Enigmatic Planet. Happy galivanting!


At university, friends are the family you choose — but even families feud

Photo by Alexander Zavala on Unsplash

Keeping friends close has never been my strong suit.

A social introvert and anxious people-pleaser, I knew that moving back to Los Angeles after a tepid COVID summer was a hasty decision.

I love living with other people. I had spent my first year of university awash in new ideas. I was taken aback by ambitious University of Southern California students. I encountered drunken embraces, midnight boba runs and glittering school-sponsored festivals. Together, we also navigated financial fiascos, marijuana dependency and toxic friendships.

Living with others dissolves most personal boundaries. My roommate can tell when I’m struggling with school assignments…

Los Angeles

Part local myth and part historical legend, could this specter haunt Los Angeles’ rolling hillsides?

Image by LoganArt from Pixabay

Nestled next to Dodger Stadium, Elysian Park features views of DTLA and a hidden specter. Locals believe that the White Woman of Elysian Park was a Mexican-American woman killed by members of US Navy during World War II.

Some sources say this woman is La Llorona, the Mexican spirit who was forced to kill her own children — and then drown herself. La Llorona cannot enter the afterlife without her children, and she wanders along the waterfront mourning her loss.

Elysian Park lies in between the Echo Park Lake and the Elysian Reservoir. The park closes at 9 PM — better not stay out too late!

Unearth more local lore at Enigmatic Planet. Happy galivanting!


From freaky folklore to the beastly beverage industry, vampires are versatile creatures. One business wants to change what it means to carry the ‘Vampire’ label. Will they succeed?

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Corpses don’t typically sell luxury products.

When Applebee’s first marketed its 2019 Halloween ‘vampire cocktail,’ a bubbling purple beverage topped with plastic vampire fangs, advertisements did not feature corpses flushed with living blood.

No, Applebee’s did not feature the gory undead creatures described in Slavic folklore. Instead, its ‘vampire cocktail’ drew on the image of Braham Stoker’s Dracula and successors. It marketed alternative tastes and gothic mystique.

Fortunately for Applebee’s, Dracula fell out of copyright in 1962, and in 2019 vampires were all the rage. Unfortunately for Applebee’s, another company had previously taken note of these bloody creatures’ popularity. That…


Across the globe, cultures pursue this mollusk to extremes

Julie Francis on Unsplash

In Japanese Shintoism, noshiawabi or dried strips of abalone held together with straw make shinsen which are then sacrificed to the gods.

According to Apache myth, a deity known as the White Painted Woman survived the Great Flood by hiding in an abalone shell. After her sons grew successful, she developed the Sunrise Ceremony as a four-day coming-of-age ritual to help young females achieve similar success.

In Karuk culture, this mollusk represents a feminine symbol of wealth.

South African perlemoen are also treasured — but this leads to illegal poaching.

New Zeland pāua conservation efforts have been moderately successful.

Most species of abalone are threatened or endangered. Learn more about California’s struggle to save white abalone here.

Unearth more local lore at Enigmatic Planet. Happy galivanting!

Cat Baklarz

|Los Angeles| Environmentalist, Writer, Historian of the Weird. I seek to shield this dimension from ruin, or something.

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