Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Irrational Fears

Last week we discussed weird things that comfort us, but what about the flip side of that? What are the weird things that scare us? For me I have two main things that scare me more than anything: tunnels and ventriloquist dummies. Yes I know I write horror yet am terrified of two pretty nondescript things.

We’ll start with the tunnels. Up until these past few years I was incapable of driving through tunnels. Add that to the fact that I live near Baltimore which has two tunnels, sometimes this is a problem. It stems from a form of claustrophobia. I don’t like being totally enclosed like that – I always like to have an exit strategy. Then there is the fact that there is that added problem of all the water pushing down on you. Whenever I go through a tunnel I tend to shake uncontrollably. The best thing to do is to crank my metalcore music and focus on getting out. 

Then there is my problem with ventriloquist dummies. This stems from a traumatic experience I had as a child. My uncle had me go down in his basement to get something. He then threw his voice to act like his dummy was talking. This of course scarred me for life but also just the thought of a ventriloquist dummy gives me shivers. Anything that shouldn’t be talking really creeps me out. Puppets do too. Weirdly enough though possessed dolls, possessed puppets (a la Buffy or Child’s Play) don’t bother me since there is a reason they are talking/moving: they have a demon or a spirit in them. Yes I know, weird logic but it makes me feel better. 

So now I ask you. What irrational fear makes your body tense up or keeps you awake at night? What weird things send shivers down your spine? 

Image from "Howdy Doody Time" 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Strange Comforts

Lately life has been utterly crazy busy; but if you all know me at all, you know that’s how I like it. Grad school has kicked up again and I’m slugging through my Spatial Modeling class with lots of coffee. Work has been busy as well since we’re coming to the end of the government fiscal year. Though I wish I had a little bit more time to write, overall things are going pretty well.

Of course between all of this I make time for myself and lately that has been spent either working out or watching TV at night. The number one show on my watch list of course is Sons of Anarchy. If you follow me on twitter you know how far this obsession goes. I realize now that this obsession stems from what was going on in my life at the time I started watching the show. Last Fall I lost my job due to budget cuts and then my Dad wound up in the hospital with kidney failure and was near death.

It was a pretty dark time in my life so I started watching Sons of Anarchy to escape from it all. For the month of September and the beginning of October that was all I watched. I zoomed through the series and for that moment in time it was like I was living in Charming. At first I thought it strange that I found comfort in a show about violence, crime, and death but then I thought about it. When I write I exaggerate horrors of my own life to cope; wasn’t I just doing the same thing with watching this show? If I focused on the horrible things on the show then maybe the things going on in my own life weren’t as horrible. Throw in some Shakespearean themes, amazing writing, and an amazing cast and I was hooked.

This has caused Sons of Anarchy to be my “security blanket” as of late. Used to be whenever I was upset or angry I would turn to my Whedon shows (Firefly, Angel, Dollhouse, and Buffy) to calm me down. Lately they have been replaced with Sons of Anarchy (though let’s not get crazy I still rewatch all those shows as well). It’s gotten to the point that I am so invested in this show that Tuesday night is almost an extension of my own life: I wait with bated breath for what’s going to happen next. Like my Whedon shows, it has become so much more than just a television show.

All this might sound a little looney but hey, it works and it got me through a hard time in my life (of which has now done a complete 180). In fact I know a handful of people that feel the same way about other TV shows. So I ask you, my faithful readers, what is your TV show “security blanket?” When you want to be comforted, what is the one thing you watch more than most?

Image: Cover of the 2nd Season Sons of Anarchy DVD

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Big Break

The year was 1996. I was a confident six year old with a Little Mermaid backpack, My Little Pony lunch box, and a head filled with extensive knowledge. Maybe I wasn’t the most popular in my first grade class but I had a nice group of friends who put up with my creative genius. All in all I had a pretty damn good life. 

The other kids were slightly jealous of my teacher’s pet status as I was highly intelligent for my young age. The pig-adorned classroom was filled with my perfect penmanship (as well as others, I suppose) and quick math skills (which were promptly lost somewhere around fourth grade). I was living the first grade dream, and my friends were riding on my coattails. 

Then I got my first gig in the spotlight. My teacher noticed that I always had a notebook on hand; I was always scribbling down short stories (couple sentences here and there). She tasked me with writing a puppet show for a group of my friends to act out. I took to my blank pages and crafted a harrowing story of a pig and a dog who, against all odds, became best friends.  My friends fought over the coveted spot of the pig and were quick to skillfully craft their Popsicle stick puppets. 

The show went on without a hitch and we ended with a thunderous applause from the captivated audience. I was awarded a certificate for my achievement and was crowned with the highest honor of “Pigtastic Author.” To this day I still have that certificate and shirt with the ironed on pig in a dress. From there the fame only increased but I am always remembered my big break into the world of storytelling.