Sunday, March 2, 2014

Horror Films Saved My Life

I haven't told many people what drew me into horror movies. Maybe because the truth is so much less badass than I feel like it should be, or maybe I'm embarrassed or something.

Here's the truth: horror films saved my life.

I'm not being dramatic. The second part of that statement is: because I've battled depression for as long as I can remember. Hopefully I can explain this all so it makes sense. Be patient.

So here's the post that's taken me years to write. It's long. I have to say a lot of stuff.

I experience depression as a desert. I think a lot of people mistake it for sadness, but it has nothing to do with that. If you're just a chronically sad person, that's a whole different ballgame. I'm not one of those. Depression is a monotonous, grey wasteland where every damn day is the same and there is nothing to look forward to, nothing to want, and nothing to make me happy or excited. Sadness is an emotion, and from my experience, depression is just the feeling of having no feeling. It SUCKS. There's a bleakness to every day, and an eternity of sameness stretching out in front of you - nothing to feel, nothing to look forward to. Nothing will ever change. I will live every day just. like. that.

Many people have asked if I blame my upbringing. As far as the condition? No. I don't blame anyone. But really, my family's lack of understanding (or attempt at understanding) let me wander so far into the wasteland it's a miracle I ever found my way out. They almost lost me. I don't mean to rebellion or risky behavior either - I mean DEAD. I was so far gone that even though I understood death was still a wasteland, it could maybe be less bleak than what I was living in every day. I lost all consciousness that anything would happen to the world if I was gone - I just didn't want to be here anymore. 

I get really upset when people refer to suicide as selfish. If someone is at the point of attempting to take their own life, they're beyond thinking of themselves or anyone else. To them, it is the only option. It is the feeling that nothing will change and living each day is such hell that the only answer is to end it in that way. I've been there. It's lonely. You don't want it, but you're desperate. The selfish ones are those who turn a blind eye to their loved ones. This is where my family let me down. Thankfully, others did not and that's why I'm here today.

I was literally dragged to therapy. Literally. I was stuffed into a car by one of three amazing people and driven to see the  doctor sometimes as many as three times a week until things started improving. I remember the very moment I decided to stay alive - I relive it often. It was the toughest moment of my life. But I did, slowly but surely, with a lot of tough love and support, start digging out.

I need to make one thing clear: tough love does NOT mean telling someone to cheer up, or suck it up, or get over it. Those are the most damaging types of things you can ever say. Depressed people aren't broken or vying for attention, not if it's real. We don't need advice. We don't need anyone asking us what's wrong, because we don't usually know. Telling us to cheer up? It's just condescending. We aren't fucking sad. We don't really know what we are…we just don't like it.

So I started digging out in college. It was tough. I had to change my whole way of thinking to be able to start letting feeling in. I remember the first thing I started feeling was anger - acute, wretched and pointed at the people who I felt had been letting me down. But I could write a novel on that - and it would be so miserable no one would want to read it, so moving on…

Then I discovered horror movies.

Because I discovered fear. Fear is a very strong feeling. It brought me to life inside, and even the movies that didn't scare me brought with them fascination. It was something to be excited about and enchanted by. I fell in LOVE with things that go bump in the night, especially monsters. I wanted to be startled, shaken and shocked - I wanted the rush of the unexpected, the unknown and the unpleasant. I loved how uncomfortable these movies made me because THEY MADE ME FEEL SOMETHING. More importantly, they made me feel something that wasn't directed at anyone, because every other feeling I'd been experiencing was so horrible.

I give The Shining credit. Alien….massive credit. Evil Dead? Wonderful. I learned to laugh even while watching from between my fingers. Digging out of the depression hole has to be punctuated with moments of life like this, and moments of feeling. They make the next day seem worthwhile.

It's all about those moments of feeling for the rest of your life. I graduated college in 2003, and I still feel the wasteland over my shoulder every day. I also still feel a rush from monsters leaping out of dark shadows. It has become a form of therapy. It keeps my darkness at bay.

And that's the key. Find something you can turn to when you need to feel something. When you feel the wasteland pulling you in, find that thing that will fascinate you, even for a few moments.

I recently read the book Hyperbole and a Half (written by a blogger far more amazing than me) which was a hoot - but also made me laugh and cry at the same time. Why? Because the author's description of depression was perfect. She too, uses humor and wit to cope - to get what she needs to say out there, but wraps it in a life jacket of humor just in case it's too dark for its audience.

So really, if you hate what I just wrote or don't understand it or something, this is perfect:

I didn't inject a lot of humor here. I'm not talented enough to know how, so I'm sorry for that. I wish I could have made this more enjoyable for whoever reads it.

If you're dealing with depression

I guess the message of all of this ranting is, if you can find your monster movie, you'll be ok. I'm pretty weird, so chances are your monster movie won't ACTUALLY be a monster movie. It might be books, or knitting, YouTube videos of baby animals or something outside. It will probably be unexpected, but that in itself is kinda cool. Therapists sometimes won't tell you that you'll live with depression always, but you will. You'll always know it's there. Some days will be bad, but many many MANY of them will be good too. You'll have things to look forward to, people who love you, and feelings. It takes work and that's hard, but you're strong enough to get to a good place. I'm happy now, and haven't taken any meds for over 7 years.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The worst Christmas movie ever.

Seriously. Like, ever.

Chick flicks can be ass-numbingly stupid. So can Christmas movies. These are facts. So if I'm blogging and calling it the worst ever, we've hit the jackpot. We've hit the perfect storm of bad decisions, annoying characters and ridiculous serendipity. Know how some movies are so bad they loop around back to good? Well, this one lapped itself back to awful.

Also I have no idea what it was called, so good luck not accidentally watching it. Sorry about that.

So here's the rundown. 

Girl is engaged to rich, distant guy. 

Girl is going to guy's parents' house for Christmas, and she's never met them.

Hot, charming guy spills coffee on girl at airport and ruins her phone. Dumbass should have had that shit in an Otterbox….smartphones don't just grow on trees you know.

Guy overhears girl telling someone who she's going to go see or something (I dunno I left the room to get a beer) and says "hey! that's my brother! I'll drive you!"

Girl is all "sure! I'll get in the car with you, strange person! what luck my fiancé is your brother!"

Girl ends up baking cookies and crap at the wrong house which would be HILARIOUS if it wasn't SO DUMB. Because if this had been real life she'd have been SO murdered by now.

So the dude she's supposedly engaged to comes in and everyone is all "OMIGOSH!" Because it's the wrong person.

Shit gets sorted out, fiancé gets girl and takes her to HIS house where SURPRISE! His family is awful and the house looks like a damn museum.


Late in the night, a flashlight shines into girl's window. It's hot charming guy! He has STALKED HER TO THE HOUSE SHE'S STAYING IN AND IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. So of course she decides to go for a walk with him on a deserted yet oddly well-lit trail. Again, so murdered. They have some mooshy moment and then an awkward fight moment and she walks back to the house, in the middle of the night, by herself.

Then blah blah blah turns out fiancé is gonna be a multimillionaire, wants to help her have a bigger store (oh yeah, she has a store) and she breaks up with him, because clearly that sucks.

Ok fine, he did kinda suck. Everyone in this movie sucks, except maybe the grampa….but grampas are all awesome so whatever.

Then she goes running out of the house, down the deserted oddly lit trail, calling hot charming guy's name, and BOOM he's there AS IF BY MAGIC.

If magic were the same as stalking, that is.

Why is this dumb idiot not murdered yet?

Then they say "I love you" because clearly a day and a half plus the magic of Christmas is enough to use that word.

Oh and then there was some bullshit with a clock and fate and some crap. The End.

Know what's a good Christmas movie? DIE HARD.

Family Holidays are a minefield (part 3)

Heat-seeking old people

There are few situations where I am willing to wear shorts. This is mostly out of consideration for other people - if you look directly at my legs, you'll end up with some damaged retinas. So basically shorts are for camping, yard work, and Christmas.

Yeah I said Christmas. You know, that holiday that happens in the middle of winter?

Temperature outside: 36
Temperature inside: 82



Right now, as I type, the elderly members are in the living room (aka the fiery bowels of hell) in sweaters, hats and wrapped in blankets like adorable wrinkled little burritos. By a fire, because wearing every piece of warm clothing in the house clearly isn't enough. They are clutching hot cups of tea and swearing at the arctic temperatures.

The rest of us? Tank tops and shorts baby, and we're still sweating like we've all just run 5 miles.

Ok that may be a lie, but only because if I ran 5 miles I'd be dead or at least in need of serious rescue.

I can't imagine what the electric bill will be, but right now the only thing I want to do is stand naked in the yard so by body will stop feeling like it's melting. I asked my mom if this is what it feels like to go through "the change" - she told me even hot flashes let up once in a while.

I guess even good circulation has its drawbacks sometimes. I'm gonna go take a cold shower for the next hour.

May your old people have better sweaters than mine. Merry Christmas.

Family Holidays are a minefield (part 2)

Sleeping arrangements

Oh here we go. I don't know about you, but in my family, big holidays involve everyone piling into one house for a few days. This means sleeping arrangements have a definite hierarchy, based on who you are in the family.

Mom gets a bed, grandma gets a bed, and whatever great-aunts or uncles show up get a bed. My married brother and his family get a room….

Ok the house is NOT that big and there are more people to go…so that's when we get a little um…creative.

Last year I slept in a closet. Seriously. They put an air mattress and a blanket in the upstairs closet with THROW PILLOWS. Because they RAN OUT OF REAL PILLOWS. I am at the bottom of the sleeping arrangement hierarchy. I don't even get a couch at Christmas. Single people in their 30s tend to get crammed into corners, wherever we fit.


This year is different. My dad took pity on me and arranged for me to have a bedroom all to myself! I have to say, this has got to be one of the better Christmas presents I've ever been given. Ever. I now have a place to escape, write my dumb little blog post, and maybe even read a little. I even have a nice little view of the back yard!


So last night I was so excited about my little Christmas bedroom oasis I went to bed way before anyone else. I just could not wait for downy, silent solitude. I read, fell asleep, so far so good.

I don't know what time I woke up. I first felt something against the back of my head, and somehow my feet were dangling off the bed and hitting the floor. What the…? I woke up enough to realize I was IN A BALL AT THE FOOT OF THE BED AND ABOUT TO FALL OUT. Now, I'm generally a fairly heavy sleeper, and I don't move around much, so this was pretty confusing. I rearranged myself in a normal position in the bed and fell back asleep.

It happened twice more before morning. Twice. More.

I came downstairs this morning and my parents asked how I slept. I said "great, but the weirdest thing happened…"

Before I could continue my dad started laughing. He said "you rolled to the bottom didn't you?"

Me: "YES. What the hell is wrong with that bed dad?"

Dad: "I put it on a slope. I like to sleep on a slope."

Me: "So I'm sleeping on a ramp? Why didn't you warn me?"

Dad: "I thought it would be funny not to."

Me: "Clearly."

Dad: "So can I have my room back?"

Me: "No way man. This was still the best night of Christmas sleep I've ever had."

The End. Merry Christmas. May you not have to sleep in a closet this year :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Family holidays are a minefield

(part 1 of several parts because I'm just gonna keep doing them until I get bored with it)

OK so I need to preface this by saying I don't hate holidays. Any of them. Family holidays though, like Christmas, can be tough…ESPECIALLY if you're the family member with the weird color streaks in your hair and extra piercings. My family doesn't drink, swear, or stay single past 25. I guess I missed the memo.

They don't get me, but to their credit (I suppose) they try. Mostly though, that means they just hammer me with the same 5 questions over and over for a couple of days until I'm ready to either murder someone or come home.

My next blogposts offer nothing that's gonna change your life unless you really want to commiserate. It's just a lame question I'm stick of getting asked and how I'd respond to it if I could be honest with my family without making them cry. 

Here's the first question I'll inevitably get asked this year:

How's your love life?

The dreaded question my grandmother always asks me. The easy answer is "non existent"…of course then I have to face the look she gives me, like I've failed her or kicked a puppy. It's a true answer I guess, but too soft I think, for me. It would probably be the worst idea ever for me to look my grandma in the eyes and say "grandma, I'm an asshole. I'm an imperfect, snarky, train wreck. I frequently rocket between dancing and crying for no apparent reason. All I need is another imperfect, snarky asshole who accepts me for the mess that I am and can deal with my numerous flaws. So far, I haven't found him."

But it sucks to disappoint grandma. It feels like she's asking me "are you going to find someone to settle down with before I die?" I mean, no pressure or anything. In a lot of ways, I get it. By my age, my grandma had been married for years and had two children. So had almost all of her peers. My grandma had an unhappy marriage, but she stuck with him and worked to support a family and be a wife and mother. It's admirable and sad at the same time. Back then, people valued each other. It was a generation of gender roles and loyalty. People who got married stayed married. Now, it's completely different. Things like gender inequality are going away, but so is loyalty.

Harsh but true. People are dicks. Every last one of us. 

The rescue

I used to love whitewater. As a teenager I learned to read rapids and shoot them with the finesse of a professional. I even landed on the cover of a national magazine (Ok, ok don't be too impressed, it was Girl Scout Leader Weekly, but still) because of it. One of my most prized possessions was my whitewater canoe. It all represented a time of adrenaline, confidence and fun.

I've been in a kayak once. I probably don't have to tell you it's not the same as a canoe. It was cool though, and different. I felt no fear as I clumsily navigated a measly class 3 with my double-sided paddle. It was humbling - the skill set I had was nearly useless. I was enjoying trying to figure it all out though, but the thing about kayaks is they flip. It's easy to get out if you can't flip it back, you just need to have the presence of mind to pull the tab on your spray skirt while underwater. Inevitably I flipped my kayak, but when I did my head (yes, in a helmet) hit a rock and I guess the impact knocked me out. I was told later that the current dragged me about 20 feet before the guide got to me. I woke up on the bank with burning insides. I couldn't speak or think as I choked and wheezed and tried to catch breath. There was a crowd around me - it was the most surreal experience, and probably the most frightened I've ever been on my own behalf.

I've never gotten back into a kayak, but more than 15 years later, that guide and I are still friends. Why? Because people who know how to save each other are awesome people. People who will do so at the risk of themselves? There are no words. Those people deserve to run the world - they'd be good at it.


In general though, I don't think it's fair to divide people into rescuers and rescuees. I'd rather just say there are people who care about each other and people who just care about themselves. If you're honest with yourself, you've probably spent time in both categories. I know I have. 

This is something I've been thinking about a lot, what it means to need help, ask for help, or give help. Take this next part for exactly what you paid for it, because I'm just trying to figure it all out.

I think sometimes there's a lot of pressure involved in helping others, and you can get so caught up in it you start to almost live through them. At that point it's exhausting and unhealthy. On the flip side, you can also easily fall into that victim mindset where you're constantly relying on the boost others can give you. As imperfect beings, we all need help at some point but we also need to know how to get ourselves going in a positive direction, no matter what.

Yes, helping each other and accepting help takes effort, but being dragged around by other people while you yourself are having issues is a whole other thing. 

Between October of 2011 and March of 2012 I experienced 2 layoffs, lost my apartment, and almost lost my mom. It was a rough time, and a time I never would have made it through without massive amounts of help, love and support from my friends. I was given a guest room to live in, freelance work so I could feed myself, and about a dozen shoulders to cry on. That support gave me the strength and momentum to get my shit together and get back on track. That's what good support does. It does not feed negativity or enable a victim mindset, it gives you strength. People who can help you find strength in yourself are the best kind of people. After being in one job and one apartment for 8 years, the transition I had to make was hard - many times I felt like it was a losing battle. So yes, I got myself together…but it was only because of my friends that I had the strength to do so. Friends don't let friends give up on themselves.


When you get on a plane they tell you in a short pre-takeoff presentation that in an emergency, put your own oxygen on first. Help yourself so you can help the person next to you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's a numbers game….unless you don't know the difference between your and you're

Meeting people is tough. Meeting a decent guy to date? Tougher. The older I get, the less luck I seem to have meeting someone good. Men are like shopping carts - once you find one without a squeaky wheel, some other bitch is already pushing it around the store.

Sigh. I hate the dating game, and actually like being single. OK I don't mind being single. There are definitely ups and downs.

OK I'd really like to meet someone good and start a relationship.

I'll cut to the chase now. Sigh.

I joined an online dating site.

I have been in the world of online dating for 24 hours. I have received emails, comments on my photos, and something called "winks" which I believe to be first cousins with Facebook's "poking", one of the stupidest concepts ever if you are older than 12.

You can tell who's been on there a while with no luck because their profiles are decidedly grouchy and full of what other people are doing wrong. Yeah, because whining on a dating site is oh so attractive. I do see cause for frustration on some fronts though....but instead of putting them on my profile, I decided to list them here.

Even though I'm new to this, I have some suggestions for online daters....namely the men who's profiles I've been browsing. Follow these suggestions and you might have more luck guys:

• Don't post photos you took in the bathroom mirror. Bathrooms aren't sexy, and I can't see your face if your damn phone is in front of it. 

The reaction you aren't getting from a girl:
"Oh look at those abs! I don't mind the toilet and pile of laundry in the background as long as the rest of his face matches the 20% that isn't covered by his phone!"

• Use complete sentences, grammar and punctuation. I've been getting emails that are nothing but lower case streams of consciousness and it's ridiculous. "Ur" is not "your" and if you're trying to get me to go out with you, use a fucking capital letter once in a while. I'm not going to respond to something that looks ignorant and lazy that I'm going to have to decipher.

The reaction you aren't getting from a girl:
"Wow you must have really wanted to talk to me quickly, since what you've sent is a frantic jumble of letters! How sweet!"

• Don't post photos that a girl has clearly been cut out of. Are you serious? There are way too many of these. Way. Too. Many. I'd almost prefer the bathroom photo.

The reaction you soooooo aren't getting from a girl:
"She's probably his sister."

• Listing yourself as "athletic build" when clearly the only sport you've played in a while is beer pong. That's not a 6-pack honey, it's a keg. No matter what you look like you can find someone, but if you lie that's another ballgame. Lying ain't sexy.

The reaction you aren't getting from a girl:
Yeah I'm not gonna post a reaction for this one. Draw your own conclusions.

• Know how tall you actually are. It's common knowledge in the female world that men have a loose grasp on the concept of inches. I'm 6-0" and if I go on a date expecting a guy who's as tall or taller than me and he's actually more like 5-9"…'s going to be awkward. My purse is big, but I can't fit a step stool in it.

The reaction you aren't getting from a girl:
"I have to sit down when we kiss but that's ok."

• Don't post a photo from 10 years ago. Just don't. None of us look like we did 10 years ago and that's ok. Misrepresenting yourself in any way just isn't going to get you anywhere.


I may be a snob here, but I don't want to just have dates. I want to meet a genuine person who holds himself to a high standard of honesty and integrity. When you meet someone in person you put your best foot forward and try to make a good impression, and to me it's important to do that online too.