. . .they eat the jelly between your toes.
If you don't recognize the above reference, I sincerely feel for your childhood. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a staple for my sister and I, so you can imagine the excitement when my partner presented me with this book as a "just because" gift the other day. To my own amazement, I still remember almost all of the words to "The Hearse Song." Ah, the fond memories of trying to scare my parents while reading from that book, and sitting up late in the dark, reading with a flashlight. It was technically my sister's book, but I remember owning it by means of sneaking into her room and lifting it from her bookshelf, while also sneaking a peek of her Jackie Collins books (admit it, Josie, you read those).
What may come as a surprise to some is that it wasn't just me sneaking around reading that book; In the 90s, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, along with the other two books in the series, More Scary Stories to tell in the Dark and More Tales to Chill Your Bones, reached the top of the banned and most frequently challenged books list. It still remains on that list, and was ranked seventh by decade for 2000-2009. The series was banned because its violent content was considered unsuitable for the target age group (source). This is funny to me, because my parents let us watch all kinds of horror movies, and films with graphic content, with their only censorship being the occasional "cover your eyes."
I feel sorry for kids today, and their parents; even if you attempt to censor something to spare your child for whatever reason, they will find it, if they're looking. Even if they're not looking. This is why it honestly surprises me that books like Scary Stories are still on banned books lists, or that lists like that exist at all. I mean, heaven forbid your child read a book and actually use his or her imagination! Never mind the fact that pretty much anyone can access disturbing violent imagery 24/7, thanks to the internet. I'm glad my parents didn't go crazy trying to shelter me, and I'm also equally glad that I didn't grow up with easy access to all things disturbing and degrading. I think the most disturbing thing I did on the computer as child was making the cop in Police Quest try to have sex with his fellow officer in the shower, to which the computer replied, "My, you have a dirty mind!"
For those of you entertaining the idea of revisiting the Scary Stories series, you might have more reasons to be excited, as talks of a big budget movie, as well as a documentary film, are in the works! Personally, I am looking forward to both projects, and am super pumped that people are still discussing this book series that most definitely helped foster my love for storytelling and scary things. Check out the the Scary Stories documentary site here for more information, and/or if you're interested in helping fund the project.
Stay scary, boys and ghouls!
"I don't suppose anybody ever deliberately listens to a watch or a clock. You don't have to. You can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time you didn't hear" (William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury)
I used the above quote in an essay I wrote for an American Lit class, as it pertains to the character Quentin Compson's inability to escape his past-- the way that time and the past can sneak up and consume. Much like Quentin I, too, have a problem with evading the ticking clock of days gone by, but now it appears that I am running from an actual ticking clock--time itself.
This idea became fully realized once I noticed that I seem to have difficulty relaxing and enjoying my weekends. Why is this? I love having days off and time to myself. The thing is, I am a slave to the clock. I almost accidentally left out the "l" there, which would have been hilarious and potentially misleading. Anyway, my point is that I'm time's bitch. Rarely do I ever evade the death grip that it has on me or, rather, that I allow it to have. About a month ago, I started forcing myself to not check the time while writing in my journal (I always put the date and time at the top of the page, because I'm an OG). What I discovered, and almost immediately, is that I go crazy not knowing what time it is. It sucks! I don't want to be so rigid, and certainly don't want to be ruled by such an annoying human construction.
I'd love to put things on pause--have a Zack Morris "time out." It seems like a great idea to take down your clocks (if you actually own clocks) and put your phones away (yeah right), but the thing is, we operate according to time. I think most of us are probably unconscious of the fact that we're always on the clock. It's so ingrained that we hardly even realize what being on the clock does to us. For me, being a naturally anxious person, the movement of time--the ticking--creates a heightened state of urgency. I constantly feel like I'm losing a race. Being aware of time super-charges my anxiety; my chest gets tight and my pulse grows stronger, becoming harder to ignore. On the other hand, being unaware of time makes me feel panicked. Although, that would prove that I'm not really unaware so much as that I just don't know what time it is. So, yeah, there is it. I allow myself to be consumed by time. I rarely even hear the actual ticking of a clock, but I don't have to; it's there, waiting to pounce and devour.
This metaphor of time as predator is quite real to me, as I constantly feel the munching--teeth shredding through and snagging on thoughts and ideas, often making it impossible to enjoy the process of doing anything. If only I could become one of those characters that turns the hunter into the hunted. But, then again, that idea's pretty played out, isn't it?
Begin they did, and at a very young age!
I've always been a sports fan, just like my mom. I can imagine her stressing out, swearing at the TV while pregnant with me, which would explain a lot. My mom told me that, as a toddler, I was hanging out with my dad and uncles, watching a baseball game, when I first voiced my disapproval of a sports play: "that was a shitty pitch," I said. "And, it really was," my mom said. Baseball was a big part of our family, as my dad played and coached when I was a kid, and both he and my mom played on a team together before I was born. My dad also grew up with Canadian baseball legend, Larry Walker, and George Morneau (father of MLB star, Justin Morneau) in New Westminster, BC, where the game was truly a part of the culture.
As much as I loved baseball for a good healthy portion of my life (I can tell you exactly where I was sitting in my parents' house during both of the Jays' World Series wins, and what I was eating) it was football and hockey that stole my heart, and have yet to return it.
"Habs, Canucks, Seahawks, Lions!" This was something my Uncle Murray used to try and get my cousin Nick to say when he was a baby. Those four teams have been quite definitive in our family history, but things have evolved. For me, you can take out the Seahawks and put the Steelers in their place. Big time. My fascination with the Pittsburgh Steelers started while eyeing up my dad's old Steelers knitted hat as a child. That hat is now mine. See, the Steelers used to be my dad's team, and the Minnesota Vikings were my mom's (cough, cough), but since the NFL introduced the Seattle Seahawks, they became sort of like the home team around Victoria and Vancouver, and my parents decided to be Hawks fans. Growing up, I thought all of those teams were cool, likely because of my folks, but as the years wore on, the black and gold starting seeping into my veins, becoming a part of my being. Super Bowl XL had the Seahawks taking on the Steelers which, as you can imagine, was quite the event for myself and my family. The Steelers won (oh yes, we did) and there were many tears shed; I was overjoyed, while my sister was absolutely devastated by defeat. I don't even think she said goodbye when she left my parents' place that evening, and I don't blame her. I get it.
As for hockey, my parents were both huge Habs fans growing up, so cheering for Montreal came naturally to me. Since both of them were raised in BC, once the Canucks were born into the NHL in 1970, things began to change. The Vancouver Canucks slowly but surely started taking over first place in the "who's your favourite hockey team?" race. For a while, there was much debate over whether each of them preferred the Canucks or the Habs, but I know who they'll both be cheering for when that illusive Canucks/Habs final happens. Interestingly enough, it's my sister and my cousin Nick who carry the Habs torch in the family, and would most definitely cheer for them over Vancouver. No question. I know where my loyalty lies, and that's why I actually never want that fantasy final to ever happen. I don't want to hate the Habs.
These things have all been running through my head today as I, and many others, get geared up for tomorrow's beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I just took a deep breath after writing that sentence, and slowly exhaled. If you're as big a fan as I am, you know full well what I mean when I say that I love the playoffs, but watching my team play is not exactly relaxing. See, watching your team play a game in the playoffs is the emotional equivalent of running a marathon; you feel good at first, but once you're in the thick of it, as much as the adrenaline is pumping, the pain sets in. I've never run a marathon, and likely never will, so that's probably a bogus analogy, but whatever. My point is that, when you've become so invested in a team, and you feel so incredibly passionate about them, you really feel like you live and die by them, and with them. Their success is your success, and their failures and limitations are yours as well. I once wrote a journal entry about how I directly view my life in terms of how my teams are doing. In 2011, both the Steelers and the Canucks were very close to winning their respective championships. They lost. I lost. That was a very challenging year. I sometimes joke that I'm going to turn out like Angelica Houston's character in Buffalo 66. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a solid and please watch it.
On that note, I bid you farewell, and wish you luck if you're one of those people that may come across me during this time of ultimate chaos. Also, I wish your teams the best! Unless I hate them, in which case I hope they burn in hell. Go Canucks! Go Habs! Go heart! (please let me live to see another season).
Now here's one I've been stewing over. . .the right to tell my own story. Isn't it a right? If so, then why does it seem others are so adamant that I don't speak? That I keep silent about certain things that are happening or have happened in my life?
One of my favourite writers, Augusten Burroughs, doesn't seem at all concerned about these things. Maybe at one time he considered the effects of his writing, but he still wrote--still put it out there. Those of you who've read his memoirs will understand that nobody (Augusten included) is depicted in a perfect or even remotely together manner, and why should they be? Why are people so uncomfortable with the truth? Augusten Burroughs is not only a fantastic writer, but also a brave one. For some crazy reason, we must be brave in order to tell the truth--to speak up about our experiences. Why is it that so many people prefer to keep things on lock-down? Why be afraid of looking flawed in a fucked up world? I mean, aren't we all bound to be messed up in some way from the chaos of everything? If you are out there pretending to be perfect then your flaws are likely standing out more than mine, more than the rest of us. You are isolating yourself.
I know people like this. If any of them are reading this, they're probably sweating with anxiety, hoping I don't say something about them directly. In a sense, I just did.
I have toiled over the idea of writing a memoir for years and, until recently, I thought it was because I didn't really have anything interesting to say, that I lead a boring life. I now know that's not true. The boring life part is, of course, but I now realize that I actually feel like I haven't been allowed to tell my story, that I would risk being disowned or something. I've allowed myself to be held back. The thing is, what is life without risk? Boring! Not everything is interesting, that's a given, and not every experience is a positive one. A lot of my experiences have been terrible, frightening, embarrassing and degrading. That's fine. I want people to know about that; I want to talk about all of that stuff, because nobody should suffer in silence. Plus, it's not as much fun to laugh at yourself when you're alone. As children, we learn the importance of sharing, and it seems that notion has since gone missing. Hide your feelings. Lie about your age. Don't talk about your failures. Pretend everything's okay. Cover up. Run away. Is this what being an adult is really about? It all seems so childish! I don't want people to need to know the secret knock in order to be let into my tree house. Despite what I once thought about wanting to be left alone, I do want to be seen and heard, and I want to see and hear others.
For the most part, with the exception of my journals, I've always leaned toward writing fiction. I love making things up, and I'm good at it. I'm much better at fiction than reality. I suppose there's a part of me that shies away from discussing my actual life events, but even in my fictional accounts you will find me lurking around somewhere; I can't hide. I've never been good at hiding.
Blogging is sharing, and I'm getting better at that (the sharing part). What I'd like to improve on is my ability to step out into the world, as myself, out of character, in every context. Sometimes you have to leave things behind--people, possessions, addictions--in order to do that. Creating has always been my outlet, and writing is such a vital part of working through things for me. I can appreciate a person's wanting to keep things private, but I do not believe that something should remain unsaid to help protect someone, at the expense of another. I need to write; it's what I do, what I've always done and will continue to do. I will never go out of my way to hurt someone, but sometimes it happens. People get offended. People take things personally. People get angry. People hide. People, get over it. Seriously. If you need to talk, talk. If you need to write, write. This is your life. My life. I want to share. It's my right, isn't it?
I am addicted to thrifting, aka, thrift shopping. I think I've always had a fascination with antiquity. Some of my earliest memories include playing with my Nana's old makeup containers and perfume bottles, and staring at the horrifying yet intriguing crucifixion imagery on her walls; this likely fed my hunger for all things creepy and gruesome as well. My mom and I used to frequent the Trading Post which, to this day, offers an eclectic mix of antique fine furniture and accessories, and quirky memorabilia from various decades. My partner, James, and I frequent many antique and second-hand shops, in hopes of scoring unique (and preferably cheap) treasures. We collect and read a lot of books, and are especially fond of rare antiques with that musty, library smell. I adore libraries. It may seem gross to some but I enjoy thinking about how many hands have touched a book. All of those people, their unwritten stories. I recently came across a candle on Etsy that claims to have an old book scent. I'm tempted to buy it.
Sometimes I'll buy a used book, or some other old trinket, because of an inscription. One time I found this book of love poems, dated 1930, which contained a beautiful, hand-written note to a wife from her husband on their 50th anniversary; I fear that that book may have found its way into a box of heirlooms that ended up in an unknown location and continues to haunt me to this day. Recently I picked up a VHS tape called "Wayne Gretzky: Above and Beyond." On the tape is a note: "Happy Valentine's Day, Shelley, Love Dad. My Palmer--Ali--Warren Moon." Dated 1991. My Dad always gives me something special on Valentine's Day, and the two of us share a deep, solid bond over sports, so I find the inscription quite touching. It bothers me that the tape ended up at a Salvation Army; it isn't all that old for one, which left me guessing what happened. Was there some falling out between the two? Did the daughter die, and someone gave away her VHS collection, without a closer look? Maybe she decided to do a major Spring cleaning overhaul, and in doing so realized that she didn't need all of those old, goodfornothing VHS tapes. Who knows. I like a good mystery, which could explain part of my attraction to older things. It's not just possessions that interest me, though, I've always taken a liking to old films, especially old horror films. Sometimes I feel like older films, particularly black and whites, are more effective in their subtlety; at times the unseen is far more evocative.
Writing about things from the past brings me to another topic--one that I don't like addressing, but that probably warrants discussion--my inability to let go. I wouldn't necessarily call it an inability, because I'm quite sure it's possible, I just have a difficult time with it. Sometimes I am literally bombarded with images, which appear somewhat like the images in Natural Born killers-- quick flashes of disturbing things that I wish to forget. Or, do I really want to forget them? I think I do, but then why hold on so tightly? Why can't I just let go? Even writing about this causes my chest to tighten and my breath to grow shallow. It's frightening. I wonder if there is any correlation between being obsessed with items from the past and my inadequacy in being able to move on from my own past. Hmm. . .okay, I'll leave it at that, as I don't have a good enough answer, but I will also leave you with this: a pic from my most recent thrifting jaunt, and a quote from the Undertaker, who seems to have all the answers. "The spirit of the Undertaker lives within the soul of all mankind. The eternal flame of light that cannot be extinguished. The origin of which cannot be explained. The answer lies in the everlasting spirit. Soon all mankind will witness the rebirth of the Undertaker--I will not rest in peace."
Saturday mornings in the 80s: hours of blissful cartoon-watching. Beetlejuice, The Real Ghostbusters, He-Man and She-Ra, Looney Tunes, The Jetsons, and so many more. Current Saturday mornings include blissful hours of coffee-drinking, bird-watching and couch-sitting. Equally enjoyable, really, which makes me feel old. Looking back on some of those cartoons, I recall that my perception was quite skewed. Thinking Marvin the Martian was a bowling ball, for one, or even worse, believing that Woodstock from The Peanuts was a piece of cheese popcorn. Of course, my own beliefs were trampled by reality fairly quickly. How could a piece of cheese popcorn flutter around? And why didn't that dog eat him? Just a couple troubling questions from early childhood. I still think that my perception of things is a tad unusual, which is fine. At times, I still have those, "Oh, THAT'S what that is" kind of moments, and that's okay, too. It's still me--the same girl, only a bit taller, sleeping in a bit later, and minus the countless hours of cartoon-watching and second helping of cereal. I do watch cartoons occasionally, but without the same excited feeling I had as a child. Without feeling like I'm getting away with something.
At times, I feel a bit dead in the water when it comes to technology, especially internet technology. I'm one of those types who likes the idea of hiding out in the woods, with some animal friends, some coffee and a typewriter. I suppose that could be why it's taken me so long to commit to writing a blog, or creating a website. Those of you who know me understand that I don't care all that much about how people perceive me, but I am also fairly self-critical. The latter of the two being the main reason I've continued to dismiss the blog thing for several years, even though I always thought it could be fun. Since this is my first post, and I don't know what the hell I'm doing, I've decided to make it a quickie. On that note, I'm signing off for now, and will be back soon (if I don't freak out). Will I survive? Probably. Beam me up!
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!