A replay of a favourite… in honour of last nights attempt to watch a horror movie without hurting the one I love next to me 😉

 

I am not someone that you want next to you when enjoying a horror flick.

As anyone who has ever had the pleasure of my company in such a setting can attest to, it’s not fun.

I startle easily and violently with my go-to response being to lash out. I strike, hit, punch, and grab whoever is nearest with lightning speed reflexes.

It’s actually quite impressive, I think. My companions, they tend to disagree.

 

Ten Truths I Have Discovered Through Horror Movies

 

  1. Any encounter with a homicidal maniac is always accompanied with either complete silence or stereotypical eerie, chill-inducing music. Always. (ps, this helps know when to cover your eyes when you’re watching, just sayin)
  2. Your odds of being murdered in a horror movie are directly related to your gender. Female equals kill stock. Males will go too but if you’re female, the odds are stacked against you. If you are pretty, you go sooner.
  3. The caveat to #2 is that females also have higher odds of being the last survivor. This may have something to do with point #4.
  4. Your overall attractiveness and bra cup size will dramatically increase the chances of you losing clothing during your struggle to survive the aforementioned homicidal maniac…and your odds of needing to run *bounce bounce bounce*
  5. We have gut instincts for a reason. Developed over thousands of years to help us stay safe. Why almost no one in horror movies chooses to believe the creepy feeling they have when the porch light goes out and the wind chimes play is beyond my understanding.
  6. The same stupidity and knack for poor decision-making that gets a person in trouble will also help them survive – against all odds, if they are the big name star (who is needed for the sequel).
  7. An adult-sized person can successfully hide behind a tree sapling.
  8. Forests at night are scary. Always. There are no helpful woodland creatures like in Bambi, just predators hunting you as you run at top speed through the trees – and somehow manage to not run headfirst into any of them.
  9. The concept of safety in numbers only works if you all stay together! Do not, under any circumstances, leave the herd to go get a beer. You will not be “right back”. But your body will be found later (accompanied by eerie music or silence – see point # 1 above).
  10. I should not watch horror movies.

It was the first day of middle school for me in yet another new school. Another first day that found me, as was now routine, being brand new and knowing not a single person. I never got used to it but by that point, I had perfected the art of not letting my painful shyness and anxiety show. I took my seat near the back of the room and tried to look like I was busy doing something so that my awkwardness and discomfort at being surrounded by everyone else reconnecting with their friends after summer break wasn’t too obvious.

A girl near me who was the only other person not chatting and laughing caught my eye and asked me if I had a pen to borrow. the teacher walked in and the room grew quiet just as I handed her a pen and said a quiet “here you go”.

“There is no talking in homeroom. Miss, you will be joining me after school today for detention.” Ms. Sage spoke clearly and loudly over the shuffling of bags.

Welcome to room 7-211.

I was mortified and I wanted to crawl under the desk. All eyes were now on me and I could feel the tears hot and stinging in my eyes. I had never had a detention before. I was a good girl. I never did anything wrong or got in trouble. Assignments were never late. My marks were always perfect. I never drew attention to myself. In one sentence, Ms. Sage had impacted me in a way that I couldn’t make sense of. With her words, she showed me that she judged me based on a split second and that glimpse of my actions was not in line with who I was. I wanted to argue and explain but that would have just brought more attention. So I sat and nodded, trying to make myself as small as I could. As invisible as I could.

That moment was a stark contradiction to how that year ended for Ms. Sage and I; and to this day, she most likely has no idea how much she affected me. For the good.

 

Room 7-211, named for Grade 7, Room #211, was my homeroom and the way our school functioned was that every morning, all students went to their homerooms for first period, which was 20 minutes. It was intended to be a time for students to be briefed on daily notices from the office, schedule updates and to get ready for the day essentially. But that was a blip for Ms. Sage. She would run through the sheet of information that was on her desk from the office in record speed and then we were to do silent reading for the remainder of the period.

Her room had two racks of paperbacks in the back. The kind of racks that were made of metal and that spun on a single tall rod. They were filled with books of all genres and lengths. No graphic novels (this was the eighties and it would be years before those came along), no comic books or romance novels. They were filled with novels that she brought in and changed out regularly. To this day, I have no idea where she got them all. Some had stamps from city libraries with “discard” written across and all were clearly used. Maybe she had bought them, maybe they were donated, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that from that first day when I didn’t have a book to read, I found a treasure trove of books I had never seen before.

I was already an avid reader. I lived in my books. I loved being lost in made up worlds and stories that were anything but my life and the things that I didn’t want to exist in, but did. Since I was a little girl and had learned to read, it had been part of my day so I welcomed the chance to have a safe, familiar thing to do each morning in a place where I was definitely not comfortable.

That year was magical for 20 minutes every day. Those moments lost in new found adventures were my solace and it didn’t take long for her to notice. By Christmas, Ms. Sage had started to walk by my desk every couple of weeks with a book she had pulled from the racks and she would place it next to me as I sat reading. She never said a word as she did this; she would simply put it down, pat it and nod at me. That would be my next book.

Bradbury, Tolkien, Asimov, Bronte, Fowles, Poe, Steinbeck. Frank. I devoured them, fell in love with them. I was mesmerized by the nuances of styles and imagery, by the different ways that each author crafted and danced their words to fill the pages. Her picks for me never failed to incite something inside of me that I hadn’t felt before. One day she dropped a book of poetry on my desk and yet another world opened up. We rarely spoke one on one and I never asked why she would pick books for me.

The last homeroom of grade seven and as we were getting ready to leave she spoke, her voice cutting through the chatter of the students. She looked at me and said “Please come see me before you leave.” I groaned inside. All eyes were on me and there was laughter and the singsong of “you’re in trouble” from a few around me. I gathered my bag and trudged to her desk. She was writing something and without looking up she said, “Go to the racks and you can pick out three books to keep.”. She never looked up at me but she smiled.

To this day, two of those three books still sit on my bookshelf. The third was lost somewhere along my years and when I finally settled where I live now, it was the first book I sought out and bought at a little used book store in town. It’s not the original but it still holds a place in my heart – and shelf – along with those other two. Everytime I look at them or read them, I think of her and wonder if she has any idea how she shaped who I am today with those few moments. Those books she placed on my desk broadened my views and sparked fires that I hadn’t known existed within me.

Thank you Ms. Sage.

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We live in a culture that spoon feeds us contradictions right from the beginning.

On the one side, we are told to never settle or accept less than what will make us truly fulfilled and happy. The mere hint of settling in life is an abomination against our potential and our dreams that burn like little sparks of amazeballs inside of us. We were meant for more than to just go to work and die. You can be anything that you want to be when you grow up. The only limits are the ones that you place on yourself. Never give up. Keep striving and reaching for the stars. Mediocrity and complacency are the slow death of our souls’ brilliance.  I could go on, but you all know the speech.

Flip over to the other camp and you have the face slap that hits us all at one time or another. All of a sudden, the lessons learned and internalized from years of inspirational posters with perfectly graphic enhanced words of wisdom are shot down. We are told to get our heads out of the sand. To be realistic and be grateful for what you have.  That the reason you are unhappy is because you are never satisfied – what is wrong with you? You’re greedy. You would be happier if you would just stop searching and instead, appreciate what you do have. Stop all that wanting and seeking for more, different, better, simpler… insert your preference here. Then, at some point, we may even get the cherry on top tossed at us – Everyone is unhappy and dissatisfied, what makes you think you should be any different? Just think about everyone out there who has it worse than you.

So where does that leave us? Sure, we have the drive or the lack of it inside of ourselves. But we also have everything around us that leaves us like the proverbial squirrel in the road. Not sure what to do or in which direction to go. Like that ill-fated tree rat, we stall and do nothing, hunkering down and waiting for who knows what; and we all know how that story ends. The often remarked “no one gets out alive” adage assures us that death will eventually come along and finish our story for us, the way IT wants.

We can sit and watch that hapless squirrel l and determine, from our safe vantage point that offers a different perspective,  that both directions have potentially good or bad outcomes but staying there has an almost certain outcome of bad.

We have people in our lives that fan the flames of our desires with us, often times for us. These are the people who see your flames flickering out and pull out the moss and twigs and lichen (or dryer lint and balled up tissues – we all roll the way we roll) and they nurse the flames back to life with us.  If you have them, those people in your corner are indeed something to be grateful for. Our society has even developed to the point where you can hire people to be there for you and stoke your fires. People who can help keep you from sliding into the pool of complacency and stagnation. What a time to live in.

To return to the dilemma of complacency though; how do you know which side of the edge you are sitting on? Do you need to kick yourself in the pants – or have someone else do it for you – to get yourself out of the Swamp of Sadness that surrounds you because you feel like there has to be more out there? (bonus points if a vision on Artax and Atreyu just flashed in your mind there)? Or are you mature and informed about your life, options and potential enough to simply be making an intelligent decision to be okay with where you are and to understand the difference between a dream and a fantasy for your goals in life?

For each of us, it could go both ways at any given time. Eventually, like the squirrel, you will run out of time to decide though and there are no do-overs. Just ask pancake road squirrel if you doubt that. Sorry to say that there isn’t an easy answer or one that can apply to everyone. Just don’t be complacent about questioning complacency in your life. That’s definitely not something to be complacent about.