Halloween Horror Date # 1

I’m a fan of All Hallows Eve. Scary Stories are music to my ears. Horry movies are my jam! Halloween Horror nights at local parks and haunted houses are favorite past time during the month of October.

Some years ago, I went to Knotts Halloween Nights. We went with friends and family. I arrived hungry for the scares in the mazes. The guy I’m with is a big guy – nearly six feet, but soft around the middle, cuddly – like a teddy bear.

Once inside the mazes, he gripped my hand, walking slightly in front of me, nearly pulling me along behind him. Every time a ghoul, ghost, or themed monster jumped out – he raised his fist to them. After the first few attempted scares, no more monsters spooked us. And my excited energy turned to boredom with the simple walk through set.

My family and friends deserted us, went their own way. I suggested he not raise his fist or hand, assuring him that the workers wouldn’t touch us or hurt us, and warning we could get thrown out. He brushed it off.

I assumed, and it was later confirmed by one of the workers, they had walkie-talkies or cameras and after he jumped back at the scarer with a flabby balled hand, the characters are to no longer interact. The actors are not paid to be punched. They are not there to be hit.

This ruined the fun of night. Why would a teddy bear turn into terror teddy, pulling me a long behind him, and threatening the very reason we came to the park? I assume he was afraid, more afraid than he wanted me to know. He’d never acted tough or aggressive before that night.

As far as after that night – I made like Halloween and ghosted him.

Blast from the Past: Read A True Halloween Creeper Story

Scary Fiction: $1.00 Stories and Eddy

Squid Game and other Social Issues

Given the hype of Squid Game, I couldn’t be behind the curve, so I gave in to the propaganda and clicked play.

(SPOILER ALERT)

I sat to watch the first episodes and became mortified as Red Light/Green Light turned into mass murder. I suspected something of the sort. I am savvy enough to know no one offers strangers money for easy, peasy games.

Shocked by the horror, not only of that episode but the following episodes, I fast forwarded through the majority of those scenes. I did slow for the other scenes, what I would call the important ones – the relationship building, the psychology behind playing the games, but that was slow to come, hard to understand with the dubbing, and lack of real emotion in the actors or the voice-overs.

Besides being horrified that Netflix would buy such a series, I’m sad for our society. We, in literature, know this to be a fact: Literature affects society and society affects literature. Literature, in this case, includes media. It’s the consumption of entertainment.

When Julia Roberts appeared in Pretty Woman and was driven away by her prince charming in a white limo, thousands of girls across the country ran away from home thinking their hero would come in the form of a john.

When Gatsby was re-released, a flood of inspired fashions, jewelry, and Roaring 20’s parties came to the market and was still going strong before the pandemic.

Our society, right now, is in trouble. The shootings, road rage, assaults, and airline passenger incidents have increased dramatically. The mental stress of the threats to home and family from the pandemic, the lockdown, as well as the continued confusing and changing informational messages create anxiety for people already stretched to their limits.

Our society does not need a series about murder games. Our society needs healing.

After 9/11, the media sold the red, white, and blue. Products, shows, and news stations – American Pride elevated. In addition, shows and movies about angels and healing were released. Our country slowly healed.

We have choices in what to watch, but I see more negative than positive available across the streaming channels. While we have some comedies, some sci-fi, the vast majority of available shows and movies seem to involve guns and violence.

Hulu canceled Dash and Lily, a sweet show. Netflix did away with Love – a show about relationships. Shows which might offer a reprieve from the violence and horror are done away with while companies use our dollars to buy content they then convince us to watch. I would have never watched Squid Games – it’s not that good! – had it not been for the hype.

Perhaps, right now, media is reflecting society. But media also has the power to offer and influence our society with more wholesome, more loving, and productive content.

I’ve sworn off my crime and mystery shows for the time being. I’ve sworn off any show with guns and violence. If I want that, I’ll watch the news.

Our society needs healing and media has the power, and perhaps the responsibility, to give us more of those choices.

What Pain Teaches Us

While cleaning up my yard, I twisted my ankle on my half finished garden pathway. I paused, my arms still full, ankle still smarting, wondering if I could still walk on it. For the moment, it was okay and I finished my chore. I’d been meaning to get to that pathway for awhile now.

I had a lot planned that day. I had errands to run, the yard to finish, things around the house to take care of and to finish a big project planned for that evening- but my ankle swelled and canceled my plans.

I did what one is supposed to do in these situations. I whined about it. No, not really. I elevated my foot and iced on my ankle.

*The philosophy in yoga – listen to your body.

*An idea from the military – push yourself to stretch your limits.

*Some believe – train your mind to not feel the pain.

*Others feel – the Universe is sending you a message

So, I’m sitting in my bed, my foot up on a pillow, notebook in hand, wondering which I advice I should follow.

Then I consider my own take on pain: The learning curve. Pain is meant to teach us something.

Physical and emotional pain, without a learning curve, is a waste. People continue to commit the same errors over in their lives and continue to be hurt in the same ways because they have not learned what they needed to the first time.

Healing, real healing, must come with a lesson for us to not re-injure in the exact same way. I spent much of my young life experiencing those lessons over and over without the understanding of what I was to learn. Once I began to learn from my pain – I didn’t allow the injury to happen again.

Emotional pain can last longer and hurt more than physical pain. Emotional pain can take up residence in our bodies and even cause physical pain. We must work out emotional pain in some way – therapy, talking to friend, or just writing it down to free up that pressure.

Physical pain can affect us emotionally. Some experts believe that to be free of physical pain, we must deal with what is really bothering us.

Some years ago I injured my back in kickboxing. I engaged in physical therapy which didn’t completely alleviate the issues. I still caught myself wincing in bed, carefully moving throughout my day, unable to wear my favorite shoes and sometimes unable to bend to even put my socks on. I thought I might end up like so many whose movement is limited due to their physical pain. I mourned my previous active, kickboxing, yoga, hiking self.

I sat myself down and really asked myself – what is going on, Miss Yogi-pants? Yogies heal. Your mind over matter works. Your stretch beyond your limits has never caused this much pain – so what is happening?

In meditation, I realized that I so feared the pain, my body would tense up with any little movement which MIGHT cause the pain. It wasn’t that I couldn’t bend over – I was afraid of that pain and my body would tense up to save me from the hurt and then I wouldn’t be able to bend over.

Little by little I worked to release that tension, release that fear of the pain. In almost no time at all – the pain was gone. I still took some things slow. And I have to admit, my body (or mind?) decided my back did not like the repetitive jerking and twisting of gym kickboxing, so I limit that – but I’ve been able to do everything else.

Emotional pain works the same way – don’t you think? We are so afraid of the pain that we actually work backward and hold on to the pain by holding on to the fear.

We’re afraid of the unknown, so we make the same mistakes over and over. We fear being hurt, so we don’t try to move beyond it – we stay stuck because that’s safer than whatever is beyond this moment or this position.

What did my ankle teach me? I’m not sure. Not to procrastinate and finish the walkway in the garden? To take it easy before a big project? Or to push through to finish that big project – which is what I ended up doing. I wrapped my ankle, neglected my chores, and focused on the big project that I’d procrastinated on.

Maybe my ankle pain and momentary limitation was a wake up call to stop procrastinating PERIOD!

Noreen Lace Reading from Eddy

Noreen Lace reading from her book Eddy. Eddy is a fictional account of an actually event in Edgar Allan Poe’s life.

Go easy on me. It’s my first try. I know I need to make some changes. I’ll happily consider suggestions.

Trigger warning: suicide, drugs, blood, death.

Costco Cookies Made Me Cry

We celebrated my daughter’s birthday in a small gathering with a single candle on a chocolate fudge cake.

My daughter happens to share the birthday with my mother.

However, my mother passed a few months ago, so I couldn’t call, send her a card, or buy her a gift. Spending the day with my daughter meant even more than usual.

But I was okay – on that day.

However, the following day, upon walking into Costco, I encountered a display of European Style Cookies with Belgian Chocolate. I fell into memory: A few years ago and sent my mother a box. She loved them so much that, last year, for her birthday, she said, “I only want one thing – send me those cookies again!”

Tears clouded my vision. My trip abandoned. I rushed to the parking lot.

I started my car and began to back up but was stopped short. Not one, but two cars waited behind me for a free spot somewhere close to the front of the store. The lot was not filled. There were spaces everywhere. But these people preferred front row and decided to block the aisle in order to get it. A guy in the truck next to me tried to pull out. Witnessing the unnecessary traffic jam, he smiled in my direction and slammed into reverse, expecting them to get out of his way. They did.

I waited.

My phone rang. An unfamiliar voice identified herself being from my insurance company. In my frame of mind – she wasn’t making sense. I tried to listen and clarify, but my already hazy thoughts grew thick.

I suddenly needed to get off the phone. I needed to get out of that parking lot. I just needed to get home. “I’ll just talk to someone else,” I snapped.

Poor Jennifer. She did nothing to deserve my emotional overload.

But that’s where I was – stuck in the Costco parking lot, crying because of cookies, and overwhelmed with grief.

Jennifer responded as a professional, which I appreciate immensely. Thank you, Jennifer, for being who I could not at that moment.

Grief strikes at odd times, never when you think it will.

Usually, when someone lashes out, it’s because they have some unspoken pain. Previously, when I’ve been on the opposite end of that flare, I’ve tried to respond like Jennifer did – pleasant, polite, and understanding it is not about me; it’s about them and whatever they’re dealing with.

This modern world is challenging, stretching us to our limits. Many, many people have lost loved ones and jobs. There has been a lot of changes in society and our personal lives. It’s overwhelming.

Let’s try to be respectful of one another. Let’s give each other space to grieve.

The Most Hated Man in America – and how white privilege allowed him to escape

Let’s be honest here – had that body cam video showed anything other than a privileged white male, Petito would probably not be dead.

Had he not been a privileged white male – he’d not be free and on the run right now.

The most hated man in America – Brian Laundrie – is free due to a system that has always believed the white guy, gave him another chance, let it play out.

While many of us are sitting back saying – WHY DID THEY NOT ARREST OR DETAIN OR QUESTION HIM before he escaped? the FBI and police were also working under the challenges white privilege carries. If you arrest someone without all the proper paperwork, you risk the expensive attorney making a case from the lack of dotted i’s and crossed t’s. They FBI and police were playing it by the book because had they not built a proper case to send the person to prison for life, it would have resulted in a long and costly waste of money that would’ve allow him to walk the streets anyway.

Brian Laundrie is the most hated man in America not only because he seems to be getting away with something what we all feel he did, but because of his sociopathic behavior – he drove Gabby’s van home, refused to speak while he hid at the safety of his mommy’s bosoms seemingly going on with his life as if nothing happened. His parents seem to be sociopaths as well – they went on with their lives as if their child hadn’t just returned without his missing girlfriend.

Everyone who has a child can relate to Gabby’s parents. The horror of not knowing where your child is – the outrage that the person who knows refusing to speak.

But do they relate to Brian’s parents? Maybe that’s why people are pissed off too – while we want to protect our children, how many of us would go so far as to hide our child and help our child to escape a murder charge? How many of us would even be allowed to proceed with life as normal if our child was a person of interest in a missing person’s case?

It seems a mom of two, attorney at a lawfirm, has offered a $20, 000 reward for information leading to Laundrie’s capture. I say we get a gofundme page going and donate more – let’s put a bounty on this guy’s head so large that anyone in the world would turn him over –

because, ladies and gentlemen, his parents have most likely gotten him out of the country. He’s on his way – or already in – a country that does not have an extradition treaty with America. They had enough of a head start. And how long could he hide on American soil?

I have faith he’ll be found. He’ll be brought back. He’ll face charges. And I hope his parents do to.

But let’s not wait until then to talk about the women of color who are missing in the same state without the same media circus.

Creativity is a Well that Must be Replenished

Thanks to Joe Plummer from Carbon Radio for asking great questions in this author interview!

Head over to Medium.com to read the full interview!

How do you think about creativity?

Creativity is a well that must be replenished. Creating a space and time for oneself and one’s growth will keep the well abundant. For me, the replenishment requires an inner focus, quiet spaces around me, lovely views — not necessarily when I’m writing, but before and after. Trips to the local art museum, beach, or the woods will recharge me. When I’m running dry, I know there’s something scratching at the bottom. Some parts of me or my needs I’ve neglected or ignored. I get too distracted by the outside world. There is so much we must do in this modern time and too many easy diversions. My soul counts on the regular activity of writing, it’s like a cleaning out of my mind. It keeps me balanced and happy. Without the regular practice of creativity, the soul cringes and starts to fold over on itself. If it’s been too long, it’ll be a rough restart. Rocks and dirt come first but, if we keep at it, our well fills again and the water becomes clear and plentiful.

This is Not a White Karen Woman

I have to admit the whole Karen thing frightens me. As a white woman, I don’t want to end up on youtube for complaining about cold coffee on a hot day to a minimum wage struggling college student.

A few months ago, at a local shop, I got into line. As there were three lines, I chose the shortest line. This is practical and makes sense to me. Yet a woman in the longest line began to call over to me. “That line’s not open. There’s only one line. You have to go to the end of this line.”

I leaned over to the cashier – because I was only the 2nd person in that line – and asked, “Is this line open? Is there only one line?”The clerk appeared confused and glanced around, “No, there’s three lines.” I stayed in line.

The woman, yes, a white woman, probably middle class, bright eyes, lovely skin, hair in braids, got out of the long line to come over and inform me, once again, that there was only one line and that I needed to go back to the very long line because “it wasn’t fair.”

I told her I’d asked the cashier and, indeed, there were three lines. This annoyed the woman. She grew a little louder, more insistent, trying to engage me. I ignored her. I felt the click of cell phone cameras everywhere. She grew more insistent, “You can see how unfair this. You know you should go to the back of that line.”

I finally raised my hand between us and offered, “I will not engage with you.”

A gasp of disappointment rose to the ceiling. Wouldn’t the internet have loved that?! Two Karen’s going at it in a DIY while buying plants and pots, unneeded glassware, a light fixture.

It was early. I was tired. It was hot. I really did not feel like fighting because I was smart enough to get into the shortest line.

HOWEVER, sometimes I do want my coffee hot or my tea cold. I want to feel free enough to lean over the counter and say something, but I don’t want to be the next victim of Karen fame.

I guess, maybe, it’s the way we engage. I complained about a postal delivery. Not having any luck over the phone, I went in. I never received my package, but the post office maintained their “GPS proves it was scanned at my door.”

When I went in, the post master said, “I don’t know what to tell you, the GPS… ” I felt the cell phone cameras click on over my shoulder. I informed him what google said about gps’s accuracy limitations. He shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it?” I smiled, spoke softly. “Maybe find out who delivered the package and see if they made an error.” Another sloped shoulder shrug. I consider the postal shootings of the 80s. Even softer, even smilier, “You guys keep track of that, right? If you have gps, you know who scanned it.” I shouldn’t have to ask someone to do their job, but this is the world we live in.

I recently came across a cell phone video of a woman losing it at a fast food drive thru. I wanted to link it, but there are so many “Karen loses it at drive-thru” that I couldn’t find the right one. I did save a screenshot of the original when I saw it.

Officially, this is not a Karen. A Karen is defined as a middle class white woman upset because she’s not getting the privilege she believes she deserves. The woman pictured is most likely not middle class or upper middle class. Most middle class women do not dye their hair pink nor do they get out of their beaters to hang their bodies into a drive thru window and batter the tea dispenser while berating workers.

Everyone is posting videos of women (and men!) freaking out, and calling them Karens. Some of these “Karens” aren’t even white! Can we limit it? Find a new name? I feel bad for my friends named Karen – sweet, wonderful women. Who decided this Karen thing? Can’t we use Denise? I don’t know any Denise’s. Maybe Mable. No one’s named Mable anymore. Don’t those names signify a middle class white woman? Mable sounds nice though, she’d probably never freak out. And Denise sounds pretty calm, a Denise would probably never scream at a minimum wage clerk.

The woman in DIY didn’t seem like a Karen. Maybe a Kate or Jane, but not a Karen. The post master didn’t look like a Karen. He appeared to be a lazy Larry.

The truth is we’ve all been living in hell for the last 18 months. We’re all a little on edge. Some more than others. Some of the videos are obviously depicting people with a mental illnesses. Some people are dealing with that last straw – you know the one that broke the camel’s back? Humans have been stretched thin in the last FIVE years. We all lose it once in awhile. It’s terrible to take it out on others. But there are better ways to handle these outbursts than filming people at their worst.

I’m tired of the who Karen thing. Can we Bye Felicia it? Can we move on and make up something new now?

Hell in a Starbucks Cup

It’s been a year since I’ve had caffeine – and it’s been HELL!

Specifically, my signature black tea, and more specifically, sometimes a half a gallon a day!

I was sitting back today, calm as a koala on eucalyptus, thinking I should be doing something – like writing. And it’s been a year since I’ve had real flow.

That flow where you sit back and the ideas come. That flow wherein you read the news and see how each story can become a hundred short stories, a disaster novel, and a rom-com.

I consider how I used to sit at the dining room table, hot cup of black tea mere millimeters from my fingertips, and type like a hamster on a wheel. Go. Go. Go!

It’s the lack of caffeine – of course- which has caused my caustic dry spell. I glance toward the kitchen, knowing, somewhere in there, lies a discarded tea bag at the bottom of an unused drawer.

Screw the doctors! To hell with anxiety! I shall abandon caution and dive over the cliffs of caffeine haven.

I hesitate, like I do now while strung out on herbal bounty, and consider, weigh the pros and cons, and question my decision. Damn chamomile.

A knock on the door steals my attention. (Caffeine improves focus – pro). I pop off the couch and spring toward the door. (No late afternoon caffeine drag – con). I throw open the door. There, on my patio, a tower of chocolates.

SALVATION!

The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that worms into the back seals of our functioning. loosening the stopper, and causing fissures which disrupt our well-being.

Most of those worms are so small, they are unseen to the human eye. We may not even know what is bothering us, but something is. Other times, we know it’s an insignificant movement which shouldn’t bother us.

But it does.

It creeps in, the leakage begins.

There’s a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, and someone or something has crossed that ethereal line.

They probably don’t even realize they’ve done it. For each of us those lines are different, sometimes wavy and indistinguishable.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter that the neighbor has left the end of their car hanging into my driveway or that the clerk has overcharged by a portion. But things like these seems to weigh on me more than they should.

Characters need such issues, such efforts; it makes them human, makes them relatable. We are not the only ones who become distracted at the off-centered tie clip, miffed at the chipped nail polish.

In Mirror People, Jewels reacts to Marnie’s odd behavior. It’s something that builds underneath. She’s not even certain what it is, but something annoys her. In Paperwasps, a whole city block falls apart, one person is perfectly content, yet another can’t deal – but What’s bothering them, really? Is it something that has seeped into their brain some time ago?