Friday, October 31, 2008

Frightful Fits

I lay on my dark bed noticing the hair standing wildly on the backs of my hands. In the blue tinted light it looks werewolfish. Or my overactive imagination keeps me wide awake on Halloween. Nightmare on Elm Street is not the best choice for a bedtime story. And it didn’t help me overcome my aversion to striped shirts. They look freakishly hideous on me and great on Freddy. Interesting.

As memories work I think only of every moment I’ve screamed in terror or cried realizing my voice held no sound. At six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven, waking from a terrifying dream where my sisters turned into Gremlins when they babysat me. No comfort as I trembled and told myself it was just a dream. The twins slept in my same room and if it wasn’t a dream then I’d see their bubbly green skin.

Same age, one same sister and broad daylight. Heather waits for me to walk down the basement hallway. I feel her watching me and calmly turn to look her in the eye. Years pass and we hold the gaze. A glint in her eye and a faint smiling twitch, she cries boo and I scream until tears run down my cheeks. Really those nightmares had lasting effects.

Sitting on the floor of Laura’s bedroom I see the soft pink light casting shadows across my friends’ faces. In hushed tones we hear the fate of a young girl. A child’s game of getting ready ended with her head crushed behind her dresser. My back rests against Laura’s dresser and I see my friends’ eyes widen. The horror in their expressions matches my own. I choke back any sounds, the room falls silent. They think it’s a dramatic ending to the story I just told. Really I’m trying to picture unicorns and flowers after scaring myself.

Sitting on Rich’s bed wondering why it blocked a door. A glass door. He proceeds to tell me the door doesn’t lock and his mom put the bed there to keep out unwanted visitors. Visitors like the man staring at me through the door. I stopped breathing and a strange gurgling sound escaped from my lips. I moaned, then screamed, then hit Rich and then grabbed him. Unfortunately I scared the daylights out of him and he started screaming which set me off again. I had the shakes for about an hour. He never played a “joke” on me again.

Waiting for Stacey to come home, I undress in the hallway as I pace between her cracked bedroom door and mine. I reach for the handle then stop, leave and come back. I’m dying to talk to her. I reach for the handle again. As if I’ve moved too close to a flame I withdraw. I peer into the deep black of her room. Holding my breath I search for the outline of her bed, visible by the streetlight outside her window. I see nothing. In my head someone shouts, “Go To Bed.” I listen and the next morning we discovery a missing computer. Piecing together the night Stacey and I realize that the thief stood holding her door still while I darted back and forth. It easily swung open from the weight of her shoes. The bright streetlight only dimmed when blocked by the form of a man.

And still I’m excited for the potential scares of the holiday. Besides how often do I get to pretend I’m a punk rocker?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Squatter's Halloween

A house party in Utah begs one question: will the cops wait until midnight to crash and shut it down due to a noise ordinance or bust through at eleven?

These wild and crazy parties I attend seem mild. No one drinks until they pass out, no exchanges of illegal substances, edited music drifts from the dance room and I’ve never seen a broken glass egg. A glorified dinner party or twelve-year-old girl’s birthday, complete with fun size candy bars.

The shock lies in the venue. I’ve wondered how people my age continue to throw faux parties in glamorous homes mountainside homes. The parties perfectly planned out, right down to the removal of nearly all furniture and valuables. No family portraits on the wall. No grandfather clock from Germany, books in the study, throw blankets, coasters, magazines, magnets on the fridge, nothing that makes a home homey. Model homes look warm and inviting in comparison.

But I’m there for the Halloween festivities so I dismiss the unease of a cold home and embrace the luxury warehouse party location. Until I hear a snatch of conversation. Squatter’s Rights. What I imagined to be an old out-dated law (like no sneezing in public in Ashville) is actually a claim to the title of land. Apparently my party throwing miscreants are law abiding citizens. They just enjoy twisting obscure laws to fit their purposes. Or not twisting.

Legally a person can storm the castle, set up residence and fly their flag to gain ownership. Harsh, cruel and inconsiderate, hostile you could say. And that’s a requirement for squatters. To take over a home the squatter must do so on hostile terms, meaning the actual owner doesn’t want that occupant around. There are other rules but the CliffsNotes version goes something like this:

Enter evicted home. Move in furniture and stock fridge. Plant flowers, mow grass, trim trees. Bare teeth at owner. Introduce yourself to neighbors. Growl at owner. Live continuously in home. Defy owner and claim land.

Knowing this my thoughts turn to a home I remember well in Castleknock—Huntington, Out Farm Lane. My €3 million mansion remains unoccupied. I was one of the last to live there and I’m ready for a hostile take over.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Our Pet's Heads Are Falling Off

...Or maybe just mine after a gruesome deep tissue sports injury recovery massage. When I stumbled to work the next morning looking something of train wreckage, my office buddy Paul decided we should compare workout notes. A short comparison as my massage therapist beat me to a bloody pulp as if she were tenderizing a steak. As Paul droned on about his intense workout I thought what happened to my girl friends and girl talk? I miss the late nights doing our nails, plucking, wrapping, waxing and whining about our hips, thighs and stomachs. Stacey and I even had a bra contest and she still makes fun of me for losing.

The crazy late night obsessions and Gold's Gym runs disappeared when Stacey moved to Vegas with her husband. But the conversations on body image just changed form. Recently I find the same phrase falling from the lips of my closest (most-time-spent with) guy friends, “I’m trying to eat healthier so I can slim down.”

I’ve discussed zone, velocity, low-fat, no sugar and detox diets quickly followed by a weekly plan for workouts. The benefits of aerobic and anaerobic, card workouts, ladders and circuit training all to tighten up and shed Mr. Lippy, as my sisters call their stomach pudge (which they've had when?). Paul and I even started doing push-ups, dips and wall sits every hour.

My volleyball partner roped me into his new scheme as well. A contest to see who can loose the most weight in a month. I jumped in head first without considering anything, like how much easier it is for guys to loose weight and how dedicated they are versus my feeble attempts. But on Tuesday I'll ante up and step on the scale for a careful number tracking. I admit that guys approach this dieting thing with vigor. And I wish that my girls were still around to commiserate our weight through a bag of peanut butter M&M's.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Texas Anyone

I have put some serious thought into grad school in either Texas or Cali. After today I'm pulling for the not-so-dirty south.

Texas is its own country. I grew up hearing that, especially when we study states and capitols, but I always thought the saying referred to the size of the state. Clearly I was wrong.

I've only been once and it was an ok trip, nothing to write about. I do remember walking around feeling like a city girl among rodeo queens. I felt the full impact of the separation this morning as I made repeated calls to residents of the great nation-state. Asking only one simple closed question, I found myself restating it three or four times as my words blared unintelligibly to the Texans.

Odd. I grew up an hour from the Texas border. I speak the regional dialect. Or part of it, ridiculously massive land. My country slang is slow and twangy. I drop my g's and slur my vowels. Yet the Texans sought clarification.

Solution? I crossed the barrier and thickened my accent to A fu-ull blow-en catt-el callin' back-wirds hick pro-non-ci-a-shun. An y'all know what? That did the trick. We started talking just like old friends, or kids who grew up together, you know, and it went so much faster after that. But the truth is, I wouldn't have minded talking to them girls for a bit longer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grave Intrusions

With the workday winding down I jumped into my weekend listening to a tales from the crypt story. My boss jokingly explained that he didn’t want to go to heaven. Sounded odd so I took the bait, why the avoidance of heaven? At first I thought it was a reference to a hatred of cold weather and he wanted an eternal heater. I’ve thought that when the temperatures drop.My boss told me that he thinks someone will be waiting for him on the other side, waiting with fury.

A few years ago the company I work for contracted to do ground work for a construction project downtown. Problems arose and they needed a way to keep the soil in place. So my boss proposed doing soil nail work. This was incredible for two reasons: soil nail had not been done in Utah before and a prominent historical and religious figure lay below ground next door.

The grave fit snugly into the right angle precisely where the steel nails were to be drilled as anchors. The drilling commenced and the project was successfully completed. Months later my boss received a call verifying his participation in the soil nailing. When he affirmed his role he was asked to meet at the church office building, on the 28th floor.

Arriving at the building my boss entered the elevator only to notice the missing button for his floor and the two below. He inquired someone at the reception desk and was told to take the elevator to the 25th floor. He could then get off and walk around the shaft where he would see another elevator. That elevator would take him to the 28th floor.

Doing as told he found the 28th floor. The elevator doors opened to a desk and with an inquisitive woman behind it. The words framing her read Church Security. Promptly the head of security came to meet my boss, shoulder holster in place and handcuffs hanging from back pocket. He escorted my boss to a room where another security officer met them. Then the interrogation began.

What happened when the nails hit steel? Concrete? Could the driller feel if a void was hit? My boss answered perplexed. Then he caught on.

“You want to know if I drilled a hole through the grave?” he asked in awe. He'd been hoping for another project.

“The question has been asked,” replied the officer.

The tomb was made of limestone, braced by steel belts and encased with concrete. And the ground was built up around the grave years later. It seems like it should have be noticeable. As no one knew what depth the grave was, my boss was uncertain to answer yes or no.

“My first hole was drilled in at eight feet. If that’s where the grave is buried then there’s a chance we drilled through it,” he stated.

As far as I know there was no reprimand but maybe a few dirty looks. This Halloween I might make the rounds by the old cemetery. Maybe I’ll see a ghost with a freshly drilled hole in his head…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Finger Pick

Last Nite...every time I write that the Strokes melody streams through my cluttered head. A head that cleared after I knocked it against my bedroom wall around midnight. But I think it helped.

Earlier I had loving picked up my neglected guitar. On a recent whim I tuned it believing that I would remember how to play and improve on those skills? Maybe you have to practice after you tune it. With my tabs in front of me I stared and concentrated and the only music made was Tyler's laughter. In any case the plucked strings resonated harmoniously as Tyler brushed his quick fingers across them.

Inspired (or jealous) I asked him to teach me. We began with a difficult little number The Format calls On Your Porch. Ok, only difficult for me as I'd suddenly dismissed what a guitar was and how to hold it. My left hand awkwardly wrapped around the instruments neck. Though I can't tell you what cord I played I can say that my wrist looked distorted and broken. My right fingers slowly curled as I clumsily tried the finger pick.

After many bewildered looks and lifting and placing my hands and fingers, Tyler gave up and smiled at me with the patience of father and his toddler. It was at this patronizing point that I traded him my guitar for my computer. Vaio in hand I felt more confident and began moving my fingers in a steady, rhythmic keystroke. Natural.

Oh, wondering about the cleared head? That happened as I showed-off multitasking by writing, texting and IMing. Eric sent me a link for my favorite holiday. I jumped off my bed, screamed like a little girl and slammed my head against the wall. Tyler just glanced up from his reading of the journalist’s dictionary.

Casualty update—my crippled hand hindered the typing of this account which was brought to you by the scrambled remains of my brain.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dark Classics

In October the summer heat burns out, the days shorten and I have an entire month to scare myself. Haunted houses, horror stories, scary movies, late night graveyard expeditions…wait that’s a little too Goth for me. But there was that time in Dublin. I convinced the lads to take me to a graveyard because the only haunted house they had over there was a place of devil worship. So we broke into the cemetery and checked out some freshly dug graves instead. My pride pushed me a mile deep into the rows of death and adrenaline kicked into over drive as I ran out after one of the boys jumped out to scare me.

It was also in Dublin that I surfed the web constantly looking for fun new games. After playing hours of text twist and bejeweled (both the autumn edition and the Halloween special with candy corn) I stumbled across a ridiculous riddle of horror: fifty horror classics thrown into a freaky 18th Century painting all to promote M&M’s Dark. I got down to the last seven and ended up doing some intense detective work to unscramble the meaning.

While completing the puzzle I’d look up the movies I hadn’t seen. Funny how doing that in the early morning hours surrounded by ceiling to floor glass windows in a mansion can freak you out. Think nothing of the moaning winds. Then when I’d huddle under the covers in my bed I’d hear footsteps running across the patio roof above me and clanging from the iron stairs that spiraled in front of my bedroom window. And still I loved it. Really it wasn’t worse than the fist sized spiders I’d wake up to. Try sleeping when you’re terrified you’ll find one giving you a morning kiss.

In tradition of the great neurotic minds I will play the trivia game again. And because I’ve forgotten the obscure films it will be just as good as the first time.