Come Play With Me

With Covid floating around in the air and threatening to jump into our face holes, we’ve had to get really creative about how we have fun, amirite?!

And if you know me or have read this blog for any reasonable length of time, you know that Halloween and creepy shit is the only thing that personally makes the slow, steady descent into winter oblivion worth staying conscious for. Adding Covid into the mix this year requires even more creepy and dark humor.

I started decorating my house – inside and out – for Halloween early this year. Let’s just say I was inspired by the orange smoky death cloud that hung over the greater Portland (Oregon) area for a good chunk of September. We were stuck inside and it looked like The Road outside so I figured celebrating the day the dead returns to the earth was a good call. Maybe they [the dead] could give us some pro tips on how to suffer in style.

I picked up an apocalyptic DVD bundle at the library and took advantage of the extra couch time. I revisited The Road and Hunger Games. I watched 1984 and Clockwork Orange for the first time and now I think I’m all set to hide under my bed and sip my Xanax milkshakes until the Supreme Court decides if it’s okay that Americans can experience safety and joy ever again.

I’m struggling now to remember how it came up, but a few of my mama friends and I text pretty much daily while hiding from our children. We were discussing Halloween and what freaked us out (I think?) when my friend mentioned she had a creepy doll stashed in the back of her closet that gave her the heebie-jeebies. Her mom had picked it up at a garage sale with care, love, and my friend’s daughter in mind, but I’m guessing my friend didn’t want her daughter to get sucked into The Upside-down so into the closet it went. “Isn’t this how most horror movies start?” you ask. And you’d be right.

We (and by we, I mean me) made a few jokes about haha, wouldn’t it be funny to scare some mom-friends by leaving the doll on their porch in a bloody mess and then running away? And then my friends texted back a tentative suuuuuure and changed the subject.

I then started texting only my doll-having friend to see just how willing she was to use the doll in this way. It will be hilarious! I said. It’s the perfect socially-distant creepy fun! I said. LET ME HAVE THIS. I screamed. At long last, she sent me a pic of the doll and I swiped right, my friends. This was happening.

My friend didn’t want to completely fuck up her doll so we compromised and I made a creepy sign with red paint to accompany her. We also wanted to scare the crap out of our victim friend without making a huge bloody mess on her porch, because we enjoy maintaining friendships.

Not to be outdone, the afternoon before we were scheduled to scare our mutual mama-friend, my doll-having friend dropped off the possessed plaything on my porch without telling me and then texted with: knock, knock. For one quick second after I opened my door, she scared the poop out of me.

Touche, my friend. Touche. The messers become the messees!

And so sweet, little Gwenivere (more on this later) came to live at my house for an afternoon. You guys, I had never seen a doll quite as uniquely creepy as she was. Her facial expression was very dead-in-the-eyes meets resting bitchface. When I picked her up, which I don’t recommend, she was surprisingly heavy in an unsettling way. She slumped over when set down. And the worst, by far, was that she fucking smelled. I can’t even describe it, but I’m going to try. It was a scent that used to be sweet, or was trying to be sweet, but missed the mark. It was like super, off-the-charts sweet that had gone sour with age, under a layer of mothballs. And the scent clung to everything it came in contact with. Sadly, I realized this after it was too late.

I set the doll at the bottom of my stairs for the afternoon and she scared my husband and me no less than 10 times. My daughter wanted to keep her. NO! I shouted, SHE’S NOT FOR YOU AND SHE’S LEAVING TONIGHT. Before I grabbed the doll to go scare my friend, my daughter came up and whispered in my ear that she had kissed the doll goodbye. Dear lord, I really wished she hadn’t. She [my little girl] smelled like rancid Koolaid mothballs.

During our magical afternoon together, the name Gwenivere for my little guest just came to me, out of the blue. My husband later informed me that it was the name of the ill-fated van from Onward, which we had watched the previous night, but I prefer to believe otherwise. On a whim, I decided to look up the meaning of the name, just to see if it fit.

Gender: female. Origin: Welsh. Meaning: white ghost, phantom.

Fuck.

My doll-having friend picked me up and we drove the short distance to our other mama-friend’s house. It was dark and windy and raining. In other words, perfect. Gwennie stunk up the car with her evil wrath but man it was worth it. We successfully deposited her and her bloody sign on their doorstep without the dog barking (until we rapped on the door), and then we ran behind a parked car to watch and giggle.

The initial response was underwhelming, but what turned out to be hilarious (from my point of view, anyway) was that my friend’s two daughters instantly loved Gwenivere and wanted to keep her. We were texted a pic of her girls cuddling with the smelly, possessed demon and I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down onto my mask.

Needless to say, the fun won’t stop here. I think Gwennie and her sinister stank needs to be introduced to all of my friends. She has so much more love to give.

Happy Halloween, y’all.

Wishing for Zombies

I often find myself wishing that a zombie apocalypse will happen for reals…kinda.

I am really drawn to disaster/apocalyptic/survival stories.  I like to guess what I would do in each situation, how I might act, how I might feel.

As I try to unpack what my fascination is about, I think I am intensely curious about how going through a crisis affects people (me), and how people (me) tend to fight, flight, or freeze, and how people (me) either grow or are torn apart or something in between.

A catastrophic disaster would strip away all the complexities of the modern world.  We wouldn’t have to deal with interest rates or insurance or deadlines or waiting in line or midterms or the Kardashians.  It would simplify life down to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: food, shelter, clothing, safety.

In a way, wouldn’t it be nice if all you had to worry about today was getting enough food in your belly and making sure you weren’t bitten by a zombie?  It would be stressful, yes, but a different kind of stress.  It would be stress centered around what is really important, like being with the people you truly love (because who would want to waste precious post-apocalyptic time with someone who makes you want to eat your own face off?) and surviving together (like, really surviving).

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Original source – moviepilot.com

I fantasize about how a scenario like that would make my current relationships that much closer.  It would just be me, Brian, and Dylan.  And maybe the cat, if she’s fast enough and less whiny.  B and I would be together, working intensely to protect our son, and that’s all that would matter.  We wouldn’t be separated by full time jobs without paid family leave.  We wouldn’t have to worry about saving for Dylan’s college education.  We wouldn’t spend a Saturday arguing over how to furnish the house.  It would just be us in the present moment fighting to stay alive for each other.

That’s the other thing – the present moment.  There wouldn’t be smart phones and Facebook and millions of TV channels to distract us from what is really important.  We wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone who isn’t directly in front of us.  (Of course, modern conveniences are wonderful and I like them as much as the next person, but for right now I’m focused on the upsides of not having them around.)  This would further intensify and hopefully deepen my relationships with those around me.

Having to rely on my partner and anyone lucky enough to find themselves in our zombie-killing troop would build trust – the kind that is fierce and all-encompassing where you know that person would lay down his life for you.  Having that kind of security feels so…comforting.  So safe and warm and gooey.  Plus, surviving day-to-day like that would quickly root out people you can’t trust or don’t like, and therefore shouldn’t be around (characters in The Walking Dead – take notice!!).  Plain and simple.

Would there be things that just plain suck about this scenario?  Of course.  I’d miss sunscreen and chapstick and modern medicine and higher education and hot showers and I’m sure the rampant shambling zoms would piss me off right quick.  But that’s beside my point for right now.

What I am realizing, as I fear I have already begun to ramble, is that I crave closeness in human relationships, and besides needing the basics, an apocalypse would wipe out everything else and bring those relationships front and center.

When I put it that way, doesn’t it sound nice?

…maybe just a little bit?


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Running from Zombies

I hate running.

I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

In high school, when we had to start running on the regular for gym class, I wondered what I had done wrong to deserve such punishment.  Surely they couldn’t make us do this?!  And then I looked around, and I found that some of my friends actually liked it. They were competitive.   They were fast.  They were nuts.

I will never understand those people.

Fast forward to now, where for the past 2-3 years, I have actually started working out with some regularity, not counting getting into yoga after my cancer surgery in 2003.  I started doing yoga a few weeks after surgery when it was a struggle to get up from a sitting position, and now I’d say I am at least at an intermediate level.  I’m pretty proud about some of the kickass poses I can do.

So, 2-3 years ago I added in some elliptical stuff.  Basically, I re-watch episodes of 30 Rock while I fake run on a very loud machine in my tiny apartment complex exercise room.  Now that my calves are pretty buff, I wanted to switch things up a little bit and try some…running.

Now, I’ve actually tried to run in the past, but it basically turns into what I like to call a walkjog.  I just don’t have the physical stamina for any sustained motion that propels me forward with any speed.  Also, being the true artist that I am, what’s my motivation for this torture?  It’s almost like I’d need something chasing me.

And with that, enter Brian, my husband-to-be, who is always motivating me to better myself and always has my well-being in mind (and only chases me in the romantic sense):

B: What are you going to do when the zombies get here?

Me: Well, if they are slow zombies, I’ll sprint past them and jam the close ones through the eye socket.

B: First, you can’t handle bodily fluids.  How will you manage to ‘jam the close ones’ accurately enough and with enough force?  Second, what if they are 28 Days Later zombies?

Me: First, you’re right.  Bloody noses make me gag, and forget about mucous.  I will use my samurai swords and just decapitate ’em like Michonne, because she’s badass and had the right idea from the start.  Second, fuuuuuuck.

B: Exactly.  Let’s start running.

——

But I can’t just run, and I certainly can’t just run with Brian.  We’ve tried this before, where he’s motivating me by saying all these sweet things as we’re running side by side, but all it does it make me giggle, and I have a bad habit of giggling when I run…and then I can’t stop giggling, which means I have to stop running.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I am a 5 year old.  And if I ever have children, I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep them alive (especially since kids bleed out so fast), but that’s another blog post altogether.

The answer was clear:  the app called Zombies, Run!

It sounded perfect.  You’re a runner, a gopher in this post-apocalyptic world where people with British accents tell you when to run to evade a zombie mob.  If you’re lucky enough to survive the mission, you pick up stuff along the way and bring it back to base.

This was it.  This was my motivation.  Plus, I could never disobey someone with a British accent.

Last Thursday, Brian and I gave this app a try.  We keyed up the first mission and started power walking down the street.  It was still a bit light out, but the sun would go down soon.  British man and lady were describing our surroundings and I was told I found and picked up some water.  And then – I could hear them.  The Brits could see the mob closing in on me and told me to run…I looked at Brian and he nodded to me as I felt an adrenaline surge and picked up the pace.  They were 50 meters away, their breathing heavy, low moaning.  Then 20 meters away.  Fuck, this was scary!  I swear I could feel their ragged breath on the back of my neck.  And then –

Zombie mob evaded.  Good job Runner 5!

Sweetness!  This was actually kinda fun!

B: Jesus, Lady!  I’ve never seen you take off like that!

Me: Well, they were going to GET ME!

And so on the mission went…we had to pass the old hospital, hoping to find supplies and rejoin Runner 7.  In real life, we had turned between two ag fields and were running between two rows of olive trees…it was much darker now.

Suddenly, the Brits could see Runner 7!  She was running to catch up with us…only she was different.  Oh shit, she’s a zombie and there’s more behind her, RUN!

So we do it again.  Remember when I said I lack stamina?  I was already pretty wiped at this point, but I gave it my all.  Seriously, I ran even after I didn’t think I could run anymore.  And this time, I was seriously freaked out because Brian had run ahead, I couldn’t see him anymore, and I could hear and feel these monsters getting closer and closer…

And I became Zombie Runner 7’s nighttime snack.  I was so pissed I nearly collapsed in the dirt.

—–

Fast forward to the day after, and I could barely walk.  Seriously, my legs would painfully cramp up if I transferred any weight to my toes.  Had this really been the zombie apocalypse, I would have died on Day 2.  Or Brian would have carried me, because that’s what husbands-to-be do in dystopias.

So I won’t give up; I plan to run more missions, because damn, it’s motivating!

Why don’t I ever see them stop to stretch on The Walking Dead?!

…and I feel fine

This is it, you guys.

And I am sooo ready.

My car is packed (and not just because I am heading to my folks’ for the holidays….that is, if they ever end up taking place).  I filled up my gas tank this morning.  And I totally have my Katniss boots on.

I sincerely hope minimal amounts of blood find its way to my boots, or there will be hell to pay.  Pun intended.

I sincerely hope minimal amounts of blood find its way to my boots, or there will be hell to pay. Pun intended.

I am prepared to do whatever it takes to survive this thing.  Even if I have to dump half-decomposed zombie guts on myself and do the undead shuffle.  Even if I have to sock Lucifer himself in the mouth.  Smite that, motherfucker.

It’s like my whole life has been preparing me for this day.

Maybe I should put on my wedding dress (which means I FOUND ONE!  Squee!) so that I’m guaranteed it’ll at least get a few hours worth of wear.

Good luck out there, everyone.  Only our wits and stockpiles of Twinkies will save us now.

Wedding Whimsy

Wedding planning is coming along, and I am starting to get really freaking excited.
Brian and I have found the perfect venue (bird’s eye view in this post) that matches the vibe and feel of what I described – and it’s also full of whimsy (to be explained).

The venue is a working ranch and small winery with acres of vinyards, lavendar fields, and almond trees.  (This means we’ll get drunk, but still smell nice, and we’ll have a good source of protein nearby in case the zombie apocalypse breaks out during the festivities.  We really do plan for everything.)  The ceremony will take place on a grassy hilltop that has panoramic views of the surrounding golden brown hills (so we’ll see the zombies coming way before they’re within biting distance).  The reception will take place in a converted barn that has three levels of seating and is decorated with kitschy, cute antiques.  There is bocce ball (possible weapons), a pond (possible place of safety), and joy (zombies despise this).

This place is different, and by different, I mean whimsical.  On the garden walk from the parking lot to the barn, there are little scenes set up with knick-knacks and stuff.  One scene displays Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the witch’s rusted-over old bike.  There’s a display with a stove, dishes, and a rusty metal bloke named Julio dressed in an apron and chef’s hat.

This is why I don’t cook.

The bathrooms across from the barn look like they were decorated by the people who work in those restaurants where you have to wear flair on your vest in order to fit in.  Hats, gloves, feathers, and an old-timey chair reupholstered in lime green kept me company while I emptied my bladder.  I look forward to emptying my bladder in that same room with my best friends holding up yards of white fabric beside me!  Squee!

Once we found a venue, Brian and I got ourselves a wedding planner, and omigod, if you can fit this into your budget, I highly, highly recommend it.  In fact, a good wedding planner will pay for him/herself in both time and money.  I hate doing research, but I come from a thrifty family where we hate paying more for things than we should – so this is where a good, skilled wedding planner comes into play.

Our wedding planner Stephanie gives us lists of vendors to look through, and she can recommend them in groups of different price ranges.  She’s worked with these vendors before, so she knows the quality of their services, and she’s quite honest about what we’ll get for our money.  She’s open to working with vendors that Brian and I have found who aren’t on her lists.  She schedules meetings with vendors we like and attends these meetings with us.  She also helps us through the contracts to make sure we know what we’re getting into – huzzah!

Basically, she’s a godsend.  Brian and I don’t know what the hell we’re doing, and we’re also super shy around new people, and we’re really good at being awkward.  If we met vendors by ourselves, we’d probably end up hiding under the table and only coming up to shout things like I LIKE FLOWERS! and PLEASE MAKE ME PRETTY! before ducking back down.  Stephanie is cool because she asks all the questions we forget to ask like, “Do you accept M&Ms as payment for your services?  My clients have agreed to pick out all the brown ones if you’d like.”

Stephanie is like a cross between our therapist and our Jedi Master of weddings.  She is strong with the force.  But she’s prettier than Yoda.  And less hairy.

Plan a wedding for you I will.

So far, Brian and I have chosen a photographer and a DJ.  We have a meeting with a florist this week and I go shopping for a dress this weekend!!!

My ovary is doing flips just thinking about it.

Walking Dead takes over my braaaaaains!

So last night was the season 3 premiere of The Walking Dead.

It was long awaited.  Highly anticipated.

It did not disappoint…..for the most point.

In therapy, I often remind my clients that we need to pay attention when people show us who they are, and then accept them for being who they are and not any more or less (and not trying to fix them, change them, or expect them to be any different).

I have had to work very hard reminding myself, each and every episode, that these characters have shown themselves to be immature, impulsive, stupid, and incredibly lucky to still be alive in their world of increasing numbers of brain-hungry walkers.

That being said, if the characters did everything I shouted at them to do, then the series wouldn’t be very exciting because they’d be happy, healthy, and safe.  So I continue to yell and they continue to defy me.

Unfortunately, the agony/excitement doesn’t stop there, as these pesky walkers pranced on into my nightmares last night not once, but twice.

My first nightmare had me jolt awake at about 2:30am.  I don’t remember too much about the dream, but I do know that I was in a group, my partner was included, and we were at a point where we were cornered, desperate, and fighting for our lives…and it was getting pretty gory, too.  I am thankful that I woke up at that point, because I usually don’t.

Of course, I had to pee, but there was no way in hell I was gonna get up and face almost certain death and dismemberment with only the cat to protect me.  I turned towards Brian and considered waking him up.  He was out like a small child purposefully given too much benedryl by his parents, and I just couldn’t do it.  So I rolled over and punished my too-small pee sack by ignoring it.

Brian gets up considerably earlier than I do, and his alarm woke me up this morning.  By that time, my bladder was backed up to halfway through my left kidney, and so I followed Brian to the bathroom so he could protect me while I peed.

Wouldn’t you know, I had yet another zombie dream in the sleep I got between Brian’s alarm and my own.  In this one, my mom and I had to go to the dentist in the middle of the zombie apocalypse (what can I say, dental hygiene is very important) so we went together for moral support and protection.  When it was time to leave the dentist’s office, we noticed a lot of people cowering in the waiting room, and we looked through the blinds to see that we were pretty surrounded by the undead.  Being the faithful Girl Scout that I am (our motto is “be prepared”), I reached into my purse and grabbed a giant hammer and handed it to my mom, and then I took a small axe for myself.  I asked my mom if she was ready and then we started chopping and bashing our way to the car.

What a stressful way to wake up…but if that’s what I get for watching this show, then it’s all worth it.

Apocalypse 2012: I’ll bring the marshmallows

I happen to love disaster and post-apocalyptic themed media. I dunno, something about them make me feel alive at the thought of having to defend my life; my body prepares to fight for its life as I watch. Of course, I always know better than those dumbass characters on the screen. (how the hell do they end up surviving, anyway?) At least Zombieland got it right with all his rules at the beginning. To this day I always check the backseat of my car when I get in. That, and cardio.

I watch these programs with my partner, and we discuss how we’d do it differently, how we’d do it right. We have a meeting place in case all hell breaks loose and our cell network is jammed (cuz of course it would be). I already have his permission to wake him up in the middle of the night so he can watch my back when I need to go pee…but only after the Zompocalypse breaks, he reminded me angrily/groggily.

The past few years, Brian has encouraged me to go backpacking with him, and I have slowly started accumulating all the necessary gear: pack, boots, socks, freeze-dried food, super-light sleeping bag. A few days ago while catching up on season 1 of Walking Dead (I joined that party a little late), I got it.

“So, all those backpacking trips…all the gear I now have…you’ve been testing me, TRAINING me…for the coming apocalypse! It all makes sense now!

He just smiled and nodded. Well done, young grasshopper.

My first backpacking trip in 2009. I look fierce!

So, all this leads me to a critical piece of planning that, so far, I have neglected: what are my skillz? What would my post-apocalyptic job description be, realistically, for my survival group to want to keep me around? I need to be able to bring some serious ass-kicking skills to the table. I need to start developing my portfolio!

Skill #1 – I am highly trained in crisis intervention

I know how to keep people calm and rational in a crisis! What a deal you’d get with me!

“Whoa…whoa. Calm down, everyone. I know we’re faced with almost certain death, but let’s remember to breathe…and let’s stay focused, okay? We are bigger than this fear, stronger than this fear, and we have each other. Let’s hold hands and meditate before taking a vote on what to do next.” And that’s me just getting started.

What about the crazies who carry guns and are loud and can’t be reasoned with, you say? Simple, I say. To intervene on this particular crisis, I would quickly assess who be cray-cray and who be rational human beings with a will to survive as a group. Then, we find the largest, strongest normie, give that person a bat, and have the normie take out the crazie(s) and we’ll be on our merry way. If that won’t work, we can go the classic passive-aggressive route and leave in the dead of night when all the crazies are passed out after drinking all the booze we ‘accidentally’ combined with windex. Done and done.

Skill #2 – I can keep people sane for the long haul

You don’t want people in your group growing weary and suicidal after months and months of chronic chaos and trauma! Remember the pilot of Falling Skies where the lady was having the kids draw out their feelings? I can do that, and with a master’s degree to boot! We want the human race to prevail, right? In order for that to happen, we need healthy, happy kids to turn into healthy, happy, baby-producing adults. Art therapy to the rescue!

Skill #3 – I am very good at being quiet

I’ve noticed that people supposedly trying to survive on the teevee/movie screen make a lot of noise and don’t always pay the price for it. (“The price” being living flesh ripped from bodies or your group gets robbed by another more ruthless band of outlaws.) Worse example evar: we’re bored in this zompocalypse. I know, let’s go to an amusement park and turn everything on! Not dangerous enough? Let’s strap ourselves into the rides and let our slowly-moving, hungry enemies surround us from below…

You don’t want that to happen to you, do you? Sure, one last roller coaster ride might be nice, but is it worth getting your intestines ripped out of your abdomen and worn as a candy necklace to save for later? And I know what you’re thinking – you may be quiet yourself, but your group is only as safe and quiet as your loudest white trash idiot. Might I suggest you choose me as a safe, quiet addition to your survival group. As evidenced by this post, I am very comfortable with silence (and common sense, for that matter) and I am rather good at at. Especially when silence sits between me and the undead.

Skill #4 – I know how to pack for the apocalypse

Remember in Space Balls when Lone Starr told Princess Vespa to bring only what she needed to survive? I am actually capable of following those directions, unlike spoiled fake princesses with naturally unruly hair. I am actually prepared for survival on a regular basis and I ain’t even a mom yet. At any given moment my bag contains: paper, a pen, dental floss, gum, mints, a book, kleenex, phone, wallet, keys, water, granola bar and those are just the basics. Hell, I have my backpacking pack already partially packed just in case. And you know I wouldn’t be unpacking my shit all around camp with that false sense of security. No sir. Packed and ready, sleeping-with-my-shoes-on kind of ready. And my hair is naturally gorgeous, thankyouverymuch.

Skill #5 – I can pop a squat like a champ

I was in Girl Scouts for 11 years growing up. Being a Girl Scout taught me many things, for example: to be courteous, to be prepared, and to be of service to others. The most important skill I learned from being a Girl Scout wasn’t about tying knots or how to sell the most cookies – it was how to pee in the woods in record time without soaking my socks. Ladies and gentlemen, my thighs are mighty, my squats are steady, and my stream is swift and precise. You don’t want any female member of your group being a liability every time she needs to take a leak. Choose me for your group and you won’t even notice that I have an unusually small bladder. Choose me and choose safety.

In closing, I may not be a good cook, a great warrior, super strong or super fast, but I sure gots the skills needed to survive the zompocalypse and have fun while doing it.

So. Do you have what it takes to survive? What is your zompocalypse skill set?