I don’t remember how many horror movies I’d seen when Scream first came out in theaters, but I’d probably watched at least Kubrick’s The Shining and Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the first two horror movies I recall seeing – in the tiny t.v. room of my family’s old house on East Gore Road before settling down in the theater to see Wes Craven’s post-modern masterpiece. The original Scream came out in 1996, when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember the “build-up” to the film the way I remember the anticipation preceding, say, the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project (and my concomitant let-down when I was less than scared by the film), but I definitely remember the general reaction to the shockingly grotesque introduction that the film provides.
I didn’t grow up fat.
I was a hefty baby—a 9-pounder, to be precise—and at different points in
my childhood, a chubbier, sometimes stockier kid, but never fat, per se, and for the first half of
my 20’s, I was 5’3” and 125 lbs, give or take – a frame that we offhandedly
consider average in our society, but that is actually well below the average female
frame. And while I’ve heard that it’s
fairly “normal” to be a size 16-18, four years after gaining most of my weight,
my emergence into a larger body is still a sometimes strange, uncomfortable, jarring
experience, and I’ve only recently started to identify as “fat.” Once I realized that I officially qualified
(it’s kind of like realizing you’re an alcoholic, which I discovered so many years
ago—suddenly, you just know), I wasn’t too
hesitant to call myself what I felt I was, on twitter, and now on my blog. It can be intimidating to try to appropriate,
to try to re-claim a term that’s been used for years to oppress larger women and
shame overweight people, but it’s also liberating to say “this is me—not the
whole of who I am, but part of how I identify, nevertheless.”
When I ponder my love of horror, I trace it back to this crazy fear of death I’ve had since I was a child. Perhaps most of us are somewhat afraid to die, but for me, at points in my life, the fear has been quite stark. I wrote a little essay-type piece about it, since I’m trying to memoir more about my love of horror. The piece below is a little dark, and a little personal, but I was in the mood to write at 3:30 a.m. before going to sleep, so here it is.
The overcast, early December day had lapsed into an opaque blue sky arching over a frigid winter night in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The lights shining out the window of the warm apartment in Indiana PA sliced through the tranquil darkness, penetrated the night. Inside the apartment, I reclined on a plush, brick-red chair while drinking tiny cup after tiny cup of Arabic coffee and conversing with a friend, and a friend of a friend I’d just met. The conversation, initially engaging to me, started to lapse in and out of English,veering off into a tongue that I could not understand, much less speak myself. As I listened to the melodic cadence of words, beautifully spoken but beyond my grasp, I instinctively did what any good,self-centered American would do; I reached for my phone, and started doing “taktaga,” which is an Arabic phrase (and some of the little Arabic I know) for the act of busying oneself on one’s smartphone. I planned on ejecting myself from the conversation for only a short moment or two, but as this story will demonstrate, the best laid plans are often not those that come to fruition.
Having not blogged in a long time, a week ago I put up a post about my top five most listened to songs of 2017, according to Spotify. And I’ll be honest: I really enjoyed writing the post. I will always love horror, but sometimes it’s an exciting sort of relief to blog about music, and the moments that add meaning to certain songs. I enjoyed writing the piece so much, in fact, that I decided to do another installment. Instead of writing about the top five most listened to songs of 2017, I’ll write about the next set of songs – my sixth through my tenth most listened to songs of that year. Music is one vehicle through which I create memoir, and I’m just self-centered enough to fathom that there are a few people who might care what songs I was listening to last year. More horror posts hang on the horizon; they will be posted eventually. But right now, I want to talk a little more about music. So, here they are, my sixth through tenth most listened to songs of 2017, and the memories that accompany those songs.
This summer I posted a list of thirteen songs that make me think of my early twenties. But time passes, and while I’m not exactly nearing the end of my thirties, I think it’s safe to say that I’m nearing the end of my early thirties. I thought, because I’ve been struggling with writing lately, that l would throw up another Friday Night Video post, this time about music I listen to right now – music of my early thirties, to parallel the post about music from my early twenties.
On my blog, Just Dread-Full, I’m adamantly open and enthusiastic about my love for all things (or most things) horror. Indeed, this passion is foregrounded so much that it often eclipses my other loves in life – a reason why I started another blog a few years ago, one I didn’t have time to follow through with and for which I ultimately stopped writing. One of those passions that I don’t frequently share on the horror-centered Just Dread-full is my love for music – and my interest in what I would consider a wide variety of music.
I can’t say I read many books about the writing process these days. To be sure, I have no vendetta against them – especially not when they’re written by accomplished authors. I remember, years ago, reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, in which she talks about taking life, and taking writing, step by step, the way her brother had to take a science project “bird by bird” when he stayed up to do it at the last minute. And in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World. Pipher is the author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and along with formulating the renowned theory that our society is taking something away from its girls during the transition from childhood to adulthood, she also sought to give people advice on how to write – especially on how to write in a way that would change things, that would make a difference. That was a fair undertaking, because Reviving Ophelia had made waves, and its theory still has resonance today, years later. Continue reading “Reading About Writing: Stephen King’s “On Writing””→
True to the title of my piece, this is not a horror story. Although, what I see now that I didn’t see when things like this happened was just how much my friend and I wanted it to be a horror story, how much we enacted the things that we read in our Fear Street books and our horror movies, and made the world of horror come alive, if, simultaneously, to our delight and our chagrin. Again, this is not a horror story. This is a childhood memory – a childhood memory I share on an overcast day in early November, when my frenetic, two-and-a-half-month mania has dwindled and I’ve suddenly fallen into this shifting state that fluctuates between focused, positive energy and complete depression and self-loathing. This is not a horror story—at least, I hadn’t intended it to be so. But, maybe it will turn out that way as I keep writing. One never can predict the end of the story, after all—or, at least, I can’t—when one’s merely writing the beginning. Continue reading “The Blue Man – Or, This is Not a Horror Story”→
When I prepare to write a review of a story or movie, it goes something like this: I scribble some notes, on a tablet or in the margin of the book. Usually, I use these notes to prompt larger points. More ideas flow as I write. It’s highly exhilarating; I just started writing reviews for a blog, but I love it. At the same time, it doesn’t seem particularly hard. Indeed, it’s easy to discuss how I feel about something I’ve read. Sometimes, it’s easy to analyze it on a deeper level, especially if I apply a handy academic paradigm. Paradigms make all analysis easier. I went through four years of liberal arts schooling and two years of an English Master’s program; I know how to break things down and analyze them. My point? I find it relatively stress-free and enjoyable.