Last year I realized that there was nothing stopping me from extending my Halloween celebrations from “Halloween week” to the entire month of October. If Christmas can last two months or more, and fireworks can go off all summer, then I get two months for the New Year and a full month for Halloween.
SPOOKY TIME m***********s!
2020 has been a rough year. It was stressful for us even before I almost died, and then it was stressful due to lockdown, and now it’s stressful because we work 9-hour days and we’re constantly in meetings.
All of this is exactly what I love about horror and true crime!
Not everyone is into this kind of thing. My hubby has literally had nightmares from just one scene in the preview of a scary movie. No ghosts, period. He’s not the only person I know like that. We are friends with another couple, and they are like the reverse of us. Right before COVID, the other husband and I went to see The Invisible Man. Our spouses were saying there should be a “cute puppies, kittens, and rainbows” festival in the theatre next door, and you know what? They’re absolutely right. How many people would totally pay to see a cuteness festival. Especially one that was technically rated R just so no children would be allowed to come in and kick the back of the seats.
Ah, but I don’t want a cuteness festival. What I want is controlled horror. Horror and true crime are both ways to explore the paranormal, violence, and abnormal psychology from a remote perspective. We can pause if we need a break, unlike real life.
I watch my stuff with a different perspective now, after earning my first belt in Krav Maga and doing some knife fighting, counter-abduction training, and situational combatives.
There are some very common tropes in horror, like the one where there’s a noise and spooky music, but it’s only the cat? I’ll take “Cheap jump scares” for 500, Alex. One of these tropes is the one where the killer picks someone up by their throat - almost always a woman - and she hangs there, hands and feet dangling helplessly.
Now when this happens, I shout, “Throw a knee! Come on!”
Before COVID, I was “in talks” with the instructors at my studio about an idea that they thought would totally work. We were going to do some Halloween workshops where the instructors and black belts would come in dressed like famous horror villains and do iconic attacks. Then the students would practice how to get out of them. Martial arts people generally find violence pretty amusing, and everyone was in. Practice knife fighting in a ski mask, why not?
It actually is quite funny how alarmed many people are when they hear that an otherwise docile-seeming female studies martial arts. The ones who are most riled up by this are men of height and large stature. The big dudes. I’m like, the last time you were my size you were probably ten years old, and I’m sure you were “big for your age.” You have very little experience of being the smallest person in the room. Don’t tell me you’re afraid of me, a middle-aged little orange belt?
Martial arts teaches discipline and self-control. It changes your neurochemistry, making you calmer, more patient, less reactive. Most situations when someone is behaving aggressively become funny instead of scary, because most people are trying to intimidate others through sheer bluster. Even if they knew how to fight, it’s not like there are no defenses against their moves.
This is another area where studying martial arts changes the game for the horror aficionado. As you start to learn better situational awareness and how to think more strategically about your position, you start to have a lot more opinions about the decisions made by the protagonists in the films. In a way, watching this stuff, particularly the home invasion/serial killer type, is like a training seminar.
The main thing about horror right now is that it’s an entirely different stripe than whatever is going on in current events. My goal is to ride out this month. I have no plans to watch any pandemic movies. I have no plans to watch any apocalypse movies. I certainly have no plans to watch any political movies. I’m picking my poison.
What I’m doing is claiming time for myself. I’m doing something alone for 1-2 hours a day, something outside of work, something that does not involve being present or available for other people. This is somehow tough for women. My husband keeps slightly different work hours than I do, and he has no problem putting on his noise-canceling headphones and watching a movie while I’m working. Why would I?
Why do so many of us feel guilty entertaining ourselves alone? Choosing our own shows? Relaxing in a different room?
I think that since we’re all isolating now, most households should have a strict policy of alone-and-separate time for an hour or two a day. Each person can either take a nap, soak in the tub, read quietly, go sit outside, watch a show with their headphones on, play a game, write in their journal, or whatever they want.
Since these types of policies can often be difficult to keep, because most people aren’t great at setting boundaries one way or the other, something like an appreciation for horror can help. Do whatever the other person is going to want to avoid! This is easier if you also like tasty treats such as pickled garlic.
I’m super-excited that it’s now, what shall I call it? Hallow-tober? I’m going to do nothing but read horror books and watch horror movies and wear Halloween socks and eat candy all month. That is, in between work and chores. Let’s try to pretend all that is not happening. Better a horror of our own creation, something fake in a time when too much of it is real.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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