I’ve Always Liked Scary Stories

May — that was when I last posted. Time really does get away from you when you have other things going on. It’s been an active and interesting few months for me, to say the least. I’ll do my best to keep this short before I get into the heart of this post.

I found a weekly video game journalism gig — paid, making me feel a little more like a grown-up writer. It’s pushed me head-first back into the gaming world and exposed me to games I would never have picked up on my own. That’s the funny thing about journalism; it’s research heavy, and these days I feel I more connected to what’s going in that industry. I work the horror-beat, mainly, but I also watch the detective and the post-apocalyptic realms. I can officially say I used to be a FPS and action-adventure gal, but playing games like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Homesick have shown me the unparalleled beauty of narrative-driven games; they are literary adventures. It was weird at first to not see a weapon on my screen or have an inventory list to scroll through. It’s a completely simplified style of game-play that does not hold your hand, forcing you to use your brain. It’s been a wonderful journey discovering indie developers all over the world. I never realized how many there were, and it seems like there is a larger ratio of independent content being produced than AAA titles. Now I want to write video games, too. I can be perfectly happy working in a editorial department are a publishing house, but realistically, writing video games is my dream career, aside from publishing novels and short stories. Dreams do come true, right? I’ve had a few dreams come true. They were more like terrifying omens, but they came true.

I’ve taken up residence at Codeacademy, a free resource for complete n00bs who want to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more. I also got a great deal on a 5-year membership package over at Game Institute, because I’m nearly halfway through a 3rd degree in writing and I can’t afford another degree in a different field when I couldn’t even afford my first degree. Luckily for me, Game Institute is also designed for people who are complete n00bs. I normally don’t do well with online learning, but after watching a couple free videos and realized I was retaining information, I splurged and bought the subscription. I think I’ll tackle 3dsMax, first. (The perks of being a student: getting software for free!)

I got a cat, a 2-year-old fur-girl, Charlie, who I spend about an hour a day brushing, petting, feeding, playing with, and cleaning her litter box. I did not grow up with pets, and had to rely on friends with pets to get my canine or feline fix. So, days after my 28th birthday, I adopted a cat from a local shelter. Her original owners moved out of the country —¬†unexpectedly and permanently — so they had to leave her behind. You never get used to the smell of cat poop, do you?

As if all that wasn’t enough, I started another semester of grad-school this past Monday in addition to being on staff for the university’s literary magazine. My computer is going to be my best friend for a long time. This year is the year of side-jobs.

With the obligatory updates out of the way (that I hope you enjoyed), I can get into something that has been a part of me for a long time: a heavy interest in all things scary, gross, bloody, mysterious, and so on. No one else in my family is like this, so I image my interests are a product of nature and not nurture. I had barbies and fashion dolls like Twist ‘N Style Tiffany — quintessential 90’s girl toys — but I have little memories of playing with them. I think the extent of my playtime was carrying them around with me wherever I went outside of school. At home, I didn’t know how to interact with them, so they just sat there. I had a Baby Alive doll, but once I realized that it actually peed its diaper and I had to change it, I sad ‘fuck that shit’ and banished the doll to the inside of my closet. Girl toys were boring and unnecessary. Boy toys were awesome. I built castles with Legos, old west towns with Lincoln Logs, crazy machines with K’Nex. I liked watching the Power Rangers punch Putties in the face, and laughing as I counted along with The Count as I watched Sesame Street. Then there were Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark and…you get the idea.

It’s an interesting complex thing to analyze why you like something. The best I have been able to do with my love of all things macabre is “it’s different.” Yes, it is different, different from social norms. I’ve always been curious about the things no one talks about, like what does a body look like as it decomposes or wanting to look at photos of crime scenes. They amaze and terrify me at the same time, they make me feel uncomfortable yet comfortable. There’s something on an intuitive level that tells me I relate more to the macabre, but nothing more than that. Maybe it’s because I grew up visiting dead relatives at their grave sites. Maybe it’s because Catholics are inherently morbid — guilt, eternal damnation and other hell related things. On a pre-confirmation retreat, myself and the other Catholic indoctrinates were treated to a special sin-cleansing session. We were given a nail, a folded up red piece of paper, and a list of 50-plus arbitrary sins. We were instructed to put a hole through the folded red paper for every sin we had committed on that list. Afterward, we were told to unfold our papers. Staring back at us was a punched-out picture of Jesus. “This is what you do to Jesus every time you sin,” the proctor yelled at the room. I burst out laughing. Everyone stared at me. Look at the sinner. Oops. What they don’t know is that I still laugh, and I don’t feel guilty about it. That whole thing was ridiculous.

Point being: my relationship with blasphemy and horror is one of humor much of the time. I like games where I can play as zombie unicorn and ramrod people with my horn to gain points as rainbow blood gushes from their gaping wounds. But I also like deep, thoughtful horror with the intention to make us as uncomfortable as possible, and then make us question why we are uncomfortable. I have a thing with scary faces randomly popping up in my computer screen. it scares the ever-living shit out of me. Why does it scares me so much? Because I’m terrified that one day there will be a ghost in my house who will think it’s funny to show his face in the bathroom mirror. I would play jokes like that on people if I were a ghost. Maybe that means I am aware of my fears and I scare myself. Psychotherapy is a bitch.

In any case, I’m going to continue shopping for some portraits of movie monsters to hang in my living room. I want people to feel welcomed by Freddy Krueger’s smile.


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