Friday, October 17, 2014

Footprints in the Snow

I'm going to admit, this is a re-post from October of 2009. Most of you haven't read it before, but I hope you will now. Because it's another true story of terror! Horror! And scariness! Enjoy.
**********

Heights don't really bother me. I'm not a fan of snakes, but the kind that can kill me in one bite aren't really indigenous to Anaheim, California. Ever since I was a kid, spiders have freaked me out so bad that I can rarely force myself near enough to kill them, and that creeped-out feeling only intensified a few years ago when my now dearly-departed paternal grandmother was bitten by a brown recluse spider and had to have her leg amputated.

As I was thinking about this topic, though, I thought about my many phobias (life-like dolls, reflections, disembodied voices) and I just felt like those weren't really what I fear. Yes, yes, I know all you word-scholar types are screaming at your computer screens right now that "phobia" means "fear" but just go with me on this.

The one thing I really, truly fear is being completely helpless and vulnerable.

I experienced this in almost paralyzing fashion one night as a missionary in Mascouche, Qu├ębec. It was not long after the night Sister Angel and I saw the faceless and under-dressed stranger in the road.

It was a Sunday night in early February. As part of our Sunday evening festivities, we made goals for the week and had what was called "Companionship Inventory" where you talk about the things that are going well and what can be improved on. It's actually very helpful when people are being honest and nice about it.

Anyways, we had some extra time while we waited for Elder Young, our twenty-year-old District Leader to call and get our report of the previous week's activities. So we sang a few hymns. We were right in the middle of a roof-raising rendition of "Count Your Blessings" when I stopped cold and listened.

(I should take a moment here to mention a couple of important facts about the house we lived in. One, it was out in the country. We lived in a spacious apartment built onto the back of a mansion, and our sliding glass door opened onto a wooden porch with ten steps going down to where we parked our car. That sliding door faced north, and past the porch, there was a huge, open field that ended in a line of fairly dense maple trees. Two, our immediate next-door neighbor was a Jewish abbatoir. Creepy, right? Three, the neighbor on the other side of the abbatoir was some guy that raised sled dogs. Very noisy sled dogs that always knew what time dinner was.)

Okay, so I stopped singing because I could hear the dogs. They were going CRAZY. I had never heard them bark like that, even at mealtimes. And since it was already a bit past 9pm, I knew it wasn't dinner time.

A strange feeling of panic washed over me and I suddenly said to Sister Angel, "Did you lock the sliding door?" It was an unusual question because I knew perfectly well she hadn't. We never locked that door. We lived in the country. Before she could answer, I jumped to my feet and ran across the cold wooden floor to the door and flipped the lock, which wouldn't budge. The door wasn't closed all the way. Sister Angel was beside me in half a second and together we shoved the door and lock into place, took one look at each other and dashed upstairs to the bedroom.

We sat on our beds and tried to decide what to do. And we scared each other with the "possibilities" of what could be lurking out there in the darkness. Our apartment was like a fishbowl. We had no curtains. In fact, the only room with a window covering was in our bedroom, and that was only because the sun rose so early in the mornings.

The phone rang.

We crept down the stairs and I made Sis. Angel answer it because I didn't want to talk to Elder Young. He and I didn't get along so well. I sat on the stairs while she answered the phone in french, said a few words and then hung up.

"It was a wrong number!" she practically screamed.

"That's what happens in horror movies!" I responded. I just knew an animal head was going to come crashing through the door at any moment, but I stayed where I was.

Sister Angel walked over to the wall and shut off the lights, then crossed the room to a window that faced the empty field. She stifled a scream as she cried, "Footprints!"

Sure enough, there were very determined footprints in the snow. They led from the back of the abbatoir right to our porch and out of sight. We both sank to the floor and I experienced the first official panic attack of my entire life.



The phone rang.

Sister Angel crawled across the floor to answer.

I'm skipping a few minor and boring details here, but essentially Elder Young ended up chatting with Sister Angel for a few minutes about how unlikely it was that some crazy axe-wielding psychopath was lurking outside our door waiting for the right moment to come in an chop us to pieces.

She finally hung up the phone and after spending another half hour or so sitting on the floor beneath the window, we started up the stairs, knowing perfectly well we weren't getting any sleep that night.

She suggested calling the landlord, but it was late and he had a baby, and apparently my genius mind was more content with facing certain death than with waking a sleeping child.

The phone rang.

Sister Angel told me I had to answer it this time.

I took a breath and answered the phone. It was a missionary that lived up the street and he had this feeling something wasn't right, so he decided to call and check on us. I told him what was happening and he said that if the escaped mental patient hadn't tried to get in yet, he probably had moved on and we didn't need to worry. I got off the phone and dashed upstairs.

Neither of us could sleep. Every sound was amplified in the perfect quiet you find on a snowy winter night in the country. And then a snowplow started up next door. For nearly two hours, we sat at the window and watched the plow go back and forth across the abbatoir parking lot and wondered if the man at the wheel was responsible for the footprints.

At some point, we both drifted to sleep and woke up a few hours later to the sounds of someone on the roof.

It was broad daylight and it didn't take long to realize it was the landlord breaking up the snow and ice to keep the roof from collapsing. I decided to run out and tell him about the prowler.
**********
Me: (squinting into the sun as I looked up to the roof) Hey, I think someone was out here last night.

Landlord: Well, I was.

Me: (pointing at the footprints) Are those are YOUR footprints?

Landlord: Yeah. The abbatoir asked me to go check things out at night. Walk around the building and whatnot. Hope I didn't cause any problems.

Me: Nope. No problems.



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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thinking Thoughts About Current Stuff

A bit of current event randomness for your Thursday:



• John Grisham said some really stupid things about child porn and prison sentences. He's trying to backtrack now and unsay it, sort of, but you can't unring this bell. And it sucks because I've always been such a huge fan of his, but now I'm sort of questioning him and why he would say something like that.

ISIS seriously freaks me out. And I feel like hardly anyone is talking about it or really understands what's going on. And I don't know what scares me more: the fact that they exist and are beheading hostages like crazy, or the fact that people aren't really talking about them.

Ebola kind of freaks me out too. Not because I think we're all going to get it and die, but because there's just no way of knowing if it's contained or not. And also because there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. And because it's freaking EBOLA.

The blizzard in Nepal that has killed at least 20 people wouldn't normally end up on my radar. Except that I have a friend/former co-worker that literally JUST got back from a Mt. Everest base camp trek. How random is that?

The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series for the first time since 1985. I'm still mourning the loss of my Angels, but I guess if they had to get beaten, it's good that it's the team that a) swept their way in and b) hasn't been there in almost 30 years.

Okay. I think that's about all I care to comment on today. How about you?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pinteresting Halloween Finds

I've recently discovered this new thing called Pinterest.

What's that?

You've already been using it for years?

Oh.

I'm always late to the best parties.

Anyway, I've been pinning like a fool lately and got all into this whole Halloween deal. I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. I mean, I like it fine, but I've never been one that wanted to go all out with decorating or with making "creepy" foods or doing crafty stuff.

Until this year.

Suddenly, this year, I've discovered Halloween on Pinterest and now I want to do ALL THE THINGS.

Here are just a couple of my favorite Pinterest Halloween finds:

Found here.

Found here.
Found here.
Found here.
Cute, eh?

You can find more of the crazy awesomeness I've been pinning here.

Pinterest is ridiculously addicting.

Who knew?


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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Weekend Where Nothing Happened

I did the weekend wrong.

It had all the makings of being an awesome weekend.

But then I went and messed it all up.

You see, Laura took off for the weekend, so I had the place to myself.

Laura and I are great roommates. We get along really well. I don't mean to imply that the weekend was going to be great because of her absence. You just...you know how it is when you are facing an uninterrupted two days of sole possession of the remote, and "accidentally" leaving the laundry in the dryer for an extra day.

So it should have been awesome.

Except it wasn't.

On Friday I picked up a copy of Gone Girl, which I'd been intending to read for two years and hadn't gotten around to. But with the movie out now and high on my Must See List, I decided to go ahead and finally get around to it.

I left work with a bit of a headache and went home by way of a quick trip through a drive thru. The dogs were excited to see me. They rarely get me to themselves and were prepared to take full advantage of my undivided attention.

The Walking Dead marathon was on the TV, so I had it in the background while I read my book and wished I could be hanging out with Chris instead.

I don't know when I fell asleep, but at some point on Saturday morning, I woke up and turned on college football and went back to reading my book. It's pretty much all I did all day long. Which sounds awesome to many of you, I'm sure.

Except that I just wanted to be with my man. Who was very busy doing important things.

I felt like a dork for fretting my day away waiting for a text or a phone call when I could have been enjoying myself at the movies or pretty much anywhere. Even at home with that book that I finished sometime after midnight.

But that's what I've turned into.

I mean, I'm not a totally lost cause. I can (and do) have fun without Chris. Our relationship doesn't define me.

I just...I missed him and wanted to see him. To talk to him. To hug him and listen to him talk about his day.

When did I become that girl?

The weekend passed, and with it came sporadic text messages from Chris. Whenever he had a few spare moments. Like I said, he was very busy.

Finally, it was Sunday night and The Walking Dead premiere happened and I watched it in stunned silence.

And, with that, my weekend was redeemed.

Ugh. I hate that I am That Girl.

But wow do I like That Man.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fashion, Advice, and Pumpkins--The Weekly Roundup

It's Sunday morning. My roommate, Laura, is out of town, so I've spent the weekend home alone, watching the dogs play and reading Gone Girl while the Walking Dead marathon plays in the background. I've had a few text exchanges with Chris, but he's had a busy couple of days and the only spoken conversation I've had since leaving work on Friday was with the girl at the Taco Bell drive thru.

Part of me feels this has been the Best! Weekend! Ever! and part of me feels like I just wasted two days by doing absolutely nothing important. Besides my laundry.

Anyway one thing I've gotten to do is catch up on some blog reading, and I have a couple of great posts to share with you:

The Weekly Round-UpI

25 Fashion Poses for Lifestyle Bloggers--Sarah from Venus Trapped in Mars wrote a great post about how to figure out how the heck to pose for fashion photos when you aren't a fashion blogger and don't naturally know what to do.

Step 330: When Someone Politely Declines an Invitation, that Settles the Matter--Kelly from Adulting shared this little tip about not harassing people when they decline something. It's short, but SO TRUE.

Best Advice--Helene from Helene in Between shared some of the best advice she's ever gotten from her mother. It was great advice that I really needed to hear. I mean, I've heard it before, but I needed the reminder.

Unleash the Pumpkins--Ginger from The Style of Being wrote a beautiful post about pumpkins. But really, it's about our way of attaching meaning to things. It's a lovely post and she's a beautiful writer.

So those are just a few of my favorites for the week. I'm still woefully behind in reading and am going to spend the rest of the morning catching up before I head to church and have actual conversations with actual human beings. It will be glorious. And then I will come home and get ready for the season premiere of the Walking Dead. Can't. Wait.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Attic

I've lived in several haunted houses in my life.

I talked about one of them last week. That was probably the scariest experience I had.

But when I was a teenager, we lived in a house that had its own share of strange occurrences. Doors opening and closing by themselves, creaking footsteps on the stairs when no one was anywhere near them. The cat would frequently grow wide-eyed and sprint from one room or another after seeing something only she could see.

My bedroom was upstairs. The head of the bed was up against one wood-paneled wall. On the other side of that wall was attic space that stretched over the kitchen and dining room downstairs. Access to the attic was through a panel in my closet.

One night, my mom and I were the only ones home. She was downstairs, probably watching TV or something. I was in my room, laying on the bed. Probably reading a book.

The scuffling sound was faint, at first. It gradually grew a little louder as it moved closer.

Something was moving in the attic.

Probably a bird, I told myself, feigning lack of concern.

But I put the book aside, listening as the sound grew louder. It sounded like heavy feet sliding across wood. And then it stopped.

I didn't move. Couldn't move.

And then. Then it happened.

Three distinct knocks on the wall, directly above my head.

I jumped! Off the bed and halfway down the stairs before I even knew what I was doing.

I told my mom. She didn't believe me.

No one did.

But it happened. I'll never forget it.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

7 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Whose Team Just Lost the Playoffs


It was a short post season.

And incredibly painful.

And the numerous concourses of bandwagon fans suddenly donning Royal blue doesn't exactly make things any easier.

But these are the playoffs and while 10 teams go in, only 1 will come out victorious.

So if you happen to have friends or family members that root for one of those 9 other teams, here are some things you should NOT say to them when their teams lose (shout outs to Chris, Kimberly, Lorena, and Tricia for their contributions):

1. "There's always next year." No. There isn't always next year. There was this year. And now this year sucks.

2. "They had a great season." Yeah, and then they lost in the post season. The regular season doesn't matter anymore.

3. "They made it farther than my team." Yeah, but your team also had the worst record in the league. Your point?

4. "It's because you didn't (perform some ritual you ALWAYS do). You jinxed them." Thanks. I already feel like crap and now you just made me feel even worse.

5. "At least such-and-such team is still in." Pardon me while I COULDN'T CARE LESS.

6. "I figured they were going to lose." Yeah? Well, screw you.

7. "At least LA still has a team in it." See #6.

So if your friends and family members find themselves mourning a devastating defeat, don't add insult to injury. You can't make them feel better, but you can definitely make them feel worse.

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