Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Snared

Now Playing: Alice in Chains - Man in the Box

Two things:

1) Flip and I went to see It yesterday, and I both loved it and was mildly bitter that he got to experience the story for the first time while I had both the novel and the bits I'd seen of the miniseries running around in my head. The movie was unsettling and sad and funny and reminded me how much I'd liked the characters and the friendship the first time I read the novel, while it kept Flip freaked out and with goosebumps beginning to end. Our movie theater wasn't very crowded, what with it being Monday night and all, but for the people who were there, I could kinda tell who knew nothing about the story and so was experiencing everything in full force.

With me, it feels like I've always known about the story, one way or another. Even reading the book for the first time,  I couldn't help but think I'd seen too many of the scenes (out of order, mind you) from the miniseries when I was a kid. I half-half knew what to expect even then. Plus, I've grown up with media that spent decades trying to scare and shock viewers in every movie, TV show, and book imaginable. I can only imagine what it might  have felt like to be introduced to horror by Stephen King.

2) I never thought I'd be the person who accidentally gets conned into listening to Jehovah's Witnesses but they knocked at my door this morning and I realized there was a high probability they'd heard me fighting with the coffee maker and so knew there was someone home. (Stupid thin walls). Plus I was worried they might be people who really needed something so I answered.

I tried to be respectful and stuff but me being nice meant they essentially got permission to come back next Tuesday and come inside to read the bible with me. They asked me if I had one and I said yes because it's the truth, not that I know why we bought one since no one in the family is religious. They were also talking about the Book of Revelation and the change of the world, and it went something like:

JW lady #1: Do you believe the world is getting better or worse?

Me: Uhhhhhhhhhh [insert fear about current political climate and global warming and then suppression of that fear] better, I hope.

JW lady #1: Great! You're exactly right. If you look at this passage of Revelation [points to pamphlet] we are promised a future where there is no suffering and no death.

Me: Yup, it sure says that.

JW lady #2: So do you believe the world could be without death?

Me: Not really.

JW lady #2: But could you picture it, at least?

Me: [Thinking once the Earth is hella old and the sun is close to its last leg there wouldn't be a way for the planet to sustain any life forms as we know them]. I guess.

JW lady #2: Good, good! There are many passages in the bible that promise that. You have a bible, don't you?

Me: I do.

JW lady #2: Great! We'd like to come in and read with you some of those passages.

Me: [panicking] Well I kinda have to get ready for work--

JW lady #1: Oh that's alright! We can come back next Tuesday--you're here Tuesdays, right?

Me: [WHY CAN'T I LIE] Y-yeah, very early in the morning...

JW lady #1: Then we'll come in next Tuesday and read with you. And don't worry! It won't take more than three or five minutes. Have a good day!

Me: [FUCK ME AND THIS DOOR AND THE COFFEE MAKER]. You too!

It was also a conversation in Spanish. Maybe if they catch me next Tuesday, I can politely tell them I'm not interested in reading from the bible cuz I neither believe in it and I already read it and I'm sorry for wasting their time.

And then, uh, I'll see what happens from there. I hope they speak English because I'm not good at awkwardly arguing about religion in Spanish.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How I'm Handling My First Real Hurricane: A Summary


To be fair, he was prepping for it a full day before I started taking it seriously.

Now that I've reached the opposite extreme, my most recent worst-case, doomsday scenario conversation with my poor dad (whom I am also stressing out with my stressing out) ended something like,

Dad: "Don't worry. That's not gonna happen."
Me: "That's what you said about Trump getting elected."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Immaterial

Now Playing: Marilyn Manson - Leave a Scar

Every time I come across a tweet that makes fun of Floridians for not taking Hurricane Irma (now a category 5) seriously, I laugh to ward off the blossoming sense of guilt. (And dread).


While thinking about hurricane prep. and keeping an eye on updates today, I've been trying to figure out how much cash I should take out to keep on hand. While talking to my mom the other day, she told me to get at least $20 on me in case power goes out everywhere and I need cash to put gas in my car. (It's filled out for now but who knows how long power outrages could last).

Then later Flip was talking to his mom and she also told him to get cash too, but she was advising something closer between a hundred and two hundred dollars. She told him after Hurricane Andrew hit Miami, everything was cash only for weeks so it's better to prepare for a long term ordeal. I hadn't thought of it that way, plus he needs to buy food and stuff while I drift in between two households who keep me fed (thank you, mom, dad, and boyfriend) and don't currently have any looming expenses ahead of me so I'm luckier than most.

I checked my wallet and was surprised to find I have like three dollars in there. I can't for the life of me figure out where they came from, I just know that there must have been more money on there once and then the single dollar bills were change, which I was probably planning to use to buy snacks off the library vending machine.

Ever since I got a bank account my first year at university, I've taken to being stingy and worried over the total amount on there while also being super careless with actual material cash and coins. It's like if I have twenty dollars in my hand, it doesn't really count as money because it's not added to the total in my bank account. So since it doesn't really exist (at least not in the thing that matters--the electronic numbers in my bank account app), then I can just spend it on whatever I want! But then I agonize if I buy food for five dollars and see that amount subtracted from my funds.

I talked to my dad about that once and he thought it was incredibly strange, and if anything assumed the opposite should be the case and I would want to be more careful and stingy over cash I can physically see and count and bend. I've seen that sentiment expressed by strangers; I read a reddit post once where someone was talking about how odd it is to know all his money doesn't actually exist, it's just a number in a computer, and if someone or something erased that number, he wouldn't have that money anymore in an instant.

The only time cash feels real is when I worry about losing it. Like if someone steals my wallet, I can pick up my phone and cancel all my cards, but whatever cash I have on there will be gone forever. That's the only time I see it as actually existing on the same level as or higher than my electronic funds.

Maybe it's just a thing about my generation or our general relationship with technology. Most of my backups for novels and other writing pieces are on the internet--email attachments, Google drive, that kind of thing. I have a USB I carry around with me and then one printed copy of Millennium Girl that's borderline useless now given where the project has gone. If a massive EMP took out all the electricity in the world (like in that show I always thought I'd watch but never did) most of what's precious to me would be gone. All my photographs, so much of my writing, most of my communications with loved ones, and way too much of my pitiful savings.

But I don't ever worry about that kind of scenario. I don't worry about a glitch erasing my savings or an EMP wiping out my digital memories and possessions. The internet feels infinite and untouchable and if power goes out here, nothing will truly be gone. But my poor car might get flooded, the apartment could get beaten up by the storm, and, if it gets really bad, I might lose journals and books and plush toys.

It makes me wish most of my possessions were immaterial. And that I'd have just enough to pack my life into a car that wasn't mine and flee the kind of catastrophe that destroys the material things people hold dear.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eerie

Now Playing: Marilyn Manson - Great Big White World

Back in the early days of my research binges into serial killers, I was never all that into the Zodiac Killer. I think it's because the "mystery" of an unknown serial killer never really caught my interest all that much. I want to know who they are. Where they were born, what their families were like, what their childhood was like, what they did the years preceding their first kill, how every confirmed attack and murder took place.

I knew I was alone in this because the prototypical serial killer is a Jack the Ripper figure. An anonymous killer sending letters to mock their pursuers and brag of their conquests so people can go nuts trying to figure out how, when, why, and, most importantly, who. Half the time we're not even sure we want to know who did it. Part of the intrigue is in the mystery.

But I got to thinking about the Zodiac again the other day. I saw a documentary on YouTube, This is the Zodiac Speaking, and then I saw the David Fincher film Zodiac. I showed it to Flip and a couple of times throughout the movie he'd asked, "did that part really happen?" There's discrepancies here and there, but the movie's surprisingly accurate to the actual events. They did their research, and even if some things since have been brought into question or disputed, the terrifying aspects of it come from how accurate it aims to be.

Because I was thinking about it, I decided to look up some more info on the Zodiac. And I came across a post from a guy who was trying to crack the remaining, unsolved encrypted letters the Zodiac had sent, as well as a follow up asking just where the hell that redditor went and if he managed to uncover anything.

The original redditor came back to say nope, they weren't able to figure out much.

But then he closed with this:
"The second biggest thing I found interesting was just the journey itself. It was admittedly a little creepy, to dig into this guy for days on end. It gets to you. The Zodiac claimed he wanted (paraphrasing) "slaves for his afterlife".. Well, he certainly got them. Anybody who spends time looking at the evidence, or scratching their head trying to decipher the remaining cryptograms could be thought of as a "slave"... For a brief time, he had an army of them.. A couple hundred GHz worth of them, worldwide. 
Looking at it now, my belief is that Z340 is a red herring... Pure garble. It was probably created as a device to bog down and tie up as much investigative manpower as possible, something that would consume hundreds if not thousands of man-hours to fully evaluate...40 years later, we're still hammering away on it. It's a brilliant strategy, when you think about it."

I don't know why but I got this really creepy feeling about it. It disturbed me. It's the same feeling I get when I read police reports or when I hear interviews from witnesses.

For months now I've been thinking part of the reason I can't get into detective novels or crime shows or anything under that umbrella is just because, well, it's not real. It shouldn't stop me from getting attached to it. I love grand, sweeping, impossible stories of fantasy and sci-fi. Dragons and fully-sentient robots not existing doesn't mean I can't love their fictional selves. But I guess because crime fiction is so closely tied to reality but has a lot of the absurdities or grandiosity of fiction, it's stuck at this weird place where it's not enough for me. It's not grand enough (and when it tries to be, it's ridiculous) and it's not real enough (and when it tries to be, it's often boring). But I can't fault it for not being perfect because it's my bias. There's no sweet spot that'll make me love it. It has to either be something it's not (secretly about monsters only possible in fiction) or it has to be the truth.

To me, a crime is only terrifying when it happened in real life. A fictional crime--no matter what body parts are chopped up or how much I care about the main character or how terrifying the actor playing the serial killer is or whatever--can't ever be scary. And it's because, when I read about real cases, I can't help but imagine being in the position of the victims/witnesses/investigators. It's scary because it's real, and no matter how inventive a movie or book gets, it can never match the fear attached to reality.

Shortly after reading that post, I went up on the FBI's Most Wanted pages and read some of the postings there. Missing person cases, unsolved murders, a couple on hate crimes. And later that night, I couldn't sleep at all. I stayed up talking to my brother about this absurd fear I have involving, like, being murdered. It sounds ridiculous to mention, let alone worry about, but that's another thing about fiction: when people are murdered in a crime novel or TV show, I'm absurdly aware of the fact that they're not people. They're concepts and playthings. But when I read about the real life victims of crimes, I think about the day they were born, taking their first steps, learning to talk and to read, going to school, making friends, graduating, finding jobs. Mundane lives with ends no one could see coming.

And I try to imagine the intensity of the fear that hits someone dying a violent death. I don't think any kind of fiction in the world, no matter who writes it, no matter how hard we try, could ever capture a fraction of it.

It's abstract because the only way I'll know it is if I ever experience it, though I (unwillingly, sometimes) try my hardest to put myself in their place no matter how fruitless it is to try to imagine that horror. And somehow, not being able to feel it makes it all the more frightening.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.