Anybody Home?

I love haunted houses. I think if you have some common sense and keep a respectful attitude, you can live happily with a ghostie or a demon. And, you’d always have someone to push down that can of peas off the top shelf you can never reach.

Some residences just ooze the “murder house” vibe.  You might remember the post that I did a couple of years back called, “Horror House For Sale.” For those of you who don’t (you can click the link and check it out… just sayin’), I shared a few images of a house that I found on Zillow. You could feel the presence of well… something, just looking at it. Maybe a mutant creeper still living in the walls somewhere, just waiting for the new owners to move in. Wouldn’t that be something!?

I came across the above image recently (don’t ask) and it took me back to the day when I first found Zillow’s Most Haunted Property. That all-familiar sense of excitement I mean, fear… of course I mean fear, I’m not a psycho (good movie by the way!), the fear crept back in and I started to imagine all the possible fun dangers lurking within those walls.

This led me to wonder: what exactly is it about haunted houses that fascinates us so much? Now, I understand this might sound like a stupid question. Obviously, everything that makes a haunted house a haunted house is what makes it thrilling scary. I guess what I mean is, what is it about an old, rundown house that makes our skin crawl?

As I’ve said before, most people are terrified at the idea of living in a haunted house, and I get it; it’s a pretty universal feeling. I mean, imagine driving down an old country road late at night (I seriously recommend you find a better way to spend your evenings) and seeing a house like this one! No lights on the road (and if you’ve ever driven down a country road at night with no lights, let me tell you… it’s freakin’ DARK) or in the drive or visible in the home. Or worse yet, just one light dimly glowing in a shadowy window.  I’m willing to bet you’d think, “someone definitely died there and in a gruesome horror movie kind of a way too.” I know I would.

Why, though? Well, if you ask me, haunted houses invoke one of the biggest fears known to humanity – the fear of the unknown. The weight of all that ambivalence can be crushing.  There are few things in the world that can toy with our sense of security as much as haunted houses.

I have to say that Hollywood understands the root of our fears when it comes to haunted houses and boy, do they capitalize upon them. Haunted house movies make a killing (no pun intended, oh, who am I kidding… of course it was) and in a sick twist, this oft-used trope works to spread the universal fear to generation after generation. When we find ourselves face to face with a house that in any way resembles the Amityville Horror House (there’s a story that Hollywood really beat to death by the way), everything in us tells us to run. Well. Most of us anyway.

Horror movies and ghost stories have taught us that all run-down houses host paranormal entities and demonic forces intent on charming claiming our souls. Of course, the logic-angel sitting on our shoulder reassures us, “oh, that’s just hogwash,” even if it sometimes does so in a quiet, slightly frightened voice. Because you see, ultimately, it’s the uncertainty of their presence in the dark that is the most terrifying thing of all.

Long Distance Call

I will admit, since last October, life has been weird. I appreciate all of you sticking with me during my “sporadic writing phase.” It’s kind of like Picasso’s “blue period,” just not as… well, blue. Or paint-y. Definitely not as paint-y. Or hanging in a museum. Okay, fine. So, it’s not like Picasso’s blue period. Happy now? Sheesh.

Today would’ve been my Dad’s 78th birthday. Yeah. It’s still all so strange. We had his memorial last month. We’d been holding off for a number of reasons, not least of which, we simply did not want to officially say goodbye. There were military honors, and they gave my Mom a flag. One of his siblings spoke about his life. It was a lovely ceremony. I wanted to speak as well, but my severe anxiety, as it so often does, got the best of me. I think my Dad would’ve understood though. Neither of us were known for lengthy conversations, though we knew the love was there. That, we had in spades. As they are wont to say, we have closure, whatever the hell that means. All I know is, my heart still hurts.

And now, it’s summer. In our family, we all knew what that meant.

Hope the fishing’s good where you are, Dad.

Judgement at the Grocery Store

Okay, I know I’ve been quiet for a few days. But hey, I’m back!  Poor lucky you!

So, it turns out that one of my wrists is broken after all. The doctor simply missed it. Unfortunately, a specialist is now in order. On top of that, I just moved. Now, I’m no stranger to moving. I’ve moved many times in my lifetime and I have to say, the one that took place this past weekend was, in a word, hell. Needless to say, I’m going to forego the moments of joy for now (I’m still making notes in my journal, though!) and write about an annoying thing so as to have an outlet for my generalized aggravation.  Today’s topic is thoughtlessness.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes – especially on a particularly chaotic day, doing just the bare minimum can be difficult. A busy life tends to wear you down over time, even if you’re the poster child for completed to-do lists. At the same time, some tasks commonly considered to be the “bare minimum” are actually acts of common courtesy that in fact take little time to complete. Returning your cart to the cart return at the local supermarket is one of these, and yet, so many seem unable to follow through. Carts, carts everywhere. It drives me insane.

Me when I see a cart left sitting propped up on a curb or in a parking spot when the cart return is like right there!

I mean, it’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart to collect your groceries or other sundries, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy. Still… it’s the “return” process where people seem to have a problem (to be clear, I’m not talking about those who might have a physical issue that impacts their day-to-day life… rather, I’m calling out the deliberately thoughtless among us).

Catching someone returning a cart is the exception rather than the rule these days. When it occurs, it’s a glorious thing, like you’re witnessing a rare phenomenon of mythological proportions. You know, the kind of awe-inspiring legend people only whisper about, but never see for themselves.  It’s far more common to find abandoned shopping carts littered throughout the parking lot – taking up valuable parking spaces and sitting haphazardly on medians… though of course you never see the cart until you’re actually pulling into the parking spot it now inhabits.

Why is the bare minimum too much to ask?  Well, while I was stewing over the laziness of my fellow shoppers, I came across an article entitled, Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts. When I noticed this article was posted on a site called Scientific American, I knew I was in for a treat. Let’s be honest: sometimes the stupidity of others can only be explained through science.

Scientific American’s article broke cart users up into five different categories (parenthetical notes are mine):

  • Returners – those who return their carts to the cart receptacle each and every time (my favorite kind of people, quite frankly).
  • Never Returners those who never return their cart to the receptacle (I guess it just isn’t their job; they’re much too good for that).
  • Convenience Returners – those who return their cart only if the receptacle is nearby (come on, people!).
  • Pressure Returners – those who only return their cart under pressure of a nearby cart attendant or nearby car owner (you could save yourself a lot of worrying if you just did it every time… just sayin’).
  • Child Driven Returners – shoppers with children that see returning the cart to a receptacle as a “game” (I call this good parenting).

You gotta love science.

The article goes on to explain that although supermarkets attempt to coax us to do the right thing (return the cart to the cart receptacle), they’re fighting against our own “self-serving goals.” These goals include staying dry in the case of a day with bad weather or getting home as quickly as possible, or plain laziness. In a sick twist, a supermarket’s attempts to make it easier to return carts to their receptacles can justify our reasoning for not doing so. After all, do we really have to take the time to return our carts ourselves when there’s a cart attendant employed to gather the carts?

Of course, people don’t think that perhaps this person has other duties as well. Not to mention, they shouldn’t have to chase your errant cart across the parking lot to add it to the queue of carts they have ready to return to the store. Sure, it’s their job, but if you can make someone’s life – or job – easier, why don’t you? If it’s 100 degrees of hell out for you and you only have one cart to return to the freakin’ cart return, can you imagine what it’s like to return 200+ carts in 100 degrees of hell?  I mean, come on, people… get your shit together.

Okay, Wendy, breathe.

My point to this rambling is simple. Be a decent human being. Return. Your. Fucking. Cart.

 

The Curious Case of the Cart in the Wild

We all know the old (new?) adage: without pics, it didn’t happen. But I swear, yesterday, there was one Target cart sitting on the corner in my mother’s neighborhood. It was odd, I’ll admit, and I wondered about its sudden appearance, and truly, its very existence in such an incongruous place. However, I will repeat, there was ONE cart.

Today, taking the same route to drop my dogs off at my mother’s aka their sometimes daycare aka their grandmother’s house, there was another cart! Right next to, and even touching, the Target cart. This one was grey and inconspicuous… maybe it’s in the witness protection program? But if so, here it was, breaking all the rules by being out in public and fraternizing with a ne’er-do-well from Target.

Or maybe, they were in the middle of a clandestine meeting.

“Hey, our toilet paper is on sale for $500 this week, just thought you should know so that you can adjust your pricing scale accordingly.” *looks around guiltily* “Just don’t tell them I was the one to spill the beans. They might send me for scrap.  I’ve got kids, you know!”

Or, maybe they’re just two fated lovers making a plan to elope, and they were waiting to catch the 4:50 bus.

Or, maybe this is how store carts are born in the wild… they utilize fission (ha! Bet you didn’t think I knew that word!) to regenerate and the new entities are grey until they grow into their color. Like Dalmatians grow into their spots and Flamingos grow into their lovely rosy pink hue (spoiler: it’s the Flamingo’s diet that causes their color!) Anyway, if this is a case of grocery cart reproduction, at this rate, there will be a whole fleet taking over the neighborhood next week.

I know, I know, how do you think up such wonderful ideas, Wendy? Well, to be quite honest, I think I might need some sleep.