Why I need my cellphone surgically grafted to my hand

I am kind of a freak in that I like to be scared.

Or, well, I’m actually kind of a freak for a lot of reasons. I am terrified of bugs, but don’t mind bees and only read kids’ books and don’t like onions. But, honestly, I love being scared and apparently that is odd to most of my friends. I adore horror movies and horror novels, even the shitty ones, but especially the awesome ones. I find horror, as a genre, fascinating and could talk about it for hours. (Roommate-to-Be had to put up with my rant about how Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is one of the most groundbreaking horror films of all time when we were at Target last week. It’s a wonder she still wants to live with me.)

I like walking out of the theatre with an abject fear of the dark and I don’t mind telling people that. I always roll my eyes at the teenagers who proclaim that they weren’t scared at all and the movie was stupid. I know it’s just a defense mechanism, but I still don’t understand it. The point of horror movies is to be scared! Why deny that?

I don’t deny it to anyone. A few months ago, I watched [REC]2 with my friend Jenn4. (I have four friends named Jen[n]. They are going to be numbered in the order in which I met them, despite the fact that their names are all spelled differently, purely to make your lives easier, readers. Even though the four of them probably make up four of the only readers of this blog. Deal with it.) A few days later, Cousin stayed over for the weekend and we watched it again.

“We’re going to sleep with the lights on tonight,” I informed her. “Just so you know.”

“That’s totally fine,” she said.

(Cousin also understands that the point of horror is to be scared.)

The point is, I like being scared. I actively seek out reasons to be scared. I’m not exactly sure how I stumbled across Marble Hornets earlier this week, but once I figured out what it was, I threw myself into watching it precisely because I love to be scared.

I just, you know, didn’t exactly realize the consequences at the time.

For those too squeamish to so much as google “Marble Hornets,” it’s one of those internet real-time storytelling horror stories. It revolves around a series of videos uploaded by “J,” cut together from footage he rescued from a college friend. They were working on a student film together when his friend started acting strangely and then killed the project. J stopped him from burning the tapes and then went through them, trying to discover the source of his friend’s anxiety. As J uploads more videos, his behavior becomes erratic, just like his friend’s, and he seems to be stalked by the same supernatural entity that was after his friend, before abruptly disappearing from the internet after posting one last creepy video.

I eat this shit up, guys. Remember that creepy house blog back in like, 2005? Dionea House? (Thanks, Jenn4!) I’ve read that five or six times. It still creeps me out. And I love it. Once I managed to piece together what Marble Hornets was, I had to sit and watch all the videos and read all the comments and totally freak myself out over the mysterious Slender Man.

None of this would have been a problem, normally, except for three things:

1) I discovered and then gorged on these Slender Man videos between the hours of 9pm and 12 am.

2) I had left my cellphone (aka my alarm clock) in my car.

3) I had to work the next day.

Around midnight, after finishing the last of the videos, I began to prepare for bed. I was jumping at every sound, which was completely expected, and looking over my shoulder constantly. Great. Fine. I was just going up to bed, where I would curl up with my steampunk supernatural scifi novel for a few minutes and then go to sleep and wake up for–

And that was when I remembered where my cellphone/alarm clock was.

I spent a few seconds agonizing over my dilemma. I didn’t have to work until the afternoon and I had been waking up naturally after about eight hours of sleep for the past few weeks, but I didn’t want to chance it. My options were a) using my old alarm clock or b) going out to my car at midnight in the dark to get my phone, where I would promptly be murdered by the Slender Man.

“Kaitlyn,” I said to myself. “You are twenty-five years old. Besides, the Slender Man doesn’t outright murder people, he stalks them and drives them crazy first.”

I have a lot planned for the next couple of months and I was pretty much against confronting a supernatural psychopath outside my house where I knew he was waiting. Which left only one option.

The reason I did not initially relax and jump on the fact that I had a secret back up alarm clock is that this alarm clock and I have a history. A history of me being late.

The past two times I have used this alarm clock, the alarm has mysteriously not gone off. I don’t know why. It always works when I test it. It used to work consistently. I used this damn thing every day for the entire summer I worked at camp and every day for the first semester of the school year that followed, but for whatever reason, it is now plotting against me. I’ve changed its batteries. I always triple check to make sure that I have the alarm set and the time correct, including am/pm. The volume is up as high as it can go and it is within hearing distance, but not within reach.

Still, when the time comes, the damn thing refuses to wake me up on time. The first time it did this was okay–I was just meeting a friend for lunch and simply called him and told him I was running about twenty minutes late. The second time I didn’t wake up on my own and only realized it didn’t go off when the store manager called me to tell me I was supposed to be at work an hour prior.

Not fun times, but what choice did I have? I did not want to be serial killed.

I tested the alarm twice. I switched out the old batteries for fresh. I made sure the time was set right and the alarm was set right. Then, exhausted, I read a few pages of my book and fell asleep.

That was when the dreams started.

You would think they would be dreams about the Slender Man stalking me, driving me crazy, and murdering me. You would be wrong. No, I, being the neurotic lunatic that I am, had a series of stress dreams about being late for work. A whole frigging series. I had six dreams over the course of the nine hours I was “sleeping” and each ended with me waking up in a panic to check the time on my shitty alarm clock to make sure I wasn’t late for my shitty bookstore job.

Each dream went like this: I would wake up. I would have a terrible feeling I was late. I would look at my alarm clock. It would be 1:30. I would panic so badly I woke up for real.

And each time I woke up for real, I had to check the fucking clock. It was pitch black and STILL I had to check the clock. JUST TO BE SURE.

Like I said, I am kind of a freak.

The last one happened around 9:30 am, at which point I decided, fuck it, it wasn’t worth another half hour of sleep, I should just get up.

I spent the entire day exhausted and weary despite the nine hours I spent in bed. And every time someone asked why I was tired, I had to explain.

“I was up watching scary videos on YouTube.”

“Oh, you had nightmares.”

“Yes, but not about scary things, about being late for work.”

“Wait, what?”

“It’s a long story. Have you ever heard of the Slender Man?”

“Um…”

“Have you ever been afraid of being serial killed in your driveway at midnight?”

“Um…”

“Anyway, so I couldn’t get my cellphone.”

“I think I see a customer. Over there.”

It did not do much for my Bookstore Cred. Of course, having voluntarily and eagerly accepted the worst job at the Bookstore and then held it for two years, I didn’t have much Bookstore Cred to begin with.

The lesson here, children, is this: don’t watch scary YouTube videos when you have a faulty alarm clock and a tendency for stress dreams. Save that shit for when you don’t have to work the next day.

And remember–it’s totally acceptable to sleep with the lights on.

(Even though lights probably won’t actually stop the Slender Man from sneaking into your room and serial killing you. Sweet dreams!)

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I'll never doubt you again, kids' lit

At the beginning of the year, when all of my friends were pledging to read fifty books by December 31st, I made myself a different promise. As you may have gathered from, you know, my outright stating of the fact, I work in a bookstore. More specifically, I work in the children’s department of a bookstore. Not counting picture books, early readers, or anything under about a hundred a fifty pages, I probably read upwards of two hundred books a year and skim-read even more than that. I’m constantly surrounded by children’s and young adult books. I love them. I devour them. I want to write them and I like to seem knowledgeable to my customers, so I have a good excuse for always having my nose buried in one, but I’ve recently passed the point where I can no longer ignore the fact that I don’t even know what adults books are about any more.

When my friends were resolving to read fifty books–any fifty books–I quietly promised myself that I would read one adult book for every five middle grade or young adult books that I read.

I was proud of myself. I was confident. I would totally be able to achieve that goal. Totally.

That is, until I realized that I read roughly five books a week and if I was going to be true to my promise, I was going to have to actually finish a whole adult novel before I could go on to the piles of new MG and YA books that were coming in every week. It was like torture. I would lovingly caress the cover of the new Dan Gutman book and then tear myself away to read about grown-ups having existential crises that totally didn’t involve genies or wacky middle school misunderstandings or teenagers coming of age via humorously illustrated journals.

Predictably, the whole thing lasted about a week.

I blamed it on being busy–in the spring, I was planning a party, deciding to move to Boston, going through some major changes at work, and spending a lot of time watching Criminal Minds with my mom. It was more important that I keep up to day on the MG and YA new releases. It was a work thing. Life would calm down, I decided, and then I’d go back to reading grown-up books, like I promised I would. Fortuitously, this was around the time that Roommate-to-Be discovered one of the wonders of genre television–licensed tie-in novels. After the aforementioned party I had been planning, she asked to borrow some of the novels I own based on the British sci-fi show Torchwood, a spin-off of my beloved Doctor Who. I think she made it through approximately one half of one of them before announcing that she needed to start a book club to talk about how shitty these books are. About eight of our friends (myself included) jumped right on that.

How bad are these books? It’s hard to explain if you’re unfamiliar with the Doctor Who franchise, but I’ll do my best. Imagine, if you will, that Doctor Who is a priceless painting. An original Monet or, probably more appropriately, a Van Gogh. Now, if Doctor Who is an original Van Gogh, Torchwood would be a picture postcard of that Van Gogh that’s been roughed up by the US Postal Service, bought in the museum gift shop by your douche-y hipster cousin who’s trying to seem cultured, but really just comes off as tacky and ridiculous. The shitty Torchwood tie-in novels are what happens when you give that beat-up, tacky, postcard to your six-year-old nephew and ask him to replicate the picture in his public school art class where they only have primary colored paints and use q-tips for paintbrushes.

(This is not an entirely fair description. There are a couple of these books that are actually pretty funny and one or two that present situations and characterizations that are more appealing and believable than the original Torchwood show. Of course, remember that the show itself is that gaudy postcard covered with jam-y fingerprints and reeking of shitty hipster beer.)

I figured, “Hey, reading these shitty novels will a) get me back on track to reading adult books, b) ensure that I read at least one per month for the rest of the year, and c) ease me into real literature with baby steps.”

Oh god. Oh god, internet. Oh god.

I’m forcing my way through the second one now, but if anything, reading these has upped my MG and YA intake tremendously. After reading twenty pages of a shitty TW novel, I need an antidote and that antidote is frequently the collected works of David Levithan or Gail Carson Levine.

But the other important thing these books have done is remind me that it’s totally acceptable to read a steady diet of MG and YA. Who says that a novel can’t be “real literature” just because it’s written for children? Isn’t Tom Sawyer real literature? What about Anne of Green Gables or The Wind in the Willows? I defend these books day in and day out to people who think YA novels aren’t “real novels” and that MG novels are only appealing to people under the age of 12. It boils my blood to listen to adult customers at my store pick up The Book Thief and then immediately say, “Oh, this can’t be the book Shelly was talking about reading–it’s for teenagers.” But, for some reason, I had trouble getting it through my own head that it was okay to stick to titles intended for the under-eighteen set. I mean, they’re got the right mix of humor and intensity, hope and angst, suspense and closure. The coming-of-age themes are things that I can relate to, now, as I’m getting ready to truly leave my parents for good. The writing is accessible and never tries to be something its not.

And if all that weren’t enough? I have never read a MG or YA book wherein a creepy asshole doctor uses alien technology to look at a lady’s nipples.

Please, internet, don’t take that as a challenge.

Posted in books, bookstore, scifi nerd | Leave a comment

The perils of free food

There’s a reason my last post had the subject line it did. That reason is “I am a broke idiot.”

At least, that feels like the reason.

To get to the vomit bit, I need to start with the cheesecake. Last week, I worked Friday morning, moved my cousin into her new condo on Saturday, and then worked Sunday afternoon. When I came into the break room on Sunday afternoon, there was a sign on the table.

“Cheesecake and chocolate cake in fridge! Help yourself! :)”

Internet, I love free food. I love free food for two reasons, but both of those reasons are readily apparent in the description “free food.” I am trying to save money. I love eating. Especially cake. A sign advertising free cake is pretty much a no-brainer.

I spent the first half of my shift disproportionately excited for my break. I’m usually pretty excited for my breaks because it means I don’t have to deal with customers and also that I can sit down. Today I was extra excited. There was cake and it was waiting for me.

I ordered a sandwich from The Bookstore’s cafe and blithely told the barista that I did not need a cookie, just a sandwich today. I did not mention the sign in the break room. Perhaps if I had, the situation could have been avoided. Instead, I took my sandwich back to the break room, where I ate it while surfing the internet and thinking about how awesome the cake was going to be. When I finished my sandwich, I opened the fridge with the sort of excitement that is best saved for Christmas morning, or at least a USA Network season finale. I was even more excited when I saw the cheesecake was in a box from one of my favorite local bakery, the one my family has been using for years.

The excitement waned when I saw the contents of the box. The cheesecake was covered with some sort of fruit goop. Ew. I am totally in favor of mixing fruit and desserts, unlike my mother, but this was something yellowish that could have been pineapple or lemon or apricot and I did not want it on my cheesecake. The cake also looked a little crumbly and dry. I didn’t let myself get discouraged, though. I had only been out of the store for a day–the cake couldn’t be that old. I was sure it could be fine.

Still, the perfect slice I imagined when thinking about FREE CAKE morphed into a much smaller sliver. Apparently, my sense of self-preservation kicked in without me even realizing it. Good on you, self-preservation. By the time I scraped the weird fruit bits off of it, the slice was even tinier, but I was feeling even less sure about eating it. Free cake, though, so I dug in.

I didn’t even finish my micro-sliver.

Feeling vaguely unwell, I went out onto the book floor to train a new girl how to close in my department. It was a useless exercise for reasons that are not relevant to this tragic vomit story, but I was still annoyed when I straightened up mid-sentence and said, “Excuse me, I need to go to the restroom.”

I tried to walk professionally, but I’m pretty sure I sprinted.

My stomach was doing backflips and making it’s owwieness well-known. I was trying to placate it using logic, because even though logic has yet to work on any of my body parts (mind included) or any of the inanimate objects I frequently find myself addressing, I’m nothing if not persistent.

“It was just a little piece of cake, stomach,” I insisted. “We can handle this.”

We could, actually. After I spent two minutes dry heaving.

Irritated, still vaguely green, but feeling better, I went back out onto the floor. I instructed my new minion. I answered some questions. And then the queasiness returned. Before I could make a run for it, a customer cornered me and asked for some specific titles. I should have just made an excuse and fled, but, no, I had to help her. But it went beyond that–not only did I help her, but I found myself purposely lengthening our interaction. I gave her more suggestions. I explained the different levels of beginning chapter books. I offered her my personal recommendations. The entire time, I was sure I was going to vomit right in front of the Beginning Readers spinner.

Why didn’t I just leave? Because I am a lunatic.

“Because I am a lunatic” is the answer I give to a lot of questions I get asked or ask myself. Because I am. I stood there thinking, “God, I’m going to be sick. I want to rip out my stomach, these cramps hurt so much. I want to curl up and die. But this woman is so nice. And I need to help her. I need to be a good employee. I’m dying, but my need to be a good employee is winning over my need to puke my guts out. What is wrong with me? Why won’t anyone in Boston hire me? I am choosing helping the company over my personal safety! Why am I doing that? Why can’t I put that on my resume? Oh god, she wants another book. Why did I eat that cheesecake?”

I felt, at that point, that I had been adequately helpful enough to slip away. Well, also, the customer thanked me and moved on, thus signaling my job was complete.

I know I sprinted to the bathroom this time and made it just in time to puke my guts out. I actually spent less time puking that I had previously spent dry-heaving and when I was done, remarkably, I felt better.

And continued my shift.

Because, as previously established, I go right past “company loyalty” and into some form of corporate Stockholm Syndrome.

I did make a stop in the break room to throw that cheesecake out, though. I didn’t want anyone else to repeat my mistake.

(Mostly because, if they did, they would probably actually go home and I would be left to cover their shift by myself. See above, re: company loyalty.)

I really need a job in Boston, internet. If only so I can quit The Bookstore and eliminate the lure of free food for the time being.

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It could be worse, this post could be about vomit.

The main problem that I have with keeping a blog is that I’m inundated with ideas for blogging at all the wrong times. I spend my day as a retail drone, mindlessly putting books on shelves and picking up people’s discarded coffee cups. It leaves me plenty of time to think about things I should blog about. Sometimes I even start to write posts in my head when I’m too scatterbrained to focus on the fictional writing that takes up most of my energy and daydreaming time. (Haha, yeah right. We all know that sitting around, doing nothing on the internet is what takes up most of my energy.)

The problem is, when I have time to sit in front of my computer and actually put words down, I’m suddenly exhausted. It’s my lunch break! I don’t want to be writing words! I want to eat lunch! Or, more likely, IM my future roommate about how much I hate my job. I don’t want to be thinking because that involves thoughts and being entertaining and decidedly less whining and looking at funny pictures on the internet.

So I walk around with all these ~*ideas*~ for blog posts in my head. I make little lists about what I’m going to write about and when I’m going to write it and which posts I need to write to the lay the groundwork for future posts, because apparently I need to arc my life out the same way I arc my stories out.

Clearly, none of these things get written.

The list of book reviews, recipes, “witty” observational humor, updates, cautionary tales, and general whining that I’ve intended to share with the internet is so long it’s daunting, but I don’t have the energy or incentive to do anything about it most days. I have another site where I keep track of the mundane (“Today I went to work and it was horrible, anyway, HOW AWESOME WAS DOCTOR WHO?”) and everything else falls to the wayside. I always intend to pick up serious blogging. “Oh yes, I’ll get right on that, as soon as things calm down!”

Internet, right now I live at home and work a shitty retail job and have no girlfriend and no social obligations to speak of. This is pretty much as calm as it gets. I don’t know why I think that now that I’m moving and job hunting and writing really long fiction I will suddenly have all the time in the world to try and be funny (or at least mildly entertaining) on the internet, but my brain cannot be persuaded otherwise. “THIS IS THE MOMENT!” it is telling me. “THEY NEED TO KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT ORGANIZING THE BOOKS YOU ARE PACKING!”

I feel pretty stressed, internet, is how I feel. And yet, here I am, taking time out of the book packing to write a blog post on the internet.

Maybe I am misinterpreting my brain. Maybe what it is really saying is, “THIS IS THE MOMENT! THE MOMENT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE PREPARING FOR YOUR FUTURE! QUICK, HIDE HOWEVER YOU CAN!”

Yep. That sounds much more like me.

Posted in blogging about blogging, moving | Leave a comment

Like my life isn't public enough already

Hello, internet!

I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you already know me, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage when writing an introduction post. You know my name is Kaitlyn and that I just hit twenty-five and that I live in New Jersey and that I’m moving to Boston. You probably know that I work at a major US chain Bookstore, running the children’s department. You definitely know that I love scifi teevee shows. (I’m pretty sure strangers on the street know that part, but only because there’s a dalek hanging off of my cellphone.)

You know how much I enjoy baking (especially cupcakes), writing (especially middle grade and young adult queer fiction), and reading (especially anything with lesbians). You know that I’ve buckled down into crisis mode, complete with stress dreams, crying jags, and serious consideration towards whoring myself out on the street if it means I’ll be able to pay my future rent.

In short, I talk pretty candidly on the internet. I’m not sure there’s much else to tell.

But there is, really, because my other internet ramblings are mostly about teevee and scifi and inside jokes and, well, daleks. And while I can’t promise that there won’t be the occasional post about teevee or scifi or inside jokes or daleks on this blog, the intent is slightly different. I’m making a big change. The biggest change of my life so far, really. I’m going somewhere new, with no plan in place. I’m moving the furthest from my family that I’ve ever been. Really, I’m scared shitless, and because I’m me, my first thought is, “I should probably document this.”

So here I am.

Expect less excitement about Doctor Who and more discussion of packing boxes, more sarcastic stories about The Bookstore, and more vaguely rambling observations on the arduous process of moving house. There will be book reviews (hopefully), recipes (I think), and photos (when I remember to clear my camera).

Mostly, though, it will just be me. And you’re used to that, so I’m not worried.

(That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be.)

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