My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead”

Yesterday I decided that since I skipped Nanowrimo, I would do my own Nanowrimo, over a month later.  I read that the purpose of the project was not only to write a novel, but to just put your ideas down and write, so you’re not overanalyzing what you’re writing, and kind of harboring your own inner genius that way.  I really liked that notion, because I struggle to write fiction.  “What if,” I thought, “I just sat down and wrote whatever words came to mind, without really pausing to consider?”  Yesterday, thus, the first installment of my prospective novel, “Annie, You’re Dead,” was posted on my blog.  Today I’m posting the second part.  I’m trying to write 1,700 words a day.

I didn’t provide any background, yesterday.  I have a friend, whose name I’ve changed.  She died two and a half years ago, though I won’t say why, because I hope that will be revealed later in the story.  I used to have dreams of her coming back to life to hang out with me, so I decided to change those dreams into a novel.  I can’t say this is the result, exactly, because this will, I’m sure, require a lot of revision.  This, thus, is the early byproduct of those dreams.  Today is my second day of writing.  Here is the first part of the to-be-novel, from Day One. Continue reading “My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead””

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My own (belated) Nanowrimo: Day 2, Part 2: “Annie, You’re Dead”

My own (belated) NanoWrimo: Day One/Part One: “Annie, You’re Dead”

                                                    1 – If Oreos Could Talk 

She opened the Tupperware container and removed two more oreos, hoping that James wouldn’t notice they were gone when he came over later tonight; they were his private stash, that he kept at her apartment, and she liked to pretend she didn’t eat them.  She was wearing black and gold – an ornate black and gold necklace with decorative flowers on it, from the edgy clothing store she worked while earning her PhD.  She was wearing black and gold – and her hair was flipped a little toward the side, which she did sometimes to try to make it look more voluminous, although, she thought, the trick never worked really that well.  Still, when her hair was parted in the center, it looked too flat, like it was painted to the top of her head and stuck to the side of her face.  She didn’t much like that.  She had never much liked her hair, for that matter.

Her leggings were black, speckled with gold, and she had black knee socks on over them, because the weather was cold, and socks were more comfortable than shoes.  She had on a blazer which, really, she thought, was a bit excessive for the outfit, but then, it was early winter.  A thick, even layer of snow lined the roof of the little wooden shed across the street, which she could see through one of her apartment’s front windows, and at the edge of the window, where it met the wall, through the pane, she could see the house next to the shed, and the long icicles hanging off it like big crystalline needles.  It was winter, and so she wore a coat with her dress.

As for her friend Annie, Annie was dead, but that didn’t matter much.  Annie was dead, but Annie had always been a willful woman.  She’d adamantly resisted anything she didn’t like in life – at least, for the most part – and so it didn’t surprise Michelle anymore that Annie had resisted death.  For Annie was dead, but as Michelle had found out a few weeks ago, Annie wasn’t really dead, not dead dead, not dead as a doornail, the way decomposing corpses below the earth are dead – although surely, Annie’s decomposed corpse did lie beneath the earth, even as – however confusing it was – her embodied spirit hung out some days in Michelle’s living room, practically salivating for the latest gossip about their circle of friends.

Michelle thought of the theories of the specter that she was studying in one of her doctoral classes.  According to Jacques Derrida, the specter disrupted the binary between life and death, altered space and time, and signaled the presence of injustice.  Michelle didn’t see all of this happening with Annie’s presence, yet, although some of it was true.  Space and time were like they always were, linear, meandering, and perpetually vacillating between the stimulating and the mundane, with some long, anxious hours in between that Michelle usually filled by eating cookies.  But Annie certainly disrupted the binary between life and death, for once she had been alive, and then she died.  And now, though dead, some afternoons Michelle found Annie in her living room, asking for a cup of coffee.  And as for signaling the presence of injustice, well, that one was easy – or was it?  What type of injustice did Annie signal?   Michelle thought about it. Certainly, there were many possibilities, for further consideration, perhaps, at a later date.  After all, it was almost time.

She looked at the clock and it read 11:58 A.M.  Annie came at noon every day that she came, although she didn’t come every day.  Michelle thought it was funny, and very like Annie to come in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun hung high in the sky and warmed the earth with its rays – which it even did, sometimes, on cold winter days like today – instead of coming at midnight like Jacob Marley and ghosts in other ghost stories.  It actually made perfect sense.  Annie had been one of the warmest people Michelle knew.  In life it was almost ridiculous how much people liked her – or so Michelle thought on her more bitter days, when she was feeling competitive or imagining that nobody in the world liked her nearly enough.  There would be no logic or purpose to Annie coming at midnight, anyway, when Michelle didn’t have as long to talk because she was going to bed soon.  So Michelle was rather glad that Annie came at noon, and she washed the oreo crumbs off her hands as she waited to find out whether or not she would hear a knock on the door.  Sure enough, as soon as the digital microwave clock struck twelve – Michelle had no idea how Annie had adjusted her time to the microwave clock in her kitchen – she heard the gentle “rum, pum, pum” of Annie’s hand on the front door.

 

                                                   2 – The Afternoon of the Sassy Dead

Michelle made it a point to hurry to the door whenever her dead friend Annie knocked, which, like I said, was always at noon when it happened at all, precisely three hours and eighteen minutes before the mailman came, often with boxes of books or clothes for Michelle, or comic books for James, who sometimes had his stuff shipped to her apartment.  The first time Annie had ever come to visit, Michelle had been in the shower.  Annie displayed a mixture of patience and impatience when this happened.  Michelle emerged from the bathroom, dripping wet and in a towel, only to hear the rhythmic “thum, tum, tum” on her front door.  Not knowing, or not thinking, that it was Annie, she yelled “hold on,” and went upstairs to throw on some leggings and an oversized shirt, like the heroine of an 80’s movie.  The knocking continued, in an oddly rhythmic manner, so that it sounded vaguely like part of a percussion section or a high school marching band.  Michelle was both surprised, and a bit creeped out, by the steady, rhythmic, ceaseless knocking, accompanied by no voice.

To make matters worse, she fell down the stairs on her way to answering the door.  She had on fuzzy, wooly socks – Annie had first come about a month ago, and it was cold then, too – and somehow, as tended to happen with her, her foot slipped and she thudded down three stairs before grabbing her balance on the railing and composing herself, hoping, as she stood up and brushed herself off, that the mysterious visitor outside didn’t hear the ka-thump of her fall and the ensuing “Oh shit, ow, fuck” that exited her mouth.  It was, after all, a little embarrassing, and she was a little annoyed with this weirdly melodic and exhaustingly relentless knocker who was not going to stop knocking until Michelle answered the door.  She didn’t think to look out the peep hole, as you may have gathered by this point in the narrative, not even that first day Annie came, when she had no idea who was at the door.  To be truthful, it could be because the writer behind this story is a mere novice, and didn’t bother to think that most reasonable human beings would do just that before rushing to open the door  for an unexpected and anonymous guest.  Conversely, it could also be because Michelle was fixated on the challenge of getting dressed quickly and opening the door in a timely fashion, so she efficiently moved from one maneuver to the next, omitting any ancillary, unnecessary steps that would veer her off track and put more time between the first knock and her eventual ability to open the door, fully clothed.  Either version of events is plausible, and, as you’ve gathered, they’re not mutually exclusive, so you can decide what part of the story to believe.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on….” She had yelled, and then considered that she sounded rather rude.  What if it was someone of some importance knocking on the door?  The occurrence was not likely, but it was possible nonetheless.  And even if it wasn’t an eminent member of society – she chuckled and laughed at the exaggerated pompousness of her own wording – even if it wasn’t Barack Obama asking her to hang out now that he was retired, it was still important to treat people nicely.  Even if, she thought, they’re handing out religious pamphlets or selling candy bars.  So Michelle adjusted her tone and said, “Sorry, one second please.  I was indisposed.”

“No problem, Michelle, although I will say it takes you quite awhile to pull yourself together.  No wonder you were always late when you picked me up.”  Michelle didn’t really have time to consider this remark, although in the back of her mind, she recognized the voice and registered that the remark was, well, rather bizarre.  “Just as long as you get to the door eventually.  I haven’t seen you in awhile and I’ve heard you changed a lot since….well, since I saw you.”

Michelle had gotten more intrigued with that remark.  Who was this mysterious visitor?

Of course, the rest of the story tells itself.  But if you lack imagination – which you well might, in this age of consumerism and technology – I’ll tell it for you.  Michelle saw Annie, not dead, not decayed, not ugly.  She was wearing the cute artsie hippie outfits she always wore, and she was smiling.  Her cheeks were blushed, and a little fuller than they’d been in life.  She looked very much alive.  And for Michelle, it was one of those moments when she would have expected to be terrified but wasn’t, and was instead very calm and focused, like when her brakes went out on a busy road in the center of the city.  Annie looked, well, exactly like Annie, except happier and healthier than when she was alive.  The only other difference between Annie-in-life and Annie-in-death – or Annie between-life-and-death – was that this Annie’s feet were hovered just a little bit above the ground, so that she was suspended in mid air, about three inches above Michelle’s concrete porch.

“You can’t stand on solid ground?”  was thus Michelle’s first question – indeed, her first utterance – when she saw Annie.  Of course, it would have been customary to say hello, but Michelle had already conjectured that her dear, deceased best friend was now a ghost, and ghosts had always fascinated Michelle.  She wanted to understand how her undead friend operated, so to speak.

“Well that’s a fine greeting,” Annie responded. “Nice to see you, too.”  And then, without being invited, she nonchalantly floated into Michelle’s apartment, and headed straight for the oreos.  “Before you eat them all,” she said sardonically.

My own (belated) NanoWrimo: Day One/Part One: “Annie, You’re Dead”

Have a Monstrous Christmas: Part One: A Sort of Tribute to the Grinch

grinch oneTypically on this blog, when I discuss monsters, I discuss them in the classic sense of the word.  I analyze those horrifying aberrations that upend our sense of consistency and comfort, that unsettle norms with their often hideous and hybrid bodies.  It is far less typical that I engage the reader in a discussion of a circa 1960’s childrens’ Christmas classic that’s become a staple component of the pre-holiday viewing canon.  Alas, I aim to surprise, so that’s exactly what we’re doing today.  I sat down tonight to watch the always fantastic original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and was reminded of the so-famous-it’s-almost-a-cliché Milton quote: “The mind is its own place, and can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell.”  You see, for perception to be this malleable, I think the mind must pick out—and emphasize, or diminish—details of its choosing.  The details the mind focuses on may have some bearing on one’s perception of reality.  Similarly, the Grinch is a very different movie watching it as a child and as an adult.  Here, then, are some questions and problems my adult mind focuses on while watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” along with, perhaps, some shameless fangirling over this movie made for six-year-olds. Continue reading “Have a Monstrous Christmas: Part One: A Sort of Tribute to the Grinch”

Have a Monstrous Christmas: Part One: A Sort of Tribute to the Grinch

My First Video Game Post: The Surprising Terror of Doki Doki Literature Club

doki doki oneHaving not really immersed myself in the world video games since the days of N-64, I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to play Doki Doki Literature Club – a game, admittedly, whose name doesn’t make it sound nearly as troubling as it is.  And I’m not really sure what to say about it now, except to explain my experience playing the game and, maybe, why I think it has the effect on the player that it does.  In doing so, I will be establishing a “first” on this blog – my first video game post.  Woooohoooo!  And I have absolutely no idea how to talk about the game without giving away the ending, so only click to continue reading if you’re comfortable with spoilers.  I assume giving spoilers is a huge no-no in game land, but that’s why I’m warning you: I’m going to be very blunt about my experience playing this game, because I’m so fascinated with the process! Continue reading “My First Video Game Post: The Surprising Terror of Doki Doki Literature Club”

My First Video Game Post: The Surprising Terror of Doki Doki Literature Club

A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)

Suddenly Last Summer
Suddenly Last Summer

When I sat down to write my very first post for Just Dread-full (an event that took place over two years ago), I wrote about the first episode of American Horror Story: Haunted Hotel.  Of course, I’d intended, at least perhaps, to watch more episodes than the first, but I found (as is often the case for me) that I was so excited to write, that I wrote my blog post after episode one had aired.  Now, over two years later, another American Horror Story blog post is born from similar circumstances.  I’m watching a variety of films and T.V. shows for my Independent Seminar, and after watching the first couple selections, the urge struck me.  I thought: I should watch more shows on the list before writing my weekly response, but, I really want to write.  And so, this post is born, and it should give me some ideas or preparation for my imminent writing assignment.  I watched the 1959 film Suddenly Last Summer today, along with the first two episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum.  Now it’s time to consider how madness is spatialized in this film.  Some related questions might consider how space is organized in terms of “madness,” so-called, and what space reflects about our conceptions of madness. Continue reading “A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)”

A (Perhaps) Unlikely Comparison: Suddenly Last Summer (1959) Meets American Horror Story Asylum (Episodes 1 & 2)

Happy Death Day – A Pleasant Surprise

Happy Death DayMichael and I decided to do a spontaneous Sunday night movie last week.  Because of my urging, we ended up in the theater watching (of course) Happy Death Day, as opposed to Lego Ninjago or (another) viewing of Thor: Ragnarok – the two current most logical outcomes of letting Michael pick the movie.  And while another viewing of Ragnarok or an initial viewing of Lego Ninjago wouldn’t have been completely insufferable, Happy Death Day turned out to be a really intriguing horror-movie going experience, if only because, well, it turned out to be a bit of an aberration.  I was, I admit, underwhelmed by the previews of the cliché killer wearing a creepy mask and stalking a female college student.  I didn’t think the film looked horrible, but it didn’t really look scary.  And since the “re-live the same day over and over and over” trope is a horror off-shoot of Groundhog’s Day, I wasn’t expecting to be enamored (I mean, Groundhog’s Day is fantastic, but I didn’t think another film like it would work as well).  And to be fair, I wasn’t enamored.  But there were some surprising elements of the film that made it, well, entertaining to watch, and incredibly distinct from a lot of horror that’s currently out in theaters. Continue reading “Happy Death Day – A Pleasant Surprise”

Happy Death Day – A Pleasant Surprise

The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative

the shining 4.3In the beginning of Place: An Introduction, Tim Cresswell describes the significance of placing a specific art exhibit, one foregrounding Bollywood movies, in an elite Swedish town where only the 1% tend to visit, in part because it’s difficult to get there.  Cresswell includes the following quote in his introduction: “ ‘It’s difficult to get to,’ Mr. Wakefield added, ‘but because of that, it also demands a different kind of attention.  You discover the art through the place and the place through the art.’  The exhibition at Gstaad reflects a wider interest in how art and place interact on the part of both the artists and art theorists” (2).  This got me thinking that it might be intriguing to examine The Shining not just from a few lenses but – perhaps – from the intersection of a few lenses:  Space or place, as its conveyed in the film, the cultural space in which the film is produced, and the current cultural space in which I, the viewer, am watching the film.  This move, I think, is necessarily spectral, or turns the art under examination into a specter that disrupts linear time, since I become sort of engaged in this spectral moment, where I’m looking at the art forward, backward, etc – and this is especially true of The Shining, which situates its primary space, The Overlook Hotel, as a place that’s both mad and spectral, that consistently – if not constantly – manifests itself as a presence in the spectral moment by embodying both the past and the present – and, to the contemporary viewer, the more recent past (1921, 1980, 2017, but arranged as 2017 encompassing a film that shifts back and forth between 1921 and 1980, that begins by emphasizing 1980 but ends by emphasizing 1921).  As a “cautionary note,” I found, as I was watching, that it was challenging to thread the entirety of this analysis throughout my interpretation of the film, especially for a blog post, but that’s the general angle I’m coming from when I look at the film.  (As a sidenote, I wonder the extent to which we could deduce that all art is “spectral” – or maybe that’s what I’m getting at, but that seems like a sweeping argument for a later time).     Continue reading “The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative”

The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative