West Coast Horror (I Love October XD)

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As most people who know me probably already know, I LOVE Halloween. In fact, I love all of October. I love that we get 31 days of horror movies and a reason to scare the shit out of people (though no one seems to go along with it). I love that the weather gets cooler and the rain starts to make its way over to sunny California.

Anyway, here’s a countdown of my top 5 favorite things to do here on the west coast during Halloween.

5. Halloween Party Crashing

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Seriously, this is probably one of the best times to do it. If you have the right costume, you can show up just about anywhere, and as long as you don’t show your face, you won’t be asked to leave.

I’ve only done this a handful of times because, well, parties out here in California vary from small gatherings to wild college parties that I have no desire to frequent.

Also, you know, a little disclaimer, I don’t feel like being held responsible for you doing this and getting in trouble, so uh, don’t do it. If you do, uh, leave my name out of it, ‘kay?

Cost:
Free (Though you might get arrested for trespassing or shot depending on where you live.)

4. Sinister Pointe

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Ah, Sinister Pointe. We have a love-hate relationship, and yet it still makes my list every year. Although billed as one of the most realistic Halloween horror attractions, it doesn’t even come close to it. That doesn’t make it any less fun, but it does both me when you pay PER attraction or event.

There are two things I really like about this place that keeps me coming back for more:

The maze is interactive. The first time I went was in 2013 during Christmas. That’s right; they had a special Halloween horror Christmas themed maze setup. If that wasn’t amazing enough, the moment we stepped inside, we were locked in a room with no place to go. The only way out was for me and my guest to simultaneously press two switches. The catch? The freaking button was inside a sink drain with the disposal running! Yikes!

Now, obviously, there was no disposal unit attached to the sink to grind our hands to bits. Did that stop us from freaking the fuck out? No way, and that’s what makes this place amazing. No other place (until recently) gave the customer something interactive and terrifying to do like this, at least not in this area, anyway.

The second thing is that you go through without anyone but you and your guest(s). There’s a small line outside that waits for you and your guest to get near the end of the maze, and then they let the next group in. This makes it more immersive, and if any of you have ever been to a “haunted” attraction, you know there is nothing worse than being packed like a sardine into the maze. It’s not fun. Not even a little bit.

Now, they have what they call games or events in which they lock two people (up to four) into a room and make you figure out how to get out all the while they’re fucking with you. Sound terrifying? Well, that’s because it is.

Cost:
$20 online per “event”
$23 at gate
$15 for re-entry to do it again
FREE parking (last time I was there)

3. Universal Halloween Horror Nights

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I only recently started going to this place in 2014, but I enjoyed it. The monsters aren’t particularly terrifying (at most places they aren’t, so no real surprise there). The mazes are done a lot better than Sinister Pointe, but the budget is a lot better.

There are rides and plenty of themed mazes, but the one I love so far is The Walking Dead. You literally walk through a town full of Zombies trying to eat your ass. Not in that porny kind of way, either. Like, full on brain eating amoeba style… except much more horrific.

It might be a little on the expensive side, especially if you don’t buy the tickets online in advance. However, if you like Halloween attractions, this is one place you don’t want to skip.

Cost:
$60 – $80 online
$85 at the gate
Parking Extra
Front of Line Tickets Extra

2. Disneyland

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It’s Disneyland. Depending on who you are, the scariest thing here could either be the ghosts of all those who died at the park wandering the streets or getting trapped on Cinderella’s Castle listening to It’s A Small World for an hour (that actually happened to me and it was terrifying!). For me, there’s nothing really all that scary there (except Cinderella’s Castle), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one hell of a place to visit for Halloween/Christmas. Why? Because Nightmare Before Christmas.

I fell in love with NBC the first time I saw it. Being a lover of music and all things horror, this one took me away. Oingo Boingo lead Danny Elfman rocked the score with his imaginative and original talents while backed by Henry Selicks wonderful vision of Tim Burton’s characters. The adaptation of this story in Disneyland isn’t as wonderful as the movie, but it comes pretty damn close.

What else is there? Well, the entire Disneyland experience. You have rides and shows. The usual stuff. If you’ve never been, it’s worth going for the entire package, not just the NBC adaptation. If you’ve been, then you already know it’s worth the visit at least once a year for Halloween.

Cost:
Expensive as fuck, and you still pay for parking. (unless you’re from California, then you get a discount AND you don’t have to pay for a hotel.)

1. Knott’s Scary Farm (Halloween Haunt)

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Knott’s. This place is great for only one reason, it’s cheesy as hell. Why is this a good thing? Because it has a nostalgic feel to it in so many ways. I’m 33 going on 100. I remember what horror movies were like in the 80s and 90s. That cheesy romp through fake blood and shitty acting found a place at KSF. Add to that the carnival-like feel along with the theme-park centric atmosphere, and you have yourself one fun night.

There’s also the relatively new Skeleton Key, which gives you a level of interaction that isn’t quite as involved as the one from Sinister Pointe, but there’s more of them and it’s still fun as hell. It costs additional to get your key pass, but it’s worth it at least once, and you get full access the entire night to all the Skeleton Key rooms.

Cost:
$39+ (again, buy online folks NOT at the gate)
$70 additional for front of the line access and skeleton key
$20 parking

Well, that’s it for now. I have a lot of stuff to post this Halloween, so be ready. In the meantime, where do you live and what’s your favorite thing to do in your area?

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Lets Talk About Honesty, Baby

Yeah, that's me. #censored
Yeah, that’s me. #censored

That’s right, you salacious little morsel of verbal sexiness. You vixen of verbiage. You punchy pornstar of prelection. Honesty, this one’s for you.

I want you to know, Honesty, that honestly, I love you. I adore you because you were there when I wasn’t being myself and someone needed to make sure to remind me of who I am. I cherish you because we love to hear the truth when all that we know are lies. I dig your candor, and I treasure your stray from the common glib. I love you because you are everything our everyday speech tries to be, and because you make each and every one of us a better person.

I have to be honest, though, you honestly aren’t what we want. You must realize that it’s important to be disingenuous when speaking to someone. Frankness hurts feelings, and so dishonesty is the only way we can enjoy the proclivities afforded to us by any of our fortuitous circumstances. I love to eat good food, so when someone tells me they prefer someone slimmer, it hurts. Most people call that fat shaming. And honestly, Honesty, that’s why we avoid you. Standing at 5’7, I’ve been told by many women that they prefer a man who is much taller, I don’t like it. Is that considered height shaming? Probably, because some of us don’t like it, even if it’s the truth, we don’t want to hear it.

Some say the truth hurts, and the truth is, we don’t love you unconditionally, Honesty. I know it hurts, but you must understand that we only love you when your words sweeten our moods or brighten our days. We only love you when you lift our hearts and tickle our spirits. Most of all, Honesty, we don’t know that we even love you. So, I wrote you a poem, heavily inspired by the movie we love the most: 10 Things I Hate About You

Honesty…

We love the way you make us feel
And the way you make us smile
We love the way you look at us
Even how you love our style

We love your big dumb comments
And the way you read our mind
We love you so much that it makes us sick
It even makes us rhyme

We love the way you’re always true
We love you to the sky
Because we love it when you make us laugh
Even more because it makes us try

But honestly, we love the way you’re not around
And the fact that you didn’t stop by
But mostly we love the way we don’t love you…
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Sorry, Honesty, I was just being honest. For the sake of humanity, we cannot continue to lie about our relationship. If someone has to be honest, I only prefer them to say things I like to hear, that’s just how I feel. I know honesty is, honestly, about the truth and not about what we want. So don’t let someone tell me I’m not thin enough for them (fat shaming). Don’t let someone tell me I’m not tall enough (height shaming). Don’t let someone tell me I’m not pretty enough (face shaming) or rich enough (wealth shaming). Don’t let them tell me I’m not sweet enough or mean enough (personality shaming). Don’t let them tell me I’m not young enough (age shaming) or smart enough (intelligence shaming). Don’t tell us, don’t tell us, don’t tell us. We like to live the way we live, no matter what, no matter if it makes us feel mad or sad or generally bad. We don’t care… because honestly, we don’t want the truth. Not even a little bit, not even at all.

Sincerely, and with love,

Jay

The Journey Never Ends

The ending isn't a beginning, but a continuation...
The ending isn’t a beginning, but a continuation…

Today, I see bovines on bicycles in the street. Some of them are on unicycles and others aren’t on any type of cycle at all. Instead, they’re dancing near a band called Bull Dogs playing rock music. None of them sees me, though. I’m as invisible to them as they are to the rest of the world.

That’s just how my life is, now. Yesterday, there were literally bullets with butterfly wings floating outside my window. I’ve always loved that song by Smashing Pumpkins, so there were no doubt those little creatures would show up eventually. I wish I could’ve opened the window and let them in to play, but it’s sealed.

It’s always something different. At least that much I can be certain about. Like one day, I had Popples visit me. Another day, the world outside became icy slopes of Neapolitan ice cream. I watched children gorge while parents, in a moment of weakness to whimsy, slid down those slopes in trashcan tops, laughing along with their friends. Two weeks ago, I met SpongeBob and friends. It was amazing.

Sometimes, it’s not so amazing, though. Sometimes I can’t eat my food because it’s rotten with maggots crawling over the meal. Another time, the city was destroyed and nothing but monsters roamed the fiery streets.

None of those things compared to the man I met three days ago. He was a dark figure standing in my room. He had broad shoulders, and wore a long black trench coat. There was a hat atop his head, and the shadow cast from it blackened his face so that I couldn’t see him. However, I could see his smile, and I most definitely heard his frighteningly gloomy voice.

He said, “Hello, Sarah.”

My parents always taught me not to be rude, even to strangers. However, they also taught me to be wary and careful. “Hi.”

“So, what are you seeing today?”

“How did you know?”

“I know everything.”

“If you know everything, then you should know what I see.”

He laughed. It was a scary cold laugh. “Clever girl.”

I said, “What do you want?”

“Nothing. Just waiting.”

“For what?”

“Oh, this and that,” he said, and moved into the sunlight. His face was still so black I couldn’t see any features. “Please, tell me. What do you see?”

“Kittens.”

“Kittens? As in baby cats?”

I nodded.

“Are they cute?”

“The fluffiest kind. They all have tiny little meows, and they’re doing kitten things.” I said, and looked out the window. “Some of them are biting ears, while other are pouncing their brother or sister. They all have huge eyes, but I really like their cute little meows. It’s the best.”

When I looked back, he was gone. So were the kittens. I haven’t seen the kittens since, but that’s okay. The bovines I see today make me smile, and perhaps feel a little warm inside.

As I listen to the Bull Dogs play my dad’s favorite album, Never Mind the Bollocks, which they pronounce Bullocks, I look over to see my mom, dad, and little brother visit me. They’re not alone, though. That big scary man is back.

“Why did you bring him here?” I ask, but they ignore me. They don’t always, but sometimes. Instead, I ask him directly, “Don’t you have some other kid to scare? I’m not afraid of ghosts.”

“Who said I was a ghost?”

“I dunno. I guess ’cause you look like one.”

“I can’t argue with that,” he says. “What do you see today?”

“Why do you care?” I ask, but immediately regret it. My dad’s voice rings in my ears telling me to respect everyone. “I’m sorry. I don’t see anything anymore. Just you and my family.”

Suddenly, I feel my dad’s hand on mine. He’s warm. Really warm. My mom kisses my forehead, and I watch them sit next to the bed. My little brother plays with his toy truck, unaware that everyone is sad.

I look at myself laying on that bed. It had been a long time since I saw myself, and I don’t like what I see right now. I have pasty skin, blue lips, and matted sweaty hair sticking to my face. I wish I could look better for my family, but there’s nothing I can do.

The dark man tells me, “I believe I’m done waiting.”

I look up at him, and back at my family as they continue to grieve. I want to say goodbye, but I can’t. I know they won’t hear me. It’s okay, though, because I left each of them a letter to read when I finally left them. In them, I tell them about all the wonderful things I saw while in the hospital, leaving out all the scary things. I tell them how much I love them, and that they’ll be okay. I tell them goodbye, and that we’ll meet again someday.

“Love you guys,” I tell them before starting my new journey.

Memories of the Beholder

Nothing can stop you if you have the strength.
Nothing can stop you if you have the strength.

I Spy with My Little Eye was a game my dad used to play with me when I was a little girl. We’d go out to different places and try to find new and interesting things. If one of us found something, we’d holler, “I spy!” We did that for several years until I turned twelve.

That was the year the doctors diagnosed me with primary intraocular cancer; the kind that starts in the eye. I wasn’t just lucky to have one eye diagnosed, but both. The doctors never knew why, and no amount of praying could give us the answers we needed or wanted. The only good news was that with an early catch there was a 30% chance I would survive, and a 15% chance the cancer wouldn’t resurface.

With my life measured in mere percentages, my dad did something spectacular that summer before they removed my eyes. He took me on a road trip around the U.S. to show me as many amazing things as he could in just two short months.

In those few weeks, we saw the Tulip fields in Washington, the velvet ones were my favorite. We climbed in Zion National park, but my father protested most of the time with heaping breaths. I got to see the Prismatic Spring in Wyoming, which reminded me of the mood ring I used to wear back then. We also went to Thor’s Well, because he was my favorite hero. Turns out, being there in all these places made me realize who the real hero in my life was, and that was my father.

We saw many more things, and when we returned, they admitted me to the hospital. A few hours later, I woke to a black world, which was the worst thing imaginable. There are varying degrees of blindness, and because they completely remove my eyes, there was no chance for me to see anything. No blurry images. No snapshots of light if I look into the sun. Absolutely nothing.

It was hard at first, but I adjusted as well as anyone could at that age. By the time I was a freshman in high school, people started to accept me for me. To some, I was No-eyed Nora, but to the people who truly mattered to me, I was still just plain Nora. I didn’t deny that I was special, and everyone still treated me as if I needed special attention. And it was true. However, they continued to talk to me like I hadn’t changed, and that’s all that mattered.

I managed to graduate from high school, and with a little help, college, too. This was in part due to my father who had taught me to fight for what I wanted. He told me that I was the same as everyone else, and the only difference was that I had to work a little harder. It paid off, of course, because I almost made valedictorian and was offered (but declined) a job offer for a well-respected company. Instead, I built my own business to help rehabilitate the visually impaired.

A few months after the launch of my company, my father became ill. Apparently, cancer was a destiny that burdened our family. Unlike me, however, they didn’t catch my father’s disease in time, and he suffered several months until finally passing. It was hard on all of us, but it was especially difficult on me because I had him to thank for all the wonderful visual memories he gave to me in the time leading up to my blindness.

After that, I became busier than I ever imagined. I would have never guessed that a blind woman leading a rehab company for the blind would take so well to people. Business boomed, and by twenty-nine, I had seventeen clinics around the country with three more to be opened later that year.

Despite all that I accomplished, I still felt like something was missing as I sat in my office one morning. My fingers played along a scratch in the wood of my desk, and I thought about how I had exceeded many of my own expectations. The problem was that there was an emptiness eating at me. This lead to a sudden and inexplicable depression, which was something I was not familiar with. So, I resolved to head to the break room to grab a cup of Joe and perhaps find my way out of that unfortunate funk.

As I walked through the office, I heard the soft sound of the air whistling through the vents. Employees talked to patients over the phone, and some talked to each other. A few of them had music playing at their desks. With everything dark, the place was damned colorful.

About halfway to the break room, something caught my attention. My chest thumped hard, and the swell of blood in my ears pulsated loud, deafening the world around me. At that moment, it wasn’t anything I heard. Neither was it anything I felt. It was something I saw.

Light. I hadn’t seen light in seventeen years, but there was no denying it. When you lose your vision, there are few things you forget. After a while, colors blend or fade from memory, faces of people you know and love become strangers, and recollections sometimes betray you. Not that day.

I turned my head left, and walked with my hand pushed out. Normally, I walked through the office without a problem because I took a path with which I was entirely familiar. Just then, however, this light drew me away from my comfort and instead to a window. I put my hand upon the cool glass, and I felt every bit of that connection: the smooth surface, the way it spread my skin, and the warmer spots where my knuckles didn’t quite touch the glass.

I could smell it, too. It smelled dull, but clean. Then, suddenly, there was another smell. It was sweet, like honeydew or… tulips. It was the smell of a flower, but it was so much more than that. The smell was colorful, and if I had to guess, it was the smell of violet. A fresh scent of color, which soon turned into a vision I was not prepared to see.

It was as if my eyes had returned. Ahead of me I saw a thick row of violet tulips playing gracefully in the intermittent summer breeze among other rows of yellow, red, orange, and green. The sun hung high in the blue sky, and joined with it were clouds so thin they were like threads of smoke.

I looked down, and in my hand was one of the flowers. The wind blew, and a single petal wiggled and took flight. I watched it twist up into the sky, and pass by my father’s smiling face. He looked down upon me, and it was then I realized I was a little girl again. His lips moved, but I heard nothing but the thumping of my own heart. He put his hand on my face, and I felt streams of tears pour from my eyes.

He moved his hand to my shoulder, and knelt down. He laughed a little, and his eyes laughed with him. Those upturned crescent moons were portals to his azure eyes, and they, too, cried along with me.

I thought for a long time I would forget the time he took me to Washington to the see the flowers, but I hadn’t. I remembered the moment perfectly. It was the moment I started crying because of how beautiful it was and that I would never get a chance to see it again. I remember my father crying with me, and we did that for some time.

After a while, I felt another hand on my shoulder, but it wasn’t my father’s. The light, the tulips, the sweet smell of life faded, and everything returned to black. Everything became as I had known it for so long.

I grabbed the hand holding onto me, and I felt the small mole near the knuckle. It was Rose.

She said, “Are you okay, Nora?”

“I—I’m okay, I think.”

“What happened?”

“I guess I was just remembering something,” I said, and felt a smile stretch across my lips.

“That’s great,” she exclaimed as she helped me stand. “What was it?”

“It was what I’ve been looking for this whole time,” I said, and squeezed her hand finally feeling complete. “I know what I need to do, now.”