Lessons Learned From A Haunted House

Ah, October! Season of so many things dark and horrific! Everything that is beautiful! The one holiday I adore! How it makes me reminisce, back to my younger days, working in a haunted house. And the things I have learned from it.

After transitioning high schools, adjustment was tough. I was friendless again, and trying not to make all the stupid mistakes I’d made in junior high. So, what was a poor girl to do? Be nice to everyone, rule number one. Second, try to join some clubs. Through my short-lived association with the drama club that year, I found out that the local haunted house needed actors. Well, having been a fan of suspense and horror for the last couple years, I was quick to fall for the idea.

Haunted House

Yes, the haunted house in question looked just like this.

At the meeting I was directed to, however, were not a bunch of drama geeks. Nah, these were the kids I’d always been afraid of—and admired a bit. The rebels. The goths and emos. And there I was, probably the only person not wearing black!

But I got in with ease, and devoured the cast manual. Though I failed in my first role as an asylum patient, I was given a new role within two weeks. Zombie.

And that was when I met her. My haunted house role model. A very short goth in her early twenties, who didn’t take crap from anyone. She was the queen of that room, and we all appropriately worshiped her. Her motto, which I instantly absorbed? “Suck it up and deal with it.” Or, sometimes, “Go hard or go home.”

I only got to work with her a few weeks before my throat gave out and I had to be transferred to a quieter role, but those weeks formed my perception of my work at the haunted house. According to the owners, I became one of the best, most versatile actresses they had. I didn’t whine if I wasn’t given the role I wanted. And I did my best, every single night of every single season for five years. I got bruised, cut, groped, suffered allergic reactions, and lost my voice repeatedly. It didn’t matter. I sucked it up, and dealt with it. I emulated her take-no-crap attitude.

Since then, of course, I’ve learned. You can’t always suck it up and deal with it. Sometimes, you can’t give your all. But sometimes, you can. And when you do, you shine. Heck, you’re freaking made of moonbeams!

As to the other lesson in the plural title of this post, you know why I love horror, even though I’ve now got a pretty permanent fear of the dark? It’s looking that fear right in the face. Acknowledging it. I’m facing something that’s meant to scare me, and staring it down. Telling it that it can’t. Proving I’m stronger than that. Pushing back against my fear with everything I’ve got.

Beyond anything else, I think those were the most important lessons I learned in those five years.

I Am The (Anti)Hero

In the past, my two friends and I (best friend and sister) have known our roles. My beloved sister was the Hero—champion of justice, natural leader, Gryffindor. Our best friend, the Sidekick—the loyal Hufflepuff with all the best lines. And me, the Antihero—the brooding loner and pure Slytherin. Not that I had a problem with it. We all knew it was true.

And, in the craziest way, I clung to that identity. Antihero. Doing what’s right, either for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way. Free to leave the side of the Hero whenever I see fit. Cheerfully walking on the edge for the sake of keeping it interesting. After all, being a straight hero is boring.

Alas, how times change. The Hero took a fall.

And my three roommates (one of which is my original best friend, the other two of which have rapidly taken up similar places) have decided for a change of archetypes. One that does not include my sister. And this time, I have been voted the hero and leader.

This is what happens when all your roommates are not only nerds, but writers.

And I think I like it.

In so many profound ways, I need to rethink my life.

Guess What, Guys? Depression!

Should I sound so excited about this? Maybe not. Okay, let’s try again. Rewind.

Alas!

How Depression, Like a Thief in the Night, has been Ruining My Life!

Oh Woe Is Me!

That’s better. Appropriate angst and melodrama, which are staples of this blog which must not be forgotten. Ever. So, throw away whatever preconceptions you have. Instead, think of a dark and stormy night. The wind, howling. The rain, pounding. But within my basement apartment, the sounds of the storm are muted. Instead, the most dramatic, angsty music plays as I sit in a corner of my dark closet, the bedroom itself lit only by the light of a single candle. I am appropriately bemoaning my fate. Got it? Good.

So, with the setting appropriately made, let’s tell the story.

I was diagnosed with depression yesterday! SCORE!

Okay, that sounds wrong. Depression really isn’t a good thing to have. It freaking sucks. But, on the other hand, know what this means? I don’t have to keep wondering what’s wrong with me! I know. That, in itself, is a huge achievement. (And I think the attempts at humor are just a placebo from the Prozac).

So, now, when I’m hiding in my closet, listening to depressing music, wearing all black, forcing my cat to cuddle with me, with a hood pulled over my head and writing the most dramatic poetry I can think of (in the dark, too. That takes talent, let me tell you!), I at least know the reason. And now I have a convenient label with which I can get away with everything! “Oh, I’m sorry I hit you. I can’t help it. I have depression!” or “I have depression! I’ll yell at you if I want to! I’ll skip work if I want to! STOP JUDGING ME! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME!” And of course, this will not involve self-harm. That’s too mainstream. I’ll eat ice cream, thank you very much. Oh, it’s probably a kind you’ve never heard of. Chunky Monkey for life! Because YOLO.

Yes. In my heavy-handed attempts to be at least somewhat amusing, I did just descend into such depths of horror, and am properly ashamed. I’m not sure I can ever forgive myself for that. I will hang my head in shame, now. Forgive me while I retreat to my corner of angst. Or maybe someone else’s closet, where I can stay long enough to start growing mushrooms. Yeah. That sounds like a good plan.

Excuse me. I need to go cultivate some fungus, and find some meaning in my life.