Monday, October 22, 2012

Witches, Goblins and Ax Murderers, Oh My!

I know a lot of freaks!  And I say that with all due respect.  The freaks I'm referring to are those who celebrate Halloween like it's the Second Coming.  Until recently, I didn't know how many of my friends share this as their most favorite holiday.  They can't wait to put out scary decorations and props.  They live for scary movies, haunted houses, trails of terror and spending the night in a cemetery. 

I get how Halloween is fun for kids.  There's the haunted houses and trick or treat.  There's a lot of cool candy to be had for merely dressing up in a costume.

I get the whole costume thing.  Who can resist putting on something different and becoming someone new for a few hours.  We actors do that all the time.  It can be addictive.

What I don't get is why people will spend perfectly good money to go to a "haunted house" where actors are running around dressed in scary (or mostly gory) costumes. It seems like the more blood and guts the better. The victims walk though hallways where they're grabbed, and surprised and frightened by chainsaws, scary music, or they're own adrenaline. 

What is it about that adrenaline rush that lures us? Is the fear of death something that makes us feel more alive?  

If you really want to be scared, you don't have to wait for Halloween.  You can live on this adrenaline all the time. It's simple.  It's called life.  Here are some things I find pretty frightening and none of them involve actors with painted on body parts seeping. 

1. Write a rent check four days before you have the funds in your account to cover it.  About that third day you'll be making deals with God to make sure the deposit goes in before the check gets presented.

2. Let the condom break, or don't use one at all.  That's enough to keep you on your toes until you or your partner come back with a clean bill of health. 

3. Don't stop at a gas station out in the middle of nowhere when your gas gage reads empty.   You'll be doing some praying as you approach your destination. 

4. Tell your boss you want a raise and if not, you'll be turning in your resignation.  This will have your heart pounding for a few days until you receive your answer. 

5. Have a teenage daughter.  This will provide an endless supply of fear. 

So, you see, there are things a lot more scary than actors in bad makeup.  Think of them next time you feel the need to run for your life. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Are We What We Watch on TV?

You know the old saying, "You are what you eat?"  This takes the premise that if you eat good, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, you're going to be healthy.  If you eat junk food, you're going to feel junky.  It makes sense, right?

Is the same true for what we watch on television?  I wonder.

I'm concerned because as the fall television season began I found myself really looking forward to certain shows that I can't seem to get enough of.  A list of those shows would include Dexter, The Walking Dead, Revenge, 666 Park Avenue (which I quickly gave up), and American Horror Story.

Now I'm no psychologist, but that list gives me pause.  On the surface it would seem I'm obsessed with serial killers, sociopaths, demonic possession, zombies, and more demonic possession. 

Actually these things give me nightmares.  I want to turn away and not watch, but the writing is so damned good on these shows.  Why does it seem the best shows on television contain some slice of society considered undesirable.

Some of the best shows are Sons of Anarchy, about a gang of outlaws, Breaking Bad, about making Meth, Nurse Jackie, about a drug addicted Nurse, and then all the above I named.  Boardwalk Empire is a hit and is about the mafia.  Look at how well The Sopranos did.

We as a society are obsessed with the bad guys, so much we make them good guys.  The good guys like Harry's Law, don't hit the right demographic.

I don't know about you, but I'm worried about my television karma.  I hearby sentence myself to an hour of the Hallmark Channel to balance my chi.

At least I'm not watching Honey Boo Boo.  Now there's something to have nightmares over.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Breaking the Silence

I never intended this blog to become negative, or bitter, or any of those things I don't want to be. Unfortunately I think some of that has happened, both to me and the blog. While I've been feeling bad for feeling bad, I have failed to write anything. A self imposed punishment of sorts. An isolation, which I seem so good at. Ask my friends I keep avoiding.

I've always wanted this blog to be lighthearted and fun, but sometimes thought provoking and reflecting. Those things that are me at my best. Lately I haven't been so much my best, so I didn't have it to bring. A very good friend reminded me yesterday that I had to own it and move on.

As you can probably tell from the last few entries, I've been going through an existential crisis, or midlife crisis, depending on how you look at it. Either way, it has SUCKED. It robbed me of my self confidence and my self worth. Everything seemed to be a crisis and it all seemed too much to bear. That straw that breaks the camel's back really can be as insignificant as a straw, or a late payment on utility bill that leaves you in the dark for a few hours.

A few days ago I ran into an old acquaintance I haven't seen in about five years. After a conversation of about ten minutes he turned to me and asked "what happened to you?" "You used to be so self confident." It was like a smack in the face. Even when I was unsure of myself, I was more confident than I have been lately.

I know enough about self esteem and confidence to know it doesn't go away over night. It's a process. It's a gradual chipping away of our self image. I think my decline began with getting laid off, gaining thirty pounds, finding no one out in the job market seemed to want me, going back to an old job making not much more than half of what I used to make doing the same job. Being told I wasn't worth my old salary, etc.... Yes, I still have some anger. It's the only thing sometimes that keeps me from giving up all together.

I know I'm not alone in this. Many Americans are facing the same circumstances. I know I've faired better than many, and I am grateful, but still the anger comes.

In the midst of all this lately, a very dear friend of mine decided she could no longer fight the good fight. It had become too much. She decided to end her life. I don't know what the straw was that finally broke her back, and probably never will know. That scares me. What straw might still await me? Could she have held on for one more day to see if it got better? Would it have been better the next day? I don't know. I only hope she's found peace now.

I had a couple of great conversations with friends lately and I realized the power resides with me. Only I can make the changes necessary to put my life where I want it to be. It sounds so elementary, but in the midst of the darkness, it seems so big. So, I gather up all my strength and I take a step forward. The first step is that I stop apologizing and asking forgiveness for my life. Then I start living it the way I want to live it. On my own terms.

I can't say I'm done with my funk, but I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I also know I have some choices I need to make. Some things in my life are not working. I think it's time to start exploring the alternatives. This is where faith comes in.

I've landed on my feet lots of times in life and I'm gathering up the faith to believe I will again. Giving up is not an option for me right now. Becoming stronger because of my struggles is.