It’s that time of year again. Autumn. Colorful leaves. Pumpkin everything. Most of all it means, Halloween! I’ve been watching horror films and with two episodes of The Walking Dead under my belt, I can say that I’m ready for it.
I have loved horror, gore, and ghost stories since I was a toddler. I love witches and vampires, werewolves and monsters. Really anything spooky and supernatural. The creepy and the spooky delights me in a way that not much else does. Being scared is fun (since it’s all just pretend)! The dark and creepy never fail to get a squeal out of me.
But I love zombies, most of all. There is nothing more terrifying to me than zombies. Gauging from the popularity of zombie movies in the last 50 years and even more so recently with The Walking Dead, I’m not the only one.
What is it about zombies, though, that people love so much?
Zombies have been a legend for centuries and embedded themselves into pop culture. In the past decade, it’s as if the obsession has taken hold as intensely as an actual zombie virus.
Most, if not all of zombie stories start out the same. Some disease gets released and for whatever reason people die but many reanimate and develop the taste for human flesh.
The formula is as follows:
That right there is a legit magical, mathematical equation produced by the leading zombie science experts. It’s the basis for all scenarios that produce the living dead.
The obsession with zombies may seem like it’s all in good fun, but I think there is a deeper meaning to our obsession. It goes into the depths of our psyches. Death is a part of life. We all die. Regardless of who we are or what we have, whether young or old. We will die.
Tsk, tsk. Such a pesky inconvenience. It’s a fact that is always nagging at us in the back of our minds. It’s tragic, it’s unfair, the grief from losing a loved one is almost unbearable. We don’t know how the hell to make sense of it all. So we celebrate it with wakes and elaborate funerals. We trivialize it by the way of Halloween and silly slasher movies. When death is something that the living partake in, it makes us feel like we have some control over it. Death makes us desperate and what helps us cope is to put pretty flowers on graves and hang plastic skeletons from porches.
And we’ve created zombies. They are the representation of death. It’s something we hate and fear. It’s death reimagined in the most horrible of ways: rotting human corpses, reanimated and roaming around our physical world. They exist alongside us, reminding us of our own mortality.
We take it a step further by turning zombies into villains that have a hunger for living flesh. In real life, the fear of death preys upon the minds and hearts of the living and we know that eventually, death will consume us all.
The fascination with zombies (death) is only one part of the obsession equation. There is perhaps a more important part of the whole zombies roaming the Earth thing. It’s because zombies will usher in, dun dun dun….the APOCALYPSE.
Oh, how we love hearing and seeing those words: Zombie Apocalypse. We become so overrun by zombies that the entire mother effing world shuts down!
So here it is. Zombies happen then the world goes to shit. Society as we know it no longer exists. Our purpose in life now is to just survive. We are reverting back to a more primitive way of life. We get to fight and scavenge, seek out some shelter, build fires with our hands and eat beans out of a can. It’s like one long, terrifying camping trip.
In uber modernized societies, I believe there is a secret longing to go back to a more simple way of life. (Sans zombies of course.) Many of us are in this 9 to 5 grind of mediocre jobs. We have bills to pay. Perhaps never ending debt, societal obligations and culture restrictions. A human’s need for safety is satiated by routine and structure but we may have imprisoned ourselves in corporate cubicles, basic rights, and freedoms owned by the government, slaves to the system, Big Brother, and so on.
We may feel like zombies ourselves. But it’s by facing any real life zombies and by slaughtering them, by blowing their heads off, by wailing on one, bashing in its skull. Regardless of how violent and bloody it may be, there’s a rush, a release, a relief to kill death. To conquer it. To say, “Not today death. I overcame you. I’ve survived. You’re not going to eat me alive. I win.”
If we could do this, we could be set free from the endless cycle of the mundane. We get to kill what we’ve become thus setting ourselves free to become human again, to become alive again.
We’re all longing for real purpose. It’s a need to live for something more. We want our purpose to be a part of a fledgling band of humans. Sole survivors among men. A ragtag team of survivors that get to be the star of the show for once. The living become important because it is up to us to survive, rebuild society, repopulate the Earth. We get to truly matter.
I’m sure though that if it came down to it, most of us would kill ourselves as soon as we knew life would never be the same. No cable. No smartphones. No internet. No stocked grocery shelves and GASP! no Starbucks.
To have to fight and forage for what we need. Most of us wouldn’t make it a day. We would be resorting to eating people faster than the reanimated corpses.
I’d like to think I’d become a major zombie killing badass. But if I saw a horde of zombies coming my way, I’d shit my pants and probably die of fright. I wouldn’t even have to resort to jumping off of a cliff.
Even if someone does become the hero, surviving the zombie hordes until they grow old and gray, sad to say, they’re going to die anyway. But at least, it was a life lived with an animal like purpose. Because many of us, on our death bed, have something to regret. We may regret not marrying that person, going to that school instead of the other one, passing on that job, settling.
In a zombie apocalypse, we’re all back to square one. We’re all living, once again, like our secluded, nomadic ancestors. We all get to go back to the beginning and start over. We get a reset button.
Since we’re starting over in a world where society doesn’t exist, there is no pressure to live up to certain expectations. There are no big dreams anymore. No aspirations to become a famous actor or musician or award-winning novelist.
No time to get our hands on the latest fashions. No coveting someone’s hair or clothing, no wishing we had a bigger house or a vacation home in the Bahamas. No jewels to adorn ourselves, no fur coats for show, no vintage wine collections. No creature comforts, let alone the superficial and trivial.
We will all have better things to do with our time. We’ll be fighting to live instead of sitting for hours watching reality TV. Our minds will be preoccupied with more important things.
Who gives a fuck what the Kardashians are up to when the undead are trying to eat your face off!
Every day I find myself doing the same thing. I make big plans. I draw up my maps. I pencil things in on my calendar. I have blocks of time set aside to be productive.
I ease into my mornings. I can’t rush it. I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I don’t want to spook any inspiration that may be shyly hiding around the corner. I have some story ideas, a few poems, even a couple of drawings swirling around in my head, ready to be put down on paper.
I have writer meetups that I’ve RSVP’ed to. I have approaching deadlines for submissions to literary journals.
But I take 2 hours to drink my coffee. I get on Twitter and Facebook and catch up on the latest news. Sometimes I turn on the TV for background noise.
Before I know it, though, it’s the late afternoon and I haven’t done a damn thing. I get around to eating breakfast. More like brunch at this point.
I find myself popping on and off Facebook. I scroll aimlessly down the page and I realize I’m looking at the same things that I JUST looked at.
Then I notice the sun is going down and I’ve yet to do anything that most normal adult humans would consider productive. I think about exercising but skip it instead. I’m tired and disappointed. I have errands that I should have taken care of earlier. I have a to-do list ready for each day. It’s the same one over and over and new things get tacked on every day.
But what do I do? I leave it for Future Kristin. Future Kristin is, of course, me in the future but a much better version of me. She’s basically a superhero.
Her superpowers include being well rested, more energetic, staying calm and cool. She’s smarter, more accomplished, more motivated, more creative.
Future Kristin has already written that novel and/or that chapbook of poems. She goes to meet up with other writers and attends readings and workshops. She has submitted to literary contests because she meets deadlines. Future Kristin is a go getter and she gets things done. She is a responsible adult and has her shit together. She’s self-sufficient. She’s the kind of girl that people actually want to hang out with and not feel awkward as shit around.
All in all, Future Kristin is a fucking badass. That’s why I always leave everything to her. She’ll be able to handle it better than what I will.
Because present day me is frumpy and tired and wearing sweat pants that may as well be a second skin. I breathe heavily after walking up one flight of stairs. I dream about eating ice cream—SO MUCH ice cream—every day. Future Kristin has found some way around that obsession. I just don’t know her secret yet.
I want to become her eventually. Yet I put her off and I don’t know why. But she’s there, waiting for me. She’ll wait because she’s patient and awesome. But I’m not her yet.
I’ve been trying to find that meteorite or that radioactive spider that will eventually turn me into Future Kristin. For now, I’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way, through hard work, building endurance and self-discipline. Until then…
In the last few years, I have opted to not sit at a desk while I’m on my laptop. The conventional computer desk/chair setup causes this uncomfortable ball of tension in my trapezius muscle. Instead, I sit on the couch, a comfy chair or on my bed. But often times I have a bad habit of contorting my body into something very awkward.
My neck is at a downward slant, arms are bowed upwards and my back becomes a turtle’s shell. I’m pretty sure I’m giving myself osteoporosis as we speak.
It’s even worse with my iPhone. Standing or sitting, my body ends up in the same stance.
I’m afraid I’m going to look like this when I’m old:
I may even devolve into something truly frightening.
So remember kids, practice healthier postures and maybe take a break from that smartphone, tablet or whatever piece of technology you have that is warping your spine.
Or we’re all going to usher in a new age of dinosaurs.
Being the baby of the family should be a pretty sweet gig. You get whatever you want. No one can pick on you. They can but they get in trouble and you don’t. You are made to feel like the most important and awesome person in the world.
From birth, I was made of gold and existed at the center of the very universe itself. I was a most unique and special creature.
Since I was the baby, I was suffocated well into, well, sometimes now. I was my mother’s baby in particular. When asked a question someone would answer for me. When I went on a field trip, my mother chaperoned. When kids picked on me, my mother like a big mama bear came to school to make sure I was never picked on again. I could do no wrong.
My family was fiercely protective of me. How could this little helpless dainty child take care of herself? I need to be taken care of! I’m the baby!
I was made to feel like I was the best thing ever. I was the cutest and the sweetest. The smartest and most talented.
Even though I wasn’t allowed to do much outside of home and school, I could do anything I wanted to do. The sky was the limit.
When everyone treated me like I was precious, I truly thought I was special. I thought I was meant for something great. Me and me alone. Like some fabled hero—half Greek god, half human—whose destiny is written in the stars. Those special few that make it into the history books. I was to be one of those people. I was supposed to be the greatest, most awesome human being ever!
I didn’t have to try too hard to be great. I was already great. I didn’t have to work very hard for that applause. The clapping and praise started before I even opened my mouth to sing or put pencil to paper.
As some could imagine it is a huge let down to realize I’m not the greatest talent ever. I actually have to put in the hard work to be. I have to practice. I have to study.
But-but-but I thought I was already the best? Nope.
I had to face the fact that there are tons of people out there that put my work to shame. It is an unsettling feeling when everything I put an effort into fell short of what I thought I could already do.
I have picked up a lot of interests along the way in life. All of which exists in the creative realm. I’m okay at some and better at others. I have a knack for the ones that I’m better at but I could sum all those ventures up into one word: Meh.
I had always wanted to be a prima ballet and taking ballet lessons was disappointing. By then I was 19 years old and what the hell was the point? What for the exercise? Pffft!
I really can’t sing (Terrible, terrible singing voice by the way). I’m too much of a damn nervous introvert to be a great actor. It takes a lot of equipment and resources to become a better than a mediocre filmmaker. As well as having the drive to come up with consistent projects. This also goes for continuously creating artwork.
It is a frustrating existence to have high standards for myself. An ungodly height I haven’t reached nor will I ever.
I fall short of my goals and standards. Every day I fail. I haven’t fulfilled my great epic destiny yet. No crown earned by pulling a sword out of a stone. No bestowing of godlike status for completing great trials.
Everything is out of my reach. I’ve placed it across the sky at a staggering height. I have it all there, idealistic and perfect. Then as I start my ascension to grab hold of something, my insecurities undermine my efforts.
With my shaky attempt, I don’t even come close to clasping on. My fingers slip on nothingness and I usually fall back to Earth with a loud, sickening thud. Each time though I’m never surprised.
I feel great betrayal when I’ve been told for over half of my life that I’m so great and I could do everything and anything. I tried (and maybe still trying) to do it all. That’s the thing, though, a person has to start with something and maybe more will fall into place. BUT very few people can have a thousand spinning plates and keep ’em all spinning.
Juggling too many projects at once, something is bound to fail.
Yet the most disappointing part of my story is that I don’t stretch myself thin. Thinking I could do everything and anything, I couldn’t decide on one thing to start with. I really don’t have all my plates spinning, if any. As I’ve aged I knew I had to go after something—anything! But I’ve been so confused about what to put my heart into that I put my heart into nothing.
Like I stated earlier, I made some effort with all my interests but couldn’t put my all into them. I can’t seem to put everything that I have into something and then fight tooth and nail in achieving it.
I lay awake at night just thinking about all the things I want to pursue but lack the discipline in doing so.
I’ve been drawing since age 2 and writing stories since age 5. Drawing cartoons and especially writing are the only things that have stayed consistent interests. Dare I say, passions? Even with writing being of the greatest interest to me, it is still something I fight with every day to do. I don’t do it every day. I try. For me, it’s still hard work to put in the hard work.
When it comes to my writing I should already be great at it. I should have already been a successful published author. One of my books should have been made it a movie by now!
Here I am, almost 30 years old and I’ve barely shared any of my work. And that was only in several short-lived classes that I eventually dropped. I lack drive and motivation. I lack a deep hunger for achieving a dream and reaching a goal. I lack something that I can’t explain and this only adds to my frustrations.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to start and how to pursue. I’m still feeling my way through the dark and still on shaky legs finding my footing. I panic with each birthday that passes.
My identity has been determined by where I fall in the birth order of my siblings. I hold a special place in my family because I’m the youngest. But I feel this is where my specialness ends. Where do I fit in with the rest of the world?
I’m a grown up baby, so now what?