Sunday, April 27, 2014


So, I have a bit of an embarrassing admission to make.

I know it’s not the norm, or cool, or mature.

I love being scared.

In fact, often, when my housemate, Bek Sibenaler  jumps out from the door she’s been hiding behind for 15 minutes and screams at me and scares that absolute shit out of me, I screech a little, but then I jump around clapping my hands and laughing like I’ve just won Tattslotto. I’ve been known to yell “YAAAY!” Who the fuck says “yay”?
It’s not just that the adrenalin is pumping and everything just got REALLY EXCITING, it’s that the surprise makes me really really happy. Sometimes when I get a little tired or bored during the day- like during assembly- I re-live the experience in my head, and find myself grinning ear to ear and making a quiet little clap. Which must look odd to the kids, I just hope the unlikely hope that the principal has said something worthy of a golf applause.

As a mature, responsible woman with years of experience and insight, I’d like to blame this weird fetish on my parents.

Firstly; The Man From The Moors.

We had a fabulous freedom growing up in a small country town. My cousins and I would walk back and forth from my nan n pop’s to home and my brother, friends and I would just roam around trying to cause havoc where none was to found. My dad had an old army coat and horrible mask that he would don if he knew there were any night wonderings, especially if my aunt was involved – he and his brothers liked nothing more than to scare her. He would jump out at us yelling and turn us all into soft piles of scrambled intestines on the ground. I loved it so much. Apparently, when asked what I wanted for my 6th birthday party, I asked for “The Man From The Moors”.  I hadn’t figured out it was dad. So there were10 or so little girls sitting around the table outside in the Autumn sun, enjoying fairybread n chocolate crackles, when out jumped The Man From The Moors. I am told that amidst the screams and upturned chairs that I remained in my seat, clapping and yelling; “He’s here!”

Growing up, my parents often had social gatherings. They involved cards and cool snacks and alcohol and music and we kids were allowed to do what ever we wanted to keep ourselves entertained. This usually involved Star Wars or scary movies- the small town of Rochester was brewing quite the bunch of little Sci Fi Goths. I managed to get through some of the scariest films of all time before I hit my teens: Amityville Horror, Exorcist, The Omen series. When the gatherings were at my grandmother’s, my cousins and I would sit up and watch all the old black and white vampire and werewolf films until we passed out, exhausted by prolonged suspense scenes.

I continued into my teen years loving scary stuff. It is the justified stereotyped condition of teenage girls to be fascinated by vampires and Lost Boys fed that nicely. Birthday parties lying around in the dark watching Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre fed the delight of both anticipating the worst but surviving it with a squeal or giggle. The dread of knowing what was coming but still being in the safety of your circle of friends. Maybe using the fear as an excuse to grab the arm or hand of a cute guy nearby.

I had the fabulous luck of becoming a high school teacher. It was a bit accidental but I’m very thankful for it. Kids are fucking funny. I helped design a reward points system at one school which was to reward kids for hard work and respectful behaviour. They were given fairly and consistently for the types of behaviour we wanted to encourage. Kids should only expect to get a maximum of one per class. I gave 5 to a kid who snuck into the little props room of my drama room and jumped out when I went in to get the stilts giving me one of the most fantastic frights of my life. I literally couldn't breathe for a minute. There was a moment when the poor kid though he’d given me a heart attack. Until I laughed.  A sit on the floor, tears pouring, snorting laugh.

And this year I get to teach scary stories as a genre. Oh My Goodness, I've had such joy watching my students identify and use the features of a scary scene in their work, their gradual awareness of how to create suspense, their use of camera shots and angles in making their own zombie story boards. But more than the satisfaction of the teaching and learning process is the satisfaction of witnessing their squeals and jumps and hiding behind their hands when they watch something scary. We've watched scenes from Scream and Jurassic Park and the Harry Potter spider scene and Monsters Inc. It's mostly hiding and chasing and telephones and footsteps and close ups of fear and something out at everyone- totally appropriate. And when they really get the glee burst from a particular scene, when it's made them jump and forget their façades of bravado, they want to watch it again and again. And I'm in love with being a teacher. Tomorrow we watch a scene from The Grudge recommended by my assistant teacher. I could only do a worksheet about what we see and hear for half of the scene because I was too scared to watch the end. I can't wait for the kids to see it!

So here I am, sharing a house with two 24 year olds and one is an expert scarer. I also have a friend, Stacey McGyver Cooper, who does a pretty excellent job. I sometimes have to wait 2 minute before walking inside my house, or pause before heading outside my room to the bathroom. Because I never know when I'm going to be scared. To tremble and giggle and know and not know. Makes life saa much fun! 

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