I ain’t afraid of no ghost–because I own a house

While home sick this week, I decided to take the opportunity to do something I never get to do now that I’m married. I watched a horror movie.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the Hubby can’t even handle the evil queen scenes in a Disney movie. The second there’s scary music and a darkened room, he’s out. When I started watching American Horror Story, I had to shut it off before he would even enter the room because the opening credits were too scary for him.  (Granted, I haven’t been in our basement since watching Murder House.  But the Hubby doesn’t need to know that!)

But he’s cute and he puts up with Downton Abbey, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and Orange is the New Black, despite claiming to hate all four of them (which is clearly a blatant lie, but whatever). And I prefer horror books to horror movies anyway, so I didn’t consider giving up my scary movies to be much of a sacrifice. And I can still watch them when he’s not home, which makes them even better because then I get the additional fear factor of NOT having him there to protect me from the evil monsters in the television.

So I sat down (okay laid down with Rosie, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues—I WAS sick after all) to watch The Conjuring. And wound up browsing Wayfair on my phone for living room furniture, the prices of which scared me more than the movie.

It’s not that I’m unscare-able. I’m quite scare-able. I still haven’t watched the clown doll scene in Poltergeist. I know the kid lives. I know the doll isn’t real. But as soon as it’s off that chair, I’m out. Too scary.

I think the real problem is home ownership. The premise of haunted house movies SHOULD terrify home owners. You’re moving into a new space and you have no idea what else could be living in there with you.   And that’s basically how every haunted house movie starts.

Although I’ve definitely gained a greater appreciation for why the family always stays in the house.  Like as a kid, I’d be yelling at the screen for the stupid family to just move out.  But now, I get it.  We sank our entire life-savings into our house, plus all of our wedding present money into fixing it up.  I don’t care if the walls bleed, there are monsters in the closets, or some demonic voices telling us to GET OUT.  I’ll tell them to either shut up or get out themselves.  We’re going nowhere!

However, since buying our dream house a year ago, I’ve discovered that there are far worse problems that a house can have than a couple of malicious spirits.

Like the toxic mold in our air vents. While the Hubby claims that I’m sick from October to April, that’s typically not entirely true. Yes, as a teacher, I get sick a little more often than the average professional (thanks, kids, for sneezing all over my computer keyboard every time you sit at it. I appreciate that oh so much). But I’ve had a chronic cough that no course of modern medicine or even good, old-fashioned chicken soup from my grandma will fix since we moved in. So the Hubby decided it was time to get the air vents cleaned. I agreed, bought a Groupon, and a nice Israeli man came and ripped all of our painted-over vents off the wall (thanks previous homeowners) and cleaned one square inch inside each one, then showed us what the rest of our vents looked like and told us the exorbitant sum it will cost to get that scum out of our house.

Pretty sure an exorcism is cheaper and more effective than that.

Not to mention the other problem that the air-vent skimmer showed us. Apparently our dryer vent was made of paper. Not metal. Not even plastic. Literal, flammable-as-all-hell paper.

Which, while scary, was not entirely surprising to us, because we have long-since discovered that the previous homeowners were the cheapest people on the planet. Mr. Previous Homeowner considered himself quite the handyman, and he therefore he did all of the wiring and electrical work in the house himself. Which means that everything is a fire-hazard. Our electrician’s eyes literally displayed dollar signs when he saw what was going on in our unlabeled fuse box.

But the fire hazards didn’t disappear when we fixed the wiring. When we pulled out the old, hideous wood-burning stove insert in the hopes of having a working fireplace, we discovered that there was no fireplace liner and that all of the 1970s tiles that predated liners in our chimney were cracked, coated in creosote from numerous chimney fires, and basically guaranteed to burn our house down if we even attempted to build a fire. Twenty-five hundred dollars later, we had a working fireplace.

Of course, the working fireplace was a necessity because every time the wind blows, a tree falls down in our backyard. Which was terrifying because many of those trees are close enough to our house to cause severe damage, but also because sometimes the trees don’t fall entirely–instead they have massive severed hanging limbs waiting to fall on poor innocent Rosie while she sniffs out the herds of deer and foxes that inherit our yard. And adding to the fear factor there is the price-tag that comes with any tree work.

Because as handy as Hubby and I can be, shimmying a tree with a chainsaw to hack off dangerously dangling limbs is not in our repertoire.

But the working fireplace is necessary for more than just the burning off all of the surfeit of wood that now takes up ¾ of our half-acre yard—because possibly one of the scariest things about home ownership is the cost of heating our house in winter. While I know that ghosts are said to lower the temperature in a house, they only do it in the rooms that they’re in. And our house is cold in all rooms. We replaced the ancient French patio doors that literally had gaps at the top and bottom and we put on fireplace doors, both of which helped. But keeping the house above 62 degrees costs more than a ten night Springsteen stand at the Meadowlands.

The bottom line of which is that I would gladly trade some poltergeists for certain elements of the realities of home-ownership. Granted, ghosts can interfere with a good night’s sleep, but I’m an insomniac anyway. And a haunting would provide excellent fodder for a new book, which could eventually help assuage some of the costs of our typical household horrors.

At least until we have kids. Because that looks like it hurts a lot and the cost of college these days is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Horror movies don’t scare me… as long as my closet door is shut!

I love horror movies, but my problem is that I always think I’m brave enough to watch them when I’m home alone.

I’m not.

Yet I never seem to learn my lesson about this.

The most recent one to cause problems was Paranormal Activity. The movie itself didn’t scare me. I watched the whole thing and only had to look away once, at the very end.

No problem.

Then I got ready to go to bed that night. And as I was turning off all the lights, my calendar fell off the wall in the kitchen. It had never done that before. Now rationally, I know that because it was the beginning of the month and I had just changed the page, I must have done a poor job securing it to the wall. But at 2am, when the calendar fell, I knew it was the work of a demon that was coming to steal my soul.

So as I cowered in bed that night, I made sure that I had taken the necessary precautions. First of all, Rosie, my puppy, had to sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door. I was pretty sure that if anything, human or otherwise, entered my room, she would let me know. Not because she would bark, but because she would want it to pet her. Rosie can’t see anything, adult, child, mailman, dog, cat, tree, fruit fly, etc. without wanting it to pet her. A demon would be no different.

And worst case scenario, the demon would eat her first.

(No, I’m not proud of that.)

Next, I had to make sure that my covers came up over my ears. It’s one of those things from childhood. I can’t explain it. If my ears are covered, the monsters can’t get me. It’s just the way it is. Don’t ask me why I’m safe if my ears are covered, ask the monsters. It’s THEIR rule after all.

And finally, my closet door had to be firmly shut. Of course, my closet door has to be firmly shut EVERY night before I can go to sleep. Because then the boogeyman/monster/serial killer with an axe/evil monkey/clown doll/demon/whatever else is hiding in there can’t get out. It’s a known fact. Psycho killers and paranormal creatures that hide in closets can’t open the closet doors from the inside. Again, you’d have to ask them why it works this way.

I thought about putting baby powder around my bed, like in the movie, to see if anything left footprints. But as I tried in vain to fall asleep, I realized something: if there WAS in fact a demon in my house, it had never bothered me before. And if it wasn’t bothering me, I just didn’t want to know about it. So I said goodnight to the demon and went to sleep.

(I’m lying. I didn’t say goodnight to it. Because if anything said goodnight back to me, I would never sleep again. But I THOUGHT about saying goodnight to it, and it’s the thought that counts. If there IS a demon, I don’t want him to think that I’m rude!)

Sadly, this wasn’t an isolated occurrence. Every time I watch a horror movie, I’m convinced that whatever scary element featured in the movie is waiting for me in my apartment as soon as I turn off the lights. I know this is statistically unlikely. Why would a ghost just HAPPEN to show up the night that I watched a movie about one? Why would Jason be in my closet the same night that I watched Friday the 13th as opposed to any other night? It makes no sense. If something wanted to kill me, why would it wait until I knew about it?

And I know that the fact that I fell asleep with the tv on one week after watching The Ring was a coincidence. So was the cable going out that night, which caused me to wake up to static on the screen. A horrible, horrible coincidence that led to me crying hysterically and sleeping with a canister of pepper spray for a week in case the chick from the movie tried to crawl through my tv and kill me. Not that pepper spray would do much against her. But it made me feel a little better.

There are also some horror movies that I DO know I’m just not brave enough to watch. I have never actually seen the clown doll scene in Poltergeist. I can’t do it. I’ve tried. But I can’t. I’ve gotten to the point where he covers the doll with his jacket, then the jacket is gone, and I’ve made it as far (once or twice) as when the kid looks at the chair and the doll is gone, but I CANNOT get past that part. I know the kid lives, so clearly the clown doll doesn’t win. But I still can’t handle watching whatever DOES happen. And yes, I know that because it’s an ’80s movie, it’s probably something cheesy with horrible special effects. I still can’t do it.

Another one that always gets me is The Shining. I love that movie, but to this day, I can’t look at the bathtub if I wake up in the middle of the night, because I worry that the chick from the Shining will be in there. And everyone knows, that wasn’t the scariest thing in the Shining.

No, I don’t mean the creepy hallway twins either.

I mean the tacky 1970s interiors of that hotel. No wonder Jack Nicholson goes crazy and kills people. Wouldn’t you, if you were stuck in THAT hotel for a winter? I’m pretty sure I’d pick up an axe after ten minutes.

The biggest problem for me though is that the morning after I watch a horror movie, I laugh at myself for being scared. Then I always think I can handle the next one. And I’m always wrong.

But at least I’m safe as long as my closet door is shut.