Sep 17

Knock on the Damn Door

So, there you are. Sitting outside a closed door. Just waiting for someone to let you in.

Knock on the damn door!

Original photo by Catarina Carvalho

Only you don’t know if anyone is in there. You don’t know if anyone will let you in. You don’t know anyone who has been in there before. You just aren’t sure about a million little things.

Knock on the damn door.

Opportunity knocks. Do you? Click To Tweet

Like, this is super easy, right? You learned about door knocking before you could probably even string a sentence together. I’m sure as a toddler, you annoyed the hell out of everyone you knew by knocking on doors, regardless of whether or not they should’ve been opened. But you knew, just from a simple lesson, that to get the door to open, you knock.

Want to come in? Knock on the damn door.

Honestly, don’t even pretend you didn’t know knocking was an option.

Like, and be real here, how many knock knock jokes do you have locked and loaded for the opportune corny joke moment?

You know why those jokes work?


I feel I should state for the record that this post is both literally and figuratively about knocking on the damn door.

Literally, because as I write this, I’m waiting on a student to show up to an appointment outside of office hours. She’s 13 minutes late. I have a feeling she’s sitting outside my office, not making a sound. And I refuse to open the door until she knocks, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW DOORS FUCKING WORK.

And figuratively, because I’m so tired of people complaining about not being let in. Whatever it is they’re trying to make happen. They wait with their thumbs up their asses and complain about how they aren’t being given opportunities. They want someone else to make something happen. They complain that they need permission. They’re constantly looking for coattails to ride on. They just whine and it’s a fucking waste of everyone’s time.

(Full disclosure: I spent the majority of my twenties being this type of whiner. I didn’t knock, and I didn’t get in. Now, you can catch me BEATING DOWN EVERY DAMN DOOR IN MY PATH.)

You knock on the damn door. And if that door doesn’t open, you knock again.

And sometimes, after two knocks, it won’t open.

Then you get creative.

You get a fucking crowbar and you wedge that sucker open. You squeeze through. And you keep doing that with every locked door in your way until you get to where you want to be.

(You know you’re supposed to be here, right? I mean, on the side of the door you want to be on.)

Though, most times you won’t have to get a crowbar. Most times when you knock, someone will open the door.

Some doors won’t open. I’ll be real. Some doors, for whatever reason, are just stuck. But here’s the thing — most places you want to be have multiple points of ingress. SO KNOCK ON A DIFFERENT DOOR.

(Double check that you are actually knocking on a door and not just banging your head against a wall.)

That’s really the biggest bit of advice I can give. If you keep knocking, someone will open a door.

Knock on the Damn Door Click To Tweet

Don’t ask in a bullshit self-deprecating way that gives the person on the other side of the door too many options to deny you entry.

Directly state what you want.

Knock on the damn door.


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Sep 17

How to Stop Procrastinating: A Fool-Proof Way to Conquer the World

For the majority of my life, I felt I didn’t know how to stop procrastinating. I fell into the trap of putting stuff off, and kept telling myself that I needed the pressure to actually get shit done.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Original photo by Milos Tonchevski

This is stupid and false, and the same damn trap my students fall into right before they stay up all night to binge-write that brilliant paper that will earn them a  low C if they’re lucky.

Why I needed to stop procrastinating

So, I’ve been trying to open up an Etsy shop since spring. And now it’s September. But because I live in Oklahoma, I had to get a sales tax ID to sell physical products online so I could charge my customers sales tax.

This shouldn’t be that hard, so I filled out the paper work and submitted my application. Then, I waited for everything to come in the mail.

When it arrived, I got a notice that I wasn’t approved because of the classification of my S Corp. My S Corp sells creative services, not products, and I’m listed under a specific industry code for services.

I stared at that rejection for like a month. There was a spot to write some information and send it back. Only, I didn’t 100% understand what I needed to put there.

One morning, I called the Oklahoma Tax Commission. I was literally on hold for 2 hours and 48 minutes. (I just left my phone on speaker and went about grading papers.) When I finally spoke with someone, they didn’t know what to do either.

I’m not kidding about that. If you’ve ever dealt with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, I suspect you have a similar story.

So I kept putting it off. Sure, I wanted to get my shop set up, but like, there are always 18,000 other things that can be done too. And then I moved, and unpacking took roughly ONE THOUSAND HOURS.

But a couple weeks ago, I finally just emailed my accountant. And in less than 48 hours, she gave me the simplest answer. She told me EXACTLY what I needed to write. And then I did.

And yesterday I got my sales tax ID in the mail.

It was so easy, but I built up this big wall in my head. And I waisted MONTHS.

It was so easy, but I built up this big wall in my head. And I waisted MONTHS. Click To Tweet

Do you need another example of why I need to stop procrastinating?

This week, I gave my students their first test. Some students take their tests in the class room, and some students take their tests in the disability resource center. While the test in class is given online, some students who test at the disability resource center need a paper copy of the test.

It’s not a big deal to make a paper copy. It just takes time. And it’s something I usually have the graduate assistant do. However, after a big mess that is absolutely no one’s fault, we don’t have a graduate assistant this semester. This isn’t a big deal, because I don’t have a lot that I need them to do.

But I just wanted to have someone else make this test.

So I put it off until the last possible minute. And when I started to make the test, I took a look in a folder in the very back corner of my Dropbox.

Lo and behold, I had actually created the test last semester.

Had I thought logically about it, I would’ve realized this. I would’ve remembered doing that. But nope. I just shoved it to the back of my mind and refused to deal with it at all until the last possible second.

What I’ve learned about why I procrastinate

I procrastinate when things get a little hard or uncomfortable or inconvenient. I procrastinate when I remember how soft my couch is. I procrastinate when I remember that at the end of the day, I still have a day job paycheck coming in.

I procrastinate because I’m in love with easy shit. And I hate that about myself.

To be fair, I know that no one loves doing the dirty work or the hard things. But damn. I wish I could just bite my lip and make it happen.

Like had I gotten my sales tax ID sorted, I would have an established Etsy store already.

Or if I had tackled that test earlier, I could’ve sent it to the disability resource center, and gotten to bed on time the night I found it.

But let’s not dwell in what ifs. There’s no reason to be mad at past Marisa, because present Marisa is the same Marisa. So, I forgive you and your procrastination, Marisa. Just don’t let it happen again.

How you can stop procrastinating

For me, the first step to stop procrastinating is this: Realize that nothing you do is really that hard.

I mean, yeah. You do hard things.

But the daily hard things aren’t the big things that deserve to hang over our heads. Let the big life questions be the daunting things. Let them keep you up at night.

The daily hard things aren't the big things that deserve to hang over our heads. Click To Tweet

Those things that are mild irritations/inconveniences/hoops to jump through? Know that you can tackle them. Know that you’re making mountains out of molehills. Know that you’re giving way too much time and energy to a thing that straight up doesn’t deserve it.

I know it’s hard to think in those terms. As stated earlier, I’m basically the queen of putting things off. (BOW TO ME, PROCRASTINATION PEASANTS!)

So please. Learn from my nonsense.

Ask yourself if one person can answer the question you have. And once you get that answer, can you finally move forward? If so, YOU BETTER ASK THAT QUESTION.

Ask yourself if you’ve been there before. And if you think the answer is yes, then ask yourself what you did when you were in that position. Rely on what you did in the past, because you can use that now.

Ask yourself if the thing that’s tripping you up is actually hard. Or if you’re just using it as an excuse to procrastinate. If you are, knock it off.

How to Stop Procrastinating Click To Tweet

What little things have you procrastinated doing? What tricks do you have to help people stop procrastinating? Are you as excited as I am for my soon-to-open Etsy shop?

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Sep 17

Nightmare Fuel: What’s Been Keeping Me up at Night

Admittedly, I don’t need anymore nightmare fuel than what my brain already supplies. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I DON’T CONTINUALLY FIND MORE THINGS TO BE SCARED OF!

Nightmare Fuel: What's Been Keeping Me up at Night

Original photo by Jack Cain

I’ve always been a horror movie fan. I love to be scared, and I don’t know why. For my eleventh birthday, my mom took me and my friends to a haunted forest trail (one of the perks of being an October baby is all the Halloween birthday activities) and then we came back to my house and watched Halloween. When I was even younger, I read ALL of the Mary Downing Hahn and Peg Kehret books the school library had. When I got older, I rented scary movies. Now, I spend so much time reading creepy stories in subreddits, or obsessing over Candle Cove.

What can I say? I like nightmare fuel.

What can I say? I like nightmare fuel. Click To Tweet

So, I thought maybe some of my readers might like to be as scared as I am about stupid stuff too. So, without further ado, I present to you a list of 10 things that have been my most recent nightmare fuel.

001: Reading the Dear David tweets.
Somehow, I’d missed these until Mari Farthing sent me a text about them. Then, naturally, I went through every last one. Basically, some dude has a creepy boy ghost with a smashed-in head haunting his apartment, and the ghost wants him dead because the dude asked too many questions. (If this doesn’t make sense, head on over to the Storify of those tweets.) And while I enjoy a good scare during the day, I’ve managed to find myself only reading these tweets just before bed.

Nightmare Fuel

002: Remembering that scene in The Exorcist where Regan crab walks backwards down the stairs.
Fun fact: Since I was born in the ’80s, I didn’t see The Exorcist in theaters. And unbeknownst to me, the version I rented at the Hollywood Video (RIP video stores) on Santa Fe and 15th in 2002 was the director’s cut. So, I got all manner of additional scary things that, while cinematically problematic, were HELLA TERRIFYING. One of those things is the scene where Regan comes down the stairs, crab walking backwards in her nightgown. It’s kind of a throwaway scene, just because there’s no shots of other characters reacting to it, and it cuts away super fast and isn’t mentioned again. But it’s still scary, and not a great thing to think about just as you’re dozing off at night.

Nightmare Fuel

003: Walking my dog in my historic, tree-filled neighborhood after dark.
Sometimes, I’ll go out at night, and when I get home, I have to walk Rosie one more time. This wouldn’t be necessary, but SOMEBODY refuses to poop in the backyard and MUST do so in the yards of neighbors. (I’m not a monster — I bag it up.) Anyway, this means that I find myself walking the dog along dark sidewalks and under the branches of trees that have been around for at least a hundred years. And this means I see things hiding behind those trees. Sure, Rosie would probably alert me if something was going on, but she’s also kind of a jerk who would probably befriend the Slenderman-like entity who is following us all around the district.

(Side note: Slenderman probably lives in Norman, Oklahoma. Slenderman probably enrolled at OU, but dropped out after a couple of years. He’s probably a townie now that lives in that old neighborhood behind Griffin Memorial Hospital, and he DEFINITELY shops at the Walmart on 12th and drinks at Opie’s. And he follows me and Rosie around on our walks.)

004: Google searching for pictures of ghosts.
I don’t know why I do this, but I do it a lot. I just want to see if any new ones come up, because I’m pretty sure we’re real close to the point where the camera on your smart phone has like eleventy-billion megapixels, and can totally pick up ghosts.

If you’re the type of person who is easily frightened, I don’t recommend you do this. Those pictures are hella scary, and at least 85% of them are fake. So, not only do you wind up terrified, but you don’t get the real pictures you’re looking for.

005: Assuming the drunken revelry of my college-age neighbors is actually supernatural entities.
There is nothing quite so terrifying as being torn from a dead sleep by the sound that is the banshee cackle/crying of a drunk college girl. My college-age neighbors like to hang out in their driveway at night, which just happens to be eight feet from my bedroom window. And apparently they like to drink Skinny Girl Margaritas, if I’m reading the garbage pile beneath my bedroom window correctly. They drink, they laugh and cry, and I wake up. And when I do wake up, it’s with a pulse of 180 because I’M TERRIFIED BY THAT SOUND. This pretty much guarantees that when I do fall back asleep, I have a nightmare that includes the sound of their shrieks.

nightmare fuel


006: Seeing the Avery White Rascal beer label.
This has always scared me, but I just remembered about it because someone sent me a snap of it with the caption that it was his nickname in high school. Just look at that devil and tell me you won’t see it dancing in the corners of your room when you’re trying to sleep.

ghost pictures

007: Washing my face.
Yeah. So, remember my real life ghost pictures? It’s still an issue.

Nightmare Fuel

008: Thinking about how the demon from Paranormal Activity followed that woman her whole life and didn’t just haunt one particular house.
Sure, I live in fear that the 90-year-old home I’m renting is haunted by the first owners. But I live in more fear of the idea that an evil ghost/demon could JUST FOLLOW ME WHEREVER I WENT. That’s not something you should think about as you’re shutting your brain down at the end of the day, but well, I do it anyway.

009: My dog being a creepo.
So, Rosie and I share a bedroom, which is generally pretty cool. I like having her nearby, and if she can see me, she’s not so anxious. The only times that it sucks to keep your dog’s bed near your bed are when you wake up to find your dog staring at you, or when your dog makes terrible genital licking sounds that integrate into your dreams. Basically, Rosie either wakes up in the middle of the night and just stares at me until I wake up. Or, she makes a sound that my brain will conjure up creepy images to — like intestines being squished into a tree trunk. (I literally dreamt that the last time she went on a midnight lick-bender.)

010: Watching Snapchats and Insta Stories that are too much like found footage horror films.
Okay. So, I follow this YouTube makeup vlogger on Snapchat because she leads the sort of life that I never will. (You know, wears makeup that you can’t get at CVS, jets around to fancy events in New York for Sephora, and washes her hair more than once every two weeks.) Anyway, she posted a snap of her attempting to catch a plane at LAX, and it was of her running through the airport. But it was so much like a found footage horror movie (á la Blair Witch) that I started to worry about what I’d get a glimpse of just in the corner of the frame. And I went to bed that night imagining that scenario.

Nightmare fuel guaranteed to keep you up all night! Click To Tweet

Real talk: Even though I’ve just admitted all the things that scare me, I’m about to start binge watching past seasons of American Horror Story, and I’m definitely going to see IT in theaters very soon. So, I guess get ready for more blog posts about nightmare fuel!

What sort of self-defeating things do you do when it’s time for bed? What scares you? What’s your nightmare fuel?

Aug 17

A Photo Session with Kathryn Trattner

Y’all. Book a photo session with Kathryn Trattner right now. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a fun Marisa fact: I absolutely hate having my picture taken. I think I get it from my mom, who probably has only actually appeared in like 10 pictures in the past 30 years.

Kathryn Trattner is a great photographer, and she took this picture.

Just having impure thoughts about Beorn, my dream man, a shapeshifter who feeds his guests honey.

Also, there was a time when taking a picture wasn’t a harrowing experience. And that’s because if the picture sucked, no one would see it. But now the second a photo is snapped, it’s on social media. So, I have what I call Facebook anxiety, and it stems from all the hella unflattering pictures my friends have tagged me in over the years.

(I would like the record to show that I don’t post unflattering photos of my friends, and yet they INSIST on posting terrible pictures of me.)

How many unflattering photos have you been tagged in on Facebook? Click To Tweet

So, here I am, living a life that’s been relatively uncaptured on film. Will history even remember me?

(The answer is no.)

I knew I needed to fix that, especially since I’m trying to be the type of person who loves my body. (That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and a story for another day.) Suffice it say that I’m not there yet, but maybe I’m a few steps closer?

(I can’t say yes or no for sure.)

Kathryn Trattner is a photographer who can capture the tiny details that may get lost when a less careful photographer is behind the camera.

Anyway, I have a friend named Kathryn Trattner, who is an amazing photographer, genius writer, adorable person, and probably some sort of fey creature who dwells under mushrooms when no one is looking.


I asked her to come take my pictures so I could have some updated photos for the blog and social media.

Kathryn is an awesome photographer. She does a great job of making you feel comfortable in front of the camera, and she gives great direction when it comes to poses.

Though, I feel I should state for the record that she refused to photoshop pics of Selma Hayek over me in these photos. She said something like “that’s not actually photography” and “why don’t you just get pictures of Selma Hayek from the internet and leave it at that?”

She’s pretty wise, even if she won’t help you pretend that you’re Selma Hayek.

I’m sure her business cards now say “Kathryn Trattner, Photographer, not a Selma Hayek photoshopper.”

Apparently photoshopping celebrities over your face isn't photography. Click To Tweet

We took these photos in my living room, and in my tiny backyard on what felt like the hottest day that our little parcel of Hell has ever had. But Kathryn knows the good angles, and that’s why you can’t even tell how sweaty I am in all of these.

(Side note: My mom knew that there had been a photo session at my house, so when I posted this, she assumed that Kathryn had caught some orbs or whatever in her photos. Then she was real disappointed by my real life ghost pictures.)

I’ve captioned these photos, just so you can get a better understanding of what was going through my head.

These photos were taken by Kathryn Trattner, a great photographer in the OKC area.

Are we still doing white manis?

Sometimes I just stand in the middle of my living room and hold a mug because I was raised by a Sear’s catalog.

The one drawback of wearing red lipstick when you intend to smile is that you look like Heath Ledger as the Joker.

I’m standing in the woods. Do you think Beorn will find me? I mean, he can change into a bear, and surely my period will attract him.

Rosie Puppins, stealing my thunder with her effortless poses.

Say, fellas, do you come around her often? How’s about buying a lady a drink?

I farted.

No, but like, seriously, Beorn. Wherever you are, I want you to know that I love you and I’m not just saying that because I want to eat honey-slathered bread for the rest of my earthbound days.

If you’re interested in booking a session with Kathryn Trattner, you can contact her right here. And if you have a super artistic photoshoot in mind, you should ABSOLUTELY CONTACT HER. Seriously. There’s going to be a day when we find ourselves a pond and I wear a creepy witch dress and take pictures in it like I’m some sort of wraith Lady of the Lake.

A Photo Session with @K_Trattner Click To Tweet

(Please don’t steal that photoshoot idea. You can do your own creepy shoot with her instead.)

Jul 17


Let me begin this post by saying that I love my new little house. But it’s trying to kill me. I’m not being dramatic. This is for real. AND I HAVE THE GHOST PICTURES TO PROVE IT.

Ghost Pictures

Original photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Let me explain.

Okay. So, let’s talk about why I love this house. I’m walking distance from:

  • my polling place (important for democracy!)
  • the post office (important for correspondence!)
  • 3 live music venues (rock and roll will never die on my watch!)
  • like, 87% of the bars in Norman (dollar beer sustains me!)
  • the university where I work (parking for faculty now costs $300 a year, so this is awesome!)
  • multiple restaurants that serve cheese fries (DIP THEM SUCKAS IN RANCH, Y’ALL!)
  • build-your-own ice cream sandwiches (amen!)

Clearly, this house is ideal for me. And as I’ve mentioned before, Rosie-the-not-so-wonderdog loves it. We can walk all over the most walkable parts of the city, and she has become a very good leash dog.

But there are always downsides. Nothing gold can stay. No light without the darkness. And all that.


Here’s the thing about my house. It’s 90 years old. That’s three-times my age. And in my heart of hearts, I know this means that the house is full of ghosts and spirits and demons and bad juju and negative energy. (I mean, as stated previously, I have ghost pictures to prove this.)

For this reason, I smudged the house the day after I moved in. The first night I was there, I had such aggressive night terrors and paralysis dreams. And while these were probably caused by the stress of moving, it could very well be any of the aforementioned supernatural entities trying to ruin my night. So I felt sage was in order. (The woman who cuts my hair and the owner of the local Wiccan supply shop both confirmed this was necessary.)

Before I go further, let me explain something.

I live in a constant state of terror. Everything is something to worry about. And occasionally, I catch myself feeling really optimistic, and wonder if that optimism is inviting some negative energy from the Universe. Like, are my good vibes telling the Dark and Evil Forces that I deserve to be knocked down a peg or two?


Anyway, someone is following me every time I take Rosie for a walk, which is 5 times a day. My job is in jeopardy, even though I’ve been reassured it’s not. I’ll probably never amount to anything as a writer, and I’ll have dementia by 35 because of my Diet Coke consumption.

And going to sleep is harrowing, as I recently explained on Twitter.

So this is where I’m coming from. It’s not ideal. I’m working on it. But anxiety is hard to break up with, and I’ve watched too many horror movies in my life to for my brain to not fear so many mundane things. And, lest you have forgotten, I HAVE REAL LIFE GHOST PICTURES TO BACK UP THESE FEARS.

Honestly, there isn’t a moment where the scene of Regan crab walking backwards down the stairs in The Exorcist isn’t playing on a loop in my head. I know there’s a non-zero chance that Freddy Krueger will murder me in my dreams with that creepy claw hand. I see those twin ghosts from The Shining down every hallway, no matter how short it is.

That’s the reason for this post today. Well, that, and I have some ghost pictures.

I have been doing a good job of living alone, in that I have not called the cops every time the foundation settles or the pipes rattle. (THOSE SOUNDS COULD BE A MURDERER YOU GUYS!) Even so, my imagination has done runned off and brushing my teeth is now THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD BECAUSE IT’S WHEN THE GHOSTS HAPPEN.

(I promise, I’m getting to the ghost pictures.)

You know those scenes in horror movies when the protagonist is washing their face or taking their behavioral meds or just leaning on the bathroom sink? And the shot is them from behind, but you can see their face in the mirror? And then, they close the medicine cabinet — WHERE THE MIRROR IS — and the new angle of the mirror shows the terror behind them?!

If this isn’t making sense, know that TV Tropes has written about the mirror scare, and they did it way more clearly and eloquently than my current psychological state will allow.

Check out this textbook example of the ol' mirror scare! Click To Tweet

Basically, when I close my medicine cabinet, GHOSTS/DEMONS/ENTITIES/DEMENTORS/TAX COLLECTORS are revealed to me.

So, I’m just brushing my teeth, with the medicine cabinet cracked, and when I’m done, I close it all the way. AND THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENS.

I’ll just allow these REAL LIFE GHOST PICTURES to illustrate.

(As with all ghost pictures one finds on the internet, these are low quality. HOWEVER, they do contain the terrors that have been haunting me and my home.)

See, look at me, just practicing basic personal hygiene and enjoying life.

ghost pictures


ghost pictures

Let’s look again.

“Hum-dee-dum, life is good and I’m so fresh and so clean!”

ghost pictures


ghost pictures

One more time, just so you can understand what I’m going through.

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!”

ghost pictures


ghost pictures

So yeah. There you have it. And, maybe these aren’t REAL LIFE GHOST PICTURES. But know that every time I close my damn medicine cabinet, I FEEL JUST AS SCARED AS I WOULD IF THESE CREATURES ACTUALLY APPEARED.

Perhaps the real horror here is that crappy paint job on the medicine cabinet, and how my landlord didn’t touch that up before I moved in.

How do you get rid of ghosts in the bathroom? Click To Tweet

Anyway, what do you do when ghosts and other horrors try to ruin your face washing and teeth brushing routine? What should I do about the things that keep appearing in the mirror behind me? Does anyone want to cleanse my house of all the crazy energy that’s in my brain?