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?

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?