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Farewell

I am absolutely horrible at dealing with death.  Having a person here one day and gone the next is something I’ll never quite get used to.  It doesn’t help that I’m slightly terrified by dead bodies and act like a royal idiot every rare instance I am in a funeral home.  When it comes to properly dealing with death, I am completely clueless.  I cry randomly when it makes no sense, but remain dry-eyed in moments I should be in tears.  I never know what to say or do or how to act.  I almost prefer to be notified via text message so I can deal with things in my own way without embarrassing myself or offending anyone.

Everyone deals with death in a different way, and lately I’ve had front row tickets to all the different ways we try to process the loss of life.  Some people blame themselves, even though in just about every instance, there was nothing they could have done to prevent whatever happened.  Some people blame the deceased, wondering why they couldn’t have done things differently so they could still be here.  Anger is a big one; we get angry at the family, at friends or coworkers, at ourselves, or at anything we perceive as not right or proper.  Others just withdraw into themselves, as if hiding will make the death something that was all a bad dream.

People have a funny way of coming together in times of tragedy.  Estranged family members are suddenly best of friends, hugging and crying and laughing together as they work through each day and try to heal.  Sometimes the change is a long lasting one, but more often than not, everyone goes back to ignoring each other within a month or two.  It’s a shame that the effects never seem to be long lasting ones, but I suppose it’s better than nothing at all.

Right now, I am dealing by avoiding as much as I possibly can.  From the get-go, people have been horrendously ugly with each other, even going as far as saying certain family members did not have the right to attend a viewing.  Some people seem concerned with who gets what, totally driven by money and objects while completely ignoring the fact that someone is gone from this world forever.  There are plots and theories and things being said that are better suited for an episode of CSI.  I simply cannot deal with it anymore.

Call me selfish if you will, but I decided to skip a memorial service earlier today.  I declined to go because I did not want to deal with someone who planned to block the door and not allow certain people inside (even though it’s a public service, so it wouldn’t have worked in the end).  I declined because I can’t listen to one more theory about what REALLY happened and who is REALLY responsible.  I declined because I find it disgusting how certain people are behaving when we should all be honoring someone’s life and remembering them fondly in death.

I am terrible at dealing with death.  But I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who deal with it a hundred times worse than I ever have.  I’ve learned that in the end, the way you deal is not important.  What is important is that the memory of the one we lost is honored somehow.  Differences are put aside and we all treat each other like human beings for a while.  Death is a reminder of how short and fragile life is.  When someone dies, we shouldn’t waste time hating each other and acting like self-absorbed strangers.  That’s no way to live.  If I’ve learned one thing this past week, it is that I waste too much time on negativity.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  And when I die, I want the people I’ve left behind to get along, not argue over who gets what or blame each other for my passing.  Life is too short to be wasted on bullshit.

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You Never Know

Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed away on Sunday of an apparent drug overdose.  He was found on the floor, needle still in his arm, and surrounded by bags that either contained or once contained heroin (according to reports).  He was only 46 and such an amazing actor; he will definitely be missed by the film community and by fans.

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The thing that we need to remember is that we don’t know PSH or other actors that have broken our hearts with untimely deaths (Paul Walker is the other recent death that comes to mind).  We love the movies they star in, the characters they play, the interviews they give, and the way they make us feel.  We can recite every single one of their lines in specific films and we know their life stories almost by heart from what we’ve read.  None of that means we know the person at all.  I was surprised that PSH’s overdose was from heroin use; I never would have suspected that he would use that drug.  To me, he doesn’t seem like the type of person to go that route, which I’m sure is an opinion shared by others and which is a shining example of how little we know.

It’s healthy to mourn the passing of celebrities; even though we don’t actually know them, they become part of our lives through their work.  That said, it’s wrong to mistake that relationship for anything other than something one-sided and superficial.  PSH wasn’t our friend, our brother, our colleague.  He wasn’t our neighbor.  He may have favorited something you posted on Twitter, but that doesn’t make him your buddy.  His job was to entertain us, and he was fantastic at it, but one’s job does not always give an accurate reflection of a person, especially when the job is to turn into different people for every new project presented.

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Being an actor, or any other type of celebrity, does not make a person invincible or untouchable.  Fame and money are not cure-alls for what ails you.  We don’t know what any celebrity goes through, not even the Kardashians who live life like an open wound.  We see edited tidbits or exaggerated tabloid gossip that we often take too literally and mistake it for something it’s not.  We take exclusive interviews and Wikipedia articles as gospel, assuming we truly know the person because we’ve memorized details about their personal lives and childhoods.  It’s wrong to look at someone like PSH, see an amazing career, and assume that they are carefree and immune to tragedy.

I’m very sad that PSH passed in an untimely and terrible way, and I will miss seeing him in films in the future.  On the bright side, he was able to make his mark during his time on this Earth and he leaves behind quite a legacy on the silver screen.  Let’s focus on the talent he was instead of wasting time trying to pick apart the why and the how.  Finding out whether or not he was troubled or an addict will not change what happened and will not change who he was to us as fans.  Let the family and real friends mourn in peace and let’s remember PSH as the brilliant actor he was.

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My Pumpkin Is Underwater

Happy Halloween everyone!!  This is one of my favorite times of the year, but unfortunately the joy is marred this time around due to Hurricane Sandy and the destruction and deaths it has caused.  Relief funds are being created and help is being sent as mother nature tears through neighborhoods with reckless abandon.  As of this morning, 55 people along the Atlantic coast are dead and over seven million are still without power.  Homes and the valuables contained within are destroyed.  NYU Langone Medical Center was forced to evacuate about 2o0 patients.  People are in shock, are devastated, and trying their best to cope.

In the spirit of laughter being the best medicine, many people have taken to Twitter and other social media outlets to try to inject some humor into a grim situation.  Naturally, not everyone finds reason to laugh and many think that the jokes are inappropriate, insensitive, and almost vulgar in nature.  With the exception of those wishing death on the cast of Jersey Shore and other evil comments, I disagree with those who find fault in the jokes.  I’m grateful that people are going out there and throwing out a smile amidst all the frowns.

Excluding the few comments which are obviously meant maliciously, there is no harm meant and no harm coming from these clever quips about the hurricane.  They are not coming from people who are happy to see people lose their homes and see their loved ones harmed or killed.  They are not laughing in the face of the victims left in the wake of the storm.  They are simply understanding that people’s spirits are low right now and they could definitely use a pick me up.  They are reminding us that there is no shame in being happy when others are suffering.

Instead of embracing the humor, donating what we can, and having a Happy Halloween, people are complaining and becoming overly offended by these silly remarks.  They are failing to see that these funny one liners are giving us permission to laugh and to not feel guilty about not being affected by the hurricane.  If we donate money to the relief fund with our spirits in the sand or donate with a big smile on our face, does the money get spent any differently?  Nothing is accomplished by being somber and acting depressed; positivity is a fantastic motivator and should definitely be used here and in other tough situations.

Laughter itself is not disrespectful.  When we laugh at a humorous comment on Twitter, we are not actually saying “I’m so glad the hurricane ripped through homes and killed innocents!”  It takes a sick and twisted individual to find joy in destruction and death, and that is not what society is composed of for the most part.  We care, but we are constantly buried by tragic news and it tends to desensitize us a bit.  We should allow laughter to be the cure rather than trying to make it yet another problem.

Enjoy your Halloween parties, your trick or treating, and your festivities guilt free.  Appreciate the humor from celebrities and celebriwannabes without feeling insensitive.  One of the worst things we can do while trying to boost morale and help those in need is become fearful of laughter and to begin shying away from joy.  A good mood can carry a person a long way, and the last thing anyone affected by Sandy needs right now is a bunch of people moping around, afraid of saying the wrong thing, and consequently afraid to act.

My Father

My father has cancer.

It’s a very odd thing to type, even a stranger thing for me to say.  On September 10th, he told me that he has prostate cancer, the same thing that claimed his father a few years back.  When I heard the news, I began to cry at my desk at work.  Then I laughed for being so emotional.  Then I was simply numb.  It’s stage 1 and was caught early, so chances are they he will be just fine except for side effects from the treatment.  That doesn’t change the fact that it frightens me.

It’s not a secret that I don’t exactly get along with my parents anymore.  I haven’t spoken to my mother since moving to Indiana and haven’t received any correspondence from her since last Christmas when she told me how worthless of a person I was.  My father has refrained from the low blows, but he’s always been that way.  He and I are a lot alike and have always gotten along, but since my mother’s wishes come before my own, he has been following her lead on making my life slightly uncomfortable.  We see each other once a month but rarely speak.

Cancer changes things.  It made him vulnerable in my eyes for the first time in my life.  It makes me come face to face with the fact that sooner or later, my parents will be gone from this world.  It makes me angry that my mother is still being so petty, holding on to anger and cutting me out of her life and the lives of my family members.  It makes me disappointed in myself for accepting that they are not part of my life and for not including them in it.  It makes me afraid.

I am one of the worst people in the world when it comes to dealing with anything related to death.  I never know what to say when someone has a loved one pass away.  I loathe funerals and would rather skip them and pay my respects in another way.  I don’t even want a funeral held for myself when I go; just cremate me and go about your business in private.  Since finding out he has cancer, I’m not too sure how I should be acting, feeling, or doing.  I feel lost.

I’ve spoken to a few people who have had parents battle cancer and who have lost their parents to it, but none of it really helped.  It’s either “don’t worry” or “it sucks.”  I’m not sure what I need to work through it and I’m not sure if I should even be allowing it to affect me as much as it is.  I’ve researched it online a bit and that helped temporarily, but there really is no easy fix when it comes to dealing with this sort of thing.  I guess all I can do it hope for the best.

Sammy

A couple of weeks before my son’s 4th birthday, we received a couple of frogs from my mother-in-law.  If you’ve been in Hallmark, you’ve probably seen them.  They come in a small clear box with a plant to provide oxygen and a snail to keep the container clean.  You also get a year’s supply of food; tiny brown pellets to be fed to the frogs twice weekly.  My son wasn’t too taken with the idea of frogs, but he thought they were cool enough and checked in on them once in a while.  My husband and I named our frogs Sam and Dean after the brothers in Supernatural, and they turned out to be more interesting than expected.

The first thing we noticed was that one or both frogs were very vocal; my husband noticed them croaking one night and since then, we heard them being quite loud when they chose, especially during the evenings.  As a couple of months passed, we noticed that Dean looked a bit smaller while Sammy seemed to be growing.  During feedings, Sam would bully Dean and end up with both pellets.  As you’d expect, this didn’t go well for Dean and he died within a couple of months.  Still, we had Sam and he continued to croak away and jump around like crazy whenever we passed by his little home.

It was a blessing in disguise that Dean died, as it meant we had a lot more food for Sammy.  He was always excited to get food, which is probably why he always became very jumpy and responsive when I would talk to him or go by his box, but I do like to think that he was excited to see us because he had come to like us.  Maybe part of his little froggy brain understood that we were family.  He definitely felt like part of the family to me, which is why I took it so hard when he passed away on Friday.

I cried like a baby when I discovered he had died, even more when my husband buried him in a matchbox in the backyard.  It barely fazed my son, which is good, but it broke my heart.  Yeah, he was just a little frog from a card store, but he was our pet and he was special to me.  He was unique; my former coworker had a pair of frogs in her office and they never croaked or responded to people the way Sammy did.  None of the frogs in Hallmark ever acted the way Sam did.  I knew the end was coming (his plant and snail both died, so I had been cleaning his little aquarium out more than usual to make sure he had oxygen and clean water) but I was a little in denial about it being so soon.  Just writing this is making me tear up.

Pets are important and I don’t think Sammy is any less important than our pup dog Ripley, just a lot smaller and a tad lower maintenance.  I couldn’t hug him or nap beside him like I could with Ripley, but I could pet him and talk to him and love him just the same.  He brought us joy, if only for a short three years.  I miss him greatly and I’m glad we had him with us.  I’m not going to replace him though, as I don’t feel like any of the other frogs will match his awesomeness and personality and I don’t even want to try.  Thank you, Sam, for making me smile and laugh for the last three years, for making our home a bit happier, and for being a joy right until the end.

Death Is Coming

The Final Destination series had an excellent beginning, followed with two solidly disturbing movies, and flopped with the 4th.  When I heard that a fifth movie would be hitting the theaters, I made plans not to go but of course made a mental note to see it once it went to DVD.  Each film in the series is basically the same storyline from start to finish, but the gore and the cringe worthy scenes make it worth the watch.  With my husband and pup dog for protection and moral support against the bodily abuse I was about to witness, I settled in with the hopes of getting at least a few good scares out of the film.

This time around, the premonition was a bridge collapse.  While on a company retreat, Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) sees the bridge collapse and everyone but his girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell) die.  One poor girl is impaled on the mast of a passing boat, one sad nerdy boy is left in the bus after it is evacuated and crashes into the water, one female survives the fall into the water but is crushed by a falling car; it was a pretty solid opener.  After Sam realizes that he’s seen the impending deaths of his friends and himself, he panics and demands the bus be evacuated.  Molly joins him immediately, followed by two other friends, but their boss Dennis (David Koechner) doesn’t take it seriously until the bridge begins to crack.  Not everyone on the bus was saved, but the core group is incredibly grateful to be alive and naturally, questions Sam on how he knew the disaster would happen.

The group receives warning from the local creepy coroner (Tony Todd) that they have cheated Death and won’t be let go so easily, unless they trade another life for their own; murdering another results in the killer absorbing the victim’s life span.  As they try to come to terms with the death of many coworkers and friends and try to ignore the creepy coroner and the federal agent who for some reason thinks Sam is a terrorist, they begin to drop like flies.  The first death is drawn out a bit; a gymnast who is oblivious to two near misses but ends up almost snapping her body in two when she falls from the uneven bars.   The second comes on a massage table thanks to some acupuncture needles and a fire.  The third, and the reason I will never ever be able to get Lasik now, comes when the laser for the Lasik surgery is accidentally turned up too high, burning the female and causing her to panic and fall out of the window.

Sam’s best friend Peter (Miles Fisher) eventually decides that he is ready to trade a life for his own and target’s Molly, since she was the only survivor in the premonition.  Due to the fact that Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) seems to have escaped death by unintentionally putting his coworker in harm’s way of a freak work accident, Peter believes this is the only way to save himself.  After a struggle and the murder of the investigating agent, Sam kills Peter and they live happily ever after.  Except this is a Final Destination movie, so Sam and Molly end up being on Flight 180 from the first film and end up dying, while Nathan is killed by a piece of the plane that has broken off during the explosion.

I feel silly complaining about the plot points of a movie like this, but I had a major issue with the federal agent trying to imply that Sam was some sort of terrorist who orchestrated the bridge collapse.  When he is told that the bridge fell due to high winds and the construction, he seems almost disappointed with the knowledge.  He lets Sam leave the interrogation room, but not without throwing a final jab at him about seeing him soon.  He also contacts Dennis, the boss, to ask him to keep an eye on the entire group and report any suspicious behavior.  It just doesn’t seem believable at all to me to think that this agent would be wasting his time with conspiracy theories because some kid freaked out on a bridge.  It happens; people panic on planes and trains, thinking they’ll crash, they panic during storms and proclaim people will die, but it doesn’t mean that their panic equals involvement in the tragedy.  I can forgive the agent’s questioning in the beginning, but I think it’s a bit much that the story kept this agent suspicious of this group of unlucky people.

On the positive side, I thought the ending was incredibly clever and added an element of surprise that has been lacking in this film series since the first.  Throughout the film, I was assuming that this was happening after the first four and was waiting for a reference to the original crash and the premonition that temporarily saved a few lives.  Bravo to the person or team who thought this up; we were shown a short clip from the first movie as the kids exited the plane and then got to see the explosion from a whole new angle.  I also laughed out loud at Nathan’s death (sorry Nathan); he was in a bar at his coworker’s wake when he was told that the deceased had a brain aneurysm and was going to die at any minute anyway, meaning Nathan hadn’t bought himself much time by accidentally taking this guy’s life.  Very nice touch having the debris from the plane crush him to pieces.

The credits of the film featured scenes from all five movies in all the glory that 3D can provide.  I’m not a fan of 3D movies, at least not in the way they are currently being used.  Why does Titanic have to be re-released in 3D?  Most of the 3D movies out there are 3D just for the sake of being so and the effects come off as cheesy and forced.  When you have a movie like Final Destination 5, I think 3D is more than appropriate and almost necessary.  It’s fun to have 3D in horror flicks; guts and eyeballs shooting out of the screen, blood spatters and broken glass shooting at your face, and projectiles stabbing at the audience as they stab at the characters.  Yes, 3D can be used for a lot more, but I believe it’s true home is within the horror genre.

Overall, I think this movie is worth seeing if you are in the mood for a few scares, some great special effects, and an insanely easy to follow storyline.  Even if you haven’t seen the prior movies, this series is one that is easy to jump into at any point, as they basically tell the same story five times over with slightly tweaked details.  It’s a fun film and as long as you aren’t expecting cinematic genius, I think it’s definitely a good watch.

Music Is Life Is Complicated

“Music is life” is a popular quote to stick on your profile page or post as a clever tweet or status update.  It’s always relevant and it always has deep meaning to someone at any given moment.  People often credit certain musicians as being their savior during tough times, for understanding them when no one else had the ability to.  Music can be our escape from reality; pop in your ear buds and crank up the iPod and sit back as the world around you ceases to exist for a few blissful moments while you’re lost in the melody.  It has the ability to simultaneously change the mood and actions of an entire crowd.  It speaks for us when we’re unable to find the words.

According to a study, one out of three popular songs contains references to drug or alcohol abuse.  Dr Carolyn West states that rap and hip hop exploit young black women and promote unhealthy lifestyles, causing adolescent girls to devalue themselves and underestimate what they can be and accomplish in this world.  Other common themes in some music include graphic violence, promiscuity, and speaking of suicide as a solution to life’s problems.  Some parents blame music for a drop in their child’s grades.  One study states that girls who watch rap music videos are three times more likely to assault a teacher and be arrested than the females their age who avoid watching those videos and listening to that type of music.

Who can forget the aftermath of Columbine when Marilyn Manson was crucified by the public for being the cause of the massacre.  Manson stated that he “definitely can see why they would pick me. Because I think it’s easy to throw my face on the TV, because in the end, I’m a poster boy for fear.”  Without a doubt, he is a freaky guy and was a very visible public figure at the time.  His music video for Sweet Dreams freaked me out a bit, I will admit, and his songs definitely aren’t for the faint of heart.  He was primarily blamed for the tragedy, along with violent video games and a couple other music groups, because the two boys enjoyed his music and seemed to be under the influence of the lyrics somehow.

“Music is life” doesn’t translate into meaning “music creates life.”  I didn’t start hating the homosexual community or thinking I should tie up my husband and put him in my trunk after listening to Eminem, nor did I become a gothic loner or a punk after listening to Garbage and Green Day in high school.  Music is to life what the colors of a sunset are to the weather; it’s an addition with minor changes that accent the whole without permanently altering it.  A beautiful sunset can make a bitterly cold day seem more pleasant, just as listening to your favorite song can make a bad day at work seem a little more upbeat.  Nothing has actually changed, you just chose to adjust your attitude and focus on something that made you happy.

You can argue that negative music influences negative behavior and you can show stats and research to back it up.  The thing is, just about everyone on this planet listens to music and the majority of those people listen to something that isn’t exactly PG.  Obviously, violent people will have a history of listening to violent music because there is so much of it out there.  That shouldn’t translate into meaning that music was the reason for their behavior.  People’s behavior is caused by people, not the tunes on the radio.  Behavior is adjusted to fit in based on the group dynamic and not on song lyrics; a group can become violent at a concert because of the atmosphere created by those in attendance.  If a person is feeble-minded enough to punch someone because the song told them to, should the musician be blamed for the irrational behavior of a disturbed person who interpreted their art incorrectly?

I attended a concert in 2006 where a man, Andy Richardson, received a fatal injury as Deftones was on stage at the Family Values Tour, a multi-band event;  he angered other men in the mosh pit by allegedly harassing one of their girlfriends and one of the males decided to punch Richardson, causing his head to hit the concrete.  Tragic, but what rubbed me the wrong way was Richardson’s mother blamed the security at the concert for her son’s death and expressed interest in pursuing legal action against Korn, the headliner of the event.  At no time did I see an interview or read a statement of Richardson’s family blaming the guy who delivered the punch that led to the fatal injury.  Instead, they blamed everyone else.  Stories popped up everywhere afterward claiming that the Family Values Tour was started by Korn as a way to promote violence and bad behavior and that their lyrics were extremely harmful.

I started writing this blog today after listening to Korn’s My Gift To You on my iPod.  It stemmed from a dream Jonathan Davis had about killing his wife; he shared the dream with her and she urged him to put it to song.  For some reason, I began thinking of what someone would think if they had never been exposed to this type of music, what they would think of me for listening to lyrics describing a man watching the life drain out of a woman.  I first heard the song back in 1998 when I was 16 or 17 and my impressionable teenage mind didn’t take it out of context then nor does it affect me negatively now.  That song is one that has always served as a way to cheer me up when I’m sad or even slightly annoyed, the same way hearing Ice Ice Baby makes me happy or listening to Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO makes me laugh and sing along.

Music for me has been a means of escape and a way of expressing emotions in a private manner.  When I was hospitalized in my freshman year in college over a scary experience, I got through it by listening to Rammstein and Rob Zombie nonstop; it distracted me from the medical procedure and put my mind at ease for the duration of my stay.  It’s impossible for me to be irritated at work when I have Sir Mix-a-Lot in my headphones.  The music I enjoy matches my personality, not because it had a hand in shaping it but because it appeals to it.  Music is not my life, it’s just a part of it.  I can’t blame it for any of my choices or actions and other than choosing to drop cash on concerts and CDs, it hasn’t influenced any of my decisions.  Music is one of life’s great accessories.  It might sound deep to assign it great meaning and say that it’s life and the universal language, but it just isn’t true.  Music speaks to us all differently and has various levels of importance from person to person.  It’s not the foundation to our lives, but simply a provider of a few bricks.  It doesn’t control who we are and what we do; those things lie solely on the individual.  We have to stop laying our blame on outside sources and start looking at the individuals who are responsible for the negative activities happening around the world.

Survival Of The Fittest

Halloween is approaching and the natural thing to do in the Baker home is to overdose on any and every horror film imaginable.  Not one horror flick goes watched without me saying or thinking “WHY did they do that??” at least once.  I get that not every character can be a genius, otherwise the movie would be pretty boring, but at times even the main character who is set to survive will ignore all common sense and do something so moronic that it puts them on the brink of death.  Jamie Kennedy’s character in Scream summed up the basic rules pretty well:

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie! For instance, Number One: You can never have sex. Sex equals death, OK? Number Two: You can never drink or do drugs. No, it’s the sin factor, it’s a sin, it’s an extension of Number One! And Number Three: Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, say ‘I’ll be right back’, ’cause you won’t be back.”  He also points out in Scream 2 that you should “never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead.”

Not having sex and never saying that you’ll be right back are good tips if you’re actually living out the plot of a scary movie, but it doesn’t help too much in the real world.  Not drinking or doing drugs is a good tip since it obviously impairs your judgment and coordination.  Never assuming the killer is dead is also a helpful tip; it seems like common sense but it also seems easy for a person to be so eager to escape or so caught up in victory that they forget a simple knock on the head didn’t necessarily take the killer out.  To go along with Randy’s words of advise, I have some of my own to ensure survival in a horror OR an action movie:

1.  BEWARE OF MAJOR CITIES.  Ever notice how aliens love to destroy New York City, terrorists hate Los Angeles, the Decepticons had a grudge against Chicago, and Washington D.C. has an abundance of buildings that are fun to blow up?  If you live in a major and easily recognizable city, chances are good that you’ll face some sort of unspeakable monster or catastrophe.  Live somewhere low-key instead.  The most I have to worry about are aliens drawing pictures in the corn field near my home, and if they’re anything like the ones in Signs, all I have to do is swing away…

2.  DRESS FOR SUCCESS!  No one survives a zombie attack wearing 5″ stiletto heels and a miniskirt.  Some clothing just isn’t designed for comfort and fast movement.  Choose practicality over style when the situation gets gritty.  If you hear a strange noise, don’t exit the bathroom in just a towel, throw some clothes and shoes on.  The MINUTE you sense danger, get some shoes on; watching Liv Tyler’s character in the Strangers scamper around barefoot drove me batty.  If Skynet becomes self-aware right in the middle of a dinner party, raid your friend’s closet or break into a department store to get better suited clothing.

3.  FOLLOW THE ANIMALS.  Animals have a 6th sense that we either lack or choose to ignore.  Ever notice how a dog will sense a thunderstorm before the weatherman?  In Cloverfield, the kids are fleeing down the subway tunnel when suddenly a swarm of rats runs past them.  Rather than run like all hell broke loose, they chose to wait and wonder why they were running (mini death machine aliens were chasing them of course) which caused one of their group to die after receiving a bite from said death alien.  Normally, we’re smarter than the rat.  You shouldn’t follow a random rat around in circles as it searches for crumbs.  You should definitely run like your life depends on it if every rat in the area is running in one direction.  Stop and think about what you could be running from later on when you’re safe.

4.  TRUST NO ONE.  My husband and I watched Seventh Moon last night, starring Amy Smart.  The first mistake her character and husband made was trusting their cab driver; he left them to die at the hands of demons.  The second mistake was trusting a wounded man and giving him a ride in their car; he also tried to hand them over to the demons.  You can’t trust people in a crisis situation; always assume they are looking out for themselves and consider you disposable.  Look at everyone as though you are Jack Bauer and everyone but Chloe is probably going to betray you at any given moment.

5.  IGNORE THE KIDS.  In Legion, lives are risked to protect a little boy who turns out to be possessed and nearly fillets a pregnant woman with a butcher knife.  Demons in Supernatural (yeah, it’s TV, but it works) have used the bodies of children on multiple occasions because the average person doesn’t see a little kid and think “Hmm.. I think they will probably try and rip my heart from my chest with their tiny hands, I should move along.”  The first instinct is to help, and if you’re dealing with an entity not of this world that possesses even some insight on our culture, they are bound to use kids against us to lure us into a trap.  Damn kids.

6.  MAKE NO EXCEPTIONS!  Everyone knows that if you’re bitten by a zombie, you’re infected and will eventually turn.  As seen in every zombie movie ever, a poor soul will be bitten and will have help concealing the bite from the others, knowing that if they find out, they will deliver a head shot to the infected.  Don’t let your feelings get in the way!  If a loved one is showing signs of turning to the dark side, take the necessary actions and take them out.  My husband would not hesitate taking my head off if I received a zombie bite.  That’s love, people.

7.  BICYCLE ANYONE?  Everyone always acts like there are two forms of transportation during a crisis; motor vehicle and your two legs.  Sadly, walking is slow and gas isn’t a never-ending resource when the world is in shambles.  Why not pick up a bike?  Honestly, I’d be the most happy with a tank that can fly and float and has endless ammo, but the reality is at the most, I’d have a car that would eventually have a dry gas tank.  Faced with walking or “borrowing” a bicycle, I’d think I’d rather pedal for my life than run for it.  Plus if you’re tethered with a non-zombie child, it’s easier to sit them on the handlebars and pedal away than it is to carry them and run.

8.  DON’T MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN.  Don’t yell “hello?” to a dark room.  Don’t pop out of your hiding place the minute you think danger has passed.  Learn to whisper or don’t speak at all.  If you’re traveling with a baby or with my dog, you’re probably screwed.  Please don’t scream like little girls at every dead body you come across.  Watch your step.  And if you’re like me, rob a pharmacy and stock up on Claritin so your sneezing doesn’t equal your death sentence.

9. THERE IS NO TIME FOR PITY PARTIES.  It’s only natural to want to cry when an alien ship zaps your home into oblivion, taking the family pet and your spouse with it.  But crying on what used to be your front step isn’t going to help you survive.  Save your tears for the safe house and keep your focus on getting yourself and your remaining loved ones to a non-exploding location.  The other option is to turn your cry-fest into an all out rage-a-thon and murdering every bad guy in sight.  Either way.

10.  BE SMART!  Use the big sexy organ between your ears to its fullest extent.  Allow it to plan ahead and grab a backpack to stock with supplies you’ll need to survive and can barter with.  Let it decide that a gun is a great weapon, but you need a backup when you run out of bullets.  Listen to it when it tells you to choose path A over path B, regardless of what Random Guy In Army T-Shirt thinks is right.  Don’t eat the red berries.  Never allow yourself to get lulled into a false sense of security and forget that you’re in the middle of a dire situation.  You don’t need to have the brain power of House, MD combined with the survival skills of Les Stroud, but you need to keep your mind sharp and alert if you plan on making it to the sequel as anything more than a flashback.

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