Posted in adventuring, ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, PHOTOGRAPHY, POP CULTURE, travel

I LIKE SCARY MOVIES

So, I admit it – this was an adventure built totally of Instagram FOMO (that’s fear of missing out, for you boomers). Earlier in the year, I saw a lot of my California friends visiting an interactive exhibit called “I Like Scary Movies” in Los Angeles, and my body NEEDED to go. I knew that I had a late fall trip planned to visit Los Angeles in November, but, sadness abound – the exhibit closed in July, I believe it was. It was such a disappointment to see that we would miss out on such a cool experience, but I chalked It up to the East Coast blues and something else that I would have to miss due to my southern proximity.

It was just about a month ago when I got the “I Like Scary Movies” exhibit back on my mind, and I just so happened to morosely look it up – I was hoping to find that the exhibit was on tour, or would be touring soon. However, what I found was better – because for the week that we would be in California, they were doing an encore performance! WHAT! THINGS LIKE THIS DON’T HAPPEN TO ME! I snatched up three tickets faster than you can say lickety split and it was ON. We were going!

On our last day of vacation, after leaving the Disney bubble, we followed some questionable directions to a block of warehouses somewhere in Los Angeles, and there it was – “I Like Scary Moves”!

The staff (who was fantastic and so helpful) immediately greeted us, walked us through the rules, and set us off through the exhibit. This would probably be a good time to explain what the exhibit is, eh? Per their website:

“I Like Scary Movies is the experience that all scary movie fans have been dreaming of! A groundbreaking art experience that is a true celebration of some of the most beloved horror films. This is a unique opportunity for fans to interact and enjoy these films that they love in a completely new way with amazing interactive art and photo opportunities to share with their friends. I Like Scary Movies was born from the mind of experimental artist Maximillian, who wanted a way to dive deeper into this dark genre and explore these worlds outside of the traditional scare maze.”

So follow along through my experience at “I Like Scary Movies” if you dare!

NOTE: I’m only posting my own photos from the experience because I don’t want to post something that will make Tyler or my mother want my guts for garters. This does mean you are missing Tyler on a tricycle, and I’m sorry for that. Anyway, enjoy!

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Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, DEATH/LOSS, MENTAL HEALTH, writing

3 MONTHS

It has been three months today since my grandfather died, nearly to the minute as I am writing this – and that feels somehow both absolutely mind-blowing and impossible to believe, and also somehow … right. I guess. I honestly don’t know Forgive my inability to be eloquent, but time (and most everything) don’t make sense at all when someone leaves, and that is the one thing I have grown to know for certain in the months in his absence.

Grief. The big g word. What have these three months looked like, in my mourning? What has this GRIEF felt like? It feels like a million things, because it changes so often – I am powerless to it. Some moments, I think of him and smile at some silly memory of him being ridiculous and wonderful. Some times I hurt and tuck my tail between my legs in shame when I think about time wasted arguing about politics or other dumb time stealers that make me feel ashamed now, looking back. And other times, I find myself bent over and gasping for breath, waves of panic hitting me so hard, the world too small and the loss too big, only able to think about words like “finality” and “forever”.

I guess it really doesn’t feel like three months, now that I think more about it, and maybe that’s because I haven’t actively let time try to pass. Because I am so often in that room where he spent his final weeks, watching him sleep, trying to make conversation whenever he was able to rouse, and finally, telling him it was okay to let go. I spend so much time back there that I am not here, three months later, as much as I guess I should be. I really don’t know what I should be, or where – there’s no instructional booklet on how to survive a hole being blown right through your chest and consequently having to live around it.

Because that’s what it feels like. A hole that is still very much open, very much tender and sore, that I am trying my best to keep clean and dressed and live with. I am trying to live with this, and some days, I just can’t. Some days I lay in bed until it is late in the afternoon and I howl for him, some days I want to leave this world to be with him again, and some days all I want is just five more minutes, just five more minutes to make sure that he really heard everything I said in the end – and wanting and wishing and breaking down about it won’t change it. And isn’t that the frustration of it all? Nothing changes it.

My family has started to move on in a tangible sense, and we are doing it together. We’ve started to clean out closets, the spare bedroom – though his desk, his battle station, remain untouched – and he’s still a part of most every conversation we have. He’s here, as much as he can be. We talk about how we see parts of him in each other, and it feels good to be likened to him – even when it’s the bad stuff, like temper tantrums and mood swings (at least I got it honestly). We talk about his childhood, I try to commit every word to memory. And I think we love each other harder, make an effort to see each other more, bicker a little less. My grandmother is doing such an amazing job of commanding this ship that some days, I feel jealous of the way she navigates and wonder why I can’t do the same. But as Modest Mouse said, we all float on, and I guess we do. A quarter of a year has passed – my first birthday without him has passed. The first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are to come. And more months will pass, inevitably, hastily, and with a hole in our chests that never quite heals.

As dumb as it sounds, this old Winnie the Pooh song “Wherever You Are” is what I used to describe today in my physical journal, so I’ll close out with some of the lyrics.

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Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, DEATH/LOSS, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY, relationships

THE GO TO HELL HAT

I used to always beg to borrow this hat when I was a baby punk rocker in high school, and joked that I looked better in it than my grandfather did. Now it hangs in my bedroom and still smells like his cologne, and honestly, I’m humble enough to admit: it looks pretty damn good on both of us.

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

09/26/19, 2:05 AM

I wish I had your number cause I could use your particular brand of hurting right now.

See I’ve been doing so much searching and I need your down to earthing real bad.

I could tell you bout my problems and you’d tell me how to solve them and make me feel sorry for being sad.

Because no one ever had it worse than you and you make all my sad stuff just turn rose colored and rad.

Only I get so fucking mad at you, it’s like I didn’t earn my blue, and I have every right to suffer like I have.

But by the time I get mixed up with you I realize that you were the cue, the trigger, and the symptom I already had.

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FUNERAL SERVICE, MENTAL HEALTH, SCHOOL

SCHOOL DAYS, SCHOOL DAYS

Today is my first day back to school in a year! After graduating and passing the national boards for mortuary science, I suffered some health setbacks and have had to come up with a back up plan for the time being. Bummer, I know. While I mourn my former career, I’m very excited about my future, and about the opportunities it may grant me.

I’ve chosen to return to school to study diagnostic medical sonography – so, doin’ sonograms, basically. Did I decide on this career while watching 16 & Pregnant? Well, that’s between me and Jesus. Regardless, I’m excited to say that because of my medical background with mortuary science, I have roughly 60% of the program completed already. I will be studying at Greenville Tech, and this feels like a good and safe choice for my health, both mental and physical, and my future – financially and job stability wise. And honestly, any job where I can wear scrubs full time is A-OK with me.

I’m ready to stop focusing on the setbacks in life and embrace other possibilities of my future. You know what they say about getting off the pot, right? Time to see for myself.