Thought Catalog

18 Sinister True Life Tales To Keep You Awake Through The Lonely Night

Posted: 11 May 2016 08:00 PM PDT

via Lookcatalog
via Lookcatalog

1. Mommy’s New Husband

So, my mom remarried about two years ago. My dad died when I was twelve so she had been widowed for over ten years. This new relationship was very whirlwind with them meeting, dating, and getting married within three months. I didn’t know much about the guy, but my mom was happy, so I just tried to be supportive. She moved into his house in upstate Virginia and invited my fiance and I to spend a weekend in her new home getting to know her new husband.

My mom’s new home was pretty isolated. It sat on a few hundred acres of lovely rolling hills, and was very picturesque. I was nervous about getting to know this guy, but really trying to make the most of it. Over the course of our first day there though, I felt more and more uneasy. I didn’t think it was weird, just silly. My mom’s new husband was being very welcoming and friendly. We were being made to feel very at home, yet I still couldn’t shake this oppressive feeling. I finally chalked it up to me being more upset about my mom getting remarried than I was willing to admit to myself. We spent most of the day wandering around outside since I felt worse when indoors.

That night my fiance and I showered together. When I turned my back to him he stopped talking mid sentence and asked, “What did you do to your back?”. Well, nothing. Why? “You have a large bruise.” I hopped out to try and see it in the mirror. I got back in and we finished showering in silence. Then it was off to bed. The one window in our room looked out over a pitch black empty field, but I couldn’t sleep until I hung something over the window. I felt sure that otherwise someone would watch us through the window.

The next morning I had a complete meltdown. I woke up and just couldn’t stop crying. I told my finance we had to leave. He tried to calm me down by telling me all the things I had been telling myself. My feelings of anxiety were just a result of seeing my mom with someone. The longer I spent with the them the easier it would become. But I just had to leave. It was only Saturday morning and we were supposed to stay until Monday, but I felt completely hysterical. I knew I was on the verge of a panic attack and my only concrete thought was I had to stop crying long enough to make our excuses and get the hell out. We did.

As soon as we were on the road I felt like a weight had been lifted. I was even feeling embarrassed for my behavior, hoping I hadn’t insulted my mom’s husband by leaving early. Then my fiance broke the silence, “That bruise on your back….did you get a good look at it?” I had. It looked like some had touched the middle of back, with fingers spread wide, with their hand at a tilt. I want to make completely clear, no one had touched my back the previous day, especially hard enough to bruise me.

Cut to three weeks later. My mom comes to visit me. The entire time she’s hounding me to come stay with her again. After finally trying to change the subject for the fifth time, I level with her. Before I’ve even finished telling the story her face is white as a sheet. She tells me she has been feeling the same way in the house. She hates it. She wants them to move as soon as possible. And the real kicker…her new husband’s previous wife shot and killed herself right outside in the same field our room window overlooked.

2. A Week From Christmas

I moved to my dad’s when I was 10 and didn’t know anyone in the area, except for the family my dad was friends with. Single mom with 3 kids, luckily there was a girl a couple years older than me (12 at the time I met her) and we got to know each other a little over a couple years.

We weren’t close, but ended up having the same friends. One night my friend Rob was hanging out with her and her younger brother. They happened to be in the house alone because my friends mom was at work. Which is where this gets terrifying and sad. Her mother has been helping this one lady (through her work) and got to know her fairly well. She found out her sister was in a mental institution and was let out recently…

The night Rob is hanging out with my friend, they get a knock on the door. My friend thought it was just their mom (she knocks a certain way when coming in) and answered it without thinking. Rob wasn’t supposed to be there and he took off through the window to his house down the road. He never thought twice about it.

Wasn’t her mom. It was the sister of the lady her mom was helping, and she figured out through talking to her sister where her family lived and her moms working schedule. She came in, and this is where is don’t know details and I’m glad I don’t. My friend’s younger brother got away to the neighbors to call the police. The lady brutally murdered my friend a week from Christmas. Decapitated her and left her body, naked in a bathtub. Hid her head. They had to look through the presents and I don’t know where they found it, but they did. I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral.

3. “That’s A Good Girl”

I was sitting in my room, after getting out of work, on the second floor. Little bro is downstairs watching TV, the dog is in the hallway outside my door sleeping.

All of a sudden dog starts making all kinds of racket, jumping round, barking, clacking nails, howling. I go to get up to see what’s up and I hear “Aw that’s a good girl” in a male voice. It didn’t sound like little bro so I go “Oh you’re home early!” thinking it is my dad’s friend/our roomie as I open the door.

Soon as I’m out there there is no one at all but the dog wagging her tail staring at the empty end of the hallway. Little bro comes upstairs to yell at me for getting his dog riled up, said he heard the same voice thinking it was me or our roommate.

We did a once over of the house with my butterfly knife and his BB gun and there was NOBODY. Still gives me the spooks to this day.

4. The Abandoned House

There’s an abandoned house next to mine, the previous owner moved out to California 25 years prior and never sold it. I got a flashlight, gloves, and pushed the window open and went inside, starting with the basement. In the basement was a grand piano (still plays, but very much out of tune), old WW2 stuff, what seemed to be a signed Elvis poster, some other really cool shit no one should ever leave behind. There’s basically a whole story in that basement, including a broken wedding picture frame and instruments everywhere. On the main floor was an unmade bed, molded food still in the fridge and on the stovetop, half-empty beers turned solid, lights that still hadn’t been turned off. Then I started walking upstairs when I heard crying from one of the side rooms. That’s when I freaked the fuck out and haven’t been there since.

5. Someone’s At The Door

This is the late 80s/early 90s, I was around 6-7 years old. I am at home with my sister who is 14-15 at the time. We grew up in a small Texas town, everyone knows everybody. We are home alone this particular night, and my folks let my sister babysit me frequently. We always got along due to our age gap.

Anyway, it is about 8pm in the winter (deserts get pretty damn cold) so it is dark and we are in the common room since that is where the TV was. Watching 60-Minutes or 48-hours or Hard Copy or some shit (those 1 hour news pieces on CBS that chronicle large crimes in depth; trafficking, murders, kidnappings and the like. Basically a gritty Lifetime special). This one was a typical story, guy next door that was quiet went on a rampage in his next door neighbor’s house mutilating them and kidnapping their young daughter.

Well, the thing about our house common room is the door leading to the back yard was a large glass door on a wall of floor to ceiling windows. Nothing but blackness beyond it unless you have the back light on (we did not). The front door is on the other side of the room with a small entry-way. This is a solid door, so you cannot see what is beyond it, with a glass storm door on the outside of it.

About 45 minutes into the show, they are talking about the ongoing manhunt for this crazy guy and BAMBAMBAM, front door bangs like crazy. We jump the fuck up and scream like banshees. Dead silence now. The only lights on in the house are the kitchen down the hall from the common room we were in and the light from the TV. We start thinking something on the porch (we had some planters and a rocking chair out there) had simply blown against the door. This was west Texas, crazy strong winds out that way. Well, a minute or two of silence and us holding each other post adrenaline overdose passes. Just when we are about to declare everything is safe we hear the storm door on the outside of our front door close. Fuck. Someone had to have opened that door to be able to bang on the front door like that. Shitshitshit. We are both frozen in the middle of the room on the floor where we had been watching TV. My sister crawls over to the TV and turns it off. It was an old TV, so you had to turn that metal dial to switch it off, which it does with a mildly loud THUNK.

Now it is just us in a room dimly lit by the kitchen light down the hall. I do not remember how much time passed with my frozen and my sister still crouched by the now off TV, but we kept making eye contact then looking at the front door. I remember this part vividly, I am on my knees sitting on my feet and I turn around to look at the back wall of windows and glass door. We hear and I see the back door knob turn, it was locked on the knob but not deadbolted. It rattles slightly as if someone is gently trying the handle. Neither of us make a sound, just held breath. Then BAMBAMBAMBAM loud as all hell someone is trying to force the door open just jerking it back and forth. The whole wall of windows is vibrating violently and I can see with each jerk of the door how my slight reflection gets fuzzy then clear then fuzzy.

My sister flips her shit and screams bloody murder. I am still frozen on the floor. She gets up and basically drags me into her bedroom, slams the door, throws her mattress and anything she can in front of her door. Thankfully she had remembered the phone (one of those ungodly heavy beige plastic long metal antenna portable phones). We still had to direct dial the sheriff there and in her panic didn’t remember the number. She just hit redial on the phone. It was one of her friends and she tells them in broken gasps that someone is trying to get into our house and needs to get there right fucking now (The profanity sticks out here more than anything else, who knows, young brain). I am curled up on the floor and cannot stop shaking. We don’t hear anything else until we see the headlights of my sister’s friend and her parents driving up to the house.

We never did find out who was at the door or why, there were no signs of anything happening but a couple of scuff-marks on the bottom of the back door that we could not remember if they were there beforehand or not. Nothing like that has happened to me or her since, but for damn sure we never forget to lock a door after that.

6. Childhood Memories

When I was about thirteen, my Mum and Dad invited round our previous neighbors from the block of flats we lived in until I was five years old. Anyway, I’d been sent to bed but could still hear everyone talking about this and that, until the woman neighbor said ‘Hey Brian’s Mum, do you remember when Brian used to complain that there was someone in his room? Well there’s a family that’s just moved in to the floor above who have a three year old son. He is complaining of the exact same things Brian did.’

This creeped me out. I had no recollection of any of this, so the next day asked my Mum. Her first reaction was ‘You don’t remember?’ then she told me all about the weird stuff that used to happen, footsteps up and down the hall, shit going missing and stuff. She said the final thing to happen was when she was listening to a record one day, and it started to slow down, like someone was holding a finger gently on the platter till it finally came to a stop. My Mum said she snapped at this point, and started shouting ‘WILL YOU LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE!’ As soon as she said this, the record went straight back to playing normally, and we never experienced anything again. I’ve never experienced anything like that since, and these days I’m quite skeptical of such stories, but I believe my Mum. Strangest thing is how I found out about it, from someone else ten years later experiencing something similar.

7. The Old Dormitory

Back when I was in college there was an old dormitory that was empty and locked up. The first floor windows were covered up with thick black curtains and the doors had chains and padlocks on them. Well my second year of school I got my EMT certification and started working for the campus EMS squad. That was easily my coolest job ever and there were perks other students couldn’t get. One of those were keys for everything.

So obviously we used those keys to go everywhere. Most places were pretty boring. My now best friend who was the other EMT I worked with decided to make the old dorm our hang out place. We would sneak in with friends and drink there on the weekends or nights where we didn’t have class. We usually stayed on the first floor on just one wing of the dorm. The one closest to the back entrance. We didn’t stray because the place was dirty and had cobwebs.

So one night we were drinking in the one room we set up with tables and chairs that we seized. We were all together. Nobody was missing when somebody very close to our room and very loudly screamed “WHO THE FUCK IS THERE?!” to which one of use drunkenly responded “Who the fuck do you think it is?” a very confused voice responded back “you’re not coming with me then, John?”. They sounded like they were walking away from us towards the center of the building, away from the stairwell. Incidentally, none of us were named John. A few minutes later we could hear on the floor above us, a very old building floor that’s super thick, a rumbling sound that kind of shook the walls. The rumbling stopped right above us with a giant crash. Shit officially just got creepy. We all run up the stairs and make our way to the hallway above the one we were hanging out at. Right at where our room would be on the first floor was a giant filing cabinet on wheels. It was just there. Nobody else was there. You could see the wheel tracks on the floor because it was dusty as shit. But there were no other footprints around besides our own. We all fucking bolted without getting our stuff. No stopping to get our booze, or turning off our radio, or turning off our battery powered lantern.

So we obviously have to back and get our shit. We waited a few days. A friend of mine and I went one evening to go get it. First we go to the window and see if we can see if we can see our stuff in there. My friend looks in. I didn’t. He said he thought he saw somebody in the doorway. I thought he was acting retarded because of what happened the other night. We sneak in and make it to the room and get our shit. Somewhere down in towards the center of the building we hear a door shut. It’s completely dark that way. We hear a door closer open and we don’t wait to find out what the fuck that’s about.

So I’m not a person who believes in supernatural stuff, and the same goes for my friends. We decide that we need to figure out what the hell is going on with this building. So about 6 of us devise a pretty easy plan to go about with. We circle the building one night and check all the doors and windows to make sure they were all locked up. Then we went to our usual entrance. Left two people on the inside of it to make sure nobody cam in or out. Then the rest started going from dorm room to dorm room checking to make sure nobody else was there. We’d go “hello?” and obviously get no response. We make it through our hallway we hang out at and our tensions ease up. One of the people at the outside door moves up to where we stopped and we go to the second floor where the filing cabinet was. Was. Because it’s back at the original place with the wheel tracks and no fucking foot prints. Tension in the group rise. We start doing the whole “hello?” and no response thing again. We get about halfway though the hall and one of us gets the idea of saying “Oh come on, it’s your friend Johnny”. A giant thud below us. Muffled screams from the two we left as lookouts probably saying something along the lines of “what the fuck was/is that?!” A giant thud behind us on the same floor. where nobody could have been because we went through those rooms and we would have noticed somebody else slamming a door right fucking behind us. It turns into a race to get back out the way we came. Past the doors that were just slammed. As we get into our hallway we can hear doors opening and closing in a way that something was coming toward us from the center of the building again. We get a few hundred yards away before we all stop running and make sure we all made it.

We found another place to hang out after that. It’s torn down now and a real dorm is built over it.

8. The Old Woman

When I was really little my parents would let me stay up late on the weekends and watch TV until I fell asleep. I really loved these times and I would stay up later than anybody else just because I could. Well one night I was almost asleep on the couch when I heard a noise on our front porch. It was the sound of our old fashioned porch swing moving back and forth. I was a little scared so I crept toward the bay windows of my living room and peeked out towards the porch. Sitting on my front porch swing was an older woman, probably in her 50’s wearing nothing but a night gown, covered in blood and holding a huge kitchen knife.

I flipped out immediately and ran screaming into my parents room but was too terrified to form words. My parents saw that I was upset, but when I finally was able to tell them what I saw, my dad got really angry and told me that it was just a dream and to go back to bed. I refused and kept crying and screaming until he had had enough and snatched my arm and dragged me towards the front door to prove that nothing was there. I kicked and screamed all the way trying to make him stop, but he kept pulling me. Finally we got to the door, he unlocked it, swung it open and said “See theres nothing th-” To this day, I have never seen the look of fear and shock that was on his face when that woman turned and stared at both of us and slowly stood up with the knife.

My dad slammed the door shut and got my mom to call the police while he went and got his gun. He went back to the door with a 12 gauge and cracked the door enough to stick the barrel out. He asked her what she was doing and she said “Somebody killed my husband, but it wasn’t me.” My dad told her that the police were coming, and she freaked out, grabbed the knife and walked away.

I never slept in the living room again.

9. The Boy On The Bridge

My university was bisected by a big lake, with a bridge going across it with an island gazebo in the middle. One night I was walking down the side of the lake about to cross the bridge to go to a dorm on the other side. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I noticed some kid in a grey/white hoodie (with the hood up) walking across the section of the bridge on my side of the gazebo, towards my sidewalk. I didn’t think anything of him…until I walked by a big tree which blocked my line of sight for a second. When I got past the tree, I happened to glance back at the bridge…and there was no one there. He couldn’t have possibly walked off the bridge (he would have had to go right by me), and if he had turned around in the split second I couldn’t see him, he wouldn’t have had any time to get all the way back to the island, either. He was just GONE.

This gets creepier: about a year later, I was about to tell this story to my friend who had been abroad that semester. He’d never heard it, and before I even got to what I saw, he cut in with “Wait, did you see a guy in a hoodie disappear?” Yes- he had seen something just like this freshmen year. Fucking weird. I hated walking across that bridge alone from there on out.

10. Simon Says

I’m not sure how freaky it is, since it’s not paranormal or anything, but when I was about 7 years old I went on a walk with my babysitter. We were walking back a mile or so to my house on a fairly busy road and about half way there she says we should play Simon Says. At first we walk faster, then skip, and then jog lightly. Then she says “Simon says run as fast as you can. Simon says turn here.” I was slightly confused, but played along. As we turned down the driveway I looked back and saw two guys chasing after us, one with a bat and the other with a knife.

We ran up to a house and some old people living there let us in thankfully. At the time I didn’t grasp how fucked up it was that we were getting chased and I still have no clue why they were.

11. Tunnels

When I was younger we frequently visited my grandparents around holidays even though we didn’t live in the same town. My aunt lived two houses down from my grandparents. The lady in the house between was creepy. She was a large woman, over six feet. She wore logging chains around her neck, a dress and work boots. The only time I remember seeing her outside was either in her garden in the back or when she was washing the outside of her house. Scrubbing the actual building. She did this often. During these times she would yell at us kids and call us all kinds of things. She would tell us the Devil would be coming for us. The adults told us to leave her alone and to avoid her. We would run the distance between my aunts and my grandparents because when you passed by she was watching out the windows. It was creepy and we never went alone.

One Halloween one of the cousins dared us to trick or treat her house. I remember how scared I was, but I didn’t want to be a ‘chicken.’ Plus I was going with the group. One of us rang the door bell and there was a lot of banging noises in the house suddenly like doors slamming. When she answered the door she had a severed head in her hands and we all went screaming. The adults told us it was a Halloween prop and we knew we shouldn’t be bothering her and deserved to be scared.

About a month later my parents got a phone call that the lady had tried to kill my aunt while she was bringing in groceries and had my young cousin in her arms. The lady had one of them rope saws and had come up behind my aunt with it. She put it over her head and around her neck and proceeded to saw. My aunt naturally flipped and started kicking the door. My uncle came and beat the lady down with a fire poker.

The police investigation revealed that the woman had been digging tunnels under her home which were coming up under my aunts, my grandparents and another neighbors house. She had been bringing the dirt up and putting it in the raised beds of the gardens. She also had a shrine of some sort underground which had a few severed heads around it.

My aunt survived btw but has a long scar across her neck.

12. Bumps In The Night

Firstly, my wife has been severely traumatized by our recent experience. She does not like to talk about this.

My wife and I buy our first house in February of 2010. We immediately fell in love with it as soon as we laid eyes on it. It had everything we wanted and plus a few extras. For the first month, everything was great. Lots of painting and decorating, getting it just the way we wanted. Then, weird things started to randomly happen. First it was small things, like things upstairs being moved (put in completely different rooms than where they belonged). I chalked it up to my wife just forgetting to put things back where they belonged. The house also started to creak, pretty loud. This is a fairly new house, so I just figured it was probably settling, as most new houses tend to do.

One day, the wife and I was preparing dinner in the kitchen. Our stairs sit right next to the kitchen entrance, so any noises upstairs were clearly audible into the kitchen. I turned off the water at the sink and as soon as I did, we both heard a cough. We have no kids and no one was visiting. The windows were all shut, the television was not on. This send the coldest chill down my spine and I could feel the blood running out of my face. I look to my wife and she too had gone pale and had this look of absolute fear. Someone was in our house and they were upstairs. I quickly grabbed the sharpest knife I could find and my wife called the police. I walked to the bottom of the steps and stood silently and heard a loud pop/creak, just like the ones I had always heard the house make. My hands were shaking and my wife was whispering to the 911 operator, telling them we think we may have a robber in our home.

The police arrive in minutes. Thankfully, they had been patrolling nearby. The office walks slowly up the stairs, gun drawn. He calls out “This is the police, is anyone upstairs?” No response. I’m right behind him, walking up the stairs. We look into the first bedroom and closet. Empty. No one in the half bath either. Last room is my office where I have my PC. No one in the room or the closet. I felt the tension ease away and felt like a complete tool, making this officer search the house, only to find nothing. We turn to walk out of the room and right above us….creek! I just about shat brix. In my office closet, there is an attic access. The officer pulls the steps down and again calls out “Is anyone up there? This is the police!” No response. He turns on his flashlight and peeks his head up.

He finds a man, in his 40s, kneeling there in the attic, looking dead at him. Gun drawn, he tells the man to come out and put his hands behind his head. They arrest the man. He didn’t say a word the whole time and would not look anyone in the eye. He was scruffy looking and had dirty clothes on. Me and my wife we’re freaking out. I don’t think either of us have fully gotten over it. After questioning the man in the police station, we found out that he was a homeless man who found refuge in the house while it was still on the market. He said the doors were unlocked and so he stayed there. Apparently, a realtor much have forgotten to lock the door after showing someone the house. He said that when people would come to the house, he would hide in the 2nd floor attic. We bought the house, and this guy was living in it for a whole month, without us even knowing. It really freaks me out still just thinking about it.

Don’t shrug off all those bumps in the night.

13. A Mystery On Route 66

When I was a freshman in college I was on a film shoot near Barstow on Route 66. We were shooting on the property of the café known for the film Bagdad Café. This property has an abandoned motel attached to it, which is where we were shooting this unbelievably bad horror film.

The motel’s floor was full of papers, something I initially figured was a relic from the past, while the motel was actually doing business. A while into the shoot, we started picking up the papers and reading them.

They were handwritten letters from the seventies, perhaps never sent. They were addressed to dozens of different people, starting out normal, but going on to describe some really, really fucked up things. This was a guy who literally had some demons. He kept talking about how “they” were watching him and the like. The handwriting also got more and more messed up as we assembled the letters chronologically.

Meanwhile, outside the motel there was a storage container with “KEEP OUT” spray-painted on it. Naturally, we were curious. There was a hole in the side, and someone reached in and pulled out some documents. Among them was a letter, on government typeface (I think it was the VA), telling the person who wrote those crazy letters that he was (unknowingly) a participant of some tests of hallucinogenic substances while he was in the army.

This whole time, there was a room in the abandoned motel that was sealed off, that we were strictly forbidden from entering. All the windows were covered by plywood, and the door was barricaded shut. It smelled like death. Seriously the worst smell I’ve ever encountered in my life.

14. The Dogs Knew

I don’t have any way to verify whether this is actually a family story or whether it’s an urban legend, but here:

My family has lived in rural Nebraska since they immigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s. Near the turn of the century disease was pretty rampant in the homesteading area and it killed off members of almost every family. When someone died from illness, time was of the essence in burying them as not to let the virus spread from the deceased to the living. This meant no wake periods.

So an aunt of some unknown number of “greats” preceding her relationship to me dies of some disease and she gets buried in the family cemetery on the the homestead. The dogs were very fond of her so it wasn’t too surprising that after the funeral the two dogs stuck near the grave.

The rest of the family began to think something of it when, a week and a half later, the dogs were still visiting her grave almost constantly. But they weren’t just at the grave. They were visibly distressed, frantic, and often barking while there.

This goes on for maybe two weeks when the family decides to check it out. They dig the casket up and open it.

The deceased’s hair has all been pulled out. Her fingers are raw and bloody and mangled from where, on the inside of the casket door, they can see deep scratches in the wood.

She was comatose when they buried her, and she came to while underground, spending probably her last five or so days alive in a buried casket.

15. I Want To Play

Ever since I was really little my family has always encountered really weird ghostly phenomenon. The house we live in now has been the worst by far however with an almost constant stream of events happening. One of the stories that always freaks people out the most is that there was this little girl who knew our names and would approach us all at different times. One night I was asleep and i heard a knocking on my door and a girls voice saying “Open the door!!! Let me in! I want to play!! Open the door!!” At first I thought it was my sister but as I woke up I realized it was a much younger girl’s voice.

I sat there silently (freaking the fuck out) until it eventually stopped but just as I was about to go haul ass into my sister’s room there was a relentless pounding on the two separate doors that enter my room and this little girl screaming with laughter saying “I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!! LET ME IN!!” After a few minutes I just ended up yelling “STOP IT” and then the pounding stopped. The next morning my mom and my sister, who I hadn’t told, were talking about strange footsteps and giggling sounds all throughout the house but neither of them had heard any pounding or me yelling.

16. The Unknown Roommate

I was about four or five years old and my parents had just separated. My mom was living in a two bedroom apartment, I had my own room but I preferred to sleep in her bed whenever I was staying with her. Our two bedrooms were at the end of a hallway, directly across from each other. Our apartment was on the first floor and I remember that it was in the middle of the summer and my mom had a window open her room, which was directly behind the bed (above the headboard).

Anyways, I woke up in the middle of the night and remember sitting up and seeing that our cat was sitting in the door frame of my mom’s room (her door was open and you could partially see into my bedroom), this was strange because our cat was typically always in bed with us. As I was watching him he walked into my bedroom and meowed. I turned to face my mom and wake her up. In the three/four seconds it took her to wake up and ask me what was wrong we both looked back up in the door frame and there was a man standing by my open door, making his way out of my bedroom. I still don’t know how she managed to do it so quickly, but my mother proceeded to pick me up and literally throw me out of the screen window (again, we were on the first floor and it was maybe a three foot drop to the ground). She quickly followed and we were able to start screaming for help and someone called 911.

The police came but didn’t see any signs of forced entry. Only that our front door was unlocked which led them to believe the man must have exited that way. The strange thing was that my mom swore up and down that she had locked the door that night, with the deadbolt and chain lock. About a week later she was cleaning the kitchen and opened up our water heater closet and found a notebook with names and drawings, as well as a pair of gloves and some gum wrappers. The police were called again but all they could do was speculate that the man had been in our house and hid until we were asleep.

17. A Woman And A Cat

My sister used to claim she saw a lady in a black dress in our stairway when she was little, and my uncle who got divorced and moved in with us said he used feel like a cat was in the room with him. He claimed he felt a cat jump on the bed at night and knock things off the window sill.

Well, when my dad was redoing the drywall in the stairway he found an old black and white picture of a lady in a black dress with a cat on her lap.

18. The Farmer’s House

Back in high school, around the end of my junior year I believe, it became popular to go on these adventurous endeavors to "haunted" places. Literally a group of about thirty of us would carpool to some abandoned house one weekend, or to some secluded forest the next, spending the days at school in between searching for more places like this in the area. Anyhow, we had this cavalier nature about us when it came to potential hauntings.

At some point, a friend of mine who was several years older than me told me about how he and his friends would do similar things when they were young. His childhood home backed up to a huge farm and he and his friends would spend their days fishing or hanging out on this farm, so they were quite familiar with it. The owner, apparently a very religious man (a priest or pastor maybe), had owned the farm and a small house on the property. The story went that the owner had been locked up for murder and died in prison, leaving the farm to whomever and it wasn't kept up. However, upon hearing the news of this man's demise, my friend told me that he and his friends had decided to go into this house. I guess the windows had been busted out and they opened a door and walked in. He described them fooling around and trying to scare one another. But, he had decided to walk up the stairs and upon his reaching the second floor he saw a coffin in the main, open room. The way he had explained it to me was that he didn't know what it was immediately and sort of sauntered over to check it out only to have the sudden flash of realization that this was a coffin in an abandoned house. I suppose he and his friends made a quick retreat from the house. Of course, he told this part of the story much better, peppering in more details about the man who owned the property that gave the story that mythical, supernatural sort of feel. I remember being frightened by his delivery and sincerity, though it is quite likely he had rehearsed it before for occasions like that.

This story had taken place fifteen years or so previous to him telling me. I told one of my adventurous cohorts the story and we thought it would be a good idea to investigate it. I knew where this person had lived, so we assumed we could simply walk behind his house, find the farm, then find the house. We had a grand plan to bring the whole group out on the weekend, but we weren't sure if we were being strung on a lie, or if this place was still there if it were true. Anyhow, after football practice one weekday, he and I drove out to the street my friend lived on. There was definitely a farm behind his and his entire streets' homes. We decided to go ahead and sneak through someone's yard and onto the farm to see if the house was there. Once we made it through the manicured, suburban yard and through the brush separating the farm, we were knee deep in an overgrown field. We sort of hacked our way through a bit, and sure enough as we made it to the edge of a hill the house was only a hundred or so yards away. We had made it that far so we decided to go in and investigate. As we approached this house, there was a huge, black bird perched on its roof. Once we were within twenty feet of the house, the bird flew away from the house and perched upon a tree adjacent to the house. Being a bit nervous, we began questioning why the bird had made such an odd move, but thought better of making a big deal about it. Now, this house is the prototypical haunted house. It had that quant, historic look to it, with the broken windows, eerie shadows, and sort of ominous stature one associates with a haunted house. There was even a grave marker in the front yard. So, again, we were increasingly nervous as we approached this house. The door was jammed shut, but the window had been completely removed, so we played rock-paper-scissor for who would climb through first. I had the luxury of going in second, but did so quickly as being on the porch by myself was just as unsettling. The inside of the house had literally not been touched. Besides weather damage, most everything was intact. There were pictures, and decorations still up, with a bit of furniture remaining. We eventually became comfortable with being inside and began to snoop around. Of course, we were fearful of trekking upstairs, afraid to find something we didn't want to find. Alas, we squeamishly crept up the stairs only to find an empty space. At this point, we became at ease with walking around the house, laughing off the "ghost story" mystique. As we looked through the main floor again, I noticed that there was a tiny door in the kitchen. It was about knee high.

Undaunted, we flung it open only to reveal a dark, stone stairwell that a person would literally have to crawl down. Its presence alone was terrifying, for some reason, but it had a landing about halfway down, with the stairs turning a different direction and out of our sight. However, perched on the landing and partly concealed by the walls to the other part of the stairwell was a large, rectangular, wooden box: a coffin. Now, my friend and I weren't exactly small people, so I would imagine the sight of us pale faced, with a cartoonish hair-on-neck shocked expression trying to both squeeze out of a window at the same time would have been quite comical. Not to mention the both of us in a dead sprint heading away from this house through waist high weeds. I still laugh thinking about both of us running like that. Anyhow, we turned to look back about halfway to the end of the farm just in time to see that massive, black bird fly back from the tree and onto the house. We probably made double-time from that point on. TC mark

I Don’t Think I Could Ever Unlove Him

Posted: 11 May 2016 07:00 PM PDT


Even when I try my hardest not to imagine his face, not to conjure up his smile in the middle of a peaceful dream, there he is again. He seems to wander into the most unsuspecting of places. He knows me too well to believe that I really don't want to see him. He knows no matter how hard I pretend to fight it, I want him there. I always do.

He knows. Knows the little smirk that will unconsciously stretch across my face, or the quick skip of my heart when I realize it's him and his messy hair, crooked smile. How does he always know these things?

It's hard to fall out of love with someone.

This is what I tell myself when I need comforting the most. Sure, the two of us have gone our separate ways, distracted ourselves with different things. After all, half of breaking up is hoping you'll fall back into each other; the other half is pretending you've moved on. Until you actually make it. Until you take a deep breath and realize your heart doesn't ache the same way anymore.

But it's never easy.

Letting go of love is not a quick process. Not something you can toss to the side or ignore. It's kissing someone and seeing his face. It's trying to remember the words to my favorite song without picturing his hands intertwined with mine across the center console of my car. Nearly impossible.

You can move on, but you can't really unlove someone.

This is what I learned trying to rewrite poetry into lines and verses that didn't sound like him and I. When I tried taking pictures down from my walls as if I could somehow erase the memories, make them less painful somehow.

But I didn't want to.

See, I don't think I can unlove him. Not yet. Not ever.

There's something about falling for someone that changes the person you are. You learn the little quirks about yourself, the little things that make you tick, the little wants you have, the little ways you fall in love with yourself and another person. Simultaneously. Wonderfully.

I don't know if there's anything wrong with loving a person, even after they're gone.

Not in unhealthy ways, not in bad ways, not in ways that drag you down and keep you from finding something new, finding yourself again. But when I think about what I've loved and lost, who I've loved and lost, I don't regret a thing.

And I can't pretend I didn't love him, didn't love every kiss, every state we traveled to, every laugh we shared, every time our song played on the radio, or every stupid photo that's still in the frames on my walls.

I don't think I'll ever unlove him, ever erase our memories, or find a place where he doesn't exist, hasn't existed before.

Yes, I will fall in love again. And yes, there will be a day when the love between him and I doesn't cross my mind. When another's arms around my shoulders are all I need, all I think about. When he becomes only the pictures in a photo album, a smile of remembrance that doesn't make dizzy.

I will still love him, even then. But that will be the love we both lost.

And I'll be okay with that.

But I know I'm lying to myself if I say I can unlove him, piece by piece. That I can unlearn the curve of his lips, the creases of his eyelids, the way his hands tenderly touched my hips.

You cannot unlove a person. You just let go. You just cease to remember until they become a distant, pixelated image in your mind.

And you make room for more pictures, more photo frames, more scrapbooks on the shelf. Never forgetting who and what you loved, or who you were. But giving yourself room to grow again, room to fall, room to start anew. TC mark

How To Spot A Killer: 35 Relatives And Friends Of Murderers Reveal The Red Flags

Posted: 11 May 2016 06:00 PM PDT

Flickr boxo
Flickr boxo
Found on AskReddit.

1. He tortured any living thing he got his hands on, including me.

"There were a million red flags. Abusing me, abusing his mother, accusing me of cheating when I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, have a phone, or talk to anyone, killing every animal he’d bring home because he thought it was funny. I had woken up to animal entrails strewn across the kitchen multiple times.

He tortured any living thing he got his hands on, including me.

There were a few times where he had taken his .45, pointed it at me, and told me that I had to guess if it was loaded or not. It always was. He’d pull the trigger back slightly while it was aimed at me and then point it somewhere in the house and pull it fully, firing the bullet. Then he’d laugh and tell me how lucky I was to still be alive and that I wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for him."

2. A flat-out creepy-as-fuck look in his eyes.

"Crime: Young man murdered then raped 5yo he was baby sitting.
Red Flags: As a child had fits of rage for no apparent reason, killed and dismembered small animals, punched a tree till he broke his arm, and a flat-out creepy-as-fuck look in his eyes. Major drug and alcohol problems as a young adult. Sad part is, he was physically and sexually abused as an infant before he was adopted at the age of 3. The damage had been done."

3. He was a really nice guy but I remember seeing him maybe once or twice a year just snap and go to this other place in his head.

Went to high school with a guy who stabbed a guy in the head and killed him. He was a really nice guy but I remember seeing him maybe once or twice a year just snap and go to this other place in his head. Usually a good guy, but there was a psycho in there somewhere that was trying to get out.

4. My mother loved to beat the shit out of people, mostly me.

I am pretty certain my mother killed my grandmother. The question I have was it on purpose or an accident. Grandma had dementia and my narcissistic mother took her in for the glory and sympathy a caregiver gets and of course, access to her bank account. Within 12 hours of my Gramma’s death, my mother had her dogs put down, within 24, had paid off her house, booked a 10-day cruise, and within 36 hours had bought a gigantic new SUV. I was the first person there. I saw everything. Could I prove any of it? Nope, just know that my mother loved to beat the shit out of people, mostly me. If she would admit it was an accident, she might be functioning better than she is. Oh, in the hospital she kept saying that her dog couldn’t testify.

5. I would have never thought of my father as a murderer. He was the best dad a child could have (it seemed).

"My dad shot my mom and himself when I was outside in the car. Five times with a rifle to her face, once with a handgun to himself.

I had a whistling in my ears I remember so vividly. It was so silent it was deafening, if that makes sense. It was just so…silent with this high-pitched whistle. I remember covering my ears and screaming to block it out. It would come and go. I sat in that car for what seemed like decades. It was really about two to three hours.

Whenever I get that whistle in my ears, I immediately feel like something is bad happening to my kids or wife. There isn’t much else that makes me think of it.

I was six.

I would have never thought of my father as a murderer. He was the best dad a child could have (it seemed). I remember two instances of him trying to hurt my mother, and at the time it was…normal? But now I realize something was wrong.

I know he killed out of so-called love and jealousy, and sorry to get off-topic, but I wish I had parents. Writing this makes me sad."

6. I knew my cousin would eventually kill somebody.

"I knew my cousin would eventually kill somebody, he started running with the Latin Kings when he was a kid and was always into some illegal shit. He ended up killing a cop when he was pulled over with a pound of meth, shot him 4 times killing him on the spot, they caught up to him 8 hours later and shot him 8 times and is now doing life in Oak Park prison."

7. He was, idk, twitchy?

"A high school acquaintance’s dad came home one day and killed his wife, then shot himself on the front lawn. I heard the gunshots. I had met the dad maybe once or twice prior and you could tell he just wasn’t all there. He was, idk, twitchy? Like when he was contemplating something his eyes would bug out of his head and dart all over the room instead of just staring off into space like the majority of people do. When you asked him a question it would be like you were startling him. He acted a lot like a tweaker but we knew he didn’t do drugs.

Thinking back on it now, the warning signs were all there. The mom/wife was always quiet, never made eye contact with anyone. The kids lied constantly about stupid stuff at school just to get someone to pay attention to them for a little bit. From what I’ve heard they’re doing better now."

8. Whenever you woke her up or surprised her, she would have her fists balled and be in a fight stance.

"My aunt killed three people. Two were strangers that tried to rape her, with one being successful, and the other was her brother. She was always super-aggressive and had strong views when it came to violence against people. For example, she used to always say she didn’t understand why people fight or are surprised when one dies, because it’s an automatic life or death scenario and one has to win. She also had tics, like whenever you woke her up or surprised her, she would have her fists balled and be in a fight stance. One time, she sucker punched me with the force of the gods and that was the last time I woke her up within six feet. I used to think her views on death were a bit funny, because she was so nonchalant and even got kinda pissy when people asked her why she wasn’t emotional after some funerals of close friends and relatives."

9. I was actually happy he was going to be my stepdad.

"My mother was engaged to serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells aka The Coast to Coast Killer. He was in jail for rape but was the nicest guy. I was actually happy he was going to be my stepdad. His relationship with my mother didn’t work out as he was cheating on her. We didn’t find out until years later that he was a murderer; it was a complete shock to see him on America’s Most Wanted. Even more of a shock when he was caught and started confessing to various murders across the country. He was executed in 2014."

10. He just seemed evil. He was a typical asshole jock-type with a scoop of sadism on top.

"A guy I knew in high school ripped out someone’s eyes using his bare hands after knocking them unconscious. That is worse than shooting someone in a moment of rage in my opinion. He was exactly the kind of person you would expect to do something like that though. He just seemed evil. He was a typical asshole jock-type with a scoop of sadism on top. I would describe his personality like the bully in A Christmas Story."

11. The truth is, nobody could tell. There was no telling sign. As a kid, nothing seemed off about him.

"My grandfather died and my grandmother remarried a pretty great guy, Ron. Ron had a brother, Robert.

Ron and my grandmother lived in Louisiana and we’d frequently drive down there to visit them for Thanksgiving. My father, Ron, and Robert would go duck hunting and we’d dig up some crayfish.

We played hide and seek with Robert for a while while dinner was being cooked. I sat and talked with him about my life view as an 11-year-old. We ate dinner, drove back home, no issues.

During the same time period, he picked up a drifter, killed her, and threw her body off a bridge. He eventually was caught and the family was devastated. They tried him for two murders, but he confessed to as many as 48. Reading through his confessions and the case is terrifying. There were times he came to visit while we all lived in Colorado Springs and he killed people. He even sent letters to the police.

The truth is, nobody could tell. There was no telling sign. As a kid, nothing seemed off about him. Even his own brother was shocked.

His name is Robert Charles Browne if you want to look him up."

12. He was always a crazy son of a bitch from the stories I've heard, from making homemade bombs to wrecking multiple vehicles throughout high school.

"My uncle has PTSD from the Gulf War. My entire family is pretty sure he killed one of his ex-girlfriends and buried her in the desert. He was always a crazy son of a bitch from the stories I've heard, from making homemade bombs to wrecking multiple vehicles throughout high school. I have another uncle that I hung out with a couple times in high school. Very cool guy, and he's gay. The crazy uncle gave me so much shit for visiting the gay one, telling me that I'm gonna end up getting raped and become like him. I told him that he's just an uncultured asshole, which I'm pretty sure he wanted to kill me right there. He has hurt my grandpa in the past, almost ripping an ear off. My grandma thinks it's her fault that he is the way he is, and she'd lose her mind if he ever got sent to prison for life. After getting caught by the Philippines’ Most Wanted and spending 3 years in prison, he found Jesus and is now a good little Christian man. He still bashes me for hanging out with gay people, but I mostly pity him."

13. He got into drugs very early and showed signs of psychosis as early as his late teens after he began using PCP.

"My cousin always had problems. His mother abandoned him for several years when he was young and his father was old school 'spare the rod, spoil the child' in a borderline abusive way. He got into drugs very early and showed signs of psychosis as early as his late teens after he began using PCP. He began to talk about scenarios like he was the reincarnation of our dead grandfather’s soul and he was going to come 'collect' our still-living grandmother. When he began doing meth he stole from his mother and stepfather. When I was 14 he gave me acid and told me it was just like weed (I was a sheltered kid). He was never violent, but super inappropriate with boundaries like breaking into family members’ houses without asking while they weren’t home and just chilling there and other strange things like that. He rarely held down a job for more than a few months.

He cleaned up, had a baby, and got some healthcare a year or two back. We thought he was doing better, but he relapsed on meth and shot into a car with 6 people in it. He killed one woman and injured 3."

14. She would frequently talk about the apocalypse and various ways to kill herself, which definitely freaked me out.

"Not a relative, but I was an acquaintance of the victim and met their murderer several times. This girl I went to high school with always seemed nice and was super talented with the violin (this was an a performing arts school). We were never really friends, but I was close to a good friend of hers.

Her mother was extremely psychotic and had just divorced her husband. She would frequently talk about the apocalypse and various ways to kill herself, which definitely freaked me out. The mother didn’t seem to be super controlling or strict, but she was buying and hoarding pain medication. The one memory that really stands out to me is how she told my friend’s mother that she was planning on killing herself and her children to spite her husband. When Christmas break was over I heard about how she took a rifle and shot the girl, her brother, and herself… I was not surprised, but upset that none of us ever spoke up about the warning signs."

15. He would only talk to coaches with biblical names, would only wear white, and even came out to a teammate that he believed he was the Messiah.

"I went to high school and played football with a guy who randomly killed a guy with a machete. He was honestly one of the nicest people I’ve met and really funny and genuine. He did have an odd home life. He lived with adopted parents but still had a relationship with his mom, who lived nearby. All of a sudden one day, she takes him back into custody and he doesn’t go to school with us anymore. This dude was insanely good at football, like NFL good. He played at Texas A&M for two seasons before freaking out, and running away from campus and dropping out of school. That was when things started getting weird. He then was in and out of jail for various charges, relating to drugs, grand theft auto, domestic disturbance. I remember one day I read an article in which his mom was saying how he was trying to play football again. Then about a year later, the next article I read said he randomly murdered a guy with a machete on a jogging trail and called the police on himself. He was just recently found unable to stand trial and is undergoing psychiatric treatment….Yes, there is a lot more to this story. There is an article that talks about how when he was at Texas A&M he would only talk to coaches with biblical names, would only wear white, and even came out to a teammate that he believed he was the Messiah."

16. He was drunk most of the time and had a vicious temper when it came to his family only.

"Not a relative, but someone I knew well. I never in a million years believed he would be capable of what he did. One night he fought a man in front of two children (both under 5) and stabbed the guy in the chest and neck before gouging out his eyes. He then ran out of the house and broke into a neighbor's covered in blood screaming about how he had killed someone. For me, in hindsight, I would say he was troubled. He was drunk most of the time and had a vicious temper when it came to his family only…but other than that, nothing. He was just a teenage boy, barely 18 when it happened."

17. They took turns being the aggressor in their arguments, but I never suspected that he would murder her. They also had really loud sex.

"My uncle murdered his wife while the kids were in the house. He shot her, cut her in half, then killed himself. There were a few signs. Every time I visited them, you could tell he was having trouble with my aunt. They were always so passive-aggressive with each other. They took turns being the aggressor in their arguments, but I never suspected that he would murder her. They also had really loud sex. I found out later they were into BDSM, but surprisingly, he was usually the submissive one according to their friends."

18. He used to be suicidal and was kind of a 'creepy' guy, but that was kind of his sense of humor.

"Not a relative, but one of my best friends murdered a fellow employee a few months ago. He was a really fun guy to talk to and in my opinion he was a good person. That was, until he lost his job due to a harassment charge. He used to be suicidal and was kind of a 'creepy' guy, but that was kind of his sense of humor. After he lost his job, he became depressed and angry, but he put up a front and said that he was OK. The whole time he was planning what he would do next. He used fellow employees to figure out his victim's schedule and waited by her car and ambushed her. He was caught and is in jail now. Seemed to be a planned act of rage."

19. He wasn’t cocky or narcissistic and I honestly never got a single red flag from him all of our childhood.

"My cousin killed three guys. Got into a fight with two guys at a bar and somehow managed to kill both of them. They were all drunk and I know he served time in prison for it. About 2 years after he got out, he couldn’t get a job and resorted to thieving. He shot a cop who was trying to arrest/stop him from stealing from a train depot.

Growing up, we were real close. He was a normal kid, never hurt animals, never reveled in doing bad things. He wasn’t a bully at school, he didn’t throw his weight around. He wasn’t cocky or narcissistic and I honestly never got a single red flag from him all of our childhood.

Once we grew up, we drifted apart, but we kept in touch and I never had any bad memories of him. He liked Lost and thought it was a fun show. His wife was nice and was OBSESSED with Lost and my cousin. I went over there multiple times and they seemed very functional. I never once felt any signs that things were off. They had healthy and nice kids together.

The bar fight incident, as far as I know, was a disagreement between three drunk people that ended unfortunately. He told me, after getting out, that it was an accident and he never meant to hurt anyone like that. He was just defending himself. But I noticed after getting out that things had changed in him. He wasn’t mean or violent, but no one wanted to hire him.
He had issues with jobs and I know his home life WAS a bit stressful because of it. His wife and kids still loved him, they didn’t divorce and I still stand by that they were a good couple and truly loved each other.

I think the first two guys was just a mistake. I think the third guy was an unfortunate event that culminated when he couldn’t find a job or make money and wasn’t going to risk being caught again. I think he made a decision where it was his life going back to jail or the officer who had seen him and was trying to apprehend him."

20. There weren’t any real red flags, but his family did have some mental illness in their history.

"Cousin of mine shot his father 12 times and his mother once in the head. He then told his younger brother to clean up the blood and to write messages on the wall like, 'Sorry, my first kill was clumsy' and other chilling stuff. The two of them then went to an anime convention in Oakland and acted like nothing happened. This happened last week. There weren’t any real red flags, but his family did have some mental illness in their history, on top of the fact that the father was not OK with his son being gay, I guess he just snapped."

21. I am quite literally sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

"My half brother, we’ll call him M, killed his 6-week-old son. He’s currently sitting in prison awaiting trial for 1st degree murder. The autopsy revealed that the baby had multiple bone fractures in various stages of healing. He was also severely malnourished and underweight. M admitted to police that he was overtired from staying up late playing video games, and when the baby started crying he lost his temper. He explicitly told the police what he had done to his son. I won’t describe it here because, frankly, it’s utterly horrifying. I am quite literally sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

I hadn’t seen or talked to M in years, so I can’t say that I noticed any red flags recently. But I do know that our father was extremely mentally and physically abusive. I watched him beat my brother with a metal studded belt. I saw him throw a kitten against the wall, killing it, in a fit of rage. My parents split up when I was about 3 and my mother had custody, so I didn’t have to deal with the abuse as much as my brothers did (they’re my father’s children with another woman).

So I suppose the cycle of abuse continued, and M is looking at spending the rest of his life in prison. I never met his son, but I cried for days after hearing about it. I wondered if things might have turned out differently if I had maintained contact, if I could have helped him cope with being a new parent, and maybe the baby might still be alive. It kills me to know that, during his whole life, all this kid knew was fear and pain."

22. My father has always shown sociopathic tendencies; he kind of reminds me of a kid around 8 years old stuck inside a 44-year-old’s body.

"I watched my father behead a man with a knife. It was over drugs. Father had a good lawyer and got 3 years, I think it was some kind of self-defense claim, but it was total bullshit. I watched that man lay sprawled on the ground face down while the serrated edge of the knife carved through his skin like paper and I heard his screams and gasps of pain. I still have vivid nightmares about it. As for red flags, my father has always shown sociopathic tendencies; he kind of reminds me of a kid around 8 years old stuck inside a 44-year-old’s body. I cut contact with him a few years ago when the memories resurfaced, I was only 4 when I saw it happen, and his mother confirmed it to me. Thankfully, my mother split with him when I was a year and a half, but I don’t think I was supposed to be there, my grandma probably let me go with him while I was being babysat."

23. I wouldn’t say there were huge red flags…but he would have my cousins and aunt steal from us whenever they would visit.

"I talked about this yesterday, but my uncle shot a man and had his children help drag the body to the mud so the pigs could eat it.

I wouldn’t say there were huge red flags…but he would have my cousins and aunt steal from us whenever they would visit. That would probably be a sign that his wife and children were too afraid to say no to him?

With that said, he was super nice to us and it was pretty shocking to find out what he did….

Why did he do it? The man kept hitting on my aunt and telling her 'I'm going to kill your husband. You’ll be mine.'

Is he in jail? No, he’s on the run. The man he killed was an illegal immigrant which, I think, made it difficult for police to pursue the case or if people even reported the man missing.

I’m not sure if the pigs ate him or not, I would assume so since I don’t THINK a body was ever found.

He didn’t work in a pig farm. It was a chicken farm in the remote parts of Georgia. He just happened to have pigs and a cow."

24. I asked further questions regarding bedwetting, arson, and hurting small animals (triangle of sociopathy). He was able to confirm that he had exhibited all three behaviors.

"A kid I went to school with was hired by a woman and her boyfriend to kill her ex-husband who was taking her to court. What ended up happening was he showed up and there were two people there. He executed both. His friend, the woman’s boyfriend, was there as well. He panicked and gave his friend up to the police eventually. I work with his uncle and he said at every family event his nephew barely spoke and had his own desk to sit at. I asked further questions regarding bedwetting, arson, and hurting small animals (triangle of sociopathy). He was able to confirm that he had exhibited all three behaviors. He’s currently serving 70 years or so."

25. The red flags were he was a mean-ass dude

"My Granduncle, it was a revenge type murder, never was caught but we all know he did it. Guy got in a bar fight with his friend and stabbed him to death and one week later the guy's body is found. The red flags were he was a mean-ass dude. Did not like him, my dad told me about how afraid he was to have sleepovers with his cousins because of him, and his cousins treat my grandfather like he’s their dad. One particular sorry is when the family dog broke his leg or something he pulled out a rifle and shot it in front of my whole family."

26. What I remember vividly is how needy she was during camp. Always needed you to smile or wave back at her.

"Became pen pals with a bunk mate from camp. She stopped writing after a while. Turns out she butchered grandma in her sleep and had to go to juvie hall. What I remember vividly is how needy she was during camp. Always needed you to smile or wave back at her. Guess her grandma didn’t feel like it one day."

27. My bipolar/schizophrenic aunt started going to a new church…

"When my bipolar/schizophrenic aunt started going to a new church and they convinced her that God will fix everything and she doesn’t need medication so she stopped taking her meds. Shortly after that she killed her retarded sister in her sleep with an icepick because she thought she was the Antichrist."

28. The guy that murdered my best friend had tons of red flags. But he made himself appear like the proper gentlemen to everyone on the outside.

"The guy that murdered my best friend had tons of red flags. But he made himself appear like the proper gentlemen to everyone on the outside. But behind closed doors, he would choke his wife and beat her while yelling, “quit trying to choke me! Stop hurting me!” He would beat his wife but then say she was lying about it and play the victim to everyone else.

The day after he killed my best friend and put his wife in ICU in critical condition, I kept hearing how everyone was shocked he did it because he was so nice and polite. Y’know, a good old boy. I wanted to scream."

29. No red flags or signs, they were just going through a divorce and had an argument.

"Not a relative of mine, but my boyfriend’s dad murdered his mom 10 years ago while my boyfriend and his brother were in the home.

No red flags or signs, they were just going through a divorce and had an argument. She stabbed him with a kitchen knife, and he snapped and killed her with a Samurai sword that they had on display in the home.

My boyfriend and his brother don’t blame or hate their dad. They believe both parents were in the wrong. Ultimately, his dad didn’t get charged for murder. He got a manslaughter charge, I believe. He is getting out this year after serving 10 years. LINK and LINK."

30. There were no red flags beforehand.

"My brother was involved in a murder and just finished his sentence last year. He acquired an addiction to meth around the time he turned 30; by that time he had owned a home, multiple vehicles, had a very successful life, but you know the story and he lost everything. There were no red flags beforehand, but it was a spur of the moment thing so I guess there might not be, but from the time of the murder until he was arrested he was a different man. You could tell something inside him snapped; the tenuous grip he had on reality withered away to nothing and he was as 'far out there' as I’ve ever seen anyone (it should be worth noting that none of us knew anything about the murder until after he was arrested, which was a little over a year after the murder took place). I’m glad he was arrested and sentenced to do serious time because it saved his life; at the pace he was on I doubt he would’ve lasted another six months."

31. Warning signs were her having bruises and the occasional broken bone.

"My dad’s maternal grandmother shot her husband in the forehead with a .22 long before I was born. Warning signs were her having bruises and the occasional broken bone. Apparently one day she was just waiting with the gun for him to get home all shit-faced and beady. Fun fact, the round didn’t fully penetrate for whatever reason, so he ended up being in the hospital for a couple of days before he finally died. She ended up spending some time in the funny farm and ended up babysitting me when I was 3 or 4 years old. Upon asking my dad if that didn’t seem a little weird to him, he replied ‘Nah, she loved you to death, she wasn’t gonna hurt you…and nobody else was going to either,’ with a weird little cackle afterwards."

32. He was extremely abusive on a daily basis.

"My ex-boyfriend is now in prison for manslaughter.

Long story short, I was 18 years old and 32 weeks pregnant. My ex came home drunk, punched and kicked me in the stomach for over half an hour, then passed out upstairs. (He was extremely abusive on a daily basis.) I went to the hospital because I was bleeding. I had an emergency C-section and had a little girl. She had brain hemorrhaging, couldn’t breathe on her own, and had multiple broken bones. They said my daughter wouldn’t survive 20 minutes, but she lived for 8 days.

My ex was found hiding out with a friend and was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

April 22nd would have been my daughter’s 6th birthday.

Yesterday (April 30th) was the 6-year anniversary of her death.

She may not have been here long, but I miss her every day."

33. He would go days at a time not speaking to anyone and doing nothing but drinking alone

"My paternal grandparents died in a murder-suicide. My grandfather shot my grandmother in their kitchen and then went outside and hung himself on a tree, and my father discovered them when he got home from school.

This all happened before I was born and my father’s side of the family wasn’t involved in my life until I was an adult (my mom divorced him when I was little and I never met him/talked to him, didn’t hear from my half-siblings and other people on that side until I was 18). I first heard about this from my mother when I was probably about 13, she told me that my father told her this but that she didn’t know whether or not it was true (my dad, apparently, was a compulsive liar) but when I got in touch with my half-sibling and my father’s siblings later on they confirmed it. This happened in the late 1950s. According to them my grandfather was always a very moody person. He would go days at a time not speaking to anyone and doing nothing but drinking alone, he hated it when anyone would try to bother him or talk to him. My grandmother was very meek, a bit of a shut-in, and while she was more affectionate to the family than my grandfather she also pretty much kept to herself and didn’t do anything more than she had to for the kids. My father’s siblings told me that there was domestic violence in their relationship, that the most emotion they ever saw my grandfather show was when he was screaming at/hitting my grandmother, that she would try to get him to eat dinner or ask him for money to go grocery shopping or something small and he’d just snap, grab her and shake her, and start screaming at her about why she wouldn’t just leave him alone.

The day this happened my father’s siblings told me was very strange. My grandfather joined them for breakfast before it was time for them to go to school which was totally odd because he never ate meals with them and they remember very specifically that he thanked my grandmother when she put his plate down and then walked with them to the bus stop and watched them get on the bus, waving at them as it left. They’ve told me that that’s what they remember the most about that day, how nice and attentive he was, because it was so out of the ordinary.

They’ve all said that they think he already knew what he was going to do that morning when they left for school. One of my father’s sisters has told me that it wasn’t even shocking that he would kill himself or their mother and that the only thing surprising about it was that she never thought he’d shoot her (there was apparently some confusion about it because none of them even knew that he owned a gun), and that she always thought he’d end up strangling her to death or going too far while he was shaking her and ‘bash her head into a wall or something'."

34. He was universally liked in school.

"The valedictorian of my graduating high school class ended up murdering his wife. I sat next to him in a few classes too. Talked to him often. He was universally liked in school. Not an athlete but incredibly smart. Rarely study and got straight A’s, he would do his homework in the library at lunch so he wouldn’t have to do much of anything at home. He could have gone to post-secondary for literally anything. Found God and became a pastor. That’s what put it on a whole new level. Long story short, he was having an emotional affair with a member of his congregation/former member of his congregation. He did not want to ‘sin’ so decided best course of action was to kill his pregnant wife. He experimented at least once with a smoothie laced with lorazepam I believe it was. It didn’t kill her so he did it again and put her/had her take a bath while she was loopy. Then went for a run and when he came back she had drowned. We are from a small town so it was big news. Extremely shocking when it happened. Literally no warning signs that I saw growing up. They could not prove beyond a doubt he did it so he got manslaughter. I believe 8 years that he is appealing currently. Really fucked up considering there were searches on his computer for ‘how much lorezepam’ is needed to kill someone’ (I am paraphrasing that search. I’ll try and find a link to the article.

35. One, who I love dearly, underwent a serious mental health episode and begged to be locked up the day before they killed someone.

"I know a few. Wildly differing circumstances. One, who I love dearly, underwent a serious mental health episode and begged to be locked up the day before they killed someone. Before and since they’re one of the sweetest, noblest people I’ve ever known and I trust them with my life, quite literally, despite fitting the profile of their victim almost exactly.

Another, also mental illness but I feel no pity for and should never be released, showed all the classic psycho warning signs for years and had a long history of violent offences.

Another was a spoilt rich girl who got on the drugs and decided to play gangster. Lots have no warning signs apart from their lives becoming chaotic enough for that sort of thing to happen. If not for specific sets of circumstances, most would never have killed anyone.

Very few people who kill once go on to become serial killers. Very few people who kill once get any enjoyment out of it. A group of murderers sitting around having coffee looks no different to any other group doing the same thing. It never ceases to amuse me the way people seem to think it takes a special kind of person to kill. It only takes the right conditions for us all to be capable." TC mark

The Difference Between Falling In Love And Staying In Love

Posted: 11 May 2016 05:00 PM PDT

Crazy Stupid Love
Crazy Stupid Love

Falling in love and staying in love – they’re both incredible, joyful, and thrilling parts of your life. But the problem comes when you think of them as one and the same. When you expect the infatuating, addictive, high-inducing rush of excitement that occurs during the ‘falling’ stage to last permanently. Or when you assume that the contented, peaceful, wholeheartedly trusting stage that occurs in long-lasting relationships will happen the minute you fall for someone. They’re both wonderful, beautiful experiences, but it is not until you understand how and why they are different that you can truly appreciate what you have in front of you and how you can make it last.

Falling in love means thinking every damn thing they do is adorable, even if it’s as random as the way they sneeze or the way they hold a book. Staying in love means learning how to get over all of the little things they do that absolutely drive you nuts, and loving them anyways.

Falling in love means treasuring every exciting new adventure you share together. Staying in love means treasuring even the littlest of moments – being thankful that they are sleeping safely beside you, closing your eyes as you appreciate the sound of their happy laughter in the other room, smiling at the ‘cheer up’ text they send you during a stressful day at work.

Falling in love means doing everything in your power to make them happy, because seeing them smile brings you so much joy. Staying in love means making a lot of difficult and selfless choices, because the happiness of the two of you as a team means so much more to you than your own individual desires.

Falling in love means discovering all the ways in which you are attracted to them, both physically and emotionally. Staying in love means appreciating all the things about them that they personally deem as imperfections, because those so-called ‘flaws’ are what make them who they are – your favorite person in the entire world.

Falling in love means wanting to introduce them to all of your best friends. Staying in love means finding a closeness with them on a level that is different from any other best friend you’ve ever had in your life.

Falling in love means enjoying the time in a relationship when you get to uncover all the layers that make up the person who has captivated you, and revealing yourself piece by piece to them, too. Staying in love means learning how to open up the most fragile, vulnerable parts of yourselves to one another, the parts that you keep the most hidden, and realizing that it only makes you fall that much harder for each other.

Falling in love means allowing yourself to embrace the out-of-control, overwhelmed, head-over-heels way they make you feel. Staying in love means loving them deeply even in the moments when you don’t like them.

Falling in love means carving out a space for this new person in your life. Staying in love means intertwining your stories and making every decision based on how it will affect the two of you as a whole, rather than thinking only of yourself.

Falling in love means wanting to be with them every second of every day. Staying in love means learning how to continue to be your own person, even if you’re part of a greater whole.

Falling in love means joyfully embracing the sweet, easy laughter that comes with a new relationship. Staying in love means making each other laugh even when things are darker than they’ve ever been before.

Falling in love means (understandably) wanting to spend all of your time alone together. Staying in love means learning how to be happy having lives that still exist outside of one another.

Falling in love means excitedly getting ready for a fancy night out together. Staying in love means feeling like your best self while you’re wearing sweatpants and resting your head in their lap.

Falling in love means looking forward to the next minute you get to spend together. Staying in love means thinking about the distant future with no doubt in your mind that they’ll be laying right next to you. TC mark

The Bitter Truth About Why You Suck At Moving On

Posted: 11 May 2016 04:00 PM PDT


We talk a lot about moving on, about letting go. We talk a lot about healing, about putting the pieces of ourselves back together after we’re broken. We talk about releasing and saying goodbye, coming clean and washing away our pain.

We write and we cry and we write some more. We vent to our friends and our therapists until they’re simply regurgitating the same advice over and over again about the same problems we can’t seem to stop talking about. We read self-help books and articles and we say, “Today’s the day!” with fists extended ready to take on the world with a heart that is no longer heavy and hurting.

And…then we don’t.

We don’t move on. We linger, we stay. We stay stuck in a repetitive cycle of being hurt and talking about how to get better instead of actually getting better. Talking about how to let go. Talking about washing away that pain. Talking about how to move on.

We talk a lot about moving on, but often we’re doing just that.

Just talking about it.

Because the reality of the situation? The honest to God, cold hard truth? The real talk, no holding back, bitter truth about why you suck at moving on?

You aren’t moving on because you don’t want to.

That’s it. Really. That’s it.

You’re staying stagnant in your pain, sulking in your own self-indulgent pool of misery because you’re comfortable there. It’s easier than starting over. You’re familiar with the act of prodding your own wounds so you sit there, day after day putting metaphorical salt in your cuts and then whining about how much it stings. You can basically continue on in this circle of reliving bad memories, and feeling sorry for yourself for an endless amount of time because it’s simple.

You suck at moving on because you aren’t willing to change your own life. You keep waiting for someone, something to change it for you. And when that doesn’t happen you just sit, still waiting and still transfixed on the thing you claimed to be letting go of in the first place.

You’re not moving on because you would rather talk about your pain, live in this bubble of masochism that you’ve created for yourself, continuing to play the victim because it’s easy. It requires absolutely no effort.

Moving on means doing something. It means breaking the cycle. It means taking control of your own happiness.

The thing is, we’ve all been there. We’ve all gone through a period or two (or three or four or seventeen) where we are terribly self-interested little masochists. Periods of time where all we want to do is pick at our own scabs and then ask other people if they have a bandage handy. Periods of time where realistically, we know we’re responsible for our own heartbreak, our own pain, but we’re drawn to it like a moth to a flame so we just keep burning our fingers.

It happens.

But it’s not the period of masochism and total self-asborbsion with our own problems that defines you.

It’s what you do after.

It’s how long you allow yourself to stay stuck in a pit of “I can’t let go.” It’s whether or not you recognize that at the end of the day no one but YOU can define your own happiness, so you pick yourself up and stop talking about moving on, and actually fucking do it. It’s the decision to stop allowing yourself to be defined by one bad thing, and instead go out and create new things that you would want your name next to.

The bitter truth about why you suck at moving on is that really, you probably don’t suck at moving on at all.

You just need to choose to actually do it. TC mark

15 Things Ambitious Girls Do A Little Bit Differently When They’re Dating

Posted: 11 May 2016 03:00 PM PDT


1. Their relationship will not take up 100% of their life, but they will put 100% into their relationship. It’s important to ambitious girls to have other priorities and things going on outside of their relationship. But that doesn’t mean they won’t give it their all when it comes to being happy with someone.

2. They’re not looking for a challenge, but they are looking for someone to challenge them. They’re not interested in the chase or winning the game. But they’re interested in being with someone who’s going to challenge them to be better and to grow every day.

3. Romance usually means something different to ambitious girls. They love dates and surprises just like the next girl. But in their minds, the most romantic thing in the world is being with someone who they can truly relate to, and someone who supports them in everything that they do.

4. They’re not afraid to tell you when they like you. If they think this thing has a chance, they’re not going to sit back and play coy and always wait for you to make the first move. They’re going to be straight-up with you, and you can do with that what you want.

5. They don’t play games. There’s no “wait two hours to text back” guidelines that they believe they have to follow. Ambitious girls do what they want when they want, because they don’t have time for arbitrary dating rules.

6. They’ll still have a lot of other things going on besides you. They take dating seriously. But they’re also passionate about their careers and friends and family and hobbies. When they’re dating, ambitious girls are looking for someone who’s not only going to support that, but someone who’s going to love them all the more for it.

7. They don’t hold it against you if you’re not interested. They know what they want, and if you’re not interested, they’re just happy that you’re not wasting any more of their time.

8. They’re not looking to be a trophy wife. The idea of playing backseat to their companion is nauseating to an ambitious girl. They’re looking for someone who is going to be their partner, not their leader.

9. Ambitious girls know that being tough and being emotional aren’t mutually exclusive. Ambitious girls are strong, confident, and intelligent. They know how to handle themselves. But they’re aware that that doesn’t mean they can’t be vulnerable or emotional. One of the reasons they feel comfortable dating is because they know how to be tough without feeling the need to apologize for having emotions.

10. A good conversation in their eyes doesn’t revolve around how much money you make or how successful you are. They’re more interested in hearing what makes you tick, what inspires you, what gets your blood flowing, and what you’re passionate about.

11. They know that sometimes they have a hard time opening up in the beginning. They’re used to being in control, so when they’re not, it’s a little disorienting. But they enjoy the challenge of trying to get better, so it’s something they’re always keen to work on.

12. They won’t ask you to choose between them and your other priorities, because they’re too busy having priorities of their own.

13. Ambitious girls are attracted to people who have goals and aspirations – people who want more than an average existence. They don’t need you to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 or an insanely successful entrepreneur. They just want to know you care about something that matters and are willing to work for it.

14. They’re not going to wait forever. They’ll let you know, one way or another, that they like you. They’re never in a rush to jump into a relationship, but they’re also practical about where they are in their lives and when it’s time to move on. If you like them, do something about it.

15. They’re less worried about a fairytale romance and more concerned with finding someone who will simply make them happy. They’re not preoccupied with a huge diamond ring, an over-the-top wedding, and a ridiculous love story they can tell their friends. They just want to be with someone who will love them for who they are, and never ask them to stop following their dreams. TC mark

44 Writing Hacks From Some of the Greatest Writers Who Ever Lived

Posted: 11 May 2016 02:00 PM PDT


Writing looks fun, but doing it professionally is hard. Like really hard. "Why on earth am I doing this?"-hard.

Which is probably why so many people want to write, yet so few actually do. But there are ways to make it easier, as many writers can tell you. Tricks that have been discovered over the centuries to help with this difficult craft.

In another industry, these tricks would be considered trade secrets. But writers are generous and they love to share (often in books about writing). They explain their own strategies for how to deal with writer's block to how to make sure your computer never eats your manuscript. They give away this hard-won knowledge so that other aspiring writers won't have to struggle in the same way. Over my career, I've tried to collect these little bits of wisdom in my commonplace book (also a writer's trick which I picked up from Montaigne) and am grateful for the guidance they've provided.

Below, I've shared a collection of writing hacks from some amazing writers like Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, and Raymond Chandler. I hope it's not too presumptuous but I snuck in a few of my own too (not that I think I'm anywhere near as good as them).

Anyway, here's to making this tough job a tiny bit easier!

[*] When you have an idea for an article or a book—write it down. Don't let it float around in your head. That's a recipe for losing it. As Beethoven is reported to have said, "If I don’t write it down immediately I forget it right away. If I put it into a sketchbook I never forget it, and I never have to look it up again."

[*] The important thing is to start. At the end of John Fante's book Dreams from Bunker Hill, the character, a writer, reminds himself that if he can write one great line, he can write two and if he can write two he can write three, and if he can write three, he can write forever. He pauses. Even that seemed insurmountable. So he types out four lines from one of his favorite poems. What the hell, he says, a man has to start someplace.

[*] In fact, a lot of writers use that last technique. In Tobias Wolff's autobiographical novel Old School, the character types the passages from his favorite books just to know what it feels like to have those words flow through his fingertips. Hunter S. Thompson often did the same thing. This is another reason why technologies like ebooks and Evernote are inferior to physical interaction. Just highlighting something and saving it to a computer? There's no tactile memory there.

[*] "The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading; a man will turn over half a library to make one book." Samuel Johnson

[*] Tim Ferriss has said that the goal for a productive writing life is "two crappy pages a day." Just enough to make progress, not too ambitious to be intimidating.

[*] They say breakfast (protein) in the morning helps brain function. But in my experience, that's a trade-off with waking up and getting started right away. Apparently Kurt Vonnegut only ate after he worked for 2 ½ hours. Maybe he felt like after that he'd earned food.

[*] Michael Malice has advised "don't edit while you write." I think this is good advice.

[*] In addition to making a distinction between editing and writing, Robert Greene advises to make an equally important distinction between research and writing. Trying to "find where you're going" while you're doing it is begging to get horribly lost. Writing is easier when the research is done and the framework has been laid out.

[*] Nassim Taleb wrote in Antifragile that every sentence in the book was a "derivation, an application or an interpretation of the short maxim" he opened with. THAT is why you want to get your thesis down and perfect. It makes the whole book/essay easier.

[*] Break big projects down into small, discrete chunks. As I am writing a book, I create a separate document for each chapter, as I am writing them. It's only later when I have gotten to the end that these chapters are combined into a single file. Why? The same reason it feels easier to swim seven sets of ten laps, than to swim a mile. Breaking it up into pieces makes it seem more achievable. The other benefit in writing? It creates a sense that each piece must stand on its own.

[*] Embrace what the strategist and theorist John Boyd called the "draw-down period." Take a break right before you start. To think, to reflect, to doubt.

[*] On being a writer: "All the days of his life he should be reading as faithfully as his partaking of food; reading, watching, listening." John Fante

[*] Don't get caught up with pesky details. When I am writing a draft, I try not to be concerned with exact dates, facts or figures. If I remember that a study conducted by INSERT UNIVERSITY found that XX% of businesses fail in the first FIVE/SIX? months, that's what I write (exactly like that). If I am writing that on June XX, 19XX Ronald Reagan gave his famous "Tear Down This Wall" speech in Berlin in front of XX,XXX people, that's how it's going to look. Momentum is the most important thing in writing, so I'll fill the details in later. I just need to get the sentences down first. “Get through a draft as quickly as possible.” is how Joshua Wolf Shenk put it.

[*] Raymond Chandler had a trick of using small pieces of paper so he would never be afraid to start over. Also with only 12-15 lines per page, it forced economy of thought and action—which is why his stuff is so readable.

[*] In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron reminds us that our morning pages and our journaling don't count as writing. Just as walking doesn't count as exercise, this is just priming the pump—it's a meditative experience. Make sure you treat it as such.

[*] Steven Pressfield said that he used to save each one of his manuscripts on a disk that he'd keep in the glovebox of his car. Robert Greene told me he sometimes puts a copy of his manuscript in the trunk of his car just in case. I bought a fireproof gun safe and keep my stuff in there—just in case.

[*] My editor Niki Papadopoulos at Penguin: "It's not what a book is. It's what a book does."

[*] While you are writing, read things totally unrelated to what you're writing. You'll be amazed at the totally unexpected connections you'll make or strange things you'll discover. As Shelby Foote put it in an interview with The Paris Review: "I can't begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else."

[*] Writing requires what Cal Newport calls "deep work"—periods of long, uninterrupted focus and creativity. If you don't give yourself enough of this time, your work suffers. He recommends recording your deep work time each day—so you actually know if you're budgeting properly.

[*] Software does not make you a better writer. Fuck Evernote. Fuck Scrivner. You don't need to get fancy. If classics were created with quill and ink, you'll probably be fine with a Word Document. Or a blank piece of paper. Don't let technology distract you. As Joyce Carol Oates put it in an interview, "Every writer has written "by hand" until relatively recent times. Writing is a consequence of thinking, planning, dreaming — this is the process that results in "writing," rather than the way in which the writing is recorded."

[*] Talk about the ideas in the work everywhere. Talk about the work itself nowhere. Don't be the person who tweets "I'm working on my novel." Be too busy writing for that. Helen Simpson has "Faire et se taire" from Flaubert on a Post-it near her desk, which she translates as "Shut up and get on with it."

[*] Why can't you talk about the work? It's not because someone might steal it. It's because the validation you get on social media has a perverse effect. You'll less likely to put in the hard work to complete something that you've already been patted (or patted yourself) on the back for.

[*] When you find yourself stuck with writer's block, pick up the phone and call someone smart and talk to them about whatever the specific area you're stuck with is. Not that you're stuck, but about the topic. By the time you put your phone down, you'll have plenty to write. (As Seth Godin put it, nobody gets "talker's block.")

[*] Keep a commonplace book with anecdotes, stories and quotes you can always use—from inspiration to directly using in your writing. And these can be anything. H.L. Mencken for example, would "methodically fill a notebook with incidents, recording scraps of dialogue and slang, columns from the New York Sun."

[*] As you write down quotes and observations in your commonplace book, make sure to do it by hand. As Raymond Chandler wrote, "when you have to use your energy to put words down, you are more apt to make them count."

[*] Elizabeth Gilbert has a good trick for cutting: As you go along, 'Ask yourself if this sentence, paragraph, or chapter truly furthers the narrative. If not, chuck it.' And as Stephen King famously put it, "kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."

[*] Strenuous exercise everyday. For me, and for a lot of other writers, it's running. Novelist Don DeLillo told The Paris Review how after writing for four hours, he goes running to "shake off one world and enter another." Joyce Carol Oates, in her ode to running, said that "the twin activities of running and writing keep the writer reasonably sane and with the hope, however illusory and temporary, of control."

[*] Ask yourself these four questions from George Orwell: "What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?" Then finish with these final two questions: "Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?"

[*] As a writer you need to make use of everything that happens around you and use it as material. Make use of Seinfeld's question: "I'm never not working on material. Every second of my existence, I am thinking, 'Can I do something with that?'"

[*] Airplanes with no wifi are a great place to write and even better for editing. Because there is nowhere to go and nothing else to do.

[*] Print and put a couple of important quotes up on the wall to help guide you (either generally, or for a specific project). Here's a quote from a scholar describing why Cicero's speeches were so effective which I put on my wall while I was writing my first book. "At his best [Cicero] offered a sustained interest, a constant variety, a consummate blend of humour and pathos, of narrative and argument, of description and declamation; while every part is subordinated to the purpose of the whole, and combines, despite its intricacy of detail, to form a dramatic and coherent unit." (emphasis mine)

[*] Focus on what you're saying, worry less about how. As William March wrote in The Bad Seed, "A great novelist with something to say has no concern with style or oddity of presentation."

[*] A little trick I came up with. After every day of work, I save my manuscript as a new file (for example: EgoIsTheEnemy2-26.docx) which is saved on my computer and in Dropbox (before Dropbox, I just emailed it to myself). This way I keep a running record of the evolution of book. It comforts me that I can always go back if I mess something up or if I have to turn back around.

[*] Famous ad-man David Ogilvy put it bluntly: "Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs."

[*] Envision who you are writing this for. Like really picture them. Don't go off in a cave and do this solely for yourself. As Kurt Vonnegut put it in his interview with The Paris Review: "…every successful creative person creates with an audience of one in mind. That's the secret of artistic unity. Anybody can achieve it, if he or she will make something with only one person in mind."

[*] Do not chase exotic locations "to do some writing." Budd Schulberg's novel The Disenchanted about his time with F. Scott Fitzgerald expresses the dangers well: "It was a time everyone was pressing wonderful houses on us. 'I have a perfectly marvelous house for you to write in,' they'd say. Of course no one needs marvelous houses to write in. I still knew that much. All you needed was one room. But somehow the next house always beckoned.”

[*] True enough, though John Fante said that when you get stuck writing, hit the road.

[*] Commitments (at the micro-level) are important too. An article a week? An article a month? A book a year? A script every six weeks? Pick something, but commit to it—publicly or contractually. "Quantity produces quality," as Ray Bradbury put it.

[*] "Don't ever write anything you don't like yourself and if you do like it, don't take anyone's advice about changing it. They just don't know." – Raymond Chandler

[*] Neil Strauss and Tucker Max gave me another helpful iteration of that idea (which I later learned is from Neil Gaiman): "When someone tells you something is wrong with your writing, they're usually right. When they tell you how to fix it, they're almost always wrong."

[*] Ogilvy had another good rule: "Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass."

[*] Print out the work and edit it by hand as often as possible. It gives you the reader's point of view.

[*] Hemingway advised fellow writer Thomas Wolfe "to break off work when you ‘are going good.’—Then you can rest easily and on the next day easily resume." Brian Koppelman (Rounders, Billions) has referred to this as stopping on "wet edge." It staves off the despair the next day.

[*] Keep the momentum: "Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether." Jeanette Winterson

That taps me out for now. But every time I read I compile a few more notecards. I'll update you when I've got another round to share.

In the meantime, stop reading stuff on the internet and get back to writing!

But if you have a second…share your own tips below. TC mark

Here Is Your Bullshit Horoscope For May Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Posted: 11 May 2016 01:00 PM PDT

Anna Anikina
Anna Anikina


Your life has gotten royally weird this month – and you are simply trying to keep up. An intoxicating new personality has entered your awareness as of late, and you’re feeling more and more drawn to their presence. Follow your heart this month – particularly around the 18th – but be careful, and check in with yourself as you go. Experimentation is a wonderful thing, but you don’t want to push your limits in a way that will ultimately leave you feeling uncomfortable.



You’re feeling a great deal of pressure this month to live up to an expectation that has been externally placed on you. As much as you want to make those around you happy, remember that you ultimately know what is best for yourself. Take some time around the end of the month to go completely off the grid and spend a few days reconnecting with your thoughts. As much as you’ll be missed, you need the time away to recharge and re-center – and you owe it to yourself to take it.



You’re surrounded by inspirational personalities this month – many of whom serve as a reminder of the kind of person you’re aspiring to be. Relish in their presence, but try not to compare yourself to others too harshly – remember that your journey is entirely unique to you. Plus, you’d be surprised to discover how many of the people you’re currently in awe of are also feeling inspired and impressed by you!



You’re feeling torn between your loyalties this month when it comes to old and budding relationships. While you want your life to grow and progress in a healthy way, you don’t want anyone you care about to feel as though you’re leaving them behind. Try to keep in mind this month that when it comes to new relationships, “different” does not equal “worse.” Take a chance on someone new around the 16th – you’ll be surprised by how impactful their presence on your life will turn out to be.



You’re worried about something that borders on irrational this month – and even though you know that it will work out for the best, inferior Si is getting the better of you. Mid-month, connect with a new group of people and open up to them about your concerns. They’ll have more answers than you’d expect, and they may even help you re-engage your Ne healthily, by presenting you with an exciting new opportunity.



You’re experiencing some significant changes at work that you didn’t see coming this month – and as much as they make logical sense, you’re feeling a little apprehensive about their implementation. Rather than letting these changes throw you off, look at them as an opportunity to re-define what comes next for you. You’re more in control now than ever, and it’s time you took advantage of that.



You’re experiencing a lifestyle transition this month and although you are wholly prepared for it, you’re still feeling a little on edge. Try to resist the urge to over-plan for things going wrong around the end of the month. Your fears can be a self-fulfilling prophecy – whereas everything is likely to work out for the best if you stay true to the original plan.



You’ve been misreading some interpersonal signals lately, and you can’t help but feel a little down on yourself for it. But rather than beating yourself up about how you ought to have acted, focus on moving past the situation and continuing to build on what’s going well. You’ve hit some personal and professional goals in the past couple of months – invite your loved ones to share in those triumphs with you. At the end of the day, the people who truly matter will always want to see you fulfilled above all else.



You’re experiencing a wee bit of an identity crisis this month – and your usually rock-solid confidence is starting to feel shaky at best. Remember, as you navigate some thoroughly bizarre situations near the middle of the month that the opinions others hold of you do not define you. You define yourself and who you are is pretty damn amazing – even when it feels like nobody’s noticing.



This month you’re more than ready to indulge in some of the hard-earned freedom you’ve been craving. Some of the pressure of the winter season has lifted with the arrival of spring and you owe it to yourself to have some fun. Take a new friend up on a spontaneous offer around the 16th – but don’t run too far away from home. You still have a few responsibilities to adhere to, after all. Enjoy yourself, but employ balance where balance is needed as the month draws itself to a close.



You’re feeling guilty about a recent event this month – and while your concerns are not entirely unfounded, it’s time that you gave yourself a break. You’re only human after all, and none of the mistakes you have made were born out of malice or spite. You have always only been doing the best you can with the information you have at the time. And at the end of the day, that’s always the most you can ask of yourself.



You’re feeling neglected this month and your concerns are not entirely unfounded. As difficult and uncomfortable as it may be, you owe it to yourself to speak up about not having your needs met. Chances are, the neglect is far from personal – and with a bit of awareness and honesty, the relationship that’s weighing so heavily on you can be quickly restored to good health.



You’ve been presented with the opportunity to mix up your regular routine this month and get started on a new project – one that is intimidating but rewarding in equal measure. Remember to pace yourself as you dive into things this month – as much as you’re inclined to barrel through as much work as you can as quickly as possible, you don’t to burn yourself out – and end up making an impulsive decision or two as a consequence.



You’ve recently jumped feet-first into a new situation and you’re more than a little excited about it – but you can’t help but feel like those around you don’t share your full enthusiasm. Rather than pressuring others to meet you on your level this month, give them the time and space they need to catch up. Not everyone’s as comfortable with uncertainty as you are, and they may need a little extra time to warm up to the change in circumstance.



You’re growing wearisome about a situation at work this month, which is taking far too long to resolve itself. While you know that patience is a virtue, you’re frustrated by the lack of control that you have over how things are going to work out. In the meantime, turn your attention toward family and loved ones. They can’t solve your problems for you, but they can remind you of what’s most important – which is the life you have outside the office.



You’ve had to let down somebody close to you recently in order to reach a personal goal and it’s time to repair the damage done. Carve out the time to do something special with the person who’s feeling let down, to demonstrate that you still value their role in your life. You have to take care of yourself first and they undesrtand that – but it doesn’t mean you’re lacking a heart or conscience. TC mark


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If You Ever Leave Me

Posted: 11 May 2016 12:00 PM PDT

Korney Violin
Korney Violin

If you leave me someday, it will wreck me, but I will remember you kindly. I will writhe and cry and probably pack my things and move, but I will never regret you if you leave. I will remember all of the beautiful moments we shared, and all of the memories that we made. I will drink, but I won’t drink to forget. I will always want to remember you if you ever leave me.

If you ever leave me, I will think about the first night I met you, and how you blew me away immediately. I will think about how I’d never in my life believed in love at first sight until you walked through my door on that July night. I will remember how I pined over you, and longed for you, and how I lost myself so completely in our first kiss. I will feel the goosebumps on my skin from the cool October air, and I will feel the goosebumps on my skin from your arms wrapping around me for the first time.

If you ever leave me, I will remember the moment I fell in love with you. I will remember the way everything felt like slow motion and warp speed all at once. I will think of all the nights I had to stop myself from saying it too soon, and I will still feel the pounding in my chest and the softness of your lips when you finally whispered it to me on a cold Sunday morning. I will remember the fear and fire I felt when it struck me that I would be in love with you for the rest of my life.

If you ever leave me, I will remember the way your skin felt on my skin on the night we first slept together. I will remember the heaviness of my breath and the trembling of my fingers and the shakiness in my voice when I told you I was sure. I will shiver when I think of the cold Colorado air creeping into that second story bedroom, and I will shiver when I think of how it felt to finally be with you. I will still picture you holding me afterwards, and whispering to me until we both fell asleep. You were my first, and I will always remember how I glad I am that I waited for you.

If you ever leave me, I will remember how completely and deliriously I loved you. I will remember all the ways in which you made me so much better. I will think of all the times I found myself wondering what I ever did to deserve you. I will still see you looking timidly at me on the night I told you that you were the one, and I will feel myself smile when I think of you saying it back to me. I will still love the way you look in your Sunday’s best, and your old baseball jersey, and nothing at all.I will still love the way your t-shirts always made the greatest pajamas.

I am blessed beyond words to have found you, and I will spend the rest of my life feeling lucky to know you. If one day our fire turns to dust, and our photographs yellow, I will never spend a second regretting you or forgetting you. If one day, the impossible happens and our souls untangle themselves from one another, you will still be the love of my life. If you ever leave me, I will spend every moment of the rest of my life loving you as deeply as I always have. If you leave me. TC mark

Stop Worrying About ‘What You Are’ And Just Enjoy Being Together

Posted: 11 May 2016 11:00 AM PDT


Part of the reason I hate dating is because I suck at it.

If, by some miracle, I manage to crack the code to the correct algorithm of when to text them back, how often to see them, what to say to them, etc., there eventually comes a point where something happens that will make one of my friends go, "So, are you guys like serious now? Because that's like a boyfriend-girlfriend thing to do."

I've always done "the boyfriend thing," which is part of the reason I suck at dating.

I want the girl to spend the night, I want to cuddle with her, I don't have a problem with her meeting my friends (most of the time), and I certainly don't have a problem telling her I miss her if I miss her.

Apparently all of those things (and more) are trademarked under the Boyfriend Code of Conduct, which I apparently never read.

In casual dating, you're not supposed to do anything that could "send the wrong signal" or "give off the wrong vibe" to the other person. Personally, I don't believe in any of that because I don't think there should be such thing as wrong signals or vibes.

The only time I consider something I do to be "a boyfriend thing to do" is if we're actually dating exclusively. Anything else is either normal (in my eyes), or a kind gesture. I'm not really sure who decreed that certain acts are designated solely for those who have exclusively committed to one another.

I'm casually dating someone now because she has her own life to sort out, and I've got my own life to worry about. We're cool with what the situation is. Neither one of us seems to be in a place for a relationship, so we don't see the need to press the matter.

She spends the night.

We cuddle.

She's met my friends.

I tell her I miss her when I miss her.

I don't see how any one of those mean we should be in a relationship, nor do I see why it should be anyone's business what we are.

Too many of us are concerned with our image in unhealthy ways, and instead of living in the moment of our own lives we worry about how others can live vicariously through our social media accounts.

I invited her to be my date at my college alumni ball this weekend.

While part of me can easily see how outsiders would think, "That's only something you'd bring your girlfriend to," there's part of me that doesn't understand why they have that logic, or why I even care what they think.

I went with my best friend (a guy) to last year's ball, and I went to high school prom with a platonic friend (who had a boyfriend); what's wrong with bringing someone simply because you enjoy their company and because you want to share the experience with them?

Why do we always have to make something a bigger spectacle than it actually is? Why do we feel the need to care so much about what's going on in other people's lives? We should focus on making ourselves and the people we're involved with happy before worrying about appeasing others.

If you want to do something for or with someone else and you're worried that it might give off the wrong vibe to the person you're with, it probably means you two aren't doing a good enough job communicating with one another.

If someone is doing something that is making you question whether or not they want something more than what you currently have, pull up your big boy or girl pants and ask them.

If you're concerned with trying to gauge what the situation is with two people based on how they act with one another, then you should probably mind your own damn business.TC mark