I spend a lot of time making guesses about what people will like — which articles they’ll click on, which one’s they’ll share, what type of articles people save and read again and again. The guesses were always the same, people like lists, they like funny, they like short, positive Upworthy type stories. So last spring when I was working with a writer I really liked, Cliff Barlow, bringing his horror fiction to Thought Catalog I thought I was fighting an uphill battle. Creepy doesn’t go viral, that’s what we all thought.
And then I realized, what Cliff is doing isn’t new. Horror has always been a part of the internet, but it’s always been relegated to one-off websites with permanent Angelfire-era graphics and forums like r/nosleep. The desire to be scared will always be something people want, whatever other trends come and go. It’s a bit counterintuitive — why would we want to be afraid? To shed some light on our dark desires, I’ve invited Cliff Barlow himself to answer some questions on the horror genre.
Cliff, help me out here, why do we love horror?
I think a certain portion of the population “gets it” for lack of a better term.
This genre is so polarizing. There are those among us that are just wholly captivated by the darkness and in equal measure are people repelled by anything related to horror and the macabre. I find myself, since a young age, gravitating toward dread and the unknown. It’s intangible and innate to die hards in the genre. I am always so elated when I find someone that adores horror even a fraction as much as I do.
What type of person is drawn to horror?
I find that horror aficionados tend to be inquisitive and courageous people, always seeking answers where others fear to tread.
Counterintuitively, I find that horror fans are some of the most well-adjusted people. I think that this is born out of the fact that they acknowledge and accept the terror that is always on the periphery of human existence. By wallowing in it as a past time, they are able to adapt to the curve balls and tragedy that life is wont to throw at us.
On a more personal level, why do you find yourself drawn to horror writing? what’s the difference between wanting to write like say, Joan Didion, and Stephen King?
I am a lifelong horror fan. I’ve been consuming scary video games, movies, books, etc. for as long as I can remember. I’ve never had dreams of writing fiction — I studied psychology in college. As a matter of fact I had never written so much as one creative piece until about three years ago.
I would peruse the subreddit /r/nosleep and was enthralled with the stories I stumbled across. Some of them were truly amazing, the passion of these writers for horror. The posts all contained an amateurish quality that added to the authenticity and removed any fears I had of giving it a go. The idea of writing horror fiction had crossed my mind previously, and with such a low barrier of entry, I decided, why not give it a shot? It seems simply through osmosis I had a knack for spinning dark tales. I haven’t looked back since
What are some of your all-time favorites in the genre?
In terms of literature, Stephen King really is the undisputed master of the genre. At a too-young age (I believe I was 11), I read Salem’s Lot. This was a seminal experience for me. I immediately devoured everything he has ever written and still await every new release with bated breath.
In terms of films, there are some classics of course that immediately spring to mind. The Exorcist, Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, and The Shining to name a few. However, as of late, I find myself gravitating towards movies that aren’t explicitly horror but are terrifying nonetheless. I am a huge fan of the works of David Lynch. He is so adept at illuminating the space between reality and nightmares that I am constantly enthralled with his work. The surrealism of Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Eraserhead scare me to death. Also, I can’t get enough of the filmography of David Cronenberg. Movies like Videodrome are just so raw and visceral, they plunge beneath the surface and find horror in places other genre directors are incapable. Video game wise, I would argue that Silent Hill 2 is a flawless masterpiece. Simply put, I think it is the greatest story ever told. It is so powerful and horrifying that I get literal goosebumps just thinking about it.
When you write, where do your ideas come from?
I guess in terms of inspiration I mainly draw from two sources. First, I just find something in my life that I am fearful of or is providing me with anxiety and construct a horror fiction narrative around it.
It is very cathartic and empowering to be able to do this. For example, I wrote a story simply entitled, The Devil. It is in essence about how guilt is a devastating and destructive force. I was feeling an overwhelming sense of remorse about something at the time, and I figured the best way to exorcise that demon would be to use metaphors to process these feelings in a healthy way. The strong emotions that were encumbering me subsided the second the story was published.
Secondly, I’ll just be reading an article or something and out of nowhere an idea for a horror story will pop into my head. The Mr. Blinky story came to me as I was reading about how here in NYC there had been a couple incidences of mascots attacking children. This was inherently creepy enough but it galvanized me to embellish and create a terrifying story with that news item as a jumping off point.
Long-Term Care came to me as I was reading about how a coma patient was communicating with a doctor via fmri. I immediately saw how that could have potential for a fucking terrifying story and was done with a first draft in a couple of hours. Whether the source is internal or external, just being attuned to the horror of day to day life can yield great results.
Who is the demon Otch and did you create him?
As a child, my older brother did have recurring dreams about a demon he called “Otch.” Instead of a stereotypically monstrous look with sinister green eyes and cloven hooves for feet as I have described him in my stories. My brother always said that he looked exactly like Guy Smiley from Sesame Street but with a seven foot tall figure.
He would speak in a high pitch voice and tell him to commit horrible acts all while saying very blasphemous things (fucking horrifying, right?). This used to scare me so badly that one night I could swear I could see Otch hiding in my closet. When I decided to try my hand at horror fiction, this story immediately sprang to mind. My first short story ever was about Otch. A radically improved version of this tale is, “He’ll Get You Too,” is included in my new short story collection Darkness Prevails.
When I first posted that story. A user commented with a link to a real demon with a similar name. I found it very disturbing that there is a “known” demon out there with the name of “Och” how did my brother come up with that name at the tender age of 9?
Otch is easily one of my favorite play things and his ongoing story is going to directly intertwine with the malevolent character that I am introducing in this new collection, Petru Beklea. They are going to attempt to and just might succeed in creating a veritable hell on earth, Honestly, I’ve never been more excited about a storyline and can’t wait to see where these two lead me.
Cliff Barlow’s second book, Darkness Prevails, is not for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.
I am safe, I am happy, I am home. With a healthy baby boy wrapped up in my arms, I couldn’t help but believe it. My life would have been so different had I not woken up late that day all those years ago, fate apparently taking an interest in me for once.
I rocked my sweet baby Adam, back and forth, sitting in an old whitewashed rocking chair that I had pulled up from the deepest corner of Dean’s basement. For a while I could not bring myself to go back down there, not quite remembering what had happened down there but still feeling phantom pain whenever I passed by the basement door. The basement only held bad memories for me. It was where I got accustomed to life with Dean, a long process that was confusing and I still don’t understand, and where I had Adam.
Bloody, blurry, painful memories. Lots had changed since then, and I was with Dean now. Dean was safe. Dean made me happy. Dean was my home. He provided for me and our baby, I couldn’t ask for more. Looking up from Adam’s sleeping face, I took in the view before us. It was the beginning of Fall and the leaves were changing into beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows. This deep in the forest, with so many trees, it seemed that everything was on fire, a fire that was still until a breeze passed through and made the flames dance.
I remember that the day I had met Dean, the trees were still green, and it was August. I remember that I used to live with my dad, the town sheriff in a small two-bedroom brick house. My dad’s face is blurry now, I haven’t seen him in so long.
I remember meeting Dean, vaguely. Waking up late to school, I had taken a shortcut through the woods. That shortcut lead to Dean, and I have never gone back. I wonder what month it was now, probably October or November. It was hard to tell sometimes, Dean was careful to never leave any newspapers in the house where I might see them. He said it would only upset me. Dean always knew best.
I leaned down to take a little sniff of Adam, he smelled good, like fresh cream and flowers. Baby scent. Dean smelled more like leather, wood, and tobacco, good strong smells that were burned into my brain. Dean said I smelled like sweet strawberries and grass, and that he would never ever forget how I smelled. He said he could smell where I’d been in the house for days after being in a spot. My nose wasn’t as strong as his, but I believed him nonetheless.
Dean didn’t let me leave our house in the woods, and I didn’t want to leave. If I went into town people would see me and try to take me away from my family. Disappearances happened sometimes in Riverview, but the disappearance of the Sheriff’s daughter didn’t happen. So even though it had been years, I wasn’t sure how many, my dad still had posters with my face up everywhere.
They didn’t understand though, I am happier here than I ever was with my dad. I am different now too, in ways that they don’t understand. Adam and Dean’s family is now my family, and I wouldn’t ever leave them. Meeting Dean in the forest that day had changed me forever. Literally. Werewolves were things of myth and legend to the people of Riverview, but to us, it was life. That’s why we stayed together, wolves are stronger in a pack, and they’re happier and healthier. Dean’s family were all born this way, I was the only one who wasn’t. This made me dangerous and unpredictable as a wolf.
I sometimes wonder why Dean bit me, he knew what would happen. Bitten wolves could be perfectly fine, functional humans until the full moon, when the change made them into bloodthirsty monsters. The time I escaped my chains in the basement and the deaths that followed was a lesson on how dangerous I could be. Even my own pack were at risk.
Sometimes I’m mad at Dean for turning me. I got the sense though that Dean needed me that day though. He was looking for someone and he got me. Thinking thoughts like these were dangerous for me. I knew at this moment, three of Dean’s family members were inside the house and could hear my heartbeat starting to speed up as I thought these dangerous thoughts.
Like a prayer I repeat, “I am happy. I am safe. I am home.” I can never go back to my dad. I can never be human again. I can never leave this house. I think in my head.
I look down at my son. Adam had yet to experience his first full moon, and I had yet to have mine as a mother. I wondered how it would be different. Knowing that I would never live with myself if anything happened to my baby was something that kept me here. Kept me sitting on this decrepit rocking chair, in this isolated house in the woods, with a house full of werewolves that could hear my heartbeat banging in my chest. I kept sitting because I cannot leave. I can never go back to my dad. I can never be a human. I can never leave, and I am scared to death of being here.
Cliff Barlow’s second book, Darkness Prevails, is not for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.
Amy is my best friend and it’s always been a complete mystery to me why she is always single. She’s 34, thin, reasonably pretty, employed, and a good family girl. She has a big laugh, lots of personality, and loves sex. Sounds like wife material, right?
Anyways she’s been in a new relationship for about a year and I think she is going to marry this guy. In all ways he is just good enough. I wouldn’t be into him, but whatever, I am happy she is happy. And she is happy. They are talking about marriage.
The problem is that I’m pretty sure this guy is trying to hook up with random girls on Tinder.
Let me explain. I made a dummy Facebook account for my Tinder because I just got out of a very long, very shitty relationship and I am very much not interested in dating, but I miss sex. So that’s what my Tinder is for. I have a couple body shots on it, but you can’t see my face.
While I was swiping, I came across someone who looked and awful lot like Amy’s boyfriend, but like me, his face was obscured (though, from what I could tell, I would guess it’s him). He has a pretty unique name, and the name and age matched. The tone from what he said in his bio also matched the way this guy talks. He said, explicitly, that he is looking for NSA sex. We matched. He messaged me, “hi.”
I don’t think it’s completely out of the question that it’s a big coincidence, but that makes it harder to figure out what to do. One one hand I wonder if I should message him and pretend to go along with what he is saying, long enough to get proof that it is Amy’s boyfriend and then tell her? I really, really don’t want to do this but I wonder if I am obligated to. Unless something goes off course, my friend is going to marry this guy and he is going to cheat on her for no reason, forever, until they probably have an unhappy divorce.
On the other hand, is it really any of my business? I don’t want Amy to shoot the messenger and hate me because I exposed her boyfriend as a weird cheater. I really don’t want to get in the middle of this or be involved in any drama. But I wonder if I am obligated to, is this really something I can keep quiet about or will I regret it if they get married and it ends badly — and I could have given her information to avoid that fate.
It started out as just a casual conversation about our lives and what was going on with one another. He had a daughter who was 2 and just the cutest thing in the world. We then talked about our relationships and what we were struggling with. It was comfort with him and we were immediately drawn to each other because everything my partner didn’t have, he had and I know he felt the same about me. We became closer and closer. Texts turned into late night phone calls and it got much more serious. We were both persistent and curious. Kissing and seeing each other when we could and sneaking around like a couple of kids in high school. It made me feel young and alive. He agreed and we both I missed it.
A few months later, his wife got pregnant and I think his world was crashing down before his eyes. He didn’t want another child because having one was enough for him at the moment. He thought he was already being stretched too thin but it was happening and he had to deal with it. You would think I would’ve backed off after hearing his wife was pregnant but it drew me closer. We joke about how we are both going to hell because of what we were doing. He was struggling and I wanted to be everything his wife wasn’t even though I could probably never fill her shoes. I knew that he was a great father to his daughter and would be even better with his new baby.
My relationship was different and everything felt forced but at the same time I was comfortable with my boyfriend. We had been together since college and I always said I wanted to marry him but now I was having second thoughts. I loved everything about the idea and the process of getting married and being married because it seemed like a fairytale. But the way he would explain it with his wife, was the opposite. He kept telling me to wait and live out the rest of my 20s before settling. Got me thinking of course and it was me who was putting the pressure on myself to get married. But why? My parents got married in their late 30s and divorced 6 years ago for what my mother says “the same reasons I married your father for”. I shouldn’t put the pressure on myself. It would just happen. My family would just happen. Things just happen.
Neither of our partners has found out what we are doing. I am not sure if they will. Do I feel guilty? Yes, of course I do and I feel selfish of what I could be doing for him and his family unit. Sometimes I think about his wife and what I am doing to her, I truly am the “other woman”. Something I thought was never going to happen and would never have been in my vocabulary months ago. We talk about the future sometimes and what it would be like to be together but only time will tell and I will just let things happen. In the meantime, I go to work and live this perfect life on the outside. But on the inside I’m struggling and wanting to spend time with the man I love but he is married.
At Brooklyn College this morning, I realized that the people and events there still have a strong hold upon me; they probably always will.
I wandered into 142 LaGuardia to find Sid, Mike and Debbie sitting around, shooting the breeze. I hadn’t seen Debbie in such a long time, and I’d forgotten how fond I am of her.
She read me the first story she wrote for Spigot and was pleased to receive my admiration and approval. We talked about our families; her sister is very happily married.
While Peter was doing the books, I approached him on the subject of Mike’s attendance at classes. Peter said Mike hasn’t gone to one class since the first week of school in September. I know by now that it’s utterly useless to reason with Mike on that subject, but I still worry about him.
Stefanie asked me to go over a paper she’d written for a TV class, and I was so flattered that I did a good job in turning it into something like recognizable English.
The new Mugwump buttons came in, and some guy I don’t know handed me one, saying, “Wear it; you’re an old Mugwump, Grayson.” It does wonders for my ego when I return to LaGuardia.
Mason and I were sitting outside in the lobby to escape a bad scene in 142 – Ron accusing someone of scalping Beach Boys tickets – when Elspeth came by; I gave her an affectionate kiss.
She’s now working as a secretary for the Police Department. Elspeth mentioned seeing Larry, whose M.A. in Communications led to his job as a cabdriver, and Jon Z, who’s dropped out of grad school and is working in the Harvard bookstore.
Then Elspeth said, “I have big news.” She and Robin had been to the Gay People’s birthday party for Pablo and they saw Stacy there – and she came and left with a girl with whom she danced.
I didn’t like Elspeth’s gossipy tone, and Mason merely shrugged; he’d known it all the time and said that weeks ago Stacy moved out of her house to move in with her lover.
I said, truly, that I wish Stacy well and felt that Stacy and I could have been really good friends had we not gotten involved romantically.
Mason said that in the past few months he felt himself falling in love with Stacy, but he knew it couldn’t work out because of her lesbianism and so backed away.
“She’s still one of my favorite women,” Mason said, “after Libby and Cathy.” He said Cathy is now living with a guy.
It’s such a small world. Elspeth told us she’s really happy seeing this guy – who turns out to be Josh’s crazy best friend from junior high, Andy.
I had a pleasant lunch with Carl, who’s decided to become a Dance major. He reported that his brother Alan is visiting Phil in Arizona and will be home for Christmas.
Back in LaGuardia, Carl and I met up with Avis, who said she’s given up her plans to fly to Germany and stay with Helmut during intersession; the problems were just insurmountable and while she’s disappointed, she seems to be taking it well.
Avis has learned something important, she said: “One doesn’t have to receive instant gratification because it seldom comes.”
When Ronna came out of class, I had tea with her and Susan, who’s very involved in applying to grad schools in English; I’m sure she’ll make something Ivy League.
Ronna seemed in good spirits; her mother agreed that she can quit working for Mr. Fishman.
I left BC to go to Richmond, where Prof. Ebel had another one of his fantastic classes, this time on Lawrence’s St. Mawr. I ran into John in the elevator, and he was quite friendly.
Sunday, December 16, 1973
There are times when I wonder if I won’t be happy until I destroy myself. I behaved so badly today and am ashamed of myself; my relationship with Ronna may be jeopardized beyond repair.
And the awful part is – or maybe it’s the saving grace – I understand it all now: my actions today. But now it’s too late.
Ronna brought Billy here this afternoon. I didn’t really want him to come, but he’s been making such a pest of himself these past few weeks, I wanted to quiet him down and look like a good guy to Ronna besides.
I had been in a black mood all day, blaming it on a bad night’s sleep and the wet, freezing snow that was falling all day. But everything was going fine: we all played pool, and Ronna and Billy were playing with Jonny’s hockey game as I watched TV.
Ronna was saying how it was time for them to go, and Billy began to whine as children do about how he wanted to play more pool. He picked up the cue stick and something came over me – I suppose that’s as good as phrase as any to relieve oneself of responsibilities for one’s actions – and I started to yell, almost shriek, “I said you’re going home!”
Instantly, I regretted it as Billy began to whimper and Ronna looked coldly shocked. I apologized immediately, but the damage was done. As I drove them home, we were all silent and I felt very ashamed.
Ronna took Billy upstairs, and I tried to scrape the ice from my car window. After a while, I went up and asked Ronna if she would speak to me in the hallway; I wanted to find out if she hated me.
“I don’t hate you,” she said, “but I hope I don’t feel sorry for you.”
She said it wasn’t that traumatic – so I couldn’t cope with children; then I shouldn’t have them – but she said she had never seen me act that way, as if I were out of control.
She said she still wanted to see me, and when she said she still loved me, I had to turn away, as I was crying, ashamed.
Ronna shook my hand, and I left, knowing that it would be a long time before she could feel close to me again. But I understood it only too well, for my self-laceration afterwards was the point of the whole emotional exercise.
The whole week emerged in a clear pattern: Stacy’s coming out, stirring up my own feelings of helplessness about my bisexuality; Ivan’s call, which exacerbated everything as at once I saw him as the straight-as-an-arrow male who’d be much better for Ronna than I am, and also as an attractive guy whose looks I once liked.
Last evening Marc’s friends were over, and I noticed one guy, Kyle, had his name tattooed on his muscular arm and he unzipped his shirt to reveal a soft, hairy chest. I had fantasies about him all night – maybe that contributed to my poor sleep – and for the first time I masturbated while fantasizing about sucking a guy’s penis.
So today’s dark mood was caused not by a snowy Sunday or a pesky little boy but by my guilt feelings – despite today’s page one New York Times story the American Psychiatric Association voting yesterday to take homosexuality off their list of mental illnesses.
When I yelled at Billy, I was very much in control, accomplishing several things at once: blowing off anger at someone who couldn’t defend himself; doing something to drive Ronna to break up with me and find a “normal” guy to be her boyfriend; and above all, to make my guilt feelings more concrete.
It’s too late now, but maybe I can avoid this next time. I hope so; it’s really not worth it.
Tuesday, December 18, 1973
It’s 2 PM and I find myself unable to shake off this deep depression that’s been haunting me these past few days.
I feel as though I am going through a time of crisis and I keep waiting for the fever to break, for the pimple to come to a head. I can’t work on my term papers, I have an undying headache, and somehow I want to rage at the world.
Tonight is the Beach Boys concert. Once I really looked forward to it, but now I can’t wait until it is over. I dread the idea of sitting there in that crowd – counterfeit tickets were sold, and there are rumors of a riot – with Ronna, Felicia and her boyfriend.
In a little while I’m going to attempt to drive to Staten Island and pick up Jochnowitz’s final and attend Ebel’s class, and I’m not looking forward to that, either.
It’s so sloppy outside, and hard to get around, and the trees look so sad, broken and covered with ice; it makes me want to throw up my hands in frustration.
But although no doubt it’s a contributing factor, I can’t blame my depression on all the snow and ice outside.
Last night when Dad came home, we went over to the Male Shop, where Lennie’s tailor fitted my sport jacket and pants for Jonny’s bar mitzvah in February.
In my plaid flannel shirts and jeans, I feel so out of place in the Male Shop; next to Dad and his stylish friends, I feel like a mess.
Finally last night, our phones were fixed, and I called Ronna. We talked for a long time about the incident on Sunday; I know it’s changed her opinion of me.
But she says it doesn’t have to change things between us: “Now I just know that you can have temper tantrums.”
Ronna is seeing Ivan today, to give him the Beach Boys tickets she’s getting from Leroy, and I suppose that fact contributed to my masochistic misery.
I went to BC this morning, hoping that seeing people would cheer me up. It was good to see Avis, whom I hugged – I got her Christmas card today – and Mikey and Mike.
Meyer told me he went to a screening and met Rex Reed; Meyer’s becoming a big shot reviewer now.
Helen and Sid made me laugh, and this 12-year-old kid, a sophomore who’s a math genius, came in to see Sid. Everyone was looking at each other as the kid talked, almost as if he were a freak, which I suppose he is.
I had lunch at the Pub with Mara, who was such good company. I told her about my yelling at Billy on Sunday, and she said it wasn’t important; she feels that I’ll marry Ronna someday.
Mara is still seeing Eric, but I got the idea that she’d like to break off with him to go with this dental student she met, only she doesn’t have the guts to hurt Eric.
Mara and I didn’t do much gossiping but instead talked about important things, like what we want out of life.
She also mentioned that she was opening the mail for Mrs. Javits yesterday and reported that Nixon sent out an ugly Christmas card this year.
I love Mara so much; I’ve got to get her something for her birthday on Thursday. We agreed that we’ll continue to be friends even if we’re married: you need a person of the opposite sex to talk to, one besides your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.
On my way off campus, I ran into Scott, who had an extra ticket to the concert tonight but was unsure who to give it to.
Wednesday, December 19, 1973
I’m feeling much better tonight. I don’t know whether the holiday spirit has finally gotten to me or what, but I’m no longer depressed.
The drive to Richmond yesterday was hazardous, but I made my way safely. I went to George Jochnowitz’s office to pick up the final; the school had closed down on Monday night because of the storm, after all, so I couldn’t have gotten it then.
In the cafeteria to get a cup of tea, I sat down at a table with Dorothy, Andrea and Freema, and we chatted about school business.
The Board of Higher Ed named Edmond Volpe the new President of Richmond College, so that’s over with, and now holiday time is coming up.
Andrea said she can’t take the hassles from every new student government each year, and she wants to quit as secretary and go to FIT.
Dorothy expressed concern about her leaving – because Richmond, and the people there, are Andrea’s whole life – but Freema thought she’d get along fine. I think Dorothy, as Dean of Students, depends on Andrea a lot.
Prof. Ebel left a note on our door that he was canceling class. A woman in the class was dismayed, because she had no way of getting back to Brooklyn, so I offered to drive her home.
But once in the parking lot, I was stuck – literally – on the ice. For over an hour, I tried everything – shoveling, putting dirt and mats under my tires, pushing – until finally, when I was about to give up, six strong boys from McKee High School pushed me out.
Somehow it was there and then that my mood turned to one of optimism: if I could cope with a frustrating situation like that without losing my cool, and actually getting out of the jam, I felt I could cope with all my other problems.
I dropped off the woman in my class in Bay Ridge and drove to BC, stopping off to have a quick dinner at a deli on the way. In LaGuardia, I found Vito, Helen and Alex working in the office, and finally Ronna met me at 7 PM as we’d planned.
She said Ivan had called her that morning to say he’d thought it over and decided that for the ticket was too much – so I guess that’s the last of Ivan until he pops up again.
Fifteen dollars is a lot of money for a concert, but I don’t understand why someone with a trust fund and a millionaire father would think so.
We stood on line in the cold in front of Whitman with Avis and Carl and finally got into the well-policed auditorium (many guards and all the deans were out in force, patrolling the place).
Before the show, Ronna and I talked; there’s some resentment between us, but we’ll try to work it out. I just want to put Sunday in the past, and I hope Ronna can do that, too.
Felicia joined us and introduced us to her tall, friendly boyfriend Spencer just before the show.
The Beach Boys gave a pretty good concert, starting with “Happy Birthday” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and then going through all their hits: “California Girl,” “Surfer Girl,” “Surfing U.S.A.,” “I Get Around,” etc., ending with “Fun Fun Fun.”
The music was perhaps a little loud for me, but we had a good time. Felicia, Spencer, Ronna and I had a lot of fun when we got to my car, as we smashed the caked-on ice and watched it fall off: wonderful for relieving hostility, seeing the ice shatter.
We went to Fulton’s for coffee and cake, and I had a surprisingly good time, very much enjoying Felicia and Spencer’s company.
This morning I awoke late, decided not to bother going to class, and instead attended to various things I had to take care of. I went to Kings Plaza and picked out cards and presents for Mara, Susan, Melvin, Mikey, Grandpa Herb, and Avis: late December is a big time for birthdays for me.
I also mailed out the last of my Christmas cards. In Sam Goody’s, Mason helped me select an album for Mara and told me that Stacy moved back home, so I can send her Christmas card there. She and Mason went to the concert together last night.
When I returned home, I found Grandpa Herb and Grandma Ethel visiting, so I gave Grandpa his birthday card and he presented me with Chanukah money.
I received Christmas cards today from Alice and from Congressman Brasco.