The Haunting of Hill House

Last night, Tim and I sat down for a long-anticipated evening with wine, chips and Netflix. A friend had mentioned a new show that had received exceptional high praise, with an impressive 9.1 on IMDB. Little did we know, we were about to watch one hell of a scary show!

The Haunting of Hill House has acquired an international acclaim, appreciation and approval, where Stephen King even called it “a work of a genius”. While I had seen the trailer, I hadn’t thought the series would become such a hit, since the horror genre is a category meant for only a select few who have the iron nerves to endure them. Both us are not particularly made of that kind of material and naturally, the trailer had already freaked me out. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the large number of fans it had accumulated in the short amount of time it was released.  Although reports claim that viewers have rated the shows so disturbing that they’re unable to sleep, had anxiety attacks from it and sometimes even faint or vomit (!), it has been a gothic homerun for the Netflix show.

According to the reviews, its popularity is due to the way the show distinguishes itself from the regular horror ones, by implementing a truly fascinating, in-depth and moving storyline and the ‘little things’ they’ve paid attention to. Director Mike Flanagan, a veteran in the horror genre, based the series on the novel by Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House, although made it mainly his own in the end. In a fascinating interview by The Vulture,  Mike Flanagan sheds some light on the differences between the novel and the series and why he’s made those choices. I think one of the largest changes he’s made is that the ghosts are not actual ghosts, but rather haunting memories of the past. He says, “there’s nothing more boring than a normal ‘ghost’. For us, the ghosts that were the most interesting were the ones that we create ourselves, throughout our lives.” That particular touch provides an amazing psychological depth to every character and the show in general since it reveals a visible ‘traumatic’ experience(s) for every main personality.

Mike Flanagan has given the viewers another extra thing that’s rather unusual but has encaptured many and lead many to rewatch the whole show again (I don’t know how they’d do it). Namely, every episode has a number of ‘hidden ghosts’, that require a keen eye to spot. Some are hidden in the shadows of a corner, whereas others are placed in broad daylight but are still missed since the attention of the scene is not focussed on it. If you’re interested to find them all without rewatching it, The Vulture has found all 29 horror Easter Eggs!

If you’re looking for a perfect show to get you into the Halloween mood, I’d recommend watching The Haunting of Hill House. Although the first episode gave me such a startle that I had nightmares throughout the night and still feel a bit antsy walking around in the dark, I might give episode 2 a go soon. I’ve ordered the book to read, which will hopefully be less scary!









The Perks Of Early Christmas Decoration

It is early October and I’ve been walking around with this unexplainable itch. While the weather in Sydney has begun its rapid increase in temperature, the cicadas have almost shaken off the dust of their wings and the grass mowers make over hours, I felt there was something fundamental missing. During dinner, Tim casually asked me: “Elise, have you already begun playing Christmas songs?” And then it hit me! NO! I HAVEN’T! Now I knew. This persistent yearning in my chest could only be fulfilled with the early joy of Christmas music and decoration.

Although most people seem to not particularly enjoy decorating too early before the holiday -for reasons completely unknown to me, I’ve always tried my best to ignore those traditions. Annoying people with my premature Christmas cheer has almost become a sport, where ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ cannot be played too loudly. Nor can the Christmas tree reappear from the attic soon enough.

And why shouldn’t I be allowed to enjoy Christmas months before the holiday starts? According to science, it is those Grinches who miss out on the real fun. Unilad U.K. spoke with Steve McKeown, psychoanalyst, who said that putting up Christmas decorations early is commonly done for nostalgic reasons. By reliving the magic and associating Christmas to happy things, people deal with anxiety and stress in a way that they remember the happy memories of their childhood. Starting the Christmas cheer early, the happiness starts earlier!

Besides reminiscing about the good old days, Christmas decoration has another function that aids in your happiness. Psychologist Deborah Serani told the TODAY home that the brightness and colourfulness of the Christmas lights might be the reason why we feel happy during the holidays. Since chromotherapy, therapy with light, is used to trigger positive moods, those little lights in the Christmas tree might have a perky influence on your mood in a similar way.  Similarly, the cosy ambience might add to the cheerfulness.

In addition, your seemingly childish behaviour might actually mean that you’re in touch with your inner child and aware of who you are as a person, according to psychotherapist Amy Morin, writer of the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Decorating early “helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity.”

So, don’t be shy to express your deep affection for Christmas a month or two earlier than expected! Get that cute inflatable reindeer, start planning your abundant Christmas dinner and most of all, get excited, for Christmas is only (almost) 2 months away!

A happy pear

In a world, bursting with chaos, noisiness, glamour and lights; a world saturated with bubbles, sparkles, flashes, shrieks and popcorn, there was, in the middle of it all, a pear.

A pear, a pear, a happy pear, a blushing pear, a yellow pear, a green pear. A pear dripping with crimson sauce, delightfully fragrant with orange and spices. A beautiful pear, a wonderful pear, a pear lavishly delicious to bite into.

A sad pear, wrinkled, mouldy, lonesome in a bowl, sweating in hot daylight, vibrating on heavy footsteps of ignorant passengers. Left uneaten, unpeeled, a pear untouched, unloved and forgotten. In a bowl where all the other fruit had been chosen.

The pear used to be a handsome pear, sparkling green with lovely light green patches as enticing as a spring morning. Fresh with dew, and with one leaf remembering its heritage of being a newly created pear from a lovely pink pear flower from a pink pear tree.

When caressed, the pear used to have a soft, silky skin with hardly any imperfections, with juicy flesh but not too unripe; just the perfect ratio of ripeness and crunchiness.

A pear, the pear, the lonesome, mouldy, wrinkled and sweaty pear left alone in the bowl. Bubbliness, sparkliness have left the pear, evaporated, like a bygone husky summer evening. Who will touch the pear now.

Though I feel like I did something

Considering the past weekend. Today I actually did something, besides lazying around. I have come back from a trip around Australia with my Aussie boyfriend, where after we felt we needed some time to relax and process it all. Naturally, it was needed to have the obligatory yet extremely welcoming meetings with family and friends, where we had a beautiful steak diner and lots of drinks with friends. This is not the topic I would like to talk about though, despite the fact that it was a delight to see everyone’s happy faces again. As a foreigner, in order for me to get a second year visa in lovely, wild, epic Australia, I need to – and this has been on my mind almost continuously, driving my immediate social surroundings insane by my low-key anxiety to fulfill 88 days of farm work (or any other kind of labour that no true Aussie would prefer to do). Although, in principle a great initiative from the government, an absolute torture for me and anyone who 1. would rather stay at home in Sydney, 2. would prefer to be near Sydney (and boyfriend), 3. kind of likes to thought of working at a farm as long as there are any alpacas around, 4. would like to just get their farm work signed off so they can find some actual work they might enjoy. Consequently, since I cannot find a way to avoid it, I was driven to construct an aplication letter to any alpaca farm in the vicinity of Sydney.  I would like to show you my initial invention of the letter I would have loved to send to everyone:


My name is Elise and I love alpacas! Considering that your farm contains alpacas means that I would be absolutely thrilled to get to work with these cute and fluffy animals. However, I need to convince you to hire me as your stable hand, where you’ll feed and shelter me for a cheap price and will on top of that pay me at least 800 dollars a week (pls). I know you need me, but you don’t know it yet yourself.
Reasons why you should hire me:
– I am dedicated, stubborn yet flexible, loyal, persistent (or is that also stubborn?), and above all a loving, fun human to work with.
– I would caress your beloved alpacas beyond count and I will love them unconditionally (yes, even if they spit or poo on me).
– You will find that I am quite the fast-learner and will remember stuff easily.
– I am multi-functional! I can also cook quite well, clean fast and effectively, and be used for other labour-involving tasks.
You’re sweet fluffy alpacas need my love and care, so please don’t deny them.
Yours sincerely,
Elise Marion Hartevelt
p.s. Please Hire me, so I can stay in Australia with my Aussie boyfriend.
Yes, I did it in quote marks, what about it. Also, adding my horrific middle name added to my sincerity of the letter, I reckoned. Nonetheless, how much I would have loved to send this e-mail to the whole of NSW where I pleaded I would have stroked the fluffy animals beyond count, I was forced to send something more appropriate. I ended up sending 14 e-mails today to Alpaca farms close to Mudgee and the Blue Mountains, and I am still waiting with excitement and good faith that one of them will find it in their heart to harbor me.