Now that fall is just around the corner (or likely happening now by the time this is released), and the threat of the now annual summer fires is subsiding, I’m genuinely excited to start diving deep into all things spooky. Last year I did “61 Movies in 61 Days” and started watching spooky movies in September, but if you follow me on social media, you know that I am NOT doing that this year. I honestly would, but I just feel like I have so much on my plate recently that I simply won’t have time to do it this year. That said, I’ve already begun preparing by gorging myself on Halloween candy and cereal – celebrating the 50th anniversary of Monster Cereals like Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry. After all, listening to spooky podcasts (like Red Web and Stuff You Should Know’s mystery and murder eps) and watching spooky documentaries (like Night Stalker: The Search for a Serial Killer). I recently watched a YouTube video of criminologist David Wilson analyzing and reviewing the portrayals of serial killers in TV and movies. This is particularly relevant to my interests, as both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in Criminology – which I pursued because of my fascination with serial killers and trying to understand the causes of such antisocial behavior. Though, that was far from my original plan when I went away to college.
When I first enrolled at Southern Oregon University, I had every intention of getting a degree in Theater Arts, which the school is known for. Residing in Ashland, OR, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I knew that it was the perfect school to pursue my performance-based dream of becoming a professional wrestler! I had done theater in high school, so I figured it only made sense to appease my parents’ mandate that I go to college before pursuing pro wrestling by continuing that trend and studying something adjacent to my goals. That lasted for one term.
I ended up having an absolutely wretched teacher for my theater-associated English class. He was also my assigned advisor. I failed my first term of the required three in his class and didn’t make any friends in the theater department, so I dropped the major and decided to just focus on required and elective credits until I could figure out a new major that would better fit into my parents’ goal of me having a “backup plan.” Funny enough, I would go on to become friends with a bunch of theater people after dropping the major.
Anyway, I took some computer science and criminology classes while using cheerleading and weightlifting as physical education credits to fill out my credit hours each term for my first year and would eventually decide between CS and Crim as my major, ultimately choosing the latter (obviously) but sticking close to CS by taking a computer forensics class and dating a CS major throughout the rest of my time at SOU.
The struggle I faced after graduating was determining what to actually do with a BA in Criminology, one that I still face on a regular basis. I had to combat the daily questions of “Do you want to be a cop?” and “Have you considered a career in law enforcement?”
Especially not now. I did actually succumb to peer pressure and apply to Ashland Police Department upon graduating, before I moved north, and was (thankfully) rejected. Fast forward to a few years ago, when I was having trouble finding gainful employment or even using my degree at all, so I applied to work in a jail and made it pretty far into the hiring process, even passed one of those BS polygraph tests, but then failed the mental evaluation. The results came back saying that I “lacked maturity and self-confidence.”
That was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I took that cue to start up therapy again, started working on my Master’s, and started volunteering to make connections and bolster my resume, which ultimately led to my current job, where I am the acting coordinator. I have increasingly mixed feelings about working within the criminal justice system because we’ve seen how harmful it can be and has been, especially in the last few years. But there are some wise words that often echo in my head and encourage me to keep pushing forward, words that encouraged me to start voting after about a decade on the sidelines: you can’t make changes while just sitting on the couch. So I’m out here working within the system to help change the system…or at least that’s my goal.
That video I mentioned at the top with criminologist David Wilson, ends with a little bit of wisdom and insight. He signs off by saying “If you really want to do something to reduce the incidences of serial murder in our culture, let’s challenge homophobia. Let’s have a grown-up debate about how we police these young men and young women who sell sexual services. And above all, let’s try to work out why the elderly are so vulnerable in our culture because they don’t have a voice and have no power.” That’s the goal. Systematic change by challenging the inherent bias.
The wrestler Colt Cabana once said something akin to “you generally don’t end up wrestling with the gimmick you had in mind when you started training.” (I can’t find the exact quote, but that’s the gist of it.) I’ve found that quote also applies to things outside of wrestling. Life often throws us curveballs, but it can also open up hidden paths. A macabre fascination can expand into a career, which can evolve into something else to strive for. Something that may be seen as a “failure” at the time, could turn out to be an unforeseen course correction. You just never know.
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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