Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

I'm thinking that this might be a good time for a change...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dead Men Tell Slow Tales

In addition to the "expressiveness" difficulties with communication, zombies and traditionally biotic folks have the hurdle of our slower rate of speech to contend with. Most...of...us...speak...very...slowly. Please note, however, that most of us hear just fine, so shouting at the top of your lungs isn't going to speed the conversation up any faster than it would with, say, someone who only speaks Norwegian. Conversely, volume is a problem for us as well; many zombies can make their voices raise above a whisper only with great effort.

I'm afraid that our inability to speak at a normal speed causes many of us to not speak at all, unfortunately. To be dead in public is almost the very definition of being self-conscious, where the dead person is well aware that all the eyes of the living are upon them. Add to that the idea of speaking in public when you can't quite get the words out fast enough and you have many kids that would rather say nothing at all.

This doesn't mean we don't have anything to say.

The fact that typical communication happens at a much faster rate, perhaps, then ever before in human history only compounds the matter. ZOMG! Lol, srsly. We understand that it is difficult to go from speed-of-thought texting and near-telepathic communications with living friends to the slow, drawn out dialogue you may have with a zombie, trust me. It wasn't all that long ago when we were doing the same things as you were.

I have a friend, a zombie, named Melissa who lost the ability to speak in a fire. For the record, the fire that injured her in this way was not what killed her; she was hurt in a fire that was meant to destroy her and a group of zombies she lived with. A fire that was mostly successful--only she and a boy escaped a blaze that left many others reterminated.

Melissa communicates now with a whiteboard and marker. She can't write very fast, or very neatly, and it sometimes takes her longer to write what she wants to say than it does even the slowest zombie to speak. Communicating with Melissa, then, is an act of patience even for a zombie. But, like most acts of patience, it is always well worth the effort. Despite all of the pain and heartache she has gone through (or maybe because of it), the things that she writes are inevitably profound. I've talked to her a few times since she began taking classes at the Hunter Foundation, and she has often provided me the necessary insight to solve an issue that I or one of our zombie friends is dealing with.

I guess what I'm saying is, just like in my post regarding expression, patience is the key. I've come to the realization that, between two people, the listener has the primary responsibility in communication. The best, most erudite speaker in the world is going to have a hard time getting through to someone who isn't paying any attention, whereas a good listener--one who is patient, open, and making an honest effort to understand--can often hear even the things that the shy, still voice
isn't saying.


Monday, March 16, 2009


In less than two weeks another fifty people, living and dead, have added themselves to the Wall.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Care And Feeding of Your Undead Friend

I'm not really going to be writing about feeding zombies--we don't eat. Although some people speculate that we "feed" off of ultraviolet radiation, and others think that we actually absorb moisture and toxins from the air, sort of like undead air filters. I've got a friend who is testing the UV theory, using one of those lights that people use to grow plants.

But in terms of "caring"--I've had some discussions with folks at the Haunted House about a number of topics regarding zombie/trad relations, the difficulties and barriers that exist. One of the first--and biggest of these barriers is the difficulty most zombies have with expression. Our post death-bodies, for whatever reason, don't lend themselves well to expression, so if you have an undead friend, you are unlikely to be greeted with the smiles, lightening and softening of the eyes, and rosy-cheeked expressions you get from your trad friends, unless that undead person is trying really, really hard to be expressive. And we are well aware that the results of our attempts at expression are sometimes, well, grisly. Picture an eyebrow frozen in a permanent arch, a smile that reaches only one side of the face and shows too many teeth, an eye made permanently lazy. Most children learn expressiveness from their parents beaming down at them in their cribs; all of that needs to be re-learned, and the unwilling muscles retrained after death.

Undead people are frequently frustrated by the attempt to show expression. Karen, who is particularly good and "natural" at it, actually works pretty hard at making her facial expressions seem effortless, but for other kids it can take months.

Positive feedback, works. Saying something like, "Hey, Kev! You've been working on your smile, haven't you? Looks great!" can go a long way towards making a dead kid feel good about the effort they are making, whereas framing your comments in a negative manner, like "Yo, Sylvia, only half of your lip is working" is a guaranteed buzzkill. Never, never, never suggest to an undead person that they "turn that frown upside down". We can't be held responsible for the consequences.

And for zombies, I'd suggest that you stay patient with your trad friends who might be having a difficult time understanding you. A great deal of communication between people is exchanged non verbally; living people send out hundreds of different signals and cues from posture, expression, gesture, etc., so it can be very difficult trying to "decode" a person who doesn't exhibit any of those behaviors. Think of how easy it is to send mixed signals to people, even ones you know really well. Think of all the times you accidentally hurt someone's feelings when you were trying to do the opposite.

The key, for both living and dead, is patience. Ask questions, communicate often, don't be afraid. I think everyone will find it is well worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Horde Grows

We now have five hundred people on the Wall.

I'm amazed and humbled. When I first started this blog, I did so really for my own sanity. If it weren't for a few people close to me in Oakvale when I started, I don't know that I would have continued. I had no idea there were that many of us; no idea that people would come once I started writing and posting.

The idea that my words have may have helped give zombies hope, and maybe helped them survive, as well as helping traditionally biotic people understand us a little more and have a little more compassion, truly astonishes me. I'm so grateful for all of you.

Thank you all so much.

But I feel like there's so much more to do, and so many of us out there, lost and without friends...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Zombie Social Networking

I just wanted to make everyone aware that a virtual Haunted House was created by a friendly zombie/trad coalition. If you ever want to hang out and discuss all things zombie on the web, it is a great place to be. They discuss books there as well so if you like to read, check it out. Zombies, living people, and yetis are all welcome.

Click the link and register today: The Haunted House