Category: Daily Real Talk

Daily Real Talk, General

DAILY REAL TALK: How to survive the holidays alone, without family, or with depression

The holidays are supposed to be a nice time of year but for many people it’s a depressing time instead.

The media sells us a story about the holidays that reinforces a falsehood – that everyone has some sort of perfect life with families who welcome them home every year. For many people this is not the case. People get sick, they die, they move far away so they can’t afford to visit, and some people have abusive families. Here are my tips on how to survive the holidays alone, without family, or with a depressing situation.

DAILY REAL TALK: Holiday Survival

STEP 1: Realize that the media lies: All of those images that you see on TV aren’t reality. I have had the privilege of meeting people from many walks of life. People who are alternative, people who are mainstream, people who are of every income level from completely poor to those in the 1%.

I call all of these people friends.

They all have the same thing in common. Dysfunctional relationships and hardship doesn’t always seek out people of a particular race, class, or situation. The more people I meet from various backgrounds, the more I realize that we are all the same. We may wear different pants or have more pairs of pants but the human experience is the same.

I will not give specific names to identify people obviously, but over the last 20 years I’ve met poor people who had wonderful families and terrible families. I’ve met extremely rich people with he same – some who had to live every day in fear that they’d be brutally assaulted by their family.

You need to realize that what you see on the surface isn’t necessarily truth.

Remember Cordelia, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? If you haven’t seen this show, Cordelia was the more popular “mean girl” in the beginning of her story. Pretty girl, popular, rich – she seemed to have it all. But she didn’t. Her personality in High School was an attempt to fit in and make up for what she wasn’t getting at home. And she collapsed after High School.

That was some of the realest stuff I’ve seen.

Cordelia Chase: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

In the popular narrative she may have been characterized only as a villain toward Buffy. But she wasn’t. She was just a girl trying to get by. You may have started out hating her but eventually you grew to like her once you got to know her and even felt sad for her.

We are all the same. Your first step to freedom is realizing that the media lies and the image of a perfect holiday doesn’t exist for everyone.

There is no such thing as a perfect life or a perfect person.

I challenge you to look at Facebook over the holidays and see how many people you think have it all are complaining about the torment they have had to go through on that day from their family. I see it every year. If storybook happiness doesn’t exist for you, that’s OK. It doesn’t exist for that many people because it’s a fake idea.

If someone’s life looks perfect, they are probably just good at putting on a good front and dealing with crap.

STEP 2: Cut out the noise: Turn off or cancel TV service. If Christmas music bothers you shop online or use headphones in the store just like we do in NYC. Define what makes you feel bad and do your best to remove it from your life. We aren’t babies anymore. it’s our turn to control our lives.

STEP 3: Create your own tradition: We feel disappointment when we expect X and get Y. If you know X is impossible, throw X out the window! Are you setting the bar too high so that it’s unrealistic?

Stop torturing yourself right now. There are children with terminal cancer who are happier than some folks during the holidays. Consider that for a second and take responsibility for the gift you have – life.

If you can’t get to your family this holiday or have family who you don’t get along with you need to identify in your life who your chosen family is. If you don’t have anyone near you you also aren’t alone. Most people’s friends are on the internet nowadays and hundreds or thousands of miles away.

This is not a rare or unique feeling. You are not alone in this.

Take control. Define what a good holiday means to you and do that. Don’t allow TV’s fake definition of the holidays to crap on you every year. Is your best holiday a week long video gaming party? Is it a week of fitness? How about art? Maybe you get in the car and take an epic road trip since Christmas Day has almost no traffic on the roads. I do that a lot myself, actually. Vroom vroom.

Define what your truth is. Define your own tradition. Do that. Don’t use a false success metric (that almost no one truly achieves) and set yourself up for failure.

Most of us do not have perfect lives, but people often fall prey to the trap of editing out what they don’t see and assuming other people do have perfect lives so that they can beat themselves up for not having something that just plain does not exist!

Cut that shit out and you’ll be much happier. Your life is about you, so own it – even if it takes you some years to work up to the point that you can.

Daily Real Talk

DAILY REAL TALK: Artificial Self-Limitation

DAILY REAL TALK: When I was a kid I was told I wouldn’t graduate HS. I did.

I was told I wouldn’t achieve a black belt and qualify for pro MMA because I had a genetic issue with my joints. And because I’m a girl. I did that too.

When I was in college I was told I wouldn’t graduate college. I did and paid for it my damn self.

I was told I couldn’t make art because I was blind. Did that anyway. Doing it again.

When I was an entry level receptionist I was told I’d never be a manager. I’m a VP during the day now for major companies and CEO all day every day for my own company where I get to work with really cool people.

When I started a con I was told it was impossible. Started 2. Intervention: Sci Fi, Fantasy, & Future Media and (Re)Generation Who. I’ve been operating successfully for over 6 years and counting. Both getting major press and great reviews.

MY POINT is that I’m a regular person with no real skill in particular other than not giving up, always moving forward, and innovating my approach. At every damn point of my life I was told by someone that I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that for Reasons.

Nobody fn cares about the people who tell other people what can’t be done. They do that because they have subscribed to artificial self limitation and are just trying to share that self limitation with others because when they down you it makes them feel better about their choice to self limit.

If you think I’m better than you and did this because of magic you don’t have then you are also subscribing to an artificial self limitation of yourself.

I’m not better. That’s an excuse you made up.

So do yourself a favor and don’t listen to people who always talk about what you can’t do. ALSO don’t do that yourself.

Do your thing.

If you think you can’t do something shut the hell up do it anyway.

You’ll eventually have the realization that the people who said you couldn’t still aren’t. You are.

But also don’t laugh at them. There is no joy in revenge. Revenge is for pathetic jackasses with too much time on their hands when they could be actually making their business or the planet better. Just do your shit.

And that’s my thoughts for Monday.


2015, Daily Real Talk, Marketing Your Life, Oni's Life

DAILY REAL TALK: Stop asking for Golden Tickets without doing the work.

I get hundreds of people per day asking me to promote their stuff. I am glad to do that as much as I can. HOWEVER. If you’ve displayed zero effort toward helping yourself I can’t. I am really tired of people who never talk to me, never take even the first step in helping themselves, and never participate in any communities coming to me as if I am a magic bullet that allows them to do nothing. I am not your employee and let’s be blunt – if you aren’t trying to help yourself me helping you is going to not be something you can capitalize on so its a waste of everyone’s time.


If you are busting ass and trying your best – even if you aren’t good at it yet – I am more than happy to help if I can. If you don’t know where to start? I am more than happy to show you where.

But please stop with the “Hi I never go to cons and even joining online communities is too much for me because I don’t feel like it. Can you promote my new project?”

To quote Maria Bamford, “Do the work.”

I do the work. All successful people do the work. We can tell when you are and are not trying to do the work within 30 seconds.

And you know what? When you show up on our doorstep not wanting to do the work and asking for a golden ticket – that’s going to annoy those of us who have spent 15+ years doing the work for 16-20 hour days without a lunch break. A lot of people approach us like that. Don’t be those people. Be the person who does the work, tries their best, gets involved in as many communities as possible, and THEN ask.

It is especially offensive to me if they live near Intervention in MD, which is something I created specifically to help people help themselves in this way. I hang out there all weekend and will sit with anyone to help them and I work through the rest of the year with the participants as much as I can, too.

I guarantee you if you live near there and I haven’t seen your face once and you ask me to give you a golden ticket your message will be ignored. It’s really not that hard to show up once in 6 years at the event I do that is a training facility for indie project’s success.

One MD local person actually told me they didn’t feel like going but, “Can you come to my house and teach me for free?”

Wrap your head around that shit. That’s fucking offensive and entitled bullshit. It’s also incredibly disrespectful to the long hours and money that that my staff and myself donate for free to help the community. And too many people try to approach me this way.

I even post free art and marketing How To stuff here on this site, but there’s resources and communities everywhere online.

There’s an old joke where a guy is praying to win the lottery and it never works. Then finally on the third day god comes out of the sky and says, “Dude! I’ve been trying to make this happen for you, but AT LEAST BUY A TICKET!”

Do. The. Work.

2015, Attractions, Daily Real Talk, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Oni's Favorite Things, Real Talk

DAILY REAL TALK: The no BS / no lies list of the Top Haunted Attractions on the east coast

You might have figured out that I go to a lot of haunted houses. 4000 miles of them every year to be exact.

I was tired of the BS online where scare actors from this haunt or that haunt would post fake reviews in order to sway customers incorrectly to their event.

I am the equalizer. I cannot be bought because my money comes from outside of this industry. I will not review someone who tries to bully me into lying to you.

Here is my early 2015 list of what haunted attractions I feel are a cut above the rest. These are the places that I recommend to friends when I want to be sure they will have a foolproof great night out.

The front of House in the Hollow, Bucks County, PA
The front of House in the Hollow, Bucks County, PA

NOTE: These are listed in no particular order. I can’t choose a favorite or rate one over another. They all bring it. Being on this list is like winning the Olympics of haunted attractions. Also I haven’t yet gone to all of these this year yet because even though I helm (Re)Generation Who, I do not own a TARDIS. Shows can change year to year.

1. Field of Screams – Lancaster, PA: FoS always delivers a brutal, high energy evening of 2 haunted houses, 1 hay ride, and 1 outdoor walkthrough. The midway (which is free to enter) is full of food and entertainment and second to none.

2. Pennhurst Haunted Asylum – Spring City, PA: Pennhurst has a modest start in 2010 but has grown to be one of the most brutal haunted attractions in the world. They always deliver. Hard.

3. Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares – Saylorsburg, PA: These guys are ART. Brutal, deranged art. When you go through this one you’ll notice something different than everyone else and that includes scareactors who are given the freedom to create complex backstories to their characters. You won’t find Boring Chainsaw Man #6 here. That guy will have a name and unique elements about him. These guys are always on point. The also have a museum of macabre historical mortuary equipment on site.

4. Reaper’s Revenge – Scranton, PA: We are currently working on this review right now, but we were absolutely blown away by them. They have literally the best hayride I have ever seen. Each attraction is staged elegantly and the actors are beyond fabulous. Never before has a single haunt been a contender for BOTH our Brutality AND Innovation Award at the same time. WOW. I did not expect that. This is the kind of haunted attraction that someone in my line of work hopes to find but rarely does.

5. Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride – Glen Mills, PA: Bates Motel practically defined the standard that the bar is set at in haunts. Each attraction is tight. From the staging, to the scares, to the funny elements in each where they, mess with you. And yes, they can touch you. You’ll experience a haunted hayride, a corn maze, and the Bates Motel itself.

6. Halls of Horror – Palmerton, PA: Halls of Horror has the kind of brash IDGAF that I appreciate. Don’t go here if you are sensitive and don’t bring kids. They are on the batshit crazy side and they don’t care who they offend. And THAT is why I love them so much. This year we will try Blood Experience where we will literally get covered in blood as we go through.

7. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream – Williamsburg, VA and Tampa, FL: Busch Gardens Williamsburg is more on the “something for the whole family” side, but that’s not a bad thing. This year they jacked up the intensity of their event with 3 new haunted houses that are aimed at haunt fans like myself. We were impressed. The review is currently being written. The best part is that you can bring the non-haunt fan of your family and they will be perfectly happy taking the shows and immersive dining experiences external from the haunted house. Everyone wins. The Tampa location is normally more intense and aimed at teen+. We always enjoy it.

8. House in the Hollow – Bucks County, PA: These guys did somethign no one else did. They build a high tech haunted house that changes it’s path per night and integrates you into it. I have never in my life been so impressed with the craftsmanship of an attraction like I was here. Anything from flying ghost effects to moving passages – I can only compare it to a more scary Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which is was clearly inspired by. (Aren’t we all?)

9. Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia, PA: A haunted house inside a historical prison. If that weren’t enough, it’s near a ton of great restaurants and you can tour the prison during the day. Always solid.

It looks like Pennsylvania is leading the pack. It must be something in the water. Read my full Haunted Attraction Review page for more reviews of haunts on the east coast. If I haven’t reviewed yours and you feel you deserve to be listed with these big dogs you can invite me to review your attraction by sending me an email from the top nav bar. You’ll get an honest and fair review that helps you and the fans from me, an acclaimed Marketing VP who runs her own events and knows her shit.