Sunday, May 31, 2015

... a late night & another Liebster because I like filling out lists and whatnot...

 Yesterday was such a full day. My fella loves the band RUSH and this was the third time that I've seen them in concert. This post is not about that but I will say that I don't mind going to see the band because their fans are ridiculously fun and my fella is one of them. I'll also note that I was the only female in a group of 15 guys. Most of the men in the group are married but their wives just couldn't tolerate the show. To mark my point, each and every time I've attended a RUSH concert, there is no lines to the bathrooms for the ladies but the men are lined up around the block. Last night they even closed off two women's bathrooms to use them for men. We arrived home at 3 am and pretty much had a sluggish Sunday without accomplishing much.

So tonight my post is another Liebster Award… this time a request by Jade from Daughter of the Jaded Era. This is my third. 

Sylvie at Little Corp Goth Girl nominated me. You can read my response to her questions here

And, Lucretia at Lucretia’s Reflection also nominated me for the Liebster Award. You can read my response here.

Again… here are the rules (that hopefully by now most of you will know I will not follow):
1. Post the award on your blog. (That I can do)
2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog. (Thanks Jade! I actually love filling out surveys and lists no matter the topic)
3. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have fewer than 200 followers. (Nope but if anyone wants to participate, feel fine to write you were nominated by me!)
5. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

The questions originated from 1666 X 30’s post but Jade from Daughter of the Jaded Era enjoyed them so here they are again:  
1. What is the title of your biography?
After the Funeral. Ha, I totally cheated. After I read the title, I looked up and on my shelf was After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses (1995) by Edwin Murphy. Where in the world did I buy this book?!? Clearly from an antique store because inside there is the pencil marking of the price. I’m of an age that I can’t always recall if I’ve read a book or own a book and I sometimes buy them a few times. The description reads, “[This book] investigates the rare, sometimes humorous, sometimes bizarre fates of the remains of prominent people.” Works for me… and what a great title!

2. Is it an autobiography or did you get someone else to write it? If so, whom?
Oh, I think I would very much like to be in Murphy’s new and revised edition of this book.

3. What's on the cover? If illustrated, who illustrated it?
Murphy’s book is designed by James Sarfati. It’s an illustrated picture of a cemetery with a spooky tree.

4. Seems your biography has some photos in it. What are they of?
Gravestones… as does the original.
5. Hey, good news! Seems like someone important is providing a blurb quote for the cover. Who is it and what do they say about the book?
“This is the creepiest shit I’ve ever read”, Anonymous… because Anonymous is everywhere! Omnipresent and omnipotent.  

6. What are some of the chapter names in the book?
What’s love got to do with it?
What happened to her head?
How her little toe nail ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records.

7. Your biography has an index. What's under the letter G? 
Godliness… oh, is that sacrilegious? Sorry.

8. Who is thanked in the acknowledgments?
The readers… always the readers.

9. What kind of a book is it? Photography monograph? A tell-all expose? Stream-of-consciousness word jazz? An academic monograph with multiple indexes, endnotes, bibliography, further reading, etc?
A bodily tell-all expose.

10. Your readers are shocked to know that....
I only had one kidney (truth).

11.  For some reason your book's selling well in France. Why do you think that is?
They have always found me amusing. 

Less than eleven facts about me:
1.    I actually am in the Guinness Book of World Record… for the largest gathering of those dressed like Vampires. I don’t make this stuff up really. I mentioned this in a post last August.
2.    I fear that I will never be able to read all of the books that I have but yet I keep buying them.
3.    I’m also afraid of clowns and dolls but I think I’ve mentioned that on my blog before.
4.    The phrase Less than eleven facts about me is testing my urge as an English professor. FEWER!!!!! is used with items one can count… ugh! I try to keep this in check.
5.    I’ll probably lose 5 followers based on #4
6.    I’m not concerned about the number of bloggers who follow me as long as it’s an even number. When it’s an odd number of followers I really wish someone else would join my blog :-/

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

...ouija boards, the dead, and a blogoversary...

A (sorta) fun fact about me in connection with this post-- when I was learning American Sign Language, one of my instructors required us to interpret a song. I selected Ouija Board by Morrissey.I recall being slightly dramatic by signing an air guitar.

Yesterday akumaxkami at Spooky University posted about the Charlie Charlie Challenge. It reminded me of my youth standing in a dark bathroom at midnight looking at the mirror and whispering Bloody Mary three times (if I remember correctly) just hoping that I would see something and not simultaneously have my eyes scratched out.  Her post also reminded me of my own dark history with the Ouija Board. Okay Okay, it’s not what you think.

First, I want to point out that most people do not know or follow the directions of Ouija Boards.

"Place the board upon the knees of two persons, lady and gentleman preferred, with the small table upon the board. Place the fingers lightly but firmly, without pressure, upon the table so as to allow it to move easily and freely. In from one to five minutes the tablet will commence to move, at first slowly, then faster, and will be then able to talk or answer questions, which it will do rapidly by touching the printed words or the letters necessary to form words and sentences with the foreleg or pointer.”

When I was young, I followed the rules (in many ways in life I still do but that’s a whole other story). I sat with my knees touching a friend’s knees and we placed the board on our laps.

“You and a friend touch the planchette and it mysteriously moves from letter to letter to spell out messages from unknown entities. The planchette appears to have a mind of its own, or is the board? Some say it's the spirits, others say it's the user's own subconscious movements.”

So here’s the thing… the human body moves and if you have a board on your lap with two people whose knees are touching, there is going to be movement after many minutes. Plus, you’re supposed to lightly touch the plachette. Go ahead and hold your arms out in front of you for five minutes and let me know if your arms stay completely still. Involuntary muscle movement or what is called the ideometer effect is more to blame than anything else… or is it?!?

This is what we know about the board… it’s also important to point out that I have never been a girl who cared for “games” (how I ended up marrying a DM gamer is also another story) and I don’t have much patience for waiting…. All of this is to say that I was the girl who moved the planchette. I didn’t intend to be mean or ruin anyone’s fun but I just figured once we had “spoken to the dead” to find out if some other fifth grader had a crush on us we could move on to watch a scary movie or perhaps go play with possessed dolls or two.

And it isn’t that I don’t *believe* in the power of the Ouija. It’s just why chance it, right? Trust me, I’ve got one too many dead friends on the other side to chat with but what do I really *want* to know from those on the other side?

There is such a strange history behind the Ouija Board. In the early 1890s, the Ouija Talking Board could be found in novelty shops. The interesting part of the story is that it has a patent which means that it had to have been tested. As the story goes, the chief patent officer demanded a demonstration. If the board could accurately spell out his name, which was supposedly unknown to those working the Ouija, he’d allow the patent application to proceed. They sat down, “communed with the spirits”, and the planchette spelled out the patent officer’s name. At that point a visibly shaken patent officer awarded a patent for the new “toy or game.” The original patent lists no explanation as to how the device works.
Ouija historian Robert Murch notes that this all originated during the American 19th century obsession with spiritualism, the thought that the dead and living can communicate when offered the right tools. In the United States, the Fox sisters of New York were the celebrity spiritualists during the time but surprisingly enough it was well-matched for American Christians who felt comfortable attending a séance and attending church during the same weekend. Even President Lincoln’s wife held séances in the White House after their son died in 1862. During the period of the American Civil War, support for spiritualism increased because so many longed to connect with their lost loved ones.

Shawn 1989ish
I think that’s a longing that many of us still have. But just like talking to God through a priest, I don’t need to talk to my dead through a medium. Instead, I have chosen to connect with them directly even if I don’t always hear them or see them or understand what any of that means. The ultimate irony for this girl who loves tromping through cemeteries is that the boy (if he had lived beyond 18, he’d be 43) that I wish most to see and haunt his graveside is interred in a private location that I am unable to reach.  I don’t need any tools to know that if I could talk to him just one more time he would simply say that everything is okay. Because from pre-kindergarten on, that’s always what he told me. I believed him.

I really wanted to post about this being my blogoversary or my blogbirthday since I started these little rants a year ago today. In my original post, I write, “This blog is about growing, not just plants but becoming the girl I was always meant to be- my authentic self.” It’s a life-long journey.

Tonight I toast to you fine readers, to the amazing blogging friends I have made in person and in the virtual world, and to me for making it another year… because some people just can’t for whatever reason and that sucks. 

A pivot point & how I view my own time

Monday, May 25, 2015

... a different kind of haunt...

April’s New Orleans trip was a whirlwind with a conference, hooking up with a new research group, and meeting colleagues/bloggers/former students. When I arrived home, I was tuckered and suffering from a voodoo curse. Last year’s New Orleans conference left me with a plane voucher for any flight under $500. Because April’s trip was work related and I submitted a proposal and received a grant, the flight was already paid for. So here I was with mere weeks left for me to use or lose the voucher. I considered the places I could go but my thoughts kept returning to New Orleans and what felt like an unfinished visit.

When I finally settled on returning this month, I sent a message to The Curious Professor Z to see if she would be able to join me. I mean, what’s more fun than walking around a bunch of cemeteries? Walking around a bunch of cemeteries with a buddy! Plus, Professor Z is an Art Historian and well, there’s a bit of art in the cemeteries. I figured it was a long shot since she had just taken a trip and because she’s graduating with her Ph.D. in mere days. But, she said yes! Gwee! And so began our month of anticipation and concluding our semesters. I did some research on hotels and was very much interested in staying in a smaller less-chain-related establishment. I really, really, really wanted something with history as well. … and the more haunted, the better. Not that I can actually say that I believe in ghosts. I believe in the idea of spirits but I’ve never seen a ghost and if one were to wake me it wouldn’t be pretty (e.g. I’m not so pleasant to wake when I’m sleeping). After sending Professor Z a half dozen possibilities, we settled on The Hotel Provincial which sits on land that was a grant from King Louis XV.

In 1718, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville claimed the area as the original "La Nouvelle-Orléans.” After passing through different hands, a military hospital was constructed in 1722.

Anne Rice's old haunt
Ghosts of soldiers allegedly still haunt the buildings of the hotel. Some have reported seeing wounded soldiers crying out in pain and bloodstains that mysteriously appear on the bed covers only to be gone when one looks again. Umm, I have to say that THAT was my only hesitation with the hotel. I did not want blood on my sheets. Some have reported sightings of a young female ghost thought to be someone who cared for the ill in the hospital. Southern confederate ghosts and those who cared for them… how could this be a concern for me? After all, I’m a Southern girl. And during our trip, I dragged Professor Z to Jefferson Davis’ first burial plot before he was reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery… AND, we even visited the house where Davis died. I won’t post the picture because I think I looked a little too happy. And while I’m not necessarily pro-Southern Confederate pride (my dad’s a Yankee and I’m pretty darn glad the North won :p ), I do want to be respectful. Point being, with some many Southern roots, how could I be haunted?!? Read that as I’m a super heavy sleeper! Plus, I’ve never actually seen or heard a ghost before. I believe I’ve felt some of my past friends’ presences but other than that nothin’. Even my mother just had her non-fiction ghost story published in a magazine. I was there and I literally slept through it. Oh well.

Fortunately, Professor Z and I weren’t heading to New Orleans for the ghosts. Probably the closest we got to any ghosts is the old haunts… read that as we went to Anne Rice’s former residence (and a home where Trent Reznor once lived). What can I say; I’m easily amused.

Another haunt was the WWII museum shop and the soda shop where we had some amazing sundaes. On the way, we passed by The National WWII Museum’s Victory Garden which “is a recreation of a WWII Victory Garden using current sustainable techniques”. The Victory Garden is maintained by master gardeners and volunteers with its seasonal produce being used in the local food pantries and the restaurants at the museum.


I’ll write more tidbits about the trip later. One of the super fun suggestions I received from Professor Z was to carve watermelons as Jack-o-lanterns. Today I spent the afternoon carving a watermelon and a honeydew. I’m sure they’re rotting in the Virginia heat but it was fun and now we have tasty sweets in the refrigerator.