Archive for October, 2011

October 20, 2011


So, let’s move on to something lighter, shall we?

We’re does everyone stand on hauntings? There was a conversation on Twitter a few days ago, but there was no real consensus.

As for me … I’m a big chicken. I HATE “haunted houses” with a passion. Just ask my friends Joel and Jamie … both have (multiple times) had the unfortunate pleasure of accompanying me through haunted houses. Both have (multiple times) emerged with little rivers of blood running down their arms, from my nails digging in. Really, it serves them right … they’re the ones that make me go.

Now, “ghost hunting” I get a kick out of. Make of that what you will. Skye and I have been known to dig around anywhere we can get to, with our cameras a-flashing.


She’s in San Diego, and luckily for us, Old Town San Diego has their very own haunting.

The Whaley House is first and foremost a historical museum. During business hours they do tours where the share the house’s history, and then let you free to roam about. It’s a modest (for its time) manor house … with 2 stories. It also includes courtroom, and public meeting space – complete with stage and podium.


But, every October, they change-up the tour. Instead of the innocuous historical facts, they start telling  you the tales of the reported hauntings. Of the little dog kids tend to see running around, the small child in a pinafore, the woman’s face that appears on a wall and of Yankee Jim … a man executed on the property who was just flat-out too tall for the gallows and slowly strangled, instead of breaking his neck.

Lovely bedtime stories, right?


Well, several years back, it just so happened that I was dating the docent. And with that came some perks … including being allowed in the house after business hours (while they were closing up). And over the course of many visits, we had some fun.

Now, I will be the first to admit that most reports of hauntings are people’s imaginations running away with them. In this house, in particular, each room is sealed off with plexiglass. 99% of the time people claiming to have a photo with a figure in the room actually have a photo of their reflection in the plexiglass.

That being said … let’s share some stories:

** It should be known, most experiences we’ve had in the house are common ones. Having never seen the Halloween tour, neither of us were aware of anything specific having been reported previously. Imagine our surprise when the response to our report was “Oh yah, that happens all the time.” **


1. Let’s start vaguely creepy, but not all out. The stairs are apparently built on the spot where Yankee Jim was hanged (before the house was built). One night, after I’d been standing on the stairs taking photos,  I had someone ask me what I’d done to my neck. I looked in a mirror, and had a thin red welt going all the way around … as if there’d been a cord around my neck. It didn’t hurt at all, I hadn’t felt it happen, and it lasted for about 2 hours.


Apparently, this is something that happens to several tourists each day. The workers look for it, but don’t mention it often, as it generally freaks people out. But they do keep a tally. ::winks::


2. Same night, while outside, waiting for the boy to grab his jacket from the office, I was wandering around, shooting the outside of the house (the creepy misty shot of the back was from that night … the mist was a low hanging cloud … being not far from the ocean, it’s ALWAYS foggy.) The house was locked, and all the lights were out. In one of the upper windows, I noticed movement … like something moving back and forth across the bottom of the window repeatedly. The longer I watched, I realized it looked like a rocking chair. So I quickly shot 3 photos.

In one photo, the window is dark … as it should be. In one photo, the window is very bright, as if a light is on just inside. And one picture looked like this:


I have to tell you … we blew that picture up as big as it would go. (I was using a film camera, so that’s pretty damn big.) Behind all the color, you can vaguely see the outline of the building … and the window, faintly lit. And we checked to see if it was just something with the film … nowhere else on that roll were there even similar anomalies. Or that bright of colors, for that matter.

As for what I’d seen … the boy later told me that a rocking chair had been next to the window for many years … but had recently been relocated to the other side of the room. There was only a table there, now.


3. This one wasn’t my experience, but I witnessed it. During normal tours, they take everyone into the meeting room and tell you about things (historical events) that happened during the time it was in use. One afternoon, the guy (a stranger) sitting next to me was taking pictures of the tour guide, up on stage. At one point he started to review them, and yelped. Most of his photos were of the tour guide, podium, and 3 chairs. But one photo (in the middle of others) was of four chairs, a different podium (in a different place on stage) and no tour guide. The poor tourist was shaking. I was super intrigued.


4. This one was creepy. You’re forwarned.

The night the photo of Skye (all the way up top) was taken we’d been out at dinner in Old Town. Knowing they’d be closing up as we were finishing, we went in to say hi and see if we could poke around. That day they’d unveiled the restoration of the kitchen … back to the original from the time the house was built. Previously it had been preserved as it was left, still old, but not original. As we were about to leave, we decided to take one last swing through the kitchen (the lights were now off). As Skye stepped inside after me, she started hyperventilating and just generally freaking out. So we left, and went to the courtroom (still lit) to sit down and make sure she was ok. She said she had been hit with a wave of severe anxiety and confusion. (Not typical for her.) But, being Skye, she wanted to go back. So we did. She barely got in the door before collapsing to the floor sobbing. (ALSO not typical.) I dragged her out into the hallway and then ran back to snap a couple of photos … to see if I could catch anything.


So, some things to be noted about this photo. It was one of 5 or 6 I shot … the 3rd or 4th in, I believe. The only source of light in that area of the house was my flash. There was no light behind me. NOTHING that could cast a shadow. And again, it only showed up in one of the photos (notice a trend?) … the rest were completely normal.

The thing that creeps me out the most about this photo are the little things. Like the fact that in the middle of the darkness you see my flash reflecting off the stovepipe, and the wall paper. And that while there is a sharp edge on the left side of the shadow, the right side curves around a bit.

We’ve tried over and over again to try to recreate this photo, with no luck. The only thing that comes even close was by having me crouch down, and have a piece of cardboard blocking the entrance … the shadow was about right, then, but you also couldn’t see the whole room, as I was too low to shoot over the cardboard. That night there had been nothing between me and the room … at least nothing that could be seen. Someone mentioned (about a year later) that it looked like a door was being shut in my face. Any other opinions?

Skye later said that when she started crying she’d been flooded with overwhelming sorrow and a sense of “Why did you do this?” She speculates this all had to do with the renovation of the kitchen … but who knows.


5. So now that everyone’s thoroughly creeped out, I’ll end with a less-intense story. One afternoon, about a month after the night in number 4, I stopped by to take the boy to lunch. He was in the middle of a tour, so I wandered around waiting. Upstairs was a mother with several small children who were running around. I stopped to talk to her, and felt one of the kids tug on my long skirt. Looking down, I saw that one of the little girls was smiling at me. She took my hand, and started to swing it back and forth … as small children tend to do. I went back to talking to the mother, and the little one kept swinging my hand.

After about a minute of this I looked down to smile at her … and there was no little girl. But I could still feel the little hand, and my arm was still swinging back and forth. I looked at the woman I was talking to in shock, and felt the little hand give mine a squeeze and slip away. Sounds terrifying, but really, all I felt was fascination.

A couple of days later, the boy showed me a picture the workers had taken at closing, the same day I’d been there. (Before cleaning any of the plexiglassed rooms they take pictures, to make sure everything is put back in the same spots.) In the nursery there is a cradle holding a baby doll. In the photo, there was a little girl peeking over the edge of the cradle, smiling at doll.

It was the little girl I’d seen, and played with.

Of course, I told the boy what’d happened to me (for some reason I hadn’t when it happened … go figure). He told me that visitors wearing long skirts regularly report having them tugged on … like a small child would. But to his knowledge, no one else had ever reported having the child actually touch them.

And all I could think was COOL.


So … those are my stories. Anyone else have any?

October 19, 2011

Healing Hands

I know many of you don’t share my faith, but I’m posting anyway. I’m a Christian. On the way home tonight, I was listening to this. And sobbing by the end of it. I feel better now than I have all day.

     When I was young the smallest trick of light
     Could catch my eye
     And life was new and every new day
     I thought that I could fly

     I believed in what I hoped for
     And I hoped for things unseen
     I had wings and dreams could soar
     I just don’t feel like flying anymore

     When the stars threw down their spears
     Watered Heaven with their tears
     Before words were spoken
     Before eternity

     Dear Father, I need you
     Your strength my heart to mend
     I want to fly higher
     Every new day again

     When I was small
     The furthest I could reach was not so high
     And I thought the world was so much smaller
     Feeling that I could fly

     Through distant deeps and skies
     Beyond infinity
     Below the face of Heaven
     He stoops to create me

     Dear Father, I need you
     Your strength my heart to mend
     I want to fly higher
     Every new day again

     Man versus himself
     Man versus machine
     Man versus the world
     Mankind versus me
     The struggles go on
     The wisdom I lack
     The burdens keep piling
     Up on my back
     So hard to breathe
     To take the next step
     The mountain is high
     I wait in the depths
     Yearning for grace
     And hoping for peace
     Dear Lord increase

     Healing hands of God have mercy
     On our unclean souls once again
     Jesus Christ, light of the world
     Burning bright within our hearts forever

     Freedom means love without condition
     Without a beginning or an end
     Here’s my heart, let it be forever Yours
     Only You can make every new day seem so new

– Five Iron Frenzy ,”Every New Day”


The version that got me sobbing (I was listening to the recording of their final show):

The record version, sans emotion (and screaming):


Have a good night, everyone.

October 19, 2011

Party of …. 1.5

Who’s the decision maker in your family? Is it both of you? You? Your partner?

At our place, it’s me. I’m the one who makes sure the bills are paid on time. Who makes sure we grocery shop when the pantry/fridge are looking bare. Who tries to plan ahead.

The husband, however, has the bad habit of ignoring my requests for input, or saying “no let me take care of it!” and then postponing as long as he can. It’s like pulling teeth, I swear.

This past week, however, it’s hit the fan.

1. I find a deal for Christmas cards. Knowing better than to call him in the middle of the day, I send him an email “Do you have people to add to our Christmas card list? If so, roughly how many? I found a deal and I want to grab it right away.” He reads the email, doesn’t respond. Also, doesn’t get home until 11pm (school and all). By the time I drag an answer out of him, the deals are sold out.

2. A running blogger I follow has been singing the praises of a certain pair of shorts. Yesterday, they were on sale for HALF PRICE. Knowing we’re broke, I shoot him an email to see if he thinks it’s worth it. I had to re-ask this morning, before work. He said eh, it’s up to me. I try to buy them … and they’re back to full price.

3. I still have not met most of his family. His dad’s siblings and so on could not afford to come to our wedding and, as they mostly live in the Seattle area, it’s not like we have many opportunities to see them. 2 years ago, family drama meant I wasn’t allowed to go to the grand family gathering at Thanksgiving. ::grumbles:: Last year, we were in Columbus with his mom’s family. This year, I was determined to make it to Seattle. Not only did I want to see everyone, this may be one of the last chances for me to meet his rapidly deteriorating grandparents. He said he wanted to talk to his mom and find out the plans. For 3 MONTHS I looked up flights, sent him emails, had conversations with him, pushed him along. I mean, I know he’s busy, but dammit, make the call so we don’t have to spend ALL our funds on flights. This week I look again … and guess what? The flights are officially too expensive. We can’t go, no matter what. And he STILL hasn’t talked to his mom about it.

I’m just so, so done. I’m getting sick of being ignored, or pushed off while he focuses on whatever has his attention at that moment.* I’m sick of missing opportunities because I’m trying to include him in the decisions for our family.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or anything similar? How do you cope with it? How do you fix it? We’ve discussed (and fought about) it so many times … and nothing changes.

It’s giving me a severe case of the sads today.


* Ok, that was mean. But really, that’s what it feels like.

October 17, 2011

Dream Chance

So … we’ve discussed my past in dance, and the reason I can’t anymore, right? Now is one of those times where the Fear comes back.

At the end of this year, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will be closing its doors. Their final performance will be at the Park Avenue Armory on New Year’s Eve. But before that, they’ll be here, in DC, at the Kennedy Center.


It’s been a dream of mine for the past oh, 15 years, to dance with/for Merce Cunningham. My focus was always in modern choreography, and they do it better than anyone I’ve ever seen. I was lucky enough in 2007 (just months after my accident) to  see the company perform three pieces … two of which were premieres.

eyeSPACE was something new and unusual … an hour-long piece of choreography, with no music. Each audience member was given an iPod Shuffle … and told when to begin playing. Each iPod had different accompaniment  … some were music, some were city or nature sounds, and at least one was a spanish lesson. (My date for the night had that one.) You could also choose to take out your headphones, and just listen to the sounds of the dance itself. Everyone in the audience had an entirely unique experience. It was a study in DANCE as a stand alone art form … not just as an accompaniment to music.

It was stunning.

I, of course, cried my way through that performance. For the beauty, and for everything lost. When applying to take classes with the company (in hopes of becoming a company member one day), they put you through a course of back strength testing and build up. Specifically, lower back. The part that was so much trouble for me. So … that was out.

And this year, they’re closing. But as a grand farewell, they’re doing the Legacy Tour … and one stop is here. On December 2nd. Any way I can, I’m going.

Here comes the scary part:

On December 3rd, they’re offering a Master Class for intermediate to advanced dancers. I’m not at that level anymore. I’d say, thanks to my limitations, I’m a low intermediate. (And yes, that just killed me to write.) I don’t know that I could handle it.

My husband last night said “It might hurt.” I thought he was talking physically … he was talking emotionally. God love him for trying to protect me … he knows how upset I get any time I’m faced with something I used to be able to do so easily, and just can’t anymore.

But IT’S A CHANCE TO DANCE WITH MERCE. A chance that will NEVER happen again.

And I’m terrified.

What do I do?


As a side bonus … CoisCéim Dance Theatre … from Dublin. I saw this program (Knots) in 2005. This video does NOT do it justice. It’s so much more intricate and dramatic live. The camera work here is just terrible.*

The duet at 4:00 was the last piece I ever performed … just 2 weeks before my accident. It was raw, and emotional … just like you’d expect it to be. Oh … and my shirt wasn’t torn. 



*Though I do LOVE that they didn’t try to edit the bruises out. That was a dance that left huge welts. It was worth it.

October 14, 2011

Breaking for Smiles

This has been a tough week. Family drama, work drama, on and on. Yick.

So today, a treat. The little man* is 5 months old now. (How’d that happen?!) And just a complete ball of fun:


Apparently that first one was taken when he saw his mom walk into the room. Little heartbreaker.

Have a great weekend guys.


*My nephew.