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Ghosts

Three Hundred Sixty Six.

I know what you’re thinking.

Nope. I still don’t have any answers. And I still don’t feel like a grown up. Maybe slightly closer, but I still don’t even want to have to take care of a houseplant.

SIDENOTE: Somehow I manage to keep my dogs alive and happy. I don’t know how that works. Life Math is weird.

…Maybe I’m just not a green thumb.

Anyway.

My BFF Jo texted me yesterday and said, “It’s your last day as a 26 year old.”

At first I kind of panicked. Holy shitballs. 26. It’s over. I feel like it just started. I know it sounds like a super cliche, but in some ways, it really was like the blink of an eye.

I started this blog a year ago as a challenge to myself as a writer. Early in 2012, I kind of lost faith in myself. I hit a major rough patch and thought wow, maybe I’m actually a terrible writer. Maybe I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe I don’t want to ever write again. Of course, I eventually came around and realized that writing is the thing I love the most. And in the same vein, I knew that if I wanted to be a writer, I’d have to write.

But I was kind of scared.

So I promised myself I would write something every day.

I wasn’t really expecting that forcing myself to write a blog post every day – a story that somehow led to me learning a life lesson, no matter how small – would help me be happy. I saw it as much more of an exercise than anything else. And an opportunity to maybe be funny. But I have to say, writing this blog has given me a completely different outlook on my entire life. It’s helped me understand how my past has made me who I am. It’s helped me work through a lot of difficult times and put a positive spin on things I would have never otherwise laughed at. It’s helped me approach life in a much more open, accepting way.

Like, happen to me, life: I’m ready to learn from you.

That was a disaster. Oh well, next time will be better!

I can’t believe that just happened. I am mortified. Also, that was hilarious. I can’t wait to tell people.

I did it! Someone pat me on the fucking back!

I hate everything right now. Surely someone will understand.

I am hurting. I need to know it’s going to be okay.

This is weird. Does everyone feel this way?

Did that just happen? SRSLY?!

At the same time, I had come to a bit of a crossroads with myself. I had hit a self-love low. I was feeling depressed, defeated, discouraged, you name it. I decided enough was enough: it was time to make the active decision to be happy.

I also discovered that Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks. And my world was turned upside down. In a good way.

To quote myself (is that totally pretentious? I’m trying to recap, shut up.):

Jayne Mansfield, the American actress, singer, Playboy playmate, and all around drop-dead gorgeous bombshell, was flawed in a way that has been the root of much of my self-consciousness for all of my teenage and adult life.

So…all of that got me here.

SIDENOTE: It’s really hard writing the last post of a 365-day blog.

It’s going to be difficult to let this blog go. I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and my first thought is going to be, “What can I write about today?” or, “Oh shit! I still have to blog today!”

But I’m looking forward to channelling my creative energy into a number of other projects that I’ve already either started or am about to. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m not going anywhere. Maybe there will be another blog. Maybe not. But I promise there will be something.

I was trying to think of a fun way to commemorate the end of this blog.

Here’s what I came up with.

Jayne Mansfield had stretchmarks.

jayne

And so do I.

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xA

P.S. It’s hilariously ironic that in the majority of the pin-up photos I took, my stretchmarks aren’t that visible. Because they’re everywhere.

But I guess there’s a life lesson in that, isn’t there?

I’m probably the only one who really notices them.

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P.P.S. Things I meant to write but forgot: Happy Birthday to me! Also, here’s to 27! I’m crazy excited for it!

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Three Hundred Sixty Five.

I know this is a 365-day blog, but this is technically the penultimate post, because it’s a birthday to birthday thing. And tomorrow’s my birthday!

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SIDENOTE: Have you bought me a birthday present yet? We can’t be friends if you didn’t because all I care about is material possessions.

Anyway, I thought what better way to spend the second-last day of my crazy year-long blog than looking back on some of its best moments?

SIDENOTE: Maybe that should say best/”best”…

Think of this, if you will, as a flashback episode of your favourite TV sitcom. With the help of a couple friends, I’ve compiled some categories I think you’ll enjoy.

Without further ado…

Top 5 Stupid Kid Moments

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Oh boy. Where to even start with this one?! Well, okay…

1. Pressing buttons was (OKAY, STILL IS) a thing I loved doing. See examples A and B.

2. Of course, there was the time I electrocuted myself

3. The day I put scissors through my finger

4. Setting fire to things is never a good idea.

5. Neither is writing a hate letter to your childhood friend.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give honourable mention to the day I learned that “bastard” is a bad word. Oh, and also to the combination of shaving off my eyebrows and getting hair extensions.

And guess what?! It’s your lucky day. I found a photo of teenage Andrea with hair extensions and no eyebrows. And apparently I have no shame because I’m gonna post it on the Internet.

Extensions

Boy oh boy oh boy.

Moving on!

Top 5 Most Awkward Moments

If you haven’t deduced by now, I am the QUEEN OF AWKWARD. This is quite the random assortment, but I feel it encompasses who I am pretty well…

1. The day a goat ate my t-shirt. (Enough said.) (Stupid goats.) (Seriously, why would she do that to me?!) (Ugh.) (I fucking loved that t-shirt.) (SOB.)

2. The day I learned about orgasms in sex ed. (Is anyone else craving cake?!)

3. Barrel-chested. That is all.

4. The day the National Poet of Scotland called me stupid. Which I really should add to my resume.

5. My elementary school “boobies” moment.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

There are so, so many, but I feel like my Pilates FAIL and my Zumba BARF moments were pretty grand.

Top 5 “SRSLY?!” Moments

You know those moments. The ones that make you go, “what the fucking?!”

1. People and my tattoos. Why are people so weird about my tattoos?

2. That time a guy threw a book at my face. No big deal.

3. NO I DON’T WANT TO TAN.

4. Nothing says “what the fuck?” like getting pepper sprayed!

5. Also charming: when people tell you how to pronounce your own name

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

I have to give myself a shout out for fucking up my neck by making fun of someone on a Zumba DVD. Because who the fuck does that? This girl, right here.

But the greatest honourable mention in this category goes to Glasgow, Scotland, where I experienced so many WTF things, including…

Finding a tooth in an ATM.

Finding a used tampon on a bus.

And buses in general.

Among so many others. I fucking love you, Glasgow. I really do.

Top 5 Workplace Blunders

It’s a wonder I still have my job. It really is. It’s also a wonder I still have any self-confidence after all of the stupid humbling things that have happened to me at work…

1. My friends still bring up the day I parked on the sidewalk.

2. Also charming: locking yourself in a stairwell on your first day of work.

3. Or, you know, getting caught dancing in the bathroom.

4. Similarly, walking in on your coworkers in the bathroom.

5. Or traumatizing them with your hair colour.

BONUS PHOTO:

Getting caught taking a selfie at work.

Work selfie

At least I know my office mate loves me and doesn’t judge me.

Top 5 Relationship/Sex Fails

Look. I’d prefer we don’t dwell on how much I suck at relationships, okay? OKAY?!

1. I have been known to throw myself at guys I like.

2. I’ve learned the hard way that spin the bottle will only break your heart.

3. So will going after guys who don’t care that you exist. (But you can keep trying to shout “LOVE ME! LOOOOOVE MEEEE!” at them. Trust me. Guys SUPER love that.)

4. I’m good at ending up in awkward sex situations.

5. And awkward kissing situations, sometimes.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND A BONUS PHOTO:

Okay, well, first of all, heartbreak, right?

I think I also screwed it up with this guy, because he was clearly paying me a compliment.

Let’s not forget all of my failed marriages. Sigh.

And the time a MONSTER RASH ruined my potential Scottish boyfriend.

And hey, since I’ve already shown you how great I looked with hair extensions as an eyebrowless wonder, here’s a photo of me in the midst of the MONSTER RASH attack. This was after I managed to get my eyes open, because they were swollen shut.

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Good lord…

Top 5 Accomplishments

I didn’t screw up everything, though. I’ve done some stuff. Yeah. I do things! I TCB every once in a while!

1. I’ve gotten over a lot of fear to become a Zumba instructor.

2. Then I stuck with it for a year and changed my life.

3. I grew back my eyebrows, guys. I fucking did it!

4. I got over some serious “I can’t!” bullshit and also tried wall climbing.

5. Oh, hey, I also learned how to embrace myself sometimes. I think that’s pretty huge.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

I BLOGGED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 365 FUCKING DAYS.

A year, guys. A YEAR.

I’m excited to celebrate my birthday with you all tomorrow.

xA

P.S. I know what you’re thinking. There totally should have been some sort of crazy travel category. But I just couldn’t narrow that shit down. So you’ll just have to re-read my entire blog to enjoy.

Three Hundred Forty Two.

As you may have gleaned by now, I worked at a live theatre for a number of years. I met lots of characters and ghosts while I was there.

The characters who always perplexed me the most were the people who would come to see live theatre and not seem to understand that they were watching live theatre. They would sit in the front row and talk during the performance. Or answer their phones. Or they would come out of the auditorium halfway through the play and say things to me like, “I don’t understand what’s going on in the movie!”

SIDENOTE: Yes. That happened. Like, a lot.

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CONNECT THAT TO:

Lately, I’ve been having some strange experiences in my Zumba classes. Like, okay, I totally understand that sometimes, people are tired and they don’t want to give 100% in class. That’s completely fine. If I’m honest, a lot of the time, I don’t want to give 100% either because I teach 6+ classes a week and I’m tired. I don’t have the option, but I understand.

But there’s a difference – a HUGE difference – between not giving 100% and literally STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLASS STARING AT ME.

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If you didn’t come to move, why are you in my Zumba class? Why do you look angry? Do you realize that I’m a real person standing in front of you trying to do my job – which I love – to the best of my ability? Do you not understand how standing and staring at me when the rest of the room is dancing and smiling might make me feel weird or uncomfortable or self-conscious?

No? Okay. Just checking.

SIDENOTE: if Christina Hendricks came to my Zumba class, I would DIE. She could stare at me all she wants.

BUT:

This weekend I went to a play. It’s been a long time. Like, a long time. For me, anyway. I think the last play I saw was some time in the spring. Maybe March.

SIDENOTE: It was Midsummer by David Greig, playing at Theatre Network, and you should check it out.

The play was great, but here’s what happened. I found myself a little disconnected. Like, it was jarring to me that real people were on stage, performing in the moment. It took me a while to adjust to that, and at one point – and trust me, I am ASHAMED to admit this – I almost reached for my phone just because I was curious what time it was.

WHAT THE FUCK, ANDREA?!

Shameful. I know.

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But after the play, as my friend-date Caitlin and I walked back to my car and talked about it, I realized yeah, we don’t disconnect much anymore, do we? It’s almost like we’ve gotten so used to the digital being “real” that REAL-real doesn’t seem real anymore. Like, I talk to my friends on Facebook and that’s real, but what would be more real is talking to them in person.

I don’t have any big answers or anything. All I’m saying is on the weekend, I felt the disconnect and I wasn’t happy with it. So the lesson I’ve learned is it’s time to reconnect with the human experience a little more and just be aware of being present.

xA

P.S. At least my phone didn’t ring during the show or something. (I’m just trying to make myself feel better. Don’t mind me.)

Three Hundred Twenty Three.

I think this is like, my first blog by request.

Maybe not the first, but it’s been a little while.

You all loved hearing about The Roxy Theatre ghosts, huh? Well, I had many, many experiences while I was working there, yesterday’s story being one of the most striking ones. But in terms of full-on shivery fear, it’s got nothing on this story.

It was the summer of 2008. Since I worked at The Roxy and I’m generally awesome, my bosses let me rehearse my Fringe show at the theatre (clearly they are also generally awesome).

Fantastic, except for the fact that the auditorium and backstage are a little…eerie.

I don’t know about you guys (well, I know what a lot of people think), but every single time I’ve ever stood backstage in that theatre, I’ve felt that there was also a man back there, and he didn’t necessarily feel nice. Standing back there in the dark during a production waiting to go on stage always made me feel like I had to pee out of sheer anxiety. Going through the backstage area to turn out the lights at the end of the night was even worse.

“Watch me! Watch me, watch me, watch me!!!” I’d shout at my stage manager while I turned out the last light and ran down the side hallway back toward the auditorium to leave. I say “ran” because that’s exactly what I did. I booked it. Every. Single. Time.  It was as though if I couldn’t see him watching me, I’d never get out. It’s hard to explain unless you stand there. Everyone I’ve made stand there has said, “Yes. I feel exactly what you mean.”

Empty-theatre-007The thing I learned very quickly when I actually started rehearsing in the theatre is that The Man, as I’ll refer to him, is like, everywhere all the time. Sometimes I’d be sitting in the front row watching rehearsals and I’d feel like there was someone watching me watching rehearsals. I’d glance over my shoulder and see the shadow of a man, sitting way at the back of the auditorium in the last row. Sometimes I’d glance back and he’d be standing in the doorway, a distinct figure. Sometimes he’d be walking by one of the sets of doors, leading me to actually get up, go out into the lobby, and double check that the front doors were securely locked. Sometimes, when I’d get on stage to talk to my cast about blocking or whatever needed to be discussed, I’d glance out and see him standing up in the production booth.

Luckily, he was never sitting directly behind me when I glanced back.

There was one particular night, though, that he made his presence very obvious to all of us.

Like a perfect horror movie, while we were inside rehearsing on a late week night, it was pouring rain outside. I had been creeped out enough so far during our rehearsal process that my reaction to the storm was , “Oh, great. Now this.”

It was getting very late – around 10 or 11pm – and for whatever reason (well, just read the above for a plethora of reasons), I was feeling pretty done for the night. I kind of just wanted to go home.

SIDENOTE: This was also the summer of no sleep. So it had just been a long day, week, month, everything.

I thought that it was just me feeling a little nervous that night. I had done the shoulder glance a number of times and seen The Man at the back of the auditorium, and I was starting to fear that he would get closer.

And then my fear came very true.

The cast was smack dab in the middle of running a scene when it happened: loud, distinct footsteps, clomping all the way from the back of the house, through the auditorium, and all the way backstage. They were heavy and evenly timed, and they were full of purpose.

The entire cast fell silent.

“What the fuck was that?!” my lead actress shouted, her eyes widening.

And then we all looked up.

Because the footsteps weren’t in the auditorium with us; they were coming from above our heads.

“Is someone on the roof?” my stage manager asked.

“If they are, they climbed up from the outside of the building,” I replied, “The roof access is upstairs, inside.”

“That was in the ceiling.” one of the actors spat, “Like above us. Is someone in here?!”

I shook my head and said:

“Let’s go home.”

And we left the theatre as quickly as we possibly could.

“WATCH ME!” I yelled, practically crying as I turned out the lights.

We exited in a holding-hands cluster, ran to our respective vehicles, and didn’t sleep that night.

But I was curious. I didn’t understand how someone could even get from the production booth to the backstage above the auditorium. So the next day at work, I found the theatre’s technical director – who at the time was a total skeptic (he later changed his mind!) – and asked him about it.

“Hey, can you walk from the booth to the backstage, like, upstairs?”

“Yup. For sure.”

“How?”

“Well, I mean, you can crawl, sort of. There’s a attic sort of thing. It goes from the booth to the poop deck backstage. But the attic has a lot of beams in it now, so you can’t walk through.”

“But you could before?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Back when it was a movie theatre. You could walk the whole way.”

“Like, quickly. Without obstruction.”

“For sure. Why do you ask?”

Eeek

The Roxy Theatre in Edmonton, y’all. Totally haunted. (PART II!)

xA

P.S. Tomorrow I’ll write about something not ghostly.

Three Hundred Twenty Two.

Oh shit, you know what I just realized?

I won’t be writing this blog come Halloween, because my 365 days will be over on my 27th birthday, October 17.*

You know what that means?

I don’t have to save scary stories to be seasonal! WA-HA! Fun!

SIDENOTE: Not like there’s ever been much rhyme or reason to when I post what I post…

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: It’s weird to think of this blog being over. It’s exciting and sad at the same time.

Okay. So remember how I worked at a theatre for like, five years? I’ve totally mentioned it before, this post probably being the most entertaining, though if you want to relive my glamorous acting days that took place in the very same theatre, read this one, too.

The theatre I worked at is totally haunted.

There are multiple presences in the building. In general, I would say that there are the following people around:

  1. A male presence in the box office and stairwell area
  2. A female presence in the lobby and ladies washroom
  3. A (different) male presence in the auditorium

I have stories about all of these. Little things, for example, like hearing high heels walking through the lobby and going into the washroom, only to find the lights completely out and nobody in the building but yourself.

Eerie.

SIDENOTE: Eerie, but also oddly easy to get used to. Just like the presence in the box office who would constantly rustle stuff around at night at the back of the office.

“Can you stop it? You’re freaking me out.” I got accustomed to saying out loud.

And he always respected my wishes.

Anyway, ironically, the story I’m about to tell goes against the list I just presented you with. But rather than elaborate, I’ll just tell the damn story.

It was my very first year actually working at the theatre. You see, I started out as a volunteer (I’m a good Samaritan!)/festival participant and actor (see the above link about my fabulous acting career)/fangirl (I was REALLY obsessed with this musical written by William S. Burroughs, Robert Wilson, and Tom Waits called The Black Rider. In total, I saw it seven times. Shut up. Did you just read who wrote this thing? PERFECTION.)

I was still pretty new to the whole “opening up the theatre in the morning” routine, but being a very hard worker and a generally responsible human being (see: 18 going on 40), I had a pretty good handle on it. At the time, we were about halfway through the annual emerging artists’ festival the theatre hosts, so I was getting into the groove of setting up every day.

I unlocked the theatre, got into the lobby, and disarmed the alarm. Normal.

Then I walked through the darkened lobby and into the box office, where I turned on all of the lights. Normal.

After putting down my bag and turning on the box office computer, I stepped out into the lobby to start turning on the rest of the lights. I flipped the switches for the lobby itself, then made my way around the concession counter toward the ladies washroom.

Now, as I mentioned, there’s a female presence in the lobby of the theatre. And often, the sound of high heels goes from the front door into the washroom, then stops. Connected to this (in my mind, anyway), is the fact that when you step into the washroom to turn on the lights, it always feels like when you do turn them on, there will be someone standing RIGHT THERE in the mirrors.

So I made a habit of just reaching my arm into the washroom to turn on the lights, keeping my head outside of the washroom and my eyes firmly shut and/or averted from the mirrors.

SIDENOTE: I guess I never thought too much about what if I reached in and FELT SOMETHING THERE?

On this particular day, I guess I was feeling somewhat brave (or maybe I was just still too new to know any better) because I stepped into the darkened washroom and flicked on the lights.

And then I jumped, startled.

SIDENOTE: Are you freaked out?!

Not because there was anything in the mirrors (just me), but because I heard very loud laughter and muffled conversation between two females coming from behind the closed auditorium doors.

I froze.

What the fuck?

Now, at the time, the two people running the technical side of the festival were women – Tammy and Gina – so my first thought was, “Oh! Tammy and Gina are here already! Awesome!”

SIDENOTE: Tammy and Gina are The Shit (in the good way) so heck yeah I was excited to see them.

I guess I didn’t stop to think about the fact that when I got to the theatre, the security system was armed. I guess disarming the alarm had already become such a habit that it didn’t even occur to me.

I left the ladies washroom and skipped the six or so feet toward one set of the auditorium doors. Excited to see my friends, I grabbed hold of both handles, yanked the double doors open, and rushed into the auditorium.

“HEY LADIES…”

And then my breath literally stopped in my lungs and everything felt cold.

The auditorium doors started to close behind me, the light vanishing, leaving me in PITCH BLACK.

Because there was nobody in there. The ghost light wasn’t even on. As soon as I opened the doors to walk in, the laughter and chatter I heard fell silent.

wide-ghost-light

I panicked and ran directly into the doors, throwing them open and getting the fuck out of the auditorium. I stumbled through the lobby into the box office, sat down at my desk, and didn’t move until my friend and manager Muffy showed up about an hour later.

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Lesson Learned: The Roxy Theatre in Edmonton, y’all. Totally haunted.

xA

P.S. I have one more super cool story about this theatre, so let’s call this PART I of me learning this lesson, okay? Okay.

*SAVE THE DATE AND BUY ME PRESENTS.**

**Who said that?!

Three Hundred Twenty One.

I’m reading a book called The Demonologist, which is about the career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. They’re the couple who inspired the film The Conjuring, and they’re also the couple who were called in to help the family who inspired The Amityville Horror.

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All of this reading and talking about the paranormal with friends has me remembering some of the crazy experiences I’ve had. I know I told you all about one of my weird moments down in the Edinburgh Vaults, but now I’m going to tell you about something that happened in Ireland.

When my mom came to visit me in Scotland, we took a trip together to Ireland. I know I’ve mentioned this before. When we were in Killarney, we went on a ghost tour that was probably one of the best I’ve ever been on. It was fun and campy, but it was also rooted in a lot of fact. Yes, we did horror movie trivia on the bus, but we also learned a lot about the city and its (sometimes very dark) history.

The last stop on our tour was Muckross Abbey. Here’s a short Wikipedia blurb:

Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor.

It has had a violent history and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often subjected to raids by marauding groups and were persecuted by Cromwellian forces under Lord Ludlow.Today the abbey is largely roofless although, apart from this, is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard, which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.

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In order to get to the abbey, we had to park on a street and walk through quite a bit of forest. As we made the trek over, the sun was starting to set. By the time we got into the abbey, it was pitch black – the only light we had was one flashlight, held by one of our guides.

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At first, I was a bit annoyed. The only other people on this tour with us were a group of teenage girls and their mom or aunt or whoever. So they were squealing at everything and being generally SUPER annoying. They were so loud and obnoxious that our guides had to ask them multiple times to calm down.

It was totally ruining the mood. While the building was really beautiful and certainly eerie in the darkness, we were mostly just trying to stay away from the teens to save our ear drums. I tried to focus on ignoring them and snapping photos – the flash from my camera was one of the only ways to see the actual building.

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And it was a super cool building.

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SIDENOTE: If you’re a believer in light orbs, my god, I caught so many on camera, it’s not even funny.

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So, while I was having a fascinating time in Muckross Abbey, I wouldn’t say I was having a creepy ghost tour time. Until we got into this one room.

“All right, everyone. This the the room in which we conduct an experiment.” our guide was getting down to business.

I assessed the surroundings. We were in a long, narrow room, somewhat like a hallway. One wall was solid stone, the other was an outside wall, with numerous slit-windows cut into the stone. It was so dark inside that the darkness of the yard outside seemed brighter, so the windows were very visible.

“In a moment, I’m going to turn off the torch [translation: flashlight]. I want you all to line up against that wall. Spread out so you can’t grab each other or scare each other, because this isn’t that kind of ghost tour. Once you’re ready, we’re going to turn out the lights and just take a moment to feel the room. All right?”

After much squealing from the teenagers, we got lined up. I looked at my mom and rolled my eyes. I wished they would just shut up.

And then our guide turned out the lights.

I stood there, staring out the slitted windows, wondering if this actually was one of those ghost tours and a guy in a gorilla mask was about to run in screaming at us (I went on a tour like that in Edinburgh – what a load of shit).

But then I saw something. And it wasn’t outside.

The light coming in from the slitted windows started to be blocked out, as if someone was walking by them. Then it happened again. And again. A row of shadows walked by me.

And then the row of shadows stopped.

Here’s the part where if you don’t already, you may think I’m totally nuts.

Although I didn’t see any faces turn and look at me – what I saw was shadows – I felt one of the men standing in front of me turn and look at me. And what I felt was a sense of judgement – a sort of shame on you – so strong that without even being to process it, I burst into tears. It was as though my heart was being squished by an iron weight. I couldn’t help myself. The sadness and shame and fear took over my entire body and my body panicked in response.

“Turn the lights on.” I started to say, “I need someone to turn the lights one. Turn the lights on!”

How did I get to be the one freaking out?

The guide complied and I promptly grabbed hold of my mom and told her what I saw and felt. She agreed about the shadows blocking out the windows. She had seen them, too.

After that, I couldn’t wait to get out of Muckross Abbey. It was unfortunate that we had to walk back through forest in total darkness (and in the rain) in order to get back to the bus with only one small flashlight for our whole group, because I spent that entire walk fearing that I was going to be attacked by whatever had been so angry at me in that room.

Oh, and if you were wondering, that room we were in was the room in which the Franciscan monks were imprisoned and led to their death. Often chained together.

Comforting.

That was one day (of a few I’ve had in my life) during which I learned that the history of a place is often 100% palpable, no matter how much time has passed.

It also solidified my belief in ghosts, or the paranormal, or whatever you want to call it.

xA

P.S. Tell me your ghost stories.

Three Hundred Fifteen.

So, I got my tarot cards read today.

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Yup.

It’s something I’ve always been curious about, and I figured hey, I’m feeling kind of lost and have felt like my life has been at a crossroads for like, over a year now, so I might as well just give it a go.

It was weird.

Here’s the thing: I consider myself a very intuitive person. On top of that, I’m a writer, so observing people is like, my favourite thing to do. As a result, I feel like I can read people very well, and I’m extra sensitive to how people speak, the subtext of what they say, and how they interact with me.

This woman was nervous around me. Maybe I’m hard to read – fair enough, I’ve been told that before. She seemed to be struggling very hard with figuring out who I am and what I do, and the “imagery” she kept calling upon had little to nothing to do with me.

She told me I should be a food blogger or a sculptor, and that I would have many opportunities for art openings in New York.

SIDENOTE: She told me I’d travel to New York with my red-headed sister, so Laura, if you’re reading this, pack your bags.

Then she told me I should research how to apply to be a food reviewer for blogs and travel the world doing that.

SIDENOTE: Vegan, gluten-free food blogger. I’d be lynched a week into my new career.

She then told me I should consider getting my Master’s degree (I have one), and that it should be in photography.

SIDENOTE: You know what? I fucking love photography. I wish I did more of it. I am always saying that. And I’m a huge camera nerd. So there’s that.

Between asking me questions and making statements about me that I had to constantly reply, “no” to, she cleared her throat, giggled anxiously, and said things like, “Oh, yeah, that felt wrong,” or, “Oh gosh, that was totally off – let’s scrap that.”

To be honest, everything else she said about me was very…general. That I need to focus on loving myself (I know, I really do), and that I should write down three qualities I love about myself every day for 21 days straight (that’s cool, I actually should, and I actually am going to be blogging about something similar very soon). She told me that I should focus on reconnecting with my spirituality (fair enough), and then mentioned that maybe I could manage a number of yoga studios (KILL ME NOW).

SIDENOTE: No offense, yoga lovers. I tried yoga and it was a huge learning experience for me.

SIDENOTE TO THE SIDENOTE: Oh my fucking god! I thought I had blogged about yoga! I was totally gonna link to it, and it DOESN’T EXIST! And here I thought I was running out of ideas. I’LL NEVER RUN OUT OF IDEAS.

(Haha, watch the universe screw me on like, day 347.)

Guys, I’m not a skeptic. I’ve always been intrigued by tarot and psychics and all that stuff. I totally believe it’s possible. I was totally that 14-year-old with a deck of tarot cards and a book trying to tell my own fortune. (I still have them, too. I know exactly where they are.) Plus, I fucking love Long Island Medium.

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But lesson learned: Today was not my day for a tarot reading.

OR MAYBE

I should become a tarot card reader.

xA

P.S. If you live where I live and you have been to an amazing tarot card reader and/or psychic, TELL ME NOW. I’m so curious it hurts.

P.P.S. Hilariously, the tarot card reader pulled a bunch of cards pertaining to my last relationship, and almost every single thing – like 94% of what she said about him – was (and/or felt) eerily, eerily accurate. So, if you’re reading this and you want to hear about it, send me a smoke signal and when I’m ready, I’ll tell you all about it.

P.P.P.S. Now the yoga post exists.

Two Hundred Ninety Seven.

Have you ever been somewhere for the first time and gotten an eerie feeling you’ve been there before?

That’s exactly what happened to me when I got to Dublin for the first time in 2006.

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I stole that photo from the Internet.

Prior to arriving in Dublin, the only knowledge I had of the city was that I had gleaned from my straight up obsession with Irish literature and film. So while I felt that I had a grip on the culture, the history, and the dialect, I had no idea about the geography. I mean, I had read Dubliners a few times, but I hadn’t gone crazy and mapped it out or anything.

I arrived in Dublin on a bus from Limerick (which had been a trying experience) and then took a cab straight to my B&B. I got myself cleaned up (also a challenge) and ready to explore as quickly as possible. Then I stepped out onto the front steps of my B&B.

And I shit you not, something happened.

Some people believe in ghosts; some people don’t. Some people believe in God; some people don’t. So I don’t expect everyone to believe me when I say this, but as I scanned my surroundings, standing on that front step, it was as though something deep inside of me – somewhere tucked in under my ribcage, somewhere in my gut and my heart and my Self – turned on. Like a switch. It came to life.

I hopped down the steps, turned right, and started walking through Dublin.

I’ve got to see Trinity College again,” I thought to myself as I made a bee-line across the Liffey.

But wait a second. I had never been to Trinity College before.

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So how was I standing in front of it just a short while later?

I’m not here to write an explanation, because I don’t have one. I’m not even here to elaborate on this, because I’m not sure what there is to elaborate on. All I can say is this: for my week or so stay in Dublin, I never once looked at a map. And I never once felt lost (unlike some other experiences I’ve had…). Every time I saw a new sight, it felt like a reminder, like seeing an old friend. Like when you visit a place you haven’t been in a long time and you drive around just to see all the spots you used to go.

That was the week of my life during which I learned that I believe in past lives, 100%.

Have you ever gotten that feeling?

xA

Two Hundred Twenty Eight.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with scary stories. I loved everything weird, dark, and spooky. (Not much has changed.) I remember this one book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, that I would read over and over and over again. Do you remember that one? The illustrations were great!

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I couldn’t get enough. There was another book of stories as well. I can’t remember what the title was, but the cover was orange, and the final story in the book was about a woman with a ribbon around her neck. She never took the ribbon off, and her boyfriend always wanted to know why. Then, after being married for years and years, the woman was on her deathbed and told her husband he could untie the ribbon…AND HER HEAD FELL OFF.

DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

I loved that book. I borrowed it from the library over and over again. I’m pretty sure no other kid ever got to read that particular copy.

And then there was Goosebumps.

Goosebumps

Oh, R.L. Stine.

The Haunted Mask was one of my favourites, but I loved them all. Some of the covers were so creepy that I would have to flip them over at night or I would think they were looking at me. I grew into Fear Street as well, but Goosebumps always stayed close to my heart. In fact, just talking about the Goosebumps series makes me want to buy them and re-read them all just for nostalgia’s sake.

Which I sort of already did over the last week.

I randomly discovered that R.L. Stine wrote an adult horror novel, Red Rain.

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Naturally, I had to read it. I downloaded it onto my Kobo and got going. I had high hopes.

Okay, just in case you decide that you want to read Red Rain, I will warn you that there might be some spoilers in the next couple paragraphs…but trust me, you could probably guess them without even knowing the basic premise of the book.

The story is centred on Lea and Mark Sutter. He’s a psychologist who has written a very controversial book about raising children, and she’s a travel blogger.

Yeah, she just travels and writes about it. Which would be believable if Stine made any hint that she’s successful at it, but the way he writes it, it’s just a hobby, and that left me wondering how the hell this couple can afford their lifestyle. Also, based on the two or three “blog chapters” (cue my giant groan and an eye roll), Lea Sutter is a terrible writer.  But I digress.

Anyway, Lea travels to an island called Le Chat Noir (OMG! The Black Cat! Black cats are totally bad luck!), gets stuck in a crazy ass hurricane, and discovers two pristine, Children of the Corn style twins in the ruins of the storm.

Naturally, she brings them home.

Oh, and also, there’s some weird shit going on on the island. Like, bringing the dead back to life, etc., etc.

With the exception of the terrible “blog” chapters, the beginning of the novel is fun. It’s super campy, old-school horror. Like the whole name of the island. It wasn’t scary. It made me laugh and go, “Aha, I get it.”

I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, R.L. Stine. I got you.

But then he lost me.

It’s just way too predictable. Reading Red Rain is like watching a terrible, overly stereotypical horror movie. I mean, of course something’s wrong with the kids. It’s so obvious off the top that it seems impossible the entire book will be about that. But it is. And Stine makes the twist at the ending so easy to guess that you spend the whole second half of the book just waiting for your suspicions to be confirmed.

(Also, the twins have a ridiculous “dialect” that made me want to set the book on fire. Except that wouldn’t work, because I was reading on my Kobo…)

That being said, it was fun (and funny) enough (though maybe for the wrong reasons) that it kept me reading until the end. It was a campy, brainless read after the more serious, heartbreaking book I finished the week before. Even if, as I read the last sentence, I literally said, “ARRGHUGGGGHHH NO!”

Lesson learned: R.L. Stine isn’t scary anymore. (But he’s still fun.)

xA

P.S. I realized in writing this post that I haven’t read anything as an adult that has scared me. Not in terms of a horror novel, that is. I’ve been scared by violence and hatred and ignorance, but I’m talking about setting out to be creeped out by a book. I don’t think it’s ever happened. Now, I’m a bad example, because horror movies don’t scare me either, but if you have any horror novel suggestions, I totally want to hear them, because I’m always up for it. (Please note that I am pretty much entirely DONE with vampires. No more vampires.)

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