Botched Assignments

Since I was Catholic for 25 years, I acquired a couple of goddaughters. One being my sister Bernadette, of whom I was not technically godmother, because I was not old enough in the church’s eyes at the time. But they made an exception for me, giving my good standing in the church and in school. I really was quite the exceptional Catholic at age 13 . So when she was a couple months old and I was nearly 14, I dressed up and went to church and we had a ceremony initiating her into Catholicism, and making me promise in front of God and the congregation that I would raise her in the Catholic Church as a spiritual guide. A couple of years later, D was born and we went through the whole thing again, with me promising much more reluctantly to make sure she stayed a good Catholic. Well, she turned 21 the other day. She is the legal full adult now…although I still wouldn’t rent her a car. I started to think about the fact that I left the Church, and sort of stopped guiding those I was supposed to be guiding. I wondered where she stood spiritually, because I know my sister didn’t pan out the way my parents had planned. Both of their daughters left the church, and became flaming pagans. So naturally, I had to check in with D to see where she was. Turns out, exact same story.
Forced when she was younger, bailed as soon as she could, took up an interest in Wicca. Not practicing, but definitely investigating. So in the end, I didn’t so much end up raising a couple of good Catholics soldiers, so much as a couple of heathens…just like their godmother.
[  ] I remember being young and thinking about the possibility of having children. This was never forefront in my brain, but was more of an implied future that I, at the time, didn’t really think I had much say in. But still, I picked out names, considered what colors I would paint bedrooms, and mentally considered godparents. As time went on however, my options dwindled. People who I would have chosen left the church, and it made me consider why. I mean, I had my first problem when I was about 8 with Catholicism. That would be the day that I learned I could never be a priest. See, in school we were taught about the sacraments- we were told that when you got older, you were called to one of two sacraments: Marriage, or the Holy Order. The Holy Order seemed pretty cool, mainly because my aunt was a Sister of Mercy and I saw the way she lived. She got to share a house with her best friend, go on lots of trips, and spent her time working with the church- which, again, as an 8-year-old who had been Catholics since the day she was baptized, this sounded rad. The thing is, however, I was a preformer. I was not interested in the second-banana role of the nun. I wanted to be in the spotlight. I wanted to say Mass. And then my very loving Aunt Ka very gently told me that was not an option, as I was a woman, and thus the first seed of doubt that I was in the wrong game was planted. But I held off on expressing my contrary reviews even as they grew with age. What would have happened? Would my mother have disowned me for wanting to give up the Church and turn from God? Would I have had to leave my friends and switch schools? Would I have had to give up teaching the littles at Religious Education, something I really did love doing? So, I kept my mouth shut. I was very happy to be asked to be Bernadette’s godmother, and at the time that really meant something to me, religiously. It was a little different when D came along. Her mother, Beth, was not quite simpatico with the church at the time, but *her* mother was….and is…hugely involved. When D  was about two or so, it was agreed that she would be baptized at our church. Beth chose me and her brother Tom as the godparents. I remember asking her why, with my doubts, did she choose me? She replied something about how we were best friends, and she was a single mother, and if there was anyone that was going to take care of her baby should something happen, it was going to be me. The Church describes godparents as the leaders of a child’s spiritual upbringing. Some people define godparents as a sort of backup, just in case. My own parents did that in two ways for me. Ka was my godmother, and while she would never be able to take me in should the worst happen, my godfather Uncle Terry and his wife Sue, certainly would. And so, I became both those things to a baby D. Beth knew I wasn’t going to make her Catholic, but she also knew I would always have that child’s back. I think my parents felt similarly, because while I am Bernadette’s godmother, one of the best Catholics I know is her godfather. He is a humble man, so he probably doesn’t feel the same way I do about it, but him and his family exemplify what good Christianity is, and that has always given me hope.
[  ] So no, I don’t go to church anymore. And neither do my godchildren, mostly for the exact same reasons that I left, and it would appear we all found the same answers in the same place. So maybe, in the end, I did exactly what I set out to do

Dead Birds

I haven’t been able to type on my computer for some time now. I have been doing pretty much everything on my phone, using talk to text or my thumbs. Currently there is not enough light for me to see the keyboard well enough, and I also generally feel stifled in the space I have set aside for writing in the bedroom. I had my own office for so long, and I am missing it something fierce. Alas, I still feel the desire to write even if sitting at the desk makes me sick to my stomach for some reason.
Today I am on my phone, but it is mostly because I am in process of setting up a new social account. If you were unaware, that massive rich idiot Elephant Tusk bought Twitter, and has caused a 44 billion dollar tire fire. Many of my Twitter folks have fled already, and many more intend to go down with the ship, myself included. However, after we sink and then swim ashore, where shall we go? I posed the question to my Twitter friends, and it looks like there are two social medias upcoming that are splitting us. Some people are going to a network called CounterSocial, which I know very little about but have already snagged my handle on just in case. It seems that a lot of people, however, are going to a site called Mastodon, so I traveled over there and got my handle as well. Hamneggs716- here, there, everywhere.
So far, my only gripe with Mastodon is that I cannot easily find my friends. I have over 6,000 followers on Twitter, and there is a good chunk of them that I will miss- so I am hoping to find them on this new app, but I am not very confident.
Quite a few of my writer friends are freaking out at the demise of Twitter, and I won’t say I am not one of them. I know this may be silly to some, but it was not until I started to expand my Twitter following and connect with fellow writers that I felt I could share my work with the world, as well. I have made honest-to-god friends through this app, from all over the place. Fortunately, many of the people that I am the closest to via Twitter have already found other ways to stay in touch, be it through Facebook or email or even one special woman who sends me Christmas cards. Still, it is sad to see something that we built- a community- go down in flames because a billionaire wanted a new toy. Not that I don’t love what the Twitter folks are doing to him…with the parody accounts and the trolling, I can feel the mutiny at hand. Many of my friends are tweeting about how much they will miss this platform when he finally runs it straight into the ground. I will miss it too. It’s not like with MySpace, where Facebook came along and was just better and we moved over there without hesitation and let Myspace wither and die. We are moving to Mastodon, but I don’t know that it’s better. I don’t know that it will have the same effect Twitter did. Someday 10 years from now, will I look back and think of my Twitter page and my 6,000 followers in the same way I think of my MySpace with my top eight? Only time will tell.
That is all for today, just a little lament for a  dying website that brought me so much joy.

Happy Tuesday.

Pep Talk

As you may know, I work in an elementary school as an after-school teacher. I spend a couple of hours each day helping K-1 students with thier homework, followed by K-8 recreation time in the library, where I exert my powers over the game closet.
You may also know I work at a car rental shop as well. These are vastly different jobs, in every way, including the paychecks. So when boss-Mark at Avis asked if I wanted some afternoon hours, my budget forced me to consider.The drawback to the school job is that it is a lot of gas money. It’s all the way across the city. Avis is ten minutes from my house. So given less driving and more money, it seems obvious that I should take more hours at Avis.  Then, something happened…and a sign was bestowed unto me.
Someone I love had a meltdown, the kind you get from clinical depression; the kind I have lived through a few times now.  I helped this person all week, while considering a job scheduling change. I was still leaning towards Avis hours when I found a meme on Facebook, with a phone number. I called it, my person next to me trying to hold themselves together, and my heart was suddenly filled with love.
If you call this number, you reach a group of children at a school somewhere in the US who are doing a school project/social experiment. They have record tons of inspirational messages and pep talks. We sat there and listened to them all, and I found my friend crying at the end, telling me how much they needed that.
The next day, they got up off the mat.  They ate, and hydrated, and slept real sleep. I don’t think it was only those kiddos somewhere out there, but I know they helped.

And so, I thought of my kiddos at the school, and suddenly a little extra money and a little less drive time seemed silly when compared to the faces I meet when I walk into that cafeteria each day.  Oh to be five, when all your worst fears and disappointments could be evaporated by a hug from your teacher! 
And I get hugs, all day every day. I have been told I am a favorite by a few students, and the competition to play games with me during recreation is fierce. I don’t think I could even give up one day of that job for the other, because even though I love working at Avis with the grownups, there is still a small part of me forever devote to childcare and education.
Anyhoo, here’s the number: 1-707-873-7862.
Seriously, you need to call it. That feeling you get? I get that everyday.

A Tough Tuesday

It is November 2nd, and I have written nothing.  Nothing for NaNo, unsurprisingly, but also nothing for my blog or Patreon yet this week, so here I sit catching up on the word game while I have a spare hour.  Blog comes first, followed by a Patreon update, then perhaps I will grab 1500 words out of my WIP and see what I can do with them.  Alas, I suspect that by the time I get to task number three, I will run out of time.  I had all morning yesterday to write, but I forfeited it to go drive down and visit my mom, instead.  She is currently in a nursing home and rehab facility in Salamanca, so the drive was a little better than when she was in Erie.

She seems ok, same as usual, and I spent a little while trying to get her to communicate with me in some way, but nothing really came of it.  So, I got frustrated, and gave her a good firm talking to about how if she doesn’t start swallowing and speaking she’s never coming home, and then she just starts swallowing, as if showing off!  “Good, now do it with some food!” I said. 

I went to leave, and I did hug-a-head.  It’s this silly thing we have always done, where we hug each other’s head and say “Hug a head!” and then the other person says “Hug a head!” and it’s just this cutesy nonsense we have always done.  So, I hug her head, and I say “hug a head!”

And doesn’t this woman respond, raspy, but clear enough: “Hug a head!”

I screamed, and cried at the same time; I was so startled, and also happy.  When I was in Salem, I was sad because all but one of my voicemails from my mother was deleted from my phone, and I wanted to be able to hear her voice.  It made me sad that I couldn’t remember the last thing she said to me.  I know it was something along the lines of “I’m sleeping in tomorrow, so don’t come over too early…” but nothing specific.  Now, I have something!  The last thing my mother said to me was “hug a head.”  No recording, but at least I have this memory until her speech expands again. 

I drove home, and when I arrived, I noticed that my car was behaving strangely, for the third time this month.  Reluctant to return to the mechanic, I spent the time I should have been writing driving to the gas station and checking the oil…of which there was none.  I mean…zero.  Dry as a bone.

Checking the little tag from Valvoline, I discovered I should have gotten it changed about 700 miles prior.  I am, of course, unsurprised that this detail slipped my mind during the past month or so.  I got some oil and put it in and then drove back to dad’s house to borrow his car to go to work.  Then…it was time to go to work.  So, no words dropped, for anything.

At work there was a gas leak, so we had to evacuate to the community center, which caused chaos to reign, particular in my K-1 class.  Little kids suck at change in setting and activity…so, of course, we dropped them in an unfamiliar building and had them do their homework in the gym, instead of at a table in a classroom.  Many of my kiddos didn’t have homework because they were evacuated before folders were handed out, so really I just had to corral them for an hour or so.  Then the littles were taken down to the basement to a game room, and I manned a computer lab that none of them were very interested in once they discovered the computers lacked both Roblox and Minecraft. 

When I got home, I was exhausted, because I didn’t sleep much the night before.  I went to bed early, again forfeiting my writing time for the day, and slept soundly until I awoke to go get an oil change this morning.

You know, I really love my jobs.  They are both very rewarding, but on days like to day I am sad that I have so little time to devote to my writing.  Even now, it is almost 1pm, so I need to wrap this up and post it before I get ready to go.  I have just enough time to finish this and post my Patreon, but I don’t think the WIP is getting touched today.  There are just not enough hours in my days anymore.

Repression, 90s Style

First, some housekeeping: There’s a really good chance I will be changing my posting schedule to Thursdays and Tuesdays.  Mondays have become overwhelming, because I work both jobs and don’t have much time in between to get into the headspace for a blog post. I am off Tuesday mornings, however, so I think that might be a better time to get the words out.  We shall see.

Anyhoo, you know who lives in my head rent-free?  Pam Stenzel.  If you are a Patreon subscriber, you probably read the monologue I wrote for a show that was sidelined due to Covid, about Pam Stenzel.  If not, and you don’t know who she is, I guess I will tell you, although life was surely better for me before she was introduced into my atmosphere.

In our 8th grade sex ed class, we watched a video of an abstinence-only speaker named Pam Stenzel.  It was funny, kind of, and she seemed to really relate to the youth, and since we were all good little Catholic school kids, we mostly just giggled and blushed and agreed with her stance.  Her main takeaways were that love didn’t mean sex, and sex didn’t mean love, both concepts which I already understood, and were a decent lesson to teach.  However, she also taught that any kind of sex would land you in hell, or at the very least, sully you in the eyes of God, as well as your future husband/wife.

Now, I read a lot, because I was a shy kid who would never have asked an adult any of my burning questions.  And I was also blessed with a mother who was an HIV counselor.  So, I knew a few extra things that my peers didn’t.  I knew all about AIDS and STDs via Mom, and I knew everything about sex from afternoons in the library.  And I also knew, through reasoning, logic, and common sense, that abstinence, while an option, was absolutely NOT the best one.  I kept this to myself however, as I watched my classmates vibe with her message. 

Fast forward a few years to me being a Junior in high school, when Pam Stenzel actually came to speak to us in person.  We watched her videos, the teachers hyped her arrival, and the whole school assembled in the auditorium one Friday afternoon to hear her speak.  We spent an hour or so being told our normal pubescent feelings were sinful, and that God would be ashamed of us if we didn’t choose abstinence.  Also, that love was no excuse for sex.  Now, I NEVER planned on waiting until marriage, as was the message they were pushing at me my entire life.  I watched enough episodes of Friends by that point to know that people slept with other people and God never smote them down for it.  Deciding to do what was right for me, specifically, as I often always do, I made the moral decision that I would not have sex until I found someone I truly cared about.  I would not be pressured, I would not give in to temptations, but I would also not marry someone and then later discover we were not sexually compatible.  That seemed so stupid to me, I still can’t wrap my head around it.  It’s like folks who don’t live together before they get married…how do you know which way they will hang the toilet paper??

Anyway, here I am now, almost 40 years old with a fairly healthy view on sex that I absolutely did NOT develop through my church, schooling, or conversations with trusted adults.  This was 100% all of my own doing, and I have never felt ashamed.  That was the biggest issue with me growing up Catholic…the shame we were forced to feel surrounding sex and puberty.  The logic simply didn’t hold for me; if God made us in his image, then why were we denying parts of ourselves?

I’m thinking of all this because I went to Planned Parenthood not long ago for a birth control check, and it reminds me of the times when I was a kid and wanted to go there to ask questions but couldn’t get up the nerve.  I bet Pam Stenzel is the sort that would picket the clinic instead of using it, likely over abortion issues, or maybe just even over birth control, another thing she made us feel ashamed about…my 16 year old self who had just started the pill felt really special then.  And still, when I say I have to go to PP, people think sinister things…mostly unaware they are the leading birth control provider in the game.  Unaware that most women who go there go for cancer screenings and pap smears.  Not even all of them do abortions, just fyi.  I’m just out here spreading knowledge, is all.  Don’t shoot the messenger.

The point of my blog is that sexual health is important and something we should be teaching kids about from the onset of puberty, not trying to suppress so that we raise up another generation of unhealthy, suppressed, shamed, and confused kids.  For instance, all my kiddos know where to get a condom.  I have four teenagers…I keep them in my house just like I keep tampons and Tylenol.  I don’t want a sick kid, and I don’t want a grandkid, and they are aware and do not want these things either.  I don’t know if anyone is active or not, but I do know that if they are, they have the tools they need.  I have been promoting body positivity and sexual health for as long as they can remember…because no one did it for me.

And I blame Pam Stenzel.

Unusual Circumstance

Literally had to reread my last post about Mark’s birthday because I didn’t recall writing it, because it occurred during a moment of clarity amid the stupor of illness.  And this time, folks, it wasn’t even my old foe, gastroparesis!  This time I had pancreatitis, which as far as I can tell you get from alcohol consumption…I was asked how much I drank over and over, and each time I said that I didn’t, really; they were surprised.  I have maybe a single drink a month…how would that inflame my pancreas?  Ah, but it is the pancreas, and I have diabetes, so is it really that hard of a line to draw?

Currently I feel relatively well.  I slept, a good night’s sleep that was restorative.  I am thinking of K right now, whom, whenever I ask how she is doing, replies “physically, or mentally?”  Physically, I am feeling okay; better, at least.  Mentally, I am still pissed off.  Several hours of conversation with my husband and others assures me that everything was fine and that yes it could have gone better, but no one expected me to be able to pull it off given the circumstances, so what resulted was actually fantastic given the grading curve.  And as Mark reminded me, no thing we have ever planned has ever gone well, so what was I expecting?  (See, this is why my sister is planning any future wedding anniversary parties.)

Anyway, after I wrote the blog and scheduled it to post (which should have happened Monday but definitely happened Tuesday,) I ended up going back to the ER on Monday morning, and found myself admitted to the hospital later that day.  I spent the night, and woke up in a different hospital, and then was sent home and told to rest and take meds.  So, I did, but then I ended up back at the ER after taking a nap Tuesday night, which then brings us to me getting home early Wednesday morning.  And it wasn’t even the gastroparesis!

But now I feel better, and I am trying to return to normalcy, so here is a blog for a Thursday.  Now I’m over to Patreon to share something very special, provided I can figure out how to link to it.  So, if you’re a subscriber over there, please be patient, and if you’re not…well, you’re missing out.  Particularly this week.  Again, provided I can figure out Patreon’s attachment limitations.  Honestly, I could be hyping nothing right now.

Speaking of hyping, I am away from the blog now and moving toward the Patreon but after that it’s time to time out my reading that is NEXT WEEK.  So, if you’re a local poetry fan, you should come to that.  Now…off to work on my list of work.  Happy Thursday.  On actual Thursday. 

Back in the Saddle

Where do I even start?  The move itself was hell on earth for me, but once I got settled down a little, things looked brighter.  I’ve been decorating and organizing like crazy.  I worked a lot these past coupe weeks at both jobs, so between that, my need to fully form my home, and some neuropathy/carpal tunnel/possible fractured pinky has hindered all my writing.  I did pen a little poem for my cousin though, about some sandwiches waiting for a bus. And the Patreon stayed updated.  But the blog, she was neglected.

In fact, I’m writing early Sunday morning for post on Monday because I don’t know if I will have time to sit down and write anything tomorrow.  I am surprised I can right now, actually. My hands have been the worst, and yesterday…was just terrible.

I have been quite well for the past couple months, and this flare-up came with absolutely no warning.  I woke yesterday and tried to fight it, but 10am found me at the ER, and I wasn’t home until 3ish.  Then I passed out until five.  This all would have been fine, had I not planned an epic 40th birthday for my husband last night.

Mark never had a real birthday party, so I wanted to give him one.  It was something Mom and I had planned to do together, so that made it all the more important to me. Not having her there really made me sad when the time came.  I went into full “Maureen-mode,” wanting everything to be perfect.   In the end, it was not.  The cake got burnt, most of the decorations were never hung, and I fell asleep in a chair about 30 minutes in.  Mark tucked me into bed, and then I woke up and everyone was gone. 

A nice surprise was that his sisters came to town to surprise him, which is a big deal to Mark.  He misses his family a lot, but we hardly see them because we frankly don’t have the car to make the trip often.  And they hardly come here, what with their gaggles of children and jobs and such.  So, it was a lovely surprise that they came to visit, and I really wish I didn’t have to work in two hours and could spend some time with them.

Still, I am sad, and depressed, and angry.  Sad because I missed the party I planned so hard for.  Depressed because I feel like I let Mark and other folks down.  And angry, because OF COURSE my stupid stomach had to act up.  When I called Dad for a ride to the hospital, he said that it was because of the stress I put myself under for the party, and he’s right, but it’s not just the party.  It’s that, plus work, plus a new apartment.  It was just too much.  I thought had it under control, but I need to remember that I just can’t take on the amount of things I used to, because the stress monster comes and makes me sick. 

So I am very sad I have no recollection of my husband’s first birthday party.  I am glad, however, that we have the kind of family and friends that swooped in to make things right for him when I could not.  Just the other day, Mark had concerns: will anyone show up?  Did I invite everyone I wanted to?  What if there’s not enough food? Wait, people are bringing gifts?! Why are you making cake if I don’t like cake?  I basically had to break down birthday parties for him, but when I woke last night at 1030, here is what I found:  a tipsy (but not wasted) guy enjoying his friends and family that were still there. Smiley and content, he showed off his presents like a little kid would.  Then, they decided to go to the casino, and I went back to bed.  I made him promise to be home before morning, and found him today snoring on the sofa,  I leaned in and whispered “did you have a good night?”  He smiled, nodded, and rolled over.  Good.  That all I wanted, really. 

Anyway, as you can see, I have my computer back together, and my hands are somewhat on the mend, so I intend to return to regular blogging on Mondays and Thursdays,  Patreon updates are always Wednesday, but if I get five more subscriptions that will get bumped up a bit (and I can also offer merch!)  And as for writing, the two things I will be working on are preparation for my reading on the 28th, and trying to decide if I’m going to do NaNo…I’d love to hit up my final draft with it. We shall see, since I can’t get in to my doctor until January and these hands just will not cooperate. (On that note…anybody have extra hand braces?  Mine were lost in the move.)

Well, that’s all…Happy Sunday. No…Monday.  You’re reading this on Monday.

The Great Escape

I have lived in my apartment for over six years now.  I watched most of my kids go from single to double-digits here.  I lived here when I married my husband, and we have very many happy (and sad) memories within these walls.  But…

The decision was made in springtime that we needed to move, for varying reasons, from new landlords to space requirements.  The boys barely spend the night, and when they do it’s on t4e couch, so their bedroom became K’s room not long ago, instead.  I keep their mattresses and such for when they do want to stay and sleep comfortably, but mostly they are out there living their lives with work and hobbies and friends, just as teenage boys should be doing.  The girls always come, so it only made sense to give them separate rooms, but the point is that it wasn’t needed.  We don’t need three bedrooms anymore. 

I looked at a lot of 3-bedroom apartments during the great hunt, and I am sad to say they were all terrible.  Either they were way out of our price range, the rooms were too small, or it was a dump in a bad neighborhood.  At one particular dump, we were about sign a lease, but then a miracle happened and my uncle told me of a friend with a 2-bedroom for rent.  I jumped on that.  I sent Mark and Bernie to check it out when I was in Salem, and when their reports came back great, I called the landlord and told him I wanted it…no, I don’t need to see it.  Yes, I have the money.  Ok, see you Tuesday…and then it was ours.

Lease signed and money paid and keys in hand, we unloaded our first few boxes yesterday.  It is smaller than the place I have now, with 2 bedrooms and no dining room, but that only means less to clean and clutter.  So currently I am purging my house.  I wish I had enough time for a yard sale, but I do not.  It is however possible I will put a sign on the lawn this weekend that reads “Free Crap” in front of whatever furniture and such I do not want to take.

What I do need is a kitchen island.  Just something small.  I found the perfect thing on Amazon, but I don’t have 80 extra bucks lying around, so it will have to wait.  That and our new tv are the only things I want added to our collection of stuff.  Everything else can GO.

I find that unlike literally every other time I have had to move, I am not sad.  Yes, I enjoyed it here.  We almost always had good neighbors, and our landlord, Frank, was a kind man.  I planted all my flowers out front, and spent summers on my porch, and put the tree in the front window at Christmas time.  Alas…I’m done here, now.  Now, it is time for change.

Neither myself nor my husband have been well this year.  Me, more of the physical variety, (though lately things have been very good, knock-on wood,) though the mental plays in heavy right now, especially with all the stress I have been under.  Mark is handling his mental health in a new way, but he’s about a mile up the path to healing now…nowhere near the end, but far enough that there no reason to turn back anymore.  And so, we look at this new apartment as a fresh start for ourselves, mostly for our health and family.

I am pleased with where we are going, and the new opportunities that are arising, and I am hopeful it means brighter skies ahead.  Now, all I have to do is pack up everything I own in the next two days.  Easy-peasy.  (No, really…I’ve had less time to leave a place before.  This can easily be accomplished with focus and discipline and panic.)

Happy Thursday.

PS If you don’t hear from me on Monday, that is 1000% my internet service provider’s fault. We are at war at the moment.

Wells of Power

If you didn’t read Monday’s blog, please do.  Anyhoo…

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective.  She told me I was looking at it all wrong, and that if I would just tap into the well of power that I already knew existed, things would be fine. She was not the first to say this to me. 

I went to Lilydale many years ago, a Spiritualist community in south western New York.  The medium I saw told me I was psychic.  At first, I thought maybe this was a gimmick she used on folks, after all, I’d never had a reading before.  But then she asked me if I just knew things.  I do, all the time.  She told me there were spirits there wanting to speak through me, not just to me, but I couldn’t hear them because I wasn’t quite in tune enough to their frequency.  She told me I was the most psychically in-tune person In the group I was visiting with, and I should consider studying…maybe even there at Lilydale someday.  I assumed, still, this was a ruse of some sort…a way to drum up money for the community.  But at the end of the day, no one else in my party was told they had a gift; just me.

Then, Salem last week.  The reader was on the money about everything, so I’m going to assume she’s right about perspective, too.  I wrote a piece in my Patreon about how the Salem Witch Trials affected me when I was young, and how it was difficult for me to understand why I was so deeply saddened over something that happened hundreds of years before I was born.  And not like how I was over learning about a war, or even learning about the Irish potato famine with which at least my heritage identified.  No, it was the Salem Witch Trials in 3rd grade that made me cry unexplained tears.  A couple of years later, my parents and I took a vacation to New England and went to Salem, and I remember my excitement and joy and how I gobbled up every morsel of information presented to me.  I wanted to see and do everything, but we were only there for a couple of hours.  I do recall a live reenactment of Bridget Bishop’s trial…which leads me into my name.

I was named after St. Brigid of Kildare. I knew no Brigid’s other than myself, though a couple of “T’s” (that’s what I call the “Bridget’s,’) crossed my path.  When small, I loved that my name was similar to one of the “witches,” so when my parents suggested we go to the reenactment I was delighted.  Then, in high school, I read a book one day, on Celtic folklore…just for funsies.  What a rabbit hole that turned out to be!  I discovered that there was not just a masculine god, but a feminine goddess…many of them in fact…but the main one, the goddess of the country of my ancestors?  BRIGID.  With a damn “D!” 

Naturally, I needed all the information on that immediately, so off I went to the library where I learned all the things as a child.  It was right around this time that I learned that St. Brigid of Kildare may have been a real person, but it is far more likely she is someone that the early church in Ireland used to appropriate the goddess form Celtic belief structures to lure folks to Catholicism, which is of course exactly something the Church would do.  So, from that point on, I started the practice of remembering who shares my name when I am feeling powerless: a might powerful goddess. 

Anyway,

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective, and I have.  I won’t lie, I have felt a complete shift in my perception of the world in the last few days, which has made me question many things. Part of me, the part that is trained to silence myself, says these are all silly thoughts and to pay them no mind.  But the part of me that knows, the way I knew where our car was parked that time it was stolen, or how I knew that there was a spirit talking to me when I was five, or how I knew that my best friend was throwing me a surprise party for my 16th birthday, or how I knew Mark was going to propose….in that way, I know-there is indeed a greater power within, and perhaps it is time to cultivate it. 

Season of the Witch

As the constant reader knows, I needed a flippin’ break.  I have been under massive amounts of stress, what with a sick mother, and an apartment hunt, and a new job.  I was even diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder and my psychiatrist doubled my meds.  As I like to say about the recent situation, everything is on fire, and has been for a few months.  So naturally, when it came time for the girl’s trip I planned last year, I wanted to bail a little. The timing just seemed so terrible…and yet, everyone encouraged me to go, damn the circumstance.  So, I did.  And oh, am I glad I did!

Much in the way that a week in the Bahamas with my sister renewed my spirit many years ago, this little jaunt to Salem, Massachusetts did exactly the same.  We were staying smack dab between there and Boston, and I was thinking we might take in both cities, but there was so much to do in Salem that Boston was easily discarded as a destination.

The first night we had dinner at a bar called The Witches Brew, where the waitress told us where to go and what to avoid-excellent information for the bewildered tourist.  We walked around for a bit and got our bearings, then planned the next day and headed back to the hotel.  In the morning we returned, and discovered Essex St, which is a walkable road with shops and tourist attractions and restaurants.  (PS all of Salem is walkable.  It’s amazing.  Catch up, Buffalo.)  Essex St. is probably the most touristy part of the area…when we were back on Saturday, there were street performers, too (and a ton more people.)  Anyway, we took a red trolley on a ride around the city, where a colorful tour guide named Skip gave us interesting information peppered with corny jokes.  It was nice to ride around and hear the history and see the sights, plus it gave me a sense of direction around the city.  I am used to meticulously planned towns, not the wild growth of villages you find in New England. 

After the trolley tour, we went to a magic shop called Pentagram, where I got a tarot reading.  Oooh boy…that was intense.  She asked if I had any questions and I told her: “Everything is on fire.  When will that let up?” Short answer: next year.  Long answer: the reader saw two issues…sickness and uncertainty.  Further cards told her the sickness was not mine but my mother’s, so score one point for the tarot reader.  The uncertainty cards unfolded to reveal my fears of change regarding “moving on,” as she said…as I am LITERALLY trying to move into a new home.  Then she stops, smiles, and tells me my grandfather is there.  No message…he just wanted me to know he was hanging out.  (Later, when I told this to my father, he laughed heartly and sad “sounds like Dad.”)  At the end, she told me I have power within me that I am not utilizing, which makes her the second psychic to tell me that.   (More on this in my next blog.)  She also told me that this time next year, everything with be different in a good way.  So…only a few more months of fire expected.

Then we went to the Salem Witch Museum.  It was…fine.  They have these tableaus with terrifying mannequins that light up as a narrator who sounds like Vincent Price tells you about the trials.   Then you go into another exhibit where a different loudspeaker narrator shows you three tableaus of witches through the years.  One cool thing they have is a copy of The Wizard of Oz script, but sadly no photography was allowed.  I also really liked that they compared the trials to McCarthyism, which was my term paper topic in high school.  After, you exit through the gift shop.  I very much remember the gift shop from when I went with my parents when I was 9…but I don’t think we saw the exhibit, because that horror would have surely etched itself in my brain.  All in all, I don’t think it was worth the 17 bucks.  Especially if you already know the story and if you don’t…why did you even come here?  But I digress…

That night we had booked a private tour, because I wasn’t interested in the group ones where 50 people follow a man with a blowhorn around.  Instead, I found a night time witch history/ghost story tour, and it was just us three following a cloaked and top hatted man with a lantern through dark city alleyways (we are so clearly not in Buffalo anymore, Toto.)  Truthfully, it was awesome, because he had a tale for every step we took, and it was so cool that it was just the four of us out there when there were like dozens of mass tour groups floating around…we got to see nooks and crannies they literally couldn’t fit into, like a smuggler’s alley, for instance.  The best spot was the Ropes Mansion Garden (the Ropes Mansion is Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus, in case you were wondering.  Sidebar: Salem folk are NOT HAPPY Hocus Pocus 2 filmed in New Hampshire.)  There was a bench there where you could sit and commune with the spirits that I thought was pretty neat.

After the two-hour walking tour, we were beat, and headed back to the hotel.  In the morning, it was the day of the AFSP Out of the Darkness walk.  I was missing the event back home, but I raised $750 this year, so I had to do my part in some way.  We started our morning with coffee and a lovely little nature hike along a birdwatching trail near our hotel.  It was shorter than expected, but since I got like 18k steps in the previous day, I figured I could easily make up the couple miles I would have done for the walk.  (And I did.  We walked like 17 miles the whole trip.)

We went back into the city and parked the car, then schlepped over to the Satanic Temple, fifteen minutes away.  I was very excited for this because I think TST is really cool….and if you don’t, it’s probably because you don’t know anything about them, or you think they are connected to The Church of Satan, who are pretty much the “bad guys” of the Satanic world.  I will go into this at some point in the future, because it would actually make for a super interesting blog post.  Anyhoo, we got there and we didn’t have vax cards on us because we are morons, so we couldn’t go in, which was a dissappointm4ent.

So, then we schlepped back to Salem proper.  FInally, the highlight of the trip: Witch Pix.  Witch Pix is a photography studio that dresses you up like a witch and then takes professional photos. I dressed as a “warrior witch,” with a teal fur cape, black and gold brocade corset dress, and black horns.  The pictures were STUNNING and we had so much fun. 

After some more shopping and such, we headed back to the hotel and had dinner, and then we decided to perform a spell.  Sahar bought a little kit for a healing spell, and we did it for my mother.  The crazy part is that I was ending the spell by blowing out a candle, and the moment I did, Sahar’s bag fell off the table.  Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, we just hung out for a bit, then slept, and in the morning, I had the best and unhealthiest breakfast ever: fried French toast topped with Nutella and strawberries.  Afterwards, we headed home.  7 hours and 4 pee breaks later, and we were back in the Buffalo.

So.  That was my trip.  Was it fun?  Absolutely.  Will I travel with these awesome women again?  Yup, just tell me when and where, ladies!  Did it change my entire outlook on life?

…tune in Thursday for the answer to this and more questions.

Happy Monday.