Monthly Archives: January 2011
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve donated two copies of Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World to a paranormal charity fundraiser for Bella Tucker, a little girl who became extremely ill on Easter Sunday and is now facing a long, difficult recovery and not without significant hardship for her family.
The paranormal event will take place Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 3 p.m. at the Harley House in Lunenburg, Mass. Several paranormal personalities are pulling together for this event, among them Jeff and Shannon Sylvia from Ghost Hunters International and Paranormal State, Keith and Sandra Johnson of Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State, Brian Harnois, Dustin Pari, and Lisa Dowllaby, all of Ghost Hunters; author David Manch, and Mike Baker, director of 14 Degrees.
The evening will include presentations, face painting, raffles (I’m assuming Skeletons will be a raffle prize), and a ghost hunt; psychic medium Beckah Boyd and occultist Katie Boyd will be on hand. 100% of the proceeds will go to Bella Tucker and her family.
If you’d like more information about this event—tickets are quite reasonable, actually—you can visit http://www.pararockproductions.com/events.html
Snow! While Ptown has had more than I’m used to (granted, I only have last winter to compare it to, so for all I know, this could really be normal), I’ve been spared Western Connecticut’s major pummeling that’s thrown many of my friends back home into states of depression and frustration. I’m going back there in a few days, so I know I’m due for my share, and I’m not looking forward to it.
Ptown’s portion of Wednesday’s whopper manifested itself as nothing short of a Nor’easter. The town had been buzzing about its severity for a couple of days, but it didn’t concern me much other than I knew to expect a very noisy, wind-crazy-inducing night. Toni, my neighbor, and I, had bought a few groceries, and had gone so far as to devise a loose plan: if the power went out, I was to come up to her apartment to sleep or hang out or whatever. There was no point, we figured, in a couple of suburban girls being separated in the pitch dark in a place so far from home.
The storm moved in while I was on the phone with friends, and it was average wind and some rain—nothing I hadn’t really seen before in Ptown. At 10:20, I was getting ready to call it a night when I heard a thump against my bedroom door, a thump so hard the wall shook a little bit. I stopped brushing my teeth, and, heart pounding, went to go check it out.
An unmoving bird lay on the boards.
Now, you know me, I love to photograph dead birds. But for some reason this one spooked me to the point that any thought of taking a photo went completely out of my head (the next morning, I went to go find it, and it was gone). When I finally did go to bed, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I got very little sleep as the storm intensified. Pieces of things—sticks or God knows what else—kept hitting the bedroom window and waking me up; something someplace in the house was slamming so that the walls vibrated, the wind went from moaning to shrieking, and at 2:30, the lights dimmed and then popped back on.
I got up and rummaged in my pocketbook for the mini-Maglite Nathan had given me and told me never to be without. I put it and the phone by my bed.
At 2:45, the lights dimmed, popped on, dimmed again, popped back on. Outside, the wind screamed.
I heard a pop and crack, and then everything went dark, and the apartment heater whined to a stop.
I looked at my cell phone. 3:03 a.m.
Having been in one situation in Ptown in which the heat went out, I knew it wouldn’t be long before the place got really cold. I got up and changed into flannel PJs (most of mine are cotton, but I do own one flannel pair for just such an occasion), heavy socks, and called Toni, who didn’t pick up. I left her a message, told her the power was out, I was down in my apartment, and if she needed me call.
I’ve been camping, so I’m used to pitch dark. But there was something creepy about this dark, and I almost got the sense that something was outside at the door, trying to get in. The bedroom door creaked and groaned with every sweep of wind.
My cell phone rang and it scared the hell out of me.
“Kristi? Are you there?” It was Toni. “Oh my God it is so scary up here!” She’s on the third floor, but her apartment is all glass on the side that faces the ocean; she was getting the brunt of the wind.
I agreed with her, gathered some candles, a sweater, the cell phone, the camera and few other things—which despite my flashlight were really hard finding in the dark—and braved the storm.
Trying to the get my front door open to make the short trek from my place to hers was not easy—the wind practically slammed it against the wall and blew snow into my foyer. Making it up the stairs without literally being blown off them wasn’t easy either, and ice crystals kept stinging my eyes. When I did make it to her door, there was a large snow drift in front of it (which we found out the next morning wasn’t a snow drift at all—it was the screen and shorn off wood and metal from her screen door, which had flown open and broken in half). When I stepped inside, we both had to force her front door closed against the wind.
So, inside and warm, we decided to wait the outage. We took care of some necessary stuff first—running the cold water in her kitchen and bathroom sinks just to keep them from freezing, since I had no idea how exposed the pipes were and how long they could go without a consistent heat source; lighting candles, bringing pillows and blankets into the living room, since her bedroom had, shockingly quickly, become too cold to stay in. We talked about how terrified we both are of the pitch dark, and how all the screaming wind and things hitting the house made it worse, and how the staircase in her bedroom that lead only to a bolted door and nowhere else was a serious scare factor.
Video: There’s something slamming in the house and Toni’s windows are completely iced over.
Video: Stairs to Nowhere and Screaming Dead Things
Video: Hitting Windows and The Donner Party
Video: Avoiding frozen pipes.
But it wasn’t long before the air of terror dissipated. There was a certain magic that took over—like we were nine again and at a pajama party. We told spooky stories and shared girl talk, ate some crackers, and had a Tarot fest. At 4:30 a.m., the lights came back on…and, not ready to go back to bed, we turned them all off again and kept the party going.
This may be one thing I’ll have to keep in mind. That amidst all the backbreaking work and hassle and everything else that accompanies repeated snowstorms, there may still be an opportunity for a little flashback fun here and there. A pajama party by the fire, a couple of snowball fights, ghost stories by candlelight, hot chocolate and cookies—these are winter’s small pleasures that we’ve forgotten. Taking time out to enjoy these things once a snowstorm just might get us New Englanders through the rest of the toughest winter we’ve had in a long time.
And now, to go call property management about that screen door.
TONI’S BROKEN SCREEN DOOR
Video: Screen Door Damage.
“I don’t understand what happens up there. Every time you go up there windows break, animals die, walls fall into the sea.”
~ Nathan, on me in Ptown, 01/25/11
Every time I come to the Mailer Center in Provincetown there is some new discovery I make, usually accidentally inspired by something in nature. The landscape, the way things work here has a certain magic, a magic that for me makes the veil between the natural world and the inner life incredibly thin.
One day I was working on a project at the Mailer house. I took a cigarette break, and for as many times as I’ve stood on the back porch I saw something I’d never noticed: several urns overflowed with oyster, clam, scallop, and mussel shells.
The NMWC admin came outside to say hello.
“These bowls are cool,” I said. “I’ve never seen them before. Are they new?”
“We pick them up from the deck,” he said. “Look.”
Sure enough, the porch was littered with bivalve shells.
“That’s the seagulls that do that,” he said.
All of my years working in two different aquariums, at one in the fishes and inverts department (of which bivalves are part), I’d never heard of this, much less seen it. “What do you mean?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Seagulls are smart. They drop the clams or whatever on the porch so they split open, and then they fly down and eat the meat and leave the shells. We just pick ’em up and chuck ’em in the bowls because we don’t know what to do with ’em all.”
I know seagulls are strong, but I was still amazed. Some of these shells indicated that their owners had been pretty large animals (a live oyster or clam can actually weigh quite a bit, you’d be surprised), and Norman’s porch being, obviously, a popular spot might mean the birds would have to carry some of these creatures several miles.
This struck me. As usual, I had come to Provincetown not just with piles of work to do and high hopes of getting it all done, but also with things to think about, understand, process, sort. In some cases, I realized, some of these issues went back as far as a couple of decades. Each of these things was a heavy bivalve I’d been carrying but had never been ready to let go, smash open, process, and finally, resolve.
I left the Mailer house that day with a new sense of what lie ahead of me beyond writing. I’ve spent the past week and half smashing open and digesting a lot of things—some not so tasty, some going down not the way I’d expected, others nourishing me in better ways than I’d have imagined.
Now the only thing I have to do is figure out what I’m going to do with the shells.
In October, I was featured on Frank Todaro’s Paranormal Internet Radio Show The Invisible World.
Recently, people have been dropping me e-mails asking me where they can find it. I looked back through my posts and realized I’d never posted the re-play, so here it is!
The Invisible World explores paranormal news and features guests discussing all that’s happening in the paranormal—be it UFO sightings, cryptids, ghosts and hauntings, conspiracies, and much more. Frank features guests from all walks: writers, investigators, psychics, and paranormal celebrities. The hour-long show is always entertaining and features psychic Lady Fontaine as well.
Support Frank and head on over to The Invisible World at www.blogtalkradio.com/theinvisibleworld and check out Episode 33—you can play it right from his page. Extra bonus? Nathan is featured on Episode 31. Or…you can just click & listen below!
Rick at Rhodes Review gave Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole a nice blurb! You can check it out here: http://rhodesreview.com/?p=1971
Life still a little too fast for you even though the Holidays are over? I know it is for me, and it’s hard to cram in all my reading. If you’re looking for something short, sweet, and on-the-go, consider Eclectic Flash’s The Best of 2010 anthology, which contains my short (very short) piece “Shell Game.”
Hey, you can use them as an excuse to take a quick break from snow shoveling, right?
So…how are you doing with your New Year’s Resolution(s)? Plugging away? Struggling? Or have you given up already?
Joseph Auslander’s “A Goal for Goals” at Read Short Fiction just might put what you’re up against into perspective—or give you that “oomph” you need.
This story quite literally cracked me up when I read it, and I remember thinking I hadn’t read anything this outrageous, clever, and funny in a long time. And yet, in a very scary way, I also identified with this character—I found this piece an excellent example of how an exaggerated character in a story can absolutely work. There’s a little bit of this guy in all of us, probably, whether we want to admit it or not, and he’s one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Check it out at
Congratulations to the winners of the Bless Their Hearts Mom Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole Giveaway:
Kayla Justice of Kansas
Wanda Bergmann of Canada
Each received a copy of Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole with limited-edition postcards.
To learn more about Bless Their Hearts Mom and check out her other giveaways, visit here:
Every time I come to Ptown the landscape inspires a revelation. This time, when I first saw the snow-covered dunes along Route 6—one giant one in particular that reminded me of a great bear—and all of the beautiful bare trees and gardens that surround the apartment in which I’ll be staying for two weeks, I thought about the nature of winter.
I’ve always tended to think of winter as a dead time, but it isn’t, really. Everything is just asleep—the trees, the gardens, the seasonal inns. And everywhere there are small signs of awakening: birds chirping, fences and brickwork being repaired, porches being swept.
Here are pix of this January’s Ptown writing spot. Enjoy!