Wednesday, February 21, 2018


I'm going to start my blog again. I've been away too long, and I miss it. First, I wanted to post the photos from last year's final cemetery crawls.  These may be the last for quite a while as my crawl buddy is currently incommunicado with yours truly. Ah well. After this post, I shall be back to a regular schedule.                       

Bound Brook Cemetery  

I was rather disappointed with this location. There were few unique elements, and I was expecting so much more. Here is what I found.

An interesting Square...

My own...grave?

Big pillar with mourning urn...

This was cool. It showed an entire mourning scene, but it did not photograph well.

Columns! Get your columns here!

More mourning urns...

Ave Maria...

An "old rugged cross" grave We have a card like this in our Graven Images Oracle deck.

Finally, a view of some of the older graves.

                             Elmwood Cemetery

I love Elmwood. I never tire of driving through. It's surprisingly relaxing.

The receiving chapel...

One of the ornate mausoleum doors...

 Fate indeed.

                                   Presbyterian Cemetery

That's it! 
Next time some actual magical info and upcoming events.
Be well!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Well, I am back to the world of my own, personal blog. I have missed it. After my last post in May (has it really been that long?) many things started to cascade, all of which demanded my time and attention.

Healing was first on the agenda. I had to gather my strength, deal with re-learning how to hold a pen, type, eat with utensils without wearing my food... No one prepares you for this stuff, and there's not much others can really do for you. That took time, energy, and focus.

The next item was writing my small book for Fate Magazine on the War of the Worlds Broadcast of 1938. I had to depend on others to take local photos, and drive me to various locations, but the writing was all up to me. I have always composed longhand, made my edits, and then typed the finished products into Open Office. Now I had to go direct  from my head to the blank screen. That was a learning experience I hadn't anticipated. Plus, I miss the feel of ink impression on paper, the tactile sensation of my work.

While researching and writing my manuscript, I was also working on the 2017 Para X: Behind the Veil. Again this year, I was responsible for finding vendors, correspondence, collecting vendor fees, and running a blog on Word Press entirely devoted to the show. My nephew had to assist with the set-up, as I couldn't get others involved in the show to help walk me through the process.

While all this was going on, three relatives died within a month, Claude ended up in hospital with serious health complications on several fronts, and I was told that I had serious, developing problems with my liver and kidneys.  Thankfully, Claude and I are still dealing with issues, but not as severe as they might have been.

In the middle of this, Gary had to suddenly relocate back in New England. I knew in my heart that I would be yesterday's news as soon as he settled in with his family. He wouldn't be back, after being in my life for half my time on the planet. Since I could no longer serve any purpose in his life, I knew he wouldn't go out of his way to keep in contact. I have been right. Everyone told me I was being "overly dramatic". (I'm sick of people thinking they know my heart better than I do myself.)

He posted on Facebook he was coming to NJ to get his things out of storage, staying overnight, and heading home the next day. He was looking forward to seeing his friends.

That did not include me.

There was also a bit of family drama while this was all going on, enough to make me re-think some fragile bonds. Without going into it, I was greatly hurt.

When the day of the show finally arrived, things got worse for me.  I actually had a friend, who was there to help set up, scream at me that I was "Too f**king slow" in directing the placement of chairs, and literally bellowed across an open ballroom - in front of other vendors - that I was "being a bitch!" Another friend never showed up to help with the vending, and yet another involved person basically received the credit for my work. Really? I busted my gut trying to get the show on its feet, get the pre-show set-up volunteers, make sure every vendor was in the loop, etc. My nephew took pictures which appeared in the blog. They ended up on Facebook with no photo credit. NOT. VERY. NICE.

The stress, the anger, the humiliation, and lack of respect from the majority of vendors (never answering e-mails, outright lying, etc.) caused me to have a health breakdown. Again, I felt used, denigrated, and devalued.

Tucked in bed for over two weeks, I knew I had to make some hard changes. I have always had self esteem issues. It's hard not too when you have a mother with mental health issue, insisting through your childhood that you were fat, disfigured, someone that nobody would marry OR hire. I would end up brain dead in a wheelchair that she would have to push until she dropped dead. Then, I would be alone. This went on almost daily until college, when I started standing up to the verbal abuse. Then I was vilified in my immediate family: I was a monster, mistreating her, demanding things from her, etc. etc. etc. It was an awful no win situation.

I realized I have done everything I could to gain her love,,,and Gary's love,,,and others... and it would never have been enough. I could have won a Pulitzer, and my mother would still warn me not to give up my mundane job because the next potential employer "may not be willing to overlook your problems." I threw Gary a large party when he turned 50. Almost cost me a mortgage payment. We weren't even married at the time. It was mostly his friends (who rather ignored me). At the end of the evening, he made a speech about how happy he was, and how the true gift was all his friends attending. Then, he thanked his mother, who was the last person to throw him a party....and that was it. He started to walk away when one of my friends went up and whispered in his ear. He said, "Oh yeah...Hey, everybody? Thanks to Kat for the party."  I must have cried for weeks after that, and STILL I watched his back, took him to dinner when he was broke, or depressed... didn't matter. When he was happy again, I heard crickets and tumbleweeds.

This keeps happening over and over with people. The scene never changes. That's up to me. So, I quit the show. Will there be another Para-X? Doubtful. I'm no one's minion.  I have reduced ties with my abusive friend and my x. I've started making subtle changes as well. I still have some really good folks in my life, and my family (and my cat!) and some nice acquaintances.  I'm determined to build a stronger foundation with new friends and activities. But first, I need to muck out the stable, as it were.

Self Esteem? Still low, but I'm working on it. Depressed? Yeah, but working on that as well. With some of the friends I have remaining, I'm going to have to put my foot down a bit. I love you, but...

 No more passive-aggressive behavior will be tolerated. 

No more asking if I want to do something fun, then making ME responsible for the activity, location, accommodations, booking, direction... and getting angry if you're not pleased with my choices. If you are asking me to come with you, then YOU arrange things.

I'm not Miss Cleo. Don't call me for free readings, or to get me to "tune in" to your problem's outcome. Do you have any idea how much energy that takes? Do you really think I want to shiver in bed with the flu and concentrate on where your path is going? Don't know about you, but mine is leading me to the loo. Go away!

Hopefully, with me standing up for myself, the chaff can be separated from the wheat.  Even though I often feel like no one is reading a word I write, I know I was put here for exactly that purpose - to write.  I have work to do, on myself and my writing. 
The War of the World manuscript is in the hands of my publisher, but I have projects waiting. 

Here's the only catch...It's lonely. When Gary and I divorced, I moved into my own house. When everyone went home after helping me unpack, I looked around at the rooms devoid of people and started to shake and cry. I had never lived alone. I was terrified... and I missed Gary. Mental and emotional abuse and all, he seemed a better option than being alone. 

I am feeling a bit of that now, even though I know to pick up the phone and call is opening the door to the status quo. It seems easier and more comfortable than standing apart. I will not call, but severing the psychic ties is a wretched process.

Wish me luck.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ward of the Were-bunnies

I would like to take you back to February, and my days in the hospital (and- later - the rehab center). Even though I was focused on the fate of my finger, I knew immediately that "Something ain't right", as my Dad would say.

Hospitals are intriguing institutions, serving the mass of humanity, the good, the bad, the ugly...the really ugly...I'm not referring to physical appearance but the quality of the soul.  I ended up in a prominent hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.  In my youth, it was a general county hospital. It changed names, found endowment money, and began to spread its tentacles across the City. It devoured neighborhoods, absorbed existing structures, slithered underground, until it's become an entity onto itself.

I ended up in their A&E initially, a place that hasn't really been updated since the days of being a small, local operation.  Rooms were divided in quads - 4 beds per room - with a door. You were assigned a bed, the door closed, and you were trapped with 3 other folks needing assistance. In my room, there was a woman who had obviously undergone chemotherapy. She rested quietly, uncomplaining, awaiting a doctor. It was clear that she was in distress, but merely smiled at her husband,  and held his hand. 

Eventually, we were both moved to the Transitional Care Unit, or TCU. It was a ground floor, windowless, dormitory style space, with 15 beds in a large "U". Each bed was separated by curtains only. With just florescent lights on 24/7, one could not determine if it was night or day. It was a rabbit warren of people, which I immediately dubbed "tent city". 

 Here, too, the parade of the masses marched on. Every kind of individual was on display, from the humbled to the the crazy who thought they were entitled.

For instance, take the woman behind the curtain to my left.  It was apparent that she was having some kind of digestive issues (mostly because she was shouting to the nursing staff that she had digestive issues). Despite that, she demanded that she be brought supper.  The staff advised her to look at the menu and call her order into the kitchen. 
"Why do I have to do that? Don't you have PEOPLE who perform these tasks?"
When advised that she did not have a wait staff, she angrily grabbed the phone and called the kitchen. She identified herself and started to order toast, an english muffin, oatmeal, three eggs...then she stopped, apparently listening to a response.

Suddenly, she erupted. "What do you MEAN I've exceeded my carbs limit? How is that possible? I'm not eating the other swill on this menu. It will kill me. DO YOU WANT TO KILL ME?!"
The nurses came running, and finally sorted out her food fiasco. 

Bored while waiting for her meal, she next turned her attention to me. "You over there! You! Your overhead light is too bright. Can you turn it off?"
As I wasn't allowed out of bed, I responded, "No, not really."
"It's too bright for me."
"Turn it off!"
  "Not gonna happen."
"Then I'll come over and turn it off myself!"
   "Stay on your own side of that curtain or I'll call security." At that point, I rang for the nurse and explained my situation. She quietly went to speak with my neighbor. I couldn't hear her side of the conversation, but the patient screamed, "I DEMAND she turn off that light! This is inhumane! I shall report you all!!"

I have no idea to whom she was going to report because I was suddenly assigned a real room.  It was a shared space, but I was given the largest section with a window.  My roommate was a tiny creature, whose husband was also in hospital just down the hall. It became obvious that this woman (whom I shall call "J") had issues...major issues. In fact, there were only 16 beds on the floor, each assigned to a "special" patient...and me.  It didn't take long before it dawned on me. This was the ward of the were-bunnies. I was among those called the "sun downers".  They slept or were quiet during sunlight, but the rising of the moon signaled the start of the howling hours.

Perhaps I should define the term "were-bunnies". It was coined by a friend I had in another hospital. They are the patients that may look and sound dangerous, but are actually harmless.  By that definition, "J" was no were-bunny. Although merely the size of a pixie with a glandular problem, when denied visits to her husband she would scream, kick, punch, and fight like a rabid ocelot. She would constantly need changing, during which times she tried to make her escape. Eventually she was tied to the bed and alarmed. Nothing stopped her, and security was called on a regular bases. When her daughter came to visit from overseas, she focused on the fact that the hospital lost "J's" glasses and dentures - valid, I agree - but had to be told that both were lost during two of her mother's battles, and she was the one who places these items in the soiled laundry which got carted away.

Thus was the live entertainment in our ward, but the room had larger issues. When possible that first night, I settled in for a solid old-fashion snooze. At around 3 am, I was awoken by an aging gentlemen in hospital gown leaning over my bed. Initially, I thought it was one of the loonies on walk-about, (it had happened a few years prior in a rehab center), but I was wrong. As I looked up into the gent's blank eyes, he slowly dissolved. Ducky. I had a haunted room.

As the sun rose the next morning, I watched my coat - hanging on the back of the open bathroom door - swing wildly back and forth. I advised one of my nurses that the room had 3 patients in lieu of 2.
"What do you mean?"
   "The room is haunted."
"How do you know?"
  "Crap keeps happening."
"Like what?" she asked innocently.  At that moment, the paper towel dispenser in  the bathroom started running like a house a-fire, spewing paper towels all over the floor.  

The nurse peeked around the corner, then scurried back to huddle by my bed.
"Ah...there's no one in there.."
   "Yes. I know."
At that moment, yet another nurse came in. She took one look at the first nurse's face and said, "What's the matter?"
"The paper towel dispenser is running."
"It's motion activated. There's nobody in there."
The second nurse lowered her voice. "That's been happening all over the ward."
Like I said...just ducky. I had a haunted ward.

Until the end of my stay, evidence mounted. Lights and TV went on and off without human intervention, my phone would unplug itself, and then turn itself on.  The last little bit of fun came when a new patient was moved in down the hall. He told the staff he was a wizard and would defeat all the demons walking our hall. Wizard is one thing; nutsy fagan wizard with an agenda is quiet another. I was relocated to a rehab center the next evening.

Now, you would think that would be the end of my tale - but no. Once at the rehab, the nursing aid (a great, big, gentle giant of a Russian) was trying to adjust the bed for me.  Suddenly, it started to groan and vibrate and buck like the mattress from "The Exorcist".

"What is this?" Alex kept repeating, "You bring ghost with you from hospital maybe?"
He turned whiter. "No. Don't kid. You think ghost?"
   "Hell if I know."

The bed kept it up despite maintenance, engineering, and a boat load of other guys trying to make it stop.  It wasn't until Gary came to visit, with a full bottle of sage spray, that I was finally able in peace.

Finally, here are the photos from our crawl at Princeton Cemetery:

Enjoy your memorial Day!