Monday, December 20, 2010

In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream

Many moons ago, and old boyfriend gave me a little mental nugget of joy.

We were watching the movie, "Alien," and it came to the scene where Ripley has set the self-destruct countdown on the ship and is frantically making her way to the shuttle when she rounds the corner and BAM! There's Mr. Alien.

The visual isn't of importance. It was the music that was so profound. The boyfriend said that he referred to this music as the 'ex-girlfriend' theme. His thought was if he was ever out in public and saw an ex-girlfriend from a distance, this would be the music playing in his head.

I now give you the "Ex Theme."

I know you're laughing now. You can see it, too, can't ya? I've shared this nugget of joy with the Spouse and now we can never watch that same scene without bursting into laughter.

Altho the boyfriend and I went out separate ways long time ago, I held onto that hilarious concept of the 'Ex Theme." Really, it could be played in your head for anyone, be it an ex-boyfriend, ex-co-worker, ex-neighbor... any unsavory character from your past that you feared encountering again.

Well, after nearly 20 years of waiting, I finally had that moment in my life when I heard the 'Ex Theme' play for real.

A couple of weeks ago I get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone I don't recognize immediately. The fact that they used an off-the-wall name didn't help. Curious, I look up the profile of "Okinawa iTunesfan" (not the real name, but pretty damn close) and am still unsure of who this person is. They live in a neighboring state, we have no mutual friends, and the profile picture is an old 70s photo of Freddie Mercury.

Questions abound. Who is this person?

It's about this time I notice I have a message on Facebook. I go it and lo and behold it's from this Okinawa iTunesfan. I read the message, which is along the lines of, "Hey, we were absolute bestest friends in high school. We used to write notes to each other and your nickname was this and my nickname was that. We have so much to talk about! --Gloria Merkin(not her real name)."

That's when I recognized who it was. Cue the music.

"NO!! OH GOD NO!! NOT YOU!! ANYONE BUT YOU!! I thought I had successfully escaped you forever! Oh shit, you found me! SONOFABITCH!!"

Yes, back in high school we WERE bestest friends. Yall know how teenage girls are. We shared everything. We talked about everything. We did everything together. We were there for each other in times of teenage girl drama.

Then the summer before senior year an old flame of mine walked back into my life. He used his charm and won my little naive heart over again. I was so excited and I told Gloria all about it. She was excited for me. The old flame asked me out on a date and I wanted my bestest friend to meet us so she could see this fabulous boyfriend of mine. And it was a fun night. We all three had a great time hanging out together. And I came home happy and head over heels in love.

Little did I know that during the evening, while I was on a bathroom break, Gloria and Old Flame exchanged phone numbers.

Long story short, I find out later that the two of them met up, ended up in the back of his car and, well, nature took its course. Needless to say, I dropped him like a hot skillet and tore her a new asshole over the phone.

But the bitch didn't get it. She continued to call me, apologized, and proceeded to act like nothing had ever happened. Not only did this bitch not get it, but when she called, she would go on and on and on about herself. I swear, I could lay the phone down, go to the bathroom or do some errand, come back and the bitch would still be going. I am NOT making that up.

(If you're wondering why I even answered the phone in the first place, let alone talk to her... well, I was young and stupid and couldn't be intentionally mean. Don't worry, things have changed. I've grown a backbone since then)

Years later, after I have moved out of my parents' house, the crazy bitch would still call trying to track me down. My mom, bless her heart, did an excellent job of deflecting her calls and never giving out any info on me. These calls got fewer and further apart until finally they stopped altogether.

But now we have the internet and Facebook, which makes finding people bonehead simple. And unfortunately, this bonehead Gloria found me.

So I ignored the friend request. And when Facebook asked me if I'd like to not only ignore this request but make it impossible for this person to never request my friendship again, I was only too glad to click that button.

There. Done. Shew. Catastrophe avoided.

Until 3 days later.

No friendship request (that button worked). Instead there's another message:

"Hey!!!! Wish I could talk to you again!! It's been about twenty years, and we have alot to catch up on! Please accept my friend request.... I'd LOVE to chatter with you again! Gloria"

Cue the music again.

"AAAHHHH!!!! GOD DAMN!!!! NO!! Jesus Fucking Christ did you NOT get the hint? Ya know, the Old Flame found me a while back and requested my friendship - WHICH I IGNORED - and even HE got the hint and left my ass alone! What the fuck is wrong with you?! Are you still that batshit crazy?!"

So now I had to bring out the big guns and do something I hoped I would never have to do - block somebody.

Let me tell ya, that there block feature is nice. So nice I had to mention it in my Facebook status that very day. Couple of hours later I get an email from an old high school friend (a nice one, not a fucking-your-boyfriend-behind-your-back type) that says, "Oh, god, was it Gloria Merkin?!"

Apparently, I wasn't the only victim of her crazed former friend search. My poor pal had accepted her friendship was now being driven insane by constant messages, pokes and chat box pop-ups. "And by the way, " my friend continued, "Gloria says 'Hi' and hopes you'll accept her friendship."

Cue that fucking music one more time!

But the dust has settled and I think I'm safe here behind my wall of Facebook blockage. I have since warned family and close friends to beware the crazy bitch Okinawa iTunesfan because I'm sure she's still on the hunt. And hopefully, the next time I hear the 'Ex Theme,' it'll just be Ripley hiding from Mr. Alien.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

Some of you may have noticed I have two online names: Duranfan and Hollygoyle. Duranfan is a holdover from my old Spymac days, but Hollygoyle is really more ‘me.’ My closest friends and my haunt peeps know of my obsession for gargoyles, combined with my elaborate get-up (see above) that I’ve used many a time to scare the absolute bejeezus out of people.

Well, Hollygoyle will exist forever, but she may be a little shorter in the future. My stilt-walking days are over. *heavy sigh*

On the night of July 31st, there was a horror film convention in town, complete with movie stars, movie showings, vendors and, of course, a costume contest. So guess who got all dolled up to try to win a prize (and to do a little PR for the Haunted House). Go on, guess...

The venue was hot (air conditioning was terribly inadequate) but I held it together as I bounced around the place. The Spouse stayed at my side, clearing a path and keeping on eye on me. By the time the costume contest rolled around, I was doing great. Good friend Bobafett had joined us. I had my photo taken with strangers numerous times and was really wowing the crowd.

At one point I was seated on a barstool when another admirer came up and asked for a photo. I’m gonna slow things down here so yall get the full impact of what’s about to happen...

I go to stand up and suddenly my right legs is rapidly sliding out from underneath me. I basically go down doing the splits sideways, and as I do, I feel/hear something in my left knee give a wet crackle.

Oh shit. Oh fuck. I sit there on my ass for a few seconds and assess the situation. My first thought was I had dislocated my left knee cap again (slipped on a tile floor back in ‘89). But when I went to feel the leg, the knee cap was in place. And it didn’t hurt (dislocated knee caps are a pain you don’t forget). It felt weird but I was surprised at how little pain I was feeling. The Spouse and Bobafett dive down and, per my frantic instructions, start taking off my stilts (note: these babies are thoroughly strapped to my feet and around my knees so this takes a few minutes).

While they’re doing this I want to know why the hell I fell. I look over to my right and that’s when I see a glossy flyer laying on the carpet.

Fuck. Six years of being on these things with no problems and I get taken out with a goddamn piece of paper.

By now my boys have removed my stilts and have hauled my up by my armpits. I’m standing upright, still not in any major pain. I go to put weight on the left leg and it just collapses.

Shit, this is not good. This is so not good.

The Spouse and Bobafett carry all my stuff out to the car and bring it up to the front entrance. I sit on my barstool, swinging my injured leg back and forth. It’s bending fine and I’m still not feeling much pain, but something is definitely wrong.

Fast forward to the local hospital ER. This is where it gets even weirder. I peeled my latex facial appliance off in the car and wipe off as much of my make-up as I can on the way there. And I manage to get out of the costume (I had regular clothes underneath). But I still have my theatrical cat-eye lenses in. I can’t take them out because A) I have nothing to put them in and B) they’re in my prescription and I’m blind without them. Luckily, the late night staff at the ER did an excellent job of pretending not to notice my eyes. But I’m sure my accident story was one of the best they’ve seen and heard in a long time.

So... x-ray is done and shows no breakage. I’m told that I’ve sprained my knee and possibly torn my ACL, MCL or meniscus. I’m sent home with a lovely blue knee brace slapped on my leg (third time in my life I’ve had to wear one of these damn things), some crutches (which I refuse to use) and a recommendation to an orthopedist.

Oh, did I mention I went back to the horror film festival the next day? Found out that if I had not fallen, I would’ve won the contest. Son of a bitch.

Orthopedist appointment a couple days later. More x-rays taken. Again told that I’ve possibly torn my ACL, MCL or meniscus. Need to schedule an MRI to be sure. Yay. But wait, it gets better...

The doctor says he wants use a needle to drain the fluid off my very swollen knee. Then he proceeds to show me a needle that looks like it came from an old Warner Brothers cartoon. I nearly pass out and tell him, “Look, that fact that you just said ‘needle’ and ‘knee’ in the same sentence, and you’re coming at me with something that is cartoonishly large has me more than freaked out right now.”

But I gotta tell ya, that man was amazing. I never felt a thing and my knee was much smaller when I left.

Ok, back to the progress... MRI a few days later. Doctor follow up a couple days after that. Those of you putting you money on the MCL or meniscus... sorry, you lose. But those of you betting on the ACL, bingo. You can collect at the window. Complete ACL tear. Complete. As in off the freakin’ bone. Guess that was that wet crackle I felt. He also says I have some bone spurs on the back of left knee cap and asks if I had injured it before? Remember that little mishap back in ‘89? Yeah, that one...

Are we talking surgery? Yes we are, friends and neighbors. But it’s actually gonna be kinda neat. I’m gonna be getting zombie parts. Cadaver tendon!

But it’s right in the middle of this surgery conversation that I remember we’re currently in mid-August. Haunted House starts in 7 weeks. This could be bad. So I explain to the doctor, “I’ve got this major event I’m in charge of that operates every Friday and Saturday night in October that I have GOT to be there for, and I have GOT to be on my feet all night so I need these legs. Either you pop me back in that brace until November 1st or we get this done ASAP.”

He says, “What are you doing Thursday?”

Three days later my ass is in a freezing cold operating room with the Beatles blaring in the background while a bunch of surgeons, nurses and other medical folk bounce around me all perky and loud. I wake up an hour and a half later with my left leg totally numb, all wrapped up with a new piece of tissue they harvested off some dead person (my profound thanks to said dead person).

I go home the next day with some super duper pain killers (which ended up making me terribly sick). For the next three days I’m a complete invalid but the Spouse was absolutely wonderful in taking care of me, even patiently waiting for me to finishing puking in a waste can so he could replace the liner each time.

Monday morning I go back to work. Yup, crutches and all.

But here it is nearly Christmas and things are just peachy. I had an amazing physical therapist who got me off the crutches sooner than expected. I hobbled around at work and drove around town as usualy. And yes, I got thru Haunted House with no problems. Hell, the more I walked around on those nights the better my leg felt. My stilt-walking days may be over, but I still have many years left to scare people. Hollygoyle lives on.

My scars are pretty small and I have two permanent screws in my knee, but it’s all good. I got zombie parts! So when the zombie apocalypse finally happens, my ass is immune.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let's See What Madame Ruby Sees...

Another Haunt Trade Show has come and gone and we all came back home excited and inspired. Work has already begun on our little spooky house and I'm diving right in with floorplans, themes, rooms, costumes, set designs and promotional stuff.

Along with being part of the creative force behind our Haunt, and having a personal collection of occult related books, skulls, Dia de los Muertos paraphernalia and other dead things, I have one other unusual talent I probably haven't told yall about.

I read Tarot cards. I've been reading them for over 20 years.

When I was 17 my mother got herself a deck and we were both fascinated with them, doing readings for each other on a near daily basis. Soon afterward I read in one of my books that in order to take Tarot card reading seriously, one should have their own personal deck and treat it with great regard and respect. So I purchased my first deck, the famous Rider Waite Deck.

Over the years I have picked up another 5 decks, the most recent purchase at the above-mentioned Haunt Trade Show. One of my team alerted me to a booth for Monolith Graphics that had a Tarot deck for sale. Lucky for me they had a whole slew of them for cash-and-carry. This Gothic Tarot deck is absolutely beautiful and I was thrilled to get my own along with the compendium book. Whenever I get a new deck, I always get the compenium, read it, study it and program it in my head for future reference.

So out of my 6 decks, I have 4 that I like to use: the Rider Waite, the Alice in Wonderland deck, the Halloween deck and my most recent purchase. So whenever I do readings, I bring those 4 with me and let my 'customers' pick the deck that appeals to them the most.

Yes, I've done readings for private parties... anything from a high school fund-raiser to a corporate Christmas Party. And I've made some decent money doing it, too. I also do free readings for friends.

Now I always tell folks up front that I am NOT psychic. I don't foretell the future, I don't 'see' things and nothing I say is set in stone. Everyone is in control of their own destiny and everything in life is subject to change. Folks can simply take what I have to say as advice or pure entertainment. It doesn't hurt my feelings if people don't believe in this stuff. But I do think it takes some courage to sit down at my table and shuffle those cards.

And I've had all type of life forms sit down with me. A few years ago I was doing readings for a fund-raising event and I had two women, a mother and a daughter, sit down together at my table. They were kinda rough, loud and boisterous but I took in stride. Until one of them didn't like the 'result' of her reading and wanted another one.

I told her as politely as possible that I don't make this up. She is the one who shuffles the cards. I just lay them out in a pattern and tell her what the picture on each card means.

But no, that was NOT a good enough answer. So I gave her another reading. Once again, the 'result' was a rather negative final card.

(Normally, when I get a layout that ends up with a negative result, I remind the person of my earlier statement: nothing is set in stone, we are all in control of our own lives and if anything, take this as a warning to be on your guard. Now that you know what to look out for, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.)

Well, she was still not pleased with her reading nor my answer to the negative final card and demanded (yes, DEMANDED) a third reading, saying "I'm gonna do this until I get one I LIKE!"

No, we were stopping at 3 whether Ms. Arrogant Bitch likes it or not. I was doings readings that night for free since it was a charity event and I was NOT gonna sit there and be her personal Ms. Cleo.

So I did one more reading. Quick. Blunt. No emotion. Not rude, but not my usual pleasant self either. This time we got a positive ending and she was happy and left. But I thought to myself, "You know, you just got two negative readings in a row. If I were you I'd consider that a sign."

Needless to say, that forced me to adopt a new rule: One reading per person. No exceptions.

Besides that one rude encounter, I had another unusual situation a couple of years ago. At a 'Ghostly Sleepover' at the Mansion, I had one lady sit down for a reading. She was very quiet and somewhat shy. As I began the reading, I noticed she had a nervous twitch and kept quickly turning her head to one side.

You have no idea how hard it was to not only keep a straight face, but to remain nice, polite and not get distracted while this woman was spazzing out on me. Her twitch occurred about every 30 seconds. That was probably the toughest reading I ever had to do. But I made it to the end and she was happy with her reading.

One thing I don't do is ask a lot of questions. If people want to kept their questions or thoughts private, that's perfectly fine with me. I let them decide what or how much they want to tell me.

At one corporate event a man sat down at my table with a skeptical and dismissive attitude. He was here on his wife's request. I gave him my usual opening speech and then let him loose on the cards.

I laid them out and started describing the images and what they meant. The ones representing his 'current situation' showed things murky and unpleasant. They continued to show his unhappiness where he was in life, not getting along with someone and his desire to move on to other things. His final card showed him doing just that; leaving something behind and going on to something better.

While I was telling him all this his cocky attitude disappeared and his expression softened. At the end of the reading, he lowered the boom: He was unhappy here at this job, he didn't get along with his supervisor and was thinking about going to another job. So it was pretty obvious what his next move should be.

His demeanor totally changed. He smiled, shook my hand and thanked me, leaving my table with a pleasant and somewhat befuddled smile. I think he even mumbled a couple of "Wows."

It's impossible to not get emotionally involved in these readings. Most of the time I don't know these people but I get very sensitive to what the cards pictures tell me. I'm always worried about how someone will react when a reading has a bad turn. My most profound reading took place last November at yet another Ghostly Sleepover.

I had a man in his early 30s sit at my table and shuffle the deck. This disturbing reading started off with cards that showed something underhanded had just recently taken place. The cards had images of stealing, dirty dealings behind one's back, a loss of trust and a feeling of being hurt and betrayed.

Something very bad had just happened to this man.

The cards didn't get much better. I continued, as best I could, to relate to this poor man that the images were showing something had been taken from him or he had been lied to. The only glimmer of hope was the final card, which showed that the situation could heal if he and the guilty party came together and worked this problem out.

I looked at him sadly and told him I hoped that he and those involved in this awful mess would be able to heal this situation. He then told me his question and I nearly fell out of my chair.

He had just recently discovered his wife had had an affair with his friend. She had confessed but they were still in that early, raw period of 'oh, hell, what do we do now.' His hopes were diminishing of any kind of reconciliation. He had tried counseling but she wasn't making the effort.

Stunned, I pulled myself together and reiterated that this situation took TWO people to make things work out and for any healing to occur. He thanked me (he was pretty blown away, too) and I wished him the best as his left.

He and his wife (yes, she was there at the Sleepover, just not in the room where I was giving the reading) ending up leaving early because she started to feel ill. He was the only person I did a reading for that night. The rest of our Sleepover guests were wandering around the Mansion playing amateur Ghost Hunters.

I went downstairs and sat in the Main Hallway with my Mansion pals and proceeded to tell them what had just happened. We all sat there in some seriously stunned silence for a while. Someone eventully brought light to the situation by claiming, "Damn, Holly, you're GOOD." But no matter what, THAT reading will always stay with me.

But don't let that discourage any of you. I love doing readings and I have a new deck to play with. Just don't ask for more than one. I'll smack you.