… I know how hard it is to stay true to your paranormal self when you’re embroiled in the bright and shiny world of the normals.
I’m lucky. Now that my youngest child is 19 and going to college, I can afford to delve deep into the horror / paranormal world. I may not be eager to get arrested while doing a paranormal investigation, but having an encounter with a cop in graveyard in the wee hours would not disrupt the education nor destroy the social life of my spawn. These days, I could wear a pointy witch hat to the grocery store in April if I wanted … it’s even possible that neither of my kids would flinch if they happened to be along for the ride.
That was not always the case. For many years I was caught up in a lifestyle that demanded me to be proper. (Being a parent, especially a home school parent, will do that to you.) My true history, interests, and preferred pastimes had to be kept on the down-low.
Just about the time that my proper-parent persona could be retired, our life blew up. I had already created this blog – and started taking my writing seriously for the first time in 15+ years – then I was suddenly plunged into an unexpected period of down-sizing, life-simplifying and working full time. Now, after a tumultuous three years or so, my family has come into a magical life-stage in which I am able to dedicate myself to writing full-time about dark and beautiful things.
A major part of my goal for this blog is to create a refuge for folks who aren’t as lucky as me just yet. It’s a love letter to people who can neither afford to spend too much time digging into the paranormal / horror world to find the good stuff, nor step too far outside the lines in their pursuit of dark and profound things.
I know that most of the readers that show up at my page in the middle of night, or on their lunch hour, are still deeply embroiled in the same kind of life I had just a few years ago. For some of those readers, life revolves around PTO meetings that need attending, scout troops and sporting leagues that need leading, and play-dates that need arranging. Others have jobs and careers that require massive amounts of time and energy to nurture. And they have employers and co-workers who will not tolerate overt displays of gothic or dark sensibilities on the sales floor or in the next cubicle.
On top of all that, some of my readers are also trying to fit writing and art-making around the edges of their work-a-day worlds. They come here to get a taste of the things that feed them and help to fill the creative well.
I’ve been there. And I survived it, but there’s no need for you to have to suffer a lack of eerie and interesting distractions and inspirations. I wish there had been a blog sanctuary like this one for me to read when I had limited time and energy, coupled with a deep need to retreat from the normal world for a while.
Now that I have the luxury of time, I feel it’s my mission to make such a place for you. Make yourself comfortable and let me know if there’s anything special you’d like to see, here in the sprawling haunted house that is The Paranormalist.
PS: Click the pic to go to a source site.
Ready to learn some tips and tricks to help you get away with being paranormal? Come this way, to Body Preservation.
2015 UPDATE: The 2nd Annual Halloween Photo Hunt is up and running HERE.
A few weeks ago, I developed a photographic scavenger hunt intended for smaller, slightly less “social” social groups. (I admit, I had selfish reasons. My little nuclear family is made up of introverts. When it comes to public outings, none of us want to beg actual items from strangers.)
We got a chance to give the game a full on test run last Friday. We played parents v. kids, in two teams of two. It was chilly, so we limited the game to two hours.
We had a blast. I’d play again in a heartbeat.
While the simple items from the scavenger hunt list are still on display, have a go at it yourself. I’ll bet you can come up with even more creative shots and poses than we did.
My favorite photos:
And here’s a video collage of the whole thing.
This is a hummingbird moth. Well, to be accurate, it’s a snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis) which looks more like a very large bumblebee than a hummingbird.
Before I muse on my encounter with this insect, though, I want to explain the title of this post.
The Blog ~
Lately, I’ve been pretty consistent about adding a quick, nightly snippet to my Facebook page, even as I’ve let this blog mostly languish. Almost every evening, I think: This could be expanded into a full post. Then I decide that whatever I’m writing about isn’t quite right for the blog. It’s not creepy enough. Or clever enough. Or well-researched enough. Sometimes my thought is simply: No. I’m too tired to put that much time into writing tonight.
I write slow. Every line of text that makes it to the page has been rewritten a half-dozen times. (Curse the convenience of the backspace button.) Here’s a confession: those “quick” Facebook snippets of mine actually require an hour or more. Mostly because there’s always a slightly better way to express a thought.
Then there are the projects for the blog that never seen to come to completion – I’m embroiled in at least three which I intend to write about … as soon as I finish them.
An example? Back on April 17th, I set myself the task of reviewing, sorting and categorizing films based on the works of Stephen King. There’s a hell of a lot of them, however, and I’m having a problem figuring out where to draw the line. Do made-for-TV movies count? Well, they have to, thanks to The Stand, It and Bag of Bones – all of which I have strong opinions about. And what about the short films?
The Paranormal ~
When my daughter, Pooka, was home for a visit, she accidentally reminded me of what I meant to do back when I started this blog. Somehow – perhaps because I’ve since watched too many ghost hunter shows – I had become fixated on finding a reputedly haunted location to investigate in the customary manner, but that is not what I set out to do. In fact, I wanted to do the reverse – I wanted to closely observe places that inspire in me a sense of mystery, melancholy or dread, and write about that experience. The gadgets and tools were meant to be secondary, a way to quantify any phenomena (natural or supernatural) that contribute to an evocative atmosphere. It took my daughter’s insight to show me that I had gotten caught up in a strange set of ghost hunter rules that I felt ill-equipped to abide by. She helped me remember that I have always been less concerned with finding a ghost than with exploring the sensation of being haunted.
The Book ~
I haven’t been writing it. I haven’t been editing it. I haven’t even read any of it in more than a month. I can hardly remember what it felt like to really work with it. I know there were weeks at a time when I wrote fast and hard – come hell or typographical errors – while generating the bulk of my novel. Forcing myself forward felt awful, but pages chugged out of the printer and the manuscript stack thickened every day. Then I started editing the draft, even though I hadn’t finished writing the story. I think that’s when I first veered off the path.
The Whining ~
To be fair to myself, I did okay for a while even after I switched to editing. Then my life blew up (for the fifth or sixth time in the last four years) and I lost sight of the path entirely. But I digress.
The Solution ~
It’s time to renew my battle with perfectionism. I have to start writing again – not editing, writing. I don’t know exactly what that means yet, but I suspect that letting the blog posts come when they want to is part of it … even when my inner critic says, “No, that topic is not right enough.”
The Moth ~
Which brings me back to the hummingbird moth.
My children and I were visiting the nature center in my new hometown. It has the most amazing play area any of us has ever seen – in this case, a photograph will illustrate better than words:
Yes, there are manufactured caves and rocks to climb on. That muddy patch in the foreground hints at the center’s most brilliant feature: an artificial stream that allows children to slap a rock to make water gush forth and run along the bed. On this day, there were only a couple of preschoolers playing, so the stream wasn’t very full … until my children arrived. (They are 16 and 26, by the way.) They not only filled that stream, they also diverted its flow with a dam. (No, they did not interfere with the little ones; they used the empty end of the stream and dismantled the dam when they were done.)
Then we noticed an insect – something that looked like a giant bee – buzzing in a nearby flower patch. It didn’t take us long to rule out every species any of us had ever seen. We marveled. We snapped pictures. We moved on.
Later, after we used the internet to identify the insect as a hummingbird moth, and after everyone had gone to bed, I sat on the deck in the dark, listening to a lone alien amphibian calling from the pond below me. (I can identify at least six frogs and toads by their calls. This call was similar to an American Toad but different. Perhaps it was just a particularly large specimen, or one that had some sort of mutation.)
I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life, and spent countless hours outdoors. I’ve grown whole gardens to attract wildlife to observe. I’ve done nature studies in swamps, forests and meadows. I consider myself pretty well-informed about the native fauna of my region. How is it possible, then, that I encountered two unknown (to me) species, in one day, when I wasn’t even looking for them?
Granted, moths and toads are small creatures, which can easily escape notice. But they make me wonder what else is out there that I don’t know about. I keep thinking that all of my outdoor time has been spent in, or very near, well-settled areas.
Suddenly I find myself reconsidering what might be lurking in the Northern Minnesota woods.
*”In Minnesota there are approximately 16.3 million acres of forest land, of which 14.9 million acres are classified as “timberland” or lands capable of producing timber. A geographical depiction of forest land location can be seen on the map. An additional 960,000 acres are not included in productive timberland due to their inclusion in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or other reserved land category.”
*Source: USDA Forest Service