Tag Archives: childhood

Thoughts on Lead

It is November 20th today.

As you may or may not know (depending on how long you’ve followed my blog and/or how much attention you pay to past blogs), November 20th is the birthday of the person known as Lead.

Lead, for those of you who don’t know, is the nickname I use for the person that I had a massive, massive, massive crush on all throughout the end of elementary school, junior high, and high school (and it would have started earlier, I’m sure, except he didn’t come to Moscow until 5th grade).

I have long since ceased giving a single fart about this guy, but just the date “November 20th” brings him back into my memory because he was a serious part of my existence for about seven years of my teenage life.

Today, that also brings up something that I’ve come to realize about my mad obsession with this dude that I’ve never really shared. This is a realization I made a long while ago—like, 8th grade, maybe—but was one I kind of kept inside hoping that it wasn’t true, because that truth was more pathetic than frantically stalking a dude for the sake of true love.

(At least, that’s what my 14-year-old brain convinced me of).

This realization? I wasn’t obsessed with Lead because I was in love with him or was soul mates with him or any of that lovey nonsense. I was obsessed with him because I wanted to be him. He was everything I wish I was, especially in junior high and high school when I was so painfully apathetic about, well, pretty much everything but Lead.

The guy was popular. The guy was good-looking. The guy was athletic. And most of all? The guy was smart.

Like… S M A R T.

I don’t know if he actually had a genius-level IQ, but I’m 99% convinced of it. Super smart. He put everyone else at that garbage bag of a school to shame with what he could do with his mental prowess and how easily he seemed to do it. He got a full ride scholarship to some school in Montana after he graduated, but I’m sure if he didn’t take that he could have easily gone to MIT or Harvard or Oxford or something like that. And he would have blown those fuckers away at those schools.

That’s what I wanted. I wanted to be that smart. I probably could have faked my way through high school a lot better if I’d given a crap (I think my cumulative GPA at the end was like a 3.5), but it would have taken work. I would not have been able to do it with the ease he seemed to do everything.*

This is the Amateur Hour psych student in me, but I think I hid my jealousy of him with admiration. I thought, “hey, if I can’t be this guy, maybe I can get him to like me. If he likes me, that means I’m good enough to at least be liked by a dude of this caliber. So let’s do that!”

Anyway. I know, I know, stupid shit. But I figured I’d mention it now that I’m so far removed from him that I don’t even think we’re Facebook friends anymore. Or at least, I’m no longer obsessively checking his Facebook like I used to. Haha.

Pathetic.

*Yes, I know I might be wrong about this. He made it look like it was easy for him. Maybe it wasn’t. But goddamn, he sure made a convincing argument that getting through school was as easy for him as slicing butter with a hot knife.

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Baby Tamagotchis?!?!?!?!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA NOSTALGIA

I remember when Tamagotchis were a thing, yo. I think they came out in 1997 in the US. My friend Emily and I needed them, haha. I think either my mom or dad bought me mine from JC Penny. Mine was the “yellow w/ orange” color, Emily’s was the “purple w/ magenta” color.

We took them everywhere.

I eventually amassed at least nine digital pets during elementary school—I had a few Tamagotchis, I had this one bear Tamagotchi knockoff, I had a Dinkie Dino (my favorite), and a whole bunch of others.

Sadly, I lost the giant keychain of them on the airplane back from California. ‘Twas a sad day. I wish I still had all of those, they were great.

 

More Nostalgia Garbage

I found that “Goodnight Aneel” thing I posted about yesterday because I’ve been going through all the old crap on my compy. Another thing I found was a Word document full of all sorts of old letters/emails/etc. that I saved for whatever reason or another.

Back in elementary school (5th grade, 6th grade), one thing I liked to do (‘cause I was a weird bugger) was pretend that each person’s desk was like their house and had its own address and such. I’d write letters to people, put them in actual envelopes (with drawn-on fake stamps), and “deliver” them through our “postal service” (which was just me putting the letters in peoples’ desks during recess).

Here’s an example:

 

Joe Hazardus
200 Master St.
Mossy, ID 8384ME

Sir O the Second
2020 Ribbon St.
Mossy, ID 8384ME

Dear Sir O the Second:

            It occurred to me that Mistress O has fallen from her tower again. She has no sense of balance. Anyway, you don’t get the index concept. Don’t think Parlor Van Anita hasn’t called me yet. Cappi Bara still needs your opinion. Do you like plaid or velvet? Tell her soon, or behold her wrath!!!

            T.S.T.B. Joe and Solid Cooler have decided to plan your day. I hope you’re happy. Fun with Pressure Points has caught the attention of millions. Do you think Grouper Sue and yourself could pull it off in front of the nation?

P.S. Lee Blubberlig and Hershe Wrapper are upset with you. Don’t ask me why.

Your Seedless Wonder who is DESPERATE for a reply,

                                                                                                            Joe Hazardus

 

I was, of course, Joe Hazardus. Sir O the Second was Kelly O., I believe. Solid Cooler was John…I don’t remember who the others were. “T.S.T.B.” stood for “Too Soon To Be” because why not.

Here’s an email I sent to my friend Aneel in 7th grade. Having an email address was the hip n’ cool new thing at the time (2001). I was starpotty@hotmail.com. I was also hyper as hell, apparently.

Where are you? Are you in Arizona? Mexico? California? Tokyo? Do you still have this address? I hope so cause I’m sending you this. Do you have a brain you could spare? Do you have any Norwegian money? Turnips are good. I fail to see the similarities between a shoe and it’s laces of doom. Do you have any snowballs? I like the snow….maybe it’ll snow today. Somebody wants to copy an orange. Maybe if you build a pool and put gelatin in it, it will replicate the look and feel of an ocean. Turnips are disgusting. Can you spell? I can’t spell. My Halloween pumpkin tried to kill me last night. It seemed to go nuts and tried to declare freedom. Maybe I shouldn’t carve pumpkins anymore. Are you the king of your country yet? Has Tokyo sunk yet? Where’s your phone? I WANT THE DANG PHONE BACK!! HAVE YOU NO HEART?!!??!!? Oh well. Is it a cellular phone, or just one of those where you get this *eepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep* and then “cosmic operator, hold, please” and then: DUN-DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN DU DU!DUN-DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN DU DU!DUN-DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN DU DU!DUN-DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN DU DU!DUN-DUN DUN DUN DUNNNN DU DU! and then you go and re invent the law of physics and cut a hole in the ceiling and get sucked into it. How many turnips have you grown since I started writing this dang message? Are you even reading this? HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE???? Are you in Tokyo yet? TIP: if you put an egg in the microwave for 2:00, at 1:39 seconds, it will EEEXPPLLOOODDDE!!!! It is very very loud…33,333,333,333,333,333,333,333 decimals, to be precise. Can you read this? ARE YOU SURE? I seriously doubt my instincts about sending you this…it’s not like you CHECK it very often. I’ve sent you, like, 4 billion freakin messages!! AND HOW DO YOU REPAY ME???? SILENCE!!! Oh, the horror! Oh, the insanity! Oh, the inconvenience!!!!!!!!!!! DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!!! *ahem* okay. Enough of that. See ya soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon! bye.

>+<!*^*~(STAR POTTY)~^*^*!>+<

I also wrote a lot of love letters to the dude I liked back when I was a kid, but we ain’t gonna go into that nonsense.

Goodnight Aneel

Back when I used to think I was both talented and hilarious, I made a little parody of “Goodnight Moon” for my high school friend Aneel. Considering all the drawings were in MS Paint, I’d say it’s not too bad.

Check it:

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Hola

So I totally forgot to mention this when I found it a month or so ago as I was cleaning out the crap in my closet, but I found a story I wrote way back in 4th grade.

It’s a bag of trash and there’s 52 pages of it, but I’mma type it up all pretty and post it for you as a blog at some point down the road, ‘cause that’s what my blog is for: humiliating myself.

Hoorah!

Claudia’s Dumbass Poetry: Junior High Edition

I wrote a lot of really crappy poetry in junior high.

And since I have nothing interesting to say today (what else is new?), you get said crappy poetry.

Enjoy the cringe.

Chicken
My chicken longs
For a pair of tongs

To pull it out of the pan.
If it were alive
It would strive
To get out of the pan if it could.
It would, if…
It had a head, some feathers, and a knife.
And I said to my chicken,
“Hey, get a life!”

Go to the John
Johnly Conley
Puddin’ and pie
Hung the wash
And now it’s dry.
Wish he still had both his eyes
Johnly Conley
Cannot cry.

Jason Valdez
You might believe this guy is great.
Totally wrong!
Can’t you hear?
Sleigh bells, jingle jangle!
Home again, jiggitty jig.
What to do?
Chaos?
Child’s play,
But what the hey!
Blasphemy!
Stale bread,
Random dread.
Why?
Because!
Jam on biscuits.
Huh?
Say that again, randomizer.
I wasn’t paying…
Attention.
Open up!
It’s Jason!

Jellyfish
Jelly, jelly, jelly…fish!
Looming through the deep
Glowing as it creeps.
Has no brain, no heart, no lungs
Last low tide on a rock it clung
Hung there for 2 minutes or 3
Released it’s suction, now it’s free.
Jelly, jelly, jelly…fish!
He will sting you if you wish.

Life
You shan’t be deceived by the dawn or the night,
Dream small and live large shall be of your might.
Take the sin from your mind and replace it with hope,
Give much of your laughter to repel hatred’s rope.
Hold your love dearly or it might slip away,
Like shepherds with sheep so they don’t go astray.
Live your life with a purpose and not an excuse,
Make sure that your hands get a lot of good use.
Live without judging, but have lots of bliss,
Don’t go off the path and be taken amiss.
Be prepared to find pain and not simply power,
Don’t just smell the roses, stop and kiss a flower.

When the Bulls Come Out
When the sun goes down and the bulls come out,
The moon does shine without a doubt.
All sheep walk on a moonlit path,
While parakeets take a moonlit bath.
The stubborn boar is in this, too,
He lives right by the rendezvous.
The mighty bear, the timid snake,
All come running to partake.
This joyous fest, one time a year,
Rises past the Troposphere.
The stars shine brightly down on them,
All is peaceful, no mayhem.
The from the distance comes a noise,
Which made all the animals poise.
Then out came man, oh yes indeed,
Riding on his noble steed.
He cleared out all the trees and grass,
All creatures did run, so now, alas,
The moon does shine without a doubt,
When the sun goes down and the bulls come out.

I TOLD YOU

Tubular Bells

Today’s post is another one of those “why have I never shared this with you people?” posts. Ready?

So when I was a kid/tween/teen, I went to Linda Canary’s art camp during the summer. Art camp was two weeks of artistic freedom and bliss—it involved everything from clay to oil pastels to soapstone carving to batiking to plaster mask making. It also involved a lot of shenanigans in tree houses and in Paradise Creek.

I’ve talked about all that before. But anyway.

Linda was really good with kids and gave the camp a fairly loose structure. However, the one thing that we were “required” to make every day was a mandala.

For 20 minutes or so, we would go in the art studio and make mandalas based on whatever mental image or journey Linda would guide us on. During this time of quiet (it really was the only quiet part of the day, haha), Linda would play music over the stereo. Lots of Enya, lots of Deep Forest, lots of instrumental music.

One song she played a few times for us was called Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. It’s from 1973 and is nearly an hour long song filled with a ton of instruments and interesting musical transitions. Give it a listen. It’s quite awesome.

Yes, the intro part was used in the Exorcist. The rest is so much better.

Here, Have Some More

Y’all thought I was done with the obnoxious home movies yet?

Y’all thought wrong.

Here’s another “series” which is really just two videos titled “Hiking with Altoids” and “Hiking with Altoids II.” I’m a little bit older in these—sixth grade or so, probably.

For whatever reason, Altoids were what was happening in 6th grade. Everyone had a tin of them, we traded flavors, and we had competitions over who could hold the most Altoids in their mouth without freaking out over how strong the taste was. We pretended they were drugs.

Catholic school kids gone bad.

Our family also happened to live in a house with a back yard that ran right up against the U of I arboretum. Which, of course, was a perfect place for a lot of my nonsense movies.

So enjoy Hiking with Altoids and Hiking with Altoids II.

 

Yeah, this was what I did with my spare time.

More Embarrassment

So last weekend y’all got The Grandpa Twins. This weekend it’s Coo News at 8:30, aka “The Most Depressing News Channel Ever.”

Not sure what a coo is? Read this.

That “accent” I’m using is how coos talk.

Also, sorry about it getting all warbly at the end. This was at the very end of the tape.

Here, Enjoy This

Alrighty, guys.

So if you remember, about a month ago I mentioned that I bought a nice cheap (~$50) video camera from Amazon. At the time, I said that the main purpose for my purchasing this video camera would be revealed later.

It’s later, so here we go:

I have hours and hours of old videos I made when I was a kid and was obsessed with my mom’s camcorder. Because I’m too cheap/embarrassed to take these videos to any sort of film/camera place to have them converted to DVD and/or mp4 type thing, I’m going old-school high-quality and will be using the video camera to record the videos playing on the TV so that I can then transfer them to my computer and keep them safe forever (some of the old tapes are really close to breaking).

Anyway, several of these videos contain episodes from a series called The Grandpa Twins. The grandpa twins were two sock puppets (in the loosest sense; I just stuck plain old socks on my hands without any embellishments) who were quite gay and who had incredibly weird adventures.

Let’s make that series the first set of videos I re-record, shall we?

And because this blog is like an extension of my existence, y’all get to experience this nonsense.

These episodes were completely unscripted; I came up with a random theme at the intro and then just went with it. I was also somewhere between 8 and 10 years old (based off the hairstyle and that freaking Simba shirt that I would never take off), so there’s that as well. Yes, there’s paint on everything. Art rules.

So for your enjoyment and my embarrassment, I present the thrilling* saga** of The Grandpa Twins.

 

* hardly
** not really

Heb, Ola, and Peb

So you all should love it when I have absolutely nothing to blog about, as that usually results in me dredging up some embarrassing piece of nonsense that I wrote/drew/acted in the distant past in order to fill the day’s blog post quota.

Example: Today’s post, in which I scan the pages of a children’s story I wrote in first grade. It was a coo story, because I was all about the coos back then. I wrote/illustrated the story in first grade, but in 1997 (fourth grade? Third grade? I dunno), I made a “fancy” copy of it where I typed out everything in Word and re-drew the illustrations to make it look better than the original first grade scrawl. I also made all the “official book info” by copying almost directly from the inside page of a Babysitter’s Club book.

So enjoy. (Note: their names are pronounced “heeb,” “OH-lay,” and “peeb”)

 

Plots are hard when you’re a first grader.

Nostalgia Party Throwback 2K17

So I still feel like about 27 different layers of garbage, so I’m going to post stuff that reminds me of random nonsense from ye random olden days.

  • I played a lot of this. I still suck at basic math.
  • This one, too.
  • This song and music video will always remind me of 10th grade, since we’d always turn on MTV during Sports Med (yes, I took Sports Med. I have no idea why) and this was a popular vid back then.
  • This show was always on late at night when I was a kid and spent Friday and Saturday night at my dad’s condo. Does anyone else remember this?
  • Space Ghost: Coast to Coast was always a late night thing, too. I did not understand that show as a kid.
  • Oh, Cartoon Network. I miss the way you used to be.

Stuff of Olde

HAHA. So.

I was digging through a drawer of all my old notebooks/papers/whatever/crap ‘cause I needed to find something specific for reasons I won’t go into here.

But at the bottom of the drawer, I found the one old journal I kept from first grade. I wrote a lot in first grade. A lot. I probably had over 20 journals full of coo stories (what’s a coo?). Granted, my writing was HUGE back then and I padded the stories with a lot of illustrations, but it was still quite a lot of writing for a first grader, in my opinion.

So in the spirit of nostalgia, have some scanned pages of the notebook I found today.

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07-06-2016-b

07-06-2016-c

 

Past from the Blast

So here’s a video I’d completely forgotten I’d uploaded to YouTube (I found it after logging onto my old AntarcticaFreak account).

This is my mom filming me doing stuff with stencils (??). Also, animals. The kitty is Baby Slick, and the dog is Mindy. This was our house in Troy.

Good times.

FICTURE IT

Do you sometimes really miss parts of your past for no real reason? Not, like, particular events or days or anything like that, but routines or schedules that you remember you used to have at various points in life that you don’t have anymore.

I miss my past sometimes.

I don’t know why I felt like saying that. It’s not like my present is bad or anything—it’s the opposite, in fact!—but I just every once and awhile really, really miss the way things used to be.

Yeah. Sorry. Don’t have much to say today.

CHILDHOOOOOOOOOOOOD

Man, my mom had like 12 of these videos for me when I was a kid. I remember this one especially, probably because I used to go to Disneyland with my dad and grandma way back when, so I could recognize a lot of things from this.

Yay!

McGee and Me! (Blame YouTube)

As many of you know, I went to a Christian elementary school. We had an hour set aside for “religion” study every day, went to church every Friday morning, and had Bible-themed Christmas plays every December and Bible-themed spring plays every April or so.

Every once and awhile, we’d have an event (a BBQ, a “party”, a something-or-other) that required us to be at school during non-regular hours. To entertain us (i.e., to keep us all in the same room), our teacher or principal would opt to play a TV show or movie on our little TV-on-a-roller-cart. Being a Christian school, we never got to watch anything but—you guessed it—Christian-themed shows! The most popular one for us was Veggies Tales, but I was never really into them at the time. The one that I enjoyed (though “enjoyed” is a relative term) was called McGee and Me!

978-0-8423-6512-3
(Source)

It’s basically about this kid, Nick, who has a drawing of his come to life and together the two of them get into all sorts of “you can get out of this by being a good Christian” mishaps. Actually, they were mishaps you could get out of by just being a good person, but they made sure to add “God” and “Jesus” in there because you can’t be a good person without those two guys in your life, right?

Example: the episode “Beauty in the Least” is about Nick’s Romanian pen pal coming to visit unexpectedly during Thanksgiving. Romanian Pen Pal is, according to Nick, super annoying and plan-ruining when he’s not in pen-pal-letter form, so Nick is a jerk to him and the poor dude gets upset (understandably). But through the guidance of God and the “love thy neighbor as thyself” idea, Nick realizes that he’s been a jerk and does his best to make it up to Romanian Pen Pal and his father. So like I said, it’s basically a “be a good person, dammit” show with a Christian bend. I always enjoyed it, though. It was better than Veggie Tales.

Here, have a link to the first part of this episode on YouTube, in case you were a ‘90s Christian kid and you want to nostalgia yourself to death just like I did tonight. That’s the whole reason for this post, haha.

You’re welcome.

1st Grade Literary Tomfoolery

So today I spent a lot of time packing for the move (when am I not packing for a move?) and I came across an old story I’d written in a journal in first grade. I’d like to share it with you because a) I want to demonstrate that my writing ability has in fact not improved since first grade and b) I have nothing else of interest today.

I remember we had to write a story about Halloween for this particular writing assignment, but other than that it was pretty open. My incredibly creative title for this thing was “The Poisonous Pumpkin.”

Once there was a boy named Jacob. His dad said, “Son, we are moving to Pennsylvania! But first we must buy some pumpkins, for it is getting close to Halloween.”
“Okay,” said Jacob. “Give me some money and I’ll got to the store and buy six pumpkins.”
“Okay,” said his dad. “Here’s six dollars, one for each pumpkin. Put on your coat.”
“Alright,” said Jacob. “Bye!”
Soon he got to the pumpkin selling place. “Here’s six dollars for six pumpkins!” said Jacob.
“Okay,” said the pumpkin seller. “Pick your pumpkins.”
So Jacob found the best six pumpkins. He was about to go home when he saw a pumpkin with a scary face and lips already carved out. He put back one of his pumpkins and took that one.
When he got home his dad had already packed. “Come on, son!” he said. “Put your bike and the pumpkins you bought in the back of the car. By the way, that’s a very strange pumpkin you bought.”
“I know,” said Jacob. “It was already carved. Can you believe it?”
“Now son, don’t start making up stories.”
“But…”
“Now let’s go!”
So they got into the car and drove off. Finally they reached Pennsylvania. Jacob got out of the car. “What a house!” he said.
“Don’t forget the pumpkins,” his dad said.
“I won’t.” He opened the back door of the car…”Dad?” asked Jacob.
“What?”
“The pumpkin with the face already carved out…”
“Yes?” said his dad.
“It’s missing.”
“What?”
“It’s missing!”
“Is the window open?” asked his dad.
“Yes,” replied Jacob.
“Well, it probably fell out the window.”
“But we didn’t hit any bumps!” said Jacob.
“Yes we did,” said his dad. “The gravel road.”
“But those were just little bumps,” said Jacob. “Even I barely felt them.”
“Oh, let’s just forget about the pumpkin.”
The next day Jacob woke up. [best line in this whole damn story.]
“Come on Jacob!” Said his dad. “You don’t want to be late for the first day of school.” Jacob got up, got dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Jacob saw the old dry leaves out the window and remembered the crackling he heard that night. But before he could say anything to his dad, the school bus arrived.
“Hurry!” said his dad. Jacob got his backpack and ran outside. But the poisonous pumpkin was watching behind a bush. He knew that when Jacob got home he would have a friend with him, and that he could poison Jacob’s friend.
When Jacob did get home, he did have a friend named Andrew with him. Andrew was spending the night.
“Let’s go upstairs and play,” said Jacob.
“Okay,” replied Andrew.
They played until it was time for dinner. When Jacob and Andrew and his dad went to bed, the door opened.
“Did you hear that?” said Andrew.
“I sure did,” replied Jacob. “My dad’s asleep. Let’s go down and see!” They went downstairs, turned around, and looked out the door. There was the poisonous pumpkin with a can of pop and an ax in his vines.
“Run!” said Jacob. Jacob and Andrew ran as fast as they could, but the pumpkin came after them, waving its ax.
“Dad!” yelled Jacob. “The pumpkin’s alive!”
Suddenly, the as slipped from the vines and flew in front of Jacob. He quickly grabbed it. Then he ran after the poisonous pumpkin. The poisonous pumpkin was drinking his pop and spitting poison at Jacob. One shot almost hit him. After a long time of running, the pumpkin got tired. Soon, it collapsed. Jacob chopped him up and burned him. The poisonous pumpkin was never heard of again.

The End.

Riveting. Man, that plot skips around like a scratched CD and then just crashes and burns, doesn’t it? Also, I love how the pumpkin has to infuse pop with the poison in order for it to be effective. And that he needed an ax, too, like as a backup. Way to write a villain, Claudia.

There are indeed illustrations for this, but they’re even more embarrassing than the writing, so you don’t get those.

Anyway.

Wacky Peter

Throughout my childhood (and early adulthood), I was really into movie-making. I would find something that could be filmed for multiple episodes and then make a series out of it.

The most recent example, in 2006, was a series called “Wacky Peter.” It followed the adventures of one of my Lego men (Wacky Peter, obviously) and all his usually fatal adventures.

I spent hours making these videos over the summer. I hung out in the playhouse in our backyard (which was my bedroom back then) and would make recordings all day.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I was digging through all my old VHS tapes and found the Wacky Peter ones.

Here are some of the episode titles:

a b c d e f g h i j k

Catoptromancy

I’m posting this thingy I wrote for Non-Fiction because 1) I have nothing else to say today
and 2) looking back, this is freaking hilarious, even though at the time it was REALLY scary.

*                                                   *                                                  *

When I was in fourth grade, several of my friends and I attempted to summon Bloody Mary in the basement of our church.

Of course, good Catholic girls would usually never dream of doing such a thing. Church was for worship, and worship was to be carried out sitting in the pews of the main hall. The basement was reserved for storing old candle holders, robes, and broken organ pipes. It certainly wasn’t a place to summon apparitions.

And though we were indeed good Catholic girls who attended church regularly, prayed before every meal, and were kind to the nuns in charge of our elementary school, we were also a clique of tweens looking to entertain ourselves one dreary Saturday afternoon. Thus, the prospect of going down to the basement and getting in a little trouble was something none of us particularly shied away from.

St. Mary’s Church was a familiar place to all of us. Every Friday entailed a mini field trip for our whole school to the church to begin the day with a service before resuming our usual education. But we had ended up there on a Saturday due to the Easter service planned for the following weekend. Our parents, avid Christians themselves, had volunteered to help our priest to prepare the church for the lavish event that was Easter. The collective lot of us kids—seven girls in total—had been dragged along to help as well.

However, it became clear rather quickly that we were too distracting to one another to add any degree of useful labor to the situation, so we were ushered away from the flowers and candles and banners and told to “go play.”

My father was the head trainer of altar servers. Due to his lack of foresight regarding hiring a babysitter to watch me while he went to train, I would often be dragged along with him and forced to entertain myself as he worked. As such, I knew the basement of the church well. I proposed it as an option to my friends, and as we descended the stairs carpeted in a mustard yellow and flecked with maroon like old splatters of blood, Mariah, always the troublemaker, proposed the idea of Bloody Mary.

We were all familiar with the ritual, of course—stand in a darkened room in front of a mirror, chant “Bloody Mary, we have your baby” three times, and wait for her ghost to appear. We were bored, none of us could think of anything else to do, so we agreed without much argument. To the left of the landing at the foot of the stairs was a single-occupant unisex bathroom. On one side was situated a long counter and on the wall above it stood a large mirror with a string of naked bulbs in a row above.

It was perfect for our purposes.

We funneled into the bathroom, giggling with that sort of reserved nervousness that only arises when you know you are doing something that is likely to lead to trouble. I shut the door behind us and instruct Kelly to turn off the lights.

We ceased giggling as the room snapped to darkness, only the faded glow of the extinguished bulbs above the mirror and the slightest sliver of light from the hallway spilling onto the floor from the crack under the door still illuminating us. But it was too dark to see anything else.

Mariah, the instigator of all this, was rendered silent. It was Lara who prompted us to speak.

“So?” she whispered, as if even the faintest sound above our collective breath would evoke Mary from her mirrored entombment.

“We have to start it together,” I whispered back, too afraid to begin the ritual alone. Meredith suggested a count-off and, with nervous breaths beating whisps of noise into the static that was the surrounding silence, we began our chant.

“Bloody Mary, I have your baby…”

You could hear our collective consternation in the wavering of our voices. Of course, none of us believed for a second that upon the third calling of her name, Bloody Mary would indeed rend herself from the reflective glass and murder us all. But we barely whispered the call anyway, just in case the rumors regarding the ritual were true.

Someone to the right of me reached down and grabbed hold of my hand. I jumped. It was only the sensation of the warm palm against mine and the fact that whoever the hand belonged to moved even closer to me that prevented me from screaming that our bloody apparition had arrived two calls early.

“Bloody Mary, I have your baby…”

The room was getting hot. The obvious reason for this—that the already-stuffy bathroom was full of 7 nervous fourth-graders all panting with anticipation and fear—never even occurred to us, or at least to me. I was convinced the heat was emanating from the mirror as we blindly faced it in the musty darkness in front of us.

“Bloody Mary…”

The person standing to my left grabbed my unoccupied hand and I grabbed hers back and we clung to each other as the final four words were sent from our lips and jettisoned into the receiving darkness and whatever other beings occupied it.

“…I have your baby.”

In the silence that followed, I realized I had shut my eyes despite the darkness and decided to reopen them in a sudden surge of bravery. Had all my senses not been occupied in my intense focus on the mirror, I would have been aware of the fact that my hands were in a death-grip with the two individuals who had sought similar comfort from me. My ears were like receivers, trying to filter through that odd din of static that so readily beats upon your ear drums in the absence of any real sound, listening for any indication that Bloody Mary was on her way.

Nothing. Not a sound, not a movement, not even a change in the hot air encapsulating us all, save for the quick, nervous breaths of a group of young girls prepared for horror but relieved to find no such thing awaiting them. My heart, though still pounding so severely I thought in my 11-year-old mind that I’d actually experienced a heart attack, slowed almost immediately to a more normal pulse.

Then there was a bang. Had we been in a safer situation, we would have attributed the bang to its rightful source: our priest knocking a ceramic bowl to the carpeted floor or maybe a parent dropping a heavy box. But to us, it was none other than Bloody Mary herself, the angered apparition awoken from her slumber, banging against the back of the mirror before breaking into our make-shift sychomanteum to murder us all.

The bathroom erupted into blind chaos. Screaming, pushing, jumping, flailing—the two hands I was holding broke free of mine in a flurried panic as their owners shrieked and thrashed and thought solely of protecting themselves from the murderous specter.

I pushed my way through the choir of terrified sopranos towards the door, the sliver of light emanating from between the bottom of the door and the floor projecting like a ray of hope for escape. I clawed at the doorknob, my fingers rendered numb and useless from fear, until I finally heard the click of the hinge and I throw the door wide to save us all.

We burst from the darkened room, still hollering, still flailing, still shaking our hands and arms as if to shed ourselves of any residual poltergeist that may have touched us in the turmoil. But the immediate danger being over, our shrieks soon dissolved into nervous giggles and tense smiles as we realized we’d survived the summoning with nothing more than racing hearts to show for it.

But in another instant I caught a glimpse of Mariah’s hand, a sharp streak of red standing out against the white of her skin.

“What’s that?” I asked her, pointing to the offending mark.

The giggling stopped as our attention was turned to Mariah. She inspected the mark, then ran the fingers of her opposite hand across it. She brought her stained fingers together, rubbed them to get an idea of the substance.

“It’s lipstick,” she whispered.

Our silence due to curiosity gave way to the silence of shock as all of us, our eyes wide, glanced at one another with astonishment over the new development that had just taken place. There was no doubt in any of our minds now that Bloody Mary had indeed paid us a visit, and it was only our panicking and swift exiting of the bathroom that had saved us from anything more severe than a streak of blood-red lipstick.

We said no more to each other; we simply clung together, a herd of spooked young girls who had just escaped a brush with death, and made our way back up out of the basement. It would be years before we felt comfortable discussing the encounter at all.

Now some may question whether our shock over this bit of cosmetic displacement was actually warranted. After all, being 11- and 12-year-olds, we were in the right demographic for makeup experimentation. It could easily be assumed that the lipstick, belonging to one of us, had ended up on Mariah’s hand in the chaos that had ensued in the bathroom. This is a perfectly valid theory, and one we had all considered before the obvious reason for its dismissal occurred to any of us: good Catholic girls don’t wear makeup.