Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog guilt and Scottish Heather

I’m experiencing a bit of blog guilt at the moment because I’ve only managed one posting so far this month.  It’s not entirely my fault.  My kindle was stolen two weeks ago and with it the source of my blog-posting inspiration.  Plus, November has not yet failed to be the same hectic month it is every year. 

Here’s my attempt to make amends.  Last weekend was the St. Andrew's Society Tartan Ball in Washington, D.C., which is really just an excuse for all of us of Scottish descent to get decked out in kilts and tartan sashes, listen to bagpipes, sample some Scotch, and watch some sword dancing.  We're a proud race.  So in honor of this festive occasion I’ll share with you a Scottish themed poem I had to write back in high school (even though I still have no excuse for the complete lack of punctuation). 
Scottish Heather

In a tiny glen on the first of spring
Where the flowers bloom and the meadowlarks sing
There as children they would play
In a field of Scottish heather

The moment she promised to be his bride
His heart swelled full of love and pride
She carried on her wedding day
A bouquet of Scottish heather

By the glen they made a home
A place for their children to play and roam
On the door she did display
A wreath of Scottish heather

His world would never be the same
He told the stone that bore her name
And there upon her grave he lay
A bouquet of Scottish heather

Yes, I know, Robert Burns I am not.  But I dare anyone else to post their high school assignments online. And for the record, I got an A, even without the punctuation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The scariest night of my life

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."
-Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven" 

Halloween might be over, but that doesn’t mean we forget about the ghosts, ghouls, and other things that go bump in the night. 

So in honor of the cold and rainy passing of Halloween 2011, I’ll tell you a little story about the scariest night of my life…

I was seven, maybe eight (better to claim younger). We lived in Jacksonville, NC in the neat little neighborhood of Aldersgate, an oasis among the pawn shops and strip clubs that served the nearby Camp Lejune Marine Base. Our house backed up to a swamp, where my brother, best friend, and I would hunt for fairies.  Needless to say, I had a pretty overactive imagination.

I can’t remember where we were coming home from that night - maybe the beach, maybe my uncle’s place in Beaufort- but it was summer and the house was warm and stuffy.  My father must have cranked the AC up a little too high because a transformer blew and our section of the neighborhood lost power. 

Blackouts are not a good for children with overactive imaginations, so my parents lit a candle for me and I slept, or tried to sleep, in a couch in their bedroom.

Until the noises started.  Jangling metal and a chorus of moaning voices making conversations with no sense.  Right outside my parent’s bedroom door.  

I woke my mother and she told me it was only the AC trying to turn back on. That should have meant the power was back, right? But I tried every light switch in their room and nothing worked.    

Then came more noises - a crash of metal followed by the sound of someone bawling “mama.”  In my mind I knew exactly what had happened.  My little brother had woken up to use the bathroom, got confused in the dark, kicked a bucket at the top of the stairs, and fell down the two flights (I don’t know what I thought a bucket was doing at the top of the stairs, all I knew was that “kicking the bucket” was bad because my grandmother’s terrier had just kicked the bucket and had to be put down).  

I wanted to help my brother, but I couldn’t.  Instead I stood at my parent’s door, too afraid to open it, especially when a high pitched scream came from the other end of the hall.   This time I woke my father who told me it was just my hamster.  That was a horrible thought, because this time I saw the disfigured face of some woman menacing my hamster in its cage, causing it to squeal in terror.  I loved my hamster, but I still couldn’t open that door. 

The noises continued throughout the night, even making their way into my dreams when I finally managed to fall asleep.  In the morning the power had returned, my brother was not lying at the foot of the stairs with a bucket, and my hamster, running on her little annoying wheel, did not appear in any way traumatized by the previous night. 

After that, I never heard the noises again.  I’m sure my parents were right and we just pushed our overworked AC a little too hard in the middle of a North Carolina summer.  From that night on, though, I had to sleep with a nightlight until I went away to college (which is probably something I shouldn’t admit to).  But I guess that’s just what happens when you've got that overactive imagination problem: you hear and see things in the night that can’t always be easily explained away in the morning.