Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Haunted Springs

Despite having visited Hot Springs, Arkansas nearly once a year since I was a teenager, my visit this past weekend was the first time I ever actually went on the Haunted Tour of Hot Springs.  The white two-person shed was always empty when my friend group and I would make our semi-annual day trip to Hot Springs. I can't tell you how many times I have walked past the black sign advertising tours after dark, but we never stayed until then.  

That is, until, this past weekend when my best friend Katie and I decided to visit Hot Springs for her birthday and treat our selves to some spooky funtimes.  Not only did we decide we would finally partake of the "Haunted Tour," but we would also stay the night in The Arlington, a hotel known for its own history of hauntings.

There were five stops on this tour and some of the locations our tour guide, Terry, talked about were actually surprising.  For instance, apparently one of my favorite soap stores -- The Bathhouse -- was once a tea room and came with a particularly unnerving and grizzly murder straight out of a Criminal Minds episode (unsuspecting female victim and creepy stalker included).  

We also learned that Hot Springs was where the first refrigerated morgue in the United States was located, the 1940s small pox outbreak in the South started, and the first park ranger died in the line of duty.

Unfortunately, while we did not see any ghosts or spirits on the tour, we did enjoy a short walk along Central Avenue as we were told these stories and more.  Honestly, spookiness aside, that's what I truly love about ghost tours.  They are actually history lessons wrapped in cobwebs and a black bow.  

If you ever find yourself at a loss for something to do in a new place, might I recommend seeing if they have a ghost tour of some kind?  I've only been on two, but I have yet to be disappointed by the experience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Three Times I Said Shit (Without Thinking)

The first time was in elementary school.  I was at a good friend's sleepover and we were playing a loose game of either hide and seek or tag.  I had tucked myself beneath some large pillows and out of nowhere another girl ran in and body slammed me and my hiding spot.


There was a gasp of horror and the room fell into silence as several little girls processed what had just happened.  One of the girls squeaked that they were going to tell on me and I ran.  I cannot say if the tears in my eyes were from embarrassment, betrayal, or pain.

I hid myself in a closet -- terrified and guilty.

Skip ahead a decade or so and now I'm an adult working with teens.  My teacher neighbor is a woman with high energy and no boundaries named Heather.  She was constantly flouncing into my room (if I left the door unlocked) and chatting with me and my students.  If I did remember to lock the door against her, she would only knock loudly and I'd let her in anyway.  It may sound bad, but she made us all laugh with her antics and it was usually not in the middle of class so I never minded the disruption.

On one particular day, the class and I were getting ready for quiet reading time.  I had claimed a spot in the back -- I used to love reading among the students instead of behind my desk -- and we were settling in for the last 20 minutes of class to read.  The classroom was quiet, pin drop quiet, as we all settled into the pages of our books.

Then, at the back of the room, came a loud BANG.  

For context, I believe the news had recently been reporting on a school shooting and I was on edge.  The banging on my door was a sound I had been taught to dread.  My mind immediately went to the worst case scenario: someone was trying to break down my door and shoot us!


My attention immediately snapped to the door and there I found not the face of a killer, but the killer grin of my notorious teacher neighbor, Heather, as she pressed her face against the glass window of the door.  She waved: "Hello!"

I groaned and mentally uttered a few more curse words for her.  Before I let her in, I apologized to my students, but unlike the temperamental elementary girls, they were more understanding.  After all, her sudden appearance had startled them as well.

And then there was last week.  We had been sent an email that we were to expect a lockdown drill that day.  When the announcement came, I instructed my students to get the lights and to be quiet.  I thought the doors were already shut and locked, but as I watched one of my students venture to the tissue box it hit me.  The doors were locked, but the magnetic strip allowing for easy entry was still in place.

I knew administration was wandering the halls, checking rooms at random, and without thinking I stumbled across the room:


I did not trip, but I felt like I was in a horror movie, afraid the killer was going to push against the door just as I tried to secure it.  It was a drill, but all I could imagine was the real scenario and how I had just wasted precious seconds securing the room.  I cracked the door, slipped the magnet strip out, and closed it again.  

Luckily, no administration was nearby, but I did have to then deal with a gaggle of giggling teens reassuring me that it wasn't that serious.

It was, but I hope my antics at least eased some of the tensions from having to practice such a drill.

Could I have been more professional?  Yes, but when you are dealing with people's lives I think a few choice words are permitted.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A Mothly Encounter

 As I cross the threshold back in my apartment, a yellow and brown speckled form catches my eye. I pause, foot hovering as I get a better look, and without thinking blurt: "Oh!  Aren't you gorgeous?"  

It's an unexpected encounter, but not an unpleasant one: a moth is sprawled out on my doormat.  I will later learn that it's an imperial moth, which means in some ways I was blessed with a royal encounter.

I let my dog off his leash and turn back around, squatting over the moth's prone form.  They don't move or stir.  I try to be optimistic and hope they are only just tired from flying with wings so large.  I find myself instead leaning towards pessimism, thinking they are probably dying.

After taking a picture, I pocket my phone and scoop them into my hand.  They flutter a little, which I find reassuring, and I decide that lying on my doormat is perhaps not the safest harbor for them.  I carefully carry them around the corner to one of my potted plants, depositing them to rest there.

Later, when I find them gone, I hope that it is because they were able to fly away and not because some other creature decided they would make for a tasty snack.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Summer Series Part 4: Final List of Summer Fun

 I've written about food and fun and family.  As I sit on the edge of August, a week and a half into the start of school, now seems like the perfect time to write about the future -- but to do that I first have to look back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Summer Series Part 3: A Stop Along the Road

Summer, at least as far as I'm concerned, usually revolves around three things: fun, food, and family. I've already shared my fun experience on the beach and my various food experiences this summer.  So that leaves this post for capturing a moment with my family -- and there were several as you can probably guess. I said I was going to do four or five of these blogs and (darn it) even though school has begun I am determined to capture some sweet, sweet summer moments on my blog before they fade even more.  

I think for this particular post, I want to focus on sharing with you some highlights from my family trip to Branson, Missouri and specifically the drive up.  You see, my mom had planned this trip for some time -- a chance for us all to be together in one of those vacation houses people often rent with enough rooms for my mom, dad, 3 siblings, brother-in-law, and two nieces.  We would stay here for a few days -- enjoying the local sights, playing games, and of course a trip to Silver Dollar City.  

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

What Does Back to School Have to do with 10 Things I Hate About You?

Today I am going to take a pause on the summer series because something major is on the horizon: the first day of school!  Not only that, but it's the start of my tenth year of teaching as well.  As much as I love blogging about the summer, I did not want to miss my opportunity to capture those first day jitters.  But how to celebrate and pay homage to all of that?

Immediately my mind went to one of the teen movie classics of my youth: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), a Shakespeare re-telling of Taming of the Shrew set in (you guessed it) high school.  This seemed an appropriate jumping off point given my own role as a high school English teacher (we do love our Shakespeare re-tellings).