Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vacation 2009...Voodoo, Vampires, and Vodka

Ok, it’s that time of year again…the Haugh/Hadley annual sojourn to silly destinations and questionable activities. And where did this trip take us?

New Orleans, Louisiana.

Now, I can actually hear some of your shocked gasps…New Orleans, you are saying, a place of culture and cuisine, of good music and history…what in the world are Eric and Kimberly doing going somewhere so, well, normal?

Others of you, who have been there for Mardi Gras and other events, are thinking that we decided against our usual bizarre vacation and went to New Orleans to party.

And I’ll be honest, there were a few moments that could be described as drunk and surly, I did encourage Eric to beg for spare change on the street corners, and people back home stopped accepting our calls…

But that was not the main goal of our vacation!

See, what you people have forgotten (or never knew) is that New Orleans is also the home of American voodoo, that it is reputedly the most psychically charged city in America, not to mention the most haunted.

And it’s the only place I know that offers PSYCHIC BOOT CAMP….yes, that’s right a training ground to test and train potential psychics….

But I get ahead of myself!

The trip began early Monday morning and as always, it seemed half our trouble rested not in the location itself but in getting to the location…a task that should have been made simpler by the fact that Eric and I made the rare decision to fly instead of drive.

However we forgot to check in with the airline the night before…which meant that in spite of the fact that the plane we were in was the size of a shoebox, Eric and my seats were NOT next to each other.

And if you think that was upsetting for US, imagine the poor passengers in the seats between and around us as we continued chattering back and forth as if there were no impediment…particularly when Eric began a long and disturbingly detailed discussion of his underwear.

Though, to be fair, Eric felt it was probably MORE disconcerting to the other passengers when the pilot said “If you’re wondering why the mechanic was on board the plane it was because the motor wasn’t working. We think it’s fine now.” And I began moaning out loud and predicting our fiery deaths.

However, against all odds, we made it to New Orleans relatively intact.

So, our first afternoon/evening was supposed to be all about reconnaissance. I mean, we had to find the Voodoo Museum, the Voodoo Cultural Center, Madame Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, and the Boutique du Vampyre (the only vampire shop in the US!).

Which, by the way, was the biggest disappointment of the whole trip.

We didn’t even make it inside until the 3rd day because it was closed every time we went by…closed but with tantalizing little signs on the door that said “Be right back” or “Back in ten minutes” or “Back at 1:30” which indicated that someone had, at least, been in the store long enough to change signs.

And then, when we did finally make it inside, it was the lamest display of vampire merchandise I have ever seen…I’m not even sure why it was considered a VAMPIRE store since it seemed to focus much more on homemade scented candles…although, to be fair, the woman did offer us a press on tattoo of bite marks we could put on our necks.


However, as I said, we didn’t even discover that until later…because of their bizarre hours but also because, in our first ten minutes of recon, we found this little bar that made the strongest yet cheapest vodka and lemonade I have ever had the good fortune to consume. Which means we were, of course, ready to throw off any semblance of voodoo searching and settle in for the evening…until we realized that strong drinks are only made available to the FEMALE patrons of the bar.

Eric didn’t qualify.

Apparently his vodka and lemonade actually had lemonade in it…odd.

Since we are committed to fighting discrimination in any form, we decided to press on…though not until I got the bartender to mix me a new drink for the road.

And it was thus filled with righteous indignation, we marched down the streets of New Orleans and found ourselves a gay bar…where several of the patrons—in the spirit of unity among all people—bought ME drinks while letting Eric fend for himself.

New Orleans, in my opinion, is one of the friendliest places on earth.

Eric did NOT concur.

The long and the short of it is, we kind of forgot about recon for the rest of the night.

Day Two we were a little more focused…in fact, we decided to completely eschew alcohol until we had completed our psychic missions…and, to get ourselves in the mood, we meandered through every Voodoo shop we could find, where they actually sold things like “eye of newt” and voodoo dolls and magic candles…all the while assuring us that voodoo is a “life affirming practice that encourages its participants to better understand the natural processes of life and their own spiritual natures.” It actually has bizarre ties to Catholicism and has all these correlations between Voodoo spirits and our saints.

I’m not going to lie, some of the altars creeped me out.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, is all about magic spells and curses and the like. Those spirits are also supposed to be tied to Christian ideas but correspond with demons and devils.

Which also creeped me out.

However, it was armed with this knowledge that we marched ourselves to Madame Laveau’s Voodoo shop and got our palms read and our fortunes told.

And I won’t bore you with everything she predicted (though I did write it all down in my journal for future reference) but I will tell you that she said she could tell I’m a little bit psychic, a “sender.” This means I can send my thoughts to others and force them to think of me, etc.

Which I thought was perfect, since our next spot was Psychic Boot Camp.

Eric was hesitant to participate at first…not because he didn’t want to go but because he was a touch worried about my inherently competitive nature. While I am not considered competitive by my family’s standards (My dad used to beat us at CANDYLAND? And don’t even get me started on Hungry, Hungry Hippos, that experience is a blog entry of its own!), I’m still just about twice as competitive as the normal person.

Which makes me approximately six times as competitive as Eric.

And in a psychic flash, he had some vision of me cackling like a loon and chanting “I’m more psychic than you are!”

But after I vowed not to do such a thing (at least not OUT LOUD)., we made reservations and off we went.

And it was AMAZING!

Apparently, there are about 17 different types of psychic ability and all people have some sort of gift.

With this in mind the expert, noted parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz, taught us how to “ground ourselves” to become more in touch with our psychic natures, he told us about the difference between being an empath (a person who can feel psychic vibrations) a medium (a person who can communicate with spirits) and a channeler (a person who can let the spirits enter their psychic space).

Then he showed us he showed us how to focus our energy and “zap” other people to get their attention…

How many of you are worried that I’m going to spend a disproportionate amount of time in the next few weeks running around yelling “ZAP!” and poking people in the back of the head?

But I digress…

He also tested us on our telepathic abilities by looking at these things called Zener cards and seeing if we could determine which one he was looking at.
Eric did amazing! He got about 1/3 to ½ of the cards right, which even impressed Dr. Montz.
I, on the other hand, sucked out loud…I didn’t even get ONE card right. Not because I’m LESS psychic, you understand but because I’m a SENDER not a RECEIVER, just ask the voodoo priestess (Competitive? Me? Don’t be ridiculous!)

Finally, they took us on a tour of all the haunted areas in the French Quarter, led us into dark rooms and the like and asked us for our psychic impressions of the places.

This, of course, led to a lot of giggling, a few incidences of me attempting to “zap” Eric, and a shocking amount of very bad guesses.

However, pardon me for sounding like some sort of hippie dippy freak, but there were 2 places that had such bad energy I about ran out screaming. In the first place, I actually started to cry and talk about how much I wanted/needed my mom…which is when Dr. Montz told us that the building had been an orphanage.

The second place, I just got really scared and refused to even stand near the entryway. That place, we found out later, was where this freaky doctor had performed a bunch of horrible medical experiments on different people.

In any case, we were suitably and deliciously freaked out by the whole thing…which makes this vacation an overwhelming success! And a suitable training ground for next year’s trip to the Lizzie Borden Weekend Paranormal Retreat!

If you want to see pictures of the trip, here they are:
A Mother Life</

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why are all my pets crazy?

Ok, so I read an article recently that said that cat owners live longer because cats help people de-stress.

Who thinks this applies to MY cat?

On the other hand, who thinks that Prince the cat (hereafter referred to as Ridiculous Animal #3) has merely added his own brand of insanity to the Haugh household?

If you voted for the former, you are sadly out of touch with the shenanigans and brouhaha that rule my life.

You see, last night I, apparently, fell asleep with the lights on. Some people can not do this. I, on the other hand, can sleep through almost anything so had no trouble falling and staying asleep in a brightly lit room.

You know what I can’t sleep through?

A four pound kitten using my tummy as a trampoline.

Which is what Ridiculous Animal #3 did this morning at about twenty to FOUR. He ran, jumped on the crate he and Peek-A-Boo (Ridiculous Animal #1) use to get in the bed, flew onto my stomach and launched himself in the air in the manner of a super cat (I am considering buying him a cape and some tights).

At first I was angry…see, I foolishly assumed he was just playing. I didn’t realize he was DEFENDING MY LIFE. Which is why the rest of my morning went a little something like this:

4:43 AM Sit up and yell “What the f*** are you doing?”

4:44-4:45 Continue to yell at Ridiculous Animal #3 that is jumping in and out of bed at speed of light, completely ignoring any and all questions.

4:46 Scream at Ridiculous Animal #1 who has been ripped from sleep by all the racket and, instead of helping situation, decides to add to cacophony by barking at top of tiny little lungs.

4:47- 4:53 Make futile attempts to catch Ridiculous Animal #3 and stop its flying foibles.

4:54 Come to sad realization that tiny, fast, and apparently boneless kitten is Ninja in disguise and therefore much more difficult to catch than overfed, lazy dogs. Flop back down on bed in exhaustion.

4:55 See cat preparing self for new leap. Use scariest voice to warn kitty against foolish course of action.

4:56 Follow kitten’s line of sight to black spot on the wall.

4:57Yell bad words at full volume when realize black spot is SPIDER roughly the size of a human head.

4:58 – 5:00 Kitten takes advantage of distraction to fly back into bed, launch self off stomach toward wall, paws flailing wildly in attempt to swat spider.

5:01 Launch self out of bed onto floor as realize that kitten has knocked spider off wall and POSSIBLY INTO BED.

5:02 Contemplate the sweet release of death as the following 3 things occur simultaneously: 1. Ridiculous Animal #3 begins batting spider around bed as if has found best toy ever. 2. Ridiculous Animal #1 scrambles into bed (using ME as step stool) to join in the spider swatting shenanigans. 3. Ridiculous Animal #2 wakes up decides that this CLEARLY rates as THE SCARIEST SITUATION EVER and begins barking to alert whole house—and possibly whole neighborhood—to situation.

5:03-5:05 Waste precious minutes deciding which animal to attend to (by which I mean MURDER) first.

5:06 Watch in horror as cat stops batting spider across sheets and EATS IT!!

5:07 – 5:08 Grab cat and shake like rag doll, attempting to retrieve enormous and obviously poisonous spider before can kill cat.

5:09-5:11 Yell bad words, nurse wounds, and make immediate mental note to declaw cat ASAP.

5:12 – 5:35 Remember do actually love cat and do not want it poisoned so race for computer and make COLLOSSAL MISTAKE of researching cats eating spiders on internet…why , why, WHY do I keep doing this to myself? When am I going to learn that the internet only serves to freak me out more???? Especially since, in my ADD induced search I got immediately distracted by pictures of the alleged CAMEL SPIDER supposedly found in Iraq that grows to the size of a dinner plate, lays its eggs in camels’ stomachs, where the babies eventually EAT THEIR WAY OUT. In fact, a recent report stated that they are very dangerous to humans, stating that:

When a Camel Spider bites, it injects you with a Novocain type
drug that instantly "numbs" your skin and the surrounding tissue.
You can't even tell you've been bitten while you're sleeping. When you wake up, you find part of your leg or arm severely chewed because
the Camel Spider has been gnawing on it ... all night long!

And these monsters are slowly being introduced to America as they sneak back in the luggage and equipment of our troops. Which is the only thing slow about them because the camel spider can run 25 mph, will chase people around, SCREAMING all the while…

Can you imagine if my poor little kitty had tried to fight this creature:

Because I occasionally overreact, it took me about 10 seconds to remember that there had been a guy returning from Iraq on my plane home from Florida, to wonder if his luggage had been anywhere near mine, and start imagine the camel spider lurking in my closet, waiting to pounce.

Luckily, it only took me about 10 minutes of freaking out to remember that sometimes the Internet contains information that is a tiny bit exaggerated.

Yah, this was one of those times. assures me that the majority of the details reported above are completely false…especially the part about them coming to America .

So I was going to start researching the effects of spider ingestion on a tiny little cat but, to be honest, the issue seemed a bit moot (or moo, if you’re a Friends fan) since the animal in question was busy attempting to balance itself on my HEAD during the entire Camel Spider drama and clearly was suffering no ill effects at all.

So now I don’t know if I should be happy I have a spider slayer or worried about its choice of toy…in either case, I would like to repeat that this animal has NOT brought peace and quiet to my home.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh, Bitter Irony!

Today is a professional development day/grade record day so we don’t have kids. I just came into my room and saw the message light on my phone flashing. As you teachers know, this is never a happy moment. It usually means an angry parent phone call. So, I listened to my message and, sure enough, it’s an irate parent. Her son got an I (needs improvement) in citizenship and while he might deserve it, why wasn’t she notified in advance, and as a matter of fact, he probably didn’t deserve it and even if he did deserve it, she should have been notified…and on and on and on….

So, I call her back and say “Mrs. X, this is Kimberly Haugh returning your call—“

And she cuts me off to rant again about how she wasn’t notified and that’s so irresponsible, it’s downright incompetent etc. for about five minutes straight.

Some of you are expecting to hear me say that I am getting more and more steamed as this continues…but I’m not. I’m giggling like a little kid, trying to hold the phone away from my mouth so she won’t hear me…the reason for which is about to be explained.

Anyway, she finishes her rant demanding to know why I didn’t call her and let her know I was concerned about her son’s behavior.

And I said “Ma’am, I don’t have your son. I don’t even know who he is. I was just calling to let you know you got the wrong teacher.”

Dead silence.

So I say, “In fact, I teach at Central High School and our grades haven’t gone out yet…I think you may have called the wrong SCHOOL.”

Dead silence.

Feeling all kinds of empowered now—especially since the odds of meeting her are slight--I add “Which makes complaints about competence a little ironic, huh?”

And she says “You’re right, thank you.” And hangs up.

I haven’t stopped laughing since it happened…