Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spooky New Orleans Experiences, Part One

Playing in the background: The soft hum of the refrigerator

Let's face it, there were a lot of spooky experiences in New Orleans. New Orleans is kind of a spooky place. These are just the highlights. Lowlights? Whatever. Considering that I was a stranger far from home, wandering around by myself, attending a for-Godsake writer's conference when I have trouble just saying the word writer out loud in a context that applies to me, having to talk about writing practically 24/7 for four days, and we're lucky I didn't have a major meltdown and maybe more than one. The meds must be working. But, anyway, the first New Orleans spooky experience. This one was pretty darn.

For starters, F. Paul Wilson was one of my instructors. If you don't know who he is, shame on you. Go check out The Tomb or any of the other Repairman Jack novels, for starters. Then move on to the serious horror (The Keep is still my fave; Nazis and vampires, what could possibly go wrong?) and maybe investigate some of the sci-fi thereafter. F. Paul was a Big Deal when I was a kid. I rank him right up there with Big Steve, and having him as a writing instructor was kind of like an amateur painter getting a master class with Pablo Picasso. I mean, never mind all the cool things you might learn; can you manage to get through the class without hyperventilating, spilling paint, or accidentally sticking the paintbrush up your nose? Okay, I exaggerate a tiny bit. But not a lot.

Then I started meeting some of the other students, most of which were cool beyond cool. One of them, JulieAnne, was from Utah. This in itself is not significant except that I used to live in Utah. In fact I lived there for about ten forgettable years, or rather I try to forget them but I still wake up screaming about them once in a while. It's not that I had an unhappy childhood exactly - married parents, Norman Rockwell home, a nice sheen of Fine for all the world to see and admire - but Salt Lake City in the 1970s was absolute hell for a cute li'l queer bipolar chick who never once thought of lying about her religion in order to work and play better with others.

(Interjection here: It's not like that anymore. The Mormon influence is still undeniable but I had a girlfriend in Salt Lake for a while in the 1990s and it's really changed--however much certain factions might not like it.)

So I mentioned to JulieAnne that I had lived in Utah and she asked me where I went to high school. I moved before high school but I'd gone to Bonneville Junior High. So had she. What year, she asked. I told her. We were there at the same time, she said. She told me her name then. I said I remembered her being a cheerleader. She asked me what I'd thought of it. I said I hadn't had a very easy time of it, culminating in the time two girls in the locker room poured hair spray down my back and set me on fire. Her head about snapped around. And she said, "You were the chick who got set on fire?!"

Well, knock me over with a feather. No one ever believes me when I tell them that story. My own parents didn't believe me, even if it was the reason they decided to send me to a Catholic high school the following year. Which never happened because we moved. Which is a shame. I've always thought I'd have made a great Catholic. And nuns. I just adore nuns.

(Yes, I realize that I didn't tell that story very well. And that some of you have just dropped your computers and said something along the lines of, "Set on fire?" And the answer is, "Yeah. Set on fire." And again, I realize I'm not telling this story very well. So sue me.)

Back to F. Paul for a second. This guy wasn't just my teacher, he had dinner with me (well, me and several others), hung around after class and took questions, and just in general was classy in a way few people who have Made It ever are to those of us who Want To Get There. So I mentioned to him that it turned out JulieAnne and I had gone to the same junior high school. He thought that was a very spooky coincidence. I said, "Yeah, like something out of an F. Paul Wilson novel." He said, "Hmm, it must mean something."

Well, I dunno what it means. But it certainly was spooky.

2 comments:

MickiRueda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marcia Wall said...

I hadn't read about your freaky coincidences...interesting indeed