The Best Journeys

If you’ve ever taken a moment to pause one of my YouTube videos, you’ll find I have a lot of sayings floating around my room.

Literally.

Roald Dahl’s quotation of “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…” perches on the wall to my left as I type, while Josh Gates and Tom Hiddleston sayings flash above my mirror in the early afternoon sunlight. And that’s only scratching the surface of my decorated four walls! Whether they’re artwork or sayings from TJ Maxx, paintings friends have crafted, or a mural pieced together by my own hands, each piece of decoration on my wall has its own purpose, its own story to tell.

God, I love being in my room. Some people have told me that it’s too cluttered; that it’s good to clear out some wall space. However, while I have had my purging moments and have been deeply satisfied, my walls are truly a reflection of me.

Heck, whenever I change rooms (or houses), I’ll probably cover those walls with quotes too!

This month, a box quote that occupies the windowsill behind my laptop is particularly reaching out to me. I see it every day; it inspires me not only in adventure but in life.

“The best journeys answer questions you didn’t even think to ask.”

This quote is what I would pick to describe my most recent years. There have been some good, adventurous, life changing moments… and some that have been absolute crap. But all of them have answered questions that I didn’t even think to ask in the first place.

Funny how God works, isn’t it?

This Monday, actually, was an anniversary for me. Two years ago, I started talking to my guardian angel (Zadkiel) and really opened up spiritually. And that’s when things started making sense. It was kind of like a puzzle; I found answers to some weird stuff that happened to me in the past, I gained more confidence in who I was–and in my soul and spirituality–and the pieces all clicked together.

In turn, I started to see the magic in the world around me and I stopped wishing I was somewhere else.

Yes, I did actually have moments in my life where I prayed to God that he would whisk me away to places like Middle-Earth or other alternate realities where I could hang out with characters I loved. Where I could adventure, romance, and just escape the responsibilities of our world. Even at the expense of my own family.

But, now, in the present, I really do love our world, and I’m eternally grateful that I do. I love to explore it, whether through travel or spiritual work. (That’s where I find the magic; the best in human kind.) It’s not solely black and white. You can do something so much deeper than a 9-to-5 job and pay bills. We’re here on this Earth to do important; to love, to live, and maybe even to leave a legacy behind. God has put us all here for a reason, it’s up to us to find it and persevere.

The answers will unveil themselves as long as you’re open to them.

Elton Pope from Doctor Who said it best:

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

There’s so much to explore! There’s so many journeys to be had! We only have one life to live, what are you waiting for?

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Love, Katie

NOLA 2016!

Hip hip hooray!
It’s here at last!
The week I’m in
Good ol’ N’awlins
It’ll be a gas!
– A quick, weird, possibly terrible poem by yours truly!


Yes! The marathon prep has officially ended and I’m boarding a plane to New Orleans! I’m honestly pleased and surprised at all that I got done. It surely gives me perspective of what a to-do list, a lot of elbow grease, and stubbornness can get done! I’m so excited; I haven’t written so much in ages!

Now is time to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the spoils of my hard work!

Honestly, there’s not a lot planned around this New Orleans trip. Really the only activity I reserved is seeing a psychic with my sister-in-law, which, hey, it’s NOLA and I’m always curious about what will be said! I know there’s also talk of visiting the shops (including the voodoo ones), seeing the bayou and going to a plantation, which I haven’t done since 2011. (Unfortunately Myrtles is too far away from the French Quarter, so that’ll have to wait for another time… again!)

We’re also looking at taking another Haunted History Tour, preferably the New Orleans Cemetery History Tour and I’ve had my eye on Ghost City Tour’s New Orleans Ghost Hunt Experience, but that one will probably wait until another trip.

Oh, and on another note, I definitely want to see what Pokémon GO looks like down there; maybe I’ll bring home some ghost Pokémon!

All I know is that we’re set to relax and explore, to soak in the wonderful blend of culture that is New Orleans. The music, food, accents, and, of course, legends that surround this place are amazing! It’s such a different vibe from my Ohio hometown, but I truly adore it. Plain and simple: I just love New Orleans! 

I’ll definitely post another video, at some point during my week in NOLA, on my Youtube Channel and I’ll be sharing pictures, of course, over on Instagram which will then feed to my other social media accounts.

Hope you guys have a great week! New Orleans, here I come!

Writing Updates, Crimson Peak — HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

First off, let me say, I have been listening to “Valse Sur Une Berceuse Anglaise” ON FREAKING REPEAT since I saw Crimson Peak last Monday. The music plays in the background as Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) woos Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) into demonstrating the Viennese waltz. The following ensues:

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Yes. A highly romantic scene, a dance between two meant-to-be lovers, spouses caught in a horrible plot.

(THEY ARE MEANT TO BE. I WILL ACCEPT NO OTHER ANSWERS. FIGHT ME.)

Honestly, if Thomas Sharpe and Edith Cushing had been in a Jane Austen novel–especially if Tom Hiddleston played a male love interest–GOD. I think feminine hormones would take over the world and kill us all. Seriously. Go check Tumblr right now. I guarentee within the first page you’ll find someone gushing over Tom.

(I’m one of them.)

I swear, I SWEAR I was over gushing over Tom Hiddleston. And then the Victorian Gothic Romance fangirl in me reared her head. Doomed, I say! Doomed!

Others are making a big deal of the sex scene in Crimson Peak. Me? The waltz was my downfall.

“There are two kinds of people” as Tumblr likes to say.

Speaking of big deals, I found out that they announced Museum of Words last Friday when I was sick. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t win. I was hoping I would, but I didn’t expect it, like I do with most things. It was a slim shot for anyone, at best. 35,000 stories were entered; the chances were slim at best for anyone. Furthermore, I think most contests look for literature-type, “real world” submissions anymore (unless they specifically look for fantasy, sci-fi, or speculative fiction). My style is more in line with pop culture. A fangirl through and through.

Honestly, I read the submission that won. Brava. She definitely deserved it, I will say that.

As JackSepticEye says in GTA V with Markiplier, Bob, and Wade, “I ain’t even mad, bro.”

(Maybe a little disheartened, but not mad.)

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Anyways, so here’s the hopeful optimist in me coming out. I have a theory: maybe I’m not winning contests or getting selected for journal submissions because my “big win” is going to be Angel’s novel being published. Maybe, just maybe, God is saving that moment, a “winning” moment, for when I will truly enjoy it. Isn’t that how he always works? Gives us what we need, not what we want?

I have confidence that you guys and gals will enjoy Angel’s story. And I’m excited for you to read it. Personally, I’m just happy the Museum of Words loss didn’t cripple me like I feared it would.

I also think Crimson Peak had excellent timing. Due to my obsession with the waltz (yes, obsession), I’ve been distracted in a moment where, in another time, I would’ve been depressed for longer. Points for you, God. Points for you. Funny how that all works out.

Hope you guys and gals have a happy and safe HALLOWEEN!! (Still have no idea what I’m dressing as. Instagram will surely reveal my decision!)

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From Gettysburg to Fall; Time to Create!

Sitting at my laptop.
Apple cider by my side.
Long sleeves.
Typing away.


GOOD LORD did the weather turn! Last week I was in 70 degree Gettysburg, this week: FALL!

Yes. YES, ladies and gents! Fall is back in Ohio! That wondrous time of year! Time for spooky! For a midnight walk in the woods! Leaf crunching! Hot drink of choice! Long sleeves! Cuddles! Halloween!

Yes… this is the time of year I enjoy most.

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I only wish it had felt like this in Gettysburg. Something about tromping through the battlefields in a light jacket, browsing the historic downtown, crunching the occasional leaf. Well, I mean, some of that I did. However, even though the first day of Fall was last week, it didn’t feel like it until this week. Isn’t that what always happens?

Ah. C’est la vie. I still enjoyed being there. And I got some nifty vibes.

After all, Tolkien himself said:

“… always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’.”

The purpose of this Gettysburg trip was to get away, by myself, and explore a new location. Whether it be haunted or not. I wanted to have one last exploration before I settled in for the latter part of the year. The time where I really love to be home and write. Plain and simple. Fall brings forward ceaseless inspiration. Honestly, if I didn’t need to sleep or eat, I could probably churn out multiple books in this three month period.

So, now I settle in for the “cold months”, hard at work on my novel’s completion. It will be circulating to agents soon. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

Return to New Orleans!

I’m sitting here, Layover with Anthony Bourdain playing in the background as I write this. His show has really become a favorite of mine. Second only to Expedition Unknown.

Like Josh Gates, Anthony Bourdain celebrates culture. However, he does it through food, while Josh does it through legends. Both are travelers, explorers, intellectuals, and passionate modern historians. With awesome personalities.

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Now why is this relevant to my blog post about New Orleans?

First, excuse me.

I’M GOING TO BE IN NEW ORLEANS TOMORROW! FOR A WEEK!!

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The first time I went to New Orleans was as a graduation present in 2011. I had my Bachelor’s degree in creative writing, the horizon looked endless, and I wanted to try something new.

Since Halloween 2010, I had really ramped up my interest in the paranormal. Thanks to Ghost Hunter’s Waverly Hills Halloween Special, I had, yet again, started researching into the things that go bump in the night. The things that still made my spine crawl at the possibility. Was that really a draft? Or was the door pushed by something else? What were ghosts? How do people investigate haunted locations?

I marathoned Ghost Hunters and continued my research into the paranormal field.

And then I came across Destination Truth, GH’s “sister show” with host — guess who — Josh Gates.

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Yup. Actual quote there.

Long story short, both my interests in paranormal legends and travel were stimulated, as well as, distantly, my writing. Although, I will admit in the years between 2011 and the present, I was less inclined to write… and wanted to explore. After all, isn’t that what all post-college students do? Find themselves outside of the academic world in one way or another?

New Orleans helped me find myself. I discovered that there was a place in the world where people could be exactly who they wanted to be. That helps them discover it, in a place without judgement. In turn, watching all the eclectic, culture-filled people that live in New Orleans makes a person realize that the strongest criticism — the one we listen to and fear — is inside of ourselves.

New Orleans is… just so hard to describe. Seriously. Maybe, in fact, that’s the perfect description of the Southern Culture Hub. Jackson Square is always packed with a combination of tourists and street performers, mystics and shoppers. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can catch a traditional wedding party leaving the St. Louis Cathedral. There’s music everywhere and people dance to it… just because they’re moved to.

But I’m also excited for the people I’m with to experience New Orleans. My brother, Camille, and Dan. As far as I know, they’ve never been there. (If my memory serves correct) And I’m really excited for Dan to experience his first major travel. He’s only had car trips before… so flying and New Orleans is going to be a completely different world for him.

I’m excited to return. To see New Orleans in a different light. New Orleans helped me become myself. The Wondering Writer who isn’t afraid to jump in the deep end.

So… take your breath… here we go.

Travel

Ohio State Reformatory 2015 Masterpost!

Well, jeez. In case you guys aren’t following me on my social accounts (which you really should do *snerk*), it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Heck, month. HECK, 2015 ITSELF. Certain things are in motion; I’ve moved on from Fangirlish, and am in the process of leaving Dollar Tree, too. And I’m devoting the ENTIRE SUMMER to my writing — with a little break for vacay in New Orleans. EEE!

I’ve made a video about those changes and will be posting about it later. (The video itself will be posted later today)

This post, however, I’m going in depth with what happened at Ohio State Reformatory.

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1. Meet + Greet with Josh Gates

Okay. So those who are new to the land of Katie, Josh Gates is a person I hold in high regard. Honestly, he’s my role model (outside of, like, my mom and other family members). I also tend to consider him a colleague. Although while I don’t have 96 countries under my belt, I think he’s a really excellent writer and a very passionate traveler. Which are traits that I possess too. Hence, “role model” and “colleague”.

So I’m in line at Ohio State Reformatory, waiting to meet Josh Gates (again). He’s, of course, the first table at the Meet and Greet. I fish out my copy of the “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” travel journal and present it to Josh. To my astonishment (which, like, I don’t even know why I was astonished: he is a traveler after all!), he starts flipping through the journal. He respectfully bypasses the parts that I’ve written in, which was very cool of him. (Even though he didn’t need to. The entries are only a page long, so they’re mostly full of “OMG I NEED TO GO HERE AGAIN” and “Here’s what we did”)

He stops at “EIGHT PLACES TO FIND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FEMALES IN THE WORLD” and he starts verbally checking off places he needs to go to, and places he’s been.

Meanwhile, my mind’s going:

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What were the places on that list? WHAT WERE THE PLACES ON THAT LIST?!

So I just… kind of… blankly stared… at… him…

Yeah…

Then Josh kind of remembered there was a line, proclaimed “I need this journal” and went back to signing it and taking a photo with me. (I made a mental note, and now have another copy of this journal to give to him next year – yes they are doing it again, and Josh will be there!)

So I go through the rest of the Meet and Greet, FINALLY get to meet Grant Wilson and have him sign “Seeking Spirits” which he co-wrote with Jay. (Jason, you’re next.) To be honest, I was kind of jealous that Dan got all the attention because he wore his “May the Schwartz be with you” t-shirt and Grant and Dustin especially geeked over it.

Here’s the photo-ops of Dan and I with Dustin, Grant, and Josh!

2. Q + A with Josh Gates (and others)

So after the Meet and Greet was over, everyone grabbed a seat for the lectures.

First celebrity at the mic was John Zaffis.

My Q: Have you had any experiences with angels in your investigations?

I was overjoyed that John said “YES”. (Because while the Ghost Hunters believe in the angelic, they haven’t found absolute evidence of them — as far as I know. Which is expected cause ANGELS WILL BE FREAKING ANGELS. And belief is their thing, not proof.)

He went into detail saying that he’s been in situations. Specifically situations where he knew the “Angelic” had come in and “kicked butt” and left. Also he pointed out that angels tended to sound like shrill screeching in his ears. Which… yeah… that’s a thing that’s commonly reported. I mean the angels don’t sound like that to me, though, at all. They’re just like humans talking in my head.

Next up JOSH GATES HIMSELF!! Hehehe. Okay. So THIS experience was THE HIGHLIGHT that kept me going the rest of the night.

Legit, I was SHAKING after this Q.

Q: What advice would you give to someone with low funds who wanted to travel more? (I guarantee to you it didn’t come out that smooth…)

Josh, I swear, LIT UP at my question. His advice came two-fold. “I could rap about this, you and me, for two hours!” He said. (*insert internal fangirl squeeing*)

#1: Take travel out of the “bucket” it tends to get put in to. “Just do it.” Set a goal, go forth!

#2: Get an airlines credit card. Josh confessed he used United because he likes what they did with the merging that happened a few years back.

He even offered to talk to me more about travel — to meet up later and give me more advice. I’m sorry to say that never happened. In hindsight, half of me expected it. I mean, Ideal being the kind of event it is (200+ people vying for Josh’s attention), I probably wouldn’t have gotten more than five minutes with the guy. PAH. Nope. Not even that.

Eh. C’est la vie.

Moving on.

Finally, Grant Wilson, Kris Williams, and Dustin Pari all took the stage together. Man, I have to say: Dustin was a COMPLETE riot! He was so hopped-up on sugar, he kept talking about restaurants and his favorite foods… making even Kris and Grant laugh.

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Grant Wilson, Kris Williams, Dustin Pari

(Sorry Kris about only getting half of you. BLASTED PILLAR!)

Q: What is your favorite story, whether you proved it true or not?

So this question randomly popped into my head. Originally I hadn’t planned on asking any questions at the Q + A. Not even with Josh. But away my brain went! And what else can I do but sate it?

Dustin’s answer consisted of a hilarious tour guide that told the gruesome tale about a father who had strung up his daughter in the dungeon and left her to die. “He was so excited about something so horrible!” Dustin exclaimed.

I liked Kris’s answer. I would’ve felt the same in her shoes. She talked about being in Berlin trenches and how they hadn’t caught a single bit of evidence of a spirit being there. “It was the only time I was relieved at finding nothing.” She said, “because it was a horrible way to die.”

And then there was Grant’s answer. Which amazed the whole crowd. Long story short (and without telling too many details — because this is his story to tell), he had helped solve a missing person’s case in New York City, using an EVP of a woman’s name.

Man.

I have to say: I was proud I asked these three that question. Especially with Grant’s. Because there were a couple of follow-up questions to what happened with the investigation. It showed why I like stories, urban legends, and storytelling in general. Tell the right story and it inspires people.

3. Evidence (including The Little Boy Shadow)

Things were quiet for me as we explored the Reformatory that night. I realized I had changed in the past year. As I’ve become more confident, and more spiritually developed, I was less concerned about documenting any paranormal phenomenon. In fact, I just wanted to be there. To be in a haunted location. To exist within the legends that surrounded Ohio State Reformatory. To exist within the story.

Which is why I admire Josh Gates. I think he does that too. Like, yes, everyone wants proof. But it’s less of a mandatory thing.

Still, some things did happen, a little bit in every location:

Here is my evidence video again, so you guys can follow along as you read:

Solitary with Kris Williams. Allison, Dan, and I started in this area. As the group broke off to investigate, I smelled a cigar scent wafting through the hallway.

East Cell Block with Grant Wilson.

  1. On the second floor, Dan and I got an EVP of a prisoner saying “No” when Dan was musing about prison life “Not being so bad.” (Either this was in agreement or opposed to Dan’s comment. Personally I think the spirit was opposed) See my evidence video to hear this EVP.
  2. Meanwhile, Allison was being groped on the first floor. Again. *snickers* Also see my video for an EVP correlating to that.

Administrative Wing with Dustin Pari. OKAY. NOW THIS WAS INCREDIBLE.

So Dan, Allison, and I make our way to this circular room. There’s one door, no windows, and a chair sitting in the center. This has been reported as the “most active room” in the Administrative wing. Allison immediately sits in the chair. I don’t really think anything of it; after all, we’ve been walking for the past couple hours with only brief respites.

What I don’t know is that someone has been singing in the background… and will continue to sing for a good two minutes. (See video) What you’ll hear on said video is me talking about a circular shadow moving across the wall. Nothing had flown in front of my flashlight, which was the only source of light in the room. Weird.

Eventually the singing fades away on my recorder.

But then Allison begins to talk about an “old injury” hurting — her foot. (This is also on the video) Again, later, when I’m at home, I hear the unmistakable sound of a child giggling. Which is absolutely creepy.

Now what isn’t on the video is what I experienced. I had no camera with me and for some reason my recorder stopped before this happened.

Dustin came into the room with a couple. He stood there for a few minutes, conversed with us, and then left. The couple stayed behind. Allison got up from the chair and the female of the couple sat there. The man flicked his flashlight around the room.

And then, silently, all of us turned off our flashlights at the same time and sat in the dark. Silence crept around us.

We sat there for a good minute or so. Our eyes adjusted. Any “imprints” we had on our minds cleared.

Then the man flicked his flashlight on.

And this is what I saw:

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I swear. I swear to you. There was absolutely nothing at all to explain this shadow! I was the only one to see it. But I absolutely know what I saw: a small shadow figure, standing two feet away from the wall, in front of this man.

My theory is that this is the same little boy that I caught on my recorder. That he giggled at causing Allison’s injury to act up, and that he was about to prank this man, but I had seen him and brought attention to him, causing the prank to be spoiled.

In any case, Ohio State Reformatory is an awesome place. It is full of rich history, most of it violent and unfortunate, but still rich indeed.

Also if you guys are interested in this event, Ideal Event Management is DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR! (Like I said before!) YEEHAW! I promise you: this event is totally worth the ticket price. Not only do you get to meet Josh Gates and the Ghost Hunters, PERSONALLY shake their hands, but you all get to INVESTIGATE with them!

Post-Midwest Writers

Honest to God, I loved this conference. Man, it’s been SO LONG since I was in a writer’s workshop. Literally, I haven’t gone to one since college. Three years ago. And I discovered that I was really out of practice with some writing techniques. So I re-learned some new and old pointers (for example: passive vs active sentences and avoiding “to be” words) and I got to socialize + network with some very talented people. Writers, agents, and otherwise.

Aaaand…. I pitched to an agent. Haaaahhhh… I was so nervous. But she was SO ATTENTIVE AND KIND. Annnd… yeah. I’m working really hard to finish my book. Because. Things happened.

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I also decided that I’m going to build an official website and send out a… bi-monthly newsletter. I believe. Still planning.

All of this will come to fruition after Nashville next weekend. *pinches nose*

If there are any writers out there looking for a warm, welcoming, helpful, affordable, and FUN conference… CHECK OUT MIDWEST WRITERS. I really suggest it. It’s… just amazing.
Click here for more information: Midwest Writers
Tomorrow I begin my loooooong four hour trek home.
I will catch you all back in Wooster!
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Post-Ghost Hunting at Mansfield Reformatory PART 2 – Ghost Hunting + Evidence

Now I guess you guys want to hear about the actual investigating of Mansfield Reformatory? Right? Good. ’cause here we go.

Okay so at approximately 9PM the Meet & Greet and lectures concluded. I learned a lot of things. I learned that Adam Berry is literally the nicest person in the whole wide world. And I’ve learned from Josh Gates that there’s an ancient ghost story written by Pliny The Younger (A.D. 61 – 115). (Which you can read here: An Ancient Ghost Story)

And I got some confirmation on things that I already believed. Like John Zaffis saying that demons aren’t everywhere, that most times those cases tend to be the client freaking themselves out or just an angry spirit. (I had previously figured this out when reading Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson’s books on their experiences at The Atlantic Paranormal Society.)

At 9PM we started investigations (with a little break) I readied myself: putting on my jacket (considering it was in the 40s and there was no heat), my flashlight (no electricity), and my digital recorder (the greatest and most useful tool a paranormal investigator can ever have on him/her).

Let me just say here and now this building’s reputation is very accurate. It is creepy and very active. Within the first 30 minutes of investigating something happened to me that totally creeped me out.

Like literally I stood there in the East Cell block like this–

–trying to figure out a logical explanation. Thank God for Amy Bruni and Steve Gonsalves for attempting to give me a logical grasp on the situation BUT–just–it was weird. It’s still weird looking back on it. I can’t explain it. I’m not saying that it was 100% paranormal but it was a personal experience that I will be confused about for the rest of my life.

The night started with me, Allison, and the group over in the East Cell Block showers.

Amy Bruni demonstrated her flashlight technique which was absolutely AWESOME to watch. The flashlight technique is another way for a paranormal investigator to communicate with spirits. Amy stressed that using three flashlights (a “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”) works best and is more credible.

One day I would like to try this. Although it is a patience killer. Amy explained that contrary to what SyFy shows, it sometimes takes a very long time for the spirit to learn how to use the flashlights. But it is pretty cool to watch and wonder if it’s a spirit communicating. If it is: what is the spirit thinking? Do they see us? Or just the flashlights? Are they aware of the year, the time, the month, the day? Or is it just one continued existence that would be totally confusing for us to experience ourselves?

After the flashlight experiments Allison and I departed from the group and went to investigated by ourselves.
We had about an hour to explore the East Cell Block and we were excited to get going. It was creepy, I tell you, the first time turning off a flashlight in an abandoned prison. Even though you know there are people close by, just the thought of something jumping out at you, getting touched by something that’s not there (or someone) is unnerving.

I got my emotions and thoughts under control and started walking around the small room we were in. There was literally nothing but a small table in the center of the room. I wondered: what was the room used as? As a room for the guards? Probably not something for the prisoners because it wasn’t out in the open. I walked into the back right hand corner of the room… and then I got a headache.

Now I thought this was a little odd at first. I never have headaches to this extreme — it was approaching a migraine but stayed centered on the left side of my head. It reminded me of when I got hit by a ball in my high school gym class. Soon Allison and I made our way from the East Cell Block to Solitary and while Steve Gonsalves was instructing the group I say an “Our Father”. As soon as I say “Amen”… the headache vanishes on freaking cue.

Okay. The reason why this is so weird to me is that I have never, never, NEVER had a headache vanish on cue. NEVER. It always throbs until I go to sleep and wake up the next day. Medicine hardly ever takes it away.

But I chalked it up as very weird, talked to Steve about it, and even he said “wow” in response to my personal experience before suggesting to see if it comes back, and if it does, say a prayer again.

Well about fifteen minutes later it did come back. But not to me… to Allison. We went outside, tried to get some fresh air (which was a thing that Mansfield offered to do if things got too crazy), and went back inside. All the while the headache was still going for Allison. It lessened only slightly with the fresh air. Then what did Allison do? Say a prayer. And it went away. On freaking cue AGAIN.

The rest of the night we didn’t have any headaches but I swear that was one of the freakiest things that happened to me. I’m proud of myself and Allison though because we just laughed, brushed it off, and continued investigating.

The second weirdest thing that happened to Allison and I were in the West Cell Block. There we met up with Adam Berry and did a group investigation. As he encouraged shadows to lean out of the cells, I was avidly watching, soaking it all in. I really, really, really wanted to see a shadow. Or to see some kind of apparition. Allison and I had possibly seen a shadow cross in front of us at Hill View Manor a couple years ago, but I was still uncertain if it was a shadow, or a person just walking in the dark. It was so solid but so silent that it still makes me wonder. But I knew Mansfield was famous for shadows running around the Cell Blocks, I wanted to see one for myself.

I never did see one but I did experience another first. There were cells to my left as I stood in the group, actively learning from Adam and waiting to see a shadow. Suddenly I felt a hand brush across my right shoulder.

I flipped around, looking back at Allison, and said: “What?”
Allison: “What?”
Me: “Did you just touch my shoulder?”
Allison: *brushes my shoulder and it feels similar, but different*
Me: “Yeah, did you do that right now?”
Allison: “*confused* No?”

I know people would debate that Allison could’ve just been pulling my leg (after all we both like to prank each other). But I stand by the fact that I flipped around so fast I would’ve seen Allison putting her hands down. There was no one else in proximity to me. So I believe I was touched.

But Allison had quite an experience when we went into one of the cells to do an EVP session. As the session progressed she was… very confused… and slightly weirded out to feel a pressure on her chest. Me? I started cracking up as Allison looked dumbfounded and started making jokes about being groped. “Wait until I tell my mom that you made a ghost grope me!” she exclaimed while I just bent over laughing. We had asked the ghost in the cell to touch one of us, and kept asking through the thirty minute session. The ghost must’ve liked Allison because she received a firm butt grab too, after we had switched places.

*wince* Sorry Allison for making a ghost grope you…

The night ended up wearing down, and Allison and I became physically exhausted as we shuffled through our last two locations: The Attic/Chapel with John Zaffis and The Warden’s Quarters with Chip Coffey. The last two locations almost literally ended in a blur. It seemed that the rest of the group felt along the same lines. When we got to the Warden’s Quarters everyone slumped to the ground while Chip commented on how different our group felt in dynamics, as well as how drained the activity of Mansfield was.

I think the only thing that got me through the last two locations was the hope of seeing Josh Gates and talking to him more (he had proclaimed at the lecture that he was going to drift around from group to group). I had had enough of the investigating, and had more than enough experiences to keep me going, but I was absolutely exhausted.

Allison and I ended our night at Mansfield driving home and flopping in our beds at 3AM. For the next day I analyzed my recordings and categorized them chronologically. I will say that I’m visiting Mansfield again. I’ve already purchased the tickets to next year’s event with Grant Wilson and I CAN’T WAIT!!

Post-Ghost Hunting at Mansfield Reformatory PART 1 – Paranormal Background + Meet & Greet

Okay, gang. This has been a long time coming!! And I’m finally posting about it!

My trip to Mansfield Reformatory! 

Part 1: Paranormal Background + Meet & Greet.
(Because this would be reeeeallly long if I put everything in one post!)

A week ago my friend Allison and I made the 40 minute journey to The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio (commonly referred to as “Mansfield Reformatory”). And… man… was it creepy. And awesome. And… jarring… and beautiful.

The night began when this picture was taken, at 5 PM, at the steps of Mansfield Reformatory. It was my third public ghost hunt with TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society a.k.a. “Ghost Hunters”), and I was ABSOLUTELY EXCITED for it!! For investigating with them and for the location!

I had been wanting to visit this place again for maaaaany years. I kid you not, it was more than a decade since I had been here. I went with my parents on the Shawshank tour during the day. Which it was a very nice tour to go on and I loved seeing the movie set pieces.

**Fair warning: here beginneth my ranting about TAPS and how I got interested in the paranormal (Thusly entitled “Background”)**

This was before I had gotten into the paranormal. It was around the time that I had first been immersed in “Scariest Places on Earth” (which, nowadays, is a show I’m very skeptical of). It was when I had started to realize that ghosts were not just fiction… but a reality. Back when I was afraid to sleep in the dark, and wouldn’t dare sleep with the covers any lower than my chin. When the sounds of a house settling stirred the deepest horrors of my imagination… when the sounds of mice making homes in my bedroom wall made me fear monsters were coming to get me… (I never had a real definition of what “get me” was, by the way, I just knew I didn’t want it.)

So fast forward to October 31, 2010. I was in my college apartment, at Otterbein University, just aimlessly browsing the internet, and listening to the TV in the background. I don’t exactly remember how, but I came across a TV show called Ghost Hunters Live. Now I was still interested in the paranormal, especially considering the experiences I have had since my Grandpa Nolletti died, and it was Halloween. So I thought “Why not? I’m not doing anything special tonight…”

And down the rabbit hole I went.

(PS – I miss the Live shows. PLEEEEASE BRING THEM BACK SYFY!!)

Now, in present day, my interest in the paranormal has grown… and my fear has diminished. In  my four years of being a fan, TAPS has taught me how to “debunk”. That the creaking of my house was really the wood settling… that a strange noise in the forest outside was probably a fox… that the scratching in my wall was actually mice trying to make a home… and now, when I’m sweating in the summer night, I can fully kick off my covers and not worry about monsters coming to get me.

But, on the flip side, I wanted to experience the paranormal and learn more about it. Because, as I said, I have had experiences I cannot explain. And I want to know more about the afterlife. And I want to talk to other people about their experiences. It really is a fascinating conversation if you only just let yourself have an open mind!! Whether you believe or not.

Which is why I like Josh Gates so much, too, because he has self-proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in ghosts, because he hasn’t found concrete evidence of them. But what he’s really after is talking to people, and the story.

(“The only thing that matters–” AH!! Down, Mort Rainey, down.)

Okay, so thus endeth the “Background” section of this post. NOW we return to this place:

At 5 PM I take this shot as Allison and I are walking up to Mansfield Reformatory. It is a beautiful shot, and a beautiful place. Though I can understand the stories of how inmates felt dread when they were sentenced to serve time here… “Dracula’s Castle” indeed!

We walk in the building, present our tickets, and stand in line in a hallway leading up to the Bull Pen… and where the Meet & Greet and lectures/Q&As are going to take place. Me? I’m standing there trying not to focus on the fact that in less than 30 minutes I will have met Josh Gates and I’m actually kind of terrified of how well that will go over.

God bless Allison and a woman (I never got the name of) from distracting me. We talked about the paranormal, paranormal investigations, haunted locations (Zoar, Ohio and Hill View Manor specifically), Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures while we stood in line. (Note: whenever you’re at a public ghost hunt, no matter your personal beliefs, you always talk about the paranormal in some way. It’s just another way to learn a person’s story. And I love it.)

Then… the moment hit me… the moment that I would meet Josh Gates, get to see him face to face, have him finally autograph my copy of his book, and I would get to say… something. But what? I didn’t know what to say. How do I convey to a man how much I appreciate his existence? And that it’s not meant to be creepy, but a compliment? How do I tell him that he’s just plain… awesome?
I said it in a Facebook post perfectly to a friend who didn’t know who he was:
“This is Josh Gates. He used to host Destination Truth on SyFy. Now he’s creating a new show called ‘Expedition Unknown’ on the Travel channel. He has self-described himself as a ‘professional vagabond, international monster hunter, and paranormal Hardy Boy.’ (Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, Foreword). I describe him as a kind of Indiana Jones figure too. He travels the world to investigate legends and myths, talking to natives about their experiences. He’s been to all 7 continents, 92 countries, and 49 states. 
 
But what I really like about him (and yesterday at Mansfield proved it to me) is that he’s an awesome, kind, funny guy who has experienced a lot of the world and loves to share the passions of travel and adventure with others. He actively encourages people to explore outside their comfort zone. Oh. And he’s a movie geek too.”
 

Then, suddenly, I was at his table, next in line, and I pushed my fears out of me. He’s human, after all. Even if I didn’t magically become best friends with him in the next minute, I was going to do what I do best: be myself. Josh looked up, smiled, and we said hello to each other. Then I handed him my book to be signed.

The conversation proceeded to go as follows:

Me: “I love the book and show. Sad it’s not on but excited for the new one!”
Josh: “*as he’s signing* Aw, thanks!”
Me: *pause* It’s an honor to meet you.”
Josh: “Aw, that’s really sweet!”

Lesson learned: be yourself. What others think of you is their problem, not yours. But most of the time people will love you and accept you for who you are. I accomplished two milestones in that moment: I finally met Josh Gates, and I FINALLY have one of my most favorite books in my library autographed. Both make me EXTREMELY happy. Yes, as a fan, I kind of wish to be one of those special people that end up becoming friends with the celebrity they admire most in this world, but right now I’m just happy to have met the guy.

Some more photos that I (and Allison for the ones I’m standing in) took at the event:

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