A few nights ago I came across a blurb in Women’s Health (by Marta Topran). Basically she was talking about how she’s changed her tactics on new years resolutions: instead of saying “I’m going to lose 30 pounds this year” say something like “I’m going to aim to exercise three times a week.” In short, make progressive goals, not ultimatums. Ultimatums never work.
I found this concept alarmingly simple. Like, in the “why didn’t I think of that?” way.
So, I’ve decided that I’m shaping my life around it: no more long-term ultimatums, no overbearing deadlines. Just progress. Day after day, week after week.
Actually, come to think of it, I’ve already been doing it: I’ve lost a good fifteen pounds this year because I focused on smaller portion sizes and exercising more. And my novel? Well I’m so pleased to say I’m about two-thirds of the way through! All because I didn’t assign myself a date to have it done by. Instead of saying that I was going to have my novel done by Christmas (or some other notable holiday), I’ve been focusing on one simple goal: get two chapters written a week.
HA! I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this until now!
So here are my 2019 goals:
Write two chapters of my novel a week.
Exercise 30 minutes a day.
I feel good about this upcoming year. I feel like some of the things that happened in 2018–especially in the culmination of my father’s passing–have made me a stronger person. I feel more dedicated to my craft. And I feel that I’ve progressed in shaping myself into the person I want to be. I will always hold the lessons from the past, the challenges and joy of the present, and the hope of the future close to my heart. (And my muse!) Thanks for all you taught me, 2018.
For now, I’m buckling down and finishing this novel!
Get ready! It’s coming!
Happy new year to all of you! I hope you are blessed in 2019.
Katie L. Mortimer.
For a fun time, check out my list of favorite TV shows and movies I caught in 2018:
TV shows I’ve binge-watched (you know, outside of my usual binges):
Fun note: the husband started showing me Gravity Falls this week. (HOW HAVE I NOT WATCHED THIS SHOW?) I currently have its theme song on repeat.
Movies that I want to watch over and over again:
Ralph Breaks the Internet
(Note: I have yet to see Mary Poppins Returns, but I’m sure it’s fantastic!)
Going off of Bohemian Rhapsody, my whole family has been obsessed with the soundtrack that accompanies the album. Here’s the thing: it’s actual Queen singing actual songs! Including the amazing Live Aid 1985 recordings. If there was a moment I could go back in time for, it would be to hear Freddie Mercury sing live.
Guys! Guys! It’s here! Oh my Chuck, IT. IS. HERE!!
Supernatural’s 11th season premiered last Wednesday — and, boy, is the show as rocking as ever!
I mean, I will admit since season 5 the show hasn’t held me like it did. Even if there were some pretty intense moments. However, season 11 looks like it may be going back to the old routes: a massively scary boss that seems impossible to beat, Sam and Dean reevaluating their tactics (and actually talking!), Team Free Will pushed to the edge, the world at risk.
Yes we’ve had those themes before. But, frankly, the Leviathan and Purgatory arcs didn’t hold my attention quite like Lucifer. (Me, the angel fangirl. Of course that would be my favorite season!)
I’m looking forward to what they’ll be doing. [Slight spoiler] but they’ve been referencing the archangels here and there, both in 10’s finale and 11’s premiere. Dare I say it? We might be seeing Gabe, Luci, and Michael again! Maybe they’ll be in multiple episodes? Maybe Adam will finally escape The Cage?
Ok. That’s a spoiler-free as I can make this post. It’s a quickie, too.
I’m excited to see what the show does this season. There’s a lot at stake for Team Free Will. Even in the first episode was it intense. Jeeez. *bites nails*
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.
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:
What were the places on that list? WHAT WERE THE PLACES ON THAT LIST?!
So I just… kind of… blankly stared… at… him…
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
Here we are, the day after the Oscars. Awards have been given out. Lives have been changed. Media channels issue recaps: about fashion, the stars, the winners and their speeches. Hollywood itself wakes up, ready to start a new movie-making year.
I always have enjoyed the Oscars. It is a celebration of storytelling, plain and simple. As Cheryl Boone Issacs (President of the Academy) stated:
“At the Oscars, we celebrate our love of movies, and in doing so, we honor filmmakers who cross borders and test boundaries, … [those] who encourage us to see the world and those around us in new ways”
She went on to talk about how the Freedom of Storytelling is important. She praised the filmmakers who traverse the globe, into danger, to tell stories that change the world.
And, really, isn’t that the point of storytelling? To inspire, to push?
That’s what I was trying to get across in my most recent YouTube video. The Oscars tend to celebrate the movies that make the most waves. The ones that push boundaries. Whether it be Big Hero 6 — an animated movie about a boy who inadvertently avenges his brother’s death — or Boyhood — a movie filmed over several years to chronicle the growth of a child to a man. They all push the way storytelling is presented.
And each storyteller has their personal lives, the ones that push them to do greater things.
One of the most inspiring moments of the night was when Graham Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. His speech was simple, yet important:
I immediately followed him on Twitter, inspired myself.
However, what I was really, really looking forward to was Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting. It had been a long time coming. NPH has hosted two Emmy’s and a Tony’s but no Oscars. That changed last night. Ellen Degeneres’s 86th Oscars were quirky, comedic, and integrating. However, NPH’s Oscars were… more fluid. He didn’t dwell on different gimmicks. Instead, he followed, with ease, the format that the Academy Awards follow: presenting the awards. He added very good jokes, and a magic trick at the end, but didn’t linger in his hosting duties. Which I think was very good.
It seems in recent years that the hosts of the Academy Awards (minus Ellen, because she did a FANTASTIC job) seem to linger on their duties as Emcees. With the awards show already so long, it draws out the duration of the event and makes everyone wish it was over that much sooner.
However, Neil did what he was supposed to do: he put the audience at ease, making the awards show move quickly but efficiently.
My favorite part was his opening number, “Moving Pictures”.
I had to share this. I was cracking up at my recap draft after seeing Fan Fiction.
What happens at the end of Supernatural’s 200th episode is that Chuck Shirley makes an appearance. Turns out he was the person that actually came from the publishers. And Marie (the director of the musical) did not expect that!
What did you guys think of Supernatural’s 200th episode?
After the show’s hiatus last week, I’m back recapping Supernatural over on Fangirlish!
Tonight’s episode won’t be of the usual paranormal-meets-demon-hunters variety. No. It’s a tribute to the fans of Supernatural. Supposedly all the characters in the last ten seasons will be referenced in some way. It looks like Chuck’s books have become a theater production put together by a fan. It will have other people dressing up as our beloved characters: Bobby, Sam, Dean, Gabe, Cas, etc.
Although I’m still hoping that the actual actors will be involved in some way — COME ON! I NEED MY GABE FIX!!
*cough* Right… anyways…
Oh. And bonus: it’s a musical episode.
Here’s a preview of tonight’s 200th EPISODE!! Congrats SPN!
For a very long time now, I have been a fan of Michael Sheen.
Yes, this goofy guy right here:
For those new to the world of Michael Sheen, you might recognize him as Aro in the Twilight Saga. You know, this guy:
Other people know him as Lucian from Underworld. But, personally, he first caught my eye as an actor when he played Tony Blair. Actually, he’s played him several times. But I remember seeing him as Mr. Blair in The Queen (2006) and The Special Relationship (2010).
I couldn’t really say as to why I started honing in on him. Not back then. And I still can’t really say now. It’s just one of those things: where an actor is so memorable that he is imprinted on your mind.
And it’s a requirement to watch everything he’s in.
I always talk about Johnny Depp or Tom Hiddleston in this way. But rarely do I talk about Michael Sheen. Even though he’s included in that mental category.
I’ve been watching Masters of Sex since it premiered last year. Even if I miss episodes, I make an effort to watch everything I’ve missed. I will admit my draw to the television show was because I knew Michael Sheen was playing the lead. I knew nothing about Lizzy Caplan, Dr. William Masters, or Virginia Johnson. I only knew that I wanted to watch this series on Showtime because Michael Sheen was in it.
So I sat down to watch it, one evening, on September 29, 2013. I anxiously awaited to see Michael Sheen… and also what this show was about. (Bonus: it takes place in the 1950s, which equals more interest with me.)
Turns out Masters of Sex is about these two people who are interested in how the human body responds… while having sex. Dr. Masters has always been interested, and Virginia Johnson needed a job as a secretary. The series goes on to delve deeper into their characters: Virginia being a single mom, and Dr. Masters being a reluctant husband and soon to be father. It also deals with the social stigma of the time: specifically that sex is not studied, because it’s not talked about in society. It’s completely ignored. And doctors don’t know what to do when someone has issues with sexual reproduction. They just cut and snip and send them out the door.
But not Dr. Masters (and, by extension Virginia Johnson). They understand human bodies. They understand sex. They have an interest in it. And they want the world to not be afraid of the subject.
Anyways, long introduction.
I was watching the most recent episode, entitled “Fight”… and I finished it literally fifteen minutes ago. (Yes, you read that time stamp right: it’s 3:15 in the morning). And… wow. My mind was blown. The amount of depth that the writers put into Bill and Virginia, the cinematography, and, most importantly, the acting between Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
I am a little fuzzy, but around half of the episode (if not more) takes place in the hotel room that Bill and Virginia are sharing. The elements that happened before (and after) this scene affected the couple as they met again, for another “study”. Bill was uncharacteristically aggressive, and Virginia, being the ever nurturing soul, was trying to help him… but not put up with his bullshit, at the same time. You could tell these two cared for one another. But from the circumstances of life outside of the hotel room, they couldn’t admit it out right. (For one, Bill is married. Yeah.)
But Virginia got the closest. She described a lover she had in the past. A boyfriend. Who had been a captain in an army. The “man” had claimed he was engaged, but supposedly the fiance ran off. Of course that’s not the case and he abandons Virginia to go back to said fiance.
“What does that mean for us?” Bill asks.
(It has been previously established that Bill and Virginia are posing as a married couple.)
Virginia: (And this is a paraphrase) “Oh… I’d only marry a man who I love and desire.”
And Bill in this episode is dealing about the memory of his father. Who abused him. This was established waaaay back in the show. But we have more depth into Bill’s back story now. Bill confides in Virginia that his father broke his nose once, and left him at a boarding school when he was only 14. And Bill never returned home.
This is also a powerful step in their relationship because Bill doesn’t even confide in his own wife. He keeps everything bottled up inside. And yet, he feels so connected to Virginia that he opens up to her. And she listens. Unlike anyone else in his life. (Also Virginia stated in this episode that Bill basically respects her and listens to her. Take notes boys!)
But the way these scenes come across is simply amazing. The tension between Bill and Virginia is absolutely palpable. The tension between their private life and the world around them… you can feel it. It’s just… wow.
I really suggest you guys watch this TV show. It is nothing short of amazing. And, yes, it has A LOT of sexual content. So not for kids. But it’s worth your time.
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.
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.
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?”
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!!
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 otherpeople 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: