June 24, 2010

midnight in the garden of good and evil (the intensely long version)

I like diversity. I tend to get a little weirded out when I realize I'm in a room full of one kind of people; I don't think it's natural. I work in a largely Hispanic area (I've always worked in largely Hispanic areas), and I love the flavor...Latinos tend to be deeply family-oriented people who appreciate good food, passionate music and dance, and generally view teachers as the authority we actually are.

I live in a largely Caucasian, middle-class area that, about 5 years ago, started to see a growth spurt of people from South Korea. In addition to the constant complaining about all the illegals mucking up their way of life (we don't have that many illegals, and if we do, these complainers are more than welcome to head down to the local Dollar Store on any given Monday-Friday and round them up for the INS themselves--all the illegal men are standing right in front of it, looking forlorn, lonely, and out of place), these people spend a lot of time mourning the amount of store signs going up that are all in Korean. I love these signs...I'll never shop at those stores because I don't speak Korean, but I love seeing them, and knowing we're all living together and nobody's mass rioting on the streets about it even if they are writing slightly racist letters to the conservative editor of the really conservative local newspaper about it. I don't know why people wanting to set up shop in their own language and hang out with their own people is so threatening--Americans have infiltrated almost every corner of the world with our McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and MTV signage and other people have totally bought into that. Let others have a chance now, stop being so stingy.

So it's just natural I'd be involved in a group of girlfriends that's at least very diverse in world views/life approach which totally makes up for what it lacks in cultural/ethnic/linguistic diversity. About 4 of us are devout Christians With A Purpose. There's 1 Methodist, 1 Doesn't Go to Church Formally, and 1 What the Hell Kind of Beliefs are Those Supposed to Be? (that's me). Some of us are middle of the road politically, some of us are not Obama fans at all, and 2 of us think Obama should be King of the World and make all the rules, as long as he consults with the 2 of us first. Most of us have kids, or we have dogs which are as good as kids as all dog lovers will tell you. We all have men who tend to drive us nuts, and we all have lots of estrogen which makes us need to get away from our men and our kids and our dogs every now and then.

So we take trips. And we took a trip to Savannah, GA last year and had the best time. Which is why we went again this year. Below is a photoblog (with commentary) of our trip (as experienced from my camera). I tried to be as diverse as possible.

This is the staircase of the house we like to stay in when visiting Savannah. 115 West Park Ave. Quite haunted, particularly around 3:30 AM. Even if you have a trickster in your midst messing with the shower curtain and freaking out the two people who are sleeping under the creepy eyed people making everybody scream like Grade B horror movie queens. Because that's just the horror movie haunting stuff; the real haunting begins at 3:30 AM, when somebody walks down these stairs...and then never walks back up.

Jazz'd Tapas Bar, Night 1. Calamari. We cannot begin our Savannah ghost hunts before Jazz'd's fried calamari.

We took a segway tour. Which are surprisingly easy to learn, even for people with zero coordination skills. It's the helmet that makes it all worth it. Nothing says Geek quite like bike helmets.

This segway photo isn't geeky at all.

I had blue finger and toe nails the whole time. The bottle said "Turks & Caicos Blue." I think it was just "Really Blue." Please note the black skid mark on my left 2nd toe from almost being creamed by the segway, when I attempted to jump a hump. (Don't ever try to jump a hump in a segway.)

After segway geekiness, we visited Mrs. Wilkes'. Lots of people love Mrs. Wilkes, even President Obama. I highly suggest you eat here, even if you are no Obama fan. I'm no GW Bush fan, and I'm sure I've eaten places he's been. Anyway, go here, because it's true southern cooking and you eat boarding house style, which means you sit with people you don't know but by the time you're done eating you DO know and everybody exchanges emails and cell phone numbers and you make plans to visit over the holidays (just kidding. But Mrs. Wilke's does make you all clean up your plates and take them to the kitchen, just like at your grandma's.) (If your grandma is like Mrs. Wilkes.)

Mrs. Wilkes' banana pudding. I'm sure President Obama loved this as much as I did. I bet he and I could bond over some of this and figure out how to stop the Gulf Oil spill.

I like book stores. This book store was very cute. So I took its picture.

Then this man walked right in front of my picture. And so I took his picture. And then he walked away going, "I can't believe she took the damn picture!" Savannah is full of people like this man. (That's a good thing.)

If you like the movie FORREST GUMP, you'll appreciate these steeples (to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist; they're the steeples the feather flew past).

And I know you'll appreciate this square, Bubba Gump lovers. Because that's where Tom Hanks filmed his "Life is like a box of chocolates" scene. You can't actually catch a bus at any of the squares in Savannah; that's a Hollywood idea. But you can soak up Tom Hanks' essence right here.

Then we went into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where I felt an instant soothing, deep sense of peace. I like Catholic Churches because of this; I always feel an instant soothing, deep sense of peace when I go into them. Which is so very odd, because when the Pope speaks he sometimes makes me sad. And while I'm enjoying my soothing sense of deep peace, I always wonder: how many poor people could have been housed and fed with the money it took to make this place?

But then the deep sense of soothing peace washes over me again, and I decide Mary, Joseph, and Jesus surely have a some kind of plan to share it all with the meek and unfortunate.

Which is why I paid $3 to light 3 candles and say a prayer for my family's health and well-being, my very sick grandfather, and my sister-in-law's grandmama (who the Pope should canonize but probably won't since she's a Baptist who doesn't attend an opulent church like this anyway) (but I wasn't lighting a candle to the Pope--my candle was to Mary, Jesus' mom, who I really, really just like.)

(Plus, I always light candles when in Catholic churches; I think it's nice.)

Then we got bamboozled into a tour of the Harper-Fowlkes house. It was a good bamboozlement; we got a tour by the house manager, a super nice Savannah native with a very cute dog, and we found out that Robert Redford just filmed parts of a movie about Mary Monserrat (THE CONSPIRATOR) here with Robin Wright Penn and James McAvoy.

This is the courtyard of the Harper-Fowlkes House, where you can either get married or do like I did and stand around soaking up James McAvoy's essense (he filmed a kissing scene right here. A kissing scene, everybody.)
Belle, the Harper-Fowlkes House dog. She goes everywhere with you on your tour, and will lick your leg if you sit awhile on the back porch like the nice house manager lady let us do while the thunderstorm passed

("I've got to lock up and go to my car; if you girls leave before I get back, just shut the garden gate behind y'all," she said. She came back before we left, and locked the gate behind us. The last image of I have of this nice Savannah lady is her heading off in a drizzle, toward one of Savannah's old, quaint squares with her umbrella tucked under her arm, and Belle patiently waiting for her at the corner.)

This house is run-down spooky.

But guess what? You can live here, it's for rent! (spooky music)

This funny, funny tour guide taught us all about the haunted pubs in Savannah. Here, we are in the basement of the Moon River Brewery, where TAPS once filmed and got really spooky, scary shadow figures. This was the last stop of our tour, so after the tour guide and everyone not in our group left the basement, we stayed downstairs and scared the holy bee-poop out of ourselves. Good times, Savannah! Good times.

While out and about that night, we strolled by where atrocious people hang out and I saw this. I think the people who wrote this are actually suggesting the Marines should take over America, and that's a very Kim Il Jung-y thing to suggest. And that's atrocious.

The next day, we ate at Uncle Bubba's. Bubba is Paula Deen's brother, and he likes oysters. So he built himself a restaurant on some marsh lands, where I guess you can find all the oysters you feel like eating. But when you walk in, first Uncle Bubba treats you to a koi pond (I didn't see koi on the menu, so I think these are safe).

And then you can sit outside to eat, and enjoy lots of marsh land.

And two cats will harass you for some food (but they only like seafood, so get a hamburger if you hate cats that harass people).

I don't hate cats that harass people, so I got the crab cakes. Oy vey, these were the best crab cakes of my LIFE. I'm still having incredible dreams about these crab cakes.

Later that night, we put on our TAPS hats and became faux ghost hunters. We took a tour of the Sorrel-Weed House (on the tv show, they toured it as the Bader House, due to the fact somebody named Bader bought it...technically, it's his now, and all the haints within it).

But first you go a mini-haunted Savannah tour, where they take you by this house. Which is really beautiful in the day, but totally creepy at night. I think its claim to fame is a bodyguard was found in a pool of his own blood on the second story landing on the roof.

Pools of blood are always spooky.

Then we got taken to the back of another house, I forget which one. But it was creepy too. And supposedly haunted by kids. And I think I got an orb in  this picture, to the left of the chimney. It could just be dust, but I'm insisting that it's an orb. Orbs are how ghosts show up in pictures. Listen: just work with me on this. I can't lose my faux ghost hunter creds to dust.

See? In this picture of a newborn Miss M and her daddy, there is so totally one pink orb on the right side of C's neck. I think that's one of her passed away grandparents giving her a "Welcome to the World, Baby" kiss. Orbs/ghosts are real, y'all. REAL.

This is a spooky playground. It's not spooky in the daytime, just at night. And it's built on top of mass graves. Nobody in Savannah really ever bothers to dig up and relocate graves--they just build/bulldoze right now top of them. Some day, some toddler is going to be playing here and have a complete Poltergeist meltdown, I just know it.
This was our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable, in a spooky way. He'll make a really, really good ghost some day.

Outside the carriage house of the Sorrel-Weed property. Some slave girl having an affair with Mr. Sorrel hung herself here, and I think the wife got pushed out the window to her death by Mr. Sorrel. Mr. Sorrel clearly had some issues.

The outside of the Sorrel-Weed house. No orbs. But I did have an EMF detector with me.

This is a picture of the area of the basement where I got my one true EMF reading of the night. I walked in, and my EMF thing went "blip!" which means: ghost! But then the 1,000 other people in the tour group came into the basement and my ghost ran away and wouldn't come back. Stupid alive people.

The basement of the Sorrel-Weed House was where the TAPS Ghost Hunters got all their scariest activity. The most activity was in the slave quarters. So they've put up infrared cameras in there and invite people--if you dare--to go in (respectfully) and have a seat on the sofa in there. Sometimes, a ghost will tickle your leg. Or sit right next to you. Or, if you're like the lucky tween girls who had the (mis)fortune to join our group, get the poop scared right out you by our friend H, who went outside and sneaked up behind them at the window and made the cardboard covering it move around.

They all flew out of the room screaming, and the tour guide thought that was The. Best. Thing.

Here I am, in the lower right frame, pretending to work for TAPS. (Except I pretty much refused to go into the spooky room and a real TAPS person would be all over that place going, "What was that?" and "Did you hear that?" If I went into that room and heard something, I'd be out the door, and wouldn't stop til I found a well-lit gas station several blocks away to stay safe in.)

The Spooky Room. Which isn't really that spooky when it's lit up with your camera's flash.

The last day, we visited the African Baptist Church. It's the oldest, continuously run African-American church in America. We had a snarky tour guide named Joe. Some of us liked him, some of us didn't. I like him. He had a really bad attitude about women and marriage, but that didn't stop me from having a crush on him.

Also, he told us that the City Market area (just outside the church) was where they used to sell human beings, which is really wrong and even more ridiculous than writing "Impeach Obama/Marines Rule" on a mirror. But the slaves were suuuuper smart and totally sneaky: they built their church right there on the square, and so they just went ahead and put an Underground Railroad system right into it, with hidden messages and all, right under those crazy human traffickers' noses. So even though the white people in charge thought they were the Smartest Ones of All, turns out they were pretty dense. Hubris will do that to you. And I like it when hubris-y, cocky people get what's coming to them. I think the whole world should work like that, 24/7.

This picture is what I think of when I think: Savannah.

Occasionally you see sad things like this, at gas stations.

And even sadder things like this.

But mostly, Savannah is very quaint and old and full of charm, like this.
 You should go visit. Today.


  1. I missed out on my chance to visit Savannah when I lived in Charleston. Damn. It looks fun. I drove through once...

    I am SO with you on the orbs. Other half and I get them quite a bit.

    I'm not so into ghost hunting and I don't know why. I was actually invited by a real life Ghosthunter to be on his team because he thought I'd have a knack for it due to my freakishly intuitive nature, but for some reason, ghosts don't do it for me. Maybe I should take a tour and check some out.

    Your post is inspiring me to have a girls weekend. :-) xo

  2. stay away from ghosts, e. those things are freaky. (actually, when you're actually experiencing one, you're mostly like: "Huh. That was weird." They're really not all that scary--I just let too many late night viewings of Poltergeist and Amityville Horror flood my brain and end up freaking myself out.)

    go on a girls weekend. go! it's fun. :-)


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