I Know What I Know

Giving Back to the Web since 2015


July 2017

Haunted Houses

Haunted Houses Haunted Houses by Larry Kettelkamp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I definitely read this in elementary school at some point! I stumbled on a copy at a garage sale in my home town that was withdrawn from the local library and presumably bought at a book sale. My copy is from 1965!

The illustrations are completely adorable, and the stories refreshingly new — yes, I’d seen pictures of the Brown Lady, but hadn’t heard the music teacher’s ghostly tale. The theories and stories about poltergeists were boringly familiar (I mean, I have read this before, I’m pretty sure) but there was an entirely refreshing theoretical section about the nature of time and space, and their dimensions, etc. The author was obviously well-researched and credits some paranormal researchers affiliated with institutions of learning in the forward. A lot of his information seems to come from the famed parapsychology lab at Duke University.

I’ll be keeping this copy for my daughter to read someday. It was so cool to imagine ghost hunts and research taking place in the ’50s-’60s with their limited technological equipment (like in The Conjuring) and none of the flashy ghost hunting TV show bull**** that invites people to try and fake results or wear too much Ed Hardy (yes Ghost Adventures I am calling you out).

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EvidenceEvidence by Luc Sante
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: do not read before bed.

This astounding collection of NYC crime scene photos were discovered by Sante in a forgotten archive where they were spared the fate of others who were thrown away or dumped into the river when buildings and departments moved.

Collected here for you are postmortem photos meticulously curated by Sante, chosen by someone with a strong sense of poetry and reverence for and identification with the anonymous dead.

Sante pairs the images with whatever information he could find about the victims depicted, which is scanty at best. Also after the collection he allows himself to speculate about the dead and the America they lived and died in. He draws the reader in by challenging them and acknowledging the exploitation of their gaze, as well as musing on the nature of photography itself.

“Through the act of looking, we own these pictures, or, rather, they thrust themselves upon us… to look at these pictures is to glimpse the work of the recording angel on the day of judgement… these pictures are documentary evidence of an end we are afraid to recognize.”

This is a remarkable thing.

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Nostalgia and Memory are Two Different Things.

Note — I had a really great post here about the difference between nostalgia and actual memory, prompted by my recent 15 year high school reunion.

Then WordPress didn’t save it and the page weirdly reloaded and now it is gone.

I am very sad because I don’t think I can really recreate what I wrote.


This old post on nostalgia will have to suffice.

Points I guess I was trying to make… growing up is it’s own special brand of trauma, even though it is lauded as a natural experience. The truth of our middle/high school experience is not our nostalgia. Nostalgia only uses memories of events when it fits correctly with the narrative of sweet wistfulness. Nostalgia is watching The Craft, listening to Sublime, and looking at pictures that showed up in old Delia’s catalogues. Nostalgia is what sells because it generally feels good, though it is dangerous to long for something that never existed.

I have access to a lot of my school-age memories because I’ve kept them alive to reconnect with my students. I purposely separate my nostalgia from my memories and I’m aware that one is “fact” or “true” and the other is not, a narrative and series of feelings woven into a blindfold that we can choose to put on.

In other news, the reunion was VERY FUN because I saw some of my good friends and got to rock in the hammock I made out of my nostalgia-tapestry I’ve woven over the years. The truth wasn’t important, factual memory wasn’t important, who was friends or did or didn’t get along back then was not important at our gathering.

Also it’s pretty cool to drink in what used to be the library of your middle school.

I really wish this dumb website would have saved my awesome post. WordPress, you are on my LIST right now.

Murder in Montmarte

Murder in Montmartre (Aimee Leduc Investigations, #6)Murder in Montmartre by Cara Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book in a Little Free Library on the way into what was sure to be a boring series of meetings. Every time I could, I snuck a peek at it. This was about a year ago, and I just decided to pick up the book and finish it.

Overall, this was a very fun mystery. My favorite part, of course, was the location. The author has a very intimate knowledge of Paris. It surprised me that she wasn’t French. Also she has a really good understanding of French politics and different cultures that make up the Paris neighborhoods. This book educated me about Corsica, actually. Though I’ve been to France 5 times and researched a bit about it, I didn’t know anything about Corsican history and the colonization (knew more about Algeria). I adored that it was set in the ’90s, too — that really added to it for me as a ’90s kid.

I hadn’t read any other books in the series, but I was still able to follow the story and get a flavor for Aimee’s character. She’s a bit of an archetype in a way. She reminded me of a more tech-savvy Jessica Jones. Sassy, but sad inside, with a bit of a self-destructive streak.

I thought the pacing of the book was great. I don’t have a lot of time to read, so it was great to read a fast-paced book with a lot of action and characters packed in, and a great setting to boot. It definitely was more enjoyable than the last book I read, which was like 800 pages of people reading in archives and then dodging a vampire every 200 pages or so.

My only complaint was that there were times where the writing maybe… pandered to an audience who just wanted to have the characters’ emotions told to them, or who wanted a symbol explained. When Aimee sees plastic bags blowing around but not getting anywhere, the narrator makes sure we know that’s how she feels inside, which is a lot of hand-holding for a more apt reader. Not everyone is a writer/English teacher, but I don’t like it when nuances of character emotion or symbolism are rolled out too obviously.

If I found another one of these books, preferably the first one, I would read it. Thanks to Cara Black for a well-researched mystery!

I put the book back in a Little Free Library for the next person to enjoy 🙂

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Insomnia = Forever Alone

Humans allegedly spend a third of their lives asleep. Like eating and pooping, sleeping should be one of the easiest human things to do, something extremely hard to be terrible at. Sleeping. Duh. You lay down when you’re tired and you sleep and then you wake up and you aren’t tired any more. No prob, Bob!

Yeah, except about 30%-35% of us experience brief periods of insomnia, and for %10 of the population, it’s a chronic problem. I’ve been ass-terrible at sleeping my entire life, though I don’t know if I would describe my issues as chronic insomnia so much as, well, being crap at sleeping. Like how I’m crap at Scrabble.

Here are some gifs that I think nicely illustrate what my frustration with sleep has been like over the years.

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I’ll just be over here entertaining myself *sob)
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why does everyone else get to sleep


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The worst part about insomnia isn’t actually the sleep deprivation. Motherhood has proven to me that I can rely on a lot less sleep than I think I need. The second part that sucks of course is the anxiety factor. “If I go to sleep RIGHT NOW I will have four hours of sleep, and I need to sleep because it’s a field trip day tomorrow…” That mental chanting is definitely not fun. But the worst part is actually the loneliness. Everyone else is asleep, so you’re up by yourself, but you can’t really do anything because it might wake people up. So you crawl into a little corner with a flashlight and hate your existence.

I was never a good sleeper. My mom had to bribe me to stay in my bed. She put a purse on the doorknob, and put a dime in it each night. If I stayed in my bed and didn’t call for her, I got to keep the dime. Eventually I saved up enough to buy a My Little Pony. Maybe I need to start doing that again? Definitely something I’ll try with my daughter, because I’m afraid she’s on the same track.

The worst, though, was sleepovers. Call me crazy, but as a tween/teen I liked to sleep in a bed, with the lights off, in a quiet place. My friends’ random basements and bedrooms did not provide me with that. I guess I was sleep-picky because I couldn’t fall under with the TV on, watching whatever movies we’d rented, and people snoring, rustling around, etc. Seriously, everyone at the slumber party would go to sleep and I would just lay there in my sleeping bag wondering why I was doing this. It’s seriously detrimental to not be able to sleep in other places. I’m sure there were slumber parties I skipped and social situations I missed out on because I didn’t want to pull an all-nighter all by myself.

I remember one night in particular I spent the night at a friend’s with a bunch of other girls, and I ended up reading a stack of Newsweek magazines in the bathroom for hours. Newsweek. I was 14.

You’d think that would be a low point, but it was actually college. My freshman year, I had a room mate I ended up not getting along with for a number of reasons (this link should explain our lifestyle and philosophical differences). She wasn’t super accommodating about my sleep schedule, and would often stay up until midnight or later on AOL instant messenger… keeping the dumb little messaging sounds on the computer so I had to lay there and listen to it. She came home late a lot, and her computer desk was like right next to my head. The light from the screen she NEVER SHUT OFF didn’t help. Never mind the people talking loudly on the phone in the hallway, or the fact that they were building the Belin-Blank Honors Center right outside our window. Let’s just say I drank a lot of NyQuill that year. Like, a lot of it.

To this day, I still struggle. At least now they have invented Ambien, and I can get it when I need it. Mostly. Because it’s like I feel bad explaining to my doctor that I am so much more rested on that medication. I suppose they don’t want people taking it all the time, but if it helps?!?!?! Don’t judge me. Still, some nights, I wander around our condo while my husband and daughter and all three stupid cats are asleep.

Ideally, I would sleep in a soundproof pod with just a little bit of violet ambient light. I always thought it would be super cool to go into cryogenic sleep because you’d have no choice other than to fall asleep, right? Or go into stasis on a space ship for a long voyage…

There are some nights when I know I have an early morning where I’m just hoping Spock would come along and just neck pinch me.

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why is she always asking

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