Garden Song

How to Turn the Perfect B&B into a House of Horrors

I spent most of last night lying awake in the attic room of a 3-story house in Natchez, Mississippi. It’s called Garden Song and was built in 1836, then turned into a bed and breakfast only a few years ago. I chose it as a midway stopping-point for our return from Georgia, to appease my 14-year old daughter (who loves all-things-creepy). She preferred a B&B further out of town, which resembled a crumbling, nightmare-version of Forest Gump’s home, but I talked her out of it. An overnight stop would be pointless if I couldn’t sleep, and that place surely housed God-knows how many restless spirits. I talked her into Garden Song, which was in-town and bursting with Southern charm (and even better, great reviews).
We were the only guests for the night and our proprietor was out of town, so we surprisingly had the whole place to ourselves. My girls and I made the most of it for hours, lounging in the parlor and enjoying the sodas and wine that were left out for us. One of the master bedrooms was left open, so we also helped ourselves to the designer toilet that lived there. I double-dog-dared my youngest to try some of it’s more exotic options, which resulted in her first use of profanity. (What the hel…heck, Mom?!!!)
The sun went down and the house started to feel a little larger, with darkened corners and closed doors I hadn’t noticed before. I told the girls to head to our room, which took up the majority of the 3rd floor. Teeth were brushed and jammies were donned, but our earlier bravado had vanished. The door was locked, lights were dimmed and, even though there were two beds, we all crawled into one. Continue reading →

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BLOG: The Gay Catholic & His Haunted House

“Mom, can a Catholic be gay?”

My 9-year-old asks weird questions all the time, but this one was a career best for her.

Lucy said that a friend from her Catholic school claimed Catholic people simply couldn’t BE gay. She wanted to know if that was true. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I thought that might not be the case.

“Why,” she asked. “Do YOU know any gay Catholics?”

As a matter of fact, I DO.

I met Frank when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was one of my favorite friends because he was sweet and buoyant and he threw the most fabulous parties at his ranch-style home. The first thing you noticed about Frank’s house were the crucifixes, which were EVERYWHERE. He also had pictures of Jesus, framed poems about Faith, AND a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his backyard. See, Frank was a devout Catholic but he was also gay. I asked him what he thought of this conundrum and Frank said, “I love God so much, I can’t imagine He wouldn’t love me back. In my heart, I know He does.”

Knowing Frank’s kindness and generosity the way I do, I’d have to agree with him.

Frank asked me to look after his home and dog once while he went on vacation. He left the keys with me and our mutual friend Stephanie, who agreed to stay at the house with me. Steph and I went out for beers our first night of housesitting, and were joined by Frank’s sister, Mercedes. I was playing pool with Mercedes’ boyfriend when he said, “Man, I can’t BELIEVE you’re staying in Frank’s house tonight!” Mercedes shushed him furiously and I had an awful sinking feeling. You know, the one you have when you realize everyone BUT YOU knows something and they’re trying to keep it from you? That feeling.

Apparently even Stephanie knew because she rolled her eyes and said, “Great. Thanks Mike.”

There was much begging and pleading on my part, and another round of beers before I got the truth. MAN, was it a doozy. Continue reading →

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BLOG: Ghost-Hunting With My Kids (It’s Cheaper Than Camp)


When I was young, I loved to sneak into old, abandoned buildings and creep around. I called it “Scooby-Dooing” and to be honest, I kept at it into my 30’s so I wasn’t that YOUNG anymore. I was addicted to it in my teens and 20’s though and had particular places I visited on a regular basis. My favorite was the Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta (pictured above) because it was almost entirely abandoned. I could also easily gain access to the closed section by paying off security guards (the going rate was $5 and a beer). I don’t know what I was looking for in those old places but the desire to peek inside of them never went away.

You can just imagine how happy I was when I realized my daughters suffer from the same affliction. Well, my oldest daughter, Emma does. Lucy appears to be our “Shaggy” at the moment but she’s game enough to tag along. Continue reading →