5th-Grade Death Race

Slumber party. 5th grade. Cray-cray.

I was not popular. I was on the fringes of popular. And that’s okay.

My best friend in 5th grade was invited to a sleepover. Quite a few of the 5th-grade girls were invited to the birthday party, but I was not. I felt left out and disappointed. But as I look back, it shouldn’t have been such a big deal, I wasn’t good friends with the birthday girl anyhow. But FoMO. Am I rite??

If my best friend was going to an overnight slumber party, would she still be my best friend??! Also, looking back, my best friend? She was close friends with everyone. BECAUSE! she was so great. I was just clingy. I mean, she was funny and cool and comforting. The person you can’t live without because they entertain you. The person who draws fake boobs on everything. The person who shares your first fart joke. The person who finds your eyes when something’s funny. The person who can make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. Everyone wants that.

“So don’t go without me!” is what I was screaming. In my mind.

My friend could tell I was tormented, so she begged Birthday Girl to invite me. I’m in! Who’s birthday is it now? lol (I loathe my childhood self. Needy, demanding and oh-so tragic brat. I’m better now.) 🙂

We all arrive that Friday evening to BG’s house. She lived in the country and had a house with a downstairs rec room (split-level ranch). I was always fascinated by basements because our house did not have one. Basements were the first whiff of independence. Parents directed minors to the partially-finished basements of their homes, never to check on their welfare again. It was a laissez-faire lounge of anything goes. What happens in the rec room, stays in the rec room.

Most rec rooms were designed for active children. You usually couldn’t break anything, even if you tried. There was usually an old TV and stereo. Outdated pieces of furniture, matted and discolored carpets, junk-food snacks and unheard-of board games. A pleasure-dome palace of epic proportions for preteen parties. Perfect.

When most of us had grown bored of board games and bedlam, in the strained hours before pretending to go to sleep, someone suggested Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. A new “board” game?

“What is it?”

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board is stupid. That’s what it is. A girl is supposed to lie down in the middle of a circle. Each circle member puts two fingers (index and middle) from both hands under the body of the immobile girl in the middle. Everyone’s supposed to concentrate and quietly chant, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.” (At a 5th grade slumber party? Fat chance!) And then the girl should rise effortlessly off the ground and levitate.


It could happen. In 5th grade, anything was possible.

So, we turned out all the lights in the already-dim basement and made a skinny girl (better chance of lifting her) lie down in our covenly circle. I was serious, but most were not. There were titters and giggles from every participant at one point or another. It was hard to tell who was breaking, but from the sounds, it was practically all.

After minutes of trying, I got frustrated. Not so much at the gigglers, but having all the lights out. I didn’t like being in the dark. In my previous story, I explained. I just hated being completely blind. I had a terrible fear of someone sneaking up on and grabbing me, attacking me, biting my toes, killing me, whatever. Irrational and overwhelming. I had to have all of my body parts under a blanket at night or I freaked out. Even if it was dead of summer and I was sweating bullets. I slept with a night light until the age of…last night. I know, it’s stupid. But I just accept it. Everyone hates it, but it’s just who I am. You’re welcome, for not stubbing your toes at night when you patter off to the bathroom.

So, after several minutes of quite seriously trying to lift a girl off the floor in the complete black of BG’s basement, I freaked out and went to the top of the stairs and flipped on the light. Phew.

Then all hell broke loose. It sounded like hell anyway. All I could hear were girls voices whisper-screaming at each other to:

Try again.
Calm down.
Turn that light off.
What’s going on??
Lay down!
Use your fingers.
Stop laughing.
*Gasp* Did she move?
Who farted??


I also heard shuffling, scurrying, stifled sighs and laughter. After a few minutes, some of my more concerned friends (or other dark-fearers) softly approached me on the stairs.

“You okay?”

I nodded.

“Coming back down? Come back down!”

I vigorously shook my head no. And they stayed for a while, attempting to comfort me.

Inevitably, some noise would draw them back down at a chance for fun or fright. But I stayed at the top until they eventually tired and turned on a light. If this was a horror movie, I would have been the survivor.

I don’t think the game, or anyone, got off the ground. A few people claimed that so-and-so moved slightly, but that was a stretch. Others denied it. Others were confused. “No one will ever know if it worked or not.”

Yes. We will. It didn’t. Pretty sure! LOL

This story was mainly to show the ridiculous nature of preteen girls and the power of suggestion. Most primary-school slumber parties ended with a horror movie and/or dabbling in the occult. We watched Death Race 2000 with Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine. A Friday Fright Night TV airing of a cross-country automobile race where the drivers try to hit people and kill them with their cars. For points! We also listened to a spooky radio show on the stereo while trying to drift off to sleep. Stupid! Not going to sleep! Ever.

Some people just like to be scared. I’d rather have another slice of pizza, please.


On the Platform

This little girl on the platform is a program cover I designed for a theatre production of
A Little Princess. I created in Illustrator and used it during college for a book cover design as well.

What are you waiting for?
They aren’t coming back.
Your tears are falling
As they ramble down the track.

You’re on your own.
Frightened and alone.

You are endlessly waiting
For the next moment to rise.
For destiny to find you
And dry your pain-filled eyes.

But you don’t have to wait.
We decide our own fate.

Get going! Make your luck.
We can pull ourselves up.
We don’t ask permission.
We can fill our OWN cup.

Please. Don’t wait.
You’re gonna be great.


Today, I am 347.6 lbs. I am still steadily losing weight almost every day. There are some days that I don’t lose anything. Those days, however, are few and far between.

I went in for weight loss surgery last December 2016 and since then, I’ve managed to lose 109 lbs. That feels great. Since August 2012, I’ve dropped 166 total. Plus, I’m only 4 1/2 months in. Can you imagine 1 year from now??

It may seem like a pretty standard thing to most people, but at my heaviest, I lost my ability to take a relaxing bath. I always take a shower every day, but occasionally, it’s nice to have a soak. And at 500 lbs, it wasn’t a luxury I could indulge.

So, this last Tuesday, after freezing my toes off most of the day, I thought to try a nice hot bath to warm up. My body temperature is hard to regulate with no thyroid and rapid weight loss. My extremely remote appendages are typically frigid. So, I could either vigorously exercise, throw on a pair of socks or relax in a steamy pool of life-altering suds. Bath it is!

And you know what? I fit. I fit nicely in the tub. With water! More than just a drop! Ain’t that great? I thought so. It was an ordinary achievement in a routine day, but it meant the world to be in the tub again. These small things are what excite me the most.

I can’t wait to fly again! If and when I can afford it. 🙂 Until then, I’ll fly high on my little daily wins.

Host for Ghost Posts

Any dabblings with demons? Run-ins with ghosts? Natural phenomena that raised the hair on the back of your neck?

Feel free to send me your ghost posts and I’ll publish them on my site. Send to martha.maggio@sbcglobal.net, or post in the comments! I want this to be an ongoing thread, so send away.

I can also publish anonymously. ‘Cause I get it. It can seem a little kooky.


Spooky old Ouija board. Derived from French “oui” for yes and German “ja” for yes. A yes-yes board. Or as I like to call it, a no-no board (lol) or a nope-nope! board. 🙂 Although, a Wikipedia article alludes to the word being ancient Egyptian, (huh?) but that’s not as fun.

So don’t screw around with this crap, Devil Worshippers! You don’t want to turn out like Tawny Kitaen from Witchboard do you?? Hell-to-the-nah-NO! Look what happened to her career! You’ll wind up on a reality TV show, married to the lead singer from White Snake. Here you go again on your own! (Because Dave Coverdale filed for divorce, sorry Tawny!) Going down the only road you…can afford on royalties from Witchboard. 😦

G-to-the-D, I’m old. Sorry about that romp through the 80s and all that shredded hair. But that’s where today’s ghost story takes place. The end of an era, 1989.

I had just started driving. 16, got my license, and out the garage I went. I had a car, gas money from my friends and just enough stupid to run the wheels off my old beater. It was a Friday winter evening and my friends had a plan. Before running around town in my metal-gray Monza ’75, they decided to futz around with the ol’ Ouija board someone dug out of their basement.

As I’ve said before, I love/loved ghost stories. Since I was a kid. I had heard of a Ouija board and I’d seen the movie Witchboard (obvs, see above). So, “Yes, let’s be stupid and eff around with Satan!” was not what I was thinking, but close. I was scared, but again, very naive and curious. A dangerous combo.

When you’re a teenager, I think most kids will try anything once. You have a mental promiscuity about the world. You haven’t tried most things and really don’t understand the potential danger inherent in anything. You can’t fathom the consequences of an action that could possibly affect the rest of your life. Especially if you’re sheltered, as I was. Plus, if you died tomorrow, you wouldn’t want to die an emotional virgin. Screw the rest of my life, I don’t want to die ignorant! And also, as a teen, very important clause, ANYONE AND ANYTHING is abandon-able. (I don’t have to run fast, I just have to run faster than you.) “So, break out the Ouija board, Fellow Idiots! Let’s ask it about my love life.” Or something like that.

We turned up at my friend’s house, ready to get possessed. Different friend from yesterday’s post, but this friend also had an old house. We lived in a small farming community, so many people had old homes. This house was even older than A’s. 19th century, 2 stories with an old foundation, so 3 levels. It even had an old parlor room where you would display your dead relatives. No air-conditioning and an upstairs like an attic. It was a little creepy. Did I say little? I meant, mucho.

They always left the light on over the kitchen sink. I got a vague answer the only time I asked why it was always on. “Weird things happen if you turn it off.” *Titter*

WTF??! Anyway.

It was a fluorescent light with a string. A box of bad lighting in a windowless room. So–even creepier in the shades-of-gray arena of creepiness that they called a kitchen.

We turned every light in the house off, except Old Faithful. We left the kitchen sink light on, per the laws of the universe. The dim interior was disturbing for all, but with friends and giggles and faint light from over the bar, we embraced the self-imposed dark nebula.

We broke out the board and prepared to ask *it* questions. There were 5 of us, at least. 1 boy and 4 girls. Might have been 1 more. We finally settled down and 2 people held the pointer. We all focused our dumb faces and thoughts at the plank of pressed cardboard from a not-unlike-Monopoly box and someone asked, “Is there anyone here?” in a Vincent-Price ethereal tone.

As my friends lightly touched the planchette (fancy word for pointer), the device jostled a bit. No one, not even the touchers, could tell if they moved the piece or not. “Did you move that??”

We asked a few more questions and not much happened. “Can you give us a sign?”

BTW: don’t ever ask a Ouija board to give you a sign. It is actually a sign and will become offended at this crude attempt at humor. Even if you’re too clueless to get the joke.

A few cracked jokes and frayed nerves later, the light over the kitchen sink, the only light in the room, started flickering.


Someone brilliantly said, “The light is flickering. When did that start?”

The owner of the house was sufficiently freaked out. She claimed that the light had never, never flickered the whole time she had lived there. The light was always on and they never slept without it. Her reaction made me extremely nervous. Everyone was at the top of an impending spiral. We almost immediately left.

“Thanks, this is weird. Gotta go, bye!” as the screen door slammed shut behind me and 2 ride-stealers.

I don’t know if that was a coincidence, but for the light to start flickering while we were asking a Ouija board questions about ghostly or demonic presences? Uh…idk? You tell me.

Moral(s) of the story: don’t futz around with nope-nope boards and never own a Monza–it’ll break your heart.

Don’t Mess with Success

So, the picture is a bizarre lithograph I made for printmaking at college. I ended up turning in something completely different for the assignment. It’s not my best (her lips are lopsided and her hair is on fire lol), but I like the party-girl-smoker, sleepy-eyed, end-of-the-night, boozy feeling. Like “the girl you wish you hadn’t…” from SNL. This post has nothing to do with my current situation, just a puff (of smoke) from the past.

I thought I couldn’t live without cigarettes.
I loved to smoke.
Then I quit because I couldn’t inhale without coughing.
Now I can’t imagine enjoying another drag.

I thought I couldn’t live without food.
I loved to eat.
Then the diet to end all diets because I was dying.
Now I can’t believe how good life tastes.

I thought I couldn’t live without you.
I loved you.
Then I lived one day without you.
Now it’s easy.


Calliope Calls

Oh, wonderful writers
With your passion and fire.
Oh, winsome word-lovers,
Lay your fingers on the lyre.

Build a song without tune.
Call wild to the moon.

Change the Earth into Sea.
Set sacred Calliope free.

Words can plant an invisible field.
A book can launch a billion minds.
Poems unlock heart-shaped doors.
When the world is lost; a story finds.

Summon the magic for us now.
Flourish of cape and take a bow.

Tip of the hat, toss of a rose
For those who risk all to compose.

Not a soul can imagine
What miracles you bear.
Oh, giver of life,
Creator from air.

Woven words loom done.
Golden threads you have spun.

So think. Reach. Write. Give birth.
Thank you for sharing all of your worth.