Monday, November 4, 2013

A Few Words About Cemeteries

Graveyards are full of history, and history is cool. I don't want to be buried when I expire, I prefer cremation, but I appreciate the sentimentality found amongst the markers. My interest in history was vastly misunderstood a few years ago by some of my first grade students' parents. Essentially, I was accused of being some sort of witch monster. Word got out that I traveled to Sacramento for the weekend to help with Lantern Tours. Unbeknownst to me, that was when my character (and my personal life) went under a magnifying glass. Teachers need to "keep their noses clean" so to speak, we have an obligation to set a good example for others, especially children. I don't engage in anything illegal or immoral, I use good judgement, I don't take bathroom selfies or risqué photos of my smokin' hot rack (ha). I'm quirky and silly, I'm not perfect, but I'm a good role model, on and off The Internet.

Winter break 2010, I had top security settings on my Facebook profile, or so I thought. A student's mother typed my name into google and began to connect dots that shouldn't be connected. Here are some things she found alarming about me:
Pic From a History Tour.
Saint Louis #1, New Orleans.
Dec 2010. 
Another Pic From the Tour.
Mystery Crockers!
Saint Louis #1, New Orleans
She freaked over cemetery photos from a recent trip to New Orleans. And a compliment I left on an offbeat history site. And my name and photos on the Sacramento Old City Cemetery website. Suddenly even my dark purple nail polish seemed ghoulish. She attempted to paint an awful picture of me to my principal, a woman who has known me for years and supported me since the beginning of my teaching career. 
This is what a history buff in a graveyard looks like.
This was printed out + presented to my principal,
 as evidence of my twisted character.
Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans
This is what a goth in a graveyard looks like.
Maybe she's a history buff as well. No idea.
This was the tamest goth sitting in a cemetery I could find online.
Another goth, tame makeup.
Let's pretend for a moment this is a picture of me. Nothing illegal is taking place.  Out of context, we are left to our imagination to fill-in the blanks to understand wtf is going on. In my opinion, she's guilty of wearing a cape + sitting on a grave. It's not my style, but I don't have a moral problem with it. The upset mother didn't care what I looked like in the picture. In her opinion, only a weirdo would visit a cemetery. Period.
This mother made me out to be a death-obsessed goth, masquerading as a cheery, well-dressed teacher. If I'm obsessed with anything, I'm obsessed with LIFE. Really though, obsession is a scary concept, I'm not obsessed with anything.

I'm passionate.

Curious. Interested. Seeking. Inspired. 

My principal stood by me through the nightmare, thank heavens, but I haven't been the same since the accusations. It was crippling at the time. I could hardly talk about it without breaking down. I not only wanted to quit teaching, I wanted to change my name and run away. I felt violated, heart broken and confused. I slid down a shame spiral. Though eventually it was a great lesson in knowing who I am to the core. I'm not a monster who scares children, I'm a well-dressed historian. I'm interested in some outré stuff + I love to dress up, I'm not faking anything about who I am. But she had me doubting myself! 
Those who are closest to me know I'm sadder in some ways as a result of this, but happier in others. Do I have a macabre streak? Yes. Do I have a dark sense of humor? Yes. Do I bring that into my classroom? No. I'm much more aware of how I'm perceived, which is a blessing and a curse. There are those who don't give a frog what others think, and those who care too much about other people's opinions. Having confidence doesn't exclude me from caring what people think of me. It means I know who I am, I like who I am, I appreciate approval of others, but I don't rely on it.

All that being said, until fairly recently I was carrying this sad burden around and it was preventing me from enjoying so many things I love. It was as though the bellowing voice of self-doubt had a microphone and was trashing me, internally. I felt like a phony, I was overly concerned with super dumb stuff, like what comes up when my name is googled. I have nothing to hide, what was I so worried about?
Soundtrack: Ladytron "Ghosts"
There's a ghost in me who wants to say I'm sorry...
In the spirit of clearing the air about all of this and sharing my authentic self, here are some pictures from that mysterious night in 2010 when I helped a volunteer-run pioneer cemetery raise some much-needed funding. The tours are rain or shine, no refunds. It rained that weekend. I stood in the dark, soggy, cold cemetery in my poofy dress (that length is *perfect* for concealing rain boots) and told stories with my lovely sister. Pretty goth, huh?
My little sister + me

Both of these dresses are from
They have men's and women's clothing, they specialize in Renaissance, Old West, Victorian, Edwardian, Steampunk, and 1950s styles.
Tell 'em Courtney sent you!

BBC's Horrible Histories: Victorian Fashion
Thankfully, the reproduction dresses that
Dianne at Blanche's Place sells
are comfortable + fun to wear!

Soundtrack: The Smiths "Cemetery Gates"
I found this slideshow of Highgate Cemetery, London. I went there the summer of 2012, as well as Père Lachaise in Paris, where Aimée Crocker's good friend Oscar Wilde is actually buried. 
History is cool, kids.

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