Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Editor, Researcher

Blast from the Past: Geeks and Ghosts: Valentine's Day for the rest of us

We take Halloween very seriously too

I posted this three years ago. An update on what you will read: I still have not learned Latin (BAD SHAWNA!), and we still haven’t gone on the Haunted Chicago’s My Bloody Valentine Tour because it’s too damned cold! Tonight we will be having a romantic dinner at home: lasagna, salad, homemade bread, and sundaes, and we’ll watch The Olympics. May be we’ll get in a macabre movie or two over the weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

You remember the TV show Freaks and Geeks? It had the tagline: “What High School was like for the rest of us?” This is what Valentine’s Day is for the rest of us, whose romantic tastes fall on the more….macabre and nerdy side of things.

I should preface this that for our first date My Then-Best-Friend-Morping-into-My-Boyfriend took me on The Haunted Chicago Tour (the first date weekend also included Neil Gaiman and Shaun of the Dead). It was perfect. Even if you’re not a believer of things that go bump in the night, The Haunted Chicago Tour is worth the money because of all of the weird, macabre, and gory Chicago history that you learn during this 2.5 hours. But I’m a believer of things that go bump in the night, so I was really hoping to see the monk ghosts who supposedly haunt Hull House. Everyone else was trying to see Demon Baby up in the second story window while I was wondering around the garden outside of the house praying to see monk ghosts. I should also mention the year before when My Best Friend was trying woo me, so he could become My Boyfriend, he lent me Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and American Gods to show me he was interested. Our first date fell around his birthday, so I brought along Anansi’s Boys for his present, then we went on The Haunted Chicago Tour (and watched Shaun of the Dead). That’s who we are.

February is one brutal month of Chicago, and I got my first taste when I flew up to spend one of the weekends around Valentine’s Day with The Boyfriend. The highs that weekend were two degrees. We’d just gotten together, and hadn’t seen each for over two weeks, so cuddling for warmth on the couch watching movies sounded romantic (and warm) for both of us. Did we watch Casablanca? Ever After? Sleepless in Seattle? Oh hell no. Here was our “romantic” movie line-up: Donnie Darko, Being John Malkovich, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Groudhog Day. We may have watched a couple of Pixar movies because we totally love Pixar. Knowing us: The Incredibles was also on the line-up. We did brave the frigid Chicago weather for a wonderful meal at Gioco’s. But that’s not what I remember. What I remember are airplane engines falling out of the sky, people taking over John Malkovich, and Bill Murphy committing suicide and taking Phil with him.

This picture was NOT taken in February

Then there was our first Valentine’s Day as Husband and Wife. Sometime before February (and yes the weather was brutal), we were watching Mythbusters, and Kari was wearing a shirt that said Geek. And Geek was written in Greek letters. I blew out one of The Hubby’s eardrums by jumping up and down on the couch and yelling and screeching: “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT SHIRT!” You see, being the total nerdy dork I am, Greek was my favorite subject in college, and I pursued an M.A. that was almost nothing but Greek and Hebrew. I’ve called myself a Greek Geek for years. I. HAD. TO. HAVE. THAT. TSHIRT. And guess what The Hubby gave me for Valentine’s Day? Yeah baby. (I don’t remember where we ate out at.)

Another Valentine’s Day I received a collection of books to teach myself Latin because a couple of weeks before I had mentioned that I love learning dead languages, and I wanted to add Latin to Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The Hubby is my biggest supporter when it comes to learning more geeky subjects and becoming a bigger nerd. God, I love that man. (Don’t remember where we ate at.)

Tonight we’ll be staying in and watching Being Human and Castle. Because that’s just who we are. We’ll be going out to Gioco’s for dinner on Wednesday because we don’t want to deal with all the crowds (and next year I probably won’t remember where we ate at). It’s who we are. And may be next year we’ll go on Haunted Chicago’s My Bloody Valentine Tour (scroll down about half way down the page).

C’mon, you know you want to join us.

Now I am off to write a wonderfully macabre Valentine poem for my nerdy macabre Husband.

How can it be September?

Hello Company Girls and RevGals! Although I don’t know where the summer went fall is my favorite time of the year, and I’m very happy it’s on our doorstep. At RevGals for the Friday Five kathrynzj asked: What are 5 things that the beginning of September mean to you?

  2. I get to dress up!
  3. Brilliant fall leaves
  4. The wild feel the wind gets in the fall.
  5. CREATIVITY: this is my most creative time of the year.

Not much has happened this week. I spent some down time after all the traveling we did in August. Maid service came in and gave the place a good scrubbing, and I am so happy everything is clean, and I feel like I can keep up now. The hot and muggy weather is back, so The Hubby and I decided to stay in this weekend. Plus we have plenty of projects to work on. I did buy hot dogs and we are ready to go on grilled dogs and burgers.

Happy Labor Day to those in the U. S., and I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Company Girl Coffee: Vegas Picture Edition

We had a great time in Vegas and saw some incredible magicians. There are no pictures of the performances because cameras and video weren’t allowed. We saw Joshua Jay’s show Unreal. He’s a wonderful storyteller, and has quite the story himself. Two years ago he was in a water skiing accident, broke his left arm in two places and seven bones in his wrist. He was told he’s never get full use of his hand back, which is a career ender for a magician. But he’s using his left hand, and his magic was flawless (My Magician Hubby may disagree with that: he knows what to look for. This laywoman doesn’t know better and doesn’t want to know better). If you get a chance to see him, go. He’s very talented, and he has some good takes on classic illusions.

The final night we saw Carnival of Wonders with Kalin and Jinger. So, so, so incredible. Made ever more incredible because they hadn’t done the show for over a year and pulled it all together in TWO MONTHS! How they did it, only Godde knows, but it was fun and magical and memorable. I loved it.

I also spent a lot of quality time at the pool. I finally had a mojito, and they are wonderful. It’s a nice light drink with refreshing mint–an almost perfect poolside pool drink. But my favorite poolside drink is the pina colada: it’s hard to beat coconut goodness on a hot sunny day. I got some work done Monday: wrote three pages on the novel then I went on vacation after that. I slept in, ate big breakfasts at one of the hotel restaurants (my favorite being the Courtyard Cafe, and their courtyard French Toast: a cinnamon sticky bun French Toast layered with strawberries, blueberries, and syrup.) Went to the pool where I swam, napped, watched people. Got all dressed up to go to shows at night. Didn’t have to cook or clean. It was wonderful.

I read an incredible novel on vacation: Lady Lazarus. It’s an urban fantasy (magic set in this world, normally in a city). The protagonist, Magdalena Lazarus is a Jewish witch, descended from the witch of Endor, living in Budapest in 1939, right before Hitler invades Poland and starts WW2. Magdalena’s sister has a vision foretelling Hitler’s atrocities, and Magdalena moves into action to find an ancient family volume that could stop Hitler. The oldest daughter of the Lazarus family also has a special talent: she can come back from the dead. I loved this book. It was a great story with very real and human characters. It combined my two great loves: the Bible and magic successfully, and I thought did justice to both of them. It turned out to be the perfect read for a theologian attending a magic conference.

And now the pictures:

The Hubby and I all dressed up for the opening festivities


The Magic Shop where magicians bought their wares


Our friend Gabe selling magical products. Gabe also writes books about magic.


Magic Magazine puts on Magic LIVE every other year


Magicians trading Magic Magazine cover cards like baseball cards


The Pool at the Orleans


The Spa/Whirlpool/Hot Tub


Me, poolside


We had a view of The Strip from our room


Room view at night


The couple on the right are magician legends, Nani & Mark Wilson. They were the first to bring magic into your living room with their show, Magic Land of Allakazam. I also got their autograph. They were so gracious and patient with all of us!


The crowd for the first show for Carnival of Wonders

I have coffee Company Girls, but need to go shopping, so not much else. Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

The Vegas Vacation Update

Hello all! The Hubby and I are in Las Vegas on vacation. We’re hear for the Magic LIVE conference. The Hubby is attending most of the seminars and classes. I’m attending the performances, but I don’t want to know how anything is done, because I want it to be magic. Needless to say I’m staying far away from anything that might ruin my fantasy.

I have found a perfect spot by the pool to work and swim. And I do actually work! I spend 30 minutes writing then go swim for awhile. Write 30 more minutes, then more swimming. To be honest, it’s amazing how productive you can be that way! I wrote 3 pages in an hour of work yesterday, poolside with a pina colada (I ordered a mojito but the bar was out of fresh mint. To be honest: the mojito has a pretty tall order to fill to be a better poolside drink than the pina colada).

If you stay at the Orleans, you have to go to the Courtyard Cafe and order the strawberries and cream. It’s divine and makes the perfect breakfast.

Last night we went to this incredible magic performance. It was a magic show for the blind! We were all blindfolded and led into the parlor. The magic was done by touch and listening. It was fabulous. And to hold objects in your hands then have the magic happen when nothing has left your hand, and you’ve just followed instructions is just mind-blowing. Tonight is more close-up magic plus the Magic Museum. It’s so much fun.

I do have an announcement to make. The 12th Century B.C.E. Career Woman was featured in September’s Biblical Studies Carnival, hosted at Exploring Our Matrix, the blog of Dr. James McGrath. My post is under the Textbooks and Literature section. I haven’t had time to read who else was chosen for the Carnival, and I doubt I’ll make it over this week. If you see anything there you’d think I’d like, let me know in the comments.

I hope everyone is having a good week, and I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures:

The Hubby and I at Sunday night's opening festivities

We have a lovely view of The Strip from a room

Because Company Girls and RevGals Should Do Coffee Together on Occassion

Good morning Company Girls and RevGals! The Hubby and I are getting ready to leave for Las Vegas tomorrow for the Magic LIVE conference. There are classes and lots of performances. I plan on going to the performance, but I don’t want to be at anything where I might learn secrets. I don’t want to know how it’s done because I want what I see to be magic. We’re staying at the Orleans, which has a beautiful pool. When I’m not attending magic performances, you will find me poolside with a book and the notebook I’m writing my novel in, and an alcoholic beverage might be beside me as well. I’ve been saying for the last few months I plan on being poolside with a book and a mojito. But I’ve never had a mojito. Mojito is just fun to say: Mo-heeee-toe. So next week, I am going to see if I actually like mojitos, and if that would be my poolside, book reading beverage of choice.

This has been a great week. I’ve gotten a lot done. For three weeks in a row I posted to my blog, so I’m back to regular posting! Whoo-hoo! This week’s post is on Jesus and Syrio-Phoenician woman. For churches that follow the lectionary, this is the Gospel Reading, and I thought one of my takes and a friend’s take on the passage might help some pastors who want to preach the Gospel reading. I also wrote seven pages on the novel! And started translating Colossians for the upcoming editorial meeting I have with The Christian Godde Project. Plus there was all the shopping and glamming up to go to Vegas: I got a haircut and my brows done. Tonight I need to paint my fingernails. The toes still look great from the pedicure I got while we were in Nebraska.

Today I need to make a Target run to get the last few things we need and clean the house, so the cat sitter doesn’t have to walk into a mess (and I don’t have to come home to a mess). I want to write a few more pages on the novel today too, since I didn’t work on it yesterday.

Here is the reason why I thought today would be a good day for the Company Girls and the RevGals to get together. Terri made gratitude the RevGal Friday Five this week. She shared this powerful May Oliver poem then issued a challenge:

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named

(Mary Oliver, “Thirst”, Beacon Press, 2006)

For this Friday Five I invite you to offer five gratitudes you recognize in your life.

Here are my five:

  1. We get to take a vacation this year! (It’s been 2 years.)
  2. The migraines are under control.
  3. I’m back to writing and I have some great creative mojo flowing through me.
  4. My husband: I waited a long time to get married, and he was worth every second of the wait. I am his ezer cenegdo: the power equal to him.
  5. The gorgeous weather we’ve been having Chicago and getting out and enjoying it.

I have a favor to ask: if you have sometime this weekend, could you read my post on Martha: The New Testament Church: Built by homemakers like Martha? I’d love to get some feedback on it. Thank you.

What are you grateful for?

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

RevGal Friday Five: What to Do, What to Do Edition

Kathryn writes about vacations and staycations:

I’m wrapping up a two week vacation that has taken me from beach to basement.


It’s true, I took a week off of work to clean out the basement. Sadly, to look at a before/after photo would not make it look like my time had been used wisely. Just about everything is still down there, it’s just in a different pile. BUT… our church rummage sale this year is going to be very, very blessed.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there takes a week off of work to do a different kind of work:

1) Have you ever ‘staycationed’ in order to work on a project? If no, would you?

Yes. In fact, a couple of years ago I took the week between Christmas and New Year in order to clean out the office and other odd jobs that needed to be done but never got done.

2) What project did you or would you tackle first?

The office needs to be shoveled out and organized again. It’s the place where we throw everything that doesn’t have a home.

3) Any other projects?

I would also like to clean out the cupboards in the kitchen and get some things arranged in a more natural order of how I use it. Oh and filing–the mountains of filing that need to be done. Oomph.

4) What are the pitfalls of a staycation for you?

I don’t work on the projects, I use it as an excuse to watch TV and movies.

5) Never mind this staying at home business, where do you want to go and what do you want to do there?

I want to go to Ireland, rent a place and stay for three or four months. Living, writing, and exploring. In fact that is my long term game plan: to pick a region and go there live there for a few months then come back home. Ireland is just a the top of the list.

You can see what projects other RevGals are up to here.



Company Girl Coffee: Kicking Back with the In-laws

We’re on vacation this week in Nebraska visiting my in-laws. We’re having a great time. Yesterday was my father and mother’s in law 44 wedding anniversay. We went out to eat and people they have known for years joined us. I got to meet friends My Hubby has had since high school. It was so much fun. Earlier in the day my MIL treated me to a pedicure, and they had massage chairs! I was in heaven. Here are my pretty toesies:

Blue sparkly toes with flowers! Squee!

We went to the zoo with my sister-in-law and her family Wednesday. It was a lot of fun. As you can see there are three kiddos, whom I’m calling Thing #1, Thing #2, and Thing #3 because I love Dr. Seuss.

Thing #1 riding a horse.

Thing #2 riding a horse.


Things #2 & #3 feeding the goats


Thing #1 in the butterfly tent. Thing #2 is to the left, also in the butterfly tent.


The whole family

I love flamingos. Don't know why, but I do.

Grandma finally got Thing #3 to look at the camera. She looked away from the camera all day.


I’ve also gotten some work done. I posted a review of an excellent book yesterday: Touching God: Experiencing Metaphors for the Divine. I really enjoyed reading this book, and it challenged me to be more mindful of where I see Godde, and how I experience her in my every day  life. I highly recommend it.

Today’s plans are up in the air depending on the weather. If it stops raining, we’re going to the county fair. I’m excited. I haven’t been to a fair in years. If the rain keeps up, then we’ll go see a movie. We head back home Sunday. It’s been a really good week, and we’ve had a lot of fun.

Not only is there coffee by the FIL provided donuts as well! Have a cup of coffee, grab a donut, and tell me about your week. Then go sit and have a chat with another Company Girl.

Company Girl Coffee: Wow Where Did the Summer Go Edition?

It’s been awhile since I actually did a post specifically for Company Girl Coffee. I’ve combined it with the RevGal Friday Five a couple of times, but it’s been a long time since I just did coffee. So I’m doing coffee today.

I’m trying to figure out where the summer went. I spent most of the summer dealing with migraines and sinus problems. Needless to say I haven’t gotten a lot done in any one particular area of my life: finding an agent, finishing the novel, updating this blog, and my poor house. (Really need to get back to the Small Things.) Between a new prescription for my glasses and finding the right sinus medicine to aspirin ratio, I’m doing better and have the headaches under control.

Once they were under control, I was all prepared to throw myself full tilt into all of my projects, and this whole week I spent…procrastinating. Yesterday I went back to my old faithfuls of getting my  rump out of the procrastination rut: Jen Lounden’s The Satisfaction Finder and Havi Brooks’ Dissolve Procrastination. I find that if I use them together, I get things done. Havi’s Dissolve Procrastination helps me deal with the soft stuff: why I procrastinate, negotiating with the fears and monsters that want to keep me safe but are doing it all wrong. Jen’s Satisfaction Finder helps me put goals down on the paper that are measuarable and do-able on a normal day–not the perfect day–but a normal day. Combining these two things wonderful programs usually gets me out of the procrastination rut.

But it all hasn’t been procrastination. Last week I decided to attend DePaul University’s Summer Writing Conference, which was incredible. It was three days of wonderful classes on all kinds of writing. I loaded up on the non-fiction and fiction classes, particularly the fiction classes. I’ve discovered after a two year hiatus from fiction writing, that my fiction skills are just a wee bit rusty. I feel like I received help and advice that will help me get the novel done. I also met some wonderful people. I’m glad I did it, it was worth every penny I paid to attend.

Company Girls, I have coffee and lots of fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, plums), so have a seat, pour yourself a cup, and tell me about your week.

RevGals Friday Five + Company Girl Coffee = Summertime Friday Five Fun

So, what’s up, Rev Gals and Pals [and Company Girls]?  How are you spending your summer?  (I know, some of you are in a different hemisphere and it may be chilly…sorry!)  Are you experiencing fire or floods or tornados?  Vacationing?  Working harder than ever?  Experiencing change?  Longing for change?

Share five things that are happening in your life, personally or professionally or some of each, in this season of life.

  1. My big summer thing are all the sinus headaches and migraines I’ve been having this year due to the funky weather Chicago has been having. I’m not the only one, and it looks like we’ll just have to tough it out.
  2. I’m determined to finish my novel this summer.
  3. We’re going on vacation in August to Las Vegas for the Magic Live convention. Hello pool, mojitos and lots of great magic.
  4. Trying to figure out how to grow more houseplants and herbs without using soil. Hydroponic units are expensive, and I’m thinking there has to be some sort of soil-less mix I can use in pots. I’ve been researching and hunting down viable options.
  5. Looking forward to my glasses prescription getting in. Hoping it makes working on the computer easier.

To found out what other RevGals are doing go here. And go here to see what the Company Girls are talking about over their coffee.

Lent, Self-Care & the 2nd Greatest Commandment: Love Yourself

A little over a week ago my ebook posted on why I had suddenly disappeared after all the posts and fun in March: I got sick. And not just sick with one thing. I’ve spent the last three weeks being sick or recovering from being sick. It has not been pleasant. I think it all began back in March when I stopped taking care of myself. When I thought I could push myself for a month,  and it would be OK. I was wrong. I think Godde took particular pleasure in some of my favorite people writing about the importance of self-care last week.

First up was Jen Louden at The Savor and Serve Cafe. April 13th’s dollop was from Karly Randolph-Pitman:

Are you proud of your self-care? Or do you try to hide it?

Women can be excellent stoics. We can feel bad asking for help. We may want to appear “normal,” lest others think we are too high maintenance.

Think of the word “needy:” it implies fragility. Something to avoid. To hide.

When we drive ourselves hard, we suffer. When we neglect our basic needs for healthy food, sleep, alone time, and exercise, we suffer. We suffer because we’re ungrounded, and then we suffer again when we beat ourselves up for feeling funky and inside out.


Then my good friend Alexia Petrakos wrote this in her Customer Love post:

You are your greatest asset. And there’s only one of you. Unless, of course, you’ve managed to clone yourself. In which case, contact me now because we need to talk.

And since there’s only one of you, you need to take care of you.

This means eating right, exercising, showering (!), spending time with your family, reading, goofing off, vegging in front of the TV, going to parks, movies, museums, art galleries, taking art lessons or karate lessons, going for coffee with your friends.

This means filling your own well before you fill others. The Permission Fairies say it’s OK.

If you’re spent, you can’t give your best

Love yourself, be kind to yourself, before you love on your customers. They can tell when you’re fully alive and when you’re half-dead.

DOUBLE OUCH. You see in February I wrote a post for Customer Love called: If You Want to Love Your Customers, Love YOU First. Um…yeah…I wrote about this topic two months ago. I’m really bad about taking my own advice.

It hasn’t helped this is Lent on top of it. Lent is a time of self-discipline and self-denial. My Lenten discipline lasted three weeks this year before I got sick and hasn’t happened since. So I don’t feel like self care should be a big thing right now anyway. This time of the year is about self-denial, not self-care. Of course my self-denial led to getting sick, not working, and not being able to follow through on my Lenten discipline. Didn’t that work out well?

I was also reminded a couple of weeks ago how hard self-care can be for women when Katie left this comment on Battling Depression and Sloth: Routine and Ritual:

Thank you. It’s so hard for me to separate self-care and indulgence, but I think you’re right about routine… Indulgence happens when you deprive yourself of the things that nourish you for too long.

I think it is a doubly hard message for Christian women:

Give it until the very end, until you have nothing left. And then your reward will come.

How readily women hear that message! How easily we believe these words. Give all. Don’t question. Don’t be angry. Don’t doubt that your reward will be on some distant horizon….

The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind, but with a new lesson, one particularly for women.

…a Samaritan, as she journeyed, came to where he was, and when she saw him, she had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine, then she set him on her own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day she took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay when I come back.” (from Luke 10:33-35 KJV)

She left. She left! The woman tended to his wounds, brought him to a safe place, took care of him, and paid his way. And then she left.

It sounds almost sinful when we replace the “he” with “she.” You mean she didn’t stay long enough to be sure that he had a job or a home? What woman would leave so quickly? Yet the parable tells us that the woman had compassion when she saw the the man. The lesson is that she also had compassion for herself. She knew her limits.

–“The Good Samaritan Woman” by Peggy Weaver in The Wisdom of Daughters

(A very big thank you to J. K. Gayle for pointing me toward this fabulous book.)

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I know I need to take care better care of myself. But it’s something that does not come natural to me. And I know a lot of that is due to the religion I grew up with. Like Peggy pointed out I grew up hearing women being told our job was to love, serve, and give and give and give. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we should do. It seemed to apply more to women than it did to men. In fact if you read down the comments of the post Katie left her comment on, you’ll see a whole bunch of Christian women who have trouble taking care of themselves and not feeling guilty about it. It’s both cultural and religious.

That gets me thinking may be women need to do something other than self-denial for Lent. We do self-denial all year. May be our Lenten discipline is taking care of ourselves and not feeling guilty about it. Think on that: Six weeks of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself and (gasp!) may be even self-indulge without feeling guilty for your Lenten discipline. And for most women–not allowing ourselves to feel guilty would be a discipline.

What if next year’s Lenten discipline was adding what you need to your life instead of more self-denial. What if it was more resting and less going. More feeding yourself and less being everyone’s maid.

How would your relationship with Godde change if you took 40 days to love yourself before you loved your neighbor (or your family)? After all that is the second greatest command: Love your neighbor AS you love yourself. Would you have any neighbors if you loved them like you loved you? What if women took on the second greatest commandment as our Lenten discipline next year? What would our relationship with Godde look like at the end? What would our world look like at the end?