Ghost Card Audio Deck
How to Use
When you pick up a card, find it’s match below by scrolling down the page then click on it to turn it over. On the other side you may listen to a soundtrack inspired by the story it contains. When an audience member draws a card offered by a hungry ghost, you may listen in on the soundscape that accompanies the action.
Follow red suits to listen in on red cards that are chosen.
Follow black suits to listen in on black cards that are chosen.
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I had a dancer friend who was struggling with some food issues, and was really trying to take care of herself. She was trying to create great attitudes around food. So one of the things she started doing was taking herself out for a meal and, like, being really present and communing with the food. Just sitting still. Very Seattle. So she’s doing this in a Thai restaurant, sitting still, and it’s raining outside, and she’s there for a long time. And then suddenly a homeless man comes in off the street and yells at her. He’s like, “You’re not gonna eat that? Just gonna sit there and you’re just not gonna eat that?” And he grabs her plate off the table and just walks out the restaurant.
I used to love playing with ants. And– I remember every time after we eat, I would go under the table and spend many hours there and follow, like, little ants around. ‘Cause I grew up– I grew up in Haiti. And there’s a lot of, you know, insects and things. And that’s where I would find one or two ants that’s looking for one grain of rice. And next thing you know, I follow it wherever it goes. And it would come back with a bunch of ants to come get the rest of whatever’s going on. And that’s one of my favorite, like, pastime when I was a kid. And it was always under the table my mother would come and find me. And she’d be like, “What are you doing under the table?” She has no idea. And she thought I was crazy ’cause I’m always following under the table.
The nurse pulled off my mother’s nightgown and began to wash her upper body. I sat at the small table across the hospital room, eyes averted. Long minutes passed. The nurse and my mom chatted comfortably. Water dripped, and late autumn sunlight warmed the room. The air slowly normalized. I relaxed and raised my eyes. She was half-nude in the chair, one arm raised in the nurse’s hand. A graceful, simple shape. I saw how much weight she had lost. A flash of recognition. A mirror. Our shoulders and breasts were the exact same shape. Her rib cage was built like mine. Our skin tone matched perfectly. She was so tired and thin and beautiful in the November sunlight. For the first time, in my mother’s dying shape, I saw where my body comes from.
When I was in high school I was involved with my former grade school teacher. I would sneak off to the portables to see him, and he would go down on me on the big table in the classroom. It wasn’t rape. It wasn’t rape. It’s an enjoyable memory. It was, you know, sort of forbidden. But now, as an adult looking back, I feel… I have a niece that age.
I paint with my daughter Loie every time I see her. Living so far away from her, I find having her paints and crafts at my kitchen table good for my soul. We have different types of “painting:” we squirt the paint out of the bottles and fold the paper, or use brushes, or our fingers. Sometimes we use markers and gridded paper, and make mazes full of diamonds and rubies and secret passages. We explore them together at the same time, or we take turns making them for one another to explore. And then we help guide the other through the traps and dead ends by granting “walk-through-the-wall” or “flying” powers. Last night we traded digital finger paintings back and forth. She made me an apple tree with “so many surprises.” This one had bananas, suns, tears, and every color apple ever.
Back in 1972, I was newly married at the time. And one morning my wife and I were sitting at our long kitchen table. It was one of those sturdy wooden tables you might see in a movie from way back in the times when they used to have kings and queens. Anyway, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and she was suffering from morning sickness. But at the time, that didn’t really faze me. I decided to fix her breakfast. So I fixed grits and eggs and bacon. I’m enjoying my meal, and I’m assuming that my wife is enjoying her meal too. And all of a sudden, I heard this sound. I looked up, and I looked at my wife, and her eyes were as big as Coke bottle bottoms, and she had her hand over her mouth. So I said, “Gail, what’s the matter?” And so the next thing I know, I see her hand come away from her mouth, and an explosion of grits flies out of her mouth, across the long expansive table, straight at me. And I remember thinking as I watched these grits coming at me, “How the hell can grits come that far?”
When I was 12 in primary school, I was the queen bee. Whatever I said went. I dropped my books on the floor, people would pick it up for me. People would hold my backpack. I could eat whatever dessert I wanted from people’s lunches. And depending on if you were older or younger than me, you could listen to some of my secrets. When I turned 13, we all moved to secondary school. There were new teachers, new classes. Hormonally we were all changing. It was a whole new experience. And on the first day of school, in the cafeteria, one by one all of my best friends came up to me and said they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. And so for the first week of school I didn’t have any friends. I was the loner. And that changed everything.
I’m 20 years old, and I’m living in Corona, Queens. And one day, my roommate throws this huge barbecue in his backyard. I see this girl who works with my friend Jamie. And she’s, like, sitting on this dude’s lap. This scary-looking dude. I’m playing beer pong. I have one cup left. I’m so drunk. I announce to everybody at the party, once in a lifetime, “Everybody listen up! This ball’s gonna go in this hole. And as soon as it does, I’m gonna kiss this girl right here.” And everybody’s laughing. And I tell the girl, “Deal?” And she’s like, “Deal. You’re not gonna make it.” With everybody watching, no sarcasm or nothing, dude, I shot that shit. Boom. Just sunk in that hole. While she’s sitting on this dude’s lap who she’s dating, I walk straight up to her and give her the most sexiest kiss ever.
I’m in the 7th grade, in Mr. Silverberg’s science class. One morning we all gather around the science lab table, and Mr. Silverberg has a fish tank in front of him with a snake. He says, “Today we’re gonna learn about survival of the fittest.” He produces a little white mouse, alive, and puts it in the tank. And the snake looks at the mouse, and the mouse looks at the snake. And the snake jumps at the mouse, and grabs it and starts trying to swallow it. And the little mouse is kicking, kicking, kicking, and we see its little hind feet kicking. And suddenly, the mouse breaks free. And all us kids cheer! “Hey, Mighty Mouse is here!” Everybody’s smiling but Mr. Silverberg. He doesn’t like it. He gets a stick and pushes the mouse toward the snake again. And we’re all hoping and praying… But Mighty Mouse didn’t make it the second time.
I was ten years old in Mexico City with my family. My mother always planned these family vacations where she was the one with the guidebook and all the information, and we all just tried to follow after her. And we were using the subway at rush hour in the evening. And we don’t know that during rush hour, they separate women from men. There are subway workers who are taking women and pulling them aside to put them in their own car, so that they’ll be in privacy. We’re all just blindly following along after my mom, who knows where we’re going. And she’s pulled away. And we don’t know what to do. But we crowd into the subway car anyway and go. It’s too crowded. We can’t find our way through the car to find the car that she’s in. A few stops later, we see her on the subway platform waving frantically, as we don’t get off the train and go by.
One month after coming to New York, I got a job at a Japanese office. It’s a small office. But it’s pretty proper. Being Japanese, I always thought I had to be proper. Especially because I was the youngest. The CEO liked to have lots of company dinners after work, usually at 6PM, and for my first one I went five minutes early because I was the youngest. I opened the door, and there was a long table with a middle-aged man sitting at the end. But it was an all-female office. Who was this person? I said hi, and sat opposite him. No one came. 6PM, no one came. Ten minutes passed, no one came. It was the most awkward 15 minutes. Long story short, apparently at these company dinners you were allowed to bring significant others. I didn’t know that. It happened to be my coworker’s husband. I was so nervous the whole time.
In third grade, math was my worst subject. And Mrs. Yager announced that everyone was going to recite a times table. She called on me first, so I stood up and did the twos, all the way up to 20. And then she said, “Why don’t you keep going?” This was the moment I realized that teachers could be malevolent. I was not a good math student, and I was thrilled that I had gotten through the twos. And she was extending it. “You did so well. Do the threes.” Ugh. So I did the threes. Three times nine was always my bete noir, and I got through it. And then she goes, “That is wonderful. Do fours.” And I said, “What fours?” It was beyond the pale. And she said, “What four?” And I said, “I’ll give you what for!” And just broke out laughing and she sent me out of the room.
At the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, they have a room which has a table, and a gun with one bullet for anybody who needs to get out of trouble very quickly. I was there, and I saw people lose $100 million in one night. You don’t know if that’s everything they have. The Saudis go there a lot. So for them, $100 million is small change. That’s a secret but very famous room. A room with one table.
Last week, I met someone at a table over there for the scrap drop off. And it was amazing. We had really good conversation about recycling. I never seen her, and I didn’t know her. I just went in. The good thing about table is you just go talk to someone. They give you information. You learn a lot. And you find out that person might share same knowledge as you, or have same idea as you. We’re totally from different background. We have different culture. But we come in common with one self. So that day, we’re talking about recycling. And I was telling her how I watched a video on Facebook about Taiwan. And they have really cool recycling method of collecting scraps. And then she was giving me website to limit your garbages. And it’s a good thing that I learned. You never know who’s behind the table. And you never know who you’re gonna meet, and what kinda relationship you can build and maintain with them.
When my grandfather was toward the end, when he was getting very sick, I would visit him. They live in upstate New York. And I would take the train. And I remember walking on the outside, on the patio of where my grandparents lived. And I could see my grandfather sitting at the table from the window. And I saw his smile when he saw me. My reflection. He saw me going by. And I looked in. And I just saw this warm smile on his face. And he said, “Oh, she’s here. She’s here.” And it just melted my heart. It was just, like, the most lovely moment. And I still, to this day, when I walk that same path and I walk into that house, I just see his face like it was yesterday.
When I was in medical school, one of the first courses I had to take was gross anatomy. They give you a cadaver, a patient if you will, and every week you go in and cut them up bit by bit on a metal table, until there’s not much of a human left. I chose a 74 year old woman who had died of oral cancer and certain organ failures. Her job had been a homemaker. I remember going in the lab that first week with 25 bodies still in bags. And I thought my knees were gonna give out. All those bodies. All of them on tables. All of them in black bags. Don’t stop moving. Just keep moving. I was trying not to cry, trying not to freak out. I just had to keep repeating over and over to myself, “this isn’t a human, this isn’t a human.” And I thought, well, then what is it? What is it? My mind demanded answers. My soul demanded answers. What is this?
My first dinner with a stranger in my house, she was known to my dad and my mom. And she was beautiful. And I was a kid, and I liked that. So I went under the table and I started scratching her legs. Yeah, she was beautiful. I started scratching her legs, and she was like, “Oh, what’s that? What’s that?” And it was fun for me, and it was fun for her too, because the dinner was a little bit boring.
When I was in high school, my friends and I would play Spoons to pass the time. It sounds like a simple, innocuous card game, but it can get violent very quickly. Nobody wants to lose. Many a wrestling match has erupted resulting in a hopelessly bent spoon. Once, we were playing in the cafeteria between a matinee and evening performance of a school play and our director was playing with us. I will never forget the sight of her diving across the table and grabbing for the last spoon in my friend’s hand like a wild animal intent on her prey. The force of her body propulsion broke the table completely as she came crashing down. It was terrifying. It was shocking. And I felt so embarrassed for her. She was overweight, and not that much older than us at the time. She had to explain to the janitor how the table was broken. We had to set safety rules for Spoons after that.
I remember Easter, age nine, still in grade school yet completely aware of the thing that might happen to me. Beginning and waste. I remember being wrapped up in a moment, aware it wouldn’t last. I was standing on the fallen, decomposing log. It acted as a border between the wildflowers and the tame grass. Clutching a rubber balloon. The sweet aromas of grass and some kind of celebration flooded my nostrils. Miles stood 25 feet from me. We used the sack of water, to toss it back and forth. A simple task offered immense satisfaction. I never counted the number of passes we made, but I counted on them. I waited for the morphable package to graze my fingertips, and then cradled it with a spin to absorb its inertia. The weight of it felt nice, familiar, cool. Its temperature matched that of the grass’s touch against my soles. The giant hedge shaded us from the sun’s passage overhead. I smiled. I remember bending down. The relief I found from a simple crease at the hinge of my knees. I remember never wanting to go home. Feeling like I was already there. To leave would be to go again. I had no interest in going. I wanted to hang in the air, suspended, like the bright balloon sailing between the pairs of hands, hovering in between, above it all.
We are running in a neighborhood full of white houses with white picket fences. No one is in sight. No one except us, and the creatures. The neighborhood seems to expand and the creatures are multiplying. We see an open door. A figure stands in black and beckons us forward. We dodge the creatures and run up to the porch of the house. (S)he stands at a small table with large dagger. We immediately fall to our knees. (S)he does not say a word but looks at us and then looks at the dagger. My companion and I glance at each other. I cannot make out their face. As the creatures close in around us, I pick up the dagger from the table and slide the blade across my throat. I crumble to the floor and see my companion follow suit as my eyes close. A long claw reaches out to me and the black blood pooling around my head. And then I wake up.
I teach design at the Pratt Institute. And one of the rooms I work in is a computer lab. And the computer lab is kind of a fascist environment. There’s actually a camera in my classroom recording everything that goes on in the room. And you’re not allowed to have anything in the room. At all. So you can’t have any food or drink. But you also can’t have scissors. You can’t have knives. You can’t have cutting boards. So one time, before I realized what the rules were, I brought in all my tools, and got all the students around. And I showed them how to cut out this complicated Chinese takeout box that they were constructing. And then we took a break. And when I came back in, all my tools were gone. Because I didn’t realize that they’re watching the entire thing from the control room. So I went and I complained. And they said, “Well, we saw what you did, so we took it away.”
At the dinner table Dad would say, “It’s good to give in, get along with people, Don’t make waves,” and then he’d tell a joke About some bully or drunk and we’d laugh!
On the dairy farm where I grew up
We’d drink lots of milk and watch the cows
In the fields, moving around, chewing their cud
And if we got upset, my Mom would make milk toast
And say “Be nice!” and I would smile while I Put more butter on my warm milk toast.
Toast the bread, heat the milk, butter the toast
Lay it in a bowl and pour warm milk over it; Feels cozy and safe.
You can make it for
Yourself in the middle of the night or your
Mom can make it for the whole family
If there’s been a really big upset
Like my Dad telling my brother he had to shoot his dog
After the doberman nipped me. And can you believe my brother
Actually obeyed and shot our very own family dog!
I’ve been eating milk toast on a regular basis ever since
That’s the value of having guns around the house.
If anything comes up, you’ve got a gun right there,
I’ve got quite a few stories about guns, and we are
Hearing more every day, but this is not about guns
This is about how we all tried to do what’s right
Or what our parents told us was right
And how we ended up eating milk toast
Later on, us kids had bad posture,
All bent over as we got older,
Calcium from the milk should make bones strong
But we seemed weak and bendable
Maybe from giving in,–they wanted us
To stand up straight, but it was just too hard.
I took this literature class. And we were talking about Shakespeare, and how and a lot of writers just come back to him and to religious things. So when you think of table in literature, you know the writer was thinking of the last supper. If there’s a scene where there’s a table in a book, it means that they’re under the act of communion. That’s something that I think about every time I see it in a book. But also in my own family life. Like, you wouldn’t eat with someone you don’t like. So that act of coming down to peace, to sit down to eat, is something that we don’t do often as a family. But when we do, good things happen. You’re forced into a setting where you have to talk about things. And then if you haven’t addressed an issue, it comes up.
Before my parents were divorced, my dad had a BAD gambling problem. Sometimes we would hang out at the table and play poker, blackjack, and one time, craps. My dad is really good at cards. And I learned really quickly. So, when I was, like, eight, I knew to split pairs and double-down on my tens and elevens. I was quite good. And on those nights, I didn’t have a bedtime. I was up to 2am on a school night, sharing my dad’s addiction. I think I have my own gambling addiction if I let it out.