Archive for 2014

Video blog! The TMI Tag!

Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

I’ve seen this TMI tag going around YouTube, so I decided to play along on the spur of the moment. I actually did this yesterday but it took forever and a few gray hairs to upload. It’s not really TMI. That title is kind of misleading. It’s just a bunch of getting to know you questions.

First, here’s my video. Nope, I’m not wearing makeup. Yep, the color on my laptop’s webcam is a bit wonky. I usually get better quality on my iPhone but there wasn’t enough room for a video of this size.

Second, here are the tag questions so you can do your own video.

1: What are you wearing?
2: Ever been in love?
3: Ever had a terrible breakup?
4: How tall are you?
5: How much do you weigh?
6: Any tattoos?
7: Any piercings?
8: OTP?
9: Favorite show?
10: Favorite bands?
11: Something you miss? .
12: Favorite song?
13: How old are you?
14: Zodiac sign?
15: Quality you look for in a partner?
16: Favorite Quote?
17: Favorite actor?
18: Favorite color?
19: Loud music or soft?
20: Where do you go when you’re sad?
21: How long does it take you to shower?
22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
23: Ever been in a physical fight?
24: Turn on?
25: Turn off?
26: The reason I joined Youtube?
27: Fears?
28: Last thing that made you cry?
29: Last time you said you loved someone?
30: Meaning behind your YouTube Name?
31: Last book you read?
32: The book you’re currently reading?
33: Last show you watched?
34: Last person you talked to?
35: The relationship between you and the person you last texted?
36: Favorite food?
37: Place you want to visit?
38: Last place you were?
39: Do you have a crush?
40: Last time you kissed someone?
41: Last time you were insulted?
42: Favorite flavor of sweet?
43: What instruments do you play??
44: Favorite piece of jewelery?
45: Last sport you played?
46: Last song you sang?
47: Favorite chat up line?
48: Have you ever used it?
49: Last time you hung out with anyone?
50: Who should answer these questions next?

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Civil War reenacting with a disability

Posted by Jessica Jewett 3 Comments »

I’m going through my storage bins of Civil War reenacting stuff because I’m going to the Battle of Resaca in May. I haven’t done this in several years due to bad health and a relapse of my anxiety disorder. But this year, I plan to start getting back into it.

As I was going through my storage bins, I realized some of my stuff is different because I’m a quadriplegic. So I wanted to write about it a little bit, maybe hoping that other disabled people might see that it’s possible to do something like reenacting too. And reenacting is not completely like theater or even cosplay if you think about it. We invest a lot of time, energy, materials, and resources into our Civil War personas the way those in the theater or in cosplay do. So if I can do it from a wheelchair, you can too.

This is 2014 me:


And this is 1863 me:



It’s not easy to discern my quadriplegia when I sit for glass plate photographs, right? It’s not accidental. Wherever possible, like any great actress, I do what I can to convince the viewer of the part I play. For photo sittings like these, I transfer from my wheelchair to a regular antique chair the photographer has in his or her period correct studio. A 21st century wheelchair would destroy the historical illusion.

Also, I hide the deformities of my hands by wrapping myself in a shawl. Both the dress and the shawl I’m wearing in these photos are from the mid-19th century. Normally, I would never advise anyone to wear real antique clothing because they’re fragile. Once you rip these things or get them dirty, you can’t fix them. I happen to be as small as the average woman in 1860 (five feet and less than a hundred pounds), so these old clothes tend to fit like they were made for me. I don’t walk around either. I’m like a sitting mannequin. So for these pictures, I decided to wear the real thing instead of my usual reproductions. The black wool shawl dates to 1860 and the purple and green dress dates to 1865, I believe. It was altered numerous times over the decades.

But I can’t sit in regular chairs all the time. They’re painful, otherwise I wouldn’t need a wheelchair. My wheelchair doesn’t exactly fit the 1861-1865 period. And this is where, if you have modern adaptive equipment like this, you’re going to run into some trouble. There are hardcore groups that won’t admit women at all, let alone a quadriplegic woman. In the 19th century, my mother and I would have died in childbirth. If I had survived, I would be shipped off to an institution and never, ever seen on or near a battlefield. So there will be reenacting groups that will reject you based on both your gender and your disability if they strictly adhere to history. Don’t bother fighting it because they’ll never change. There are plenty of reenacting groups who will welcome you with open arms into their civilian detachments.

If you can afford one, this is a wheelchair correct for the 1860s:



I’ve never seen one go for less than $3,000 though. One of my old wheelchair dealers (yes, it’s kind of like a car showroom) had one on display and I used to die over it. If you have a handy person in your life, you could improvise one from a wicker chair or another chair that looks authentic to the period. I’ve seen museum pieces that look like people just slapped wheels on a dining chair for an invalid relative. That can be costly too but not like buying an antique.

However, if your disability is rather severe like mine, this is not an area that can be compromised. I can’t sit in regular chairs very long unless they recline. So I use my own wheelchair and I’m not the only one. You won’t be in the minority of disabled reenactors if you use your own adaptive equipment because period correct adaptive equipment is rare and expensive.

Here is said wheelchair:


Never fear, reenactors! I come bearing suggestions for disguising your modern wheelchair. The quickest, easiest solution is to throw an old-fashioned quilt over the wheelchair before you get into it. That works pretty well if you’re in a manual chair but some types of chairs require access to a hand box for driving. So what you can do is take a quilt that you don’t need anymore and get someone who’s good with a needle to sew a fitted slip cover over the chair. That way you can customize it so it won’t drag the ground or get caught up in the wheels, yet still covers the modernness of the equipment. Cut a hole and sew a proper seam around it where you need access to the driving stick or any other buttons you need. At the very least, you can have slipcovers sewn of 19th century appropriate fabrics to put over your seat pieces. It makes you look like you’re sitting on 19th century cushions.

This is a modern example obviously, but think of slipcovers along these lines made from 19th century appropriate fabrics to conceal your modern wheelchair parts:


If you use a cane or a walker and you reenact enough, it might be worth the investment of getting someone handy to build a replica of your modern equipment out of wood. Or get an extra cane or walker and cover it with sticky fake wood, which will conceal much of the modern colors and materials used for these things. I know some people who have gotten antique walking sticks to use in place of their regular canes at reenactments. While walkers were not used in the mid-19th century, creating replicas of modern adaptive equipment out of 19th century materials helps create the historical illusion.

Victorian canes:


Do you wear glasses? You can find antique or reproduction glasses frames and have your prescription lenses put into them. And there you can still see what’s going on but you still continue the illusion of stepping out of the Civil War period.

Victorian glasses:


For women, Civil War clothing can be restrictive and uncomfortable on whatever disability may be present. There are ways to get around adaptations while still being as accurate to the period as possible.

The corset is the most difficult thing to make work when your body is bent in different places like mine. A lot of female reenactors without disabilities choose to forego corsets altogether even though the corset was a vital piece to the 1860s silhouette. You simply won’t get the correct body shape and your clothing won’t sit right on your body without the corset to provide bodily stability and support the weight of so many layers.

This is the last time I tried on my corset when I was making new clothes in 2010:


Ignore the bright orange t-shirt. I wasn’t dressing out or anything. I just put the corset on to make sure the new clothes were fitting right as they were being made. That’s the other thing. If you choose to have an 1860s corset, never give a seamstress your real body measurements or your dresses won’t fit right. Always do your measurements while wearing the corset. That’s true whether you’re disabled or not.

Adapting a corset for a disability is fairly easy. Buy one off the rack and wear it periodically for a few days (not 24/7 obviously). Don’t lace it too tightly, especially if you’re not used to wearing one. Pay attention to pressure points on your body throughout the day. Are you feeling pain in the corset? Are there abnormal red spots or bruises forming? These things need attention right away and were never normal, even back then. It’s a myth that 1860s women were tight lacing to the point of regularly breaking bones. That didn’t come until the end of the century. Worn properly, an 1860s corset can be quite comfortable and offer good spine support.

My pressure spots in my corset had to do with my ribs being misshapen due to my disability. The left side of my ribs jut forward while the right side of my ribs sink inward, causing breathing problems if I’m not careful. I didn’t think I could make a corset work safely but I wore it on and off for a few days to test it and I realized the pressure points were directly along the bones of the corset.

Corset surgery was required.

I cut the bottom seam enough to yank out the offending bone and presto. No more pain. Technically this is cheating because all bones should stay put but taking out a bone that fights your disability is a matter of survival. It won’t change the shape of your clothes much even if you take out two or even three bones. Good corsets retain at least some shape whether chock full of bones or not. Nobody notices I have a bone missing from my corset. Also, try cotton or moleskin padding between you and your corset for extra squish. It feels great.

Above all: do not tight lace if you are disabled. Your body will tell you when to stop. Don’t ignore it or you could really hurt yourself. Just lace it tight enough to keep it secure, like lacing up your shoes.

This was the first day I wore my current corset, before I took out the offending bone. You can see it didn’t fit right because the bones were fighting my body. I very nearly passed out. After removing the bone, I never felt discomfort again. Listen to your body!


Women portraying poor farmers or laundresses could get away with not wearing corsets but don’t expect to have a fancy ballgown either. If you portray the poorer class, you can’t just make yourself a gorgeous ballgown or fabulous silk walking dress too. Your clothing has to reflect the type of person you portray.

Fabric is another issue for me. Thin, slippery fabrics like various types of silk or organdy are hazardous because, to be blunt, my butt slides right off my wheelchair seat. I could pop right out on the ground on all that slippery fabric, so I use it sparingly. Only ballgowns, which are situations where I park in one spot and watch people dance and flirt with men who come to me. No moving around, and therefore, no popping out on slippery fabric.

However, limiting my use of silk to ballgowns presents a historical problem. Cotton (a more stable fabric) dresses were mainly used for work clothes like these that I made with my mother several years ago.



These are more or less correct to the period, though the collars are a little fancy for work dresses. The collars were my great grandmother’s though, so I just won’t budge on that.

I should also note that my sleeves look shorter than normal, not because I have three-quarter length or anything, but because my upper body is not proportioned quite right. The sleeves are short because my arms are short. My skirt widths are narrower than what is period correct in order to work with my wheelchair. I’ll get into that later. Again, customizing your attire around your disability is very important.

Now, these two dresses are a bit fancier. They look period correct to the naked eye but they’re not (I’m not too proud to admit that). Can you see why they’re not correct?



These dresses are considered day dresses. In other words, a woman would not be working in them. Really, they should be made of richer fabrics like silk, wool, or some blend of various things like that. Not cotton. However, the richer fabrics tend to be slippery, so I can’t use anything hazardous for me if I’m going to be rolling around all over creation. This is a situation where I have to adapt for my own safety even if it means not quite being accurate. (Also: the blue skirt not being all floral like the bodice isn’t accurate either but I ran out of fabric.)

People who have been reenacting longer may stop you and inquire about your choice of fabric if you avoid slippery things like I do for non-work dresses. It’s okay. They’re just trying to be helpful. Explain your reasons for making certain choices for the sake of your disability. Some may even know of more appropriate fabrics that are safe. Don’t be afraid to listen and learn.

The width of a skirt is an issue for disabilities as well. The Civil War was a period of ridiculously wide hoopskirts that are not at all conducive for those of us on wheels, crutches, or walkers. For work dresses, it’s not a problem because no sane woman of that period would work around a fire all day with a huge fire hazard around her legs. If you see a woman walking around a reenactment in a work dress with huge hoops, she ain’t gonna make it. She’d probably go up in flames back then. At the very least, working like that would be a huge pain. It’s just not correct.

This is the alternative:


It’s a corded petticoat. It provides some fashionable width but it’s made of flexible material. This will save your persona if you’re in a wheelchair, using crutches, or using a walker. Again, we come to a crossroads of fashion vs. functionality because the nicer dresses, especially ballgowns, are supposed to require enormous hoops. Some of us just can’t do that. So people who roll their eyes at a lack of hoops or call you farby (slang for inaccurate) will have to suck it up.

If you can stand more width than corded petticoats provide but you need flexibility, do what they did before caged crinolines were invented. Layer your regular cotton petticoats underneath and on top of the corded petticoat. It gets heavy though, so experiment until you find the best solution for you.

Shoes can be very difficult if you have orthopedic issues like I do. I have clubfeet and I can’t wear more shoes than I can. It’s kind of a pain in the 21st century let alone the 19th century. Women’s everyday shoes in the Civil War were typically black boots that buttoned or laced up the side rather than buttoned or laced up the front. There was a bit of a heel as well, which I cannot do. In either case, I usually can’t wear boots in my correct size. My feet don’t bend and I just can’t get them into boots like these unless they’re two or three sizes too big.



Reproduction boots for Civil War women often look something like this:


The reproduction boots are not as hard on my feet because they can be found without a heel and the loop thing makes it easier to pull it on my foot. As long as I order them too big, it works. The other trick is if you try it out in bigger sizes, you can create extra padding around your foot by putting on thick wool socks. Women wore cotton, linen, or wool stockings up to the thigh back in those days but nobody’s going to see it if you put on wool socks for padding over your stockings.

Another option if you really can’t get your feet into boots is to try the dancing slippers. These kinds of shoes were worn for formal evening occasions but they are softer and more forgiving than boots. This may be an area where you have to choose between survival and historical accuracy. Slippers in this style might be more comfortable for you.


If you have to cheat and wear modern shoes, it’s not that bad. Your dress is going to cover your feet anyway. I last a lot longer out there if I wear modern shoes with more padding and a better fit. My advice is to go someplace like Walmart or Target and look for something very plain and preferably black. Avoid tennis shoes if it’s at all possible.

Getting around with a disability in a natural terrain can be difficult too. I strongly advise that you never go anywhere by yourself unless there are paved sidewalks, and there are almost never any kinds of pavement anywhere at these events. Sometimes there are gravel or dirt paths, which I stick to if I can. Safety is the most important thing, so don’t be too proud to recognize your own limitations. Don’t avoid your medications. I keep mine in an old pillbox to keep up the Civil War illusion. I have a canteen for water too so I can stay hydrated without carrying around plastic water bottles.

Most of the time I don’t stay overnight unless I bring my own quilts and stuff because sleeping on the ground is really tough on my body. When I do stay overnight, it has to be plenty warm and I build a bit of a nest out of quilts for some padding between me and the ground. Some people bring an air mattress and cover it over with old-fashioned bedding to disguise it. These people do get eyerolls (reenactors will deny eyerolling but I’ve seen it happen) for being farby sometimes, but if you have a disability, they’re not going to eyeroll at you. A third option is to stay overnight in a nearby motel. These people are known as the Motel Brigade among some. I keep up the historical impression by not watching TV and sleeping in Civil War underthings.

The majority of reenactors are very kind and helpful. I highly doubt I’d ever wander around an event unescorted even if I wanted to because the soldiers especially will walk with me wherever I go. This is probably because of my wheelchair but it’s actually historically appropriate. Women almost always had male escorts out in public.

My point is, this is very helpful when you’re trying to negotiate rough terrain in a wheelchair. I do not recommend going to a reenactment alone. You need to attend with family or friends who know how to look after your needs. Lucky for me, I get my companions into it and they end up becoming reenactors too. My mom does the persona of a nurse, which fits our situation quite well.

Getting around rough terrain. If I can get up to the 20th Maine monument on Little Round Top in my wheelchair, you can handle rough terrain at reenactments too.


The terrain is not as scary as it looks. If you have a wheelchair with six wheels or the large wheels up front, you’ve got an advantage. When you’re wandering a reenactment, pay very close attention to the ground in front of you. Wheelchair accidents happen because people go too fast or they’re not watching the ground. Just accept that you’ll have to go slower than walking pace but you will get there! Little wheels up front make you less stable in dirt or grass or gravel, but there are some tricks.

  • Have someone grab the front of your wheelchair and lift it up a bit to get over rougher spots.
  • Take shallow holes or minor drops in the terrain on an angle instead of head on.
  • Take deeper holes or drops in the terrain backwards (i.e. always use the bigger, dominant wheels when you need more stability).
  • Park in central locations and stay put whenever possible. People will come to you.
  • Avoid mud. It’s slippery. It’s bad. I once slid on mud, hit a boulder, and broke my knee. Fun times.
  • Rule of thumb: it’s better to tip over backwards than it is to tip over forwards. If a hill looks steeper than you like, never fear. You can do it. Go down backwards with somebody behind you. I have never, ever had an accident that way.
  • Do not load stuff on your upper chair. It makes you top heavy and increases your risk of sliding or tipping over. Bottom heavy wheelchairs are much more stable.
  • Find a guy with a lantern or flashlight if you’re headed out at night. NEVER attempt wandering rough terrain in the dark.

I hope these tips have been helpful! Please do not hesitate to ask if you need advice on things I forgot to cover. I can usually invent a way to deal with any difficult situation.

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When your psychic abilities fail

When your psychic abilities fail
Posted by Jessica Jewett 11 Comments »

Pills This has been the dilemma in my life for so many years that it’s gotten to be a running joke in my family. I used to care but I take a pill for that now.

Most of you have probably noticed an absence of blogs and good information on reincarnation or psychic abilities from me in the last year. The explanation is quite simple: my personal abilities and barriers have been continuously failing since a few of my medications were changed last year. I was taking several things that don’t need to be named (not everyone needs to know about every health problem I have) but two of them were for chronic vertigo and also a drug for anxiety and depression. Last year, my insurance stopped paying for my anxiety drug and I endured cold turkey withdrawals before my doctor found an alternative drug. I was off my medication for a few months and I sank to the bottom again. It got really bad and I don’t really want to talk about it in detail. Needless to say, I started a new drug that ended up working better than the old one but I was so bad off that we decided to double my dose. Add the doubled dose of an SSRI drug to taking something else for chronic vertigo and you have two drugs messing with my brain.

In other words, you mess with my brain and you mess with my intuitive abilities. You mess with my intuitive abilities and you mess with my ability to keep up protective barriers around myself and my home.

Jessica Jewett

I first noticed things were off last spring when an inability to do readings became more and more consistent. It’s normal to have bad days where things just don’t click for the intuitive. It’s no big deal. If you come back to it in a day or two, it usually works just fine. But the bad days started outnumbering the good days to the point where I’d stare at a person and see nothing at all. For a lifelong intuitive, that’s frightening. It’s a loss of one of the senses that we always had, almost like going completely blind or deaf in just a couple of months. It’s a shock to the system. People depend on me to provide guidance and not having enough good days to keep up with the demand left me phobic of even touching my email. Roughly 10,000 emails accumulated in six months. I still haven’t gotten through all of it.

Simultaneously in this period, I noticed a blindness to my regular household spirit activity. Other people in my home went on noticing things like my mother, my grandmother, and my home health lady, but it was like I went virtually blind and deaf to it. Yet a few months ago, I had a dream about an inhuman helpful entity joining my household for protection because I’m clearly unable to do it myself. I did some research the next day and my best guess is that it’s something called a brownie. It was the night of November 23rd into the 24th.

brownie In the dream, I let a stray black cat into my house to feed him. The cat slowly turned into a little leprechaun-ish looking creature. He said every day he was going to come back and I was to leave him offerings of sweets. There were no threats though. It was just like you will do this thing. So I looked around because the dream was so vivid that it couldn’t have been just my brain spitting out things I’d seen that day. It seems I witnessed a brownie. It’s a household spirit legend of the Scottish and northern English peoples. They’re a kind of faerie, I think. They are said to live in unused portions of the house and help the homeowners with taking care of the home. They like gifts of sweets and if you call it a payment or misuse them, they’ll become offended and leave.

My English ancestry comes from the Midlands and northern England, so I found it interesting. If I did encounter a brownie – apparently showing themselves is rare – then maybe he was attracted to my ancestry. Or maybe I attracted him because I’m disabled and I often need help with looking after my household. I have no idea how he found me or why. It was so vivid that I could have done an illustration of how he looked. He was about three feet tall or so, fair haired (white?), exaggerated wide face, very large eyes, large wide nose, and a long smile like a troll doll. He had a blue jacket that was kind of faded and ratty, and tan trousers. He didn’t scare me at all. He looked scary but he wasn’t scary himself. In my dream state, it didn’t even startle me like this little guy was totally normal being let into my house.

Other than that, nothing much happened to me since my medication changed. It has hurt me emotionally and mentally because I carry around a lot of guilt. People like me are not as common as one might think and I feel like such a failure if I’m not able to help as much as I have in the past. My choice appears to be good mental and physical health through medication or excellent intuitive abilities but severe anxiety, depression, and bad physical health without medication. Do I sacrifice myself for others or do I take care of myself and hope this problem reroutes itself around the medicated brain? You see why I feel guilty and like a failure this past year. I wouldn’t be having these problems if I could keep my health under control – as if I could control that!

Daisy, Beagle There’s a problem with all of this though. It appears that the barriers around myself and my home to keep out unwanted entities or energies are not working like they should because nothing else in me is working right now. That’s why I’m writing this blog and trying to figure out what to do. I don’t feel safe in my home at night lately. Night before last, my dog was being rather fidgety and my cats were suddenly being rather violent toward one another. I didn’t think anything of it at first until my dog broke open the door and ran upstairs, which is something she’s never done in the past. She refused to come back to bed with me and instead slept with my mother. I settled down again and, while lying on my back, I heard whispering between two things around me. It was so clear, yet so secretive that I couldn’t make out any words. I know my normal reactions and the fear I felt wasn’t normal. I felt threatened. I felt dread.

Last night, the whispering turned into a louder voice. I got grabbed. It yanked my foot like it was trying to pull me off the bed. I thought it was my granny and I turned around to tell her to stop but nothing was there. My regulars know not to bother my feet because it hurts me a lot. This is not one of my regulars. Today, my dog still refuses to spend much time in this room with me. That’s the pattern. Right before something bad happens, my dog runs and breaks open doors to get away.

I’m so used to explaining to other people how to deal with unwanted entities. I’m unnerved that I have one because I thought my barriers were pretty solid. This is another symptom of a bigger problem. My abilities and barriers have been failing for almost a year. I’m so out of sorts. I’m sure some of you have noticed.

I have been reading about other intuitives, mediums, and psychics who lose their abilities after taking certain medications and I truthfully want to cry sometimes. I have to start over like redoing 32 years of work. There’s no other way to get it back without stopping the medication. Not to be morbid but stopping medication for me leads to suicidal tendencies within six months. I can’t do that. I thought it would reroute and come back on its own but it’s been almost a year with just an occasional trickle coming through. It’s not going to come back on its own with the combination of medications I take. I have to train myself like I’m my own student, it seems.

I’m terrified but this phase of my life must be happening for a reason.

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