(Who Were You? #7)

When I first saw this picture, I thought, “What an adorably sweet, shy-looking girl.” Now that I’ve seen one of your past lives, I’m on to you, sister.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, you were a geisha in the Kamishichiken district of Kyoto, Japan. You were praised far and wide as a paragon of Japanese feminine beauty. Some said you could conjure spirits with your shamisen, and your mastery of Japanese dance was beyond compare. The only wrinkle? You weren’t Japanese.

In 1931, you were an eleven-year-old girl living in Manchuria when the Japanese army invaded. You saw terrible things happen to your countrywomen, and you swore that one day you would have your revenge.

Perhaps there was Japanese blood in your veins from an earlier invasion. If so, no one in your family ever spoke of it. But from the time you were born, strangers often remarked that you looked far more Japanese than Chinese. When you were old enough to be offended, you certainly were. Then you turned eleven and everything changed.

Back then, even young Manchurian girls heard tales about the geisha. They were said to be beautiful, charming–and on extremely friendly terms with some of the most powerful men in Japan. But more importantly, even peasant girls like you could gain access to  the karyūkai, the “flower and willow world” of the geisha. And you knew it was the only way to get close enough to your enemies to enjoy your revenge.

At the age of thirteen, you stowed away on a fishing boat as it crossed the Sea of Japan. You had no money, just a pretty face and an iron will. That, as it turns out, is often enough. You made it to Kyoto and spent two years as an urchin while you perfected your street smarts, your drinking skills, and your Japanese. When you were ready, you approached the owner of the best geisha school in Kyoto. When she saw your sweet, demure expression (the same one you’re displaying above), she accepted you on the spot.

Four years later, at the end of your training, you were the talk of Kamishichiken. When you walked you took the daintiest steps, and when you spoke your voice was as light as the air. But beneath your kimono you wore a razor-sharp dagger, and the golden pins in your hair were all poisoned darts.

When it came time for you to take a danna, or patron, some of the most esteemed men in Japan expressed interest. You chose the nastiest of them all, a general in the Emperor’s army with first hand knowledge of the war being waged in China.

He was brutish and his breath stank, but you didn’t mind. After all, you had chosen him because of two of his many flaws: He couldn’t hold his drink and he loved to talk about troop movements and battle plans. Every night after you saw him, you would carefully transcribe his drunken words. In the morning, with your makeup off and your wig back at home, you would deliver your files to a Chinese spy who sold octopus in the market. (After the war, he would ask for your hand.)

It took years for the Japanese command to suspect there might be a spy in Kamishichiken. In 1944, all the geishas in Japan were rounded up and sent to work in the factories. But it was too late. You had already had your revenge.

Why should YOU send in your photo for a past life reading? Listen to what our first brave volunteers have said about this AMAZING service . . .

“You’re probably better at this then you realize.”

“You made my day!”

“This is scary . . .”

“That sounds quite like me!”

“You are a genius, Kirsten Miller, and I plan to name all of my children after the characters in your book. Starting with Haven.”

(Yes, I made up that last one. But I’m sure that’s what someone was thinking!)

Check out the new reading posted below!

(Who Were You? #6)

You were a Russian princess, cousin to Peter III and widow of the future Tsar’s only childhood friend. In 18th century St. Petersburg, you were widely regarded as the biggest snoot east of the Urals. Your taste was said to be exquisite, your knowledge of etiquette unsurpassed, and your blood as blue as the Baltic. As far as anyone knew, your main form of recreation was parading through town in your magnificent carriage, passing judgment on all who crossed your path. A single look of disapproval from you could spell disaster for a lesser mortal’s social prospects. As a result, rich mothers often presented their daughters to you long before the girls were set to make their public debuts. It was better to hear the brutal truth and deal with it privately than to have the whole city snickering behind your daughter’s back.

No one suspected that your priggishness was all an elaborate ruse. You had no interest in fashion or society, and you only picked on people who deserved it. Your carefully-crafted façade had been constructed to hide the fact that you and your lowborn gardener were engaged in a torrid affair–an affair that had lasted for more than a decade.

The two of you met shortly after you moved to St. Petersburg as a naive nineteen-year-old bride. Your husband was a charmless aristocrat whose only interest was maintaining his relationship with the cruel, demented young man who was the heir to the Russian throne. In fact, your marriage had been arranged by Peter III himself, who thought your family fortune might do wonders for his best friend’s taxidermy collection.

The first months of your marriage were the worst of your life. One evening, as you were strolling through your formal gardens, you felt the urge to end it all, and threw yourself into an ornamental pool. The urge quickly passed, but not before a lily pad root had wrapped around your ankle, holding you deep underwater. Fortunately, the gardener’s handsome, love-struck assistant had been watching from a distance and managed to pull you out of the pool.

You thanked him the best way you knew how—behind some shrubbery—and for the next ten years, you never stopped expressing your gratitude.

If you’d had your druthers, you and the gardener would have run away from St. Petersburg on that very first day. But you both knew that the future Tsar would never allow his friend’s family name to be so besmirched. Wherever you ran, the future Peter III was sure to find you. Even after your husband’s death (some say murder), you were forced to remain in St. Petersburg for fear of Peter’s wrath.

Then one day, Peter III finally came to power. Six months later he had been assassinated, and his wife had seized the throne. The new ruler, Catherine the Great, as she was called, wasn’t the sort to hold a girl’s lovers against her. In exchange for an introduction to the gardener’s handsome brother, she granted your lover the title of Baron. Still, the two of you opted to spend the rest of your lives in France, where none of the revolutionaries you palled around with ever suspected you’d once been a member of the Russian royal family.

So I was googling “reincarnation” (’cause you never know what you might find), and I came across the following question posted on a British website. Given the context, I think it’s sincere . . .

WHAT TO DO WITH A ROOMMATE WHO ANNOUNCES HE IS THE REINCARNATION OF VLAD THE IMPALER?

It’s really worrisome because I found where he is keeping a chart of my sleep habits and the phases of the moon, and is presently filing his canine teeth into sharp points.

Should I move out or just hang a cross over my bed?

Lots of people offered their advice,  but I was surprised that no one told him to start taking notes for his future bestseller.

I may write another “Who Were You?” post over the weekend if inspiration strikes. (Or I may wait until Monday. Who knows?) We’ve had a fresh batch of victims/volunteers, and I can tell they’ve all led fascinating lives. (Heh, heh.)

But we (the royal “we,” of course) will ALWAYS appreciate new volunteers, so send in your pictures! (See instructions below.)

Here are a few things I hope to avoid in future past life readings:

Giant reptiles, extremely large families, murderous step-mothers, happy endings (JK).

(Who Were You? #5)

You’ve had a BIG personality in all of your lives. In fact, it’s been far too big for most towns, including the small Canadian fishing village where you spent the first eighteen years of the life we’ll be visiting today.

It was 1850s. Life in your tiny village (so small it had no name as far as I can discern) was brutal, smelly, and unbelievably dull. As a young woman, you faced a life of drudgery that included scrubbing chamberpots, gutting fish, frying fish, and snuggling up to men who only bathed in the sea (once a year at most). You knew you were bound for bigger things. Things that didn’t include fish.

So when a traveling “freak show” passed through town, you hopped on the wagon and never looked back. There wasn’t anything freakish about you. (Aside from that one little thing you always kept out of sight.) But the show was a very small operation, and the other performers weren’t terribly freakish either. There was a man with extra large ears, a woman with six toes on each foot, and a boy with eyes that were two different colors.

What the show really needed was a bearded lady. (They were all the rage back then, but the six-toed woman didn’t think the look suited her.) Everyone chipped in with a few trimmings from goodness-knows-where and an artificial beard was assembled.

In each town the show visited, you’d take a short stroll down Main Street and return with an eager crowd behind you. Often, the townsfolk were disappointed to find that your fellow travelers weren’t as strange as you’d led them to believe. So you were forced to get the masses laughing before they had a chance to haul out the torches and pitchforks. (Canadians may not have guns, but they always have torches and pitchforks. JK, Canadians.)

The beard let you get away with telling  jokes that most women couldn’t have uttered without being shunned by polite society. Your fame grew every day, and by the time you hit Toronto, all of Canada was talking about the ribald bearded lady who could make men blush and ladies faint.

While in Toronto, you were discovered by a man who was known as Canada’s PT Barnum. He owned a theater devoted to all things strange and curious, and you became his star attraction. Soon the two of you fell madly in love and decided to be married. However, the relationship came to a tragic end when your fiance discovered your beard wasn’t real and abruptly called off the wedding.

They say your broken heart made you even funnier. It certainly made your jokes dirtier. But your heart didn’t stay broken for long. The man with extra-large ears had been secretly devoted to you for years, and decided the time had come to declare his love. The two of you took your profits and hit the road for Mexico, where bearded ladies were still considered shocking and new. By the time you died in 1900, you were considered a Mexican national treasure.

Back on Schedule!

June 23, 2010

Sorry for the delay. We’re now back on track with your past life readings! There’s a new one below and the next will be posted on Friday.

Once again, if you want me to continue providing this valuable service to the literary community, SEND ME YOUR PHOTOS! You don’t even need to show your face. (See Who Were You #1.)