your pal, erin

Author & Psychic Superhero

The Long Overdue Discretion Talk

Dear Erin,
What’s happened to Downtown Savannah? I’ve lived here since the 1990’s, back when a majority of the Historic District was condemned and Broughton Street was a crack whore haven, but even then it was never violent like this. In addition to  carjackings, rapes, robberies and public square shootings, last week there was a stabbing at Pinkie Master’s!
You’ve mentioned burial grounds, war battles and other “woo-woo” reasons for the city’s problems. Have you ever considered the possibility that Savannah is just plain fucked?
Have a nice day,


Dear Ted,
When I was growing up, my mother was a force to be reckoned with. Her ability to invoke the fear of God with a single sharp, sucking breath was second only to her legendary “Discretion Talks.”
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, but stay with me.
Mom had zero tolerance for gossip. Having grown up in a small town where the airing of dirty laundry was considered a highbrow form of community theater, she abhorred using the private lives of others as a means of public entertainment.
Over the years Mom gave several Discretion Talks, in which she would disseminate need-to-know information about the private lives others, along with explicit instructions that such information never be repeated, so as not to cause further pain or embarrassment. Most often, these debriefings were conducted in the back seat of the family station wagon, while in transit to the homes of our Discretion Talk subjects or to public functions where we might encounter gossip.
Mom’s first Discretion Talk dates back to 1968, when she informed my siblings that their friend Joey’s parents were getting divorced. After explaining what this meant, she made it known that if anyone so much as breathed the word divorce during Joey’s upcoming weekend sleepover there would be hell to pay. My wise-ass brother challenged mom’s decree, making googly eyes and silently mouthing “DI…VORCE!” behind Joey’s back, prompting her to hiss, “Discretion Michael…” several times during the course of his visit.
Ted, since you have taken it upon yourself to climb into the back seat of my proverbial station wagon, here’s my Discretion Talk to you:
“I understand your concern about the all of the scary things that have happened downtown, especially the incident at Pinkie Master’s, but what you don’t know is that the person who got stabbed there is someone I know and love, someone very dear to me. I know you were just trying to lighten the mood by joking that Savannah is fucked, but sending a sarcastic letter to an advice column doesn’t help him and it doesn’t solve the city’s problems. If you can’t contribute something helpful, perhaps it’s better to say nothing at all.”
I don’t mean to be the Debbie Downer here and I realize that humor is a natural human defense to tragic situations. It makes perfect sense that in the wake of such a shocking event, the staff at Abe’s On Lincoln would show their solidarity with their injured bartender brethren by posting a chalkboard sign that features the image of a fish with a knife in its side and reads, “The Neighborhood Bar Where You Won’t Get Stabbed.”
It’s funny. It cleverly calls out the competition’s most unsavory qualities. And if I didn’t feel like it was my own heart that was up on that chalkboard with a knife stuck in it, I might have laughed it off without a second thought.
Instead it gives me pause to reconsider what I am putting out in the world and to ask my readers to do the same.
Those of you who know me personally can attest to the fact that that I don’t like to talk about negative situations because I believe that what you focus your energy on is what you create more of.
My motivation for creating the Ghost Dog Diaries column was to answer reader’s questions about death and other "woo-woo" topics in order to help provide relief from the pain of losing their loved ones and to spread a little light, love and magic.
I am proud of my contributions, both in answering readers’ questions that are in this vein and in responding to the more controversial questions.
Ted, my best, most honest answer to your question is that the violence we’re experiencing isn’t exclusive to downtown or even to Savannah. The world has become a more volatile place since you first moved here. Some people believe we are in End Times. Others consider it the clearing of fearful, warring energies to make way for a more peaceful, loving planet. I see it as an opportunity to bring light and love to all.
In 1999, I received a psychic reading instructing me to remain the calm at the center of the storm during these violent times. It’s my intention to do so, and the best way I know how is to eschew the “Savannah Shit Show” as a form of public entertainment (thanks Mom!) and to see people for who they are in their hearts instead of for what life has made of them.
One effective tool I use for doing this is to remember that everyone comes into this world as somebody’s baby, even the person who is responsible for the violence at Pinkie Master’s.
This is the last advice that I will offer in this column.
Starting next week, The Ghost Dog Diaries will take on a new format: a weekly serial chronicling my supernatural journey from Hollywood D-Girl to Savannah psychic, starting with the Origin Story of “Your Pal, Erin.”
Thanks again to my Ghost Dog Diaries contributors and readers for your support. I hope to see y’all next week.
Until then, happy thoughts!
Your pal,

Originally published in Connect Savannah (p. 37)