I’m so thrilled that my very first blog post is an interview with Mermaid Meridian Mer-Gyver. Ever wondered what it would be like to be a mermaid? Here’s the scoop from my interview.
I’m enamored by mermaids — and write mermaid romances (Siren’s Secret, Harlequin Nocturne)– because I see them as symbols of feminine strength and power and beauty. I think it’s why so many young girls are so fascinated with them. What draws you to mermaids and when did it start?
Nothing draws me to the mermaids; it’s the water that draws me in. My family hails from Scotland, My mother and I am the only two Americans born into my family. We are from the Highlands of Scotland, where stories of Kelpies, Loch Ness Monsters, and Merrows run wild! I come from a long line sailors, privateers, fishermen, and long shore men. The North Sea gave life to and claimed life from my family. I am in awe and fearful wonder of water; it is the water that calls me, the water that draws me in. All that is left of most of my family is sea foam, they call to me and I feel like I can connect to them as a mermaid.
My mother has always called me her Water Baby and I began swimming at 5 months, I guess you could say it started there. But I did not earn my fins until 2012, when I was reconnected with my Mer-Papa Thom Shouse. It was Thom who saw the true mermaid in me and it was Thom who guided and trained me to be the mermaid I am now.
You’ve worked special events as a mermaid which must be so much fun. Are there a few special moments you can share from your experience?
My favorite memory is from a Make A Wish Foundation project that I was a part of last year. Thom Shouse was asked to create three tails for three very special little ones, the MAW girl wished asked to be a mermaid with her two siblings and spend the day with mermaids on the beach (none of them had been to the beach before) As promised, Thom created three darling tails for two little girls and one sweet little merman. I work with children every day, so when I noticed the little merman feeling a little shy I went to sit with him. We hung out on the edge of the sand where the water was just coming up around his fluke. Well as waves tend to do, the water kept raising and with one large push from a wave our little merman was a float! A quick startled look told me to grab the little and throw him over my tail to the dry sand. Forgetting how heavy people, even children are in tails, I had to put a little more weight into getting him over me, so I ended up taking the hit from the wave. The little merman was shocked and ready to be away from the water and I got a big smile and heartfelt thank you from his Father who had seen the whole thing! It still makes me smile to think of that day!
My favorite mermaid performance would be from a private party that I have attended for the last two years. It’s a Halloween party for a large animal activist company and it is my favorite party of all times! I get to be a scary, creepy siren, lurking in the dark and misty waters and I LOVE it so! The pool has large metal fencing all around so people don’t fall in, but I use it to pull myself completely out of the water to reach for the people passing by. It’s so fun to watch their faces change, at first they see a pretty mermaid swimming below and then I climb up to them and they can see my fangs, gills, and crazed eyes! It’s also fun to reach a wet hand out and let the water drip on their feet or legs, I have made several people jump and run doing just that!
I would love to know the logistics – how hard is it to squeeze into a tail and swim? Does your skin get all ‘pruny’? 🙂 How long can you hold your breath underwater?
Getting into a tail is like getting a pillow into a pillow case! I’m short enough that the guys can grab the waist of the tail and just shake me in! It also helps to use baby powder to slip in; I have also used conditioner to lube up the tail and some girls use “Personal lubricants”. All tails fit different, one of my tails is a little too big and lined with neoprene I can just hop in and out of that one! I prefer a tail that takes some work to get into, because I know it will stay on and it won’t show my bikini bottoms when I bend at the waist. My other tail by Thom Shouse, fits like a glove and it’s harder to get into, but I can swim better and longer in a tail that fits properly. Weight can also be an issue with your tail, my heavy tail is nice but my Thom tail is lighter and I can do more. Swimming in a tail comes naturally now, but at first I felt a little like an ungraceful sea snake bobbing along the surface. Fortunately, I had Thom as my teacher, he gave me my first mono fin and said ‘go swim and learn.’ So I did and in a months’ time, he gave me my first fabric tail to practice in!
Thinking I was hot stuff with my fabric tail, I hit the pool and was shocked to find how much the fabric restricted me and how much resistance was added with just a layer of fabric. I was nearly back to ungraceful sea snake, but within an hour I had it figured out and was back to swimming happily. Once I had the strength and training, Thom knew I was ready for my tail and ready to join the Pod. The day finally came, I was put into a Thom Tail, the Charmed Tail (made for and wore by Alyssa Milano for Charmed) and I have not looked back! Breath Holding is something I am just getting into, maybe 30 seconds at the most. My husband and I recently got an above ground pool and this is my summer to learn breath holding, it’s one of my personal goals. I have been in need of a pool for some time and now that we have it I make good use of it every day I can! My downfall is the cold, I get cold easily so cooler days are out of the question. However, I rarely get ‘pruny’ hands or skin, sometimes the bottoms of my feet will wrinkle if I have been in a tail for more than an hour. If it weren’t for my thin skin chilling me to the bone, you would be hard pressed to get me out of the water!
Are there any other hobbies/interests that you would like to tell us about?
I am like a diamond; I have many sides, many interests, and many hobbies! To sum up and try to give you a brief insight into my life on land…I am an Urban Farmer, Wife, Cook, Artist, Hula Hooper, Teacher, and Witch! My Husband and I are urban farmers, we raise our chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and we have full vegetable garden year around! As a wife, being married, caring for my home and husband is a big part of my every day, which brings me to my role as Cook! My best friend and I get together nearly every night and cook some amazing dishes. I hate to brag, but I am damn fine cook, my Dad was too! Cooking is a passion in my family. As an Artist, I work mostly in raw fibers, I spin raw wool into fine exotic yarns. I make mermaid jewelry and accessories, build my own costumes, create hair falls and head dress, I also knit and crochet and I am falling back into painting. I sell my one of a kind wearable art pieces on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TenTicklesArt.
Hula hooping also one of the Flow Arts and is a form of dance I have picked up in the recent years and really enjoy. I have always been involved in some form of dance and Hooping also incorporates juggling moves, which is new and challenging. Professionally, I am a teacher, it is the only profession I have ever had. My mother owns pre-school and when I turned 18; I began teaching with her and going to school to earn my degree. I have taught children for almost 15 years and in my older years I began teaching adults. My chosen religion is Paganism. I have been a witch for most of life and when I joined a coven it felt only natural to teach. For several years I taught our beliefs and practices to our coven. While I no longer teach Paganism, I continue to teach and help others in the mermaid community. I am often asked question and advice and will always help where I can.
Do you have a motto or mission that guides your profession or life?
I thought long and hard about this question and I am going to answer it honestly. It might not be kind, but it’s honest. Vanity and Pride, comes naturally with being a mermaid and I have seen and meet some very vain and prideful people. Everyone wants to be top mermaid, everyone wants the attention, but at what cost? I have seen the mean and spiteful way people treat each other because they want all the attention and have no time for the little guy. I often find myself thinking … it’s not about YOU. Being a mermaid is not about YOU, it’s about the dream, the magic, the sense of wonder you give to others. My mission as a mermaid is to uplift others, to support and guide them. After witnessing the behaviors of a group of Florida based mermaids, I made it my goal to never turn my nose up or shun someone because they were not like me. Over the past year, with the help of Patti, I have been able to help support the Mermen in our community. I have offered advice whenever asked and I have tried to be a voice for the little guy. I don’t know how much of this I have accomplished, but I keep at it and if it gets me a little recognition, then great! I would rather help some reach their goals then step on them on my way to the top.
Thanks so much for agreeing to be in my first blog guest! It’s been so much fun. Next week, this interview with Meridian will continue and she’ll share with us her favorite mermaid books and movies and her other projects like Ocean Activism.