Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Presents

It's happened at that intersection before.
Walking home from the train, I stopped at an intersection to wait for my light. A gentleman I had passed on the way didn't stop, but there was no traffic to speak of. I suppose I could have crossed, too? I was in no hurry and was content to wait the 30 seconds or so it would take for the lights to change.
I looked North to estimate how much time it would take then looked back towards the West. The man was gone. None of the shops were open across the street. I did not hear a car door open and close. There are no residential doors there. He was just gone.
It's happened before, same intersection, roughly the same time of day. I don't know if it was the same man or not. I really should pay more attention to things like that, at least at that intersection.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Butchering Trees for Our Amusement

One year, my sister decided that we needed to not only have a real tree but go and cut it down ourselves. As was the custom at the time, people would bring the corpse of a pine tree indoors then adorn it with baubles and lighted strands of gaily colored globes and drape the whole thing in strips of metals designed to further catch and reflect the lights of the slowly rotting conifer. But I digress.
We made our way to a Tree Farm wherein acres of land had been set aside for the sole purpose of raising, trimming, training, and then butchering trees for our amusement. I was young enough to require special attention but allowed, on this occasion, to be loosened and let run free in search of the perfect specimen. In reality, I believe I was allowed to simply roam and keep out of the way of the real work to be done.
As I went through the neatly ordered "woods", I quickly became to realize that there were no other humans around me. I wondered if I could become lost or forgotten? And I saw the Perfect Tree. It was perfectly formed and shaped and seemed to stand out a bit from its neighbors. I approached with a weird buzzing in my ears. Gently reaching out and barely touching its needles I said, "I'm sorry we (humans) and cutting you (trees) down." Instantly, the haze around me lifted and I became aware of my sister calling out for me. I left and got in the car, the sweet aroma of a fresh kill filling the car with it's woodsy scent.
We got an artificial tree the next year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bah. Humbug.

As the shopping season gets into full swing, I am reminded of one special experience I had at the local shopping plaza-megaplex. I had grown disillusioned with life in general and the Holidays had only amplified my sullen mood. What had been brewing since Aug/Sep was about to come to a boil.
Mom convinced me to buy gifts for my family, something I had been putting off. It was Dec23 and I drove towards the local mall. I parked near the cinema entrance (I always got great parking there, even when blockbusters were playing) and walked in. The corridor from the entrance to the mall proper was desolate. I saw a few people walking toward the Sears but otherwise I didn't see anyone. I thought I might have lucked out and avoided shoppers altogether.
I couldn't have been more wrong. As I rounded the corner and started towards the middle of the mall, all I could see was a swarm of people. There was no way to get through the sea of flesh without having to touch someone which, at the time, made me nauseous.
I dug deep into my angry psyche. I imagined a cloak of hate, despair, futility, and death draped over my shoulders. I began my journey to gather knickknacks for the familial units.
What happened was a bit of a blur. I went from store to store with the roar of Hell in my ears. But, through the miasma of shoppers, something amazing happened. I walked through a pocket of space. No one got within a foot of me. Everyone else was jostled and some were battered & bruised. I walked comfortably and without incident. In fact, I was heading out the door before I realized that I had finished my shopping and made the trip without a scratch.
It was the first time in ~4 months that I smiled.

Friday, December 4, 2009


When I went to visit my parents and kin over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I got Mom to take me to some of the cemeteries down there. She took me to the sites of some of my deceased relatives and we got to walk around a bit and look at some other plots.
The ground at one place was soft, like fresh turned soil. But it was like there everywhere we walked, not just in one spot. The cemetery was terraced on the side of a gently sloping hill and all I could think was that the rain was going to wash it all away one day.
I found some relatives that Mom had forgotten about (but Dad had remembered and confirmed later). There were some places we just couldn't get to that day. I wish I could go back and try again but, alas, I won't get back for many months.
I did happen to glance over at a tombstone just as some orbs manifested. This isn't the first time I've seen them with the naked eye but this time, the sun was still up. I might not have seen them if they didn't pass in front of a dark stone. I attempted to snap some pictures but nothing showed up, at least as far as I can tell. It's possible that I was too slow in getting the camera turned on, focused, and the picture taken to have captured them. Still, it was a very cool experience.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Growing up, my primary mode of transportation was my own two legs. Whether walking, running, or biking, I tended to rely upon myself to get from place to place. My friend and I took turns going back and forth to each others' house, about a mile or so apart. I ran errands to the grocery store. I walked to rehearsals. Unless it was raining (and sometimes even then), I was on foot.
I noticed that the traffic lights were not functioning properly one day. There was a police officer manually changing the lights while workers were repairing the malfunction. I got to see the inside of a control box for the automatic traffic light switch. I started paying more and more attention to those boxes; if I could control them, I could bring traffic to a stand-still. mwahahaha! Or, I could make sure we had all green lights when traveling by car. Nifty!
I starting trying to figure out if I could, somehow, control them with my mind. I imagined that I was sending out 'pulses' with my mind, similar to Aquaman on the SuperFriends cartoons. By coaxing or commanding, eventually the light would change. In my mind's eye, I could see the switch moving and hear the characteristic chinks as the mechanism caused the light to change.
At first, I knew it was just coincidence. But I kept at it. Eventually, I began to suspect that I was actually changing the light. Then I knew I was.
Mom was driving us on errands one day. The traffic light we approached had just changed and a timer was involved; it would take approximately 3 minutes for the light to change again (she had timed it; she read that turning the car off for long lights could save on gas so she had timed several lights to see what the cost savings might be). Having just missed the light and knowing we were somewhat pressed for time, I concentrated and the light changed. Not only did it change for us but the whole process of the other light changing from green to yellow to red and our light changing from red to green went much faster than usual -- some cars squeeled as they braked, caught off guard by the sudden change.
Mom was shocked at the light that day. I sat in the passenger seat and looked at the cars caught in the intersection. I made a vow to only use my evil powers for good. Mostly.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Expectations

I try to live my life without expectations. I have learned that want often leads to disappointment. If I can release the want, I can ease the disappointment.
For example, I can count on one hand the number of times I have celebrated my birthday ON my birthday. On becoming an adult, I can likewise count the number of Christmases my family celebrated on Christmas Day. I learned, eventually, to not fret the trivialities of the calendar. The danger, then, is that I do not have the same expectations for time/space as other people, namely my employer.
Getting stood up on a date, then, leads to disappointment not in being alone but in missing an opportunity to spend time with a (potential) friend. Being rather good at entertaining myself and not afraid to see a movie by myself or eat dinner alone, I am used to being on my own. Sometimes that's preferable; sometimes company is nice.
Sometimes the Loneliness Daemon tries to sink his teeth in; I can defend myself pretty well. On getting stood up, I have to determine if the person is honest when they belatedly apologize; an honest man deserves another chance.
Cutting the expectation lessens the disappointment. Sometimes people will misunderstand but that's something I will have to deal with. And not get disappointed by.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do You Know Reiki?

I decided to go out to a local establishment that serves adult beverages one night. While wandering around, looking for someone I might know, I continually ran into the same person. Coincidence? He claimed it was. Despite this, we struck up a conversation.
Since working on my energies and managing the energies around me, I have become intently aware of the primary energies of those around me. His energy was like a feast for me. I had to be very careful not to completely drain him.
Well, I did a pretty good job of that but.. he was a little woozy. Since neither of us were drinking adult beverages, I figured I had taken the energy he was putting out there. So, I began to put some back. He sat upright and asked if I knew Reiki?
Now, I admit, I could have taken an online course (but haven't). Instead, all the energy work I have done gives me some insight to moving energy around. Putting (some of) his energy back was a piece of cake; that he could feel it, surprising. Most people are so clogged energetically that they wouldn't notice the flow of energy. He was aware of his energies, which lead to more talking.
He had seen me earlier and wanted to talk to me. He stated the energies of the people in bars tends to be an antithesis to him but I was different. Although he didn't intentionally track me, he kept finding me in a crowded bar. While refreshing to talk to someone who was sensitive to energies, I needed to leave. He was right about the massively clogged masses who go to bars and it was unpleasant... like being in a cesspool. Sure, you can muck about but who wants to intentionally do that?
Going out was rarely fun for me; lately, it has been a bit of a chore.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Man With a Hat

The very first night I spent the night in my current apartment, my new roommate confided in me that there was a ghost. The ghost of a man who died in the kitchen. My bedroom is off of the kitchen.
I haven't yet seen the Man with the Hat (as my roommates name him) but I have experienced some things:
My roommates and I had some cocktails one night. We stayed up a little later than we should, I suppose? I got in bed and tried to sleep. I woke up to the covers being gently jerked off the foot of the bed. I sat up part-way and said, "stop it, I'm trying to sleep!" and it stopped. It wasn't until the morning that I realized that my roommates were in bed and not playing a prank on me. A few times I've woken with the sheets at the foot of the bed; if I push them myself, they tend to fall to one side or the other.
When one roommate went to visit his mother for the weekend, I perceived a man-sized shadow in his room as I walked by. I stopped and, without looking, simply said, "He'll be back in 2 days" and kept walking. There was no further activity after that.
Sitting in the den, alone, I perceived someone looking at me. I glanced up and saw a shadow dart away. I cannot rule out someone moving around but I didn't hear anything.. and it's impossible to move around the apartment without making some noise.
The closet door in the hallway began rattling one night. I put my hand on the door to make sure I wasn't imagining it when there was a muffled breath, as if something breathing through the keyhole. It stopped right after that.
So, nothing cosmic, nothing that couldn't be explained away, no messages from beyond the grave... yet. I'm keeping my senses open for this one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something Wicked

Back in In Blackest Night , I discussed the church complex that I grew up in. Basically, the church was several buildings connected by outdoor walkways. The old Chapel was turned into the Teen Chapel because of some unusual circumstances that took place there.
We discovered, some months prior, that a window that faced the tree line could be pried open easily. This allowed us access to the then all-but-abandoned Chapel. But we never went in when it was getting dark outside. We never turned on any lights, which would draw attention to our secret playground.
One night, several of us tweens had been left by our parents/rides home. It wasn't unusual for families to show up in several cars so it was actually very easy and common for someone to be left behind. We got to a phone and called our respective families for a ride home and now were waiting outside for someone to show up.
I saw it. Each of the kids in our little group saw it. Movement, down the walkway near the Chapel. Human-sizes movement. It looked like monks were walking around the building. Some of us went to look but we didn't see anything. We went back to the rest of group and talked about what we had thought we had seen and what should we do next?
Only two of us, me and J----, saw what happened next. A figure in a hooded cloak turned the corner on the walkway, heading for the Nursery. In fact, Julie says she heard the distinctive sound of the Nursery door close. We hatched our plan.
The boys (C----, S----, and I) went to investigate. The girls would stay behind and see if anyone slips past us and/or alert any adult who might show up what was going on. We split up.
When we got to the Nursery door, my heart dropped: the door was unlocked. We slipped in and figured out how to search the rooms while keeping an eye on the door, preventing anyone from getting past us. Room after room was empty. The final room, the room I had seen an angel in as a child, awaited. We approached the door.
A figure stood in the middle of the room with his back to the door. As we watched, he raised his arms and his cloak fell away revealing... nothing. It was as if he had turned into air, the cloak falling to the ground as if it just collapsed.
We had planned on trying to tackle whomever we found; instead, we ran. As we rounded the corner, C----'s father, a state trooper, showed up. With minimal prompting, we got him to check out the Nursery. We saw his flashlight bobbing through the rooms from the outside (we were instructed to stay put) and then he came out. Something was draped over his nightstick which he held at arm's length, as if it were a snake. It looked like a cloak. He put it in the trunk of his squad car and waited until everyone's parents had shown up to take us home.
After that night, the Chapel was inspected. A group of volunteers went in to paint the walls. It seems they were covered in "water stains". Interior walls with no pipes had water sprayed on them that formed a dark red stain. Yeah, we didn't believe them either.
On a dare, we went into the HVAC closet of the Chapel. There, resting on a wall stud, were some implements of dark rites including a small dagger and a small gilded cup with blood stains. The next time I dared to go look, they were gone. I don't know who took them.
Somehow, we were allowed to have a haunted house for the first and last time that year. Where? The Chapel of course. I was the Phantom, a creature of the catacombs. A bit of a stretch but an apt character for someone who had explored the lower level of the Chapel.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Old Man and Me (Part III, The Final Goodbye)

One night, I woke up to see the Old Man standing near the foot of the bed about a foot or so away. His back was against the wall and he was facing the door opposite. I was a bit bleary-eyed as I tried to talk to him. He didn't respond at first. I sat up, sensing something was wrong. Then, he slowly, slowly turned his head towards me. His aura darkened. I tried to scream when I saw his eye sockets were empty and his face seemed to age before my eyes. He began to step towards the bed, taunting me to call for my parents. I backed up as far as I could as he began to crawl onto the foot of the bed. I jumped out of bed and ran for the door as his dry rasping laugh faded away. I knocked at my parent's door only to have Mom escort me back to bed. Of course, he was gone. The sheets were on the floor.
The next day, the Old Man was back. This time, his aura and demeanor were light. I confided in him what had happened. He was saddened to hear what had happened, assured me that it was not him, and that he thought he knew what needed to be done. He told me was going to be going away soon and that I would have to be strong without him and, after he was gone, everything should settle down a bit. I was torn. I was still uncertain from what had happened the previous night but I also didn't want him to go; through everything, he was the only adult (albeit dead) who believed that I could see and speak with ghosts AND he could fend off the Bad Things.
A few nights later, the Bad Things were calling from the darkness and woke me up. The Old Man was there. He went towards the darkness, the voices, and I could hear their conflict as if down a far tunnel as it faded away. The bedroom seemed lighter somehow. I hadn't realized that there was a darkness in the room before that.
I only saw teh Old Man one more time after that night. My family was all together one day, having lunch. The Old Man was glowing and all smiles but he wouldn't talk to me. He indicated that he didn't want to talk, he was just there to check in on me. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out "STOP!" when my sister went to sit in the seat that he was sitting in. Mom spun me around and demanded to know what was going on. I told her the Old Man was sitting there. Mom took my head in her hands and told me to repeat after her, "there are no ghosts, there's nothing in the dark, and nothing is out to get me". As I repeated those dreadful words, I watched the Old Man fade away, as if being pulled backwards down a tunnel. He was smiling and waving as he left, though, perhaps, a bit sad.
I haven't interacted with any ghosts like I did with him since that day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Old Man and Me (Part II, the, well, Still Early Years)

Just as a small child has a distorted sense of the passage of time, so too is my recollection of how long I knew the Old Man. In retrospect, I would estimate from the ages of 3 to 6 years old? Hence, I cannot accurately say when certain events transpired. I can put my best guess at it and try to make sense of it.
The Old Man's early appearances were, initially, frightening -- most spirits had minimal interaction with me but he was intent on communicating with me. He did eventually clarify that he wasn't there to frighten me. I daresay we were friends?
At one point, I grew to appreciate his presence. When he was around, nothing came to haunt me and nightmares were rare. When he was away... it's as if the Bad Things, the things we fear, knew it was safe to come after me.
At one point, the Bad Things started to come after me when the Old Man was around. He told me he could hold them off a bit but I would have to be strong if something got past him. I mustn't show fear, the Bad Things lived for that. I recall having just enough fortitude to stand up to one such Bad Thing one night, a shadowy creature with a barely audible but very angry hiss.
The details of these conflicts are muddled. I recall Mom walking in my room on one such night, to find out what the noises were coming from my room. I was huddled up, peering just over the edge of my sheets clutched close to my face. Going from the lit hallway to my darkened room, she didn't see the clothes that had been in mid-air fall to the ground. She just complained that I had a messy room and hadn't we just cleaned it up before I went to bed? I couldn't tell her why the clothes were there because she never believed me when I told her about the ghosts.
Those instances were rare; for the most part, the Old Man and I laughed and played games and enjoyed being able to perceive each other.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Old Man and Me (Part I, the Early Years)

I'm not sure when we found each other. He was suddenly there. I believe he followed me home. If he told me his name, I've since forgotten. I want to say it was "James" but I could be wrong. I just refer to him as the Old Man.
He knew he was dead but he had stuck around to look after his girls, but they couldn't perceive them. He realized that I could not only perceive him but interact with him so he started to look after me, too. But sometimes he left to go check on his girls.
I remember that, at first, he scared me. He managed to convince me that he wasn't a bad man and he listened to me. In a house full of people, sometimes this ghost was the only one who did.
Mom would often walk in on me in mid-game or mid-conversation with the Old Man. Since she couldn't perceive him, she assumed I was talking with myself. While grateful that I could entertain myself so, she also worried about me. When the Old Man wasn't around I interacted with the family more but when he was there I tended to stay in my room, "alone".
I learned to play off his presence fairly well and he learned that he could stay around without fear of being seen. I recall one day sitting on my bed with him, playing my favorite board game (I had to move all the pieces), when Mom burst into the room. She was certain that there was someone else there? But no, I was all alone. As far as she knew. He and I laughed about after she had left. I learned later that Mom sometimes would listen outside my door, trying to catch... something? She just didn't realize what was going on and wouldn't believe me when I tried to tell her. That turned out to by my undoing, time and time again.
I suspected the Old Man was looking after my mother and her sister. He assured me that that wasn't the case, that he wasn't even related to me. I was too young at the time to do much investigative work so I had to let it drop. Reading at a first grade level still isn't helpful when one doesn't have the means to reach the County Clerk's office. In hindsight, I am not convinced that he wasn't a relative. I think he realized that Mom couldn't deal with the thought of someone not going to Heaven just so they can keep an eye on her so he told me that my mother wasn't one of his girls that he was looking after.
The Old Man played a bigger part in my life as I got older. But that will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home Alone

Overall, I was a pretty good kid. My parents would sometimes go away for the weekend and leave me alone when I was old enough to fend for myself (neighbors and family would check up on me so I was really just in the house alone, but looked after).
"Scary" movies would be aired during October and I would usually watch them. They really didn't frighten me too much at that point in my life. I think knowing what was really in the dark, lurking, gave me something to be truly frightened of.
If I let my imagination get the better of me I could imagine that the house, settling, was even more creaky and groany than usual. It was kind of fun to let myself get scared, thinking I might not be alone the house after all?
On one such night, I was alone and watching something scary on TV. Suddenly, there was a loud thump from upstairs. In a panic, I thought I heard voices as well. My dog suddenly sat up as well, ears perked. That was not a good sign. I shut the TV off and listened. The air conditioner shaft thumped loudly at that moment. Then silence. My dog half-barked once, then ran to the bottom of the stairs. He fussed a bit and ran around the hallway, still downstairs, then wanted to go outside. Which sounded like a superb idea at the time.
We went out and I looked at all the upstairs windows, from the safety of the ground floor. All the windows and screens were closed and in place. If someone(s) had broken in, they did a great job of putting everything back in place.
Mustering courage, wielding a baseball bat, and taking my cocker spaniel with me, I inspected every square foot in the house. Nothing. I also didn't notice anything that had fallen over that could have made the loud thump I had heard earlier. Nothing seemed out of place. Getting to sleep that night was difficult.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Polearm of Some Sort

I grew up sharing a bedroom with my brother for about 6 years. When an older sibling went to college, he moved into that vacant bedroom and left me in my bedroom alone. Many nights I thought I heard him coming into the room and crawling into his old bed only to look over and realize he hadn't.
I started to listen to the radio as I was trying to relax and fall asleep. I began this practice on a night that I was particularly frightened (though I no longer recall the reason). The light from the stereo combined with the soothing sounds enabled me to shut out the world around me and concentrate on sleep.
On a particularly scary night, I left the stereo on while I tried to sleep. The volume was low but audible, the light from the radio tuner seemed bright in the darkened room. I was roused from a restless sleep when I heard the closet door open. I assumed my brother was getting something out of the closet but I was quite wrong.
As I peeked toward the closet door I suddenly woke up. A man-sized being in dark shrouds had stepped from the closet and was hovering towards my bed. I shut my eyes and pretended to be asleep, though I am certain my teeth were chattering. My heart, hammering in my chest, would surely betray me.
The being looked like a classical figure of Death: dark whispy cloak, a skull where the face should be, and a polearm of some sort. I could see through it whenever I dared to peek but I could also clearly see it. It took its time reaching the foot of the bed. And it continued to approach, very slowly. Then, it sat on the bed, staring at me the whole time. I could feel the bed indent as it sat. I could feel the sleeve of its arm as it balanced itself on the bed, moving its skull face in towards mine, getting a closer look.
I assumed I was about to die. Not only was Death sitting on my bed, starting to weigh down on me, but my heart was racing, I was sweaty even though the room was cool, and I could swear even the radio was starting to sound like it was very far away.
I don't know how long we stayed like that, me pretending to sleep while this thing just stared at me, but eventually it got up and moved back to the closet. I was so relieved that it was gone that i jumped up and went to get some water. The rest of the house was quiet and dark; no one else seemed to be have noticed? When I braved a return, I had already decided to just leave the stereo on all night even though it hadn't done anything except make that thing more easily visible. But I did manage to laugh a little. The closet door was closed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Masques d'Illusion

I have debated writing this post for a few days because it diverges from my original intent of this blog.
From my previous posts, I hope there can be seen an aversion to masks. This has manifested in my life in many ways, not the least of which is an aversion to masks not seen.
"Put on a happy face!", makes me a little ill. Why? Why should we pretend to be what we're not? Who is it really comforting, the viewer or the wearer of the unseen mask?
I battled depression several years ago. A buddy of mine insisted on dragging me out of my apartment, thinking it would somehow cheer me up. If I didn't put on a happy face, I was quickly shunned and avoided. If I did, I made myself ill. Upon returning to my apartment, I would sink deeper into depression because I couldn't "fit in", could just put up a masque d'illusion that I was healthy and my world was wonderful. Like a house of cards, that chicanery quickly disintegrated into a pile of rubbish.
I see the masks people wear. Some are so adept at it, they no longer realize they have a mask on their noggin. Going through life with the pretense of being something they're not, they don't see the damage they're doing. And I reflect on my own masks and try to rip them off and not suffer the life that isn't my own. I don't want to see myself through the soulless eyes of a mask.
To me, wearing that mask ranks right up there with the proverbial used camel salesman: untrustworthy, devoid of life, monstrous, an error on the tapestry of the universe.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


My earliest Halloween memories are shopping for costumes at the local Woolworth's. I was about 3 years old and went shopping with my older brothers and mother. Everyone was so excited but I didn't really understand what was happening, I just picked up the excited energy from my siblings and knew something good was going to happen.
I was in for a surprise.
First of all, the store had dedicated two whole aisles to Halloween: costumes, decorations, candy, et al. Anything remotely related to Halloween was there. And, at first, it seemed like a very good thing. There was candy! And things that were silly and a little scary! Candles! And things that smelled good.
Then, I turned the corner (probably looking for my brothers) and came face-to-face with something dreadful: the boxed costumes. Back then, costumes were highly flammable and colorful but basically flat. The costume portion had elements of the character it was imitating. The faces were all basically the same: formed plastic with a slit for the mouth, holes for nostrils, and the eyes were completely cut out. The masks covered just the face and had an elastic string that went behind the head and was adjustable.. for some reason -- the mask never really fit. The boxed set was packaged with a clear cellophane window where the mask sat, staring out at customers with empty eyes. The folded costume was behind the mask.
Gazing down the aisle, all I could see were the soulless, eyeless faces staring at me. Otherwise friendly faces were suddenly frightening: Superman, Batman, Captain Kirk, Bugs Bunny, an astronaut. Frightening faces were downright horrifying: skeleton, witch, ghost.
What's the big deal? These things scared me, possibly scared a lot of kids.. so what? I may have mentioned the closet door of my bedroom opening and closing on its own at night. I may have mentioned what would be inside that door when it opened and, of course, wouldn't be there after the door closed. After that Halloween shopping trip, I woke many nights to the door opening to reveal these costume boxes stacked floor to ceiling, similar to the aisle at Woolworth's. Anything to frighten me, it seems, was fair game for those horrid nights. They seemed to be worse around this time of year...
I faced my fears one time. I got out of bed and walked to the closet. The door had opened itself and presented a dozen costume boxes, face out, floor to ceiling.. I reached out and touched the cellophane of one of the boxex. The eyes seemed to shift and 'look' at me as I ran screaming from my bedroom. When Mom or Dad put me back in bed, the closet was normal with my lone costume box sitting innocently on the top shelf, face up and a shoe box on top of it.
One night I woke to something under the sheets. Looking down, I could recognize the outline of the dreaded box without having to look.. but I did look. Sure enough, the cellophane window was gazing at me under the covers. I screamed in terror, my Dad came in and took the box away, then woke my brothers and asked them who had put the box there while I was asleep. Well, waking them up should have been a clue that they didn't do it.
By the time Halloween came around, I was almost too frightened of my costume to actually wear it. I quickly pulled the mask over my face and proceeded to terrorize anyone nearby who, naturally, couldn't understand why I thought Batman would give them nightmares.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Through the Eyes of a Child

The very earliest memory I have of seeing a guardian spirit or angel was when I was about 3 years old. In the church nursery of all places.
A group of us were playing with a wooden rocker. By turning it over, it became stairs that we could run over. Just as the adults watching us were praising our inventiveness and resourcefulness, one of the other kids tripped and fell. Immediately, a spirit was there and guided his head so that he didn't crack it open; in fact, he wasn't really hurt at all. What could have been a concussion was just a near miss.
I saw the spirit. My friend saw the spirit. The boy who fell did not. The adults did not though they did offer prayers of gratitude that the boy didn't hurt himself. While the rest of the room focused on the boy that fell, my friend and I watched the angel. S/He smiled at us and faded away. In the serious voice that only children seem to have, we talked about seeing the spirit with the boy that fell. He confessed that he used to see them but didn't now that he was growing up.
The spirit was definitely not a ghost. The aura around him/her was different. In retrospect, I believe the spirit assumed a humanoid form so that it would seem 'right' to us -- we knew about angels after all. There was definitely a sense of peace from the spirit. But I still have unanswered questions about this encounter, so many years later.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

While in college, I began to experiment with bending things to my Will. I knew I would have to start small, to convince myself that I could make changes. And, as I grew in ability, I would be able to affect bigger things and make bigger changes. The world was a tapestry and I was learning how to weave.
At least, that was the plan.
One night, I began to expand my Will. It started with a cone of incense. I reached out and began to feel the smoke rising from the cone. When I felt ready, I began to push the smoke first one way, then another. I caused the smoke to stream thinly, to billow thickly, and to form rings. Bending smoke was easy and fun and I spent a few hours trying to get shapes to form; lots of wisps -- no shapes but, overall, I was very pleased.
In reading about totems and guardian spirits and Nature, I had grown frustrated that I could never quite get to a point where I could meet a totem spirit and learn even more about shamanism than any book could teach me. I read about using a medium of some sort to bridge that gap: peyote, pot, LSD, ... I was too clean cut to get mixed up in serious drugs but I wasn't above trying something to help out. Amyl Nitrates were popular recreational drugs at the time, easy to find and easy to use. With a bottle in hand, I began to meditate and, when I could go no further, I hit the poppers.
I was able to go further, yes. I won't write much about it, though. The spirits I saw weren't at all what I expected to see, not human at all. When I finally reached The Cave with totem animals, they acknowledged my presence but otherwise would have nothing to do with me. I had gotten there but not 'properly'. I was devastated. I thought I had done what so many others before me had done?
Another night, I decided I would try again. I prepped, I meditated, I reached a point when I thought I was ready. Suddenly, as I raised the bottle of poppers, something hit the window behind me. I jumped and the fluid went up my nose, burning my sinuses badly. That was the last night I tried doing that ever again.
In fact, I haven't headed back for The Cave since then. Once burned, twice shy? Perhaps. But partly I felt like I was trying to forge a path that really wasn't my own. It was fascinating but it felt forced, like something I was supposed to do versus something I was driven to do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's in the Cards Redux

Having an experience with fortune telling through cards when I was very young, I didn't have another experience with cards (this time it was tarot) until I was in college. My friend, Rebecca, had a deck and gave a reading for me after I expressed an interest in things occult. Then my friend, David, also gave a remarkable reading about the same time. I knew I wanted to know more.
I read an article and looked for, and found, a book on the subject. The book was written in detail, some of it quite esoteric. I knew I needed help and turned to my friends. David gave some suggestions but wasn't interested in attempting to teach someone how to read the cards. Rebecca reluctantly agreed but suggested I find some more books to study; her intention was for me to expand my notions about tarot and not be limited to her ways -- it was a great suggestion.
One early session should have alerted me much sooner that I was on a different path than most.
We began with the Minor Arcana. She asked me what colors I associated with Air? I thought for a moment, even closing my eyes and imagining the sky during a clear day. "Blue!" I suggested, enthusiastically. She suggested I think, instead, of something in the sky. I thought for a moment and said "White!"; for the clouds had turned my clear day a lovely shade of gray/white. No, something else. I thought some more... white could also be stars? or the reflection of the Moon? "Black?" I offered tentatively. A little frustrated, she suggested I think of what makes all the light during the day. "The Sun! Of course! So, let's go with Red for those amazing sunsets!" I believe she was about to cry, both from laughter and frustration. She told me the color associated with Air in the Minor Arcana was Yellow. I actually had to puzzle it out; that was the last color I would have picked for Air.
We went through the other suits with similar results. When we finally ended for the day and I went home, my head was spinning. Surely I would eventually get it? But I struggled with the tarot (and still do, to a degree), trying to make it fit the notions that other people had about those cards.
In recent years, I've grown fond of using playing cards to peer into the unknown, as was done for me when I was just a wee lad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Power of Gem

In college, I began my in/formal pagan training. Mostly from "free practitioners" and from reading books, I was slowly indoctrinated into religions other than Judeo-Christian. It was during this time that I began working with crystals and other trinkets.
My friend showed me how to use the flow of energy to charge crystals. And that different crystals had different resonances with different properties. I often felt that the references I consulted sometimes got it right but sometimes missed the subtleties in the gems. Some of my favorite stones were pulsing with energies not attributed to them. Which lead to me getting frustrated that a particular crystal was not responding like I expected it to at times.
One of the coolest things was meeting someone who was interested in crystals and letting them 'touch' or touch (depending on their sensitivity) the crystals that I had. It was always a confidence boost to hear them exclaim at how they could easily feel the energies pulsing through the crystals, sometimes from a little bit away, sometimes through my shirt. Sometimes, an insensitive clod would grab the crystal around my neck; it felt like I was being grabbed in a most unpleasant way.
I also purchased a small trinket. It had a skull on the top, a three-sided dagger below, an axe blade on one side, and a strange mesh sphere-like thing on the other side. The whole thing was only about 2 inches on the longest side. I was drawn to it but didn't know what it was. The dealer who sold it knew it was Indian or Tibetan but didn't know what it was beyond that. It was almost 20 years later before I learned that it was, in fact, Tibetan; it was a miniature version of a weapon used by Bön masters.
One thing I never learned how to use was a crystal sphere, intended for scrying. I never could get that thing to work, as a scrying device in any case. I found a lovely companion piece and it looks pretty but maybe I will find a use for it in the future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Early Eerie Episode

Last night, I went for a walk at night. I've mentioned it, I like to walk at night. It's cooler, (usually) quieter, and peaceful. It appeals to me.
As I walked down the street, it seemed quieter than usual. The space felt like it does during Halloween. I can't describe it any other way. Although the street is flat, it had the feeling of going down into a ravine. The air was indescribably alive with ghosts. I felt uneasy as if in the middle of a swarm. I saw something white and opaque land on a nearby rooftop.
I continued to walk down the block. By the end of the block, the feelings of unease were gone. I never felt in danger, more like a crowd of spirits coming after someone, but not me. I should check to see if anyone passed away on that street; perhaps they were getting an escort to another life?
I have mentioned it, the feeling was similar to the feelings I get around October.. it's starting early this year? or a special situation? It bears further investigation.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Birth of Fear

Our school built a new building in college. It was very shoddily built by a firm that didn't know how to build anything that big. So there was a lot of time for us to enter and explore the building before it officially opened since it was constantly getting permits and inspections. For example, one day during a heavy rain, water was pouring from around the plate of an electrical outlet. That caused some problems...
In the mean time, we found a way to get inside and figured out how to get onto the roof which gave us a view of the whole campus. At night, it was peaceful and beautiful. I watched the sun set from there one day. At the time, we were the highest viewpoint on campus.
One night, my buddy and I were headed for the roof. We had to go to the top floor then climb a ladder to an access panel on the roof. From there, we would crawl over a section of roof tiles that accessed the neighboring building (the only way to get there). Even if someone came after us, they very likely wouldn't pull the same stunt we did and, if they did, we could hear them coming and could scramble down the other side.
My buddy, insensitive to the most obvious of things, started to climb. But, as I ascended the ladder, I felt a fear I hadn't known. It almost seemed palpable. I could tell where it was coming from... At first, it was as if something was on the ladder looking down at us. I felt the fear move into the darkness away from the ladder. There was a small area between the top floor and the roof; it could almost be a secret room. The fear was emanating from a corner, as if something were as afraid of us as we, well I, were of it. I could never quite focus on anything hiding in the darkness, though.
That was the only night I felt fear. But after that night, I've had my fear of heights elevated. It was never as bad before that night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stone Hut

Visiting my cousins was always an adventure. (see previous post, "It's Comic. It's Tragic.")
One year, we went hiking through the woods around their house. We came upon several boulders that had been arranged as a shelter; three walls and a roof. My cousins said it had been done a few months before, there was no longer trace of where the boulders had been.
It was very cool to see from a distance but, closer, it was somber. The air didn't seem to move. There was an unexplained heaviness around us. We, my cousins and siblings and I, just moved around the primitive shelter. Our silence added to the silence surrounding us.
Walking away from it, Nature seemed to waken. Even our feet crunching the frozen ground seemed alive by comparison.
I was drawn to the stone hut but I never knew why. I went out on my own and eventually found it. I went inside (for the first time); it was large enough for me, a child, to stand up and spread my arms to my sides just touching the walls. Now, it is difficult for me to imagine the dimensions so I must rely upon my memory of it.
Inside, the world seemed far away. The open face let in light from the world around but it was as if there were no sound allowed. Facing the light, I felt as if something were trying to pull me backwards, away from the world. But turning and facing the dark, I felt as if I were drawn back into the world of light. It was very disconcerting.
Walking back, my brothers found me. They told me I was in big trouble and would be sent home ahead of everyone else, alone. I might even miss out on Christmas. When we got back to my aunt's house, Mom was not upset at all; my brothers had mislead me. But I wasn't allowed to wander beyond sight of the house alone again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Light in the Sky

I often went outside at night. No particular reason. It was quiet, I suppose, and I could wander around safely, for the most part. I spent some time looking at constellations and the Moon. I also just listened to the night sounds.
One night, I looked up and saw a ball of light, slowly traveling from South to North. I ran inside, grabbed the only camera I could find, yelled for Mom to come outside with me, and ran back out the door. I got one picture of... it. Whatever it was? I lined up another shot just a short distance away, between two trees based on the trajectory.
The light slowly moved towards the trees. I checked the camera one last time. I waited.. but the light was gone. I looked around but I hadn't missed it, it had just disappeared as it headed behind the trees.
Disappointed, I went back inside just as my mom was heading out. She was busy and had just reached a stopping point. If she had been just a few minutes sooner, she would have seen it as well. So, I was the only person who saw it.
I scanned the papers every day for a week. Mom suggested I call the local Air Forces Base(s) to see if there was any reports of flying objects. I watched the local News channels for any mention of a strange light traveling through the sky. Nothing.
Every argument I could think of that it was a hoax was countered by another reason it couldn't be. In the end, I just let it be a mystery. If it was a hoax, it was extremely elaborate and no one ever took credit for it. If it weren't, there was something to wonder about in the night sky.
When I got the film developed, the only picture that didn't come out was the one picture I took of the light in the sky. I looked at the negative and it was fuzzy, at best. It looked like someone took a picture of a dim light at night. I suppose the good people who made the prints just assumed that I wouldn't a picture that was must have been taken in mistake.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cat People

I grew up in a suburb that grew up with me; we were one of the first houses on the block. A friend of mine grew up in a nearby rural community, the kind of place where you knew everyone on your block, knew your pharmacist, knew your grocer, etc.
His house was similar to mine. He had two brothers and sister, just like me. The similarities ended there, though. There was a lot of family quarrels in his house, sometimes ending in bloody fist-fights. When my family was routinely dull and predictable, his was energetic and dynamic; both are good in their own ways, of course, but adding elements of both made things more interesting for me and a nice break from the chaos for him.
There was an energy in his house that attracted the chaotic. Mostly, it was comical. Sometimes it was tragic. And there were the magical moments.
Whenever something unusual happened in that quiet little town, there could only be one of two reasons: my friend's family, or the gypsies. "Gypsies", it turns out, were any group of people who drifted into or near the town. They could be circus people. They could be a band. Heck, they could be a group of tourists travelling on the cheap. Whatever, they were all gypsies and whenever something went massively wrong, the gypsies were to blame.
We were trying to decide what trouble we could skirt that day. Just to the border of getting into trouble without really getting into trouble. I saw her through the window. She was skulking in the back yard. Which was odd because the back yard was fenced in. I looked at my friend and he had seen her too. Motioning for me to be quiet and to follow him, we headed for the side door. Whispering quickly, our plan was simple: go out the side door, circle around to the back gate, and surprise her. We really didn't know what would happen then but we were rushed.
She looked like a gypsy. That's the only way I can describe it. She had dark hair, sharp features, dark silky clothes with a black shawl draped over her shoulders and some dangling jewelry that stood out in sharp contrast to her dark clothes. I almost laughed: for once, I thought, the suspicious townies got it right.
She must have percieved us. She stopped looking into the windows, stood up, pulled her shawl over the top of her head, and quickly moved towards the other gate, which opened at the driveway. From there, she would be able to reach the street in no time. We started walking towards her, shouting "hey!" as we picked up the pace. She opened the gate and slipped through as we were half-way there. We broke out into a jog and opened the gate which had swung shut, my friend in the lead.
I only saw the after effect, my friend says he saw it happen. When I looked around, I couldn't see anyone, just a big black cat darting down the drive. My friend had stopped in his tracks and just stood, mouth agape. The gypsy woman was no where to be seen. He spun around, grabbed me by the shoulders, and pushed me back through the gate where he started walking in circles. He says he saw the gypsy turn into the cat as she was walking away.
On reflection, it completely makes sense as far as the disappearance of the gypsy woman. I would go so far as to say I saw the end of the transformation. The cat seemed bigger at first but I wasn't looking for the cat, I was looking for the woman, so it didn't really register.
I've walked back there plenty of times; there was no other place for the woman to have gone, nothing to hide behind. I trust my friend completely, there was no reason for him to make up a story like that. It happened so fast it had to have happened; a similar transformation in a Hollywood movie would have taken several minutes at least if not a whole scene.
I never saw that gypsy woman again. Nor that cat.

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Comic. It's Tragic.

My family went to visit our cousins every other year; in between, they would come visit us. On one such trip, and I must have been very young at the time, I was left with the adults as the kids went out. I'm not sure how that happened since my siblings and I were much younger than my cousins; it's possible that I was simply left alone in the house while they went hiking.
Their house was built into a slight incline of land. The driveway and carport were on the top level, the front door on the mid-level, and the workshop and cellar that would otherwise be at ground level were underground. There was a pool table in the cellar that provided hours of amusement and, if I close my eyes, I think I can still smell the musty workshop and cellar.
The family room was on the ground floor under the kitchen. It housed a large couch and several chairs, all facing the fireplace and TV. As one came down the stairs, the bedrooms were off to the left and the family room and cellar to the right. On the far wall partially hidden by the interior fireplace, there was a blank wall.
Well, blank except for the masks: comedy and tragedy. Their grotesque features always gave me the creeps. I refused to be within sight of them if I was by myself. Even in the comforting arms of family members, my eyes would invariably drift to the masks and a chill would run up my spine.
Alone that day, I grew weary of listening to adults chattering about nothing. I wandered downstairs, intent on playing pool. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Something told me that I was not alone downstairs. In the room lit by bright sunlight streaming through windows, I dared to glance around the corner into the family room. My heart pounding, I knew that there was something very wrong. In a moment, the masks had freed themselves and were floating in mid-air, turning to look directly at me, the expressions on their faces changing before my eyes. In a moment of terror, I screamed as loudly as I could. As adults ran from the kitchen and down the stairs, I watched the masks bob backwards towards their resting place, as if in laughter. I pointed and gestured towards the fireplace (the masks themselves were not visibile from where I stood) as my confused aunt and uncle and parents searched for anything that might have frightened me.
They chalked it up to my imagination, my nightmares, too many sweets, too little sleep.. anything but that I might have been telling the truth.
Years later, alone again, I dared to peek. The masks seemed dead. The features appeared smoother, less drastic. The eyes themselves seemed devoid of anything vicious. I can not explain what happened all those years ago. I can only relate what I experienced.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

You've Been Talking in Your Sleep

There was an occasion to have a sleep-over with my friends Steve and Mike. I didn't have many friends growing up (though I was friendly with almost everyone) so it was nice to have opportunities to hang out and be what I thought was 'normal'.
We played some games and talked and watched TV most of the night. We ate BBQ sandwiches and drank soda. Normal stuff.
I surprised myself at how easily I got to sleep that night. I wondered if I would be able to or not? Away from home, away from my usual patterns, away from my safety zone. But I felt comfortable around them and it was late and I had a full stomach. Drifting off was easy.
I woke up and glanced at the clock. I had to put my glasses on to see what time it was. Steve and Mike were still asleep. I took my glasses off and wondered if I should try to get some more rest or just go ahead and get up? Suddenly, Steve sat up. I don't know why I shut my eyes but I did. He started having a conversation with Mike (who also sat up) about me, over me as I pretended to be asleep. I couldn't believe that they would do that? Why?
They ended their dialogue and went back to sleep. I got up and went down to the kitchen, to get some breakfast. I just sat there in shock. I thought we were friends? Steve got up and left, he had to be somewhere. He was smiling and waving as he left, as if nothing had happened.
Mike wandered out a little while later, groggy. We sat in silence for a moment and I confronted him. He just looked at me, head cocked to the side. No, he had not sat up and had a lucid conversation with Steve about me nor had he ever had a conversation with Steve about me. I believed him, just from his early morning disheveled appearance; he did not look like he would be lucid about anything until much later that day.
It doesn't seem possible that I could have been awake and fallen back asleep. The whole thing (looking at the clock onwards) could have been a dream, I suppose, except it was so sharp and, well, real that that seems as unlikely.
When I was very young, the family had gone on a trip. Mom and Dad share the front bedroom, we kids were crammed into the back bedroom. When my sister came to bed, my brothers sat up and laughed and then immediately went back to sleep -- with no knowledge of doing so in the morning. It was very creepy.
Another trip, this time with a church group. My roommate goes to bed first, I am spending time getting ready for bed (brushing teeth, removing contacts, washing face, etc). When I am finally ready and make my way in the dark to the bed, he sits up slightly and tells me not to turn on the light and lies down and goes back to sleep. I chalk it up to a dream or being grumpy or... just weirdness. In the morning, he doesn't have any knowledge about the event.
My ex- would sometimes sit up or lie there and talk to me with no recollection of doing so in the morning. We had brief and seemingly meaningless conversations about nothing.
Being a somewhat private person, I don't spend a lot of time with sleeping people. I wonder if this is unique or common? My experiences have been awkward, comical, and uncomfortable -- sometimes all at the same time. If one person or another had done it, it would seem random; but, when two people are engaged in sleep talking, it seems as if something else is going on.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sometimes They Come Back

I'm not a big celebrity fan. Of course, I like movies and shows and I like to know who's performing in certain roles, if I've seen them before, etc. But I don't particularly care what the stars do on their own time. Really, it's none of my business. I don't want them checking me out when I least expect it..
I am aware of when a celebrity passes away only because I hear it on the news or see it in a paper. Sometimes I know who it is, sometimes I care.
Sometimes, they don't stay dead.
Here's what I mean, by example. Years ago, I heard that Roddy McDowell died. It was a little sad. Then I heard that Malcolm McDowell died a few years later. That was sad, too. Then I was shocked to see Malcolm McDowell in a new movie/show. I was in shock and asked my friend if he had heard about Malcolm's death? No, he thought I was mistaken.
I was so sure... And it wasn't so close after Roddy McDowell's passing that I could have gotten them confused; no, I'm certain it was a separate event.
It's happened several times before. I recall when Jackie Gleason died thinking, "he had passed years ago?" I know it's easy to think that I'm just confused. From time-to-time, I think I must be mad. I usually conceed, and just shake my head and wonder at how I could have gotten it so wrong. I've been tempted to start keeping a scrapbook, just so I can reference what I recall happening versus what's actually happened.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Holy Orbs!

When I was a tween, my parent's church decided to build a new sanctuary. It seems the old building just didn't look like a sanctuary. And we were routinely filling the pews every week.
I may never understand people. The old building was a very rectangular and unimpressive building. But we worshiped there week after week and it never seemed to matter what the building looked like; in fact, I think that may have been part of the charm. Sure, some visitors might have been put off but anyone who came back certainly felt the Spirit. All inside a cinder block building, painted a wretched pastel green with blue trim and blue-green pile carpet squares to tie it all together. I thought it was grand.
The new sanctuary was a massive undertaking. The octagonal shape was filled with stark white trim, rich red carpets, dark wood pews, red cushions, a gigantic brass chandelier and stained glass windows on both levels. A balcony wrapped around three-quarters of the interior and the choir loft could easily hold 150 singers and a grand piano.
Being one of the last to leave some nights (see my previous post), I had many opportunities to freely roam the new building (as well as the old buildings). Sometimes I was asked to shut off the lights and lock the doors as everyone else left.
One night, my mother was staying late with some of the other church ladies to work on a reception later in the week. At first, it was fun. I could move around without supervision, indefinitely as long as I stayed out of trouble...
I was getting bored, being all alone except for the ladies who were decorating the Reception Hall. Although I might have helped them, I would rather wander around and see what the building was like at night. I was surprised to find the sanctuary doors unlocked. I walked down the hallway. Only the light from the Exit signs provided illumination. As I neared the doors into the main sanctuary, I instinctively slowed. Even though I should have been all alone, something didn't feel right. I opened the door, allowing some of the ambient Exit light into the massive room. Lights appeared to rise up from the floor and circle the top of the chandelier, near the ceiling, before dissipating. I tried to pass it off as headlights from passing cars shining through the stained glass windows but.. if that were the case, the lights would have gone off at strange angles, not circle at the roof. Plus, as cars passed the building, none of the headlights were hitting the stained glass with enough strength to appear to be a ball of light moving through the air.
I still do not know what I saw, what caused it, what caused the lights to dissipate, where they went.. In my imagination, I thought they were angels and demons, locked in eternal struggle, chasing each other through the world, through the ages. It seemed to fit, at the time. In retrospect, I suspect it was nothing to grandiose.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lamest. Haunting. Ever.

The town I grew up in was big, for a small city, but very spread out. It wasn't completely awful growing up there; it was easy to get out of town, for instance. When Haley's comet passed near, we were able to get out of the glare of city lights with very little effort. It helps having friends who live out of the main city when one wants to get away.
It wasn't uncommon to get out of the routine and away to the country. Gaming nights with friends kept me out of trouble and got me socializing with others, albeit in a geeky environment. One night, we went to a buddy's house. It was at the top of a hill, the driveway twisting down the side. On a rainy night, a driver would require a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the driveway.
There were four of us, alone in the house. Our host's parents were gone for the weekend. We were at the top of the stairs; the kitchen was on the first floor near the stairs and the back door was off the kitchen. With a bathroom next door, there were only 4 rooms that we were in the whole night. It wasn't until the weirdness started that he told us the house was haunted. Which was odd because it wasn't particularly old?
It began for us when someone went down to get a drink from the kitchen. He came back and asked who had left the cabinet with the glasses open? Of course, none of us had. We had walked through the post-70s kitchen on our way upstairs, the dark wooden cabinets were all closed. Our host apologized and bounded down the stairs, telling us in a rush about the haunting.
Lights would turn on, cabinets open, toilets flush.. the usual stuff one would expect from a bad horror movie. I got a creepy feeling from time to time but never saw anything, even out of the corner of my eye. In fact, it was the lack of anything tangible that sticks in my mind.
Everything that happened happened out of sight. It was almost as if we were supposed to be frightened by what we couldn't perceive (lights flickering, cabinets opening, etc) than by anything jumping out at us. Lamest haunting ever. It was like walking in on a party just after everyone has left... a surge of excitement but then a wave of let-down.
We eventually called it a night. I was most frightened by the twisting journey down the driveway of doom than by the lights that shut themselves off when I looked up the hill at the house, one last time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's in the cards

I wasn't punished often as a child. No, I wasn't a particularly good kid; rather, I was very clever. I knew what to say or do, instinctively, to avoid getting into trouble or getting out of punishment. My siblings thought I was spoiled because I 'got away with' things. I suppose it's all in one's perspective but my recollection of events played out due to being clever.
One time, I was not so lucky.
There were two Air Force bases in town resulting in lots of families who moved in, stayed a few months or years, then moved away. One such family, and I cannot recall their names, had moved into the neighborhood in the Summer. They had some children that were the same ages as we, my siblings and I. The family, I'll call them the Smiths, had some industrious kids. As soon as they moved in they put up a lemonade stand (similar to what Linus and Lucy in the Peanuts Gang had), as much to make some spare change as to meet the neighbors. The kids were very accustomed to moving in, making friends fast, and ready to move out again in about a year if and when duty called.
In October, the Smiths had a Halloween Carnival in their garage and play room. Classic things like putting your hand into a bowl only to discover that it's something horrible: spaghetti doubled as rat intestines, grapes for eyeballs, etc. They also had some games like bean bag toss and bobbing for apples.
The one thing that I found most curious: the lemonade stand had been transformed into Madame X's Fortune stand. I sat down and the girl began to shuffle regular playing cards. She asked what I wanted to know? I didn't have a question in mind so I replied, "what the future holds?" She weaved a yarn about the future always being in flux, changing something now could forever alter the future, and then she began to deal the cards: Queen of Hearts, 10 of spades, Ace of clubs. She interpreted the cards for me but when I asked for more details she just smiled and told me the future should be somewhat uncertain.
I ran home and told my mom. I was so excited! The girl down the street could tell us our futures!! Mom turned to me and scolded me for participating in such an event. She immediately went outside and called my siblings home using her ear-piercing whistle that could be heard a mile away, if one were outside. When we were all home, she forbade us from going to the Smith's home again. And we were not to associate with them. She also called some neighbors to discuss this with them.
I felt horrible. I wasn't trying to get anyone into trouble. I thought this would be a good thing? Our futures dealt before us, we could avoid the bad things and steer out paths towards the good. I went and got a deck of cards and began to shuffle. I turned and loaded the deck so that I would get the same read as before. When I laid them in front of me... I just saw cards. How did the Smith girl see the future? While I was staring at the cards, Mom walked in and caught me.
No amount of cleverness could get me out of this one. Mom was furious and it was one of the few times I was spanked. I wasn't even allowed to play with cards for weeks afterwards, at least not alone. I'm certain she went and called her friends and neighbors again. All I know was I wasn't allowed near the Smiths again and I didn't even want to look at a deck of cards for a very long time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

In the Closet

A lot of weird things have happened over the years that involved doorways, particularly closet doors. As a very young child, for instance, I inspected the closet every night before bed; sometimes, in the middle night, I had to re-inspect them only to discover that they were... different.
There was a time that I had to share a room with my brother. He was four years older than me and resented having to share a room with a kid brother but that's the way it was. One night, he had some friends sleep over. I tried to be cool about the whole thing but I secretly liked having older brother-types around. It made me feel safe.
We read comic books before bed, reading some of the panels out loud. We eventually turned to reading the ads out loud, too. Would x-ray spex really work? Wouldn't it be cool if they did? What would you do with them?
One ad was for a life size, glow-in-the-dark poster of Frankenstein's monster. Wouldn't that be awesome? What if it came to life? Would that really scare anyone? How would you display it? Even as we laughed about it, I looked at the ad in my own comic book and shuddered a bit. It seemed creepy, late at night. Even the comfort of a room full of, well, boys didn't abate the terror of the monster coming to life and killing us in our sleep.
Eventually, the lights were turned off and we drifted off to sleep. I woke up with a chill. I could hear the other guys sleeping but the hair on my arms was standing up. Something was wrong. I could make out the sound of the closet door opening. I slowly rolled over and looked through a slat in the bunk bed. The closet, about 6 feet away, had a pocket door and made a rolling sound as it opened. As I watched, the door just finished opening all the way. Slowly, Frankenstein's monster faded into focus. He looked just like the ad so I assumed that my brother and his friends were playing a prank on me... except that I could hear them sleeping. I sneaked another peek and the monster's head had turned! That wasn't part of the ad nor could a paper poster do that! I figured I had to be dreaming but my heart was racing, my throat was dry, I felt like I was dying.
As I worked up the nerve to scream for help (risking forever being branded a loser or worse by my brother's friends), I heard the door closing. I peeked one last time as the door shut all the way. Suddenly, it was warm again. I could move freely and quickly ran to the bathroom, just to catch my breath and be away from the scary... thing.
In the morning, I braved a look at the closet door when no one was around. There wasn't any sign of string or anything that could have remotely opened the door. Much less was there any rolled up poster or anything that a poster could have been attached to. What I saw wasn't something that teenaged boys could have faked. And, knowing teenaged boys, they would have teased me either in the moment or in the morning.
I'm still not sure what it was.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


When I was in college the student union did a pretty good job of getting movies and/or entertainment acts for us. I saw Ellen DeGeneres, Larry David, Carol Leifer, Kevin Nealon, Dread Zeppelin, and a special Guest to be named in just a moment. There were many other acts, of course, but I didn't see them all. I saw the ones I could and the ones that had some sort of appeal.
Tim Burton was in the production for Batman when I learned about the next event. The student union sometimes managed to get first run movies which we got to see for free. I was a little surprised to find out that they would be showing Batman and would be hosting a special guest from the movie.
I was running just a little late that night. As I rushed toward the building, an extremely large bat flew just overhead. Seriously big, like something out of a bad science fiction movie. I took that as a good omen and headed for the doors.
I sat with mixed emotions as the lights began to dim. There were only a few empty seats but... surely there were more fans on campus? I scanned the room for buddies but didn't see anyone I knew. And the movie was starting and there was no where to sit so I stayed in the back and settled in to be amazed and entertained. Instead, I was shocked as the 1966 Batman began to play. It was entertaining, just wasn't what I expected.
The special guest was Adam West. He was charming, funny, and recalled some great stories from his days as the Caped Crusader. People asked the usual questions and he was gracious for all of them. To my knowledge, he was flown in for the movie and left immediately afterwards.
Strangely, what I recall most about that night was the giant bat that flew over my head.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I was unemployed at the time and extremely depressed. It seemed everything I did was wrong or failed in some way. I had all but given up and was just wandering through my days in a daze.
I had decided to go through all my old books and see if there was something I could sell to raise a few bucks to pay the rent one more month. I came across some Lovecraft that I hoped I could get cover value for, at least (hint: I couldn't). So I started rereading those books, one last time before trying to sell them.
I woke one night from a nightmare. Smiling, I thanked old Howard Phillips for waking me up. It was warm that night and I ended up getting up and watching some TV, checking email, and having a cool drink before trying to get back to sleep.
With my eyes on the computer screen, I saw something "sit up" through the ceiling (that is, the ceiling what this thing's floor), look at me, and lay back down. As I looked up, it "sank" through the ceiling. Although the hairs on my neck stood up, I didn't feel like I was in any danger.
A few days later, I was trying to get to sleep when I had the feeling that I was being watched. I opened my eyes and saw a figure clinging to the walls in the upper corner of the room, "looking" down at me. I couldn't tell if it had eyes or not. It was gangly and moved like a spider. But the biggest feature was it's toothy smile. Like a pit bull, it's head was mostly mouth. It cocked it's head at me and "sniffed" the air. Then, in a blur, it crawled out the open window. I sat up. It happened so fast and was dark in my room.. did it really happen? Had the horror books I'd read had a lasting effect? As much as I brushed it off as my imagination, I also got up and watched TV for a while.
In retrospect, it's very likely that I did see something. How easy it was to shrug it off as a dark imagining. And the mental balm of getting lost in something that would make me laugh was soothing enough to go back to bed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Karma Chameleon

I used to think I could turn invisible. But, as I pondered my circumstance, I realized that I blended in rather than disappeared: people just forgot I was there but knew someone was there.
My friend, Stephen, told me of an afternoon spent with friends and how much fun he had. Only after I told him specific and trivial details (what people were wearing, for instance) did he believe that I had been there.
In high school, during a club meeting, some of the kids had separated themselves from the rest of the group. They were trying to figure out a clever acronym that only they would know, that other people could read and wouldn't think twice about, but they were stuck trying to make it work with the word they had come up with. Not only was I there, I helped them figure it out. Not long after that, I used the acronym in front of the ringleader who then accused me of being a poser. I had to remind her that I had helped them figure it out. She didn't believe me for a while but after I reminded someone else who had been there, the two of us convinced her. [I may blog this another day]
It used to make me sad. I would often be left out because someone forgot to include me and, if I were there, no one seemed to remember it. I eventually grew into it and just accepted it. Oh, it still happens; quite often, in fact. In combating this 'chameleoness' I found a niche in clever/funny/silly t-shirts. Some folks think of me as always having cute shirts. But even that is starting to fade away.
The frustrating part had been in continually reasserting myself. It seemed like a broken record that I was constantly having to remind someone to call or that I was just tagging along, even if it were my idea to, say, go to an event. That's why I tend to develop friendships with someone who seems to remember me even if we don't have much in common. It's just easier to get something done and be included from the start.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cheek to cheek

I privately hated the difference in heights between me and my boyfriend. We were too close in height. He was 5'10 and I was 6'. If he were just a bit shorter or me just a bit taller, we could more easily walk with arms over shoulders or waists. As it was, we struggled to see who would put their arms where and, well, it just never worked out.
Mind you, it wasn't a deal breaker. It wasn't even an issue. Just an annoying thing. Like the way he woke up on Saturdays at 6am and wanted to clean the house from top to bottom. But I digress.
One witchy night in October, we watched scary movies and went to a haunted house and talked under the full moon before heading out to the bars. I noticed how tall his boots made him look? It was odd, he seemed to be taller than me? I looked down and my pants were dragging the floor. Had I gotten shorter? For a brief moment, he seemed to be about 6'1" and I seemed to be about 5'9". By the time we got home from the bars, we had returned to our normal heights. But, for a brief time, we fit when we walked hip-to-hip.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tag, you're it!

My grandfather was very sick when I was growing up. I didn't really understand that at the time. He always seemed so happy to see me and would go for walks with me every time I visited, though some days he had more trouble moving around than others.
One day, he was bed-ridden. There were several family members visiting which was very exciting for me; I didn't understand that they were there to say their good-byes. Though the small house was mostly filled with adults, there were some older kids. No one wanted to play, of course. I happened to look out in the back yard and found some children my age.
We ran around the back yard for a bit, sliding down the big slide and playing tag. Soon, I was called to go inside. We ran in and the kids made for the bedroom my grandfather was resting in. I chased them, partly to keep playing and partly to stop them; he needed his rest, I had been told. There were some adults in his room, sitting with him.
The kids ran to the other side of the bed and dove under it as I entered the room, giggling as children will do. Someone made to grab me, to hold me back, but I slithered away. When I got to the other side of the bed and peeked under, there were no children. I looked around, out of breath and a little confused, and all I saw were shocked adults, aghast that I would be so disrespectful of my grandfather. He laughed a little and told me to hold his hand.
"Don't be confused, [grand]son. They've been playing here all day. I think you and I are the only ones who can see them."
I was quickly ushered from the bedroom by a well-meaning aunt. My grandfather passed away soon thereafter. I never got to ask him if he was going to join those kids in the backyard. And I never saw them again.
They didn't register as ghosts. In retrospect, I would say there were gods of some sort. But my reasons will have to wait for another blog.
My grandmother was the oldest of 14 children and helped her mother raise her siblings. Then she was married and had children of her own. Before long, her husband (my grandfather) fell sick and she took care of him. She spent her life caring for others.
After he passed, suddenly she was the one who needed care. It wasn't in her nature; she just couldn't do it. It was about a year after my grandfather's passing that my grandmother passed away as well. She went from being alert and mourning her husband's passing to thinking she was 6 years old and waiting for her daddy to bring the carriage to the front of the house.
I went to my first two funerals within a year of each other. Both my grandparents. Both before I was 7 years old. Life, and death, isn't all fun and games.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In blackest night...

Growing up, I was often one of the last people to leave the church at night, especially during the Summer, especially on Wednesday nights. My mother felt we were safe at church and I was, overall, a pretty good kid -- meaning I tried to avoid getting into trouble but was adventurous and curious and often pushed those boundaries. All that said, the church was alive in a different way at night...
The church itself wasn't old, as churches go; less than 100 years. It was founded in a part of town that was booming at the time. Many families came and left as the church grew from a one-building chapel to a nine-building religious complex connected by a series of outdoor covered walkways. All but one building was two stories tall, all but two were rectangular block buildings. It could easily be mistaken for an institution of some sort, except for the steeples. There were three chapels; the original white building, the expanded (and slightly older) chapel, and the (new) sanctuary. Yes, they all had different names to avoid confusion.
There was an incident in the 80s that prompted church officials to spread out classes all over the buildings. Fear not, I'll discuss the incident one day. Suffice to say, the chapel (built in the 40s) had fallen into disuse; now, it would become the Teen Chapel and all teen aged church-goers would have Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible classes in that building.
I cannot count the number of times I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye, particularly in the area of the church complex around the Teen Chapel. It always made me wonder if someone had built the church on top of a graveyard; I mean, the church had an incredibly haunted 'feel' but wasn't very old at all? Perhaps spirits were naturally drawn to the area? I would be curious to go back now and see if I could learn a few things.
One particularly cheerless task was opening the back, ground-floor doors of the Teen Chapel. It seems the lock was particularly difficult to open from the outside. A far easier but gruesomely creepy solution was to open the upstairs door, walk down a hallway to the middle of the building, take the unlit stairs down to the ground level, feel your way along a wall to the door (and light switch), and unlock and open the door. At dusk, there would be some light trickling in from the classrooms on the outside wall but after sunset the downstairs was completely pitch-black. If you held your hand in front of your face and slowly drew it in towards yourself, you would touch your nose with your palm long before you ever saw your hand; in fact, you could touch your eye and still not see it coming.
We normally made this trip in pairs. Very few would do it alone. If they gave merit badges for solo door duty, only a few would be given out. I would have mine, though. Sometimes, I was the only person who would open that door, alone or in a group. My mother once asked me to do it for one of her classes. I was no stranger to the danger.
But one time, right around sunset, I agreed to open the door. Alone. I made my way down the stairs and into the darkened ground floor. The downstairs was almost completely devoid of light. But something was different and I couldn't put my finger on what it was? Was that a swish of fabric and a change in the darkness down the hall? Was that sweat I smelled? Did the temperature just drop a bit? For the first time in making the daring Door Run, I was utterly afraid. That was when I prayed. I prayed for an angel to protect me. In the darkness I thought I saw a pulse of light around me. I definitely felt a surge of warmth throughout my body. And the darkness retreated slightly. I walked to the door, turned on the lights and opened the door. And, in a back room of the building, the faint clicking sound of a door closing could be heard. With a gaggle of teens and some adults in tow, we searched the building but nothing could be found.
I believe that there was someone or something in the dark with me. I am quite certain my prayer protected me but I am uncertain if I was in any physical danger or not. Over time, we did learn some terrible things about the Teen Chapel. But that will have to wait for another blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ghost Girl in the Mall

I have distinct memories of seeing ghosts when I was a very young child (2-4yo). Once I realized no one else could see them, I tended to keep sight of them to myself but would secretly wave or acknowledge them. Usually, they were glad to be seen and were kind in return. Sometimes they just wandered away.
There was an instance when my mother was pushing the stroller I was in through the mall. She stopped to talk to a friend and I noticed a teen-aged girl ghost. She seemed very confused. When she saw me, though, she smiled and waved. I waved back. She made funny faces. I laughed. I made funny faces back. She smiled. Just then, my mother's friends exclaimed, "you have such a happy baby!" and stuck her head in the stroller. I recoiled at the shock.. after seeing the ghost girl (so full of life), this tired woman seemed to be more dead, a zombie. I shut my eyes and when I dared to look again, the girl was gone and the lady seemed, well, at least alive.
I couldn't appreciate the irony then, of course.
So few of the ghosts were happy; they seemed weary but couldn't or wouldn't move on. In particular, the Old Man. But that's a story for another post.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why I made this...

I kept a secret log of the beginnings of my journey but decided that I should make it a bit more public. Not to cause a spectacle but in hopes that someone who needs to know about my journey, whether they realize it or not, will have access to it.