Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In which I report my lack of interaction with the supernatural realm

The whole gang is writing about their ghostly experiences, and I thought I’d like to do that too. Except I don’t have any ghostly experiences. I’ve heard lots of stories from my friend Steve, and then an old coworker used to tell me tales about skin walkers and possessed dolls and the like. I on the other hand, have little to report, and it can all be quite easily explained.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna report it.

Back in college I somehow ended up going to meditation meetings at this rich lady’s house. One evening the topic of extra sensory perception came up, and I mentioned that I had no such thing. So she found photos and gave each of us one to concentrate on. Mine was an innocuous photo of a smiling woman. Eventually our host decided we should move into the room where this lady spent a lot of time. It was the laundry room, so she was the maid. Yep, wealthy neighborhood. Anyway, I was looking at the photo and thinking what a crock when suddenly my breath got short and I felt scared. “Something bad happened to her. She’s in danger. Someone did something bad to her.” And as it turned out, her boyfriend had shot her. Ba da bum.

During my college summers I lived with two of my brothers at their house. At the time I had pretty frequent bouts of sleep paralysis. Nothing as bad as JP’s, but still unpleasant. Usually I felt as if a magnet was pulling me to the bed, and I would hear staticky, whispering sounds - just the sort of thing the daughter of a schizophrenic wants to hear - and then I would wake up feeling uneasy. Well, on the day in question, I had one of these incidents while taking a nap in my room, and then something - I thought it was a loud noise - woke me. As usual I felt disoriented and a bit anxious. I went to the kitchen and the phone rang. It was my friend Steve, who is some sort of magnet for the supernatural. We were talking and then he suddenly stopped and said, “Who’s picking up on your extension?” “Huh?” I asked, “No one else is here.” “No, I definitely heard someone pick up.” Well by now I am in full panic mode, since the other phones are in the bedrooms. I found a very large knife and walked through the entire house, including the basement. That’s what you aren’t supposed to do in the horror movies, right? Well I have now experienced the sort of crazy that will make you walk around a house that possibly contains either a specter or a real live intruder. Of course I didn’t find anything or anyone, but I grabbed my keys and purse and drove to a nice busy parking lot until my brothers got home. Years later my brother told me that his house has been broken into multiple times, with the thieves entering - guess where? - my bedroom.

On another day Steve dropped by to visit me at my brothers’ house. For some reason we walked around the back. I knew there was a basement, but I didn’t realize there was another, separate basement room that could only be entered through an outside door. We walked over to peek in. The room was painted white and was completely empty. Except for an ax leaning against one wall. Steve was more freaked out by this than I was. He probably still  thinks one of my brothers is an ax murderer.

The final incident occurred right after my mom’s funeral. I was back at my parents’ house, in their bedroom. Dad told me to take any of her books that I wanted. So I walked over to the bookcase and reached into the dark space between the books and the shelf, where I couldn’t really see anything, and pulled out a Bible. It was my mom’s, I knew. I opened it up somewhere in the middle and saw her notes written in the margins. Then I flipped to the front page. There was a little label that said “This book belongs to” and my name. I turned to the dedication page, where my mom had filled in the dedicatory lines.. “Presented to” my name “By” mother “On” inherited. I guess my mom really, really wanted me to read the Bible.

That’s pretty much the sum total of my encounters with the woo woo, and they all have rational explanations. No one is going to hand you a photo to concentrate on for paranormal purposes unless there’s something significant associated with it, and the woman who gave it to me could have been suggesting by body language and tone that there was a dark association. Sleep paralysis makes you feel as if there is an unseen presence, which was only exacerbated by my friend’s suggestion that someone had picked up on an extension. An ax is just an ax, even isolated in an empty room. My mom came from a time and culture where handing down a family Bible was not uncommon.

I’m pretty down with never experiencing ghosties and such, so maybe I’m screening out a lot that would be significant to the spiritually sensitive. You wouldn’t catch me dead at a seance, or rather that’s the only way you’d catch me at one, and I don’t go near ouija boards. I try never to look in mirrors in the dark and I never once as a kid played Bloody Mary. Sometimes when I lie in bed with my back to the room, I start to feel uncomfortable and turn over so that I’m facing outward. You know, just in case there’s something that will only target me if my back is turned. I don’t care how ridiculously superstitious this makes me sound. To quote Stephen King: “The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn't real. I know that, and I also know that if I'm careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”

Monday, October 19, 2015

Just Being Here

Even home with a mind-cracking headache, I still find delight in the disruption of the routine. I like hearing the neighborhood as it is when I'm not around. The cars going by sound different when I don't have to join them. There are thrums and hums and sonorous clanging from some unidentifiable piece of machinery doing unknown work somewhere in the distance. A few chirrups of birds. The faraway growl of an airplane. Inside, the window blinds creak as the cat inserts herself between them and the window for a sunbath. Being still is one of my favorite activities, something I inherited from my mom, who could sit in an old lawn chair under the stars for hours. I used to think she was boring until I discovered the pleasures of sitting quietly in various locations, some urban and busy and some pastoral and slow. It is deeply satisfying to sink down into existence and simply feel it sustaining you.