Well Worth $40

As soon as I heard that my daughter booked a session with a medium, I wanted to go with her, but I wanted permission from the medium first, and I wanted permission to record for EVP. Both requests were granted and after a quick and simple booking, we did not speak to the medium again until the day of the reading. You’ll have to trust me when I say that there’s very little information she could have found about our family, that no attempt was made to pre-interview my daughter, and I am positive that information was not telegraphed before or during the reading.

The session uneventfully began with the tarot cards and to be completely honest, it was boring and typical in every way. During this phase of the reading, I was able to record several EVP – nothing remarkable or especially revealing, but good solid spirit voices. After about 15 minutes, the medium began to speak to the other side, and things became more interesting.

She appeared to have made contact with a rather forward woman – someone who was most definitely taking charge, and who had surrounded herself with quite a few other spirits. Those in the crowd claimed to be relatives and were quite willing to allow this dominant spirit to grab center stage and hold it formidably. Fortunately for us, she was quite the chatter-box, and it didn’t take long for us to recognize her as my ex-mother-in-law – my daughter’s deceased grandmother, Hillary (name changed).

Instantly, once contact was made, a parade of stories and comments began to emerge – each one, more accurate than the one before. Based on the sheer number of facts this spirit unexplainably knew, coupled with obscure family references, it was clear that Hillary and the medium were authentic. Hillary even made personal references my daughter wasn’t aware of. But I was, and even though I sat in silence, I was amazed. She spoke of no fewer than 5 names – people there with her; each name correctly representing a deceased family member. She knew nicknames too. She vehemently expressed great pleasure in having watched her family continue to grow by revealing little known details about individuals – living and deceased. Hillary spoke of things no medium could ever have surmised. All in all, no suspicion was aroused – nothing akin to trickery was even remotely evident.

It appears that Hillary had just come back from a trip to Scotland with her husband, and she delighted in telling us the details and how much they both enjoyed it. Apparently she has taken up dancing again, done some painting, and spent a lot of time with other relations. She was aware of the goings on in my daughter’s life, and mentioned most of her sisters by name; grandchildren as well, including those who were not born while she was alive.

There isn’t anything about this conversation with the dead that I could find fault with. Believe me, I was looking, and it would have pleased me to have been able to find some kind of blunder. I was certain that if she was a fraud, I could spot it. I’ve seen this done before, and haven’t been fooled yet, but regardless of my unkind need to “catch her” at something, she knew too many details. Since the cost was only $40 for an hour, it doesn’t seem especially cost-effective to research my daughter, unless she was going to attempt to entice her back for several additional visits. She didn’t.

What I’m getting at here is that I actually believe this medium was somehow speaking to the other side, and specifically, to my family. But interestingly enough, not a single EVP was recorded during this trip through the veil. Not even something questionable. Not even a hint. And when it was over; when the medium had broken her connection, EVP began to flow again. I realize this isn‘t conclusive evidence of a single thing, and certainly, a one time experience like this doesn’t allow for any kind of hypothesis about the relationship between readings and interactive EVP. But it does tell me one thing – that this was an honest medium.

I’ve couched no comment about my feelings surrounding mediums – I’m not a fan. That is primarily because there are so many whose skills are obviously the invention of either the need to make easy money, or a desire for some kind of strange power. It’s difficult to put into words because I don’t want to insult the misguided, yet obviously bogus mediums that populate the paranormal field. But it’s good to be wrong sometimes. It’s exciting to know that there are seers out there who choose to put their gifts to good use, and who embrace a pledge of honesty we would all hope to be the norm.

I think it’s interesting that I received no EVP during the substantive portion of the reading. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson there, but I’m resistant toward drawing a conclusion based on a single event. Perhaps the spirits surrounding us were impressed as well. Perhaps they joined our medium to speak to us more directly. Perhaps, my lack of EVP at that critical moment was nothing more than a coincidence. I can believe that, but I am completely convinced the accuracy we experienced during the reading was not a coincidence. And frankly, it was well worth the $40.

“Help me, I’m sick!”

EVP can be an emotional experience sometimes. It’s not much different from welling up during a sappy movie – it’s hard to control your response. You couldn’t rescue the boy in the well; the love-of-your-life didn’t just selflessly die while nursing contagious patients in the Congo.  And that spirit voice didn’t break your heart – you didn’t condemn him to a life of “whatever.” But there it is – that incontrollable burst of emotion – the EVP voice said “Help me, I’m sick.”

Oh no he didn’t! “Help me, I’m sick.” Are you kidding me? And now, I’m supposed to retain objectivity? I have to figure out a way to get dispassionate once again, don’t I? I mean, what good am I as an EVP researcher if I get all involved? It could be a ploy to suck me in to an evil, nefarious plan. This could threaten my immortal soul for God’s sake! Doesn’t anyone understand the consequences? Am I all alone?

Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend, I know that mainly for two reasons, the least important of which is because my birthday is on Monday –   another year closer to inevitable doom. Let’s forget the hats and horns; forego the gifts and cards – we’ll go out for dinner and pretend there’s some other reason to celebrate.

The second reason I know it’s Memorial Day, is that my phone is blowing up with emails touting holiday sales events. And who wouldn’t want to spend their Memorial Day at Costco or Bedding Barn, right? Walmart has a sale on flips flops! One word – Q-Tips! We should rush to Home Depot and get that bag of topsoil we talked about two years ago. Or a new hammer. That garden hose with all the holes might be nice. If we’re still on our feet, we can trek on over to Target and stock up on inexpensive watches – one for every occasion, and a huge bag of fun-sized Snickers.

Maybe we can go to a barbecue at the neighbor’s house. Surely they’ve forgotten about last year. Perhaps my kids will call or we’ll visit my mother – haven’t seen her in weeks. A few years ago, I would have been going over to visit both parents. When Dad was still alive, we would have all those “manly” conversations I couldn’t have at home while surrounded by five daughters and other assorted varieties of femininity. I miss those conversations – sports, yard-work, woodworking… Neither of us knew a thing about woodworking, but it can make for a lively conversation. Honest!

But who am I kidding? It didn’t matter what we talked about – we could have discussed the trends in women’s shoes – that would have been fine. It was my dad, ya know? And he’s been gone too long. And I miss him.

Sometimes I still talk to him. I talk out loud when no one is around, and I’ll admit it, because it’s good for the soul. I recommend it. Call it a kind of pedestrian therapy for someone who can’t afford the real thing. Dimestore psychiatry, and even though my dad was a busy guy, these days, he listens to every word. Yeah, I miss him. But when I talk to him now, we talk about everything, and I’m not ashamed of those emotions either. I rant and rave and go off at the mouth like a crazy person; I bawl like a baby, and I talk about every little thing that bottles up inside and needs to get out.

He and I have discussed gut wrenching stuff – stuff that’s a little difficult to say out loud, but he listens. He’s been gone all these years, and still he listens. He never criticizes or chastises me for all those bad decisions. He doesn’t correct me when I misspeak, or suggest alternate ways of seeing the world, but somehow, (and I have no idea how he does this) he gets his message across. I owe him big time, ya know?

The last time I recorded for EVP on my birthday, I recorded a voice that only said two words – “I’m happy.” I suppose it could have been some sort of birthday greeting. I don’t know, maybe the obvious – a description of how that spirit felt. I have no more an idea of what it actually meant than I do about who said it. But it made me feel really good. You can understand that, right?

I haven’t thought about that for a few years, but now I’m wondering why it’s okay for me to pour my heart out to the spirit of my father, but I can’t return the favor. I have to be detached; I’m not supposed to ever get involved; must remain professional and take nothing to heart. But why? Why shouldn’t I give what I get? Don’t the spirits tolerate me? Aren’t they still speaking on my recorder even after observing all those rants and raves? Just because they’re supposedly dead, am I not supposed to care about them?

I don’t like that attitude. I can’t do anything to ease their pain, and I can’t add to their joy. All I can do is be there and listen – maybe a little tit for tat, no? And give them honesty, no matter what that is. I may not be able to “help” them when they’re “sick,” but I know what it’s like to be sick. I can understand, and sometimes – that’s a lot.

Happy Memorial Day, dad! How about them Ravens?

Real Paranormal Experience

I would guess that most people don’t have a single clue about what a real paranormal experience is about. Things happen all around us that quite possibly have their origin in the unknown, but we rarely notice. Mediums tell us to keep our eyes open and observe everything, but we never really do, even though “we’re the most observant person we know.” We seem to be pre-conditioned for dealing with the absurd, not the real. That, of course, can be traced to Hollywood, where even quality films about actual paranormal events don’t get anywhere near reality. I don’t fault them for that – their purpose is not to educate us, or to offer honest representations – their purpose is to entertain, and hopefully to make money.

Still, Hollywood points the way. We are convinced that we’re prepared for those fantastic, yet pseudo-evil entities of fiction. Or so we think, but the truth is, if a ten-foot, swirling blue mass of smoke and evil, red-eyed devil ever set foot in our dining room, we’d probably soil our armor and run head first into a wall. Luckily, the real thing doesn’t have that kind of a dramatic presence behind it.

Most real paranormal experiences emerge from boredom – utter and complete monotony, followed by the reliving of it all yet again through video and audio analysis. Nothing better than watching grass grow unless it’s reviewing the video – all in real time, of course. A real paranormal experience often goes unnoticed due to the limitations of our senses. We just don’t see or hear them very well unless we’re looking, and even then, much of the unknown isn’t sensory. So it’s usually during that boring analysis phase that we’re able to finally notice. An EVP, something in the UV area of full spectrum; an unnatural static appearing on camera #3 upstairs…

I’m always taken aback when someone hears a particularly convincing EVP and seems a little disappointed. Maybe it doesn’t sink in that the voice they’re hearing is actually emanating from a genuine spirit; is actually somehow spoken and delivered by a supposed non-living entity. But there it is – loud as a ringtone in church – breaking through the silence of a comfortable life, ready to change you – right before your very consciousness. There is an eternity between heartbeats sometimes – long enough to change the way you feel about coincidence and Hollywood bologna; long enough to accept reality – even if it comes from the voice of an anonymous, forgotten soul.

One thing is certain – a real paranormal experience is unique. It lacks the pomp and circumstance of other life-altering events; doesn’t come with a manual or instructions – you have no idea what to do with it or how to handle it. There’s no blowing of the horn right before you’re hit; no unspectacular pop before the bullet tears your flesh; no whoosh of water and wind as the ceiling falls down around you. A real paranormal experience comes quietly – usually without any fanfare or advance warning at all; usually without apparent purpose, or sense of reason. But for those brief seconds after, nothing looks the same or feels even remotely familiar. Everything you see is slightly different; every sound is heightened and suddenly significant; reaction to your environment is through the eyes of a stranger.

It passes quickly, but a real paranormal experience alters you forever as it slowly meanders through your consciousness and reminds you of your mortality. It’s not so bad to discover that life is not the completely comfortable place you always thought it would be, because suddenly it is bigger. And it’s not without advantage to know you are privy to a massive universal secret – such is the benefit for being at the right place, right time. By some stroke of incredible, magnificent luck, you have been shown the answer to a question as old as perpetuity.

And there’s no real fear involved – not usually. There are no perceivable moments of peril, no creatures devoted to your destruction, no evil oozing from the sheetrock or spiritual pestilence eating away at the foundation… No destruction of your soul; not even the slightest diminishment of essence. You are who you always were, but now you are salient; now you understand what you never considered worthy before.

Never again do you look indiscriminately at your surroundings expecting big things to happen. You look for subtle clues instead, listen for whispered voices, and eventually, you open up to who you are.  Somehow, you begin to realize that within you, the strength to comprehend the impossible has become inevitable, because a real paranormal experience is just a normal pillar of life. It is, however, a matter for the soul. Whatever that is.

Linger Long

I think there comes a time when you have to use this kind of a venue to get things off your chest. That’s what I do, and if I’ve got it all wrong, then I guess I owe some apologies. But sometimes, you just have to say things out loud – in front of others, so it counts for something. This time, it’s all good stuff, so no need to click the back button just yet.

I’ve been blessed to work with some really good investigators. As some of you may know, I am a member of Perry Hall Paranormal Research Society – PHPRS. We are hardly the biggest, baddest team of paranormal ass-kickers in the business, but we are good. I’ve seen more than a few investigators I would gladly beat with a stick, but frankly, I wouldn’t trade a single team member of mine for even the best of those I’ve seen. We’re calm, methodical, proficient, reliable, and while no one is ever perfect, I would trust my life with these guys in a heartbeat. We work with a couple of other individuals from time to time who fit right in with the program, so it’s always a win/win situation for me.

That’s pretty stereotypical stuff to say, I suppose – there are probably a lot of investigators out there who would say the same thing about their own experiences. But PHPRS seems unique to me, and I count my blessings whenever we have the chance to work together. It’s not just because I like these people, but because I can count on them – from beginning to end. It doesn’t matter whether we’re setting up equipment or analyzing evidence, there is a professional attitude that surrounds every part of the journey.

This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting of Inspired Ghost Tracking in Jessup, Maryland. Rosemary Ellen Guiley was the guest speaker. Not too shabby, eh? IGT always seems to have interesting guests, and I am excluding myself from that list (I’ve spoken there twice). I’m not able to attend as frequently as I would like, but I know the itinerary is first rate, and Rosemary Ellen Guiley did not disappoint.

The lecture was focused on the Djinn. Typically, Rosemary was easy to understand, informative, controversial, and perhaps most importantly, she was able to help us relate everything to our experiences in the field. I knew a little something about the Djinn before I arrived, but it turns out most of it was wrong. Ms. Guiley set the record straight and I was able to apply her teachings almost immediately to my own experiences. I was even compelled to re-analyze some of my previous evidence with the Djinn in mind. It isn’t usual for a speaker to touch you where you live that succinctly, but then it is Rosemary Ellen Guiley we’re talking about, so I knew it would be a great experience going in. Suffice it to say, it was memorable.

Speaking of memorable. Margaret Ehrlich Perry is the head honcho at IGT, and Margaret doesn’t do anything half-way. Besides boasting an extremely robust speaking agenda, there are group investigations and outings scheduled constantly, including a great many nationally known locations. There is a steady flow of different ideas constantly under discussion within the group, which is always a healthy way to approach the paranormal. And if knowledge is as important as experience, Inspired Ghost Tracking has it all.  I recommend IGT – it just may be one of the best paranormal meet-up groups anywhere in the country, which makes those of us who live nearby, the lucky recipients.

I’m sure I didn’t do any of these subjects much justice. Certainly the people involved deserve better, but sometimes it’s not as easy to say nice things as adequately as we want. Regardless, I consider my life to have been enriched by the people I’ve met in the paranormal field. My team members and the folks at IGT top the list for me. Unfortunately, there are always fools in the field – we’ve all met them, and fortunately, they will quickly fade from memory. But the good folks will always linger long.

PHPRS can be found online at www.phprs.org. Inspired Ghost Tracking at www.inspiredghosttracking.com, and Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s website is www.visionaryliving.com/. Check out their sites. In one way or another, they each represent the best of us.

This Is Not Paranormal

This video is not paranormal (below). As you can see, it’s a one minute ad I put together to draw attention to my second book, There Is No Silence. And yet, every time I look at it, I am amazed at how the shadow on the right seems to emerge from practically nowhere. It doesn’t appear paranormal at first glance, but it always fools me into looking just one more time. Yesterday I looked at it again before uploading it to God knows where, and I swear I saw a face in the middle of the shadow – a face that isn’t there, of course.

I think that if I wasn’t trained properly; if I wasn’t taught the need to be positive before I open my mouth, I might have considered this clip to be worthy of serious consideration as some kind of evidence. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s not half as interesting as I think it is, but frankly, I’ve seen video clips out there a whole lot less convincing; passing as paranormal proof.

I can’t imagine why someone would want to be associated with such obviously inaccurate claims. I suppose there’s a kind of notoriety that accompanies such things, so the temptation to look the other way is too great to pass up. I guess there is a need in some people to be recognized as a successful ghost hunter. Whatever!

But since there is so little provable video evidence of spirits available, we probably tend to lose our objectivity and don’t properly analyze this stuff. Some of us must get so excited that we lose all sight of reality, and therefore, lose sight of the truth. Maybe an even smaller number among the ranks does it on purpose for some kind of gain – hard to understand. I hate the thought of that, but I think it’s a definite possibility.

I can’t over-value the training I received, or absorbed, or had forced upon me. I can’t tell you how many fascinating pieces of video I possess that are no more paranormal than my old sneakers. So yeah – thank God for that training. I can just imagine how quickly the sharks would descend; how ravenously they’d feed. Some individuals may be easily and often fooled into thinking bad evidence is good. I guess it’s the same thing that causes us to wear plaids and stripes together, or mix scotch and bourbon in the same glass. Not all of us are discerning enough to tell the difference; some of us would see the shadows in my video and believe with all their heart that it’s real. But for every one of them, there are ten others out there who know better. Not just the skeptics who won’t believe in anything, but well-versed investigators who know how to determine such things. These people can spot video garbage before you can say, “This is bull#&$@.”

I may not be the best at analysis – I can accept that, but I have thanked my lucky stars on many occasions. I’m so grateful that I was raised in the field to look for reasons why something is not paranormal, as opposed to why it is. I’d break out in cold sweats in the middle of the night if I thought I offered something bogus as evidence. It’s just inconceivable to me that my name could be associated with that kind of garbage.

We all want to believe, so discerning the difference between this kind of truth and illusion is not something one is born possessing. It’s something you learn; not by looking at video clips on television, but by pouring over hours and hours of video you shot yourself, and being able to eagerly say, “this is not paranormal.

Just Drink the Kool-Aid

Frequently I am struck by the insistence of paranormal investigators to stand immovably firm on certain so-called singular truths. Many of us seem to need a black and white world, where concepts emerge without question, and old wives’ tales linger. And one must be very careful when criticizing these paranormal certainties.

One of those chiseled in stone ideas is the notion that EVP and EMF go hand in hand – you can’t have an EVP without some kind of spike in the electro-magnetic force. End of discussion; don’t be a heretic. But I’m not convinced. This particular pseudo-scientific “question mark” has been a pet peeve of mine, even though it has long ago achieved sacred cow status.

I’m reticent about this because I have actually done some experiments and my results indicate there is no reason to make this assumption. EMF and EVP don’t seem to have much relation to one another. The recorder I used was built into a video camera which was aimed at the meter’s dial. I won’t go into any more details, but I almost never received a consistent spike one way or the other at the same time an EVP was captured. As part of my experiments, I also asked the spirit present to force the reading to change noticeably without speaking, and in a much larger percent of the time, the gauges rose at my request.

My conclusion? EMF need not be manipulated for EVP to be recorded. While spirits seem to be able to alter the electro-magnetic force, it appears they do not have to. Still, it’s difficult to draw conclusions either way, but it certainly convinces me that this is one sacred cow which is just as likely to be incorrect as it is to be correct.

I have similar feelings about the temperature dropping due to spirits zapping the energy in the air. I can’t deny it, but absorbing energy from the air, while probably possible, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why not do it all the time if it’s such an easy way to manifest? Why do we assume the spirit world isn’t just fine the way it is? I thought spirits were energy… And don’t even get me started on battery drain. I’ve had plenty of batteries drain while “on the job” but I’ve also had plenty of batteries drain everywhere else. My kitchen clock, various remote controls, and my daughter’s RC truck all have frequent battles with batteries. Seems like a battery issue – not a spiritual one.

The insistence of paranormal people that these notions be considered undisputable truths based on such thin evidence, confounds me. And yet, I still schlep out my EMF meter on investigations, even though I believe it’s a waste of time, and a serious distraction. My research indicates that the spirit world interacts when it wants to – usually without fanfare, warning, or measurable criteria.  But there is no more proof for my conjecture than there is for the opposite. Let’s face it – when all we have are unsubstantiated and immeasurable anecdotal evidence, we don’t have evidence at all. Watching an EMF meter spike can never be equivocated with spirits. Just because your batteries went too quickly, doesn’t mean some specter is trying to manifest. Has anyone ever seen something manifest right after the Double A batteries in your camera fail? And it’s not that I’m denying these things are possible, but they all assume that spirits need more than what is natural for them, and that they take it from us. I don’t get it!

Spirit presence has always been elusive, and I don’t believe there is a fool-proof method for detection as of now – other than human observation and attention to the environment surrounding us. Spirits communicate with us when they want to, regardless of anything we do, and they show up without a calling card. But this is blasphemy to many. In some eyes, by denying that spirit manipulation of the EM force is necessary, I am a fool. And that taints my evidence, pollutes my conclusions, and removes me from the ranks of serious paranormal researchers. Well, it is what it is, isn’t it? Maybe I should just give in and drink the Kool-Aid – who’s it gonna hurt?

I don’t deny there will be breakthroughs along the way – significant new directions to take – in pursuit of the elusive spirit world. Some will prove fruitful – most will not. Personally, I think we need to let go of those that do not. I think it’s time to worry less about defending the EMF or temperature rules, and become more concerned with quantum mechanics, Resonance Theory, or even good old-fashioned psychology. Of course, that’s just me, so I doubt any of that will change, especially when there are so many really cool paranormal devices for sale which center around those questionable concepts.

Black and White and Blurry

All things in life are cyclical, including my attitude, and lately, my attitude stinks! I realize it’s related to my incarceration by the medical profession, but I’ve been on a rampage of sorts – about incorrect use of science, bad investigation technique, mediums… There must be other topics I’ve unceremoniously trashed, but it was unavoidable, I assure you. I just needed to get those things out – like some kind of mental colonic I needed to endure before resuming wonderful human being status. Well, I meant every unpleasant word, but now that this is passing and my mind is all better, I feel guilty for adding to the world’s cumulative negativity.

So I have plans to reverse my unconstructive verbal swill into something a little less sanguine; something more edifying and mutually beneficial. So keep your eyes open for that. You don’t wanna miss that! Ah… such imagery.

Anyway, before I embark upon this journey into better narrative; before I return to a place where all is well and everyone gets pie; where the good never die young and the spirits flow freely, there’s just one more thing I am compelled to purge from my captive, soggy mind. It’s a subject I swore I would never touch – paranormal television shows. Seat belts buckled? The old man is about to commit some kind of personal carnage – this should be entertaining if nothing else.

But relax – it won’t be that bad. Not interested in he said “this” and she doesn’t get paid enough, or so-and-so doesn’t like being paired up with what’s-his-face. There’s no need to resurrect “run dude run” again (ooops), but tell me this – what in the world was Vince Neal and the Girls doing on Ghost Adventures?

I’m actually a fan of Zak, Nick, and Aaron. I think they’re too abrasive sometimes – too confrontational for me, but I believe their evidence is genuine, and I believe they care about authenticity. There’s great passion there for the work. Of course, all of that is arguable, but my immediate problem has nothing to do with their investigative credibility. What was that on my television screen last Friday, all black and white and blurry?

“Vince is really into this stuff,” I think I heard Zak say. I understand – these days, who isn’t? Is that all it takes to do a guest spot on GA? Well, okay, but was the entire cackling entourage really necessary? Could any EVP from that investigation withstand even the weakest of scrutiny? Who were those people and how much did they pay Travel Channel to make all that tv magic take place?

I have a lot of questions, because I can’t believe I saw it happen. Where was the usual minimal decorum? The respect for the dead? A sense of dignity? Common sense? Was there any attention paid to investigation protocol? Why not just do an investigation during an NFL game or in the midst of stuffing as many people as you can into a phone booth? (Remember phone booths?) At one point, it appeared as though Mr. Neal might be suffering a heart attack. Really? I actually expected someone to yank him out of there and have him checked out or something. Possibly driven away in an ambulance or at the very least, removed from the situation and observed. You better believe if you were on an investigation with me there’s no way those symptoms would be chalked up to spiritual transference or ignored in any way. Of course, maybe it was just for show. Hmmm…

I don’t know about you, but I watch these shows for three reasons. First, I watch because I find them entertaining. Second, because you never know what you could possibly learn from them. And lastly, out of support. The field needs public attention and these shows provide it. These shows are important. But this was a spectacle! What could they do to top it this week, I wonder? Flo from Progressive?  The gecko? Trump?

Suffice it to say that I enjoy ogling an attractive woman the same as most men do. But I don’t watch Ghost Adventures to see one snuggle up on Frank Sinatra’s bed with an aging rock star asking stupid questions of the deceased. Oh! I almost forgot about the former beauty queen turned tacky groupie trying to share her ghostly experience in a small room with no less than the chorus line from the Tropicana. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but if you saw the episode, you know just how much of a zoo it really was.

Of course, I’m sure Zak could care less what anyone thought of the display – he doesn’t even know I exist anyway. I’m also certain that he marches to the beat of a different drummer. That’s just how he rolls, ya know. But Vince Neal? Too bad it wasn’t Tommy Lee. At least he has some screen experience – all black and white and blurry.

Sufficiently Dazzled

I guess there’s no other way to say it, other than to just blurt it out – I have trouble believing in mediums. Sensitives, clairvoyants, fortune-tellers, psychics, soothsayers, oracles, seers… Whatever you want to call them, I wrestle with the whole authenticity issue. I believe there are such people, but not many. In the paranormal, we must be lucky, because there appear to be a lot of them. Right off the bat, I can think of 17 people I know by name who contend to be sensitive in one way or another. And each one of them comes equipped with a testimonial-wielding sidekick ready to assure me that in a sea of charlatans, this one is “the real thing.”

“Okay. Cool. So tell me what you see?” I usually ask that right away. Why dance around the issue, right – whaddya got? Well, apparently, I don’t travel alone, because everyone sees one or more spirits attached to me. An Indian, a wolf, an old lady, a man dressed in a dark suit – only a few of the many stereotypical invisibles in my entourage. From the ridiculous to the sublime, I was once informed that a clown was following me throughout the room. Another time, that I carried somewhere between 13 and 23 spirits in tow. Well, I was feeling sluggish that day, so that might have been accurate, but she told me they were always with me and that some of them weren’t very nice. I later mentioned this to another medium, who paused for a few seconds before suggesting that I must have misplaced a few – she only saw four. I was sufficiently dazzled.

Surely you can see why I have difficulty believing. It’s not that I think they’re fakes; I don’t think they’re all delusional. I’m convinced that they believe whatever it is they’re saying. It’s just that I do not. On an investigation, a “sensitive” and I were alone in the master bedroom, when all of a sudden, he shushed me. Little did I know, there was an exotic animal under the bed. I forget what it was, but it was definitely a dark spirit that had control of the room and our presence was arousing his anger. We needed to leave. Well, I got up without dissent and walked out behind him. I was speechless. I went back in later, of course – with someone else, but I think the creature was probably gone.

The point is, I don’t like to have these people along on investigations. I’m sure that a real medium would be different. I’m sure there are situations where those particular skills come in handy, but I don’t like a lot of nonsense when I’m investigating – it gets in the way. It’s not as if this stuff ruins the feng shui of the environment, or messes with my chi, but it’s really difficult for me to focus on why I’m there when the person next to me appears to be in the middle of some kind of episode. “Someone is with us.” Oh well, case closed, I guess.

But what really bugs me the most is when they try to infect me with the same “disease.” Everyone assumes that since I record a lot of EVP, I must be sensitive too – just like they are, but with my own unique set of gifts. “We all have gifts, you know.”

Not me. I’m not being resistant. I’m not afraid of having gifts. I think it would be pretty cool. I’d be thrilled just to exchange a polite greeting each morning to however many spirits are hanging around at the time. But “you just haven’t developed your skills. You should work on it,” they say. “I think you might be very powerful.”

Well, I am polite. I smile and feign interest; give that look I use when I’m pretending to be fascinated. I assure them that I’ll think about it, and that usually makes them happy, but they’ve lost me, because I know I am not sensitive. A person knows such things.

I realize there are all kinds of studies being done on the subject, and I am always amazed when I read about them. I feel guilty for so many years of doubt. Maybe all these people are the real thing. Maybe if I wouldn’t be such a skeptic, I could see the true value of their skills – I’ve probably been harsh and unjust. Maybe so, but as sure as there are rats on the moon, and Rice Crispies in the bowl, I am not one of them.

Well not in this universe, at least. I mean, nine-hundred universes to the left I’m like the biggest psychic there is. And I’m not overweight there either, and I’ve aged much better. But here? I’m just me. No bells or whistles, no visions, mental images, or intuitive feelings. But if you’re one of those sensitives, and my guess is, there’s a good chance you are – don’t tell me. Let me see if I can figure it out on my own.

One Small Favor

I’ve been going crazy lately – cooped up in the house and basically useless – recuperating from surgery. I can’t lift more than 5 pounds, bend over, cough or sneeze too much (I have no idea how to stop doing that, so don’t tell anyone), and I’m not supposed to spend the whole day in front of the computer or tv. Yeah, right.

But just think how “good it will be when this is all over.” Horse feathers, I’m going crazy now – I can’t wait that long. I haven’t been on an investigation for quite awhile, haven’t visited my mother, driven a car, mowed my wilderness of a yard, lifted a grandchild in the air, or any number of those normal things I no longer want to take for granted. How I yearn to do laundry. What kind of bloody, feckless life is this anyway?

So what if my attitude stinks. Of course, all of this will pass. The transplant seems to be succeeding, so my vision will improve, and by this time next month my activities should be back to normal. I’m pretty sure my professional baseball career is finished, and I think the President has already found a new personal trainer, but life will be good. I can just see myself on a romp through the meadow, smelling the wild flowers and spinning endlessly until I collapse in the tall grass and lose myself in the billowing clouds overhead. Ah, if only there was a meadow nearby, that would surely be the case.

But alas, I am stuck with Google for entertainment. (Not highly recommended, by the way.) So, I felt the need to look up an old friend – someone I hadn’t seen in over ten years. He was actually an old employer, and he probably qualifies as being both the best boss ever, and the worst. It was just the two of us. I did all the work, and he visited the pub. Or slept in. And the truth is, he bounced about a third of my paychecks over a three-year period. But this guy was also a real gem of a person. He was funny, intelligent, understanding – any desirable personality trait you can think of definitely applied to Peter. He was a prince among men, and that’s probably why I kept coming in each day and believing his promises that the check would be good.

We were a computer graphics firm, and we did multimedia, web, and general design. Well, I did those things – Peter was a salesman, and when there was no work, I learned things. In a way, I went to university at that desk, and I got a better education than Penn State ever provided. Peter made that possible.

After he closed the doors on the business, we stayed in touch for a year – maybe two, and while we never had too much to say, I think there was a friendship there. Not the kind you read about or watch in films, and it wasn’t based on deep communication or the knowing of one another well. Fact is, I never knew what Peter was going do – he was unpredictable and often unapproachable, but he was a very worthy individual, and I appreciated him greatly.

As I said, a significant amount of time has passed since we last spoke, so I decided to Google him, since that’s the extent of my outreach. But damn – he died. In November. Which isn’t that long ago to someone of my age. November turns into December in a heartbeat and in just a dozen more, it’s November again. It’s only been five months since he passed away. Good grief, he was just 4 years older than me. How many heartbeats is that…

Well, life goes on; gotta pick up the pieces; he’s in a better place; wonder if he still had that Saab… Peter is gone, and I miss him. But last night, I remembered an EVP I recorded recently. I think it said “Peter.” I needed to hear that, and of course, I needed to check the date.

And yes. It just might have been Peter. The voice said his name very clearly, and it happened in late November. I’m never sure what to make of things like this, because I don’t like to assign actual people to EVP voices unless I’m completely certain. This is too thin for “certain.” But still… I don’t have to come clean to the world, do I? I can give myself this one, small favor, can’t I?

I don’t recall hearing that voice since. It’s not always easy to tell, of course. Sometimes, spirits sound the same – you have to search for inflection or pitch; you have to guess sometimes. And as much as I would love to talk to Peter one more time, my very best guess is that he has not come back since November.

The opportunities we waste can be staggering, and if we’re not careful, we’ll fill our lives up with “if only” and “later.” And my old friend passed away while I wasn’t looking. What is it John Lennon said? “Life is what happens while you’re busy doing other things.” So true. Death too, no doubt.