One Year Old Today!

Today The Voices Blog is one year old! Hats and horns are appropriate and all well-wishing is accepted. I sincerely hope everyone will be able to participate in the day’s festivities, beginning with a quick brunch on the third floor of Trans-Allegheny. There is free time until dinner, which will be highlighted by what I expect to be a rousing speech from President Theodore Roosevelt. Make certain you have your recorders ready.

Of course, the reality is that this will be a quiet celebration. I plan to get my hair trimmed, do some late morning EVP, have a Steak-Ums lunch, and begin work on the layout for a book Nick Missos and I plan to release soon. Sound like a fun day? And to think some of you actually have jobs. By the way, the book features original poetry with photos taken “undercover” at what shall remain an unnamed abandoned mental institution. Shameless plug, but I’m excited about it!

Sometimes I make stupid Top Ten lists when I’m annoyed or angry, and when it wears off, I throw the list away. I found one the other day that didn’t make it to the circular file, so it naturally qualifies as the perfect piece of mental self-gratification to share with the entire world. Here it is (unedited) – “Things That Should Be True About TV Paranormal Shows.”

– 1. Female ghosts should never wear white. Just sayin…
– 2. Every time an investigator says “we’re not here to harm you,” something should knock him down.
– 3. There should be no fist bumping at the end of Ghost Hunters episodes.
– 4. Paranormal teams should not pose for group photos that make them look like a stupid death metal band.
– 5. There should be an Ovulus equipped with the entire dictionary – 26 words is not enough.
– 6. It should only be a misdemeanor to investigate Eastern State or The Stanley on TV.
– 7. Bobo from Finding Bigfoot should have to put money in the jar every time he says “squatchy.”
– 8. Haunted Collector clients should embrace the haunting and refuse to fork over the priceless family heirlooms.
– 9. TV investigators should stop yelling at ghosts as though they were hard of hearing.
– 10. Why are paranormal shows considered reality television? Just askin…

When I started The Voices Blog, I didn’t think I could find enough interesting things to say, and actually I still don’t, but it’s been an enjoyable year just the same. Even added a “sister” blog – Voices Unplugged, so It must be true that time flies when you’re having fun. I know – bit of a cliche there. I’d like to use less of those, get more comments, improve my grammar, and find the perfect length per post. Well, there’s time to grow, I suppose.

I’ll just say “thank you” for your support. And for your interest. I love the fact that someone reads this stuff. Peace!

18 Hours Earlier…

A few days ago, I wrote about something I saw (re: “Description of an Apparition”), and I eluded to the fact that this was the second of two paranormal occurrences within 18 hours. Well, before I touch on what came first, let me just thank those of you who felt compelled to send me personal emails concerning the state of my sanity and (regrettably) my honesty. We have the mechanism in place here to comment and reply – why not use it as others do? Question my veracity publicly! Why not? I’d prefer it, and I’m certain others would love to see your comments. I mean, you might be right! Keep it clean, of course, but consider taking a more forthright approach and lay it out there – I can respect that.

Now on to business. I’ve stated many times that I plan on attempting to contact my deceased sister via EVP, but until the other day, there was precious little to report. A garbled word here, a low whisper there… I’ve been able to capture some references to her, and some interesting, but inconclusive comments that exhibit her personality. There seems to be a new spirit available on most sessions I’ve conducted, but there’s been nothing specific to allege, and I don’t enjoy making claims.

The other day, I decided to take a rather vexing problem directly to her. I talked to her about one of my children – just the way I would have before her death. I was stumped. You can imagine my surprise during playback, as each response seemed more lucid and apropos than the one before. It began with an announcement of her name. Not Margo (her given name), as I always referred to her, but Mimi – the nickname she gave herself. She also mentioned my child by name, something I had not done, and in two subsequent comments, told me exactly what she recommended I do to solve the situation.

I can’t tell you what she said, because it would embarrass my child – there was nothing generic about the situation I brought to her, and mentioning the specifics would violate a family trust. This was quite an explicit problem, and the responses I received were unmistakably fitting. With each response, I became increasingly aware that not only was I getting good advice from beyond the veil, but that there was a very good chance that I knew who was giving it.

I hate it when someone in my position makes all sorts of unsubstantiated claims about the arguable identity of an EVP voice. I cringe every time I find myself even tempted to do it. So much so, that even now I will stop short of making that claim. But I want to. Not only do I feel that my sister was the spirit responsible for the interaction, it was typically good advice! It sounded like her, used words the way she might, identified itself by name… What else do I need to label this as a conversation with Margo? Well, evidence I guess. Indisputable, unequivocal, undeniable, completely verifiable evidence!

All I know for certain is that there was an unexplainable voice that seemed to answer a set of questions. But deep down inside? Well, that’s another story, isn’t it? I was floored, and I’m fighting off the goosebumps still. I guess ya had to be there, ya know – how do you top that? Eighteen hours later, an partition appeared on my bed! Geez! What a day!

Description of an Apparition

The last 18 hours have been fascinating: two paranormal-like events! I will start with this one and tell you the other in a day or two.

It has been about an hour since I woke up to see an apparition standing on my bed. I had been asleep and dreaming, but the dream awakened me, and I was attempting to remember details; putting off the inevitable trip through the cold to the bathroom. I didn’t want to open my eyes, and after about 2 minutes I felt someone climb on the bed. I first thought it was my daughter, but the sensation was that of a lighter person, so I assumed it was my granddaughter.

I waited for her to speak, and when she didn’t, I begrudgingly opened my eyes. Instead of a 45 pound 7-year old, there was a tall, sharply-formed, dark person. He was about 5 feet tall, was wearing a nearly black jumpsuit, and his left arm (stretched out in front of him) was parallel to the plane of the bed. The jumpsuit was creased in a way that indicated pressing, but there were no parts of his body visible. He did not have a head, his feet were buried in the stomach of my wife, and his outstretched hand seemed to blend into the long sleeves.

I had opened my eyes without moving my body, so I thought perhaps he was not aware that I was watching. It also occurred to me that without the slight light creeping through the nearby window, he would possibly have looked like a shadow. And then, after about 3 seconds, he put down his arm as though finished, and he was gone. He seemed to break apart; to dissolve into the air as we often see in movies – digitally and very quickly, but in pieces; as though in small clumps of pixels. The difference is that he was not flat and projection-like – he appeared solid, and his dissolving was three-dimensional in appearance.

He was less than three feet away from me, and I was not asleep or groggy, or disoriented. I realize many people will suggest this visitation was trickery of the mind, or a classic case of confusion – something else; various other nonsense. It was as I saw it, and I was fully aware. I knew what it was the moment I opened my eyes. I knew some of what it wasn’t. I checked my wife, got out of bed, walked through the entire house, and sat down to write this. And now, there are questions.

Considered Easy

Paranormal people are supposed to be skeptical. That’s the company line, and it always has been. We just accept it, and for the most part, it makes sense. Everything we don’t immediately understand can not be labeled “paranormal” – mostly because we’d be wrong, but also because we want to know the truth. Truth requires unsusceptible validation. Accepting every bump in the night, or shadow in the dark as an other worldly expression is just too cozy an answer; too easy, and since when have human beings ever been considered easy?

Our religions are insane – even on a good day, and everyone thinks their’s is the true one. Our politics is crazy as well. Forget the dictators and the megalomaniacs – even the planet’s glorious democracies are riddled with nonsense, stupidity and hypocrisy. Inter-personal relationships are a crap shoot at best. All you have to do is observe most marriages, and the horror should make the point for me. Not very much about the human condition seems easy for an excellent reason. It just isn’t.

Faith and belief are frequently comfortable situations – they don’t require much from us, and allow us to accept without reason. They speak to our humanity quite effectively, but they make us lazy and neither represent universal concepts – one man’s faith is another’s call to arms. We seem able to believe in almost anything – often to the exclusion of common sense or without a reasonable parsing of clear facts. Can you imagine investigating the paranormal with only faith and belief in your equipment bag? Skepticism absolutely has its place – especially if it’s informed and enlightened enough to fuel study and research.

But every once in awhile we have to give in to our human frailty. Sometimes, we have to believe. We need it, and resisting can lessen our chances of seeing the truth when it presents itself. For instance, It’s easy to insist that an EVP is a recording aberration no matter how loud or clear it is; simple, because all you have to do is refuse to believe. There is nothing to prove the voice in question is paranormal; there’s as much support that it is not. Without belief, we must decide that what we hear on a recorder is never the voice of a spirit – only a technological mistake. By refusing to believe, we render spirit as completely non-existent. What will we learn from that?

There will never be a way to guarantee a correct paranormal diagnosis as long as the the skeptic and the believer in us remain separate. Staunch skepticism will always win the day because the cry for proof can never be answered – no proof is possible. No “one and one is two” in the paranormal; no sun setting in the west. It will never matter what we experience – verifiable proof will always be lacking.

But we have never been satisfied with a two-dimensional acceptance of only those things that are provable, so why do we insist it be so with the paranormal? Being able to appropriately mix a little belief into the recipe allows us to understand more fully – multi-dimensionally, no matter how untenable it makes us feel. It requires courage to believe; even greater fortitude to know when to stop. By refusing to believe at all, we can never learn the whole truth – only the easy truth. And since when have human beings ever been considered easy?

Stupid

Okay! I’m gonna try to keep this brief, because frankly, if I say too much I’ll just look stupid. Occasionally, you run across EVP that do that to you – they make you look and feel stupid! Maybe dumb is a better word, or uninformed, incapable, ineffectual, or even reactionary. I don’t know. I was recording around a small child, and doing things the way I do them – pulling out clips of suspicious sounding, possible voices. You know! Hopeful EVP.

I usually don’t return to the clips until I’ve listened to the original file exhaustively, and I had labeled this clip “male voice,” expecting to figure it out later. When I went back to sink my teeth into the thing, no matter how many times I re-listened, it kept saying, “Jesus is close. Forget about him.” I know. I know! But I can’t just ignore it. I can’t pretend it didn’t freak me out. I know the color had to drain from my face; I could feel that weird sensation of warmth and tingling combined. It felt exactly like that time I completely erased my hard drive. It was the same feeling I had seeing my deceased father standing in the hall. Oh, who am I kidding – it’s impossible to explain.

I just felt stupid. Was this voice talking to me, the child, or to someone else I couldn’t see? Was this one of those subliminal attempts to alter behavior? Was it someone “negative” attempting to lure the toddler away from Jesus? Was the voice telling a spirit friend to leave us alone because the boss was coming? It could have been telling us to stop messing around and pay attention to The Lord’s entrance. He might as well have said, “Drop everything. There’s a Beatles reunion in the bedroom!” You’d pay attention to that, right? I mean, come on, when you hear a spirit say, “Jesus is close,” you listen up.

There are so many different ways to interpret what those words could mean, but that could never be a throw-away phrase. Forget the fact that you might not even believe in Jesus – the name Itself definitely ups the ante, and automatically heightens the emotional response. Of course, there’s also a chance that the spirit just decided to freak me out. Well, that worked, didn’t it? Regardless of how many different possible meanings one could attach to this simple statement, it definitely freaked me out.

But that’s how it is with EVP, isn’t it? Just when you least expect it, there’s a controversy of some kind. You’re totally convinced that you know exactly what the voice is saying, and someone else comes along and throws the proverbial wet blanket on the fire. You’re positive that you’ve heard something earth-shattering, but no one else is impressed. A key word could actually be several different words – each one changing the meaning completely. EVP can be very frustrating despite the fact that they’re also such a pure blessing.

So what am I going to do with this “Jesus is close” comment? I don’t know! I suppose eventually I’ll decide what it means to me – I’ll take my best guess. It’s conceivable that I’ll file it away somewhere and re-listen several months later. Who knows, maybe then it will sound like something different, but as for today, I just feel stupid. Stupid because of how I reacted, stupid because I can’t decide what it means, and stupid because I love every minute of it. I do, you know – every last, freaked out minute of it.