I Didn't Mean To Make This A Cliffhanger, I Just Got Tired And Had To Go To Bed

If asked, I will vehemently defend the fact that I believe in ghosts. Part of me thinks this has less to do with a unwavering faith in the supernatural and more to do with the fact that if a ghost somehow, I don't know, hears me saying I don't believe in him, he might show up at my bedside at 3am, chains clanking, all OH REALLY? WELL, HOW ABOUT NOW? And I'm too old to wet my bed, even in fear. Therefore, a hearty "of course I believe in them!"---uttered extra loudly and clearly in case any of the surrounding spirits are a little hard of hearing---has, so far, served as a fairly good insurance policy for me, at least in terms of warding off any unsavory visits.

The truth is, I'm fascinated by ghosts, by ghostly behaviour, by anything with a vaguely paranormal bent. When I was eight or nine, I became deeply and passionately obsessed with UFOs---at first to a fairly normal degree, where I checked books about UFOs out of the library and talked about them at dinner, and then to a mildly disturbed (and disturbing) point, by which time I had so read many accounts of alien abduction that I vividly imagined a spacecraft hovering outside the third floor window of our apartment in Hong Kong, spindly aliens reaching in to grab me and conduct bizarre experiments on me, the memories of which I would suppress for the rest of my life, occasionally wondering what those strange oval-shaped scars on my wrists were.

(As you have probably gathered, I was a very strange and nerdy child. And of course it didn't help matters that I looked like this. Glasses on a chain and a UFO fixation! Which way to the Dork Awards?)

When my brother and I were younger, we would beg my mother to tell us the story of the time she saw a ghost: while staying overnight in a decrepid British youth hostel in the mid-1960s that had once served as a hospital during the Crimean War, she had awoken abruptly from sleep to see a gowned figure gliding down the center of the room between the bunk beds, carrying an old-fashioned lamp, exuding a sort of calm. In the morning she said nothing of it, but years and years later, she brought it up with her sister, my aunt, who had also been staying at the youth hostel and who, it transpired, had woken up just in time to see the woman too. It was weird, my mother had said, how the woman's feet appeared not to be touching the ground, how she walked through the room but never turned around to walk back. "Didn't you know?" said my aunt, surprised. "That was a ghost." And my mother said "oh, I suppose it was."

This same aunt, in fact, once lived in a legitimately haunted house, a house where chains would actually clank, where furniture would move around of its own accord, where each of the girls who lived there would hear noises upstairs and think another of the girls was making them, only to find out the next day that none of the other girls had been home. Two older women, sisters, had lived there together until one of them died and the other was taken to a nursing home and the house rented to students, one of whom was my aunt. The reigning theory at the time was that the dead sister was jealous of the girls currently living there, was trying to get them to move out. There was a spot on the landing that was perpetually cold. My father went to stay once and said he felt such a presence in the doorway as he was putting his clothes away in the dresser, that he immediately spun around, weighed down suddenly with guilt.

As a teenager---oh, who am I kidding, as a twentysomething---I loved hearing stories like this, took a macabre interest in the details of them, the same details I'd try to backpedal over and forget when I found myself alone in the house at midnight, every bump and creak making me jump, every suspicious shadow a gowned old nurse, lamp in hand. When Sean and I booked a stay in a B&B in Vermont a few years ago, I found out a few weeks before we left that the B&B had a ghost---this was one of its selling points, apparently, important enough to be mentioned in the guidebook I hadn't thought to pick up until the last minute. I immediately called the owners. "Do you have a ghost?" I asked. "Because I'm not sure if I can come and stay if you do." The middle-aged man who answered the phone chuckled. "Well, I haven't seen him," he said, "but my daughters have---a couple of times, in fact. He seems to like making himself known to young women. Usually while they're in the shower."

Coming Tomorrow: Part Two, In Which I Have My First Vaguely Supernatural Experience, Though Doubtless It Could Probably Be Explained By Science Or Something, But Shut Up, Don't Spoil My Fun. (I Promise, This Will Be Worth Waiting For.) Also, It Has Nothing To Do With The Pervy Vermont Shower Ghost, Just So You Know. In Fact, I Never Even Saw Him.

Aug 07, 2007

Ohhh, can't wait for tomorrow. I have several good ghost stories that I've been waiting to post for some time now, but I've been slightly afraid that all three readers of my blog will think I'm wonky.

And, just so you know,I feel your pain. I also had a chain for my glasses when I was younger. And my glasses were big, round, and red. Kids in my class used to call me Sally Jesse Raphael, and that was such an insult back in 1987 that it used to make me cry a couple times a week.

jive turkey
Aug 07, 2007

Hee - I also state my belief in ghosts loud enough for any nearby spirits to hear so that they will not show up in the middle of the night to prove a point.

When we were house-shopping a couple of years ago & were getting ready to put in an offer on our 100-year-old Victorian house, I racked my brains trying to come up with a non-crazy-sounding way to ask the current owners if the place was haunted (because as much as I loved the house, I would not be able to handle that). I finally just came out and asked them, being sure to chuckle enough so that they *might* think I was joking. They told me that - even though someone was once laid out in the dining room for a wake - they had never seen anything. And neither have I, so far. THANK GOODNESS.

Can't wait to hear the rest of your story!

Aug 07, 2007

I lived in a haunted house for 5 years, but the ghost was mostly benevoliant and really only interested in mischif making. I've got tons and tons of stories about her (we called her Mary).

Also I live in town that is ringed by 5 cemetarys which form a pentagram and has several very haunted spots. There is an old mental asylum that they've turned into university buildings, and of course they built dorms on top of Indian cemetaries.


JB at Twice Five Miles
Aug 07, 2007

My glasses were also big and round - and they were cotton-candy pink. In case that makes you feel any better. Although I can't say that I've necessarily improved that much in the coolness department since then, at least my glasses now are a respectable sort of indie black.

And an oddly specific question: What was the name of the B&B with the pervy shower ghost? Will you email it to me?

Aug 07, 2007

I got chills from the last sentence. I would NOT have taken a shower for the entire stay!

Aug 07, 2007

I too had the large round glasses. Apparently I didn't learn my ugly lesson the first time (light blue) or the second time (Sally Jesse Raphael Red). By the third time (navy blue) I knew it was time for contacts. I think my parents agreed because they had caught on to the ugly much earlier than I did. My good friends still tease me about them.

As for ghosts, my family and I have had a few encounters. When my grandma passed away I inherited an angel music box from Germany that did not work no matter what we tried. Several months later my mom was home alone and heard music coming from somewhere. Under the impression that my sister or I had left a radio on she went in to my room and found the music box playing music. This happened on what would have been my grandparents wedding anniversary.

Carol Snider
Aug 07, 2007

Not sure if I'd call them "ghosts," but having experienced my mothers last week with her, as she vocalized what SHE was experiencing as she died (and she was a devout atheist), I am absolutely convinced that there's something else "out there" and certainly many more dimensions than we talk about!!


Aug 07, 2007

As a child I was always somewhat of a believer and my faith in the supernatural was confirmed when, as an adult, I experienced That Which Science Cannot Explain for myself. I ran a haunted aquatic facility, if you can believe it. My husband was not a believer UNTIL he experienced the spirit for himself.

Aug 07, 2007

Ohh, I too am fascinated.

A few years ago my mother - by all accounts sane and grounded and practical - went with a friend of hers to a "medium." The woman was a normal suburban mom with a gorgeous house who just happened to be able to speak with the dead.

My mom was able to communicate with her father, who died when she was thirteen. Before she went to the medium, she had brought one of her father's watches to be restored but hadn't told anyone in the family about it. One of the first things her father communicated to her was that he was so proud of what she was doing with the watch.

So that, amongst many other things he "said" that the medium would've never known about, has made me a believer in the afterlife.

Aug 07, 2007

I was a major nerd as well. Large plastic round glasses that were a pale blue on top and a pale pink on the bottom. They covered about half of my face. Complete with the chain.

Aug 07, 2007

You'd probably enjoy Somewhere on the Masthead's "October Moments" posts: http://masthead.blogspot.com/2005/10/october-moments.html

They're about his various supernatural-type experiences.

Aug 07, 2007

OMG, I am the same way! I love ghost stories and never say I don't believe just in case one gets offended!

Can't wait to hear the rest!

Aug 07, 2007

Hi! De-lurking here to say that I too had atrocious glasses back in the day. Mine were enormous, and were black and green speckled. Beat that!

A couple weeks ago, my mum (who is a very level-headed accountant) was in her bathroom when she saw someone wearing white glide into the room. Thinking it was me, she started talking to it/them/the ghost. It was only the two of us in the house, and I was downstairs parked on the couch the whole time. Ooo spooky!

And I can't wait to hear the second part of the story!

Aug 07, 2007

Holly! What a scream, I'm in the first class lounge and went to your blog and it was already in the address bar thing, meaning someone had been on it before! But perhaps it was just Daddy or Luke!


When I was in high school, I spent my summers working at Ford's Theater in D.C. This is the theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot, and he died in the house right across the street. I worked in an office at the top of a very narrow and spooky stairwell, to which very few people had access. Every now and again, on a quiet afternoon, my coworkers and I would hear footsteps on the stairwell, but whenever we'd peek to see if anyone was coming up or down, no one was there. We used to joke and say it was Lincoln's ghost... but maybe it was.

Aug 07, 2007

Someone may have asked this already, but if not, did you watch (or like) the new John Cusack movie, 1408?

Rachael W
Aug 08, 2007

I know you live in San Francisco... have you ever visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose? Granted, it's more tourist-y and gimmicky than anything else, but it is worth a visit if you haven't been. Can't wait to read the rest of this!

Aug 08, 2007

I grew up in the Back of Beyond, Alaska, and when my lavender-colored plastic frames (which I was, naturally, quite proud of) snapped in half, I had to replace them by mail-order. Not much choice, thus I spent several years in red frames. Then blue-fading-into-pink frames. I avoid most photos of myself between the ages of seven and fourteen...

Aug 08, 2007

I've never worn glasses (other than the sun variety), but I've always been inclined to believe in the supernatural. A friend fully convinced me when she returned early from her honeymoon because of a ghostly encounter. During her honeymoon, for crying out loud. Makes you wonder just how many pervy spirits are lurking out there...

Aug 08, 2007

I did the glasses thing (big, OCTAGON-roundy blue frames) for about....a week. Than I ditched 'em, preferring to go round blind as a bat till I could convince my mom it was contacts or death by not seeing anything/one coming. No ghost stories though.

Aug 08, 2007

Just so you know, I woke up at 4 AM this morning dreaming of YOUR ghost, and had to sleep with the light on until my alarm went off. That's how afraid and believing I am.

Aug 08, 2007

Okay, please tell you've checked out Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel. I won't watch it unless my husband is home, but I think it would satisfy that inner ghost fascination. There's no shame in it!