Tuesday, October 22, 2019

An Absolutely 100% True Halloween Ghost Story

I'm certain that ghosts exist.
This story is a true account of how I've become so certain.

In the late 90's I bought a house in a suburb of San Francisco that was haunted.  OK, I'm not totally sure on how the term "haunted" is defined but I heard a pacing back and forth in my attic pretty much every night of my life back then.  It started on my very first night there.

It was a bit of a bother to get into the attic. You had to go into the garage and pull down a folding stair contraption from the ceiling so despite the incessant sound of someone heavy just about bursting through my ceiling, I just lied to myself that it must be some big animal caught up there and instead of getting up off the couch, just turned up the volume on the television.  Anyway, while lying to my own self was, as usual, in full and perfect working order, the blatant pacing was hard to ignore.

Finally, one night I just had to know.

I don't know what made the difference that night but when the ghost started his pacing back and forth I sprang up off the couch, grabbed a flashlight, raced to the garage, and climbed up the folding steps as fast as I could to face whatever seemingly demonic thing it was that I was about to face. For a while my faltering courage kept me firmly planted on the top stair step with me only pointing my flashlight into the attic at a safe distance.  I didn't see a thing. Not even a stray pigeon. Then I took that last step and for the first time was standing upright in my new attic. I walked every nook and cranny of it and still saw or heard nothing. I came through the small opening to get in there and had to use the same small opening to get out. The garage door was down and locked. Nothing could have gotten past me.

So I closed up the stairs and went back to couch. And it started again. It was then I had to come to terms with the reality of what had to be going on. Yes Virginia, you were right all along. There is no Santa Claus.

There are ghosts, however.

Living for any extended period with some kind of ghost in your house just plain tires you out.  At some point you surrender. You accept that you're sharing a house with what might be the devil.  Hey, I've had my share of live-in girlfriends and even wives throughout the years so it wasn't like sharing my house with someone who might possibly be related to Satan was altogether new territory for me.  Like anything else, you learn to get used to it. Still, in the dead of the night when the inside of the house got pitch black and the darkness became a one way mirror in the ghost's favor, I'd actually sit up in bed and say to it, as non-threatening as I could, "C'mon let's get this over with." That ghost lurked, paced, probably got close enough to breathe on me, and was just a royal pain in the ass, but never once did it want to "get it over with". It just wanted me gone. There was no other way out. At least not then.

While all this voodoo junk was still going on, I happened to have a dinner date that ended with us coming back to my house for a bit of a nightcap. We were on the couch doing that spooning thing that women enjoy for what it is, and men enjoy for where it might lead, when the footsteps started up again. When it happened she just asked somewhat incredulously, "Who's in your attic at this time of night?" Her words verbatim. This was a smart lady. From what I knew of her she didn't seem prone to mindless hysteria. I had no choice but to believe her. Nevertheless, I still actually responded that it must be an animal of some kind stuck up there. She sat up at that and now somewhat fearfully said, "There's a person walking in your attic. That's not an animal of any kind. It's a person."

In California there's an unwritten rule that mandates for all Californians to stay cool no matter what celebrity or outlandish gothic style punker kid happens to cross your path.  With that in mind, the doorbell rang the very next night and standing there was my eight year son's pediatrician and a witch. I think the politically correct word is "wiccan" these days but at that moment "witch" was the first thought that crossed my mind. Did I mention the pediatrician was my dinner date from the night before? One in the same.  Did I also mention the doctor and the witch were standing there hand in hand too? They were. Nevertheless, as the unwritten rule mandates, I was cool, did a perfectly scripted fake smile, and politely invited them in. Frankly, if you've lived in California long enough, finding a witch at your front door standing hand in hand with your son's pediatrician isn't by itself all that shocking.

So there we were, the three of us, me, my spooning partner from the night before, and a perfectly normal witch all sitting together on one couch having a drink of wine and making idle conversation. Then it started yet again. The sound of heavy footsteps purposefully pacing back and forth right above our heads.  The witch-wiccan woman didn't ask who was walking, instead she looked up at the ceiling and murmured, "The moment I walked in here I got a very bad feeling. There's something going on and it's not good." While she talked she kept her gaze pointed directly at the ceiling so I was rather sure she wasn't talking about me.

As it turned out, the good witch of the west and I almost immediately started spending a lot of time together. It was one of those cool relationships you remember fondly even though it didn't last forever, but that's an altogether different story for an altogether different time. Back to the ghost. For months we tried everything possible from engineers to some pretty serious minded people in the occult community (yes they have a community) to rid us of that damn thing but it just refused to leave. It took a year, give or take a month, but eventually we left instead. As crazy as it sounds, it was just too real to stay.

Last I heard about that house was a phone call from the new owners. They asked questions I couldn't rationally answer. Yet, after living in the house for as long as I did, in my mind there is no doubt, ghosts truly do exist.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Jesus, Joel, and a Hundred Preachers More

As great communicators go, clearly in the absence of any mass media
at the time, Jesus must have been an amazing speaker. Maybe even
miraculously so.

He reached the hearts and minds of thousands upon thousands
of people in such a skillful way that his message of love and godliness,
espoused so long ago, still carries on to this very day.

But what if the facts were slightly changed?

What if, as blasphemous as this is to suggest, Jesus had a lisp?
And what if, because of this solely theoretical lisp, Jesus felt he had
no other choice but to follow his "B" plan? I mean let's face it, Joseph was
probably a pretty savvy carpenter so one might suspect Jesus wouldn't
have been all that clueless to the ways of using a hammer and saw as well.

So what's my point with all these crazy thoughts? Quite simply this. If all
it would have taken was a silly lisp to have had the power to change
all of humanity as we know it today, then it's also my belief that other
seemingly little things in life have the same power. A soft hug to
someone having a difficult day, or taking the time to kneel down to a
child's height just to reassure him, "It's all going to be just fine", are, in
the grand scheme of life, the kinds of things, things within our own grasps,
that impact humanity in such a powerful way too.
Keep my comparison in mind the next time an opportunity arises to express
love, compassion and empathy for your fellow man.

We don't need Jesus, Joel, and a hundred preachers more to be good people.
We don't need Jesus, Joel, and a hundred preachers to make the world a
better place. We simply need to be a party to those little things. The little
things that also have the power to keep a message of love and godliness
in our hearts forever more.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sun Tzu -- The Art of War

"A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame".
The Art of War by
Sun Tzu

Safe bet to say it's a book on neither Trump's nor Putin's bookshelf.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Just Sayin'

  1. For a man, true style is the effort it takes to make it look like an effortless endeavor. For a woman, it's the effort, visible to all, that makes for her perfect evening. 
  2. There is no greater barometer of a city's civility than the collective driving habits of it's citizens during rush hour. 
  3. Cubicles, khaki pants, and company monogrammed polo shirts are analogous to prison wear and its cell-like housing. Together they diminish free thought and are an indisputable petri dish for corporate disloyalty. 
  4. Absolutely no one enjoys looking at the pictures on your cell phone. 
  5. A true intellectual welcomes a dissenting opinion. 
  6. If an atheist can be no more certain in the absence of a God than a believer can be in the presence of a God, then I choose the latter. Unlike faith, all that atheism offers is debate and conversation. 
  7. Very few technological advancements in the last few years please me more than the inevitable death of cable television. 
  8. I suspect pharmaceutical firms are now spending as much money on politicians to prevent non-criminal marijuana use, as tobacco firms spend on politicians to retain non-criminal cigarette use. 
  9. Retirement is a lot like dancing. You have to let yourself move to the rhythm of it before it feels like a natural and carefree lifestyle. 
  10. I simply can not recall at which point in my life the wafting aroma of a pot roast cooking in the oven began to stir my senses more than the intimate scent of a woman's perfume.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Little Miss Hollywood

Yes, yes, yes this is Facebook stuff. So sue me. I'm a very proud grandfather.  Enjoy.

A Bipolar Upside Rarely Mentioned

There are some things people with various forms of personality disorders and manageable mental illnesses do very well. Like all others, including bipolar people like myself, there are also some things we do rather poorly. I'll concentrate my thoughts here on being bipolar since, as luck would have it, I happen to be an expert on the subject. While I don't want to minimize the negative effect a personality disorder like bipolar might have on a person -- here's a rarely mentioned truth about it. There's actually an upside. Talk about a conundrum huh?

According to a recent study published (4/2017) in Psychology Today: "It is not known why the link between bipolar and creativity exists. However, some experts speculate that it may stem from the experience of being bipolar – that the intensity of feeling that accompanies episodes of mania and depression leads to the heightened awareness that allows for great creative expression."

From personal experience, I can only agree that there is, in fact, a "sweet spot" built into the higher end of our emotional spectrum. We begin feeling an extra shot of creativity. Frankly, "an extra shot" is an understatement. Suddenly, something has to change to satisfy our overflowing creative juices. We have to move. We have to change the oil. We have to clean something. We have to fix that one warped board on the deck. We have to do something to make the world a better place. Trust me, if mania is anything at all, it's definitely exhausting.

It's been well documented that Abraham Lincoln, the man who took upon his shoulders the greatest paradigm shift in all of humanity, suffered from the dark depressive symptoms of bipolar. Ted Turner, a bipolar poster boy if ever there was, changed the world with his initially wacko idea of CNN. Then when one adds other bipolar people like Mozart, Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Frank Sinatra, Earnest Hemingway, Charles Darwin, Dick Cavett, Richard Dreyfuss, Patrick Kennedy, the dark yet brilliant Friedrich Nietzsche, the recently diagnosed Catherine Zeta Jones, and even Winston Churchill to the afflicted cast, it makes the premise of a bipolar upside all the more difficult to refute.

So what's my point? Simply this -- a reasonable argument exists to widen the lens from which most people see bipolar and other mental illnesses. For millions upon millions of people in the world, that alone would be a game changer.

An Absolutely 100% True Halloween Ghost Story

I'm certain that ghosts exist. This story is a true account of how I've become so certain. In the late 90's I bought a hous...