Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Weird House, Post 1

I've gone back and forth in my mind as to whether I should bring this up at all.

From one angle I suppose it doesn't really matter; most people who care enough about the paranormal to spend time hashing it out on blogs probably have already joined one of two predetermined camps: either they refuse to admit its existence at all (in which case everything I say will be ridiculous) or they wholeheartedly believe in it (in which case stories like mine will seem perfectly commonplace). In any event, it's certainly not like anyone is beating a frenzied path up the mountain to base their viewpoint on the latest oracle from the Staggering Priestess.

At the same time, though, I think that for any of us -- even for superficial dabblers like your hostess -- who believe that the paranormal is a legitimate field of inquiry that deserves to be taken seriously, more is at stake than simply the issue of whether we're preaching to the choir or proselytizing amongst the damned.

Between the two armed camps of no-there-isn't and yes-there-is lies the great mass of society at large: the undecided, the open-minded, the (gods, I feel my IQ dropping to the level of a network news anchor, and with my mangled brain that's saying something) swing voters, whose "hearts and minds" (another IQ drop) are still in play and whom we on our side should be fighting to win over: not so that we can take a vote on the validity of the paranormal, and not to deprive the no-there-isn't people of their civil rights or force them to start wearing yellow question marks or anything like that, but to bring public consensus over to the idea that paranormal occurrences are not just a bunch of hoo-ha kookery, misidentification, and lies but valid phenomena produced by something that can be investigated and for which, hopefully, some explanation can eventually be found.

If the subject is respectable, investigation opens itself to many more serious people whose training and expertise might be of great value but who at present won't go within ten miles of the paranormal because it is fatal to reputations. And not just in laboratories and academic cloisters.

Of the people I know, most do believe in at least one aspect of the paranormal: religious experience, ghosts, UFOs, cryptozoology, or something. Most of us have no problem with the idea of the paranormal at all. But once we enter the circle of public consensus we all become skeptics; we all toe the line. Regardless of what we may privately believe, if someone in a public environment starts talking about seeing a ghost in the attic or strange lights over the expressway or a hairy giant on a camping trip, our group reaction tends not toward "wow, that's intriguing, tell us more!" but "uh-huh, okayyyyyyy...." because we are conditioned to react as if anyone who publicly confesses to a paranormal experience has a little screw loose.

Of course I am not the first to make these observations (I admit openly that nothing on this blog is original, I am not that deep a thinker). Many have commented before on the way our great national brainwashing machine deals with paranormal subjects. But, as usual, I have wandered far, far away from the subject of the post. When I started I just meant to say that I am hesitant to talk about my own experiences because, while I know my efforts can't aim very high, I still feel an obligation for the sake of the field at large (oh so pretentious!) to treat the subjects discussed here sincerely and do them as much justice as I can; and I feel I can't do that properly, or at least not as well, if I present myself as an experiencer. And yet, I should question that assumption. But that's a subject for another time.

So here is the experience I was going to share. If you're expecting a good story I warn you: it's uninteresting and utterly banal. The main reason I bother to tell it at all is so that I can start documenting these occurrences, because this is not the first time something like this has happened. I wish I'd had the idea back when it started, because by this time my memory has jumbled the earlier events into one big slush. But there's no use crying about that now. Maybe later I can work on summarizing them. But enough yapping.

It happened on the morning of Tuesday, May 27. My husband had returned the afternoon before after being away for the Memorial Day weekend. I mention this only because it's the one out-of-the-ordinary detail I can recall. Maybe his absence for a few days had something to do with it. Anyway, over the weekend while he was away I noticed that he had left a bottle of Windex on the kitchen counter by the coffee pot, so I put the bottle on top of the refrigerator, cramming it in among all the other junk he's stashed up there over the years. I distinctly remember doing this.

Apparently he wanted to use that bottle of Windex on Monday night, couldn't find it, and was going around the house looking for it and asking what had happened to it. He told me this the next morning; I was sealed up back here working on something and didn't see or hear him, so he never managed to find the bottle and couldn't finish whatever he'd wanted it for.

On Tuesday morning he came into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and yelled "where did this come from?" I asked what he was talking about and he gestured at the Windex bottle, sitting on the counter by the coffee pot again. I'd made the coffee earlier that morning and while I couldn't recall if the bottle had been there I certainly knew that I hadn't put it there.

This is not the first time an object has appeared to relocate itself. About a year ago my husband's primary set of car keys went missing only to turn up a week later in a basket in the back of the pantry. I vaguely seem to remember one or two cases of things disappearing never to be found again, but my memory is too foggy that far back for me to be sure. There have been other instances of items seeming to disappear and reappear within a few minutes, but these, I suspect, are due to us being hasty and just not seeing something that is lying in plain sight.

I know, drunks are proverbially unreliable witnesses. I still have enough functioning gray matter left to be sure of what I did and did not do with that Windex bottle.

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