Normal paranormal

My new pal, Madame Weebles has been waxing rhapsodic about spectre sightings. These posts got me thinking about my own encounters with ghosts. I’ve had quite a few.

I do believe in ghosts and no, I’m not in need of electro-shock therapy or a padded cell at Trembling Acres. Some folks believe, others don’t. ‘Tis the way of the world.

I grew up in an old house in Illinois’s Fox Valley in a town called Wayne. The house, a Victorian, was built in 1887 for a colonel from the Blackhawk War, and eventually other families of course. My family has lived in this house since 1966, so it’s safe to say we know every nook, cranny and nuance. Plus, we know all the noises and moods of the house — it’s the backbone of our family. Not only has it sheltered us from extreme weather, it also has witnessed our tremendous victories and our saddest moments, our great loves, huge losses and plenty of joy and laughter.

This house is also haunted.

I had my first encounters with a young woman –who appeared to be around 18 or 19 –when I was little. She was dressed in a Victorian dress, her brownish (?) hair styled in a loose bun. She was tall and slender, and had a serious gaze. I don’t know who she was — perhaps she was the colonel’s daughter. It wasn’t unusual for me to find her sitting on my bed at all times of the day and night when I entered my room, or woke up for whatever reason. We’d just look at each other and she’d smile, then fade away. I never feared her –something inside me told me she meant no harm to me or anyone else in my family. My childhood kitty, Squeaky Fromme (yeah, long story), did not like her however. Squeaky hissed and growled whenever the ghost was in attendance, and it got to the point where whenever I heard a hiss, my ghost friend was waiting for my acknowledgement–it was as if she couldn’t get on with the rest of her haunting UNTIL I gave her a thumb’s up. Over time, Squeaky’s hisses became a Pavlovian response: Hiss=ghost.

The other presence I see and feel quite often is my grandfather, Evan R. Chesterman Jr., affectionately known as Pop Pop. He was a Southern gentleman and lawyer from Richmond, Virginia who had a big heart and a cute sense of humor. He was adored by those who knew him, and his death in 1980 knocked the wind out of all of us. His spirit hung around those first few years following his death. Usually, I’d hear him first, “Jewya,” he’d say in that wonderful Virginia drawl, “Hi, sweet girl.” I’d turn, smile and stare. He’d disappear just as I’d start to speak, and he always had a smile on his face. The last time I saw him was when I was in California in the apartment I was renting in Highland Park. One cool morning in February, I found him sitting on the couch in the living room — staring at the Picasso owl print above the fireplace. He looked tired, but happy to see me. I stood for a moment, with my hands on my hips and when I moved toward him, he got up and quickly disappeared. As he wafted away, an aromatic breeze of Virginia fir trees — one of the scents that surrounded his house in Richmond — filled the room. It felt like a hug.

Next up … stories involving another family’s ghosts who dig me.

Magnificent Obsessions

When I’m not focusing on my main obsession — finding a decent job — I’m out and about checking out the sights, sounds and smells of Los Angeles. I’ve wandered all over the place in the past two months, out among the living and breathing denizens of this city and have found some new and not-so-new-but-seem-new loves.

Am I obsessed with astrology and psychics? Nope. Especially not after a well-known website which houses psychics and their wares turned me down for a writing/editing job. I know, how odd of me to not be into this since California IS the place for such obsessions. The last thing I need is to have someone tell me what my future is based on a reading a synapse misfiring in their brain gave them. I have a hard enough time dealing with my own little reality to get bogged down in cosmic farces.

Rot.

The hunt for the perfect t-shirt. Actually, this obsession has been a life-long one. I’ve tried them all and my fave has to be a James Perse one I found at a deep-discount place in Chicago. It was similar to this one, but sans the writing on the sleeve.

Best. T-shirts. Ever.

My perfect-t-shirt-obsessed-sister-Liza tells me that the Gap has some decent ones that are long enough at a fraction of the cost. The good thing is, the Gaps out here are great and seem to carry different stuff than their stores in other cities. Also, since James Perse is located here, I’m sure they have some sort of  warehouse sale where those of us of limited means can venture to buy their threads on the cheap. We probably have to be escorted in under a cloak of darkness though as to not to embarrass ourselves. Chalk one up for Los Angeles.

Scarves. Always scarves. My new fave is this one from the over-priced and over-hyped Lululemon. But I love it anyway.

                          

If/when I get a gig, I’m treating myself. Odd? Perhaps. But, that makes more sense to me than getting some hookers and blow and going to town. Hey, that’s just me — I don’t mean to knock your habits.

Friends, this is a horchata con espresso AKA liquid crack.

Magnificent obsession.

I get this fab beverage at the best coffee house I’ve ever been to in my entire life: Cafe de Leche on York and Ave. 50 in Eagle Rock. Words can’t quite describe how fucking yummy and good this stuff is, so I won’t even try. I don’t want to embarrass mahself OR my favorite drink by getting all schmaltzy. Sadly, I view this obsession as a treat since it’s loaded with calories AND it’s kinda expensive. It’s getting to the point that after I guzzle one of these, I need a cigarette and a nap.

 Thank you, Darrin N. for introducing me to my new, fave crack house.

One of the advantages of not having broadcast tee vee is I listen to NPR all day long. When it gets to be too much, I resort to watching screeners or listening to my own music on my ‘puter. Or, I read — a lot. One of the nice things about radio out here is it’s a bit more progressive and interesting than what we have in Chicago. There’s more alternative music here than anywhere else. One of the NPR stations here, KCRW, plays a lot of this music. Some of it is a bit much, but the atonal crap comprises about 5% of their playlists. The rest is worth listening to again and again. My latest faves? Gotye, Heartless Bastards, Los Campesinos, Shelby Lynne, Kimbra, Jessie Baylin and more. Now, before the music snobs weigh in, I’m well aware that some of these artists have been around for a while. No shit. But, this is the first time I’ve had the chance to listen to any of them. These types of tunes aren’t played that often over the Windy City airwaves.

Anyhoo, enjoy.

Gotye.

Smells.

My ‘hood smells. The whole city smells. Some good smells and some bad smell, but mostly good. The ocean, orange blossoms, night blooming jasmine, gardenia and eucalyptus — they’re especially strong post-rain and help to smother the roasting taco meat and pee-pee stench (rarely are the two experienced at the same time) that permeate my street when the breeze is juuuuuust right.

Since for the moment I’m living in a desert and not in a swamp, my skin is suffering. Big time. I’m starting to resemble Bridget Bardot circa now and thrilled about it I’m not. Short of soaking in olive oil, nothing keeps my skin from puckering up due to the arid air here. Add super-sensitive skin to the mix and I’m in a conundrum. The stuff I get from the chain drugstores doesn’t work (and I’ve tried them all) and the good stuff costs some serious coin (thank dog for samples). Pure coconut oil is messy and a pain to prep so I’m still figuring this one out. But, I do have the sunscreen issue licked. A daily shea butter bath will be the way to go should I end up here.

Beautiful people –LA’s filled with ’em due to the movie industry and a burgeoning fashion scene. They’re fun to look at for a minute or two, but as soon as most of them open their mouths, well… there goes my erection.