A Christmas (Ghost) Story

Normally, Christmas isn’t a time for swapping ghost stories (unless you’re a stingy, cantankerous Scrooge who needs a visit from Christmas past), but this time of year always makes me think of my old Elko apartment.

If you know me personally, you likely know that I’m the highest form of wimp possible. If something has a slight bit of danger (I find leaving my cellphone charger plugged in without my cellphone one of the biggest dangers of the modern world) associated with it, I’ll opt out in a nanosecond.

Back when my parents first started leaving me home alone (I believe I was eleven), I would lock myself in the bathroom with our dog if I heard the heat kick on.

At the ripe old age of 34, I cannot sleep if my bedroom door isn’t locked at night. And, when the boyfriend comes in, I ask if he locked the door. Every.night. I ask this every night. He’s almost certainly is planning my murder.

So, obviously, I’m the best person to live in a house that’s haunted.

Can you see where this is going? Yeah, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The apartment an ex boyfriend, we shall call him Carl, and I shared was on the “tree streets” in the heart of Elko. They’re called the “tree streets”, because they’re named after trees-oak, maple, etc. Our street was called Court. I’m no expert on trees, but I’m fairly certain that’s not a type of tree. Either way, I’m still 99% sure we lived in the coveted “tree streets” area.

It was a delightful part of town-full of gorgeous old homes, mature trees (obviously there were trees), and a serenely idyllic feel.

We had been on the apartment hunt for quite some time, as we were way past wearing out our welcome at his mother’s house (not to mention, we had graduated college, which was one of the conditions of living rent-free).

After a particularly exasperating day of turning up nothing that would suit us, home-wise, we happened upon a quaint white stone and green-trimmed row of apartment buildings. The way they were built, each duo were separated by a door that led into a shared storage and laundry room.

They were old. Like, built-in-the-20s-or-30s-old. But, they well cared for. They were also expertly updated to maintain the vintage charm and uniqueness they possessed.

This was after I’d added some of my own charm to the home.

When I peeked into the kitchen, through a window, and saw the awesome vintage metal cabinets, I had to live there. Later, I’d find the apartment held all sorts of vintage charm, like skeleton key locks and tiny, useless closets.

(It’s kind of ridiculous that I love vintage charm, but I’m terrified of vintage, lingering houseguests.)

When my ex found out he knew the landlord personally, we were a shoe-in and were new apartment dwellers by the end of the day.

The day we started moving in was a dark and gray November day. The living room walls were made up entirely of wood paneling, and the only reason I didn’t detest them intensely was because they were made of real wood and not the fake trailer home paneling one thinks of when they hear those feared words.

Wood paneling. The fucking horror.

Because the living room looked like it was straight out of an episode of Poirot, and the dark, low-lying clouds made for a very dark atmosphere, it was necessary to have lights on during the day.

This is where the story actually gets somewhat interesting (sorry for that incredibly long-winded preamble).

After many a box and armful of clothes, still on hangers (I’m a boss at packing for a move) were moved in, the ex and I decided to go take care of the power and cable.

I distinctly remember saying something like, “Let’s actually turn all of the lights off when we’re not in a room. We are paying the power bill now.” (We were total assholes.)

So, I know we turned all of the lights off. I know we did.

Yet, upon returning, the lights were mysteriously all on.

Because my paranoia was no secret, when I said, “Uh. Didn’t we turn all of the lights off before we left?”, the boyfriend responded by saying we’d discussed doing that, but we didn’t actually get around to turning them all off.

He was dead wrong.

But, even I knew that if he admitted to the fact we did turn the lights off, my ass would have had my cheap World Market Chinese paper lanterns hung back up at his mom’s house quicker than you can say, “Oh, hell no!”

This event, on the very day we moved in, set the tone for the rest of my time there. I think someone wasn’t thrilled with us moving in.

I was never comfortable in this apartment. The vibe was all wrong.

What made things even worse was Carl worked from 6:30 at night until 2:30 in the morning. Five nights a week I was alone.

After we had moved everything in and made it our own, I took pictures of our decor to share on Facebook. Every single picture had myriad orbs. I know orbs are vastly contested, but coupled with the feeling I had there, I know those sonsabitches were orbs.

One of the things that made me feel the most uncomfortable was doing the dishes. The living spaces were not open plan at all. In fact, the doorway from the front room into the living room had a door (as in one that you can close, not just a doorway-I thought I needed to clarify). At the sink, my back was to the rest of the house. I hated the fact that I had no view of the other rooms as I was doing the dishes. I constantly felt the need to glance behind me.

Other than an overall eerie feeling, not a whole lot happened to me.

I never saw anything, but I felt something. It was unmistakable.

The only other major occurrence that happened to me was on an evening before a holiday, so I was gladly staying up until Carl came home. I was watching TV (it was some TLC special on medical oddities and quite fascinating. I have no idea how I even remember this). Out of nowhere, I heard a terrific crash. It was horribly loud and made me jump right out of my skin. It sounded like it came from the laundry room.

Our laundry room was accessible by a door from the living room that led into the entryway and stairs for the upstairs apartment, so naturally I had every kind of lock installed on the door, because laundry monsters are very real.

Logically, I knew that with the door guarded like Fort Knox with its 18 different locks, whatever was in the laundry room was likely not getting in, yet I was frozen in fear.

I called Carl, and since you can get anywhere in Elko in five minutes, it was no time before he was bravely, albeit annoyingly searching the premises.

I forgot to mention that the landlord had a workshop that he used quite frequently that was accessible through the laundry room. There was no back entrance, so the only way in was the main door for the upstairs apartment. However, that door was always locked as our neighbor preferred to use his back entrance.

Carl searched all over the workshop and laundry room. Not a thing was broken, toppled over, or misplaced. When our neighbor, who was out of town during this strange occurrence, got home, we asked him if anything was amiss in his apartment.

Nothing.

I think the very notion that nothing appeared to make the terrible crash freaks me out even more. It’s also entirely possible that something did make the noise, but Carl hid it from me, because he knew how I’d react.

The creepiest thing to ever happen I didn’t find out about until I was long moved out of that apartment and back in Reno.

The winter we lived on Court street was a very cold and snowy one.

The pogonip was in full force. Our view from the apartment was pretty satisfying.

My wreath made it look not haunted at all.

I took the train to Reno to celebrate Christmas with my family. My mom, so I didn’t have to ride the train back with all of my gifts and in order to see the apartment, drove me home.

We had a fabulous girl night full of chick flicks, the best Blind Onion pizza on earth, and so much laughing. My mom insisted on sleeping in the living room on her deluxe, raised air mattress. That was one of the only nights I truly rested easy, knowing my mom was in the next room.

Well, at least one of us rested easy.

Early, in the dead of morning, my mom was awakened by the sensation of someone sitting on the end of her bed, as the motion when that happens on an air mattress is unmistakable. She figured it was Carl coming home and not realizing he was sitting on her air mattress and not the couch.

She got up to investigate and saw that Carl was in bed, snoring and farting away. He’d been home for some time, as it was hours past the time he normally arrived home.

It was then that my mom was dead certain someone or something visited her that early morning.

This post is in dedication to my astute mother who had the foresight to know her fragile daughter would not have had the mental fortitude to handle the news of a mystery guest (resident) sitting on beds in the creepiest part of the early morning. She also knew, if she shared her experience, she’d again have a daughter as a permanent area rug on her bedroom floor for the rest of her nights.

I made it six months in the apartment on Court Street. The reason I moved out is a scary story, indeed, but not one involving ghosts. I’ll have to save that story for another time.

Even as I write this now, I have the chills. I keep rolling over in bed, making sure I’m the only one in the room.

Feeling in the Christmas spirit now? Maybe after some spirits, of the liquid variety (not the paranormal) it’ll feel a little more like Christmas!

One of the last photos taken in the apartment. All of the orb pictures are gone from Facebook and have been banished to an external hard drive. Sorry to disappoint.

Heart Palpitations

All I want to do is eat. Eat.all.the.things. I want cake, cookies, salty chips, whole avocados. This is how I get when I am stressed, excited, nervous, feeling in limbo, feeling settled… Basically, all the time. However, the need to eat my feelings is therapy-edition-bad  when I have big decisions to make.

I am a horrible decision maker.

In that, I will avoid making major life decisions at all costs. Most days, I hope life will just happen and I won’t have to make any rash/huge/scary decisions myself.

The most inane, ridiculous aspect of this is that currently I am stressing about making a decision I don’t even have to make right now. I am stressing about stressing about a scenario that has not even happened.

What the?

As most of you know, I am attempting to make the big move to England (just writing that makes my eye twitch and heart palpitate). I had an interview last Wednesday with a school in Oxford. It was so cool. I would say it went well, and I learned a lot about the school, the school system in England, and that “fab” is my new favorite expression.

They expressed their disappointment that they wouldn’t be able to see me teach. I offered to send a video ASAP. They were thrilled. Then, I was down for the count with bronchitis for 4 days. This is how my life usually responds to time-sensitive things.

The woman I have been communicating with has been super nice and understanding, and insisted it was not a rush. So, after a depressing three days of missed work and a weekend, I came back to work, found a video on my school iPad I had already done, and sent it off.

I look hideous in this video, and it could be debated that I am about 6 months along due to the wonderful angle it was taken in. I mean, I am not even lying. The still of the beginning of the video makes me look like Sloth after a stroke. I am not kidding. So, I sincerely hope they disregard my RCF (resting crazy face) and just concentrate on the excellent teaching (if I do say so myself).

So, the point of my post is that I am stressing about a job I have yet to attain.

I was actually stressing about whether or not I should sell my Keurig, or not. I actually looked up shipping costs to ship a Keurig.

What the actual hell?

I don’t even have a job offer, but I am already homesick and sweating over the cost of public transportation.

What the fuck?

For real though, if this happens, it will be huge. Scary, exciting, expensive, and life-altering. Despite the exciting aspect of this, anything that is this huge of a change is terrifying.

I am also quite surprised by how expensive it is over there. I read somewhere that the cost of living is something like 33% higher in the U.K. than in the U.S. Yikes. There is a very real possibility I won’t even be able to afford this.

So, nothing other than stress to report.