Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Online

Most of my life has changed since I met Mark Macy on October 27th at the first Chicago Ghost Conference. Since then, I've read Mark's books to the dog-eared stage and begun my own program of ITC research. ITC is the umbrella under which thrives every kind of electronically-assisted communication with the spirit world, including EVP, the darling of 21st-century ghost hunters around the world. But ITC isnt' really about going into haunted places to communicate with the troubled souls there. It's about connecting to the brightest minds of the next world to work on healing troubled souls before they pass over. It's a difference that has, again, changed my life these past few weeks.

Here's my setup:

-two radios, each turned to foreign-language broadcasts
-a white noise machine
-my television set, "tuned" to a static-y channel, with VCR tape running
-an old school audio recorder, with headphones.

To begin, I say an Our Father and then welcome any spririts who want human beings to move closer to God and each other.

I record for ten minutes each day, at eleven o'clock in the morning.

Anyone who knows me will be shocked by this new program of mine. I am, or should I say was terrifed of spirits in the past. When colleagues spoke of collecting EVP in their homes, such practices chilled me to the core. Now, I find only peace and hope in this pursuit.

Mark Macy assures me that it may take months to receive my first "voices." No problem, I think, I've been crouching in the dark corners of so-called haunted houses for twenty years with the tiniest rewards to keep me on the path: a whisper here, a swinging door there.

Contact--real, repeated contact--with the next world, offering hope to change our own world: I can wait a long time for that.

For more information about the quietly growing field of ITC, visit Mark and friends at www.worlditc.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

Haunted Monday

The First Annual Chicago Ghost Conference is, unbelieveably, now just a memory. But what a memory . . .

I had a lot of ideas in my head this past year about what this past weekend would be look like and sound like, but I didn't think for one moment what it would feel like. So when that feeling came, it was a startling, wonder-ful thing. So many beautiful things happened this weekend, but here are some of the things I'm thinking about:

. . . being together all weekend with Mike McDowell and the Indiana Ghost Trackers, some of the nicest people I've ever met. . . meeting my dear friend Brian Leffler for the first time in person, and becoming friends with the other members of NMPI . . . seeing Anney again from P.R.I.S.M. and meeting the lovely and accomplished members of her team . . . being totally disarmed by down-to-earth icon Sally Rhine Feather (and her charming husband, Bill); meeting for the first time dedicated Pete Crapia of the increasingly successful Bachelors Grove Restoration Project . . . watching the Halloween Art Exhibit gallery actually come to fruition, and making future plans with wonderful organizer and artist Scott Jackson . . . seeing terrific author and friend John Kachuba again and finally meeting his wife, Mary . . . having our own Elizabeth Rintoul at the podium, dazzling a whole new audience with her charming personality . . . giving Greg Myers a big hug in person after way too many emails . . . watching the reaction of the audience to the intriguing photographs of Nate Larson . . . having the great folks from Ghostly Talk set up and recording in my own beloved city . . . seeing my pal Ed Shanahan as busy as could be with a steady stream of successful readings . . . hanging out all day with my lifelong friend, Sharon Woodhouse of Lake Claremont Press . . . seeing our attendees intrigued by the Twilight Tales booth, making plans to attend future readings . . . being mesmerized by the peaceful and intriguing ways of Mark Macy, and hearing his legendary ITC evidence playing in our own conference room . . . having the great people of Southern Wisconsin Paranormal Research Group (SWPRG) exhibiting their incredible research and evidence . . . seeing Mike Esposito again and hearing his fascinating recordings . . . watching even the hotel security and housekeeping staffs drifting in and out through the day, intrigued by what we were up to.

When I think about this weekend, I think about all these images and many more, but most of all I think about the miracles that happened in the course of it all: Mike McDowell, who said "yes" to co-hosting with us: Without the Indiana Ghost Trackers, the conference wouldn't have happened; the College of DuPage chaper of the PCMA, who fell from Heaven and offered endless assistance to us when all seemed overwhelming, and who were with us, smiling and supportive, from the first to the last minute; Scott Jackson, whose Halloween Art Exhibit--and kind, generous way--brought a marvelous dimension to our event; Ghostly Talk, who patiently and perfectly recorded every minute of the conference for our friends around the world, as they tirelessly do a dozen times a year at conferences around the nation; Scott Markus, who worked around the clock in record time to produce--with Mary Czerwinski--the rich film clips for the conference spotlight and the evening screening session(and who valiantly assumed the undesirable post of man-in-charge of our hair-raising A-V situation!); artist Mary Gutfleisch, whose breathtaking conference poster and program appeared like magic from her talented brush--and the goodness of her heart.

I think about our after-hours events and our longtime Chicago friends who thought the conference idea was "so cool" and who supported us with their talents, spaces, and friendship: Neil Tobin and the Excalibur nightclub, Denny our seeminly tireless Chicago Hauntings driver, the good folks at Chet's Melody Lounge (who always make us feel like we're coming home for Christmas, and who extended that hospitality to all our new friends, and Lawrence at the National Pastime Theater, for letting us meet his own ghosts (even when our bus was really, really late!).

Mostly, I think constantly and with wonder about all the attendees and exhibitors and speakers who put their lives on hold for three days to be together in Chicago with us. I wasn't expecting the feeling that came from that; I don't think anyone was. And I think the Congress Hotel--whose ghosts were felt and seen by many attendees-- woke up today just a little more haunted, too . . . by the memory of that feeling. I know I am. I know I always will be.

Thank you, everyone. See you next year!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The time of the season

October greetings to everyone who is struggling with Halloween careers . . . it seems that each year there is more and more interest in the unexplained, and we're happy to provide our own little perspective on it all.

I'm still reeling from the events of the past year: Amidst operating our Chicago Hauntings tours throughout the busiest tourist season ever in Chicago, I managed to present programs at 47 libraries all over Chicago as part of the City of Big Readers program, sponsored by the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago History Museum. This program had a profound impact on my experience of my beloved Chicago. I was privledged to visit neighborhoods I had never set eyes on, and I met children and librarians from every corner of Chicago who seemed thrilled to hear my stories of haunted Chicago. I'll never forget this remarkable Summer, but right now I don't even have time to think about it; we are already into the most astounding Halloween season I've ever known.

Ahead of us lies four weeks of whirlwind tours through our haunted city, led by some of the most astute and engaging tour guides the city has seen. We'll view the fruits of filming Chicago's most haunted with some of the most innovative filmmakers in the city today, and we'll investigate two of the most intriguingly haunted sites we've found to date. If we survive, we'll cohost (with the Indiana Ghost Trackers) the First Chicago Ghost Conference at the haunted Congress Plaza Hotel over October's last weekend, and welcome into the city some of the most provocative speakers and exhibitors the ghost hunting world has known.

If you haven't already signed up for the Chicago Ghost Conference, there are still some tickets left for this unprecedented event. Join us at the haunted Florentine Ballroom of the Congress Plaza Hotel for a weekend of exploration into the world of the unknown. For more information and registration information, please visit our conference page at www.chicagohauntings.com/conference.html to check out all of the incredible speakers and exhibitors coming from around Chicago and around the country. If you have but a ghost of an interest in the paranormal, you'll enjoy this intriguing event! For more information on everything we're up to, visit us at www.chicagohauntings.com

Happy October!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Words to live by

Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak,
sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.

Friday, February 09, 2007

This Little Ghost Conference Thing

Wow. I can't believe the response in just one day since I first posted news of our first Chicago Ghost Conference this October. I'm delighted, first off, that Chicago Hauntings is now co-hosting the event with the Chicago Ghost Trackers, an afiliate of the incredible Indiana Ghost Trackers! I'm so honored that Mike McDowell and the many chapters of IGT want to be involved in this event with us--I've always had so much respect for their careful investigative techniques. Mike has also agreed to speak at the conference which, as anyone knows who's heard him, is always fascinating. Mike's visited some of the nation's most haunted places and always seems to capture great evidence of the paranormal. He participated in the recent, much-acclaimed "Dead Whisper" documentary as well, shot on location at Chicago-area sites with fascinating, convincing results.

Also speaking will be Brian Leffler, of MagickMind Paranormal Research Radio, Ed Shanahan, one of Chicago's longtime paranormal researchers and readers, and, if his schedule permits, Jim Graczyk, Chicago native and author of five books on ghosts and hauntings. I've also got my fingers crossed that Scott Markus ("Voices from the Chicago Grave") will share his firsthand research experiences with our attendees. He promised earlier that he would, so I'm hoping he'll be there. We've also got some surprise national--and international--guests in the works that I'm dying to tell you about, but . . . can't. Soon, I hope!

We're also getting news that many Midwest and national ghosthunting groups will be sending representatives to this conference, and we're thrilled, of course. If you haven't yet signed up for our newsletter, you can subscribe at info@hauntingchicago.com to receive registration information before everyone else. We will have limited tickets for our special events on the conference weekend, such as our tours, pub crawl, and private investigations, so you'll want first chance by being a newsletter subscriber.

And please, please, please: if you are an individual or group of ghosthunters in the Chicago area, plan on coming to this event! We're thrilled that our conference is drawing national attention, but one of the reasons for this conference is to create an association of Chicago-area paranormal researchers so we can get together from time to time, compare notes, and get to know what others are doing in our great city!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Resurrection Mary Forever

One of the things I think about nearly every day in January is my beloved Resurrection Mary. In the midst of all the other projects and books in the works, I'm finally writing a book devoted just to her, and each night, after my daughters are in bed, I find time to type out a few hundred words just for her.

The story of Resurrection Mary, as every Chicago ghosthunter--and any self-respecting Chicagoan!--knows, is the pivotal tale around which revolves the entire folklore of Southwest Chicago. As a girl, my dad would take me to Resurrection Cemetery to visit the graves of his Polish cousins; inevitably, we'd stop for his shot and a beer (7-Up for me) at Chet's Melody Lounge, the infamous tap across from the cemetery gates. I never could have realized, in those days, that someday I'd frequent this place as a writer, historian, and ghosthunter. I never could have imagined the life that lay ahead.

Each night, after I've finished my typing, after I've finished remembering, I shut off the computer and turn out the office lights. Looking out the window in the darkness, these nights, soft snow is often falling. And I'm taken back to Archer Avenue, so close, so far . . . and I imagine I'm walking with Mary, along the roadside, nearly a hundred years gone by--searching for something we'll never find. Never.

Look for "Beloved: The Lives and Afterlives of Resurrection Mary" this Summer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Breathe in, breathe out.

It's been a crazy couple of months. I'm working day and night to finish the script for the audio book, "The Best of Chicago Haunts," of which a third will be new stories from the upcoming "Chicago Haunts 3," due out in paperback in the Fall of this year. Since the audio book contains new material, I've been running around the metropolitan area, tracking down leads, talking to fascinating people by the dozen, and investigating what seems more and more like an endless supply of Chicago ghosts and hauntings. I hope you like the new book--it's got a different feel from the others; I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that it's the first book I've written since we started Chicago Hauntings, Inc., so it has a more hands-on narrative style than the others and talks a lot about our investigations from a first-person perspective.

I've also been structuring syllabi for Chicago-area college courses in folklore and parapsychology, preparing notes for a new BBC show, outlining a new, non-regional book, and preparing materials for the Chicago Public Library's summer reading program. Whew. Like I said, it's been crazy.

Our tours have had their best seasons ever. We are in our fifth year of year 'round operation and are looking forward to an unprecedented Spring, Summer, and (of course) Fall. Thanks to all of you who have supported the books and tours through these years-it's all because of you that we are able to keep doing the research that made the books--and the tours--as acclaimed as they continue to be. If you haven't already signed up for our newsletter, please do so--you'll get all the special tour announcements and discounts as well as anouncements about book releases and all that fun stuff.

I'll write again this weekend; I want to share with you a case I've been looking into this past week, unfolding just off Archer Avenue. It smacks of a famous, 1970s Chicago case, but with decidedly different "spiritual" aims.