In 1992 I drove school-bus in Boulder, Colorado. When I applied for the job I didn’t own a wristwatch, which was required, so I bought one. After a few weeks I somehow lost the watch and so bought another one. A few weeks after that, I lost that one, too, so I bought a third watch.  Soon after, I found the two watches I lost – I had just misplaced them in my bedroom. So I wore my newest watch and the other two, each less than three months old, sat on top of my dresser. One afternoon while driving the bus, after I had dropped off all the students, I was alone, driving the bus back to the bus yard. Unexpectedly, there was a male voice behind me, over my right shoulder, that said “Go to Dream-time!” I was startled and immediately annoyed that one of the students would have purposely missed his stop by hiding, making it necessary for me to turn around and take him home. “Who’s there?” I asked, scanning the rear-view mirror and seeing no-one in the bus. “Come on,” I said, “Stop hiding. I have to take you home!” There was no answer. So I pulled the bus to the side of the road and parked, got up and walked down the center aisle of the bus, looking in each seat for the student. There was no-one there. Brushing it off as some odd, random thing, I started the bus and resumed driving back to the bus yard. Within a minute or so, the same male voice said “Go to Dream-time!” again. “Who’s there? This is serious. You have to stop hiding and I have to get you home. Where are you?” No answer. I figured this kid must be hiding under one of the seats, so I pulled the bus to the side of the road again, got up and looked above and below every single seat in the bus. No-one was there. I didn’t know what to think. I started driving again and it happened a third time – “Go to Dream-time!” This time, I didn’t say anything and just kept driving. When I got to the bus yard, one of the post-trip requirements is to record the time you arrived. I checked my watch but it had stopped working. When I got home, I picked up another of my watches and it, too, had stopped working. To my relief, my third watch was working. The next morning at 6:00 a.m., when I got up for work, the 3rd watch had stopped working, too. After that, I did two things. Whatever “Dream-time” meant, I felt that I had received a clear message to stop using “regular” time, so I didn’t wear a watch for the following eleven years. Second, I asked around for what “Dream-time” might mean and the only reference I found was that it is a term used by Australian aboriginals. I started reading every book about aboriginals I could get my hands on. I learned some things but not what I was looking for. I feel now that my destiny is in Australia and the answer to the puzzle lies in my seeking out and speaking with some aboriginals. I feel that somehow, even after all these years, if I can make it to Australia, I will be lead to the answer to this puzzle.

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I come from a family, a very traditional family. We’re German. My parents were born here but their parents were born in Germany. My father died a few years ago. He was very myopic in his views about life. He wasn’t emotional. We lost touch with each other for various reasons. One day, one of my brothers got in touch with me and said “It looks like Dad isn’t going to make it much longer.” So I jumped in an airplane and flew to New England, where they were, and when I got there, my Dad was dead. Of course I started having all these thoughts like “I should have given him another shot.” “He was doing the best he could.” All that kind of stuff. At the funeral, I walked down the aisle, I went up to the casket and I just said “Dad, I hope you have a good trip. I hope it’s positive.” Then I went back and sat in a pew. My aunt, my brother and everyone else was sitting in the rows in front of me. There was no-one on either side of me and no one behind me. All of a sudden, I get this sharp nudge on my back. Boom! It was a strong little shove. I looked around in disbelief. At first I thought someone was hiding in the pew behind me, but I looked and no-one was there. I concluded that it was my Dad saying good-bye to me. 

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"Joeday"

09/02/2013

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My husband committed suicide ten years ago by jumping off the Fremont Bridge. He was like a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Ghandi. He was such a good man. Every summer, near his birthday and Father’s Day, I feel his presence and so I hold a day that is just for him. I call it “Joeday” because his name was Joe. So this year for ‘Joeday’ I played music in my house, records. All day I played songs that we both loved and I sang along with every song. I was singing, dancing, shaking asprin bottles as shakers; I was having a good time remembering him and focusing on all our best memories. It was getting into the evening and I wanted to make sure that my music wasn’t bothering my neighbors so I played one last song, our most favorite song, to finish up the day. When the song was over, I looked up and under the apple tree in my front yard was a Native American warrior in full regalia. I thought “I’m having visions.” I looked across the street and there was a parked car full of people, but they were ghostly. I guess in celebrating Joe’s spirit, I attracted a few other spirits as well. 

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When I went to college in the 1980's, the tuition was a burden. Aside from the scholarships and loans, there was a portion I was supposed to pay and a part that was my mother's responsibility.  Because she worked at such a low-paying job and had no savings to speak of, I paid "her" portion too.  I always worked during the summers, during school vacations and had an on-campus job every year.  One year when tuition was due I was $700 short.  I had been frugal, but there just wasn't enough.  My mother suggested that I play the lottery.  It seemed ridiculous but I bought a ticket.  I matched five out of six numbers.  Typically matching five numbers brought the winner about $1200.  This time though the pot was smaller and I won $699.  My mother felt like I had been ripped off. But who can complain about getting exactly what one needs?

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Otto was an old man, my grandmother’s boyfriend. He had a heart condition and the doctor gave him six months to live. Six months goes by and he’s still alive. The doctor tells him that it was amazing that he had made it through those six months and that he was really living on borrowed time. The doctor tells him again that he has six months to live. This went on for eight years. He ended up living with his sister-in-law. One night they were watching David Letterman on TV and just after midnight, there came a knock on the door. His sister-in-law gets up and she couldn’t figure out who would be coming to her door so late in the evening. So she went to the door and there was no-one there. When she went back to the living-room, Otto was dead in his chair.

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I grew up in Virginia, in a Christian family. We went to church regularly. One Saturday I went shopping with my parents and my sister. When we were done shopping, we walked out of the store, across the parking lot and got into our car. I got on my seatbelt and just before my father pulled out of the parking space, I looked to my right, out of the car window, and in the car next to us was the devil. It wasn’t anyone in a costume or anything like that but the actual devil, himself, and he was looking right at me. I was so terrified, I didn’t say a word about it to anyone. I was worried that they would think I was crazy. Many years later, I finally mentioned this to my sister. To my surprise, she told me that she had seen him, too, that same day and at the same time. She was so frightened that she had never mentioned it to anyone either.

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I decided to be homeless for a while, about five years ago, while I was in college. I realized that I couldn’t do it where I was living, because I would see people I knew, so I decided to hitch-hike to New Orleans. It took me a week to get to New Orleans. My last ride getting into New Orleans was with this truck-driver and he asked me where I wanted to get dropped off. I said ‘anywhere.’ He said ‘you can’t do that.’ I had no idea at the time that New Orleans had one of the highest crime rates. He encouraged me to go to a shelter, which I did. Over the next few weeks I became good friends with these vagabonds. They really shifted my perception as far as homeless culture in general. People who are homeless are not necessarily hobo’s or bums but people who choose to live that way because they don’t want to be part of this rat race. Weeks went by and I began to forget that I wasn’t homeless, that I was doing this just for the experience of it. That whole Maslo’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ and taking that last one out (security), began to affect me. I never knew where I would sleep from one night to the next and sometimes I’d find myself in a shelter with a couple hundred other people. I met so many interesting people and had so many unlikely conversations. It was an amazing experience. It really did shape my perspective on the world, more than anything else at the time. What it lead to was, one night I was sleeping outside, which isn’t as romantic as it sounds. I was in New Orleans and lots of things down there are bigger than normal, including the bugs, and sleeping outside that night was like ‘Chinese water torture.’ Every ten minutes I was getting bitten by something else. I couldn’t sleep, so I started wandering the streets and ended up in the French Quarter. There was an open courtyard that seemed to beckon me. In the moment I thought I was walking into a movie. It was so surreal. There was a guy who had his arms woven through the bars of a gate to hold himself up because he was so drunk; he was drooling and it looked like this strange, crucifixion scene. There was this odd-looking lady in a gypsy cart, petting this large cat, laughing at another guy. Everywhere I looked was another, little, strange scene. All these little vignettes were offset by this one, black, Moses-lookin’ man, with a beard down to his knees, underneath a street-lamp, screaming through his harmonica. I never heard anything sound like that before and I was mesmerized. I drifted towards him like a bug to light. Once I got there, he just kept going and I sat there watching for a long time. Finally, he stopped with the harmonica. He started talking to me. I had never said a word to this guy, so he didn't know anything about me. He starts speaking to me in fluent prose. Everything is rhyming and weaving in and out beautifully. He starts telling me stories of Jesse James and telling me stories about himself and how he used to play the broomsticks with Bob Dylan and all these crazy things. I’m not really sure what to make of it. Then he starts telling me about myself. I’m from up north and my Dad’s a pastor, that my favorite book is “On The Road”, all of which are true. He kept going and he was very specific and up until this point I had never really believed anything like this could happen, that anyone that you never met could really tell you about yourself, until it happened to me. There is no way this was happening without this guy tapping into something beyond… He keeps going and I fall into this trance, almost, just listening to him, wishing I could be recording him. I got over that thought and realized that I just had to soak in as much as possible. Finally, he stops talking and it is daylight. It feels as though days have gone by but it was probably just a couple of hours. I’m still in shock because he has told me not just where I am coming from but where I am going to and all of these intimate, specific things about myself. Finally, at the end of it all, he says “The whole reason I was standing out here tonight was to tell you this message I’ve just told you. And the whole reason that you’re here, is to hear this message. Now your mission in New Orleans is done.” I had had no previous intentions of ending my homeless experience or of leaving New Orleans. But once that guy told me that my mission was over, I thought “O.K.” so I left. I had been panhandling for a couple of weeks and had about $80, enough to get a bus ticket back to Muncie, Indiana, where I was going to college. So I bought a ticket, got on the bus, fell asleep for two days and woke up back in Muncie. I got back to the house where I had been living with my room-mates. They were talking about all their normal stuff but now everything they said sounded so frivolous compared to the experience I had over the last several weeks, living on the street. I escaped to the roof and was just sitting there, thinking about everybody back there in New Orleans and all that I had learned. The next day I got up and went to the computer lab and I learned that Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans. It was all over the news. It really blew my mind. I thought of all my street friends in New Orleans and wondered how they might survive. My experience on the streets in New Orleans changed the way I look at the world. I’ll never again be the person I was before New Orleans. And I am glad.

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A few years ago I was in Ladd’s Addition (a section of the city of Portland, OR) riding my bicycle on the road that comes up from the Hawthorne District and meets up at the roundabout. I was waiting at a stop sign with my foot on the curb. There was an apple tree off to the right, up in someone’s yard. It was late in the summer and I looked up and saw all these apples in the tree.  I was hungry and I thought those apples looked pretty good. I wished I had one to eat. Within seconds of my thinking that, I heard an apple falling down through the branches of the tree. It fell into some bushes. I couldn’t see it for a moment, then it rolled out of the bushes, down the yard, across the sidewalk and came to a stop right at my foot.  I was amazed. Every year I go back and try to eat an apple from that tree.

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I went out to Breitenbush Hot Springs to visit a friend who lives out there. We were talking and I remarked how incredible the big earthquake was that they had in Japan. She said “What are you talking about?” I told her there had been a 9.2 earthquake in Japan. She said she hadn’t heard about it. I have an earthquake app on my phone and it tells me whenever there is a big earthquake and it came up and notified me that there had been a 9.2 earthquake in Japan. I thought that an earthquake that size would cause a tsunami and you would hear about it on the news, but I searched the news and found nothing about it. I thought that was very odd. Two days later, Japan had the big earthquake. My girlfriend asked me how I knew about the earthquake two days before it happened? I said “I’m telling you, it came up on the app. I saw it on the app.” I've gone back several times to look for that notice and I can’t find it, which is strange because the app saves all the prior notices.

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I was driving my car with a friend and telling him about a scary movie I had seen the night before. There was a scene where a man is holding up a deck of cards and pulling cards out of the deck one by one while a woman is guessing which card has just been pulled. The woman starts by getting each card wrong but soon, she starts getting every single card right. At one point her voice gets very deep and scary and her eyes look crazy and she says “Jack of Spades” and at that moment you see that she is possessed by a demon. It scared the hell out of me. Right as I got to that point in the story, we got to where we were going and I parked my car. As I got out of the car, I looked down on the ground and there is a very small playing card, face down, that I was partially stepping on. I bent down, picked it up and turned it over. It was the Jack of Spades!

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