Saturday, September 10, 2016
I am trained in several type of remote viewing techniques, including military-style Controlled Remote Viewing ("CRV") and Associative Remote Viewing ("ARV"). These are what I have called applications of clairvoyance using certain defined protocols. These protocols are all different systems that enable the remote viewers, as well as their monitors and judges of the sessions, to apply uniform standards to the psychic imagery which generally applies to places or events in distant locations or distant time zones, such as the future.
ARV is interesting because it helps the viewer to relax a bit and takes the pressure off because the viewer doesn't need to find the "right" answer to the ultimate question, but only the imagery associated with one out of two photos which ultimately will represent the right answer. The photos are usually randomly picked. They are randomly associated with possible answers (usually a binary system of up or down, winning or losing, right or wrong). A photo of a flower may represent a "win" and a photo of a boat may represent a "lose" if the question (never told to the remote viewers) is: Will the Red Sox win the World Series this year?
I recently joined the ARV group called Applied Precognition Project founded by computational physicist Marty Rosenblatt, who has worked in the past developing computer simulation games and outcomes for organizations like the Department of Defense and NASA, and have a worked on a number of ARV taskings. Marty was quoted in an interview in the "Eight Martini's Magazine" (issue 12, January, 2015) as saying he liked ARV because of "the clarity it provides in defining a Hit versus a Miss." He is a big believer in making sure viewers get feedback on their viewing so they can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.
Under Marty's ARV system, viewers are also invited to judge their own transcripts. A numerical scoring system is used to see how well our psychic images match the feedback photos (A and B) that are later randomly assigned to each of our two transcript numbers. Sometimes our descriptions and drawings are a good match (a "Hit"), sometimes they don't match at all (a "Miss") and sometimes the descriptions of both photos are equally good or equally bad - in which case it is a wash and doesn't count (a "Pass"). All of the group's hits and misses are tallied up at the end of the day. Marty then places a bet on the group's collective choice. In our case, it is whether certain international currencies will go up or down that day.
I recently had a result I had never experienced before - nor had I ever seen anyone else produce this kind of result. It was apparently quite unusual. I brought it to Marty's attention. He felt it was interesting enough to bring up for discussion in his Webinar. I had described and sketched my two transcripts. They looked very different to me. I thought I was describing two different photographs (Photos A and B). After I submitted them online, I was able to see the two photos that were assigned one to each transcript. For scoring purposes, I was presented with a little four-box grid. My job was to assign a numerical value to each photo for each transcript.
Here was the problem: Instead of describing each of the two photos, my transcripts described the same exact photo! They both described Photo A. Photo A turned out to be a photo of Stonehenge (see actual photo at the top of this page). They were both quite good descriptions and so I scored them both quite high. I assigned them each a score of "6" out of the Targ 7-point confidence ranking system. Transcript 756355 describes and sketches a series of choppy land masses in the "forefront" of a golden, warm, glowing sun on the left hand side. Transcript 880514 shows a tall, stone, carved, gravestone pointing upward, a "monument" with a "national feeling" and perhaps "an angel on a gravestone?" (compare to the actual photo image with a lady standing on top of Stonehenge). Strangely, neither transcript described Photo B at all which turned out to be a picture of a pink rose. Consequently, I assigned "0" for both transcripts for Photo B.
Here are the two transcripts I described and drew, for those of you who might be interested:
Because my brain only focused on one photograph, the scoring came out very strange. I was forced to take a "Pass" because the "6" for Transcript 1 washed out the "6" for Transcript 2. I couldn't say which Transcript represented Photo A. That was a problem. This is very unusual. Again, this is a situation that probably hasn't come up much at all in WE ARV discussions - if ever! Take a look at my little diagram below showing two boxes. The top box shows why I had to pass with equal scorings for Photo A. I call that a "Vertical Pass." The bottom box shows why people normally pass with equal scorings for Photo A and Photo B. I call that a "Horizontal Pass." That just means your psychic brain captured the data equally well or equally poorly for both photos.
Although my brain correctly focused on accurately describing the "feedback target" which was the imagery in Photo A, my brain also seems to have (without my permission) focused on the ultimate correct winning photo (which was Photo A). We learned the day after our scores were submitted that Photo A (the picture of Stonehenge), which had been pre-selected to represent an uptick in the financial market in the future, accurately corresponded with a real uptick in the financial market. It was a real "winning" photo in the end.
Normally, your job is only to describe each photo choice, not the ultimate photo that will represent the winning answer in reality. Unfortunately for me, I did both. My brain apparently also wanted to play "leap frog" and go directly to the winning answer, and only allowed me to describe the one photo (Photo A) that would win. Unfortunately, not only for me, but also for the overall scoring for our group, I was forced to pass. My concern is that this unusual problem of what I am calling a "Vertical Pass" results in some problems in the WE ARV system.
First of all, this has the effect of penalizing the remote viewer in terms of feedback. Let's face it! It is not easy to look at a piece of paper with a number written on it and then try to "imagine" or sketch the photo it will represent in the future! As remote viewers, we all operate with a delicate psyche. Even small amounts of negativity in this realm can have devastating effects on our future ability to remote view. This is a delicate art/science of prediction. In this situation, I was forced to pass, even though I had succeeded in the goal of producing one highly accurate transcript (as well as a second one too) which also happened to turn out to be the winning answer. I was thus compelled to stay out of the game (a kind of negative feedback for me) even though I had not done anything "wrong" in terms of viewing the target. If this kind of pass is not corrected, it may lead to other viewers receiving inappropriate negative feedback.
Second, I believe this unusual kind of a pass may result in tilting the scoreboard the wrong way for the group bet. The WE ARV system is geared toward the ultimate practical application of remote viewing by using the binary selection to make a binary choice in the real world (sports bet, financial market, simple predictions). My transcripts could not be added to the group selection because a "pass" doesn't count. If the majority of the other viewers had scored in favor Photo A, then my pass wouldn't have made a difference in the bet. But let's suppose, there was a "tie" in the overall group, then my choice of Photo A would have tipped the balance toward the correct bet. Or, let's suppose several of the viewers began to have Vertical Pass issues. If several were correct, then the failure to include them could theoretically lead to a wrong bet. In the world of mathematical precision and probabilities, even these seemingly tiny or unusual anomalies need to be taken into consideration if we are to come up with good statistical models for betting. The problem of the Vertical Pass could represent a very tiny but annoying bug in the system.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
I bought a tiny necklace about a year ago. It was a small ugly greenish-black stone that was pitted and pocked like a dried prune and strung on a leather string. I had heard this stone, called moldavite, had interesting properties, but knew nothing about it. As someone who has always loved geology and studied rocks, this seemed mildly interesting.
In November, 2015,I traveled to Las Vegas to attend an aerospace convention and to do some interviews to promote my new book "How To Talk to an Alien." On the third day, right before an hour-long radio interview which preceded another hour-long internet TV show formerly on PBS called "New Thinking Allowed" with Jeff Mishlove, I was suddenly struck with the most intense vertigo and nausea I've ever experienced in my life. (Coincidentally or not, Jeff's YouTube channel was suddenly and inexplicably taken offline that evening as were all the email accounts of the Las Vegas another radio show host who I was supposed to meet that day). Anyway, I thought I was literally dying. I wasn't sure how I was going to complete my interviews let alone sound coherent. Somehow, I steeled myself, with the room spinning violently around me, my heart palpitating, hands sweating, and I completed the final interview in the studio, before dragging myself off to bed, and then finally ended up in the emergency room of the hospital which extended into three days of testing. The vertigo finally stopped. They speculated it might have been a heart attack but weren't sure. It was strange. Upon returning to my room, I looked for the little moldavite necklace which I had carefully removed from the safe, figuring it was too ugly for anyone to steal, and hidden under my baseball cap. It was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere. I tripled checked all the suitcases. It was gone. I called the hotel. No one had reported it.
I am not in the habit of losing things. It bothered me that this little moldavite necklace had disappeared. Months dragged on and it still bugged me. I decided to look online to research moldavite. I ran across some obscure chat rooms where people were talking about their experiences with moldavite and to my shock and surprise many of them spoke about their moldavite disappearing! Apparently, it is a well-known property of moldavite to disappear from its owner. It never occurred to me that a rock could disappear by its own volition. There are many theories about why and how it does this. Some say it returns to its origins in native Czech Republic, the region of Bohemia and Moravia, where an asteroid smashed into the earth 14.8 million years ago, vitrifying the surrounding earth minerals in the collision, creating this unique tektite found no where else on earth. Moldavite is said to be a transformational crystal. It is said to understand the two universes of terrestrial and extraterrestrial life because it was indeed formed from them both - a "hybrid" in the truest sense of the word. It is said to be one of the most intensely vibrational crystals of all crystals and comes with warnings that wearers should temper it with other crystals to "ground" its intensity. It is said to open the heart, third eye and crown chakras. In fact, it is known historically as the legendary "Philosopher's Stone" and also the green "emerald" that fell from Lucifer's crown or forehead as he fell from heaven that was placed in the Holy Grail itself. Archeologists have discovered talismans with moldavite over 25,000 years old. The history of this strange and highly unusual crystal, that doesn't even look like a crystal, is unique.
And so, I resigned myself to the strange idea that my moldavite had voluntarily disappeared by itself. I had read that sometimes it returned to its owner in time. I worried that perhaps I had offended it by referring to it as an ugly old prune. Perhaps if I thought nice thoughts about it, it might consider coming back to me.
In April, 2016, I was invited to go on a paranormal investigation in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I asked one of the mediums on the team, who said she knew a lot about crystals, if she had ever heard anything about moldavite disappearing. Oh yeah! She said I needed to surround it with three other crystals so it wouldn't go running off. As we were near a crystal shop, I bought all three in hopes it might come home to roost.
One month later, I decided to attend my college reunions. I brought along my son William who is still in high school. I remembered a tiny little gem shop called "Tomorrow's Heirlooms" I had once visited about four years earlier and decided to take my son there because the owner, John Miller, a sort of talkative Indiana Jones type of geologist whose shop was loaded with unusual crystals and jewelry, had a huge fossil of a femur bone of T-Rex dinosaur. We entered the shop and the owner was still there. He showed us the fossil.
John said, "Now, I'd love to show you a particularly special necklace. It was best in show. It's up there in front of you on the second shelf."
I looked up and instantly recognized what it was. It was one of the most amazing necklaces I've ever seen. It was a giant bib, about 6" long, loaded with more moldavite than I've ever seen in my life interspersed with huge heavy chunks of silvery meteorite. I was absolutely speechless. I had never mentioned a word about moldavite to him. In fact, I was literally just about to ask him whether he had ever heard any stories of moldavite disappearing.
To my great surprise, this serious geologist, said matter-of-factly, "Of course! Moldavite disappears in order to remove negativity. It disappears because it is a stone of protection."
I laughed and said, "Well, if I buy this necklace - and I think I have to - I don't think this moldavite will ever disappear because it's so grounded with all this meteorite!"
The shop owner said, "Probably not. Unless you're about to be killed."
That sounded reasonable enough to me. So I bought the necklace.
We talked a bit more. John said, "You know it's funny you talk about things like moldavite disappearing. Someone just showed me a blog on the internet where someone wrote about my shop having the quality of disappearing and reappearing."
I said, "That was me. You just saw that recently? I wrote that blog about three or four years ago! And yes, you have a magical shop. It has some unusual characteristics." (http://skepticalpsychicblog.blogspot.com/2013_05_01_archive.html )
"Yes, I've been told that," John said with surprising seriousness.
How peculiar that his path and mine seem to have had such strange intersections, I thought. I went home that night, thinking about everything he had said, and then somewhere around 3:00 AM in the morning, it occurred to me that my tiny little dried prune moldavite necklace had probably disappeared because I had spent three days in the Las Vegas hospital with severe vertigo. So it was protecting me. I finally understand and now I could at last release it from my mind.
The next morning, six months after I had lost my necklace, I got up and got dressed to go to a Memorial Day barbeque with friend. When I opened my jewelry chest, something fell out of the drawer and hit the ground. It was, to my amazement, my little dried prune moldavite necklace. I quickly popped it into a silk bag with the three grounding crystals so it wouldn't go wandering off by itself again.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
I was never a big science fiction fan. But now that I have begun to discover that many of the top physicists, astronomers, scientists and government intelligence folks are - strangely, at least in my view - big science fiction fans. I decided to see what all the fuss is about. It reminded me of when I learned the senior partner in my old law firm was a serious chess player. I didn't understand (at the time) why a lawyer would be so interested in chess, but I decided to study the game by reading chess books. I learned that chess, like litigation, is war. Today, I heard a presentation by Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess Grandmaster and former World Chess Champion, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. Was he talking about chess? Not at all. He was talking about politics and war.
It occurred to me that I should start to read science fiction classics for the same reason. They might provide a clue as to scientific and military "strategies" of our day. This thought solidified in my mind after a recent visit with my son to the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the first nuclear-powered submarine, launched in 1954. The name "Nautilus" is, in fact, a nod to the renowned French science fiction author Jules Verne whose protagonist, Captain Nemo, commanded a submarine named in Nautilus in his book "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." In 1870, when the book was published, there were only a tiny handful of primitive and experimental submarines in existence. Verne's science "fiction" became a science "reality" in the span of only two generations.
Time travel has always been a mainstay of science fiction. Is time travel already part of our "reality"? If you plunge deeply into the various accounts available in the field of ufology about the American secret military exploration into time travel, you will find bizarre and seemingly unbelievable assertions made by occasional whistleblowers (it's always difficult to know if they are brave or merely disinfo plants). I once interviewed a lawyer named Andrew Basiago who claimed to have been part of a secret military program as a child and was able to time travel (Project Pegasus) by walking into certain military installations on the East Coast and exiting moments later on the West Coast. Others made similar assertions. There are the astounding claims made by the military microbiologist Dr. Dan Burisch about a time travel machine utilizing secret extraterrestrial technologies at Area 51 near Las Vegas (Project Looking Glass). And, of course, there are the famous stories of the Philadelphia Experiment and the Montauk Chair, both allegedly efforts by secret military programs to explore time travel with limited success according to people I know. Have we actually verified physicist Hugh Everett's 1950's theory of a multiverse? I know physicists today who claim to have found the quantum explanation for retrocausality in which the future interacts with and creates the past. Have we found real "Stargates" and worm holes on planet earth? Did the rocket scientist Jack Parsons, who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, actually open an inter-dimensional portal in California?
If our secret military and government has found the key to what we all still believe is just science fiction - namely time travel - then they have found the ultimate weapon. He who controls the course of history, controls the world. Imagine you could change the outcome of World War II. You could undo Hiroshima. You could plant spies in the places where they were needed. Ah yes, chess and war.
But where are the clues? A year ago I experienced a very funky glitch in time. While taking my normal two mile walk around the lake near my home, I fell on the sidewalk. My shoe got caught in a large crevice in the pavement at the top of a small hill and down I went. Aside from a bloody knee and bruised pride, I was fine. I continued to do my almost daily walk around the lake. Each time I carefully avoided the crevice at the top of the hill. It became a ritual. Then one day, I did my walk around the lake and when I came to the place where the crevice should have been, it was gone! Strangely, the sidewalk was perfectly paved over. I tripled checked just to be sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. In fact, the entire sidewalk seemed strangely smooth. The only cracks in the pavement were at the very bottom of the hill. I thought to myself: This is wonderful. The town must have finally gotten around to repaving the stupid sidewalk. A couple of days later, I walked around the lake again. However, this time I was shocked to discover the crevice was back. All the cracks in the pavement were back. It was as if time undid itself. Or I had reverted to present time again. I felt slightly insane.
I am not the only person to have had this odd sensation. Famous UFO contactee Whitley Strieber described his drive down Route 17 in Northern New Jersey that suddenly transformed itself into an entirely unknown landscape before reverting to its normal scenery. I have many friends and colleagues who have described being suddenly transported into different time zones. One friend who was visiting Russia suddenly found herself, as she looked out the window of her train, looking at a battlefield landscape with fallen soldiers. Another friend, took a train from Westchester to New York City, and was shocked to find herself looking at a landscape filled with dinosaurs! Yet another friend has received emails and photos from himself, properly time-stamped, about 10 years in the future. He is baffled by them. Many of my paranormal investigator friends who have visited Gettysburg have seen soldiers marching, heard horses hooves clattering with carriage wheels, spoken with men dressed in Confederate uniforms. Even I once heard a canon boom across the deserted battlefield and at night, during a stay in a haunted inn once used as a makeshift Civil War infirmary, was awoken by a horrific screeching noise that I was able to later positively identify as a Confederate rebel call. My point is: our present time is often interrupted when we are suddenly dropped in the past somewhere. Is this because time has been altered by someone and an adjustment is being made?
I have never lost time, as many UFO abductees claim. But I have gained time. And time has played tricks. Once I was emailing with a friend who was visiting Mexico. She had gone shopping and sent me a bunch of photos of jewelry. She offered to buy whatever I liked since she could get a good price. We emailed back and forth for a while, but before I was able to select the necklace I wanted, I had to do a one hour private reading for a client at 8 PM. At 9 PM, I resumed the emailing and told my friend which necklace I wanted. I didn't think anything about this interaction until several months later when I looked carefully at our email thread. Amazingly, while my friend's emails were chronologically time-stamped with the earliest ones (starting about 5 PM) at the bottom of the email thread and the latest ones on top (this is the normal way email threads are displayed), mine were the opposite! It was as if I was going backwards in time! Her emails went forward in time and mine went backward in time! It was the strangest thing! I brought this to the attention of many IT professionals but no one was ever able to solve this mystery for me.
I think time has been altered. We have tiny clues in our daily life. As a friend of mine, a highly placed FAA security official, said to me recently: Imagine that you could fiddle around with time and change history, and yet it could only be done in between the tiniest moments of consciousness. It would be kind of like a security camera that only takes a photo every 10 seconds. You think you are looking at a fluid chronological reality, but you aren't. Think of all the reality changes you could make during each of those unseen, un-photographed 10 second intervals. You could change everything. And you would never know what happened...
Or just read the science fiction story "VALIS" (Vast Active Living Intelligence System) by Philip K. Dick. An intriguing story of time interweaving past, present and future intrusions on the protagonist, Horselover Fat a/k/a Philip K. Dick. Fat suddenly assumes the personality of an ancient historical personage and speaks perfect koine Greek (of which he has no prior knowledge), and at other points, seems to be mind-melded with three-eyed telepathic extraterrestrials who are likely just his future human self. At what point in time does fiction become reality?
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
A troll on top of parking sign in Reykjavik
The largest lake in Iceland
Vista from Thingvellir National Park with geysers in distance
An iced plant next to a frozen stream
In front of the old Thingvellir Church
A dip in the hot springs and hot lake in below zero temperatures
The Icelandic equivalent of the "Old Faithful" geysir
Small horses with thick fur everywhere in the frozen landscape
One of three intact ancient Viking ships in Oslo, Norway
A steady Arctic diet of different herring and other fish
The only place on earth where two tectonic plates (North American and Eurasian) meet above ground and sacred original meeting place of the Viking parliament
Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik with a statue of Leif Erikson, son of the Viking Icelandic founder Erik the Red
Hundreds of ducks, geese and swans battle for food in a Reykjavik lake
Dog mushing over 12 km of Norwegian Arctic landscape
Me as newly expert dog musher with a 5-dog team of huskies
Two nights in an ice hotel in Norway on an ice bed covered with reindeer skins
Our Sami tribal guides
An fjord in the Arctic Circle at sunset
Me with a beautiful white reindeer
Green Northern Lights at midnight in the Arctic Circle
Hitching up the sleigh for a midnight reindeer ride
An iced cocktail of curacao and vodka in an ice glass at the ice bar
The delicately carved sculptures and lights in the ice hotel
Friday, January 22, 2016
Many years ago, during the War in Iraq, I was doing the legal work on a multi-million dollar real estate transaction for some foreign clients in New York. I was told by our real estate broker that the buyer's broker, a Russian lady representing some high profile Russian clients, was eccentric to the point of driving them all crazy with aggravating phone calls and deal-breaking arguments. In fact, I found her, yes, pushy and aggressive, in a New York kind of way. Yet, she was entertaining.
We ended up becoming friendly over the course of the real estate transaction. She eventually invited me to a cocktail party and art exhibit at the Luxembourg Consulate. She had apparently invited several people besides me to this event and was late showing up. I was left to wander aimlessly among the various attendees. I didn't know anybody there. I happened to bump into a couple of her other guests, quite by accident. We started chatting - typical cocktail conversation: what-do-you-do-for-a-living? type stuff. One fellow was a securities broker so we talked about securities laws.
We were joined by his friend, I don't recall his name. He spoke with a thick accent - what seemed to me to be, in all likelihood, a Russian accent. We all chatted. He asked what I did and I told him I was an author. He recommended I get in touch with a famous Russian poet and gave me her name. He said he was a supplier of goods to the U.S. military and partnered with high ranking officers in our army.
After five or ten minutes, I'm not sure what got into me, but suddenly, against my better judgment, I blurted out of nowhere, "I think you are a spy. I'm just not sure for whom."
Now, I have never said such a thing to anybody in my life. I am normally not a rude person. Nor is it particularly my style to blurt things out. Furthermore, I had no rational basis for making such a statement - to the contrary, it didn't make much sense at all given what little I knew about him at that point.
The man's eyes widened like big saucers. He became momentarily speechless and his face blanched several shades of white. I was more surprised by this reaction than he was by my statement.
"Yes," he said, with a forced sound of confidence despite the wavering in his voice. "Yes, I am."
This, of course, surprised me even more. That a spy would, caught off balance, admit to being a spy.
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"Oh! I see," I said. "I wasn't able to distinguish your Ukrainian accent from a Russian accent."
I asked him to say a few words in Ukrainian, which he did.
I wasn't sure if he was a spy for Ukraine, Russia or the United States. And frankly, I didn't want to know. As I learned much later, he had very high level contacts at the top of the Ukrainian government and also the Kremlin.
But then I proceeded to blurt even further - against my better judgment.
"You're very psychic, aren't you?" I asked.
He shook his head emphatically and said , "No! Not at all! Definitely not!"
"Yes, you are," I insisted.
To this day, I don't know why I believed he was psychic. He gave no overt appearance of being psychic and our conversation had nothing to do with anything on that level.
He kept insisting he wasn't psychic at all. But I was persistent. Finally, after three times, he gave up his act. He conceded he was indeed psychic. As I learned later, he was a trained psychic and also seemed to be extremely well versed in psychology. Fantastic!
For the rest of the evening, he and I stood together in a far corner of the elegant ballroom in the Luxembourg Consulate. One by one, we analyzed the auras - of all the people in the room. Auras are the semi-visible electromagnetic displays of color surrounding every living human being and most often seen by people with psychic sensibilities. We shared our observations, commenting and adding to the other's perceptions. Imagine what you can learn and understand about people in a consulate simply by looking at them!
Now that's a fun cocktail party!
Sunday, December 13, 2015
|My old classroom at the Beethoven Elementary School in Waban, MA, before it is torn down for good.|
This past weekend I took a road trip to Boston where I spent some of my childhood. I kept the whole schedule wide open. I had no idea who I would see or what I would be doing. A childhood friend named Michele had invited me via Facebook to attend a small gathering of our 5th and 6th grade classmates to say good bye to Beethoven Elementary School since it is about to be torn down and replaced by office buildings. I figured I would stop by and visit my mother in her nursing home on my way over to the school party that evening.
My mother has become exceedingly senile. She can still talk and seems to be very actively present until you realize that she will repeat the same information roughly every three to five minutes. It is usually information she has shared repeatedly with me over the course of every phone conversation for the last several years. She has no idea she is repeating herself. Talking to her is like being stuck in the movie "Groundhog Day" where the actor Bill Murray is stuck reliving the same day over and over and over again, and finally realizes he can say or do anything and there will not be any consequences. When she tells me for the 500th time about her "new" apartment and how happy she is and how much she likes her seated physical gym exercises, I can react with surprise, boredom, happiness, sadness, anger or whatever. It doesn't matter because she won't remember how I reacted three minutes later. This strangely liberating, but also sad.
I arrived at her door without announcing my visit. What would be the use? She would forget it anyway. She was completely unsurprised by my rare visit. My mother thanked me several times, despite being gently corrected, for a birthday gift mailed to her by her sister. She then advised me that my uncle had actually had only 3 children (not 4) and had been previously married (not true). My head was spinning trying to sort out reality. We discussed my upcoming visit to my old elementary school before it is torn down. I reminded her of a story when she was called by the elementary school principal, Mr. Zervas, and asked to come in to meet with him. As it turned out, I and one other child had been shown to test with the highest IQ scores in the school. My mother, to my eternal disappointment, was too timid to ask him the score. So I will never know. I did contact the other classmate many years later (he was a former senior adviser to former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice) and he graciously suggested that, while he did not recall the exact IQ scores, his recollection was that mine was the higher of the two!
I left my mother's nursing home and drove aimlessly in the direction of the town of Waban where my old home was located not far from the Beethoven School. I texted Michele to see if she knew any of the details of this "party." She didn't. I figured it would turn out to be nothing more than a small handful of grey-haired former classmates gathered outside behind the school in the darkness for a couple of hours, and maybe one of them would have the foresight to bring a bottle of whiskey and some plastic cups while we shivered in the night air.
I stopped by my old home on Ashmont Road and got out of my car to walk up and down the little street I remembered so well. It was very dark outside now. I was deeply entrenched in some old childhood memories like teaching the neighbor's pet dog how to sit only weeks before he was run over by a truck, and learning to ride my bicycle down the slope with the neighbor kids. A car drove slowly by and someone yelled, "Nancy! Is that you?" I was shocked out of my reverie. I haven't lived in Boston for decades.
"Yeah, Who's that?"
I couldn't imagine who would have know what I was doing here. It was Michele who was with her brother and sisters, and had vaguely remembered this was where I used to live.
"Come on, let's go over to the school!" she said.
The school was only about 7 or 8 blocks away. As soon as I turned in front of the school, I saw the entire school was lit up from the interior, the parking lot was jammed full of cars, and people seemed to be walking to the main entrance from every direction. I was shocked by all this activity. It seemed this was a much, much bigger deal than I had imagined. I had not walked into this school since I was 10 years old. The little hallways were jammed with people of all ages - toddlers running, preschoolers yelling and playing in the classrooms, teenagers looking excited, young and old adults, and some real old-timers. Former classmates brought their brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, parents. It was truly a giant family reunion.
There was a feast of food spread out in the old gymnasium. I recognized the same old climbing ropes hanging from the ceiling, and suddenly recalled the girl's room off the gym where I used to take my flute lessons because there were no music rooms available. My teacher, Mr. Manuel, a flutist with a bad temper, used to kick my chair every time I played a wrong note which would then reverberate mercilessly off the tiled walls of the bathroom! I saw an absolute flood of my friends, some recognizable and some barely recognizable, from 6th grade. As if in a dream, I found one of my best friends from 5th grade. I always remembered her father playing Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass famous "A Taste of Honey" while we played in her basement. Strange what things you remember.
I then discovered that my all-time favorite teacher, known affectionately to all of us as "Mr. G," was there. I found him and he actually remembered me! I cried quiet tears of joy. We all loved him. And he loved us. He had a kind thing to say to each and every one of us. He still looked the same except his hair was white now. It occurred to me that perhaps he was no more than a decade older than the rest of us, although he will eternally be a much older "adult" in my forever-childlike mind. My other great teacher, Miss Shields, had died years ago. Her last words to me as I exited her 6th grade classroom were: "Come back and see me when you are great artist, Nancy." Obviously, that future possibility had now been forever foreclosed..
I learned that the school hadn't been called the "Beethoven Elementary School" for many years. It was now the Frank Zervas school. Zervas, as I dimly recalled, was the name of my old principal. The one who held the key to my IQ. Why was my school named after him? Could I find him now and get my IQ score finally? As it turned out, according to a former classmate I bumped into, it was the same principal I had had all those decades ago. But sadly the school was named after him because he had taken his family many years ago to a summer home and in a terrible twist of fate, he, his wife and kids had died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning. So the school was renamed in his honor.
I bought a mug that said the Zervas Elementary School on it. It was all that was left of Beethoven or my IQ score.
I walked out the back door of the school, hoping to get some better reception on my cell phone. It was nearly pitch black. I remembered this place behind the school with a small forest behind it. I don't know why I remembered it. I had no specific memories. As I wondered aimlessly outside the building I became aware of the joyful sounds in the night air. In the darkness, I began to make out the figures of tons of children. Teenagers were playing basketball in the dark. Younger children were running and laughing everywhere. They ran by me as shadows. I saw an enormous swing set and every single swing had a child on it kicking their feet higher up into the night sky. I decided to take some pictures in the darkness. This would be my last memory of my school. I wanted proof it existed and therefore that I existed. I snapped several photos. I took a photo of a group of shadowy young boys who were climbing all over some enormous jungle gym. As soon as I did, the tallest boy, no older than 10 or 11 years old, came walking over to me.
He asked sternly, " Why did you take that picture?"
I was so shocked I couldn't answer for a moment.
"For business? Or for your memories?" he demanded to know.
"Memories," I responded.
"Oh, well, then that's okay," he decided firmly for the group of boys who had all now swarmed behind him in a supportive line.
"When was your class here?" he asked.
"About 1967," I said. I half expected that he might remember that year.
"Did you know Miss M?" he asked. He didn't wait for my answer. "She was here for 40 years. But she died while we were here. So we named the cafeteria after her."
"No, I didn't know her," I said, quickly calculating in my head that she must have joined the staff long after I had graduated. "But that's too bad about the cafeteria because now it's going to be torn down."
"Yeah," said the boy. He was clearly the self-appointed spokesman for the entire group of boys. "We were all in the last class to ever graduate from here!"
"This year?" I asked. "You all just graduated?"
"Yeah. Isn't that right guys? This here is Jorge." (He pointed to a scrawny looking Hispanic boy with a sweet smile). "He only moved up here from Puerto Rico for the last two months of our class. He doesn't speak English too much."
Jorge said with a thick Spanish accent, "My name is Jorge!" And another smaller boy poked him in the stomach and said, "Yeah, you're a beast! You're a beast, man!"
"Que?" asked Jorge looking truly confused and reverting to his native Spanish.
"Well," continued the larger boy, "See ya!"
And with that, the group of 10-year-old boys ran gleefully back to the jungle gym set and disappeared into the dark shadows of the night.
I cried tears to myself. These kids were my age exactly the last time I was here. They magically introduced themselves to me on this final night when the last bit of living evidence of my childhood was about to be torn down. They had been in the last class. Suddenly, I felt we were all one. We were all the same age. We were all the same tribe. We were all going to lose this piece of our childhood together. We held each other's memories in our memories. The memory of this magical night will never leave me.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Remember when you were a little kid and played the Telephone Game? One person would whisper a word into the ear of the person sitting next to them. That person would whisper it to the next person, who would tell the next person and so on. Finally, when it reached the last person sitting in the circle, they would announce the word they had heard. Inevitably, it was not the same word used by the person who started the game.
The more frequently information is shared by people, the faster it is corrupted and becomes an entirely different beast. It is one of the reasons mass media, social media and the internet scare the hell out of me. People seem to think if something has been repeated often enough, then it must be true. Repetition has become the modern-day indicia of truth. And nothing could be further from the truth. Truth often lies buried in old, boring, trivial facts left moldering in some basement file cabinet. Truth also lies buried in one's own personal experience but obscured by emotions like fear, desire, mistrust, and hope.
To find Truth, you must go to the source - whatever it is - and refuse to listen to the noisy parrots of gossip, titillating news, shock value, and propaganda. Read your own damn books! Don't rely on summaries by others. Didn't the intellectual dog named Brian on the cartoon "Family Guy" say that? Or have I inadvertently attributed that tidbit incorrectly to Brian and it was actually the obnoxious baby Stewie? But if you have read it in my blog, then it must be true, right? And you can repeat it in your own blog, right? And your readers will repeat it as gospel, right? Truth is not the same as Repetition.
A couple of days ago, I receive a letter from famed psychologist Dr. Leo Sprinkle. He sent me a translation of the Lord's Prayer from its original ancient Aramaic language. Our Bible has been most commonly translated from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English. With all the resulting errors of this scholarly game of Telephone. I will give the common version and the Aramaic version (translated by Mark Hathaway). And when you are done, think about what this game of Telephone has done to our concept of religion and God.
Now, compare that with the more "pure" and distinctly more poetic version translated directly from Aramaic:
THE LORD'S PRAYER
O cosmic Brother of all radiance and vibration!
Soften the ground of our being
and carve out a space within us
where your Presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity
so that we may be empowered
to bear the fruit of our mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit
in accordance with our desire.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce
and share what each being needs
to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny
that bind us,
as we release others from
the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would
divert us from our true purpose
but illuminate the opportunities
of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
the birth power and the fulfillment,
as all is gathered
and made whole once again.
If we had seen the original words in Aramaic, perhaps we would view religion very differently today. Instead, we rely on the "Telephone" version upon which to base our most cherished beliefs. Do you see yourself, or even God or aliens for that matter, differently when you read this translation?