My interest in the paranormal
My interest in the paranormal goes way back, to my childhood. I've been a huge Ghostbusters fan since I can remember. The first movie came out when I was four, and the cartoon started when I was seven. I'm not sure exactly when I got hooked, if I saw the movie early on or if it was the cartoon, but I know I certainly was addicted to the cartoon. I even had a Ghostbusters themed birthday when I turned ten. I drew a proton pack on cardboard & I got a box set of the two movies on VHS (which I still have).
Naturally, this interest in the fictional led to an exploration of the inspiration behind it. Dan Aykroyd, who created Ghostbusters has a life-long interest in the paranormal. He grew up in a haunted farmhouse in Hull, Quebec, and has even done a television show on UFOs. While the Ghostbusters use fictional technology, it has its roots in real-life ghost hunting thanks to Aykroyd. I've been reading about the paranormal for years, quickly moving past the Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories series and on to the real life paranormal books. I even, at one time, was seriously considering going to college in California so I could major in parapsychology.
Naturally being a born and bred Chicago girl, my favorite ghost stories are those of the Chicagoland area. Ursula Bielski has written some of my favorite books - Chicago Haunts, More Chicago Haunts, and Graveyards of Chicago (she's also written Chicago Haunts 3 but I haven't gotten to read that one yet). I also have books by Dale Kaczmarek and Richard Crowe, both well-known real-life Chicago ghost hunters. I've even been on Richard Crowe's tours twice, once as a freshman in high school (in spring 1994) and for my 22nd birthday (in November 2001). I love visiting places in Chicago that I've read about - both the historical and the paranormal sites. My friends and I have spent long afternoons wandering our favorite cemeteries - Bohemian National Cemetery, Montrose Cemetery, Graceland Cemetery, Union Ridge Cemetery, and just this afternoon I made a brief visit to the Naperville Cemetery (I will be exploring further later). I also love watching Ghost Hunters when I have the time (during the semester I don't have much time for TV, alas). The guys from TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) are awesome, and I admire them so much!
I've also made a pilgrimage to Bachelor's Grove, one of the most haunted sites in Chicago, if not the world. One cool, clear morning in March 2002, I went with my best friend and my now-ex-boyfriend armed with my film camera and a vague idea of where the place was. I've just recently scanned those photos out of my scrapbook and posted them to Flickr. I also did a write-up about Bachelor's Grove for the Ghostbusters: Chicago Division site.
Joining Ghostbusters: Chicago Division has really been a dream come true. I may not have been able to get that parapsychology degree (my undergraduate degree is in theatre, and I will soon have a Master's in library science), but my "character" has a Master's and Doctorate in parapsychology! I wouldn't be there if it weren't for my wonderful boyfriend. He bought me the not-quite-finished proton pack for my birthday last year, to show that he'd do whatever it took to make my dreams come true, but the pack was unfinished because we were making those dreams come true together. So romantic! So special! How did I get this lucky? He has a pack as well (actually two - he had previously purchased a finished pack but that one is much more fragile and once it was signed by Dan Aykroyd, it was retired and will be a display item), and he's a member of the team. I won't go into the team much more here, because I have a whole page to talk about my experiences as a Ghostbuster.
So there's a little bit about my interest in the paranormal. It may have been sparked by Ghostbusters but I've explored far more. I'm living my childhood dream of being a Ghostbuster (even if the pack doesn't do more than light up - but even that makes me squeal every time). I think the only thing more I would love to do is go on an investigation with TAPS! Or maybe be in the next Ghostbusters movie (if it ever actually happens - I'm not holding my breath).