“She had seen YouTube videos of Marilyn Manson defending his friendship with the occultist Anton LaVey. She was a fan of Manson, but would only admit publicly that she listened to his later albums. She had a curious nature that would make her an excellent journalist and annoyance to boyfriends, and so she soon found herself falling into Wiki-holes, learning about satanism. While there would always be individual trolls and HBO series that kept the public assuming it involved ritual child sacrifice or incestuous orgies, she learned that the predominant satanic organisations were intrinsically bastions of secular humanism who embraced individualism and cried out for man to return to his true nature. Hedonistic, perhaps. Harmful, no – although she was able to see why Christians would fear them, especially Catholics, whose tradition was name-checked during black mass. And whilst it would be a reenactment for purely educational purposes, she decided to keep quiet about her involvement. She was waiting to hear on a new writing gig and felt satanism might repel an employer – as if they hadn’t already read her most recent column defining various types of group sex.”
Originally published on Vice.
When I tried to set up wifi in my new apartment, an internet service provider’s customer service representative said I couldn’t, because there was already an existing account in my apartment. Considering my apartment was vacant, I found this odd. I called my super, and he said the previous tenant had died without ever getting around to canceling her internet service. Did she die in the apartment? I wondered. Does this mean I will have a ghost roommate?
I spent the next several hours facebook stalking the dead woman—I was excited about possibly having a ghost for a roommate. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve always been drawn to death. I remember when I discovered what “death” meant, as a very young girl. One day running under the Caribbean sun at day care, I stopped in my tracks and realized: One day, I will be no more. Sophie will cease to exist. I then went into the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror, knowing in that moment that this was me, but my vessel had an expiration date. What does this mean? I wondered. Who is this “Sophie,” and what will happen when her time on Earth ends?
Over 20 years later, I still have no idea what will happen when I die. I likely never will, but I still want to know. Perhaps that’s why I hoped my ghost roommate existed and she would become my new best friend.
Last night, as I slept on a sleeping bag because I didn’t have furniture yet, I imagined the ghost would be my aunt, and I would help complete the unfinished business she left behind that was preventing her from moving on. Eventually, I would perform a nice ceremony with candles. Despite being sad to let her go, I would send her on her way to the other side, knowing we had both grown from our relationship, like Bruce Willis and Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense.
This week I went to a witchcraft store mostly for kicks but also somewhat seriously to see if I could conjure the ghost. (The Craft is my favorite movie. I’ve been waiting my whole life to do this.) As I walked into the store, an employee lit a candle to cleanse the space of negative energy and lingering spirits. I was amazed by the jars full of herbs, the black cats, and the bookcases stuffed with books on spells, zodiac signs, and tarot cards. I told the employee about my new ghost roommate, and then selected a blue candle and handed it to her to prepare for me. She asked me my name (Sophie) and zodiac sign (Scorpio) and told me to wait 20 minutes. I imagined her whispering some chants and adding some oils, but when she returned, the candle looked like a third grader’s art project. She had etched a drawing of a house, my name, the Scorpio sign, and a pentagram into the candle, which wouldn’t be weird except for the fact that the candle was also now covered in glue and copious amounts of silver glitter. If I was a ghost and someone tried to conjure me with that thing, I would just laugh hysterically and haunt their ass off for being such a dumb ass.
While unpacking I realized I had left my ghost candle at a friend’s place. I couldn’t perform a cleansing ceremony, but that’s fine—obviously all the ghosts that haunt me only exist within my head. I don’t know when I will die. I asked a Ouija board once when I was little, and the board said 2083. I suspect I may have been moving it myself because that is an awfully long life.
After realizing I left my candle behind, I slept alone with my cat in my sleeping bag. I have always been odd and a bit of a loner. As a young child I thought I could see ghosts, and loved dressing up as an angel. My parents grew quite concerned, because I would speak about my ability to jump off buildings or cliffs without anything happening—I would just fly away, I said. One time, before I could even walk, I jumped off my parents’ very high bed, breaking my collar bone. Looking back, I wonder if my obsession with ghosts and immortality stemmed from the fact that I don’t want to die.
At the same time, I could really use a ghost in my life. I sometimes find myself feeling lonely, but despite my inclination toward solitude, I crave friends, sex, love, and companionship. Although I experimented with cliques in college, I’ve never had a large group of friends. It doesn’t suit me. I am distrustful of humans and a bit paranoid, so I must find someone exceptionally special to let him or her in. The cocky way to define my limited close relationships would be to say that I am extremely picky; the truth is I am kind of fucked up. I fear that if someone gets close enough to me and learns all my quirks and fears, they will change their mind about wanting to become close to me. That’s the appeal of a ghost friend: She’s dead, so any odd behavior I display would be trumped by the fact that she’s a fucking ghost.
But there is no ghost, and I must find contentment and strength in my solitude. If I don’t, I could end up like the woman who lived in my apartment before me, dying alone and annoying the next tenant who has to spend extra time on the phone because some dead chick died before canceling her internet account.
Declaring “I can’t do anything before I’ve had my coffee” makes you sound like a tool, but FOR REAL, I can’t even have morning sex before I’m caffeinated. Ask my boyfriend, I’m not turned on before he turns on his expresso machine. So the fact that I woke up before dawn to complete a six hour, 12 mile hike up the 10,000 ft. high East Maui Volcano, known for the Haleakalā Crater is probably my greatest personal achievement of 2012.
We had some time off from work around the same time, so we decided to spend it in Maui then Sydney. We flew out of NYC the day after election day, hungover from celebrating Obama’s victory. We escaped the city a day after our electricity was restored from Hurricane Sandy and hours before New York was hit with a Nor’Easter. We decided to take advantage of our jet lag-induced early rising and tackle the hike on our first day in Maui.
However, once we discovered the villa we were renting lacked a coffee machine, I was unpleasant as Carrie at the prom covered in pig’s blood. I was quite the cranky puss on the drive to the mountain.
Once we got there, the view was so beautiful I shut the fuck up.
Despite being in Hawaii, it was quite chilly on the top of the mountain. You can see the frost. I bundled up and resembled the unabomber.
The volcanic terrain made you feel like you were walking on the moon. In fact, NASA had astronauts practice walking at Haleakalā in preparation for moon exploration.
Along with the foreign terrain, the plant life was quite alien. This is the only place on Earth the Silver Sword grows.
While we encountered a few other hikers on the trek, for the most part we were the only two people in sight. This was quite a meditative and surreal experience for two kids who live in downtown Manhattan. There was complete silence.
After about five hours of hiking we reached the final stretch of our journey, a precarious climb back and forth on switch backs up a vertical mountain.
After picking up some hitchhiking hippies on our drive back that gave us free weed, the rest of our time in Maui was spent relaxing. We were sore for days and hobbled around like a couple of 80 year olds, but it was an once in a life time experience that was totally worth the pain and initial whining.
At the mere mention of a hurricane or a storm, I go into a state of panic. Last week while coworkers somewhat naively read Twitter headlines of the impending stateside “Frankenstorm,” I excused myself to the handicap stall of the bathroom to take deep breaths and pop an emergency benzo to stave off a panic attack.
Growing up in the Virgin Islands, on St. Thomas (what, you thought that was my real last name?) hurricane season crept around like the devil’s version of Christmas season – residents hurrying to stock pile lanterns and non-perishable goods like parents hoarding the latest toys; families boarding up houses with the dedication of decorating a Christmas tree. Yes we drank rum, but without the jolly warmth of eggnog.
Unfortunate others, perhaps those new to natural disasters or without media access and unaware of the danger suffered the consequences. Or, as what happened to my family in September of 1995 during Hurricane Marilyn, you can follow the preperation manual perfectly and then your neighbor’s house (In my case one belonging to the cousin of Andy Warhol, what a strange world we live in) becomes uprooted by the winds and smashes into your own home and your meager human efforts at protecting residence are smashed, quite literally to shit by mother nature.
I was in second grade, my memories of that night are spotty — perhaps I blocked many out. Those remaining include the four of us, my parents and sister hiding in the downstairs closet while the upper levels collapsed on top of us. Our family’s car, a 4Runner came crashing through a wall. I threw up. I worried about my kitty cat Rosa. Rastas called the radio to report their cows being picked and carried away by tornadoes. The soul-piercing silence of the eye of the storm.
The next morning our neighbor, a family friend and jeweler hacked us out of the rubbish with an axe and we crawled out of the debris. We spent the next week homeless, wandering from home to home in our neighborhood that had survived the storm. With lawyer parents, my sister, mother and I were blessed enough to escape to my grandparents via Puerto Rico on a small plane after only about ten days or so of living displaced. Even when we returned, months without power, ages without television. Showers in the rain, baths by boiling water pulled up by a bucket on a rope from a cistern.
And now the same disruption and terror has come to New York. Living in ABC City I lost power for a few days and am still without heat, but compared to the Rockaways and the Jersey Shore I escaped unscathed. Emotionally, like many of us affected, no matter what degree, I’ve felt dredged in darkness and anxiety the entire week, the continuous sounds of sirens flooding the city punctuating our collective depression. I’m grateful for my New York family, my friends, boyfriend and sister who I weathered the storm with, as we attempted to fight off cabin fever with each other’s company and copious amounts of red wine.
If this post has a purpose other than acting as emotional therapy, until I can see my therapist in a few weeks, (I’m about to leave the city after my election day to Maui then Sydney with my boyfriend, the trip was planned pre-Sandy but couldn’t come at a better time. And yeah, I know, I’m fucking too damn blessed to be depressed) it’s to hope that the slightest silver lining of hurricanes such as Sandy creeping their way up from the Caribbean to New York City is that perhaps those with lingering doubt will recognize climate change is real. And yup, you called it, here it goes in 3, 2, 1…