Night Marchers in the Bathroom Help Me Discover Another Fabulous Friend

When New Friends Meet

“Oh my God, Lisa! You have to get in here!”

The cry came from the bathroom of my apartment in Hawaii. It was a strange cry coming from a relatively new friend, also named Lisa, who was taking a shower at my place when a day of getting to know each other better became one long string of adventures.

The next thing I know, she bursts out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, gorgeous red hair streaming water. “I’m serious Lisa, you’ve got to hear this.”

I hesitantly follow her back into the bathroom where the shower is still running.  “What is it?’ I ask. Everything seemed the same as when I had taken my shower just a short time earlier.

“Shh! Listen, can you hear that drumming?” I listened carefully, and suddenly tuned in on what sounded like distant rhythmic drumming. It wasn’t water in the pipes. It wasn’t a drummer practicing a set. It was the very distant drums of ritual.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s the Night Marchers.”

“The what?”

“The Night Marchers. And I think we are lucky that we were taking showers, because it probably saved our lives.”

“What?”

A true friendship formed as she explained the legend; a friendship that started when Nathan introduced me to one of his best high school friends and has lasted through the years as she became a truly fabulous woman, mother, and citizen of this earth.

 

This story reveals how my fascination with the supernatural opened the door to another amazing person in my life who I wish to celebrate.

The Legend of the Night Marchers

The Night Marchers are

ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors en route to or from battle, toting archaic weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. (http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php)

In Hawaiian legend, to look upon the Night Marchers and meet them in the eye means death, as the Marchers take them with you on their lonely march. However, you can save yourself from this fate by averting your eyes and crouching down. Or, according to Lisa on that particular day, “they won’t take you if you are naked.”

Good thing, isn’t it, since they seemed to be moving through my shower?

Lasting Friendship Formed

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think our meeting with the Night Marcher’s came on, perhaps, the second day of our friendship. Nathan and Lisa had been best friends in high school. When she came back to the island for a visit after Nathan and I started dating, he introduced us, and within minutes it was like we had known each other forever.   Nathan was not with us on the day of the Night Marchers, I believe we had decided we just needed to get to know each other better and have a girls’ day. It became one of those days where you plan on doing one thing, and then you add on another, and another, until all of a sudden you’ve had a complete day full of adventures. I don’t remember all the details of that day (although I do recall a cop trying to pull us over for an out-of-date sticker or something, and Lisa managing to talk us out of it because her dad was a policeman and the cop recognized her–I was impressed).

I don’t know if the spooky beginnings cemented our relationship or what, but I have been honored to know Lisa these many years, and to count her among my closest (although long-distant) friends. Lisa is one of those amazing women that fights for what she believes in, and especially for justice, equality, and the rights of children. She used to work for Teach for America, then went on to pursue journalism, where she eloquently wrote about education. She then moved onto working for the public education system. Throughout it all, she has provided a passionate pursuit for change and the importance of an educational system that truly succeeds. She hasn’t always had it easy, as she became the victim of politics (as often happens to good people). But, despite the struggles, she always keeps a positive attitude and a caring heart. When I last spent time with her (she’s the one who took me for my first pedicure) she was trying to alleviate tensions between an offended rabbi and some people who unintentionally insulted him through naiveté. (I’m not sure the end result, I’ll have to find out).

Her husband, Matt, is also an incredible person, advocating for and supporting first-generation college students to help them succeed. Together they represent a truly caring, intelligent couple that wants nothing more than to live a life full of love, and share that love with others.

Lisa and Matt

Lisa and I are more than just friends. In many ways we are sisters, and I am so lucky for that. I was there when her now husband Matt proposed to her. While I wasn’t there when she gave birth to her first child a few months before I gave birth to mine, those two girls have since met and immediately became fast friends. In many ways, I think the spirit world has intervened to make souls come together who were destined to meet.

Instant friends, sisters at heart.

It just goes to show you that eerie things might happen, but perhaps messages from beyond are messages intended to help, not to harm. I’m sure Lisa and I would have been friends anyway, but it didn’t hurt to get a little nudge from the Night Marchers. (By the way, I only heard them one more time in that bathroom, and I listened for them all the time).

Monsters in the Closet and Other Scary Stuff

“I can’t sleep with the closet door open.”

I made this statement on one of the rare occasions when the entire Kramer family was gathered together. My mother looked at me as if I was completely insane and said, “Really? You’re kidding!”

“No, I’m not. I’m afraid of monsters in the closet. I know they aren’t really there, but I can’t help being afraid.”

My mother continued to scoff.

Much to my surprise my older sister (Deb) who you haven’t met often, and my older brother (Steve) who you have, jumped to my defense.

“I know exactly why she’s afraid,” Deb said. “It was because of Grandma’s house.”

“Yeah,” Steve agreed. “The door with the glass doorknob.”

My mom looked at us all strangely. “What are you talking about?”

So we explained.

When my grandparents were alive we would go visit them in Belmar, New Jersey. My grandparents passed away within a few months of each other when I was about 6 years old, so my memories of them are limited. My sister is 5 years older than me, so she probably has clearer memories, but we rarely talk about them. Perhaps we should.

When we visited my grandparents the kids all stayed in one room. A small double bed filled one side of the room, and a cot lay opposite for the third little body. We alternated who would sleep in the double and who would sleep in the cot. You might think we all wanted the cot, but you would be wrong. Why?

Because the cot was right next to the scariest door in the world. The one with the glittery, diamond-shaped door knob.

 

I’m not sure where the door led. I always thought it led to the attic (shudder) but someone told me it was just a closet. When it was my turn, I would lie in that cot, the door knob inches from my non-sleeping eyes convinced that at any moment the door knob would turn from unseen hands and open to suck me into a terrifying nightmare.

We were all afraid of the door knob.

“Why didn’t you say something?” Mom asked. “Grandma would have done something.”

“We were kids, Mom,” My sister answered.

But I think it was deeper than that, I think we didn’t say anything because nobody would have believed us anyway. We would have received the same reaction then as we did on this day, nearly 40 years later.

I am convinced that my grandparent’s house had its ghosts, even if they were simply the ghosts of our imagination. I am also convinced that, if I have ever really been visited by ghosts, the visitations have come from my grandparents, my nana (Dad’s mother) and possibly a man we called Cousin Lou who may or may not actually be my relative. All I remember about him is the giant red teddy bear with the flowered belly that he gave me after winning it from the fair.

When did they visit? I will try to remember some of the occasions that add to my belief in the power of spirit, as I discussed yesterday.

  • When Nana passed away, a bird got into my brother’s tiny bedroom somehow. My mom claims the window was open, but I remember it being closed. Even if it was open, this had never happened before. Birds, in Jewish folklore, can represent a “winged soul.” This particular bird was extremely important as it got into the room a few minutes before we got the phone call saying Nana had just passed away. I will always believe Nana came to say good-bye.
  • I used to have a recurring dream that took place at my grandparents house. Sometimes we would go down into the basement of the house (a basement that I really don’t have a memory of). Usually my grandparents aren’t there, at least not visibly, but I hear their voices talking to me and telling me something. I might just pass these off as dreams except for something I learned much later in life, Deb and Steve both used to have similar dreams.
  • In a similar way, Cousin Lou often visited me in dreams of my Nana’s house, although not as often.
  • There is one day that I know all my ancestors were with me in spirit; the day I became a Bat Mitzvah. I remember the day starting out cloudy, threatening rain. This upset me, as I wanted a beautiful day. But, by the time the Friday evening ceremony rolled around, the sun shone in glorious April beauty. A gift from my loved ones. When I stood on the Bima to read my haftorah, my stomach jiggled with a million butterflies. There was a certain part of the complex Hebrew text that always sounded like something else to me. I can’t remember exactly what, but it was something like “we love you” or another comforting phrase like that. It was early on in my chanting, and as soon as I hit the phrase my heart filled with warmth and I knew that the people who would have most celebrated that day (my grandparents were Orthodox Jews) were there with me, with glowing golden smiles on their faces. My Mom said she saw me smile then. I continued with a strong voice, and was even invited back to repeat the haftorah the following year.

Of course, this could all have been the workings of a very imaginative child, but who knows? Most bumps and creaks in the night can be easily explained away, but once in a while you experience a mystery that adds to the awesome complexities of life.

So forgive me if I close my closet door before I go to sleep. You never know when something unexpected might come out.

Deciding to Get the Words Out There

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Writers write.

I know, that’s not news, but it is true. Writer’s write.

Why do writer’s write? The numerous answers to that question would make this post far too long and uninteresting. Some say they write for themselves. Others say they write because they have to. Some say they write to learn. Others say they write to heal.

I suggest writer’s write in the hopes that the words they write will be read.

Now, I recognize that sometimes the words we put down on a page are too personal to be shared. But I am the first to admit that I picture my great-great-great grandchild picking up the fragile pages of my journals in order to learn more about his/her family, in order to learn about my life. Do I want those journals published now? No way. But I still write them (although I haven’t for a long time) in the hopes that someday someone will read them.

I would that writer’s of stories, in particular, write words that beg to be read. So, if you’ve written something and labored over it, editing, revising, crafting and so on, the last thing you want is for it to sit on your shelves gathering dust and loneliness.

My manuscript for Giving Up the Ghosts has done just that.

But, in typical Lisa fashion, the fact that I have not found a home for that book has led somewhat to my inability to focus on writing another. I’ve started several, but deep inside my overly critical brain I hear this voice:

“Why bother loser? Nobody would publish your last one. Don’t waste your time!”

Sometimes I wish that little voice would just be quiet!

Yesterday, while I was talking to my partner in creative crime, Jackie she asked, “Why don’t you just publish it to kindle?”

Why don’t I? I could give you all the lame reasons and arguments I’ve said before about not self-publishing–but really they all boil down to one thing.

FEAR!

But, everyone I’ve shared this book with loves it. I worked hard. I know it is good. Do I expect to get rich off of it? No. But, I am even poorer if I don’t allow the book out in the world for people to read. Even if I only have a few readers, at least it would be read.

So, when I got back last night, I looked up how to publish it to Kindle, and it is super easy. I also discovered what looks like a super easy to publish physical (paper back) copies as well, that can be printed on demand.

So folks, I’m going to set my words free. Of course, some day I would love to get a publishing contract and sell books the traditional way–but, as in most of my life, the traditional way doesn’t always seem to work for me. So now I’m going to do it a less traditional way.

Why? Because writers write and stories want to be read.

Stay tuned for more specifics and wish me luck.

Writing, Rejection, and Writing Again

Why do I write?

Perhaps a bigger question is, why do I write this blog? I mean, I am the first to admit that this is a blog about nothing. I don’t reflect on cutting news of the day, or analyze movies, or critique books. I simply write what I’m thinking whenever I get the urge to write. I have a few self-promotional things up here, like an excerpt from Giving Up the Ghosts but mainly this is about putting words on a page, and hoping that somebody reads them.

As a matter of fact, I apologize to anyone who is reading this right now, as I am rambling on about nothing. But it is a nothing that I am continually thinking about at the moment.

So maybe that is why I write, in the hopes that someone will read my words. I’m back on the drawing board as far as the book is concerned. I still haven’t found it a home. I know, there are millions of people out there trying to get their books published. Or at least thousands. What makes me think mine is so special. Well, I read a lot of young adult fiction that I know is weaker than mine. My story is good. My writing is strong. And yet . . . I don’t know what the next step is.

So why do I write? I noticed recently that my old entry called On Writing in a Public Forum has moved up in the ranks of my most popular blogs. This suggests that people really wonder why we blog: that blogging has become something significant in society. Facebook, and other social networking sites have become significant too. But why? I wonder if we are constantly looking for connections with others, and one of the strongest ways we connect is through words.

So I write to connect. I write to reach out. I write to express. I write despite rejection. I write to find a home.

I guess that’s why I write.

Fairy Dust and Starshine: Necessities of Life

 

A fairy offering wishes, illustration by John ...

Image via Wikipedia

 

That’s it! I’ve figured out what one of the major problems is with this world. Too many people have stopped believing in fairies. By this I mean the more general belief in a magical world that is not dictated by our rules of science. We have lost the sense of wonder that comes when you see the twinkling of fireflies on a warm summer night. Yes, I know that there is a scientific explanation for those fireflies (something to do with mating); but isn’t there power in imagining the fireflies are gatherings of stars fallen from the sky? Our world suffers as people focus only on science and logic, and forget fairy dust and starshine.

Now, I’m not saying that we should all live in a fantasy land or ignore the valuable scientific understanding of the universe. I am arguing that welcoming a sense of wonder, and the possibility of events occurring beyond explanations, allows us to feel another important thing–and that is hope. This does not mean we have to believe in a specific god or a specific religion, but it does mean that we should try to believe in possibilities. Once we let those possibilities go, the world becomes routine and mundane. Who really wants to live in a world like that?

So, all fairies and pixies, unicorns and rainbows, ghosts and goblins, star dust and music you are welcome in my home. All of you who want to join me in world full of potential . . . you are very welcome.

Excerpt from GIVING UP THE GHOSTS

 

It's a ghost!

Image via Wikipedia

 

[The following is an excerpt from the book for young adults that I am hoping to get published. The book is mostly written in third person, with the occasional chapters from Andie’s diary that are written in first person. This is the first of those chapters.  If you want to read more we’ll just have to get it published. 🙂 Enjoy.]

CHAPTER 6:  IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS

Dear Diary,

I’m so frustrated. School is horrible this year. I have no friends and everyone thinks I’m strange and it’s all because of the ghosts. I hoped it would get better, but we have been in school for over a month and it’s only getting worse. They treat me even worse than MM. What’s really strange is MM keeps trying to talk to me. I actually think she seems kind of nice, but I’m afraid of talking to her. I mean, either I will ruin her reputation more, or she’ll ruin mine. But I’m so lonely. I guess I could try to be her friend, but if I do I know that my chances of being popular are over for good. Then again, the ghost things seem to have ruined that anyway. I’m so confused.

I really wish I had someone living to talk to about ghosts who could give me advice. I tried to talk to Mom the other day, but she shuts down every time I mention the strange things that happen around me. She won’t let the impossible disturb her scientific mind. And Dad always thinks I’m being creative. I’m going to have to try someone else; someone who believes in this kind of thing. Today I saw an ad in the paper for a psychic. I know exactly where she lives too. She’s in that little cottage on the other side of town, the one next to the yellow house full of kids. I’ve seen her sign “Psychic Readings: Let me help you solve your problems through the spiritual realm.”  Well I have a HUGE problem. Seeing ghosts isn’t fun anymore. They are around all the time and it’s so hard. Maybe the psychic will help me convince the ghosts to give me a little space. I’ve been saving babysitting money for a while now. I was planning on buying an iPod, but this is more important. I hope his woman can help me.

Hold on, diary, Irene just appeared in my room and she’s trying to get my attention. I’m so mad at her after she embarrassed me the other day. Why does she have to interfere? I have to make her leave me alone so I can write in privacy. That’s part of the problem. I never have any privacy with all of these ghosts popping in and out.

Wow, getting rid of her was harder than I thought, Diary. That visit was really strange. She must have been reading over my shoulder because she said “We’re sorry if we are bothering you, but we need you.”

I told her that I don’t know what she means and that I’m tired of being embarrassed.

Then she said, “Wait, I’ll show you.” She faded slightly as if she was going to go to wherever they go when they aren’t bothering me and said in a faraway voice “Come talk to her now.”

A man and a woman appeared next to Irene. I hate it when you can tell how someone died, and this time I could. They looked a little crispy around the edges, as if they were burned in a fire. They were dressed in jeans and sweaters that could be seen in any store today so they couldn’t have died too long ago. They looked a little confused, as if they had never appeared before. They tried to speak, but that was also faint as if they had never communicated from beyond.

The woman started crying, which is a horrible sound coming from a ghost and said, “Help her.”

I think the man said something like, “Tell her . . .” But he seemed to not have much practice speaking so the end of his sentence was garbled. I couldn’t hear what I was supposed to tell someone. I have no idea what they were talking about.

I yelled “GO AWAY!” as loud as I could and the two strange ghosts popped out quickly. Irene looked at me sadly for a minute and whispered “Please help us. Please don’t give up.” and then faded away slowly.

I feel sorry for these ghosts but I don’t know what they mean. I can’t help them. I just want my life to be normal.

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