Take Me to Your Leader

Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

Recently, there was construction taking place outside the office. Guess what? Jackhammers and productivity do not mix.

Good thing I have noise-cancelling headphones and Spotify Premium.

At one point, the jackhammers were replaced by a deep, metallic, droning sound that lasted for about five seconds at a time. Really creepy-sounding, and it kept repeating; kind of like an ominous foghorn that I found eerie and familiar. I knew I’d heard that sound before, but couldn’t quite place it.

tripodFinally, I realized it was identical to the sound the Tripods made in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds. I played it out loud, and everybody in the office agreed—the resemblance was uncanny.

This reminded me of the time I was convinced I’d been abducted by aliens.

Cue flashback music…

It was January 2007, and my life was in flux. I was newly-divorced and living in a brand-new townhouse of my very own. One evening, I was parked in front of the computer in my bedroom, chatting with a female. (Newly divorced, remember?) Suddenly, three events occurred in rapid succession:

  • A dog began barking urgently outside.
  • The lights dimmed. They didn’t flicker, as will sometimes occur when it’s windy; they just got real low for a few seconds.
  • I heard a mysterious sound. In my blog post dated 1/24/2007, I compared it to “an electronic sort of humming, followed by what sounded like clashing cymbals.”

This was well nigh disturbing, to say the least. (Also, I have been blogging forever…)

I mentioned these strange occurrences to my chat companion, who joked, “Sounds like the Mother Ship just landed.”

I didn’t think much more about it until the following morning, when electronic devices began conking out anytime I drew near. Seriously: my fully-charged cellphone wouldn’t let me make a call, but instead emitted “a series of weird electronic beeps and clicks.” That same day, I was in Best Buy on my lunch hour, buying a CD (because it was early 2007), when the sales clerk’s cash register froze. She could not get it to work and was forced to do a hard reboot. “That was odd,” she said. “It’s never happened to me before.” Weird things like that happened, off and on, the rest of the week, before things finally returned to normal.

Suddenly, those jokes about the Mother Ship weren’t so funny to me. I wondered whether I had been abducted by aliens and had my memory erased, the side effects of which were an ability to disrupt the electro-magnetic field. Sure, we scoff now, but it seemed at the time to be the only logical explanation to my weird ability to unwittingly kill all electronics around me.

To this day I can’t explain what was going on, though later events in the townhouse make me feel that I had a bigger problem with ghosts than aliens.

I’m Here for the Boos

Between carving pumpkins for the first time in years and actually passing out candy to kids, Halloween was a novelty this year. I hadn’t had a trick-or-treater come to my front door in 14 years. Not because I didn’t have a front door (turns out those are a pretty standard feature in most dwellings, minus tipis and igloos), but rather, kids avoid apartment and townhouse complexes on Halloween, so we always ended up with a couple of unopened bags of candy. We figured things would be different now that we’re in a house, and sure enough, we saw maybe 40-50 costumed kiddos over a three-hour period. It was actually a lot of fun, even though I didn’t discover until plugging it in that evening that my fog machine was broken. It emitted a few half-hearted wisps of fog before sputtering out, the last futile gasps of breath from a dying soul. I wasn’t too surprised though; the thing had been boxed up since 2006. I’ll be sure to buy a new one for 2020 so I can really set a festive tone.

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Glutton for Punishment?

The weather has been its usual mixed bag of late, alternating between cold, a little less cold, snowy, a little less snowy, windy, and a little less windy. It looks to be the same for the foreseeable future.

You will notice, by the way, that I did not in fact post anything on the first two days of the month, which means I’m bagging my idea of blogging every day in November. You can breathe easily, Betsy. We’re gearing up for the winter issue of our parenting magazine at work and I’m still freelance blogging like a madman, so I figured I was overextended enough already. Can you believe I’m averaging 75 freelance articles a month?! It’s a wonder I have any brain cells left. I’m passing the torch and handing over 90 percent of the work to a former colleague at the end of the year, so at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully not a weird, flickering light accompanied by strange sounds and dying electronics…

11 thoughts on “Take Me to Your Leader

  1. Three hours of trick or treating? I’ve never heard of more than two. It was cold, rainy and windy here, so we were not quite as busy as usual. My daughter hands out the candy and said most of the costumes were lame. She, however, was dressed as a unicorn and was quite impressive!

    Can we talk about the spelling change of teepee? I’ve not been a fan.

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    • I never spelled it tipi until moving someplace where there is such a large Native American population. I like it because I’m all about reducing excess vowels (not to mention the .004 of a second I save not typing out those two extra letters!).

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  2. “Guess what? Jackhammers and productivity do not mix.”

    Mark, I can totally empathize because living in city, jackhammers, construction, car horns, and people screaming in the streets is a daily occurrence. I have to use a noise machine (set on white noise) to sleep at night.

    And that is so strange about your ability to disrupt the electro-magnetic field, back in 2007. Perhaps that’s why you have an interest in paranormal connection with ghosts.

    Nice to read that you actually had trick-or-treater’s this year because I was beginning to think that was a thing of the past. Your carved pumpkins looked AWESOME! Well done!

    We’ve had mixed bag of weather here as well. I was so happy when I woke up yesterday and saw that we actually got a dose of cold temps. It was the first day I put on a jacket to walk to work. OMG…that cold air felt so good on my face.

    I’m headed to NYC today to hopefully get some good photos of Autumn in the city!

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    • People scream in the streets where you live? I thought Philly was the city of brotherly love!

      We use a white noise machine, too, even though our neighborhood is quiet. That’s the thing: I don’t like when it’s too quiet. There’s a fine line between too much and too little noise.

      Can’t wait to see your NYC autumn pic post!!

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  3. How much do I love personal blog shout-outs? That was awesome, Mark. Thank you. (And for not blogging daily, I thank you also! 😉 ) Secondly, craziness! Does it bug the heck out of you that you never found out what that was all about? (It’s kind of bugging me now!) Third, fun about getting trick or treaters for the first time. We have yet to have that, even though we live in a house–with a door! 🙂 Love the Pink Floyd pumpkin. 🙂

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    • I thought you might get a kick out of that! Yes, it kind of bugs me that I never learned what really happened. Such a weird sequence of events…but stranger things were to happen. (CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC)

      Tara was very proud of her Dark Side of the Moon pumpkin. I have to admit, she nailed it!

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  4. You think jackhammers are bad, try pile drivers. I worked in the NW Natural Gas building while they were building the Chinese Garden next door – pile drivers for weeks.

    Weird about that electronic thing. Static electricity on steroids. Maybe your ex just gave you too much static?

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