I should have written this blog a week ago when I got home, but unlike this lovely picture of me in San Francisco on the left, I now look like I’ve been reincarnated as a used dish rag. It seems I caught a wicked cold in the city by the bay and I’m having trouble shaking it. I’ve been spiking 102 fevers and sleeping way too much. So I admitted I’m human today and stopped working until I get better. Here I am in bed chock full of cold pills and doing my PRS FT14 blog. I find it mentally and physically impossible to sit here doing nothing while regiments of germs march through my body, so on with the storytelling!
Part of me thought maybe I shouldn’t write the blog at all because so much of the field trip was about things that I wanted to keep to myself. However, there is a lot of negativity written about these people out there and I think it’s important to tell my story and show that they are, in fact, good people. I’m a person who prefers to shed positive light on things when I believe in a particular cause. Going on this field trip reaffirmed to me exactly why I support the Paranormal Research Society and I want to show you why too.
The first thing I have to talk about is how important it is to have good friends, not just fair weather friends. Lindsey agreed to come with me for the weekend even though she has a two-year-old son who she has never left at home that long before and she struggled with it but she was there for me. She got through her mommy anxiety and I think (at least I hope) she had a good time. It was hard for her and I really tried to make the trip fun, although I can be a little snappy when I reach a certain level of pain. Luckily, Lindsey understands what kind of pain I deal with every day and she didn’t take my brief brat moments too personally. Our relationship is based on mutual abuse. It’s very healthy. I couldn’t have a better friend, in truth, and yet, we made another friend on the first night in San Francisco who is like the third piece to the puzzle. It wasn’t even twenty minutes into the unofficial welcome party at a bar that we met Sarah and decided she was with us for the weekend. She had arrived in San Francisco by herself, which was a very brave thing to do. I’m a firm believer that nothing happens by accident. I think Lindsey and I were supposed to meet Sarah that night because now we talk to each other every day and we’re trying to figure out when we can see each other again.
But let me back up a bit.
Lindsey and I got into San Francisco on Thursday morning (the 29th) and took the subway across the city to our hotel. The subway was a scary experience for two Southern ladies, although I’m pretty sure Lindsey could have shanked anybody who tried to rob us. Our hotel was quite nice, although we didn’t stay at the Omni with everybody else. It was within walking distance of the Omni where most of the PRS stuff would happen. AirTran doesn’t serve any food beyond pretzels and cookies, so we were ready to slaughter our own cattle for a meal after a five hour flight. I actually ate pizza, y’all. If you know me, you know I usually hate pizza but starvation does funny things to a lady.
That night, PRS hosted an unofficial welcome party at a bar in the Haight Ashbury area. Lindsey and I decided to walk, which took over an hour, but it was very enlightening. I would not have seen all the interesting architecture and stuff if we had gotten a cab. There is a lot of French influence in San Francisco that I had no idea about until I was walking around in it. We had to go by Nob Hill and that was an interesting idea with a wheelchair. I was on a downward slope at one point and my chair slid out of control down the hill. I yelled, “Shit shit shit shit!” We were laughing so hard that we could hardly stay on the sidewalk. A few blocks away from the bar, some homeless guys tried to sell me some pot, as if I look like that kind of lady. I’m never unkind to the homeless like some are but I’m also careful too. Many of them I encountered were clearly mentally disturbed because they were talking to themselves and all I could think was they needed love and care. Those are the kinds of naive thoughts that gets ladies like me killed though.
We finally found the bar and as soon as I got close enough, Michelle Belanger saw me from inside and waved like we hadn’t seen each other in years even though we’ve never met face to face. Bars are not easy for me because of all the different crazy energies fighting each other and the available alcohol (I’m in recovery). Michelle understood without words and helped me find a corner where I could sit. I didn’t get to see Ryan that night. He was at the bar very briefly early in the evening but left before I got there. Michelle, Sergey, Eilfie and Ryan’s brother, Jordan, were all there to socialize and we all had a good time. I didn’t meet Jordan that night even though I said hi to him in passing, to which he didn’t respond. I felt weird about approaching him at first. I eventually figured him out though and we ended up jokingly harassing each other whenever we saw each other.
The next morning was registration and brunch. After brunch, we went to a meeting about the weekend’s activities and stuff. Ryan was surrounded the minute it was over and I had no hope of fighting the crowd to say hello to him. My anxiety peaked (I don’t do well with crowds and no escape in sight) and I started shaking. Not only was I feeling my anxiety but I was feeling everybody else’s anxiety too. Suddenly I felt Michelle standing over my shoulder and she didn’t even ask me what was wrong. She joked, “I’ll drag him to you if I have to,” and then Lindsey grabbed my book and said, “I’ll get him with this.” Lindsey gave my book to Ryan as they were taking him away to the next meeting and she said he looked at it with a sweet, bright smile. A man near him said, “Wow, that’s Jessica’s book!” I don’t know who that was but thanks for recognizing it! Chris dragged Ryan away but as he passed me, he touched my shoulder and thanked me for the book. Relief passed through me and I went back to my hotel to rest before going to the Hornet. That was my one major goal for the trip – get the book to the Buell. Thanks to Lindsey, everything was fine.
That evening, Sarah drove us to the Hornet and we met Chris there. She led us to a platform that the crew uses to hoist cargo on the ship. I’m afraid of heights and this thing was blowing and rocking in the wind. Lindsey actually had to hold my hand because I was scared. I made it though and we met Michelle and everybody else on the deck where they have all the aircraft on display. My daddy was in the Navy so all I could think about was him for a while. We had a nice long talk with Michelle about different spiritual things while we were waiting for PRS to get everybody situated. She hung around me all weekend and I always felt cool and collected with her close by.
Originally, we were supposed to go eat dinner in the galley, I think it was called, which was where the Navy guys used to eat back in the day. The Navy, however, approached me as everyone was getting ready to go down below and they said there was no safe way to get me down there. They said I would have to eat up on the main level by myself. I was a little annoyed but I decided not to express it because obviously old battleships weren’t designed with wheelchair-bound tourists in mind. There was nothing I could do about it. As tough and adventurous as I might be, there are just some things in this life that I won’t be able to do and I can either accept that gracefully or ruin someone else’s day who has no control over it. By the time Chris found me a little bit later to share the same news, the stricken look on her face made me want to reassure everybody that I was really fine. She looked like she was afraid I would bite her head off or something. I didn’t and she went down below herself with Michelle to get my dinner plate and Sergey got dinner plates for Lindsey and Sarah to stay with me. I ended up having dinner with Michelle, Chris, Lindsey and Sarah, which was really a fun experience despite the circumstances that made it happen. The auction and lecture were moved up to the main level so I wouldn’t have to miss anything either, from what I gathered. Sergey found me after dinner and said that I would get to do my own paranormal investigation, something that they had to arrange on the spur of the moment because I wasn’t allowed below decks with everybody else.
That’s the thing about PRS that makes me stay loyal to them. They’re always very aware of me and what I need. I have never been left behind. I have never been met with any too bad so sad attitude. I have never demanded anything special but they always find me first to make sure I’m participating as much as possible. At the same time, they have never made me feel like “that girl in a wheelchair” either. Any adaptations just come as they are and get met with a let’s find a way attitude. So that is a big reason why I support them and why I will continue to support them.
After dinner that night, there was an auction to raise money for PRS equipment and various other group expenses. Lindsey surprised me by winning the mock up of the cover design for Rosebud, which is Ryan’s upcoming fiction book, and Sarah won me a roll of film to be filled with pictures Sergey took on the whole field trip. The book cover is so important to me because writing is something Ryan and I have in common. I really didn’t expect them to win me anything but it shows me what kind of good friends they are to me. So now I have an autographed matted picture of Ryan’s first fiction cover design, a character illustration by Eilfie, and two rolls of film from Sergey (he took an extra roll of pictures just for me).
I actually had a paranormal experience during Ryan’s lecture on ghost ships. I was off to the side listening to him talk and Lindsey reached for my coffee on the floor. At that moment, someone behind me poked my left shoulder. I turned as much as I could but didn’t see anybody, so I asked Lindsey if someone was behind me. She said Michelle was about six feet away but that was it. If nobody was physically there to poke my shoulder, then maybe it was a paranormal experience. I don’t know. Michelle said she didn’t poke me. After about five minutes passed, I got my concentration back on Ryan, but then I suddenly felt very disoriented. I felt pressure from my left and a sensation like I was being pushed to the right. I have no idea why or what was happening but it made me very disoriented and dizzy. I tried very diligently not to react to it because I didn’t want to interrupt the lecture. I have no rational explanation. Subjective paranormal experiences are probably the best way to describe it. Everybody split up and went below decks for ghost hunts after that and I was left on the main deck with my Navy escort, Michelle, Lindsey and Sarah. The Navy guy gave us a tour of that deck and actually said figures were reported near the area where I got pushed. He took us to a mechanic shop kind of thing. I experienced serious and painful pressure changes in my head that made my ears pop a lot. After about ten minutes of this pressure and pain, I finally asked if people report that kind of symptom. He said it was very common in that part of the ship and said women tend to be targeted more than men by the spirits there. As soon as I went outside, the pressure stopped hurting my head. The investigation with such a small number of people was really great and I think I preferred it that way.
The next day was the easy day for me by choice. I decided to rest as much as possible. Lindsey, Sarah and I went to a pub next to my hotel for lunch, which was very tasty. We went over to the Omni in the afternoon and exchanged harassments with Jordan, who gave us grief for not staying overnight on the Hornet. Then we went to a panel discussion about near death experiences and I shared my astral projection experience during a serious illness with the others. That night we went to Michelle’s lecture about dreamwalking, which was fascinating stuff. Everybody was going out to a bar that night but Lindsey was too tired to go, so we went back to the hotel instead. An easy day is necessary for me on these trips!
Sunday was the last day of the field trip and I started the day by going to Alcatraz with Eilfie, Chris and a bunch of other field trippers. I struggled at Alcatraz and it was broad daylight. Most of it was residual noise that I couldn’t block out and I accidentally stumbled into solitary. My friend, Dustin, told me not to go there but I didn’t realize what it was right away. As I got to cell 13, I went in closer until a horrible sharp pain shot through my head. It was awful and I got the hell out of there, nearly running people over as I left. As soon as I got out, the pain stopped. So Dustin was right. We went back to the mainland and stopped at McDonald’s, which made us late at the hotel for the Chinese lion dance and we missed the official picture because Fisherman’s Wharf was so far away. We got back in time for the extended experience sessions, which are very small groups with your chosen PRS people. I had Michelle first and she taught us how to create our own private spiritual space. She also used me to demonstrate how to help people in emotional or physical pain too. I was supposed to go with Sergey on a walking tour of the city after that but I was in too much pain. I found him in the lobby and I told him I was in pain, to which his immediate response was, “Go rest.” Okay, Dad. He told me that he had extra rolls of film, so he was going to take more pictures for me. That was so nice! I made it back in time for Ryan’s extended session, which was supposed to be an hour, but ended up going on for three hours.
We went straight from the extended session to the restaurant where we were going to have our goodbye dinner. Lindsey and Sarah needed to go back to the hotel for something, so I walked over with another friend, Robin, and somehow we ended up in a clump going with Ryan, Sergey and others. I felt like I was being babysat but it’s okay. People cared about my welfare. At one point, I followed Sergey across a street and I didn’t realize a bus was coming at me until I was already in the street. I noticed Ryan out of the corner of my eye standing on the sidewalk with wide eyes and a look of omfg is she crazy on his face, but I was totally fine! My chair maneuvers quickly. That bus never got close. Haha! Still, don’t follow a Ukrainian into oncoming traffic. I ended up having dinner with Robin and Jordan while I waited for Lindsey and Sarah to come to the restaurant. My only regret is that Jordan saw a little bit of my short temper at dinner because it was the last night and my body was toast. I was in a great deal of pain, so I wasn’t my usual cheerful self. It happens. As soon as I got food and water in me, I felt a little better. Jordan is a nice guy and I was glad I got to meet him. Hopefully he’ll be in Orlando on field trip 15 so I can continue keeping him on his toes!
I made sure I went around to say goodbye to everyone after dinner but I somehow missed Sergey. It’s never easy for me to leave these things because I get support there for who and what I am that I don’t get at home. My eyes welled up on the street corner outside the restaurant after I said goodbye to Ryan. It isn’t goodbye though. These events have brought new friends into my life that I intend to keep.
Regarding my book, I absolutely refuse to bug Ryan and ask if he’s read it. Some have already been asking me about it. I don’t like being bugged about whether I’ve done something, so I can’t do that to him too. He’s ridiculously busy with much more than we see on the surface. If he decides to read it, it’ll take him some time to do it even though it’s not a very long book. I did my part by giving it to him. The ball is in his court now. We’ll see what happens!
So that was the long story of my trip to San Francisco. Great friends, great paranormal experiences, great travel. It’s well worth the cost to me. Just the assurance that I’m not going to be left behind with them makes everything worth the cost.