Again, a great amount of time has lapsed since I've taken the time to write. Being back in Ohio has been an interesting experience, to say the least. There have been some good moments which have made me realize what I missed... and more than enough situations which made me think, "Seriously... what was I thinking coming back here? I'd have been better off leaving the Cleveland area a distant memory only seen through a television show!" What little time I've had between returning to mundane day work and battling my ever-determined pursuit of a life free of drama, I'm often too exhausted to think about any long posts... or even find odd news to share with the world. This past weekend was my unpacking-and-getting-my-place-looking-livable days so I feel somewhat more comfortable stepping into a bedroom free of boxes, piles of paperwork, and half-finished projects. But it never ends. Life can be a little overwhelming at times.
Then I asked myself why I neglect my blog as much as I do. And I was surprised to find that I had an answer: change. A decade ago (and even a few mere years ago for that matter) there was so much amusement and enjoyment for me in dealing with the paranormal. It was actually fun more times than not. Investigations were mini adventures with kindred spirits. The Cuyahoga Valley was that magical place I spent my teenage years and some of my happiest memories. There were the occasional bad days but as a whole the journey was a pleasant one.
Then... life changed.
I started looking beyond my own back yard to find places and hauntings, which led to a broader world view and the realization that there is so much life (and death) out there I wasn't exploring. My life went through a series of changes and alterations, each one shifting my perspective and awareness. I began to meet new people, some of whom have become truly wonderful friends and associates. But most of all, the fun frolics turned into contests and drama became the mainstay of that once sleepy hamlet in which I live.
Anyone who watches paranormal television knows there are always behind-the-scenes dramas playing out in paranormal groups and organizations. They just never quite capture the entirety of it in a 30- or 60-minute time slot. Rivalries are rampant and the main reason that advancement NEVER actually happens in the field. It's always about who has the better photograph, who went inside the coolest locale, or what group has the most friends on MySpace or Facebook. It's not about the paranormal, it's about popularity. Who gets to be the regional diva? How do I get the world to notice ME?
So many people want to be famous. Image takes over and obliterates anything else standing in its way. It comes in the form of amassing huge amounts of mediocre-at-best photos and EVPs or distancing yourself from people who aren't a carbon copy of your particular "vision". Really important things like honesty, acceptance, cooperation, and camaraderie are lost in the dust. It's the next Amazing Race or Big Brother. Who can climb their way to the top first and win the grand prize?
The reality is there is no prize. No blue ribbon for hippest spook seeker. No trophy for the best-dressed investigation team. At the end of the day you haven't transformed into Oprah Winfrey. I'm sure some people might say, "HA! But Ken, you wrote Queer Hauntings! Aren't you in it for fame and fortune too, you hypocrite?" The honest answer is no. I don't write to find my name on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I don't to signings and lectures to appease some deep-rooted starvation for affection and admiration. I write about what I find interesting and what I enjoy. I write and do talks to share what I learn with others and to educate people. If I have one person walk up to me and say, "I just wanted to say thank you. You opened my eyes up to a whole new world," then I've succeeded in doing what I set out to do: to make people think.
You might think from all of this that I now hate the paranormal or have banished the whole thing from my mind and life, but that's not the case. I still enjoy the strange and unusual tales and places found in the tiniest recesses of our vast, incredible home called Earth. I love a good ghost story and the history of people, towns, streets, waterways, and buildings. But the mob mentality that comes with being mainstream? That's just not for me. I spent a large portion of my childhood trying to figure out who I was. Another chunk of my years was spent learning to allow myself to be who I was. I'm finally getting to the point where I feel no shame or guilt about being me. My individuality is not negotiable nor will I sell it out to the highest bidder. And being the unique person that I am, I'm entitled to being respected by others for my own originality. I don't ask other people to march in my footsteps (though it has happened in the past on a few occasions). I expect the same decency in return.
Paranormal studies are an examination of freaks. In one sense of another, everything from ghosts to UFOs to bigfoot are freakishly bizarre by their very nature. And those of us in the field can often be described as so as well. But there is nothing wrong with being an oddity, an anomaly. It shows resistance to conformity, the daily battle we all face between who we are and what society wants us to be. If you can honestly say you are truly your own person and unbending to the social and societal waves pummeling you each and every day then give yourself a pat on the back. And remember: you're the only person you have to live with for the rest of your life... and quite possibly beyond that...