A Merit Badge in Ghost Hunting

Like A Vampire

Yesterday evening, I came up with the bizarre idea that it would be fun to move the furniture around in my bedroom. I’ve lived in my townhouse nearly five years now, and my bed has always been in the same spot: with the headboard right in front of the window. Truth is, though the master bedroom is roomy, it’s got weird angles and short walls that pretty much limit your options for placing a bed. Still, I’m a guy who likes to change things up every once in awhile, so I decided to get creative and flip the bed around, placing it at a 90-degree angle to where it was previously, which necessitated moving the nightstand, lamp, clock, etc. It looked okay where it was, though it made the room look slightly smaller. I was excited about the change, and when it was time for bed, eagerly dove beneath the covers to enjoy my first night’s sleep in the new layout.

Only, right away, the arrangement bugged me. Where before I slept facing a wall, now there was the window, and a tiny frame of light outlining the curtains. I’m a guy who likes to sleep in the dark; the smallest amount of light can drive me crazy. So I turned onto my left side instead, facing into the room. The big, empty room, without a wall there like I was used to. Worse, my smoke detector’s little green light blinks constantly, despite the addition of fresh batteries. You can’t even tell during the day, but at night, it seemed bright as a lighthouse warning ships to steer clear. I couldn’t believe that such subtle little differences would bother me so much, so I willed myself to ignore them, but the hours passed by, sleep as elusive as ever. Finally, at 4 AM, I did what any sane person would do under the circumstances: turned the light on and rearranged my bed and nightstand to where they had been originally. Yeah, I know. Anal much? During my road trip, I spent thirteen nights in strange hotel rooms, and never had trouble falling asleep. You’d think that because this was my bedroom, I’d be fine, never mind where the bed was.

You’d be wrong, though.

It wasn’t until 5:30 – with morning light already streaming in – that I finally fell asleep. Made me feel like a vampire. I was up three hours later. Would have loved to have slept in longer, but I have the kids this week, and I had an exciting day ahead, anyway.

Today, I earned my ghost-hunting merit badge.

I Want To Be The Next Jason. Or Grant. I’d Even Settle for Dave Tango.

A while back, I mentioned my ghost-hunting friend, Steven. He is a professional investigator, the president of GERCSA (the Ghost Education and Research Center; he dropped the San Antonio part when he relocated to the Pacific Northwest) and has been involved in many cases – both here and in Texas, where he’s from originally. He was even approached by the executive producer of Paranormal State to make an appearance on that show, though it didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts. Well, I have a huge interest in the paranormal, having been weaned on a steady diet of Ghost Hunters episodes for years. This is something Steven and I bonded over. I basically begged him to let me tag along on an investigation sometime…and he actually listened!

I earned my merit badge in ghost hunting. Bring it on, boys and ghouls! (Courtesy of seo.com).

He was contacted a while back by a homeowner in Vancouver, Washington whose mother’s house has been experiencing a lot of paranormal activity. It’s a 100-year old Victorian downtown, and she is hearing noises at night, seeing things moving, etc. Her adult son is scared for her, and looking for somebody to come in and help. Steven asked me a few weeks ago if I’d be interested in joining his team for an official investigation, and I said yesyesyesyesyesOHMYGODYESPLEASE!!! sure, I suppose I could tag along if my schedule is clear. OK, so I jumped at the chance! It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I won’t just be hanging out with them, I’ll be participating fully. They’ve got EMF meters, digital voice recorders, HD cameras, and a laptop where we’ll be doing real-time monitoring for EVPs. Before I could be cleared, though, Steven insisted I attend a mandatory ghost hunting training class at his apartment, and today was the day.

I arrived about 12:45. We drove into Portland first, where I treated him to lunch at Bunk Sandwiches. As much as I love their pork belly Cubano, I wanted to try something new, and ordered the pulled pork with apple slaw. Steven got the same thing, and we both loved it. Afterwards, we returned to his place, where he spent the next few hours schooling me on the tricks of the trade. I learned how to properly use an EMF meter, what to look for when listening to EVPs, and how to conduct myself, both professionally (in front of the clients) and in the presence of any spirits (i.e. do not provoke; treat them with respect, instead). He played me a bunch of EVPs he has collected over the years, and some were quite clear and convincing. I was impressed. He quizzed me throughout the training session, and I passed with flying colors. I like Steven and his group because they exude integrity. They are not out to do this to get rich or famous, but rather, to help people while satisfying their own natural curiosity.

Saturday night, we’re meeting the clients at their house at 6 PM. We will then conduct an investigation until 2 AM. Steven warned me that it’s possible that we’ll end up with eight hours of nothing, but did say this case sounds very promising, and they usually have something interesting happen. I am super excited! Just to be involved in the process will be loads of fun.

I hope it’s a boo-tiful night!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “A Merit Badge in Ghost Hunting

  1. My daughter asked me yesterday if I ever want to change my room around…NOPE! For all those reasons you listed and one more, I often am disoriented when I wake up, I would have a panic attack for sure if i changed my room around! I am surpirsed you didn’t move things around earlier in the night… just saying 😉


  2. ” and a tiny frame of light outlining the curtains. I’m a guy who likes to sleep in the dark; the smallest amount of light can drive me crazy.”


    Okay, I’m laughing at that because I’m the SAME WAY, Mark!! Oh dear god, if there is so much as even a SLIVER of light coming through the mini blinds, it drives me CRAZY. I literally can’t sleep. I’m truly a vampire.

    “Finally, at 4 AM, I did what any sane person would do under the circumstances: turned the light on and rearranged my bed and nightstand to where they had been originally. Yeah, I know. Anal much?”


    HOWLING! Because I totally understand, I’m OCD.

    And I am sooooooooo excited to hear about you joining your friend Steven in this paranormal thing on Saturday night. How faaaaaaabulous is that? Of course you HAVE to let us know what happened, okay?

    Wishing you a boo-tiful night…..BOO!


    1. I’m glad you “get” the total darkness thing, too. My worst night on the road? Austin, Minnesota. There was a bright security light right outside my window. It was so bright in the room I saw shadows on my pillow. Not fun at all!


  3. Yeah…I can see where the little, blinking green light can navigate ships in the darkness of night or through the storms we get here in the Pacific NW…yeah…I can for sure!! I have one just like it…..

    Good luck ghost-hunting and don’t forget to put the theme of Ghostbusters on your I-pod so you can really get in the mood!!


  4. Can’t wait to hear about the night’s work. Don’t make any of the ghosts mad – they might move your bedroom furniture around.


  5. …I have told you that I have a super-secret crush on Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures, right?

    Actually, I think I like Aaron better — there I go again, preferring the “Jon” to the more universally lusted after “Ponch”…

    I only hope you get to use a Spirit Talkie Box! (That’s what Boyfriend Brett and I call that silly box that randomly allows ghosts to access a dictionary of words to express their inner-most thoughts…)

    Best of luck — can’t wait to read all about it. 🙂


  6. So jealous!!! Hope you see some good ghoulies. Be safe! And now that you are playing around with EVP, do not try it at home, you’ll lose even more sleep if it picks something up!


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