Write a story featuring a Ouija board, a search engine, and a self-help book.
I’m sitting in my one room apartment in Rome at my small writing desk, a laptop computer in front of me, and beyond the computer is a window framing rooftops as far as the eye can see.
When I was 12 years old, I went to a slumber party at Donna Altman’s house. Like most sleepovers, we stayed up all night, dipped Denise Smithers’ hand in warm water waiting for her to wet her pants (which she didn’t), and told scary stories of being parked in a car on a deserted country road and hearing scratching noises on the roof which turned out to be somebody hanging from a tree and their toenails scraping the roof (pretty long toenails, I’d say.) But what I really remember is the Ouiji Board. Donna was the first one in our group to get one, and of course we all took our turn at the planchette (the little shield shaped pointer), our fingers lightly placed on either side, waiting for the spirit to move it.
It was the beginning of a love affair that never died. I loved the Ouiji Board, I believed it spoke the truth then, as I do today. I believe in the occult and the spirits, and I am guided by them regularly.
But that didn’t dissuade my parents. They “encouraged” me to go to Princeton as they thought I was destined to be a lawyer and then a politician. And it’s where my father had gone to school. The coursework at Princeton wasn’t that rigorous, once I figured out the system. I was always a good student, and I simply applied myself to my work, and the grades came easily. Fitting in was a different matter. The blue-bloods who attended weren’t my cup of tea, and most of the others were blue-blood wannabees. I kept mostly to myself, and even though I was accepted into the Cottage Club, my dad’s eating club, I preferred the health food coffee shop down the street.
One summer I read the self-help book by Marion Weinstein, Positive Magic Occult Self-Help and I realized that my passion for the occult had lain smoldering in the depths of my consciousness. It wasn’t until graduation day that I realized I didn’t really want to be a lawyer nor a politician. I wanted a career in the occult.
But as you can imagine, the Princeton placement office didn’t have many students clamoring for interviews at occult corporations. They didn’t really have any advice for me. So I did what any Princeton educated graduate would do—in the olden days they would have searched The Yellow Pages—but in this day and age, I simply Googled, “careers in the occult.”
538,000 results later, I had a goldmine of opportunities and advice before me. There were some quacks, and there were some really strange suggestions.
But I followed my dream, and that’s how I got here to Rome. Working with spirits and such, at the Vatican.