First House Diaries #2: Rooms Of Your House, From Most To Least Haunted

When you’re buying a house all by yourself, you deal with the real life threats first: does this look like a neighborhood I’m going to get serial killed in? How many break-ins have there been nearby? Is the roof sturdy? All of that stuff. But when you’re going to open house after open house, there comes a time when your house hunting expedition becomes a ghost hunting one. You want to make sure you don’t get Amityville Horror-ed, right? So check your dream home in the following areas before you put in that offer. Here are the rooms of any house, from most to least likely to be haunted:

(1) Any Unexplained, Walled-Up, Partially Hidden Room

 

You know what should have absolutely nothing to hide? Your HOUSE. If there’s a hidden doorway, a room you can only access through a closet, or a Harry Potter-style Cupboard Under The Stairs, your house isn’t being up front with you and probably has a secret. And that secret is ghosts.

In one of the houses I toured, the attic had a hastily-constructed extra room with chipped, clawed-looking walls and creepy ’50s children’s book illustrations on the walls. When I walked in there, my very first thought was “oh hey, that’s where the ghost lives.” Basically if there’s a weird room that makes you say “that’s where the ghost lives” – yep, that’s where the ghost lives.

(2) Bedroom

Bedrooms aren’t the most inherently creepy-seeming room of the house, but think about it. Most people’s ghost stories start with them being awoken in the middle of the night with a ghost staring at them. GROSS.

(3) Bathroom

I know, not the attic or basement? No, not yet. If a ghost wants to be extra creepy, they’d definitely hang out in the bathroom. It’s really all about the shower curtain. Imagine leaving the shower to find a ghost staring at you. Or worse, opening the shower curtain and finding a little-girl ghost in an old-timey dress in there. Plus there’s the bathroom mirror, prime location for Bloody Marys and menacing fog-writing.

As a kid, my house’s bathroom gave me the willies, to the extent that I used to rush and take showers as quickly as possible. As an adult, this habit has helped me maintain really low water bills so I’m not complaining. But the wacky thing is that years later, my mom told me that she went to a psychic who out of nowhere mentioned that the tiny hallway in front of the bathroom was the portal that the ghosts came in and out of.

(4) Attic

Here’s my rationale for the attic being more full of ghosts than the basement. Attics are usually less readily accessible than basements, so if someone had something to hide they would probably keep it in the attic. Secret deformed children, a church of satan, a wall of victim’s photos: attic material, all of them. Plus while your basement probably contains frequently-used utilities that might deter a ghost infestation (washer, dryer, furnace), your attic is more stagnant so ghosts are more likely to accumulate. Also moths, spiders, etc. Pretty much just don’t go into your attic.

(5) Basement

Don’t get me wrong, basements are still creepy. The main reason is that these are the most likely place in your house for a body to be concealed. Unless someone really Telltale Heart-ed it, there probably isn’t a body under your floorboards, but there might be one under that weird patch of mismatched concrete on your basement floor.  Apparently my great-grandparents’ house had a notoriously haunted basement – like, they were known for it – so my fear of basements might be part of my genetic memory.

(6) Hallways and Stairwells

 

Again, I blame my childhood home, which had a stairway landing so creepy that I used to try to fly past it on my way up and down. Maybe I should just blame being a weird kid. Still, hallways are full of doors for ghosts to pop out of, or twists and turns where you can see a ghost in the distance. If you want an excellent example of the hallway as a ghost device, look no further than The Shining.

(7) Kitchens

Kitchens aren’t spooky, but if you have a Poltergeist-y ghost that likes to play with things you’ll probably find it in the kitchen. Between the stove, faucet, microwave and fridge door, there’s a lot to open and close or turn on and off – like a Melissa and Doug toy, only for ghosts.

(8) Dining Room

I’ve just never heard of anyone having a haunted dining room, you know?

(9) Living Room/ Family Room/ Den

Here’s how I feel. Poltergeist aside, I think TVs are inherently confusing to ghosts, who seem to always be from sometime pre-1950. Not that they have to be, but I’ve never heard of anyone say “yeah, there’s a ghost in my house. He always appears and disappears wearing zubaz and a slap bracelet with a hypercolor shirt” or “we keep seeing this woman at the attic window with a spiral perm and mall bangs, checking her swatch watch then staring into the distance through her Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.” So if your living room is your TV spot, the ghost is just not interested. Now, if you have one fancy living room that just has uncomfy couches and a piano in it, the ghosts might like that one.

Real rational talk: ghosts make no sense. I don’t know why I would believe in the spirits of dead people manifesting out of thin air, when I barely believe in … you know, myself. (JK, I think I’m pretty good.) But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind when I looked at houses – particularly the one with the ghost room in the attic.

First House Diaries #1: Sometimes There Will Be Dead Bodies

So I am not great with dead bodies. They say you will learn a lot when you buy your first house, and I think they mean stuff like “you need to have a backup budget for repairs” or “you’re capable of more than you think!” But I bought my first house in April, and the only real surprise is how not great I am with dead bodies. Except, guys: who IS great with dead bodies? I don’t want to be that person. Or meet that person, to be quite honest.

The only reason this is a surprise is that my recurring dream – other than the one where my teeth and hair fall out, or where suddenly realize I’m like 8 months pregnant – involves dealing with a dead body. Before the dream starts, I have somehow run across a dead person. It’s never quite clear what went down, but whatever the circumstances are, it’s going to look like I’m responsible even though I’m not. So I somehow have to deal with it. And you know what? In the dream, I’m surprisingly chill about this whole turn of events! So in real life, I thought maybe I could deal with a dead bird or two.

What we’re really looking at is sort of a plague of dead birds. Like a Bible/Shakespeare kind of “pox on my house” scenario. Let’s go back. When I first moved in, I noticed that these ugly, terrible birds were starting to roost near the eaves by my bedroom. They’d squawk in the morning, every morning, and fly around like aimless assholes as dusk fell. I probably should have dealt with them right away, but my house has two stories and a full-sized attic. They were high up. And I don’t like to interact with animals from outside. Like, a stray cat, or a baby field mouse? That is not cute. That is a wild animal, and I am not here to make friends with it.

 

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Scene Of The Crime.

 

So, imagine my disgust that those birds were up there reproducing. Spawning. Gross. I never really thought about it until one day when I was out gardening. I looked to my immediate left, and there was the worst creature that had ever lived. It was dead.  It’s almost like it was so hideous that it lost the will to exist. I guess it was supposed to be a bird. Except it was completely bald, translucent, veiny, and bloated. And somehow, surprisingly large. If you visualize what a baby bird would look like, this was not that. It was like if you made a dead bird version of one of those hairless cats. I hated it both for existing, and for dying – and especially for dying in my yard. It was like… you know how in movies aliens are those putty-colored bald boney men? Okay, imagine that. Then imagine the fetal version of one of those. Then imagine that off the fetus’s shoulder, it has one of those half-formed parasitic twins. It was like that.

 

Anyway, I did what any responsible home-owning adult would do. I ran inside and paced for like a half hour. I collected a few bags to dispose of it in, went outside, then did an about-face back into my house.

 

I repeated that three more times.

 

I called my city’s animal control line, hoping that there was a person who was so good at dealing with dead bodies that they were paid for it. No luck: they do not deal with animals on your property although the helpful phone representative told me that I could bag it and place it at the curb for removal. People like me are the reason taxes are so high, because I think my municipality should absolutely deal with dead bodies for me. Unless I ever run for office, in which case, people like me are the reason taxes are reasonably proportionate to income and property ownership.

 

At some point, I became so disgusted that I began to cry. Or weep, maybe. Now is a good time to mention that I am an Ugly Cryer.

 

 

Eventually, I disposed of it using a pair of rubber gloves and four plastic bags.

 

On further reflection, I remember finding a dead baby bird as a child – although I’m fairly certain that it had feathers and was of the appropriate size. My brother and I placed it in a shoebox and lovingly buried it. The next morning at church, the congregation sang Morning Has Broken, and my heart broke for that poor little creature who barely got a chance at life.

 

Gross.

 

The day after the winged hairless cat alien parasite disposal, there was another dead hairless gummy bony bird in almost the same spot. I should probably mention that my yard is surrounded by a six-foot fence, and my cat doesn’t go outside, and the area wasn’t near a tree. I have no idea how this keeps happening, other than some kind of a curse or plague. My mother suggested that sometimes bird families will off baby birds who don’t turn out right. Were they so mutated that even their own kind couldn’t bear to let them live? From the looks of them, probably. An elderly neighbor mentioned that usually baby birds are well on their way to adulthood by this time of year.

 
Anyway, there seems to be some sort of a problem. I don’t know why these things keep showing up at my house. I’ve just learned that sometimes in life, there will be dead bodies. And I hate them. I hate birds, and I hate nature. I  hate the circle of life. I have a dog and cat, but I am now going to go off the assumption that they will live forever. Because I cannot deal with their dead bodies, ever.


 

I have a feeling there will be more to say about this house business – but no more bodies, I hope – so check back for other reports from the First House Diaries, when I hopefully am able to write about something less disgusting.