November 30, 2005

Vespa A-Go-Go

Instead of a car I'm thinking of getting a Vespa! Sure, I've put about twenty minutes of thought and research into the idea but it could be the new me. If only there were training wheels.

I would have to practice not falling over. Houston's side streets have lots of cracks, since the city is sinking. But, riding my bike around, even at night, I've become confident in my avoiding-the-crack capabilities.

Sexy? Cool? Hip? The ultimate arts manager's vehicle?

Check out these fashions from Parsons School of Design students on the Vespa website.

This Spring Play a Leading Role in the Arts

University of Houston Downtown
Humanities #3325

Mondays 7-9:45pm
January 23 – May 8, no class March 13

-Understand the business of arts
-Explore best management practices
-Meet professional artists and arts managers
-Participate in case studies and team projects
-Apply the creative process
-Develop professional projects and reports that will advance your role in the arts

-Emerging and aspiring arts managers
-Staff of arts organizations
-Board members
-Anyone interested in nonprofit management

Instructor: Amy Kweskin earned her Masters in Arts Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California and Bachelors degrees in Cinema/Photography and English from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She recently relocated to Houston from San Francisco where she managed public art installations and trained artists, managers, board members and volunteers in the business of arts.

For further information contact Dr. Thomas Lyttle or 713.221.8118.

November 27, 2005

Choosing Arts Administration Teaching Texts

I learned late last week that the Arts Administration course I am teaching at University of Houston Downtown, is scheduled for Spring 2006. Previously the university told me it was scheduled for Fall 2006 – nearly a year away. I am thrilled to start teaching sooner than later.

Choosing a teaching text has turned into an interesting task. The previous instructor, Sara Kellner, Executive Director of DiverseWorks used Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig assigned reading I had for an undergraduate photography course. Clearly the professor was going through a midlife crisis. He proved it by riding his motorcycle to class one day and giving female students rides on the back.

Or, I could go somewhat esoteric and choose something by Malcolm Gladwell such as The Tipping Point or Blink – contemporary, interesting, useful beyond the course. Another possibility is using these as secondary texts and going with Sara’s as the primary texts. Ultimately my goal is to write my own text and have it published, now jumpstarted with the course date change.

Additionally, I’m considering having my students participate in a blog focused on our coursework and sharing their research and reporting. The one online grad school course I took, accounting, encouraged us to partake in online discussions. I just couldn’t get into it. This was nearly 10 years ago, when the Internet was still a mystery. Maybe I’m thinking too much from a student perspective and need to just take charge and go with what works for me, with the sensitivity to modify a bit as we go along.

Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell. I can get my hair to do that!

The Three Amigos

In the late 1930s Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera spent time in San Francisco and became friendly with a doctor at the San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Eloesser became a lifelong friend of the two artists and over the course of several decades corresponded with Frida through written letters. She turned to him for advice about aliments, surgeries and her dream to have a baby.

The Museo Frida Kahlo exhibition “Leo Eloesser: la medicina y el dolor en la obra de Frida Kahlo. Una relacion epistolary” which ran from August 26 through November 19, 2005 focused on this relationship. Featured in the signage and publications for the exhibition is a painting called Portrait of Dr. Eloesser by Kahlo. Given to the doctor by Frida, while painted on an extended visit to San Francisco, the painting still hangs in the SFGH today. I had the extreme pleasure of working with the University of California San Francisco Dean’s office of the School of Medicine, which owns the paintings via to facilitate the loan of this and Diego Rivera’s Tortilla Maker, also owned by the University, to the Frida Kahlo Museum. The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation underwrote my work.

This was the first exhibition of any outside objects to come into the museum. Upon Frida’s death Diego signed a proclamation stating that no possessions shall ever leave Frida’s Blue House. This house is now the museum that features her possessions and paintings. Coordinator Hilda Trillo has begun envisioning and curating exhibitions that allow the museum to rotate through objects from the museum’s extensive storage. She couples them with artifacts and paintings of Frida’s from other parts of Mexico and the world.

It was serendipitous that I was contracting with the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation as the Artist Liaison when the Mexican Consulate of San Francisco began their search for the Doctor Eloesser painting. They had heard that it was owned by some institution in San Francisco but had little clue about its location. Having just been asked to raise funds for the restoration of these paintings I thought it would be appropriate to notify that Mexican Consulate of their existence as a possible funding source and to establish relations with Frida’s home country. When I called and spoke with their Cultural Attache, Jonathan Chait, he nearly fell out of his seat. He couldn’t believe that I was calling about the Frida painting that he was assigned to locate. After visiting the paintings the Consul General and his wife Virginia Clausing, who is a former museum administrator, determined that both the Frida and Diego paintings must be in the exhibition, after all it was about the three friends.

From there began months of facilitating negotiations between the Frida Kahlo Museum and UCSF. The timeline was short and the University was very excited to loan the paintings. It was the bureaucracy; paperwork and funding that were at issue. After countless phone calls, emails and collaboration with UCSF School of Medicine Dean’s office staff we were able to confirm the loan of the works. At this point I had already moved to Houston so I was making extended trips back to San Francisco on a regular basis, for this and other consulting projects.

The Frida Kahlo Museum, as a thank you and as an opportunity to view the exhibition and witness the removal of the paintings, brought me down to Mexico City. The remarkable exhibition featured several letters between Frida and the Doctor, six of her medical corsets (which I had seen on a previous visit in May 2005 when the museum took me into her private collection of clothing and corsets) and her fake leg adorned with one of her beautiful boots. The two paintings from San Francisco were featured alongside signage about the Doctor and his work at SFGH. Like Frida and Diego, upon his death he lived in Mexico and was a Communist - giving some insight into how deeply connected these three friends were in many ways.

I was able to take the banner of the exhibition that hung outside the Frida Kahlo Museum back with me to Houston and I will send it to UCSF. Hopefully it will be displayed at SFGH to commemorate the loan of these special works to the museum. Seeing the two paintings removed from the walls of Frida’s house after the exhibition was very emotional. They symbolized the two artists and we thought of them as we watched the historic exhibition disappear into storage as if it never happened. Thankfully the museum is publishing both a Spanish and English version of the letters from Frida to Dr. Eloesser for publication in 2006.

November 25, 2005

Mexico City Photos

Frida Kahlo's Museum. Views of the courtyard and one of the four cats that lives on the grounds. Banner of the Kahlo painting borrowed from SF.

University City - the library with its mosaic mural and the student quad.

The Floating Gardens - each boat has a woman's name. They use to cover the boats with flowers but now they use paper and colorful paints. Manuel my friend and trusty guide.

A Mariachi singing to me - for $7 USD. Our captain pushing the boat through the maze of other ladies as we pass under the bridge.
Me with our lady Carmelita.
The Floating Gardens - looking through all the boats at the start of the day before all the picnicers have arrived.

The view from my hotel window.

November 24, 2005

Someone's Turkey's Burning Up!

While leisurely napping late this morning, and enjoying the balmy weather and light breeze, Stephen and I were awakened by an old man with a southern accent walking down the street saying in a loud but monotone voice, “Someone’s turkey is burning up, someone’s turkey is burning up.” People came out of their houses and agreed that yes, there was a fire and it must be a turkey at the heart of the flames.

This was a surreal way to wake up from a nap. Being truly human we had to go on the deck and check out the scene. Sure enough black smoke in the air billowing from some property nearby.

How many domestic accidents of this nature occur on Thanksgiving? While out last night Boot Stompin’ at a Country Dance Bar (another story) with Victoria and George (from the gefilte fish taco post) we discussed how there are so many more domestic disasters on this holiday now that people are deep frying their turkeys. Imagine the combination of family tension, probably being a bit drunk, kids running around and hot oil on the back porch. Ingredients for an inferno.

These are images from the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. website on Turkey Fryer product warnings.

New Features on the Blog

In honor of my 100th post I have added new features to TheKweskinReport.

You can now:
  • Post a comment - Stephen wants his chance to respond to my stories. You can also post your comments.
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  • Links - Click on the updated links bellow the listserve registration and learn more about my friends, family, projects, life in Houston and my former life in SF.
  • Send - Easily forward a posting from my blog to yourself or a friend by clicking on the envelope icon at the end of each entry.

November 23, 2005

Fat Cat Back

While I was in Mexico City and Stephen was in Scotland Tika the cat went to Fat Cat Flats for the duration of our travels. I was worried. Back in California my cousin Ben or my friend Denise would stay with Tika and it was always a love fest. If only I could speak cat – the stories I would hear!

Although she is a cat Tika thinks she’s human. Now that Tika’s nearly 15 she doesn’t like to be left alone. Suddenly people are very important. How un-cat-like of her. She even drinks out of a glass, which amused the boarding house staff. What can you say, she’s a lady.

At the boarding house her little cat condo was located in a room with 10 or so other felines. To keep them happy the staff played soap operas and Enya CDs all day. Really, do cats care? When I arrived they were still growling, hissing and meowing over the choice entertainment.

When I entered the room I said Tika’s name and she didn’t even perk up. All curled up in a little ball she just moved deeper into the fetal position. Great, my cat was traumatized. As soon as the boarding house keeper said her name Tika woke up to say hello. What am I, dried food? Once in the car I opened the top to her cat carrier and she was curled up with her little paw over her face. Feeling totally guilty I raced home to let her be free in her kingdom. As soon as she got out of the carrier the Tika we know and love reappeared.

Now that it is cold, yes cold, in Houston our house is freezing at night. Last night I had the ultimate pleasure of Tika sitting on my face while I slept. I awoke to the unbelievable fragrance of her well seasoned rear. Stephen said it was because she missed us that she got so close, I say it was the cold. In preparation for tonight I have pulled out the heating pad to entice her away from my face. Love only goes so far.

November 21, 2005

The Blending of Mexico and Spain

Mexico has the amazing quality of blending of peoples Indians and Spaniards. It is evident in the faces, traditions, language, arts and past times. In the same day I experienced the floating gardens of Mexico City and the art bazaar of San Angel as well as the love for bullfighting.

The floating gardens are a living history of how the Aztecs turned this lake into a city. The roots of the trees were used as the foundation for land. In this area of Ciuadad Mexico (Mexico City) the roots are still visible. Families rent these boats and float along the cannals. Mariachi, silver salesmen, floating cookeries and photographers float along side the boats and ask you to purchase their goods and services. When you say yes they float along with you. It is a peaceful and festive place on Saturday mornings. Saturday nights it is supposedly a very different scene - party central.

I came across the bullfight unintentionally. After a long walk down Insurgentia Avenue, on which my hotel is located, I took a side street and discovered that the hotel is located just two blocks from Plaza Mexico. Along all sides of the stadium were vendors selling cowboy hats, Spanish style fans, Matidore outfits, and all kinds of foods. It took me a while to figure out what was going on inside since the action seemed to be on the streets. The sites, smells and sounds were overwhelming.

After experiencing this mix of cultures I went back to the hotel room and watched Everybody Loves Raymond. Ah yes, so familiar.

November 18, 2005

Spoiled American

Out on my own for the first time in a country in which I do not speak the language I realize what a pain in the rear I am when travelling with Stephen. To be more ashamed, I am really critical of Scotland and the cold rooms and showers that do not have the water flow to which I am use to (do you like how I am phrasing sentences like I am translating from Spanish? Becomes a fast way to talk here.)

Usually I complain constantly about how this or that is different from what I am expecting. But now that I am on my own I realize how great it is to experience things as they are to their native country. For instance, the hot cereal this morning was delicious grains served hot in fresh milk. Any other time I would complain that I do not want milk. Or the hotel, which smells like smoke in every room - with Stephen I would complain about the smoke. Same with smoking in restaurants or the noise. How spoiled I am.

Stephen has been around the world and has had long term projects and consultancies in many countries. Compared to me he is so much more tolerant. Maybe I am catching up! Wouldn't it be great to travel for the arts? Now to learn Spanish.

Why I am in Mexico City

Let me back up and explain that I am in Mexico City as a guest of the Frida Kahlo Museum. Earlier in the year I facilitated a loan of a Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo set of paintings between the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and the Museum. On Monday the paintings come down and I am here to view the exhibition prior to their removal.

Alejandra, the Assistant to the Museum Director, hosted me today at the Museum and drove me around the crazy streets to visit two others as well. I was totally amazed by the exhibition which focuses on the relationship between Frida, Diego and Dr. Leo Eloesser who became their friend while working at the San Francisco General Hospital. The exhibition has Frida's medical supplies from her many surgeries, includes numerous photos of the doctor as well as letters between the two life-long friends. Okay, I was really psyched because I was thanked in the exhibition signage. It was totally cool even if they were creative with the spelling of my last name.

We also had the opportuntiy to visit Annahuacalli which is Diego Rivera´s museum - seen in the temple-like photograph. It houses a collection of aztec and mayan artifacts and is constructed of volcanic rocks. Beautiful to see and touch. In it are also some of the sketches for his international murals, many of which have been lost or removed.

Being here reminds me, again, of why Mexico City is one of my favorite places to visit. The people are friendly, even if I don't speak Spanish, the sites are overwhelming, the arts are accessible and the colors are shocking. Plus all the animals - they run around the streets, houses, museums, parks and sometimes pee on the roofs, which I witnessed today both in site and smell.

Reaching out to Stephen

Apoligies for using the blog as a place to write love notes and slip them under the electronic door of the internet. Still no email access. Stephen, you have my hotel phone number. Call when you can. Leave a message. Room 512.

November 17, 2005

Blogging in Spanish

I have arrived in Mexico City and my blog instructions appear in Spanish on this computer.

Ayuda de Blogger

Too bad I do not speak the language and I am having a heck of a time with the key placement on the keyboard. Seems that I can not access my email on this computer either so Stephen if you read this I am here, all is fine, the hotel is nice, Manuel our guide from our last visit is taking me around on Saturday.

Venturing outside before it gets dark.

November 16, 2005

Living the World of Make Believe

Inspired by the Found Magazine website my sister sent me a link to Sideshow Players.

“We take vintage slide collections we’ve found at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores and turn the lives of anonymous strangers into pop-rock musical exposes based on their slides.”

Along this same track, living your art, Houston Center for Photography is presenting Bushwick Farms in February, 2006. Here's their approach to living their art...

"We are a married couple obsessed with actualizing the history and genealogy of a fictitious company we created called Bushwick Farms.

At the time of our marriage we lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, known for its desolate industrial landscape. Based on a satire of the neighborhood, we developed a concept for a fictitious company named Bushwick Farms. We began to construct an elaborate history and family tree. The story revolves around a couple that left the pace of a big city to establish a small farm. Between harvests they made pumpkin butter and raised three sons. Over the past four years we have been enacting and photographing members of the Bushwick Farms family tree."

How simple is it to live a stranger's life? Is this the witness protection program for artists? Having always been fascinated with how other people live, but not wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons to find out, I wonder, "am I living the secret life of Amy in Texas?"

November 15, 2005

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Surfing through the gossip websites, which I call brain junk food, I noticed a likeness between Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. Maybe it is the chin?

Obviously, as I head towards 37, I'm spending too much time looking in the mirror noticing my own wrinkles, dents, puffiness...

November 14, 2005

Found Magazine

Last night I checked out Found Magazine’s Lone Surfer Tour, which made a stop here in Houston at Aurora Picture Show (more about Aurora in a future post). Found Magazine is the brainchild of Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner. In it they publish FOUND stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles - anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. Anything goes...

The title of the tour is named after Davy's new book “The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas”. It was inspired by Davy's witnessing of a guy in the middle of a cornfield in Montana, Kansas, who had balanced a surfboard between two tractors. The Lone Surfer stood on the board and practiced surfing – 1,000 miles from any body of water that offered waves for him to ride.

Davy and his younger brother Peter, a songwriter-guitar player, read some of the outrageous found notes that people have given them over the years. Some inspired Peter to write songs, love ballads and often love-hate ballads, based on their content. The highlight of the evening was their duet on The Booty Don’t Stop, a cover of a homemade rap song they discovered on a tape found on the street.

Their 51 cities in 56 days tour is coming to an end. For your amusement here are samples of found objects from their website. They have an eye for the ridiculous and often obscene.

November 11, 2005

Arts Leadership at a Critical Juncture

As the Baby Boomers move towards retirement GenXers are maturing into mid-careers in arts management. It is a critical juncture in the arts as the founders of organizations, often self-taught managers, consider departure. The question is – what is needed to sustain the leadership of arts organizations?

This next generation of leaders, of which I am one, come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Like the Baby Boomers some of us have evolved into our management positions out of the necessity to present our art. Others of us have specialized graduate and undergraduate degrees in arts administration. There’s also a segment of us who have career transitioned form the corporate sector. Regardless of our career path, area of expertise of region of the country we are facing the same challenges – ensuring that we can successfully transition into arts leaders while sustaining our organizations and excelling in our careers.

Barry Hessenius in his Hessenius Group 3 blog this week convened a panel of Baby Boomers and arts influencers to address the question of how to “hand down” knowledge from the retiring generation to the future leaders who are now mid-career. My concern is that leadership can not be “handed down”. In order to build leadership capacity we mid-career folks need to be mentored, fostered and nurtured. This is a reciprocal relationship, an ongoing conversation. It is also an issue of mutual trust.

There is a growing fear amongst the retiring generation of arts managers and board members, partners in arts leadership. The concern is how to trust the vision of the organization to the next generation? I have witnessed some shocking responses that are destroying organizations.

We can not be reactive. Over the next year I will be exploring this critical juncture.

November 9, 2005

Texas Voters Add Gay Marriage Ban to Constitution

I keep forgetting that I'm in Texas until something like this happens. Stephen and I deliberately sought out the gay neighborhood so that despite moving to Texas we would maybe feel a bit like we were still in the San Francisco Bay Area. It worked. We live amongst committed gay couples as well as all the extremes of the gay community. Working in the arts we interact with gay people without giving a second thought to them being any different than us.

But we were awakened from our dreamy sleep by the reminder that we are not in a progressive state. Once again our friends, family and neighbors must be ashamed of their lives and live closeted.

Art Therapy

As I sit here looking at works of art from emering, established and expired (dead) artists I wonder:

Is art a form of therapy for the artist?

Is this why I often "don't get it"?

Do we always need to be exposed to the artists' problems?

What transforms the therapy "piece" into art?

Do you have to be educated in the latest arts trends to understand it?

Are artists and art essential to expanding and exploring notions and conceptions of... everything?

November 8, 2005

I Have Something To Tell You

One of the current exhibitions at the Houston Center for Photography, I Have Something to Tell You features photographic portraits by artist Adrain Chesser. Deliberately displayed without a written artists statement or labels the viewer is encouraged to instead sit in front of a backdrop, the same one used in the portraits, and to put on a headset to listen to the artist’s narrative on a CD player.

One at a time each viewer experiences what was heard by the subject of each portrait when their photograph was taken. Adrain revealed to his friends, in their individual portrait sittings, that he had contracted HIV. Like the subjects of the portraits each viewer experiences the same shock and dismay sitting in front of the same backdrop.

I facilitated a panel discussion with Adrain to explore why he came out to his family and friends in this way. Adrain revealed that at first he was going to keep his illness a secret but realized that this was causing him more pain and illness. By bringing his personal community into the studio and placing himself behind the camera he created a ritual that allowed him to repeatedly reveal his condition in a way that made the statement tolerable.

After shooting the images Adrain placed them on the walls of his studio. The faces staring back at him were too much and he had to take a break from editing and composing the exhibition. But eventually he faced the portraits and realized that each person would listen, react, disappear and then return. For Adrain that return was the most important phase of the experience. He had not lost them forever, which was his greatest fear. For his friends and family the fear was reciprocal.

Image by Adrain Chesser

November 7, 2005

Getting to the Doctor on Time

I have determined that doctors and their offices work on a different time schedule than any other industry except for car mechanics. Now that we’re settling into Houston Stephen and I are making appointments with Doctors and Dentists. The nice surprise is that you can get an appointment, even as a new patient, extremely quickly. Unfortunately you have to take off a half day to get through your appointment.

In order to coordinate the car and getting to our various obligations on time we’ve tried to get the first appointments of the day. Most doctors’ offices seem to open between 7:30-8:30am which in theory works out really well. Of course they want you to show up 30 minutes early to complete paperwork. This means that we’re getting up when it is still dark out to get to the place at the crack of dawn.

The bone I have to pick is that you get there on time, you fill out the paperwork and then you sit for hours waiting for the darn appointment. Last week I waited an hour to get into the exam room. Then I sat for another 30 minutes waiting for the Nurse Practitioner. After meeting with her it was another 30 minutes of sitting and waiting for the assistant to come in with the prescriptions and paperwork. At that point I’ve read every issue of ancient and soiled People magazines at least twice.

When you are the first appointment of the day how can they already be running late? Do they think that we don’t have jobs to get to? Maybe they don’t understand that you need the job to get the insurance to pay for the visit.

November 4, 2005

Traffic Violations Not Simply a Ticket You Pay

Don’t get a traffic ticket in Texas unless you have ample time to deal with the courts. In this state you are not given a ticket with an amount to pay, due date and a means for submitting a dispute and requesting a court date. You go straight to court. Do not pass go, do not pay $100.

When I got the ticket, which of course I didn’t deserve, I was determined to fight it as soon as possible. That Monday (got the lovely ticket on Saturday) I went to the court house, on my trusty bike using not-so-trusty mapquest, and learned that the ticket had not yet been processed.

Apparently two days later it had been since I immediately began to receive a flood of solicitation letters from lawyers. Ah yes, there is an entire industry that thrives on tickets. Seems that for somewhere between $45 and who can guess how much I could have a lawyer argue my case. My case? Yes, I had a court date and this would go to trial with a jury. Freak out. So, falling beautifully into the scam I phoned the cheapest lawyer with the closest office and signed them up for my case.

The lawyer and I met earlier this week. Meeting with the lawyer is not a standard practice with this firm. He has two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a few mid-day appointments, convenient for anyone with a life. Of course the reception area was filled with people that had no lives or were at the end of theirs. I waited an hour and finally got my turn after catching a nice nap in the squishy chair.

The lawyer was quite nice and willing to answer my questions. I was disturbed that he didn’t have my file, no paper and absolutely no writing tool. You see this is a “paperless office”. Being familiar with theater I suspended my disbelief, ignored the fact that there weren’t any paintings on the walls and the furniture looked rented. Hopefully I won’t end up in jail for not showing up to court because the lawyer said my court date is actually when the trial date will be set. I don’t need to go, he’ll do it for me.

He looks for opportunities to get the case dismissed when the “court doesn’t follow policies and procedures by the book, which they frequently don’t do.” Are you saying that I have to go through this entire procedure regardless of my innocence or guilt? Do the facts even matter? The lawyer informed me “at least in this state you are innocent until proven guilty where as in California you are assumed guilty until you try to prove yourself innocent.” But he also told me that Houston and LA are tied for the cities issuing the most tickets.

This case can go on for years. He doesn’t expect a trial until somewhere mid-2006. To think, Stephen and I were just trying to enjoy the free museum day and it turned into a nightmare. Folks, my recommendation is to walk everywhere in Texas. Apparently you can get these same nasty tickets for bike riding.

November 1, 2005

Haunted House

Yes, it was Halloween last night but this entry isn’t about imagined ghosts. I slept in our spare bedroom downstairs last night while Stephen snored to sleep with his bedmate “The Cold”.

Midway through the night our side gate, which is attached to the outside wall of the spare bedroom, became mysteriously unlocked and began banging in the wind. Earlier in the evening I had already relocked the gate, which I thought had been opened by the wind. I went back up to our master bedroom to try to sleep with Stephen and The Cold but that lasted about 30 seconds and I was off again to the spare bedroom.

What to do? I had to close the gate. Barefoot I walked through the gravel in the back and relocked the gate. At least that was fixed. Now I could sleep, if only my feet weren’t in total pain. How to people walk on beds of nails? Eventually I dozed off again but was awakened by the clear sound of a woman’s voice saying “Hey There” and now my keyboard has freaked out and Stephen and I tried to fix it, fought over it, and then I realized the connection was loose. It is a ghost!

More evidence is adding up to a poltergeist presence. For instance, we have a front gate that only unlocks with a key, yet somehow a UPS package left for us was leaning against the front door when I came home the other day. The strange ceramic-pig-lawn-ornament that was left by the previous tenants was laying on its side on another occasion.

In the guest bedroom the closet door is often closed although I never shut it. The bathroom towels move and the cabinet doors are open or closed every time I go in there. Plus, when we moved in the toilet handle was broken. I can’t imagine that the previous tenants would live with it broken.

The ultimate evidence is that the house sags in the same spot on each floor – directly over the guest bedroom. From the office in which I am now sitting on the third floor, to the kitchen bellow me, and the guest bedroom bellow that – they all have an uneven floor. Need I provide more evidence? How will I sleep at night? What if the house is on top of a grave?