This past September will mark fifteen years since Ray Brennan and I put out the original Rutgers Rarities website. This website was a project that focused on researching and documenting anything we deemed odd, weird or possibly, maybe, potentially paranormal at Rutgers University. Since we started doing investigations before we even began the website, I feel like this is a rather rough, approximate anniversary.
I know that in 2004 it all began (in Dr. Safari’s electroceramic lab group) when Ray and I swapped tales of odd animals we encountered on campus. I saw what I believed was a unicorn early one morning on Busch campus, and although many laughed at my story, Ray took it seriously and told me about the very large “wolf-like” creature he encountered one night on the neighboring Livingston Campus. Once we swapped these tales and realized that we both sorta dug figuring out what was behind what we encountered (for me an albino deer, for Ray, a possible large coyote sighting) an idea was born. “Let’s be Scully & Mulder/Ghostbusters/Goonies/Scooby Doo/Mystery Inc. type investigators at Rutgers!!” we joyously crowed, “It will be fun!!”
And it was fun. So much fun, in fact, that I, personally, will always regard bushwhacking through the Livingston woods, poking around the basements and crawl spaces of old (undoubtedly asbestos-ridden) buildings on campus and questioning all the poor janitors working the 3rd shift as one of the happiest times of my life. Did we ever find evidence of true paranormal activity at Rutgers? Eeeeahhh, maybe? Did we find lots of neat little secret nooks and crannies under and around all the old campus buildings and surrounding neighborhoods? YES! Did we meet lots of people who LOVED to share their own personal ghost stories with us? YES! Did we get tons of ticks on our bodies, have encounters with the police, get to be in the local newspapers and generally, get taken for a pair of slightly-too-old-to-get-away-with-this creepsters? YES!
Now, over a decade later, Ray and I are real, true grown-ups.
We are married, have kids, real jobs, spouses and pretty nice lives. Ray got his Phd and is all smart doing stuffs with the Army & as for me? Well, I did finally get my MA and now I work as a mom of four kids & volunteer locally as an EMT & as the occasional creative writing instructor. My oldest kids though, Jason & Jayne, who were little babies while I was traipsing around Rutgers chasing bats and watching Ray scale scary-high bridges, are avid fans of Gravity Falls, which is like X-Files for kids. They LOVE the team of Mabel and Dipper, two kids who are constantly getting in trouble while seeking to find whatever is out there! Watching the show, I admit, I get it. It’s awesome, hilarious and heck, it’s the dream. Who doesn’t want to be a kid again and run all over the woods and abandoned buildings and private property and basically, go where you are not allowed? I think RR was my last chance to do that & I cannot help but enjoy looking back at our poor dated site and hard work, in all its Geocities glory. I’ve started a novel/novelette/comic/graphic novel/spoof handbook about RR multiple times because, frankly, I like to tell stories. This is why I like to write.
Ray and I had some great moments that were scary, hilarious and/or just stupid. When it all ended, it was like an onslaught of crazy endings – I lost my job, Ray graduated, I got divorced, Ray moved to DC- and yet, when RR ended, I met my wonderful husband & had more kids. And even though I like to imagine that if Ray was game, I woulda kept RR going strong for years, the truth is when I met Evan, nothing else mattered. It’s kinda the way it goes. Ray, likewise, began his life in earnest with his wife and kids. So here’s to the old RR’ Team & good memories! Thank you, Ray, for everything and truly, few things make me as happy as looking at you in your RR “Bio pic” crouching in a drain tunnel over what appears to be a pile of poop.
Were we high?