I'm Forrest Carr, novelist, blogger, land snark, and former TV news director and talk radio host. I tackle politics, cats, the media, paranormal psychology, dreams, God, guns, evolution, rat bastards, and anything else that might make you think or laugh, maybe even simultaneously. And, oh yeah, I have cancer, which makes me the Walter White of bloggers. You have been warned.
Friday, February 13, 2015
My Most Mind-Blowing Coincidences Ever
A heavy sense of foreboding caused me to cough up money for a more expensive refundable airline ticket--the first and only fully refundable fare I've ever bought. Check out the travel dates below and see if you don't get goosebumps.
In this series I've been telling you about some of the strange coincidences I've had over time. After
the premonitions and flashes I experienced in Texas, there followed a very long
dry spell. For me, this in no way unusual. What I had no way of knowing was that the most spectacular "coincidences" of my life lay ahead.
But even the dry spell was interesting. During this time, minor little coincidences or “flashes” did continue to present themselves to me from time to time. Mainly those took the form of incidents where
a word, name, phrase, or image would pop into my head and stay there, leaving me
to wonder why this thought had suddenly occurred to me—and then a short time
later, I would read it in a book, magazine, or newspaper, see it on television,
or have someone bring it up in conversation.
Screen cap from the Danny Rolling Wikipedia entry
is an example of what I mean. This
incident is from much later, but I happened to record it, and it’s indicative the
kind of thing I’m talking about. One
afternoon, for no apparent reason, the name “Sonja” popped into my head—Sonja
with a “J.” I didn’t know anyone named
Sonja. I gnawed on it off and on all
day, wondering what had propelled this unusual name into my consciousness. The next day, I picked up the morning paper,
and there it was, in an above-the-fold story.
Sonja was the first name of one of Danny Rolling’s 8 serial murder victims,
for which he had just gone on trial.
Skeptics will argue that, being in the news business, undoubtedly I’d
heard the name before and had simply forgotten about it, but then one day it
bubbled back up from my subconscious mind.
Okay. I won’t argue.
Screen cap from a news article about the mauling
another example of what I’d call a “minor” flash of that type, recorded at
about the same time. I had a dream that
I was in a house where some kind of party was going on. Someone brought in large cat, the size of a
Florida panther or a cougar. The cat was
going from person to person, jumping into people’s laps, etc. In the next day’s paper was the following
headline: “Girl, 4, mauled by captive
cougar at birthday party.”
from incidents of that nature, which have occurred every so often throughout my
major happened until I was about to turn 45. By this point in my career, I was a news
director. Nearly every year I would
attend the annual Radio-Television News Directors Association convention. But as I began to make plans for the next
one, I started to experience a feeling of foreboding, bordering on dread. A pervasive sense that something really awful
was about to happen weighed down on me.
It was quite oppressive, and I couldn’t shake it. I had no idea what the incident might turn
out to be, but I felt it would be massive, a major news event with national
ramifications that would preclude me from attending the convention. I was so convinced that something along those
lines would occur that I put off making travel plans. Finally, as the deadline loomed, I went ahead
and booked my flights. But my
forebodings were so strong that I did something I’ve never done before, and
have not done since. Even though it was more
expensive, I bought fully refundable airline tickets.
scheduled date of departure: September
sure I need not tell you what happened or why I never took that flight. On my departure date, the only aircraft
flying in the country were military jets.
The convention had to be canceled.
I don’t know if I was the only news director in America to have bought a
refundable ticket for that event. But if
there were any others, I’d bet long odds there were damned few, and none that
did so for the same reason I had.
by the way, here is an interesting postscript that may raise an eyebrow for
you. It certainly had that effect on
me. The latest personal coincidence
connected with that canceled convention came to my attention just this very minute. Just before typing this paragraph, I did a
quick Internet check to confirm my recollection that the RTNDA convention had
been scheduled to start on 9/12 of that year.
A article popped right up from an author recounting his experiences on
the morning of 9/11, detailing exactly what happened to those who’d already
arrived for the convention and how they dealt with what was going on. I was surprised to note that the posting date
of the article was just two nights ago, relative
to the time I am typing this. I began
outlining this installment of my series in my mind—guess when?— two nights ago (as I type this). The article was a reprint, which the RTDNA
(as it’s now called) website had just reposted.
There was no obvious reason for the timing of the repost, and none was
given. This year’s 9/11 anniversary is
still more several months away as I compose this.
is it not?
on to the mother of all coincidences.
Buckle your seatbelt. This one
involves not just me but my wife. In
fact, I’m not sure whether it directly involves me or not, given that it started with her dream.
early 2008, because of a family crisis, my wife Deborah and I had to make a
trip to San Diego.
One morning Deborah
woke up and said she’d been having a dream about the rock band America. Deborah very rarely mentions her dreams to
me. Why she would feel compelled to tell
me about this one, I don’t know. But
apparently it had been a pleasant dream.
The band had been playing one of her favorite songs.
that morning when we got into my sister Amy’s car, Amy popped in her IPod, and
what do you think would come out of the speakers but an America tune. The coincidence was remarkable, if just
barely. But it did cause Deborah to
mention her dream. And then we chatted a
bit about the band. America is one of our
favorite groups, and previously Deborah and I both had a chance to meet them during a
concert in Tucson, by virtue of the fact that Deborah worked for the concert
venue at the time and had helped promote the band’s appearance. In fact, she’d met them on two occasions, to my one. In the course of discussing all this, I
checked my sister’s IPod and noticed that she’d happened to play the one and
only America song she owned, which was just one of several hundred tunes on the
device. Interesting. Not earth-shakingly so. But interesting. But not something I would have remembered, if
not for what was about to take place.
next day, we flew back to Fort Myers. The
airline lost our reservation, and to make up for it they wound up sticking us
in first class at no extra cost, to which we raised not an objection. On the second leg of the flight, I couldn’t
help but notice that the two people sitting behind us were talking in terms
that made me suspect they were roadies for a rock band.
you guess what’s coming? I turned around. There, just two seats back, sat Gerry Beckley
and Dewey Bunnell, two of the three original members of the band. America was on the plane with us, on the way
to a concert in south Florida.
we landed, my wife and I couldn’t help ourselves. We approached the two of them at the baggage
belt and introduced ourselves. Both
remembered Deborah. We explained the
strange coincidence. They were quite
nice about it, and then as soon as they politely could, they beat it out of there,
moving as fast as their feet could take them without breaking into a trot. (A typical reaction that explains why, when something like this happens, most people tend to keep it to themselves.)
what are the odds of all those things lining up at once? To recap, the sequence was as follows:
A dream about America, which led to:
A conversation about America.
An America tune being selected out of hundreds for playback, which led to:
Another conversation about America.
A lost reservation, leading to
A first class seating assignment placing us two rows from America, which
Just happened to be on the same plane, which led to:
Us conversing with America, instead
of about them.
tried to figure the odds for this once, and came up with a figure of something
like 1 in 30 quadrillion. (Some of the values
that went into the calculation were fairly arbitrary, though. For instance, how do you figure the odds that
someone will have a dream about a particular thing on a particular night? I used a number of 1 out of 365. Since she’d never had such a dream before, I
could just as easily have divided by the total number of days so far in Deborah’s
life, as opposed to the days over the past year.) Such long odds seem impossible. But then again, so does winning the lottery,
yet it happens all the time. In fact,
it’s been said that stating any probability less than zero is just another way of
saying that something will happen,
sooner or later. And after all, America had
to sit next to someone.
still. I mean, sheesh!
one other thing happened in this period of time of any note, but it was a
year after the above incident, I moved to Albuquerque to run a TV newsroom
there. One day soon after my arrival an
incident happened of the kind where a name pops into my head for no apparent
reason. In this case, it was the name
and face of a reporter acquaintance of mine whom I had not seen in more than 15
years. Idly, I wondered why the thought
of this person, whom we’ll call Kathi, would suddenly pop into my brain. I might not have given it much thought,
except that now that I was thinking about her, I couldn’t remember her last
name to save my life (it sucks to get old!)
I gnawed on it for a while, and finally recalled it.
an hour later, an email appeared in my mailbox from this very person. The subject line read, “What the hell?” Kathi had just heard about my new job. Now, when I knew her, we both worked at the
same station in Texas. In the
intervening years, we had communicated maybe twice via email, and not at all in
the last nine years. I’d completely lost
track of her. Would you care to guess
where Kathi now was? Did you guess
“Albuquerque?” Sorry, that’s too
obvious. Let’s see if you can narrow it
down. What do you think was the physical
distance between me and Kathi at the moment I received that email?
ahead. Venture a guess. I’ll wait.
that very moment Kathi was 150 feet away.
She was sitting at a desk in a building on the other side of the
street. And it was a narrow street. Kathi was employed at a competing TV station
which happened to be located in the same plaza as mine. It’s also where she’d been sitting when her
name popped into my head for no apparent reason.
Next in this series: What does it all mean?
I invite you to check out my novels, both of which also are reality-based or at least reality-inspired--yes, even the zombie apocalypse novel, A Journal of the Crazy Year. Find out why Publishers' Weekly calls it a "fascinating read" from top to bottom.