“I have NOT seen a UFO.”
Niki was my second interviewee. But that interview was lost. We arranged to speak the next day and she brought along Gretchen, her roommate. To keep an element of surprise for Gretchen, I interviewed her first, making her my fourth interviewee, then interviewed Niki again next. Because this became a serial/group interview, I’ve elected to place Niki’s as my fifth interview, since it naturally follows Gretchen’s. You can read Gretchen’s interview here.
Oh, I should note that Niki and Gretchen, in connection with Niki’s “coincidence” story, speak of a Julieanna (Julianna?) or Julie. That’s not me. I’m Juli and don’t have a previous acquaintance with Niki or Gretchen.
Niki works in an art gallery and is an entrepreneur.
“I don’t discredit anyone who says that they have seen one.”
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Now, back to…OK. H.o.p., sit up, let’s get a little closer here. And…have you ever seen a UFO?
NIKI: I have NOT seen a UFO.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: But, you said…we talked about this yesterday…and we ended up with it not being recorded…but you said that you didn’t think they were UFOs? What do you believe they are?
NIKI: What did I say?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: You said something to the effect–no, you said that you didn’t think that they were flying saucers. That’s what you said.
NIKI: Oh, yes, that I didn’t think that our predisposition is necessarily accurate towards it. But, just as I was saying that I expect it to be something that just shoots off? I mean, that’s fabricated from some place. There’s no reason why it wouldn’t be like a hot air balloon. The same reason I was saying with…in the woods. But I don’t discredit anyone who says that they have seen one. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who are, for whatever reason, kind of, um, I don’t know, switching the tru…maybe, a little bit on the edge, but I have no reason not to believe them. So…I’d like to see one. I’d like to think…why not me? Why not?
GRETCHEN: Yeah, yeah.
NIKI: I would love to and I’m sure maybe at some point…but not as of yet.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: And what is your most interesting coincidence? You’ve already told…
NIKI: Now, should I tell that one again? Because, actually, yesterday, after I went home I looked up coincidence in the dictionary because I was interested to see really what it meant, because it took me a second with it. And it’s more mundane than what I thought. It’s pretty much just an occurrence, is how it’s defined. But it doesn’t have to be…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: It doesn’t have to be. But you have an interesting story…
“…she saw in the building across the street a half man, half goat type of creature looking at her…”
NIKI: OK, I’ll tell this one. (To Gretchen.) Have I told you about the goat man situation?
GRETCHEN: Sounds interesting.
NIKI: I was living in the second floor of a building, and it was at night and I was sleeping, and I was woke up to the sound of this like tormented, goat-like, half goat scream type of noise, like sounding like half goat half scream. I’m not gonna try to like..not gonna try to like recreate the sound that I heard. And it really frightened me. And it was right outside of my window. And I was on the second…and it was like it was in the tree. And my blinds were down and I was very scared. I was too scared to look to see what it was. And I was living with my sister and I tried to wake her up but I couldn’t wake her up. In the morning, I said, “I can’t believe you didn’t hear this miserable sound. I mean, it scared the crap out of me.” And she said, “I don’t remember any of this.” So, the next day I’m over at a friend’s house and we’re talking about it. And I say, “This is what I heard last night…” Oh, and this is connected as well, I find this out after I started talking to my friend, my friend says, “Was there music involved? Was there any piano playing?” And I said, “Actually, yeah, my sister plays piano and she’d been playing that night.” And she says, “You’re not going to believe this…” And she has a friend who lived I think in Russia, and she was playing the piano, and she looked over, I think she was in an apartment, and she looked over, and she saw in the building across the street a half man, half goat type of creature looking at her and making this sound type of thing. I mean the same kind of…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: The same kind of sound?
NIKI: The same kind of thing. Well, at least this was my assumption. And she told it to go away, and it did go away. But she said…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: How did it go away?
GRETCHEN: How did she tell it to go away?
NIKI: Well, she, that’s the thing, and I don’t think I said this part last night, but I remember Julieanna saying this to me, that she told the thing to go away. I think she actually said, “Go away, in the name of god, go away.” That type of thing. The thing had chains on it? Which I didn’t say last night?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, you didn’t.
NIKI: But I…but that’s not something I ever thought of with this goat man type of thing. But she said that and I picture Jacob Marley style, I’m not sure exactly. But it did. And it turned around and left. But if it does have that kind of religious spin on it?–I thought maybe my sister was pure and holy and that’s why she didn’t wake up to be disturbed by this thing?
GRETCHEN: That’s reasonable.
NIKI: But, with the piano playing and with this thing Juli had said there was a connection with the…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: What I’d said was the only archetype I could think of that fit was the god Pan, that has to do with music, pipes, which became demonized with the advent of Christianity.
H.O.P.: He stole the sheep.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: He stole the sheep? I didn’t remember that story. (I think H.o.p. was referring instead to a story concerning Hermes.) That’s the only archetype that I could think of.
I was also thinking of how Pan is sometimes in the company of Dionysus and a part of the myth concerning Dionysus is that he was a god who releases from prison, from chains.
NIKI: Like before Christianity where all those things were considered demonic because after…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Well, after Christianity they were considered demonic.
GRETCHEN: Well, I guess I’m trying to picture the goat man in chains…and in a tree…
NIKI: But I was like…
GRETCHEN: Playing the piano…
NIKI: But I do have, I’m curious, and especially you’re hearing a sound like that, it surprises me, it was right there, I mean my bed was right up against the window…
GRETCHEN: And you didn’t open the window? You didn’t?
NIKI: No. I could have very easily just moved my hand up and moved the blinds and I was petrified. So…
GRETCHEN: That’s crazy.
NIKI: That’s goat man, right there.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: That is weird.
GRETCHEN: When you say goat man, you imagine a goat man with say knickers on, dancing around a fire. Is that some type of painting? Is that…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I’ve seen wood cuttings with that kind of imagery, because with Christianity that’s what has been fostered…
GRETCHEN: Yeah, because I don’t know why I have that picture. That’s all I can think of. I can’t believe you never told me that. You were living with who? Julie?
NIKI: No, I was living with my sister. I was probably just turned 21 type of thing. 20 or 21.
GRETCHEN: And this is for a documentary?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, no, this is for entertainment. It’s a fun project. I’ve got several projects that I’ve done associated with my website, and I thought this would be a long term, fun project.
GRETCHEN: You should write a book. You should chronicle this stuff.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: So, the last question. Do you want to go with the third question I asked…
H.O.P.: Oh! The third question? Da-da-da-da! (Sings the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth.)
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Would you rather just tell me a story?
NIKI: Can I do something completely different?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: You sure can.
NIKI: Not hers and not the one from last night, either. I don’t remember the one from last night. Oh, earliest childhood memory, that’s right.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Right.
NIKI: Do you have a different one or do you want me to do the childhood memory.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Do you want to do that one?
NIKI: I would prefer something different. A new question.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Oh, man, I haven’t thought of any other questions.
NIKI: Oh, Juli’s on the spot now!
GRETCHEN: Switching it off!
H.O.P.: Oh! The fourth question! Da-da-da-da! (Sings the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth.)
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: All that’s coming to my mind right now is “What is your favorite” and those aren’t good questions to go with.
“I would like to stick with the entrepreneurial thing right now…”
NIKI: I would like to stick with the entrepreneurial thing right now…and…we used to entertain each other like, before we were friends, when we met, we figured out we were both interested in these kind of things. (Referring to Gretchen.)
GRETCHEN: Because I met you when I was in the entrepreneurship class and I always had these ideas and I was finally in a position where someone had me write them down and then after writing like two down I was like I’m good at this. I need to really start a book. And she’s a schemer, like, so I’m like she needs to get in on this too. Hey, Niki!
NIKI: Well, that’s just the thing. I think that it’s fun to think about this. And I wanted to tell you as well, these are the kind of questions I like to ask people, right when I meet them. Like you meet someone in a social…like at a bar, a party, I meet someone and I ask them something like this straight off, like more important than where you work, I’m starting off with, “Have you seen a UFO?” that kind of thing. So, that’s why I feel a connection with your project here. But, my most recent invention that didn’t get as much support as I thought it deserved was…I thought it would be great to do a window air conditioner cover.
GRETCHEN: You have better ones.
NIKI: What do you think is a better one?
GRETCHEN: Go with that one and I’ll tell you…
NIKI: I was thinking about vending machines on on ramps? When you’re getting on the expressway? You know that dead area?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Yes, there’s nothing there except perhaps some wildflowers?
NIKI: Or some city type person mowing it.
GRETCHEN: Or the jail people.
NIKI: Or you do see wildflowers sometimes. I thought it would be nice to have like a little vending area type thing. Like a drive by vending…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: How would people stop there?
NIKI: They don’t need to. They can stay in their…please…people love to eat in their car, don’t they? So you, it’s almost like a toll booth or a drive thru and you can have yourself a frosty beverage or something or Snickers bar or whatever you prefer. Throw some apples in there. But I thought that was a good idea because it just seems like dead space. But there’s no reason for that. Why not capitalize on it? Probably not going to want to live there, not going to want to build a house, but…you think that’s a better one? Y’know, I thought the window air conditioner…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Aren’t the ramps federal or city or state land instead of privately owned?
NIKI: I think…that is how it is, isn’t it?
GRETCHEN: You know, toll roads though are privately owned. Which I think is interesting.
MARTY: Well, all through New York that’s how they have the rest stops, is in the median…the Jersey Turnpike…
GRETCHEN: As it should be.
NIKI: Oh, it’s not one on each side.
MARTY: It’s in the middle.
NIKI: Why is that? Why do other people do one on each side?
GRETCHEN: Bad planning?
NIKI: Because it does seem like a waste.
GRETCHEN: They’re always right next to each other but across the…
NIKI: It does seem like a waste.
GRETCHEN: It’s not like they’re even spread out.
NIKI: It’s strange. You don’t think about that being privately owned. Same with post offices. I didn’t realize that…we talked about that not that long ago…
GRETCHEN: Yeah. It’s a franchise almost.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: And so you were thinking about air conditioning covers.
NIKI: Yes, I was, I thought…in many places I’ve lived I’ve had a window air conditioner and while, I mean, definitely necessary, it’s ugly, it’s an eye sore to me, and I think, if only, I look at my room and I love the way it looks, and I look at the window and I think, I just wish it was gone. So, I thought, what if you could put something artistic on the inside of it to make it decorative. Still functional but decorative so it felt like it was more personalized and not so much just functional.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Utilitarian.
NIKI: Exactly. What’s so funny is when I was telling people about it, people thought I meant the outside.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Listen, the first thing that popped to my mind was the outside and I was seeing you know tablecloth patterns on the outsides of air conditioners, yeah. And I was wondering how’re they going to reach to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th floors to put them on…
NIKI: It’s a mystery to me how you put your air conditioner in without both feet on the ground outside because I’d have a hard time securing it in there. But that’s what people thought and they do have covers like that.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: They do?
NIKI: But it’s like tarps type of thing from the hardware store, it’s not like…
GRETCHEN: It’s for protection, not for aesthetic appeal.
NIKI: Not at all. I didn’t see any covers that I could find. Y’know, what do you think you could sell something like that for?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I don’t have a clue.
GRETCHEN: Throw out a wild guess.
NIKI: Marty, what do you think?
MARTY: Twenty-five bucks.
NIKI: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Twenty-five, thirty, that’s what I was thinking.
GRETCHEN: Maybe if you could go on a website and throw on something that you liked, like a family photo.
NIKI: Even now, when I’m looking at your air conditioner, it’s not…inherently bad. The design, when you’re looking at it…you could paint that. You could paint it right on…the accordion part is cool…
GRETCHEN: At least yours doesn’t protrude. Ours is so…
NIKI: Yeah, I guess…
GRETCHEN: Well it’s the windowsill actually, I guess it’s your windowsill that…
MARTY: It’s so set back.
GRETCHEN: Which is nice.
NIKI: But I think that’s been my most recent thing that I’ve thought of like that. Have you thought about…you’ve thought about those kind of things?
MARTY: The most ridiculous thing that I know of, what’s their names, we went over to ____ and they were there, the blond headed girl…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: They lived around there? I vaguely remember them.
MARTY: They just moved. They came up with this thing, basically a piece of rubberized plastic with notches and a hook and it’s called the kitchen tie. And you use it instead of tying up turkey legs you put it on there and cook it and it won’t burn, won’t mar the food. But they’ve made about five million dollars in the last two years since they came up with this.
GRETCHEN: Oh my god.
NIKI: When you say “tie food”…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, it doesn’t occur to me to do stuff like this. Stuff like this has never popped to my mind.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, never.
“Don’t you think so many things could be better though? Easier, faster, better?”
GRETCHEN: Don’t you think so many things could be better though? Easier, faster, better? I just think there are so many things that I go through daily and it’s like I just feel like there’s got to be an answer to it. Like when I….
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Well, I’ve always written, so when I write I think, “How can I write this?” How can I communicate something. I guess that’s where my energy…and it’s never occurred to me to look at something and go how can I work with that and make it better or how can I sell something? I mean, I’m such a bad sales person in the first place, I couldn’t sell a rubber band.
NIKI: So you wouldn’t consider yourself…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I couldn’t sell a band aid to someone who was bleeding. I’d give it away, first, but even if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to sell it.
NIKI: But that kind of means you’re improvisational type of thing. You make it work the way it is, regardless of…which I think is a great attribute to have.
NIKI: But it’s like…
GRETCHEN: I don’t do that.
NIKI: To a certain extent you’re saying, “I can adapt to this. Maybe it’s not ideal, but I don’t care. It’s going to work until…”
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Uh-hum.
NIKI: “…I’m fine. I’m not stressing out about how to change it.”
IDYLLOPUS PRESS (to H.o.p.): OK, you ready to shut it down?
H.O.P.: Not yet.
NIKI: Marty, how do you sit there? I can’t keep my mouth shut during these things. You’re so quiet.
MARTY: I just enjoy listening. It’s fascinating to me.
H.O.P.: It’s over?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Well, I just started doing this. You were my second.
NIKI: Oh, really?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I just started doing this. George was my first. You were my second. Ben was my third.
GRETCHEN: What were his answers?
NIKI: Do we have to go on line to get the whole shebang?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I’m still putting it up, I’ve got to get it up. And I’ve got to get your picture. I’ve got Niki’s picture. It’s a fuzzy kind of twilight thing.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: So, are we done? Do you think we’re done?
H.O.P.: Well, I, I don’t know.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I think we’re done.
H.O.P.: What about the second question?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: We’ve done the second question.
H.O.P.: Ok. Now time for the ending…
NIKI: I think that you should…I think somebody could write a book about that. Have you ever thought about that?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, I don’t do that kind of writing. But I like this because it gives people an opportunity…I like to communicate in stories but it’s not something…I’m not telling the stories here. I give people a lead-in question and they tell the stories. And plus I’m interested in who has seen a UFO and how many people do think about coincidences.
NIKI: Do you consider this art?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Do I consider this art? I will…as I get more done. You can turn this off now.
H.O.P.: And now for the big finish.
H.o.p. plays a short musical selection.