L'Aura Hladik has - and she's here to tell you that you're not alone.
Paranormal expert Hladik has been investigating strange places, ghosts, and unexplained phenomena since she began exploring the mysteries of ghosts in 1993.
In 1998, Hladik founded the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society after working for five years as a ghost hunter. Her recent book, "Ghosthunting New Jersey," which was published by Clerisy Press in October, examines many famous places throughout the state that seem to have unusual activity.
Meticulously researched and refreshingly free from dramatic "spooky" recreations, Hladik's book is an investigator's dream. In addition to checking for possible facts surrounding each tale, she also gives readers tips on places that require permission or whatnot.
Whether you believe in spirits or not, "Ghosthunting New Jersey" just might give you a new perspective on the supernatural.
The book examines over 30 different sites, including Charlie Brown's Steakhouse in Hackettstown, the famous Spy House in Port Monmouth, the Shades of Death Road in Warren County, and many others.
While some of the stories compiled are still unexplained, many contain true tales of murders.
Hladik said that the actual writing of the book took only six months, but there are actual experiences from when she started her own investigations in 1992.
According to Hladik, she has been interested in the supernatural for most of her life.
"I was interested in this stuff as a kid," said Hladik. "In 1992, I went on the tour of the Spy House and that really got me all gung-ho." The Spy House in Port Monmouth, which is a chapter in the book, has been touted as one of the most haunted places on the Eastern Seaboard and is named as one of the most haunted locations in the United States. It became known as the spy house because it was where captured spies were traded for American Revolutionaries. Hladik, who has visited the site several times, believes there is unusual activity.
"Going up to it, it looked like any other historical place," she said about a visit in 1992. "Then we walked up to it and I smelled pipe tobacco and I thought, 'I'm going to be sick.' And just as I thought that, [the smell] was gone."
She describes the house as one of the most haunted places that she's investigated. In the book, she recounts other former skeptics who viewed unusual activity, such as children playing in the yard: "At this point, the young man realized that the clothing the children were dressed in was not of our time period... Now he realized that the children were not being neglected by their parents... They were ghosts." Hladik says there are other tell-tale signs of spirits.
"[I] noticed the sensation of not really being alone even though [I was] alone in the ladies room," she said. Haunted Hudson County?
Some living in Hudson County might wonder why there aren't any local places listed in the book, such as the Brass Rail in Hoboken, the campus at Stevens, and others. Yet Hladik says that they did have a team of investigators visit the Brass Rail, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a bride who fell down the stairs.
"I had one of my team meetings down there," said Hladik about the Rail. She said that the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society went there to investigate, but were unable to turn anything up. Team leader Laura Lindemann investigated the restaurant, said Hladik.
"But the place was in full operation, which isn't conducive to the investigations," she added.
According to Hladik, she has conducted an investigation in Jersey City, but it was at a private home so she isn't able to publish any accounts.
"I'm always open to other investigations," she said about Hudson County.
The book is meant to provide the facts and provide information to readers if they wish to conduct their own investigation.
Yet amateur hunters should beware. What they might not realize is all the research that is involved.
"The objective with the series is, after you are done reading the chapter, you can go see for yourself," she said. For her team's investigations, there usually are at least five people there. But before visiting a site she will go through the hours of research, trying to see if anything happened there and checking the background.
"The main thing is to see if you can prove or disprove whether there is paranormal activity or not," said Hladik about her own investigations.
She also maintains that while at least 60 percent of the sites in the book contain activity, it is important to study a place. "Sometimes just a shot of WD40 and the squeaky door goes away," she said.
During the course of her investigations, she says that she never felt that she was in any danger, but she definitely had some strange encounters.
Some encounters, Hladik describes as a thumbprint of a tragic event, which doesn't necessarily mean a ghost. "When you have a tragedy or trauma, you have that residual from that type of event. It kind of leaves it mark, but it doesn't have any intelligence to it. But if you have a ghost, there will be more interaction," she said.
She recommends that readers do their own research first before conducting an investigation.
"Read the old books, to get a feel for the particular place. Keep an open mind. Document your findings and don't think that everything you automatically see is a ghost," said Hladik. Comments on this story can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.