Wednesday, January 27, 2010

spooky


In honor of the Fabulous giveaway (Barrie Summy's book I So Don't Do Spooky, for those of you just tuning in), I've been thinking about spooky places.

I've been plagued with asthma my entire life. The worst attacks during my childhood inevitably occurred at night, triggered by animal hair, dust mites or pollen spikes. The sensation of feeling your airways close up to let just a tiny wheeze of air through to your lungs, which felt heavy like an elephant had decided to sit on your chest, induces a little panic. The strain of pushing your chest cavity open against the elephant weight meant even putting your back muscles into it. Asthma attacks take their toll all over your body--from feeling lightheaded from lack of oxygen to the brain to aching shoulders and back from pushing that tiny wheeze of air into your lungs. The entire experience is pretty awful.

I'm not sure why, but during one middle-of-the-night asthma attack, my parents brought me to a Catholic hospital for my adrenaline injections. Back then they'd inject me with adrenaline to jump-start my lungs--and make my entire body tremble with frantic energy surging through my veins.

I grew up in protestant churches--our sanctuaries are void of images. We have our rows of pews, a podium, a cross--that's it. Simple people scornful of idol-worship and frivolity gather there to worship. Protestant people only name buildings after saints, they never carve or sculpt or paint their images to adorn those structures. Occasionally you'll hear a righteous person of protestant faith claim, "Jesus rose from the dead, that's why he's not on our crosses." Catholic churches with their lavish decor and imagery fascinate me because they're exotic and foreign to my experience.

The corridors were dark and vacant and my mother and a nurse led me past doorways towards the room where I'd get my shot. On every wall hung a crucifix. The limp, gashed and bloody image of Christ suffering was everywhere I looked. There I stood in the shadows beneath a flickering fluorescent light, drowsy, oxygen-deprived and afraid. I'd turn to avoid staring at this disturbing image only to find a different crucifix hanging on the wall behind me. There seemed no escape. Even when I asked to use the bathroom after getting my injection--I stared at the tiled floor, hearing the shuffle of my sneakers echoing down the abandoned corridor. I glanced up to see the sign for "Ladies Room" and pushed the door open. There on the wall hung another image of Jesus, purplish blood draining from his temples, side and palms, his eyes swollen from the beatings and his body draped lifeless on the beams of that cross. Cringing with terror amplified by the injection in my bloodstream, I peed with my eyes clenched shut. When I left the bathroom, I raced past the dozen crucifixes marking my way back to the room where my mother and the nurse waited.

I couldn't wait to escape that hospital with death hanging on its walls. I now knew the only thing spookier than a hospital in the middle of the night was a Catholic hospital in the middle of the night. The next time I had an asthma attack I begged my parents to take me to the public hospital, wary of entering that Twilight Zone realm of spookiness ever again.

Spill it, reader, what spooky place evokes fear in you? Every comment is an entry to win I So Don't Do Spooky by Barrie Summy!

10 comments:

  1. Oh my Gawd, GG, you and I are so much alike.

    Even though I'm a "Good Catholic Girl"...raised in catholic schools... I'm terrified of Catholic sculptures. My Grandma (the definition of a saint, minus the miracle, other than having 10 kids and not shooting any of them) had a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in one of her spare bedrooms. One of those creepy ones with his chest open, showing the pierced heart, with Christ himself looking off into the distance.

    NO JOKE, when we'd sleep over there (and get stuck in the "Jesus Room"), that picture would GLOW in the middle of the night. NO moonbeam hit it, No little museum light enlighting the face of Christ. IT JUST GLOWED.

    Seriously, 20 years after last sleeping over there, it still gives me the heebies. My sister can attest to this picture glowing. It still creeps her out too.

    {shiver shiver}

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  2. I've never been in a sewer, but after seeing the movie "Ben" as a child I'm pretty sure I'd have a heart attack if I ever had to enter one.

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  3. That IS creepy! I worked in a Catholic hospital for a few years. I never paid much attention to all of the crosses, but you're right...they're EVERYWHERE!
    There's a movie trailer out now that is super creepy...I can't remember the name, the one about the apocalypse but not the one with Denzel Washington. The scene with the old lady in the diner crawling up a wall...ugh...super weirds me out!

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  4. I used to work an a private school that had a 200+ year old house on the premises. The founder of the school lived in the house until her death, which was at a very advanced age.

    After the founder's death, the maintenance crew and cleaning staff started complaining about having to do anything in the house. Some of them crossed themselves and talked about ghosts.

    After the house was cleaned out and renovated, the school used it for various parties and other events. I was staffing an event one evening until quite late. I had pooh-poohed the talk of ghosts and whatnot and had no fears of being in the house.

    Well let me tell you, when I walked in that house for the first time after all this started, I immediately felt very uncomfortable. I was tense and jumpy and hated being in the house.

    This happened every. single. time. I was in the old farmhouse. It didn't matter if it was day or night, sunny or rainy, warm or cold, or if I was alone or with people. I always, always, always felt really strange and unhappy when I was in there. I finally put my foot down and refused to go in, even though it might jeopardize my job since, as a fundraiser, I had to attend parties.

    That was the creepiest place I've ever been.

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  5. I have been in an embalming room of a funeral home...yeah that is spooky..
    And I don't like - wait that is not strong enought -- I whole heartedly detest the local butcher shop. That place makes my skin crawl- Food is good - smells like..yuck

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  6. Boat houses. Any boathouse - big or small - scare the crap out of me. Whether it is day or night, I refuse to enter. I have never and will never watch horror movies because things happen in boat houses and lakes which would just escalate my fear. I'm sure I can trace that back to my childhood as well. I've got stories...

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  7. Quite frankly, an overactive imagination lends itself to making almost anywhere a bit spooky. One of the memorable opportunities for that imagination to kick into high gear, was a gradeschool friend's slumber party. Her father's study was right out of an episode of Scooby-Doo (big time scary at the ripe old age of eight)with wood panels on the walls and a bookshelf that opened onto a corridor. That house in the dark of night settling after a round of childish scary storytelling was creepy enough to result in calling my parents to pick me up rather than endure until dawn.

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  8. Slaughter houses and Dairy Farms!!! Very, very apooky! :)

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  9. I've been thinking for *hours* and haven't come up with anything. Possibly because I am a sheltered girl... I was kinda creeped out while hiking through the redwoods this past October, but it wasn't spooky--I was worried about grizzly bears. Does that count?

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  10. Okay... that post made me smile. I'm Catholic and went to a Catholic school growing up. The school was named for the priest that founded it... Fr. Costa. There was a creepy painting of the priest in the school library. It was the kind of painting where the eyes seemed to follow you wherever you stood. As if it wasn't bad enough to see that thing in broad daylight... my mom was a teacher at the school. Often we were at the school at odd hours, after dark. I HATED walking past the library and just knowing that creepy painting was watching me.

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Spill it, reader.