Blogoween Day 23 – True Terror Tuesday: A Haunting in St. Pete

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I’ve always been leery of public restrooms. There are plenty of reasons to be: they’re a room full of doors with typically only one way in and out, and when inside you’re at your most vulnerable. But I’ve also always had a tiny bladder, so more often than I wish, I’ve found myself in dimly-lit, dirty, defecatoriums of doom.

A few years ago, I was out with Husband and some in-laws. I’m protecting their identities here, mostly because I’m sure they don’t want to publicly be associated with this brand of crazy, but they could corroborate at least part of this experience, provided they remember.

We had spent the day in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, and were returning to the car which was parked by the pier. The ride from St. Pete to Tampa was always long, stuck on a bridge, so I knew I had to pee before we got going, and as luck would have it, there were restrooms right there: Comfort Station One, to be exact. Dear Reader, when I tell you this was one of the strangest, most off-putting public bathrooms I’ve ever been in, I’m not exaggerating. They felt absolutely horrible inside.

The men’s and women’s were in separate buildings, octagonal shaped, and to enter the bathroom, you had to walk around the building and up a ramp, so that trapped feeling one might have in a bathroom with one way in and out was amplified by the hall of sorts that you could never see the end of since it spiraled around to the entrance door. Inside, the space was dark with tile walls and a concrete floor, so your movements echoed, but even though there are windows that are open and you can hear a bit of the ocean through them, most outside world sounds were shut off. Mirrors and sinks lined the left side of the room with a stall at their end, and stalls lined the right side completely.

I did a quick visual pat-down of the bathroom, and saw I was alone. This is always both better and worse than what I anticipate: I don’t want to be murdered, so an empty bathroom means no murderers, but if someone new comes in to murder me, there’s no one around to go get help. Ya dig? The farthest end of the bathroom was a bit more shadowed, so I opted for the second stall from the entrance, which is my typical go to anyway. I popped in and sat down quickly. I needed to pee pretty badly, but I was also anxious: what if the moment I started peeing someone tried to break down the stall door? This fear is exceptionally stupid, I have to admit, because if this did happen, I’d probably piss myself (and what better place than on the toilet?), but if I felt like I needed to run, I’d probably just stop peeing very suddenly, or if I was in genuine danger I would probably not care if I ran out half naked trailing urine. In fact, this might be tactically advantageous since my attacker could slip in the pee trail. Ultimately, I’m very unlikely to be murdered in a public toilet (though that’s probably the most likely place, it’s just unlikely overall), but I still had that momentary jolt of realization: I’m at my most vulnerable right now.

So now that we have my irrational fear covered, let’s get back to it: I was pissing. As I’m relieving myself, willing it to get the heck out so I too can get the heck out, I hear someone else come into the bathroom. Now, this bathroom, as I mentioned, already gave me that sense of dread that only very few places do, so when I heard footsteps outside the stall, my whole body seized for a second. Everything stopped up, and I just held my breath as they walked across the concrete just outside my stall. But then I realized, this is a public restroom after all, people come in and go out all the time, it was evening, it had been busy outside, this was completely normal. That and my family was waiting outside for me, so if I didn’t come out, they’d at least recover my corpse later.

So I hear this other person, and I see their shadow on the ground due to the windows in the room. They walk past my stall and enter the stall directly to my right. I was immediately annoyed–I don’t know why people do this, just leave a space between us! But then I remembered the dimness of the rest of the end of the bathroom, and I forgave them. But only a little. I heard them close the door and shuffle in the stall for a minute, then I’m finally finished, and I wrench my shorts on as fast as possible and throw myself out of the stall.

There was probably only 20 seconds between hearing my pee-partner close their stall and me exiting my own, 20 seconds that I got dressed, flushed the toilet, and left. Yes, I made a significant amount of noise, but it was incredibly fast, and I know for certain that no one else had entered or exited the bathroom in that time, but when I walked up to the sinks to wash my hands and peered into the mirror, I could see the reflection of all the stalls behind me, and they were all open. I was still alone.

My heart started racing. I was sure I’d heard and even seen someone (their shadow at least) come in and close the stall beside me. The world around me had most certainly been manipulated–light had been distorted by a figure passing by, the stalls had made a sound, they’d even rattled physically a tiny bit with the movement of the door. Everything that had just transpired screamed “there’s someone in here with you!” but I was definitively, in that moment, the only person inside that restroom.

I ran my hands under the water for a second, staring daggers at the reflection of the stall beside my own. There was no figure inside, the door didn’t even sway, but I had a terrible feeling, like I shouldn’t turn around and see it in actuality. Then I booked it out of the bathroom, and I think I actually ran down the ramp and away, and up to my family. I told them immediately, out of breath, “We have to go, that place is haunted.”

Now, I never expect people to believe me when I say this kind of thing, but this time, someone looked at me and asked me if I was joking. I shook my head and told them what happened. They pried a little harder, asking me if I was making it up or joking. Of course not, I told them, why would I do that?

Apparently, while I was in the bathroom, someone had come up to them and started talking. Since they were standing outside the Comfort Station, it looked like they were admiring it, so this person started telling them about the building. He told them that the man who’d built the octagonal bathrooms had first built an octagonal church in the area in the 30s, but had been stiffed on the payment for the church, so when he built the bathrooms, he modeled them after the church as a sort of middle finger to those that had done him wrong. Because of that, the bathrooms were cursed, or maybe haunted, or just had bad juju in general. In any case, it was best to just stay out of them. He walked away, and then I came out all flustered and upset because I’d peed next to a ghost.

I’ve since done research on Comfort Station One (meaning, I Googled it a couple times), and it turns out the legend isn’t 100% true (though it’s a pretty good one), but lots of people do report unease and ghostly sightings in that very bathroom, none of which I knew ahead of time. So that’s the story: a ghost hung out in the stall beside mine in a weird, octagonal bathroom in St. Pete once, and I managed to not pee myself or get murdered.

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Blogoween Day 22 – Real Life Scary Things

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Today should be a Vacancy post, but there are too many things going on right now for me to dedicate the right amount of mental power to that. I’m really excited about the next episode, so I don’t want to cheese it. Unfortunately, Blogoween has become me hastily writing something late in the evening just for the sake of posting. There are pros and cons to this. Pro: I’m not breaking the habit, Con: It’s shit. I think the pros outweigh the cons, for me at least, so this will continue for now.

It’s really great being moved, but a new home always comes with problems. The internet got fixed today which is absolutely fabulous, but also frustrating because the issue was that Comcast had disconnected this house from the street pole, but did not have any kind of note in their own system that their own team did it, so throughout the whole process of me transferring the internet, calling to troubleshoot, traveling to their store on their request, and paying for a service call, the issue turned out to be something the company should have resolved on their own prior to my transfer. So now I have to return to an Xfinity store to give them back the extra equipment they gave me lest I be charged for it, and I have to get them to reimburse me for the service call since–by their own admission–this was not something I could have possibly fixed. I am unsurprised that America hates Comcast more than any other company.

I haven’t had any time to write lately, and that’s sort of bumming me out. Yes, I’m writing now, but it’s not the same. My brain is mush just like when I worked in what was essentially customer service–I’d expend all my mental energy at work and have nothing left to devote to words. I know this will pass, so I shouldn’t complain, but it perpetuates a cycle of feeling down and getting into a foul mood which often leads to eating poorly and then feeling like shit about my body and my willpower, so I guess I should just give up on everything and so forth and so it goes. It’s very first-world-problem of me to say that buying a home is making me depressed, but there it is. The list of things to do seems to grow by the day, towering over me, preparing to topple.

I’ve needed a good cry for a couple weeks now, I think. Stories ranging from terrorism to deaf dogs have all had me on the verge of tears, but I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with both a guilt about that desire, and judgement toward it for being utterly stupid. There’s no reason to cry, so just don’t, and also you’re not allowed to feel bad when there are other people who need emotional support.

On the plus side, fall is definitively in the air. We’re only eight hours north of where we used to live, but it’s decidedly cooler here, and the foliage visibly is marking the seasons. We were walking around our new neighborhood this evening, and I realized how stoked I’d be if I were a kid and new Halloween was around the corner living here. It’s the perfect neighborhood for trick or treating. I wish I could have gotten the yard all glammed up, but the spirit of the season will still be there. I’ve got candy and non-food treats ready to hand out, and we’ll have costumes, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m also getting to physically be outside again which is a huge relief. I spent so long cooped up in that apartment. Of course, I could go out for a walk if I wanted, but the city seemed to get progressively more dangerous as we lived there, and it was far from peaceful. I found a number of awesome parks to walk to in the city, but getting there was often treacherous. I was accosted a lot, and there were a lot of reports of assaults in the area. The weather was also miserable this summer, but that’s just another reason to love fall.

I’m sorry this is such a bummer. If you made it this far, I’d like to commend you and leave you with something positive, buuuuuut I have no idea what that could be. I’m plum out of positivity. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, I’m just…I guess I’m just tired. It’s funny how significantly different my mood can be if I just don’t sleep. So that’s what I’m going to do now. Recharge this brain, then tomorrow I’m going to exercise this body and I’m going to fuel it with healthy foods. I’ll unpack and focus on things that I love about this house and utilizing this space for creativity and growth. Tomorrow’s a new day and the possibilities are endless. Tonight is just what it is, and right now it needs to be sleep.

Blogoween Day 21 – Excuses and Complaints

I’m blogging via phone again. It is not growing on me.

After the world’s most unsuccessful internet chat with Xfinity where I was transferred to sales yet again for something that was competely unrelated, I called and set up a tech appointment. The guy was confused why I needed a tech when the internet was working at this address earlier this month. We are both confused, random man in India, we are both confused.

We went appliance shopping, and it was terrible. I miss Famous Tate. Sears Outlet is a rip-off. 40% off for a scratch means nothing when the original was already marked up by 60%. THIS IS WHY YOU’RE GOING BANKRUPT. Well, that and greed. And there are no fridges that fit in the irregular hole in this kitchen. NONE.

The cats are having a hard time. We’re finally away from noisy neighbors, but sleep is still out of reach. For now.

Blogoween Day 20 – Moving Day!

I’ve never blogged from my phone before and I must say, Dear Reader, I absolutely hate it, so this won’t be long.

We moved today. This is our seventh move in eight years. Some years we moved multiple times, and sometimes we spent multiple years in the same place. The latter were always the best.

This was the first time we didn’t do the move ourselves and paid movers. They were worth every penny. Although I’m exhausted and covered in bruises from the previous week doing work in the new house and moving a few very personal items, my body is not absolutely wrecked like it has been every other time.

But of course there are always hiccups, and our biggest one at this point seems to be the internet. We have Comcast as a provider, so no surprise there, but somehow the internet just doesn’t work here even though the previous owner was using their Comcast internet service here earlier this month. We spent a few hours being transferred on the phone and then another hour driving to an Xfinity shop to find out there is nothing anyone can do about it without a technician coming out for a fee on a date that no one has given me yet, so for the foreseeable future I’m sans WiFi, and I kinda wanna WiDie, I’m that dependent.

So here’s a photo of me that Husband took at Walmart today where we had to go so we could get a TV antenna in order to watch sportball tonight. It’s my penance for my Mom’s Meme’s post which mom said made her feel a little bad on her first read (don’t worry she’s over it now).

Blogoween Day 19 – Freaky Fiction Friday: Recommended Classic Reads

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I should have written something today, but the day got away from me! In lieu of hasty, thoughtless prose of my own, I’d like to recommend some classic reads:

“The Outsider” by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Blogoween Day 17 – Witchcrafting Wednesday: Giant PVC Spider

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This week is going by incredibly quickly and is very full of stuff and things and driving and moving and I can barely sit down to even type this out, so I am going to steal…FROM MYSELF!

Way back in 2013, I made a giant spider for my front lawn. I loved that thing to the very core of my black, icy heart, but of course I no longer have her. I only have the photos and the how to! I made a post about it on a very old site that I don’t utilize anymore, so I reverted that post to a draft, and I’m reposting here. Enjoy!

I fell in love with the concept of a larger-than-life arachnid when I happened upon one during a Google search and based him on designs here and here. He was shockingly simple to make and he will take up a hell of a lot of space: brodude ended up being almost 10 feet wide!

I sure hope these photos work, they’re still hosted on Blogspot I guess!

Supplies:

  • PVC PIPE! (a Halloween decorator’s biggest woe: why doesn’t PVC come in black???) I used 1/2″ which makes him a bit spindly. Bigger can obviously be used. I used about 58′ of pipe. Oh, and remember you don’t need like super fancy schedule pipe–this shit don’t need to carry water!
  • 4 – tee connectors
  • 8 – right angle connectors
  • 12 – 45 degree connectors
  • PVC cutters
  • Paint
  • Expandable foam (2 cans for me)
  • A ball of sorts
  • Cardboard
  • Creepy accoutrements

You want to start out with your base to keep your legs together (not metaphorically speaking, do whatever you’d like with your legs!). I had some painted PVC leftover from last year’s fence, and I have to say that cutting that pre-painted shit was a nightmare. Cutting clean, new PVC, though, was much better. I eyeballed these pieces, so I can’t really tell you the length of them, you just want both sides somewhat symmetrical. Or not, it’s your thing, after all. The front and back legs will bend away from the main body, so those connecting pieces can be much shorter than the middle legs which will be pretty similar, so they need some space. Connect your front legs with 45° thingies and the middle ones with your tee thingies. (Note: try to not call them “thingies” at the hardware store.  You will get more respect and better help from the seasoned old men in the red vests if you use their official-type name.)

All the pipes sticking up from the body bit I’m calling 1s. The 1s for all eight legs are all 24 inches long in my version. Between all 1s and 2s (the second leg segment) are all 90° connectors.  Okay, the most confusing part is coming up (luckily no part of this is really confusing so, you’re welcome). Each leg is made up of three segments. The two front and two back legs are 1, 2A, and 3A.  All of these segments are 24 inches. The middle legs are 1, 2B, and 3B.  Segment 1 is still 24″ but 2B and 3B are 36 inches. Got it? Okay, great. I knew you would.  Oh, and segment 2 and 3, no matter what length they are, are connected by a 45° connector.

I constructed my middle legs first and attached them to the base to hold it up.  I was experimenting with size, so I didn’t know what I needed for the front and back at this point.

You can get a little organicness by rotating the tee connectors ever so slightly to make the middle legs not be perfectly in line with one another. All of the connectors should be at a slight angle outward. You’ll see when you’ve got your legs on.

Oh my gods, my old hooooooooooooooooooooouse!! Look how sparce it was. We had NO furniture.

My suggestion would be to not construct this inside, for obvious reasons. Since I knew I’d want to play with the size and it wouldn’t be just a simple slap it all together thing, and it’s like a billion degrees outside, I did it in my living room. Had a couple other projects going on at the time too, so the place is messier than usual. When I transported it to the garage it fell apart completely (fitting through door frames and the like) and my neighbors heard their fair share of curses that day.

Once outside I propped it up again, being sure to get it up to the same height I had inside (putting the body at about 19 inches off the ground), and I grabbed a pizza hut box cover, cutting out the basic body and pincer shape I wanted.

I got this Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-yellow ball from Walmart for $2.50. It was nasty and gritty and I could feel myself getting the kid-flu just from looking at it through the bungee chord bin. I had my first awkward exchange with a cashier of the season because of this ball. He asked me about my kids and I of course responded, “Hu? I don’t have any…oh! Yeah, no, that’s a spider butt.” I placed it between the middle and back legs and shoved it almost to the cardboard (not all the way down though) preserving the width between the legs.

The next step is to go crazy with expandable foam–your best friend at Halloween, looking all nasty and organ-y. God, I love it. I used an entire can (you have to use the can in one go, as it will harden in the nozzle) and covered the body, built up the fangs, and secured the connections to the 1s.

I used a second can to fill in under the ball/butt (this makes sure it sticks) and to build up around the leg connections and anywhere I wanted it to go.  Since my ball is transparent, I could see that I was getting all the crevasses.  And it can be super messy because that’s what Halloween is, right?

Finally, I had some crappy black fabric from last year’s dollar-store Halloween binge and tied it off at the connectors for the legs and spread it over the ball/butt.  I wanted spidey’s bum to be smoother than the rest of the body, but not super smooth. Adding this netting did nothing for the actual construction though, so it’s not necessary. Anything you want to do to give this dude body should be done now. Because painting’s next.

More tie-on things.

So then basically I spray painted him black. Spray painting PVC is kinda a pain, so I partially sprayed, partially used some old charcoal-grey paint and brushes from last year to do the legs. I liked painting over the netting because it helps it stick to the body and it gives it more depth. You can see some of that sickening yellow peaking through, and I like that too. I considered using these little skulls I had for eyes, doing about six or eight of them on the head, but it didn’t look right. For now I am forgoing eyes, and if I find something I like I’ll add them, but he will most likely stay like that. I went a little bonkers from the spray paint and played around with some metallic grey stuff too for fun. You can’t really tell, but he looks kind of wet which is creepy. He got a layer of clear coat to protect him from the rain too, of course.

And that’s it! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. He’ll need something to keep him up probably once he’s mounted on the lawn, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes. Skinny Aragog will take up a spot 10′ wide on the lawn or some roof space if you can figure out how to hang him. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to do other projects that require the garage while this jerk takes up all the space. What possessed me to make this dude at the end of August is beyond me.

 

And that’s the end of that old post. Wow, I actually did a pretty terrible job explaining that…I definitely think I’ll be recreating this guy in the year to come, hopefully a new and improved version of him, and I’ll put up much better directions. Ugh, I just got myself re-pumped for Halloween, but I have to go back to packing…it will be worth it once we move though because we’ll get to pass out candy!

Blogoween Day 16 – True Terror Tuesday: Growing Up

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That’s it. Growing up. It’s fucking scary. End of blog.

Just kidding, I am way more long winded than that.

Did you ever play “light as a feather, still as a board” growing up? In case you’re unfamiliar, the game goes something like this:

One friend lies on the ground, arms crossed over her chest like a corpse. The rest of the friends encircle her, kneeling or sitting, and slide their middle and pointer fingers under her body (coincidentally, the Ouija planchette fingers). Sometimes, if not every time, one of the sitting friends tells a story about how the subject “died” or gives a little eulogy, and then the friends in the circle chant: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over until they are able to lift the “dead” friend off the floor.

Does it work? In my memory, abso-fucking-lutely. And you don’t question it as a kid because duh, magic is real, and all the grown ups are just keeping it from you! Or they don’t believe anymore so they can’t experience it (like Santa). But it’s right there, in your bedroom, levitation by the power of four ten-year-olds chanting a phrase that one of them learned from their big sister.

So it’s most likely that, as a group, we picked one another up, and were so caught up in the game, it felt real, and after a couple decades our memories are just fuzzy enough to let us question what happened in the wee hours of a weekend morning long ago, but there is a part of me that wants to believe there is some kind of magic going on. And there’s a bigger part of me that wishes I still had the capacity that ten year old me had to anticipate certain outcomes.

I was thinking about this game and others like it and the willingness of my childhood friends (and myself) to engage in such things. Similarly we played Bloody Mary and Candyman (whose name to this day makes me nervous) which always evoked a quick exit from the bathroom and have made me forever nervous of mirrors in dark rooms. Less “dangerous” were fortune-telling games with folded paper and asking ouija boards who you might marry when you grow up (to be clear: I do not believe ouija boards are inherently evil, Hasbro is not mass-producing portals to hell, ya’ll). There were other, let’s call them rituals that bordered on the occult like “crack an egg on your head” or guessing what words someone was tracing on your back, and even the act of braiding the hair of your friend who sat in front of you in class, now looking back on it, was almost like witchcraft, the physical embodiment of saying “this is a member of my coven.”

I wanted to find the origin of light as a feather since it seems such a shared experience, but unlike games with poems or songs like Red Rover or Ring Around The Rosie, it is often done in secret, at night, rarely spoken of outside the slumber party, and unobserved. How did it get handed down and for how long has it existed? Surely it was imagined in the last hundred or so years, maybe popularized by some movie in the seventies, and it will die off in the next few generations in favor of all the 3am games popping up all over the internet. I was surprised, however, to find the diary Samuel Pepys, a British civil servant, who wrote the following in his diary on July 31, 1665:

This evening with Mr. Brisband, speaking of enchantments and spells; I telling him some of my charms; he told me this of his owne knowledge, at Bourdeaux, in France. The words these:

Voyci un Corps mort,
Royde come un Baston,
Froid comme Marbre,
Leger come un esprit,
Levons to au nom de Jesus Christ.

He saw four little girles, very young ones, all kneeling, each of them, upon one knee; and one begun the first line, whispering in the eare of the next, and the second to the third, and the third to the fourth, and she to the first. Then the first begun the second line, and so round quite through, and, putting each one finger only to a boy that lay flat upon his back on the ground, as if he was dead; at the end of the words, they did with their four fingers raise this boy as high as they could reach, and he [Mr. Brisband] being there, and wondering at it, as also being afeard to see it, for they would have had him to have bore a part in saying the words, in the roome of one of the little girles that was so young that they could hardly make her learn to repeat the words, did, for feare there might be some sleight used in it by the boy, or that the boy might be light, call the cook of the house, a very lusty fellow, as Sir G. Carteret’s cook, who is very big, and they did raise him in just the same manner.

This is one of the strangest things I ever heard, but he tells it me of his owne knowledge, and I do heartily believe it to be true. I enquired of him whether they were Protestant or Catholique girles; and he told me they were Protestant, which made it the more strange to me.

So I came to the conclusion that all little girls are born witches, and somewhere along the way we lose that. And that’s the true terror of this Tuesday.