Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Creepy Exploring Adventures

Thank God, spring break is here. But only for a week (damn!). I've been sleeping in, watching lots of t.v., reading a boat-load of books--including some homemaking books from the fifties I discovered in my school's library. One is called "Homemaking for Teenagers" and includes a recipe for milk fluff--some milky substance involving raw eggs and sugar. Ick. They also give suggestions for choosing fabric colors for a homemade apron: "Aprons are intended to be useful but this does not mean that they need be made with dull, uninteresting colors. Gay, lively colors are attractive for aprons. Of course, this does not mean that colors should be screaming reds or poisonous greens!"

I have visions of making all of these cool, homemade skirts, painting, batiking, baking, writing and taking photos during this brief spring break, but just getting started takes time and school starts on monday already. So I've decided to indulge in just a few of these pasttimes: writing, in the forms of blogs, emails/letters, and misc. free-writing, and urban exploring. This is a new name for something I've always been interested in. I was so excited to read in the new issue of BUST that a group of people in NYC already do this sort of thing, and it's called urban exploring. They basically trespass around and inside old buildings and take pictures and write about them. I love this sort of scary, Nancy Drew exploring. I'd give you a link but I'm feeling lazy. It's at DarkPassage.com. So creepy. But this is the sort of thing I did at CSC, while on the paint shop crew. This is how I discovered the secret Fontbonne pool, full of gorgeous yellow tile and fish etchings in faux-black marble lining the tall walls; huge windows, old creepy locker rooms, and tons of junk inside and around the blue-tiled pool: ceiling fans, toilet paper rolls, dirt, ladders, etc. I wanted to do an art/music installation inside this space as part of a senior project. But I was warned by the head of environmental services that it was unsafe to be in this area. Of course it was! Which makes it all the more creepy and interesting. I'll never forget telling my guitar teacher, Joan, about how I wanted to do this multi-media project in the pool itself, and showed her all the information about it from the archives: old synchronized swimming programs, press-releases about its opening in 1938 (one of the first fitness centers in the country for women, I think), and romantic descriptions of the pool by students found in yearbooks. Joan insisted on seeing the pool space, so we totally snuck into the area, which was locked by its main door. So intent was she on seeing this space, that she found an alternate passage through one of the spooky locker rooms. It was all very adventurous and exhilarating.

Since my fellow paint-shop workers and I discovered this space, we were hungry to find more creepy areas on campus. Working in the paint shop was a good front: it allowed us to explore secret areas without getting into too much trouble. While painting the basement of the chapel around the O'Neill center, during one of our lunch breaks we crept up to the choir loft of the chapel, which was usually closed off by an iron gate during the school year, but at that time during the summer, a crew was working on renovations, and it was open. Wow, was that place creepy or what. Everything was very dusty, and there were still music stands and shelves of chant-music books up there. Beyond the choir loft was a door, which led to a storage area. We found silk flowers, candleabras, and misc. church items. But above this area was a trapdoor, which was open so that we could see that above us was a room that looked like it was full of old heavy furniture. We could also see the rose window from our vantage point. One of the girls, Sheila, tried to climb up there, but it was impossible. I still wish I could see what else is up there. We could swear that we heard ghostly music coming from somewhere, but it only turned out to be the radio from the renovation crew.

Among our other adventures, we got to see the nun's quarters on fourth floor Durham, which was always rumored to be haunted, especially by a nun in a rocking chair. Supposedly a red light can be seen from her old window, and when I lived in Caecilian hall, I used to look for that light, half hoping I wouldn't see it. But our paint crew was scheduled to paint these rooms, which looked as if the nuns had just lived there the week before. In some rooms, the mattresses were still there, with pictures on the walls, and curtains on the windows. The walls were painted a lovely mint green, but the paint was peeling which gave it a slightly sinister aura. The whole place gave me the creeps. I loved it. This whole senario reminded me of being a freshman, and with a few other third-floor St. Mary's girls, took the elevator up to fourth-floor Durham, intending to explore it in the dark (it was after ten I think). We were half-expecting the elevator to stop at the third floor, because apparently the fourth floor was closed off. But when the elevator doors opened onto the fourth floor, we were scared shitless. It was dark and empty. I think there was some junk strewn about, but it was hard to tell. We pressed the down button as fast as we could. I had disaster fantasies of being stuck at the fourth floor all night, not being able to get back down. But luckily the elevator was working properly and we got out of there as fast as possible. It was so fun!

Needless to say I'm on my new-old kick of exploring places. I'm not sure about the trespassing thing, but I'll be on the lookout for more safe, yet scary urban explorations in Spokane.