Central State Movie for the Gullible

So my friend Liz, whom I met while working in social services with many people who had become homeless as a result of Central State closing, asked if I wanted to attend a movie about the institution at the the IMAX theater downtown. I agreed.

For those of you who might not know, Central State was an “asylum” built in 1885 to house and “treat” the mentally ill and mentally disabled. It housed approximately 2,500 people, including some 50 or more children at times. It was almost completely razed in the 1970s when it was found to be structurally unsound, and eventually closed in the early '90s thanks to some federal funding issues as well as verified claims of abuse. I think most of us have an idea of what sorts of things go on behind the doors of places like this, especially what was possible in the earlier decades of its functioning, where administration, orderlies, and even doctors weren't properly trained and treated things like “hysteria,” depression, mental retardation, and women who had premarital sex with electro-shock therapy and heavy doses of Thorazine.

I knew nothing going in to the film but that it was made by a local filmmaker, Dan Hall, and that it – possibly – asserted that the buildings still standing were haunted. I caught on to this when I checked out the web site to purchase tickets. I figured what the hell, at least someone's out there investigating what happened to those poor people. Maybe they're just giving it that ooooh-it's-almost-Halloween-let's-watch-a-movie-about-the-mentally-ill-who-are-really-scary sort of vibe.

Boy, was I wrong.

I sat in shock for forty-five minutes in a sold out theater with people who apparently believe whole-heartedly in angels, god, ghosts, and the evil souls of (what they consider to be) the criminally insane coming back to blow cold air onto and choke anyone who might make the mistake of stumbling across the grounds. What surprised me at first was the cheesy, neon-green font that popped up on screen occasionally. Throughout the film we all got to witness (what I call) “modern horror movie effects” — the jerking camera shots, the fast forwarded footage, the really slowed down footage, and the sounds of saws or creaking doors with too much background bass. If this were truly a paranormal experience, why would I need to be egged on like that? I can be adequately freaked out by the presence of a shadow moving across the wall.

I'm not discounting the possibility that any of these people experienced something that they consider to be paranormal. In my lifetime I have had my share of the unexplained, causing the hair to stand up on my neck. Ghost stories really creep me out.
I am, however, incredibly disgusted that the entire premise of the film was that of “spirits” and “ghosts” of those who had been physically, psychologically, and mentally abused and tortured, neglected, starved, and beaten to death are now coming back to reveal themselves as “pressure” on someone's chest, a chill in the air, or floating orbs on a night-vision camera.

The filmmakers did an incredible, and insulting, disservice to the former residents of this institution. Some of those people were treated horribly. Rather than an investigative, revealing documentary that will show the Hoosiers who have lived among these patients – some of whom are undoubtedly related to former residents – for more than a hundred years, what really went on in those rooms, we learned nothing but that Dan Hall and his friend Sarah got the heeby-jeebies when they saw a wrinkled drape in a window and just had to make a film showing us the eerie goings-on at Central State.

Something they forgot to mention while trying to freak out the audience with herky-jerky footage of “Patient X” being interviewed in the shadows was that one of the buildings actually houses the Indiana Medical History Museum and there are actually people who work daily on the grounds tending to the police department's horses.

I can only hope that their psychic and team of paranormal investigators go back to somehow “cleanse” the buildings of these poor, tortured souls, rather than just trying to make the rooms in which they were shackled into a case of the chills for twelve bucks a pop. If any spirit haunts those grounds, Mr Hall, wouldn't it be more terrifying for us to learn why?

Update: While I was searching for a photo, I came across the following articles – one from Indiana Skeptics and one from the Indianapolis Star. There are also a plethora of web sites dedicated to including it as one of “Indiana's Haunted Places” if you care to search. Interesting. Or not. You decide.

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Cavan told me something yesterday that pains me: he's not going to vote because he doesn't believe in any of the candidates. “They're two sides of the same coin.” I hate hearing people from my generation and younger say this kind of stuff because I feel like that's why we're in the mess we're in; too many young people who feel like their vote either doesn't count or everyone in politics is a crook. I'm not disputing the latter, but some crooks are worse than others and I don't want to see them in office.
I'm one of those occasionally idealistic people who thinks it's important to send a message to our government, and while I would have prefered it if the message had been sent six years ago, we can at least get some Republicans out of the House and Senate.
Sometimes I wonder – if all the people who don't bother voting actually did, would our electoral system be moot?

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I have one thing planned for this weekend. Just one thing. I'm going to the movies tonight with Liz and her boyfriend. I already worked this morning at six and am already feeling tired. Tomorrow my plans will consist of some homework and absolutely nothing else. Charlie's at the Penn State game in Lafayette. I told him he should go, regardless of whether or not I could make it.

Otherwise, no news is good news.

Shut Up and Rationalize These Radicals.

If you have discovered a way to pound it into the head of an 18-22 year-old that the world does not always revolve exclusively around each of them, please let me know.

I've been growing increasingly frustrated with the students who share my algebra class. Everyone's already done this before, or everyone's so tired of doing these problems, or everyone wants to know why we have to go over all this again? My instructor let the class know this morning that we're going over old stuff because we have some extra time and some people need the help (me); our syllabus only covers one section per class in the next two weeks so we're going to slow it down and re-cover material from test two (this was the worst group of test scores he'd ever seen). This makes some of us happy – the quiet, ashamed ones who try not to cry over radicals and multiplying exponents with imaginary numbers over the square root of (3x-5y)9.6f-3/2i. The kids who do well are also fresh out of the same class and tested into this one, so they think they know everything. If they were that smart, why didn't they test out of this course? Go on to calulus or finite and leave me alone. Besides, what the dumasses don't realize is that our last test is cumulative so it only makes sense to review as we go along.

Sometimes I just look at a problem he'll write down on the board and I want to start sniveling. I try to reason it out, to rationalize what I need to do next. But as I'm trying to concentrate, the eight or ten students who all happen to have something in common that makes it a gas to chit-chat and cackle at one another (the same students who are cackling and chit-chatting because they were done working out the problem two minutes ago while I'm still sweating over it) ruin my concentration. Today I found myself muttering “Jesus” under my breath several times as I couldn't focus over the sheer volume of voices, laughing, and ridiculous questions:
“Hey, are we going to have class next Tuesday?”
“Yes, why wouldn't we?”
“It's Halloween!” “Can we wear a costume?” “Are you going to bring us candy?” “If we wear a costume can we have candy?” “Can we bring candy?” “Do we have to come to class?”

I was like, what is this? Fourth grade?

Occasionally the instructor has to ask everyone to quiet down, but it just starts up again over the next problem he has us work on.

I came straight home and did all of my homework, managing to get correct answers on the first try (which is amazing), but I really wish there was a way to say – nicely, brilliantly, wittily, of course – “Hey, look. I'm thirty-some-odd-freaking-years-old. I paid my own money for this course. I have to have it to transfer back to IUPUI. I really need to concentrate. I have to pass this class. I don't understand the material. The last time I was in a math class you were in diapers. Would it be too much to ask you to please save your games of grab-ass and let's-see-who-can-shout-louder for after class?”

Health & Fitness

Today is my first day off in seven days. Granted, some of those days I only had to work five hour shifts, but it's the effort that counts, right? Getting up at 5:30 in the morning is still no small feat on my part and working at six in the morning until eleven still sucks because by early afternoon I need a nap.
I'm curious as to whether or not I may get called in for just a couple of hours today. One of our employees isn't feeling well. She seems to go through phases every couple of weeks. I worry that she may be anemic or hypo/hyperglycemic. I don't know the difference, just some sort of “-emic” that makes a person really pale and lightheaded. I know when I don't eat – which, believe it or not, is often – I get incredibly irritable, tired, nauseated, woozy. I wonder if she's in the same boat? I wonder why, if I know this will happen to me, I don't eat more often? All it does is slow down my metabolism even more and make it difficult to lose any weight.

Speaking of which, I've been considering going on some sort of diet/exercise regimen. I know Charlie would absolutely shit himself with glee if I said I wanted to get a gym membership. He's already joined this new one that's opening on the north side (but not until March) because it will have a pool. I, personally, really enjoy the idea of swimming. But I don't want to share a pool with a hundred other people. Especially since the new gym will be all the rage when it first opens. I like my quiet time, my personal space, my privacy. And exercise is not something I want to do in a mile radius of any other person. I'm not good at running (the shock gives me a headache and I get shin splints), I don't lift weights, and I have no idea how to do anything else but walk. I'm also a completely unmotivated person. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good cup of coffee and a smoke — both of which are not really conducive to exceptional health.

So. Like I said. I'm “considering” something. Seems like all the weight I lost as result of my liquid diet (thanks, dental work!), has piled back on. My “juniors” jeans don't fit that comfortably anymore, and I want them to. I do want to be in better shape. I do want to quit smoking. I want the headaches and neck and back problems to go away. But they're sort of the reason why it's hard to find motivation to exercise: when you're neck is killing you the last thing you want to do is get up and run around.

My Space

I've been going back and forth between completely changing my web site or just deleting my account. I'm due to renew my URL in the next month or so and I can't decide what I want to do. I started changing it a couple of months ago and just haven't had the time to sit down and revamp everything. I'm not a web designer and have limited HTML skills . . . and not much else. What I really want to do is some sort ever-evolving photo blog where I can just upload my jpegs and have something else magically resize all of them. I literally have not changed a single photo on there in, like, two years. I have pictures that are six or more years old on there. I'm so lazy. What's the point of paying for the space if I never change it?

Action Cavan

I just finished some literature homework that didn't get posted till yesterday – but is due tomorrow, mind you – at the coffeeshop. We have free wireless here and Charlie and I just had a bit of a disagreement so I just wanted to get out of the house It was one of those ridiculous fights. I'm tired, I've been at work since 6:30 this morning, I have to go back tomorrow morning at 6:30 and work with two people who are notoriously poopy in the morning, Charlie's bored, he doesn't want to go to Target, it's all I can think of to do because I want to try and find my Halloween costume, yadda, yadda, yadda . . .
But I'm tired of every television in the house being on football 24 hours a day, 7 days a week . . . well, okay, at least Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, plus whatever college games they show on ESPN during the week. I wanted to get out of the house for a little bit. This was my Grand Plan. Apparently it was not something he wanted to do and he made it clear. So halfway there we turned around and went home. I packed up my stuff and here I am.

Word on the street (I know some people who know some people) that Cavan finally got some action this week. Holy shit!

Dreaming of LA

I just spent about three hours of my morning on two midterms and a paper that are all due by Sunday. It wouldn’t have taken me nearly as long if my literature instructor weren’t so anal retentive and completely focused on the tiniest of details [How many children did Jacob have? What was Gilgamesh’s mother’s name? Who was the man that lay down with his father’s concubine? What did Cassandra say as she was standing in front of Agamemnon’s palace?] I feel like some students may be missing the bigger picture as they scramble through their textbooks, sweating, trying to find the answers to these inane questions. I especially enjoyed the final essay question, asking us to explain the significance of Enkidu’s sexual initiation in Gilgamesh and how that relates to the overall theme of existentialism. Her tests are like night and day:
1.) What color was the brooch was on Oedipus’ mother/wife’s shoulders that he used to pluck out his eyes?
2.) Explain, in 200 words or more, the purpose the statue Reconciliation in Lysistrata.

The Gilgamesh essay wasn’t such a bad one for me since my entire first paper was on the existentialist themes in the story, but I feel for the other kids.

When I went in for my morning coffee (later than usual because I sat in bed worrying about how I was going to get all my tests done. Efficient, aren’t I?), Annie asked me why I didn’t ask for a day off so I could get homework finished.
I actually had a dream last night that she sent me to a conference in Los Angeles but I had to drive. Luckily, I made it out in five hours (from Indianapolis!) but the conference had nothing to do with my job. I was thinking about what celebrities I might meet when I realized I had to be at work again at 7 in the morning and didn’t know how I would ever get back in time. Annie said “Oh, you can do it!” [I must think about how I phrase my interpretations of dreams!]

In other news, Cavan never came home last night. My best guess is that he just stayed at his parents’ house. Even though he’s (finally) been dating someone, she seems rather shy and introverted. Unless she came to the club last night for a concert, got shitfaced, and demanded he come home with her, I seriously doubt he’s at her place. It’s a possibility, but far-fetched. It’s almost one so I’m a little worried about him. I hope he got some action.

Bo-oooring.

I've begun about five different entries in the past few days and deleted each one since they were all predominately about work, school, or my hair. Unfortunately, I just don't want to go out like that every time I post. I was on a roll for a minute, with at least something different to say once in a while. Now I'm back in the swing of the things – The Rut. I won't do that to you.

We're looking further in to the possibility of buying a house before Charlie returns to school next fall. My main concern isn't getting approved for a mortgage; my main concern is what we can afford.

I'm just going to say that I'm thrilled I don't have to work first thing in the morning or I might miss the season finale of Project Runway! I've heard several different people's theories on What Happens to Jeffrey, but I'm reserving judgment. I have a bit of a spoiler that I learned that leads me to believe these people's theories are wrong. We'll just have to see.

Eke!

The car is fixed and running better than when I got it, Madonna didn’t leave with an adopted child, and I had a thirty minute meeting this afternoon. All is apparently well in the world.

Charlie and I had been putting off a visit to the bank to talk about financing a mortgage since we’re still unsure as to what things will be like in 2 years when I (finally) graduate. I’m not sure if I want to get my Master’s but I don’t want to close that door just because I’m burnt out right now.
Things are not going well for me in my math class; I may have to take it again next semester which will royally screw up my credits to transfer back to IUPUI as a junior. I already have to take a four credit Spanish course over the summer to have exactly 62 credits, so if I don’t get at least a 75% in algebra I’m going to have to take it over. I’m completely unprepared for the test on Tuesday. I work tomorrow at 6am, so I’m going to have to really crack down in the afternoon and start pouring over my book and reworking problems he gave us. I tried to have Charlie help me with some of the easier ones tonight and it ended in tears and frustration. I wish there was some way I could get out of my math courses that didn’t involve going back to Herron.

In positive news, I think I’ve found the way into my world civ instructor’s heart; liberal essays. Believe it or not I’ve gotten my highest grades when I’m questioning the current administration and comparing that to ancient history. I’ve gotten 100% on my last three essays, all of which have been, more or less, questions. Such as “If Solon made a revolutionary move in choosing to pay common people to participate in government, how the hell did we get to where we are now?” I had to do a little poking around, but discovered that the average American makes about forty grand a year, whereas the average Congress “person” makes about $165,000. I say “person” because they’re 85% men and 99% white, and the US is 49% male, 79% white. How am I being adequately represented when these douches are sailing through Ivy League colleges with silver spoons in their mouths, coming from families that have been in politics and old money for generations and I’m out here eke, eke, eke?