Saturday, November 10, 2007

The mental health unit and other delights

It'd surprise some people I've known a while that this week was the first time I ended up in a mental health ward. (And it was my first visit to a hospital in a long, long time.) It'd surprise no one I know now that the mental health unit was in an abandoned hospital. It's a building the exploration crowd has been interested in for a while, and a couple of them happened to find out Tuesday that it's easy to get in. I went there Wed. by myself but wussed out when it appeared I'd have to crawl UNDER a fence for the first time. I went off for coffee and a scone instead, the second choice of every thwarted explorer. So I went back Thurs. and went under, trying not to be fazed by the frequent Metra trains zipping by not far away.

My first abandoned hospital! The non-explorers ask me if it was "creepy." Of course it is, but in this case, there's not much of a hospital smell or scary hospital equipment or whatever creepy things might be in abandoned hospitals (but I only know of from photos). No, the creepiness came from this being the first abandonment I've been in that still had functioning lights. Fluorescent hallway lights here and there, and many offices/storage rooms/exam rooms/whatever still had lights on. First time flipping a switch up and getting a light (in the speech therapy room). And eventually, my first times turning lights OFF because it was so weird and seemed so wasteful. Don't worry, future explorers, you can still see in there.

I did the whole basement level first, not just a boiler room and the kitchen, but Human Resources, rooms filled with files, a room filled with X-rays, all kinds of good stuff I'll have to come back and see. (I was there less than 2 hours, and only got around 125 photos--hardly any by my standards--because so many rooms were empty/identical.) On upper floors I found the mental health unit with "cheery" murals, and a cafeteria, and beautiful stairwells. I went nearly everywhere except the roof but I know I missed things from viewing others' photos on Flickr.

I called my friend Mike at work as I headed out (breaking the rule against no cell phone use in the hospital, after breaking rules about unauthorized access to the utility rooms...oh, and being in the building at all). Of course he was a little worried for me. I was worried as I eyed a baseball bat propped against the wall in the kitchen. Who's using that for what? I had a great time and put a bunch of photos of Flickr. Two days later, no one's commented yet, the others who went before and after me there this week got all the attention, bah. Actually, it's been a very competive week in urban exploration, but that's all I'll say. That put me in a pissy (but not quite depressed) mood tonight, which is why I--oops--drank a little when I'm about to head out to a party (which promises cheap/free beer). But then, I was all jealous about people getting the attention on Flickr, and pow! Tonight my second random Flickr perv favorited a picture of me in an abandoned building! I knew that Hot Abandoned Action would get attention. And I only did that one movie in Gary! (Ah, a dumb joke 2 or 3 people reading this will get.)

This blog makes me sound like I drink WAY more than I actually do. Well, I think the pumpkin ale was a legitimate companion to the first real dish I cooked in ages (soba noodles, butternut squash, onions, pumpkinseed oil, soy sauce; very good except I undercooked the onions). The bit of vodka, not so much. Anyway, I've got to go to a party down the street for the Sadie Hawkins' Day Race & Style Ride. My roommate and especially his girlfriend were organizers; I showed up to the start of the race just to take photos (biking over there was the first biking I've done in weeks) and they were nice enough to put a PBR wristband on me hours ago; time to go make use of it. [UPDATE: Didn't drink that much. Got distracted on the way there by a house fire across the street, got to hear things being smashed. The party had stationary bike races, awards, DJs and dancing and I had as good a time as I could without actually talking to anyone except my roommate, who was also distributing beer. I took the bus there and back and hoped none of the cool bike kids saw me do that.)

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