My Halloween Story: Scary Mary
It was Halloween. And it was scary.
Tofu is dead to us now. We have never spoken of this incident again.
Despite having had just one dinner disaster, uncertainly can still be a silent ingredient when attempting something new.
Fear is a natural part of life.
I’m not big on fear myself. In fact, I tend to avoid it.
So, it makes me wonder why I consciously chose to spend a night in a haunted hotel a few years ago.
Talk about fear.
The Queen Mary is anchored in Long Beach Harbor and is now a floating hotel and banquet facility. She was once a luxury liner designed for swift transatlantic voyages. For 14 years she held the speed record and hosted celebrities and dignitaries alike. During WW II, The Queen Mary became a troopship ferrying soldiers across the ocean. At that time, she was stripped of her luxuries and painted gray. She became the Gray Ghost. In time, she was restored to her original beauty and finished her days as a luxury liner until air travel slowly diminished her popularity.
The Queen Mary is said to be haunted. Not a little bit haunted, but super-duper-we-keep-records-about-weird-occurrences haunted. People smell Winston Churchill’s cigar smoke in the state room and one guest room was completely gutted and taken off the rental rotation after terrorized guests were repeatedly awakened by disturbing paranormal activity and complained with alarming regularity.
Crazily, The Queen Mary doesn’t have a gruesome or tragic past. A couple of laborers were crushed by an automatic door in the boiler room in the 60’s and there may have been a drowning or two in the ship’s luxury pool. That’s it. Nothing happened there to make it super haunted. Some claim it is a convergence of elements (water, steel, etc.) which apparently conducts spiritual energy.
But what do I know? Chemistry is not my strong suit.
All I know is the ship capitalizes on these apparent hauntings and I was willing to contribute to the profits.
I booked a room.
Then, I booked a haunted tour.
Then, I booked another haunted tour.
I arrived midday on a Saturday. The ship is enormous (bigger than the Titanic) and imposing. As instructed, I hopped on an elevator and was deposited on the Promenade deck which remains regal and ensconced in original wood.
I checked in at the desk and walked the long, narrow hallway to my room. The corridor literally felt like it was closing in on me. My room was tiny, dank, and had nothing but a porthole connecting me to the outside world. I felt a bit claustrophobic. And once you’ve seen the movie Titanic, the narrow, unending hallway and pinprick of a porthole easily conjures frightening images of rising water and a frozen Leonardo DiCaprio.
The second tour was a little more realistic and exponentially creepier. We entered the gutted room that once wreaked havoc with guests, witnessed the powerful door that once severed an 18 year old laborer in half, and journeyed through other dark abysses that gave me goose bumps.
Nothing happened. It was just creepy.
At the end, I was a sufficient ball of fear and my mind was gearing up for Fearpocolypse.
As I entered my tiny room for the night, all of the haunted stories flooded back. How in the heck was I supposed to sleep now?!
I took a hot shower thinking that would help me relax. Nope. I was pretty sure a ghostly being would etch RED RUM on the steamed mirror any second.
I turned on the television so I couldn’t hear the constant creaking.
I snuggled in my bed with eyes darting in every direction.
Eventually, fatigue won. I turned off the TV and light above the bed. Like a study lamp, the light switch required a good grip and a mighty turn to operate. I drifted off for a spell.
When I woke up, the light above my head was on. Maybe I had bumped it?
The ship’s creaking as it rocked in the harbor grew eerie.
I turned on the TV again and drifted in and out of consciousness the rest of the night. I know I slept some because I had the craziest dream that a ghost was choking me!
But the brain is all about processing thoughts and feelings from the day. It makes sense that I was dreaming of ghosts and thinking the light was working on its own. At least some of those experiences were the result of feeding my fears with stories.
In the light of day (and with a more positive outlook), The Queen Mary is rather lovely.
Unfortunately, I had arrived with images of the movie Titanic in my head. Imaging frozen Leo DiCaprio did not set a foundation for peace or calm. I had also read of ghost encounters recorded on shows like Ghost Hunters (they like it there).
I spent two hours listening to a trained docent tell us how haunted the ship was and that one could peruse the front desk registry for all recorded incidents. The testimonies and stories gripped the fear centers of my brain and didn’t let go.
Steeped in paranoia, I waited for something to happen in my room – and it did.
All I know is, when we fear something we have the power to make it BIG – even when it isn’t.
I wonder how my night would have been had a never known of the Queen Mary’s ghostly history?
I definitely would have focused more on the grandeur and novelty of the experience rather than the horrific ideations I was conjuring thanks to a Hollywood movie and some scripted tour tales.
Where we put our attention is key.
Our brain cannot distinguish between an imminent threat, like a dog attack or a sketchy San Francisco street, and our imagination. If we convince ourselves of a fearful outcome, our bodies and minds react as though the imagined fear is real.
Sometimes we need to be afraid, but when we start to feed an imaginary fear it can grow into a paralyzing emotion that stops us from creating and doing that which we are intended to do.
In those instances, it is best to acknowledge our fear and treat it like a toddler on Halloween night. Get playful with it, use all that energy to keep moving forward positively, reign it in when it gets a little wild and remind yourself how cute it looks in a tiny costume.
The fear will dissipate.
Just like trying a new recipe, gather your ingredients (or your senses), keep going and believe in the outcome.
I bet you’ll sleep better.
And if the recipe doesn’t work out, then just maybe you were meant to have pizza.
Peace & Light,
The Busy Buddha
CHICKEN RECIPE HERE!
But, for those of you who want to give that tofu version a try (I swear, it looked great on TV!) then I offer you the recipe so you can tell me where I went wrong!
TOFU RECIPE HERE!
How do you address fear? How do you tell if it's a fear that is protecting you versus a fear that is keeping you stuck?