Friday, March 28, 2008


Howdy from Central Oregon!!

Technically, I'm on vacation. The DH and I are in Black Butte with the Gremlins enjoying a few days away. In reality, I'm working - complete with laptop - as I try to finish up this book of mine. (Last night I actually listed out the rest of the scenes I have to write...I think I'm down to ten! Wahoo!) While on vacation, we've been watching movies (something I rarely do), and last night's choice was I Am Legend with Will Smith.

Okay, pretty good premise. I even enjoyed it - freaky mutant people aside. Normally these kind of movies give me nightmares, but this one? Not so much.


Wait. Let me rephrase that.

The freaky, virus-infested, screaming fang people didn't give me nightmares. The rats did.

In case you haven't seen this movie, let me sum it up for you quickly. Will Smith is the last man on the planet. Researchers found a cure for cancer - a virus they altered which killed cancer cells. However, this virus mutated and became airborn and infected the entire human population, creating rabies-like results in the hosts, turning people into said freaky, virus-infested, screaming fang creatures. (Who need to eat - obviously - and guess who they feed on?). Will Smith (and a handful of other people you meet near the end of the movie) are immune to the virus.

Okay. So now that you're caught up, let me tell you about the rats. Will's trying to find the vaccine. He's a researcher, catching weird fang people and testing his vaccine on them. But first he tries his vaccines on rats, and there's one scene where the virus-infected rats (with HUGE fangs) are stuck in Plexiglas cages trying to get to him. They're rabid. And evil. And completely N-A-S-T-Y.

Am I normally wigged out by rats? Not any more than the average person. Then why did this scene strike me so bad? Oh, let me tell you...

Over Easter, my family got together. My younger brother and his wife live in Corvallis (she's a professor at OSU). They're renting a house in a nice neighborhood. While we were eating, my brother (so nice of him) told us that one night a few days ago he heard a strange splashing noise in the bathroom. He got up, walked down the hall, looked into the dimly lit room and saw something climbing out of the toilet. Thinking he was imagining things, he inched into the bathroom for a closer look, narrowed his eyes and realized it was a RAT! Coming up through the sewage pipes!

He immediately slammed the toilet seat down, grabbed a full hamper and set it on the lid so the rat couldn't get out, then proceeded to freak out. After running down the hall to wake my sister-in-law, they both went back only to discover the rat was gone. It had slithered back out through the sewage pipes, the way it had come in.

In the morning when they called the city, they were told, "Yeah. That happens in cities."

(This is where I scream, "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW THAT!!!")

Supposedly, the city was going to send someone to set traps in the manholes on their streets, but at the time my brother told this story, it had yet to happen. In the meantime they were told to "keep an eye out." (This is me screaming again!) Later, they learned their neighbor had a rat come into their house the same way. Except (sorry to gross you out here), the wife discovered the rat when she went to use the facilities.


The rat scene in I Am Legend normally wouldn't have affected me so greatly, but after this story, it's all I can think about. Something coming up through my toilet is a great fear of mine. Aside from not watching that movie again, I've told my brother I'm not visiting his house either.

Are there any scenes - from books or movies - that you can't handle because of a personal fear or experience? Any scenes you can't write for that very reason? Maybe something that - to the average person - seems completely harmless?

(This is where I admit to having a large fowl fear as well...turkeys, geese, swans....scccccaaaaarrrry....You definitely won't find Big Bird in any of my books.)


Flo Moyer said...

Eeeeewwww! That's definitely enough to make you look down before... I do anyway, because out here in the country (middle of the forest, about a 1/3 to a 1/2 miles between most homes), I looked down once and there was a frog. A small frog, but a frog. I'm so glad it wasn't a rat. Still...

Fears: I can look at cuts, scrapes, whatever, just fine, but I'm very bad about seeing operated-on wounds on other people. They're one of two things that give me that kind of flush of total dread or fear that washes over you and makes you weak to the point of immobility. The other is my son (mentally handicapped) being left alone in the world after we die, and his not understanding we didn't go on purpose, and being mistreated or something, and we can't help (because we're dead.) That's why I trust in God so much, that He will take care of my son when we can't. So reading about something like that would be pretty hard. I still have not brought myself to the point of being able to write a story, fiction or nonfiction, about my boy, because that's just too hard, and I write to escape, just like I read to escape. I'm pretty sure that's the reason, anyway.

Neat post. :-)

really thought provoking.

Paty Jager said...

OMG! Rats coming up out of the toilet! That's why I don't live in a city!!!! Yuck! We have dogs to take care of things like that outside and keep them away from my house!

Not sure if I've told this before, but I am one person who cannot find any form of mouse cute. That goes for Mickey and Minnie Mouse or any other cartoon mouse or stuffed mouse. I HATE them! And of course I run into them all the time in and around the barn. The reason I hate them is the first house my dh and I lived in when we were married was filled with mice.

One night when my dh was off trucking and I was sitting in bed reading, I heard a noise in the dresser. There was one drawer that was hard to close(hand me down dresser) A small head with beady little eyes peeked over the edge for the drawer at me. This was a small room I swung my legs quickly and slammed the drawer shut. Didn't open it again until my dh came home and removed the smashed mouse. Then I washed everything in the dresser!

And one time when I was eight months pregnant with my first child, I was bent over turning on the bathtub and a mouse ran up the inside of my pant leg. I screamed and kicked my leg going in circles and finally flung the nasty creature across the room against the wall and it scurried off. The whole time my husband laughed like a loon!

I HATE MICE! We made this house rodent proof. I went around putting spray foam in all the cracks and crevices before we finished off the inside. And we mouse proofed the cabin.

But - there are rattlesnakes in Princeton. And I have several stories I can tell you about those as well!

So I got way off track! Anwyay, interested blog!

And Flo,I can understand your fear for your son. I have a cousin who my aunt and uncle had to put in a home because she was much larger than them and aggresive, but she was doing well and then the facility closed down. Last time I talked to them, they were still trying to find a good home for her.

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, Eli, this is too good.

Also, this is the first blog that is going to save me $3.00 because I won't need to rent this movie.

I started Ratatouille the other night, you know, the Disney movie with the rat who can cook. It's a cartoon. But when the ceiling falls and that little old lady finds herself staring into the eyes of the 3 gazillion rats who have been living in her attic, I turned off the movie and went outside for a second to wretch. Ack!

The rat in the toilet thing happened to my son as well and guess where? Yep, Salem.

Okay, so much for ever going to the bathroom again.

Rats are it for me, too. Mice I can handle, but there's something about rats. One looked in the sliding glass doors once when I lived out in the country and I couldn't go outside again for a week. My daughter's kids had one as a pet. Please, just shoot me.

Flo, your fear for your son is absolutely understandable and all I could suggest is making sure there's another family member who could help him settle in a prearranged place and explain things to him repeatedly, but I am sure you have already thought of that.

Paty's biggest fear is mice, including Mickey and Minnie? Paty? Yoo hoo, people in costumes, honey. Hm--

I have a good friend who I saw slinking around the back of the pet store one day and I asked what she was doing and she pointed at a snake in a cage and turned white. I've seen her find a snake in her yard, go into the garage, come back out with a shovel or an ax and pulverize the poor little thing.


Fun blog.

Karen Duvall said...

Sheesh, you guys! The critters have more reason to be scared of you than you do of them. You're bigger! Well, with the exception of the fanged rat creatures in the WS movie I haven't seen yet. I'm wicked freaked out by zombies, though. Fill the house with rats I'm fine. Zombies? Not so much.

When I grew up in Hilo, Hawaii, we had only two movie theaters: The Paramount and The Mamo. Paramount was pretty clean, but Mamo? That's where they played all the Japanese and Filipino movies with English subtitles. I loved the Japanese Swordswoman movies. Anyway, the Mamo had lots of rats and you never used their bathrooms if you knew what was good for you. So while watching the Japanese Swordswoman movies, my friends and I would sit with our feet up on the seat in front of us so that rats wouldn't run across our toes (we always wore flip-flops).

What I can't handle in movies OR documentaries is animal cruelty. Like those animal cop shows on Animal Planet? Just a hint of mistreatment will give me that icy flush through my body like Flo was talking about.

Also, be very wary of videos on the Internet. I made the mistake once of watching a video that got a high watch rating on Digg. It was foreign, of course, no subtitles, and this young guy was working with an alligator in front of an audience. Kind of like what Steve Irwin used to do, only more stupid. Anyway, the gator has its mouth open and the kid lays his arm inside the beasts mouth to prove how "harmless" it was. He'll never do that again because his arm got bit clean off, right there in living color. Makes my heart trip to a staccato beat just writing about it. It was horrible. Now aren't you glad I shared that with you?

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, man, Karen, I am right there with you when it comes to animal cruelty. The last movie we went to showed clips of a new TV show (what's that about, anyway?) called Chimpanzee something or other. It's a show about rescuing the animals and giving them back a life -- I get sick just thinking about what we do to animals so I am going to stop thinking about it. La, la, la, la......

We used to go to a theatre on Kauai that had buckets set around to catch the dripping water during the show. That's atmosphere, baby!

And yes, I am bigger than a rat. But I would never chase a rat or bite one or give it anything including a disease. Now, can a rat say the same about me?

Karen Duvall said...

But I would never chase a rat or bite one or give it anything including a disease. Now, can a rat say the same about me?

Ah, Alice, they just want to be your friend. 8^) I actually had pet rats when I was eleven. They were the domestic kind and very clean, very affectionate. I'd put them on the floor and they'd follow me everywhere. I used to ride my unicycle with my rats sitting on my shoulders. Yeah, I know, I was a weird kid. I got in so much trouble the day I took both my rats to church we me, hiding them in my pockets.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Ack, Flo. A frog in the toilet. Okay, not as bad as a rat, but still...ew.

Your fear for your son is very understandable, Flo. I don't think I could write about something so personal, either.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Paty. Ew. I'm not wild about mice either, but the experience you described would do it for me.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Alice, glad I could save you three bucks. ;) As for Ratatouille...I HATED that movie! Rats in restaurants???? **SHUDDER** My kids liked it. I won't buy it for them.

This morning we watched Enchanted with the kids. When it got to the (real life) scene where Giselle calls the city animals in to help her clean up Patrick Dempsey's apartment and the rats were cleaning his kitchen and bathroom, I nearly threw up. Ruined the entire movie for me. right there.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Karen...zombies???? I want to know your fear of real things. ;)

The movie theater thing makes me cringe. I can't believe you sat there watching a movie!

And I'm with Alice...I don't go around trying to bite people and spread disease. My mom had a pet white rat in her classroom one year and it crawled out and bit her on the arm. Nasty bite and she had to have a series of rabies shots even though the thing was a pet. It also was extremely painful. No thanks. I know rodents serve a purpose but...ew. I'd rather know they exist and just not see them.

Genene said...

Hey, Eli! Glad you made it across the pass safely.

In spite of deciding never to go to the bathroom again (like Alice), this blog was very entertaining and educational! and I appreciate the tips on the movies. :)

I've not come across anything that terrifies me to the point of immobility. Not to say I want rats scurrying across my feet or biting body parts though. And, Paty, the mouse -- or anything -- up the pants leg would be really freaky. Guess it's those sneak attacks from anything that kick in the adrenaline!

I'll get through a crisis and then fall apart in a nice, safe cave. Oh, wait -- there is claustrophobia if something is right against my face, and I don't like heights if there's no substantial floor and walls to keep me from seeing over the edge, though flying in an airplane doesn't bother me. Guess those aren't living things, though.

As a kid, I used to be terrified of bees, but got over that. Most other creatures don't bother me. I'm not crazy about reptiles, so just keep a respectful distance.

Child abuse and animal abuse or any kind of open, gaping wound will generate that gut-clenching reaction. But again, I get through the crisis and fall apart afterward.

So maybe I have more "ickies" than I thought!

Flo, your concerns for your son are very understandable. Isn't that the case with our children? I'm sure you've made all the arrangements possible to be sure he will be taken care of and, as you said, the rest you just have to leave to faith.

Loved this blog and comments!

Paty Jager said...

Hey Eli, are you enjoying the snow we're getting? LOL Welcome to Spring in Central Oregon!

I did't really respond to what makes my stomach squeeze with fear. Or actually, the steel taste of fear one gets in their mouth. At least I do. I've been in two accidents where my car has been totaled due to another driver. The first one teens following too close and the second a drunk T-Boned my van full of kids- mine and a friend's. Now any time I hear the sound of metal ripping or crunching, I get that metallic taste in my mouth and sort of freeze. The drunk driver accident was the lesser of the two accidents, but marred me more due to the fact I had kids with me. The first accident, I was shoved down under the steering wheel but walked away. Thankfully the girls were in school and our son was in the truck with his father. But any time I see a car swerving toward me or- like I said hear that metal crunching sound- that's when I truly feel fear.

Wow, Eli, you're making us dig deep into our painful places! And making us better writers! LOL

Piper Lee said...


I hate rats; however, I loved the Ratatouille movie and the I am Legend movie.

Like Alice, the part in Ratatouille where the rats are all on the farm and in the ceiling then running away to the ditch to escape, Ugh, waaaaay too many rats and too real. Talk about awesome animation though. And I'd love to have a professional kitchen, sans rats thank you very much. :)

Okay Eli, I just have to tell you about the time that Central Point had a major rat infestation. It was horrid! People all over the city were freaking out because the rats were coming up the sewers in practically EVERYONE'S toilets! ACK!

So, my DH's uncle was on "His Throne"(in Central Point) and a rat poked his butt with its nose!!! There is no way I'd ever be able to sit on the toilet again if this happened to me!

Like Paty, I love living outside the city with no sewers to worry about.

I'm not afraid of Zombies like Karen is because, duh... I realize there's no such thing. LOL I think Karen is afraid of them because, well... have you read her stories??? She writes scary stuff like that and scares herself! :) (I love you Karen!)

I have a lot of icky mice stories but will only share part of one... I had one crawl up my long hair when I was in bed once and my hair was hanging between the mattress and the headboard. FREAKED ME OUT and Todd shot it with the BB Gun. No, this is not animal abuse. You crawl in my hair, you die. Simple fact. Maybe this is why I cut my hair short, but doesn't explain why I'm growing it out again now. Smack me!

Something I truly fear and can't read or write about is child abuse of any kind. Can't watch movies with kidnappings either.

No kid related stuff if the kid suffers in any way. I get physically ill.

I also won't watch anything like demon possession stuff.

I can read about vampires and other paranormal stuff and love a lot of it, (thinking Kressley Cole novels here) but I can't watch or read things like Poltergeist stuff.

That the kind of thing that makes me turn inside-out with creepiness because I do believe possession can happen if a person opens their body and mind to it. Which I totally don't get why people do this. ICK!

So, I'm not afraid of much, but I just won't go to these places in reading or viewing.

And Eli, I'm with you, I don't like large fowl either. They're sooo nasty! I mean, why would geese have the need or desire to hiss at us? We're so nice. We don't deserve this sort of treatment! And their little teeth inside those hissing beaks hurt!

When I was four we had two geese (among the myriad of farm animals my parents made me suffer through) and I had to feed them. At four you're about the same height as a full grown goose ya know... anyhow, I had a saucepan that I used for their grain stuff and when they came waddling at me, honking and hissing, I hurled that pan of food at them and ran. My mom still has that broken handled pan. Can anyone say, roast goose with stuffing? (Again, eating a goose would not constitute animal abuse. LOL)

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Piper!!! The Central Point story makes me cringe! Oh, to be naive in all things rat related!!!!!

When I was a kid we had turkeys. They knew I was afraid of them and anytime they saw me outside they would spread their wings and attack. Because of that, I have a great fear of large birds. Last week my running partner and I were running around the lake near my house and she ran within two inches of a large goose. I freaked out, and gave the bird AS MUCH SPACE as possible, even going so far as to veer off the path into the gravel. After we passed, I grabbed my running partner's arm and said, "ARe you insane?! NEVER EVER get that close to a big bird again!" Of course, she looked at me like I was a freak of nature - which I'm sure I am - but still.

Great to see you on the blog. I'm glad you stopped by! Don't be such a stranger. ;)

Barbara said...

As long as I'm safely separated from a scary animal (like I'm in the car or the animal is in a cage), I feel something more like fascination and excitement mixed together rather than fear. But I'm sure I would freak out at a rat in my toilet or a mouse in my hair.

I've had scary experiences with spiders in my clothes and being bitten by yellow jackets when the lights were out and I was climbing into bed. I was also terribly afraid of dogs (especially barking dogs) as a child but managed to outgrow that one. I've been intimidated by a hissing goose marching toward me, too.

Snakes fascinate me, but I wouldn't want to catch a rattler like Jim did and keep it in a jar and feed it mice. He later let it go well away from our house. I also fear having an octopus wrap its tentacle around my legs and drag me down into the water when I'm swimming (must have seen that in a movie as a kid).

Heights frighten me, and I get a sick, queasy feeling when Jim is cut and bleeding even though I'm perfectly calm if I'm the one cut and bleeding.

I avoid horror books and movies--I don't like being scared even if there is a strong man next to me to hold onto. Is there such a thing as a horror romance genre? Not that I'd read or write one if there was.

Paty Jager said...

I'm with you Barbara! I don't read scary books and I don't watch scary movies.

Danita Cahill said...

See the advantages to leaving city life to the, well, to the city people, Eli? Here in the sticks the rats -- any that the barn cats haven't eaten -- live in the barn. No swimming up through the household plumbing for them. They just eat the horse grain until a feline eats them. Case closed.

Not to freak you out -- okay, yeah-yeah, to freak you out -- but I've heard snakes can and will slither up through the sewage pipes too. Not sure they can actually get up and out of the bowl though.

These kind of freaky things are the sort of things that I read and they stick with me. They're also the sort of things I love to write -- to stick with readers too. I'm just quietly sick and twisted that way, I guess.

Danita Cahill said...

Okay, so Paty? When you come to my house, does my Mickey Mouse collection freak you out then? Ha! I do think mice, and yes, domestic rats are cute. Make good pets and all that. But they stink, and they're germy and I don't wish to keep them. Also don't want wild ones in my house. If the occasional mouse gets past the cats, I trap it or posion it. I can't stand the thought of their germy little feet skittering across my counters. Yuck.

As far as animal fears, I don't really have any. Don't much care for chimps -- they throw feces. I know this from experience, and they will snatch a human infant in the wild, I have read. Don't trust polar bears either. Very aggressive. When I trail ride, I carry a pistol in case of a cougar attacking my horse, or a strung-out two-legged human trying to attack me (it happened to a friend's sister. She never rides alone now).

But geese? Heck, just grab them around the neck. You don't have to squeeze or choke them. Just show them you are bigger and bossier. It will scare them and they will leave you alone. And octopi? I like them. At the Marine Science Center, you used to be able to put your hand in the octopus tank. Once one wrapped a tentacle around my arm. It was cool, but then I have to admit, Barbara, it started feeling a little freaky and I disengaged from the non-verbal communication. Ha!

Same thing happened at the San Diego Zoo during my college years. I gestured and called to an elephant, who came to the fence and wrapped it's trunk around my arm. Cool right? Yeah, until I thought about the strength behind the trunk, and I pulled away. My college boyfriend tried to call the elephant over, but the ele sucked up a snuff of mud and blew it all over him. ha! Now there was an elephant with insight, although I didn't realize it until months later.

As far as paralizing fears -- bad things happening to my loved ones. Massive blood, although I handle it fine at the time, fall apart later, and like Becky said -- demon stuff. The exorcist nearly sent me over the edge.

But bring on those wicked geese. Go ahead. Make my day.