Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Ghosts of Halloween Past

I was chit-chatting with some friends earlier about Halloween. One of them asked what we all thought about the older kids who come around begging candy.  Personally, I think that kids all mature at different rates and if a teen wants to go trick or treating, more power to him or her.  Eventually, I think they look around and see that everyone else is much younger and they give it up out of embarassment if nothing else.  

But, it got me thinking.

Back in the day when we were kids, I used to have to take my almost 5 years younger brother out trick or treating.  It was no big deal, really.  We lived in a small town and everyone knew who we were.  We could only go so far before we ran out of doors to knock on.  Usually, Mom would go with us but the last couple times, we went without her.  I was about fifteen or sixteen the last time.  Then I remembered the costume I wore.

I realize this is going to date me but you already know I'm old, so whatever. 

My last costume was inspired by Red Skelton and his hobo shtick. I got out one of my Dad's old suits and sewed some random patches here and there. I put that suit on, complete with askew necktie and jacked up collar.  I had to cinch up the waist of those pants pretty tight with a piece of clothesline rope for a belt.  Next I made a hobo pack with a handkerchief and a long stick. Then I rubbed some of Mom's dark eyeshadow on my face to look like I had the start of a grungy beard and tucked my hair up under Dad's old fedora.

I did not have a bag for treats because that felt somehow wrong to me, but I came home with pockets full of goodies anyway.  That's because everyone thought it was so great that I would dress up to take my brother out.  Little did they know that I had been conscripted to do so by my parents.  My Mom went so far as to threaten to revoke my after school privileges if I did not comply.  So, not only did I get to keep my after school activities, I got a boodle of candy to boot.

Then, today, as I was thinking about that costume, I remembered some of the looks I got from the people as they answered the door and realized who I was.  It was a small town and it was the 70s so seeing a girl dressed up as a man gave more than one door-answering housewife pause.  I was pretty oblivious at the time and honestly I was still oblivious up until this morning. But, now that I think about it, I was bending my gender pretty good for small town Nebraska in the 70s.

I've always had a knack for making people pause and maybe shake their head a little.  Most of the time, I do it without even realizing what I'm doing.  I've always been the black sheep...the different one.  Mom and I talked about that shortly before she died.  I have always tried way too hard to fit in.  She told me that it was my blessing to be 'atypical' and that I should embrace this gift.

In her own way, she was telling me to let my freak flag fly because nobody else would get it right for me.

I don't know how freaky I am these days. But, it is now a personal goal of mine.  And, if you're reading this, you're part of my tribe.  Welcome to Freaksville.

Scary, huh?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Keep Thinking

That's the real problem, isn't it?  I just keep on thinking.  It sometimes gets in me trouble.

I keep thinking I ought to write...something yet I feel particularly uninspired to do so.

I keep thinking I ought to start those Christmas gifts. Still, there lay the yarn and thread and fabric waiting patiently to be crafted into something useful and, generally speaking, warm or at least decorative.

I keep thinking I ought to clean out my closet. But, that would mean I would have to clean up the stuff in front of the closet door so I can get the door open.  That feels like two chores instead of one to me.  So I put it off.  Again.

I keep thinking that I'll stop at the garage and have them listen to the squeaky noise the brakes on my car are making these days.  I usually think that as I'm pulling into my driveway and going into the house after work.

I keep thinking I'll try that new recipe I found a few weeks ago.  But first I need to clean up the spilled and burnt on apple pie filling in the oven.   Bah!  Oven cleaning is for the birds.  Not to mention that I have to decide if I really want to learn to like eggplant or if I just like the idea of learning to like it and really just want to continue growing it because the plant has velvety, soft leaves, the fruits are that lovely, shiny aubergine color, and the flowers glow with an ethereal, purple light that I find rather enchanting.

I keep thinking that if I just wait long enough, the right answers will come to me like a gift from the universe.  The answers to what you may ask?  Well, that's part of the problem...or so I keep thinking.

It's a familiar litany for me. The things I think I ought to do or say or be and the mental retorts that keep me from doing or saying or being the way I think I should do.  It's a melancholy thing that happens in the autumn.  But it also seems to me that I have a little more than usual to feel melancholy about this fall.

Don't get me wrong. I do like this time of year with the harvest and the changing colors and the smell of wood smoke and the crisp, fallen leaves.  I like the chill in the air and the rediscovery of that hoodie I bought a few summers ago in Colorado and forgot all about until now.  But, it's easy for me to get lost in the flow of the season and start to wind down myself. 

Maybe it isn't all bad this slowing and withdrawing even ever-so-slightly from the world.  In spite of what the internet and the news media tells us, it's not actually necessary to be productive at all times, is it?  By taking time out just to breathe and exist we are not inadequate parents, lousy partners, lazy employees, or just bad people in general.  We are not doing it wrong.  Living a life of balance is definitely desirable if not absolutely crucial in our society today.

Or so I keep thinking.