"He blew his mind out in a car..."
So today is Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, or, if you're in Mexico, La Dia Del Muerte (The Day of the Dead.) I thought I'd blather on about the history of this holiday, or maybe get into all the traditions and how they came to be.
But I'm not gonna do that. Instead, because a close family friend died this weekend, I'm going to chat about something far more esoteric than candy and costumes and vague religious connotations that have been lost through years of blatant commercialism and radical witchmongers and some pretty wacked out people who take advantage of the dead thing and use this day to make mischief. (Incidentally, the family friend was 83, and suffering, so I can comfortably say, it was his time to go. May he rest in peace.)
Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered what's out there? If you haven't, you are clearly a loser who has no connectedness to humanity and should stop reading this blog immediately because what I'm about to say will make you confused and likely to question your narrow reality. You're also probably the only human on Earth who doesn't look up at the night sky and wonder, "What's out there?" The huge infinity of it blows us away, makes us feel insignificant. I can confess now, the ocean does the same thing to me. I mean, what is
down there? Some Japanese dudes recently made history by taking photographs of the giant squid
. A guy here in the States spent his whole life looking for it, and these Japanese guys found it first. He was glad, but I imagine he was bummed just a little bit. Did I mention he spent his whole
life looking for it?
Where was I?
Oh. Yes. The existential thing. So we've established that everyone feels insignificant in the Universe of God Knows What's Out There. Now here's something I bet you haven't thought about. In one hundred years, who will remember you? I mean, really
remember you? Or miss you? Or even have a clue who you were? I thought about this while I was at a ginormous Antique Show with my mother and saw a whole stack of those old timey photos. You know, the kind that are brown and white, and the ladies look pinched and the men look constipated. I'm standing there, looking through these photos and wondering, who are these people? Why did they have their photograh taken that day? Were they happy? Hard to tell in old pics, because nobody smiled. What's up with that? Reminds me of my brother, who never smiled in any picture until after he had braces and his teeth were straight. People get weird about photos, I guess because they think someone, somewhere, a hundred years from now, will look at it and wonder if they had buck teeth, and that's why they didn't smile.
Where was I?
Oh. Yeah. Who will remember you? Yes, there are historical people we remember, but we don't really. Remember them, I mean. How can we? We never knew them. We don't remember William Shakespeare. We read his work and think he's a genius and say, "Man, that guy was a genius," but we don't think, "Whoo damn, Will was hot." Or, "That Bill! Sure loved a practical joke, didn't he?" Or even, "I knew
William Shakespeare, and you're no William Shakespeare." Bottom line: In a hundred years you'll be dead. And you'll have been dead so long, pretty little Mexican women won't come into the cemetery on La Dia Del Muerte and leave small offerings in your memory. You'll be lucky if some artsy-fartsy chick stops by and does one of those pencil shading things of your tombstone. No one will miss you, because everyone, and I mean everyone who knew you will be dead too.
Kinda blows your mind, doesn't it? Now before you think to yourself, Stef is such a downer, and I hate her because she just depressed the hell outta me, let me finish. The message is positive, if you think about it a little longer and put some energy behind it. Because here's the deal: Nothing is permanent! Don't sweat the small stuff, and in the end it's all
small stuff. Stop and smell the roses. Hell, take some home with you and smell 'em a lot. Kiss your family. Hug your friends. Enjoy your life, and all the people in it. Because some day, you'll be gone, as will everyone who ever knew you. Your page of history is written and it's all over. Make your life count while you're here.
Go give some kids some candy. Scare the hell out of 'em while you're at it. Make this the Halloween they remember as the Very Best One.
My favorite day of the year
The last Saturday in October gives me the impossible, the unattainable...the thing money can't buy. More time. One more blessed hour.
One more hour to snuggle with my kids and husband and watch a movie, staying up later than usual.
One more hour to sleep in!
One more hour to get things done in the morning (on Sunday, if I've "fooled" myself and haven't turned the clocks back when I went to bed).
And, on top of that, a bright, shining, sunny morning the next day at the same time it was dark and cold the day before!
I love Daylight Savings Time. I'm thinking Hallmark ought to start a campaign to make it another holiday! Just think of the cards they could come up with:
Happy Birthday! You get one more hour to celebrate tumbling over the hill!
I love you twenty-four hours a day...but this weekend, I love you twenty-five!
Time passes so slowly when we're apart...it seems as if there's an extra hour in the day.
Okay, so I write novels, not greeting cards...but you get the drift. I'm sure there's a passel of people out there who can come up with something better, so lay it on me!
The only thing I hate about it is that dreary weekend in April...when we have to give it back!
So...what do you do to take advantage of that annual, blessed hour?
Top Ten Reasons I Love Teaching
Allow me to begin this post by saying I never could have written this post before last year. It has only been since I’ve moved to my new school that I’ve been able to embrace what I am, instead of going to a job for a paycheck.
So, the top ten reasons I’m a teacher.
10) free hugs – all the time
9) the kids crack me up. At least once a week someone surprises me with a zinger that has me busting out laughing.
8) reading to the kids, spreading my own joy and experiences in reading to them
7) getting to wear goofy things to school, like Halloween socks and dresses.
6) summers off, two weeks at Christmas, a week at Thanksgiving, Spring Break (hey, these are WAY further up the list than they used to be.)
5) seeing stuff at the store that my kids will get a kick out of, and getting it
4) helping a kid that would fall through the cracks.
3) seeing the look on a kid’s face when he GETS IT for the first time.
2) sharing my experiences, firing passion in young minds
1) always feeling young
Candy, Evil Candy
On a recent shopping trip, I stopped in the candy aisle and stared at all the bags of individually wrapped candies piled high in preparation for Halloween. Here are the questions that ran through my head as my overactive sweet tooth screamed to be heard.
* Do I buy a couple of bags in case we have trick-or-treaters or do I move out of this cellulite-inducing aisle and make sure we're not home or just don't answer the door on Halloween?
* If I buy the candy, where do I hide it so my husband doesn't eat it all the Snickers and I'm not tempted to consume my fair share of 3 Musketeers?
* If I buy candy, do I deliberately buy kinds we don't like so we're not inhaling the leftovers in the early days of November?
* Why did we buy a house anyway? I didn't have this dilemma when we lived in an apartment because no kids ever came to the door. Oh yeah, we hated paying rent and gaining no equity.
I caved and bought the candy, though I compromised and only tossed two bags into the cart. Alas, they're kinds we like, the aforementioned Snickers (hubby) and 3 Musketeers (moi). I brought it home along with the other exciting purchases like tissues and and detergent. And like a good little girl, I hid the candy in the closet in my office. But the siren song must be strong (that or my husband knows me too well). While I'm at the computer working one night, he comes wandering in and asks, "Did you get any candy at the store?" Okay, at least he's aware enough that Halloween is around the corner. Otherwise, he wouldn't have asked the question because I never buy candy. Not that I don't love it, I just don't want to weigh as much as our pickup truck.
For a moment, I tried to play dumb. But after thirteen years of marriage, he saw right through that feeble attempt and I dragged out the hidden candy. And you know what the annoying part of this story is? To my knowledge, he hasn't been coming back in here and sneaking candy. Most of the Snickers are still there. The 3 Musketeers, however, are disappearing. Well, not really disappearing. I'm fairly certain that if I stood in front of the mirror, there would be all these individually wrapped candy-sized lumps attached to my stomach and hips. Sigh. Maybe I should take the remaining candy to my neighbor's house and have him hold it hostage until Halloween. Or maybe I should have more willpower and not buy any next year and plan a vacation during Halloween.
The Costume Conundrum
Joe and I have a costume party to attend tomorrow, and this post marks the first time I've thought about what I'm going to wear. I used to get really excited about Halloween, so I have a cache of costumery, but most of it is the kind of sexpot stuff that was feasible several pounds ago. I do have a cape and a witch's hat. If my hair were long enough to put in a bun, I'd be tempted to dig out an old pair of wire-rimmed glasses, draw on some wrinkles, and go as Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books. Perhaps I could go as her lesser-known niece, Montana McGonagall. It might be fun, convincing drunken party-goers there's a minor character they can't recall. "C'mon -- she's the one who almost had the one-night stand with Sirius Black. On the Knight Bus? They were both drunk? I can't believe you don't remember!"
Even when we were more gung-ho about Halloween, Joe and I didn't exploit the wonderful world of couple's costumes very much. One time, he was a vampire, I was a vampire's victim...not very imaginative. Another time, we dressed as bunches of grapes. I can't remember who was Concord and who was Thompson, but the costumes involved black pants, black turtlenecks, wreaths of fake grapevine on our heads, and green or purple balloons tied onto lengths of black yarn and pinned to our clothes. It was kind of hard to sit down, as I recall.
There's even a contest at this party. One of last year's winners was a gal dressed in overalls and a flannel shirt. She also wore a computer-labeled cardboard box, hung from straps over her shoulders. Can you guess what she was? The Farmer in the Dell. I know someone else who pinned clothes all over himself, taped a single-serving box of Tide to the outer layer, and went as a pile of dirty laundry. That was clever. Joe dressed as a jellyfish one year. He wore white and carried a clear-plastic umbrella with strips of bubble wrap trailing from the edges. It was great, but the bubble wrap proved too tempting to other guests. By the end of the evening, he looked like he'd been washed ashore and trod on by unwary tourists. Oh, and there was the infamous year we both went in drag! Joe was a ringer for Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie
, and I looked like Tom Petty after orthodontia. It took a while for people to recognize us -- that was fun
Maybe I can
get excited about Halloween this year. I'm a writer. Surely I can come up with something creative. In fact, maybe I should look to the world of books for costume ideas. Let's see...what famous literary duos can I think of? Nothing obvious, like Romeo and Juliet or Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Something funny and unexpected, like, um, er...
All I can think of is Ahab and the great, white whale.
"C'mon, you remember Montana! She wound up as a stripper in that dive on Knockturn Alley? That's right. The Witch's Tit."
Dance of the pumpkin seed junkie
Hello. My name is Anne. And I'm a pumpkin seed junkie.
Every year at this time I give a girlish squeal of delight when I walk into my supermarket and see the first batch of pumpkins, fresh from the fields. I already picture them gutted, their precious seeds decorating my baking tray, dripping with olive oil, garlic and salt. That mouthwatering taste as you pull the first one off the tray and place it on your tongue. "Oh, pumpkin seed, I love you," I whisper as I crunch into it, marveling at the texture, taste...and incredibly small size. I must have another. My hand darts out to grab seed two. Crunch, drool. Seed three. Seed four. Seed fivesixseveneightnineten.... No! Where have all the pumpkin seeds gone
? I must have more. Here, pumpkin, pumpkin...
In the spirit of pumpkin seed junkie season, is there a special way you bake the seeds, or a spice you use, that sends seed junkies into bliss? I am a fan of garlic, and my seed recipe involves a large coating of olive oil, garlic salt and too many shakes of the rock salt canister. Here's a starter recipe for any aspiring junkies.
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
2. Separate seeds from pumpkin and discard any lingering strings/pulp
3. Wash seeds
4. Coat seeds in olive oil, garlic salt and rock salt (or use what you have on hand -- you can't go wrong with just using butter and salt if you don't feel like experimenting)
5. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet and bake
6. Check the oven after 15-20 minutes to make sure they are coming along. An occasional stir of the seeds does not go amiss. Wait until they are a golden brown color, or until your desired consistency/dryness. 30 minutes should be plenty of time, but random checks and "taste tests" are encouraged.
With October coming to a close I must sit and wait a year for the next dance of the pumpkin seed to begin...
We've gone and done it now - the Wet Noodle Posse is loose on the Internet! Okay, so we've had a gorgeous website for a little over a year, but this is more immediate, more interactive.
A little bit about us, for those of you who don't know. We are a group of women who finalled in RWA's Golden Heart contest in 2003. We formed an email loop to support each other, but beyond talk of dresses, New York and editor etiquette, we formed an incredible bond. You know how sometimes you can really connect with someone over the Internet? Well, we're proof.
And now we invite you to get to know us, in all our diversity! A different member will post every day, on a variety of topics, so come back often to see what we're up to!