Tag Archive | halloween

A Halloween Near-Miss Torments Me

Before the drenching (and don't ask me about the green bow-- I have no idea why it's there)

Before the drenching (and don’t ask me about the green bow– I have no idea why it’s there)

Nothing bad happened.

There was no accident; no one was hurt; there was no blood, crying, or boo boos.

But deep in my nervous system I’ve got cells that beg to differ.  They are crying in agony, nipping at my serenity, echoing a constant refrain.  What if. Almost.

On Halloween evening, I was eight days into a nasty cold so I was grumpy and my head was pounding like the rain drumming down on all of us.  The kids were drenched within minutes.  Simon almost slipped through my arms because his Spiderman costume was so slick from the rain.  The blue ribbons in Sadie’s pigtails were untied and drooping like wilted flowers.

The rain wasn’t bothering the kids; the swarm of them huddled up and ran from house to house, like a giant Disney-themed amoeba.  I was holding an enormous umbrella that, when unfolded, resembled a circus tent.  I was aware of the occasional car driving past us, and each time one passed, it set my  nerves on edge.   I was scared something would happen to one of our little trick-or-treaters who were too busy procuring candy to use their “listening ears” or pay attention to traffic.  I said a selfish prayer: Please don’t let something happen to one of mine.

Then there was a black car coming on my left and the kids were emerging quicker than I expected from a house where no one answered the doorbell.  I was yelling all of them to stay put when one of them darted out right in front of the car.  I saw the blue and white checkered dress and all of my internal organs froze solid.  SADIE! STOP!  The tip of my umbrella grazed the car, trying to stop it.  Jeff appeared from somewhere behind me and grabbed Sadie who had run straight out in front of the car.  It missed her by two yards? Two feet? Two inches? Two heartbeats?

Ten seconds and the whole thing was over.  Jeff ushered Sadie back to the sidewalk, and the rain started to pound us even harder.  I insisted on becoming part of the children’s horde.  My heart refused a regular beat.

She ran out in front of a moving car. Ohmygodsheranoutinfrontofamovingcar.

I begged Jeff with my eyes to cut it all short so we could retreat with the kids into the safety of the house.  After cursing the incessant rain all day, I felt a flood of gratitude when it forced us in early.

That night, I put a sugared-up Sadie to bed.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see her Dorothy dress hanging on the hook.  The sight of it turned my stomach.

“What was your favorite part, Mama?” She asked, unaware that while she counted her candy and conned Simon into giving up half his loot, I was replaying those seconds on the sidewalk.

“I liked it when we were inside counting the candy,” I offered.  An honest answer.

We worked our way through our nighttime routine– story, gratitude list, prayers, song– and I kept getting drawn back to that awful what if moment even though my perfectly alive daughter was inches from my face asking me if we could pray for her lollipops.

I’d die if anything happened and I missed all of this I think as she moves in for her final snuggle before drifting off.  I know that replaying the near-miss over and over is another way to miss her, to sap the quiet perfection of the moment away to wallow in morbid reflection over something that didn’t happen.

But I couldn’t stop.

Her eyes did their final flutter, and I extricated myself from her embrace and kissed her again before leaving.  Before I shut the door, I grabbed the costume and put it in her closet underneath the stack of baby blankets and princess dresses.

I don’t want to see it again, even though nothing bad happened.


Halloween Costumes: He’s DIY and I’m “Let’s Order It On Line”

He's thinking it through as we speak.

He’s thinking it through as we speak.

Jeff’s been working on our Halloween costumes.  As is his way, he’s all in– he’s dreaming up something original, homemade, clever.  All the things you want in a Halloween costume.

After dinner Saturday, he got that look in his eye that tells me he’s got a plan and it’s going to blow my mind. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to build a prototype. I’ll be back by dessert.”  Who uses the word “prototype” on a Saturday night in reference to his Halloween costume? I’m pretty sure I’ve never built a prototype of anything. Ever.

I sat on the couch with a cup of tea watching my children torture play with our dinner guests, while straining to hear if Jeff was hammering or soldering anything.  He’s been known to do both, and more, in that small span of time between grilled burgers and pie.

“Go see what your dad is doing.” I urged the kids to sneak upstairs, because I hoped that would hurry Jeff up.  After all, I wanted some pie was curious about this so-called prototype.  Not one to be rushed, Jeff came down a good fifteen minutes later.  He had a pair of Simon’s pants, a helium balloon, and a bolt of cellophane that he’d turned into a costume that defies description.   Seriously. I can’t describe it.

From my slouched position on the couch, I listened to him explain where his arms will go and how he’ll make a replica of his own head instead of using the balloon.  I look over at my children who were wondering what the hell Jeff was talking about and why he had drawn a smiley face on the balloon they just got at a birthday party.

In the next few days I will watch him perfect his vision, and we’ll step out in costume on Saturday night.  I’ve no doubt we will come home with a prize, even if it’s “most heart.”  I will continue to add my two cents to his design, even though my deep-down solution is to look for costumes on-line that could be rush-delivered to our house.  “I could buy white sheets from Amazon and we could go as ghosts,” I offer because I am lame, but still want to contribute.  Also, I like to solve “problems” by sitting on my ass and giving my credit card digits; he likes to use the raw materials laying in our house to create alter egos.

I love this DIY-ness that is deeply embedded in his DNA mostly because I don’t understand it one fucking bit.  There are a zillion Halloween pop-up stores all over Chicago.  It would take about eight minutes to get costumes and be done with this.  But that’s not his way.  It never will be.  And I’ll never understand it.

But come Saturday night, I’ll be holding the prize and riding his DIY wave all the way to victory, oh so grateful that opposites attract.

See his mummy costume? He dyed yards of cheese cloth in coffee for weeks so it would look "old".  Me? I bought a wig, cut some bangs and went as Cleopatra.

See his mummy costume? He dyed yards of cheese cloth in coffee for weeks so it would look “old”. Me? I bought a wig, cut some bangs and went as Cleopatra.

It’s Not That I Hate Halloween; It Hates Me

I am not sure how to write this post without coming off as a holiday hater. Nobody likes a holiday hater.  But, Halloween– it’s on my very last nerve. I, for one, cannot wait until November 1, my  new favorite day of the year.

Part of the issue is that we started celebrating Halloween in mid-September.  Our pumpkin rotted before the first leaves fell.  So, some of my distaste for Halloween is sheer fatigue.  We’ve costumed up the kids no less than 6 times this October, and I have about 718 photos to prove it.  I will spare you that.

But seriously, remember when Halloween was one stinking night?  When did it spawn into six weekend days scattered throughout the fall?

This pumpkin perfectly captures my Halloween spirit right about now. (Um, also, it's moldy because it was carved before the first Presidental debate.)

This pumpkin perfectly captures my Halloween spirit right about now. (Um, also, it’s moldy because it was carved before the first Presidental debate.)

And, I can’t really say I decorated the house, because a lone gourd and a plastic Halloween table cloth does not a decorated house make, but I am sick of staring at that shriveled up gourd, and the table cloth? I’m burning that tonight.

This morning, I actually felt a tiny flicker of Halloween love remaining in my cold, shriveled heart.  “It’s the 31st! We made it! If I can just get through today….”

Famous last words, people. Please carve them on my headstone. Or into the Jack-o-latern that you place on my grave every Halloween.

I should have known that Simon sleeping in until 6:05 AM was not necessarily a good omen, though it beats the candy corn outta hearing him bellow for me at 5:20 AM.  For her contribution to the morning, Sadie crawled in my bed around 6:30 AM, but fell back asleep.

It should have been perfect.  Except.  Except, she rolled over at 7:20 AM when I was furtively typing a blog post.  Ya’ll, she looked right into my eyes and said, “Mitt Romney.”

What the caramel-coated fudge did that child just say to me?

So I said, “What did you say, Sweetie?”  She repeated, lazily, “Mitt Romney.”

I hate to school my kids so early in the morning, but they bring it on themselves.  “Sadie, it’s customary to greet your mother with something less inflammatory.  How about ‘Good Morning,’ or ‘You never loved me’? Don’t come at me with ‘Mitt Romney’ before noon.”

But, I meditated for a few minutes and pulled myself together.  For the kids.

The middle part of the day was okay (because Simon was asleep and Sadie was at school), but before that everywhere we went store clerks (at the UPS Store, the grocery store, and the dry cleaners) gave my children handfuls of candy. Without asking me.  “Hello! Can you see me? I am the one holding the Benjamins that will pay your ass so don’t you dare give junior here a Charleston Chew.”

Have you ever tried to get a Whopper away from a toddler?  There were tears, there was rage, and there were bloody surrenders. (Mine. I am the one who surrendered.)

Then, the trick-or-treating.

I rallied, people, I really did.  I pulled out our entire costume array once again.  Both of my angels opted to wear costumes roughly 2 sizes too small, so Simon donned a Mickey Mouse get-up that was designed for a six-month old baby. I am pretty sure his junk was smushed up in that red plush long enough to have done long-term damage. (To his future wife: you may have to adopt.)  And Sadie? She decided she had to wear the pumpkin costume that was meant for an 18-month old.  The good news was that both kids waited until we stepped out the door to complain about how their costumes hurt.

Can I say one more thing about those costumes? Both ensembles required tights.  Do you know how slippery tights are? Both of my children fell off stools, and stairs, and chairs all night long.  My nerves are still clattering from the phantom sounds of my children’s heads hitting our hard wood floors.  Next year, we are either getting carpeting or banning tights.

I know I sound like a crank.  Frankly, I am.  I should probably just settle on the couch with Sadie’s stash and let the Laffy Taffy love the pain away.  And I will, as soon as I finish this post.  But, it’s not going to be with some fruity candy– I want the Mounds, the Reese’s, and the Butterfingers.  I’ve earned it.

So long, Halloween, don’t let the door hit you on the ass!

Reclaiming Willie Nelson

I feel like cursing right now. I know that can be offensive, so I am giving you this warning so you can avert your eyes.

When did I get so fucking courteous?  I am sure it won’t last.

But I am sufficiently emotionally scrambled from the Willie Nelson concert I attended the other night. Let me tell you, the Red-Headed Stranger (FN 1) fucked me up.  Not only am I listening to his music non-stop now (you try running a few miles to To All The Girls I Loved Before”), but I am flooded with memories from my childhood in Texas.  Willie Nelson’s music is the soundtrack of my youth.  When it was time to go to bed, my dad would sing, “Turn Out The Lights, the Party’s Over,” and I remember where I was sitting in our living room when he explained to me that Willie Nelson penned the Patsy Cline signature hit, “Crazy.”

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009 (image credit: Wikipedia)

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009 (image credit: Wikipedia)

But here’s the thing, since I left Texas in 1995, I purposefully left certain things behind.  I am not sure why exactly.  Maybe it was a normal part of individuation and coming of age, but going to the Willie Nelson three days ago was like stepping back to my past and grabbing a piece of the old stuff for myself.

It feels so fucking weird.

For all these years, I divided the world into things that belonged to me, and those that belonged to my past and my family back home in Bush country.  The things for me included Chicago, therapy, and liberal politics. The things I left behind included the Catholic Church, college football, and Tex-Mex food.  While I have had some success sharing parts of myself with them, I haven’t been as successful at joining them with the things I consider “theirs.”

Until Thursday night.

Willie Nelson took the stage and started with my mother’s favorite song: “Whiskey River.”  I felt my heart lurch along with the steel guitar.  I didn’t see anyone else there welling up during “On the Road Again,” but I was.  I could see the allure of Willie– he’s irreverent, talented, and his “I don’t give a fuck” attitude is charming in an expected way.  Half way through his show– around the time he dipped into his gospel tunes– I realized I wanted a piece of him for myself.  I wanted to share Willie Nelson, and all he stands for in my own history, with my family.

Me? Wanting to share? It’s unheard of.

I will note that Willie Nelson’s obsession with getting drunk and high is a tad bit distracting for me, but his talent is larger than all that.  And, OHMYGOD, he’s 79 years old and still going on tour to sing the classics that his fans want to hear.  There is plenty to admire in Mr. Willie Nelson, just like there’s plenty to admire in some of the things I left behind (even the Catholic Church, I suspect).

To say that the concert was a trip down memory lane is an understatement and a cliche.  More precisely, it was chance to look backwards and reclaim a forsaken part of myself and my history so it can live and come with me into my future.

The best part of it all was that I bought myself a red bandana and decided who I was going to be for Halloween.

Look for me next to the Tootsie Rolls singing “On the Road Again.”


FN 1: Nickname for Willie Nelson? The Red-headed stranger.