This is my baby-girl, Pooka, about 20 years ago:
She was born when I was young, and it was just the two of us for a while, before my Beloved came into the picture. (Literally, in this case – that’s his shadow.) She’s 26 now, and she lives in North Carolina. It darn near killed me when she moved away, but she had some very good reasons to go. If it weren’t for free long-distance on cell phones and the internet, the situation would be intolerable for me. As it is, we are able to maintain a day-to-day connection, mostly on Facebook.
When Halloween approaches, I miss her terribly. Our whole family loves Halloween. (After all, for many years, the entire clan lived in Anoka, The Halloween Capital of the World.) A few of us – including my mother, a couple of my sisters, and most of my nieces and nephews – have been known to go a little mad in October (in a good way.) I suppose it’s natural, then, that both of my children love the season. My son, who has his birthday in October, really enjoys Halloween, but my truest Halloween companion has always been my daughter. Some of our best days together involved going to the pumpkin fields, carving jack-o-lanterns, decorating the house, planning parties and – of course – trick-or-treating. There were even a couple of years – when I was struggling with depression – where she shouldered the responsibility for making Halloween happen for her brother.
This month I am particularly pleased with my girl. From 1,200 miles away, she is working hard to celebrate Halloween with the family and friends she left behind, here in Minnesota.
Early in September, we all received an invitation to join a Facebook group that she created. Here’s some of the text:
Welcome to the 31 Nights of Halloween. This is a month-long game, and I am inviting all of you to participate. The game is points-based, and you gain those by doing things that are in the spirit of Halloween. At least one Halloweeny thing from a core list must be done each day to accrue points, such as watching a horror movie or going on a haunted hay ride. Bonus points will be available for other things that are also in the spirit. At the end of October there will be prize for the spooktacular winner, and a mark of shame for the one who comes in Dead Last.
Ten households will be participating. She has written up a detailed list of activities that will earn points, and created a set of rules that reward the sharing of our Halloween experiences with each other. She’s purchased small prizes for everyone. She’s taken pledges from all participants and the winner’s pot (to be spent only on Halloween decorations) is $55.
I’m hurrying through this post, because I’ve got to go carve a pumpkin now – I want to be the first to post a jack-o-lantern picture in our Facebook group. (But I won’t do it until after midnight.)
*UPDATE INSERTED AFTER MIDNIGHT:*
I earned TWO spookpoints for this – one for reading Halloween poetry, one for carving the pumpkin.
I’m in the lead right now, mwha-ha-ha-ha!
In other news:
Last year, not long after I started The Paranormalist, I did National Blog Post Month in November, as a substitute for National Novel Writing Month. (BlogHer hosts the writing challenge every month of the year. The most popular month to participate, however is November.) I enjoyed it. Even then, though, I realized that from 2012 forward, it would be more appropriate for me to celebrate NaBloPoMo in October. This year I won’t be winging it as much as I did last year. I’ve actually mapped out a plan for every day in October and I’m really excited to begin.
We’ve found exterior Halloween decorations in three yards so far. I think this town will do nicely.
This week’s puzzle: Can you spell out the word ‘ghosts’ with the first letter of things found in this collage?
- G _ _ _ _ _ _ (OR) G _ _ _
- H _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (OR) H _ _ _ _
- O _ _ _ _ _ (OR, easier) _ _ _ _ O _ _ _ _ _ _ _
- S _ _ _ _ _ _ _
- T _ _ _
- S _ _ _ _ _ (OR) S _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I will accept valid words other than those I found.
Have I clearly communicated that I now work at a different hotel than I used to? One closer to my apartment? The boss is the same. The money is the same. The clientele is very different (but that’s for a future post – one entitled, ‘I met two prostitutes on my first day at work.‘) My shifts are going to be all over the place; each week I’ll have one in the early morning, a few in the evenings, and an overnight or two. (Apparently I’ll do anything to avoid a potentially nasty winter commute.) I finished my training at the new place last week, and Saturday night was my first full shift completely alone. It went fine. I received a small, partial paycheck for my training hours, which I tucked into my purse.
When I got home at a little after midnight that night, I thought of setting the paycheck out so that my husband could deposit it in the morning while I slept, but I didn’t. The next day, I woke and looked for it, but couldn’t find it. I asked my husband if he’d snagged it, but he hadn’t. I looked everywhere for it before finally admitting to myself that I’d either lost it or left it at the hotel.
I asked the dog if he wanted to go for a ride. (He said yes.) The two of us drove the three required minutes to get to the hotel. Thankfully, my boss pulled my check out of a drawer as soon as he saw me. He handed it to me, along with the sweater I’d also left behind the night before. When I got home, I wanted to sign the check. I looked in my purse. I looked in my pockets. I looked at the dog. (He suggested we go back down to the garage to look in the truck. Or maybe he just wanted to go for a longer ride.)
Yes. My paycheck was under the sweater, which I’d left lying in the truck.
I am a terrible waker-upper. Alarms don’t phase me. A ringing phone is useless. When I have to get up early, someone has to actually come tell me to get up. (It’s not that they have to shake me, or yell at me, or anything. Sometimes, all they have to do is walk into the room.) This Monday morning, my husband was on wake-up duty, because I had to be at work by 7:00a.
Going to bed early on Sunday night wasn’t an option, because our whole family was studying for my son’s first test in his college science class. (Hey, he’s also still a high school junior, and home schooling habits die hard.) We finished up at around midnight and the men-folk went off to bed. Me? I was too wired to sleep yet, so I found the most soporific TV recording I had, and laid down on the sofa. (It was Little Ice Age: Big Chill, which I record and watch every time it airs on the History Channel.) I’m pretty sure I fell asleep by 1:00a.
I dreamed of things (like alarms) and people (like my son) and semi-people (like my dog) trying to wake me. Of course, I didn’t open my eyes because I knew none of them counted … my husband would come to me when it was really time to get up.
When he finally did appear in the living room, I was surprised it was still so dark. Then I reminded myself that it is now past the autumnal equinox – and that dark mornings will soon become the rule. I assured my husband I was awake, and told him to go back to bed. I extracted myself from my quilt cocoon and got up.
I used the bathroom. I grabbed a cold can of Diet Pepsi. I returned to the living room, sat in the recliner and lit a cigarette. It was then that the television asked, “Could a 21st century ice age actually ignite this apocalyptic chain of events?” Not until that moment did I look at the clock. It was 2:57a.
I went back to sofa and slept like the dead until my husband actually awakened me at 6:30a. I had to touch him when he came to me, to make sure it wasn’t another dream.
Reality is slippery for me right now. The world I lived in for more than a decade has become a fading collection of old blog posts, diary entries and photographs. My new world feels simple and clean and small, but also dangerous and gritty and terrifyingly huge. My life revolves around work which can only be described as surreal. I am tired.
Do you know what is saving me right now? The paranormal. It is the one thing – the one interest – that has been with me for my whole life, in every phase of my life. All those years of seeking out all things eerie and beautiful and strange have schooled me well. Thanks to my love affair with the paranormal, feeling disconnected from, (outside of, parallel to,) normal life is nothing new to me.