Happy Halloween, folks.
Living in the Bible Belt is just plain ol’ strange sometimes. There are trunk-o-treats at local churches (which is nice if your neighborhood isn’t the best one for trick or treating,) harvest fairs all over the place (for those who aren’t comfortable with devilish holidays such as Halloween,) and at least one school around here is doing “character day,” avoiding the whole concept of Halloween entirely. This has a silver lining – kids have to come dressed as a character from a book. They have to bring the book with them and explain the meaning of the costume – so there’s some educational value added while taking away the holiday celebration completely.
Being a pagan kind of chick, I find this dismaying and sad. And annoying. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about this imaginary “War on Christmas” and “War on Christians” and “War on Family Values” etc etc ad nauseam. I just don’t get how someone can say on the one hand that Christianity in this country is threatened, when it seems to me that the evangelical Christian movement is the one throwing its weight around and making all the threats.
The older meaning of Halloween, the root of it, really isn’t anti-Christian at all. (Although I suppose if you paint anything non-Christian as Bad the whole question of meaning becomes, well, meaningless.) This holiday is, among other things, about honoring the dead, and remembering those who have passed on. C'mon, really, how pagan is that? We celebrate birthdays once a year for individuals, so what’s the big deal about honoring our friends and family who have passed on? You’re damned straight I’m gonna put some extra plates on the table tomorrow night. It’s the least I can do.
It’s strange, because this time of year always has me introspective, meditative, lost, sometimes, in memories. My half-brother George died in a motorcycle accident eight years ago around this time. I remember the trip up to Ohio for the funeral – the changing leaves were outrageously colorful, almost disrespectfully so. On the day of the service, the weather turned perfect – windy, chilly, rainy, all the conditions I really love. The leaves flew everywhere, like Hitchcock’s birds.
He was unbelievably tall. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at my Dad and me – we tend towards the smaller statures. But one Thanksgiving, when I was living in Roxboro with Dad and Judy, we got George to come visit. No one had seen him in years – I hadn’t seen him since he was fourteen and I was nine or ten. He seemed to unfold out of the car (I think it was a Mustang convertible) wearing an unbelievably cool black leather jacket and kick-ass motorcycle boots, striding up the gravel driveway to greet my father.
I went all shy and ran back into the kitchen to “help” with the dinner. I got to hang out with him a little that day, and some the next. Not nearly as much as I would have liked. I wish… well, anyway, maybe in another life.
My paternal grandmother died several years ago around this time of year, too.
Then there’s Mom. She died in August (on a good friend’s birthday, nonetheless) thirteen or fourteen years ago, but it’s impossible to remember my dead without having her in a place of honor. I think I’ll put her plate in between mine and Duckie’s. Is that morbid? Well, fuck, if it is, it’s sure the right time of year for it.
And I can’t forget That Night almost two years ago. Maybe that Voice, the one that so reasonably suggested that life was a little too much to handle, that my daughter would be better off without me anyway – maybe that voice was a kind of ghost, a whisper of a previous life – my own? Someone else’s? Delusion, psychosis, or whatever, that voice certainly had an individual personality, the damned smooth-talking, comforting, mothering, evil bitch. Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly a Buddhist, nonjudgmental way of looking at it, but then again I’m not a perfect Buddhist and wouldn’t ever pretend to be.
This time of year seems powerful, sacred, and, yes indeed, scary as hell sometimes. It saddens me to see it reduced to a dress-up contest and candy-grab, robbed of its original meaning due to the general ignorance of a large percentage of the American population. And it’s too bad dress-up for adults is mostly restricted to Halloween, you know? (Renaissance Faires, Dragon Con, SCA and re-enactments notwithstanding.) My daughter gets such a kick out of it. I may have to start playing it with her.
It further irritates me that such a vocal contingency of Americans have fought so hard against the celebration of it, when the celebration itself has been diluted to the point of meaninglessness. Like kicking somebody when they’re down.
It’s not my job to dictate to anyone how to celebrate a holiday – or even to celebrate it at all. But I do wish that folks would make an effort to get the hell out of their own ignorance. Or, if they don’t want to do that, I wish they’d just shut up and stop talking shit about what they don’t understand.
I did indeed run yesterday. It didn’t feel bad at all until I stopped – that is, when I regained real feeling in my legs instead of the endorphin-induced illusion that I enjoy so much. Right Knee is highly displeased.
On top of the run, I had a long practice this morning. That’s probably what really pissed off the knee. Odd, ‘cause it’s usually the left one whining. The practice itself was yummy. Was able to do a couple of things I couldn't last week. It's fascinating what happens when I'm able to turn off the "I can't" drama. I surprise myself sometimes.
There’s construction in the lab yesterday and today, and probably through the rest of the week. Blech. The dust was the worst of it. By the end of the day, my eyes felt like they used to before the glasses.
Today I’m in the other part of the lab because my desk is directly underneath the work zone. (They’re installing a new hood and ventilation system so we can replace one toxic testing chemical with another one that is, happily, less damaging to the environment. Quelle joie.) So I’m sharing workspace with my chatty coworker, using safety earplugs to block out the noise, wearing a sweatshirt and a scarf to keep from freezing due to the constant blowing of – can you believe it – the air conditioner they use to maintain a more or less ambient temperature in the testing room. In late October. In the mountains. Unreal.
I should mention that earplugs used for listening to music or media, instead of just blocking out sound, are now Prohibited On Company Grounds. I figured it was only a matter of time, as They can’t control the volume of the music and don’t want to risk us damaging our hearing on company time.
But I don’t understand how they can ban music and still allow a smoke room in the building.
Have a great night, y'all. Be safe. If you hear odd disembodied voices, it's ok to listen - but I'd recommend telling them to come back later, after you've plowed through the caramels :)