Saturday, October 31, 2015

A chaotic Halloween

Earlier this year, I decided on one thing: I would embrace the spirit of Halloween all year long. That included indulging in all things horror and spooky. Halloween has been a favorite holiday of mine for a very long time – maybe because a day where the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest is something I can get behind! How cool is it that it's a day where the dead can freely roam the Earth and communicate with others? (Sidenote: I have definitely seen a lot more ghosts in my home than usual at this time of year.) I have been interested in ghosts, spooks, spirits and entities for a long time, and so of course I am obsessed with Halloween. It’s the one day of the year that I can let my “dark side” and “ghosty side” shine in all its glory!

And, you know, I thought all that obsession and planning was going to pay off when Halloween eventually came around. I thought it was gonna be a big event and that we would totally rock Halloween this year.

Well, that’s what I had hoped. It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

The first thing that went wrong is that we didn’t end up with a lot of money to spend on Halloween. Sure, I got Halloween decorations in early October, but not much was left for costumes, food and pumpkins. Not after spending a ton of money on both of our kids’ birthdays. Then our washing machine decided to conk out on us right before Halloween so we had to get a new one!

The second thing that went wrong is that I got sick. I came down with a nasty cold that had me out of commission for a while there. Fortunately, though, I was better by the time Halloween rolled around, but I was unable to leave the house for a couple of days because I was so sick so I was not able to get extra things we needed – like a couple of pumpkins! In fact, I had hoped we would’ve been able to go to Lone Pine Farm to get pumpkins, but Jesse was sick with a terrible cough for a couple of weeks. Then my husband was sick. Then I was sick!

So I had hoped that we could still get pumpkins on Halloween. But guess what? When my husband went to buy them today, they were ALL GONE! So were all the costumes. (Fortunately, we managed to get Jesse a costume earlier in the month.) So, we were pumpkin-less this year. Although I had a fake pumpkin outside (as part of the Halloween decorations) but that’s not the same thing!

And unfortunately, my daughter could not get a costume. So we brainstormed on a whole bunch of ideas for DIY costumes. (As a kid, I often wore a sheet to pass as a ghost on Halloween! One year, I wore my dad’s long-sleeve black shirt and, with my black jeans, I was a Jedi.) She finally settled on something but when her BFF came over on Halloween night, she helped my daughter to customize her costume and make it cooler. Yay!

And oh yeah, we still managed to get some candy. Kinda funny thing about that too: We didn’t get candy for trick-or-treaters until today! (Like I said, sickness had invaded my house this month. My daughter is the only one who didn’t get sick!) Luckily, candy is sold all year long, so my husband was able to score a couple of bags. Unfortunately, he didn’t get home before trick-or-treaters started knocking at our door, so, sadly, I had to turn some away, explaining we had no candy. Luckily, they didn’t egg our house! But I kept all the lights off until we had candy to give out. And, wow, we sure got a lot of trick-or treaters this year! We got trick-or-treaters of all ages, in fact. Some adults showed up costume-less asking for candy.

My husband took the kids and a friend trick-or-treating while I stayed behind to hand out the candy. I watched them heading off … into the rain. It was really pouring tonight. I was thankful for the rain, because we NEED it, but not so happy they were going out into it for trick-or-treating. Of course they returned home all soaking wet, but they had fun!

So despite the chaos of Halloween this year, we still managed to pull it off. 

I was so upset about the money situation because I know of people going ALL OUT on Halloween with decorations and costumes and everything, and we weren’t able to do that this year. We had to have Halloween on the cheap. But seeing all the pictures from friends and family who were able to throw money into celebrating Halloween and celebrating the day in all its glory got me so angry and upset that I was ready to abandon my Halloween fixation. I was ready to give up on Halloween. It’s like you have to be rich to have fun on Halloween! Ditto with horror, since that’s a part of Halloween.

But, later, I realized, you know, I love horror too much. I love Halloween too much. So what if I can't go all out on Halloween? Who says I have to? You don’t need to be rich in order to enjoy Halloween or even celebrate Halloween.

Screw that, anyway! I’m all about being frugal. And I love the whole DIY thing. And, on top of that, I’m not gonna give in to society trying to capitalize off of a holiday, like it always does! To enjoy Halloween, you don’t need to BUY EVERYTHING. You can’t put a price on Halloween. It should be enjoyed in its own way, no matter how rich or poor some people are.

So, yeah, I’m still gonna embrace Halloween like always. And I’ll indulge in horror, too. I don’t need to be rich to do that. And, anyway, despite the chaos of Halloween this year, we still had fun! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Giving another chance

First, let me say that I am definitely the kinda person who believes in second chances. And depending on the person, I may even give a third chance. But something happened recently that made me start to wonder about this whole “chance-giving” thing.

Today, my son asked me if he could take a toy with him to school. I couldn’t give him an answer right away. Yesterday, he’d taken this same toy with him to school and, unfortunately, he forgot it. (Well, he’s 8, so naturally he’ll forget his stuff sometimes.) I was upset, however, because the toy was a gift for his birthday last weekend, and I didn’t want it to be lost. Not cool! I had told him he can’t take his toys to school with him anymore, even though we went back to his school and it was found. Still, as a person who gives second chances, I was not prepared to say “no” right away.

But I couldn’t say “yes,” either.

Just yesterday, I was grumbling over how I’ve come across so many people who have a problem with giving people – mainly, me – a second chance after screwing up in some way or another. I know I am not perfect. I know I make mistakes. My friends – my REAL friends – know that I make mistakes. I get clumsy. I’ll have my head in the clouds. I walk right past them without recognizing them or seeing them. I say awkward shit. And, oh yeah, I SWEAR! LOL They know ALL that about me, and they have forgiven these goofs when they have come up. And we're still friends!

But, lately, I posted something on Facebook that apparently offended somebody and he unfriended me. Let me say that I know this guy in real life. I don’t know him TOO well, but we’ve been friends a long time. Well, I THOUGHT we were friends. I guess I only had to screw up one time to lose his friendship. Upon realizing this, I got angry and was all like, “Fuck him! I don’t have room in my life for fake friends, anyway!” No, I want REAL friends. And my real friends know that I screw up every once in a while. It happens! Nobody’s perfect. The important thing is, they forgive and forget. This person didn’t.

I was grumbling about that yesterday, because it reminded me that that dude was just ONE more of the many people I have met in my life who decide they want to walk out of it if I screw up once. Just! Once! One mistake, and they’re gone!

I wanted to know why these people don’t believe in giving second chances. Or even third chances.

But I know that everybody is different. Just because I believe in giving a person another chance (and I’ll only go so far with that!), I know it doesn’t mean everybody else does that, too. I have been lucky to have friends who give chances. I give them chances, too. But I know other people just don’t do that. For them, if someone makes one mistake, even if it was by accident or unintentional or because they were having a “blond moment” or they were drunk or something, they walk out of that person’s life for good. They won’t talk to them or answer their emails or anything.

There are just people like that.

And when I was fuming over it yesterday, I started to wonder. Should I start being like that, too? I mean, I am sick of all the bullshit I have had to deal with from PEOPLE. That is one reason why I am not social. Too many people in this world are jerks and they just suck. So maybe that was actually something I should start doing.

Or, so I thought. Getting back to the situation with my son, I started to ask myself why I was allowing jerks to influence me like that. Just because someone is that way, it doesn’t mean I should be that way, too.

No, I had to keep on being me. Keep doing what I’m doing. Just do my own thing.

And my own thing includes giving second chances. Especially where my children are concerned.

Besides, I reasoned, how was my son going to learn how to be responsible for his stuff if he isn’t given the chance to do so? If I told him no, I would be telling him two things: That you can’t give someone a second chance to make things right, and that he can’t learn how to be responsible for his things when he’s away from home because he can’t take his things with him.

Those were not very good messages I wanted to teach him.

So, I said “yes” – but on one condition. He had to be responsible for his toy. He had to take care of it and keep it with him or in his backpack or in his cubby. I stressed to him that he was lucky to get the toy back yesterday, but that might not happen again today. If he lost it again today, it might be lost forever. He said he was willing to take that chance. So I let him take his toy with him to school. And when I dropped him off, I reminded him about it.

Well, after I picked him up this afternoon, he had his toy with him. I gave him a high five and told him I was proud of him for being responsible with his things. I told him he’d done a good job and that I was glad he didn’t lose his toy. Yeah, he was glad, too.

And I’m glad this happened, because it only reinforced my decision. Yeah, I’m gonna keep on giving people second chances. Or even third chances. I’m gonna just keep doing what I’m doing, even if it’s not what everybody else is doing. That’s their thing, and this is mine.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Blackish? Really?

I had a very interesting dream last night.

There was an awards show going on. A black man came out on the stage and he grabbed a microphone from the stand. In the very far foreground, there were two rows of announcers talking during the show. Most of them were black and this one black woman identified the man on stage as “blackish.” The guy looked in her direction, clearly stunned. There was an uncomfortable silence, something like a loud gasp, after she’d said that word. I guess I should note that most of the people in the audience were black, as well. Then one lady in the top row said “Did you just say blackish?” And another one in the same row said, “You did NOT just say the word blackish.” Meanwhile, the girl who’d said the word was really uncomfortable and started stammering an apology. She was just as stunned by what she’d said as everybody else was. Then one brave soul decided to break the awkward, uncomfortable silence everybody was feeling by getting up from her seat, walking over to the girl who’d said the word, then playfully pulling her hair as she pretended to be mad and raging at her. The girl, meanwhile, was laughing, but it was obvious she was sorry for the mistake. Then everybody settled back in their seats and the show continued and I woke up.

When I woke up from that dream, I thought, Blackish? What the—

I know, dreams are weird. But it’s doubly weird that happened in my dream. I don't even watch awards shows, as it is. 

I have to admit that, as a writer, I find the word “blackish” off-putting. I mean, something or someone is either black or white. There is no in-between. To say that someone or something is “blackish” is like saying that they are not entirely black. They are somewhat black. Myself, if I came across that word in a book I’m reading, I would wonder that if the person or thing, like a cat, is “blackish,” then what’s the other color? In the example of a cat, it would make sense to say that the cat is “blackish and grayish” to indicate the combination of the two colors of the cat’s fur. That’s a better picture of what the cat could look like. Without the supplemental color, however, saying it’s “blackish” would leave me without a clear picture of the cat.

After I got the kids off to school this morning, and I was back at the desk, I decided to Google the word “blackish” to see what came up. The word just bugged me as a standalone word. I was seeing it as an adjective. However, I learned there is a sitcom called Black-ish, so maybe with the awards ceremony in my dream, maybe that was an actor for the show. (I am HORRIBLE at recognizing people – though I can totally recognize Stan Lee in any Marvel film! Hah!) I have not seen the show, so I’m not very clear on that. There is also a game developing company in Australia called Blackish Games. And said it can be used to describe an African American person (though the people in my dream would disagree).

I have no qualms about adding “-ish” to words. Whovians got a good laugh with one episode of Doctor Who in which the Doctor tells his companion, Clara, “Same place…ish.” To which Clara replies, “Ish? Don’t give me an ish.” And the Doctor says, “These readings are very … um … ishy.”

I even give people an “ish.” Like, “Dinner will be ready at 8ish.” Or “I’ll see you at 3ish.” Sometimes, I’ll say “Some, somewhat” instead, but yes, I do say “ish” a lot if I’m not exactly sure about a time or place. Or I’ll say, “Thereabouts.”

But to use “ish” when describing someone, things can get a little muddled. Saying something like “He had newish clothes” is not all that bad, but calling a cat “blackish” seems a little incomplete.

And as a final thought on that word, perhaps “blackish” could describe something that is exclusively African American. Such as in “He likes to read books written by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and other blackish books.” I could see how that would work when the word is used in such a way, because people know Angelou was black and Morrison is black.

But I think to describe a person as “blackish” and not add much else is a bit of a no-no.