Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Halloween

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!
Scottish Saying - Probably inspired by Darkspume, Gnome of Despair

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

William Shakespeare

I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.
Author Unknown

Shadows of a thousand years
Rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees
'Tonight is Halloween!'

Dexter Kozen

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven.

A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween.
Erma Bombeck

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

George Carlin

Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.
Steve Almond

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 29, 2010


He moved down the hall like a ghost-cat; carefully picking his way, toeing the floorboards to find the loose ones. No creaking. He thought I hadn't heard him enter; didn't know he was there.

I knew.

Darkness shrouded me as I sank into the gloom of the basement. Couldn't see a thing. And the air was dank and thick, like breathing ink. The stairs rose next to me, upward to a door, the bottom of which was shaved with pale light. My eardrums fluttered with the beat of my heart as I watched that light for any change, a shadow, some indicator that he was coming down. 

Above me something scraped wood and there was the barest creak. He had paused. I could almost see him, lifting his head, ear cocked to the side, listening. My breathing felt loud, ragged, impossible to contain inside the hollowness of my chest. Sweat trickled from my temple and made a shivery path past my ear, along the jawbone, where it hung in the curve of my neck. Maybe . . . maybe he had turned back. Given up. Perhaps he wouldn't find me.

But there, again, the wisping of his feet along the floor. He'd taken his shoes off. Where was he? I'd lost track. My legs were shaking and I placed my hands flat against the wall at my back. The wall holding up the stairs. Hoping, hoping. 

And then, there! There it was. Two wide dark spots in the crack under the door. He was on the other side. A tiny metallic ping echoed through the basement as he slowly, slowly, turned the doorknob. I gasped--a small tremulous sound--and my mind turned to white noise. I felt my hands, as though they weren't mine, quivering along the wall. Feeling forward. And my feet following. I had to go. 

The doorknob finished it's turn and I heard the door swish, just the tiniest bit. It had been oiled. He put one foot on the top stair. I tip toed, sock-footed, until I found the archway into the deepest part of the basement. It took me to a room on the other side of the stairs. 

Screaking above me, one step at a time, he descended. Closer to me. Closer. Surely he could sense me. Smell me. 

It was here, I knew it was. I'd hidden here before. He couldn't know about it, if I could just find it in the blackness.

More steps. He was nearly to the bottom. And my hands fumbled upon a small crack.  A line in the wall. Relief burst upon me as I followed it to the floor and found the small niche, a dent really, where my fingertip fit. I pressed in and pulled, gently, and the small door opened. It was just big enough for a child, but I was thin and fit inside.

I heard him reach the landing, his searching sounds less echoing, more muted. I was nearly next to him, behind the wall, but he couldn't know I was there. Pulling the small door shut behind me I moved forward, careful. So careful. No noise. This space was usually empty. If I could just get to the back of it he'd never find me. Perhaps he'd give up. Leave. Perhaps.

My searching foot found something. Hard. Wide. Nothing had ever been here before. What . . . ? I moved forward, exploring the hard surface with my toes, pressing down . . .

And as I pressed, something long and narrow whipped upward and with a crack! smashed into the center of my forehead. White-hot light flashed across my vision as I slumped against the wall and lost consciousness for a time.

Then I heard: "Janiel! No fair changing hiding places!" "Yeah, that's cheating!" "You can't do that!" "Are you even down here?"

Well. I was too embarrassed to tell my brothers and sisters that I'd knocked myself out stepping on the end of a janitor's broom. I don't even know how the thing got there. Nothing fit in the skinny utility closet my dad had built into the small space between the back of my sister's room and the wall at the bottom of the stairs. 

Except me.

Technically I'd won the game. Along with a long purple hotdog-shaped bruise running from the bridge of my nose to my hairline. It was cool. But I never let on where I got it.

I ain't stupid.

Except in the dark.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thriller Fabulous

It's time for another round of Awful Fabulous, featuring stuff overheard during a recent Gnome Slayers night out to see Thriller.

"Are those really for horses?" "No. I'm lying."

"Go past the pink tape." "The breast cancer awareness tape?"

"And Janiel does an 18-point turn in the truck . . ."

"My legs are too long to manuever that."

"Oh! He meant take three rights, not the third right. I thought this seemed really far away . . ."

"Maybe instead of bemoaning my stupidity, I should just turn."

"Where are the stairsies?"

"Oooh, peel out baby!"

"I'm assuming you brought the tickets?" (long pause) "I brought the tickets."

(To parking attendant dude) "We were just discussing how many ones we have." (pause) "You kind of had to be there."

"I just said that to see if she'd change her expression, but she just left."

"My feet are officially hot. Too much menopause for this . . ."

"Where's a zombie? We need a zombie!"

"I think my bra broke." "I think your bra is haunted."

"Look, there's a boy zombie! I don't have any boy zombies. We need a boy zombie!"

"It keeps typing 'ombie.'" "Well, you can never have too many 'ombies.'"

"Sweetie, you're going to catch pneumonia. Go put your little zombie socks on!"

"Was that my exit? It's okay, we can turn around in Tooele."

"I will face my idiocy!"

"Maegan's passing out in the back seat. We'll have to drag her in like Frankenstein's bride." "Except I'm not nearly as flexible as she was."

"Aaaaand, that exit is closed. Your moms are going to be mad at me for bringing you home so late."

"Consider this Gnome conquered!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BAM! Check Out This Halloween House!

When I'm a grandma, I want this to be my house:

It pretty much looks like an explosion in a toy factory. Christmas does too, except, you know, with Christmas decorations. And Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and Independence Day. You can't go through a real holiday in this town without driving by the Party Grandma's house and soaking up her enthusiasm. It just sort of tops everything off.

I met the cute woman who owns this place. She told me it takes three days to put everything up. I asked her where she kept it all in the off season. She just smiled, pointed to her garage, and said, "Well, my husband wishes there were a place to park the cars.

Now you might find this eccentric, but I think it is cool. Here is a woman who is throwing her arms out and embracing the seasons with her whole heart. She is embracing life and loving it. Not only that, she spreads it to others. I could take a leaf out of that book. But in the meantime, I'll just take a treat. I'll bet she hands out rocking candy on Halloween.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ghosties and Witchies and Gouls, OH MY!

You know, you get all types on this blog. Whereas Maegan goes all in for the horror and frightmare-type of Halloween celebration (I'll have to ask Russo what her preferences are), I'm more of an OOOOHHHH LOOK AT THE CUTE 'ICKLE WITCHY-PIE!-kind of gal. A geekosity all it's own. It doesn't even rise to geekhood. It settles down somewhere around the ankles of society in the dorkosphere.

In my defense, Halloween didn't start out all hoary and gory like it is now. I mean, it was melo-dramatic and probably kind of terrifying for your average celtic Pagan. But now, when you compare All Hallow's Eve, Stingy Jack, All Saint's Day, and bonfire-attracted bats to the melted-faces and hockey masks of modern day, you can see why some of us might want to hide out in the popcorn balls watching  "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken." (Awesome-silly show, by the way, starring the absurd and irreplaceable Don Knotts.)

I mean, if I were an ancient Celt, I would totally get the whole "October 31st is the last day of harvest, and therefore the end of bounty, and the end of well-lit evenings, and also the end of anything good and wonderful for quite awhile--in fact it's probably so much the end that our dead ancestors will shoot up out of the ground and walk the land, and hey, I don't want them taking my soul so I'll dress up like one of them and they'll leave me alone"-thing. I would.

And then when the Christians came around and put their "All Saints Day" celebration right up against Samhain (name of the aforedescribed celtic end-of-everything holiday, pronounced sow-an, and literally meaning "summer's-end") it would make sense that the traditions of both would intermingle. So, you had Celts dressing up as spirits to fool the real spirits into leaving them alone, and Christians dressing up as spirits to let the real spirits know they weren't the boss of them. You had the poor going door to door asking for "Soul Cakes" in return for prayers for the homeowners' ancestors, and you had people visiting cemeteries to bring the last flowers of the season to those who'd gone before. Voilá. Dressing up to go Trick-or-Treating, and all of its trappings.

But I'd bet a bucket of dunked apples that nobody dressed up as Jason, Leatherface, or Hannibal Lechter back in the day.

I guess I'm just a Halloween wuss. I like your basic witch stirring a bubbling pot. A ghost peeping around the corner and grinning like Casper. I think spiders and bats make great porch decorations. And I'm pretty sure doughnuts and spiced cider are far too civil for a horror halloween.

So, if you want Don Knotts and dry ice, come on over to my place. I'll tell you the one about Stingy Jack; the Irishman of such terrible drunken character that the devil came to take him early. And when Jack realized his time was up, he invited the devil for a last drink, even talking the host of the fiery realms into paying for it by transforming into a silver coin. When Jack tricked ol' Scratch by popping him into a purse containing a cross, the devil agreed to leave him alone for ten years in exchange for his release. But Jack was smarter than that. And when the ten years was up he tricked Beelzebub again by enticing him to climb an apple tree and carving a cross in the trunk. This time Satan was defeated and vowed never to take Jack's soul.

Trouble was, when Jack did die shortly thereafter his wretched soul prevented him getting into heaven. St. Peter wouldn't have it. So he headed to Hades. And because of the promise he'd extracted from the devil, he was turned away there too. But not before Satan tossed him a coal to light his way in the no-man's land between realms.

To this day you can see Stingy Jack wandering through swamps, around dark forests and villages, using the devil's coal in a carved turnip for a lantern, trying to find rest. If you're descended from the Irish -- or know someone who is -- then you keep the big orange American version of Jack's lantern in your window or on your porch. Just in case he's tempted to visit.

See? Now that's just scary.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to . . .

I'm a total grinch about birthdays. I think it's because I hate being the center of attention. Every year, I try to find a way to keep from getting sung to, and every year I fail. (Seriously, don't sing to me. Don't. I will hunt you down.) This year, I'm trying something new. I've devised a plot, a scheme, to divert the focus from myself by providing ya'll with a list of famous people also born on October 20. If you'd like to sing and celebrate and wrap presents in pretty paper for them, knock yourselves out!

Bela Lugosi, 1882

I find it hilarious that the man himself,
the original Dracula, should be born in the month of Halloween.

Earl Hindman, 1942

Hidey ho, neighbor! I watched this show religiously when I was a kid.

Tom Petty, 1950

He's kind of before my time. I've never really listened to his music.
But, whatever. I like this picture.

Carrie Fisher, 1956

Ok, so she was born on the 21st, but I'm a geek and it's my birthday.
I can have Princess Leia in my blog post if I want, right?

Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus, 1971

Umm, actually I can't remember why I ever thought this one was cool.
Moving right along . . .

John Krasinski, aka Jim Halpert, 1979

Ah, Jim. Curse you and your chronic adorableness.

Proper etiquette dictates saving the best for last . . .

Viggo Mortensen, 1958

This here is the real reason we all should be celebrating October 20, folks. By far the best birthday present I could ever get. October 20 should be a national holiday, just for this guy. I think we need one more pic of Viggo, don't you?

Aaaaaand, one more of Jim.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monster Mash

*Warning: The following post is pure geek, with a little gore thrown in.

My mom recently confessed that her all-time favorite scary movie was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. "Huh?," I said. The one where the guy in a rubber suit does the breast stroke in slow motion? But it got me thinking: there's a pattern to this. We do seem to have a thing for monster movies in my family. It's not unusual to catch my mom watching The 13th Warrior on a regular basis. I bet she could quote the whole thing.

She wasn't squeamish about starting us off early. I think I was about seven the first time I got to stay up late to watch Alien. Oh sure, it scared the blinking firebugs out of me (and I don't recommend that movie, or anything else I'm about to mention, for children), but it also set the ball rolling. I could spend two hours watching Sigourney Weaver outsmart a monster with nothing but a cattle prod and her wits, and still wake up safe in my own bed the next morning. It's one of my favorites to this day. (Also, the cat survives, which is always a bonus in my book.)

On Christmas Day a few years ago, we went as a family to a double feature of I Am Legend and Aliens vs. Predators - because nothing says "holiday cheer" like a good gore-fest (yes, we're that weird). I know I'd want Will Smith in my corner when the zombie apocalypse comes. But I'm afraid I can't talk about the epic awfulness that was AvP2. I'm a little ashamed to admit I even saw it.

Then there's The Descent, in which an all-female group of spelunkers take on a tribe of subterranean bat-people. I was living in an old farmhouse in Vermont at the time. My roommate and I watched it at night, huddled together on the couch, screaming. It was awesome.

Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee were before my time (although Mr. Lee does the evil wizard and Sith Lord gigs quite well). Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula will always be the consummate vampire movie for me. The vampire crawls along castle walls, has a shadow with a mind of its own, makes lavender-colored sunglasses look cool, and most importantly, doesn't sparkle.

Or The Wolfman, with Benicio del Toro? Yeah, the story was lame and the gore a bit much, even for me. But the make-up was only about six different kinds of awesome! Who could forget the image of {Spoiler Alert!} Anthony Hopkins's clear, blue Welshman eyes staring out from all that menacing dark fur? That alone was worth the price of admission.

With all these macabre tendencies running around, you can imagine how psyched we were when one of our own recently entered the ranks of the undead. Lots of fake blood, a few sci-fi/fantasy references for comic relief, and my brother, Mike: everything you need for a proper zombie movie.

Sweet, huh?
He came home one night from filming
with all that make-up still attached to freak us out. Good times.

On Saturday night, we got to attend our first-ever premiere of said zombie movie, Ground Zero (no 9/11 reference intended). Mike rounded up all his zombie friends for a picture. (I only look painfully uncomfortable because the dude on the left is trying to zombify me, which would also explain Mike's look of severe confusion/concern. It's not because of any crippling self-consciousness issues on my part. Nope, none of that here. Not this Gnome Slayer.) Now if only I could find a way to take on an actual Alien, my Halloween would be complete.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Awful Fabulous Opening Sentences

Hello Gnomeslayers of the world!  Today we add a new feature to our blog, titled: "Awful Fabulous". It will appear occasionally and unpredictably when I, or the other two, or all three of us, are sleeping off a Little Debbie's-filled weekend and are too tired to write anything else. Or when we are feeling glib. Today "Awful Fabulous" is my gift to you. Lists of things - you might even call them writing prompts, if you are feeling generous - that you are free to use in your own writing.
You're welcome.

This month's list is called (dun dun dun!):
Awful Fabulous Opening Sentences! Please partake freely.
  1. "I knew she was going to dump me when I kissed her and tasted the onions she'd put on her burger at lunch. I'm allergic to onions."
  2. "He was the kind of guy who never asked for directions and never got lost. Except when he did. Which was all the time."
  3. "She was long and lean and filled my doorway in much the same manner as a long and lean woman would if she were standing there filling it."
  4. Eleanor's children were her life. Mostly because she fed off of them regularly.
  5. The sun rose in a bloody red smear like when you fall off your bike and road-rash your knee but you're too busy to go in and have your mom put hydrogen peroxide on it, and besides, that stuff stings like heck, and so the blood just runs down your leg and dries there. Like that.
  6. "I love you," he said. "I'll love you forever." To which she replied, "And I'll love you forever. Or until after your funeral. Whichever comes first." That's when he knew he should have made her sign the prenup.
  7. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, it was the best of times. Actually, no it was the worst of times. No wait! The be . . . .the wor  . . . It was the . . . Four score and seven years . . . Call me Ishmae . . . Ernie.
  8. He was dead. She knew he was dead because of the way he lay there moaning, "I'm dead! I'm dead!"
There you have it, dear writers. Use at will.

With love,

The Indespensable Gnomeslayers

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Way Did THAT Just Happen!

October Challenge (one week late): Paranormal Experience

Hello all you valiant Gnome Slayers! Maegan's busy right now. She's gyrating around her room with Chris Brown's Forever cranked up on that thingy humans call an "iPod." Don't tell her I said this, but she's not the greatest dancer in the world. Let's hope she doesn't hurt herself.

But it's all good! Since this blog post is supposed to be all about me anyway, I volunteered to write it for her. My name's Quinley, but I'll be using The Divine Miss Q as my blogger alias. Maegan is my person. I'm famous. No seriously, I am. All of Maegan's friends looove me (whattup Auntie Jenna!). Even people that don't like dogs love me. I'm that irresistible.

Let me start off by saying that as persons go, Maegan is pretty conservative. She's not into Tarot or psychic hotlines or astrology or any of those other freaky things humans turn to for answers. She talks to me all the time, though. I've heard her say to other humans how I kind of look like Yoda. I wasn't so sure about that at first. I mean, he's green. And hairless. He's like a little, shriveled pseudo-human. But whatever. What do you think?

Hm. I guess we do kind of have the same ears.

Anyway, there was this one time Maegan had this lady come to our house. I guess she'd been hearing stories about how the lady was an "animal communicator" and she wanted to find out whether it was for real or not. Well, duh. I could tell the moment the lady arrived that she was legit. I remembered how Maegan says that I look like Yoda, and by then I'd gotten used to the idea. So I told the lady that I was like Yoda. It looked like my person was a little freaked out by that, and I felt kinda bad. But I wanted Maegan to know I pay attention.

Maegan must have liked the lady, because she came back again awhile later. I was even more glad this time, because I had something really important to say. There's this other guy that comes to our house a lot. I think he's Maegan's uncle or something. Anyway, he loves me too, because duh, everyone loves me. But I heard him say once that he was going to put me in the washing machine. Whaaaaa? Why would he do that? That doesn't even make sense. So when the lady came to talk for me, I was all, "Please don't put me in the washing machine. That would not be a good idea at all." My person was really freaked out by this. But her uncle was there that day and he admitted he said it in the first place. And I was like, "I told you." Apparently, humans do this thing called "joking," where they say stuff they don't actually mean. It's some kind of game, I guess. Man, humans are weird.

Hey, this was fun! Maybe Maegan will let me do it again sometime. I'll ask her as soon as she stops dancing. Don't forget to leave a comment to tell me how much you love me!

Banshees and Bannock, Stingy Jack and Samhain - Ireland. Need to Be There. Now.

Don't you need to be there too? Standing right on the tip of that promontory, gazing out into the Atlantic with salt-spray and wind in your face? It's Ireland. And its blood runs in my veins. So do those cliffs. Anyone got a cup of money I could borrow?

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Halloween Gnome - Or How I Embarrassed The Candy Corn Out of My Older Sister

(Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Maryland. I lived there as a child in a homey little two-story clapboard, with dogwoods in the front and giant maples in the back.  Our house sat before a wild dark forest, and just up the street from an overgrown, deeply shadowed cemetery. It was the land of the trees, and the home of the grave–the perfect place for Halloween.

I adored Halloween. Maybe living close to New England and having read "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" started it. I loved the old-fashioned harvest-moon traditions. Loved it when we started making orange and black construction-paper lamps in school. Thrilled to pull out the little cardboard printed skeleton we'd picked up somewhere and hang it on the front door. Rushed home every day to find out what my next biggest sister had come up with for us to make. She was endlessly creative and crafty. She doesn't think so, but she was. Tootsie-pop ghosts were my favorite project of hers. A decoration AND a snack!

When it came to Halloween costumes, I was obsessed.  It had to be perfect, and I spent a great deal of time in the weeks leading up to that night dreaming up possibilities. We weren't one of the lucky families whose parents took them to the store to buy costumes. We had to make them –which I know now to be way more cool. I tended to lean toward character-costumes and away from the gruesome or horrifying. That just wasn't my thing. I had walked past our little cemetery down the street on the odd evening. Seen the mad, twisted caretaker leaning on his shovel, glowering at me. Heard how he used to hide behind tombstones and whack unsuspecting children on the head when they got too close. Then he'd drag them into an underground mausoleum where all shovel-smacked children were kept. I wasn't going near there, nor was I dressing up as anything remotely resembling The Shoveler. It was literary-characters all the way.

In the fourth grade our teacher spent September reading "Pippi Longstockings" to us. I was mad for the little girl with sticky-out braids, who had a pet monkey and a pet horse and wore crazy clothes and lived on her own. I used to sleep with my feet on my pillow, just like she did. I wanted to be Pippi. So that year, I was.

I found a natty old purple striped dress with raggedy seams and some ridiculous socks. I searched the backs of my parent's closet for some hole-y work boots. I borrowed my older sister's stuffed monkey (plush, not taxidermied)  and braided my hair. I was set to go. Except . . .

I couldn't get the braids to stick out. Pippi Longstocking had braids that stuck clear out to the Atlantic Ocean. How could I go trick or treating as Pippi without the trademark braids? I did everything I could think of to make them horizontal but nothing worked. Everyone else was too busy to help. So I had two pitiful hangy-down things on the side of my head. What to do? Without the braids how would anyone know who I was supposed to be?

My sister–the one who made lollipop ghosts and who, by the way, was terribly shy and proper and had an embarrassment-factor that was off the charts–was told to take me trick or treating. Everyone else had things to do, and the 'rents were taking my younger brother to something. So sis took me. And that day will go down in her personal history as one of the most horrifying of her adolescent life. Because I had hit upon the solution to my problem.

My method of self-identification in the event that none of my neighbors understood who I was dressed up as was to shriek, at the top of my lungs, at every single house we approached: "MAKE WAAAAAAAYYYYY FOR PIPPIIIIII LOOONNNGGGSTOOOCKIIIINNNGSSSS!!!!! MAAAAAAKE WAAAAAAAAY! MAAAAAKE WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! WooooooWoooooooo!!!!"

Then I waved the monkey. For effect.

Well, it was pretty much all my sister could do not to march me over to the cemetery, knock on the mausoleum door, and chuck me inside. We got home and when my parents asked how it went she wailed, "I've never been so embarrassed in my whole life!" Then she proceeded to do a spot-on imitation of my personal Pippi informercial.

Huh. I'd had no idea that my sister had been dying inside the entire evening. None. She was that gracious. And she did not once abandon me to The Shoveler. What a good sister.

Let me tell you, I learned something that year. My sister's imitation showed me what a stinkin' good promoter I was. I could hardly wait until the next year when she could take me out again. "MAKE WAAAAAYYYYY FOR SCOOOOOBBBIIIEEEEE DOOOOOOO! RUH ROH!!! MAKE WAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!"
Me and a Few of My Little Halloweenies – Many Moons Ago
(The baggy jeans were my Halloween costume)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Way did THAT Just Happen

Challenge of the Month: Paranormal Experience

It's no secret for me to tell you that I can be a self destructive person. True, I have gotten better with age. In my late twenties, I have been able to make peace with myself. I have learned that life is fragile and can be taken from you at any time.

Halloween is a Holiday that centers around everything morbid-ghosts, death, etc. Sure, there is candy galore and so much more. Somehow, the death part is always personal to me.

A long while back, there was a two year period that I prayed for my death every day. Oh, dear reader, I really hate admitting that secret out loud to you but its the truth. Sounds selfish but I loathed what cards life had dealt me.

On a Halloween night, the weather was more like Christmas than Fall. Snow laid everywhere as a gaggle of my friends and I trudged into a physic shop. The scenery was exactly what you'd expect when in a fortune teller's abode (crystal ball, gypsy-like tapestries and everything Gothic)

The fortune teller went through all of my friends promising the usual-love, babies and happiness. I seriously was not listening to any of the drivel the crazy-lady said to my friends.

Not until, she stared me down and said, "You're at a dead end."

I rudely responded, 'Excuse me?" (Yeah, I'll admit, I was beeyotch back then)

Anyways, crazy-lady continued, "Change your life choices or your journey will end. Keep praying for death and you will perish before your time."

Those words still haunt me. I wonder, how in the world did crazy-lady know my inner secret? I had not told a soul. Many years have since passed since that freaky night of poignant wisdom. Death has not found me yet. Sure, he has taken someone very dear to me but that's beside the point.

I do not wish to die, at least not yet. And I have dear crazy-lady to thank for waking me from my slumber in the month of Halloween.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Live and Let Live

I've had the story of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi on my mind this week. Human beings have the most uncanny ability to hone in on those we perceive to be "different" and thus somehow "inferior" or even a threat to our sense of security. And once we've pegged that person, we have to make some kind of statement about it so everyone else will know too.

What makes people think it's okay to do stuff like this to each other?

I posted Ellen Degeneres's tender response to Tyler's death along with that very question on my Facebook page, prompting this response from my friend, Ron Schoedel. In part, he says:

Being better than someone, anyone, feeds the ego in a way the natural man requires, which is--of course--the opposite of how we ought to be. . . [It] is the exact opposite of loving our neighbour. It is hating and fearing our neighbour.
On the other hand, following the principle of "live and let live" (or the golden rule, it could be called) precludes a person from feeling superior to others. When we can learn to be humble and realize that we are all equals, we are all God's children, and that each person has the unalienable right to chart their own course in life and discover their way (to the extent that they cause no harm to others), we will not feel the need to demonstrate why someone is less important, less valuable, or less "good" than ourselves . . .
(Emphasis mine.)

It's unbelievably sad to think the world had become so bleak for this bright young man and others like him that they couldn't see the path through it. I certainly hope that, growing up, I never did or said something to make anyone feel this way, even a little bit. But I guess I'll never know for sure. Nor is this only a function of adolescence. Adults are just as adept at picking out those who don't "fit the mold," whatever the mold may be.

At the end of the day, aren't we all just a bunch of imperfect beings, sitting in a room together? Do we really need to keep making it harder for each other? Or are Ron and I being completely naive? Well, I'd sure like to think not.

Young peeps: nobody, nobody, nobody has the right to make you feel like the odd man out. If someone is giving you a hard time, it's because they have a problem, not you. As Ellen said, things will get better. You need to stick around to see it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No Way Did THAT Just Happen! - Part Two - Married to a Werewolf

October Challenge: MORE Paranormal Experiences - Married to a Werewolf!

You think I'm making this up? Listen. I don't do that.

When my husband was in graduate school in Indiana (A place of great beauty and weird experiences. Go check out my UFO abduction from yesterday's post if you want proof.) . . . where was I? Oh yes. Graduate school. I used to fall asleep on his shoulder. There was this little crook--just perfect for my head. And the front of my feet folded exactly into the sides of his.


Where was I again? Oh yes. Feet. So anyway, this one night I fall asleep on the man's shoulder with my feet tucked in, per usual. And apparently sometime after midnight  I roll over and pinch off his armal artery ("armal" meaning "of the arm". I did not just make that up) thereby stopping the flow of blood and numbing it completely.

So, I'm snoozing away with, I kid you not, the light from a full moon shafting in through my partially opened blinds, completely unaware that hub has now come to a semi-conscious state due to being entirely unable to feel his arm. It is a shocking thing. And not only that, he can hear someone next to him breathing in a suspicious manner. "AHA!" He thinks in a rational and analytical fashion. "Someone is sitting on my arm. Someone intent, I am sure, on attacking us and stealing my, um, student ID. Or the very cool argyle socks on the floor. Or possibly my wife's eye drops which are sitting on the dresser. But they shall not get away with it, no they shall not! For I shall get them! I shall use the element of surprise and shock them into inactivity, at which time I will disable them." Yes. This is exactly what he is thinking.

Now, I am peacefully dreaming away on my soon to be attacker's arm. Dreaming, probably, of flowers. But more likely those little dark chocolate-drenched mint-sticks. I am dreaming happily--when an unearthly, ungodly howl pierces the air. I blearily open my eyes, "Wha?" Then I slide them to the right.

SOMETHING IS SITTING UP IN BED HOWLING AT THE MOON! The head is thrown back, the adam's apple distended. It kind of looks like . . . IT IS! My husband is turning into A WEREWOLF!

Holy Snot! I have to do something. But before I can so much as raise a hand, the evil creature is upon me. Werehusband has cleverly flipped himself over and is using his muscular and spectacularly ripped bulk to pin me to the bed (he's turning into a werewolf, remember. Those things use steroids). Wrapping his vile claws around my neck he begins to choke. Choke, choke, choke. We have a waterbed, so I am sloshing like crazy.

I come-to and realize the little whack-job is dreaming, and he is about to throttle the daylights out of me. So I gasp, as he is wagging my head up and down: "Stop! Stop! Stop! *gasp* It's Janiel! It's Janiel! It's Janiel! *gasp*"

After like an hour, Hub's vacant eyes flood with intelligence again. He sees me. Stares. Says "Omigosh." And collapses on top of me, wheezing and insuflating (which is similar to gasping, but I've used gasping too many times). I can feel the dude's heart pounding into my chest. It's going like 90.

We lay there for ages, neither of us having the strength to move. Then my husband manages to slide away, explaining that he thought I was an intruder attacking us, but he had a plan to dispatch me, so I didn't need to worry. Well. That's . . . good . . .

So, we laugh the next day. Shakily. Tell a few people, most of whom think it is hilarious.  But I will tell you, it is a while before I stick my head in that stupid crook of hubby-dubby's shoulder again. And I find out that you can sleep very comfortably in the space between a waterbed mattress and the frame. Faaaaarr away from your attack . . . er . . . husband.

Friday, October 1, 2010

No Way Did THAT Just Happen!

October Challenge: Paranormal Experience
(You may want to grab some popcorn. This ain't short. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

Once upon a time I was abducted by aliens. Almost. It went like this:

I was driving in Indiana--Brown County to be exact; the birthplace of Autumn and home to a million trees. It was ten o'clock at night and pitch black on the crazy-snake road I was blitzing down. Foliage was so thick overhead it was like driving in a tunnel, with finger-branches reaching out occasionally and scratching the windows. My eyes were tired and dry from roving to the sides looking for deer. Preferred not to hit one of those.

Louisville was an hour and forty behind me. My house in Bloomington, twenty minutes in front. I had passed through the tiny burg of Columbus (not Ohio), and was oh so close to home. After a long day talking computer-geek I just wanted to fall into my husband's arms and go to sleep.

Finally, I was five miles from rest. Just five. One curve around the next bend and I'd be out of the enchanted forest and a few streets from Heaven. Also known as Henderson.

Then I saw a light. Small. Orange. Waving up and down like a frantic firefly. I was doing sixty-five, so I barely had a chance to register it. Huh. Wonder what that wa . . . omigosh! That was a man! In a reflective vest! With a hard hat on! And the light was a signal light! He had been trying to get me to slow downnnnaaaaaaaaaagggghhhh!

My breaks squealed and kicked up huge clouds of dust. I slid sideways and rocked the car to a stop, heart pounding up my ribs, fingerprints etched on the steering wheel. When it all cleared I saw that I was a few bare feet from some seriously big road blocks. Could've died on those things. And beyond them, spread across the slim stretch of pavement, a scene of activity I would never have expected two hours before midnight.

Blocking my path was a teaming mass of dump trucks and cement trucks, back hoes and front-end loaders, all crissing and crossing and beeping as they backed. There wasn't room for it all, yet there it was, crunched into a space made for rabbits and raccoons, bushes and leaves. And on occasion, cars.  Huge floodlights daylighted the place, silhouetting men with wheel barrows, shovels, and clipboards. They jumped into truck-beds and cabs, and onto huge piles of dirt. They talked on radios, waved flags, and hollered to each other. Something big was going down. And it didn't involve me.

A worker came over and said that if I wanted to go the five miles home I would have to take a detour one mile back. Then I'd drive several miles to this little duckspit road, take a left, and drive another twenty-six. It would take twenty-six-plus miles to go five. At winding road speeds. But at least I'd be in my bed afterward, right? Ohhhhh yeah.

So I turned around, and, too embarrassed to drive by my little flashlight waver, pulled into a dirt turn-out and waited for a bit, hoping he'd forget me. But  I got fidgety. And my leg fell asleep. And my stomach growled. And I died of boredom. So I decided, remember me or not, I was leaving.

I wound back up the road toward Columbus, going slowly and peering into shadows so I wouldn't miss my turn. One mile passed. Two. I squinted. No little road. Three miles, five, ten. No road. I was halfway back to the other side of autumn and I hadn't seen the road to Duckspit. Weird. Must have missed it. Well I didn't want to go to Louisville again so back I went toward home, straining into trees, hoping, if it came to it, the workers would give me better directions.

I never found the turn-off. Not sure how I missed it. But I did find the bend where I had been light-signaled in the first place. I looked for my little firefly-construction-guy, but he was gone. Huh. That was odd. It hadn't been very long--fifteen minutes, tops. Felt a bit of relief, though. No humiliation.

Then I rounded the fateful corner.
And I wished I'd been humiliated.

There was nothing there. Nothing. No trucks. No lights, No men in hats carrying clipboards. No barricades. No dust. Not even so much as a tire-track. There was no sign that anyone had ever been there. It was as though some little construction-grandma had come along with a broom and put everything back the way it had been before that crew came. Right down to the last pebble.

No. Way.

I sat and gaped for a few minutes. Then I sort of felt the forest looming, and the darkness quieting. When I craned forward to look at the moon it was haggard and cracked by a few skiffy clouds, and seemed of a different world.

That last five miles? Took about two minutes.

I told my husband all about it when I got home. I was breathless, and felt sure he would be too. He said, "Huh. Interesting. They must have left."

Yeah. They cleaned up a day's work in fifteen minutes, and just left. I didn't believe it.

It took awhile for me to fall asleep in my husband's arms that night. And when I did, I dreamed of crop circles.