Fall is hands down my favorite time of year.
I love watching the trees in Minneapolis transform into fiery red and blindingly orange matchsticks. I adore being caught in LA's swirling, dusty breeze, tinged with a comforting chill - just barely enough to mimic a subtle change in season.
But what I really love is that all of those things happen around what has been my favorite holiday since I can remember -- Halloween.
This little quirk has everything to do with my childhood. My mother, a true ghoul herself, exposed my sister and I early on to Halloween enthusiasm, or more accurately -- Halloween obsession.
There were homemade dragon costumes derived from green shag toilet bowl covers. A vintage black cat costume with real whiskers and a tail (above) was worn by both my sister and I no less than six times.
(This is the one year "single dad" was in charge of Halloween. Finally we get to wear "normal" -- i.e. bagged -- costumes like all the other kids!)
There were black lights, industrial-strength fog machines, wood-shopped headstones, spooky sound effects, stuffed werewolf dummies with real sneakers and gobs and gobs of spider web everywhere. Needless to say, Halloween, according to my entire family, is no joke.
(You may notice that as soon as I was old enough to make my own costumes, they went the more grotesque route.)
As much as I still love it these days, the holiday always comes too quick. October rounds the bend and I am scrambling to create a homemade costume, determined to out-do my last. I am adorning doors, windows, and porches with various Halloween garb I've collected over the years (which some may argue is a bunch of junk.)
I am obsessing over elusive spooky mix tapes. I am locking down the cherished evening's parties and goings on much too far in advance. I am taste-testing the appropriate candy offerings and preparing for anything that might qualify as ghoulish mischief.
Often I come up short. The mix is never finished (or started.) The costume gets way too expensive, or too hot, or too impossible. I don't sew. This severely limits my efforts. I never throw the B-horror movie party I talk incessantly about. I end up buying candy minutes before trick or treaters arrive at my doorstep, trying not to run them over as I beat nightfall to the local Target, or whatever's closest. I am a notorious Halloween over promiser/undeliverer.
Last year I had an excuse. Sadly, my darling grandmother -- and fellow Halloween junkie -- passed away a week before our big day. It was devastating. This year, however, I will do her proud.
Every pumpkin, every bag of candy or plastic skeleton I've seen over the past month burns with Halloween urgency. Before that notorious "middle isle" appeared at the CVS, before I even half contemplated an impractical costume to assemble, I vowed this year I would do Halloween the way I always plan to. And so it has begun.
I started freakishly early, as in weeks ago. Call me crazy. Lame. Immature. Bored. My friends, I am none of those. I just love Halloween. I know there are more of you out there.
In honor of this most exciting and frightful occasion, I will be posting something related to witches, ghosts, goblins, martians, what have you every day for the entire month of October. (No zombies or vampires this year, sorry.)
It all starts today. And for you audiophiles, Monday I will post Black Moods, my official live Halloween spooktacular mix! That's right, it's already done. And it just might scare you to death.
I hope you'll check back often this month. I don't know if The Ladies and Gents Auxiliary could get much better. In fact, it can't.
The Grave Lady