Posted in Halloween

Pieces of My October

Once again, I blinked and October slipped away, like a monster that was there one minute and gone the next, leaving me whirling in circles wondering where it might be hiding.

Once again, my favorite month is coming to a close, and I’m sitting here wondering, What did I do the past 31 days? Was I even awake? Did I even experience it?

The truth is, I always expect October to be BIG, when really it is small. It is one small moment followed by another and another and another. That’s the way it should be. I like the fact that I can fit October in my pocket. How else am I to carry it with me all year?

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 10.30.58 AM
* Pieces of My October *

Tomorrow begins November, which is a fine month too, a month of crackling leaves and woodsmoke and cold noses warmed by hot tea. But while I’m watching the trees turn red, I’ll be looking around for the monster that slipped away so silently, the one I know still watches from the shadows. When I take down my Halloween decorations, I’ll slip a spider in my pocket. During the long year ahead, I’ll keep an eye out for small moments that smell of pumpkin seeds and hint of mischief.

And I’ll wait, impatiently, for October to return.

*      *     *     *     *

Tomorrow I will announce the winners of my October giveaway. You have until midnight tonight to enter!
Posted in Halloween, Writing

Comfort in the Dark

IMG_20171004_191839

[What follows is an anecdote from my experience at the Books with Bite workshop at the Highlights Foundation earlier this month. However, it is also the personal narrative I’m writing with my seventh graders (because I like to multitask). The story is true, but some details regarding other participants and the events they shared have been changed to protect anonymity.]

Comfort in the Dark

When I was little and I got scared during the night, I pulled the covers over my head and squeezed my eyes shut, hoping if I didn’t see the ghost or monster, it couldn’t get me. I guess it worked because I’m still here. No monster ever succeeded.

Now, though, I’m all grown up, and nighttime terrors are a thing of the past. Right?

Maybe not.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop in Pennsylvania with a group of horror writers. I stayed by myself in a small cabin at the edge of the woods with no TV, no internet, and very little cell service. The cabin was cute and cozy during the day, with the windows open and the sunlight streaming in, but at night my cozy cabin became pretty creepy. One evening in particular it showed its sinister side.

The third night of the workshop was “ghost story night.” The other ten writers and I sat in the living room of the meeting house, lounging on comfy couches, sipping cups of coffee or wine, and taking turns telling ghost stories. Only, these weren’t neatly cased in the safety of “fiction.” These stories were true. And they were eerie.

One woman told a heart-wrenching tale about seeing her father’s ghost after experiencing a terrible accident. That one left most of the room in tears. Another woman described a puff of smoke with eyes that used to follow her around her grandparents’ house when she was a child. She didn’t know until she was an adult that the smoke followed her younger brother too.

Some of the stories were funny, some were sad, and some were hard to believe even though the speaker swore they were true, but all of them sent shivers down my spine. Then someone brought up the fact that most supernatural experiences happen between three and four o’clock in the morning, and suddenly the room was abuzz with people saying they wake up at exactly 3:00AM every night. I stayed quiet, but my mind drifted to the night before, when I’d been roused from sleep to see the numbers of my cabin’s alarm clock glowing 3:03. My spine shivered again.

Before long, it was 10:00PM, and the ghost stories were over. It was time to go back to my cabin. In the dark. Alone.

The excitement of the evening and the coffee coursing through my veins kept me up for a couple more hours. First, I sat on the porch writing in my journal and listening to the coyotes howl in the hills. Then I snuggled under the quilt of my tiny bed and read a ghost story (which, in retrospect, was probably not a good idea). Finally, just after midnight, I fell asleep.

At some point in the middle of the night, I became aware that I was screaming. The reason for my screams wasn’t apparent. I just knew that I was terrified of something, and I was screaming. With effort, I managed to wake myself up from this vague nightmare. Then, suddenly, I felt a hand softly stroke my head, running its fingers gently down my ponytail. The gesture was kind, soothing. It seemed to say, Shh, shh. There ‘s nothing to be afraid of, which would have been comforting if I hadn’t been ALONE IN MY CABIN.

At this point, I jerked awake again, for real this time. But, even though my brain was now conscious and every cell of my body was on high alert, I didn’t open my eyes. I did NOT want to see whatever was in that room with me, be it ghost or monster or scary shadow or even just the alarm clock flashing 3:00AM. I did not want to see anything to make my heart pound harder that it already was. I refused to look.

Instead, I pulled the quilt over my head so that not a single inch of me was exposed to the night, and I squeezed my eyes shut until I fell asleep, fretfully, once more.

Then the morning came. Sunlight streamed through my windows. There were good friends and good coffee waiting for me at breakfast, and I felt happy, relieved, and a little curious about what I’d experienced during the night.

One thing I did not feel was childish. After all, you’re never too old to be scared. The night will always be dark, but eventually the morning will come, and you’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you escaped the monster once more.

* * * * *

DON’T FORGET– IF YOU COMMENT ON THIS MONTH’S POSTS OR SHARE THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU’LL BE ENTERED IN MY OCTOBER GIVEAWAY!

 

Posted in Random

Mystery Solved! What’s Inside the Art Machine

A few months ago, I discovered a cool cigarette-machine-turned-art-machine at my local Whole Foods store and promptly broke it. (It was an accident, I promise.) Since it didn’t work, I didn’t get to find out what sorts of treasures awaited inside.

ArtMachine

 

This week, I went back and was delighted to find the sad little “out of order” sign gone. I decided to try my luck again, and this time it worked! (Which is a relief because I didn’t want to to tell the nice guys at Whole Foods that I broke their machine again.)

Which treasures did I choose?

ArtMachine2

Why, slug soap and monsters, naturally.

Monsters = no brainer. I like monsters. I also think slugs are pretty cool when I am not stepping on them or trying to keep my dog from eating them. The slug on this package reminds me of the large plastic slug that I found and made into a necklace for my good friend Emily. (Yes, of course she liked it. Why do you ask?) I couldn’t resist seeing it in soap form.

I was so excited to find out what was inside these cigarette-pack-shaped boxes that I opened them up in my car. The advertising did not lie. I got a monster and slug soap.

ArtTreasurePicMonkey Collage

The monster is a little weird. Ok, they’re both weird. But the monster is more weird because I’m not sure what to do with it. At first I thought it was a magnet, which would have been cool, but no. It’s just a tiny painting of a vampire (with a side of Dracula trivia). I think this one is destined to become a stocking stuffer. (Get ready, friends and family! Any one of you could be the lucky recipient!)

The slug soap is, in my opinion, much cooler and also quite practical. I look forward to washing my hands with this little guy and watching him melt away like he’s been salted. (Don’t do that to real slugs! It’s mean!)

So, mystery solved. What’s inside the weird art machine? Weird art. Its existence makes me happy.