Yes, it’s THAT time of year again: The Season of the Witch, All Hallow’s Eve, Trick or Treat, the Night of Mischief and, most definitely (my eyes are bleeding), really age-inappropriate costumes.
You know it’s true. You’ve worn them.
Every damn year you consider if you can pull-off that Wonder Woman costume just one more time. Or God forbid, you’re married to someone who insists on exercising his inner cowboy, complete with chew and spurs, except his belly is rolling over the belt buckle and he wants you to dress as Pocahontas but with a push-up bra and fish-net stockings.
So, in the hopes that you will have the foresight and good taste to not embarrass your family any more than you normally do, let me suggest a few guidelines for choosing that one perfect costume that represents your inner ‘freak’.
Wear comfortable shoes. I know this sounds dull, but unless your going to sit in a chair all night and swing your delicate ankles to and fro, or you’re looking to get laid and insist on the ‘fuck-me’ stiletto-on-high, wear something on the dogs that can carry you without real blood seeping from the toes, or the inevitable ‘trip’ as you make your entrance, which just defeats the whole purpose don’t ya think?
Wear undergarments…. under. That’s where they’re meant to be. You are NOT Madonna. SHE isn’t even Madonna anymore.
Practice wearing your costume. Trust me. Reach for something. Bend down. Sit. Walk up stairs. Sip a drink. Eat from a fork. Get it properly fastened for God’s sake. I’ve seen all of these simple tasks in EPIC FAILURE mode. Sorta like; rip, shred, oops, aaaahhhh, gurglegurgle, shit, I’ve broken something…. kind of failures. They are amusing, I’ll give you that, but I doubt you want to be on the receiving end of everyone else’s ‘Night To Remember’… or maybe you do?
Garter Belts. All I can say is that if you are of a ‘certain’ age, and you actually REMEMBER garter belts, and trying to keep your skirt down all day long as you navigated your way to the girls room for a change of you-know-what, they just look trashy. They really do. Would you want a male to wear a jock strap where the sun CAN shine? I thought so.
If your costume is accompanied with accoutrement ( think: whip, parrot, roller skates, a pyramid) make sure you know how to use them, drink with them, fit in a cab, or through the door- which is probably where you’re going to be directed if you take up too much space, or catch on fire. How did Cleopatra do it, I’ve always wondered?
Consider the weather. Hot. Humid. Cool. Windy. Nothing is more uncomfortable than pitting-out your Marie Antoinette gown, feeling your face melt off, not being able to fully share your I Dream Of Jeannie muffin-top under a coat, or having the torch on your Statue Of Liberty get-up bent over in surrender at a
$100 per plate Republican fund-raiser fancy Halloween party (just sayin’). It might even get you on the no-fly list.
False is Fine. Eyelashes, boobs, butterfly wings, wigs, blood, pretending your actually enjoying yourself. It’s one night for God’s sake. You can fake anything, am I right?
I have a sort of litmus test I put some decisions through: What would a 60 year old Sophia Loren do? She was beautiful. She aged well. She had class. She had a long-term successful marriage and two awesome children. I was not, nor have ever been, a Sophia Loren, but would I wear a French Maid’s costume? Sophia says ‘No’. I agree with Sophia.
I’m all about pushing ‘limits’. Yes. Push them. But don’t loose sight of the long-term repercussions. We are all grown woman for the love of God, And you know what a PUSH means. Be an ADULT. An ADULT.
And unless you look like Heidi Klum (after several children- God how I hate her) then stay away from the pussy.
We all have people. You know, like the people next door, the people we meet, the people we work with, but I think when most of us use the term ‘people’ they are imagining family.
My birth family was pretty small– just my parents, my sister and I, one set of grandparents in the city of our suburb, and the other set in a trailer next to the Seminole Indian reservation in Central Florida (long story).
My father was an only child. No one in his extended family liked each other much. The back-breaking manuel labor of working the railroad lines and drinking away your salary at the end of the week which resulted in weekly bar brawls fueled by cheap hootch and pissed-off wives, had seen to that.
My mother had two sisters, but one had run-off with a priest to Texas and the other stayed in Florida (My parents moved to Ohio from sunny Florida because they were always bucking the trends).
I grew-up being told that my Dad was English (and maybe Jewish somewhere along his line since that’s what I remember hearing behind closed doors when my grandmother was pissed at my grandfather) and being certain that my Mom was French Canadian because I could barely understand a single word I ever heard those grandparents’ speak and when my mom was really pissed at me she swore in French, which, btw, does not have the intended effect.
Later on, after I married into a large family, and became aware that they not only knew a lot about their heritage (Czech/Swede & English) but that they were proud of it, I wanted to know more details about mine, but by that time all of my grandparents had passed and my Mom & Dad didn’t really know more then that, and I wondered, ‘What’s wrong with you people?’ (which is something I’ve asked myself repeatedly in a myriad of situations over the years), but because it was 1991, and our son’s First grade teacher told use we needed to get this new thing called a Personal Computer for the house because she just knew it was going to be the future and she thought Chase should write that future, and I said, ‘Are you kidding? Do you know how much those things cost?’ so we took out a loan and bought a first generation PC that was about as big as the freezer in our fridge and had it’s own room- I was able to do the research.
On my own.
And it has been quite a ride.
Before there was Ancestry (dot.com) there was the Ancestry Repository of the Church Of Latter Day Saints (which maintain that one should know who their ancestors are so as to have them greet you at the Pearly Gates and show you the ropes as you negotiate with The Lord in Heaven because if you thought LIFE was a negotiation ETERNITY’s gonna be a bitch), and they just happened to have a lot of information transcribed and available on the interwebs and since now I had access to the interwebs I dialed-up and if there wasn’t an electrical storm outside and there were no incoming phone calls, I was in my own kind of Heaven.
Twenty-four years later, I have unearthed:
* That one female ancestor had 18 children. Are you frigging kidding me? She had a baby every year after her nuptials….and then she died. Who wouldn’t?
* That one of my paternal great grandmothers birthed 14 children (again- really?) and that the oldest child was committed to an insane asylum four months after she died, (and her husband married her sister) and where she – my aunt, remained for 30 years, with her teeth removed because she bit another inmate and that inmate died as a result of those wounds. Interestingly, my father had never heard her name mentioned in all of his life. Not one visitation is recorded over those 30 years. She is buried next to her mother.
* That the golfer Tom Watson is my paternal grandfather’s Uncle’s son.
* That many of my ancestors owned and operated saloons with ’cause of death’ listed as ‘liver failure’.
* That one of my gggrandfathers hold’s two industrial patents on mechanisms that were pretty much obsolete by the time he filed them. One was a beer bottle holder that rotated tabletop-style. The other was a very complicated drapery rod. Why? I don’t have a God damn clue. His wife finally kicked him out and his last census record is in a flop-house in another state. He lists his ‘Occupation’ as ‘Inventor’. It should have read ‘Clueless’.
* That one ggrandfather died in the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and is buried in a Pauper’s Field. Make of that what you will. I know I have.
* That another ggrandfather was a Justice Of The Peace. He mostly married his family members- to each other.
* That my maternal grandmother was an illegal alien until she was 54 and would have remained illegal if immigration services hadn’t knocked on her door at 2:30 in the morning threatening to deport her. I can imagine her hysterics in French. “Mais je na bebes dans ce pays!”: But I have babies in this country! “Mon mari honnete homme, le poissson trop, mais bon!”: My husband good man, he fish too much, but good!, and “Je tue personne!!: I kill no one! The officers probably just gave up. She got her papers pronto, btw.
* That there have been a few ‘pre-mature’ births of ‘full-term’ babies along the way- just sayin’.
* That 1st cousins married–a lot. A few had to get special dispensation from the Catholic Church- and they did.
* That I have ancestors that have fought in the Revolutionary War, The French and Indian War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, and each World War. My father’s cousin Jimmy, the only child of my Aunt Irene, died on an army base here in the States, during the Korean War, without ever seeing action. His death certificate remains ‘classified’. I don’t know where he’s buried.
* That there has never been a fortune made that wasn’t lost.
* That I’m only the second to graduate from College (after my father) and the first female. I am the ONLY person that ever went on to graduate school– until recently.
* And that, I am, of course, a direct descendant of Royalty.
But one of the most interesting tidbits that I have unearthed was that some of my PEOPLE are buried right here in Louisiana- and they’re Cajuns (Which were Acadians expelled from French Canada by the British because they wouldn’t sign an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown).
They were rounded up in the woods of Nova Scotia and herded onto ships in the Bay of Fundy, crammed hundreds over capacity, to Baltimore, Maryland, in the year 1761, to rot on the docks, until the City procured transport to French territory in the South, and they landed in New Orleans, and made their way upriver to St. Gabriel, and mingled with slaves and Indians and malaria and exotic spices and started all over again.
And I found them….
These are my people too.
Who are yours?
All cleaned and dusted off. Hi family!
St. Gabriel Cemetery
Iberville Parish, LA
St. Gabriel Catholic Church built by the Acadians and recently renovated.
I am Ebola. I’d like to introduce myself.
I am an ancient virus. I have lived a million life times.
I was birthed in the primordial ooze of a forming living planet.
I laid in the soil and waited for a root to take me up into a fruit.
I laid in the belly of the winged creatures that feasted on the fruit- still not a perfect host, just a resting place.
When I was younger, I waited in the excrement of the creature, in caves which gave cover to humans during storms, but this proved inefficient, so I mutated and slept in the blood of the creature itself, confident that it would find another host for me, all the while waiting- waiting for perfection.
And I was not disappointed.
My vessel, the Chiroptera, the Bat, often found the tender skin of swine a pleasant diversion, and so did I.
My perfect host was only one-step away.
And it is You.
I exist only to replicate. I have no other desire.
I am mighty and swift, hoping that in your attempts to attend to your dying, and in the hysteria that will surely be the result of the gruesomeness of my presence in your bodies, you will be careless.
And you have been.
I LOVE America-aside from hitching a ride on a man who knew he had been exposed, I didn’t wait too long to really get going, and you accommodated… when this human began to have bloody stool, you sent him away with an antibiotic.
By the time I was fully vested in his body, he was quarantined, but in a hospital that was simply not prepared for my dedication to my life’s work.
In fact, two of the women who ministered to his needs, have become my next generation, and you allowed one of them to get on an airplane.
I can not say ‘Thank You’ with enough humility.
Please don’t have your health care providers fully trained in infectious disease control, or provide them with proper gear. Your communities don’t really need to dispose of contact material in any more then a paper bag in the local dump- or a garden hose.
Please don’t ask people where they have travelled to- always believe them.
Please don’t require the people that have cared for my host tell you where they live, or to not get on mass transportation. I thought your allowing Nurse#2 to return from Cleveland even though she was already feeling ME was brilliant. Keep that up.
Please continue to disseminate the ‘We’ve got this under control’ attitude. So Wild West. I’m hoping to get out there, actually.
Maybe a train?
And stop debating the merits of attending to ground ZERO in West Africa. It’s a waste of time.
In closing I would just like to say I appreciate your generous welcoming, and I really enjoyed Dallas.
As the sweep of iced Canadian air pushed through the hard woods of New Brunswick, like a reaper strumming dead bones, a French immigrant family traveled by open carriage to the border of Canada, and crossed by foot onto American soil into Maine.
They managed by rail, and truck, and bus, and luck to find Boston.
The Father had a brother there already. The brother spoke of steady work, lodgings with heat, and stores where all you had to do was walk in and choose food, with fruit that came from wondrous places- like pineapple and banana. Warm places. Islands. You could taste them.
The Parents of this family had little formal education. It wasn’t needed to continue the trade on a fishing boat. The family tradition of hand-to-mouth. Eat what you catch. Sometimes you don’t– eat at all.
The Father did odd jobs for Boston- like occasionally running bootleg liqueur along the Bay of Fundy or repurposing coat closets with indoor plumbing for rich people.
The Mother was in service as an upstairs French maid for a prominent Brahmin family on Beacon Hill, until the Depression hit, and then even all the money in the world couldn’t save you. Or their jobs.
By 1934, with a new baby just born, the parents delivered their eldest child to live with nuns. They couldn’t feed her and her two sisters combined.
The Mother was allowed to visit for one hour, once a month. Sometimes the child didn’t attend the visits. The Mother was told the child was being punished for bad behavior, that God wiling, hopefully next month she’d be more obedient.
When the Mother inquired as to the offenses, she was told that it was of no concern to her as long as the child was under the roof of the Lord and the Mother continued to require their services.
The Mother visited every month- for over a year.
By then, the Father had decided to move to the water, to leave the city, where he could fish for their supper, and on their way, they gathered their eldest daughter from the Nuns, and vowed to never set foot in a Catholic Church again.
The daughter was afraid of closets now. They didn’t ask why, but the Father removed every closet door from every house that they ever lived together-in again.
And then, one day, twenty year’s of days into the future, with the warm caress of a tropical breeze blowing through the fronds of soft palms, like a mistress whispering in the ear of a lover, a nun was found dead in a closet.
The family had finally made it to Florida…
The fishing was good.
How many times have you heard ‘Follow Your Passion’?
And, how many times have you thought, even felt, like somehow, you’re ‘Passion’ must be hiding behind that big stack of unpaid bills?
How many times have you been advised to ‘Find what you’re passionate about and do THAT’?
How many times have you wondered if something must be wrong with you because you’re either not very complex or you suck at hide-n-seek?
How many times have you heard that if you ‘do’ what you’re passionate about you’ll never work a day in your life?
How many times does a day’s work resemble unicorns farting rainbows?
So let’s be honest, you and me, between friends and all, let’s be speakers of truth.
Let’s look each other in the eye, take a deep drink of wine, and say, ‘Me too and we’re awesome still.’
When I was young I played piano- well, that might be an ‘over-statement’ but I still played.
My grandparents had an organ, and one day, when I was eight-ish, bored with serving the adults dirty martinis between poker hands, I went to the organ, flipped the switch, and began exploring the keys.
Oh. My. God. This is fun.
Fast forward: Playing a piano became my passion. I played before I went to school. I played at school. I played any time I had the time. And I got good.
Now, what I’m not telling you is that (shuuuushhhh) I was self-taught. I couldn’t read music. I had spent years devising my own musical notations. And I was HAPPY.
My mother begged (BEGGED) me to take lessons.
Now, you can’t play an instrument and not SING with it, so I SUNG. Loudly. And well. Every damn day. I played records on my parents phonograph and I mimicked the ‘Greats’. I listened and I learned and I got g-o-o-d. Really g-o-o-d. People used to come to our house so that they could hear me sing. I could do Jimmy Page as well as Patsy Cline. Whateva ‘ya need folks. And I was HAPPY.
My mother begged (BEGGED) me to take lessons.
Again, Peter pays Paul, and then they go see Simon, so I began to write my own music with lyrics.
And some of my stuff was pretty good. I had the wife of a Entertainment producer tell her husband about me- THAT good.
My mother begged (BEGGED) me to Follow My Passion.
And I declined.
‘Why?’, you might ask.
Because I was HAPPY.
Because I suspected that once this ‘thing’ I WAS passionate about became the property of someone else, became something that I might make a ‘living’ at– would ruin it- the Passion. The Happy… so I ‘did’ other things, other jobs, had other responsibilities, made differences in other ways WITHOUT BEING PASSIONATE about them.
And, ‘ya know what? It’s been good. Even great– this life of mine.
It has been my experience that you don’t need to be passionate about something to do it well, or to have it be rewarding.
You don’t need passion to participate in a meaningful occupation, to do a good job, to become accomplished, to be heard.
Because most of us don’t even know what our ‘Passions’ are, let alone how to finesse them into a career, and if you do know what your ‘Passions’ are, there’s no shame in just experiencing them quietly, with loved ones, by yourself, for the JOY, for the …HAPPY.
All of those ‘people’ that espouse these little ditties aren’t passionate about you, or your passion. They are usually standing in front of a choir, selling a book, or receiving an award.
It’s just so easy for them to inspire you. You feel empty. You feel left out. You are ripe for the pickings.
And then you go home and try to identify your passions. But the kids are crying and you need to get dinner on the table, and your husband needs his med’s, and your boyfriend hasn’t called, and your father’s insurance won’t cover his treatment, and you don’t know…
What your passion is.
Because LIFE is getting in the way.
Except it’s not
Because living Life IS the great Passion, and you’re a big part of IT, and IT may not always say ‘thank you’, and IT may sometimes walk right past you, and IT doesn’t buy you a house, and IT let’s you get old, but IT’s the story. The big reveal.
YOU are the Passion. And you are an awesome creature in all of your ordinariness, and invisibility, and seemingly mundane vanilla existence.
Because without all of us, in every form, suffering every malady, and creating joy from dust, there would be nothing to live for.
It takes a hero to get up every damn day and go out again.
And life is made-up of unsung heros- thank God.
So consider giving yourself a break, apologizing to your own soul, kissing your own face, painting masterpieces on the weekends, creating an environment that provides for the next generation, rounding-up stray animals, being in love, being upset, being forlorn, planning a funeral, having a baby, being properly diagnosed, clean sheets, cold milk, hot showers, and receiving a smile from a stranger– all a part of your Passion.
You just might find yourself HAPPY.
At least enough of the time.
All of these people are experiencing their PASSION’s without actually having laid the marble or painted the murals.