Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: What it Means to Me

My favorite holiday is not, as you might guess, Christmas.  Like many other horror-type folks, Halloween is my Christmas.  Some people geek out over what I call the "silly season" and spend craploads of money on trees, tinsel, animatronic Santa Clauses and nativity scenes.  I do that at Halloween.  Actually, I usually just go into my writing room, take a few pieces off the shelves, and put them in obvious places around the house.  It works.  But, as is always the case, there are always people who misunderstand.  I actually had someone sarcastically wish me a "happy Satanic death-day," which first made me spit coffee from laughing so hard at their indignant ignorance, but made me think about what my favorite holiday (and lets not quibble here...To me, it's holy) means to me.

Somewhere in the Way-Back, Samhain (pronounded sow-een) was an agricultural celebration of the new year and the last harvest before winter generally sucked the life out of everything.  It was a celebration of everything the year had given, every accomplishment, and every moment spent with one's family.  It was also the one night of the year when the veil between this world and the next was thinnest, and your dearly-departed could come back and visit.  Sounds sweet, doesn't it?  That's what it was, folks:  A celebration of family, of love, of accomplishments, and of "we'd better get our party going on now because it's going to be frickin' cold tomorrow"-ness.  I'm paraphrasing that last part.  It was also theorized that, since the good spirits could return, so too could a few of the more annoying ones.  Disguises were worn to confuse the the more playful spirits, which is where we get the tradition of dressing in costumes.  The poor (read: the majority of everyone) would go door to door of the rich (read:  the vast minority, but still kept the poor under soul-crushing dominion just like they do today) to beg for food for their celebrations.  They also left out small bits of food for the souls of the departed.  That's where we get the Trick or Treat traditions.

All that brief little bit of history is fine and dandy, but what does it mean to me.  Well, on the minor end, it means I'm actually allowed to go wondering around in a costume scaring the ever-loving hiccups out of children for one night without being arrested.  It also means loads of candy and lots of friends.  But those things are actually minor to me.  Here's the real biggies:

First, my brother and his wife and their boys, my friends, and my parents all come to my house to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.  Might sound lame, but believe me, it gives me the greatest joy in the world.  My Mom and Dad (if you knew them, you'd know why those two words are capitalized) visiting my house and handing out candy makes me proud, and seriously puts me in enough of a good mood that  the daunting shadow of Christmas doesn't bother me for a few days.

Second, All Hallows is very special to me personally because of one special event that happened on this day.  Eighteen years ago, Tabatha Piszczyk finally gave in and agreed to go out with me.  Our very first date was to a Halloween costume party.  She dressed as a rodeo queen, I as a drag queen (we were a pair of queens!).  From that night, Tabby and I have been inseparable.  I proposed to her soon after that first date, and we were married in April of the following year.  So the candy, the costumes, the scary stuff are all great and things that I adore and love, but Halloween will forever be a time that I cherish because on that night I found the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Happy Anniversary, babe!   I love you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Doing What You Love (or: If You Don't Love It, You Only Have Yourself to Blame)

The other day, I was in a social situation (I know...shocking, ain't it?) and overheard a couple fighting about...well...everything.  When the guys all retreated to a local pool hall, the fellow in that relationship did nothing but gripe about his significant other.  I learned later that his girlfriend did the same thing.  It seems the two of them make each other miserable.  It reminded me of another conversation I overheard (yes, I eavesdrop often) in which a person who wants to be a writer told a friend how much she hated writing.  "I'd love to go, but I have to work on this stupid story."  Both conversations hit me in a peculiar way...The first because the guy managed to bring a really dark cloud over an otherwise fine night of beer and billards, and the second because it was hard not to hear her pretentious rant because of the volume of her voice...because of how similar both situations were.  In both cases, the solution was simple, yet the sort of solution that, apparently, few people think of.

If you hate it so much, stop doing it.

Why do people put themselves in positions in which they know they'll be miserable?  Simply put, if you hate the person you're with, find someone else.  If you hate writing so much, quit.  It's that simple.  Here's my thought process:

First off, we (human beings, children of the Goddess, God's creations, beings of light, whatever you want to call us) were not, in my opinion, meant for suffering.  Sure, into every life, a little rain must fall, but that's why we invented umbrellas.  Perhaps we really can only measure the good times if we have something bad to compare them with, but that doesn't mean we must continue to be downtrodden.  There is nothing anywhere that says that you, John Q. Netreader, must spend all your life growing more and more bitter and angry just to keep comfortable.  It is the pursuit of happiness that makes things bearable.

So let's go back to the above conversations, or specifically, the latter one.  If you hate writing, then quit.  It's not worth the struggle, the anguish, the pain, the disappointment, or any other thing to call up such gruesome emotions, no matter what you think you're going to gain from it.  If it makes you miserable, don't do it.  Take up fencing or knitting instead, something that doesn't drive you disrupt a Starbucks by loudly proclaiming that you're a writer, yet you hate doing it.

See, writing is supposed to be fun.  It's a release, a joyful expression of the self.  But mostly, it's a hoot and a half to play God for a little while and see how mean you can be to your characters (ever read a book where nothing bad happens to anyone?  It's boring.).  No one forces you to do it, no one puts a gun to your head and says "You MUST write!" and then flogs you when you don't.  It should be something that you look forward to doing every day, something that you contemplate sneaking time from work to do, something that enflames your passions.  Typing the words "the end" when you know you've written a good story should be equal to the biggest orgasm of your life.  That's what it should be.  The same holds true for relationships.  Why on Earth would anyone stay with someone that makes them feel miserable?  And I'm not siding with either one, as they both seem to do a good job making each other unhappy.  Your life partner, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, hetero-life-mate, or whatever, should evoke in you a feeling of warmth and happiness when you see them.

Forgive me if I sound preachy here, but I've been remarkably lucky (blessed, whatever) in my life to find three things that ignite my passions.  The first one (in chronology) was martial arts.  I could train every day, all day, and be happy doing it.  The second one was when my wife came into my life (the second time...The first time I was dating her best friend at the time and that was in Junior High School...nevermind...long story).  Tabatha brings out the best in me, and while I can't say we've never fought or that we don't occasionally get on each other's nerves (sometimes, I go out of my way to get on her nerves...It's called "fun"), I can honestly say that, at the end of the day, I look at her and know that I'm glad she's with me.  She makes me happy, and we share too much happiness for me to even think of looking elsewhere.  The third one is writing.  Oh, sure, I get frustrated with it, and I've been accused of overloading myself, but I enjoy it.  Genuinely.  Enjoy.  It.  I can't picture myself doing anything else for the rest of my life.

So that's it...Either love what you do, or you have only yourself to blame for being miserable.  And by the way, this isn't an open call for people to abandon their families or practice ass-hattery by any means.  What I'm saying is that life is too short to make yourself miserable.  In the words of philosopher, poet, and genious "Weird Al" Yankovic, sometimes you just have to grab life by the lips and yank until your satisfied.  Start yanking.