Halloween and Jelly Beans

Every year shortly before Halloween—like in August—my best friend would always say to me and our friend Mary, ‘Hey guys, I have a great Halloween costume idea.’ I’m convinced she mentioned this so early so that we were never prepared with our own ideas. And hers WERE brilliant ideas—for her. She’d get to be the star: a beautiful Alice in Wonderland with us as her loyal-servant playing cards (we were jokers of course) or the Beasts to her Beauty (although she was much more subtle than that.) Even though we were always the underlings, Mary and I were ok with it.

One year she wanted us to be bags stuffed full of jelly beans to go along with her furry Easter bunny. Of course we swallowed our pride and agreed, as we did every year, suckers that we were. (I mean…jelly beans. How much lower on the Halloween candy ranking scale could you go, not to mention it was a pretty lame costume?)  

For our supporting role outfits, Michelle and I cut leg holes into clear garbage bags, stepped into them and then stuffed a bunch of colored balloons around our torsos.  Then we tied the garbage bag around our necks with something resembling a ribbon that if tied too tight would be a potential near death experience-type situation. But we actually looked kinda sweet, as candy probably should. And the costume was clever too, or so we thought—but try peeing in it. After much preparation—blowing up the balloons, having a few drinks, putting on our white tights (cringe)—we were ready. 

Going to frat parties often felt like heading straight into the lion’s den, but that night my costume was my armor. Getting a buzz on was another form of protection so I was often drunk in those days. But hey, it was college. Wasn’t everyone perpetually drunk? I was so ‘protected’ that Halloween that I stumbled and fell down the entire staircase that led to the party below, where all the cool people were standing, beer in hand. With each step, I lost a piece of my armor. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. And let me tell you: it was the world’s longest staircase. It was a mile if it was a foot. After what felt like a year but was more like 5 seconds I reached the bottom. Record scratch. Music stopped. Everyone laughing at me. Ok there was no record—I’m old but not THAT old. But people did stare. No one could pretend they hadn’t witnessed that spectacle even if they wanted to.  

For the record (ha ha), I probably would have fallen into the party even if I were sober, for I have a long history of making grand entrances. Once at the same friend’s older sister’s wedding, all the guests were waiting for the drinks I was about to serve on the lawn below. I tripped on the outdoor stairwell and my silver platter full of cocktails went flying, almost knocking out a guest.  It missed him but his suit wasn’t so lucky, for the Cosmopolitan splattered all down the front of it. Really graceful, Read. I even fell down the same set of stairs another time a few years later. No other victims but me in that instance, thankfully. I was on crutches for the following two weeks. 

But I digress. Back down the rabbit hole/ frat basement. Every time I needed the loo (because of all the cheap beer) I would have to undo the ribbon around my neck, pull down the garbage bag and try to keep all my balloons intact. Inevitably they’d all float slowly down to the filthy ground as I frantically tried to hold them in. I’d wash one balloon, slip it back in and another would slide out. Eventually I got in all the ones that didn’t pop during my free-fall and could re-tie my neck ribbon/ torture device. The whole bathroom process took me an eternity. And don’t drunk people at frat parties just LOVE those who take too long in the bathroom? My attempt to quietly sneak out of the bathroom after so much time was foiled when the 12 people in line noticed who was slinking out. ‘Oh, it’s balloon girl.’  

Somehow I survived that party but the end of the night wasn’t the end of the story. A day or two later, a woman wrote an article in the school paper about her experience of being sober on that drunkest of college high holidays, All Hallows’ Eve. She wrote, and I quote, ‘It was disgusting to what extent people degraded themselves—a woman even fell down the stairs. Vulgar.’ Perhaps she meant a *different* basement frat party with a *different* bag of jelly beans spilling down onto partygoers? There’s really no way to know. 

After that incident I told my friend ‘That’s it…you’re as high as Alice if you think I’ll ever do a group costume again.’ The next July she excitedly announced she would go as Snow White. Guess what Mary and I were? 

At least peeing as Dopey was easy. And as for the staircase at THAT party? Well, I’ll tell you about that one later.  

Witching Hour

I love that these men in powerful positions the world over who are abusing that power are calling the investigations into their behavior ‘witch hunts’. (Trump, Netanyahu, etc.). Maybe this is karma/payback for all the ‘witches’ (aka mostly ordinary women) burned at the stake because the men in charge were afraid of their power. Listen up, corrupt men who run the world:  women are, indeed, rising again. But we’re doing so not to control everything, just to bring back some much-needed balance.  It will take time, but the patriarchy will be a thing of the past and a much more equitable world will evolve—starting in 2020, the year of the woman.  Mark my words.

Hello? Is this thing on?

Don’t you want to know about THIS?

The first couple of years I lived overseas, I used to get offended that my family and friends*—even those closest to me—wouldn’t ask me much about my life in my new country (or at least not much more than, ‘How’s Vienna?’)   I thought it was kind of rude to only ask these surface-level questions, like they just didn’t care.  It actually really shocked me that no one seemed to be concerned with my day-to-day life.  I’m over that now, because I came to the conclusion that people just don’t know what to ask.  Most Americans don’t have tons of experience living abroad, and even the ones who have lived elsewhere don’t tend to ask too much. I guess it’s human nature to just be focused on your immediate surroundings, or at least your own country.  I know when I am ‘home’ in the US, I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about Vienna or Austria. (Although one could argue that that’s different, because I am usually on vacation, visiting my home country).  But it doesn’t bother me (as much) anymore when very few people ask me much about my expat life here.  I realize people are busy, they can’t really picture what life is like here, and therefore assume I will tell them if there’s something I want to talk about.  But hey, it still wouldn’t hurt to be asked occasionally! 

Other expats, do you find this too?  Or do I need all new friends?  (ha ha)

*There are some wonderful exceptions to this rule, people who ask a lot because they really want to know.  They are priceless. 

Don’t wait for other’s approval. Approve of yourself.

‘I…wrote Jim a letter severely criticizing his behavior and strongly advised him to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I considered to be a complete lack of talent in this direction.’

–Jim Morrison’s father

I’m not really a fan of The Doors (although I guess I once was) but I find this story so sad. The above quote was part of a letter that Jim Morrison’s father wrote (to the Florida Deptof Corrections after he was arrested for indecent exposure.) He never acknowledged his son’s musical genius until after he died, and even then did so reluctantly. Don’t wait for anyone’s approval— you may never get it in this lifetime.

Louise Hay has a great affirmation for when you doubt yourself. Affirm: ‘I love and approve of myself.’ Say it over and over until you believe it.