Where did my Halloween go?

As a child, I remember stalking the streets until 10PM.

Alone…

With a plastic jack o’ lantern in hand…

And hoards of candy awaiting me.

Those were the days. Those were the nights. Beneath the pallid streetlamps of my suburban Chicago neighborhood, I craved All Hallows Eve. In the rain, in the bitter cold, in the deep shadows through which the wind tore ragged holes, I was king.

As Darth Vader, I hunted bucket-loads of candy.

As a vampire, I hid behind oak trees and scared the crap out of the other kids.

As a demon, I shambled to my neighbors’ front doors. They didn’t know me that night. My mask earned more than a few shudders.

And when at last I returned home, belly full of candy and cheeks wet and chilled from the night, I arrived to the sight of jack o’ lanterns on the porch, candles still flickering in their bellies, dry leaves crackling at their bottoms.

I remember this…

And this…

*

Where have the nights gone? What happened to the crisp afternoons during which the sun dared only a few peeks through the clouds? Where are the sidewalks buried in fiery leaves, the crickets chirruping long before evening descended?

I’ve lost these things.

I want them back.

I’m middle-aged now. And while my exhilaration for All Hallows Eve has taken a twenty-year nap, it’s not completely gone. I still crave all the things October brings, but now I do it more for my son’s sake than my own. He loves his Halloweens much the same as I did. Carving jack o’ lanterns and wearing creepy masks are his domain. We light bonfires in the backyard, build mountains of candy in our kitchen, and take twilight walks to savor the coming Samhain.

He’s too small to understand it. But Halloween in the modern age isn’t what it used to be.

And somehow I’m sad.

Maybe I’m getting old.

Or maybe All Hallows has changed more than expected.

*

Anymore, there’s not enough of this…

And entirely too much of this…

*

Sometimes I no longer recognize my favorite night of the year.

I’m not against sexy things. I’m a guy like any other, and I appreciate a scantily-clad beauty as much as any man alive. But I’m glad my son (and the other neighborhood kids) aren’t caught up in what adults have made of Halloween. In fact, the thing we adults celebrate isn’t really Halloween anymore. It’s cosplay. It’s something other than what it was. It’s undefinable…and in some ways bizarre.

It’s pointless for me to rebel against what Halloween has become.

But I’ll allow myself to long for what it once was.

Long ago, All Hallows was meant to be a glorious, frightening thing. A day for driving demons and witches back into the dark. A night to celebrate the harvest, the end of summer’s warmth, and the arrival of a long, cold, and dangerous winter.

You can keep your sexy nurses and stores stacked high with cheap autumn-ish decorations.

I’ll take my…

my…

and my…

*

As Halloween draws near, I’ll try to do it right. My son and I will carve our jack o’ lanterns a little creepier. We’ll picnic out in the leaves. We’ll take walks at dusk and leave our windows open while we sleep.

And when we head out to haunt All Hallows Eve, we’ll stay out a bit later than the other kids. We’ll dress a little scarier. We’ll stretch out our ghoulish fingers and grab a piece of Halloween the way it used to be.

November will arrive the very next dawn.

But our Halloween will last forever…

J Edward Neill

Specialist in spooky stories

Down with the Sickness

I’m sick. Have been for the last couple of days. One of those flu/cold things which makes it hard to focus on more than watching the tv. I stumble from bedroom to living room couch and then back again. Today I even out slept the cats (that’s a first).

flu-1006045_1280

So this blog is probably as much a result of fevered dreams during a sleepless night and a nap filled day.

This particular version has expressed itself in a sore throat such that I have to hesitate before that first swallow after waking up. I have the slight fever. Less on the cough (though it is somewhat there) and lucky not to deal with the hot and cold sweats.

And in the midst of the painful swallowing and the coughing and general yucky feeling I’m also making that mental list in my head for how I can use this in a future story/novel/moment. The frustrations at the pain of doing a task you end up doing a ton throughout the day. Waking up about every 90 minutes because your mouth is too dry to not try and drink something… only to experience the pain again.

I think I need to rewrite my brain or something. Not every little thing needs to be some form of defacto research, right? I can just have an experience (good or bad) and actually just live that instead of analyzing it for something else, correct? I wonder if other writers have these moments where they view their lives as a series of moments, and the pick and poke at each until they can mine some truth for their future art. They always say you should write what you know, so I guess it only makes sense. Even if most of the time you don’t have to acknowledge it in the moment.

***

rush-348481_1280

Videos vs. Transcripts vs. Podcasts (or “Get off my lawn” because clearly “sick John” is a 76 year old man)

I listen to a fair amount of podcasts throughout the day, but one thing I actually completely don’t understand is this:

People today have shorter attention spans, right? We flip through the channels and Youtube videos can’t be longer than 5 minutes or we get bored.

<Though we also can sit down and over the course of a weekend Binge watch some new show from Netflix.>

But here’s the thing I don’t understand… why spend 10 minutes watching something that you could read in 5 minutes?

Why watch a podcast rather than just listen to it? Assuming you have a commute of any sort (or that you go on walks or whatever) you can certainly listen to a podcast easier than watch it. Yet there are tons of people who watch these videos and skip all the time saving things.

How much free time do you people have?

***

From being sick, I have manged to clear off a TON of TV I had saved on the old DVR. I’m convinced that the DVR is both the greatest invention ever and the worst invention ever. Because back in the old days you had to actually be present at your house to watch a show. Even when we were dealing with VCR tapes and recording things, you still had to plan things out a little bit. Now? Now I can record things on the possibility I’d like to watch them. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll end up recording a show for its 1st season, but not actually start watching until I hear whether it has been picked up for a second season.

But, even that isn’t a fail safe. And it seems like just as soon as I clear off these shows, I end up adding new ones. And so the DVR is always about 80% full no matter how much TV we end up watching.

So maybe it has just added to the idea that I’m accomplishing something (watching tv shows) while also being about the least productive I could be?

***

Anyway, I’m running a bit out of steam, needing to go to sleep at some point in order to hopefully show up for work tomorrow.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.