Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting to be That Time

About two weeks ago, this was "our" beach, but now it's definitely getting to be Halloween around here. Right after Emma's birthday, in late August, my kids start talking about costumes, and today we are going to start figuring out how to make them. I know it's more than a month away, but already our neighborhood is all orange and golden and there are plastic tombstones jutting out of lawns, lots of hay bales, and those gigantic blow up things that flatten out in a way each morning that is far scarier than when they're inflated into a twenty six foot Pumpkin Snoopy.

Last year's six foot werewolf; I finally found the picture that shows the tail.

Is it me, or has Halloween gotten to be a much bigger celebration than it used to be?
Ghosts don't scare me. Nothing mystical or spiritual does. Teen driving, that scares me. Boy teen driving in particular scares me, especially when there are other boys in the car. Philip and Emma conspiring also scares me. I think that thumbs up is a cover up because he looks plenty guilty.

Actually, when any of my kids acts quiet, I feel fear. Quiet is never good in this house. I think of other quiet things like lurking murderers in the basement or bugs waiting to pounce.

 And I am not really big on crawling things like snakes or spiders. And my eel phobia is legendary. Come to think of it, I've never seen an eel costume for Halloween...

Speaking of spiders, here is my pick for scariest pre-Halloween video: five foot spiders. I kid you not. A spider the size of Emma. Good Lord. I mean, really, say you're in the basement dusting off the Halloween decorations and you see an actual five foot spider. Just typing that creates a sleep-depriving image in my brain.

I once had a literature professor who told us that autumn has always been the time when the margin between the living and the dead gets very, very thin. It was one of those archetypal patterns in human existence. Sometimes I look at the blow up Draculas, the ones that are purple and green, and think that we haven't really made all that much progress in adhering to our archetypal patterns. I think we've gone in a whole new direction.

I include myself in that. I am going to spend at least part of today figuring out how to transform one of the classic Schwinn bikes into Ghost Rider. That's after I get the decorations out of the basement.

And if I come across one spider down there, even if it's smaller than a bottle cap, I'm out of there.

I realize we're early because my kids love Halloween second only to Christmas, but has anyone else begun Halloween or plans?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teens Read Too Blog Visit

I'm blog hopping again, today over at Jen Wardrip's great teen blog, Teens Read Too. Stop by for a chance to win a signed copy of Light Beneath Ferns or The Shape of Water. She has tons of great interviews and all kind of interesting links. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Late Summer, Odds and Ends and Non Hurricanes

I haven't been on the computer in so long that I had to use a DustBuster and damp rags to get BabyCat's hair off the keyboard. She is so weird; she loves nothing more than a nap on a nearby keyboard. There's a bed and a comfy chair not far from this keyboard, so that kind of doesn't add up. But that's the nature of cats: they resent assumptions.

This is such a strange time here, calendar wise. I'm not wild about the ten days or so before school starts. Being a teacher and having three kids as students means a whole lot of odds and ends have to get taken care of. There have been all these little things to do that don't add up to much but take up entire days like buying school supplies, going to redundant meetings, and standing in lots of lines. All this preparing for Tuesday when everything opens. 

Then there's the hurricane preparing. The hype caused our neighbors to remind us tie down deck furniture for a hurricane that never materialized. No one would go anywhere near the beaches for a few days. And that's a shame since the beaches are gorgeous right now. Late August and early September are probably the best times for a beach, or maybe that's just when I like it. We live right by Long Beach Island.

Here's our beach - I love the fences around the dunes. You can't see them so much in this picture, but most of them slope and have this great wobbly effect:

And the dock over the bay:
I just finished a book about writing theory and it said, "Never use weather to open your setting. It is too obvious a device." I think preparing for a hurricane would be a great opening to a book. I was thinking about writing theory as I read that book last night, and I'm not sure there is one - a writing theory I mean. I do remember running to the campus book store when I was 21 and ready to write my first novel. I bought about five of those books, anxious to get started. And I remember how the advice pretty much conflicted. I think I would sum up my writing theory as: Tell the story clearly, just make sure you have a really good story.  

I think this blog post is rambling since that pretty much matches what's been going on here lately. I did manage to figure out the "voice" in my next YA book that I've been struggling with for a year now. It's totally different from when it started and it's the first one I don't doubt. So maybe there is a reason that hyper type people like me are forced to wait. Even if it is for hurricanes that don't appear or classes that haven't started  or voices in novels that don't speak in a way that convinces me they can carry the story I intend to write. Maybe all this waiting is a writing lesson of some sort.