FBFF: Anticipating Halloween

This week’s FBFF is hosted by ModlyChic!

1. Do you have plans for Halloween? What will you dress up as this year?
I’m going to hang out with some friends in Portland that weekend.  Plans may include glow-in-the-dark mini-golf and maybe – maybe – a haunted house.  I’m still on the fence about my costume – I’m debating between going as a French poet or a pirate, or maybe some combination of both.  My friend suggested I go as a plagiarist, which seems like a good solution: dress as a pirate, wear a beret and beat sunglasses, paste my name over some works of Shakespeare, wear an eyepatch, and wield a pen instead of a sword.

2. Where do you go for costume and makeup inspiration?
Pinterest, naturally.  A few of my friends started costume boards, so I got to peek through those for ideas.  Etsy also has some great Halloween newsletters and collections which have been popping up in my inbox lately.

My main inspiration, though, comes from my closet.  My mom always made our Halloween costumes when we were kids, and I’ve never worn a store-bought costume.  If my mom didn’t make it, I pieced it together from items I already owned or found at Goodwill.  It never made sense to me to spend upwards of $50 on a cheaply-made, poorly-fitting polyester getup you’re probably only going to wear once and then throw away.  I’d rather put the effort into designing something creative by working with what I already own – less waste, more creative fulfillment, more originality.

It helps that I can draw from the wealth of costumes we wore for sorority events.  I’ve been a flapper, a rock star, a pirate, a soda-fountain gal, and probably several other things my memory has elected to lose.  My mom even helped me make the flapper dress – I bought the dress at JC Penny and had my mom sew on the fringe.

I’d forgotten about the flapper dress, actually…I should wear that!  Flapper dresses are, of course, perfect attire for mini-golfing.

3. What was the best costume you’ve ever donned?
I was pretty proud of a Matrix getup I put together during high school, even if it was more Morpheus than Trinity.  I was Mark from “Rent” once…

…but that was for a campus movie night, not Halloween.  When I was seven or eight, my mom made me a particularly gorgeous American Girl dress (Felicity’s Christmas outfit) and that one was my favorite for a while.

I think my favorite overall was a Grecian goddess outfit I wore a few times.  I borrowed another one of my mom’s old dresses, this one a light blue empire-waist gown with a flowing pleated skirt, and wore a gold chain belt and a wrist-veil-cape-thing made from blue tulle.  I wore it to a frat house Halloween party for all of five minutes, but then two guys started fighting and we left.  I didn’t really go to many parties after that.

4. What’s the most creative costume you’ve ever seen?
Oh boy…Jessica was a panda once, and that was pretty cute…and Breck went as a zombie teacher once…  Honestly, though, I have the worst memory.  I can barely remember what I wore for Halloween last year, and photos of me during college Halloweens are strangely absent, so I can’t jog my memory at all.  If you had a particularly rad costume, and I can’t remember, I’m really sorry.  I remember Tess was Sarah Palin once and that was funny, and Kevin made a surprisingly good House, cane and all. (seriously though, where are all my photos of this stuff?!)

5. No holds barred, if you could dress up as anything, what would it be?
Okay, this could turn out to be a long list.  I’d probably go for some massively expensive, elaborate replica of a “Lord of the Rings” costume: something with lots of velvet and flowing sleeves and laces, probably Eowyn’s white dress.  Either that or a detailed steampunk getup.  I also like themed group costumes – ooh, I remember now, sophomore year my friends and I went as the “Firefly” crew (although I had to shoehorn myself in as Badger since I’d already planned to be a gangster).  I could also go for being the Doctor and Rose or X-Men characters – ooh, or steampunk Justice League – or we could finally go through with our long-standing plans to be Mortal Kombat.  I was gonna (will) be Raiden, just to wear the straw hat.  Yep.  I would be all those things.

What about you? What are your Halloween plans?

Read the other posts here!

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What Not To Wear: Halloween Edition 2010

It’s positively alarming how many visitors to my blog are people looking for Lady Gaga’s bubble dress.  Last week those searches made up a full 24% of my hits.  Sometimes this is helpful – for example, I now know that Lady Gaga recently wore a dress made out of hair.  Other times, Mr. Lady Gaga See-through Dress, it’s a little creepy. (And to the person who’s looking for a Lady Gaga costume for her little daughter – shame on you.)

But if the masses want more crazy people in weird outfits, I will happily submit. After all, Halloween is a scant 23 days away (wait, already?), and if you haven’t figured out a costume yet, I’m here to help.

There’s always a fine line to walk when choosing a costume – you want to be culturally relevant, but unique and cliche-free. You don’t want to be too sexy or too nerdy or too serious – well, you might, but if you do, this probably isn’t the post for you. Unless you think Justin Bieber is seriously freakin’ sexy, in which case, read on.

What Not To Wear

1. This.  I just wanted to get that out of the way early on.

2. Lindsay Lohan.  She’s had a rough year, what with the perpetually crazy family and the celebrity get-out-of-rehab-free card. Even she probably doesn’t want to look like herself right now.

3. Due to their ridiculously enduring popularity, I’m banning vampires once again.  Thanks to Twilight, it’s become part of vampire lore that all vampires have orange eyes.  They snuck it into Daybreakers, and even Let Me In, the reputedly excellent remake of the already acclaimed Let The Right One In, now features the orange eyes.  If you were really lazy, all you’d need to do to be a vampire this year would be to stick in orange contacts, mess up your hair, and slouch around moodily.  Not acceptable.  Even Selene is on probation, thanks to Kate Beckinsale agreeing to come back for a fourth “Underworld” movie.  Kate, you’re gorgeous and Selene was fun to watch the first time around, but the second movie was terrible.  Enough is enough.  Meanwhile, there’s “True Blood,” and the 30 Days of Night sequel, and “The Vampire Diaries,” not to mention the parody of all those that shall not be named…Can we get some love for the Creature from the Black Lagoon?  Or zombies?  Banshees?  Anyone?

4. Don’t wear this either.

5.  Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter.  I understand that Alice in Wonderland was a huge deal this year, and being a fan of Colleen Atwood‘s costumes (Chicago, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Gattaca, Nine), I wholly endorse hitting up your Halloween party as Alice.  It’s thematically fitting anyway, what with all the dubious food and creepy characters patrolling around that night.  But the creepy character I do not want to see for fear of never sleeping again ever is the Mad Hatter. This is why.  He out-creeps Heath Ledger’s Joker, and that’s saying something.

What To Wear

1. Lady Gaga again presented a variety of awful fashion choices, yours to emulate (or mock) if you desire.  There’s the Renaissance art dress complete with spiky gold feather headdress; the gun bra from the “Alejandro” video; even the billowy chiffon envelope-cape-thing-with-a-hat from “Telephone.” (Ooh, or the cigarette glasses, please be careful with that one.)

Wait! Wear these instead!

(I can’t believe someone actually made those. Actually, yes, I can.)

Last but not least, there was the infamous meat dress. DO NOT WEAR THE MEAT DRESS. It’ll be expensive, heavy, and stinky. Dogs will probably try to kill you for your outfit.  Angry vegans will just try to kill you. How about finding a crafty person to make a felt replica? It can be done, and it’ll result in a much more eco-friendly and socially acceptable (not to mention warmer) costume.

2. Hey guys, just because “Scott Pilgrim” came out doesn’t mean you can continue to throw on a graphic tee and call it a costume.  “Inception” brought the James Bond assassin-in-a-tux look to a whole new level, so gentlemen, please class it up a bit and throw on a suit and tie.  Bring a pal (or two), some fake guns, and spend the entire party lying around hooked up by IV lines to a silver suitcase.  Bonus points if you actually look like Joseph Gordon Levitt (or Tom Hardy) (or Leo).  If you do, please send pictures. I need to evaluate these things. Just in case.

I know, right?

3. Still want to be chased around by teenage girls, but not going for the whole Edward deathly-pale sulky thing? How about everyone’s favorite musical jailbait, Justin Bieber?  Simply start bleaching, conditioning and straightening now, and by Halloween you’ll be a glossy (albeit creepily older) replica.

4. If you really can’t stand the thought of wearing a suit or dressing like a sixteen-year-old all night, try dressing as the manliest man-team to ever man something: The A-Team.  There’s something for everyone: Cigar-Chompin’ Leader, Vaguely Blue-Collar Crazy Backup Guy, Guy In A Suit (if that’s still your thing), and…Mr. T.  Finding the first three shouldn’t be a problem, but maybe if you ask really nicely, the bouncer at your Halloween party will pose for some pictures with you.  (Hey, Mr. T started as a bouncer, anything’s possible.)

5. Got a toddler? Know someone who has a toddler? Know someone whose baby is going to be a toddler at some point?  Do you plan on someday giving birth to a baby that will grow up to be a toddler?  Are you a toddler? Please, just – someone, anyone, find a small child and have them wear this costume, because it’s the most adorable thing ever.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition! In which Rob Zombie makes an appearance and Jessica and I are mistaken for lesbians.

This week has scored about a 6 out of 10 so far. My new job is still moving slowly, thanks to the sluggish industry. Today I sort of taught myself how to make an HTML table in WordPress, which was rewarding (even if I mostly just copy-pasted the code from a helpful tutorial – thanks, Brittney!). But overall, it’s pretty slow, and I’m still convinced that I’m doing 95% of everything I’m assigned wrong. Plus I’m losing steam in my quest to re-apply to OSU, partly because I’m afraid of (re-)rejection, and partly because I’m still not 100% sure that’s what I want to do next with my life. I know I need to do something, otherwise I’ll let myself settle into a quagmire of mediocre jobs and mediocre apartments and I’ll never have the motivation to do anything interesting ever again. And I hate settling.

I have two options right now. One is my original plan: get an MA in a student services-related program, which would eventually lead to a job in a study-abroad office. If I have to get a “real job,” that’s definitely what I would want to do. It would actually benefit the world in a tangible way (by helping students get international experiences) and it would hopefully allow me to travel, hence providing more experiences to write about. That field is where most of my work experience lies, along with most of my connections, and I’d certainly prefer it to more real estate or government work.

The other option is to throw all caution to the winds and get my MFA in creative writing. This is highly impractical. Option One wouldn’t lead to many jobs, but it would lead to some jobs; an MFA could lead to writing jobs, but that doesn’t seem very likely. Plus, thanks to various job shadows and personal experience, I’ve already decided that traditional writing jobs in advertising, magazines, etc are too stressful for me. (Freelancing is an option, of course.) So all (“all”) Option Two would do for me is give me the time, excuse, and motivation to write; potentially set me up with fellowships or grants; and, well, fulfill one of my lifelong dreams. But the prospect of getting rejected from MFA programs is one of the most terrifying and heartbreaking things I can imagine happening.

But the idea of actually being a writer – of having a part-time job as a barista or receptionist or whatever, and having hours and hours each day to write what I wanted to write, and submitting stories, and actually finishing a manuscript for a novel – that would really be a dream come true.

And then idealistic sixteen-year-old Laura gets shut down by jaded twenty-three-year-old Laura and they battle for a while. It’s quite a show, let me tell you. Sixteen-Year-Old-Laura is scrappy.

Unfortunately I am the least decisive person in the world, and I have a month at most to make a final decision.

Still with me? I promise we’ll get to Rob Zombie soon.

Basically I need to figure out my life before I resign myself to being a secretary in Salem for the rest of time.

I guess one of the things that’s scaring me most is that if I do apply/reapply somewhere, I’m going to need to get more letters of recommendation. How is that supposed to work at this point? “Hi, English Professor! Sorry I haven’t kept in touch better. I didn’t get into grad school last year, but by golly I’m trying again! Still got that letter you wrote for me last time? Here’s my resume, in case you want to throw in something about these totally unrelated jobs I’ve been working over the last year. Maybe this year’s the year! Thanks!”

Or even better – “Hi, Former Employer! I’m actually totally changing gears and signing myself over to a lifetime of creative malaise. Will you write a letter for me? Thanks for all of your training and emotional investment, sorry I won’t be doing anything practical with it.”

Sigh.

Or there’s always Option Three, in which I go visit Linnaea in Spain and then lose my passport while in London and have to stay there forever.

But I keep reminding myself that things aren’t bad right now. I have the opportunity to go to grad school in the first place, without completely drowning myself in student loans. I have a job, which is more than can be said for a good many Oregonians. We have an apartment with a dishwasher. The cat’s fleas are (fingers crossed) on the run. And we’re using the upcoming three-day-weekend (my last state-mandated furlough day) to visit Olympia for a mini-vacation. Kevin has been tasked with planning a surprise romantic dinner since as of Sunday, we will have been engaged for a year!

Crazy.

All right, all right, on to Rob Zombie and the mistaken identity that brought you all here in the first place.

One of the perks of my new job was getting to volunteer at the Oregon School for the Deaf when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to town. The big reveal was on Monday, but Jake was busy all day and neither of us could get away to see the new dorm, which was revealed sometime between noon and two. I wrote to Jessica begging her to come up to see the haunted house reveal with me. That started at 7 and went until 9, so I figured if we arrived around 8:30, we’d still get to see some excited children and maybe some famous people.

Our first stop, though, was a Mexican restaurant for a late dinner. We ordered the biggest plate of nachos you’ve ever seen and made a pretty respectable dent in it. Our waiter (who I suspect was Italian) mumbled the whole time and had trouble with the concept of “guacamole on the side.”

I came back from the restroom after eating to find Jessica grinning. “LAURA. The waiter thinks we’re lesbians.”

“What?”

“He came to get my card and sort of looked at your seat and said – ” she raised an eyebrow and put on an accent – “‘you are – together?'”

“HA.”

“And I told him yes without really thinking about it!”

“Hee hee! I gotta tell Kevin.” As I texted, a thought struck me. “We should hold hands on the way out.”

We cackled over this for about four straight minutes before deciding it was probably not a good idea, and besides, it would only be funny if the waiter was there to see it, and he’d been absent for most of the evening anyway. So we left the restaurant sedately.

We then spent the next half-hour circling new corners of Salem trying to find the deaf school, which had somehow mysteriously disappeared since my last visit. We wound up near a giant Salvation Army community center that I didn’t even know existed, and parked in a shadowy apartment complex to get directions from Kevin.

Ten minutes later – fifteen minutes before the whole thing was scheduled to end – we found a parking spot and trotted down the road to see what was going on. A crowd had gathered by the fence, peering through at the crew and the entrance to the Nightmare Factory thirty yards away. Everyone seemed to have followed the media’s instruction and arrived dressed in Halloween costumes to help set the scene. I saw a couple fairies, a witch, and some kind of furry Gremlin type critter, and that was just during the short time we were there. Spectators had been milling around in costume all day participating in filming.

We found a viewing spot near a cluster of girls who all seemed to be talking to each other without listening to each other. “Oh my God, I cried when I saw Ty earlier today. I seriously cried. I couldn’t believe it.” Another was on the phone: “You know that Extreme Home Makeover show? I’m in front of it. Yeah! Ty’s here! I seen him!”

Ty was there, along with the rest of the hosts, several cameras, and a horde of what I assume were the students’ family members, all wearing hard hats. Turns out Ty is pretty short. I did not know this. We couldn’t really hear what was going on, and Jessica was only able to translate a bit of the signing, but eventually the students were brought down to much cheering and excitement.

They filmed two or three more takes of the cheering and excitement.

That's Ty in the white shirt. In the background. I saw him, awright? He was THERE.

After more signing and milling around, Ty threw out an arm and bellowed “ROB ZOMBIE!”

And there was Rob Zombie.

He participated in the haunted house design, I guess, but I didn’t think he would actually be there. He looked a lot more normal than I had expected him to, which is saying something, because he still looked like a Rasta. He had epic gray dreads, a big cap, and bell-bottoms. Maybe the show asked him to tone down the crazy so he would be safe around children.

They all chatted for a while, and a few school officials talked, and they filmed take after take of the crowd cheering. I had been hoping to see the students flood into the new haunted house, but that didn’t seem likely to happen within the next hour. It was getting close to 9:30 and Jessica still had to drive back to Corvallis. So we called it a night, satisfied that the students would be happy and that we’d still get to see the episode when it airs on Halloween.

I found out today that we actually arrived at just the right time – the whole tour had been delayed for three hours. But it had been a beautiful day, and even in the dark and with another hour to wait, spirits were high. I’m thrilled that the school was chosen for this and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together on TV. Tickets for the haunted house go on sale on October 8th if you want to see it in person!

aren’t they cute

The trick-or-treating has begun. Amazingly, it’s not raining, which means that we actually get to see some of these costumes rather than guessing at what’s underneath various poofy winter coats. The day’s highlights include a toddler Yoda wearing a hood with pointy green ears, a three-year-old princess whose crown of roses kept falling in her face, and a kid who I swear was wearing a Scorpion costume.

GET OVER HERE.

As we finished dinner, the doorbell rang, and all three of us went to answer. The kids ring again and just in case we hadn’t heard them, they start kicking the door. We all pause and raise eyebrows. Mom’s hand is on the doorknob and we have the candy ready. Outside, though, we hear a little boy’s voice: “Okay, ready? One – two – ”

Mom grins and leaves the door closed. Long pause outside. Again, the boy’s voice, this time louder: “Okay, READY? ONE – TWO – ”

The door remains closed. We’re cackling. Outside another boy pipes up plaintively – “We can SEE you!”

So we open the door. Immediately a ninja, a Jedi, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Raphael, for those interested) swarm inside. They rummage in the buckets, searching for a Kit Kat. The Jedi picks up an extra Snickers – “For my mom,” he insists.

They rush out again, yelling “thank you” over their shoulders, and sure enough the Jedi deposits the Snickers in his mom’s hands. She waves at us, but as her troupe is preparing to leave, a last little boy dressed as Scooby Doo approaches the step, holding his purple candy bag and what looks a lot like his ninja brother’s scabbard. He stops at the step and looks uncertainly up at us.

“This is Jason,” his mom says cheerfully. “Jason, you have to go up to them!”

So he climbs up the step and carefully lifts out a Crunch bar. “Thank you,” he murmurs, then darts back down the step. His mom calls after him, “Say Happy Halloween!” But he’s long gone.

grizzly ghouls from every tomb

It’s only recently occurred to me that I’m not really doing Halloween this year. It’s a shame, because this is an almost perfect Halloween – it’s a Saturday night and I’m over 21. I actually did get invited to a party, but according to the girl who invited me, it’ll be full of “engineers and drunk people.” Now I know a few engineers, and they are overall pretty cool albeit quiet people who will allow me to commandeer their PS3 to play hours of “Little Big Planet,” but I didn’t know any of the engineers who would be at this party, and at the end of the day, I’m just not a party person. I would like to be, but I’m not.

So currently my plan is to watch some classic thriller like “Silence of the Lambs” or “The Shining,” or maybe a Hitchcock, with a couple high school friends. There will be no costumes; there probably won’t be alcohol; and I can only hope that there will be candy.

This will be fun, but in a way, it’s a little disappointing because I seem to have what others are lacking – a costume. Vanessa described how her costume hunt usually turns out, but for me, it was never a huge problem. This was probably due to having a mom who sewed, and who wanted ample time to create Kirsten’s and Felicity’s Christmas outfits for me. (Gosh, I miss that blue one. I wish everyday life had more excuses to wear ball gowns.)

I think I got less creative in high school, wearing all black and adding a pointy hat and calling myself a witch. For my freshman year of college, I borrowed an 80s bridesmaid dress from a closet – it was light blue, with a high waist and long flowing pleated skirt – added a crown of gold plastic leaves, and went as a Grecian goddess. Sophomore year my friends went as the cast from “Firefly,” but I had already pieced together a 20s-gangster sort of outfit, so I shoehorned myself in as Badger. Junior year, though, our sorority chose Twenties Night as theme for one of the recruitment events, and so I wound up with a super-adorable flapper dress that certainly wasn’t going to retire after only one use. And so for the last two years, I was a flapper. It was fun. I had the fishnets and the fedora and the long necklace and the cigarette holder and everything.

But really, it’s time to take that costume to the next level. I’m hoping next Halloween will be more exciting and I can get someone to do my makeup to transform me into…a zombie flapper.