When pumpkins start appearing on porch steps….

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…it’s almost Halloween!

The lovely time when culture encourages us to over-consume sugary-sweets, carve the heck out of pumpkins, cover our houses in fake spider webs, and roam the streets dressed up like crazies. But it’s so much more than that…

tumblr_lal1e2O3Iv1qzahuvo1_500.png  Maybe it’s because my birthday is right before the 31st, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the day. I plan my costume all year – this week I even got an idea for next year’s costume while shopping for this year’s.

But really, Halloween is a celebration of the my favorite season, full of caramel apples and hot cider. It rings of old-America, with all our graveyards, Edgar Allen Poes, witch trials, haunted houses, Pagan rituals, and vaguely-Puritanical beliefs.

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And let’s not forget Harry Potter….

But you know what might be one of the best things about Halloween?

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It’s the last holiday before the “Holidays” begin. The last hurrah before the gift-buying, turkey-baking, tinsel-throwing madness. You don’t have to visit your long-lost relatives, or worry about what to get your annoying brother for Christmas, or shovel snow out of the driveway.

You may, however, dress up like a complete tramp by adding “sexy” to any normal costume (sexy Chewbacca, anyone?), mix candy corn with alcoholic beverages, wear some form of animal ears/antennae to work, or watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown for the 10th time.

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Revel in the season, folks, and soak up all the lovely Orange

(…before the explosion of Red and Green.)

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So, here we are, leaving 2009 in the dust.

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Sometimes I think that the idea of resolutions is silly, because really, when you think about it, the new year is just another day. There’s no magical transformation overnight, things aren’t usually any different the next morning. Y2k never happened. But then again, I can’t be against a day that makes people stop and think about the reality of their lives, and give themselves goals. But there is so much stigma over these resolutions that they almost seem useless – people make ‘em to break ‘em, essentially.  How often do people make resolutions that they feel obligated to say, then forget about them the next day, right after the New Year’s alcohol leaves their bloodstream? How many women say they want to lose weight – as Bridget Jones so accurately pens, “Obviously, will lose 20 pounds” – because they think they should, or because they feel outside pressure to say they should? How many people pledge to go to the gym 5 times a week, or to completely revamp their career without ever changing their weekly routine a step?

It’s silly to make resolutions that aren’t realistically achievable, only to feel guilty at year-end.  But then again, is it not a good idea to put those goals out there? And I must say that I’m rather happy to report that I finally conquered one resolution I’ve been writing down for the last 6 or so years! It makes me think that although you might want to do or have a certain thing for years, it might not be the right time; you just have to be patient and let things come to you.

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So this year, instead of resolutions, these are the things I’m looking forward to in 2010 (which I still don’t know how to refer to, the 10s?):

Teaching and TA-ing at SSU

Graduating and getting my Master’s,

Going to Europe, finally seeing the UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc! (this summer or bust)

Spending more time outside, enjoying my kayak more

Harry Potter 7 in theaters!

Figuring out what some of my plans for the future will be…

There are some more things that I want to make sure happen, but I think I’ll keep those in my head, where they’re always hopping around anyway!

Here’s hoping that 2010 brings peace, hope, and clarity!

As ‘they’ say, there’s a calm before the storm, but what about after? When all the excitement or destruction has moved on and the dust has settled, what’s left? I don’t think it could be called calm….and if it did, well I guess we’d better expect another storm.

Whoever said that things will inevitably return to normal was also a little…off. Because once things have gone through so many changes, who the heck knows what this normal is or how to recognize it, and of course the previous normal isn’t normal anymore at all! If I move to another house, but have the same furniture and wear the same clothes and put my morning coffee in the same mug, does that mean I’m back to normal? Even if all my things are arranged in different ways and I drink my coffee at a different time because I no longer have to wake up at the same time? And when does normal start? When boredom sets in?

The sticky is, once we get through the changes and start to get bored of them, we look around and wish things would be ‘exciting’ – we want a life that thrills us, but without all the anxiety and strife that comes from the rush. Another rub comes from the fact that no one can really tell you what your normal will turn out to be – in fact, this is one area where cliche is often right, take the “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” or “the grass is always greener on the other side” for example. But all society seems to tell is that our concerns aren’t really our own – they belong to our angsty greater social consciousness. Therefore any solutions that get thrown at us aren’t exactly tailored to any specific needs, so they usually fail.

It remains that the majority of real help we get comes from within us, and not from some giant psycological library. Most ‘breakthroughs’ in therapy are achived when the patient is able to use a part of their own mind to illuminate another area. Certainly someone is needed to show the patient the way in, but the real work is not done by the therapist (sorry Freud). Maybe that’s why we get so lonely these days, we get stuck in our own minds when everything around us is screaming “come outside and listen to what we have to say!!”

So here I am, sitting, looking around and wondering if this is what my life is, now. Which isn’t a bad thing. And another thought: having a very adorable and furry kitten sit on your lap and purr is very reassuring. Plus, since she keeps trying to sit on my laptop, I think I must stop writing now.

Maybe it’s a good idea if the other shoe never drops.

The start of my last quarter at UC Davis….

I feel somewhat confused about the whole thing; some moments I can’t wait to be done and others I’m sad because I will never have another April 1st on this campus. I want the future to come but now that I know what it is going to entail I’m hesitant. Grad school doesn’t worry me, but there is this thing sticking me in the back of my mind, and I can’t tell what it is.

The truth is, I know that I need a change in my life. It’s like moving out of your parent’s house; it just isn’t home anymore. And yet, UCD is my home; it’s the one place where I feel completely at ease and in place. Will I find this feeling somewhere else?

I usually believe that everything happens for a reason. Since my grad school was basically chosen for me rather than me chosing it, I hold onto the thought that some other force is leading me there. I hope so. It also led me away from living with my dad at UC Irvine because he is also going back to school, for a reason I’m not quite sure of. A hobby maybe?

Now that I’ve been ‘freed’ from getting my Ph.d right away (I’m in a master’s program) there are all these other possibilites I can see. Ph.ds become professors, but I could do anything. I could work in publishing or go back to an old idea to go to law school – not that I want to become a lawyer but maybe to work in policy. It would be amazing to work in say, London or at a US embassy in Europe.

Someday….

I want a house in Wales or part of the UK. With goats- ok maybe just one goat. Some cute house on the coast where it’s foggy and cold but also beautiful. But for now I’ll settle for a little house a couple miles from grad school.

This house actually exists. And it’s so quite there at night compared to the city that my ears buzz from the lack of ambient noise. Hopefully they will stop buzzing after awhile…