haterween

I hate Halloween.

Yes, world, I went there. I hate Halloween. I’ve hated Halloween since I was sixteen and my parents and I got food poisoning celebrating my mother’s birthday the night before (never get the chocolate fudge cake at the Cheesecake Factory. Why did we get anything that wasn’t cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory? Why were we at the Cheesecake Factory in the first place? It was probably karmic food poisoning for having poor taste. But I digress) and we spent the whole day, plus a couple days after that, puking our guts out. My first college quasi-relationship–we didn’t have relationships at Vassar; only quasi-relationships and marriages–fell apart during Halloween my freshman year. I spent Halloween evening in my bed in four layers of clothes, shaking. I get cold when things fall apart.

When I was a little girl, Halloween meant my mom making me beautiful costumes that were, in retrospect, totally culturally inappropriate (I was a geisha one year. Give me a break; it was the 90s and we lived in Nevada). It meant tromping the neighborhood with my best friends from down the street, and eating candy for days until I had finished my own bag, then starting in on my sister’s. It was a glorious time and I relish every cavity I’ve had filled since.

I don’t need to wax poetic on college Halloween or postgrad Halloween because I think we’re all well-acquainted with the traditions. You dress in some costume based on your position on the scale of intellectualism (somewhere between “unironic ‘Jersey Shore’ viewer” and “person who drops the number of times they’ve read Infinite Jest in conversation, including ‘one'”). You go to a party with your friends and you cling to your friends the entire time and so does everyone else and nobody makes new friends and you drink themed drinks and someone gets sick and you wake up the next morning with a raging hangover that is ENTIRELY not worth the spectacularly mediocre evening you had.

I hate Halloween now for the same reason that I hate Founder’s Day at Vassar and any other event characterized by crushing peer pressure to HAVE FUN and GO CRAZY otherwise you’re SUPER LAME and KIND OF TRAGIC. It’s no great secret that I’ve downed my fair share of too many tequila shots and that I have a whole slew of embarrassing and potentially incriminating stories from my wild youth. But FACT: not one of those crazy stories is from Halloween or New Year’s or St. Patrick’s Day or Mardi Gras or any other those other holidays where if you aren’t wearing pasties and, like, doing body shots, you’re a loser and you’re never gonna be in any cool Facebook albums. They are all from cast parties. Almost exclusively. (Except for that one time with the Australians, but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I can’t elaborate.)

I like parties where I know everybody, or have at least identified them as Cute Sound Guy and called them the bullseye on my emotional dartboard. I really hate parties where the sole purpose is to drink until you puke in a houseplant. I like parties where the purpose is to drink while you play word games. I like parties that turn into everyone having intense drunk conversations in various corners. I like parties where you make new friends that aren’t trying to have a CRAZY NIGHT. I find that on holidays where fun is preordained, everyone is trying to have a CRAZY NIGHT, and they’re annoying and too drunk and someone is probably going to pass out and you’ll have to poke them every twenty minutes to make sure they don’t aspirate. Nobody wants to make new friends on CRAZY NIGHTS; they are too busy posing for Facebook photos and drinking the appropriate drinks and fixing their costumes.

I get bored at these kinds of parties. I don’t think it’s very interesting to sit around and watch other people do crazy things, and I’m not really the kind of person to do crazy things myself. Sometimes, when I get sad that I didn’t go to wild parties in high school, I remember that I don’t actually like wild parties. I like drinking too much with people that you can have a great conversation with, especially when you’ve collectively drunk away the fact that you’re all a little socially awkward and inhibited. My favorite nights from the months since I’ve graduated: the night Lauren, Julie, and I killed two pitchers of sangria at Firefly and sang Adele in Julie’s backseat until we were sober enough to drive. The night before the Fourth of July at book collective, talking about everything from philosophy to the company mission to God knows what after the fourth bottle of wine until four in the morning. 3 AM the night before my cohort parted ways after our new hire training in California, sprawled out across beanbags in the office rec room, listening to my coworkers–my new friends–swap stories about life in Afghanistan. Sitting around the coffee table at Jon and Jeannine’s apartment in Sunnyside having meta-conversations about the same conversations we had in college, which were usually deconstructing the nights we couldn’t remember, which were never Halloween.

I like those kinds of nights. They’re still impractical and a respite from the stresses of the real world, but unlike the CRAZY holidays, they’re actually fun. And memorable. Minus the blackouts.

So this year, I bought two bags of Halloween candy at Target to hand out on Halloween. Tonight, while everyone else is at Halloween parties HAVING FUN and GOING CRAZY, I am binging on orange Kit Kats and watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” and thinking about how happy I am that I don’t have to clean someone else’s puke off the carpet at a party full of biddies dressed as Sexy Mustard. Also how happy I am that nobody is bleeding all over my kitchen floor because they bit it while drunk-biking across campus in their Sexy Giraffe costume (unrelated: apparently gay men have their own rules for Slutoween).

May I spend all Halloweens in my future like this one; may my weekends be filled with pretentious conversation and nobody puking in a houseplant.

boys don’t make passes…

I believe that the wearing of glasses should be exclusive to nerds. Let me tell you what sparked this audacious statement:

Of late, I have seen many a photo of my elementary and middle school classmates doing their creepy sorority cult poses* and noticed that many of these obnoxiously pretty girls are wearing GLASSES.

When I see Facebook photos of those long-haired, long-legged, perfectly proportionate beauties accessorizing their Herbal Essences commercial-grade locks with a big pair of plastic frames, I am filled with INORDINATE RAGE. If I were to speak my feelings aloud, it would be in a sort of guttural, Exorcist-style grunt: “YOU CAN’T WEAR THOSE.”

They have undergone none of my struggles! They were never caught picking their collective nose in front Mrs. Bowman’s fourth-grade class, never to live it down! Nobody ever accused them of reading the dictionary! They were never dubbed “Dorky Dana” during the unfortunate first-day-of-school icebreaker game when you’re supposed to think of an adjective with the same first letter as your first name, only that doesn’t always work because there are no good adjectives that start with D, and someone will inevitably think of an insulting one before you’re even called on to speak! They have never been unceremoniously dumped via text message, nor puked in a parking lot! (I can tell, because they have perfect hair.)

When I was a kid, I was convinced that all of my struggles could be blamed on my glasses. I wished on stars and eyelashes and birthday candles and yellow lights that I would wake up the next morning with perfect vision. I was painfully different from most of my classmates and it drove me insane; I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be like them. Sometimes I read my old diaries from elementary school and that, for years, was the underlying theme of my existence: why, but why, am I not like everyone else? Why is my brain so noisy? Why don’t I like the same TV shows and games and magazines as everyone else? I could not relate and in my mind, it was because I wore glasses. They were the physical symbol of my geekdom, my nerdiness, my dweebery, and I was convinced that if I could only cast them aside, I would understand what was so fun about running around and shrieking on the playground, and “Rocko’s Modern Life,” and maybe I would be good at soccer, and everyone would like me and nobody would tell the class that I picked my nose.

I, and my fellow geek-nerd-dweebs, are uniquely qualified to enjoy the fashion benefits of glasses because we suffered the angst of wearing them when they were decidedly uncool.

I am 23 years old and it has been fourteen years since I, um, hypothetically could have been caught picking my nose in front of Mrs. Bowman’s fourth-grade class, but actually I just had this really atrocious itch somewhere on my sinus and maybe found some gold along the way, and I’m gonna quit while I’m behind, but suffice to say that I have not grown up to the point where I’m over my childhood. I’m still socially awkward; I still don’t find social interaction as comfortable as most people seem to; my brain is still so noisy that it regularly keeps me awake at night.

(I’m lucky here in Silicon Valley to be surrounded by many, many like-minded people. We are, generally, the meek inheriting the earth, and it feels great, especially since I don’t have to trip all over myself wearing heels and business casual. It’s oxymoronic, but here I feel I can be unabashedly socially awkward because everyone else is too. People here, like me, are earnest and curious and unconcerned with looking uncool. It’s a comfortable place to live.)

And so I still feel a residual bitterness towards people who seem to have always had it “easier” than I do. Their lives are hardly anything I desire; I have never wanted to be in a sorority and don’t have the energy to maintain Herbal Essences hair and I don’t want to work in fashion or PR or go to med school or do anything besides what I already do. Not to mention that my life is actually embarrassingly easy nowadays. I don’t even have to do my own laundry (thanks, Silicon Valley perks!). I can easily afford my rent and my car insurance and my cable and a couple new pairs of shoes every so often, and I have health insurance and voting rights and freedoms and privileges that many people lack. Frankly, nowadays, I only complain because it’s something to do.

But I remember being a little girl and wishing madly that I could spend a day in the body of one of the “popular” girls. They were pretty and easy and happy and sunny and I was bespectacled and moody and lonely and sensitive and nothing was easy. (I was unaware of the concept of “white privilege” at the time. Don’t worry, dear reader, I now know that everything is easy except trying to keep my uterus out of the hands of dastardly Republicans.) None of that is particularly true any longer; I work hard to be happy, and also I wear contact lenses, and I have a lot of really fantastic friends all over, and people generally like me.

But it’s hard to shake the nighttime thoughts that kept you awake when you were a little girl, especially if you thought them as hard and as often as I did, and for me, it’s still those damn glasses that kept me down, kept me from being happy and normal like the popular girls.

Perhaps these girls were once as geeky and shunned as I once was by classmates who watched Nickelodeon while they read Newsweek (RIP, print edition) in the corner. Perhaps they are actually nearsighted and need glasses, which is probably the most likely case, and I should maybe shut up and get over myself. But I maintain that the wearing of glasses should be a privilege held exclusively for the nerds of the world – for those who have suffered the shame of being outed as a non-consumer of Pokemon, of consistently missing the ball during four-square at recess, of knowing the capitals of every nation in the world but not the basic premise of “The Angry Beavers.” For if my Coke-bottle rims are suddenly going to give me an edge on everyone else, to set me apart in a way that makes me look special and glamorous instead of mousy and pitiable… I think that I deserve that one, don’t I?

I bought a new pair of glasses recently and when I wear them, I feel like I’m in a fishbowl. Analyze that, Freudette.

 

*I would like to take this moment to note that sometimes I can’t tell when my friends are posing facetiously. I have many friends from pre-college who are in, like, Delta Gamma Theta Phi or whatever, where you do the little broken wrist with the fingertips against the forehead with the jutting hip, and I guess it’s universal because I also have a bunch of Vassar friends who often pose like that as a joke. And the only way I can tell if they’re serious is if I look closely and see if they’re all wearing matching T-shirts that say something like “DELTA BETA KAPPA EPSILON BOYS VERSUS GIRLS FIJI ALPHA WET T-SHIRT FUNDRAISER PARTY.”

Also, we used to take pictures in dance company poses ALL THE TIME, so I probably shouldn’t make fun of sorority girls for doing it, but obviously we were pursuing the high art of Irish step dance/contemporary ballet/”walk eight counts and touch yourself” and can deservedly consider ourselves superior.