October in a Weekend

October 5, 2017 — If you read the OTIS Halloween Die-ary entries for September 29 to October 1, then you got a good sense of that weekend for me. But I can’t quite let it go. I feel like I need to cognize it all together, instead of as separate, foreshortened entries. And the way I cognize things, any thing, is to write about it. So here we go.

Oh, this is also an excuse for me to post more photos.

And I guess it’s also kind of an ad for the OTIS Halloween Die-ary.

Anyway, sometimes I hate making plans on weekends because plans make weekends streak past on fiery tire marks to Monday. Sometimes the best weekends are the ones where you realize you’re bored, that time is stretching, that Monday will never come.

But there’s something about fall that makes you want fill every minute of it with activity, even if it seems to fast-forward your weekends. They say it’s the recognition that winter is coming. That soon you’ll be trapped indoors behind hills of snow. They say that the season reminds us of the looming nature of death, so subconsciously we want to make the most of life before the Grim Reaper scythes us down. They also just say it’s just the ideal temperature for human activity. Not so hot that it makes you miserable and sluggish and not so cold that it makes you miserable and huddled.

Whatever the reason and whomever they are, that weekend ended up being the kind of weekend that I want every fall weekend to be.

It started on Friday night. The second I clocked out of my study upstairs from a day of work, we were in motion. We made dinner, and hit play on The Nightmare Before Christmas. It kind of felt a little too early for this movie, but it’s a “seasonal event” movie and we wanted to make that night a seasonal event.

Every time I watch it, I notice something different. This time I was able to spot the wire holding zero the ghost dog in the air during the unraveling hill scene. It’s only there for one cut, but you can see it faintly reproduced like about 100 times in those few seconds since that’s how many times they moved him to make him move a fraction of an inch. I think this was also the first time I noticed the two small pumpkinheaded creatures in the audience of the town meeting scene where Jack introduces the residents of Halloween Town to Christmas.

Hard to see in this screengrab, but that shaft of shadow beneath Zero
is the wire reproduced scores of times.

Why aren't the pumpkinheaded creatures sitting together?

After we finished eating, we paused the movie, told Google Home to spin up our Halloween music list, and made popcorn balls. Once we had a couple plates of the bumpy orbs, we sidled back to the couch. Like all of us. My wife. My two daughters. The cat. The dog. We lounged together on that couch like it was a life raft.

The next day the entire family split up: Me to a book talk in Barre, Vermont, Lindsey to a wedding she was photographing in Newport, Rhode Island, the kids to the grandparents’ house here in Nashua. I started my day with a beautiful, overcast drive full of Halloween music, horror podcasts, and convenience store beef jerky. I got to talk about my weirdo bibliography and some of the lessons I’ve learned being a travelogue writer. On the way back I stopped to see the grave of Richard Potter, America’s first magician. He’s buried with his wife in a solitary, fence-lined plot behind a railroad station. His stone says, “Ventriloquist.” I think I want mine to say that, too.

I got home in time to squeeze in a seasonal horror movie, The Houses October Built.

Sunday started out with my face in the city paper. And I don’t mean reading it. I’d been interviewed about my life in Nashua and my upcoming Death and Douglas book. We did the interview earlier in the week in my local Barnes & Noble. Kinda struck a chord with me because the first time I visited that B&N was long before I moved to New England and long before I published my first book. Long before OTIS. And long before Lindsey, even. Somewhere, I think, around the turn of the century, I believe. I was on solitary road trip, and randomly stopped by to look up an old college friend. The B&N was my headquarters while I made a few calls trying to dig him up. Man, things have changed since those days.

After I stole copies of the paper from all my neighbors’ driveways, the family reunited and took off to Deerfield, New Hampshire, for one of the biggest and, at 140-odd years, longest-running fairs in New England. I wrote about it seven years ago on OTIS, which I think was the last time I went there. Hey, there are a lot of all fairs up here.

But Deerfield has everything you need in a fall fair—giant pumpkins, food vendors, carnival rides, livestock, exotic animals, a maple barn, horse shows, farm equipment, parades, music. It’s big.

We spent a few hours there, and then got home and relaxed for a bit. Caught a Halloween baking show as we dozed on the couch. And then got up and starting decorating the exterior of our house, which now, at the cusp of a new weekend, is still not quite completely finished.

Lindsey and I ended our night watching most of Creepshow.

I’m not saying it was a perfect weekend. Certainly there were bad moments. Like my eldest pitching a fit because we couldn’t fit in a camel ride at the fair. Or me getting into a snit because I couldn’t find my black hoodie that I’d recently bought for the exact purposes of wearing it throughout fall. Or us not seeing any of each other on Saturday. Or the chaos we experienced in the middle of Creepshow when our cat nabbed a mouse and we had to figure out how to get it from her and get rid of it before we were forced to sell the house at a discount and move somewhere else (after all, we’d just decorated it).

I'll post photos of our exterior decorations soon.

And, yes, the entire weekend flew by like it never happened. Which is why I need to write about it. Twice, apparently.

But, man, we did it, Clarke. And I hope we do it again this weekend. After all, I finally found my black hoodie today.