September 25, 2020: Thoughts from Atop a Ladder While Hanging Orange Lights


Halloween Die-ary #10

I was ten feet off the ground on an ancient ladder that was somehow still rickety despite being aluminum, stringing orange lights along my roof line with cheap plastic clips that were made for white gutters, not the black ones my house has. The mosquitos were taking turns giving me blood tests. The construction paper bats weren’t doing their jobs, I guess. Actually, we weren’t decorating with bats this year, but live ones were circling over our heads as we decorated the exterior of our house, like they do at every dusk at the Black House (that’s why we have black gutters). Eventually, I finished without any Clark Griswold-style mishaps, and we walked to the road and turned the decorations on with an app on Lindsey’s phone. It was a glorious moment, the most Halloween moment so far this year. Maybe the apex of the still nascent season.

I haven’t been doing Halloween Die-ary entries as often as I thought I would so far, documenting each of these minor moments. When I launched the Die-ary in 2017, it was a parallel project to the main Halloween Season, meant to be just a few lines a day. In 2018, I the Halloween Die-ary took over as the center-ring content, with standalone Halloween Season entries only appearing occasionally. Last year, I felt like I achieved the right balance between Die-ary entry and OTIS Halloween Season article, between small ruminations of the day and full-on essays of the season.

So I thought I had a template for the 2020 season. Instead, it’s been yet another variation, with mostly full-on essays and only Die-ary entries when the mood hits me. And even those Die-ary entries have been more like topical essays than a record of the day itself.

I don’t know why. Certainly we’ve been doing Halloween. Watching horror movies. Enjoying the cool weather. Decorating. Eating so much seasonal candy I’ve shaved years of my life, like each sweet is a piece of the sugar skull at the end of The Halloween Tree. Reading spooky stories. Treating the seasonal aisles of stores like museum exhibits.

Still, I haven’t felt like sharing those moments every day. Not for any reason. I just don’t think I developed the Doogie Howser-style rhythm I need to do that. Maybe the Cape Cod trip shook it up a bit. Maybe the launch of Cursed Objects. But there’s two things I refuse to attribute it to: COVID and the election shenanigans. I can bury my head in a pumpkin with the best of them.

I do miss talking about the daily minor pleasures of the season, being inspired to write paragraphs about the single pumpkin donut I ate that one day. But that’s one of the benefits of a long Halloween Season. Maybe I’ll get back into that rhythm. And write about aluminum ladders and such.