Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween 1969

     There is something about October that brings on a feeling of anticipation for me.  The sun's intensity is weaker making the warm Indian summer days to be enjoyed as the cool November days will be here all too soon.  The leaves on the trees with their deeper shades of browns, oranges and reds as they slowly start to fall.    To take walks and purposely step on the dry brittle leaves that crunch under your shoes.  Best of all is the day that a wild wind stirs the leaves up and around as though in a dance before your eyes. I become transfixed as I watch their performance!  Especially when cars drive past swirling the leaves in a parade of color.  

     Halloween....what should I be?  Sixth grade, the last year I went Trick or Treating though I didn't know it at that time.  Costumes came together quickly, not thought about to much.   What can you pull out of a closet.  What old clothes does my mom have?  Who will I go with?  That year I was a gypsy.   I had a long black wig and a full skirt of my mom's in my dress-up box.   I borrowed some of her jewelry of long gold necklaces, some with gold coins on them that tinkled as I walked, and some clip on hoop earrings.  Putting on a costume always made me feel like the character that I looked like.   Swirling in my skirt as it poofed out around me, my necklaces swinging around with me.  I was a gypsy!

     The night is dark, our pumpkins sit on the porch waiting for the trick or treaters to come and knock on the door.   No one goes out before dark.  I don't remember my parents ever going out with me.  It was always  be home before 9 o'clock.   This year we are not to eat apples as someone has been putting razor blades in them.  I don't want apples anyway!   Don't eat brownies as they may have marijuana in them.   I just want candy!

     We have apartments near my house that we head towards first as that means lots more candy.  Running up and down the stairs with the pounding of our feet echoing on the concrete steps of the buildings.  "Trick or Treat!"  we yell as the door is opened.   Running from the moment we leave one door onto the next.   Running down the street with all the other kids doing the same.  "What did you get from them?"  we yell to each other.   Snacking on the treats we get along the way.   Abba Zabba's I loved the best with the chewy peanut filling that sticks to your teeth.  Jujubes or Dots in chewy fruit flavors, Lifesavers, and Pixie sticks were good to get too.  Musketeer Bars or Almond Joy for our chocolate fix.  Then there was the Cigarette candies that came in a box that looked like a cigarette box.  They tasted slightly chalky with a melting way about them when you sucked on them.   Not really good to eat but fun to pretend you really had a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.  Then there was the small wax bottles that were in the shape of coca-cola bottles than had colored sugar water in them.  You would bite off the top and drink the sweet drink inside.  
     That year after I came home, I passed out candy to those who could stay out after 9 o'clock.   Not many but a few kids did come by.   I stayed at the door leaving it open while I waited.   The candles in the pumpkins had burned out.   My parents were not home, I don't know where my brother was, only my Nan home and gone to bed.  I emptied my bag of candy discarding, sorting and eating.  Such a satisfying feeling seeing all the loot I had come home with.




Monday, October 19, 2009


     A woman's belly is an amazing thing.    In our teens when we are boy crazy, we want our belly's to be flat and firm and our waists to be small.   We compare ourselves to every other girl we see to whether  they are smaller or larger than our own.   We long to have that special boy wrap his arm around us to feel that gentle curve that begins below our ribs to the beginnings of our hips.   Well, at least I did.   For me that is what I had going for me.  I had zip for breasts as they were small and rather flat.   My legs were short and not shapely as those of my friends.  But my waist could be worked with.
     I had weight issues growing up and there were times I was definitely chubby.   At those times my mom would put me on a diet which I found humiliating.   Take going to my Girl Scout meetings.  While my friends would have some cupcakes for snack time, I would be eating an apple.   Yum.  As a young teen I tried to squeeze into girlfriends size 25 Lee Jeans, not easy and not happening.  I was curvy before they made curvy jeans.   During my up and down weight days in the good times I did have a lovely flat belly.   Laying at the beach my belly lay flat if not dipping lower, my hip bones rising up on either side.  One had to be careful who viewed you if they were next to you as they could see what they were not suppose to see!   Those naughty little bikini's.

     How many movies have we watched that made us wonder what we might be doing wrong to not have that itty bitty waist?  In Gone With The Wind, Scarlett is having her corset tightened  to where she can barely breathe.   She wants to know what her waist measures to.  It is 19 inches and she is not happy.  I was happy at 22 inches, and that was sucking it in as much as possible.  I certainly wouldn't be able to hold that very long. 

      What surprised me was when I became pregnant at 22 and I was waiting for my belly to grow it didn't.  Not till I was in my fourth month did I have the beginnings of a round belly.  All the time I carried my first born I loved watching the transformation that took place before my eyes.   When my belly began to move in strange ways from kicks, elbows, and feet I was in awe of the show going on.  Tim and I would lay there in bed watching and wondering what this child was doing.   I who prided herself at having that flat belly had all but forgotten those days.   To feel the ripe roundness of this belly even in those last few weeks where I felt the need to hold it as my body reminded me with contractions in preparation of the birth to come.  My belly tightened with amazing strength and all I could do was breath.   I had this cute little stripe from my belly button to my pubic area exotically called Linea Nigra and not a stretch mark in sight.  

      After the birth I was so overcome with shock at taking care of my first babe that I forgot about my belly.  Two days later while getting out of the shower I looked in the mirror and saw this foreign belly that couldn't possibly be mine!   Jelly belly was there.   Soft, toneless and not flat.  It was like a deflated water filled balloon that went where it wanted.  I was forced to continue to wear maternity pants for a month.   My hips and waist had changed forever.   But my breasts who had been unimaginative had become full in ways I could never believe they would do.  They were beautiful and they honored me by giving my child free food.  Never a bottle to her lips except when we did leave her and then only breast milk did she drink.  Slowly I was able to wear normal clothes.   I somehow managed to actually lose all the weight I had gained with the pregnancy.    In time the buxom look deflated back to its former days.

     Having two more babies I was able to relive the dreamy days of the growing belly and the growing breasts.  After each birth I was able to get back to an acceptable size but after my third my belly began to decide to not firm up as in years gone by.   I had this unwanted gift of a soft roundness that did not want to lie flat and firm.  It was what I called the "Mommy Bellie".  After my third child bikini's were not an option.  Those bikini's went to the back of the drawer and at some point were put in the Goodwill bag.   Only a one-piece would be worn.  One with "Tummy Control".   I found that you could get panty hose with "Panty Control" so at least if I wore a skirt or dress that belly would behave.  

     When I had baby number four at 38 my whole body changed.  Losing that jelly belly was harder, the hips fought my plans of slimming down, and though I loved the cleavage I kept working on firming up my belly.  Lost cause.   Acceptance that my body loved being pregnant as it never failed me on carrying to term or in the process of birth (Though I carried every baby posterior which means that I had back labor.  I would never know what it would feel like to deliver the way most women do, and I bravely forfeited using drugs by choice except with the first birth).  

      Now at 51 I am still trying to understand my body.  The belly remains soft.  Sometimes it is flat, as in days following an illness.  I am reminded in my head of my Nan telling me to hold my stomach in and stand up straight and tall.   Yes, I do look better when I do that.  To the sides of my waist some strange lumpy bumps are starting to appear and disappear.  What is that?!   I can't do my normal crunches or ab exercises due to a neck problem this past year.  I can't wait till I am given the clear and can resume them.  I am still curvy but I am happy with that as I still have that definition of bust, waist and hip.  Larger than at age 22 but I really should have known that I couldn't go back to that size after four kids.   Those celebrity women pay others to create there svelte bodies.   The rest of us make choices of workouts or playtime and playtime with my kids while they were at home was first choice for me.  

     I will always be in awe of what my belly has done and I forgive it for not making it easy on me.   Through cramps, pregnancy, and beyond I still love feeling it and remembering the kicks, and undulating waves that entertained us.  I feel blessed that I still don't have stretch marks but if I did I would call them "War Wounds" and touch them with lotion as I would massage them.   It is a right of passage in a woman's life.   Our bodies a vessel that only we truly learn to know.  

Saturday, October 10, 2009


     Our fingers rested as lightly as we could on the teardrop shaped message reader as we concentrated our thoughts on the question we posed to the spirits who would answer us.   We sat opposite each other with the Ouija board between us,  one of us looking at it upside down and the other seeing the board spread before us.  Ever so slightly the message reader would start to slide.   As though testing the board or us into our belief that what it would say would be true.   With a sweep of movement the reader began to glide like an ice skater across the board swinging left and then right.  Our hearts would race and our excitement made us giggle nervously to see where the reader would stop as it would begin to spell out the answer.    The clear viewer allowed us to read the letter it would hesitantly hover over till it swooped to the next letter.  We would yell out the letter to whoever was not doing the board and they would write them down on a piece of paper as it spelled out the word or sentence.  It always told, that Ouija Board.

     This was a ritual that my friend Susan, her sister Pam and I would do often after we watched Dark Shadows on their TV many afternoons after school.   I can honestly say I must have spent most every weekday at their house waiting for our favorite show to come on at 3:30 during a time that we were loyal fans.  Susan's mom worked and Pam was in charge of  Susan, her brother David as well as me when I came over.    Pam was as good a friend to me as her sister was.   We loved Dark Shadows!   I think more so on a cloudy dark day, or a rainy one as it heightened our thrill for that half hour it was on.   The moment the show began with the eerie theme song we were glued to the TV.   Barnabas Collins, the Vampire looking to avenge the curse of Angelique for setting a bat on him which created his own personal hell of never dying.   Our crush on Quentin Collins and David Collins who was closer in age to us, the haunting music,  the dark gothic house, secrets, a cast of many that we eagerly felt we knew so well.  Then the music!  I painstakingly wrote the music out on paper of Josette's Theme so I could play it on the piano.  We would pretend try to talk like some of the characters and felt certain that the show was real.   The Ouija Board became our question and answer of what would happen in the next episode.  We put a lot of faith in it.   This became my beginning into the thrill of ghosts, vampires and all that could scare or raise the hair on the back of my neck.  We were quite upset when it went off the air.  The Ouija Board came out of my closet for sleepovers after that but it never felt like the days of Dark Shadows.   The belief in it had faded.


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