Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Costumes that We Wear, the Costumes that We Internalize

Yesterday at work, we had a costume contest.  I've never worn a costume to work--well, that's not exactly true.  I could make the argument that many of us are wearing costumes to work.  I don't sit around my house wearing my clothes that I wear to the office.  Professional Life Kristin:  that's my costume.

Yesterday I did make concessions to Halloween.  I wore a skirt that's vibrant orange sherbet colored and a black shirt and black sandals. 

I did think about possible costumes.  If I had planned ahead and lost a lot of weight, I could have come as the shrinking middle class.  I thought of coming as a fortune teller with a cloudy crystal ball--after all, many of us at work would like to know our future there.

Clearly, my costume creation self was heading in a dark direction, and who needs that?

But this morning, I also started this train of thought:  once I loved creating a costume.  When did I become too busy to celebrate this holiday I once loved?

I thought about my childhood. in the 1970’s, when this holiday was different.  I don't remember being able to buy costumes at a store; we assembled them out of what was on hand, usually our parents' clothes and make up and whatever we could construct (or what our mothers might sew).    I remember making a witch hat out of a cone of paper and putting my mother's green eye shadow all over my face.  I remember my skin itching for days.

In college, we continued to create costumes.  I remember streaking my hair green.  That green stayed in my blond hair for weeks.  Now I see students who die their hair in all sorts of unnatural shades.  Back in the 80's, it seemed daring, like pierced ears for boys.

But these days, I feel like creating a costume is just one more thing on an ever-growing list of tasks to do.  And that fact makes me sad.

I was in a serious funk for part of the day yesterday.  I didn't feel like decorating the departmental pumpkin.  The noon festivities made me yearn for quiet.  But somehow, by later afternoon, my mood had shifted.

Our departmental pumpkin had not been carved.  Our admin. ass't was going to throw it away, and I said, "No, that seems like a waste."  I asked my other department members if they wanted to take the pumpkin home, and no one did.  So I brought it home.

On Thursday, my spouse had talked about carving one of the small pumpkins on our porch, after we saw the jack-o-lanterns on our new neighbors' porch across the street.  I was glad to have a larger pumpkin to carve.

Last night we scooped the guts out of the pumpkin and separated the seeds from the goop.  My spouse roasted the seeds.  He also created the face for the pumpkin, and we both carved it.  Carving it was easier than I remembered it being.  We have a supply of votive candles, so we went ahead and used one last night.

It felt cozy, eating pumpkin seeds and watching the flickering candle while my spouse toggled between the World Series and the ABC Halloween-themed Friday night shows.

It's interesting to be an observer of my moods.  I watched myself going from forlorn to irritable to sad to calm to happy to content:  all in the course of 13 hours.  It's good to remember that our emotions aren't permanent--that if we can sit with them, we may be able to make the shift from something negative to something better.


Wendy said...

When I taught high school, I wore costumes to work. Now I am wearing a "Management Professor" costume and at the moment it is ill-fitting "why do you dress me in borrowed robes."

The kids and I did a pumpkin patch with other school families and we each got pumpkins as part of the deal. They have been sitting on the wall inside the house since. We may need to carve them today.

Thanks for this reflection.

Kathleen said...

I appreciate your darker thoughts, your cozy thoughts, and your Halloween memories.