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“Here in an instant, gone in a flash. What does it mean? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?” – Jack Skellington: The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington sings this verse while trying to dissect the meaning of Christmas, but when I hear, “Here in an instant, gone in a flash.” I think of the month of October. Each and every year, October arrives and departs in a blink of an eye. At the stroke of midnight on October 1st, I feel myself rising out of Halloween Town’s fountain the way Jack does and by 11:59pm October 31st, I am dreaming about next Halloween and what I will do what I haven’t before. Usually I am in a drunken stupor or cozied up watching Halloween for 13th billion time. Regardless, October always feels like it comes and goes faster than a penis getting laid for the first time.

While October is always the time of utmost happiness for Halloween and Horror lovers, such as myself, it also comes with mischievous anxiety and too high of expectations. I will admit there have been Octobers where I couldn’t wait for it to end. Those were the times when I couldn’t afford to be at haunts every weekend – or at all – while I watched my friends go and have all the fun. Those were the Octobers where I was facilitating school Halloween functions, which at times was a lot of fun, but it was for the kids. I was known for my Halloween enthusiasm and the PTA and Lunchlady gig capitalized on it. I loved it though. Me getting the chance to be myself while dwelling in boring ass Rancho Cucamonga without all of the typical judgement about my lifestyle was, at times, a reprieve. It was all I had to entertain my inner child during October in those days and while it brought out some creative aspects- ,know it’s always sunny, hot and expensive even in October! Most often I had to choose between visiting a pumpkin patch or going to a haunt or fruitful trip to Spirit. I gathered most of my gourds from Trader Joe’s in lieu of pumpkin patches which, of corpse, made me feel like a Halloween fraud. Though now, I realize that Trader Joe’s pumpkins are far more beautiful, diverse and less expensive to enjoy. There was the time that I had to have my Jack Skellington animatronic and forfeited Knott’s Scary Farm that year. I have to say he was worth it and now on permanent display in my basement. There were times I had to pay for my kids and their friends to experience Knott’s Scary Farm and again, it was worth the experience – yet I had to get creative with the decor I already had instead of buying more animatronics. It’s all part of the spirit of being a Halloween enthusiast and trying to October the fuck out of October. How people can afford visiting Knott’s, Universal Halloween Horror Nights, make weekly trips to Spirit and still be able to afford their house payment baffles me to this day. However, I have learned that the experiences of October outweigh the satisfaction of buying decor. Without question!

Halloween 2014. The year I got the PTA Mom’s to dress up as Monster High Characters. Pictured here is one of my best friends to date.

While being a Halloween enthusiast means October is our time to shine, I often found myself singing Jack’s Lament more than ever. Year after year, my October mischief increased with intensity even in October 2020. You’d think with Haunts and shows being postponed, we Halloweeniers would have had a chill or quiet month. Nope. By the end of it, I had been to the LA Hautned Hayride’s Drive-Up, Knott’s Taste of Fall-o-ween, The Witch’s Brew: Ghost of the Past, and a plethora of home haunt displays. All of which made me as exhausted as I was after Halloween 2019 when I was out every Thursday through Sunday, writing on the other days and shopping at Spirit. No, October 2020 did me in. You may not know this but, the week before Halloween, I had suffered from several panic attacks. Perhaps they were caused by an accumulation of October stress and expectations. Perhaps they served as a foreshadowing of what was to come: The election and even more friends being sickened with Covid than ever before. Whatever the case, I was forced to stay home and dig into other ways to enjoy what was left of October. Despite my celebrating on Instagram, I was coming to an October crossroads. It’s like Jack sang,

“Yet year after year, it’s the same routine

And I grow so weary of the sound of screams

And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King

Have grown so tired of the same old thing

Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones

An emptiness began to grow

There’s something out there, far from my home

A longing that I’ve never known”

It’s true, year after year, despite what I change or rearrange, my October revelries were becoming too much for my body and mind to handle. It was time for something new. It was time for me to make this October and every subsequent October last. This October is completely new for me.

Just last week, I celebrated and honored Mabon in a true Autumn setting for the first time in my life. I have never experienced cloudy skies, rain and a high of 65 degrees on the first day of Fall. It was a gift. My mood felt in tune with the weather and I was baking pumpkin muffins and making Turkey Pumpkin Chili without the aid of central air conditioning. The temperatures heading into October are dropping. I get to attend a pumpkin patch or three that won’t break my bank while wearing a sweater. I get to experience new haunting grounds and witches paddle boarding up the Willamette River. I get to put my show on hold so I can gather a fresh new perspective, inspiration while still being part of my beloved scene. I get to be the featured Ghoul in some cases. I know this is all a bit cryptic but, I want you to experience these firsts with me. I also want you to know that while there’s so much to cram into October, there’s no need to haunt yourself or your wallets dry. It’s easy to admire the Scare Actor who pushes through the inevitable “Haunt Flu” or the Halloween influencer who has so much wall to wall decor that you can’t see their actual walls. Know that they are like Jack Skellington too. Putting themselves through so much during the season, during October, that they end up becoming Jack Skellingtons. The expectations, the treasures, the show going become so heavy and wearing, it sometimes causes even our favorite October influencers to burn out or in my case experience frightening panic attacks. These are the moments when Jack’s Lament becomes so prevalent.

It’s no wonder Michael wears the mask.

Don’t get it twisted though, our love, my love and exciting energy for October is always replenished. But, this year, instead of trying to cram mischief into every weekend, I am going to honor and celebrate my harvest differently. I imagine once Jack realized he is fine being himself, The Pumpkin King, that he went on to making sure he doesn’t get so burned out the following Halloween. I play the role of the Pumpkin Queen by delegating the fun. I am not going to get my panties in a pinch if I miss Knott’s Scary Farm. I will enjoy the pics from your visits. While I share my new adventures here in the Pacific Northwest with you. I will give you a new perspective on an October that exists outside of the chaotic Southern California scene. I have so many friends who are already burned out, broke, physically broken, grieving lost loved ones and even those who are being hurt by others in the Halloween community – it already feels like this October is set to be a bit darker and foreboding.

Don’t fret though. That’s what I am here for.

Think about what you loved about October before the pressures and expectations came in. This October bring forth your inner child and revel in the wonder and magick of this month of Harvest. Some people work the entire year for this moment. Support them! Visit their haunts, buy their wares, read their Halloween books, take pictures with your favorite cosplayer, do a scavenger hunt, participate in a Halloween card exchange, host a virtual slumber party (I’ll come) and do horror movie or halloween movie marathons! Spookymelaninmagic has a free Autumn bucketlist that’s full of cost-free and depression busting things that you can partake in. If you are one of my friends suffering from depression, grief, illness or lack of funds don’t worry about what everyone else is flaunting. Do something that makes YOU smile at the thought of October. If you are one of my friends that has the means to do it all this month, consider sharing some of the truth behind the pressures and stress that comes along with being an Enthusiast despite how fun and exciting it all is. I see you all come November 1st. Some of you look like you were blown out of the sky and I know you feel that way too.

After a fun night in October 2018. I’m no scare actor or show producer. This was just after one night of dancing and drinking too many black russians at a particular bar in Hollywood.

“But I never intended all this madness, never

And nobody really understood, how could they?

That all I ever wanted was to bring them something great

Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?

Well, what the heck, I went and did my best

And, by God, I really tasted something swell

And for a moment, why, I even touched the sky

And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did

And for the first time since I don’t remember when

I felt just like my old bony self again

And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King

That’s right, I am the Pumpkin King, ha, ha, ha”

October only comes once a year. It’s here in an instant and gone in a flash. It’s important to revel and create memories so that we can share our October stories and harvest for years to come. Even if you’re not having the best October, know that this Halloween Enthusiast is here to hopefully put a smile on your face and remind you that apples and Jäger bombs taste better in the Fall. This October, I am celebrating the harvest of friendships, connections and manifestations I have made. While I intend to spend every waking moment being grateful for all that I have accumulated and experienced throughout my past Octobers, I look to you for inspiration. It’s been a tough two Halloween seasons, for so many of us. Let’s be sure to nurture the simple pleasures of October. It’s the time of year where we blend in; like the spirits that come visit as the veil thins. Make your own mischief and enjoy the fuck out of your harvest. Tell them Michelle Halloween made you do it.

Happy October, you Halloweenier’s!

Get in touch

mobrien@michellehalloween.com