Posted in Dreams and Nightmares

Halloween Awakening

I wrote this blog post nine years ago and never had the nerve to publish it… it’s been sitting in my draft posts ever since.

‘Last modified 5 Nov 2008’:

This makes me smile every time it shows up on my desktop: Halloween wp (1600 x 1200). It’s not mine, but if you happen to like The Nightmare Before Christmas, it will be your thing.

The other night I woke up thinking “I must take those wallpapers down; they’re giving me nightmares!” Actually they weren’t, as they’re nice rather than nightmarish, but I had a Halloween experience…

Do you hallucinate when very tired? I don’t mean ordinarily tired; you have to be quite sleep-deprived to qualify…. but I believe it’s fairly common in those circumstances. Sometimes (for instance after a very long bus expedition, not having seen a proper bed for 30 or 40 hours) I’ve been so tired that I couldn’t sleep properly… it’s as though you’re collapsing more than sleeping. That’s extreme, but that’s almost how tired you have to be for this. To illustrate the prevalence of this (if you really need convincing): it happens to students who are studying too hard (and possibly feeding themselves with too much caffeine). It also happens to motorists who have driven too long and are falling asleep at the wheel. Not at all smart, but I couldn’t help being charmed by one person’s story of driving till he saw a cowboy sitting on a suitcase in the middle of the road. That was his cue to park and sleep.

This kind of hallucination is a waking dream; you think you’re awake and looking around, but part of your brain is dozing.

Caution: If you’re squeamish, eating something or prone to nightmares of your own, don’t read past this point. You have been warned. 😈

On Sunday night, I was so enthralled by a book (Grumpy Old Men: New Year, Same Old Crap by David Quantick) that it was a shock to find it was nearly 5 in the morning. Oops — time to turn out the light.

I fell asleep and dreamed I’d lost a tooth, which was causing me problems. At the same time I became aware of a cowled figure standing at the door beside my bed… just perceiving him from the side of my eye. He was about to leave the room but I didn’t think I could sleep till the blood was washed away, so I called him back, asking him to sort it out for me.

He came and twisted a dark grey tap, barely visible in the gloom above my head. I expected clean cool water, but it was a foul-smelling, viscous, dark, sticky liquid that glugged out of the tap onto my face. “It’s not water,” remarked the cowled figure with deep satisfaction — “it’s old blood.” And he left the room.

“I can’t stand this,” I thought.

I had been dreaming, but was awake now.

I opened my eyes (they creaked open reluctantly) and the whole room was bathed in a crimson glare, as though a blood-red moon was shining in through the curtains. Gaaargh. Closed my eyes again, and just inside my eyelids were several disembodied faces, squirming with red maggots.

“It’s one of those waking dreams,” I said resignedly to myself. “I wore myself out.”

There was a flash of light through the window, visible through my eyelids… I looked, and everything was steel grey. An improvement on the crimson… but I couldn’t see what had caused the flash. No car, no security light. It made me anxious, as though something was closing in, and my heart started racing.

“This is a real Halloween experience!” I said to myself. “It’s just a shame it’s two nights too late. Maybe I should use it in NaNoWriMo.” The maggotty faces inside my eyelids nodded and stretched their mouths wide in cackly agreement — I saw the funny side, and laughed out loud. Just a quick “hereehee!” — then listened to my heartbeat till it slowed, and finally slept.

At first I was blaming a blog post I read shortly before bed… it was unexpectedly gruesome, and I was hoping I wouldn’t dream about it. Possibly it set the tone. But according to this Guardian/Observer article (In the dead of the night), the brain is dealing with raw animal emotions and fear… and so, ‘anxious’ dreams will often be of a gory and terrifying nature. Nature red in tooth and claw.

Bet you thought you would never meet a real Halloween ghoul… I wouldn’t be so sure.

I mentioned the article to Mum, telling her that people sometimes see the Grim Reaper or even Darth Vader, and she said scornfully, “but what’s scary about that?” I said defensively that I wasn’t frightened by my own cowled figure; in fact he was trying to sidle out of the room till I summoned him back.

He didn’t seem very keen, did he? Maybe he was on his way to a party, and I was delaying him.

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Posted in Life and Family, Notepad Conversations

Making Sure I’m on the Same Page

The place is littered with bits of paper, old envelopes folded over, small notepads, even postit notes… these are what we write to each other on.

Today is Halloween. Without even thinking, I was wearing a loose black skirt decorated with beads. Kind of witchy. Mum came home from somewhere, and made me turn round. She plucked a yellow postit note off my skirt — it said, ‘The eve of all hallows.’

Thanks for the memo….

Posted in Observations

Bally Times

Was looking at a rack of Halloween costumes today, and found:

Luscious Lady Bug
Fairy Tale Princess
Cleopatra

Eh?? Strange Halloween selection, but it all points at the fact that it’s an evolving holiday.

It seems to be on our minds a lot… Mum pointed out some shiny black curtains, and I said “Halloween curtains!” Then we went into another shop and found some plain black gift paper and Mum said “Halloween paper!” Then we went to Starbucks and had cold mocha and cold cappuccinos (they weren’t supposed to be cold).

Anyway, the thing that made me sit up today: Wooster (in ‘Jeeves and Wooster’) proclaiming “The bally balliness of life makes everything so bally bally.”

Posted in Lost in Thought

Halloween Elements

I have to confess the reason I started thinking more closely about what makes a Halloween scene or image was that I made a desktop wallpaper for the Halloween part of a site — it was promptly booted out into a more general category.

Oooops. Part of me really hates that…. being wrong, and having to be corrected. It hurts my pride. But it got me thinking about the traditional and not so traditional elements of Halloween.

I’ve been looking in the shops at Halloween window displays, and at the Halloween paraphernalia they have on sale. In previous years I didn’t care two hoots… but last year I looked at the desktop wallpapers on deviantArt after Halloween was already over, and got angry with myself for missing the whole thing! I always rather wanted to make a Halloween wallpaper, and there were some good and imaginative ones.

Anyway, the following were in the Halloween displays of local shops in the UK:

Strictly traditional elements:
Witches, broomsticks, witches’ hats, cauldrons, black cats;
Ghosts, ghouls, ectoplasm;
Vampires;
Skeletons, skulls;
Tombs, tombstones, fangs;
Spiders, cobwebs;
Bats, full moons, spooky trees, haunted houses;
Carved pumpkins.

Traditional but less common:
Carved turnips… actually none of these were in local shop displays.

Acceptable but slightly less traditional elements:
Owls, rats, toads, cockroaches, toadstools;
Zombies, mummies, monsters in general, gibbets.

Elements I’ve seen included, but not especially traditional:
Poison bottles, old bottles with melted wax;
Snakes, crocodiles, dinosaurs, scorpions;
Aliens, Chewbacca, gremlins, Furbies.

General decorations:
Glow sticks;
Uncarved pumpkins, autumn foliage and flowers, conkers.

Not quite sure how to categorize the following! Probably ‘daring’?:
Weaponry, shackles and irons, dungeon signs, torture implements;
Body parts, blood, eyeballs, violent maniacs;
Pirates, highway men, mad scientists.

Things you would think would be included but weren’t (perhaps out of some basic Scottish unease):
Horned devils, dragons.

Presumably body parts and suchlike are there to symbolize those who have died violently… who are now wandering spirits having their last night of fun. But I was disturbed by the presence of a masked maniac who had costumes in some of the local shops. Who is Freddie with the boiler room? Do I really want to know?

Spiders aren’t ghosts, so why are they so traditional? Why are they more Halloweeny than snakes? Actually, I had this question answered only yesterday, when Mum said it’s a good job she’s not afraid of spiders. There she was, driving along, and a spider suddenly jumped on her. Then tonight I opened the kitchen door and looked out, and there were silvery spider webs on both corners, with the black night sky as their backdrop. This is a very spidery time of year, I guess… whereas presumably snakes are a bit past their best! (I don’t actually know that; it’s a stab in the dark!)

Anyway…. would you say a row of living, glowing test tubes was suitable Halloween fodder, or a bit borderline? It occurred to me to type in ‘Halloween test tubes’ and a surprising number of hits showed up. They’re all tied in with the mad scientist idea. I was saying to Mum “look at the glow sticks; they’re like my test tubes,” and today I found somebody out there asking if you could put the contents of glow sticks into test tubes for Halloween decorations, or would that be dangerous? (Answer: very probably).

And perhaps the real answer is that Halloween is still evolving in people’s minds.

Halloween Test Tubers
Posted in Lost in Thought

What is Halloween About to You?

Trying to figure this out… what Halloween is about? Is it always pumpkins, witches, bats and ghouls, or is there something more? Can it be about anything surreal or spooky? Provided there’s a big moon in an image, or a black cat, is it Halloween? If there’s no big moon, does it stop being Halloween?

I’ve been looking around the internet, and so far I’ve seen the following perceptions:

If it’s a scary face on anything except a pumpkin, it’s not Halloween.

It’s a holiday of the imagination.

It’s a bridge between the spiritual and the physical world.

It’s about dressing up and having fun.

It’s about ghosts having a last-night fling.

It’s about stealing sweets from kids.

It’s about everything negative, scary and evil.

I think I’m going for a lie-down — I’ve had too much coffee. 🙂

The Halloween category at deviantArt.

Posted in Desktop Pictures, Trolleys

Halloween Treat

It’s the last day I see Mum on this side of Halloween, so I set her Mac to randomly show a folder of Halloween desktop pictures which I accumulated secretly. I had just finished, and was sneaking away, when she appeared in the doorway and stared at the Mac.

She burst out laughing.
“Where did you get THAT?”

‘THAT’ was Midnight Trooper, the free Halloween picture from Digital Blasphemy. The Mac just so happened to choose it first.

“It’s from a computer art site. It says down here in the corner – Digital Blasphemy,” I said

I had finished walking the dog, and the day was already getting dim around the edges. “I better go home before it gets dark,” I said. “I don’t want to be caught when the ghosties and ghouls come out. Especially as there’s no Jolly the Trolley to protect me.”

“In that case,” said Mum, “he would probably get home before you.”