Why is there Halloween?
A different explanation.

Halloween? Isn't it Satanic? the old Black woman chided me on the bus. We often talk about cultural matters.
"Actually, it's as Christian as, well, Corpus Christi."I said. Being observant Anglican has some advantages.
"Well it's not in the Bible."
"No, but it's not pagan, either. Why do you think it's on the eve of All Saints? And what about All Souls Day? 'Let us now praise famous men..?'"
"All Saints is Satanic. All Souls is Satanic, a man-made holiday!"

Resisting mightily my urge to put on my lapsed-Satanist pointy hat, or Secular Humanist hat (I doffed them both rather publicly, a few years ago), and point out that the Bible is also a human artifact, I reminded myself of my favorite explanation for Halloween, which is completely non-Satanic, non-Fluffy Wiccan, and only faintly partaking of witchcraft As We Know it...

It's to be remembered that while many of its neighbors were pagan, Ireland remained a Christian entity, separate from Rome for several centuries, resulting, in some cases, in an odd hybrid of practices. For instance, the end of the Irish Civil Year was when the last sheaf of grain was harvested, and began on All Saint's Day. Most years, it was fairly close, even overlapping, so that there was little ambiguity. However, some years, grain had to be harvested early, and so there might be anything from a night to a week that belonged neither to one year or another.
This kind of calendrical glitch was not uncommon in some societies -- in Early Rome, there was no reckoning of days or months between December and March. In Ireland, however, this situation led to a mild social crisis every time it occurred.
It was hard to press any kind of civil suit that occurred on no particular day of no particular year. It was easy to get away with all kinds of petty crime, quasi-legal mischief (like fortunetelling, spellcasting and begging) and revenge pranks, too. Therefore, especially at night, people stayed home, lit candles in apples and turnips and left them by the door or in a window, and if they had to go out, they'd cover their faces, turn their clothing inside out, or do other things to disguise themselves.

Shut up for long nights and short days, people began to wonder: if it's no real year, did that mean there was no time? Would that mean that places, events, even people from the past might, somehow, be walking around out there? All Saint's was the day for the commemoration of holy people. All Souls was for the ordinary kind of person, the souls in Purgatory. The Eve of All Hallows must, therefore be when those in Hell might walk free! The English invaded, the Irish Civil calendar was discarded, but the idea of late October as a time of fear and mischief remained.

And so it was, that in Early America, Irish young men would go forth on the last two nights of October, wreaking havoc (overturning outhouses and/or lighting fires was a popular gesture), getting drunk, and generally being a public nuisance until the 1930's when the Boy Scouts got into the action, substituting doing skits, songs and magic tricks in costume for the "trick" part and encouraging grown folks to "treat" them with candies, hot cider, doughnuts and the like. In the 60's UNICEF used the idea to collect for children's charities, a hard sell for smaller kids to'get', but amazingly effective. Nowadays, the only people truly frightened are parents, who love outdoing each other on how terrible it all is.

It may be not everyone's explanation, but I'm sticking to it.

For Me, He Lives On In Supertramp

Music is amazing.

No, really, it is just absolutely amazing, because of the way it can strike you with a a lightning bolt in your heart when you least expect it.

Some story on NPR referred to Supertramp; I don't remember what the story was about. They played "Breakfast in America" and I was instantly transported to angrily waking up in my bunkbed back in my house to that album blasting from the record player, with my dad yelling that it was time for us to get up and do our chores.

God, it nearly made me cry right there.

So I got on iTunes and bought the album. Then I checked out the "Listeners Also Bought" list, and saw so many familiar album covers. Aja by Steely Dan. Synchronicity by The Police. Zenyatta Mondatta, also by The Police. Clicked on Zenyatta Mondatta, found the track "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around," and got shocked again. For the love of God, I can see the record spinning on the player in my mind. And that one did make me cry.

This was the soundtrack of my formative years, just like "Lost in the Supermarket" by The Clash and "Surrender" by Cheap Trick evoke the mix cassette playing in our little rust-colored (and covered) VW Rabbit as we went on road trips. These are probably some of the earliest memories I have, and I associate them with nothing but good times (except for the yelling for us to wake up, and even now those are good times in retrospect).

It makes me wonder if Caroline will have the same reactions to Ben Folds, The Killers, Imogen Heap, and all the other artists we listen to today, the same age as I was when we played those LPs. I suppose she will.

I hope I'll be around when she does.

Crossposting this to LJ, Facebook, and Everything2.

Notes from the Surf

Just missed the bus
In Soviet Russia, bus miss you.

Jesus heals the sick
...if Jesus did it like we do it.

US Chamber Shuts off TheYesMen.org and Websites of Hundreds of Others
"Hundreds of... organizations had their internet service turned off last night after the US Chamber of Commerce strong-armed an upstream provider, Hurricane Electric, to pull the plug on The Yes Men and May First / People Link."

Rape and Health Insurance
"they were deemed ineligible for health insurance because they had a pre-existing condition as a result of a rape, such as post traumatic stress disorder or a sexually transmitted disease... insurers are routinely denying long-term mental health care to women who have been sexually assaulted."

Deep cuts push Californians to edge
Kerry was a preschool teacher until a year ago, when her world caved in. "I got sick," she told me. "Ulcerative colitis. Ended up losing my job, and ended up here. Ran out of health insurance and money and this is what happened."

Press Freedom Index 2009
Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden tied for first. New Zealand tied with Austria and Latvia at 13. Australia at 16. Canada at 19. UK and USA tied with Luxembourg at 20. South Africa at 33. Hong Kong at 48. India at 105. United States of America (extra-territorial) at 108. Philippines tied with Turkey at 122. Singapore at 133.

The Plutonomy Symposium Rising Tides Lifting Yachts
"Spending by the uber-rich overwhelms that of the average consumer... The United States is one of the plutonomy countries countries whose economies are powered by a relatively small number of rich people."

UK: Tactics against union members
"Workers were blacklisted and made in effect unemployable because they complained about people falling off unsafe scaffolding."

Mexico: Hundreds of thousands defend union from government
"In spite of all the government and media campaign, the workers were not intimidated... an elderly man raised his fist and smiled at the same time... When the last... arrived, the rally had already finished, but the Zocalo was still packed."

Algiers: Poor defend homes from destruction
"There are families of 14 people in two rooms, how can they sleep? One at a time? Some of the children spend all night outside taking drugs so their brothers and sisters can sleep. We will not stop the riot."

So I've been thinking about surgery again.

It's really fucking stupid, I know. It's not going to magically make all my image issues go away. It's expensive, painful to recover from, leaves scars, may not have the results I want...

But if I had the money--

(I'd apply it to my student loan debt, because I'm not a complete idiot.)

If I had the money and no mountain of insurmountable educational debt on my back, I think I really would try it. I'm just tired of feeling this way-- of avoiding mirrors, trying not to look at my reflection in glass as I pass by, feeling like a grotesque freak just by existing.
I know it's not logical. I know that no one else is judging me on how big my ass is or anything else remotely like that. Shit, if I were trying to live up to other people's expectations, things would be a fuck of a lot easier.
No, the only expectations I'm trying to live up to are my own, and I make damned sure I can never actually do so. It is, in fact, impossible for me to look and act the way I think I should, since A, I can't magically grow six inches taller and B, I don't have a time machine to make the past eight years of my life disappear. Instead, I have this permanent little list of things I can never truly fix to flagellate myself with whenever I start feeling too chipper.

I'm tired of the self-loathing, and I don't know any way to fix it. I wish there were something I could do to make it better, but it seems that everything I try just makes it worse.

It's funny-- I was the most at ease with myself that I've been in years in this past month or so. I was too busy worrying about whether or not I'd have enough money to make rent for next month without borrowing from my parents to give a shit about what I saw when I looked at myself. Looks like all it takes to get me to stop thinking about myself in a negative light is the threat of having to sell off my books and art supplies to cover my school bills. I'd rather not have the threat of insolvency be a permanent feature of my life, however, so that makes it... slightly less than ideal as a solution. Too bad; it was nice being indifferent to whether or not I'd gone to the gym enough that week, or whether or not I had done my best to try and make myself look as inoffensive as possible to the general public.

/me sighs.

I want to not be broken anymore.
I want, desperately, for there to be an easy way to be fixed. I know that surgery isn't going to help, not really. But part of me really and truly wishes it could. I'm tired of fighting myself over shit that shouldn't even matter. I just want it to stop, somehow, and I don't know how to make that happen on my own. I'm desperate for answers, because I'm afraid things really never will get better.

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