My fantasy Halloween basket

Candy pumpkins

Now that we’re living in an apartment complex (which sometimes feels like hotel living), this is actually my first Halloween without trick-or-treaters.

Which means I totally could not buy candy and pass it off as “for the kids,” then down pack after pack of Twizzlers with my feet up watching “Hocus Pocus.”

Not that I’ve done that.

It’s kind of strange, being in a kid-free zone. As I have no children, don’t live in a neighborhood and have no nearby cousins or nephews or nieces to coddle and prod and take pictures of, this year’s celebration feels oddly . . . dull. Plus, you know, it’s a Thursday; not too much good times chaos happening over here.

All the same, it’s a holiday I have so many fond memories of as a kid — especially when I think about all the carefully-crafted costumes my mom made over the years. It’s still a day I look forward to (and we’re having a Halloween party at work!).

But let’s get serious: it’s really all about the candy.

Everyone has their favorites, and I am certainly no exception . . . though my recent weight loss and commitment to healthy eating have meant detouring far, far away from the coveted candy aisles at Target.

But if I could create my perfect Halloween candy basket now, right this minute, I’d have that baby assembled quicker than you could say “sugar rush.”

Come, come . . . gaze into my witch’s cauldron . . .

Halloween candy

Meg’s Fantasy Halloween Basket
(Because She’s Too Old and
Also on Weight Watchers)

• Twizzlers. They kind of taste like plastic — if plastic tasted awesome.

• Candy corn. It’s not Halloween without some of that waxy goodness — especially in the form of miniature pumpkins! Would you believe I couldn’t find a pumpkins-only mixture this year? Blasphemy.

• Twix. I had a friend in high school who ate a Twix bar every single day for lunch (oh, teenagers), and I can’t think of that delicious candy without remembering her. (Hi, Mallory! Also, you have fantastic taste in candy.)

• Jolly Ranchers. I used to fight for the apple and cherry varieties, but really any will do.

• Tootsie Pops. You can’t have just one — and don’t bite it.

• Marshmallows. Do people give out marshmallows? I don’t know. But this is my candy fever dream, and we’re going with it.

• Snickers. And really anything with peanuts.

What you won’t find in this magical pot of awesome?

Good and Plenty. Because really. One of my earliest memories of childhood is of gagging on one and spitting it out a car window (always a lady), and my opinion hasn’t changed much over the years.

Pretzels. So boring.

Toothbrushes. Just mean.

And . . . that’s about it. Because I love most candy, and I’m pretty equal-opportunity about sweets.

And now I’m starving.

Happy Halloween!

A day that’s less spooky and more merry

The past few days have been scary enough without the addition of a spooky holiday, so . . . you know. I’m hoping this Oct. 31 finds all my fellow East Coasters drying out from Hurricane Sandy and ready for delicious goodies. Get an extra handful of candy pumpkins, friends: you’ve earned them.

To all the other merry ghouls and goblins: happy Halloween! Hoping your day is filled with more treats than tricks. Since we partied last weekend, I’ll be listening for kiddos and celebrating with a work potluck. I’m bringing the cupcakes, of course. As if there’s any doubt.

I’ll be back soon with more “real” content — namely some book reviews. I have been reading, it’s just been . . . well, the past week has been weird. Though the D.C. area wasn’t walloped nearly as badly as predicted, I’m thinking about our compatriots in New York City and New Jersey. My nerves have been frazzled listening to the news and political craziness, so I’ve been digging into Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke, highly recommended by book bloggers, and Danny Wallace’s Charlotte Street. I’m enjoying both — when my attention holds.

And it hasn’t been holding much. Here’s to hoping things soon return to “normal.”

Of Halloween and hurricanes

Well, friends, Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast — and I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to keep power. In preparation for a crazy week, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy (early) Halloween filled with all your favorite edibles, and I hope this finds everyone on the East Coast warm and safe.

Spence and I already hit a friend’s Halloween party on Saturday, so at least I got some of my goblin-filled goodness in before the worst hit. As I type this Monday afternoon, the wind is just starting to pick up and leaves are being whipped from the trees. I’m so glad we captured the fall foliage two weekends ago . . . needless to say, those trees are bare now.

Our look was very, um, “steampunk”-inspired — and I’ll be perfectly honest in saying I really didn’t know what steampunk was until Spencer and I started dating. I enjoyed the vampy quality of the attire, though, and felt quite fancy with my little fascinator. I can see this getting broken out for a Ren Fest down the road. Maybe.

Well, the wind is picking up . . . and I’m not sure what the rest of the week will hold, so I’ll sign off for now. As long as the power holds, I’m planning to do some cleaning, baking, crocheting and reading before I figure out whether I can get to the paper tomorrow. I’d actually taken today off, so I didn’t have to worry about getting into work, but tomorrow? Eh, a whole new ball game. No rest for the media.

And since Halloween has been “postponed” until Saturday, our local trick-or-treaters will get whatever Tootsie Pops and Kit-Kats and miniature Snickers I haven’t tackled while stuck inside.

I really can’t be left alone with these things.

Favorite Halloween costumes and an ‘Aww, Ricky’

We take so much for granted as children. I mean, dressing up? Nothing out of the ordinary. We can be princesses and walk in our mothers’ heels from here to eternity, never worrying that anyone is discussing our eccentric behavior. It’s nothing to don a crown and prance around the living room, or to find a magic wand and place “curses” on others. It’s all fun. Make believe.

But since I’m not eight anymore, I know I can’t get away with such behavior. Halloween is the only time I can safely go out dressed as a witch or devil and not be thought a creeper by the general populace. I might try to milk the whole costume thing and dress up in Christmas- or elf-related garb come December, but that’s a stretch.

Like all kids, I took my Halloween costumes very seriously. There was the year I was a cheerleader, for instance, complete with a sash for my elementary school. On another occasion I was Miss America (oh, if only); and then, of course, there were the endless witch costumes. The Wicked Witch was sort of my go-to, which is funny considering how terrified I am of “The Wizard of Oz.” I guess I was overcompensating.

One of my favorites was my Blue Fairy costume. In 1992, Katie dressed up as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and I recycled one of my mom’s old bridesmaids dresses from the ’60s to become a magical helper. What I remember most were the sequin-covered wands my little sister and I had. Though I’m unsure why Belle would need a magic wand, we went with it — and you’ll also spot a fully-clothed Beast doll in Katie’s arms. (He lost his Beast head soon after and was, from then on, merely the unmasked Prince.)

We used to go trick-or-treating in our own neighborhood, checking out the costumes on the local kids, then hop over to my grandparents’ house to visit their friends and neighbors. Since our elementary school was just a block or two from Grandma and Grandpa’s, we usually saw lots of kids we knew — and showing off your costumes was always half the fun.

Though Halloween is different now, of course, I still enjoy the holiday and eat my fair share of treats. I dressed up as a ’20s flapper in 2009 and have a newly-acquired Lucille Ball costume for this year’s festivities! I’m still trying to convince Spencer to be the Ricky to my Lucy, but he’s hesitant thus far. If he goes for it, we’re going to have to work on our “Babalu.” 

Though my singing could make an angel cry. 

Maybe I’ll just stick to the ol’ trademark “Aww, Rick-yyyyyy . . .”

Whining? Never been a problem for me.

Getting wicked: Or why I’ll never, ever want to trade places with Dorothy

Of my many fears born in childhood, there are some that I’ve never quite been able to shake. I’m still afraid of spiders, for one — creepy; crawly; hiding in my shower, waiting to attack me when I’m just trying to get ready for work and OMG please just go down the drain already. Or I’m calling my dad. And don’t think I won’t do it.


We have my fear of heights — or, more accurately, my fear of falling. Fear of public embarrassment. Fear of lima beans (come on — you know they’re disgusting).

And my fear of the Wicked Witch of the West.

When other children were enjoying L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard Of Oz — in either book or film format — I was the kid cowering in the corner, weeping quietly to herself and shrieking whenever Dorothy would fall prey to the Wicked Witch’s schemes.

And that’s what I’ve always called her: The Wicked Witch.

I remember watching “The Wizard Of Oz” for the first time when I was around 3 years old. If you believe my mother’s  tale (which, you know, I guess I do), she was desperate for the chance to take a shower. An active child and, at that time, only child, Mom needed to occupy me long enough to get cleaned up. She plunked me down in front of the TV and scrolled through the channels until she stumbled upon the movie that would taint me forever.

“I thought it was a children’s classic!” she howls now, staring at me.

Even 20 years later, I remind her that she ruined my life.

Watching the woman in question morph from her dog-hating “human” self into the Wicked Witch of the West during a Kansas twister, my eyes were probably as large as globes. Some things happened in the movie — Dorothy gets far from home, meets a bunch of unusual characters, finds some ruby slippers, etc. — but I wasn’t concerned with any of that.

All I could see was that face. That big, green face.

The years have not been kind. Every time I think I’m “over” my fear of the Wicked Witch, something happens to send me right back to square one. Though I’ve seen “The Wizard of Oz” in snippets since childhood, I’ve absolutely never sat down to watch it again.

Of course, this is a source of hilarity for friends and family.

I’m going to say it loud and sincerely: I’m Deathly Afraid Of The Witch. So if you think this has kept my sister from torturing me with witch-related items over the years, you’re wrong.

Very wrong.

The first sign of trouble came on Christmas morning in 1988. My mom mistakenly believed that I’d actually loved “The Wizard of Oz” (um, what?) and bought me a set of dolls from the movie: Dorothy, of course, with a tiny plastic Toto; Glinda the Good Witch; and You-Know-Who.

We have home movies of me turning the box over in my hands, an expression of terror slowly creasing my features. I looked from my mom to my dad, wide-eyed, before I said slowly, “It’s the Wicka Witch.” (I hadn’t yet mastered words like “wicked.”)

My mom says she felt terrible, that she hadn’t realized I was afraid, but she’s laughing on the tape. Laughing.

My sister, kind soul that she is, has purchased dolls in various forms for me, plus birthday cards bearing the witch’s trademark cackle, T-shirts, etc. Since the ’80s, the Witch has followed me everywhere. I tried to combat my fears by even dressing as the witch for Halloween — pictured above in 1988 — but nothing worked.

I hate her.

When I cop to my terror about that green-faced nightmare, others smile and shake their heads. My aunt Jacki has reported that it wasn’t the witch that scared her so badly growing up, but the flying monkeys.

I’d totally take a barrel of flying monkeys over any witch. I’d even let them pick me up and fly away — as long as it was away from You-Know-Who.

So tell me. Am I alone in my witch fears? Has a character scarred you for life?

It’s hard to be angry in a Halloween costume, but I managed it

Because it’s Monday, the day after Halloween and I’m recovering from more dental surgery . . .

I’m sharing with you possibly the most hilarious, embarrassing photo of myself. Ever.

In 1994, I was a sassy 9-year-old who had grown weary of being photographed. I went through what I’d consider to be a years-long pout — basically, I was cranky, grumpy and didn’t like being told what to do.

(Well, I’m still not big on the whole “taking orders” thing. But, you know.)

I don’t remember the decision-making process that brought me to this moment: a reluctant fourth-grader being coerced into smiling for her mom, who was joyfully snapping pictures of her girls in our backyard. I’ve seen that annoyed glint in my eye on many occasions, and still spot it in snapshots here and there.

And I don’t remember choosing to be a sock-hop girl. Halloween costumes around my house were always very cute and creative. Growing up with a younger sister, many of our outfits actually matched — a fact that caused me grief. I do remember that I was alone as an angry poodle-skirt-wearing girl this year; Katie opted for another look entirely. But in other years, we were both beauty pageant winners and witches. And one year, Katie was Beauty from “Beauty And The Beast.” (And she carried a Beast doll, which was adorable.) I was a fairy godmother. (But probably not hers.)

This Halloween, we were home loading up on “Hocus Pocus,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Ernest Scared Stupid.” After carving our pumpkins, Spencer helped us round up the pumpkin seeds and toast them in the oven. Drenched in salt and crunchy, they were a fantastic seasonal treat.

But no costumes for me. And no angry poodle-skirt scowl, either.

How was everyone’s holiday? Any tales of tricks or treats?

And these, my friends, are my terrible downfall

Halloween is a dentist’s worst nightmare — or biggest paycheck. And whenever I begin to wonder why I’ve been cursed with terrible teeth — including one nasty Devil Tooth — and how it is that I am now single-handedly funding my handsome dentist’s Caribbean vacations, I look at things like this wicked holiday.

Things like this.

And this.

And maybe some of these.

And then I grin from ear to ear, because I enjoy (almost) every second of it.

Until disgusting words like “cavity,” “root canal” and “gold crown” spill from the lips of Dr. Bob — and that drill comes a little too close to my mouth. And I’m on a liquid diet for days, hopped up on painkillers and misery.

This is my life.