Monthly Archives: October 2013

My First Halloween

Yup, that’s right: twenty three and this October has marked my first Halloween. For those who are scratching their heads and going “huh?” I’ll just say go ask my Mom. It’s got something to do with Michael and an early childhood fear of the festivities…though we’re convinced that he wasn’t more frightened by strangers knocking on the door demanding his candy than anything to do with the costumes.

Anyways, not important.
One morning in September I went to work and noticed a sign-up sheet for helping out with the Fall Festival. In particular, I noticed the part that said: “Still need help in the Haunted Woods. Come in a scary costume!!”
The List immediately did jumping jacks in my mind and I signed up. The Festival was on a day that I already worked, so I couldn’t use
a lack of gas money to justify cold feet. The only costume I have ever worn in my life before had been a surprisingly expensive Victorian ball gown, so I was a bit unsure about what to wear. In the end I went with a resident’s advice and decided to go as a ghost.
First Note to Self: next time you’re in need of a costume, don’t wait until the last minute to buy it….especially if said last minute is the day before payday. There are only so many good costumes at Walmart and none of the good ones fell within my $15 limit. After about an hour of pawing through the same two racks of witches, sexy vampires, dark fairies and polyester medieval gowns, I walked out with a long, black cloak and a Scream mask. Not exactly a ghost, but the closest I could find. A black T-shirt with a skeleton on it, black scrub pants and good dose of imagination could complete the ensemble tolerably well. (Until I woke up the next morning and remembered just how much I hated those black scrubs. Too big, too long–I left the house in my gray ones, telling myself that black and gray really aren’t that much different and knowing how lame that sounded.)

Second note to self: polyester cloaks are not warm. Next time plan a jacket into your outfit, because a jean jacket apparently just does not project scary. When we were ranked according to our scariness, I got dead last. Behind a zombie, no less.

Third note to self: If your Activities Director acts just thrilled that you signed up for the Haunted Woods, you will probably find yourself in said woods surrounded by a bunch of bored teenagers roped into this by their grandmothers.

Fourth note to self: if you can’t stand a scarf around your neck, don’t buy a mask as part of your costume. In particular, don’t buy a cheap plastic mask with a pointy chin; and if you do, poke a hole in bottom of the chin. I never really wanted to know what my collected sweat looked like…or smelled like.

Fifth note to self: it’s not a good sign when the only person you succeed in truly scaring is an already freaked out two year old. I left the Haunted Woods reciting that old adage “don’t quit your day job.” In the end, I think my career in scaring people was something of a one-miss wonder.

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Categories: The List | 3 Comments

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Fair warning: this review is going to assume that you have read both the Divergent trilogy and The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m not doing a plot outline, I’m just writing down the thoughts that struck when I set down Allegiant.
The last of a trilogy marketed as “the next Hunger Games”, Allegiant finds protagonists Tris and Tobias/Four going outside the walls of Chicago, the city that has been their entire world up until this point. They leave behind a city in chaos and revolt against a rebellion (and yes, that’s as confusing as it sounds).
In my opinion, this book had many of the same flaws that House of Hades had: the author rushed too much. The story wasn’t developed enough. It felt to me like the first draft of the story I’m plodding my way through right now: needing both cohesion and clarification.
The story itself was good–maybe brilliant, poignant–but the execution was not on par with the ideas of the story.
SPOILERS AHEAD
I liked that it was Tobias who lived instead of Tris. Tris had a complete feeling about her, even before she met Tobias, but Tobias was a broken man hiding behind four fears.
At the end of Allegiant, he had faced every single one of them in a more substantial way than endlessly going over his fear landscape. Fear of heights (which I think might actually have been symbolic of a fear of losing control over his life); claustrophobia (being metaphorically ‘put in a box’, limited by the world’s expectations…Marcus’s son, Dauntless, GD); fear of becoming like Marcus; fear of losing Tris. He had faced them all and come out a whole man–someone who was more than Four, stronger than Tobias.
I liked all these ideas that Roth presented…I didn’t like how I had to keep looking for the names “Tris” or “Tobias” to tell me which POV I was in. Tris is a much more straight-forward character than Tobias–they shouldn’t both speak in the same voice. Honestly, I didn’t think that Tobias’s POV added anything until after Tris died. Yes, it was cool to see Tris from another angle, but at the cost of his mystique. Up until Tris died, Tobias never felt like the kind of character to let us in his head so intimately.

I have always had a problem with Roth’s pacing and credibility….I’m not, and never have been, completely sold on her set up, either with the factions or the whole GP vs GD thing. Or indeed with the solutions used to win the war. A mass memory wipe and Evelyn’s 180? Sorry, no. I’ve reread the end several times and I still don’t see how Tris’s sacrifice saved the world. I see how it saved Caleb in more ways than just his survival, but the world? No; and I couldn’t help thinking that if I was David and that girl was trying to erase my memory, my life and the memories of everyone I knew, I’d have shot her too. I think Roth was going for a neat solution but it just didn’t fit, in my opinion.

In the end, it was a good story but my original thoughts after putting down Divergent still ring true: it’s trying to feel like the Hunger Games. And for me, the Hunger Games did not stay as words on a page. That story has infused itself into my bones, and the end of Mockingjay remains the most beautiful, poignant thing I have ever read.
In the end, happiness is the ultimate rebellion against this cruel, cold world. That Katniss and Peeta could be happy, even when they couldn’t be whole…that will stick with me for far longer than Tris’s sacrifice and Tobias’s grief.

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