laura packard(Writer’s note: It seems a few short weeks ago when we were all freaking out about the clowns. Some may say the ones running for office, but I am talking about the weird clown sightings from the edges of stark, empty woodland bends, others close to lamp-lit neighborhoods luring children in with candy, scaring the bejeezes out of everyone in full-on clown make-up and parachute pants. Then, Matthew came along and turned everything we knew as normal upside down, inside out.

We, thankfully, have made it through to the other, albeit damaged, side and have our own war stories and survival accounts to share; chronicled for the ages that even our youngest evacuees will recount with gusto many moons from now. There is grief, there is gratitude. There is relief and refuge and thanksgiving and commiseration and community. There are too many emotions to count. So, I guess what I’m saying is I’m still figuring out at the moment how I’m feeling . . . and I am not ready to write about it all quite yet. But what I can do is try and make you laugh. And trust me, my lovely dear readers . . . this one is at my expense. Welcome home and much love. I missed you.)


I don’t know about y’all, but I scare easily.

         And sometimes it has nothing to do with things that go bump in the night.

         I can simply wake up one morning and find a curly-q cork screw of a gray hair twisting, twirling and taunting me, like a crazy clown in a Jack-In-The-Box, as it springs out from one of my eyebrows.

         An EYEBROW, people.

         Don’t get me started on other errant hairs that pop out of nowhere as if hell bent on replicating Jerry Garcia’s beard on one of his old 36 month long Dead tours without showers.     And no, it’s not just a “Touch of Grey”; it’s full on Don Henley’s “Witchy Woman.”

         That’s right. They say the first step to recovery is acceptance. So, yes, I admit openly, and there by accept, the fact that I grow a few chin hairs every now and then. Well, if I am being honest, it’s probably more than just a few. Especially, if you believe, like me, in the biggest wives tale of them all, that when you pull a single gray hair or any unwanted hair for that matter, 15 will grow in its place in a matter of minutes and dig in, standing proud and tall and annoyingly thick.  

         So, have broom will travel; have tweezers will tweeze; no matter who is in the car with me in the morning and how many neighbors pass by, heads down . . . dogs’, too. ‘Cause those suckers gotta go. I don’t care if my girls whine and complain and ask for money for the therapy jar. Not going to happen. They will one day be my age. And yes, they will realize, the only way to find them with your 40-year-old eyes is in natural light after pulling down your front seat visor’s lighted vanity mirror.

         Now, obviously these are every day spooky occurrences I must and will get used to kicking and screaming at. But add in the harrowing and bone-chilling bellows of the impending All Hallows Eve, and I am shaking in my knock off UGG boots.

         It’s the equivalent of doubling down on the scary stuff. And those of us who love to gamble, we can tell you right now, the house always, no matter how many free rum and cokes, always wins.

         Before Halloween, I worry if I unplugged the toaster oven and locked the door behind me as I walk down the sidewalk to my car. Now, I do not have even that simple luxury. Why? Because demon skeleton cats lurk from neighbors’ doorways with red LED light (during the DAY) while hissing through battering powered breath. Skeletons then begin singing off key from doorways as I pass, “Who can it be knocking on my door?”

         I know. I know already . . .

         Go away.

         Don’t come round here no more.

         And haunted houses. Don’t get me started.

People actually make their house up to BE a house of horrors. And then INVITE you in.

         News Flash: Mine is a house of domestic horror 365 days a year and I do everything I can to keep people out.

And speaking of the real thing, whenever I go to through a supposed genuine “Halloween haunted house,” all I see and hear through strobe lighting is questionable makeup, mismatched clothing and people yelling at me for no good reason above animal sounds that pass for music. Tie that in with having someone grab you around your ankles while you drag yourself towards the door and being touched constantly and never left alone even for a blessed single second; again . . . I could have easily stayed at home with my kids.          Tomato . . . Tomahto. . .

         But all joking aside…

         Maybe growing older . . . and grayer and I dare say more imperfect with a wild hair or two or fifteen . . . makes us human. Bare framed, human. As in no more masks or make-up or costumes, only the raw bones and skull and grit, the gristle behind the bandages and taped up gauze that time and yes, sorrow, allows us peel off like a gift.

         We are real and we are alive.

         Through toil and trouble.

         With warts and all . . .

         We will persevere.