Tomorrow, as you are very likely aware, is Halloween. A couple years ago, a friend I'd known a short time asked if I had plans for the holiday, and added, "I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Halloween." It seems that, in our relatively brief acquaintance, he'd somehow come to the conclusion that I am not the public-mayhem-and-vandalism type. I suppose that makes him a good judge of character. But as it happens, I love Halloween. I love autumn in general. I love when it's sunny but not humid. I like corduroy and earth tones and light layers and other fall wardrobe essentials. I love seeing pumpkins everywhere, I love little kids in costumes, and I love creativity for its own sake, which is what Halloween is all about if you ask me. And I'm finishing off a bag of candy corn right now. Deep down I'm pretty sure I don't actually like eating candy corn all that much. It's sort of like chewing on birthday candles. But I love the look of it, and the festivity of it.
Of course, the other reason I love Halloween is that it's my birthday. I'll never know whether my deep affection for all things autumny stems from that, or if it's just a happy coincidence that I enjoy this time of year so very much.
Tonight the fiance and I plan to celebrate Mollieween, as he calls it. (Making up fun names for things is just one of the ways he makes life wonderful.) But I've had my share of festivities already this week -- now officially known as "Molliewe'ek." On Sunday, the school across the street from me had its annual "Fall Festival," where they close off the block and bring in a jumpy castle and a little farmer's market and such. When the fiance and I came back from church, I wanted to take a moment to admire the pumpkins and gourds (how much do I love those tiny little pumpkins? A LOT), and then I turned around and right there behind me was: "Joe" from Blue's Clues! I actually exclaimed, "That's Joe! From Blue's Clues!" a bit too loudly, considering he was about five feet away. But I was excited, okay? Joe is cool. And, um, a little bit sexy. In a wholesome way. (Oh, and his real name is "Donovan Patton," but I didn't know that until just now.) Fortunately nobody was paying attention to me, because "Joe" was making a scheduled appearance -- in costume, which has a lot to do with why I recognized him -- and kids and their grownup chaperones were waiting in a long line to pose for photos in his big red armchair and get his autograph. The grownups looked more excited than the kids, in most cases, but I can't fault them for that. I wished I had a little kid with me, so I'd have an excuse to get a picture.
After that exciting celebrity spotting, the fiance and I made a trip to the Bronx, where his folks surprised me with a birthday cake. When they brought it out after dinner and started singing, it was just like that season 1 episode of The Office where they have the surprise party for Meredith, but her birthday is a month away, and so when they yell "Surprise!" she has no idea what's going on. I caught on eventually, though, because my birthday was only two days away, after all. I just forgot about it. It was also like Meredith's party in that it was an ice cream cake -- but unlike Meredith, I am not lactose intolerant, so I enjoyed it very much.
This Molliewe'ek marks another anniversary: I had my 12th and final chemotherapy treatment on October 25 of last year. When I started chemo in May that date felt impossibly far off. But I survived! Everyone expected me to celebrate right away, but it took a while for me to feel up to partying. I had to take one more Neulasta shot to boost my WBC count, which meant a few more days of aches and pains, and I was pretty rundown in general after six months of treatment. On top of the usual complications, my final treatment was followed by a week of excruciating pain from the poor, overtaxed veins in my left arm. I ended up having to go back to MSKCC to get a prescription for oxycodone, after other painkillers of various strengths failed to make any impact. On my birthday I walked around all day with my arm throbbing. But I was literally smiling through the pain, because it was a beautiful, sunny day, and I was in a great mood. I could put up with vein pain one last time because I knew I wouldn't have to do it again. The real celebration started for me two weeks after that last infusion, when I would have been due for my next one. I was so thrilled to be free. And I still am.
Happy Halloween to everyone! And Happy Hallowe'en, to those overseas! I think a good way to mark the occasion is by inserting an apostrophe into any word that has double E's. Try it at home.
The image at the top is the jack-o-lantern that the fiance made just for me last Molliewe'en. More accurately, it is a Strong-Sad-o-lantern, and if you don't already know that then I feel bad for you.