Wednesday, December 12, 2018

top ten songs: Queen.

About a month ago, James and I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody. Seeing that movie (and Rami Malek!!!) reminded me how much I loved Queen. I’ve loved Queen since my early teens, but sometimes, one needs a little reminder.
Image result for queen
Here's the thing about Queen: I really don't need to tell you how awesome they are. You already know. Because EVERYONE knows. Queen is a universal language. Queen is the only band I can think of that my ENTIRE family loves. I remember driving home from New Orleans with my dad (he flew down there to make the drive back to South Dakota with me after my three-month internship at the art museum ended), and during the 22+ hours we were in the car, Queen came up on my iPod (remember when we all had iPods and flip phones?). I found out then that Dad liked Queen, which was essentially life-changing. Five out of six family members (and the sixth has it on her to-do list) have seen Bohemian Rhapsody in the theatre, which is also pretty unheard of for us. I did some research for this story by asking them all what their favorite Queen song was, and the immediate response EVERY TIME was some variation of "how can I pick just one?"

So I didn't make them. After all, I picked ten.

James: Fat Bottomed Girls
Dad: Fat Bottomed Girls, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody to Love
Mitch: Fat Bottomed Girls (are you noticing a theme here?), Somebody to Love
Mom: Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions
Darrah: Under Pressure

And here are mine.

Bohemian Rhapsody
An obvious choice, indeed. But “Bohemian Rhapsody” is not just a Queen song to me: it is THE Queen song. It was my first musical introduction to Queen. I wish I could remember the first time I heard it, but I know I was a young teen. This weird operatic masterpiece was EXACTLY my weird teenage style. Almost no one my age in my small Midwestern town was listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody”… except a couple of my friends and me. My friend Allison and I once spent part of a study hall attempting to write the entirety of the song backwards… and we could. In under five minutes, I believe. (Mind you, this was before you could easily Google lyrics, so we had to rely purely on our own memories to see if we were correct. We were.) Though I don’t listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody” on a terribly regular basis, I listened to it so much as a teen that I could probably STILL write most of it backwards. I’m going to try it later. I’ll let you know what happens.

Don’t Stop Me Now
The thing about Queen is that they continued to surprise me well into adulthood. For quite a long time, my musical knowledge of Queen was limited to what was often played on the radio stations and my copy of Classic Queen – one of the very first CDs I ever bought. While Classic Queen is a solid compilation, it’s missing some notable titles – in fact, only three songs on this list appear on Classic Queen (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Hammer to Fall,” and “Under Pressure”). I wasn’t a very good Queen fan, so I didn’t take a lot of time to explore their catalog in my younger days. The first time I heard “Don’t Stop Me Now” was in Shaun of the Dead. Yes, Shaun of the Dead. So every time I hear “Don’t Stop Me Now,” I picture zombies. And that’s ok with me.

Hammer to Fall
I actually forgot about “Hammer to Fall” for YEARS. As I mentioned, it was on my Classic Queen CD (which, if we’re being honest, I bought only for “Bohemian Rhapsody”). I remember being ok with it, but it was not a teenage favorite. I heard it again a few years ago in a store or on a commercial or somewhere kind of dumb, and I LOVED it. “Convinced our voices can’t be heard/We just wanna scream it louder and louder and louder” more or less sums up my existence. Brian May gets me.

Fat Bottomed Girls
Ok, I know this song is a little gross – and the only song I know of that contains the word “floozy” – but MY GOODNESS it is so catchy and bluesy and I can’t help but love it. And who has better basslines than Queen?

Somebody to Love
THIS SONG, YOU GUYS. Talk about pulling at my heartstrings. No one but Freddie Mercury could do this song justice. Those harmonies and the piano… goosebumps every time.

Under Pressure
As you know, “Under Pressure” is actually a Queen and David Bowie song. If you recall from one of my earliest “ten favorite songs” lists, “Under Pressure” also appears in my list of ten favorite David Bowie songs. I’m bringing it up again. If you asked me to name my five favorite songs of all time, it would be a real struggle. It’s hard to choose five favorite songs – my favorite songs change from day to day. But there is one song that will always make that list, and it’s “Under Pressure.” Ever since the day I heard it. Queen and David Bowie are two of my all-time favorite performers, and what a match. The lyrics hit me right in the gut, especially when I feel like I’m under pressure myself. And can you think of a more iconic bassline? I can’t.

I Want to Break Free

I had no idea about this song’s music video scandal until I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, and that really solidified “I Want to Break Free”'s place on this list. The lyrics aren’t as solid as a lot of the other songs on this list, but the melody and Freddie’s emotive voice make up for it in spades.  

Crazy Little Thing Called Love
I am incredibly ashamed to admit this, but what else is this blog for if not to share my darkest secrets? Here it is: for most of my life, I thought this was originally a country song. SHAME ON ME. The early part of my life was spent listening to country (because that’s what my parents listened to, so obviously, I did to), and Dwight Yoakam covered this song in 1999. That was the first version I heard. I heard Queen’s version years later and just totally assumed the country song was the original because that’s the one I knew first. Great logic, I know. Thankfully, I now know the truth and love the song all the more for it.

Now I’m Here
Remember how I said I’m not the best Queen fan and still have some embarrassing gaps in my discography? Here’s an example. I had never really noticed “Now I’m Here” until I saw Bohemian Rhapsody and heard just a tiny snip. It's on the Greatest Hits album I talk about in the next post, but somehow slipped right past me - but after the movie, I listened to it in its entirety and was hooked. While this song has only been on my radar for about a month, I knew right away that it would be one of my Queen standards.

Save Me
Yet another embarrassing gap: I had never heard “Save Me” until my brother bought me Queen’s Greatest Hits on vinyl for Christmas last year. “Save Me” has the power of “Somebody to Love,” but it’s easier on my emotions because the tune is a wee bit more upbeat. And like “Somebody to Love,” no one could do this song justice but Freddie Mercury. Then again, you could say that about every song ever. There’s no one like Freddie Mercury.
I have to tell you: narrowing this list down to ten songs was tough. “Killer Queen” and “Bicycle Race” were hot contenders, and “Radio Gaga” and “Keep Yourself Alive” are old favorites from my Classic Queen days. Ultimately, though, these are THE ten.

You will notice the absence of three of Queen’s best-known songs: “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are the Champions.” While these are indeed great songs, I absolutely cannot separate them from their long-held association with sports. And sports? Not my thing. I was hearing these songs at various small town sporting events long before I had any idea they were Queen. I can’t even count the number of times I played sloppy versions of these songs for high school pep band. These songs will forever bring me back to hot and stinky gymnasiums, and for that, they can never rise above the rest to become my favorites.

Not to worry: there’s plenty of other Queen music to go around. I hope you’re listening to Queen right now. 

I am.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

in defense of cat ladies.

I have always loved cats.

When I was young, we had a band of farm cats that roamed the yard. I gave them creative monikers such as “Orangey” and “Yellow Eyes.” I played with them when the weather allowed, I loved them deeply, and I cried when they were hit by the school bus. (Only one of them met that awful fate, but it was gut-wrenching then and still is now.)

The farm cats eventually thinned out, and by the time we moved from that house, there were none left to take with us. A few years after we moved into our new house, Mom brought home three outdoor cats to help with the mouse problem in the shed. These guys weren’t the best hunters, but they were sweet as could be. They didn’t last long (a couple ran away, and another met a tragic end that, 16 years later, still devastates me), and that was the end of cats at my parents’ house.

What I wanted more than anything was an indoor cat. Indoor cats didn’t get run over. Indoor cats would sit with you while you read books. Indoor cats would always keep you company. My friends Allison and Sarah both had indoor cats, and I was smitten. The idea of a pet that could be with you at all times was my idea of paradise.

But pets at my parents’ house were strictly outdoors, so it was never to be. After graduating college and signing the lease on my first adult apartment in Minneapolis, I thought that could finally be my chance for a cat. But alas, I could not afford the $300 pet deposit. Instead, I signed up to be a volunteer cat cuddler (yes, that’s a thing) for an organization called the Minnesota Spay and Neuter Project. Once a week, I went to a home filled with foster cats and snuggled them. If I couldn’t have my own cat, this was the next best thing.

When I moved to Sioux Falls in 2011, I STILL couldn’t afford the $300 pet deposit. Still not. This time, I signed up to cuddle cats at the Sioux Falls Humane Society. I occasionally walked dogs, too, but the cats were always my priority.

In 2013, James and I bought a house. My first thought? I CAN FINALLY HAVE A CAT. (By that time, I could finally afford the pet deposit/vet bills/all the other things that come with pet ownership.) I wanted to adopt an adult from the Humane Society, but James’s parents’ outdoor cat had just had a litter of kittens. James fell in love with a floofy tabbico (tabby/calico) kitten, and after telling me that kittens at his parents’ house tend to be eaten by owls, I acquiesced. We named her Mona.

Mona has been both one of my greatest joys in life and biggest challenges. She made me swear off kittens FOREVER. She was a little monster, and I still have scars from her. Mona is aloof and wouldn’t snuggle us for YEARS. She has started sitting on my lap every day now that I come home for lunch, but that’s a recent development in her five-plus years of life with us. Mona hates the vet and is on their “bad cat” list. She has bladder crystals and has to be on special (expensive) prescription food for the rest of her life.

BUT. When James is sick, Mona will watch carefully over him. She greets me every day after work with a head bonk. Sometimes, she’ll purr so hard that she sounds like an owl. She’ll sleep on our feet at night and not move even when we turn over. She’s a real pain, but she loves us, and we love her.

James and I had been thinking about getting a friend for Mona for quite some time. We weren’t sure how she’d do with another cat – she would hiss and growl at any cats that happened to wander through the yard, so we were pretty cautious about bringing another cat in. But NO KITTENS, I said. We’re getting an ADULT this time.

But then we got kittens.

James was approached by a student who had two teeny farm kittens who wouldn’t last the winter. One was cross-eyed and mostly blind, and the other was a bony little runt.

They came to live with us.

Their names are Ned and Mabel. Mabel is mostly blind and a little deaf, but she’s the sweetest kitten I’ve ever met. 

Ned is not a bony runt any more, but he is baby Mona all over again. He’s a terror. 

But both of them have purrs bigger than they are.

We’ve had them since mid-October, and Mona is tolerating them. She doesn’t hiss at them anymore, but she’s not ready to be best friends. They’ll try to play with her, and Mona runs away… but Ned thinks she’s still playing, and Mabel can’t see where she went.

So now that cats in our house officially outnumber the humans in our house, we’re officially cat people.

And think I’m cool with it.


Thanks for asking.

Don’t get me wrong: I love dogs. However, my life does not allow for a dog. Dogs need much more time and attention than cats do, and dogs are not ok if you leave them over the weekend. Cats are. James and I are gone many weekends, and many of our weeknights are filled with work and homework. Not a lot of time for dogs, but plenty of time to pet cats.

I think cats need me more than dogs do. There are lots of dog people out there, but cat people aren’t as visible. And there are more cats than anyone knows what to do with. And to be frank, outdoor cats just don’t receive the care that outdoor dogs do. Ned and Mabel would’ve been toast on the farm, but they would have had more care if they had been puppies. If you see a cat wandering around outside, you assume it’s a stray – but if there’s a dog, you assume it’s someone’s pet and do what you can for it. But the cat might be someone’s pet, too.

Animal abuse of any kind is deplorable, no matter the animal. Cats, as smaller animals, are more easily overpowered and frequently fall victim to abuse. The world can be a terrible place, but the many rescue organizations working to heal these animals and find homes for them provide a light in that particular darkness.

Cats need us.

Recently, being a cat person has become socially acceptable. There is so much cat merchandise out there – more than dog stuff, I might venture. There are cat cafes where you can go and get a coffee and hang out with adoptable cats, and all sorts of places have shop cats (and library cats!). Society has decided it’s ok to love your cat. Like a lot.

And you know what? I do love my cats. They are happy to see me when I get home, and they’re good company when I’m lonely. When they fall asleep on me, my heart melts. They do funny things, and I take pictures and put them on Instagram. That’s why the internet was invented, right? For cat pictures?

Mona, Ned, and Mabel are all monsters, but they’re our monsters. Without us, they wouldn’t be alive. And without them, our lives wouldn’t be as bright.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

a lifetime of Halloweens: revised for 2018.

(Editor's note: I originally wrote this just before Halloween 2015. However, as you know, time marches on... and Halloweens keep coming. So I'm going to keep adding on! That means we, once again, get to revisit a lifetime of costumes. I can hardly wait.)


I am excited: per usual. I have had my costume picked out since last Halloween.

My costume is not just any costume. It kicks ass, and I can't wait to show it to you. However, there is a definite downside to having such an awesome costume. After this Halloween, I can NEVER WEAR IT FOR HALLOWEEN AGAIN.

Because I have a policy.

I cannot be the same thing for Halloween twice.

"But wait!" you say. "What about the zombies, huh? YOU ARE LYING!"

But no! I dress up as a zombie for specific zombie-themed events: not for Halloween itself. Doesn't count. It's the zombie clause in my self-imposed Halloween contract. (Also, I've never been the SAME zombie, so there's that). Same goes for any re-wearing of costumes (as you will soon see in 2018): I'm not wearing the old costume for Halloween ITSELF, so it doesn't count.

I must have decided on my no-repeats Halloween rule at a pretty young age: I have pictures going back to 1988, and you won't find any duplicates (with the special exception of Halloween theme parties that do not fall on Halloween itself). You will, however, find some darn cute pictures of me as a very excited child. 

I wish I had pictures of every Halloween, but I don't. I don't know what I was for Halloween 1987 - but I was a mere six months old and I am pretty sure that my parents dressed me up in the little skeleton costume you'll see on my sister in 1991 and my brother in 1993. 1992 is also missing, as are 1999 - 2002. While I am unsure about 1992, 1999 - 2001 was a dark time in my life... as I was deemed too old for trick-or-treating. I decided to forgo costumes those years, but I eventually realized that just because you're too old to trick-or-treat does NOT mean you're too old to dress up for Halloween. You're NEVER too old to dress up for Halloween, dammit. The only other year missing is 2009, but that was the year that I was in New Orleans. I was so excited to spend Halloween in New Orleans, but alas, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I didn't know anyone well enough to go out Halloweening with them, and even if I did, I didn't have enough money for a costume or drinks at the bar. I spent that Halloween curled up on my air mattress, watching Halloween episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sad-eating Halloween candy from my landlady.

On the bright side? Pretty much every Halloween going forward is guaranteed to be better than that one.

So here we go: a pictorial history of Calla's Halloweens!

I came across this picture in May when I was digging through a box of ancient photos in search of something embarrassing to post for Mother's Day. (You mean you DON'T share ridiculous photos of your mother from the 1980s on Mother's Day? Shame on you.) I was overjoyed, as 1988 had been one of my mysterious gap years. You have no idea how happy finding this twenty-eight-year old picture made me.

Mickey Mouse
Is this or is this not the cutest damn Mickey Mouse you've ever seen? I was about two-and-a-half, and Halloween was already my favorite holiday. Trick-or-treating in the country always meant that you'd come away with an enormous haul. We just had to hop in the minivan and drive from house to house. As not many trick-or-treaters make it out into the sticks where we lived, any house you went to would reward you with handfuls of candy. Or multiple full-sized candy bars. Or twelve-packs of pop. Country trick-or-treating is the best.

My pumpkin makeup is a little bit hilarious. I'm not sure which parent was responsible for this, but I would like to know why exactly I have a red mouth instead of a black one. The jack o' lantern face on my sweatshirt has a black mouth - why not me?

You may have noticed that all of my costumes involve long sleeves. Indeed, I live in the Midwest, so many of my Halloween costumes were planned around sweatshirts and winter coats. That's why I look so bulky: under my black sweatshirt was probably another sweatshirt. I believe 1991 was a particularly snowy Halloween, but there's no way that I wasn't going out trick-or-treating.

This princess dress came from a huge bin of my mom's old clothes that had been deemed "for dress-up." I played dress-up ALL the damn time, and it was a delight for me to be able to wear this out in public. To top it off, Mom made me glitter shoes: old dress shoes coated in glue and dipped in multi-colored glitter. They were the BEST.

I don't know where this costume came from, but I do remember that it was supposed to be a bunny suit. It more or less a white onesie and had big ears sticking straight up. One of Mom's coworkers sewed spots on it, and presto! I was a dalmatian. However, even though I was clearly wearing a dog collar, I was mistaken for a cow for all of Halloween day.

1995 must've been a particularly warm Halloween, hence the bare legs. Though I was only eight in 1995, I feel as though my sarcasm was really starting to develop: being a cheerleader for Halloween was the scariest thing I could think of.

Another cold Halloween, as our costumes were comprised mainly of different-colored sweatshirts. My cat ears are a little droopy, but I felt (at the time) like the stuffed mouse really brought the costume together. Please, though, direct your attention to my brother Mitch, who (at age three) is way too delighted to be Satan.

Cruella de Vil
Ah, the year I was Cruella de Vil. Mom (for reasons still unknown) had this old rabbit-fur coat in the back of her closet, and I commandeered it for Halloween that year. My cousin Ethan was a part of the theatre department at SDSU, so he was able to procure (and spray-paint) the wig for me. Another cold-weather costume, but this one was a win. 

gypsy/just-rolled-out-of-bed girl
The first year of the double Halloween costume. I dug through the old dress-up box and was a gypsy for the school Halloween parade. (This was around the time Disney released The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I totally wished I could be Esmeralda.) I came home in my gypsy outfit, all ready to trick-or-treat, and I was informed that it was too cold to wear it. I would have to find something else. I half-heartedly threw together my "person in pajamas" costume, which is 100% lame. Had I realized that it would be my last year as a trick-or-treater, I'd like to think that I would've come up with something better. We'll never know. (Looking back at this in 2018, I realize now that cultural appropriation is not ok, and I regret my costume choice. However, as an 11-year-old, I had no idea what I was doing. Please forgive me.)

Medieval vampire?

Ok, so I'm not 100% sure what I billed my costume as this year. I do know that it involved this dress that I bought at Goodwill, a vampire cape from KMart, and skeleton earrings. Medieval vampire, perhaps?

Count von Disco Bono

Another off-year in my Halloween history. This is the cape that I bought with Allison the year before - sadly, no photographic evidence exists of our 2002 vampire costumes. The cape itself is pretty awesome - it came from Kmart in Brookings before it closed, and I still have the cape to this day. I also have the skeleton earrings in this picture, which you can see if you look very closely. Anyway, I wanted to dress up for Halloween but was fresh out of ideas, so this is what I got. I called myself Count von Disco Bono: vampire cape + Bono sunglasses + pink plaid bellbottoms. A terrible costume, but a costume nonetheless.

reject Charlie's Angel/
beat up band kid/ generic sock hopper

Halloween of my senior year of high school was AWESOME. That was the year our high school football team made it to the state playoffs (and won). Halloween was right around said big game, so all of Halloween (which was on a Sunday, so we celebrated early at school) was one big pep rally day. There were games and snacks and absolutely no productivity whatsoever. My outfit was a red one-piece bell-bottomed monstrosity that I got at Goodwill, plus some go-go boots and a shiny scarf. I was a reject Charlie's Angel. I had to work at the Dairy Mart  that evening, and there was no way that I was doing so in a polyester jumpsuit. I changed into a dress and saddle shoes and was a generic sock-hopper. On Halloween itself, Bob and I dressed up as beat-up band kids and Meagan dressed up as our band director... and we went trick-or-treating at his house. I recall that he and his wife thought we were hilarious. Or hilariously lame. Either way.

band kid
(Editor's note: this qualifies as a different costume than the previous year because a.) I was a beat up band kid in 2004 and just a regular one in 2005, and b.) the beat up band kid costume was not my main costume: an honor I'd give to my reject Charlie's Angel jumpsuit.) 

Much to my great pleasure, I found all sorts of people at college who loved to dress up at Halloween. I stole adopted my old band uniform - after all, the school had just gotten new ones and was systematically burning/donating/destroying the old uniforms, so I figured that I might as well give mine the loving home it deserved. Anyway, it was the perfect Midwestern costume - made of wool = super warm. And how about that hat? If only I'd had the red plume that goes with it. 

zombie I/sailor-ish/opposite

Yes, friends: this was the first year of the triple costume. My friend Sara and I attended UMM's first Zombie Prom: though we look like undead pandas, believe me when I say that we were zombies. Halloween was on a Tuesday that year, so we also needed costumes for the preceding weekend: hence my sailor outfit. It's difficult to see in this picture, but my top is an actual wool sailing uniform that I picked up at an antique store. Points for authenticity. Finally, Sara and I had costumes for Halloween itself: we went as opposites. It's the only time that I've ever dressed as a concept for Halloween, and it was a very liberal arts college thing to do. I totally loved it and still think we were a little bit brilliant.

My favorite costume to date: the year of the Croc. Ever since I first saw those rubbery horrors, I have cursed their existence. Sara had a pair of pink Crocs that she so graciously let me borrow for this costume. This was the year that Halloween was on a Wednesday, and Wednesday nights were the nights that both Sara (the news editor) and I (the arts and entertainment editor) worked late at the college paper. We put in extra hours on Monday and Tuesday of that week in order to be out the door by 10pm Wednesday - instead of our usual 2am Thursday. Halloween is THAT important.

Thanks to the leap year, Halloween landed on a Friday in 2008. Theoretically, that was great: but we poor band kids had a concert on HALLOWEEN NIGHT. And not even a fun Halloween concert... a regular concert that no one attended BECAUSE IT WAS HALLOWEEN. After the concert, we all booked it back to our houses to get into our Halloween costumes and catch up to the rest of our non-band friends. My costume is an authentic Norwegian folk costume, given to me by my authentic Norwegian grandma. And made of wool. The best Minnesotan Halloween costumes are wool-based.

Lobster Telephone/skeleton vampire
I was living in Minneapolis in 2010, which is an all-around excellent place to spend Halloween. I had finished my tenure as an intern at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, but during my time there, I learned about all sorts of cool events that they sponsor. Example: they do this thing called Third Thursdays where, the third Thursday of each month, they keep the museum open late and have some kind of big event. On this particular Third Thursday, the MIA asked attendees to come dressed as their favorite MIA work of art. I chose Dali's Lobster Telephone because why on earth WOULDN'T you choose Lobster Telephone? That same weekend, James and I went to a performance of Psycho with the Minnesota Orchestra - the movie was playing on a screen behind the orchestra while they played the soundtrack. It was amazing. I had purchased this skeleton shirt at Walmart in college (2007? probably?). It was child-sized and glowed in the dark and I loved it. Oddly, this is not the last appearance of me in child-sized skeleton apparel.

Rocky Horror fail/old-timey teacher
By 2011, I had moved to Sioux Falls and had been there for approximately one month. I wore the costume on the left to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, hoping that it would be as amazing as the midnight showing I had seen in Minneapolis the year before. (Note: it wasn't.) My Rocky Horror outfit was not as risque as a real Rocky Horror outfit should be, but what can I say? It was cold, and I was a chicken. The costume on the left is the one I wore to work at the Department of Labor and Regulation. I was dead-broke, so I had to pretty much phone this one in. I carried a ruler and was an old-timey teacher - the dress belonged to my grandma in the 60s, who was real-life old-timey teacher. Again, points for authenticity.

By Halloween 2012, I was gainfully employed at the library and was delighted to find out that nearly everyone at the library dressed up for Halloween. The library costumes were all part of a theme, and the theme that year was superheroes. That worked out perfectly for me, as my brother Mitch had given me this spectacular pair of pajamas for Christmas the year before. And may I say that James's Pee-Wee Herman costume is simply amazing? 

zombie II/Duck Dynasty/Mary Poppins
2013 was the first year that we participated in the Zombie Walk... and I didn't really even get to be in it. The parade started at 5 o'clock, but I worked until 5... I thought I could quick run over, find James and our friend Nate, and quick get my makeup done and hop in the parade. Alas, by the time I left the library and made it to the zombie area (approx. two minutes), the parade was over. So I found James and Nate at a restaurant, and they did my makeup while we were waiting for a table. For Halloween itself, the library's theme costume was Duck Dynasty, but my REAL costume was Mary Poppins - and this was the first (and so far, only) year James and I have had couples' costumes. 

zombie III/Buster Bluth
We arrive at 2014. Mitch made it for the Zombie Walk, and I feel as though our makeup was much better than the year before. For Halloween, I convinced the library to go with a "TV characters" theme just because I had been dying to go as Buster Bluth. I repurposed the Duck Dynasty jacket from the year before and bought camo pants, a hook, an army hat, wire glasses, and a loose seal - complete with a yellow bow tie. It was the most I'd ever spent on a Halloween costume, and the hardest I'd ever worked on one. And you know what? Almost NO ONE got it. At the bar that evening, one guy yelled out "Motherboy," which was a spot-on Buster Bluth reference and totally made my night.

zombie IV/Maleficent/Marla Hooch
2015 was a particularly strong year for me, and I'm really quite proud of my costumes. Of course, there was the zombie element: I went to both the Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl and the Sioux Falls Zombie Walk, so zombie squared. (I'm only including the one picture, though, since my zombie costume was the same.) For work, I dressed as Maleficent. Our work theme was heroes and villains, and I was only one of two villains. I got a lot of great compliments on my costume that day, and no less than three people asked to take a picture of/with me. But what really struck me as hilarious was that for every one person who commented on my costume, there were at least three more who pretended like absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary. On Halloween itself, I dressed as a Rockford Peach - specifically, Marla Hooch. "And then there's Marla Hooch... what a hitter!"

zombie V/zombie David Bowie/Scarlett O'Hara

Here I am at the 2016 Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl, in my child-size skeleton onesie. We had initially planned to go as Zombie Clue (which would've been AWESOME), but two members of our group couldn't come. Instead of looking like idiots when we dressed as just part of Zombie Clue, we went with the classic random zombie horde. I found my costume the day of at Goodwill. Typical zombie behavior. In the middle is my costume for the Sioux Falls Zombie Walk: my FAVORITE event of the year. James went as Zombie Prince, and I was Zombie David Bowie. Too soon. Finally, on actual Halloween, I dressed as Scarlett O'Hara. Hoop skirt and all. 

zombie dinosaur/jellyfish
2017 was the year I started grad school. My program is set up so that the bulk of it is online, but we do meet in person in Sioux Falls for intensive weekends from time to time. One of the intensive weekends (which are super NOT optional) landed on Zombie Walk weekend. The class went from 9am - 5pm on Friday. Zombie Walk starts promptly at 5 downtown. The second class let out, I bolted to the parking lot, where James was waiting for me with my dinosaur onesie costume, a Zombie Walk entry pin, and a bag of zombie makeup. While he drove us downtown, I did my makeup in the car. Not too bad for hastily applied car zombie makeup, I must say. For Halloween itself, I dressed up like a jellyfish: my most ambitious handmade costume to date. I had a tutu, iridescent leggings, fairy lights wound inside my tutu, glitter glued to my face, and a billion strands of glittery ribbon hot-glued to my tutu. I left a trail of glitter wherever I went (I STILL find glitter in my car), but it was AWESOME.

zombie Marty McFly/Marla Hooch reprise/Beetlejuice/Winifred Sanderson

2018 was the first year James and I went as couple zombies to the Zombie Walk, and I have to say, we were a hit. And by that, I mean we got lots of high-fives. Plus, my Marty McFly vest was super warm during the cold and rainy parade, so that was an unexpected bonus. After the Zombie Walk, our friends Bob and Luke hosted a "nevertheless, she trick-or-treated" Halloween party, and you were to dress as a strong woman. So Marla Hooch made a comeback, as did Maleficent (but on James this time). This was James's first time dressing as a woman for Halloween, and he was super into how comfortable Maleficent's robe was. My Beetlejuice costume was for a Halloween-themed murder mystery event we had at the library. My goal as a child was to have a career that allowed me to dress up for Halloween, and I hit the jackpot as a librarian. I got my Winifred Sanderson costume at the Halloween store on November 1 last year - 50% off! I have wanted to be Winifred Sanderson FOREVER, and this year was finally my year.
And there's my lifetime of Halloweens! Rest assured I will continue adding to this list as the years go on, because you're never too old for Halloween. NEVER.