duck-shaped pain


Where I Am No Fun At All

So, today is Halloween, and still I have no costume. This isn't in the least bit unusual, as I almost never dress up. I am the biggest Halloween lame-ass ever.

I used to, back when I was in elementary/middle/high school. It used to be one of the few highlights of the year, and I would plan my costume for weeks and weeks. I reached my greatest costume-making glory in high school, when I took a bunch of little pieces of junk and broken jewelry and random notions I had laying around, attached them to this previously useless black dress and went as The Queen Of The Goodwill. I won an award (a chocolate bar with a bow stuck on it qualified as an award at my high school – no wonder so few of us went to college) and what I remember the most is that my costume weighed about 20 pounds and was very uncomfortable to sit in.

Post-school-required-by-law, I sort of stopped paying real attention to Halloween, at least to the costume part. (The drinking part is another story…) During this time, I developed my current policy that Halloween works best if you decide to have it at some other time of the year. I think one's choice of costume would have its greatest impact if you decided to show up to work wearing on random day in May, for example. Why let the calendar decide when you're going to be weird? I don't.

Don't even get me started on the evilness of Halloween office parties/festivities/Enforced Fun. Office parties are weird anyway – suddenly socializing with people who you struggle to merely have a basic, grunt-level professional relationship with, the terrible dips, the moment when others realize that you're really not trying to be part of the team ("Hey, here's someone who doesn't believe in Fun!"), many other horrors too gruesome to recount.

The photography company I worked at in Oregon (I've been thinking about that job a lot lately, for some reason) was really big on Halloween (they were big on all holidays, actually – I'll tell you about their Christmas celebrations when the time comes). They had all the trappings: costume contest, dry-ice-infested orange punch, tapes of "scary" noises playing, Jell-o treats.

The first prize for the costume contest was – I kid you not – A WEEK OFF WITH PAY. So people put out some serious effort in dressing up. The owner of the company decided she was going to come as a (in her words) "punk rocker woman," and her costume was so awful and embarrassing on so many levels that I've sort of blocked it out of my mind (yet, she signed the checks, so what could one do but compliment her on her choice?). The woman who won the week off with pay dressed up as Frankenstein, I think. Such originality.

I came to work in my bathrobe. I didn't have a real costume in mind (one of the lab technicians decided I needed a name for my costume, though, so we decided that I came as My Old Man), I had just always wanted to show up to work in my bathrobe. Unsurprisingly, I didn't win any awards, not even the lame second and third prizes (Blazers tickets and a mouse pad, respectively).

Part of Mr. Plutonium's entry for today concerns the hazards of having a Science Dad (or Science Mom, whatever the case may be). This is something I can relate to all too well. I spent numerous weekends of my childhood driving around looking at drill sites and rock formations. My dad was always bringing some interesting new rock home, which would end up in his office, on the porch or in the garage. Family trips were just one big, long science quiz sometimes: "So, what's that formation over there?" So, when I had my first nascent thoughts about a career, geology was the furthest thing from my mind. I had enough of it growing up. Of course, what field do I work in now? That's right.

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