My goodness! It’s been two years this month since I started The Halloween Honey blog! How time has flew by! Whoosh! There it went!
This little slice of the internet I’ve carved out for myself has brought me so much over the past year. Not only a space for me to vent, talk about what I think is important, cool or worthwhile, but also a platform to help get the word out about things, share places and people with an audience I may not otherwise had an opportunity to reach, and biggest of all, The Halloween Honey has brought me to my book being published! History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital was born on this website, and now you’ll soon be able to hold it in your hot little hand, all thanks to this little .com that could!
This past year in Halloween Honey-dom, I have found myself doing two events, one solo-and speaking in public, which was horrifying and not that bad all at the same time, being present at a paranormal investigation (not participating quite yet, baby steps, ya know) turning 30 at one of Minnesota’s most haunted hotels, and actually willing go to the most frightening haunt in the Twin Cities during Halloween and not even crying “uncle” once, oh, and did I mention, writing a book, submitting it for publication, and having it chosen for publication? I…seem to think I did. Plus, my site was hacked not once but twice. Tss…that was annoying.
If The Halloween Honey has given me anything it has given me the courage to say “yes” to just about anything (which is a good and bad thing…when I applied this mantra to riding the Ferris wheel at Nick Universe at the Mall of America a few weeks ago only to find myself clutching the center pole of the cart for dear, dear, sweet life, my bro-in-law pointed out “You can’t say ‘no’ to anything”….) My “Say Yes” attitude, which I call “Blogortunities” has really opened my eyes to a lot of things I may have otherwise missed. A few years ago you couldn’t have paid me to do nearly anything I mentioned in the above paragraph. Being brave is a good thing and getting out of my comfort zone has been pretty exciting.
Now, going forward, I am already starting to piece together my second book, heading to the haunted hotel again March (dragging my stepson with. It’ll be character building! Spring Break!) and lining up all sorts events and speaking engagements for the fall. I cannot honestly tell you what the next year of Halloween Honey will bring. What I do know, this blog will continue to flourish-either just me and for my own purposes, or for other reasons yet unseen. All I know, these last two years of The Halloween Honey have changed my life.
Year Three Starts Now! This GIF is my spirit animal.
When I was around fifteen, I spotted a book at Barnes and Noble I wanted so, so bad. I wanted it, but I didn’t want to tell my parents I wanted it. It was a book about Wicca. It was by a person named Silver Ravenwolf, which I thought was her given name because…. fifteen. Plus, it had some badass looking teenagers on the cover. I was in the midst of my teenage rebellion, which, to be fair, was quite mild. You don’t have much to rebel against when you have parents like mine (“did I ever tell you kids about the time we got so high and cooked a lobster dinner?”) But, messing with “witchcraft”, I dunno, man. I saw my lapsed-Catholic mother thinking I was turning into a devil-worshiper or something (which, now that I think of it, she thought quite often when I was a teenager. And even came right out and asked me once.) So, I saved my money and made my sister Cori drive me to Barnes and Noble one day after school so I could buy the book. She was in her Puff Daddy and the Family-pieced-pinkienail-phase, so, she didn’t have much room to talk about her little sister wanting to be a witch. I bought my book and scurried back to Cori’s ’92 Ford Probe in ten minutes flat. To this day, I still don’t think mom ever found out I bought that book (mostly because I kept it at my dad’s house. HA! Divorced parents work great for trying to hide stuff.)
I read that book from cover to cover. I tried to commit as much of it as I could to memory. I loved it, in theory. In practice, that was another story. Being a Wiccan required work. A lot of work. I was fifteen. I don’t wanna work. While my commitment to practicing Wicca waned, my interest in it never really went away. I read more books, learned what I could, mostly because I thought it was a fascinating subject and I admired the people who put so much work into their faith. Plus, witches. I love witches. I love the idea of witches, I love fictional witches, I love real witches, I love that new Katy Perry song about witches. I. Love. Witches.
So, imagine my happy little heart when I found out a Wicca 101 class was going to be offered down the street from my house! The New Moon Metaphysical store in downtown Anoka, while not yet a year old, has built quite a customer base and we are happy to have them in town! Well, us Party Papers people are happy to have them in town….I can’t speak for the more conservative types.
While there were only about six students, I found the class to be incredibly valuable, and the teacher was great. A Wiccan High Priestess, she was smart and honest, which is something that is damn near required when you are speaking to people about their faiths and spiritual paths in life. She wasn’t trying to sell anything. She wasn’t saying, “this is for you, no matter who you are! Please leave your name and social security number at the door.” Not that I was expecting that in anyway, but, you just never know. She made it very clear that Wicca is a path you should put a lot of thought in to committing to. It does require work (see! I was right all along) dedication, and not just some lukewarm feeling of New Age-yness. Wicca is not a catch-all for mystical religious practices. While yes, crystals, and energies, and elements of spiritualism and herbal remedies and all that can be used in Wicca, that is not what Wicca is. The teacher gave me the clearest understanding of Wicca I have ever gotten before. Something I’m sure I read in Ms. RavenWolf’s book, but didn’t process in my head. It is a fertility-based religion and there is duality, always, of a male and female. But, my favorite, favorite, favorite thing she said was this “Wicca is not a religion that is interested in having ‘THE TRUTH’ Wicca is a religion that wants you to have your truth.” She gave a great example of a group of people all witnesses the same event. Each person is going to recall that event differently. It doesn’t make one person more right or more wrong than the other, it just means they all have their own truth. I really thought that was eye-opening and well said, and something a lot of people, myself in included, would do well to remember.
Then we all got naked and bit the heads of chickens. Aha, no, we didn’t. It was two hours that went by very quickly, which is a good sign. I like listening to smart people talk about something they are passionate about, and this instructor was great. The other people in the class felt comfortable enough to share some experiences and talk about some personal things and it was a great little pow-wow.
Two more classes this month! I hope to attend! Not because I foresee myself putting this knowledge into practice necessarily, but because I like it to going to a lecture on say, women in the Civil War. It’s hella interesting.
Tonight, my thoughts turn to my town. No, not my hometown, that would be the OG, Oak Grove, MN, but the town I have chosen to by my child’s hometown, Anoka, MN. This blog, for better or worse, has turned into a love letter/occasional loving criticism of the town of Anoka. Anoka is where my childhood happened (as well as the 2 acres of land I grew up on in Oak Grove) and, as you dedicated readers of mine know, it is where my heart is and where my home is.
In a few short weeks, a former lovable little dump of a bakery called Hans’ Bakery is re-opening in Anoka and it’s getting a lot of well-deserved hype. Hans’ was frickin’ phenomenal. Doughnuts as big as your face, old people holding court at all hours of the day, unfriendly staff that was annoyed by your inability to choose, everything a hometown bakery should be. Always a little dirty, bathrooms….a little scary. Perfection, some would say. After the original owner, Hans himself, died, the bakery changed hands a few times until it finally closed a few years ago, seemingly for good. The sign never went away and the building always stood, almost like the soil itself knew that one day, this place would rise again, and sure enough, it will on February 22nd due to a plucky local gal with a dream.
Happenstance would have it however, the opening weekend of Hans’ Bakery is also the opening weekend for Anoka Middle School for the Arts production of Lord of the Flies, and you fine folks know how up in the middle school theater department’s grill I am so, also as a plucky local gal with a dream, I emailed Hans’ Bakery in hopes we can somehow create that ever-elusive synergy that happens when forces for good work together. We shall see if they are on board for a coupon promotion or Providing Roxy With A Free Texas Doughnut, Just One, Seriously, or what is going to happen, but I await their response with anticipation.
There is a new energy in Anoka. It didn’t start with the new Hans’, but new Hans’ is certainly a factor in it. I had a wonderful conversation tonight with my fearless leader at the ol’ haunted costumer shop, Mary, who has become my mentor, my own personal Jack Donaghy, helping me navigate these odd, somewhat political situations I find myself in when my loudmouthy-ness requires action (I often think “What would Mary do?”) and she paid me one of the finest compliments I have ever received. She said I was a branch on her tree. Allow me to explain. We were speaking of this new, palpable energy in town. All these new business people coming in, like the new owner of Hans’, and so on, as well as more established places moving onward and upward and creating this sort of identity Anoka had never had before. How the Powers-That-Be in town are realizing how beneficial it is to listen to people and help restore, preserve and re-purpose our history and how we don’t have to be the town that housed Michele Bachmann during her teen years (never forget: she’s from Iowa) Anoka is a rich city, a vibrant place with a sorts of people living withing its city limits. From there, she also commented on how my book with become a part of that. I scoffed and “pishaw-ed” as (not too false) modesty does, but she then said, since her shop and my relationship with her is so vital to my book, “A tree is not a truck alone. A tree is branches, and the more branches it has, the more sap runs through it, and you are one of my branches.” Cue tears. To think that not only does someone I have oodles upon oodles of respect for consider me a “branch” of hers, but that I could, honest to God have a part of this “new wave Anoka” we seem to be embarking on makes my heart sing. I am a part of this new energy. It’s inspiring.
I spent the day with my daughter and niece, both of whom are three now, and full of life and energy, as well as my 80-year-old grandma who not only was recently diagnoses with dementia but also had a risky, life saving surgery last month that totally kicked her ass, and there is a new energy in her, too. When my grandma was first diagnosed with dementia she was pissed, rightfully so. It wasn’t safe for her to drive and it’s becoming a little dodgy for her to continue to live alone. It’s been nearly two months since she’s known this and there has been a shift. Gone is her anger. Gone is her nastiness. Gone is her meanness she always carried with her to some extent. It may be on my part a clearer understanding of how her brain works, but I truly think it is her. Her energy has changed. While she remains an exhausting old lady who can’t sit still if her life depended on it, a sort of kindness has been found in her. She’s always been kind and caring towards my children, and to me and my sister for the most part, but the cutting remarks towards others is gone, the general unpleasantness is gone. Grandma loved to bring us to Hans’, and when I told her there official re-opening date, she was excited (she was more excited when I told her about the local news personality getting canned after a DWI.)
I am struggling to make a connection between the old, bitter city of Anoka changing, and my grandma changing, both for the better, but I am having a hard time finding the words without comparing my grandma to a municipality, but you see the picture.
I am a branch on my grandma’s tree. I am a branch on Mary’s tree. I am a branch on the tree of my daughter, even though it is just beginning to sprout, and we are all a branch on the tree of the place we call home.
Trees are a metaphor for….trees.
Whatever, I want a Texas doughnut.
And don’t even get me started on Philip Seymour Hoffman….*sob*
Orbs! You guys, orbs. They are a hot topic in the ol’ paranormal community. Are they ghosts? Spirit manifestations? Or dust, bugs and other camera whatnot. Well, I tend to think most orbs are just dusk or lens flairs, but then, I see a photo with an orb in it that I just cannot explain (unless dust moves an an alarming rate, which it very may. I don’t know too much about dust.)
Today, my mother and I were at my grandma’s rifling through her old pictures and Mom came across a photo she would have otherwise destroyed on sight, but not this time. She was hesitant because of the orb.
Trust me. Mom would sooner burn this photo and buried the ashes, but this evidence was just too compelling.
First off, let me explain why Mom would have been so eager to destroy the photo. It is a picture of her and her ex-husband (NOT MY DAD) who she refers to as “Big Dummy.” Big Dummy and mom were married for six years. But, in the end, Mom and Big Dummy were not right for each other and he was the living worst, so ce la vie.
Anyways, let me explain why the orb in this picture is relevant. This photo was taken at my aunt Carla’s house in the Halloween Capital of the World, of course, and is also certifiably haunted by the original owner who kicked the bucket in the bathroom. Just ask the cats.
Here is the picture:
Mom wanted me to photoshop Big Dummy out of the picture but I didn’t want to mess with it in anyway to take away from the orb.
What do you think about that?! Besides this photo, the only other one with an orb that I thought was legit was this one featuring yours truly and some of my best girlfriends back in 2012.
Me standing sideways in that dress was ill advised.
The orb is floating right above the head of my friend Christy who has….talents. You know what I mean.
Anyway, what do you think? Orbs are so tricky and EASILY dismissed, as they should be, but somethings….I don’t know, man.
Oh, lastly, my mother would appreciate this. Here is my mom currently. Five years after Big Dummy, looking better than ever.
Posing with my charming children.
It’s not so much that I am looking for handouts from acquaintances and strangers on the internet….okay, well, yes I am.
Tonight, I started a Go Fund Me fund. I have been thinking about this for a while-this brave new world of “crowdfunding” (fancy internet speak for asking people for money. Not borrowing it, just asking if you can have it) for various projects. While I’m no Veronica Mars, I still thought I should give it a try. I want to give my book the best shot I can at it being successful. Much like a child, I want to give it every advantage I can. But, unlike a child, reading to an intangible thing and encouraging to eat its vegetables does me no good and is totally insane. What do intangible things need to be successful? Money. Like I’ve said before, money is the worse, but necessary.
I chose not to use Kickstarter because it seems too fancy for what I am trying to achieve. I am just looking for an extra little cash to market my book. I want to pay for booth fees at events and create signs and banners and other promotional material and hustle, hustle, hustle. All of which costs the monies. Like most people, I don’t have all sorts of extra cash just hanging around the house (even though I did collect all the change in my house back in December and I had 41 dollars! Even the lady at the bank was impressed!) so I turn to my supporters. Luckily, I have a ton of supporters. I love my supporters. And, among all my supporters I am hoping there is one or two who are like, secret billionaires that wear monocles and swim in pools of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. We shall see if this mysterious supporter actually exists. And if they want to give me like, 50 bucks or something.
So, shamelessly, here is my Go Fund Me account. Click here. Hey, go fund me! It’ll be fun! Right?
In the meantime, here I am with a cool mask on.
September is going to come quicker than I expect. Let me explain why:
Most years I am counting down the days until Halloween. Waaaaaay over there at the end of October. Summer seems like the longest season. I’ll admit it, summer isn’t my favorite time of year. I’d much rather be cold and able to wear many sweaters than hot and not being able to remove my skin. Summer, for me, last forever and mostly because Halloween follows it. The second Michael’s craft stores puts out their Halloween stuff (mid-July, for those interested) I go out and buy a bunch of it just to bask in some Halloween-ness. In June, Halloween is officially right around the corner. But, this year, the day I have my eye on is September 1st. Holy cow! September 1st is still technically summer. The Minnesota State Fair is on for another day on September 1st. It’s RIGHT AFTER August, the longest of the summer months. September 1st is when my book comes out. Yikes!
Granted, September 1st is a little over seven months away, those seven months are going to freakin’ fly by. So, if it seems I’m being a little premature or jumping the gun on promoting my book, I’m not! September 1st is right after August 31st!, which is shortly after the 4th of July, which comes right after my birthday in the middle of June, which is right after May, which is just a month after April, my stepson will be 13 in March and Valentine’s day is right before that! So, you can clearly see how quickly this is going to happen!
With that being said, last night I created a Facebook Page for my book, which you should like because I’m brewing up some fun stuff to post on there in these next seven months. Today I am going to start lining up signings and events and continue brainstorming how to get the word out about my book.
If you are going to the Halloween & Party Expo in Houston this week, look for a petite older woman with cool black hair with a Rita Moreno vibe. That’s my boss Mary from Party Papers! She will be handing out cards promoting my book too
Oh, I also think I chose an author photo. My girl Christy took it a few months ago and I added some effects….does it look cheesy? I like it. My hair looks crazy!
I have many flights of fancy. I daydream about the possibilities my life may yet hold, mostly when it comes to my career. I’m pretty content in my home life. I have an awesome husband, a fabulous stepson, an amazing daughter, a roof over my head and shoes on my feet and food in my stomach. One thing I wish I had more of, like most people, is money. Isn’t money the worst? You need it for most things and living without it is nearly impossible. So, it is my goal to find a way to earn it without having to go back to sitting behind a desk an answering a phone. I am fairly confident my sassy receptionist days are behind me (I hope.) I have enjoyed being home with my daughter and daycarin’ for my niece these past few years, but this toddlers are going to be starting school sooner rather than later, so this lady needs to have some prospects lined up.
While my book is going to be released in September of this year, and I am going to work my bum off to make sure it is as successful as it can be (this just in, the owner of Party Papers is going to be advertising my book for me at the Halloween Trade Show in Houston at the end of this month! Woot!) I simply cannot assume that will be my livelihood. I mean, I plan on writing another book, and one after that, and one after that, but for me to put all my eggs in that basket would be a little dangerous at this point.
Luckily, my husband has a stable job he’s worked for the past nearly fifteen years that he truly does love, and I’m working as much as I can at the ol’ haunted costume shop, but as my eyes turn to the future, they turn to where I live, and what I enjoy when it comes to making a living for me and my family. I love my town of Anoka. I love books. And, as begrudgingly it is for me to admit….I do like retail work. I say that with this disclaimer: I have had three retail jobs in my life. I would have never made such a bold statement at the first one, which I hated. It was the last two that really showed me that I’m good at working retail and okay, yeah, it’s fun most of the time. I love working for the small retail business I work for now and would love to continue that tradition on Anoka’s little Main Street. My little hamlet of Anoka has a lot of shops….but no book shop.
A lot of successful authors own independent bookstores. Problem is, while, yes, I am an author, the “successful” part is yet to be determined. We will see just how successful I can be when 2014 wraps up in 11 months. But, Anoka needs a bookshop. We used to have one. It was a small little place with a resident cat run by passionate people. I just learned today that they had a rare edition of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven that they were selling for $900 dollars! But they closed up shop a few years ago and now a salon and an ice cream shop occupy that space (let us never speak ill of the ice cream shop, Two Scoops. That place rocks so hard.) But, I think it was their location and unwillingness (or unableness) to be open more hours. The occasional store is unfortunately king in downtown Anoka lately. It’s a bit of a dodgy way to conduct a business if you ask me, but then again, most of our shop owners in town have other jobs. But, when we get people in at the costume shop asking “Is anything in Anoka ever open?” It’s a little wince-inducing.
Now, here is where my flights of fancy really takes off. My bookshop, which would aptly be called Halloween Capital Books, would have to start out as a used bookstore because establishing relationships and contracts with vendors and publishing houses is HELLA expensive, but there is always room for growth. We would be on Main Street, highly visible (I am currently obsessing over the space above Amish Corner in the same building Party Papers is in. It’s for rent! And it’s not an overwhelmingly large space.) I would be open 10am to 6pm Monday through Wednesday. I would be open 10am to 7pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I would be open 10am to 3pm on Sundays. Since this would be my full-time job, I’d be able to be there all the time! Secondly, I would offer storytimes and events for kids during the day weekdays, as well as Saturdays since, as being a stay-at-home for as long as I have been, I know there isn’t a ton to take restless kids to during the week in this area. I would establish bookclubs and seek out volunteers to facilitate them. I would have such beautiful and lovely displays, a wide variety of books to choose from, local authors would have signings, I would have an entire wall dedicated to my own books (kidding! Not really….) it would be a such a lovely little place.
What is holding me back? Oh, ya know, that silly little thing called money. Sigh….But, here is the upside. My daughter and niece are both just three (well, my niece will be three on February 3rd) so I still have a good two years to mull this over, plan, and do my best to save, to see this become a reality. Unless, by some miracle, I win the lottery.
I guess we shall see what the future holds.
It’s still fun to dream, though. Thanks for indulging me.
One! My book is now on Amazon.com and available for pre-order!
Two! A piece I wrote for the Minn Post regarding Save Our Sunday Shows!
Read it here!
Hello, dear readers! I haven’t been neglecting you! I’ve been a little lazy on my blogging, but I’ve also been terribly busy! Busy doing what?! You may ask. Well, let me fill you in.
Let’s start many, many years ago. I think it must have been about 2004 or 2005. I was in my very early 20′s. My friend Sarah who I have known since I was about 10 or 11 made a comment about me that really stuck with me. I guess it was something I had always sort of known deep, deep down in my heart of hearts, but never really gave it any conscious thought because who sit around thinking about what a badass they are?
Sarah said, “Because you are fucking formidable!” I forget exactly what I was (most likely) ranting and raving about, but I must have asked, “Why are they (it, she, him, whatever) so afraid of me?!” And Sarah said, “Because you are fucking formidable!” That statement did make my chest stick out a bit. I felt it was high praise. I am all of 5’4 and well….my weight need not be discussed…but I’ve always been shrimpy, sorta runty, physically, anyway. My dad used to call me “Rat” when I was growing up, not because I snitched to the FBI or anything but because I was small and somewhat sneaky. It was a term of endearment. So, to be called something like “formidable” made me feel like, for lack of a better word, a badass. So, yes, maybe I was, and still am, fucking formidable. But, like I said, I didn’t really dwell on it. I remind myself of Sarah’s comment every now and then when I need a little motivation, but other than that, it’s not painted on my bedroom ceiling or anything.
Well, my formidable-ness has really come front and center this last week. If you recall, I’ve been helping my little theater boosters club deal with a headache in a polar fleece vest for the last month or so who is hellbent on taking away some of our school’s theater performances. For a rundown, do click here. Well, as we prepared to counteract next Monday at the school board meeting, I am learning more and more about various aspects of this situation which are causing me to get angrier and angrier.
I’ve gone to the media the best I know how, which includes lots of emails and phone calls and talking to, so far, really nice people, as well as doing a little writing myself. I am being reminded by many people to try and be respectful and “let’s not piss anyone off” essentially, but my first reaction to this sort of situation is to fight dirty. Not only fight dirty, but be the dirtiest fighter I can be. I want to name names, shout address from mountaintops, expose personal information, link Facebook pages…. But, since I am a fully functioning 30 year old woman I need to realize that isn’t going to get me anywhere. My enemy, as it were, is not fighting dirty (well, sort of, but more like fighting like a coward) therefore I must rise above. In my conversations with the media I have been kind and very “just the facts, ma’am” and tried to keep editorializing to a minimum. Ooooo…it’s so, so hard. So, what do I do? I hang up from my polite conversation and carry on like mad to my poor, dear, sweet husband. Poor, poor Jim. Just today he’s said “If I had a swear jar for you I’d be the richest man alive.” and “Okay, I am never, ever going to piss you off.” Hmmm….indeed. But, on the flip side, he’s been married to me for seven years, so he must know how I am. Right?
I don’t go to the media on this issue in hopes of getting my name out there (I’m plan on doing that for my book later this summer!) I go to the media, and my personal blog, and social media because I simply cannot allow behavior that will affect thousands of people negatively to occur. I do not exaggerate with my “thousands of people” either. A bad move or decision on this issue would affect thousands of people negatively. So, how do I best stop this behavior from occurring? Do I correct bad behavior in this situation the same way I do with my three year old? Kind, but firm? Yes and no, because my three year old has more common sense than a lot of the people I am dealing with here. But, again, I do not scream and shout and get ugly with my three year old, so I cannot with these people either…..I guess.
I just….I’m tired. I’m tired of people having agendas and I’m tired of people being gross and stupid and unreasonable and selfish. I want to make it very, very clear that your gross, ugly, stupid and selfish behavior is not acceptable around me, my children, my family, my friends, my community, my schools and other peoples’ children. Again, not to build myself up to sound like a badass, but don’t mess with me. Don’t mess with my values, don’t mess with my kids, don’t mess with my community and don’t mess with something that need not be messed with. It’s very simple.
Okay, end rant. I’m going to watch Parks and Rec on Netflix. As Leslie Knope says, “Get out of my way unless you want an arrow in your ass.”
It’s New Year’s Eve! More importantly, it’s my mom Debbie’s birthday! Happy Birthday Mom!
We celebrated in style this past Saturday at Northeast Minneapolis staple Gastohf’s like the good Germans we are, today we will be lunching at Billy’s in Anoka, the best haunted former brothel this side of the Mississippi!
Yay, Mom! Happy Birthday!
Here are a few pics from our adventure on Saturday:
Singing German tunes!
Me, my sister Cori and mom.
Everyone be safe tonight and have a fun New Year’s Eve! I will be spending my evening in a church basement chaperoning the Justin’s Gift New Year’s Eve dance. The last time I chaperoned a teen-oriented event was on December 20th at the middle school. The next day I woke up with what turned into the Demon Christmas Cold of 2013 and was sick until, seriously, two days ago. If I get sick from being surrounded by youths again I swear I am never going to be around anyone again until they are over the age of eighteen.
Wish me luck and Happy New Year!