Thursday Morning Wood

Posted by Wood | Thursday, October 26, 2006 |

When I was a kid, I loved October for the sophisticated reason that my birthday was in the middle of the month, and just when I was coming down from the presents and cake, two weeks later came the sugar-coma-inducing, best-holiday-EVER, Halloween.

Over the years, however, October lost its charm with me. Birthday celebrations in offices were pathetic disappointments compared to elementary school birthday parties, where instead of distributing cupcakes with sprinkles to all of your eager classmates, you get to eat cake at a staff meeting on a random day of the month co-celebrating your birthday with three other schlubby Libras. Halloween stopped being fun, too. Cute childhood costumes were replaced with slutty excuses, and when I got sick of slutty excuses, I was left with no choice but to opt out of Halloween. Living in San Francisco didn't help either; not only is the city completely devoid of seasons, but it is also extra full of sexiness at the end of October. Who has the energy to be that sexy?

But now we're in Michigan again. My birthday was over a week ago. I'm still not quite 30, so that alone is something worth celebrating. Even better, apparently my birthday made quite an impression on Juniper. Two days ago, as we sat eating a family dinner, she started to sing to herself quietly when she was finished eating. After a few seconds, Dutch and I realized that she was singing, "Happy Birthday Dear Mama." She now sings it for me on command, and each time I hear her garbled, nearly tuneless version and the way she squeaks out the "Maaaaama" at the end, my heart slides down the inside of my ribcage and starts leaking into my pancreas and my gall bladder. She has also recently started saying, "I love you" when I leave for work in the morning. These two things totally make up for the fact that on my birthday, she successfully refused to take any nap at all for the first time in her life, which meant that by 5:30 she was a hot mess of tears and exhaustion, forcing us to abandon our plan to go to a restaurant for dinner together.

And to top it all off, Halloween is once again something to forward to. Last year Dutch dressed Juniper up as a street urchin, and even though I was skeptical, it was a great costume. But the whole thing still had an element of farce to it -- Juniper was just a squishy, wobbly 9 month old who never noticed what she was wearing or the newspaper we safety-pinned to her sleeve, making her costume and our subsequent parading around the San Francisco dusk feel silly. This year, though, she gets it. She loves pumpkins and ghosts and witches. Thanks to Dutch's weekly pilgrimages to the zoo, Juniper recognizes a wide range of animals, giving me plenty of furry choices for her costume. She's also particular about what she wears, usually requesting each morning to put on her swim suit and dance around the house. She's a total ham, and I know she's going to love dressing up and walking around the neighborhood. The real challenge for me will be finishing her costume before I chuck the sewing machine out the window in frustration, and then preventing her and her accomplice (otherwise known as her dad) from walking away with all of our neighbors' pumpkins on Halloween night.

October is also great this year for all of the Michigan reasons we've missed: the beautiful leaves, the cool air, cider mills with local apples and homemade donuts, and the Tigers. Even though I get so nervous watching them that I can't look at the screen, and even though I ask Dutch dumb questions like,"why does that guy get to run after the other guy caught the ball in the outfield," I'm excited about professional sports for the first time in my life. Watching sports is what people do here, and rather than fight it, I've simply accepted it as an excellent excuse to drink another beer.

So far, this is the best October I've had in a long time. And we're not even to the best part yet.