What did I wear for Halloween when I was little? My mother was creative with her suggestions. She was a homemaker, and it was part of the job description to help with–if not make entirely– Halloween costumes (there were not yet stores that sold pre-made costumes). My earliest memories were that I was a witch, of course. One year, at about age six, I was an Asian girl (it was the sixites, and such things were not considered wrong). Then I was an organ grinder, complete with a large belly, a beard, cardboard organ and a stuffed monkey. The year the movie Mary Poppins came out, I was Mary Poppins. This was the first year I distinctly remember that maybe my costume was too good. You know the feeling as a teen: okay, maybe I shouldn’t let my mom be so involved. It was a great costume, complete with a carpet bag, a little hat with flower, dyed hair and an umbrella. But after that I took matters in my own hands. The next year, I was a beatnik, then I was a hippie. That was it.
I loved Halloween. Because the holiday allowed me to become someone else for a day, I did not have to worry about who I was. I always had a love/hate relationship with myself, most particularly my body.
In junior high school, we all try to figure out how we fit into the mix. Are we a cool kid, a nerd (the term used back then. Geek was not coined yet), an intellectual, a hippie, a jock? For girls, it was narrowed even further: good girl, bad girl, “easy?” I managed to figure out how to escape all of it by staying outside of any group and becoming… AN ARTIST.
And so, for the rest of my life, I was able to escape. And define myself as I wanted. Because most people think they “don’t understand” artists, consequently we can wear what we want, say what we want, do what we want (as long as it pays the bills). I make it sound easy, but it wasn’t really. But it was easier than having to decide which other category to fit into.
The opening cartoon above is a version of the original, which is published in my book. Life is a series of choices. Here is the original cartoon: