Letters from Berkeley: Halloween gets spooky

BY COLLEEN CHEN

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday because I had a sweet tooth that was nearly unstoppable. Now that I eat a more peaceful, sugar-free diet, I’ve found another reason to love this day — mostly, the societal permission given to look and act like a fool.

This year I was a fun-lovin’ socialite, wearing a bright red bell-bottomed satin jumpsuit so tight it made my flat Asian ass look juicy, and a curly ash blond wig. My face was luridly made up, but that wasn’t what really made the costume so sublimely creepy — instead, it was bringing it to life through action. So I did at the party I went to, gyrating wildly about to songs such as “She’s Just a Cosmic Girl,” with a little white stuffed dog that made squeaky barking noises whenever I shook him.

Choosing costumes seems to be a pretty unconscious thing at first glance, much of it depending on what I have lying around and how heavy I want to go on the scales of creepy-sexy. But of course, if I think about it I can see a deeper meaning to it. It’s said that one’s fantasy this lifetime is what one’s next lifetime will be. I see Halloween costumes as the manifestation — the “next lifetime” — of a fantasy, and that that fantasy is the direct reaction to recent life experiences and usually can speak to how a person perceives her reality.

So for a night I became a reflection of the energies that had been making up my perspective on life in the time preceding the choosing of the costume. Then I thought about my costumes of my three years at law school:

Halloween my 1L year: I was a ’70s vampire, with a huge ‘fro, sexy black Elvira gown, white face and blood dribbling out the sides of my mouth. I was a cold-blooded killer with a retro fashion sense.

My interpretation: I saw my life my 1L year as that of a vampire, the ultimate victim and oppressor tied neatly into one bloody, bloodless package. Being a newcomer at HLS, I experienced the usual destruction of self-esteem and introduction into the bloodthirsty world of moot court, the Socratic method and Thursday night bar reviews. The stress and the competitiveness of this first year was appropriately reflected by that image of a vampire — where I felt powerful on some level, but kind of bloodless and depressed, and full of repressed violence. I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my law degree when I finished, and my life before me stretched out as a pathway of interminable dread.

For my 2L year, I was a wife-beater. I wore my short ash blond wig, but flattened the curls down to look like a tousled man’s do. I sported a boy’s white tank top and men’s briefs, both appropriately stuffed to give me a belly and a huge package. I carried a belt and wore a menacing expression. Although not a killer, just a bad-tempered schmuck, I was still creepy, and although not sexy at all, my costume was, again, all about violence.

My interpretation: Having spent three years in between my first and second years meditating and doing psychic readings, I was no longer of the game but was making a determined effort to be in it. Moving within a completely linear system and attempting at the same time to hold onto a holistic perspective was intensely frustrating. I no longer felt like I was a bloodsucker or one whose blood was being sucked, but the struggle to reconcile my perspective with the strange rules regulating civil society was intensely frustrating. Thus, I was a wife-beater, or a beaten wife, trapped in duality and screaming to be freed from it.

This year, I was a fun-lovin’ socialite. I chewed gum. I was amiable. I laughed a lot. I jiggled my dog and my juicy ass as violently as I could without tripping in my rickety heels or making my wig fly off.

My interpretation: As happens with most people who are almost done with school, I have shopped around enough to know what I do and don’t want to do with my degree and therefore am no longer feeling violent. My peace of mind has to do with lots of communication and maybe playing with animals. Appropriately, I’ve also been reading a book whose author is advocating a revolution where everyone starts smiling for no reason.

Next, perhaps, I will look at my Thanksgiving dinners during my law school years and see how they reflect a growing appreciation for life through food.

Ah, life is good.

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