The one where June misses Halloween

For years, we’ve been doing this project at work that is what you might call detailed.

If you’re a proofreader or a copy editor, all three of you, it has everything that takes time. Names you need to check? Yes. Numbers? Yes. Details that’re listed in several places and they all must match? Yes. Fact-checking up the ying? Oui.

Is it really important, so you can’t mess up? Yes, yes, yes.

I hadn’t worked on this thing in years, but last month I did, and found all sorts of errors that would excite only another copy editor (a word was lowercase in a few places, then capped in a few others, then…ready, three copy editors?…BACK TO CAPS AGAIN!) and I was extremely in love with self. This is the shit that gives us life.

So, I found all these errors, and was excited, then I got the thing again at blueline and found an extra word (“to”) in a paragraph.

What’s a blueline, June? This is riveting, we promise.

It’s the final, final version of something before it goes to print. And lots of what we do at work anymore doesn’t even GET printed, but print is scary. You screw up with print, that mistake is there forever. Or worse, that mistake means you have to reprint, and that’s never good.

The point is, because this thing is so huge and detailed and so on, I worked with the manager of the project and we worked out a schedule to determine when I’d read this thing, and when I’d again reread it, because detailed.

That schedule started yesterday. I’d had it on my calendar for weeks: Big project starts today. I was supposed to take all day yesterday and all day today on it.

Then next weekend I take it home and read it again.

When I got to work yesterday, it wasn’t ready yet, as everyone working on it is on business trips. They’re working on it from said trips, so it’d be with me any second.

“Hey, June, here’s another project. Can you work on this today?”


The thing is, I was just sitting there waiting, unsure of when it’d get to me. So I hemmed and I hawed, and I finally took the project, which turned out to be (wait for it) a lot of stuff, and detailed, and so on.

Naturally, the second I began, I got an email. “You can start that other big project now!”


Then I got two other emails from two other accounts I work on. “Here’s some work. Can we also discuss it in detail?”

And, “Here’s a project. Can you not just edit it, but write this and this? Here’s what I was thinking and what I want and…”

I had to write both those poor folks back and say, I can’t even read this whole email right now.

So I worked. And worked. I hadn’t put on my Frida costume yet, because everything that could have gone wrong yesterday morning DID go wrong, including THE CITY SHUTTING DOWN MY FREEWAY EXIT to get to work, so the plan was I’d get dressed at lunch.

Naturally I worked through lunch, then when I did get away, I had to run errands, so okay. I wouldn’t dress up.

“The costume contest is starting on the dock,” I heard the front desk announce, at 2:00. For the first time in my seven Halloweens there, I did not watch the contest, much less participate, as I had planned. I don’t even know what people dressed up as.

At 4:00, kids were coming for candy, so around 3:00 I just took my computer and went home, so I could work in peace. I was that curmudgeon.

Kit was supposed to come over last night, help me hand out the candies, and I had to cancel on her.

And by the way, just like my morning, everything that COULD go wrong with me getting the work and doing the work, did go wrong.

And truth be told, by 6:00, I was done. I could not make myself think any more. I’d been thinking so intensely. So I shut off the computer and lay blankly for awhile, till

“Trick or treat!

“Wooo! WOO WOO WOOO WO!” snarled Eds.

If Edsel were a normal dog, we could do things like I could dress up as Little Red Riding Hood (Medium-to-Large, Depending, Red Riding Hood) and he could dress as the big, bad wolf. He could sit next to me nicely, with his gummy fangs or whatever, and everyone who came to trick or treat could say “Oh, there’s that cute dog that we pet on his walks” and so on.

would like salty dog, or maybe banana dakkeri.

Instead, Edsel dressed as banished-to-the-back-room guy.

wate. dis not jist for blawg? eds really back heer?

I did not photograph trick or treaters, even though you want me to be the weird woman who photographs every fucking thing, because how, exactly, was I going to ask, “Can I photograph your children and put them online?”

The best parts were the one kid who said, “Oh, please, not a Snickers.” I gave that child coal I had left over from my own Christmas stocking.

And then this very small person just started barreling in. “You have a doggie!” she said, and my reputation precedes me. “Yes, I–”

“I want to see the doggie!” Her parents were all Ebony, don’t go in that lady’s house. Ebony didn’t give a shit. She wanted to see the doggie.

let chyld see doggie. it totlee safe.

And finally, I saw Ava’s family. Of course, I recognized Jane right away, with her June hair and her attitude. In years past, she’s been Katniss or whoever that is, and other popular costumes of the day, and I’m all, Why aren’t you dressed in a pumpkin head or a plastic mask from the grocery store the way I would have been at your age?


But this year, she was just barely dressed as anything, and was taking a smaller child around, so I guess she’s aging out of this process. Jane is, I’d estimate, between seven and 19 years old.

Her brother I met way, way back, when I just had Tallulah. He’s the kid I ran into on a walk once, when Talu had been rolling in the blackberries or boysenberries or whatever the fuck grows in my yard that she used to roll in and get purple spots.

“I wish I had a yellow and blue dog,” I remember him saying. He asked about Lu’s breed for awhile, and told me about his dog. “What kind of dog is he?” I asked. I hadn’t met his dog yet, who in fact is an enormous, calm, steel-gray 100% pit who is Ava’s best friend.

“Oh, he’s a pet bull and a beagle,” that kid said at the time. And that is when I knew he was full of the shit.

The point is, a group of teenaged boys came to the door, boys who really should not even be trying to trick or treat, and he had cool hair, but I didn’t register that was old pet-bull-and-a-beagle, there.

“Ava’s gotten really big,” he said to me, and right then I knew. Oh, it’s that kid!

He’s somewhere between 11 and 32.

So, in reality, I guess I had the kind of Halloween most adults have who don’t work at a creative agency. I mean, I worked all day and handed out candy at night and The End. BUT I’M USED TO COSTUMES AND PARTIES AT WORK.

I gotta go. I’m slap in the middle of that project, and when you think of June today, and you will, think of me bent unergonomically over details. Deets. June checks the deets.

I know that seems scary in general, but when it comes to copy editing, I am stellar at the deets. Copy editing and stalking boyfriends: June is the deets master at those.

Okay, boo.

edz can come out nows?

You’re so already out, Eds.






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At one point, I was sort of hot, in a "she's 27 and probably a 7" kind of a way. Now I'm old and have to develop a charming personality. Guess how that's going.

42 thoughts on “The one where June misses Halloween”

  1. Lovely post.
    I agree that you should arrive at work one day this week fully Frida’d. As long as the new car has a sun roof to accommodate the antlers?


  2. I love to hear about how you geek out at work. And, I learned something: Blue lining! See? I am a geek too. I am pretty sure you are copy-editing every comment I write and thinking, what is our world coming to, with all those comma splices. I try to care about them, but I just don’t. Please don’t ask me what I teach.

    Lovely post, June!


  3. Gah! This one was funny, funny, funny! You are on a roll. I have no work help to offer except that it sucks to be that swamped! And your costume was on point. Literally.


  4. I live in a condo so no tricksters. The last time I got a kid I was living in an apartment complex where we never got any usually,but I offered him an apple which to my surprise he was psyched about.


  5. Lovely post, June. Glad you got to take a give-out-candy break last night in time to see Ava’s family. Sorry you missed the Halloween festivities at work, but it was their loss not seeing Frune in all your glory. Good timing that the big project arrived after Miss Doxie’s Halloween party. It would have been a crying shame if you had missed it.


  6. I thought of you this morning, June, as I listened to a broadcast of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She was interviewing Jonathan Groff, an actor who is famous for being in Hamilton and in Disney’s Frozen voicing the characters of Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer, Sven. I thought of you because Terry Gross asked him how he’d developed Sven’s voice, which is really the character of Kristoff talking on behalf of the reindeer. He said something to the effect of how everyone develops voices for their animals, so Kristoff was no different. I thought of your pets’ voices.


  7. The kids seemed very bossy this year. “Oooh, Hershey, I want a Hershey bar!”.A mob of 10 all wanted the Hershey bars except for one wee child who asked for the peanut butter cup. I forgot to open the M&Ms and now I have a whole bag of them. That’s just dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In Des Moines, the kids tell jokes to get their candy. I adore Beggars’ night because I love the jokes. Tomorrow is my 13th work anniversary and yesterday I had my very worst day on this job ever. People looking for a job can be real assholes sometimes and yesterday ALL of the assholes called me to yell at me or simply to practice their rude words.


  9. A piece of not advice from someone who saw people get burn out and make mistakes that hurt their previously great reputation as a result of being bad at saying no to more work, which combined with being real good at what you do is a recipe for disaster:

    It doesn’t benefit you or your company when you have to work through lunch and after 5 more than a few occasions a year. It masks a potential need to either have more staff, or less tight deadlines to accommodate all work without causing good people to get stressed out and drop the ball or leave for a less demanding job.

    The cure for the problem is simple: when I’m waiting for time-sensitive work to come to me, and someone asks if I can do some work TODAY, I answer, “I actually am free now, but just waiting for my priority work to arrive, which could happen in one hour or as we speak. I’d be happy to get started on your project now, but with the understanding I may need to give it back / put it in the back burner as soon as the other task arrives. Does that work for you?”

    Or, if I’m already swamped, “I’m really sorry, but unless we figure out how to redistribute some of my workload, I’m not available until next Monday”.

    Surprisingly, people seem to like and respect me more every time I’m straightforward about the limits on my current capacity.


    1. Gah, sorry for the many typos — writing from my smartphone. For the record, I meant to write “really good” where it reads “real good”.


  10. My 84 month old grandson was in tears this morning because, overnight, his jack-o-lantern was all moldy inside. Halloween is over. AND I also too want Coot to go to work as Frida (after the big job is done). Love Edz’ photos.


  11. I’m sorry you missed celebrating a holiday you enjoy so much. Your Frida costume would have killed.
    We make a run for it at 5:45 and don’t return home until 8:15. Trick or treat hours are between 6:00-8:00. I did my time. I have absolutely no desire to participate until candy goes on sale today.


  12. Good post June! Thanks for the Edsel pics and commentary! We have lived in our house 31 years and in all that time have had 3 kids come by for candy on Halloween. My husband turned the lights on but to no avail. So I watched “House of Dark Shadows” and “Night of Dark Shadows” that I had recorded from TCM earlier this month. I remember when I was a kid in elementary school and would run home so I could watch Dark Shadows soap opera.


    1. I LOVED Dark Shadows! I’d come home from kindergarten and watch with my mom. Watching it now, it’s so darn campy with over-the-top acting. It’s awesome! And I never noticed before that Barnabas had a bit of a lisp.


    2. We LOVED Dark Shadows! We had a trio of sisters who babysat us in the summer time in rotation. We loved when Jackie or Julie came – they would let us watch. Judy was a real stickler for the rules.


    3. Bamacarol! I love Dark Shadows and have bought almost every episode on DVD, let me know if you want to borrow any!! Yes, somewhere around 1971 I used to run home from 4th grade and watch it with my girlfriend and we were scared to death.


  13. My oldest daughter, now living on her own, dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood and her dog was the Big Bad Wolf. She was so very excited to be able to pass out candy at her own place! My son is 12 and declared a big “no thanks” to trick or treating, which bums me out. I’m going to have to just find other kids with less obsessive parents and spend days making THEIR costumes and customizing treats for school.

    Proof on, Coot.


  14. I got excited when you mentioned editing and finding errors. I get to proofread our newsletter at work and I find it very exciting and fun.

    My husband and I took our kids to a fall festival over the weekend, so we didn’t plan to trick or treat. My kids didn’t know that’s a thing. Well the oldest knows now because his little preschool friends told him. Thanks a lot, preschool friends who tell all the secrets mommy keeps. We had fun though and saw a big pretty pit dressed as a banana split.

    Sorry you didn’t get to dress up, Joon! Lovely post, Coot!


  15. Seriously, show up for work one day this week wearing your Frida costume.

    Love that picture of Edz all hap-hap-happy in the inner window.

    We had about 50 kids show up last night. Unfortunately, they all showed up at the same time so THAT was a lot of fun, passing out candy to a mob crowded around my doorway. One kid had to tell me multiple times that “Wyatt can’t have almonds” while he also explained to Wyatt why he can’t have almonds, all while just standing in the way of the other kids. Trick or treaters were done and gone by 7:30 at which time we proceeded to watch the original “Halloween.” Which seemed much, much scarier back in 1978.


  16. I got stressed and tense just reading about your day! Sorry you had to miss out on all the fun at work!
    The picture of Eds ordering a drink cracked me up. My dog had to stay in his room as well, all the barking every time the doorbell rang or someone knocked or I opened the door made me insane! He was exhausted by the time trick or treating was over and he’s got to join me in the living room.


  17. It makes me sad that you missed Halloween. I loved your Frida costume. I also love those pictures of Eds and his comments. I wish you would edit the novels I read. I find at least one mistake in every single book, and I’m not even looking. Guess it all goes back to my proofreader days. You can take the girl out of the proofreading, but you can’t take the proofreading out of the girl. Or something. And I’m with Paula: I hate Halloween. I had my adult grandson sit outside to hand out candy.


  18. So sorry you missed the work festivities, but glad you had the chance to hand out candy. My friends son went around the whole neighborhood and only came back with 12 pieces of candy. If he didn’t love what they were giving out he just said no thank you and left without any candy. Hope you get all the work done before the weekend.


  19. Very cute pictures of Edsel — nice job, Coot. Sorry that you missed the Halloween activities at work. Glad you gleefully found lots of things needing to be fixed in that document. I don’t regularly proofread, but our HR colleagues asked me to look over the benefits document primarily to make sure it made sense. They said they’d already proofread it for errors. Ha. Ha, ha. I found so many errors in that thing and it did give me a little zing every time I found one.


  20. Sorry you missed the contest at work, I’m certain you would have won. I doubt if that contest came close to your weekend with Miss Doxie. So glad you were able to get to that grand event.

    I understand the proofreading thing, I’ve never been a copy editor or such, but I was tasked to proofread documents that had to be PERFECT. Soooo stressful. Often I would bring the work home so I didn’t have all the distractions at work being in open top cubicles, which drove me crazy and that was before ear buds or headphones were allowed at work.


  21. Lovely post Coot. I am sorry you didn’t get to get your Frida on. Why don’t you just wear the whole costume Monday? Just act nonchalant wondering in your unibrow and shawl all What’s up muchachos. I guarantee no one would bat an eye. They would be all Oh there’s Frida Jube again.

    We watched all 189,000 innings of the World Series last night. AFTER watching all 298,000 innings or whatever they are called of Hockey and then after that there were replays of football. I don’t do the sports. Oh look that guy has a ball and he is throwing it to that other guy who hit it with a stick, how exciting.

    I didn’t trick or treat or even hand out candy. I was busy packing for trip to Montana and I think I have too much stuff. Too many clothes. Why is it so hard to decide what to pack.


  22. That party wasn’t the same without Frida, guaranteed.

    We had just the right amount of trick-or-treaters. Fun, but not annoying. And just the right amount of candy left for me. Delicious, but not diabetes alert.

    Lovely post June! Edsel is a delight!


  23. Sorry you missed the costume contest. I think First Prize Frida would’ve been the natural choice.
    I was getting itchy, reading about your stressy day.
    Eds knees up to the bar photos are hilarious.
    He DOES look like the Big Badass Wolf in the third pic.
    And you ARE stellar, in so many ways.


  24. I’m sorry everyone missed seeing you as Frida. Their loss. I bet most people love that feeling when you have cool work that’s challenging, yet totally in your lane. I do, for sure!
    I was delighted to have lots of trick-or-treaters last night. I was expecting low low lowwww turnout because it was rainy and lots of houses in my neighbrohood are vacant thanks to Hurricane Harvey. sigh. But, NOPE! Kids were out, dressed up, polite, and grateful.


  25. I actually did get a little excited, reading about your project(s) and level of deets to which you must attend. The only thing more exciting is cutting copy. That power of deciding which words stay and which words go gives me a visceral thrill.

    I was home sick yesterday. Girlchild and her friend (who dressed in a hedgehog onsie!) gave out the candies while watching Ghostbusters.


    1. You know, I dislike it too, but it is very unpopular to admit that. I mean, Eleven years ago we moved to a neighborhood where we never get trick-or-treaters and it was a relief. I will admit to liking the date as that it’s the anniversary of the very first date my husband and I ever had, but other than that, no thanks. Every year my husband and I merrily go out to eat to celebrate our dateaversary and it’s so much better!

      P.S. I follow Connie Schulz on Facebook (she’s a writer/author and also, Sen. Sherrod Brown’s wife), and she said they had 440-something trick-or-treaters. It gave me an anxiety just thinking about that.


  26. “wate. dis not jist for blawg? eds really back heer?” Commencing from this day forward, I shall place my cup of coffee squarely on my desk before reading your non blog. Frequent is the number of occasions that I laugh coffee through my nose. I love your wit and humor Coot. Lovely post.


  27. It seems it wasn’t too long ago you felt a little insecure about your job. Glad you got these votes of confidence, but sorry they seem to come all at once.


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