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It’s been a solemn October.

The further into October we get, the more I crave solitude and the simple things that give me autumnal pleasure. It seems like this year, I’ve traded my usual erotica laced Samhain mischief for daydreaming about being naked wrapped in my favorite halloween decorated blanket with a cup of herbal tea, a candle and a book as scary and distracting as a good horror movie. And, since I’ve learned and am now exploring with a hopeful new therapist what … maladaptive daydreaming is; aside from adding it to my list of mental illnesses, I’ve learned I am literally trying to escape reality even while I am awake.

It’s been unseasonably warm in the PNW, so while the spooktacular events are in full swing, the smoky air, mixed with the 80-degree plus temperatures, adds to the emotional heaviness of summer and all of those Octobers in SoCal left behind. I am not the only one longing for cooler days, changing leaves, and the sound of rain instead of my ugly sobs.

During a recent Instagram live I was a guest on, Horror In Color asked the question what has been my most cathartic moment this October? So far. I recall answering, but whatever I replied with has changed. Ivan and Jose, this is for you.

I am still struggling with personal life issues and along with my grandma passing, I keep thinking about little Michelle Halloween. Most of my favorite childhood memories were with her, my aunts and my cousins. But, there were times when even in their company I felt so alone, scared and hopeless. How is it that this persistent feeling of despair found its way inside of me, as a child? The bigger question I’ve been exploring is, how did I survive?

I escaped by way of my imagination. I tried and am still trying to survive my mental anguish, and instead of falling back on what worked for me before, I am using my imagination to spark new ideas about the rest of my life’s journey. I’ve realized I haven’t been reading much. I realized that I was not drinking enough tea. I realized that I needed therapy and learned I needed motivation and inspiration.

But I want to keep it simple so as not to provoke my anxiety and subsequent emotional breakdown until I can’t help it. I wanted to skip the make-up and fishnets for puffy eyes, sweats, and a spooky t-shirt and sit on my giant bag with a candle, cup of herbal tea, and a new horror book. So, I made my way to Gresham, Oregon, to Books Around The Corner, a spooky-themed bookshop and AirB&B.

You see, it’s these independent places that can erase my despair in an instant. One of the many aspects that I love about Portland is all of the businesses being run out of homes. It’s a life I strive for as it fits the witch persona of being a community member that sells their wares for a simple, more meaningful life. It’s not done for wealth or status. No form of expression should be.

But, I digress.

On the outside, Books Around The Corner is adorned with jack-o-lanterns on the storefront windows. A skeleton was posed behind a stack of pumpkins in one of the second-floor windows. On the edge of the lawn, the shop’s Little Free Library is stocked with some great titles. How cozy!

You have to make an appointment to shop inside Books Around The Corner. It was easy to do, a simple text to the shop owner and a quick conversation, and the magic began. I waited until my precise appointment time to ring the doorbell. I was greeted by Stephanie Csaszar, the sweet owner who reminded me of me. She had on a Goosebumps tee, Halloween sweats, and spooky slides. She gave us a quick rundown of what and where certain genres were along with all the other cool things the shop offers.

I first noticed the number of Little Spooky Studio stickers the store had in stock. Then, I spotted a hard copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree with cover art I hadn’t seen before. I was struck with bolts of excitement at the choices of horror, thriller, halloween themed cookbooks and a YA section to die for. The entire shop is curated by Stephanie and she knows her spook from local authors to Paul Tremblay who recently spoke with Stephanie! My eyes took in the titles on the spines of all of the books neatly tucked in the shops shelves as well as the featured books. There is a section for new arrivals and a sale shelf. I loved the dark autumn collection and resisted the urge to climb the ladder to read the inside covers.

Books Around The Corner gets even cooler! Aside from the gorgeous selection of books and candles, the shop is also an overnight AirB&B. It’s a cozy space that gave me nostalgic vibes. As a young girl and teen, I loved going to slumber parties as much as Halloween. That’s where I could stay up all night with treats, friends and all the best 80’s horror we could get away with. At Books Around The Corner, theres a large comfy bed, TV and a collection of incredible VHS and DVD! Yes! In the same way I like to smell pages in books and get satisfaction of turning a page, the simplicity of watching a stack VHS horror movies has me looking for dates to spend the night at Books Around The Corner once the rain really starts.

I like to choose my reads based on The Wandering Reader recommendations. She never fails me. I prefer The Unwelcome‘ by Jacob Steven Mohr, the ‘Thick Forest’ Candle. I gave a @manku_geal-worthy EEP! when Stephanie told us every customer gets to spin the wheel for a gift. Lucky number four that spin got me a Little Spooky Studio print that depicts all I want to do this October.

In speaking more with Stephanie, I learned that Books Around The Corner was established in 2018 as a shop in downtown Gresham. The shop offered a little bit of every genre but, when the pandemic hit, Stephanie brought Books Around The Corner home and tailored it more to her personality. She bleeds orange and black, too so, it was like an intimate book-shopping experience for the weird.

From what I can see, the weather looks to be getting cooler, wetter, and greyer just in time for the last two weeks of October. I hope the patter of rain and grey skies lifts the heaviness from my shoulders. It’s exciting to have it to look forward to as it sets the tone for comfort, naked under a Halloween blanket, with a cup of Night Garden tea, Twisted Forest candle burning and a new book. I know with with the coming darkness and unavoidable storms these simple moments of solace will carry me through. All I need is a small, spoopy bookshop, a rad ghoul in spooky comfy clothes, and horror stories from the minds of many writers to assist with my daydreaming.

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