1. Live alone.
2. Buy a pumpkin, draw a face on it.
3. Set it by the sink, get out a bowl.
4. Cut off its top (make a notch so it's easier to close), scoop out the insides, and put it all in the bowl.
5. Cut out the face. Keep putting everything into the bowl, which is right beside the pumpkin.
6. No mess! Almost, except for these few ... kernels? Throw it all away, or cook the seeds. I used to do things like that in a past life.
7. Buy/have crayons and glue, and glue unwrapped crayons to the top of the pumpkin.
8. Let dry for a bit. Looks a little like hair.
9. Using a hair dryer (strangely appropriate??), apply heat to the crayons, as a website instructional suggests. It turns out, though, that the low setting isn't hot enough to melt the crayons, and the high setting whips the wet wax onto all surrounding surfaces in a three-foot radius. Stop project, temporarily. A tiny mess is made, but a friend informs you that the crayon splatters can be removed with WD-40.
10. Let pumpkin sit on the counter for a day or three while you figure out what to do. The internet recommends a propane tank, or a culinary torch. Ask friends if they have culinary torches, but the only ones who do live uptown.
11. Friend cancels on after-work drinks, so while sitting at home scrolling through Tumblr SUDDENLY have the stroke of genius (or belated, obvious thought?) to put the pumpkin in a really big plastic bag.
12. Get Container Store bag (or any trash bag) from the bag cabinet and go crazy with the high heat on the blow dryer. Melt all the crayons. Head wound!
13. Take off the top of the pumpkin while things are still a little melted so you can use it later. Put a candle in, and turn off the lights to make sure it works.
14. Done! No mess, basically. And here's a bonus old picture of the genius who thought to use a plastic bag for this project, which the more she thinks about, the more she's sure other people would have thought of a lot sooner than she did, which makes her sad. Anyway, here's a picture of her and her dad carving pumpkins back in the day. He was meticulous about cleaning, and would probably have been pleasantly surprised by this post.