“Although I was born in April, I’m quite certain I was not fully awake until October~”
― Peggy Toney Horton, Stop the World and Get Off
I have, and always have had, a love/hate relationship with the month of October. It’s a time of morbid beauty and dark reflections, a time of warm colors, cozy sweaters, vivid flavors, and stunning natural beauty. It’s a time to slow down, to be grateful, and to be kind. It is a time of change, when the world begins to turn cold, barren, and dark. October, the prime of autumn, truly is the “springtime of death“.
This particular October went by way too fast. Halloween is my favorite holiday but I barely got to enjoy it at all. Most years I make it a month long affair but this October I got one good party in and that was all. No haunted houses, no spooky movie parties, no new tattoos! I didn’t even get around to watching The Shining, my favorite Halloween season film. No, I spent the month feeling tired and down. I was working too much and so were my friends. This year’s festivities were a bust, but that’s okay. I plan on having many more, anyway.
And now it is time for November, a time when true winter begins to move and and the holiday season officially begins. I’ll be honest, this is not my favorite time of year. I’m no can of turkey, holiday music, shopping for gifts, or snow, but I don’t want to spend the next few months grouchy and grumblings. I want to focus on what I do like. I like family gatherings, Christmas trees, and gift receiving at least. I suppose I can start there and learn to get into the holiday spirit!
But before I do, here is what I am currently…
Writing blog posts for National Blog Posting Month, or, more accurately NaNo Poblano, a very unofficial version of the same thing. I started 2019 with the hope that by this time in the year I would be putting the final touches on a NaNoWriMo outline but sadly, or perhaps fortunately, I’ve learned that I’m simply not ready to write that book. Basically, I still have a lot to learn. I’m beginning to see sense the depth of what I do not know, and it is vast. So, in the meantime, I’m doing NaBloPoMo instead. I’m keeping up my daily writing habit but working towards writing things of more substance too.
Making cut out and cut up poems and collages, still. I didn’t get to sit quietly in the creativity room making things out of other people’s words and images. I’m working on doing it more often though because it really does help. It helps to unplug and to remember that you can still make things without a screen. It helps to calm my anxieties and to help me forget my disappointment too. I guess collage would be my true hobby then which actually makes me feel better about considering writing as my work. Writing feels good, but it doesn’t feel like that.
Planning for the holidays. I’ve already said I’m no fan of this time of year but I’ve still got to get through it, same as every year, but this time I’d like to do my best to be proactive and get the worst parts out of the way as soon as possible. This year I would really like to get my shopping done early and to plan all the goodies I’d like to cook and bake for everyone before it’s too late. I want to get the Christmas tree up right away, and to schedule time to spend with my friends now before time gets away.
Reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky, still, but I am so close to being done. If I could stick to my scheduled reading times every day, or even most days, it wouldn’t have taken to long. In my defense though the book is incredibly long and quite technical. It’s not an easy read, and it’s harder to sustain excitement for this kind of reading than it is for fiction. I’m hoping by the first week of November I’ll be on to something new and by this time next month I’ll have a few new books to tell you about.
Watching a lot of T.V. I shouldn’t be watching. What I mean is, a lot more hours in October were lost on the living room couch than I feel good about. I watched The Watchmen on HBO, a new superhero drama that picks up 34 after the comic book and the movie of the same name. I’ve finished Mindhunter on Netflix, the crime series chronicling the formation of the FBI’s behavioral crime unit. I also finished Peacher on AMC, another comicbook based series about a bad-ass preacher Jesse Custer, his girlfriend Tulip O’Hare, and his vampire side-kick, Cassidy as they search for God.
Learning about Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights, still, but I hope by this time next month to be finished with at least one of them. I’ve been slacking big time in this department too but I’ve also made a lot of progress. I’m just struggling to stay focused, motivated, and interested. I’m ready to move on but, obviously, the only way to move on is to get through it. I think that’s the lesson I want to take into November most of all.
Feeling down. Seasonal depression is a real pain in the ass, you know? It’s only going to get worse with the time change coming this weekend. I’ve already been experiencing lethargy, sleep problems, lower than usual self esteem, and extreme irritability. I know from experience that hopelessness will set in next and the winter gloom will feel like all that has been and all that will be. I’ll fight it, I always do, and friends and family, laughter, good food, and writing will get me through, but the person I am now won’t be back until spring.
Anticipating some fun events I have planned. I have tickets to a performance of Twelfth Night and for the new (and last) Star Wars film in the Skywalker series, but both aren’t until December. I have nothing planned for November but I think I should try to come up with something besides Thanksgiving, something I want to do, something big! It helps to get out even when the clouds are hanging around and the air is bitter cold. Having something to look forward to reminds you time is moving, you are moving, and things will change for the better, eventually.
Reflecting on how I came to be the person I am today. It’s suddenly occurred to me recently that I was once a small child, and I did things that all small children do, but for some reason I cannot reconcile that version of myself with who I am today except through very, very small increments and incidents, many of which I do not even remember. Sometimes I’m able to reflect beyond my little life and see concretely how who my parents were (how they were shaped) and their parents before them and on into the past and out into society has shaped me too. I am the product of a long line of events, experiences, and ideas so vast it feels like a kind of infinity.
Fearing the end of the year. On the one hand, I’m eager to say goodbye to 2019. I’m ready to start over, but on the other hand, I know that I had plenty of time to be a new me all this year and I didn’t. I’m afraid to end the year because I know I’ll be ending it with a lot of regret and I predict that I will begin the new one with my same old flaws and weaknesses. I’m afraid to end and begin every year just as I am right now, only older, more afraid, and rapidly running out of time.
Hating the way people perceive me sometimes. I’ve noticed that at work, whenever I try to express my needs or boundaries, or give someone constructive criticism people react as if I am admonishing them harshly even if I speak in calm tones and take on a healthy dose of reassurance at the end. There are other people around me and almost all in positions higher than mine who are much more severe in their reprimands and direction but somehow I’m the one who earned the reputation of being a “hard-ass” and that reputation is beginning to precede me too. I hate it because I suspect it is tied to my gender.
Loving my job. Don’t get me wrong, it has definitely been a stressful month there. I’m taking on a lot more responsibility now than I ever have in the past but I’m not the only one. Everyone is taking on more because there have been less of us around to carry the load but it’s easier to lift more when everyone is lifting together. I’m doing my part to make it better and that feels good. People are noticing my work and that feels good too. I’m excited to move forward and for the possibility of moving up too. I’m grateful for every opportunity and for every understanding and allowance too.
Needing talent. I have a desire but not much talent and without the aha! moments and the great ideas flowing desire turns quickly into disappointment. I love writing but I wasn’t born a writer. I’ve just want to become one someday and that has meant condemning myself to grueling work and psychological pain. I have doubts. I have regrets. I have failures and false starts. I wish I was someone with an unstoppable drive, a genius for whom the craft comes easily, someone who simply knows what to do and how to do it well. I just need a little of that or some small certainty that I will find it one day.
Hoping for an easy holiday season. This year has been one of the most stressful in recent memory and I don’t mean that in an entirely bad way, but I am beginning to feel burned out and longing very much for a bit of peace. The holiday season is, of course, not that time, but I hope this one will be easier than the rest. I hope there will be no family fighting, resentments, or misunderstandings. I hope gift shopping will be easy and I hope in the end I’ll feel like I did enough.
So, yeah, all in all, October was an okay month, not bad, but not as good as I’d hoped either. I’m disappointed I couldn’t make more of it but little all things, writing down helps to let it go. I can move into November with a clearer head and a few lessons learned.
But what about you? Did you enjoy the spooky season? How did you celebrate? Are you growing increasingly depressed as winter draws nearer too? How are you planning to spend the winter holidays this year?
Let me know in the comments.
“Golden October declined into sombre November…”
— T.S. Eliot
The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love
Photo by Kerstin Wrba on Unsplash