Currently // November 2019: A Month of Waiting for What Comes Next

“The world is tired, the year is old,
The faded leaves are glad to die…” 

Sara Teasdale, “November”

Time flows strangely in November. The month passes slowly and then all at once it is here and gone and over. It is a month of waiting for what comes next. The time is spent in a joyous and terrible state of anticipation and anxiety waiting for the holiday rush and stress to begin. At the end we are in worked up into such a frenzy we can barely think. We gorge ourselves, indulge ourselves, we’re drunk and merry and tired, and still waiting, still waiting, on what more December will bring.

And while we were warm and waiting, merry and full inside, the beauty of autumn passed and the dreary and drab look of cold and death settled over the world. November is when winter really begins to dominate, to show it’s strength, to lash out in a strange insecurity. Soon it will settle, when it no longer fears the return of summer’s warmth nor the hope of spring’s return. Soon we will all settle into a duality of happiness and hopelessness.

I am doing my best this year not to let that cold hopelessness seep into my bones. I’m brining the memory of summer with me and letting it warm me whenever I begin to feel low. November need not be all waiting. This year I wrote, and I read, I got out into the world more than most Novembers. I found much to be grateful for and let my accomplishments outshine my failures. I learned not to let the snow or the freezing temperatures keep me down. I found beauty in the season and I hope to find beauty in the next too.

But before I do, here is what I am currently…

Writing every single day. This month I read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and I was reminded what it felt like to both take my writing seriously and to have fun with it. I was reminded of when I used to wake up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas and how excited I was to share them no matter how ugly or jarring my words were. I miss simply enjoying the work. I miss considering it work! So, going forward I am refocused. I am not thinking of what a writer should be, or even of the writer I want to be. I am simply being the writer I am right now. I’m writing what is in my head and heart now, what excites me now, what feels good to finally say, right now.

Making cut up and blackout poems and collages, still. I had stopped last month thinking that these little pieces I created were rather pointless and dumb but my wife has convinced me otherwise recently so I am back at it. This month I cleaned up my side of the “creativity room” separated my space into a writing space on one side and an art space on the other. Going forward it’ll be easier for me to slip into “art mode” and to share more of my work in the coming year as it improves.

Planning for the new year. The last month of the year begins tomorrow and I think the best use of the days leading up to 2020 are to spend them figuring out my goals, priorities, expectations, and obstacles. I want to have clear ideas for projects and at least a basic idea of the steps to take, how to spend my time, and what to do when I fall behind. I want to take my failures and their lessons with me next year but not as baggage. I want to see my weakness clearly and plan how I might overcome my most disappointing and persistent shortcoming going forward.

Reading The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca. I’m almost done with both actually and in addition to finishing Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and, as I already mentioned, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, plus the two more for December: Ethics by Baruch Spinoza and The Plague by Albert Camus, should put me just 10 books behind my 2019 goal. That’s a lot but I’m choosing to focus on the good. I have read more books every year than the last and 2019 is my best year yet. I know I can hit my goals in 2020.

Watching The Crown on Netflix, Shameless on Showtime, Watchmen on HBO, and re-watching all the Star Wars films on Disney+ in preparation for seeing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker next month. Beyond that, and the news playing in the background most of the time, I’m trying to limit my time in front ot the television. I lose far too much time and sleep to the comfort of the couch and mindlessly binging episode after episode of shows that aren’t all that entertaining or exciting when I really think about it.

Learning about Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights, still. To be honest, I made not a bit of progress throughout all of November. I’ve not had the time or the energy to finish any courses this month and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pick them up again until after the new year. I enjoy learning in such a structured way and I miss the feeling of accomplishment I got week after week but finding time for writing is my top priority now and that is hard enough without adding expection and excuses to procrastinate.

Anticipating a very busy December! This month we have “Friendsgiving”, a production of Shakespear’s Twelfth Night, a new Star Wars film, Christmas shopping, Christmas Day, a possible trip, and New Year Eve celebrations with friends. It’s a lot but I’m looking forward to it all. I had purposely left November’s calendar blank thinking I would relish the down time before the holiday season. In reality, I felt quite the opposite. I felt restless, bored, cooped up, and lonely. I hate venturing out into the world when the weather turns frigid but I am learning that that isn’t very good for my mental health. I’m trying, instead, to keep busy, to get outside, to see people, and enjoy the winter rather than feeling trapped by it.

Reflecting on all that I am thankful for and how I can better show gratitude. November is the month of giving thanks and no matter my feelings surrounding the origin story of Thanksgiving, I do think a holiday meant simply for being with the people you love and expressing gratitude before the end of the year is essential. I’ve made vast improvement over the years in my ability to take stock of all the good in my life not just once a year but nearly daily. Where I need to do the work now is in learning to express that gratitude to the people I love, an act that for some reason surfaces deep feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy. I’m exploring and working to overcome the reasons why I feel that way when all I want to say is, “thank you”.

Feeling tired. My health has not been good lately. Since the start of autumn I have had an upper respiratory infection, an ear infection, a bout with a stomach virus, and now the worst of my ulcerative colitis symptoms have returned. I’m stressed, disappointed, worried, and, above all, exhausted. I had hoped to end the year with a reduction in both the number of medications I was taking and the dosage of the ones I was to stay on but now I may be back at square one, taking steroids and looking to start yet another medication. I am getting ahead of myself though. My latest round of lab results are not back and the doctor has not decided the next course of action but even the waiting wears me out.

Fearing a possible upcoming promotion at work. I’m excited to take on a new role and to have more time to do the things I feel passionate about there, but I am afraid of not getting it and worse I’m afraid of not getting it due to my own lack of preparation. I’m afraid of failing, so I am avoiding working on my resume, gathering letters of recommendation, or practicing my interview answers, and that, in turn, is making me even more afraid to fail, which is only making me more avoidant. I know how to stop the cycle, but the fear of responsibility and of the unknown is overwhelming. I need help.

Hating holiday expectations. I’ve never been big on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I enjoy the food, and the time with friends and family, but the cloud of consumerism and the expectations we place on each other and ourselves to show our love through things disgusts me. I am disgusted with who I become this time of year. I’m disgusted by all the wanting and the disappointment I feel from not receiving what I desire. I am disgusted by the anger I feel when I have to force myself not to buy things for myself and I disgusted by my envy of what others and buy and have. The season brings out just as much bad in us as it does good.

Loving coffee! A cup of coffee is such and ordinary and everyday thing but I’m practicing not just finding joy in the ordinary but in injecting passion into the ordinary. I figure the best place to start is the most consistent part of my day, my cup of coffee. During the summer months I cannot bring myself to drink hot coffee and instead brew endless pitchers of strong cold brew to get me through the heat of the day but now that winter has come I have been able to make coffee with varying degrees of strength and taste through the Moka pot and my French press. I miss my espresso machine and doubt I will get to replace it this year but I’m considering buying an ibrik soon to practice making Turkish coffee.

Needing more time for me, always, always, always more time for me. The time exists but I feel guilty for claiming it. When I spend my hours on myself all I can see are hours I am taking from others. I am not contributing. I am not giving. I am being selfish, not selfless. I am being introverted, not extroverted. I am not being productive. I am wasting my time. So, I guess what I need isn’t the time but the strength, and the perspective, and the support needed to take time for myself and the things that are important or fulfilling to me no matter how little they contribute to or produce for anyone else.

Hoping that somewhere between here and 2020 something good happens for me, for the people I love, for every human all over the world. God knows we all need it. THis past year has been a hard one for everyone. Humans, humanity, we all need a win, a boost to our self-esteem and our desperate need to believe in the good of the universe and the good in each other. We need something to go well, to go right, to go the way we hoped. We need a little peace, love and understanding. We need the kind of holiday spirit we talk about but rarely see anymore. I hope we all can find it if even just a little bit. I know it would make all the difference.


So, yeah, all in all, November was a good month. I enjoyed my holiday, and all the time I took to rest and to wait, and though we saw a couple of significant snow storms for the most part even the weather cooperated. I’m looking forward to December and to the end of another year. I’m grateful I get to have it and all the good and bad it will bring too.

But what about you? Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you find much to be thankful for? Have you fallen very deeply into seasonal depression yet? Are you ready for a new year? How will you spend the last of this one?

Let me know in the comments.

“There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life!”

— Mehmet Murat ildan


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

The Week’s End // A Thought-Provoking Round-Up

Happy Saturday everyone! If you’re looking for some interesting things to read or watch while you kick back and relax, look no further, here are my favorite things from around the web this week:

1. “I’m just a guy who’s had 21 years worth of anxiety fixes tried on him by doctors and cognitive behavioral therapists. I’d like to share with you which ones have worked for me over the next 30 days.” — 30 Practical Tactics to Decrease Your Anxiety (Intro) // CJ Chilvers

2. “Our energies are overwhelmingly directed toward material, scientific, and technical subjects and away from psychological and emotional ones. Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness. We devote inordinate hours to learning about tectonic plates and cloud formations, and relatively few fathoming shame and rage.” — Alain de Botton on Existential Maturity and What Emotional Intelligence Really Means // Brain Pickings

3.Neurosymphony explores three distinct perspectives on the brain, using videos of the scans made freely available by the NICC. The video pairs the imagery with an excerpt from the album Chapel by the US electronic musician and music-cognition researcher Grace Leslie, in which she converts her brainwaves into music.” — Neurosymphony // Aeon

4. “Training is based on deep-dive EI activities, such as mindfulness and meditation, as well as empathy and compassion exercises to strengthen their relationship with guests. Employees are entrusted to make on-the-spot decisions to improve a client’s experience.” — New research suggests this is the best way to teach emotional intelligence // Fast Company

5. “There is an overflowing pipeline of “feel-good” stories traveling from local to national news, showcasing inspirational tales about adversity and how community members support each other in times of need. However, these pieces, seemingly easy to report out because of their surface-level levity, often eclipse overarching, unexplored narratives about labor, health care, education, and more, indicated by the lack of public or private support detailed in these stories themselves.” — Beware of the feel-good news story // Vox

6. In absolutely sickening news: “A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to ‘reimplant an ectopic pregnancy’ into a woman’s uterus–a procedure that does not exist in medical science–or face charges of ‘abortion murder’.” — The Guardian

7. “A general view shows a statue among abandoned items and debris in an entry area for the canteen inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University on November 20, 2019.” — Photos of the Week // The Atlantic

8. “Maybe you’ve heard Biden talk about his boyhood stutter. A non-stutterer might not notice when he appears to get caught on words as an adult, because he usually maneuvers out of those moments quickly and expertly. But on other occasions, like that night in Detroit, Biden’s lingering stutter is hard to miss.” — What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say // The Atlantic

Bonus: More notes on stuttering // Austin Kleon

9. “You might think that in everyday life, the things you see and hear influence what you feel, but it’s mostly the other way around: What you feel alters your sight and hearing.” — The Wisdom Your Body Knows // The New York Times

10. A re-aired episode of The Ezra Klein Show I missed from last year with Lilliana Mason. From the synopsis “…Mason offers one of the best primers I’ve read on how little it takes to activate a sense of group identity in human beings, and how far-reaching the cognitive and social implications are once that group identity takes hold.”

Bonus: Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason

Have you read, watched, written, or posted an interesting or inspiring thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly, think deeply, or see the world in a new light? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out!


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I took off from work today to act be an “emotional support sibling” for my youngest sister. I can’t say why (it’s not my story to tell) but I will say that I enjoy the hell out of helping her whenever I can.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way every (or at least a vast majority) of our acts of kindness come tinged with self-interest. I used to feel bad about it but, hell, if helping someone else makes me feel good too isn’t that just twice the reason why we should be kind? Knowing this, accepting this, has not only made compassion feel even better but has freed me from the pressure to always put myself first.

Helping others is putting myself first.

Today doesn’t feel very much like a Friday. Everything around me is happening so fast but time is crawling. I feel confused, clumsy, and very much in everyone’s way. I can’t keep up with the chaos today.

I’m here physically but mentally I’m just waiting around for the week to end. I’m unproductive and uncaring. I’m irritated with everyone else because I’m disappointed in myself.

There was so much I wanted to do but yesterday afternoon I lost the mojo I’d had all week. I suppose a day or two of rest is not only nothing to be ashamed of but also required. I just wish I could be more like everyone else and make it through the whole week before fizzling out.

Yesterday we were near 70 degrees, today we never got above freezing. I woke up to falling snow and spent the morning bracing myself through icy road conditions and bad traffic. Working on a school bus I never thought being on a delayed schedule did any good until today when I saw what happens when we should and don’t.

Despite the miserable weather, and my body feeling miserable too, I was able to knock a few to-do items off of my list. Merging my separate lists together and keeping the items simple is already proving to be a big help. I like being able to see at a glance exactly what I need to get done and working through each item one-by-one until they are all done. It feels good.


It was my night to cook which means not only is my mood shot (I hate cooking but my wife and I switch off so that no one has to be miserable every night) but I have a lot less time for the things I’d hoped to accomplish. That’s ok though, today was a good effort and what could get done can easily roll over into Tuesday. I’ll have less time during the day but more time at night, and Wednesday will be less time during either and Thursday I scheduled more time during both.

I’m trying to find the balance.

Productive Sundays are the best kind of Sundays but all of my Sundays would be even more productive if I made my Saturdays more productive too.

In addition to everything I got done today I revived and merged all my to-do lists into one big list. I have one or two things to do (outside of work) per day, that’s all, and if I can get them done, by this time next week, I’ll have freed up enough time to tackle some real projects rather than having to spend all day on a hundred little chores.

Of course, the hardest part is never anything that’s actually on the list but rather keeping the list in focus in the first place. Wish me luck!

This time change is still messing with me, but in a good way. I’m up before the sun this morning and already typing words. It’s been a long time since this has happened. I hope I never get used to the change, or, since I know I will, that it will at least go on getting easier.


So, it’s done, Zen and Pi is scrubbed clean and sporting a few new design tweaks. I’ll be honest, it was really hard to delete all those posts, but I had to do it so that I could turn that place into something else, something more.

And those old posts, they aren’t really gone, and they will be back, here, someday. I poured a lot of myself into that place so much that I almost wish I had kept going there and turned this place into Zen and Pi, but everything was so mixed up there I needed the blank slate just to figure out the next step.

I’ve started my first draft there, a piece that sums up what I see my philosophy to be right now. It’s not very good because I’m not an expert yet. I’m interested to see where I go from here and how much I change as I write there.

I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the work week. Work itself was pretty easy. I got to work in the main office which is always more fun (but also more fast-paced) than my usual work. We ordered breakfast burritos and skillets from a popular brunch place nearby and shared the stress and the laughter before heading home to start the weekend early.

Of course when I got home I felt so guilty for the half day off while my wife worked the rest of her day that I spent it cleaning the house rather than getting a jump on my weekend writing goals. Oh well, my wife is on her way home, the house looks better than when she left it, and dinner is already done. It’ll be a good night too.

The weekend will be long, I hope. I have no obligations to dread and look forward to hours to write and to read. I’m increasingly looking to resurrect my old blog Zen and Pi and to turn it into something outside of myself. A place for concrete ideas. A place to take a stand I suppose.

It’s time to do my real work now.

I’m back!

It’s been a long week—a long two weeks really! I’ve missed my time here every day but I don’t regret taking on the extra work at all. I’ve learned a lot and the sense of accomplishment was much needed. Still, I’m ready to get back to my old easy-peasy predictable schedule.

Beginning this afternoon my work schedule should start winding down and I should finally be able to start getting back to the things I want to do.

The end comes right on time too. I’m getting tired of this particular set of problems and have been longing for days for new challenges and frustrations if I must have them at all. If I’m near the same people too long, and they keep pressing my same buttons, I lose patience and my ability to speak in comforting and constructive tones.

I’m trying though, and, all-in-all, I’m proud of myself. I think I did well and I don’t hate the idea of doing it all again, just not anytime soon, please.