Currently // September 2020: Summer’s Ghost

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”

— Henry Rollins, from “Summer Be Gone!” published in LA Weekly

The wind has shifted and instead of carrying warmth from the west, there’s a chill now that blows from the north straight through my bones. The first leaves are starting to brown and fall and early Autumn, the time of change and preservation has begun.

At first I tried to ignore the signs. but as temperatures began to fall, as the clouds rolled in and as the earliest snow I can remember fell, I knew I could no longer live in denial. The time of long days, warm weather, and sunshine has gone.

Summer technically ended just weeks ago, but I’ve been mourning its loss for a long time now. Last March the world shut down and though it’s opened up somewhat it’s only been enough to permit work. The usual summer activities and festivities have been cancelled, postponed, or outright avoided for safety reasons as the pandemic continues to rage and the worry over risk remains high. What we had was a ghost of a summer, just enough to remind of us of what we’ve lost.

We’ve tried to create a bubble of time outside of time hoping to return to our life and loved ones after the danger passed but the new normal is quickly become just normal and hope is waning that we will return to a more recognizable world. Life is marching on and change is blowing in. The time for grieving the old world must end as we make this Autumn in particular a season of acceptance and protection. This Autumn in particular must be a time of letting go…

…but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing every day,. Most of September found me feeling fatigued and frustrated with my physical health, which in turn deeply impacted my mental health, but here at the end I am finally feeling a little more like myself. New ideas are finding their way out from the part of me that endured, and I’m doing everything I can to make the time to write them down whenever and wherever they occur. I may not post here, but I’ve got a notebook on me at all times and I’m putting pen to paper as often as I can.

Making the best of the time and energy I am afforded every day. Having a chronic illness and coping with daily pain, distress, and fatigue makes it hard to create any new writing or art on a consistent basis, let alone any good writing or art. Still, there are small moments of relief when I am something like myself again and the world can widen beyond this pain. I’m doing everything I can to seize those moments when they come.

Planning a return to my other writing outlets. I’ve long neglected both my newsletter and my other site, Zen and Pi. My newsletter was never very good but I enjoyed writing it and Zen and Pi was becoming something good but that frightened me and I began to avoid it due to pressure. I had pulled all the posts down hoping to go through them one by one with new edits before republishing, but the task has proved quite overwhelming. I’m working out a schedule, a system, and committing myself fully to the writing I know I want to do.

Reading The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar thought-provoking tome of literary exploration and criticism from a feminist perspective. The book is both fascinating and frustrating to work through, and keeping up with Gibert and Gubar is difficult. It’s not a text for beginners, but I’m trying my best to take it slow and work through the arguments methodically. Luckily, I have my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set to read when I need a break.

Watching Lovecraft Country, a sci-fi/horror series mixing fantastical monsters and situation with the heart-wrenching pain of navigating the Jim Crow era in America. There is nothing else like it and I highly recommend every one check it out. Each episode is packed with historical nods and Easter eggs, and to help you catch them the Langston League has created a free unofficial syllabus for each episode. In addition, I’m also watching The Vow and old episodes of True Blood, all of which can be streamed on HBO.

Learning not much lately. Most days I have so little in the way of physical energy or mental capacity that trying to add and retain new information is at best exhausting, and on the worst days, impossible. I’d like to get back to it though, and I do have some goals in mind to get there. Two free courses I was taking required some assignments I was unable to finish, but I figure if I focus solely on them, the remaining months of 2020 should be plenty of time even at the leisurely pace I need to finish.

Anticipating a second city wide shut down and a winter quarantine to begin soon. Coronavirus cases are already rising again in many parts of the country and though my district remains open, even the superintendent has expressed a belief that sometime this year the school will revert to 100% remote learning and I will more than likely be furloughed for a time. I am concerned over what that will mean for me financially, but to be honest with you I’m looking forward to a winter quarantine. I don’t feel safe going to work every day right now, and trying to complete my tasks through the thought of such risks is taking a mental toll. I felt better in the spring when all I had to worry about was staying healthy and safe.

Reflecting on the ways I engage with politics and charity and what my role has been and can be toward making this world a better place. Lately I have been feeling both powerless to do anything and guilt-ridden for not doing nearly enough. There are a plethora of community meetings, volunteer opportunities, protests, and place to give money and I have failed to settle or join in any of the work. I feel paralyzed by the daily cruelty and injustice in the world and the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to change any of it, but doing nothing is no longer an option.

Fearing rising tensions as election day approaches. Every election year is tense and the closer we get to America declaring victory for one side or the other the blood boils all along the political spectrum and divides between friends, family, and compatriots deepen but this year feels so much more chaotic, more violent, more frightening than ever. This year the country feels on the verge of a change I am sure will bring a better life for us all, but the path feels fraught with hatred and fear, ready to explode and consume life indiscriminately.

Hating the wildfires raging throughout the western states. I worry about what long-term health impact all this smoke and ash is having on not just my loved ones and me, but on my community, on all the cities and states that have been affected. I’m worried what impact the loss of all those acres of vegetation will have on the climate and in turn how many more acres will burn in the future as a result. I’m worried about the families who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, their hope.

Loving my messy corner of the house and this insignificant little corner of the web and the world. I spent a weekend this month on a purge and organize project of my creativity room. The task isn’t complete by far, but my half of the room (my wife has her own space on the other side of my desk) feels a lot more comfortable and conducive to truly doing some proper writing. And whether or not anything interesting or good comes of this little corner, the point is that it is mine. Just like this little site where what I make and what I share need only be for me. Both spaces are only useful, beautiful, or interesting in so far as I love them and think them so.

Needing some solid signs of hope and healing. I’ve been blessed with a good day or two between all the bad, but progress isn’t really being made and all I’m being told that, for the time being, all I can do. I need a decision to make, an action to take, a path made clear. I need to see some real change. dI know the old me may be long gone and I am ready to accept that as long as I can get on with the work of building a new self, a new life, a new way forward.

Hoping that all the people I know, and even the ones I don’t start to see some improvement in their quality of life too. Nearly everyone I know is going through a tough time right now, and my heart breaks every day for their struggles. I long to fix it all, but all I seem to be able to do is listen and hope, hope, hope. I’m not sure what help that is, but giving up and giving in, even in proxy, feels wrong.

Hope like every emotion leads to action if kept in a sufficiently high state. Hope, like anger, like fear, like joy, fills us with the desire to move and keeping hope alive is the same as keeping at the ready to act once the opportunity presents itself. Hope keeps us from giving up when the way grows dark, dire, and depressing. Hope can literally keep you alive when all other reasons have failed. I keep hope for myself and for everyone I know and those I don’t as a way to keep them moving, growing, and living in my own way.


So, yeah, all in all, September was quite a month. There was plenty to celebrate, but there seemed so much more to bear, to accept, and to struggle through. There was a lot of loss and a lot of work, and no end or answer either way has presented itself. October offers no promises, it seems, only more chance to further endure.

But what about you? Have you found some light, some courage and success through September? What have you learned about yourself during this time of political strife and failure? Have you registered to vote and made a plan to get it done? How have you mourned the losses? How have you kept hope alive?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Currently // September 2019: All the Summer We Could Have

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.” 

Henry Rollins

This September contained all the summer I was able to have this year. After the wedding—after all the wedding planning—we needed to rest, and it took just about all of August to recoup. That meant a month without expectations, without deciding, without so many people to see, to please, to make a part of us. We took time to retreat back into our bubble to begin working out what being married meant for us. We haven’t figured it out by far but we are at least able to peek out from the honeymoon haze and start getting back to a routine we haven’t known for over a year.

As the month began we quickly got down to the business of having some summer fun. We explored the city, saw our friends, enjoyed the warmth, the sun, and nature. We went out for dinners and drinks. We went hiking. We spent days downtown and went to backyard parties. We got out and got away, a little.We still had work and September has never been a month we could keep just for us. In total, there are about seven birthdays in our calendar, including my wife’s. That means there were gifts to find, special days to plan, and time and money to give. September always feels like many months in one and this one felt especially overfull of both hardship and joy.

But now it is time for October. Summer is gone and this time I was mature enough to know that neither stubbornness nor denial would keep the leaves from changing or chill air from blowing in. This time I said my goodbyes and this time I’m (in a way) looking forward to what autumn will bring and be. This time (I think) I am mature enough to change with the season.

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

Writing little bits and things here and there but never enough to post or share or pitch anywhere. Lately, I’ve just been going with the flow placing no expectations or constraints on myself but in October I would like to try—gently but firmly—to get under some sort of editorial schedule. I’m ready to get moving in any direction at all as long as it’s away from where I’m wallowing at. To jumpstart my journey, I have started posting more than just my writing here. I’ve moved from having a blog to providing a feed of art, quotes, questions, journal entries, updates, and (once I get my ass in gear) essays and poetry too. It feels good to have a place to collect and share not just my words but what inspires and moves me too.

Making cut out and cut up poems and collages. They’re dumb, but I like them and making them centers me. I suppose I just like making things out of other people’s work and words. I haven’t made any recently because I haven’t had much “analog space” in the Creativity Room since it became a storage space for wedding things but I’m slowly cleaning it up and turning in to an almost purely analog and art space. Having a phone and a laptop makes the whole rest of the house, and the world, a digital space, I want this one space to be for the real world, for concrete things, for tools, for play, for discovery. This room and the work I do there, for now at least, must be done with my hands. It’s something I need.

Planning for fall, and after, for winter too. I’m trying to prepare emotionally for the cold, the gloom, the boredom, and the hopelessness. I’ve never done well through the colder months but these past years I have been trying to make some use of theses later seasons rather than letting myself wallow in despair. I want to come to a place where I can at least be content and preferably productive through them. Perhaps these seasons can be a time of real writing to me. A good time to create the conditions of an “at home writing retreat”. No internet, no distractions, nowhere to go, just a germ of an idea to explore and time to do it in.

Reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky and Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca. Behave will take a while, it’s nearly 800 pages long and I’m less than halfway through. Moral Letters could be finished quickly but I’m reading it on my phone and I have never been good at comprehending from a screen. I did finish The Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura which I highly recommend. I hope to have moved on to two new books by this time next month.

Watching Succession, a drama following the dysfunctional Roy family as they scheme and fight to take control of the family empire, and The Deuce, which chronicles the rise of the porn industry in New York, on HBO every Sunday. I finished Robin Thede’s Black Lady Sketch Show, a comedy show starring all my favorite ladies (also on HBO), and The Mind, Explained on Netflix which turned out to be a wonderful companion to Robert M. Sapolsky’s book Behave. Grey’s Anatomy is back for one last season and I’m far too emotionally invested not to watch. In between, I’ve been catching up on AMC’s Preacher in which the hardcore criminal turned preacher Jesse Custer gains super mind control powers and sets out with his badass girlfriend Tulip and their vampire side-kick Cassidy in the search for God.

Learning about Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights, still. I’m making it through “ModPo” easily and I’ll continue to plug away a little every day until I finish but Women’s Health and Human Rights will take a little more focus and willpower. I have to actually work and write to finish this one and after 3 or 4 tries now I have not been able to get past week 2. But I have still been watching the videos and doing the reading. This time around I have just one job, complete the assignments, one per week, for the next 10 weeks. That is it.

Feeling hopeful, more hopeful than I usually do this time of year. I’m hopeful that all the despair and tension I normally feel is not my fault, nor inevitable, nor unchangeable. I’m embarking on a new health regimen this month, one that couples medication and self-care into a multi-pronged approach to physical and mental health. With my doctor’s blessing I’ve been able to come off of one of my medications entirely and the other’s dose is being lowered by half and as my medications come down, I’m instructed to eat more fresh foods, exercising more, meditate, get a little sun every day, and take calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, peppermint oil, and zinc supplements. I’m still working on incorporating all of this into a new lifestyle but I’m already feeling so much more normal than I have in years.

Anticipating my favorite holiday, Halloween! I’m not a fan of the cooler weather to come but I do love the spookiness of the season. I love horror movies, haunted houses, costumes, and Halloween parties. I love this “springtime of death” I guess. I love celebrating what disturbs and terrifies us both individually and collectively. Fear is a major part of what it means to be a human and I love that we have made a holiday out of it. I don’t have my costume picked out just yet but I do have my party plans made. I’ll spend the month watching my favorite horror movies and I’m going to share some of my favorite spooky art here too. I may take a break from my current reads and pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or anything by Stephen King. I wonder if there is horror poetry out there somewhere?

Reflecting on how we each become who we are. I’ve been reading and watching a lot about the brain, about emotion and behavior, and surprisingly, about childhood development and I’ve been expanding my understanding of how each of us comes to be an individual, a personality, a person with wants, needs, likes, dislikes, dreams, history, opinions, and so much more. I’m interested in knowing everything I can about why we come to do the things we do and how we can do differently if we want to. I’m coming to understand that it’s so much more than the genes you are born with or whether your mom hugged you enough. It’s the food you eat, the adversity your mother experienced in her childhood, what country you were born in, your gender, birth order, economic status and every other part of human existence you can imagine going back to the dawn of our species. It’s fascinating and, somehow, comforting.

Fearing where this country is headed politically. The House is moving against the President and exploring the possibility of impeachment. On principle, I wholly agree but I worry that many on the left are not operating from principle but from a very human feeling of competition, revenge, and vindictiveness to match the displays of competition, revenge, and vindictiveness from the other side. I’m afraid of the next election cycle too. I’m afraid of the deepening divide. I’m afraid of losing, and of winning, but I’m also excited. I am very human too you know. The drama of it all, for some, is all politics is, for all of us it matters somewhat, and this is terrifying.

Hating living with a chronic illness. I am feeling well and hopeful, for now, but that is the problem, for now. I know that I will never not have this illness and I know that no matter how well my treatment is working today in a year, hell, even tomorrow, it could fail and I could end up as bad or worse off than I was at diagnosis. My doctor warns me that worrying about tomorrow or a year from now will do nothing but stress me out and encourage the outcome I am trying to avoid, but it’s hard not to hold the possibility in your mind all the time. When I’m not worrying about it I’m just angry about it. I’m angry my life has had to change and I’m angry that there is no cure. I’m angry about all the pills I have to take, the doctor’s appointments I have to make, and the blood tests. It makes you hate your own body sometimes.

Loving married life, still. I love the little things like changing her status to “wife” on my emergency contact card at work and the big all-encompassing feelings of “oneness” and safety too. I love being a wife. I love the responsibility of it. I love being part of something bigger than just me. I love compromise and communication and getting to know each other anew every day. I love making and maintaining a home. I love being a family. Of course, all of this was true before the wedding but having it be so explicit and legal means it’s more concrete, more real. We are part of the norm and expectation and the community of other married couples and though it isn’t all easy or rainbows and sunshine, I love it.

Needing life to get a little easier for a change. I’ve never asked for much from life and I know I have gotten more than most, more than I probably deserve too, but it’s still hard. Maybe what I need isn’t so much for my life to get easier, but for the lives of those around me to get a little easier. Half my worry at least, and most days so much more, is for the problems of others. Much of my self-loathing and suffering comes from how little I feel I can do to ease the suffering of others. I feel useless. I feel inadequate. I feel powerless and small. I feel their pain and mine too and I desperately need it to get a little easier.

Hoping that this fall, and afterward this winter, will be a typical Colorado fall and winter. Climate change is happening now and here in Colorado September is one month where it can really be felt. I read a statistic the other day that of the 30 calendar days in the month, 15 of them have record highs that have been set since 2010. We saw the first 100-degree day in September even and one of the hottest Septembers in recorded history this year. I know it will only get worse and I suspect that this fall and coming winter will be anything but average too but I hope, I hope, I hope we will, for better or worse, return to what is familiar.


So, yeah, all in all, September was a damn good month. My wife and I had so much fun and got to spend so much time together. Summer stuck around, and we were allowed to ease into fall. At the same time, September was a pretty hard month too. We experienced some of the worst stress we have in a very long time. We had to make tough choices, and the worst isn’t over yet. Still, I feel happy and proud. I never gave up. I found joy where I could and I took care of myself. I did all I could do.

But what about you? Did September bring blessings or heartache? Does it feel like fall where you are? What are you going to be for Halloween? Are you for or against impeachment, and why? Has the existential dread of climate change got you down?

Let me know in the comments.

“I can love October in September. September doesn’t care.”

— Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year


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

Photo by zhao chen on Unsplash