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


I’m resting today, again. The holiday and the shopping were too much and not only am I dealing with the usual ulcerative colitis pain and exhaustion but my legs are also sore from all the walking too. I’m preparing myself physically and emotionally for a family brunch tomorrow, a busy work week after, and a bland diet for the foreseeable future.

I’m hanging out in the “creativity room” at least and doing my best to get a few blog post up. It feels good to have the space and the time to put on a couple of podcasts and to try again and again to WORK DON’T THINK RELAX as Ray Bradbury says. I’m not good at it but that’s ok. All I ask from myself right now is to practice.

Happy Black Friday! We’re braving the madness this year to get a jump on holiday shopping this year but opted to go out later to avoid the crowds. The stores are still packed though and the deals hardly seem worth it. I almost wish we had stayed home but the promise of peace of mind, of knowing that there is less I will have to buy later is keeping me going.

We figured the best use of our time was to start at the mall. There are more stores and options per square foot and less need to be in traffic or hunting for parking spaces. The stores are packed of course and though there is still plenty left to buy the lines are too long in many places to warrant the purchase. We left many stores empty handed because we didn’t want to wait. There will be more sales, and more days to shop in the weeks to come. It doesn’t all have to get done today.

I’m still in pain and still feeling miserable but my wife treated me to a fancy lunch at a new fancy place which made all the difference and gave me a few more hours of high spirits and optimism but It’s getting dark now and we’re still out shopping but even her energy is waning. It’s time to head home, heat up those leftovers, and make a few drinks. We did good. I’m proud of us.

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re up early making breakfast and mimosas together and listening to the parade in the background. I’m still not feeling well but my excitement dims my pain and exhaustion. We have so much good food and plenty of delicious drinks to last us all day and a whole lot more. We opted to have lamb for dinner instead of turkey. I wanted duck but the store was all out.

I’m still sad that I’m not with my family this year but it feels good not to have to go anywhere or deal with a huge mess or any flaring tempers too. I’m even entertaining the idea of spending Christmas—maybe every holiday!—this way too. No, that would get old, and my wife and I would probably start to feel too disconnected, too lonely to sustain that. We need more than just each other in the long run and the holidays are for expressing all kinds of love and gratitude after all.

Besides eating and drinking copious amounts of food and alcohol I have blog post drafts to work on and the last of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx to get through. We also have six more Star Wars movies to rewatch in preparation for The Rise of Skywalker mid-December. So much for less T.V. time right?

But what else can I do while I’m feeling so sickly and pushing myself to worse with overeating such delicious and hard to digest food? I imagine after this week is all said and done my gut will need a nice long rest consisting of bone broth, Jell-O, and Gatorade morning, noon, and night until I heal up again.

It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break but I’m already dreading the end. I was supposed to go into work this morning but I’m in too tired and in too much pain for the money to be worth the rest and peace of mind. I didn’t really have to be in anyway and with the snow still piled up everywhere and the roads still slick I’m sure that hardly anyone else made it in either.

So, I’m spending the day on my own while my wife visits her mother. I’m planning our Thanksgiving dinner and hoping that by the time she gets home and we go back out to shop for ingredients that that there will be enough left on shelves to make a good holiday out of. I wish we had big plans with family. I wish all of my siblings were here again like they were for my wedding but flights are so expensive and there has been no time to plan.

Still, I have so much to be grateful for and so much to celebrate. I can’t lose sight of that this week.

As of 7:00 AM this morning 10.5 inches of snow has fallen outside. It’s 10:00 AM now and I know a few more inches have fallen since. I’m grateful for my neighbors snow blower and his generosity. I only have to shovel from my door to the car today. Not that we are going anywhere. With over 500 closing alerts across the city there is nowhere to go even if we wanted to.

Those of us working for the school districts were gifted with an even longer Thanksgiving break. I have nothing planned for the day but there shouldn’t really be plans or expectation on a snow day. They should just be enjoyed, savored.

I’m in our “creativity room” this morning cleaning up and making room for writing and making art again. My desk was covered in notes, books, trash from my backpack, and even a dead plant. It’s about 75% clear now with dedicated spaces for my laptop, my books, and my collage work. I have fresh notepads, new X-Acto blades, and a renewed sense of purpose.

Goals // Week 48

This week will be a short one. I’m scheduled to work just two days with the option for a third. I might take it, I might not. It sounds nice, but the tradeoff is that this week is also the week of Thanksgiving and the unofficial U.S. holiday known as “Black Friday”. When I’m not working, I’ll be stressing over making time for friends and family and making sure I’m doing enough to maintain my sense of self-worth. God, I hate the holidays.

This week I want to:

Practice gratitude. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all and while I don’t particularly like the way that US history has been warped around this holiday; the sentiment is useful. It is good for the heart and the spirit to take stock of all the good we gained and all the people who have helped us gain it. Look around and find contentment for a change in your little happinesses and comforts. There are many who don’t have nearly as much.

Update: Perhaps I should have written a post about it, perhaps I still will, but though I didn’t share I still took time to reflect on everything in my life that is good, even the things that don’t always seem good at first but are the kind of problems and stress that only the privileged have. I have a good life. I’m surrounded by good people. I have a good job. I have a good future ahead of me. I have a lot of good to give others and a so much more good yet to receive.

Write 1000 words a day. I just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and it left me with feeling enthusiastic and focused once again on writing as my true life’s work. Much of the book centered on the concept of simply sitting down and doing the work until the work becomes automatic and you can relax and allow your best ideas and prose to come forth. He advises it will take 1000 to 2000 words a day for several years to get there so it’s best to start as soon as possible.

Update: It was a rough week. Between the holiday, and shopping, visiting family, and all the rest I needed there wasn’t much time left over for more than a couple of blog posts here. I really shouldn’t have tried to do so much the week of Thanksgiving but I didn’t realize just how busy I would be and just how much chronic illness would take out of me. I’m disappointed because I know there won’t be much more opportunity than what I had this week for a long time to come.

Make some art. I didn’t think my little collages and poems really counts as art but my wife has been working hard to convince me otherwise. She enjoys them and she can see i enjoy making them. I’ve heard writers should have hobbies that do not involve working with words, perhaps this can be mine?

Update: The same as writing except perhaps I didn’t try as hard. I’m still working through the feeling that creating art is not considered productive nor a worthwhile way to spend my time. I know those things aren’t true but I don’t feel like those things aren’t true, you know. Whenever I sit down and make something my mind races with the work or the writing I could be doing instead. I’m trying to try harder.

 Rest as much as possible. December starts next week, and that means a heavy work schedule, Christmas shopping, time with family and friends, and the start of a new year. It’s going to be busy and this will be the last week I will get to take so much time for myself and with my health declining little by little I think it’s best I take all I can get while I can get it.

Update: I probably needed more but absolutely made sure to sleep when I needed to and to do nothing when doing something felt overwhelming or exhausting. Have you ever noticed that it is harder to rest than it is to work, to clean, to run errands, to work out, to go out, to do anything else at all? Have you noticed how guilty it makes us feel to care for ourselves? It kills me every time to feel so useless, lazy, and weak.

Begin a body weight workout. I’ve been trying for months to start a simple workout routine at home but I never can seem to find the space, or the energy. When I get home, from work, without even thinking, I end up in the living room, on the couch, in front of the T.V. my weights and my goals forgotten in the spare bedroom. This week the weights are getting moved. I’m bringing them into the livingroom where I can see them and be reminded.

Update: Obviously no. I was able to move the weights into the livingroom and I even spoke with my wife about making time to work out together after work. I entertained the idea of waking up just a half hour early and started to really feel good about the idea, but my body will not cooperate and I know that exercise, being a kind of stress, would not be a good idea while I am feeling poorly. Perhaps in a few weeks?

This week I will work on being proactive rather than reactive. The best way to fight anxiety is with a plan, the second best is with action. I won’t let my mind run wild and I certainly won’t put my worries in charge.

P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 47.

Photo by Simon Goetz on Unsplash

There is a nervous excitement all around me today. A snow storm is forecasted to move in tonight and there is a real possibility it will at least be significant if not record-breaking. We hope with each storm for a snow day, but this time, in a week where we’re only scheduled to work for two days anyway, we are daring to allow the certainty of it.

I’ve still got Ray Bradbury in my head telling me to WORK RELAX DON’T THINK. I’m up to the task of writing 1000 words or more a day but I’m not sure what those words should be about or what form they should take? Should I write in a stream of conscious? Should I simply begin in my preferred genre, the essay? Should I start with an idea, a quote, a point in mind? I have the time but too much self-consciousness to begin.

That sounds as sad as Bradbury said it would.

I finished Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury tonight and I’m convinced that it’s the greatest book on writing I have ever read (except perhaps for On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King but that may only be because I read it first).

It has been a long time since I felt so enthusiastic about writing and so willing to try again, to fail, and to have some damned fun with it. I remembered how it felt when I first started to write and how I felt when a few publications accepted my work. It has been a long time since I wanted to feel exactly that again.

I’m picking up The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx next. It’s another short one. I won’t reach my reading goal by far this year but I’d like to be well of halfway there come December 31st. I’ll probably read Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. It’s less than 200 pages long.

Did I mention that we won a painting from the Octopus Initiative this month? The program is awesome. The way it works is you log into their website every month and select which paintings you like. If you win, you get to take the piece home and keep it for up to 10 months.

Today we went to pick it up, and I did my best to enjoy being out of the house. I’ve been spending too many weekends cooped up and though I’d love to go on being cooped up I have a feeling it’s not the healthiest way to spend my winter. The weekends are my best chance to see the sun and remember there is more than work, and sleep, and darkness.