By Anne T. Donahue
We’re days into the most tedious month of the year (February at least as only 28 days because it’s aware of how much it sucks), and as I sit here, sick with another not-yet-a-cold/not-yet-a-flu bug, I dare to ask: what is November even for?
I’m serious. What am I supposed to do with November? Where do I file it? What do I do in it? It’s too early for Christmas décor (I’m sorry, but it’s 20 degrees and I’m not wearing a coat – let’s take a second to relax for a minute) and too late to justify making pumpkins the focal point of our lives. It’s cold-ish. It’s damp. It has no idea who it is or what it wants to be. November is the friend from high school you kept in touch with on Instagram and talk about grabbing coffee with every so often, only to see them post something about how much they love Chris Pratt. It’s a disappointment, every time. And yet I never learn.
I used to love November. I was a person who counted down until fall, only to forget that come November 10 I would be hit with the realization that for the next four-five months, the weather would make me tired and depressed and prompt me to question every decision I’ve ever made in my long life. Do I like staying in? Absolutely: but the older I get, the more I notice that I like staying in when it’s my choice – not that of a month that teases a beautiful afternoon that somehow descends into inescapable darkness at 6 pm EST. I like the promise of better things, not worse. And while I will never turn down a rainy day, I tend to enjoy those days less when aware of the fact that soon that rain will be snow, and I will have to pick up that snow and move it with a shovel.
Does a perfect month exist? Yes, and it’s March: a chaotic 31 days that guarantee nothing but highs, lows, and complete and utter pandemonium. March is a month that can feel like May or June for three hours before blanketing us in snowstorms accompanied by tornado warnings. A month that may contain Easter or may not; a month rooted in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations which are, in fact, super bizarre and frighten me to my core. But it is a month of promise and reprieve: spring is coming, snow is melting, the frost bite of January is a full ten months away. In March, we forget that in August, most of us pray for death after nearly passing out in the wake of walking half a city block. In March, we begin planning for summer, blissfully ignorant that without fail, every June, we weep upon remembering that it will somehow get hotter, more humid, and completely uncomfortable. In March, we hear birds and greet tulips and laugh in the face of impromptu hail. In November? We are all that one guy in No Country For Old Men who solemnly declares, “You can’t stop what’s coming.” Is it wearing masks again? Having to scrape off a car or bundle up only to have to take it all of again to use the bathroom an abandoned Sears? Nobody knows, and it’s terrible. How dare November, how dare it. What are we supposed to do?
Well that’s where this list comes in. A short list of what to do in case of Full Tilt November, should you need to break the emergency (metaphorical) glass and lean into dampness personified, all 30 long days of it. This is how I plan to defeat the rest of these days, no Christmas décor required. This is what November is for, and I will argue to the ground anybody who disagrees with me about it:
Angry reading. The kind of reading that screams, “I have responsibilities to attend to, but it’s foggy so I’m going to read a book that has nothing to do with any of them.” Yesterday, I sat on my back deck in the unseasonable warmth and read a magazine. I have school work to do and had this essay to finish. But November means I am sick all the time (apparently), so I refuse to actively participate in productivity.
The more we sleep, the more time passes, and the closer to spring we will get. Find the lie in this sentence.
Sure, we may have reached our peak of horror in October, but have you considered watching The Shining while gazing outside into the twilight-y abyss around 5 30 pm? Terrifying. November is the only time of year where watching Ghost Hunters will see you relating to any and all unrested spirits. We too are in some strange purgatory, telling people to get out of our homes.
Walking around the mall, aimlessly
You do not shop, you do not Christmas. Instead, you wander around, eating a soft pretzel and drinking an Icee beverage, telling yourself you’re getting ideas for presents, but knowing full well that you will be going home and logging onto Sephora.com so you can buy that thing you want and get the free samples you deserve in the process. Hello, Monday – Friday evenings.
Brief moments of optimism
Yesterday, between moments of coughing so intensely I morphed into Fantine from Les Miserables seconds before she died, I went for a wee walk with a hot apple cider and didn’t hate everything for about half an hour. It was great! I reminded myself that I was alive in this world and I was truly very grateful. And then on the way home, I was stuck behind a car going 40 km on a one-lane highway, and knew the month and its cruelty had found me again.
But until then, it was actually very nice.
Writing that novel
I am just kidding, if you write a novel in November, good for you. But also: November is for being Heidi Klum as a worm, rolling around and doing only the bare minimum. Today I will change a burnt-out lightbulb outside. Then, I will watch Bobby Flay TV shows until I pass out, bringing me one step closer to any other time of year.
Buying me gifts
It’s worth a shot. It doesn’t even have to be for Christmas. I am just saying that what might cheer me up is a big pile of very lovely new things.
Or, you know, just buy something cute for yourself. You deserve it. You’re surviving November.
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