Thursday, October 6, 2016

Writing October. Part one: reflections on Octobers past

These first few days of October have been beautiful here. The days are warm, the sun is on its rapid decent to the south. The air at night is cool, crispy and dry, like one might expect in Northern Colorado. The air smells like drying leaves, which I kind of like. In a way, the nights in October bring me back to very simple times, at least the simple times in my life. I think about the first year I was back in Colorado after the war, 1992. I seem to remember all of those days and nothing specifically at all. I think about a few years later, perhaps 1993 or 1994, or 1995, when my dear friend Mendy and I wandered around the old neighborhood of Capitol Hill and talked life. It is the old neighborhood for me, and for Mendy, the old neighborhood is gone, and the neighborhood where she lives now is 25 years older...or the case of modern Denver, 25 years new. It's October now, 2016, and I haven't liked October for years.

I find the process of life to be tremendously interesting. I mean, I normally don't like summertime, but I was excited about summer this year because I couldn't wait to get the garden going or to catch crawfish in the creek with my son. We did get a few crawfish, but all summer my garden suffered under the heat and searing sun. Oddly enough, the first week of October has found my garden looking the healthiest it has all year.

I know there have been times when October meant something to me, or at the very least a time when October inspired me. I know I was inspired in October of 1993, because I had just started college at Metro State and I was writing like a madman. I was writing some real shit then too, but I loved the words I was writing. Perhaps it was the process.

One of the most profound moments of my life as a Boy Scout happened at Camp Meriwether on the Oregon coast in October of 1999. I had been very unhappy for the months leading up to the Meriwether event in mid-October. It was early on Sunday morning. I was staying in a cabin on the edge of the Pacific when my roommate woke me up. I went outside for a smoke (I smoked in those days) and watched the full moon set over the ocean. I don't know, I was alone and far from home and trying hard to both lose and find myself. I was 27 years old. When I watched that full moon fall on that October morning, I felt freed, somehow.

I wrote a novel, Mascaras y Munecas in the fall of 2000. It was mostly in October. I remember those days well. I was working at Standard Insurance in Portland, OR. All I did was pull files and write. The days were shorter then, being so far north and thankfully I was okay loving the night as I did. What I had been lacking in my life the year before, I had found that year.

But what about the interceding years?

I don't know what has happened to me in these Octobers. I can guess at a few things. First, all of my former girlfriends, and I mean all of them, have birthdays in October. This is interesting but not interesting enough to get me down. After all, I've been with Janice for a decade and her birthday is in December.

Many people I have loved have died in October. And actually, this is only partly true. The dates are skewed a little. There have been many deaths in my life, and that is the nature of life. We all die. And for some reason, many of the deaths in my circle have happened in the fall. They have occurred over the years between September and November. This is also interesting, but not interesting enough to make me hate October.

In fact, as I think about, October, especially here in Colorado is a very transitional month. I mean, outside today feels almost summer like. By Halloween, it will be winter. There are leaves on trees in soft shades of pale green and yellow today. By month's end, the only leaves around will be dried and dead and in gutters. It's beautiful today. And when the end of the month comes, it will be beautiful too.

When it comes to writing, I'm generally more prolific in the fall. I have no idea why. I suppose because I generally spend my summers making money and my schedule frees up in the fall. I think it's a timing thing rather than a seasonal affinity or inspiration.

In recent years, I can almost recall every day of October 2010. Janice and I were living at Jana's place that month. We had gotten out of a bad situation involving cockroaches on September 30, and we had planned on leaving Colorado on November 1. It was the last month we were here before we went to Oregon. What I find amazing is how well we got on that last month. We had purged everything we owned in October 2010. We packed up the 1994 Saturn and left home. It was a great month because we were significantly lighter coming out of the October 2010 than we were going in.

Yet, here we are. We're back in Colorado. We're back in October. And I just don't know why I've come to dislike the month so badly.

This month and this year, it changes. Janice loves October. And I want to love it too. I hope to watch the leaves change and fall. I'm already thinking about my Halloween costume. I hope to write a lot this month.

I'm finishing a few projects for the year. I've got approximately 30,000 words with 7 short stories in the currently project (pre)Occupations. I had hoped to finish this one last spring. It's nearing it's end now, and I hope the waning length of days will inspire me more. And I'm working on Coppertown which I've been working on occasionally since 2013. It's a moody atmosphere, this story, perfectly suited to October. We'll see.

Writing October is a strange thought for me. I can't wait to see what happens.

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