October 18, 2001
I love October. I'm not sure why. I can't remember ever not liking October, so I'm guessing I was conceived in October and that's why I dig the month so much.
But there are other reasons too.
October is when it turns cold. Well, at least in places that have seasons. In LA, I guess it turns cold in October too, but it's not the same thing. Back East, I could always count on bundling up to leave the house on crisp October mornings. "Dress in layers," my roommate would remind me. Yes, of course, since it'll be warmer in the afternoon at some point. Layers are good. A little tank top, a mock-turtleneck shirt, a sweater (cardigans are good). Yes. That's good. Even the ex-boyfriend's leather jacket to top it all off. Hmm. Cold is good.
Too cold is not good, though. I'm a weather wimp. I hate extreme temperatures. I'll complain when it's warmer than 82°F in the summer, and bitch like Hell when the temperature drops below 50 ever. That is why I live in Los Angeles. It is a haven for weather wimps.
October is when we go back to Standard Time, which I appreciate. I don't really like the whole Daylight Savings Time premise. I think it's so cool that there are places in the world that completely ignore this tradition (and let's face it, if it's not mandatory, it's just a tradition) and laugh about our little clock-changing ritual. Since I don't keep "regular hours" of any sort, I have no issue with the number of hours of daylight. Daylight is overrated. Well... except when I'm deprived of it. I have that thing where I get more depressed in the winter time just because of the lack of sunlight. Hell, I don't care if it's a real "condition" or not, but it allows me to have an "out" for eating extra chocolate and nesting in January.
"October" is the title of a song by the band The Disciples. This is a band that spawned other bands you may have heard of (Black Crowes, Butthole Surfers, Drivin' and Cryin'). This band won Battle of the Bands at North Springs High School in 1986 and their prize was the pressing of a single. The B side of "Can't Live Without You" is "October" and I, being the non-mainstream type that I am, always preferred that B-side non-hit.
October is when the leaves match my hair color. Well, at least the leaves in Boston. I remember going to Quincy Market in October for several years in a row and marveling over the breeze, the smell, the chill, and the colors of the leaves. I miss that. Palm trees don't change color (except when the fronds are dead and fall off onto your car).
October is when Braves Fever really sets in. I have been a Braves fan since I was a kid. I even loved the Braves when they were the worst in the league. That's when we could get the best seats at the stadium (for $4). But when the Braves went from Worst to First in one season... oh, man, that was an October I will never forget. All of the professors at UGA were willing to forgive us delays in turning in assignments, as we were all up so late watching the Braves spank the Dodgers in stupid pacific time. Oops... I live in LA now, I'd better reel that in. Oh wait, I live in LA. No one here cares about sports. Duh!
October 31st is Halloween. That's my favorite holiday. I love dressing up. I love taking kids trick-or-treating and pretending that I'm doing it for them. I love entering contests at bars and winning Best Conceptual Costume (because I'm never literal). I love haunted houses and Halloween parties and masquerades of any kind. That's a big contributing factor to my love of October, I'm sure. Freshman year at UGA, one of my dorm mates noticed that we had a Friday the 13th that October. She pondered, "Wouldn't it be scary if one year Halloween fell on a Friday 13th?" She was serious. If Reed Hall was "Friends," this girl was "Joey."
October is when I start to feel energy shift. It's like the end of the year is coming and October is our last chance to make something of the year before the stupid holidays rush in and keep us from being productive (or even sane). I feel all the potential of the new year ahead in October. Maybe that's why New Year's Eve and New Year's Day have never meant a dang thing to me.
I'm over here with my magnum of champagne and pointy hat in the eighth-tenth month of the year!
Posted by bonnie at 1:49 PM
October 4, 2001
A Break from the Ordinary
A young writer/friend of mine asked recently whether I found it hard to write comedy in the face of tragic events. The answer is, "I don't know." I haven't written anything funny since September 9th. That's when I turned in my piece about LA Car Chases. Gosh, I hope that was funny. It was meant to be. I think my funny-meter needs recalibrating now.
And it's not just me.
As I write this essay, it is nine months since my mother passed away. I miss her every day. I remember, for the first few weeks after she died, I'd walk around, see people out in public, and wonder, "How can I know what loss you've experienced?" It occurred to me that we never know what someone else may be facing, yet we treat one another as if we know how we all feel. We haven't a clue.
I considered grabbing an old essay, dusting it off, and turning it in, hoping that the humor would endure and that everyone would be satisfied with another cynical rant. And then I thought about the kids I mentor. I am a cyber-mentor to a handful of students at a school in New York. How can I ask them to let their feelings come through their writing, when I choose not to do the same?
So, what's my point?
Well, I think it has something to do with an activity that takes place right outside my front door every day.
I live on the street that leads, although complicatedly, to the Hollywood Sign. The view from right in front of my apartment is awesome (in the non-'80s sense of the word). Every day, several cars stop right in front of my front door so that the drivers may get out, snap a quick photo of the sign, and then hop back in to see if they can get closer without getting lost (they cannot).
Recently, the neighbor across the street sat on her balcony, enjoying the view and a phone call. After a driver stopped and interrupted her to ask the best route toward the sign, she resumed her conversation, now complaining about the constant tourist parade we, the residents of the Hollywood Hills, endure. She was clearly very disturbed that she, because of where she lived, had to answer questions of non-English-speaking, elderly, or clueless tourists.
I say, pass the burden to me. I love where I live. I love my life. And I am well-aware of the fact that countless others wish they had the life that I, too frequently, take for granted.
So, is it hard to write comedy in the face of tragedy? Yes. Will I still do it? Yes. I must. I have worked my ass off to live the life I lead, and I do not take for granted a single gift included in this life. I miss my mother every day, but there is not a day she lived since my birth in which she doubted how much I loved her.
I love what I do. I love where I live. I love the people in my life. And I love giving complicated directions to gawking tourists in rental cars.
Posted by bonnie at 1:50 PM