Halloween is over. That ritual celebration of death and decay was sandwiched between fires and destruction and an historic election that shocked us all into the tiny hope that things might change.
Montecito is burning right now. Joe Biden and Dick Cheney met today at the White House for a "house tour." The misfortunes of the stock market have wiped out our little nest egg. It's the economy, stupid. Yes, yes it is. Today I found out that there is a pollution cloud that stretches from around the world, creating health problems that we don't even yet know exist. 4,000 people died from diseases related to Southern California air pollution, more than six times the number of us who died in automobile crashes. There is plastic in the ocean, billions of tons of it, floating and leeching toxins. Is Oprah's house going to survive the inferno in Montecito? I would say that my prayers are with her, but I don't give a shit. Burn, baby, burn.
My husband is sick. I've been sick since the beginning of October. I took antibiotics, but they didn't stop my lungs from burning or alleviate my shortness of breath. I feel like I've smoked a pack of Marlboros every day for the last thirty years. My sinuses ache, I feel like a damp rag, it's all I can do to teach and crawl home and collapse in bed. It's a never-ending round of Albuterol, Azmacort, Zithromax, Mucinex, Flonase, Claritin, NuvaRing and Patanol. Gee, are there any possible drug interactions here I should know about? Will I be another Southern Californian dead from lung issues the next time the Valley burns?
November is the cruelest month. Coco died last year on November 23rd; my first husband moved out in November 2002; my father is always dangerously sick every November; I couldn't swallow or eat in November 2006, and I ended up in the ER seven times; I broke my foot and severly sprained my ankle two Novembers ago; the sunlight dies every November; every November for the last three years, I've undergone tenure review; I make unwise decisions in November, motivated by anxiety, illness and dread. Oh, yes, and every November the Santa Ana winds blow hot and dry over So Cal and spark endless fires, like the one that killed six of our firemen in Pine Cove. November is the month of the serial killer, the arsonist, the abuser and the degenerate. November is always a month where the economy tanks and world news is dismal. It's the month where I end up in some nameless shrink's office, retelling old stories in the hope that the root cause of my unhappiness will shine forth from the tangled morass of my subconscious. Now, I realize, nothing I can extricate from my dramatic and sad history will explain the misery that is November. It's the time of year; nothing can be done about it.
I realize that my nephew might be born this month, and that my tremendously pregnant sister would not appreciate my dismal assessment of this month's little tragedies; however, I am crossing my fingers that Connor will not make his appearance until December 1st, since I believe him to be a child of greater sense than to be born this month.
From somewhere in October to mid-December, Kirsten is not herself. Ghosts torment her, illness shadows her, worrying her with thoughts of death and suffocation. I sleep with the phone next to my bed, in case I need to call 911. I don't go anywhere without my inhaler and my EpiPen, as if they could guarantee my safety in an emergency. I cry over the mice that Ty's snake doesn't eat and I can't save, I read endless books about life after death, since this life seems so terribly brutal and short, and I curl up in my big bed, waiting for December 21st, when the sun will begin his trip back to me and will deliver me to hope once again.