Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

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.


Frosty said...

Whoa. Let's take a deep breath. Can we try to think of some positive things that happen in November? My mother was born in November and celebrates her birthday every November. Thanksgiving, a day to spend with friends and family and to cook and bake and eat wonderful food, happens in November. The leaves are gold and red and gorgeous in November. November leads to December, the month that holds Christmas. Um..... November is my mother-in-law's birthday, my bff Cade's birthday, Mike's brother's wedding anniversary. November is the month that we adopted Theo and saved him from his horrible life in the puppy mill. My cat Amelia was born in November and I adopted Toby in November. Valentine was picked up off the street in November, which led to my adopting her.

It's not all bad. Poor November! You are very mad at it. If its any consolation, scientifically speaking, violent crimes peak June-August and die down in November. No, seriously. There are statistics to prove it.

Big hugs. I hope you feel better.

Trina said...

i like what frosty said ~i love you, we both do, I hate to read how sad and low you are feeling right now... life is hard and I agree, not always what we want it to be, and if you weren't here with us, it would also not be nearly as nice as it often also happens to be. You are an exquisite being, a bringer of bright and beautiful light. It's ok to be blue and remember, there is HOPE! and you are part of that hope.

Kitty said...

Well, OK, you guys convinced me. November isn't all that terrible. I guess. Thank you both for commenting--I appreciate it. We do all have our hated months, though, right? Mine is November, but I'm sure you guys have a month where everything went wrong. Or am I just a silly Grinch girl????

Love you both!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Luke said...

I was told that April is the cruelest month.

If I lived in a city like Chicago, a city with real weather, I might not like November; but November in Los Angeles is when fall really hits its peak, when the balance between the light of the summer and the cold of the winter is ready to tip. It's when when you might wear shorts one day and need a jacket the next. The days are shorter, but there's still a bit of sun at the end of the day. November means Thanksgiving, a holiday that requires nothing but acknowledgment that there is a world full of people and things worth celebrating. November means hot oatmeal for breakfast, and hot chocolate after dinner. November is when you can go for a walk in the evening without liquefying or freezing. It is a time not of misery and dread, but of change, the fraternal twin of Spring. I look forward to November.

And Halloween is not a celebration of death and decay, though there certainly is a lot of that on display. Halloween is when we get to pretend to be someone or something else. That someone else might be a hero, and taking on that role gives us a chance to be a hero as well. That someone else may be an embodiment of evil, a chance for us to safely dispel the desire to be bad by adopting the facade of evil. Or it might just be a chance to be silly in public. Yes, the scary stuff is dominant, but that's because letting your guard down and being someone else, even in jest, is scary.

I don't have a least favorite month, or even a particular day that I dread, but I think the main reasons for that are my terrible memory of personal events combined with my complete lack of sense of time. If you ask me what I was doing in, say, 2002, I will not know. I will remember some of the things that happened that year, but I won't be able to link the evens to the time. I can only connect a date to an event if I have managed to make some sort of absurd set of mental signposts. Here's how I remember the best day of my life, my wedding, is April 9th, 2006: I made a website called "Hitched in '06" that used the line "April is the coolest month," so that tells me April 2006. The date is because we didn't want to get married on tax day, so we moved the wedding back a week, and Katherine didn't want to get married on the anniversary of her mother's death - unlike me, she remembers dates - so we pushed up one day to Sunday the 9th. Let me repeat that: I only know the date of the most wonderful day of my life because of taxes and death.

I have plenty of memories, both good and bad, and I associate them with many things - songs, places, even certain foods - but not with the artificial and abstract dates they happened to fall on.

As for the cycle of sickness- that was last month for me. chest injury + congestion = misery. This November is the month that I'm finally starting to feel like myself, like I can actually get things done again. And I don't know about drug interactions, but I know I won't ever use the NuvaRing again- that was uncomfortable.

Luke said...

Jesus, I'm a long-winded bastard.

Also: Flonase is the most descriptive name of a drug ever. Why does it smell like roses?

Kitty said...

Well! That was amazing, Luke! Not to mention quite convincing. I love how you remember dates--very unorthodox, outside of the box thinking. Yes, I realize that it doesn't make much sense to hate a month that is an arbitrary measure of time; mankind created November, not nature. Even though Coco died in November, we adopted Nod in that same month. If I think WAY back, Coco came into our lives in late October or early November, 1993. I believe that Bingo also came into our lives in November of 2000 or 2001.

The reality is, my dear Frosty, Trina and Luke, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (which, I realize, is another invented, arbitrary disease that the medical establishment has foisted upon us in order to sell us drugs, but bear with me) or call it the Lack of Light Blues. There is something about the loss of so many hours of daylight that messes with my sense of reality and brain chemistry. I have a "happy light" that I need to start using. What I love are those days that stretch out into eternity . . . it's light out at 5:30 AM and the sun doesn't set until well after 8:00 PM. My best memories are of the summers in Eugene, OR, when my grandmother, parents, sister and I would hang out on the front porch at 11:00 PM and the sky was still brilliant orange and pink.

I miss the people and animals that I love in November. Forgive the cliche, but I feel that the dividing line between the living and the dead is very thin in November. So many ghosts seems to be hanging around our house.

Frosty said...

That might be true, Kitty. About the dividing line in November. But that might also be what makes it wonderful. I've really been feeling Aunt Sue all around me, lately. So even though it's 38* with a wind-chill that makes it feel as if it is only 5*, and even though the sunn doesn't rise until 7 a.m. and sets at 4:15 p.m., I can appreciate my auntie feeling near right now. But I also suffer from SAD - I love that play on words - is that what it's called? Anyway, I know what you're talking about. That's why I'm trying to focus on the positive right now. I love you. And I love what Trina and Luke both wrote. You guys are all so freaking awesome.

p.s. I got married the day after tax day specifically so my husband would never forget the date.

Trina said...

Each of you, Fros-T, Luke, and our Kir-beer, are phenom writers. OMG you make me smile and cry ~ hugs to each and every one, and YES please us those ha-P lights so you can feel better again!