The Mood

EV­ERY MONTH HAS A MOOD, a feel­ing, some com­bi­na­tion of mem­o­ries, mo­ments and nos­tal­gia. You know it—you feel it—even if you’ve never re­ally thought about it. To help en­cap­su­late the moods of the months, we’re ask­ing nov­el­ists to take on the cal­en­dar and e

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Marni Jack­son

Novem­ber just might be the bleak­est month.

Oc­to­ber can be so glam­orous, with its lin­ger­ing warmth and that late-af­ter­noon liq­uid slant of golden light. Au­tumn is like a ham­mock we can still swing in. And then comes the light-starved month. Poet Emily Dick­in­son de­scribed Novem­ber as a “gran­ite hat” hung upon the “plush nail” of au­tumn. So per­fect. Thank you, Emily. I sus­pect that you were an afi­cionada of Novem­bers, their terse clar­ity and the way the trees strip down to blunt, leaf­less shapes, like the lines of your po­ems. You also wrote about death, and there’s noth­ing like the fail­ing light of Novem­ber to re­mind us of end­ings, of green worlds go­ing to ground. It’s a tem­po­rary en­tomb­ment, Novem­ber—or is that over­stat­ing it? I sup­pose if you keep go­ing to the gym, buy some­thing cash­mere (an over­sized sweater, most likely, and socks) and a good book and have a warm home and warm friends (prefer­ably both), Novem­ber can be a tol­er­a­ble place­holder month. But let’s not kid our­selves: It’s the darkest time of the year. The weather is surly, non­com­mit­tal and not pretty. I’ll take five Fe­bru­arys over half a Novem­ber any day. Novem­ber is the pas­sage to win­ter that shriv­els op­ti­mism and brings on tun­nel vi­sion. Face­book/ In­sta­gram turn cloy­ing. Night ar­rives like a din­ner guest at the door be­fore the ta­ble has been set. Rush hour hap­pens in the dark. Din­ner is pre­pared with the kitchen lights all blaz­ing. Walk­ing the dog be­comes a duty in­stead of a pleas­ant stroll through fallen leaves. Novem­ber feels brusque and pre­ma­ture in all its as­pects be­cause, once again, even though we didn’t mean to, we suc­cumbed to Oc­to­ber’s treach­er­ous bright­ness. We lost track of the cal­en­dar and daw­dled in the fall— un­til the gran­ite hat came down on all our heads. Semi-de­pres­sion is com­pletely ap­pro­pri­ate in Novem­ber. I try not to fight it. I wear the hat at a jaunty an­gle. Some­times I use a light box. I still have my first it­er­a­tion of it: a gi­ant bill­board of light as blaz­ing as a bea­con in a light­house. You are sup­posed to bathe in this full-spec­trum light for a half-hour ev­ery day—but first thing in the morn­ing so that it mim­ics an ear­lier, kinder dawn. This tunes your pineal gland, or re­sets your di­ur­nal rhythms, or some­thing like that. The only prob­lem: Semi-de­pressed peo­ple don’t, as a rule, get up at 6:30 a.m.

I would get up at 9 or 9:30 and slouch in front of my light box, winc­ing at its bright­ness, wait­ing for the mir­a­cle to come.

It never did. I tried for a few years and then gave up. The gym, friends and red wine ad­dress the Novem­ber prob­lem more ef­fi­ciently—that and ad­mit­ting that once again the dark month has come round and there’s noth­ing we can do about it. Might as well turn in­ward, over­work, binge-watch the four sea­sons of Home­land you missed when you were out hav­ing fun in the sum­mer and try to have faith that your former best friends, Au­gust and Oc­to­ber, will be back. In the mean­time, Novem­ber has moved in with its rough black coat, its chilly em­brace and that tall gran­ite hat.

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