Downtown Juneau is seen through the changing color of tree leaves in Douglas on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Downtown Juneau is seen through the changing color of tree leaves in Douglas on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Meditations on October

Well, it’s October. It’s been October for weeks already, and it’s fixing to stay October for weeks to come.

You know how I know it’s October? I’m back in pants (at least in public). Also, it’s getting dark again, and I mean really dark, like Tim Burton eating black licorice at a Nine Inch Nails concert. Although on the flipside, I can resume soaking naked in the hot tub under cover of night. Suffice to say my neighbors got a breathtaking view of a lot more than just Mt. Roberts last summer.

With the arrival of October, naturally, comes a fair amount of indoor time (naked hot-tubbing aside). This leaves a person with plenty of opportunities to sit and think… or enter search terms into Wikipedia, which is kind of like thinking.

Did you know October gets its name from the Latin “octo” meaning “eight?” Originally the eighth month in the ten-month ancient Roman calendar, October became the tenth month after Julius Caesar assumed supreme leadership and crammed two extra months into the year: July, named after himself, and August, named after his nephew and heir. See? Any fool with a name can slap it up on the side of a hotel tower. It takes a real dictator to co-opt time itself.

In the Southern Hemisphere, October is the seasonal equivalent of our April. In other words, October is April’s evil twin, much in the way La Croix is a Diet Coke addict’s methadone.

Encroaching dreariness aside, October experiences its fair share of observances.

Most notably, there’s Oktoberfest, but that’s actually celebrated in September for some reason, and Halloween, which we’ve been celebrating since August. Well, at least Fred Meyer has.

Of course, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And there’s nothing funny about breast cancer… although, on the other hand, laughter is the best medicine. I recommend “Seinfeld” seasons 2-8.

But October is also American Archives Month, American Pharmacist Month, National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, National Dental Hygiene Month, Liver Awareness Month (you have a liver, just be aware) and National Infertility Awareness Month. This one bears special meaning for me; infertility runs in my family.

Sadly, we already missed Peat Cutting Monday in the Falkland Islands this past October 1, as well as Norfolk Island Agricultural Show Day on October 8. But don’t despair! There’s still 14 shopping days left until Earthquake Disaster Prevention Day in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

But wait, there’s more. October 8 was Canadian Thanksgiving — I’m assuming they celebrate with some kind of metric turkey? — and October 12 was World Egg Day. Unfortunately, National Bacon Day is celebrated in September, traditionally the Saturday before Labor Day. Can’t Congress synch these up? That’d be a nice, safe bi-partisan issue to tackle (although, who am I kidding, the sausage and ham lobby is gonna be pissed, not to mention the vegans… forget it).

Last week, October 7-13, was Mental Illness Awareness Week, fitting, considering the insanity that seems to be consuming everyone lately, and stands to continue at least through midterm elections, if not into 2020 and beyond. It was also Fire Prevention Week, which I also find fitting. A wise man once said: “We didn’t start the fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” And that man’s name was Billy Joel.

Coming up: October 17 is National Fossil Day—be sure to send a card to Don Young—and, of course, October 18 is Alaska Day. I’m thinking about going as either William H. Seward or Sexy William H. Seward.

Naturally, October means postseason baseball, mid-season football and pumpkin-spice everything. It also marks the onset of seasonal affective disorder, but then also brand new seasons of many of your favorite TV shows, so they cancel each other out.

“October” is also the second studio album by U2, if you’re into that sort of thing. And this month always makes me think of “Hunt For Red October,” starring a trim, young Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan and Sean Connery as a Russian nuclear submarine captain with a Scottish accent. I’m telling you, if you do a Connery impression—and, quite frankly, who doesn’t?—you should study this film.

While we’re on the subject, October also makes me think of the phrase “October Surprise.” Truth be told, I’ve had that phrase top of mind every day since October 28, 2016, the day the FBI reopened the Clinton email case.


One last tidbit: October’s birthstones are tourmaline and opal, the latter once said to grant invisibility if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in the hand. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. At least not yet. Although I think I’m starting to feel a little tingle… No, that’s just carpal tunnel. I’m still here. $%@#.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.

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