september wrap up
honey i rose up from the dead, i do it all the time
September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret. — Alexander Theroux
I will be honest with you all: September hit me like a truck. That is why there have been no other newsletters this month, why this wrap-up will involve very little media, and why every other tab open on my computer is a scholarship’s website or review material for my upcoming tests. (Given that very few of my readers witnessed my hyperventilating over organic chemistry at 2pm this afternoon, I take it that you may have a view of me as an academically-minded, organised, determined individual. This is not an altogether incorrect impression, but I do threaten to drop out every hour.) Was anyone going to tell me that senior year would be hard? My dentist claimed it was a party year, and while no one has ever described me as ‘laid-back’, I was kind of hoping that I’d be able to take a breath, read a couple books… okay, I was hoping I wouldn’t end up in the guidance office having a nervous breakdown.
It’s been a month full of character, though! I have had a lot of coffee. (Not today, specifically, but over the course of the month. The only day this week that I didn’t have coffee was National Coffee Day, because dramatic irony works overtime when it comes to me.) I nearly flunked my first physics test, aced a chemistry quiz, and got kicked out of philosophy. In a compelling addition to the ‘I don’t know how to flirt and WikiHow it every year’ saga (self-titled, working on a snappier name), I flirted with someone over email without realising I was doing it, had it pointed out by well-intentioned friends, and now may have actual emotions. If the person in question is reading this post, I’d like to apologise for conveying romantic interest via commenting on the wave equation. It has been one hell of a month, and a very strange senior year. I hope October will be kinder.
This is the ninth of my monthly wrap-up newsletters. My aim with this recurring section of nowhaunting is to describe and comment on the media I have engaged with during the month, give some personal updates on life and writing, then provide some thoughts on what lies ahead. Each month of the year feels precious and distinct to me, so the goal of this is to collate thoughts I would have had on my Tumblr into a cohesive article.
My main source of musical discovery this month was the very loud playlist my philosophy teacher puts on before he starts the class, which has had some gems (‘Dylan Thomas’ is a new favourite) and some grave errors (a country cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’). I’m interested in listening to Rina Sawayama’s ‘Hold the Girl’ after reading several conflicting opinions, but haven’t had a chance to listen in full. Of course, the main music development that I haven’t discussed is Taylor Swift’s impending tenth album, which is not only a conversation starter with every twelfth grade girl I don’t know but a great source of excitement. I’m delighting in watching the tracklist being unveiled and praying for another hit track eleven—in my opinion, ’Holy Ground’, ‘Dancing With Our Hands Tied’, and ‘cowboy like me’ are some of her best songs. She was my most played artist this month, which I assume is due to a lot of cathartic ‘All Too Well’ scream sessions. Florence and the Machine (attended an insane concert I never had the time to write about) and Bob Dylan aren’t far behind in terms of songs listened, but Ethel Cain’s brilliant ‘American Teenager’ remains my top song.
My television consumption this month was limited to some sporadic ‘Gilmore Girls’ rewatching and two episodes of ‘The Crown’ season three. The first season of ‘Gilmore Girls’ is a delightful, warm watch that’s perfect for fall, and the relationship between Luke and Lorelai in ‘Forgiveness and Stuff’ is always a source of joy. My youngest sister is watching the show for the first time, and has come around to hating Dean, which is proof that we’re related. This is not a safe space for Dean defenders (‘deanfenders’, if you will). I have to say that I didn’t find season three of ‘The Crown’ quite as good as the earlier seasons, which I largely attribute to Olivia Colman’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. Claire Foy will never be gone from the role for me—and Matt Smith was a much more compelling Philip. Now that I dwell on the subject, I recall rewatching a few episodes of ‘Friends’ on a particularly stressful afternoon. It is a great distraction from the horrifying reality of graduation and university applications. Highly recommended, and inspired some ideas for a potential future article on comfort media. (If only I had time to write material that wasn’t class notes…)
I read four books this month. Three of them were poetry books and the other was a childhood favourite that I flipped through last weekend. I am in a terrible reading slump, which is partially because I have no time to read and partially because the second I get into a chapter I remember the correct theorem for the problem I’ve been agonising over. If I had a copy of ‘War and Peace’ on the table during my math tests, I would get through about ten pages of the book but perform much better on the test. Four books, by the way, is an all-time monthly low since January 2020. Last year I read five books in October—although most of those were novels, if I remember correctly, so it’s still a step up. Here is a short list of books I attempted to get through and gave up on: ‘A Hero of Our Time’ by Mikhail Lermontov, ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ by Jules Verne, ‘Life in Code’ by Ellen Ullman, ‘The Pursuit of Love’ by Nancy Mitford, and ‘Six Easy Pieces’ by Richard Feynman (which I read two-thirds of, by the way, cementing my newfound status as a physics nerd). Despite this disappointing month of reading, however, I did reach one hundred books read in 2022!
Unsurprisingly, I caught an awful cold after going to a concert (during which I kept my mask on the entire time, go figure). So I had an opportunity to lie in bed and watch the first two ‘Harry Potter’ movies. I’ve read the series front to back dozens of times since I was eight years old, but never saw any of the movies (except a bit of the eighth one, if I remember correctly). Both of them were comforting, familiar, and an absolute disservice to the novels. Justice for Ron Weasley. I also saw Seth Meyers’ comedy special for a second time, which is still incredibly funny and a joy to watch. (Speaking of comfort media…) I was also made aware of (read: made to watch as a means of family bonding) a film called ‘DC League of Super-Pets’, which is exactly what it sounds like, and which both of my younger sisters enjoyed far more than I did. Next month, I would like to watch some horror movies (with my face buried in the nearest person’s shoulder the entire time, but it’s the thought that counts) and two films which have been on my watchlist for quite a while: Alice in the Cities and Story of Women. Watching films is a great way to destress, and I want to make more time for it.
Personal update: unlike my last newsletter, and most of my other monthly newsletters, this piece was drafted and edited in its entirety on the last day of the month. Usually I’ll draft my thoughts ahead of the end, sort out the word count for each section and write a paragraph at a time. This month, however, I was swamped, and exhausted, and relied on my typing speed (as well as my fear of breaking established habits) to get out two thousand words in between school and swimming class. I did not write much outside of two loose poem drafts (which I will edit and publish if there’s any interest in Achilles and/or a thinly veiled description of a memorable study session), but I did think a lot about writing. I am an editor of the school paper this year, so I will be forced to write next month. I’m excited for that. (And maybe, just maybe, my good Substack readers will be treated to a ghost story.) Meanwhile I feel I have ‘blossomed’ into myself, as corny as that may sound. I do not think I’ve ever been more confident than I am this year. I talk a mile a minute, people laugh at my jokes (I’m as surprised as you are), and I am an involved member of the school community. It’s wild. I kind of love it.
Autumn has always been my favourite season. I yearn for the start of school. I love when everything changes. But this year feels different, because this is the last autumn of high school, of study sessions at the green tables behind the library, of the early mornings when anything is possible. This is the last year before everyone I’ve come to know during one of the most nebulous points in their lives goes their separate ways. I feel a preemptive sense of loss that colours everything I do, even the way I read the announcements in the morning. Where are we going to be next year? Who am I still going to know, who’s going to be relegated to a passing mention in my diary, a vague memory I reference when reminded? I guess everything I’ve written for the past nine months has been through the lens of graduation. What kind of writer am I going to be when that impetus goes away? Last year I wanted a ‘properly dramatic’ junior year—I got it. This year, I think I want one certainty, one true thing everything else can stem from (I’ve been auditing philosophy): give me a firm, sure, immovable place to stand, and I will move the earth.