Friday, November 4, 2011

November Indoor Blues (with Addendum)

I'm not really a fan of November.

And, have grown less so in recent years.

I have my reasons.

Some are obvious: the marked end of any promise that summer may linger; the growing cold; the descending late-afternoon darkness; the pre-holiday rush and anxiety that comes faster and faster each year. And the knowledge that Spring is so very far away.

Some are less so, but those I'll keep private, pocketed. After all, in the end, don't we each keep certain pieces of ourselves tucked away like jagged, broken bits, or, if we're luckier, polished stones?

So, I admit, I am not a fan of November. And, of course, I have a manuscript out. Which makes it all the harder. I'm waiting on my agent to approve revisions (he's already behind schedule) and then it goes on to the dreaded submission phase.  It's a phase I've conquered once, but wonder, still, if I'll ever conquer it again. For sure, this business is hard. Like a weighted brick that will drag you down if you let it.

So, there, I said it, then: I fucking hate November.

The question remains, what am I going to do about it?

I'm going to do what I do when all else fails. I'm going to try to push myself, to shock my conscience, to exhilarate my senses, and go beyond. To remind myself that part of me remains strong and willing and brave, even while other parts of me bleed, lament, shudder, deny or protest.

What I mean is that I'm going to plunge myself into the clear, cold water.

In a few short hours, I'm going to attempt to take my first November open water swim.

Oh, how I love the cormorants in the fall.

I'm trying to steel myself. I'm trying to remind myself that I can.

With the week -plus of overnight frosts we have had, the water temps cannot be much above the low-mid 40's. Our wetsuits are really designed for the high 50's, as far as I know. But I'm less worried about my body than I am about my hands and my face. Those were cold last I was in. Which was more than a week ago now. 

Still, I'm going to try. Because trying is half the battle.

And if I make it in to swim -- and if I live to tell about it -- I will revel in it, then tuck it away admidst the polished stones.

- gae

Ok, so that was this morning, here's the addendum:

At 4:05 pm, my dear friend Annmarie and I suited up, took this photo and went in. The water was cold -- a guess, at most 45 degrees. Most my body was okay, except my hands which went quickly numb. Still, the water was exhilarating and we swam far longer than I thought we would. About a half hour. Only numb hands and an increasing inability to get our mouths to form words got us out. On dry land I snapped what I thought to be a whole video (with me proudly decrying, "fuck you, November!" at the end, only to find my fingers were too numb to hit the right buttons and I only ended up with this:

Still, we made it. This is us after:

And, yes, I was too cold to change into street clothes after, in fact, my hands were so numb, I temporarily lost my fine motor skills and Annmarie had to remove my swim socks for me, so this is how I drove home:

But, it was everything I hoped for, and more. So, say it with me: Eff you, November! See you again before you leave, in the salt!

- gae


  1. Woot!! Congrats. And I love the jagged bits/polished rocks treasures. So apt, so lovely.
    xo B

  2. Thanks for reading and rooting and making me feel like it was actually a pushing-beyond-boundaries accomplishment. In fact, we were in again yesterday -- water temps around 42 -- and I am about to go in again. We have plans to go in on Tuesday as well, and I'm guessing that will be the last of the season. But because of our ability to swim at these temperatures, we're planning to start next season earlier! By late April at best, or early May if the weather and world cooperate. So, that stretches the open water season from early May - early November, leaving me only 6 mos to get thru in the chlorine... ;)

  3. BRR! Just looking at that picture makes me cold!! My YA is going out on submission in the new few weeks, so I'll be joining you in those rocky waters. I will, however, respectfully decline the open-water swims. :)

  4. My word I don't even like getting into the lake in mid-summer. I've got shivers just looking at those pics. Good for you it is amazing what our bodies can do when we ask them to go beyond the "norm".

  5. Lisa, good luck! Will keep you and your ms in my thoughts!

    Erin, it is pretty cool to "watch" my own mind as I try to get in and get moving in cold that is beyond what I thought I could take. Then proceed to swim in it for 1/2 hour...