Monday, November 11, 2013

November's Good Parts

November is a hard month.  In Canada, the days get shorter, our clocks change (unless you live in Saskatchewan), the sun is down before we even leave our offices.  The cold, wet weather drives us all indoors.  I've heard people say that November is the longest month for them - the one that seems to drag on forever.  I don't find that as much; I think March is worse, and there's so much to do in November if we can only bundle ourselves up, throw on our Wellies, and get out of the house (harder than it sounds).  Here are some reasons why November is actually pretty OK, if you can get over the dark storminess:

 1. Fall colours.  In most of this beautiful nation, the vibrant colours of autumn start in September and end sometime in October, but for the southerners among us, there's still lots of colour to see.  Even some kinds of trees take longer to change than others, and you can find splashes of colour on grey days even when most of the trees have lost their leaves (and I don't mean 10-Mile orange, though there's plenty of that around at this time of year, too).

< This is a view from my hotel room in the Hilton Bonaventure in Montreal last week (Nov. 7th).  Lots of yellow still!



2. Masquerade.  Summer is far too warm and humid to endure having a piece of costumery stuck to your face for hours.  But November!  November is perfect.  Swap our your Jack-Frost-thwarting balaclava for something fun and glittery, and also enjoy a little too much attention at the party you're attending.  Or, you can borrow a trick from my friend Amanda, who decided to throw a semi-formal masquerade party for her 30th birthday.  No boring folks allowed.

Pro-tip: While getting ready, blast 'Masquerade', from the Phantom of the Opera, which you have on vinyl, at your stereo's maximum volume, and make your cat prance along to the music.  Masqueraaaaade! Paper faces on parade!  Masqueraaade!  Hide your face so the world will never find you!


3. Remember.  It's always good to remember, but we set aside November 11th for this particular reason, and so I like to make sure I don't miss it.  War is so removed from the lives of most of us - even if we know someone in the Canadian Forces - that it's quite easy to let schedules and other mundane crap get in the way of taking a moment to think on something as profound as the total ravages and destruction of the wars of the last century.  It's been almost one hundred years since the beginning of World War 1, but I'm not sure that we've learned anything since that horrible time, except how to kill each other more efficiently.  Not good, humanity!  Not progress!  Take a moment to be glad that you're alive, and that we enjoy freedom and safety here in this country.  Many people do not have these things.

4. Bowie.  'David Bowie is...' is currently showing at the AGO in Toronto, and is visiting here from the Victoria and Albert Museum in England.  It's an amazing exhibition, and is only around for the rest of this month.  Whether you consider yourself a Bowie fan or not, once you see the exhibit, it will be clear that your experience of the world since the 1970s has somehow been shaped by him.  Art, music, fashion, and design have all changed under the weight of his creativity.  So whether you're a huge KISS fan and realize that Bowie was the first person to create an on-stage persona that paved the road for rockers in costume, or you're into history and find out that Bowie wrote three records in one year living in Berlin beside The Wall, you'll enjoy this show.

Drew and I went to the AGO First Thursday to see this exhibit, and also caught Zaki Ibrahim and her band for one of the highest energy shows I've seen lately, and that's saying a lot when it's in a museum.  Check out her songs and get your heart banging and blood pumping with some serious dance moves - you won't feel the cold at all.

 5.  Because November is the month before December, in which is the day of Yule, check out the Christmas windows around town.  I personally love to go and see the windows at The Bay on Queen St., because they're super old-fashioned, mechanised, and haven't changed since before I can remember going to see them the first time as a child.  I love those windows.  I also like to stare in wonderment at the glory that is the Christmas window displays at Holt Renfrew on Bloor St. Nothing matches their complete abandonment of everything reasonable and frugal in the spirit of Christmas shopping.  The windows glow with glittery, sparkly, luxurious objects and scenes of merriment - snowshoeing, trimming the tree, dancing, drinking egg nog - all in the absolute apex of fashionable outfits.  It's a fantastic, unrealistic, materialistic cornucopia of stuff.  Somehow, these windows manage to get me very excited for my own much more modest scenes of festivity and togetherness at the holidays, and for buying people presents (they are obviously effective).  Go, stare, and be warmed by the images of plenitude.