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Hello, September! I'm so glad you've come.

August is the hardest month. I've thought for a long time that it's only me who felt this way -- that other people are out enjoying time off at the beach or the mountains, laughing with friends around the grill, iced drinks in their hands, happy children frolicking in the yard -- until I read some Tweets and Facebook posts around this essay, A Digression for August, as Summer Rots, which contains a great little summative paragraph about August:

"The month has such potential. There is the summer rental, with its bookshelf of easy literature and sandy bindings. There is the second sangria, the third spritzer, the fourth 'I’m not drunk; you’re drunk.' There is the absent boss, the out-of-town wedding, the totally free weekend that black-holes your best-laid plans, the muggy birthday BBQs for chatty Leos conceived in early winter. And yet the month is freighted with dumb seasonal regrets."

Such potential, dumb seasonal regrets. Ah, how I can relate!

August is my month of wallow. Throughout my adult life, August has been a time where really bad things have happened -- deaths and life-changing illnesses, namely -- and some mildly annoying things have happened that seemed really big at the time -- shitty vacations, summer flus, bounced checks that screwed up big plans, and so on. Usually I start holding my breath around July 31, and I slog through the heat and humidity as best I can.

Black-eyed susans are nice...I guess.
This year I tried to focus on more positive stuff -- I really did! I tried to look for things to make me smile in August: huge patches of black-eyed susans in a field, the rare cool day where we could play outside, long evening walks with the kids to hear the high school band practicing, the thousands of sweet grape tomatoes harvested from our veggie patch. I tried, at least.

In August there's very little money in the bank account because we had so much fun in July, so I generally start the month with my semi-annual "We really need to sit down and figure out why our budget is so screwed up!" freak-out.

Right around the middle of the month I go through my mom mourning. This month, I realized it's been 15 years since my mom died, which seems like a very long time when you're as young as I am...and then I realized that I'm really not that young! I am only 10 years from the age Mom was when she died This realization was compounded when I realized how many close friends I have who are in their mid-40s, and I started to wonder how I would cope with the news that one of them had terminal cancer. This is heavy, spiraling-into-the-abyss kind of stuff to deal with when you're already holding your breath, and it clouds some of those golden flowers, makes the tomatoes taste less yummy and the evening walks less refreshing.

We nearly drowned in tomatoes...this was just the first harvest.
August is so hot, humid, and buggy here in the mid-Atlantic that no one wants to do anything but lie on the couch and watch crappy movies. Remember that yard we worked so hard on in May and June? Yeah, well, we can't enjoy it come August because it's overrun by thousands of obnoxious crickets, horror-movie spiders, and man-eating mosquitoes. This year we had the added joy of fleas in the grass, so any time a child even fell in the grass, they came in covered in tiny, maddeningly itchy welts. (This makes picking tomatoes treacherous too. Most of this month I've worn pants and long skirts to work because my legs look diseased, like I'd contracted scabies.) Add to this houseboundness that friends are on vacation, and all the babysitters have gone back to college. So I get all angsty and whiny about how we've wasted the whole summer, haven't done a darn thing fun, and here comes school right around the corner!

And let's talk about school coming: No matter how old I am, every August I have that recurring anxiety dream about school -- you know, the one where it's the night before The Big History Final and I realize I haven't attended the class all semester and have to read the entire textbook. And now that I have a school-aged child, I relive that almost-school-time anxiety in 3D hi-def surround sound. August means stretching and warming up for that never-ending hamster wheel run that comes with school activities, piano lessons, sports practices, church activities, and all the weekend hopping.

As if a regular August wasn't enough, this year we have to endure all the political ads and media blips and online arguments around the presidential election. (Seriously, some of the "man on the street" interviews I saw this week at the Republican convention scared the crap out of me!) I had to turn away from Facebook, especially, this month because I simply want to enjoy my friends' vacation pictures, not get angry about their views on abortion, gay marriage, or economic "hand-outs."

Today, though, I exhaled. It's September. Aaahhh.

Blue, blue, blue, blue moon
Happy and I celebrated the end of August last night with a blue moon hike in our local state park. It was a clear evening, perfect for night hiking, and although there was not a speck of wildlife to be seen (evidently even the bats hate August), I looked back and discovered that we had a really pretty decent month, as far as Augusts go. No one got ill or injured, no one died, no one lost a job or crashed a car or had to cancel a vacation. I enjoyed a fabulous day with my girlfriends in Atlantic City one weekend; we celebrated a few birthdays with friends and family. I took a week off with my littlest monkey, a day at the zoo with my big monkey, and Honey had a couple wonderful days at the beach with Happy, too. So it was a rare blue-moon August, indeed... to cap off one of the best summers of my life, really.

The slight chill in the air as we hiked around the park reminded me, too, that in a few months it will be February, and I'll be bitching all over again.


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