I don’t know whether it’s because part of me is still on an academic schedule or what, but something about the coming of autumn always makes me weirdly antsy. It carries with it this sense of feeling incomplete, like all my best-laid summer plans have slipped away, and all that’s left now is the winter creeping in under windowsills.
Fall’s my favorite season, but it never fails to give me a mini life crisis. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; instead, October tends to be the time of year when I start training for half marathons or kissing people I probably shouldn’t or writing long, rambling outlines for novels that spend the rest of the year pressing insistently against my temples. October makes me a little wild eyed.
And I’m not alone. In 2009, the author of the popular blog Date By Numbers proposed Bold Moves October: essentially, an entire month dedicated to overcoming the stasis of the previous seasons. According to her, BMO arose out of a discontentment with waiting around for potential love interests to approach her.
The way she tells it, “When you were growing up, did anyone ever tell you to just sit and wait for your dreams to magically come true? No, of course not, because they never would. You need to get out there and hog-tie those dreams like the wrangler that you are ‘til they’ve totally succumbed to your will, damn it. This is how Bold Moves October came into being. We needed a jump start, and clearly we needed to name it.”
Since then, the BMO movement has grown into a loose-knit community of sorts, with Tumblr users tagging their resolutions as “#BMO” and submitting their triumphs and travails to Date By Numbers. Though the theme of Bold Moves October largely centers on dating and relationships, many of the participants also use it for things like wearing gold, skintight jeggings, applying to new jobs, or performing in open mics. I myself first heard about it through Neil Gaiman, who posted about it to his own Tumblr. If that’s not a creative kick in the ass, what the hell is?
For lots of people, Bold Moves October seems to be a great jumpstart for incorporating assertiveness and impulsivity (within reason) year-round. For me, though, it’s a fabulous opportunity to work out some of my season-related ennui.
As it stands, most of my personal chafing comes from feeling like things in my life have gotten a little too routine. I’ve lived in San Francisco for over a year now, and the city is finally starting to settle in around me in a way that I find simultaneously comforting and alarming. There’s a reason I don’t pursue a lot of serious romantic relationships; I tend to thrive on a smidge of unpredictability, and I get deeply suspicious of contentment that feels like I earned it too easily.
My mom calls this the “nomad itch,” and she’s right; the minute I feel snuggled and secure, I start also feeling trapped. It’s like that old adage about your face getting stuck in an expression –- given half a chance, I’m sure I’d succumb to inertia like so much warm molasses.
If I don’t channel this weirdo autumnal energy into something specific, I’ve found, it bleeds out under my skin and turns me into a giant grumpy dickwad all the way through the December solstice. Hence last year’s half-marathon signup, the giant monster thesis in the year before that, or the trip to a piercing parlor for body-mod #8 in Fall 2009. If I don’t point myself at a goal or a big, ostentatious action, I’ll vibrate out of my bones.
This, incidentally, is how I almost ended up signing up for a taxidermy class in 2008. October has a lot to answer for.
The problem is, unfortunately, that I’m also a giant weenie when it comes to taking risks. Sure, I could quit my job, stop washing my hair, and “Eat, Pray, Love” it through New Zealand for the next decade, but the whole “graduated in a recession, lucky to be employed" rhetoric has burned itself onto my cerebellum in a way that makes such a move seem completely beyond my capability. Despite my distrust of complacency, I almost always need a Plan. Plus, I actually really like my job.
And as far as romantic relationships go, I don’t really need a whole lot of improvement in the “inappropriately forward” department. Though I do occasionally get shy and flee into the underbrush in response to unexpected Feelings talks, I’m generally pretty obvious when it comes to appreciating people on a purely physical level.
Even creatively speaking, I feel like I’m doing mostly okay these days. I don’t write as much fiction as I’d like to, but I’ve also been being more straightforward with myself and with others about deadline and submission expectations, which helps a lot. As a gentle reminder to get my ass off of my mattress and work, the whole Lena Dunham Book Deal doesn’t hurt, either.
So where does that leave me with the itch? As far as I’m concerned, my Bold Move in October will mean bleaching my whole head as white as it'll go.
It may seem a little wimpy when you compare it to the head-activities of certain xoJane doppelgangers of mine, but I’ve never dyed more than a few streaks in my hair my whole life. I'm pretty close with my mom, and our thick, dark, fine hair is something we have in common. When I look in the mirror, particularly when I've had a long day, I sometimes blink and see her staring back at me for a split second. As dumb as it sounds, it feels like a big deal to strip myself of one of the features that leads cashiers at Kohl's to ask us if we're sisters. In fact, it feels a little like a betrayal.
At the same time, I've been secretly coveting the whole “sexy skunk” look since Robyn started blowing up the dance floor again last year. It’s not that I think I’ll look particularly stunning as a blonde -– Baby Genetics Jesus gave me black, thick eyebrows for a reason -- it’s just that I’ve gotten incredibly tired of my standard dark-headed lesbian undercut-meets-One-Direction look, enough to outweigh the potential heartache of my mom's reaction to the look when I visit my parents at Thanksgiving.
This resolve has only been spurred by the generally negative reaction of friends and other family members when I tell them my plan. Nothing sets a Bold Move in motion faster than sending haters to the left. And it’s just hair, for Christ’s sake. If I really don't like it, I’ll shave it, right? Done. (At least, that's what I keep telling myself.)
I’m ready for a change, even if it’s mostly a tiny one. If that means dyeing my hair to a color no Irish-Croatian relative ever expected it to be, then so be it. I just hope it won’t make my mom cry.
What about you guys? Am I the only person who turns into a creative werewolf every time October runs around? Any Bold Moves on the horizon? If not, why not -- what the hell do you have to lose? Stay tuned for my super blonde head (hoo boy) in a few weeks!
Kate is -- you guessed it -- making Bold Moves at @katchatters.