October…Oh October

by Just Juan
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“October…what can I say about? It’s special to me and not because it’s my birth month. It’s the time of year where every moment matters.” – AnJuan Thomas

Today, I woke up and my calendar read September 30, 2014. Tomorrow is October 1st. For most, it’s just another day on the calendar. For some, it’s the beginning of the fiscal year and a chance to start anew from a business perspective. For me, though, October is where I usually drop the hammer and make my push towards the end of the year. What makes it so special to me? Well, let me tell you…

THE ROAD TO OCTOBER 24TH. The lead up to October 24th gets me even more excited than October 24th itself. As is the custom for the 14 years I’ve written Triumphs & Tribulations, I start annotating important dates and events beginning 9 weeks out. Because of that, August 22nd is always a day of minor notoriety: it’s the day that The Road to October 24th begins. When the calendars step into October and the days left dip into the low 20s and teens before giving way to the single digits down to 0, a rush of excitement always overcomes me. Personally, I think that should be the case for everybody as their birthday looms in the immediate horizon. For me, the 23 days, not including my birthday, in between October 1st and October 24th—the final stretch, as I refer to them—are typically the best days of the year for me. This 3-week period is where I let loose a little bit and celebrate myself. Whether it’s the 23 personal letters I wrote to myself in 2005, the 23 different $23 gifts I bought myself in my age 23 year in 2008, or even the “days left” selfies I took in each of Tokyo’s 23 special wards in 2009, I’ve always found a special way to celebrate myself on the way to October 24th. This year, I had intentions on taking the entire month off to celebrate myself in 23 different cities over 23 days but with me turning 30 on the 24th, I decided to go in another direction: to celebrate the people who got me to this point. I’ll cover that in a later blog post and that 23 cities in 23 days looks very promising for next year. Anyway, October is special because, on The Road to October 24th, I celebrate me.

MY BIRTHDAY. October isn’t October to me without October 24th. It’s the date of the marquee event of the month: my birthday. This year will mark my 30th, making it a landmark occasion. To me, it’s a de facto national holiday. Other than the days I spend sick or otherwise on the mend, there is no day on the calendar where I’m lazier than October 24th. It’s the only scheduled day where I don’t wake up in my normal 4:45AM or 5:55AM time slot, choosing instead to sleep in. It’s the only day of the year where I’ll actually play a Lil’ Jon & the East Side Boyz track as “Uhh Ohh” off their 2001 release, Put Yo Hood Up, is the theme song for the personal pep rally I have when I wake up. Since my parents first extended the option in 1992, October 24th is the only in the year in which I do go to school or engage in any kind of school work. On 5 occasions, I’ve missed out on perfect attendance because of it and I’ve had to reschedule 17 midterm exams since 1999—my freshman year of high school—because I steered away from school on my birthday. In 2001, I added no work and no financial or official business of any kind to that, essentially paving the way for my birthday to be a true national holiday in my book. October is special because it’s the month I celebrate my birth.

SCHOOL RUNS. In terms of academics, October is a crucial month for me. It typically represents the midpoint of the fall semester. Historically, it’s my best month academically. Not including the in-progress Fall 2014 year or my elementary and middle school years, I’ve taken 48 combined midterm (semester-system) and final (quarter-system) examinations in 11 Octobers. Only 4 times did I not get an A on an exam taken in October: in 2001, when I got an 89 in Honors US History 11 and an 82 in Honors Algebra II; in 2002, when I got an 85 in Algebra III; and in 2011, when I got an 86 in Strategic Management in a Global Environment. Including the weighted years in 2000-2002, I have a 4.15 GPA concerning exams in October. Much of my success on October exams comes from my unusual study habits in the month. I never study at home in October, instead opting to study in the evening on college campuses near a window on a floor where other students are making noise or doing group study. I do that because (1) the darkness outside of the window leaves the impression that I could be unknowingly watched from afar by a passer-by and (2) the noisy floor represents distractions. Working through both of them takes care of the biggest concerns I have any time I’m taking an exam: being watched and noises (whether real or implied in my thoughts) that break my concentration. The October school runs usually were a momentum boost for me, usually turning the tide on a specific class…like Physical Science in my high school freshman year, where I used the October magic to turn a 74 average into a 91 at semester’s end. October is special because my academic performance is otherworldly over the 31 days.

OCTOBER SWAGGER. In October, I kinda act a little bit differently than I would in September or November…or any other month on the calendar, for that matter. I call it the October swagger. I’m a little bit more loose, a little bit more “go with the flow”, a little bit more flamboyant, a little bit more edgy. October is probably the month where I’m likely to take the most risk…with life and money. The occasions where I’m likely to make a club appearance in a non-DD capacity are in October. October is when my plans are usually usurped by “on 2nd thought, let’s go all out and do…”. October is the birth month of my “there’s no place on earth I couldn’t go at any time for any reason” mentality, highlighted by that one time I flew from Tokyo to Los Angeles on 24 hours notice just to go on a date. A creature of habit, sometimes in the most extreme of ways, October is a release for me and I conduct myself accordingly. More than my actions in October is my appearance in October. October is usually when I unveil my collection of sweater vests for public consumption. On occasions when the temperatures drop to 55°F and below, I pull out my collection of coats, scarves, and Kangols. October is special because I live for the moment in the moment.

October is just special to me. Everything matters and I just feel different in the month.

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